Thursday, March 14, 2019

Do You Know Your Car Can Be Now Hacked?

The hacking vulnerability has increased due to software used to control features-functions. 
Car hacks are no longer science fiction, it’s now a reality.  Security researchers Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller conducted a successful hacking experimental on the Cherokee Jeep’s infotainment system using a simple 3G connection. This hack is even more stunning as the duo found a way to took over a car remotely. The driver was driving at 70 mph on the edge of downtown St. Louis when the exploit began to take hold.
As the two hackers remotely toyed with the air-conditioning, radio, and windshield wipers, I mentally congratulated myself on my courage under pressure. That’s when they cut the transmission.
Straight from the source, Wired’s report reveals what was the driver’s reaction to compulsive behavior of his electronic compromised car. The Andy Greenberg, who was behind the wheel, stated that researchers took control over completely the car’s brakes include an accelerator, plus other less-essential components like radio, horn and windshield wipers. To do that Chris and Charlie had to hack the entertainment system Uconnect through a cellular network. In the end, the jeep ended up in a ditch after Valasek and Miller killed its engine and slammed its breaks remotely. The demonstration led Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.4 million cars after Jeep was hacked.

This isn’t the first time that this type of hack has happened. Earlier in 2015, German security specialist Dieter Spaar discovered vulnerabilities in BMW’s ConnectedDrive that allowed a hacker to remotely open the vehicle’s locks. They were also able to track the car’s real-time location and speed, as well as read data sent and received via the BMW Online feature. This was quickly addressed, but as we all know with any publically-released software, there’s always a possibility of some other vulnerability left undiscovered.

The investigative report published by the SmartGate system, first introduced by Škoda Auto in their Fabia III cars. SmartGate allows car owners to connect a smartphone to a car to read and display real-time data, such as how fast your car is going, your fuel mileage, etc. In our analysis, we discovered that an attacker can steal that information from a SmartGate-enabled Škoda car, and that’s just by being in the car’s SmartGate in-car Wi-Fi range. This allows the attacker to identify the car’s Wi-Fi network, break the password (which, due to SmartGate’s own design, is very insecure) and then gain access.

The only chance of failure here is if the attacker goes out of range of the car’s Wi-Fi signal, which is pretty hard to do considering the attacker can be as far back as fifty feet from the target and still be within range. And yes, we’ve tried it while in motion as well—it still worked. While the vulnerability we discovered in SmartGate isn’t as dire as those found in Uconnect or ConnectedDrive of BMW's cars, there’s still a way for attackers to turn it into a very malicious exploit for themselves. For example, an attacker could use the information to track the driver and find out where they’re going, and when they’ll be possibly stopping. They could also control the driver’s movements, by locking him out of SmartGate and forcing him to stop by the car dealership in order to get electrical sign errors fixed. And be able to manipulate the situation physically if there is something needed.

In modern days of science and technology, your wheel can be bugged! Gone the days when you thought, popping the faceplate off the CD player, slapping a Club over the steering wheel, and locking the doors, it meant security. As vehicles’ electronic systems evolve, however, automobiles are starting to require the same protection as laptop computers and e-commerce servers. Currently, there’s nothing to stop anyone with malicious intent and some ­computer-programming skills from taking command of your vehicle to lock the system or cause malfunctions remotely. What if this is done while you driving at 180km/h? 
As vehicles fill up with more digital controls and internet-connected devices, they’re becoming more vulnerable to cybercriminals, who can hack into those systems just like they can attack computers. Almost any digitally connected device in a car could become an entry point to the vehicle’s central communications network, opening a door for hackers to potentially take control by disabling the engine or brakes.
After gaining access, a hacker could control everything from which song plays on the radio to whether the brakes work. While there are no reported cases of cars being maliciously hacked in the real world, researchers affiliated with the Center for Automotive Embedded Systems Security (CAESS—a partnership between the University of California San Diego and the University of Washington) demonstrated how to take over all of a car’s vital systems by plugging a device into the OBD-II port under the dashboard. It gets worse.

Researchers remotely take control of an unnamed vehicle through its telematics system. They also demonstrate that it’s theoretically possible to hack a car with malware embedded in an MP3 and with the code transmitted over a Wi-Fi connection. Such breaches are possible because the dozens of independently operating computers on modern vehicles are all connected through an in-car communications network known as a controller-area-network bus, or CAN bus. Even though vital systems such as the throttle, brakes, and steering are on a separate part of the network that’s not directly connected to less secure infotainment and diagnostic systems, the two networks are so entwined that an entire car can be hacked if any single component is breached. So the possibility now exists for platoons of cars to go rogue at the command of computer-savvy terrorists and crazed exes. But the truth is that hacking a car takes a lot of time, effort, and exceptional skills—the same resources automakers are using to programming the cars.

At Chrysler, where optional infotainment systems are integrated with hard drives and mobile internet hot spots, company spokesman Vince Muniga says a data breach of an individual automobile is “highly unlikely.” That doesn’t mean the company is ignoring the problem. “It’s an ongoing engineering issue,” he says. “You want to stay one step ahead of what these guys might do.” Rich Strader, Ford’s director of information technology security and strategy, says the automaker has been steadily strengthening in-vehicle systems, but the threat is always evolving. 

