Artificial Intelligence Is A Mirror

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing our lives at an unprecedented rate. Artificial Intelligence is being used to make decisions that directly affect millions of people. Most of the time people are not aware that Artificial Intelligence is being used. For the few people who know that Artificial Intelligence is being used to influence their lives, they have no way of knowing if biases have been removed from the Artificial Intelligence. People just have to trust the companies will do their best to reduce biases in Artificial Intelligence. Depending upon the motivations and the resources available in companies, eliminating biases in Artificial Intelligence might not be at the top of their list. 

So, what is the problem? There is no central third-party authority to verify if companies have actually reduced biases in their Artificial Intelligence.

At its core, Artificial Intelligence is a set of instructions (aka algorithms) that use data to make decisions. There are three issues here: 
1. People determine what the algorithms should do 
2. People determine what data to use 
3. People determine if they agree or disagree with the decisions made by Artificial Intelligence

As we can see, there are people involved in every aspect of creating and using Artificial Intelligence. Algorithms can intentionally or unintentionally create a disadvantage for people. In one example, algorithmic failures in facial recognition have resulted in people becoming unidentifiable due to their facial features. In another example, by not using real cancer patient data IBM’s Watson for Oncology made unsafe medical recommendations. These are just a few examples but they will continue to grow as AI becomes an essential part of our lives.

So, what can be done? I think we can solve these issues by creating a central authority/office at the Federal government level. The purpose of this central authority/office would be to inform the public if and where Artificial Intelligence is being used and if the Artificial Intelligence being used has any biases. Companies would inform this central authority/office about their uses of Artificial Intelligence and this central authority/office would certify if these Artificial Intelligence are bias-free. This central authority/office will have its own Artificial Intelligence to check other Artificial Intelligence created by companies. 

5 Questions To Ask About Cloud

Gartner describes Cloud (Computing) as “a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service using Internet technologies.” While the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), defines Cloud Computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

In layman terms, Cloud (computing) is a way for people to use hardware, software, and data through the Internet.

Basically, what this means is that instead of using their own devices (e.g., computers, mobile devices, etc.), we use our own device to access a cloud provider’s services. Some examples of cloud computing services used by consumers include Gmail, Facebook, and Amazon, etc. For organizations, ‘going to the Cloud’ can mean different things depending upon the business models and the main objectives to be achieved.

Within an organization, the Information Technology (IT) is responsible for all technology-related hardware, software, data, services, and security across all departments (e.g., accounting, administration, business development, customer service, finance, human resources, management, manufacturing, marketing, operations, production, R&D, sales, etc.) This is a huge undertaking especially when we consider that different departments within an organization can have different needs and those needs change can change rapidly based on consumer behaviors, market conditions, regulatory requirements, and other changes. This implies that rapid changes require organizations to move fast and adapt. This is where the IT department can help or become an obstacle.

The IT department responds to changing organizational needs by gathering relevant requirements from other departments to develop IT systems. These IT systems can be custom-built or bought from technology vendors or a combination. The hosting, development, maintenance, and update of these IT systems typically become the responsibility of the IT department. The speed at which these IT systems are deployed and respond can have a direct effect on the organization. For example, an IT system that is only capable of handling 2000 simultaneous users will crash if 30,000 simultaneous users accessed it. What to do? This is one example among many where Cloud Computing shines.

Generally speaking, cloud services provided by cloud service providers can be stacked into Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Additionally, Cloud can be private – where it is hosted on an organization’s data center, public – where it is hosted on a cloud vendor’s data center or hybrid.

To begin your Cloud journey, here are some questions to ask:

 

Today Tomorrow
Who is going to use Cloud services? Who should be using Cloud services?
What organizational departments provide the Cloud requirements? What organizational departments should provide the Cloud requirements?
Where is the biggest Return on Investment (ROI) when it comes to going to the Cloud? Where should be the biggest Return on Investment (ROI) when it comes to going to the Cloud?
When are organizational weaknesses identified? When should organizational weaknesses be identified?
Why is the Cloud for you? Why should the Cloud be for you?

