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Oregon’s Euthanasia Bill Is Intentionally Ambiguous – National Review

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:45 am

Savagery can be subtle.

Oregon, which in 1997 became the first state in the U.S. to legalize assisted suicide, is considering tweaking the laws surrounding advance directives, the legal documents by means of which a person can dictate ahead of time his desires for end-of-life care. The innocuous-seeming changes that Senate Bill 494 proposes would permit the state to starve certain patients to death.

Under current state law, artificially administered nutrition and hydration intravenous feeding by tubes does not include food administered normally: by cup, hand, bottle, drinking straw or eating utensil. The latter category, unlike the former, is considered part of the basic provision of care required for the sick, and required by law as long as the patient is mentally incompetent to say otherwise.

In 2016, Bill Harris of Ashland, Ore., asked a state court to order a nursing facility to stop providing food and water to his wife, Nora, who suffers from Alzheimers disease. Nora could no longer communicate and had lost use of her fine-motor skills, making it impossible for her to use utensils, so the facility had begun spoon-feeding her. According to the nursing facility, Nora continued to choose whether she wanted to eat or not, and the facility never coerced her. Nonetheless, her husband maintained that when she stated in her advance directive that she did not want artificial nutrition, she intended all forms of feeding.

The courts decided against Bill Harris, but S.B. 494, introduced last month and currently under consideration in committee, would reshape the law to suit him. The bill removes the statutory definition of tube feeding and life support, and replaces the word desires with preferences. To the requirement in its advance-directive forms that my healthcare representative must follow my instructions, the bill adds: to the extent appropriate. It also removes the statutory definition of health care instruction.

These understated changes are intended to create interpretive ambiguity. Under the amended bill, would Nora Harriss rejection of artificial nutrition and hydration include being fed by a nurse at her bedside? Even though she is conscious, willful, and able to eat, does continuing to feed her constitute life support? Under S.B. 494, these questions would be left up to the courts, or to regulatory bodies such as the Advance Directive Rules Adoption Committee, which the bill creates ex nihilo. The committees members would be appointed by the governor and have sole authority to revise the states advance-directive forms that is, to continue the subversive work of the legislature without meaningful oversight.

The state of Oregon is, in a word, making it easier for the state of Oregon to kill its most vulnerable citizens.

It seems of little interest to the states legislators that their enterprise is a reversal of the states purpose to protect the preexisting right to life, not to bestow that right on citizens of its choosing. Likewise, Oregons legislators seem little concerned with the possibility that the expansion of a governments claim to its citizens lives accrues a momentum of its own; there is a straight line between this bill and a recent incident in the Netherlands, where the family of a dementia patient held her down as she resisted euthanasia.

But it is worse. Having destroyed the professional oath to which doctors are bound, Oregon would destroy the basic ethic of care that is the mark of a humane society the expectation that says to tend the sick, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless. I was hungry and you gave me food. Under the auspices of a false mercy, Oregon would demand the opposite: to greet Nora Harris, or someone like her a person who is conscious, who is mobile, who expresses emotion and harbors desires and to reject her. Human beings meet each other in the recognition of mutual vulnerability. Oregon would craft a society only for the strong.

That has been attempted before, of course, many times, and it has effected only more brutality. Weakness, by contrast, is an occasion for love to reveal itself, unfolding in a moment of grace. No suffering can entirely occlude this hope. In the final accounting, life is always and everywhere good, and so it is where it is most vulnerable that it demands the fiercest defense.

Ian Tuttle is the Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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3Doodler announces a robotics kit, Star Trek and Powerpuff Girls … – TechCrunch

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:24 am

3Doodlers getting out ahead of Toy Fair with the release of a whole bunch of new products, including a handful of kits and a pair of pens that mark some big licensing deals for the New York-based startup.

The new devices dont represent new entirely products, so much as spinoffs of its existing lines, theflagship Create and the Start, a larger and safer version targeted at younger hands.

The Start Robotics Pen Set is the new focus of the latter, featuring an activity guide that takes young users through the process of connecting motors and blocks to create basic robotics. The pen will also be getting an architectural set that features illuminating wires for building iconic, light up buildings. A third Product Design, kit, meanwhile, is targeted at building smaller scale creations like clocks and wrist watches.

Having started out inventing robots at WobbleWorks, its quite a treat to be closing the circle with 3Doodler robot kits, CEOMax Bogue told Techcrunch. The increased importance of STEM in education means this is also an awesome time to be doing this helping kids learn and make.

The companys using its Create pen to launch a pair of high profile partnerships with CBS and Cartoon Network, bringing branded versions of the device with kits focused on designing different pieces of IP. The Star Trek branded device, which will be available, fittingly through Think Geek, comes with plans for drawing some Original Series designs, like the Enterprise, Spock ears and a phaser.

A PowerPuff Girls Create pen, meanwhile, features stencils with characters from the long running animated series. The company has also partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to create designs based on classic architecture like Illinoiss Farnsworth House.

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Will automation define the future of network technology? – TechTarget

Posted: at 1:16 am

Ethan Banks, blogging in Packet Pushers, said he believes that the future of network technology will be defined by automation. Most configurations will be done automatically rather than by network engineers using command line interfaces or GUIs. Banks said that sparing engineers the repetitive and often boring task of configuration would be a benefit, both from the standpoint of personal satisfaction and business success. When it comes to the future of network technology, he sees the potential of well-written software eliminating many of the mistakes that tired or distracted people make. He said that where the future of network technology is concerned, automating IT is a way for businesses to cut down on risks in IT changes.

What should engineers do with the rise of automation? Banks said understanding and leveraging automation tools and focusing on systems-level thinking will become the new job roles for engineers. A preconfigured automation system won’t work instantly for most businesses and it falls on engineers who understand the business and its processes to adopt automation offerings. “I predict automation scope creep in IT infrastructure automation as well. Perhaps you’ll start by automating the creation of a VLAN. Then you’ll figure out how to hook that simple VLAN creation script into the IPAM API, and reserve a new IP block from the IPAM at the same time the VLAN is created. And then you’ll realize that with a little more code, you can inject the new IP block into the routing domain,” Banks said.

Dig deeper into Banks’ thoughts on the future of network technology.

Ivan Pepelnjak, blogging in ipSpace, shared his thoughts on the new Ethernet Virtual Private Network, or EVPN, implementation that shipped with Cumulus Linux 3.2. While many groups, such as small ASIC makers that were eager to get a control plane for hardware VXLAN tunnel endpoint, or VTEP functionalities, were excited by the inclusion, Pepelnjak believes that the benefits of EVPN are exaggerated.

Pepelnjak terms EVPN “SIP for networking.” He draws comparisons between Cumulus Linux, which implements on Type-3 routes and relies on dynamic MAC learning, and Cisco and Juniper, which offer BGP-based MAC learning, as well as IP address propagation on Type-2 routes. Pepelnjak disagrees with an assessment of EVPN from David Iles, senior director at Mellanox, who suggested that EVPN offers an industry-standard control plane for VTEP orchestration, using an extension of BGP, thereby delivering the promise of Cisco’s FabricPath, TRILL or Brocade’s VCS. Rather, Pepelnjak believes that among the data center fabrics that Iles named, TRILL is at least as standard as EVPN and because it has fewer options, tends to be more interoperable.

