Updated: 27 min 47 sec ago
Artificial intelligence is where the competition is in IT, with Microsoft and Google both parading powerful, always-available AI tools for the enterprise at their respective developer conferences, Build and I/O, in May.
It's not just about work: AI software can now play chess, go, and some retro video games better than any human -- and even drive a car better than many of us. These superhuman performances, albeit in narrow fields, are all possible thanks to the application of decades of AI research -- research that is increasingly, as at Build and I/O, making it out of the lab and into the real world.
Meanwhile, the AI-powered voice technologies behind virtual assistants like Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon.com's Alexa and Samsung Electronics' Bixby may offer less-than-superhuman performance, but they also require vastly less power than a supercomputer to run. Businesses can dabble on the edges of these, for example developing Alexa "skills" that allow Amazon Echo owners to interact with a company without having to dial its call center, or jump right in, using the various cloud-based speech recognition and text-to-speech "-as-a-service" offerings to develop full-fledged automated call centers of their own.
Amazon Web Services has long offered an SDK to make it easier to access its web services from Java. Now it has another lure for Java programmers: James Gosling, the father of Java.
Gosling revealed his new employer on his Facebook page with the words: "It's time for a change. I'm leaving Boeing Defense (nee Liquid Robotics), with many fond memories. Today I start a new Adventure at Amazon Web Services."IDG News Service
On May 22, 2017, James Gosling announced on his Facebook page that he is joining Amazon Web Services.
Steve Ballmer's latest hobby, USAfacts.org, cast a spotlight on the effectiveness of local, state and federal governments when it launched in April. Its easy-to-read dashboards allow ordinary citizens to compare government's performance of its core missions with spending at all levels.
In a roundabout way, that's made the former Microsoft CEO something of an evangelist for companies like SAP, which has released a new cloud service to help public sector organizations manage their spending.
USAfacts and OpenGov, a young company offering financial reporting, budgeting and publishing tools for the public sector, are stirring interest in ERP tools for government, and that's creating opportunities for SAP to get involved in the sales cycle, according to Darren Koch, SAP's chief product officer for small and medium-size businesses.
Apple this week updated macOS Sierra to version 10.12.5 with more than three dozen security patches, and a change that lets users install Microsoft's latest version of Windows 10 on their Macs.
Sierra 10.12.5 "adds support for media-free installation of Windows 10 Creators Update using Boot Camp," the update's brief release notes read. Creators Update was the name Microsoft assigned to Windows 10 1703, the upgrade issued last month.
Boot Camp, which is baked into macOS, lets Mac owners run Windows on their machines. A Windows license is required. Boot Camp, while not virtualization software like VMware's Fusion or Parallels International's Parallels Desktop, serves the same purpose: Running Windows applications, including custom or mission-critical corporate software, on a Mac personal computer.
Facebook must pay a €110 million (US$123 million) for misleading the European Commission during an investigation of its takeover of WhatsApp.
The fine is for telling the Commission it would not be possible to reliably match Facebook and WhatsApp accounts for the same user -- something that would allow the company to better target advertising across the two platforms.
The move shows that enterprises need to be up front with regulators about their ability to process users' personal information, and not try to play it down -- especially when making acquisitions.
"Today's decision sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information," said European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager.
The future of Android will be a lot smarter, thanks to new programming tools that Google unveiled on Wednesday. The company announced TensorFlow Lite, a version of its machine learning framework that’s designed to run on smartphones and other mobile devices, during the keynote address at its Google I/O developer conference.
“TensorFlow Lite will leverage a new neural network API to tap into silicon-specific accelerators, and over time we expect to see [digital signal processing chips] specifically designed for neural network inference and training,” said Dave Burke, Google's vice president of engineering for Android. “We think these new capabilities will help power a next generation of on-device speech processing, visual search, augmented reality, and more.”