He says the difficulty with security is that “you can’t honestly say something is impossible.” Presently, automakers are beginning to take steps to secure networks the same way the information-technology sector now locks down corporate servers. “Just like the internet in its early days, car networks don’t employ very much security,” says Brad Hein, a programmer who accessed vehicle data from his Chevrolet Impala 2006 model via an Android phone using code he’d written. “As more people start to access car networks,” Hein says, “I expect that the auto industry will start beefing up the security.” That’s certainly happening at OnStar, the telematics system that’s already in more than 6 million vehicles. Eric Gassenfeit, OnStar’s chief information security officer, says his team has seen resources and staff grow “by an order of magnitude” over the past two years. So the battle between the hackers and the carmakers is on. Here are your car’s most vulnerable entry points and what automakers are doing to protect them:


A car’s telematics system is a vehicular communication network: Enabling technologies, applications, and general outlook on intelligent transportation, where traffic robots are part and parcels in tracking and identifying the cars on the road. The Telematics system can notify police in the event of a crash remotely, trace down or disable the system of a stolen vehicle when owner/manufacturer provides diagnostic information.

  Hackers gain access into the telematics system of the car in two fronts from, car maker or user. 
Hackers can gain access to the car telematics system either hack directly into the application software of the car or pitch a backdoor to the original manufacturing blueprint. A hacker could, for example, disable a car’s ignition or lock the system of the car the same way an anti-theft system would. It can easily cause a car accident if the vehicle's motion is at high speed.

To demonstrate this kind of hacking technique is not common and mostly is very exclusively remains within the intelligence community that has these type of cyberwar and capabilities. To master this capability a person must able to do reverse-engineering of an entire telematics system. Still, forward-looking automakers are already beefing up the security of external communications and in-car networks. OnStar, for example, has a “white list” of approved computers that are allowed to connect with cars.


A skillful hacker can deploy malware attached on music like Mp3 music CDs, DVDs, USBs and anything that can allow him to breach the security layer of the car's telematics system.  Once you connect the infected devices in the car, it can automatically download additional malware and link to other unauthorized file-sharing services. Little did you know this that there is a malware code that battles its way to your car’s central lock and to disables your brakes when activated.

As infotainment systems gain functionality and technologies evolve, carmakers are trying to shield their products from cyber threats and make them more vital components without jeopardizing vehicle integration. “We harden all our safety-critical systems,” says OnStar’s security chief Gassenfeit. GM’s newer cars, such as the 2011 Chevy Volt, verify any data sent between two systems the same way online retailers process credit cards.


Just as smartphone manufacturers have app stores in which thousands of programs developed by third-party companies are available for free download, carmakers are expanding their infotainment services through secure downloadable software. If a rogue app contains malware or a virus, however, it can infect your car without your knowledge. The carmakers are now attempting to be very strict in selecting which apps compatible or enter it onto their systems. Ford’s MyFord Touch and Toyota’s Entune, for example, allow only a handful of preapproved programs, while GM’s MyLink goes so far as to route all software through remote servers so that users won’t inadvertently install infected apps on their cars.


The researchers at CAESS wrote a program that searched for and exploited vulnerable communications points where vehicle systems interface. They installed that program onto the car’s telematics system through the OBD-II port. Once on the network, the program could control every system from the windshield wipers to the brakes. According to cyber security experts, this is the most direct way to hack a car, as it sends code directly to the CAN bus. Since most of the data sent into the vehicle systems had not been encrypted, leaving cars wide open for enterprising hackers. Now, carmakers are starting to adopt routine security protocols from the information-technology field, such as protecting files with digital signatures. “That's pretty much standard IT is now being applied to the automotive sector,” says Gassenfeit.


In most modern cars, the power-locking mechanism is connected to other vehicle systems so that doors can lock automatically when a car is put into drive and unlock if the airbags have been deployed or the keys are locked inside. That interconnectivity, theoretically, means that the locking mechanism can be breached to access other systems. If accelerating can engage a car’s power locks, a skilled hacker could use the power locks to force that car to accelerate. The Infotainment and onboard diagnostic systems are still linked by a physical connection to the module that controls functions such as steering and braking, but on some systems, such as Ford’s, that connection goes only one way. “The only thing we allow is for the real-time module to send messages in one direction,” says Ford’s Strader.


It sounds like one of those warnings that shows up in chain e-mails every few months, except it’s true. A wireless key fob is supposed to unlock and/or start the car only when the person holding the key-fob is directly next to the vehicle or already sitting inside. However, Swiss researchers have found a way to intercept and extend the signal up to 30 feet with parts that cost less than $100. The setup doesn’t replicate the signal—it just extends its range so the car thinks the key fob is closer than it actually is. There’s not much a car manufacturer can do here. These hackers haven’t broken the key fobs’ encryption in any way—they’ve just extended its range with a radio repeater. So keep an eye out for anyone loitering in a parking lot and holding a homemade antenna.


The new vulnerability comes as automakers are increasingly using software to control features and functions that have long been dominated by hardware, such as braking, gear shifting, and throttle control. It represents a seminal break from the mechanical hydraulic systems of the recent past, one that began with the introduction of electronically controlled fuel injection in the late 1960s. “Software is rapidly replacing hardware,” says Colin Bird, a senior automotive industry analyst at IHS Markit Ltd. INFO, +0.55% “More than 50% of a car’s value today is defined by software, and that is continuing to increase.”

