A Terminator in your back yard

“1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. “

Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 AD

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T-3000 Terminator model from Terminator Genisys

The last months were plenty of odd accidents for the world of robotics, the most remarkable happening by the end of July at Facebook AI’s Labs. Two chatbots were programmed to perform a negotiating and bartering task while improving their skills adapting each other, but weren’t instructed to do it in proper English.  And in fact they didn’t, starting using their own unintelligible mix of words to speed up the process. The experiment had to be shut off as out of control.

Just two week before in Washington DC a Knightscope K5, a sort of Start Wars R2-D2 like security robot, drowned itself into the pond of the mall where was on his duty in what eye witnesses described as a “suicide”.

Besides this two good horror stories, such accidents should make us aware that failures at more important levels of robots programming and automatic machines functions could produce serious problems to us. Few days ago in fact 116 academics and entrepreneurs (Elon Musk among others) signed a document of Toby Walsh, a professor at New South Wales University, asking ONU to regulate robot’s application in warfare and military field.

I’m not sure if the three Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics may work, but for sure we are on time for self-regulating such technologies in order to do not harm ourselves, in a matter of few years this would be too late and could possibly led to out of control situations like… having a T-3000 in our back yard asking for certain John!

Errr… by the way.. have you got any Sarah Connor on your address book?

Oh Canada!

A recent survey of IPSOS Mori has polled 18,000 people in 25 countries asking what are the most reliable influencers on the world scene. The outcome has been pretty surprising as main global powers, China and USA, have both dropped dramatically to 49% and 40% confidence rate, with Us loosing 24% since last year poll.

Infographic: Canada Seen As The Most Positive Influence Globally  | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

On the other side two nice surprises: Canada with an astonishing 81% and Australia are the most well regarded countries when it comes to influence international decisions.

This is probably due to their president’s reputation (Trudeau vs Trump) but it’s an interesting trend that probably will lead to news scenarios in the near future.

Curiously enough UK and EU have the same consideration among the polled audience, Brexit issues seem to be irrelevant at least in this field!

 

Cybersecurity: a problem of training

The recent worldwide cyber attack has bring back an old issue regarding computer and, more in general, company security. Are in fact our data well protected? Such a question is very important, especially in a world where almost all aspect of life are directed by a computer connected to the internet.

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More than 200,000 machines worldwide have been attacked, apparently using well known breaches of old Microsoft operating system. Big companies and institutions, such as Renault and NHS, had to stop their services.

How is possible a crush at this scale? Symantec and Datto have recently taken a survey regarding ransomware and viruses spreading across companies and corporations with managed service providers.

Infographic: Ransomware: Who's Affected & Why | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

The results are pretty surprising. In fact more than one out of three infections are due to lack of employees training (eg. operating system or antivirus software not updated) , while a big 68% is due to a combination of malware arriving through email or risky websites. Only a 6% is related to technical or security weakness of the company’s network system.

The vast majority of problems thus is due to a misuse of computers and software… A problem that could be easily solved investing few money on tech skills update courses!

Terrorism is a global concern? Then it needs a global effort

Following London’s attack of March 22nd the whole world has fallen back into fear for terrorism and its implications: less freedom of movement, our lifestyle threatened and a global tension in states relationships to name few.

It must be said that an attack was expected. A poll of YouGov taken in late 2016 in fact, showed that more than 50% in France, UK, Germany and USA considered probable a terrorist attack in their countries.

Infographic: Many People Expect Terrorist Attacks in 2017 | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

The concern for terrorism is also not a “western” issue, many islamic and oriental countries have concerns about attacks and terrorism’s related problems, with Turkey leading the group of most concerned countries.

Infographic: The Countries Worrying The Most About Terrorism | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

An age analysis suggest most dangerous individuals are those over 30 years old, meaning radical extremists are those who were supposed to be more integrated in the local culture and way of life.

Infographic: Most UK Terror Suspects And Convicts Are More Than 30 Years Old | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

Being thus terrorism a global problem, having its roots not only in middle eastern countries, a global coordinated effort  is required in order to mitigate its effects. A war to potentials terrorist’s origin countries it’s not enough, a dialog with younger generations must be the goal for a full integration of our cultures.

Crypto currencies: what’s the wheather like?

Monday March 13th 2017 will be an important date for Bitcoin and crypto-currencies in general, the SEC in fact will decide whether if approve or not Bitcoin as an ETF (Exchange Traded Fund).

In case of approval it will be possible to invest on Bitcoins over the long term without directly buy them, while short term investors may bet on price movements: basically the Bitcoin will become a commodity.

But will this be a positive thing for the largest crypto-currency? For sure all e-wallet problems may be overcome once for ever and the value of it may rise as high as 3,200$ as per some analysts prediction.

Infographic: Bitcoin by Far the Largest Crypto-Currency | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

On the other side the effect of trapping Bitcoin in normal market rules and rituals may have an unpredictable outcome.

For that as regards “real” Bitcoin, after the recent crash, it’s experiencing a recovery. The number of Bitcoin ATMs is increasing with US being the country with the biggest number of machines in the world, making North America to detain 73% of total machines on Earth.

Infographic: Number of Bitcoin ATMs by Country | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

Also other areas are more and more interested in the crypto currency, countries such as Venezuela and Nigeria in fact look to the Bitcoin as a more secure and less depreciable currency compared to their national ones.

Women in tech? Not still enough!

Gender equality on work places has seen a strong improvement in recent years and, also if a lot of efforts need to be done, the trend seems to be well clear: the role of working women is gaining more and more importance while wages differences are getting closer.

But.. there’s a but. Is every sector experiencing such a beneficial trend? Unfortunately not.

Infographic: The Tech World Is Still a Man's World | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

Surprisingly one of the worst area for gender equality is tech. While it has an average performance for Leadership jobs, being 25% S&P500 average for women with leading positions, shows a lack of women in charge for technical jobs.

None of the top companies has more than 25% of tech positions covered by women with Microsoft reaching a mediocre 18%, such a results are even more disappointing as the United Nations planned last year to have a 50-50 gender parity on work places within 2030.

I hope new tech startuppers will revert such a trend to avoid loosing good resources and opportunities on the way.

 

What’s the world like from startups perspective?

The Silicon Valley Bank has recently released the Startup Outlook Report 2017, a survey meant to know deeper the situation of startups and the mood of their funders.

The report had 941 respondent companies mainly working in US, China and UK  on sectors like tech and health.

The picture coming out from the survey points out probably for the first time a pessimistic outlook for business, 16% of companies in fact thing that the business conditions will be worse for the future. Just one year ago pessimists were a mere 1%.

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Funding is still an issue for almost every startup, only 19% in fact find raising capitals for their business not challenging while the remaining 81% is somewhat rather then extremely challenged during fundraising process.

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Regarding Brexit, it seems that UK startups are not scared of remaining as only 17% are considering to move their headquarters outside UK or Europe following the triggering of article 50 of which only 1% will leave Britain for sure.

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It’s still to define instead how Brexit will affect talent recruiting that is considered, by 76% of responders, as the main public policy issue affecting their companies. It’s very likely though, in my opinion, that at least for EU nationals will be put in place bilateral agreements for permanent working visa in the UK.

All images are courtesy of Silicon Valley Bank.