Show of 12-11-2021

Email and Forum Questions

  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz. No Tech Talk question, just an observation. Article re Parag Agrawal dovetails on your remarks on last Tech Talk program. I agree that we could use intellectual talent in IT field from foreign countries. What I don’t like is their liberal ideas they bring with them. This guy is anti-conservative, from what I’ve read. And apparently he’s not alone with some others in Silicone Valley. Then again, many in academia are left leaning also and may not agree with my take on these intellectuals. Arnie in Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: California is a very liberal area and so is the Tech Sector. This has been an ongoing problem with social media management and censorship. I spent quite a bit of time in India. While a democracy, it borders on socialism in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi. The majority of citizens receive government support and they vote. So politicians must cater to the voters. India also supports education and is evolving as it citizens get more economic power. While many from India may be liberal, I would not generalize. My JV partners in India are successful in business and definitely entrepreneurs. They support charities and give to the poor. It is part of the culture. But they are definitely capitalists.
  • Email from Arnie in Colorado Springs: Hi Dr. Shurtz. My iPhone service has been with Verizon for a number of years. Recently there has no LTE. My iPhone is a 6s+. I tried it again a day later. LTE didn’t work, but I was able to make a call. Have you heard of this Verizon LTE/ Cellular problem?. Thank you for latest updates. Arnie in Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tech Talk Responds: If your LTE signal drops out without you having done anything, visit your network provider’s website and look at the outage notifier. Look at your area or Zip code and see if there are any planned works or outages at the moment.
  • If you think it’s your phone, try a few of these fixes:
    • Reboot your phone — Reboot your phone, let it find a network and retest.
    • Toggle airplane mode on and off — Both iPhones and Androids have the potential to be stuck in airplane mode. Check yours and toggle it on and off again.
    • Check your connection — Check that your phone is set to either auto select a network type or manually select 4G LTE.
      • On Android:
        • Select Settings and Connections.
        • Select Mobile Networks.
        • Select the auto or LTE option.
      • On iPhone:
        • Select Settings and Cellular Data.
        • Select Options and Enable 4G.
      • Reseat the SIM — If you drop your phone or do something to jar it enough to shift the SIM. Take the SIM out of your phone, give it a quick wipe with a clean cloth and replace it in its tray or slot.
      • Reset the network — If you have an iPhone, you can manually reset the IP settings on the phone to clear any legacy settings and set it up anew.
        • Select Settings and General.
        • Select Reset and Reset Network Settings.
        • Enter your phone PIN and confirm Reset Network Settings.
      • If LTE is still not working on your phone, you might consider waiting a while to see if it is an issue your carrier has not caught up with yet or try a factory reset. Those are your only options without a hardware change so it is entirely up to you!
      • Email from Bob in Maryland: Dear Doc and Andrew. I came across this article showing that the chip manufacturers in Taiwan are blaming Texas Instruments as being responsible for the worldwide chip shortage. Some Taiwan-based tech manufacturers (think smartphones, PCs, and related gadgetry) have singled out Texas Instruments as being at the epicenter of the chip shortage’s widespread production pandemonium. Could this possibly be true? Doc, what is going on here? All the best, your faithful listener, Bob in Maryland
      • Tech Talk Responds: This accusation is based on the fact that Texas Instruments manufactures analog chips that are essential for duties such as PC voltage regulation. Said chips are a fundamental part of much computing technology, and are in a more dire supply situation than the advanced, specialized chips the likes of TSMC produce. Texas Instruments’ inability to ramp up production capacity is the fundamental problem underpinning everything else.
      • The chip demand will drive a renaissance for US chip manufacturing. Last May, Texas Instruments started construction on a $3.1 billion chip plant near its Dallas headquarters and may finalize plans for another facility soon. Intel announced this past March that it would spend more than $20 billion to build two new chip manufacturing factories in Arizona. The world’s biggest chipmaker, Taiwan-based TSMC, has already started construction on a $12 billion plant in Arizona. The long term prognosis for the US is good. Capacity will have to increase to end the chip shortage.
      • Email from Linda in Myrtle Beach: Dear Doc and Andrew. I am in trouble. My husband says that my passwords for all my accounts are the same and that they are too easy to guess. If I change them all to a different passwords, I will never remember how to get into my accounts. Help. Is there an easy way to create different passwords to each of my accounts that I can remember. Thanks for a great show. Linda in Myrtle Beach, SC
      • Tech Talk Responds: One of the most difficult tasks in computing is choosing a password that is both hard for hackers to crack and easy to remember. The good news is you don’t need to use a password manager in order to create extremely secure (and unique) passwords for each of your online accounts and remember easily them! Here is the trick to choose a password that’s long, yet easy to remember.
      • All you have to do is take an easy to remember phrase and mix it up a bit. Here’s an example: stratford university is great
        • Eliminate all the spaces: stratforduniversityisgreat
        • Capitalize the first letter of the second word: stratfordUniversityisgreat
        • Change all the letter a’s to @: str@tfordUnversityisgre@t
        • Change the letter s’s to dollar signs: $str@fordUniver$ityi$gre@t
        • Add three letters to makes the password unique for each service
          • Gmail: $str@fordUniver$ityi$gre@tgma
          • Facebook: $str@fordUniver$ityi$gre@tfac
        • We have created one single password that is very secure and easy to remember, yet is unique for every website it’s used on. No dangerous password manager required.