There have been only a handful of successful hacks on vehicles so far, carried out mostly to demonstrate potential weaknesses—such as shutting down moving a car and taking control of another’s steering. But security experts paint a grim picture of what might lie ahead. They see a growing threat from malicious hackers who access cars remotely and keep their doors locked until a ransom is paid. Cybercriminals also could steal personal and financial data that cars are starting to collect about owners. Or they might get even more ambitious. 

Some experts warn of a day when millions of fully internet-connected vehicles will be at risk of being hijacked remotely. A mass hack could be catastrophic for the self-driving cars of the future, especially if those cars don’t have steering wheels or other backup systems to let drivers take manual control. Now the auto industry and lawmakers are rushing to meet these threats. Congress is proposing new standards that car companies must meet to guard against cyber attacks. Car makers are beefing up their software to make their vehicles tougher to hack, as well as reaching out to benevolent hackers to help them identify potential security flaws. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

AI Augmented Government

  The emerging of cognitive technologies have the potential to revolutionize the public sectors
Many government agencies are already capturing the potential of artificial intelligence technologies, using them to relieve, replace, and augment humans in completing job-related tasks. For many people, artificial intelligence (AI) conjures images of humanoid robots and talking computers straight out of a science fiction film. But the cognitive and automation technologies behind AI could fundamentally transform the way public-sector employees work—eliminating some jobs, redesigning countless others, and even creating entirely new professions within the government.

AI-based technologies include machine learning, computer vision, speech recognition, natural language processing, and robotics;1 they are powerful, scalable, and improving at an exponential rate. Developers are working on implementing AI solutions in everything from self-driving cars to swarms of autonomous drones, from “intelligent” robots to stunningly accurate speech translation. The AI could eventually revolutionize every facet of government operations. For instance, the Security, Legal and Immigration and Services in creating a virtual assistant platform like EMMAAI, that can respond accurately to human language.

Cognitive technologies are already having a profound impact on government work, with more dramatic effects to come. AI-based applications could potentially reduce backlogs, cut costs, overcome resource constraints, free workers from mundane tasks, improve the accuracy of projections, inject intelligence into scores of processes and systems, and handle many other tasks humans can’t easily do on our own, such as predicting fraudulent transactions, identifying criminal suspects via facial recognition, and sifting millions of documents in real time for the most relevant content. The potential is vast. AI will help business to increase speed, enhance quality, and reduce costs at the same time, but cognitive technologies offer that tantalizing possibility.

AI presents governments with new choices about how to get work done, with some work fully automated, some divided among people and machines, and some performed by people but enhanced by machines. In this study, we offer a roadmap for government leaders seeking to understand this emerging landscape. We’ll describe key cognitive technologies, demonstrate their potential for the government, outline some promising choices, and illustrate how government leaders can determine the best near-term opportunities.

In May 2017, Congress established the bipartisan Congressional Artificial Intelligence Caucus, and members have since introduced numerous pieces of AI legislation. More recently, the administration launched the American AI Initiative through a February 2019 executive order, and the Department of Defense released its own strategy on how to incorporate AI into national security. As government use of AI evolves, agency leaders will look for pathways to capitalize on opportunities, and the workforce will need new technical and social skills to succeed in AI-augmented workplaces.  At the lower end of the scale, automating tasks regularly performed by computers could free up 266 million U.S. federal government working hours annually, potentially saving $9.6 billion. At the higher end, as many as 1.1 billion working hours could be freed up every year over the course of the next five to seven years, saving $37 billion, as estimated in a recent Deloitte Consulting LLP report on AI-augmented government.

The report produced by the IBM Center for the Business of Government and the Partnership for Public Service, the report addresses how government can best harness AI's potential to transform public sector operations, services, and skill sets. The report draws on insights from a series of roundtables with government leaders to explore pressing issues surrounding AI, share best practices for addressing solvable challenges, and work toward an implementation roadmap for government to maximize the benefits of AI. More specifically, it finds that AI could enable agencies to fulfill their numerous roles efficiently and effectively by reducing or eliminating repetitive tasks, revealing new insights from data, driving better decision-making, improving customer service and enhancing agencies' ability to achieve their missions.  AI could help employees focus on core issues related to their agencies' missions and spend fewer hours on other administrative duties.

 There is a “Three Vs” framework created to help government agencies assess their best opportunities for investing limited resources in AI technologies. The framework helps enable decision-makers to gauge the extent to which AI may be viable in the near future, whether there’s value in assigning specific tasks to machines, and whether AI applications are vital to tasks involving information mining and analysis. 

Viable. Some tasks that require human or near-human levels of speech recognition or vision can now be performed automatically or semi-automatically using technology. Examples include initial telephone customer contacts and the processing of handwritten forms. Cognitive technologies, meanwhile, can make predictions based on large quantities of unstructured data, identify fraud patterns and clues buried in financial information, and spot trails behind public health crises. 

Valuable. Just because tasks can be automated doesn’t mean they should be. Some manual functions are already performed efficiently and competently and are not necessarily attractive candidates for automation. However, it makes sense to automate functions that can be easily monitored—and thus turned over to machines—or those involving massive volumes of information. Such tasks might include determining program eligibility, processing invoices, or tabulating tax data. Moreover, professionals frequently perform responsibilities that may not actually require their expertise so AI could free up their time to perform higher-value tasks. Accountants, for instance, may analyze hundreds of contracts looking for patterns and anomalies—likely relying more on reading than accounting skills. AI technologies could take over the processes of scanning and extracting contract terms. In fact, cognitive technology in the legal field can find relevant documents for discovery faster and more thoroughly than lawyers do. 