If the organization is going to the Cloud to provide software (cloud) services to consumers then some of the things they have to figure out how to make them easy to use and always available. If the organization is going to the Cloud to improve IT operations then they have to identify efficiencies, be specific in terms of time and costs, figure out vendor lockdowns, and data hosting considerations. Sometimes organizations want to tackle both the internal improvements and consumer-focused services which can add more complexity to what going to the Cloud could mean for them. In certain respects, Cloud computing is about being efficient but it is more about being flexible enough to respond to changes quickly.

To be clear, going to the Cloud is not for every organization but if proper due diligence is done then it is beneficial for most organizations.

Can Technology Help During A Pandemic?

As of writing this article, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 85,641 cases of the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in 57 countries which have led to 2,933 deaths. The WHO is recommending that people should:

  1. wash their hand frequently
  2. maintain social distancing
  3. avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  4. practice respiratory hygiene
  5. seek medical assistance when needed
  6. stay informed

The above WHO recommendations are both at the individual and societal responsibility levels that each one of us should follow. In today’s hyper-connected global economy, societal responsibility is of the utmost importance. By all indications, COVID-19 which still does not have a vaccine yet is very close to becoming a pandemic. Organizations around the world have a societal responsibility to also help in containing COVID-19 from spreading. While most organizations around the world do not have the resources to monitor for all the recommendations by the WHO but these organizations still can have an impact on helping maintain social distancing and keeping their employees informed.

In terms of helping maintain social distance, organizations can create possibilities for people to work from home even if they are not sick. The incubation period of COVID-19 is 14 days and by the time it is known that an individual is infected s/he might have unknowingly affected others. By having people work from home, organizations can help slow or even stop the spread of COVID-19 within their own organizations. Unless organizations are in an industry that requires physical labor, most of the people around the world sit in front of a computer screen to do their work which means they can work from home. In order to set up people to work from home, organizations need to discuss the possibilities with their Chief Information Officers (CIOs). If your organization is not large enough to have a technology leader on staff then generally speaking, here is what you need to do:

  1. Create your own, buy or subscribe to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service
  2. Create your own, buy or subscribe to a Teleconference service
  3. Remind employees to follow all the same rules of information security at home as if they were working from their work locations
  4. Provide laptops, ipads, and phones as needed for their work
  5. Provide paper, pens, pencils and other stationery as needed for their work
  6. Reimburse them for electricity and mobile service charges (if you can not provide phones) to them
  7. Create a culture of trust

In terms of keeping your employees informed, organizations can help by:

  1. Create open communications across the organization by giving and getting regular updates via email, phone, website, wiki, messaging services, etc. to and from employees
  2. Create a culture of trust

Going back to the original question of if technology can help during a pandemic, the answer is a resounding yes! And while you are creating work-from-home possibilities, keep in mind that you do not need an excuse for a global health crisis to help your employees.

Technical Chops Of The Democratic Presidential Candidates

On November 3, 2020, The United States of America will hold its presidential election. This presidential election will determine if Republican President Donald J. Trump gets another 4 years in office or if there will be a new Democratic President. The Democratic Presidential Candidates cover a lot of topics that they think are of interest to the American public.  For me that topic is technology. Specifically, the technology policies, the technology uses and the technology abuses in the private and public sectors.

Everything we do today and the foreseeable future is either directly, or indirectly related to technology. Thus, in this post, I am going to go through each Democratic Presidential Candidate’s campaign pages to know what they are saying about technology and then provide my own views. Here it goes…

In My Point of View:

The United States needs data privacy legislation at the federal, state and local levels. In order to create data privacy legislation, all levels of government and industry have to:

  1. Define what data is and isn’t
  2. Who (companies, consumers, government) have this data
  3. How data privacy legislation would apply when data is captured, at-rest, in-motion, in-between systems/apps, etc.
  4. Create global alliances across countries and regions
  5. Develop a course of action when agreed-upon rules are not followed

Let’s keep this in mind that even though Europe has the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California has the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), currently, there is no data privacy legislation that is 100% global in nature.