Google is making it easier for people to dash off a quick email reply from Gmail on their smartphones. The Smart Reply feature, which offers a handful of contextually-aware, computer-generated responses, is coming to Google’s flagship email app for iOS and Android, the company announced at its I/O developer conference Wednesday.
The feature provides users with three machine-generated responses, based on the content of whatever message the user is replying to. It’s built using machine learning, and is designed for use with smartphones, so that people on the go can dash off a reply to their correspondence partners without much effort.
Smart Reply began its life as part of Inbox, Google’s alternate email client for smartphones. Right now, 12 percent of all email replies sent through that app are Smart Replies.
Google has made another leap forward in the realm of machine learning hardware. The tech giant has begun deploying the second version of its Tensor Processing Unit, a specialized chip meant to accelerate machine learning applications, company CEO Sundar Pichai announced on Wednesday.
The new Cloud TPU sports several improvements over its predecessor. Most notably, it supports training machine learning algorithms in addition to processing the results from existing models. Each chip can provide 180 teraflops of processing for those tasks. Google is also able to network the chips together in sets of what are called TPU Pods that allow even greater computational gains.
SAP wants to speed up how analytics adapt to change. It's doing that by embedding SAP Predictive Analytics' machine learning capabilities in S/4Hana.
"When you take something rules-based, you are not able to adapt predictions to new data," said Mike Flannagan, SAP's senior vice president for analytics, ahead of the company's Sapphire Now customer conference in Orlando.
"The power of machine learning is you are able to continually update the model. Your model is running against all the data it has seen so far."
But there's another stumbling block to that: the computing power required for machine learning systems. "Most business apps aren't robust enough to handle the machine learning computation," said Flannagan. S4/Hana, on the other hand, is fast enough to embed machine-learning prediction in a core ERP system, something that was previously only possible with rules-based prediction, he said.
IBM has some new options for businesses wanting to experiment with quantum computing.
Quantum computers, when they become commercially available, are expected to vastly outperform conventional computers in a number of domains, including machine learning, cryptography and the optimization of business problems in the fields of logistics and risk analysis.
Where conventional computers deal in ones and zeros (bits) the processors in quantum computers use qubits, which can simultaneously hold the values one and zero. This -- to grossly oversimplify -- allows a quantum computer with a 5-qubit processor to perform a calculation for 32 different input values at the same time.
SAP has added machine learning to its Leonardo IoT software suite to help businesses handle data gathered from smart devices more intelligently.
It unveiled the additions to Leonardo -- and a cloud of other news -- at its customer conference, Sapphire Now, in Orlando on Tuesday.
Leonardo runs on SAP Cloud Platform and provides a number of services to process data from the internet of things, including streaming and predictive analytics. Now, those predictive capabilities will include machine-learning tools tuned to work with the rest of the Leonardo components.
"It's about adding intelligence to existing business processes and integrating with the core systems of record. Leonardo's capabilities can be infused into SAP applications," said Mike Flannagan, SAP's senior vice president for analytics. "We see Leonardo as something that will help customers transform processes."
Google wants to take on what may become one of the biggest cloud-computing needs of the next few years with a service that will manage IoT devices and help developers bring the data they generate into applications that use Google's analytics platforms.
Its Google Cloud IoT Core, announced in a blog post on Tuesday, may be a good use of Google's reach, number-crunching power and device OS expertise. But the problem it aims to solve is daunting, and competitors are already focused on it.
The good news for enterprises is that there are several solutions to IoT sprawl already available or taking shape. Just last week, VMware introduced Pulse IoT Center, the latest broad-based platform for setting up, managing and scaling IoT infrastructure. Cloud rival Microsoft has Azure IoT Hub, with a similar mission. Cisco Systems, General Electric and Nokia are also in the game.
There are some fresh public cloud offerings on the horizon for SAP database customers, thanks to Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. Both companies have announced new infrastructure services for the HANA database software aimed at giving customers tons of memory for workloads that need it.