Explore more of Pepelnjak’s thoughts on EVPN.

Shamus McGillicuddy, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo., rated IT analytics vendor ExtraHop’s release of a new cloud-based service that applies machine learning to packet stream analysis. The new service, ExtraHop Addy, collects wireline data from all ExtraHop appliances on a user’s system and establishes network baselines. Initially, the service is intended to spot anomalies but in the long-run, its global analysis capabilities are aimed at tracking industry benchmarks and emerging security threats.

McGillicuddy sees ExtraHop Addy fitting into a broader trend favoring analytics in the enterprise. EMA research found that 50% of enterprise network infrastructure organizations use advanced analytics capabilities like machine learning and big data processing to boost network security monitoring and process optimization. According to McGillicuddy, interpreted packet flows are one of the most common approaches to this type of analytics and he said he believes that enterprises should consider for themselves whether Addy will fit their operations.

Read more of McGillicuddy’s thoughts on ExtraHop Addy.

Understanding network automation

Looking into Cumulus Linux

ExtraHop boosts wireline analytics

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To Boldly Cruise Where No Couple Has Cruised Before – Bloomberg

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:36 pm

On her left upper arm, Allison Holmes has a tattoo of an octopus with pointy Vulcan ears wrapping its tentacles around a spaceship that resembles an elongated VW camper. The Spocktopus is a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, who played the half-Vulcan, half-human Mr.Spock on the originalStar Trektelevision series. It was inspired by old science fiction posters, says Holmes, 33, of SanAntonio. Holmes is a self-described Trekkie, though that probably goes without saying ifyoure showing off Spock-inspired body art. Especially if youre showing it off in a hot tub aboard theNorwegian Pearlas it sails through the Western Caribbean on the first-everStarTrek: The Cruise.

Joining Holmes in January were Trekkies from as far away as Australia and New Zealand, their suitcases full of costumes and body paint. Shorts and bathing suits were the favored daywear, but at night fans emerged from their cabins dressed as Vulcans, fierce-looking Klingons, antennaed blue Andorians, and green Orions. There were also several reptilian Gorn and YeomanRand look-alikes with beehive hairdos. Didnt get any of these references? Then this cruise was definitely not for you.

Star Trek screening in the central room.

Photographer:Eva OLeary for Bloomberg Businessweek

You might not think of wannabe Klingons as people who leave their parents basements much, let alone as sun-and-fun types. But superfans such as Holmes make up one of the newest and most enthusiastic groups hitting the high seas. Music themes have dominated the industry for years, but cruises are increasingly embracing other forms of pop culture. In addition to theStar Trektrip, fans are filling ships for shows includingThe Walking DeadandProperty Brothers, where the Scott brothers held Q&A sessions about design, signed autographs, and sang karaoke. Oprah is going to attend anO, The Oprah Magazinecruise to Alaska in July, and the publication, with partner Holland America line, is running four additional theme cruises this fall and next year. There is a tremendous sense of camaraderie on these cruises, says Howard Moses, a travel agent who also runs the website Theme Cruise Finder. Its nice to know that people you meet at dinner share yourpassion.

Angela Vaughan (left)

Photographer:Eva OLeary for Bloomberg Businessweek

Its also nice for the cruise lines, which see themed events as a way to draw new clientele. Third-party production companies book entire ships, usually during what would otherwise be cruisings fallow season; fans care more about the what of the experience than the when or where. And theyre willing to spend. The average fare paid by the 2,300passengers on the six-dayStar Trekcruise was $2,400 per person, more than double Norwegian Cruise Lines typical January rate.

Since the first theme cruises set sail about 30years ago, theyve become a bigger and bigger part of the industry. Moses site recorded 150 in 2012. Today there are 600-plus listings. Included are small group gatherings and shipwide takeovers. Music and superfan charters have become such an attractive business that in 2012 Norwegian bought Sixthman, a production company in Atlanta that began staging Festivals at Sea each year; the 2017 lineup includes cruises featuring Pitbull, Kid Rock, Kiss, acts from the Warped Tour, outlaw country musicians, and the funny men of the TruTV showImpractical Jokers. The purpose of a theme cruise is orange juice concentrate, says Michael Lazaroff, executive director of Entertainment Cruise Productions and the mastermind behind theStar Trekvoyage. We are providing fans with a chance to experience their passion in the most intense possible way.

Lazaroff and his team started talking with CBS, owner of theStar Trekfranchise, in the summer of 2015. As it happened, CBS had been looking for ways to celebrate the 50thanniversary of Gene Roddenberrys creation, which went on the air in 1966. We considered developing aStar Trekcruise for fans for some time, and the 50th anniversary seemed ideal, says Veronica Hart, senior vice president for CBSs consumer-products division. She adds that the stars aligned when William Shatner, 85, Captain James T. Kirk in the original series, signed on to host. He wasnt cheap, Lazaroff says.

That September, Lazaroff and his staff headed to the annual LasVegasStar Trekconvention to test fan reaction. The website we had wasnt ready to take reservations, he says. Interest was overwhelming, and his team cobbled together an online sign-up. We just threw it up, and next thing we knewboom!we were done. The cruise sold out in three weeks, although many who booked had never attended aStar Trekconvention, according to a precruise survey. Hart says the experiences arent mutually exclusive: The cruise is a completely unique, immersive experience.

Diane Ahlberg and Sherry Quinn.

Photographer:Eva OLeary for Bloomberg Businessweek

The Pearl was tricked out with references to the showsthe original series,Next Generation,Deep Space Nine,Voyager,Enterprise, andDiscovery, which is set to premiere this Mayand films. Special signage transformed elevators into turbolifts. The ships specialty restaurants incorporated the names of characters into dishes such as Vic Fontaines chateaubriand, which was named forDeep Space Nines holographic lounge singer.

Programming included the Q&As and the autograph and photo sessions youd find at a convention; autographs cost $25 to $35, depending on the actor, and photos were $40. Klingon foreheads ran $45. Shatner, whose contract mandated that he pose for one photo per cabin, joked to the crowd about how cute Chris Pines portrayal of Captain Kirk is in the latestStar Trekmovies, talked physics and global warming, and attempted to answer fans requests for details about his experiences on set.

Debbie Fisher (left) and Stephanie and David Batchelder.

Photographer: Eva OLeary for Bloomberg Businessweek

Passengers could also attend a no-fee yoga class hosted by Terry Farrell, aka Jadzia Dax,Deep Space Nines Starfleet science officer; play blackjack with Marina Sirtis, aka the half-human, half-Betazoid Deanna Troi onNext Generation; and attend a happy hour with Denise Crosby, aka Tasha Yar, briefly theUSS Enterprises chief of security onNext Generation. Special actor-led shore excursions to Cozumel and the Bahamas, which cost $75, up from the normal $50, sold out before the ship set sail. A lecture by theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, author ofThe Physics of Star Trek(1995), drew a standing-room-only crowd. FormerSaturday Night Livecast member Joe Piscopo, who guest-starred as a comic on an episode ofNext Generation, got multiple standing ovations for a nighttime set.