In regards to taxing the organizations that sell consumer data, while on paper it seems alluring but the problem is that when most consumers sign up for ‘free’ services online (i.e., social media, email, etc.), they essentially agree to however the organization likes to use their data. Also, some organizations could avoid data taxation if they simply store and sell the data in a country that doesn’t tax them on data transactions. This, in turn, can create more problems for the safekeeping of the data.

In regards to putting extra government fees on megadeals (i.e., mergers, acquisitions, etc.) would although make the budgets bigger for regulatory agencies but, on the flip side, megadeals could become a rubber stamp just to collect higher government fees. In a megadeal, when organizations have to figure out if their deals would affect current and future competition, this would require a tremendous amount of time and resources whose costs might be passed on to the consumer in either price and/or more detailed data collection.

If a government agency is tasked with breaking up tech, this would require a big budget and expertise to truly understand what is happening in tech and it’s nuances in these companies. Asking these agencies to go break tech up would just create a mess especially when these companies always have the option to operate from another country whose rules might be more relaxed. Additionally, the government doesn’t pay well and to think that super-smart people will work for the government their whole careers are just foolhardy.

In My Point of View:

The Green New Deal focuses on creating technologies that can tackle climate change. While this is a good approach, I think in order to make it stronger, it is essential to look at the current impact of technology on consumers, how technology is marketed to consumers and the waste technology creates when it comes to energy consumption and physical materials harvested from the Earth. We also have to look at how recycling of technology works. Recycle should not be just a collection of technology waste and disposal, but it should be a 360-degree approach where the emphasis is on reusing old technology and technology parts. Also, we have to consider the impact to jobs when moving to a 100% green economy. The government could provide free training and job training which could help reduce some anxiety.

In regards to Broadband, it should be a fundamental right for every person to have access to high-speed Internet. While the government can help in creating the incentives to create the infrastructure for it, we have to be reminded that the monopoly of internet access providers is a very real threat.

In My Point of View:

Information and disinformation tactics have been used for a long time throughout human history. These tactics have taken on a new face in today’s digitally connected world. The idea that anyone can start disinformation on any social media website with a few clicks is concerning. Ideally, the private sector and public sectors would put checks and balances in place to monitor and ensure disinformation is not used. However, it is a threefold problem where disinformation production, disinformation consumption, and disinformation monitoring have to be dealt with equally. As humans, we are prone to biases and these get amplified once we are online. Additionally, we have to note that most social media organizations are for-profit entities and thus there are no incentives for these organizations to make disinformation dissemination a priority.

In regards to breaking up tech, to spur innovation and competition seems good on paper but what is essentially being said is that if an organization reaches a certain size then the government will look into breaking them up. This idea seems anti-capitalistic. Tech is an ecosystem and breaking up tech means disrupting that ecosystem. To be clear, because of these tech ecosystems, many small businesses have also emerged. Think about the small businesses that are able to advertise on Google to anyone in the world, think about small businesses that use Amazon to sell their products to a wider audience, think about small businesses that have used Facebook as a place to test their marketing strategies at a bare minimum cost. The ripple effects of a tech breakup have to be understood and studied thoroughly before going this route. Additionally, due to global reach and connected, tech is not bound to one geographical location. These tech organizations can simply pack their bags and move to more tech-friendly countries which means that not only will there be job loss but also brain drain.

In My Point of View:

For the climate change revolution to take place, we need to look at energy production as well as energy consumption. We can’t out-tech our way out of the imminent climate disaster. We have to look at energy holistically which means to make tough choices when it comes time to do so. But these tough choices don’t have to be at the expense of anyone. While it is true that climate change revolutions will create many jobs but what about the jobs that would be lost. We have to provide incentives for people to join the new green economy. No one should be left behind.

The future of Education requires us to think in terms of a lifetime approach to pursuing knowledge. In this pursuit, teachers, coaches, parents, and guardians play an important role in addition to the environment that we create for the students. To hamper a student’s lifetime success simply because they were born in certain zip codes is simply, cruel. Everyone should have the ability to pursue knowledge physically and/or virtual regardless of their situation. This is where technology comes into play. Technology can be the great equalizer not only in terms of pursuing knowledge online but also in terms of making students globally competitive. We have to teach not only the ability to use technology but teach the ability to enhance, modify, develop, and extrapolate what technology can do.