Vital. Processing high volumes of certain business transactions in government, such as those requiring a high degree of human attention and analysis, may not be achievable without the support of cognitive technologies. For example, with the help of optical character recognition, one Georgia agency processes 40,000 campaign finance disclosure forms per month, many of them handwritten. Machine learning could be critical to numerous government functions, from fraud detection to cybersecurity. A learning system that can respond to ever-changing threats by learning from past experience and external modeling may be the best defense against adversaries ranging from rogue states to cybercriminals.

Four Ways to Deploy AI in Government

Relieve. This approach lets technology take over mundane tasks, allowing workers and employees to focus on higher-value tasks. In the U.K., one central agency automated the most tedious aspect of its call center work—opening case numbers. The agency estimates this reduced handling times by 40 percent and processing costs by 80 percent. 

Split up. Automation technologies can be applied to a specific job or task, leaving humans to complete the rest and perhaps supervise only the work of the application. For example, at the United Nations, there is language translation software that creates live transcripts during assembly meetings for spectators, while human translators could revise them later for the publication. In addition, the White House and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, have designed chatbots to answer some basic online questions while leaving more complicated queries to humans. 

Replace. In this model, AI can be used completely to replace entire functions or the job once performed by humans. The best opportunities include repetitive tasks.  For instance, the U.S. Postal Service uses handwriting recognition technology to sort out mail by ZIP code; (the work that belonged to a mailman ) some machines can process up to 18,000 pieces of mail an hour, in surpassing human with far extent. 

Augment. Human workforce and skills can be combined with AI technologies to achieve faster and better results. When technology is designed to augment, humans who still remain in the driver’s seat. An example is IBM’s Watson for Oncology, which uses cognitive technology to recommend individual patient treatment plans to physicians, citing evidence and a confidence score for each recommendation to help doctors make more fully informed decisions. 

Government employees in the future will need new skills to succeed in an AI-enabled world. As AI becomes more ubiquitous in everyday business government workplaces should emphasize expertise in technical, digital and data literacy.
  • The report recommends three paths for agencies: Sufficient funding for AI projects and basic machine learning skills to the government employees in extensive and ongoing training about technology, digital skills, and data analysis in order to succeed in an AI workplace.
  • The stakeholders should work with other relevant agencies and academic institutions to establish a team for AI talent similar to the U.S. Digital Service, governed by rules that make it easy to hire top AI talent from the private sector for time-limited stints in government to help the state department or agencies that need AI expertise.
I will likely fundamentally transform how government works, and the changes may come sooner than many expect. As cognitive and automation technologies advance in power and capability, government agencies can bring more creativity to strategic workforce planning and work design, and leaders can work together to analyze the interplay of talent, technology, and design to propose a path forward for AI in government.

Other contributors to this article: Claude Yusti, William D. Eggers, David Schatsky, Dr. Peter Viechnicki, Tatiana Sokolova, and Alayna Kennedy from IBM, and Peter Kamoscai, E.A Nambili Samuel, and Katie Malague from the Partnership for Public Service.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Artificial Intelligence In Warfare

     Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming a critical part of modern warfare and defense measures
While artificial intelligence is often hyped up as a business savior and derided as a job killer, the question of AI ethics also comes in the minds whenever people discussing military technology, particularly in the wake of the Project Maven furore at Google. (Read the text of the letter.) which is part of the US Army Research Lab under the US Department of Defense and Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. AI has broadened the scope of modern application include war machines. It is due to this competency the technology offers, that scientists have started applying AI in the defense sector to patch up the limitations a human being has. 

AI obsession in the military application is not far away. The reality is that AI is already a growing repository of the modern military strategy of many countries, while the NATO and other countries such as China and Russia are increasingly lapped up its engagement for national defense as well security. Just this month, the Pentagon has released a memo that calls for the rapid adoption of AI in all aspects of the military and asked for the collaborative help of big tech firms.

Earlier in the year, US had sought clearer ethical guidelines for the use of AI. Dana Deasy, CIO at the US Department of Defense, told press: “We must adopt AI to maintain our strategic position and prevail on future battlefields.” Oracle, IBM, Google and SAP have all indicated interest in working on future Department of Defense AI projects. When people think of the use of AI by the military, they may first think of the ‘killer robots’ or autonomous weapons that many have warned about. While AI weapons are a stark reality, many of the deployments involve uses of latest tech such as automated diagnostics, defensive cybersecurity, and hardware maintenance assistance.

The contentious use of facial recognition by US immigration authority ICE can also be considered a deployment of AI in an increasingly militarised landscape. The usage of AI in defense is plentiful. Antony Edwards is COO of Eggplant, a provider of continuous intelligent test automation services which has some clients in the defense space. These services are used by NASA to ensure all the systems in the Orion spacecraft digital cockpit are behaving correctly. “That these instruments are showing the correct information and entering information into the instrument has the correct effect, is clearly critical to mission success,” Edwards explained. The Federal Aviation Administration also uses Eggplant to ensure its digital displays are correct: “ie if an aircraft comes into the monitored airspace, it shows on the appropriate screen in the appropriate way.”