If thePearlwasnt quite a floatingEnterprisethe crew didnt wear Starfleet uniformsthere were constant references to boldly going and warp speed. The mood was friendly and accepting. Its nice to be among your people, says Holmes of the Spocktopus. You see a lot of cool costumes and a lot of people really, really geeking out. Her parents were also on board, and she and her husband, Allen, 33, have already booked a penthouse for the first of two moreStar Trekcruises that will take place next year, both hosted by George Takei, who played Sulu, the helmsman on KirksEnterprise.

Janyce and Mike Wright

Photographer: Eva OLeary for Bloomberg Businessweek

The cruisers knew their stuff. At a trivia contest with Max Grodnchik, who played Rom, a large-eared Ferengi onDeep Space Nine, passengers rushed to call out answers to questions such as In the Enterprise Incident episode, the Romulan commander offers Spock what? (Answer: The Right of Statement.) During a $40pub crawl with Robert OReilly, Gowron fromDeep Space Nine, passengers showed off their Klingon language skills. One man pounded his feet as he sang the words to several Klingon battle songs. OReilly was impressed.

In one session, Rabbi ElizaBeth Beyer, 57, and her husband Tom, 63, of Reno, Nev., renewed their wedding vows at a ceremony officiated byDeep Space Nines Farrell. Married 35years and wearing Starfleet uniforms, they repeated vows written by Jordan Hoffman, host ofEngage: The Official Star Trek Podcast. They referenced phasers and Tribbles and holodecks and, near the end, said, You are the bridge to myEnterprise, you are the captain to my starship.

Inside the ship’s elevator.

Photographer:Eva OLeary for Bloomberg Businessweek

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Memristor Research Highlights Neuromorphic Device Future – The Next Platform

Posted: at 9:25 pm

February 15, 2017 Jeffrey Burt

Much of the talk around artificial intelligence these days focuses on software efforts various algorithms and neural networks and such hardware devices as custom ASICs for those neural networks and chips like GPUs and FPGAs that can help the development of reprogrammable systems. A vast array of well-known names in the industry from Google and Facebook to Nvidia, Intel, IBM and Qualcomm is pushing hard in this direction, and those and other organizations are making significant gains thanks to new AI methods as deep learning.

All of this development is happening at a time when the stakes appear higher than ever for future deep learning hardware. One of the forthcoming exascale machines is mandated to sport a novel architecture (although what that means exactly is still up for debate), and companies like Intel are suddenly talking with renewed vigor about their own internal efforts on neuromorphic processors.

The focus on such AI efforts has turned attention away from work that has been underway for years on developing neuromorphic processors essentially creating tiny chips that work in a similar fashion as the human brain, complete with technologies that mimic synapses and neurons. As weve outlined at The Next Platform, there are myriad projects underway to develop such neuromorphic computing capabilities. IBM, Hewlett Packard Enterprise with its work with memristors Qualcomm through its Brain Corporation venture and other tech vendors are making pushes in that direction, while government agencies like the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and universities like MIT and Stanford and its NeuroGrid project also have efforts underway. Such work also has the backing of federal government programs, such as DARPAs SyNapse and UPSIDE (Unconventional Processing of Signals for Intelligent Data Exploitation) and the National Science Foundation.

Another institution that is working on neuromorphic processor technology is the University of Michigans Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department, an effort led by Professor Wei Lu. Lus group is focusing on the memristors a two-terminal device that essentially is a resistor with memory that retain its stored data even when turned off that can act like synapses to build computers that can act like the human brain and drive machine learning. Weve talked about the growing interest in memristors for use in developing computer systems that can mimic the human brain.

Lus group created a nanoscale memristor that to mimic a synapse by using a mixture of silicon and silver that is housed between a pair of electrodes. Silver ions in the mixture are controlled by voltage applied to the memristor, changing the conductance state, similar to how synaptic connections between neurons rise and fall based on when the neurons fire off electrical pulses. (In the human brain, there are about 10 billion neurons, with each connected to other neurons via about 10,000 synapses.)

Neuromorphic computing proponents like Lu believe that building such brain-like computers will be the key moving forward in driving the development of systems that are smaller, faster and more efficient. During a talk last year at the International Conference for Advanced Neurotechnology, Lu noted the accomplishment of Googles AlphaGo program, but noted that it had to be done on a system powered by 1,202 CPUs and 176 GPUs. He also pointed out that it was designed for a specific task to learn and master Go and that doing so took three weeks of training and some 340 million repeated training reps. Such large compute needs and specific task orientation are among the weaknesses of driving AI in software, he said. AlphaGos win was an example of brute force an inefficient computer using a lot of power (more than the human brain consumes) and designed for s specific job that necessitated a long period of training. He also pointed to IBMs BlueGene/P supercomputer at Argonne National Lab that was used to simulate a cats brain. It used 147,456 CPUs and 144TB of memory to create a simulation that was 83 times slower than that of a real cats brain.

Once again, this is because they tried to emulate this system in software, he said. We dont have the efficient hardware to emulate these biological systems. So the idea is that if we have the hardware, then we can also implement some of the rules or features we learn in biology, not only will we make computers faster, but also you can use it to up with biological system to enhance our brain functions.

Were not trying to do it in software. Were actually trying to build as a fundamental device on hardware a computer network very similar to the biological neuro-network.

His group is doing that through the use of memristor synapses and CMOS components that work like neurons and are built on what Lu described as a crossbar electrical circuit. The crossbar network is comparable to biological systems in the way it operates. An advantage such a system like this has over traditional computers is the synapse-like way memristors operate. Traditional computers are limited by the separation between the CPU and memory.

Such a change could have a significant impact on a $6 billion memory industry that is looking at what comes after flash, he said. Lus team introduced its concept in 2010, and now he is a cofounder of Crossbar ReRAM, a company with $85 million in venture capital backing that was founded that same year and is working to commercialize what the University of Michigan team developed. He said in 2016 that the company already had developed some products for several customers. The company last month announced it is sampling embedded 40nm ReRAM manufactured by Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) with plans to come out with a 28nm version in the first half of the year.

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Tags: Neuromorphic

IBM Wants to Make Mainframes Next Platform for Machine Learning Why Googles Spanner Database Wont Do As Well As Its Clone

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Artificial intelligence doesn’t have to be a job killer – ZDNet

Posted: at 9:20 pm

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What impact will artificial intelligence (AI) have on the workforce? Will smart machines really replace a large number of people in a variety of jobs?

10 types of enterprise deployments

As businesses continue to experiment with the Internet of Things, interesting use cases are emerging. Here are some of the most common ways IoT is deployed in the enterprise.

These questions have been on the minds of a lot of people of late — especially as AI becomes even more advanced. Clearly the technology will take away the need for some functions that are now performed by humans. But there’s good reason to believe that AI will actually create a lot of new jobs as well — at least in some areas of the economy.

“For information workers, the near-term opportunity is to leverage machine learning and natural language processing to make sense of a disconnected and cacophonic set of information sources, so people can focus on what matters most to them,” said David Lavenda, vice president of product strategy at mobile-enterprise collaboration company Harmon.ie, who does academic research on information overload in organizations.

AI automation now is best geared toward specific, highly-contextual tasks, Lavenda said. “In the consumer world, we are seeing things like customer service bots,” he said. “But information workers typically operate in a broad range of tasks and responsibilities. Without a definite context, AI will struggle to make decisions independently.”