  • Michael Bloomberg
  1. Infrastructure
  2. All-In Economy

In My Point of View:

The US needs to update its infrastructure and create new infrastructure that enhances the quality of life for all its residents. Infrastructure is not only about roads, bridges, and transportation but it’s about technology as well. Technology infrastructure means fiber optics, networking switches, broadbands, various types of clouds and software. As long as we don’t include technology as part of overall infrastructure goals, we will surely become obsolete sooner than later.

In regards to creating jobs of the future, we have to make a decision about what future we want. A future without considering the effects of technology will not be a future at all. In the long term, most jobs can and will be replaced by technology. The question is not if but when and when is happening right now. The people who will be displaced are tremendous and its high time we take our heads out of the sand. As technology becomes more commoditized, jobs will be for people who not only understand the technology but who can also connect the dots through technology.

  • Pete Buttigieg
  1. Education
  2. Building for the 21st Century

In My Point of View:

When it comes to looking at the economy as a whole and other countries are doing. Providing technology education is important. What is also important is not losing those who pursue higher education in the US and then are forced to leave to their home countries. These people in those countries then compete directly with the US. This process can’t continue. Technology education can unlock the potential of a generation but we can’t forget those who will be left behind.

In regards to building for the 21st century, we have to think about where we are, where we want to be and what it will take in terms of initiatives from federal, state, local, non-profit, for-profit and academia. We have to think not only in terms of physical things but we also have to look at the happiness of our residents and the positive effects we can create for the environment.

In comparison, here are the technological achievements of President Trump so far.

Final Thoughts

While all of the above technology-related topics are important but what we are missing is a comprehensive National Digital Strategy that is agreed upon at the federal, state and local levels. What we need are legislators and regulators who understand the power of technology. What we need are people who know that technology can change the economy and even the government.

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2 Takeaways From The 2019 Annual Meetings By The International Monetary Fund (IMF) And The World Bank

Last week, the IMF and The World Bank held their conference-style event in Washington D.C. These Annual Meetings bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives and academics to discuss global issues such as global economy, international development, and the world’s financial markets.

Here are my 2 takeaways from the 2019 Annual Meetings focused on technology and cybersecurity including my related articles:

  1. TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS AND JOBS
    •  Impacts of Technology
      • Technology can help IMF membership countries to reach their development goals
      • Technology can create financial inclusion which:
        • reduces inequality
        • reduces poverty
        • increases overall growth
      • Technology can help remove inefficiencies in traditional financial systems
      • Technology needs an environment to flourish in innovation
      • Technology has to be:
        • Citizen-Centric
        • Goal-Orientated Innovation
        • Able to address cybersecurity
        • A key contributor to financial inclusion
      • Big Tech should abide by the same rules as Big Banks because they have:
        • Technology
        • Global reach
        • Established customer networks
        • Vast amounts of customer data
        • Access to capital
        • Brand recognition
    • Role of Central Banks in the Digital Age
      • Ensure systematic integrity
      • Reduce cost of services
      • Test crypto currencies as it relates to fiat currencies
      • Track crypto currencies in macroeconomics
    • Crypto for Transactions will Spread more Rapidly when:
      • Data protection laws are in place
      • Data empowerment is encouraged
      • Trust is needed for widespread adoption
  2. PARTNERSHIPS
    • Technology usage for finance is being tested by IMF internally
    • Technology needs partnerships at both private and public sectors for infrastructure needs such as electricity, internet access and internet speed
    • Technology should open standards
    • Technology interoperability is needed for cross-border and cross-currencies

Bonus: IMF’s conducted its own startup-style pitch event

For the 2019 Spring Meetings, here are my 2 takeaways.

For the 2018 Spring Meetings, here are my 2 takeaways.

Related Articles:

  1. SPICE FOR BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION
  2. 5 QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT STRATEGY
  3. 5 QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT POLITICS
  4. 5 QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT INNOVATION
  5. 5 QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT CULTURE
  6. 5 QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT EXECUTION
  7. 5 QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT BIG DATA

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