How should AI be approached? 

According to an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) white paper geared towards militaries, there are certain things that can be done to approach AI in a thoughtful way. These include supporting civilian leadership of AI research, supporting international agreements and institutions on the issues, focusing on predictability and robustness, encouraging open research and dialogue between nations, and placing a higher priority on defensive cybersecurity measures. Looking at ethical codes, some legal experts argue that ethics themselves are too subjective to govern the use of AI, according to the MIT Technology review.

AI applications

With giant leaps in the domains of AI and robotics, drones, and intensive hacking toolkit against the national defense's system which are no longer limited to sci-fi movies.  The applications of AI in the military environment are seeing rapid advancements with every passing day. 
  • 1. Military drones for surveillance: The popularity of military drones has skyrocketed in recent years. Drone technology has come a long way since its inception and is now finding application in unmanned aerial vehicles. These remote-controlled vehicles carry out all tasks, right from inspecting a terrain to flying an unmanned aerial vehicle. Military units across the world are employing drones to: Channel remote communication, both video and audio, to ground troops and to military bases, Track enemy movement and conduct reconnaissance in unknown areas of a war zone Assist with mitigation procedures after a war by searching for lost or injured soldiers, and giving recovery insights for a terrain Aid with operations like peace-keeping and border surveillance 
  • 2. Robot soldiers for combat: While drones help in guarding aerial zones, robots can be deployed on land to assist soldiers in ground operations. These high functionalities, intelligent robots, designed with such strategic goals, add a cutting edge to technology in the defense sector. With advancements in machine learning and robot building, scientists have succeeded in building bipedal humanoid robots to execute a variety of search and rescue operations, as well as, to assist soldiers during combat. Robot fleets function like soldier units and carry out collaborated armed activities using multiple techniques. They are self-reliant, adaptable, and have their fault-tolerant systems, all of which contribute to their ability to make and execute decisions swiftly and competently.
  • 3. Intelligent Management: While military tactics are being continuously improved, there also needs to be an improvement in the way information is analyzed in the army bases. The data collected by drones and robots, while on the war field, needs to be structured and grouped in an organized manner to make the information insightful. Satellite imagery, terrain information, and data from multiple sensors can be used to create situational awareness by applying deep learning, statistical analysis, and probabilistic algorithms to such data. 
  • 4. Cybersecurity: With a lot of military sites being digitized, it is necessary to secure the information stored on these web portals. AI comes to the rescue by offering cybersecurity options as a response to the malware, phishing, and brute force attacks on data centers and government websites.
Human rights issues

Many leading human rights organizations argue that the use of weapons such as armed drones will lead to an increase in civilian deaths and unlawful killings. Others are concerned that unregulated AI will lead to an international arms race. This is a concern for many who are not convinced that AI, as it exists now, should be deployed in certain circumstances, due to vulnerabilities and a lack of knowledge of the weaknesses in certain models.
AI expert David Gunning spoke about the issues: “We don’t want there to be a military arms race on creating the most vicious AI system around … But, to some extent, I’m not sure how you avoid it. “Like any technology arms race, as soon as our enemies use it, we don’t want to be left behind. We certainly don’t want to be surprised.” Edwards believes that more awareness of AI among software acquirers is an important element when it comes to using it in these contexts. “AI breaks many of the assumptions that people make about software and its potential negative impacts, so anyone acquiring a product that includes AI must understand what that AI is doing, how it works, and how it is going to impact the behavior of the software.

 “They must also understand what safety mechanisms have been built in to protect against errant algorithms.” AI ethics can be unclear Luca De Ambroggi is senior research director of AI at IHS Markit, with decades of experience in AI and machine learning. He says that when it comes to military projects, ethics “can get very muddy”. He added: “AI ethics are generally complex at a global level precisely because we share different cultures and have different values. 

 AI usage will remain with the human operator for now, as it is still intended to aid humans at a tactical and command level. “For this reason, it is vital a code is developed and adhered to. However, we must continue to research the benefits and pitfalls of widespread AI application and implementation within military usage, to further inform the ethics of AI.” Who makes the call? Principal technology strategist at Quest, Colin Truran, got to the core of the issue when it comes to AI ethics in a general sense: “The current overarching conundrum surrounding AI ethics is really in who decides what is ‘ethical’. 

AI is developing in a global economy, and there is a high likelihood of data exchange between multiple AI solutions.” Ultimately these are ethical quandaries that will likely take years to find an answer to if such a feat is even possible. As the EFF notes, the next number of years will be a critical period in determining how militaries will use AI: “The present moment is pivotal: in the next few years either the defense community will figure out how to contribute to the complex problem of building safe and controllable AI systems.

In January 2019, the head of U.S. Army acquisitions said that by allowing artificial intelligence to control some weapons systems may be the only way to defeat enemy weapons. U.S. military has embraced AI, arguing that America cannot compete against potential adversaries such as Russia and China without the futuristic technology. Concern over placing machines in charge of deadly weapons has prompted military officials to adopt a conservative approach to AI, one that involves a human in the decision-making process for the use of deadly force. 

Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology (ASAALT), said it may not be wise to put too many restrictions on AI teamed with weapons systems. "People worry about whether an AI system is controlling the weapon, and there are some constraints on what we are allowed to do with AI," he said at a Jan. 10 Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington, D.C. There are a number of public organizations that have gotten together and said, "We don't want to have AI tied to weapons," Jette explained. 

The problem with this policy is that it may hinder the Army's ability to use AI to increase reaction time in weapon systems, he said. "Time is a weapon," Jette said. "If I can't get AI involved with being able to properly manage weapons systems and firing sequences then, in the long run, I lose the time deal. "Let's say you fire a bunch of artillery at me, and I can shoot those rounds down, and you require a man in the loop for every one of the shots," he said. "There are not enough men to put in the loop to get the job done fast enough."

 Jette's office is working with the newly formed Army Futures Command (AFC) to find a clearer path forward for AI on the battlefield. AFC, which is responsible for developing Army requirements for artificial intelligence, like the established a center for AI at Carnegie Mellon University, he added that ASAALT will establish a "managerial approach" to AI for the service. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Can AI Replace Your Manager?

                 As AI capabilities grow some managerial positions are at risk for total automation. 
In 2018, Amazon abandoned development on a smart recruiting AI tool. Up until it was scrapped, this AI algorithm was considered the state of the art until it took a turn. As a learning machine, the AI was fed ten years worth of resumes to help identify patterns in successful hires; the only issue was this had been a predominantly male-dominated industry. The end result was a biased and sexist machine that began to favor male applicants over female applicants, even going so far as to filter out female names and applicants listing all-women colleges. However, the AI excelled in identifying patterns, good fits for applicants and positions, and organizing piles and piles of resumes to make suggestions. But hiring is another story. Machines don’t have the emotional capacity, the human touch, to get a personal feel for a potential hire, that is best left up to talented and intuitive hiring managers. 

What we learn from the failed Amazon AI project is not the failings of AI itself, but we have learned how well it can work alongside a human manager. By picking up the slack of paperwork, managers can focus on the candidates themselves.  It also reveals to us how AI manage data on a scale that no person ever could, but the lack of human touch poses its own issues - and opportunities.

Today, payroll managers and paymasters face a 96% chance of automation, going against many predictions that it would only be service industry positions and other predictable tasks that could see an overhaul of this kind. Gathering data, analyzing said data, and spitting out solutions is what this kind of AI does best and it seems to be creeping into management roles. 

Ask any smart manager and they’ll be the first to tell you how valuable humanity it when it comes to being a leader. Yet it seems more and more office managers and project managers find themselves inundated with repeatable, even mindless tasks. From ordering new office supplies to coordinating with the weekly cleaning crew, sometimes a manager is left with little time to actually manage. Wherever we go, tech seems to pick up our slack. Taking over the menial, the time-consuming, and the repeatable tasks of daily work operations save us time and valuable energy.

From a manager’s perspective, this absolutely changes the game. But making this kind of digital switch isn’t always easy, especially for small businesses with limited staff, limited resources, and limited funds. Around one in five small business leaders think the process of selecting and implementing new tech is just not worth the hassle and more than one in three think they don’t even need more tech. When it comes down to brass tacks, four in five small business believe they could benefit from better tech - as long as it’s the right kind of tech. Business leaders should ask themselves some key questions - What daily responsibilities consume too much time, and what gets overlooked with it’s crunch time? What could operations benefit from most, time-saving tech, data processing automation, maybe even mobile access support?

Daily office operations and the responsibilities of office managers get an auxiliary boost from programs like Managed By Q. Ordering office supplies, scheduling maintenance, and cleaning, can all be done with the touch of a button. Furthermore, built-in hiring algorithms to find receptionist, assistants, and other staff can easily be reached through the iPad hub it works from. Today, more than half of small businesses are using some form of tech to help with the hiring process.

Project management gets streamlined and simplified as well as AI platform iCEO takes on big projects and shrinks them down to size in easily achievable and scalable pieces. By the deadline of a project, iCEO is capable of generating a research report of up to 124-pages. Other AI programs from hiring to scheduling are available, but there really is no one-size-fits-all AI-bot for business. Ready to find the perfect fit for your business and get back to doing what matters? Let this infographic be a guide to AI management tools, its capabilities, weaknesses, and how to find the most sustainable and scalable option for any business.

Infographic: Can AI replace your manager?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Mexican Drug Lord: El Chapo Joaquín Guzman's Trial

Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman being escorted to a helicopter by Mexican security forces at Mexico's International Airport in Mexico City, Mexico, on 22 Feb 2014. Mexico's apprehension of the world's most-wanted drug boss struck a blow to a cartel that local and U.S. authorities say swelled into a multinational empire, fueling drug war and killings around the world. Photo: Susana Gonzalez. 
Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán has been found guilty on all 10 counts at his drug-trafficking trial at a federal court in New York.

Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, the infamous drug lord known as “El Chapo,” was found guilty on all counts against him and now faces a lifetime in prison, ending a remarkable fall for a kingpin who spent years evading law enforcement officials while they say he continued amassing power and wealth atop a sprawling empire. Guzmán gained worldwide notoriety for the reach of the Sinaloa cartel, which prosecutors have called “the world’s largest and most prolific drug trafficking organization,” and for his own audacious escapes from Mexican prisons. He spent years on the run, assembling what U.S. authorities have described as a private army. Following his most recent prison escape in 2015, using a tunnel dug to his cell, he was hunted, rearrested again and then extradited to the United States, where he faced federal charges in multiple locations.