 

Profiles in IT: Alexandr Wang

  • Alexandr Wang is an AI pioneer, best known as co-founder and CEO of Scale AI.
  • Alexandr Wang was born in 1997 in Los Alamos New Mexico.
  • Both his parents worked at the Los Alamos National Lab as weapon physicists.
  • Alexandr began playing violin at nine years old. Besides playing violin, his other interests include writing, hiking, programming, and reading philosophy.
  • Alexandr taught himself how to code with the help of the internet. Later he went into the world of coding competitions such as The USA computing Olympiad (USACO).
  • In 2014, Alexandr graduated from Los Alamos High school.
  • Due to his high expertise in coding competitions, Wang was hired by tech companies in Silicon Valley straight out of high school.
  • After high school, he was recruited into Silicon Valley where he started working at Addepar as a software engineer. He was responsible for building and maintaining financial models and creating features for the app.
  • In less than a year, he was hired by Quora, as Tech Lead in the Infrastructure team. He was directly responsible for all speed projects and initiatives at Quora.
  • In 2016 he interned at the Hudson River Trading where he developed trading algorithms.
  • Since he wanted more knowledge in machine learning, he enrolled for a machine-learning course at MIT, majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics.
  • He saw potential in artificial intelligence and machine learning, feeling that is could change the world. But it wasn’t yet making a real impact.
  • The idea for Scale came to Wang during a stint at MIT. He was convinced that one of his roommates was stealing his food, so he decided to set up a camera to catch the culprit in the act. That is when he ran into a roadblock: The video camera mostly just left him with massive amounts of video footage. He realized it would require a complex AI application to be smart enough to label the imagery and notify him when his food was actually taken.
  • The failed experiment did get him thinking about all the other companies that have on-hand data that’s not being used to its full potential.
  • He realized that data was the big bottleneck for people building meaningful AI. It took a lot of time to add intelligence to data, to make it usable for machine learning.
  • There were no standardized tools or infrastructure to solve this problem.
  • Alexandr believed that you could not build incredible AI if you treated data as an afterthought. AI is very much a garbage in, garbage out kind of paradigm.
  • With AI, think of data as the new code. Data builds the program. Data tells the program what to do.
  • During his school break, he interviewed for internship opportunities and got many offers. He declined all the offers, quit school and decided to start an AI company.
  • In 2016, he co-founded Scale AI. Scale built a data foundation for AI, creating an infrastructure that other organizations can build on top of to support their AI efforts.
  • On August 22, 2016 Scale AI completed their seed funding round with $120,000 in seed funding from Y Combinator.
  • Scale got its start by supplying autonomous vehicle companies with the labeled data needed to train machine-learning models to develop and deploy robotaxis, self-driving trucks and automated bots used in warehouses and on-demand delivery.
  • Legacy automakers such as General Motors and Toyota, chipmaker Nvidia and AV startups, Nuro and Zoox, have used its platform.
  • Scale’s customers now include government, e-commerce, enterprise automation and robotics. Airbnb, OpenAI, DoorDash and Pinterest.
  • On May 23, 2017, Scale received $4.5 M in funding in the Series A funding, led by Accel and Y Combinator making Wang the youngest entrepreneur to be funded by Accel.
  • In 2019, Scale AI announced that it had secured $100 million in series C funding. After the funding, Scale AI was valued at $1 billion.
  • In 2020, the Scale AI launched Nucleus, an AI development platform that is like Google Photos for machine learning data sets. Nucleus provides customers a way to organize, curate and manage massive data sets, giving companies a means to test their models and measure performance among other tasks.
  • In total, Scale has raised over $620 million and now has a $7.3 billion valuation.
  • Alexandr’s ultimate goal is for Scale AI is to be to Machine Learning what Amazon Web Services is to cloud computing.

