Tag Archives: Technology

Hedge funds assets plunged by $88 billion in 2018

By Matt Egan – The hedge fund industry suffered a brutal 2018 as nervous clients yanked tens of billions of dollars from their portfolios. Hundreds of funds shut down and bets on tech stocks and oil blew up.

Hedge fund assets under management plummeted by $88 billion last year, according to research by eVestment, a firm that provides software to institutional investors. It was easily the deepest decline in assets for the industry since the financial crisis a decade ago, eVestment said in a report published.

Extreme turbulence across financial markets exposed glaring performance issues that have dogged hedge funds for years.

“Investors were again reminded that the industry is not necessarily full of exceptional managers,” wrote Peter Laurelli, eVestment’s global head of research. “There is no disputing the numbers.”

That realization hit a crescendo last month, when the S&P 500 suffered its steepest December decline since the Great Depression.

Jittery clients pulled $19.6 billion out of hedge funds that month alone, lifting annual withdrawals to $35.3 billion, eVestment said. more>

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Moral technology

Self-driving cars don’t drink and medical AIs are never overtired. Given our obvious flaws, what can humans still do best?
By Paula Boddington – Artificial intelligence (AI) might have the potential to change how we approach tasks, and what we value. If we are using AI to do our thinking for us, employing AI might atrophy our thinking skills.

The AI we have at the moment is narrow AI – it can perform only selected, specific tasks. And even when an AI can perform as well as, or better than, humans at certain tasks, it does not necessarily achieve these results in the same way that humans do. One thing that AI is very good at is sifting through masses of data at great speed.

Using machine learning, an AI that’s been trained with thousands of images can develop the capacity to recognize a photograph of a cat (an important achievement, given the predominance of pictures of cats on the internet). But humans do this very differently. A small child can often recognize a cat after just one example.

Because AI might ‘think’ differently to how humans think, and because of the general tendency to get swept up in its allure, its use could well change how we approach tasks and make decisions. The seductive allure that tends to surround AI in fact represents one of its dangers. Those working in the field despair that almost every article about AI hypes its powers, and even those about banal uses of AI are illustrated with killer robots.

It’s important to remember that AI can take many forms, and be applied in many different ways, so none of this is to argue that using AI will be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In some cases, AI might nudge us to improve our approach. But in others, it could reduce or atrophy our approach to important issues. It might even skew how we think about values.

We can get used to technology very swiftly. Change-blindness and fast adaptation to technology can mean we’re not fully aware of such cultural and value shifts. more>

5 Techniques for Accelerating Engineering Development

By Jacob Beningo – Whether its a parts company, software supplier, or all the way to system integrators and even consultants, no one seems immunte to the ideas of decreasing costs and faster time to market, while improving product quality.

We want to do more at the same or better quality level, while also decreasing the resources we use to achieve our end goals.

That is not to say this is an impossible goal. In fact it’s quite obtainable. In many cases it all comes down to engineering development time and costs.

Here are my top five techniques for accelerating engineering development. These five techniques are just a few examples of low-hanging fruit that companies and developers can consider when trying to accelerate engineering development.

  1. Master Your Defects
    Embedded software developers on average spend 20 – 40% of their time debugging their software. That sounds outrageous, but if you look at the Aspencore 2017 Embedded Survey results or speak to developers at embedded systems conferences you’ll find that figure is accurate!
  2. Have the Right Tools for the Job
    If you want to go fast, you need to have the right tools.
  3. Focus on Your Value; Outsource the Rest
    For engineers (and any business for that matter), it’s important to recognize what value you are bringing to the table.
  4. Leverage Existing Software Platforms
    Leveraging existing software platforms, even ones that are certified, can dramatically accelerate engineering development.
  5. Leverage Existing Hardware Platforms
    For many embedded products, the core hardware features tend to be the same. In fact, probably 80% is the same or similar guts and the remaining 20% is where companies differentiate.

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Updates from Ciena

Reducing resourcing challenges by out-tasking multi-vendor network infrastructure projects
In today’s increasingly complex multi-vendor network environments, many businesses are compelled to out-task their multi-vendor operations to a single provider of specialized network services. Ciena’s Atura Bavisi details the qualities needed when looking for the right multi-vendor services partner.
By Atura Bavisi – Businesses today are constantly changing, often in unique and different ways due to market-specific conditions, but they all share something in common: a complex network environment. Operators are always looking for ways to optimize their network, at once reducing complexity while adding flexibility to handle the rapidly growing traffic demands.