Who is he? 

Joaquín Guzmán Loera “El Chapo,” was born in La Tuna , Badiraguato, Mexico in 1957, his father was a farmer who grows opium, the only product planted in Badiraguato. El Chapo Guzmán he got first exposure to drugs and hardcore while a teenage of 7 years working in the marijuana and opium poppy fields. After that, when he was 15 he served an apprenticeship of sorts under Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo (The Godfather) and the chief of the most powerful Guadalajara cartels, that spun the drug wars in Latin America. 

His rise was swift, setting up his own cartel, the Sinaloa, in north-west Mexico in the late 1980s. Over time, it became one of the biggest traffickers of drugs to the US. El Chapo narrowly escaped assassination from by a rival gang's shootout in 1993. The Mexican attorney general's office described him as "egocentric, narcissistic, shrewd, persistent, tenacious, meticulous, discriminating and secretive", According to New York Magazine

   El Chapo' Guzman escorted to a helicopter by Mexican security unit. Photo: Susana Gonzalez. 
He was arrested by Mexican authorities and sentenced to 20 years in jail, but escaped and eventually apprehended again. His verdict was unanimous read out by a jury in Brooklyn in a packed courtroom on Tuesday, following an 11-week trial that ended. Guzmán, was wearing a dark suit jacket and tie and showed no visible sign of emotion as the verdict was announced, CBS News reported. 

Guzmán’s conviction came after prosecutors assembled an extensive case that included cooperating witnesses and intercepted messages, which demonstrated a remarkable degree of penetration into most secretive and dangerous cartel’s circles. John A. Horn, a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted Mexican cartel cases, he said a conviction in a case like this also carries a deeper meaning. “There does need to be a conviction of somebody like Chapo Guzmán, both for the symbolism and the pure factor of justice being served,” Horn, who is now in private practice, said in an interview before the verdict. “It does show that . . . for somebody at his level, justice will be done, it will be served. It’s an incredibly powerful victory for DOJ, for law enforcement.”

Prosecutors were unsparing in depicting Guzmán as a purveyor of brutality and horror spanning borders. “Guzmán Loera’s bloody reign atop the Sinaloa Cartel has come to an end, and the myth that he could not be brought to justice has been laid to rest,” said Richard P. Donoghue, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement. “Today, Guzmán Loera has been held accountable for the tons of illegal narcotics he trafficked for more than two decades, the murders he ordered and committed, and the billions of dollars he reaped while causing incalculable pain and suffering to those devastated by his drugs.”

Acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker said in a statement: “This case, and more importantly, this conviction, serves as an irrefutable message to the kingpins that remain in Mexico, and those that aspire to be the next Chapo Guzmán, that eventually you will be apprehended and prosecuted.” But defense attorneys insisted that he has been made a scapegoat. Guzmán’s lawyers asked the jury to dismiss the testimony of the government’s cooperating witnesses, describing them as liars out to save themselves by seeking the best possible deals with authorities. 

Guzmán’s lawyer, A. Eduardo Balarezo, said in a statement that he is disappointed by the jury’s verdict and will consider all options, including a possible appeal. “We were faced with extraordinary and unprecedented obstacles in defending Joaquín,” Balarezo said, including Guzmán’s detention in solitary confinement, massive amounts of discovery that were difficult to review in a timely manner and the government’s reliance on cooperating witnesses, which he said “laid bare the corruption of the criminal justice system where freedom is traded by the government in exchange for testimony.”

For Guzmán, a conviction in a U.S. courtroom that guarantees life in prison cuts to the heart of his underworld myth, which only grew while he was a notorious fugitive and mysterious prison escapement. Federal prosecutors have described Guzmán’s rise in the 1980s as being fueled by his skill at funneling cocaine into the United States and then getting proceeds back to Colombian cartels. Guzman continued expanding his empire, prosecutors said, even after he was taken into custody in Guatemala in 1993 and in 2015 was placed in a maximum-security Altiplano prison, he managed to get away every time with insider assistance. 

His escape from prison in — infamously said to involve him slipping away in a laundry hamper — began what would be more than a decade evading capture. Those years were filled with financial successes, violence and efforts to corrupt Mexican government officials, prosecutors said in court filings. They also said Guzmán and his associates obtained drugs and supplies from other countries and sent cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana into the United States. When his days getting closer in 2016, he was arrested once more and spent a year in custody before his extradition in 2017. 

The drug trade was a gold mine for Guzmán, enabling him to “exponentially increase his profits to staggering levels,” prosecutors said in one court filing. But a key part of that, prosecutors continued, was “thousands of acts of violence” — including murder, torture and kidnappings — committed by assassins and aimed at possible witnesses or people who sought to help law enforcement.

Prosecutors say Guzmán carried out some of the violence personally. During closing arguments in the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Goldbarg said Guzmán once cursed and shot two men, both of whom were already badly beaten, for working with a rival cartel. He then ordered their bodies thrown into a bonfire, Goldbarg said. An attorney for Guzmán said he denied the allegations. 