For example, IBM is focusing Watson’s AI capabilities on highly-contextual business cases such as evaluating health studies and helping doctors make decisions.

Still, organizations and individuals need to prepare for the growing role of AI in the workplace.

“The trick is to make it easier for workers to consume the increasing amount of disconnected information, not make them learn new skills,” Lavenda said. “People want to focus on the business, not on learning new technology. If anything, the promise of AI is that people won’t have to know more IT skills to be effective.”

The focus on AI in the enterprise should be on making workers’ lives simpler, not more difficult, Lavenda said. “People are already inundated by continuous new software and gadgets,” he said. “They just can’t keep up. The future lies in hiding complexity, not introducing new complexity.”

Some industries are feeling the impact of AI sooner than others. For instance, healthcare is already seeing an impact from IBM’s AI-based Watson technology, Lavenda said. “Since AI is a horizontal technology, it will appear first in industries where suppliers identify key use cases,” he said.

One promising use case Lavenda cites is helping salespeople close more business by connecting disconnected information from sources such as Salesforce, Zendesk, SharePoint, email, Yammer, and Chatter into one coherent picture of what’s happening with their business. “Without having to learn any new skills or install new apps, AI-based solutions can present this information in a coherent fashion right within email or within a document window, so that salespeople can focus on closing business, not using technology,” he said.

Long term, there is no doubt that AI will impact jobs. “Like in the past, all new technology displaces professions,” Lavenda said. “We don’t have many telegraph or telephone operators today, to say nothing of keypunch data entry clerks. Yet new technologies bring new opportunities, and at least so far the new technologies increase the number of job opportunities, not lessen them.”

How artificial intelligence is changing the data center:

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Fast Forward: SAP’s Steve Singh on Automation, Business Without Borders – Fox Business

Posted: at 12:10 am

Fast Forward is a video interview series where we have conversations about living in the future. Today my guest is SAP’s Steve Singh, who talks AI, automation, and the future of travel technology. I wanted Steve on the show because he is one of the most successful technology executives out there. He was at the very birth of the Internet. He founded Concur in 1993 and sold it to SAP two years ago for $8.3 billion. Let’s jump in.

Dan Costa: I want to get to your job titles, and I say titles because you have more than one. President of Business Networks and Applications for SAP, Executive Board Member of SAP SE, and the CEO and Chairman of Concur Technologies.

Steve Singh: That was part of my signing onto SAP, is I wanted a lot of titles.

Dan Costa: Hopefully you get three salaries as well.

Steve Singh: That part didn’t work out.

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Dan Costa: There’s still time. I think you did okay. Let’s talk about Concur. This is a company you founded in 1993. I did some research. In 1993, that was when I was on AOL. AOL had just opened up the Internet for mainstream users through the birth of the modern Internet, and you were starting a technology travel company.

Steve Singh: It’s interesting, Dan. When we started Concur, the idea of the Internet, you’re right, was just coming into being. To be fair, our first version of Concur wasn’t even a client/server product. It was actually a shrink-wrapped piece of software that was really designed to solve a problem that I had. The previous company I was at … I started a little company and we ended up getting acquired by Symantec, and I was on the road for nine months, and so as a part of that acquisition, the CFO of Symantec said, “Hey look, you’ve got til the end of the week to file your expenses.”

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I was stressed because I had about $150,000 of expenses outstanding, and so I went to Egghead, looked for some software, and there was nothing. So I’m filling out these Avery forms, and after that I decided: “Okay, this is a great opportunity to go automate a business process.” But we did it with shrink-wrapped software, and then there was a transformation into client/server and then another transformation into cloud .

Dan Costa: So that simple process of encountering a problem and then creating a technical solution for it, sort of what you’ve been doing for the last 20 years.

Steve Singh: Yeah, I kind of feel like I’ve stumbled through parts of my life. Look, you think about most innovation, it happens because there’s a need to solve a problem, and then if you’re passionate about solving that problem and if you’re passionate about creating something that’s sustainable then a lot of good things happen.

Dan Costa: So, expense reports. People still hate doing their expense reports. It’s never a fun process but how has it changed? How has it changed from when you started to now?

Steve Singh: Maybe I’ll just give you my impression not only of that era but where I think it’s going. Back when we started Concur, expense reports were all paper-based and they were totally disconnected from the travel process, right? So for me, I’ve never taken a business trip for which there wasn’t an expense report, yet when you booked travel back in ’93, it was a, you pick up the phone and call your travel agent. Today obviously that world has changed, and so what we think is going to happen is over time, the very concept of an expense report will go away. It’ll all happen invisibly behind the scenes.

Think about payroll. We don’t interact with our payroll system. Really happy that we get a check every couple of weeks, but the reality is, the check’s automatically deposited in your bank, and I think the same process will happen to expense reporting. In fact, I would argue that two or three years from now, you’ll not only see integrated travel and expense, I think you’re going to see a digital version of credit. What will happen is that you’ll see credit cards, corporate cards that are actually integrated into your budget. You’ll be able to swipe on a card and say, “Hey, look, I want to file this transaction as related to my New York trip.” And as you swipe the card it automatically goes into the expense report, automatically gets paid and process, so you literally do nothing but take your trip.

Dan Costa: The problem with expense reports, at least in our company, is that everything needs to be approved by a manager, and those sign-offs become almost inconsequential because you’re doing so many of them all the time.

Steve Singh: Yeah, and so that’s why it’s just got to get integrated into how you work. In fact, I think that there’s a fundamental shift in the world around this concept that we call beyond boundaries, or business beyond boundaries, that basically says, “Look, the technology should shift and morph into how you work, not the other way around.” Too much of the technology being delivered today is a set of services that you have to go conform to, and the reality is that it’s a stepping stone to where I think the world will move.

Dan Costa: A lot of these services, some of the best services, work really without your input.

Steve Singh: Absolutely.

Dan Costa: You don’t need to see how the back end is working, you just have a need and then the service fills it.

Steve Singh: Maybe very broadly, you saw the shift from mainframe computing to client/server and then naturally to cloud. I think there’s a next wave coming, and that’s the shift to micro services. I realize that’s a kind of well, for your audience it’s perfect, but it’s a very technical way of looking at the world.

Dan Costa: We should explain what a micro service is. How is that different?

Steve Singh: I think that the applications themselves are going to start to decompose. You started off … SAP, it was the leader in enterprise software. They delivered this big, gigantic, monolithic application that ran every part of your company. The reality is, as you move to cloud, these applications start to decompose into their component parts, and the reason they decomposed is that the individual or the customer say, “Look, I want better experiences in every part of this … My business application,” and so the whole reason why Concur exists, is because as cloud computing started to decompose these apps, we had a chance to come in and say, “We can deliver such incredible value here that you’ll pay to automate expense reporting because it’s just 10 times better than what you could do before.” Now you’re starting to see those apps even decompose further.

For example, when you and I decided, hey, look, let’s get together, there was an email that was sent from your office to mine, and in responding back to that, all I did is, in Microsoft Office. I literally responded back saying, “Hey, you know, love to see you, look forward to seeing you on Friday.” Because of the work we’re doing with Microsoft, that email picks up the fact that I’m traveling to New York, it automatically says, “You know what? I’m going to go ahead and book your travel,” and it calls services within Concur to book that travel, so I don’t actually as a user I don’t go into Concur and use it, but the email itself understands that there’s a travel piece that is needed here. It’ll call the right service to book that travel, and that’s what I mean by micro services.

