Row 16: IT Privacy and Security weekly update for the December 29th 2020


Welcome DAML’ers to this week’s edition of the IT Privacy and Security weekly update.

According to research done by MIT the number 17 is the most common randomly chosen number between 1 and 20.

17 is the seventh prime number. A prime number is a number that can only be divided by both itself and the number 1.

The number 17 is more than just a prime number though – If you add the first four prime numbers together their sum is 17. It’s also the only prime number that is made up of four other consecutive prime numbers, these numbers being 2, 3, 5, and 7.

It’s also the number of the adjoining IT Privacy and Security weekly update podcast and a row number that you will never find on an Alitalia plane.

So … this week we are going to buckle you into row 16 of this week’s luxury flight. First destination is the land of AI, before heading over high risk terrain and landing in big data’s data base.

We think you’ll love the journey, the stewards are exceptional and the food? Well … just remember your new year’s resolution!


Should we be concerned with the direction of AI development?

Not sure, but Elon Musk is concerned.

Back in 2016, he warned that human beings could become the equivalent of “house cats” to new AI overlords.

He has since repeatedly called for regulation and caution when it comes to new AI technology.

But, of all the various AI projects currently in the works, none has Musk more worried than Google’s DeepMind.

“Just the nature of the AI that they’re building is one that crushes all humans at all games,” Musk told the New York Times in a new interview. “I mean, it’s basically the plotline in ‘WarGames.’” DeepMind’s latest AI can master games without being told their rules

DeepMind's latest AI can master games without being told their rules | Engadget?

Backstory: In 2016, Alphabet’s DeepMind came out with AlphaGo, an AI which consistently beat the best human Go players.
One year later, the subsidiary went on to refine its work, creating AlphaGo Zero.

Where its predecessor learned to play Go by observing amateur and professional matches, AlphaGo Zero mastered the ancient game by simply playing against itself. DeepMind then created AlphaZero, which could play Go, chess and shogi with a single algorithm.

What tied all those AIs together is that they knew the rules of the games they had to master going into their training.

DeepMind’s latest AI, MuZero, didn’t need to be told the rules of go, chess, shogi and a suite of Atari games to master them.

Instead, it learned them all on its own and is just as capable or better at them than any of DeepMind’s previous algorithms.

So yes, it’s coming.

Schooling from home these last 9 months?: Imagine if chatbots taught our children. Each child would have a customized learning environment, with the lessons specific to the needs of the child. Imagine having the ability to ask every single question you needed to ask, and having things explicitly explained for you. AI would know that it took you 7% longer than average to answer a math question about fractions. It would instinctively know you were taking a little longer to process this information, indicating you were struggling with it. The chatbot would see that you needed more time or more review with that concept. Classrooms would no longer move at the speed of the slowest learners but instead move at the speed of each learner.

Smart workflows are designed to seek out efficiencies. By using process mining tools to examine bottlenecks and optimize throughput, speculation is that AI could handle the inefficient tasks while humans focus on executing the brilliant, creative, innovation.

Like anything, great assets can be used in different ways. December 3rd 2020 Donald Trump signed an “Executive Order on Promoting the Use of Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence in the Federal Government”.

So what’s the upshot for you?

AI is going to impact your life in ways that you can’t comprehend, and, while technology is getting smarter and closer to real-time, its application will depend on understanding the benefits of AI to individual situations and delivering them with the right amount of empathy. This pairing calls on emotional intelligence; the ability to not just solve problems, but understand and connect with the reasons why those problems are occurring and how they impact other people. That’s where you come in, because … it’s something that is still a very long way off for machines.


Common painkillers can change our perception of risk

Sometimes drugs have unexpected results. If you follow the Covid-19 vaccine research you might be familiar with the severe allergic reactions to nanoparticles in Pfizers Covid 19 Vaccine, or the chances you will have a 4x severe reaction to COVID if you have a particular Neanderthal gene found in 16% of European populations, but in this case we have some surprising psychological results from a university study. Modern day businesses and cyber security are all about identifying risk and dealing with it appropriately, but what if a pain reliever that altered your perception of risk?

While acetaminophen is helping you deal with your headache, it may also be making you more willing to take risks, a new study suggests.

“Acetaminophen seems to make people feel less negative emotion when they consider risky activities – they just don’t feel as scared,” said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.

“With nearly 25 percent of the population in the U.S. taking acetaminophen each week, reduced risk perceptions and increased risk-taking could have important effects on society.”

Even everyday activities like driving presents people with constant decisions involving risk perception and assessment that could be altered by use of the painkiller.

“We really need more research on the effects of acetaminophen and other over-the-counter drugs on the choices and risks we take,” he said.

So what’s the upshot for you?

The perception you have honed to a razor sharp edge in anything from riding a bike to interactive gaming is critical to delivering you safely out of a high risk situation. Now it seems something as innocuous as a Tylenol could have a significant impact on our perception of risk, something to remember the next time you join in a game of CounterStrike.


***Your data collected ***

We just tested the world’s most popular browser, Google Chrome with default settings against a browser specifically set up with enhanced privacy. The difference, as you can imagine, was a little unsettling.

Search history data is collected to refine recommendation algorithms or build online profiles, not to catch criminals. Mostly.

When you click on “I agree” to the usually overly long privacy statement please remember the following: Data collected for one purpose can, and often is, used for another.

Smart devices like speakers, TVs, and wearables keep such accurate details of our activities that they can make or break high profile criminal cases. Smart speakers and search queries don’t have to recordings of crimes or confessions to be useful to police. They keep time-stamped logs of all requests, along with details of their location and identity. Investigators can access these logs and use them to verify a suspect’s whereabouts and the veracity of a claim.

Smart TVs now record your selection, so that ads can be targeted to you in more specific ways than were ever achievable before. (Leaving me even more offended at the diaper ads I get 10 times during a 2 hour movie.)

In 2018 California passed the California Consumer Protection Act, then in July they approved a ballot measure, the California Privacy Rights Act. There are some important updates like data minimization. The new rules prohibit businesses from retaining personal information “longer than absolutely necessary,” That could be a problem for some, since when it comes to shedding data, it’s easier to hold it than to delete it.

One quote says it all: “Some data is good, more data is better, all data is best.” Data can be analyzed by machine learning and AI systems to develop new products, services, and applications.

It’s just important to understand who is taking your data and what they are doing with it. If you are rushing to put What’s App on that new phone you got for the holidays, remember that the first thing Facebook have you agree to is an upload of your full contacts list to their servers for “better service”.

So what’s the upshot for you? Think carefully before agreeing to a privacy policy you are never going to read. And if What’sApp won’t let you contact your friends unless Facebook takes your whole contact list, perhaps it really is time to try an alternative.


That’s it for this week DAML’ers! With almost all of 2020 behind us, we hope you enjoyed both the journey and the view this week from row 16.
See you in se7en days time and Happy new year!



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Great recording @rps!

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