While Guzmán had sought to shield his communications from authorities, he also wiretapped people around him — including his family, mistresses and other associates — which Goldbarg said ultimately helped law enforcement officials. The IT technician who set up a system for Guzmán to surveil those around him gave it to the FBI. Goldbarg said Guzmán found out the technician was working with U.S. authorities and sought to have him killed, but no one could find him. The technician testified at trial.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, a wife of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman surrounded by security personnel and members of the media taking coverage as she exits the U.S. District Court of Eastern New York City on 12 February 2019 in the Brooklyn.  (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images). 
El Chapo wife Emma Coronel
Emma Coronel Aispuro wife of 'El Chapo' speaks on 04 February 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. During the deliberations in the trial of El Chapo, who is accused of trafficking over 440,000 pounds of cocaine, in addition to other drugs, and exerting power through murders and kidnappings as he led the Sinaloa Cartel.
 As he was escorted from the courtroom, Guzmán shook the hands of his lawyers before exchanging glances with his wife, Emma Coronel, a 29-year-old former beauty queen, and giving her the thumbs up. Judge Brian Cogan, who presided over the trial, thanked the jurors for their dedication at what he described as a complex trial, saying it was "remarkable and it made me very proud to be an American". Guzmán's lawyers said they planned to launch an appeal.

Another court papers accused him of having girls as young as 13 drugged before raping them. Guzmán "called the youngest of the girls his 'vitamins' because he believed that sexual activity with young girls gave him 'life'", a former associate, Colombian drug trafficker Alex Cifuentes, was quoted as saying. During the trial, Cifuentes also alleged that Guzmán gave a $100m (£77m) bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who is said to have contacted him after taking office in 2012 and asked for $250m in return for ending a manhunt for him. Mr. Peña Nieto has not publicly commented. When asked by a former cartel lieutenant why he killed people, he is alleged to have said: "Either your mom's going to cry or their mom's going to cry."

How he escaped from prison? 

His sons bought a property near the prison and a GPS watch smuggled into the prison gave diggers his exact location. At one point Guzmán complained that he could hear the digging from his cell. He escaped by riding a specially adapted small motorcycle through the tunnel. He also used the software on his phone to spy on his wife and mistresses, which allowed the FBI to present his text messages in court. In one set of texts, he recounted to his wife how he had fled a villa during a raid by US and Mexican officials, before asking her to bring him new clothes, shoes and black moustache dye.

Among the drug cartel circles, he had the status of a folk hero, a popular subject of "narcocorridos" - there are musical tributes, Hollywood movies, and cigarette package portraying this drug baron. In 2009 Guzmán entered Forbes' list of the world's richest men at number 701, with an estimated worth of $1bn (£775m).

Monday, February 11, 2019

Russia To Disconnect Itself From The Internet

Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares to answer questions during a special interactive webcast, organised by BBC and Yandex in Moscow, 06 July 2006. Photo: Dmitry Astakhov/TASS. 
Russian authorities and major internet providers are planning to disconnect the country from the internet as part of a planned experiment, Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) reported last week. The reason for the experiment is to gather insight and provide feedback and modifications to a proposed law introduced in Duma the Russian Parliament in December 2018. A first draft of the law mandated that Russian internet providers should ensure the independence of the Russian internet space (Runet) in the case of foreign aggression to disconnect the country from the rest of the internet.

In addition, Russian telecom firms would also have to install "technical means" to re-route all Russian internet traffic to exchange points approved or managed by Roskomnazor, Russia's telecom watchdog. Roskomnazor will inspect the traffic to block prohibited content and make sure traffic between Russian users stays inside the country, and is not re-routed uselessly through servers abroad, where it could be intercepted. 

A date for the test has not been revealed, but it's supposed to take place before 01 April, the deadline for submitting amendments to the law --known as the Digital Economy National Program, that budget for $15 billion to 2024. The test disconnect experiment has been agreed on in a session of the Information Security Working Group at the end of January. Natalya Kaspersky, Director of Russian cyber-security firm InfoWatch, and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, presides over the group, which also includes major Russian telcos such as MegaFon, Beeline, MTS, RosTelecom, and others.

 Kaspersky Lab Global Partner Conference for Cybersecurity To Cyber Defense on 30 May 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Photograph: Credited to Ian Gavan/Kaspersky Cyber-security Lab.
RBK reported that all internet providers agreed with the law's goals, but disagreed with its technical implementation, which they believe will cause major disruptions to Russian internet traffic. The test disconnection would provide ISPs with data about how their networks would react. also reported that local internet services and were also supportive of the test disconnection. The Russian government has been working on this project for years. In 2017, Russian officials said they plan to route 95 percent of all internet traffic locally by 2020. Authorities have even built a local backup of the Domain Name System (DNS), which they first tested in 2014, and again in 2018, and which will now be a major component of the Runet when ISPs plan to disconnect the country from the rest of the world.

Russia's response comes as NATO countries announced several times that they were mulling a stronger response to cyber attacks, of which Russia is constantly accused of carrying out. The proposed law, fully endorsed by President Putin, is expected to pass into a national law. Ongoing discussions are in regards to finding the proper technical methods to disconnect Russia from the internet with minimal downtime to consumers and government agencies. The Russian government has agreed to foot the bill and to cover the costs of ISPs modifying their infrastructure and installing new servers for redirecting traffic towards Roskomnazor's approved exchange point. The end goal is for Russian authorities to implement a web traffic filtering system like China's Great Firewall, but also have a fully working country-wide intranet in case the country needs to disconnect.


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