Observations from the Faculty Lounge

  • Impact of AI on our lives will be transformational. Progress is accelerating exponentially and we had better be ready for the ride.
  • By 2030, Alexandr believes that AI is a technology that will change our daily lives just as much as the Internet did.
  • He think that healthcare is going to become dramatically safer and more accurate, lower cost and widely available. Drug design will be revolutionized.
  • Agriculture will change. We can do much to increase crop yields and decrease the amount of waste in the overall food and agriculture system.
  • Transportation will be revolutionized with technologies like self-driving cars and truck delivery robots.
  • It will affect retail. It will change how we buy things. Stores will know what we will want before we do.
  • AI will augment humans, allowing them to perform higher value tasks. We will see Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and more robotics.
  • It will not result is wholesale loss of jobs. For example, after the ATM, banks hired more tellers performing higher value work.
  • He believes in the Unknown, Unknowns that will propel the technology.
  • Looking back, we will not have known all the ways in which it will happen.
  • Link: https://alexw.substack.com/p/betting-on-unknown-unknowns

Trivia of the Week: Munker’s Illusion

  • Oranges are sold in bright red mesh bags because the contrast of the red netting against the orange color of the fruit creates an optical illusion, known as Munker’s Illusion, that leaves us perceiving the orange color as more vivid.
  • The Munker Illusion is one of those illusions that works, even when you know the trick.
  • Your brain knows that it’s making a mistake, but that doesn’t matter. You still see something that you know can’t be right.
  • It’s a chromatic illusion, which means it relies on your brain’s way of seeing color.
  • It has three elements: a background color, a colored shape, and bars that go over the entire picture in a third color.
  • Generally the bars and the background will be at opposite ends of the spectrum — either very light or very dark.
  • Red looks orange in one case and purple in another. The same trick works with green, making it look like a kind of fluorescent yellow in one picture and a somber green in another. Just layering colors in the right way tricks the eye into not recognizing an identical object, even when both objects are in plain view.
  • Link to demo: https://youtu.be/BNw9XSp9Igc

Bitcoin trial: Defendant wins dispute over $50B in Bitcoin

  • Craig Wright, a computer scientist who claims to be the inventor of Bitcoin, prevailed in a civil trial verdict Monday against the family of a deceased business partner that claimed it was owed half of a cryptocurrency fortune worth tens of billions.
  • A Florida jury found that Wright did not owe half of 1.1 million Bitcoin to the family of David Kleiman.
  • The jury did award $100 million in intellectual property rights to a joint venture between the two men, a fraction of what Kleiman’s lawyers were asking for at trial.
  • David Kleiman died in April 2013 at the age of 46. Led by his brother Ira Kleiman, his family has claimed David Kleiman and Wright were close friends and co-created Bitcoin through a partnership.
  • At the center of the trial were 1.1 million Bitcoin, worth approximately $50 billion based on Monday’s prices.
  • These were among the first Bitcoin to be created through mining and could only be owned by a person or entity involved with the digital currency from its beginning, such as Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.
  • Now the cryptocurrency community will be looking to see if Wright follows through on his promise to prove he is the owner of the Bitcoin. Doing so would lend credence to Wright’s claim, first made in 2016, that he is Nakamoto.
  • Wright has said he plans to donate much of the Bitcoin fortune to charity if he were to win at trial.

U.S. Blacklists Israeli Hacking Tool Vendor NSO Group

  • The U.S. Commerce Department added Israel’s NSO Group and Candiru to its trade blacklist. Both are Israeli companies offering hacking tools to governments and security agencies.
  • The companies were accused of engaging in activities contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.
  • The ban means exports to them from U.S counterparts are restricted. For instance, it far harder for U.S. security researchers to sell them information about computer vulnerabilities.
  • Suppliers will need to apply for a license before selling to them, which will likely be denied.
  • In the past, the NSO Group and Candiru have been accused of selling hacking tools to authoritarian regimes.