All the applications will be broken into their component parts and those parts will be used whenever it’s appropriate.

Dan Costa: And it relies on an open system.

Steve Singh: Yeah.

Dan Costa: So, there used to be a model where you were a SAP business. You were big enough to bring in SAP and they would run your accounting, your payroll, your expenses, all these different things, and now it’s, “You know what? We’re just going to use this for expense reporting, we’re going to use this for accounting, we’re going to use this for payroll and it’s all going to work together.”

Steve Singh: And the reality is that customers, whether you’re talking about individuals or companies, are demanding that, look, you want your systems to be open. You want to be able to innovate on top of those environments, and that demand is what will drive the shift to open systems. But part of this is also that, look, there’s no way one company can solve all of these programs. As much as I love SAP and I think it’s got a tremendous opportunity to dominate in the enterprise market, even with 84,000 people we can’t innovate at the level that our customers want, and so what do you do? Well, you open up the platform and allow everybody in the world to say, “I can add value on top of that platform.”

Dan Costa: So, 21 years after you founded Concur, you sold it to SAP for 8.3 billion. You stayed on with SAP. I’m sure you did pretty well in that transaction, but you stayed with SAP and it sounds like you’re enjoying yourself.

Steve Singh: I am. At Concur, it was never about anything but I loved what I did, and I loved the people I worked with. I felt like I was solving a problem that was worthwhile solving, and SAP is a little bit of the same. The reality is, I took 5,000 people with me from Concur into SAP. They’re my friends and in many ways like family to me, but I’m also learning a ton at SAP. Managing a 5,000 person company, while challenging and interesting, is very different than being a part of the management team of an 84,000 person company, and so I’m learning skills that are new, and as long as it’s fun I’m going to enjoy it.

Dan Costa: And your portfolio’s diversified a little bit too. You’re getting involved in the healthcare space now.

Steve Singh: Yeah. I happen to run a group called Business Networks and Applications. It includes Concur, Ariba, Fieldglass, SuccessFactors, our SAP health platform, and also our business data network, so a lot of very diverse and interesting parts of it.

Dan Costa: You used the phrase earlier, business without borders, I just want to … When people hear that they think, “Oh, he’s talking about globalization,” but it’s different. It’s more than that.

Steve Singh: Globalization is a part of it but the reality is that what we mean by business beyond boundaries is that just the nature of how we work changes the way technology has to actually be delivered, and so I think that that example of the emails is an interesting one. I don’t want to go into applications to do my work. I want the application to figure out what I want to do and go do that for me.

Dan Costa: It’s funny. If you count up how many applications we used just to set up this interview, it was Microsoft Office, it was Google Docs, it was Calendar, Concur wrapped into it, and none of that was intentional.

Steve Singh: No, and so as technologists, if we do our jobs right, the reality is these applications start to act on data and they start to take actions on your behalf, so think about what’s happening with IOT. Sensors are being built into everything in the world. Those sensors gather data and they ought to be able to take action, so really simple example. If you’re Rio Tinto and you’ve got big, heavy equipment sitting in remote parts of the world, just imagine just replacing a tire on one of these big tractors. These tires are gargantuan tires. The replacement cost is not the issue. It’s when you replace it, how do you get that replacement tire to that remote location?

So what’s happening is these sensors are being built into tires, and they’re sending information and saying, “Hey, you know what? I’ve got three months of life left in the tire,” and so it’s integrated into the Ariba supply chain. Ariba’s saying, “Hey, you know what, Rio Tinto, I’m going to ship a tire to you because three months from now you’re going to need it,” so the applications are starting to use information and take actions on your behalf, and that’s where the world has to go.

Dan Costa: Yeah, well, I think that’s a nice logical turn to automation. I’m going to read you something that you’ve written. Hopefully you still stand by it. “As we move forward in today’s digital economy, every single business process that can be automated will be automated. Every single process that can be connected will be connected, and when you connect those processes with intelligence, with an awareness of context, systems can start to work on your behalf in amazing ways.” Is there where we are right now, where we’ve got the automation and now we’re starting to add the intelligence?

Steve Singh: Yeah, I think that’s exactly where we’re going. Look, it’s going to have massive benefit for business, but it’s also going to have massive impact on our workforce. It’ll have a huge social impact in the world. When you think about what happens with AI being integrated into technology, there are huge chunks of … Let’s just take finance and accounting. There are huge chunks of the finance and accounting function that can be done without the human being involved. So the role of each individual in finance and accounting is going to change massively over the next, I’d say, five to 10 years.

So when you think about the shifts in jobs that’s happening in our economy, the jobs are not being lost to outsourcing to other parts of the world, they’re being lost to automation, and unfortunately there’s massive benefit to automation and business will always try to be more and more efficient, so the question is that as that shift continues, what do we do as a society to ensure that there’s an incredible opportunity for people.

Dan Costa: I heard the example today that Ford was going to keep a plant in the United States that was a seven hundred million dollar investment. There are going to be 700 jobs there, and 10 years ago there would have been 7,000 jobs, and 30 years ago there would have been even more than that, and it’s just something that’s not factored into our conversation.

Steve Singh: Naturally. You look at even self-driving cars, right? Even though we’re not there today, look, in 10 years will we be there? Probably. Think about, just in our country, the number of people who make a living in taxis or in town cars or whatever it might be. That’s going to change, so we have to as a society thinks about what’s that impact and how do we help train every member of our community to do more and more valuable parts of work.

Dan Costa: We know that … We’ve talked about drivers being replaced. We’ve talked about mid-level accounting people being replaced. When does this start to become real for the American people? When do they start to actually appreciate it and say, “Okay, we need to take action here.”

Steve Singh: Now we’re getting a little bit more into the philosophical part of life, but I think one of the things that we can do a lot better job at in our country is massive investment in education. The way to prosperity is through education. I say this because, look, I was born in literally a mud house in a tiny village in India. The reason why I’m sitting here is because my father knew that his only chance at life was to have a great education and go seek opportunities in parts of the world where they existed. As the core functions of society become automated, the only way for individuals to thrive is to drive an investment in education that gives them a chance to do more valuable things.

Dan Costa: So, are you bullish on the fact that if we did raise education levels and we went to school longer and we got more specific training … We’ve talked about even programming itself. Everybody said programming used to be this thing that, as long as you could program you’d always have a job. Programming has been automated now.

Steve Singh: Yeah, but there will be higher and higher value functions within programming, right? We’re not anywhere near done in that space. In fact, I think that we ought to be investing in STEM education all the way down to the kindergarten level. In fact, one of the things that came out of the SAP acquisition at Concur is that I had a chance to put together a small foundation. The foundation invests entirely in education, and for us, we’re focusing more on girls’ education but across the board in education, and so driving programming or coding classes into schools. In my view, is an excellent opportunity to give that next generation of our citizens an opportunity.

Dan Costa: Artificial intelligence also plays into it. We talked about automation, but AI and machine learning is also driving a lot of these forces. Have you seen anything that you’ve been particularly impressed by, like this is an amazing development and it’s here today?

