The KIT ─ Knowledge & Information Technology
No. 203 - 1 Nov 2017
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In This Issue
Fog World Congress
Are You Mining Bitcoins?
Gender Inclusiveness Checks in MS Word
An IoT Botnet Spreads
AI courses on Coursera
Seen Recently
Claude Baudoin

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It's Foggy in Santa Clara
Well, not really. But today is the third and final day of the Fog World Congress, led by the OpenFog Consortium and sponsored by Cisco, Dell and Hitachi. We've been attending, taking notes and interviewing several the key players.

So, what is fog? Well, as the name implies, it's a cloud close to the ground. In other words, a network of distributed computing and storage resources located near the devices that interact with the real world. In an Internet of Things (IoT) architecture, it provides local resources when it is impractical to use the cloud because the volume of data is too much for the available bandwidth of the cloud, or where the network is not available or reliable, or just adds too much latency. Cisco defines fog computing as "a horizontal architecture for distributing functions closer to the users along a cloud-to-things continuum."

You should expect an announcement of a more complete report on the conference in a few weeks.
Are You Mining Bitcoins Without Knowing It?
Bitcoin recently reported on a study by Adguard showing that video streaming sites, especially pirate ones, surreptitiously launch scripts to mine cryptocurrencies when the users point their Web browsers at them. This is usually done without asking the user for permission, and the Web sites that host such scripts make money from the mining activity. According to the study, as many as 500 million users all over the world are running Coinhive or JSEcoin in their browsers.
Microsoft Word Adds Gender Inclusiveness Checking
Technology doesn't exist in a world disjoint from the society we live in. Subscription users of Microsoft Office 2016 can now turn on some "language inclusiveness" checks in MS Word, in addition to spelling, grammar, punctuation and conciseness. The new option will detect the use of gender-specific (usually male) nouns and pronouns and suggest corrections that use gender-inclusive alternatives.

Predictably, some are decrying what they see as an excess of political correctness (even though the new checks, just like the old ones, are optional). If you read French, you can detect a whiff of such sentiment in this article from conservative daily newspaper Le Figaro. The issue is certainly harder to handle in romance languages, where articles and adjectives are gendered. There is no way of saying "the user" without using either the masculine or the feminine in French (or Spanish, Italian, etc.) The best solution is to use the plural when it makes sense.
Infecting IoT Devices
The security risks associated with the proliferation of Internet-of-Things devices are nothing new to attentive readers of the KIT, but this situation is taking an ominous turn with the news that a botnet (a network of coordinated malware installations) named IOT_reaper, first detected in mid-September, has been taking over several million unpatched devices worldwide, exploiting nine known vulnerabilities. What the operators of the botnet intend to do with it, once it reaches the size they want, is unclear for now.
AI on Coursera
AI, deep learning, machine learning, neural networks, ... the resurgence of artificial intelligence as an offshoot of big data analytics and IoT is accompanied by the emergence of a sizable education and training market. Coursera, one of the top Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) providers, is now offering four courses in this area:

Seen Recently...
"By 2022, a majority of individuals in mature economies will consume more false information than true information."
-- Gartner "Top Prediction" No. 4 at Gartner Symposium
(some of us think we've already passed that tipping point)
"IT must undergo its own digital transformation to support the larger business transformation."
-- Bernard Golden, @bernardgolden
(you'll find the tech tweets in between the food pictures)