These conditions often create a need for multi-vendor networks. If a business would like to reduce its OPEX and at the same time improve network performance without significantly increasing their IT resources, then buying network equipment from multiple vendors and leveraging vendor-specific services to implement and maintain this disparate equipment become critical.

However, multi-vendor projects come with their own set of challenges. For example, the multi-vendor approach often reduces visibility across the network, making it difficult to plan effectively or to provision resources to support new services rapidly. What’s more, the cost of working with multiple suppliers and in-house service teams to design and deploy solutions can be prohibitive and a logistical challenge, as well as requiring multiple custom interfaces.

Very often, corporations don’t have the ability to recruit the right highly specialized personnel to meet all these technical requirements stemming from a multi-vendor network, and most vendors only focus on their own products and solutions. more>

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Updates from Chicago Booth

Raghuram G. Rajan says capitalism’s future lies in stronger communities
By Raghuram G. Rajan – You have a new book out called The Third Pillar. What is the third pillar?

It is the community. Around the world, there is widespread economic anxiety, domestic political tension, strife between countries, and now talk of a cold war reemerging between the United States and China. Why?

I argue that every time there’s a big technological revolution, it upsets the balance in society between three pillars: the political structure—that is, government or the state; the economic structure—that is, markets and firms; and the sociological, human structure—that is, communities.

When that balance is upset, we see anxiety and conflict, a signal that we’re striving for a new balance.

To really understand capitalism’s success, one has to understand the important role of the community. As it voices its concerns through democracy, the community is critical to maintaining the balance between the state and markets. When the community is appropriately motivated and engaged, it enables liberal market societies to flourish.

Recently, some communities have been weakened significantly while others have sped ahead. Technological change is creating a new meritocracy, but one that is turning out to be largely hereditary, denying opportunities to many. The many, in economically disadvantaged and thus socially dysfunctional communities, could turn their backs on markets. The consequent imbalances could undermine liberal democratic society. more>

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Updates from Siemens

New technology in industry is creating a platform economy
By Frank_Fang – Twenty years ago, product-centric companies dominated a list of the most valuable companies in the world. The list was a Who’s Who of automotive, manufacturing, oil and gas, and brick-and-mortar retailers.

Today, platform-based businesses rule.

This new economy forces product-centric manufacturing companies to rethink how they transform digitally to survive and thrive in a data-rich market. It’s no secret that new technology and new approaches eventually supersede the old.

We’re witnessing one of these periods now. As manufacturers look for ways to radically redefine processes through the hype of the sharing economy, online platforms, the end of money and all the other buzzwords people use today, digital twin evolution will lead to platform economy, a state Viktor Mayer-Schönberger foresees in his book Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data.

Digital twins, which evolve from decades of simulation and analysis in engineering, are high fidelity models for actual physical objects such as a product or production process. Using computer aided-design, model-based system engineering and multiphysics simulation tools, a designer or engineer creates a digital representation for a physical object or process.

The digital twin is no longer science fiction. For example, NASA used this approach to design, engineer and produce two Mars rovers: Curiosity and InSight.

Since you can’t build a Mars environment on earth, you simply bring Mars to the computer and digitally test your Mars rover. more>

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How Politics Delayed A Boeing Fix And Endangered Public Safety

By Steve Denning – This is an abrupt change for the Trump administration.

Just last night, the Acting Administrator of the FAA, Daniel K. Elwell, had doubled down on keeping the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in the air, stating that his agency’s extensive review of “aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX… shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft.” Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, after a call with President Trump, had also declared his complete faith in the plane’s safety.

Trust in a crisis depends on truth-telling—something the current administration is not renowned for, with almost 10,000 false or misleading statements from the president alone.

In this case, the FAA statement last night did not disclose that five pilots had already raised serious concerns about the 737 MAX 8 in the federal database where pilots can voluntarily report about aviation incidents without fear of repercussions.

Instead, the FAA statement said, “Other nations’ civil-aviation authorities had not provided data to us that would warrant action.” Yet Elwell didn’t have to look to foreign civil aviation authorities for such evidence. There was such evidence, right here at home, as reported in the Dallas Morning News.