Steve Singh: I still think we’re in the early stages of this, but you’re starting to see examples of where machine learning and artificial intelligence are improving the quality of the application. I think Google does an amazing job in this area. I think that SAP, while we do amazing work here, it hasn’t yet touched the customer, but in the next two or three years, you’re going to see that happen. So literally, our finance applications Concur, will have a set of AI built into it that will wipe out even some of the entry of expensive ports, so they’re starting to show up but I still think we’re two to five years away.

Dan Costa: That’s not that long, though.

Steve Singh: No.

Dan Costa: You should be planning for that. We should all be planning for that now.

Steve Singh: Yeah, and look at … You and I, as we’ve grown up through this industry, we’ve seen sea changes in the industry, but look at a company like Netflix, right? It’s gone through two transformations in its 20-year history. It started off really as a DVD rental company, but today it’s producing its own content, so twice in its history, it’s transformed itself, and I think that rate of change is just accelerating, and so two to five years, that’s nothing. You’re going to see massive, massive changes.

Dan Costa: Yeah. Netflix went from a disk company that would mail a product that relied on US mail to a streaming company, and then pivoted again to become a content company, and all the while charging seven to ten dollars a month.

Steve Singh: And by the way, a lot of the stuff that Netflix delivers is based on technology that someone else built, so it’s sitting on top of AWS, but a lot of the micro-services that AWS delivers is driving Netflix. In fact, it’s interesting. As much as AWS supports the success of Netflix, it’s also using the same technology to deliver its own content, and so, in fact, Amazon Studios, right? It didn’t exist 10 years ago, but at the last Golden Globes, it had 11, 12 entries.

Dan Costa: And it’s amazing if you look at how much money they’re pumping into content production, it’s more than the studios are, and Netflix’s pipeline … They’ve got a billion dollars worth of content in the pipeline that hasn’t even shown yet.

Steve Singh: This is the kind of transformational opportunity that exists by taking technology, driving down to its component parts and making these services available to anybody in the world. What you’re going to see is how those services come together and the products are being delivered could be way beyond anything we imagined, and in my view, that’s the fun part of the opportunity in the next 10 years, but it’s also massive change. You look at just the music or movie industry, how much that’s changed. It’s just the beginning of change. The idea that talent can create its own content and distribute it and monetize it will forever change.

Dan Costa: You’ve said if you ever left Concur, and now part of SAP, you might take a stab at running an alternative energy company. What particular segment, and would you be doing that for profit or for altruistic reasons?

Steve Singh: As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized I don’t have enough experience to do that. I think that alternative energy is an area that we have to invest in for lots of reasons, not the least of which is it’s a requirement, given how much we consume, from an energy perspective, that we have to find ways to actually consume it in a … Not just in a better for our environment, but frankly in a renewable model. Look, I still would love to do something of that nature, but I’m also happy to invest in companies that do that. I think what Tesla’s doing with battery technology is amazing, and frankly that’s the first part of the problem to solve.

Even if we could have a solar based set of power services, you still have to be able to store that energy, and so that problem is an important problem to solve.

Dan Costa: That’s the thing that, when we talk about alternative energy sources, it’s one thing to talk about moving to solar from oil, but you need all the infrastructure to support. Moving this energy around, storing it, it’s the battery problem Tesla’s made great cars , but they’re also working on building the infrastructure so that you can recharge in various locations.

Steve Singh: Yeah. In fact, we run a small charity in India. It’s a girls school and it’s a remote village, and so power is not something you can always rely on, and so we actally bought the Tesla power wall. It’s being installed right now in that school. One of the great things about that village is it gets plenty of sunshine, so we’ve got solar panels that are charging that battery. Our hope is that once that’s done, you’ll be able to run the school with constant stream of power all day long, where today, it’s normal to see every five or six hours, the power just shut down for another five or six hours.

Dan Costa: I think that’s an interesting perspective too because, in the US, we tend to think of ourselves and look at what’s happened in the United States and the effect of technology on the economy. But when you step back and look at the standard living globally, a billion people have left poverty in the last ten years. That’s incredible.

Steve Singh: Yeah. There are so many areas we could go with that, right? Most of the human population doesn’t live at the levels that we live at. To be fair, there’s another part of this. Half the human population really doesn’t have the same opportunity that the other half does. If you think about the opportunity for women, it starts with an investment in education, and from there the chance to engage across the workforce. These are things that you and I have enjoyed for our entire lives.

Dan Costa: One of the things as we were talking, we talked a lot about Concur and how you founded that company. Before that, you were an employee at Apple Computer.

Steve Singh: Yeah.

Dan Costa: What was that like?

Steve Singh: First of all, it was random luck that I got to be a part of Apple. I happened to be sitting in a bar and chatting with a guy that worked there, and he was working on a complex problem-

Dan Costa: It’s a little harder to get a job at Apple now.

Steve Singh: Yeah, yeah, and I happened to be programming at the University of Michigan on a Visa, and he said, “Hey, look, why don’t you come on out and meet the team,” and it led to a job at Apple. This was back when Steve Jobs was running the company. Very different era.

Dan Costa: The first time.

Steve Singh: First time, yeah, but I was totally blown away by the innovation that they were driving and how forward thinking the company was even back then. So, look, a lot of life is happenstance and I happened to run into an incredible individual that gave me a chance at a great life.

Dan Costa: So, Concur has worked out pretty well for you, but have you ever thought about what would have happened if you stayed at Apple and you spent 23 years working at Apple?

Steve Singh: Yeah. I had an entrepreneurial bug that was there even in the Apple days, and for me, there’s never going to be a time where I don’t want to create new things, and so that’s part of what gets me charged up. That’s part of what I feel like I can add value to, so I love the path that I’ve been able to take, been fortunate enough to take.

Dan Costa: So, let’s get to my closing questions. What are you most concerned about regarding technological development in the future? What keeps you up at night? What do you think is a big problem we should be addressing, and we’re not?

Steve Singh: I think the bigger problem is the impact of technology on society. From a jobs perspective, certainly, and I think we as a society have to think about, as automation drives jobs out, what do we do to help our citizens continue to thrive? I believe that this is an area that public policy has been to focus on really. I think today perhaps we’re not as focused on it as we should be, and I do not concern myself with democrats or republicans. I believe that the reality is this is an area that we as a country have to go spend time on, and there are basic services that we need to deliver. It’s education, it’s healthcare, and frankly just core opportunity for every member of our society.

Dan Costa: On the flip side, what are you most optimistic about, and this could be a broader technological trend, or it could be a new gadget that you just brought home and you’re like, “This changed my life and I can’t live without it.”

Steve Singh: I’m an investor in a company called Center ID, and I love what they’re doing. They’re creating a digital credit card that has budgeting software that comes with it. It’s an opportunity to change the corporate credit card market, and so on a more microscopic basis I’m excited about that, but look, broadly I think technologically, as much as it has potential negative impact on society also has a massive positive impact, right?

Think about what technology can drive into the healthcare arena. If you think about cancer treatments today, the vast majority of cancer treatment, in fact, all of it, is based on an average that every demographic is an average white man, age 55, right?

Dan Costa: Because all the studies were done on that demographic group of patients.

