Understanding the impact of artificial intelligence on music and arts

Music waves

This article is part of Demystifying AI, a series of posts that (try to) disambiguate the jargon and myths surrounding AI.

The robots are coming for your job—that’s the general perception of where artificial intelligence is headed today. While that is (in my opinion—and that of many others) an overblown statement for the moment, it’s true that AI algorithms are transforming the employment landscape and changing the way we’re performing tasks.

However, some domains are considered of purely human nature and less threatened by AI disruption. Naturally, creative arts, music and painting are among the first candidates that come to mind. And to some extent, this assessment is true. Artificial intelligence has a ways to go before it yields the next Mozart, Bach or Da Vinci. Continue reading

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What makes software supply chain attacks extremely dangerous?

The first advice any cybersecurity expert will tell you is to install the latest updates for your software and system. Updates prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities on computers to carry out evil deeds such as spreading malware or stealing information.

But what do you do when the updates themselves contain malware? This is exactly what happened in mid-September, when an infected version of the famous security and maintenance tool CCleaner was widely distributed among its users. What made the attack especially noteworthy was the fact that the attackers pushed their malware through the hacked servers of Avast, the company that owns CCleaner. Continue reading

What is the internet of things?

There are now computers in everything, or put another way, everything is now a computer. That’s how cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier described the internet of things (IoT) at a House hearing last year following a major cyberattack on DNS provider Dyn.

As Schneier further explained in the same hearing, a phone is a computer that makes phone calls; a refrigerator is a computer that keeps things cold; an ATM machine is a computer with money inside; a car is not a mechanical device with computers, but a computer with four wheels and an engine.

And all of those computers are connected to the internet, thus the name internet of things. In a nutshell, the internet of things is the world wide web reaching beyond the virtual world of desktop and laptop computers and becoming integrated into the physical world. Continue reading

Why professional work is the killer app for augmented reality

Google Glass enterprise edition

Google Glass Enterprise Edition (Source: X Development LLC)

Augmented reality is becoming the new competition ground for major tech companies. All of the five big players, Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, are making big investments in AR projects. Some of these projects includes smartphones with AR-enabling hardware, AR headsets and AR application development platforms.

But is all this investment aimed at enabling users to play the next version of Pokemon Go, put cat mustaches on their selfies or preview how furniture will look in their living room? Continue reading

We need to rethink how we store our personal data

The data breach at credit reporting agency Equifax, the gory details of which became clear last week, is the latest installment in a series of cybersecurity disasters in which consumers have been at the receiving end of the miseries. The breached data affected the information of 143 million people. That’s not a big number when compared to some of the bigger data breaches of the past year, such as Yahoo’s 1 billion user account record breaker.

However, what made the Equifax breach especially damaging was the sensitivity of the data that attackers laid their hands on. This included Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card information, birthdates and addresses, and more. The only data breaches that compared in terms of severity were Anthem (approx. 80 million people affected) and the Office of Personnel Management (approx. 21 million people affected).

What makes matters worse is that Equifax professes to be a company that protects its customers from identity theft, the same kind of cyberattack that the stolen data will enable. The company is now scrambling to make amends with customers, and is getting ready to face several lawsuits. But that won’t bring back the data that has slipped through its fingers. Continue reading

TechTalks turns two!

TechTalks second anniversary

It’s time to celebrate TechTalks’ second anniversary. It was a huge year for the blog, with a growing audience and lots of exciting posts. We saw the introduction of two new verticals, the “What is…” and “Interviews” columns, bringing you in-depth explainers about important topics and expert opinion about tech trends.

I would like to thank our growing community of crafty writers and thought leaders who helped develop some very interesting posts for the site. If you’re interested in sharing your ideas with the audience of TechTalks, feel free to pitch us here. Not all pitches make it to the blog, but we are open to ideas.

TechTalks also got its own dedicated Twitter account and Facebook page (which could use your help for the moment).

I’m also happy to announce that for coming year, we will have some new features added to the site. We’ll be adding new columns (I’m not stating them here because they’re not final yet) and we’ll also give regular contributor access to proven writers. You’ll have your own bio and access to your own WordPress portal to publish your heart’s content. Stay tuned. We’ll make the announcement soon.

As technology solves and creates problems, TechTalks will be covering the space.

Happy birthday TechTalks! Looking forward to an exciting year three!

What happens to a smart appliance when its manufacturer dies?

Juicero smart-juicer device. Source: Juicero

Early this month, the widely ridiculed juice-squeezing company Juicer, which managed to raise the absurd amount of $120 million in funding from Silicon Valley investors, declared its shutdown. The startup’s demise, which is another manifestation of solutions to non-problems, also points out another endemic problem with our increasingly connected world: the fate of connected devices after the end of their companies.

20 years ago, when you bought a fridge or dishwasher or washing machine for your home, it wouldn’t make much of a difference to you if the company that created the appliance would go bankrupt or remained in business. You would install it in a corner in your home and let it work for years, until it was time to replace it.

Soon enough, that may no longer be the case, thanks to the increasing number of “smart” appliances that are entering consumers’ homes. Continue reading