The FAA statement also did not disclose that Boeing had already issued an emergency airworthiness directive about the Boeing 737 Max 8 in response to the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia. The directive “was prompted by analysis performed by the manufacturer showing that if an erroneously high single angle of attack (AOA) sensor input is received by the flight control system, there is a potential for repeated nose-down trim commands of the horizontal stabilizer.”

Nor did the FAA statement disclose that Boeing and the FAA had been working together for some months to deal with the possibility that the Indonesia crash was caused by a malfunction of its stabilization system.

While it is reassuring the U.S. has finally taken action to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9, the sequence of events points to institutional issues in aviation safety generally. more>

Dignity for drivers: the DGB campaign for ‘fair mobility’

When is a posted worker in Europe not a posted worker? When he’s a truck driver, it seems.
By Martin Stuber and Michael Wahl – ‘A monthly pay of €1,000, no holidays, living separately from their families for two years—the bare figures alone are outrageous,’ the German magazine Stern reported on truck drivers from the Philippines who discovered the ‘wild west’ of Europe’s roads as posted workers for Polish companies. They had to share their driver cabin with a colleague and work, sleep and cook there.

Action on the European level is urgently needed to tackle such cross-border ‘day labor’.

Europe, however, seems to shy away from this solution. European decision makers have failed once again to create new rules on road haulage, in advance of the looming elections to the European Parliament in May. Where some saw too much liberalization, others demanded even more deregulation—and in the end there was no European consensus, neither on posting rules nor on driving and rest times.

Drivers who deliver services on behalf of western-European companies under an eastern-European working contract commonly only benefit from eastern-European minimum wages—around €500 a month. more>

Updates from Georgia Tech

Signals from Distant Lightning Could Help Secure Electric Substations
By John Toon – Side channel signals and bolts of lightning from distant storms could one day help prevent hackers from sabotaging electric power substations and other critical infrastructure, a new study suggests.

By analyzing electromagnetic signals emitted by substation components using an independent monitoring system, security personnel could tell if switches and transformers were being tampered with in remote equipment. Background lightning signals from thousands of miles away would authenticate those signals, preventing malicious actors from injecting fake monitoring information into the system.

The research, done by engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has been tested at substations with two different electric utilities, and by extensive modeling and simulation. Known as radio frequency-based distributed intrusion detection system (RFDIDS), the technique was described February 26 at the 2019 Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS) in San Diego.

“We should be able to remotely detect any attack that is modifying the magnetic field around substation components,” said Raheem Beyah, Motorola Foundation Professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and co-founder of Fortiphyd Logic, Inc. “We are using a physical phenomenon to determine whether a certain action at a substation has occurred or not.”

Opening substation breakers to cause a blackout is one potential power grid attack, and in December 2015, that technique was used to shut off power to 230,000 persons in the Ukraine. Attackers opened breakers in 30 substations and hacked into monitoring systems to convince power grid operators that the grid was operating normally. Topping that off, they also attacked call centers to prevent customers from telling operators what was happening. more>

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Updates from Adobe

The Joy of Making Things
By Jessie Young – Jenny Yu’s masterfully crafted illustrations feature solitary figures wrapped in blankets of light and color.

Yu gravitated toward art at a young age.

She earned a BFA in Illustration at California State University, Long Beach and was initially focused on traditional materials. She only started using digital tools during her junior year. “My friend gave me her old Bamboo tablet for free,” she says, “and that’s how it all started. I was really bad at it!”

References are important to Yu’s process. To imagine the essence of a scene, she must first understand its structure in the real world.  She’s inspired by the light and color she sees on walks around the city; her favorite photographers; and the work of Hayao Miyazaki.

She chooses her subject matter according to her mood, in “slice of life-y contexts.” She’s drawn to quiet contemplation: sitting and having coffee, walking alone down the street, looking out the window. Her work often captures moments when the subject is lost in thought, unaware that anyone is paying attention. Instead of populating these spaces with crowds of bystanders, she fills the page with architectural details, angled lines of falling rain, and layered shapes created by late afternoon or early morning light.

Her favorite parts of the illustration process are to lock down the basic composition and structure and then experiment with value and color. more>

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