Steve Singh: Yeah, so if I’m unfortunate enough to have that problem, I’ve got some issues I have to deal with outside of cancer. I think as we bring technology to bear on what are fundamentally disparate data sets, I believe that we can drive a level of personalization in medicine that will radically improve the quality of health, and so there’s tons and tons of benefit from technology that I’m actually very excited about.

Dan Costa: Now how can people find you online, follow what SAP’s doing, get in touch with you?

Steve Singh: My Twitter address is @stevessingh, and obviously LinkedIn as well, and look, any opportunity to engage with individuals around what we can do as partners or as a society, I’d love to.

For more Fast Forward with Dan Costa, subscribe to the podcast. On iOS, download Apple’s Podcasts app, search for “Fast Forward” and subscribe. On Android, download the Stitcher Radio for Podcasts app via Google Play. For those without a mobile device, listen via the audio file below.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.

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Google Project Zero: How we cracked Samsung’s DoD- and NSA-certified Knox – ZDNet

Posted: February 13, 2017 at 9:00 am

Google Project Zero’s Gal Beniamini details four key errors he used to bypass Knox’s kernel protections on a Galaxy S7 edge.

Google’s Project Zero hackers have detailed several high-severity flaws that undermined a core defense in Samsung’s Knox platform that protects Galaxy handsets in the enterprise.

Since launching Knox in 2013, the platform has been certified for internal use by UK and US government departments, including the US DoD and NSA. Given these certifications, defense-in-depth mechanisms should be rock solid.

But according to Project Zero’s Gal Beniamini, who last year tore apart Android’s full disk encryption, a Knox hypervisor designed to protect the Linux kernel during runtime can be subverted multiple ways.

Beniamini details four key errors he used to bypass Knox’s kernel protections on a Galaxy S7 edge with Samsung’s Exynos chipset. They’re rather serious given that compromising the kernel would allow an attacker to access system data, hide malware, change system behavior, or take over the system.

While Android’s Trusted Boot protects the integrity of the kernel during boot, it doesn’t protect the kernel after it’s booted and running. This shortcoming was why Samsung introduced its Knox hypervisor, known as Real-time Kernel Protection or RKP, which uses the ARM TrustZone to create a “secure world” walled from the “normal world”.

Samsung fixed the six RKP issues reported by Beniamini in its January Android patch and lists them as memory corruption, information disclosure, privilege escalation, and authentication bypass bugs.

As Beniamini explains, since Knox v2.6, Samsung devices implemented an exploit-mitigation feature called Kernel Address Space Layout Randomization (KASLR), which should prevent an attacker predicting the address the kernel is loaded to. However, a simple coding error by Samsung made it possible to calculate the location.

“This security feature introduces a random ‘offset’, generated each time the device boots, by which the base address of the kernel is shifted. Normally, the kernel is loaded into a fixed physical address, which corresponds to a fixed virtual address in the VAS of the kernel. By introducing KASLR, all the kernel’s memory, including its code, is shifted by this randomized offset, also known as a ‘slide’,” explains Beniamini.

However, as he notes, since all of the kernel is shifted by a single slide value, “leaking any pointer in the kernel which resides at a known offset from the kernel’s base address would allow us to easily calculate the slide’s value”.

Beniamini says most Android devices correctly implement a function known as ktpr_restrict to hide a pointer’s value using the anonymizing format specifier %pK, specifically with an upper case K. As Beniamini has previously highlighted, all kernel pointers printed using %pK are hidden. However, Samsung “rather amusingly” used a lowercase k.

“This allows us to simply read the contents of pm_qos, and subtract the pointer’s value from its known offset from the kernel’s base address, thus giving us the value of the KASLR slide,” he explains.

Beniamini details three other RKP mitigations he got around, and several recommended steps Samsung could take to shield it from future attacks.

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The Peril of Inaction with Artificial Intelligence – Gigaom

Posted: February 11, 2017 at 8:27 am

Business quiz: What do these company name abbreviations stand for: AT&T. 3M. NCR. Geico. Did you know them all? If so, well done. The answers: American Telephone & Telegraph, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, National Cash Register, and Government Employees Insurance Co.

Now, heres the hard question: What do all these names have in common? Answer: None of them accurately express what those companies do today.

Think about that. Each of these companies had the good sense to follow new technologies and new business opportunities even if they were inconsistent with their very name.

Then, on the other hand, ask yourself why Blockbuster doesnt own the streaming video market. How did it lose to upstart Netflix? Why doesnt Kodak, a brand that used to be virtually synonymous with photography, dominate the digital camera market? In both instances, it is because the entrenched leader failed to see that a new technology had transformed the entire industry.

Most of the time, the technology that the big company fails to adopt is isolated to its industry. But every now and then, something comes along that is so transformative, virtually every company must adopt it very quickly, or perish. The replacement of animal power with mechanical power is one example, as is the electrification of industry and the assembly line as a means of manufacturing. Artificial intelligence will undoubtedly be another one, for the implications of this technology are every bit as transformative as electricity.

Can that really be seen with such certainty? Absolutely. A business is simply the product of two factors: decisions and execution. Companies that succeed make better decisions and execute better than their competitors. Thats it.

It is hard to exactly quantify, but most employees at a company make a few hundred business decisions a daywhich emails are most important to answer, which meetings to attend, how to prioritize their time, and so forth. Marketing people figure out what message to deliver to what audience through what channels. Salespeople decide which leads to call on with what offers. Programmers decide how to solve coding problems, product people decide what to bring to market, and so on.

So every person in the company makes, lets call it, 200 business decisions a day. If your company has 1,000 employees, that is 200,000 decisions a day, or a million decisions every week.

And every one of them can be made better using AI.

Let me repeat that: Every business decision employees make can be made better using AI trained on the relevant data.

Imagine if SmallCo aggressively uses AI to make its key business decisions while BigCo doesnt; who do you think wins in the long run? If every week, BigCo makes a million decisions based on their gut and SmallCo makes decisions using AI based on data, which would you bet on? Week after week, the power of better decisions compounds until at some point, BigCos executives will look around and find their products and their company irrelevant. They will wonder how they lost, but the simple truth will be that someone else made better decisions.

AI is still in many regards a nascent technology. Only in the past few years have the tools to implement it across the enterprise come to market. While with many technologies it makes sense to take a wait and see approach, this is not one of them. The power to make better decisions is not something you want to equivocate on. I am sure that when steam power came along, some old-timers thought their animal-powered factories worked just fine. But in the blink of an eye, that whole world changed and those who did not make the transition fast enough did not have the time to recover and catch up.

I hate to say it, but most large companies fail to make the right changes in time. Of the original companies that made up the Dow Jones industrial average, only one remains on the index. And that one is General Electric, another company that transformed beyond the limits of its name. Those other companies had every advantage imaginable, but they failed, because the world changed, and they did not.

Join us next week in San Francisco as we explore how to implement AI in your enterprise today.

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A Sharper Focus on the Edge – Automation World

Posted: February 10, 2017 at 3:08 am

Not so long ago, when automation suppliers talked about the future of manufacturing, cloud computing was central to nearly every conversation. Though the cloud remains poised to play a significant role in manufacturings future, there is a great deal more attention being focused on edge computing today.