Azure customers will get access to M-series virtual machines that offer up to 3.5TB of RAM, designed for use with SAP’s database software. In addition, Microsoft announced Tuesday that it's working on new SAP HANA on Azure Large Instances to offer users between 4TB and 20TB of memory on a single machine specifically for use with software like the SAP Business Suite 4 HANA (S/4HANA).
The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) is upgrading its wireless broadband network in order to support thousands of researchers using mobile devices while moving around its campus buildings.
There are more than 12,000 staff, visiting researchers and contract workers onsite at CERN's physics laboratory in Geneva each day, supporting projects such as the Large Hadron Collider. Around 20,000 mobile devices are used, requiring reliable wifi connectivity.
Having experienced problems with its independent wireless access points in the past, CERN decided to upgrade its network in 2015. "[The aim is to] enable seamless roaming in buildings across the campus and to get people in offices to give up their wired connections and be happy with wifi," says Dr. Tony Cass, who leads CERN's Communications Systems Group Information Technology Department.
A group of hackers that previously leaked alleged U.S. National Security Agency exploits claims to have even more attack tools in its possession and plans to release them in a new subscription-based service.
The group also has intelligence gathered by the NSA on foreign banks and ballistic missile programs, it said.
The Shadow Brokers was responsible for leaking EternalBlue, the Windows SMB exploit that was used by attackers in recent days to infect hundreds of thousands of computers around the world with the WannaCry ransomware program.
Chrome OS fans on Reddit have uncovered an upcoming “night mode” that changes the color tint of your Chromebook’s display when toggled. The feature is currently called “Night Light” and is only available in Canary, an early build of Chrome OS.
The feature is relatively simple right now, based on user reports. You click on the right corner of the Chrome OS shelf, and when the settings panel comes up you click a Night Light icon close to the power button.
Adding a night mode feature to PC operating systems is something of a trend these days. Prior to this users had to rely on popular third-party options such as f.lux.
In 2004, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise's Kirk Bresniker set out to make radical changes to computer architecture with The Machine and drew out the first concept design on a whiteboard.
At the time Bresniker, now chief architect at HP Labs, wanted to build a system that could drive computing into the future. The goal was to build a computer that used cutting-edge technologies like memristors and photonics.
It's been an arduous journey, but HPE on Tuesday finally showed a prototype of The Machine at a lab in Fort Collins, Colorado.
It's not close to what the company envisioned with The Machine when it was first announced in 2014 but follows the same principle of pushing computing into memory subsystems. The system breaks the limitations tied to conventional PC and server architecture in which memory is a bottleneck.
Smartwatches are getting a foothold in the enterprise.
In the latest example of a trial, Samsung Galaxy S3 smartwatches are helping janitors do timely cleanups of restrooms at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Another successful four-month Samsung smartwatch trial last fall gave restaurant servers alerts when customers arrived or needed service.
The smartwatches run an app called TaskWatch made by Samsung partner Hipaax. In the airport example, janitors are notified when and where a restroom needs to be cleaned and restocked. Bluetooth sensors at the restroom doorways count the number of users. When 150 customers have passed through a restroom, a notification is sent to the janitorial team.
The French data protection watchdog has imposed its harshest penalty on Facebook for six breaches of French privacy law.
The breaches include tracking users across websites other than Facebook.com without their knowledge, and compiling a massive database of personal information in order to target advertising.
The French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) began its investigation of Facebook and its European subsidiary, Facebook ireland, after the company made changes to its terms and conditions outlining the practices in January 2015.
CNIL wasn't the only organization concerned by Facebook's changes: data protection authorities in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Hamburg, Germany also began investigations around the same time.
As more groups get into the denial-of-service attack business they're starting to get in each other's way, according to a report released this morning.
That translates into a smaller average attack size, said Martin McKeay, senior security advocate at Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai Technologies Inc.
There are only so many devices around that have the kind of vulnerabilities that make them potential targets for a botnet.
"And other people can come in and take over the device, and take those resources to feed their own botnet," he said. "I'm seeing that over and over."