Daily Archives: April 4, 2019

How digital technology is destroying our freedom

“We’re being steamrolled by our devices” —Douglas Rushkoff
By Sean Illing – There’s a whole genre of literature called “technological utopianism.” It’s an old idea, but it reemerged in the early days of the internet. The core belief is that the world will become happier and freer as science and technology develops.

The role of the internet and social media in everything from the spread of terrorist propaganda to the rise of authoritarianism has dampened much of the enthusiasm about technology, but the spirit of techno-utopianism lives on, especially in places like Silicon Valley.

Douglas Rushkoff, a media theorist at Queens College in New York, is the latest to push back against the notion that technology is driving social progress. His new book, Team Human, argues that digital technology in particular is eroding human freedom and destroying communities.

We’re social creatures, Rushkoff writes in his book, yet we live in a consumer democracy that restricts human connection and stokes “whatever appetites guarantee the greatest profit.” If we want to reestablish a sense of community in this digital world, he argues, we’ll have to become conscious users of our technology — not “passive objects” as we are now.

But what does that mean in practical terms? Technology is everywhere, and we’re all more or less dependent upon it — so how do we escape the pitfalls? more>

How to govern a digitally networked world

Because the internet is a network of networks, its governing structures should be too. The world needs a digital co-governance order that engages public, civic and private leaders.
By Anne-Marie Slaughter and Fadi Chehadé – Governments built the current systems and institutions of international cooperation to address 19th- and 20th-century problems. But in today’s complex and fast-paced digital world, these structures cannot operate at ‘internet speed’.

Recognizing this, the United Nations secretary-general, António Guterres, last year assembled a high-level panel—co-chaired by Melinda Gates and the Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma—to propose ways to strengthen digital governance and cooperation. (Fadi Chehadé, co-author of this article, is also a member.) It is hoped that the panel’s final report, expected in June, will represent a significant step forward in managing the potential and risks of digital technologies.

Digital governance can mean many things, including the governance of everything in the physical world by digital means. We take it to mean the governance of the technology sector itself, and the specific issues raised by the collision of the digital and physical worlds (although digital technology and its close cousin, artificial intelligence, will soon permeate every sector).

Because the internet is a network of networks, its governing structures should be, too. Whereas we once imagined that a single institution could govern global security or the international monetary system, that is not practical in the digital world. No group of governments, and certainly no single government acting alone, can perform this task.

Instead, we need a digital co-governance order that engages public, civic and private leaders on the basis of three principles of participation.

First, governments must govern alongside the private and civic sectors in a more collaborative, dynamic and agile way.

Secondly, customers and users of digital technologies and platforms must learn how to embrace their responsibilities and assert their rights.

Thirdly, businesses must fulfill their responsibilities to all of their stakeholders, not just shareholders. more>

Updates from Ciena

Protecting your business from cyber threats
The phone rings — there’s been a breach. Ciena’s chief security architect Jim Carnes explains how to integrate security into each aspect of your business to mitigate this stressor – and stop fearing that call.

By Jim Carnes – It’s Friday afternoon (it always happens on Friday afternoon) and the phone rings — there’s a breach. Your internet provider has called and malware associated with the latest botnet has been detected coming from your corporate network. The incident response plans are triggered and everyone goes into high alert, looking for the source.

The common thought trajectory goes something like: How could this happen? We use the latest and greatest security products. Did someone open a phishing email? Did a hacker breach our firewall or was a vendor compromised? There goes my weekend.

How can we stop fearing that Friday afternoon call?

Integrating security into each aspect of your business could mitigate this stressor. When people, processes, inventory and technology are coordinated, the fear and uncertainty of security breaches is replaced with straightforward and seamless responses that protect your Friday evening dinner plans.

The conversation should always begin with your business. You need to understand the processes, the people and the vendor and partner relationships. Understanding how the critical aspects of the company function and interact will often point to gaps in security.

Are the tools that facilitate secure business processes in place? Look for:

  • Single-sign solutions to ease integration of people and technology
  • Multi-factor authentication solutions that ease the password management burden on users (compromised passwords are responsible for nearly half of organizations that are breached according to the 2017 Verizon DBIR)
  • Product suites that integrate business processes and technology solutions
  • Secure supply chains that enumerate the risks to both hardware and software solutions while protecting them (a white paper published by the SANS Institute offers guidance on combating supply chain cyber risk)

Whether your business is delivering software, hardware or services, the development of those solutions include security from the start. The ability to clearly articulate the purpose of the system, how it will be used, who will be using it and what value it provides will help begin the conversation. Articulating these key factors will help define the threat environment, the adversaries and the controls necessary to mitigate the attacks.

Mitigations will therefore have context and be able to address real threats, rather than generic ones. more>

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Updates from ITU

What do ‘AI for Social Good’ projects need? Here are 7 key components.
By Anna Bethke – At their core, ‘AI for Social Good’ projects use artificial intelligence (AI) hardware and software technologies to positively impact the well-being of people, animals or the planet – and they span most, if not all, of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The range of potential projects continues to grow as the AI community advances our technology capability and better understands the problems being faced.

Our team of AI researchers at Intel achieved success by working with partners to understand the problems, collecting the appropriate data, retraining algorithms, and molding them into a practical solution.

At their core, an AI for Social Good project requires the following elements:

  1. A problem to solve, such as improving water quality, tracking endangered species, or diagnosing tumors.
  2. Partners to work together in defining the most complete view of the challenges and possible solutions.
  3. Data with features that represent the problem, accurately labeled, with privacy maintained.
  4. Compute power that scales for both training and inference, no matter the size and type of data, or where it lives. An example of hardware choice is at ai.intel.com/hardware.
  5. Algorithm development, which is the fun part! There are many ways to solve a problem, from a simple logistic regression algorithm to complex neural networks. Algorithms match the problem, type of data, implementation method, and more.
  6. Testing to ensure the system works in every way we think it should, like driving a car in rain, snow, or sleet over a variety of paved and unpaved surfaces. We want to test for every scenario to prevent unanticipated failures.
  7. Real-world deployment, which is a critical and complicated step that should be considered right from the start. Tested solutions need a scalable implementation system in the real world, or risk its benefits not seeing the light of day.

At the end of May, Intel AI travels to Geneva, Switzerland, for the UN’s AI for Good Global Summit hosted by ITU and will speak to each of these elements in a hands-on workshop. more>

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