If youre unsure about the difference between the two, the simplest way to understand edge computing is to realize that it is simply the placement of servers, or other computing deviceeven a microcomputer, on or near a plant floor device for data collection, analysis and storage. Cloud computing, on the other hand, involves sending plant floor device data to an offsite server for storage and analysis. Read more about edge computing here.

At this years ARC Forum, edge computing had a high-profile in several automation suppliers exhibits and was central to announcements by Inductive Automation, Bedrock Automationand Stratus.

SCADA/HMI at the Edge Last year at the ARC Forum, Inductive Automation announced its partnership with Cirrus Link Solutions around the release of MQTT modules for Inductive Automations Ignition product. Those modules were designed to decouple applications, such as HMI and SCADA, from plant floor devices and send the devices data to an MQTT server which could then be connected to various applications. By taking this step, Inductive Automation and Cirrus Link addressed the growing network traffic issues and negative impacts of too much direct data polling of plant floor devices.

Now, Inductive Automation and Cirrus Link are planning to release IgnitionEdge a set of three products designed for plant floor edge computing applications. The products include: IgnitionEdge Panel, which creates local HMIs for field devices; IgnitionEdge Enterprise for synchronizing data collected from an edge device to a centralized server, and IgnitionEdge MQTT to publish field device data through MQTT. Read more about MQTT.

IgnitionEdge products can handle up to 500 tags from PLCs and come with OPC-UA, Modbus, Siemens and Allen-Bradley drivers. The products are also cross-platform, meaning they can work on any platform from Windows and OSX to Linux and even Raspberry Pis.

Though the IgnitionEdge Panel is a straightforward product for creating local HMIs, an added benefit is its ability to buffer dataenabling one weeks worth of data to be stored on the device in the event of failed network connection.

IgnitionEdge Enterprise allows for the creation of a hub-and-spoke architecture so that it can act as a remote server to synchronize data from an edge device to a central Ignition server via the Ignition Enterprise Administration Module. In addition to its remote backup, restoration management, centralized monitoring of performance and health metrics, and remote alarm notification, IgnitionEdge Enterprise has store-and-forward capabilitiesmeaning that, like the IgnitionEdge Panelit can handle local data buffering to collect historical data for up to one week if the connection to the central several goes down. Once connections are restored, data will synchronize back to the central server.

IgnitionEdge MQTT essentially enables any device to become an edge gateway by converting the devices data into MQTT and publishing it to an MQTT broker, which can then be accessed by the MQTT Engine Module.

Arlen Nipper, president and CTO of Cirrus Link Solutions, noted a key aspect of IgnitionEdge as being its ability to enable devices to deliver the root authority on tag information. With the tag itself becoming the root authority for information about the device, this means that human tagging can become a thing of the past, he said, adding that, if a tag is manually changed, that change will be automatically reflected all the way back to the central server.

With IgnitionEdge, people can stop talking about how to adopt IoT and get on with doing it, said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer of Inductive Automation. Ignition Edge takes any field device and turns into a lightweight IoT-enabled device.

Cybersecurity at the Edge Bedrock Automation, which made a surprising entry into the automation market just two years ago with a unique approach to designing controllers, I/O and even the backplane, extended its embedded cybersecurity capabilities with the release of Bedrock Cybershield 2.0. A key addition to this upgrade is the incorporation of a certification authority into Bedrocks hardware root of trust.

Certification authority is a critical aspect for interconnected automation systems, particularly as operations technology (OT) and IT systems converge. Adding this capability into Bedrock Automations root of trust means that applications and developers can now receive certificates of authority (CAs) to incorporate Bedrock encryption keys into their software, giving their programs secure access to Bedrock controllers.

Software providers working with Bedrock Automaton on this include 3S,which isusing its IEC61131 configuration and runtime engines running over TLS (transport layer security) with authentication to the Bedrock system root of trust, and M&M with its Softwares Field Device Tool (FDT) for HART configuration. Albert Rooyakkers, founder and CTO of Bedrock Automation, noted that Inductive Automation and other SCADA partners will begin working with Bedrock Automations CAs later this year.

Explaining the benefits of adding CAs to Cybershield, Rooyakkers said it extends BedrockAutomations embedded securityfrom the controller to the networks, applications and edge devices connected to it. At the ARC event, Rooyakkers provided insight into how this CA approach to cybersecurity will extend even to the people accessing the system via multi-factor authentication with smart cards, biometrics and role-based access management authenticated to the root of trust inside the machine. The biometric and smart card features will be available in subsequent Cybershield releases later this year.

With this approach, the person operating the workstation has certification authority to access the automation system and so does the workstation itself, said Rooyakkers. And with OPC UA, we deploy an open communications standard for Ethernet networks at the control and I/O. OPC UA server runs in the Bedrock Secure Power and UPS products with the client running in the Ethernet I/O module.

Certification authority adds to the layers of intrinsic security designed into Bedrock Automations electronic components and modules, which include strong cryptography, secure components, component anti-tamper, secure firmware, secure communications and module anti-tamper. From embedded cryptography to physical tamper resistance, the design of Bedrock Automations products address industrial security concerns with the objective of a nation-state defense posture, said Rooyakkers.

Companies can also personalize their own unique root keys with Bedrock Automations SCC.X controller, which allows for customer-specific root keys to be placed within the controller in the Bedrock factory at the time of order. Rooyakkers said these unique root keys not only provide an additional layer of protection for user IP, the system modules and applications can be defined by company, plant or other designations desired by the user.

Bedrock Automation also unveiled its new 20-channel discrete output (DO) moduleSIO8.20. Key features of the new module include:

Servers at the Edge One of the most frequently asked questions about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is: Where do I start? And while there are plenty of entry points to IIoT, one of the most basic approaches involves shoring up your edge computing capabilities.

With a long history in the financial and telecom sectors, Stratus has been turning its attention toward industrial automation and is positioning its fault tolerant servers and high availability software for use across industry. Evidence of this can be seen in Stratus achieving a 40 percent increase year-over-year in revenue from industrial companies in the Americas.

Jason Andersen, vice president at Stratus, said that most of the business Stratus has done in industry comes from the process side, specifically oil and gas, water/wastewater, electricity, food & beverage and pharmaceuticals. He also noted that Stratuss primary customer in industry is someone in operations technology, not IT. We support the whole stack, so it avoids any finger pointing by IT, he said.

Explaining why off-the-shelf, general business servers are not the best choice for industrial automation applications, Andersen said that Stratus is often brought in to work with industrial companies because something broke [with a general business server] and it was painful for the company, or theyre looking to upgrade their operating software to enable failsafe operation and remote management of edge servers.

Another key aspect of Stratuss offering for industry, and which holds particular appeal for its OT clients, is Stratuss ability to perform predictive maintenance on its server and software.

Andersen said that most industrial computing today involves providing a platform for HMI and SCADA. But as companies look to do more with IIoT, theyll need more software at the edge and it needs to be protected thats where we come in, he said. We provide a smart connected hub for industry. Like Google Home or Amazon Echo for consumer usewe connect devices to the cloud. Were essentially selling an onramp to the future of IIoT, he said.

In terms of its use in industry, Alexander said Stratus servers and software are application transparent, meaning that they can support any industrial software applications. Current industrial automation partners include Rockwell Automation, Wonderware by Schneider Electric, GE Digital and Siemens.

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A Sharper Focus on the Edge – Automation World

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