Hashtag Trending Dec.8- Meta’s Purple Llama for cybersecurity; Memory vulnerabilities in C/C++ languages; McDonald’s to integrate AI in its operations

Purple Llama combines the red and blue team for AI. C+ gets an F in security because of memory vulnerabilities. Missing files in Google? Here’s a fix – but don’t ask questions. Apple launches some free machine learning tools and “would you like AI with that?” McDonalds is diving big into AI as fast food is moving into AI.

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I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US.

Meta has launched “Purple Llama,” a set of cybersecurity benchmarks for large language models (LLMs), aiming to bolster AI safety. This move aligns with the White House’s call for enhanced AI security, as outlined in its AI Executive Order. LLMs, like Meta’s Llama 2, can be exploited for accessing sensitive information or generating harmful content. Purple Llama introduces CyberSec Eval, a benchmark for evaluating LLM cybersecurity, and Llama Guard, a pre-trained model to prevent the generation of risky outputs. Joseph Spisak, Meta’s director of product management for generative AI, emphasizes the need for community collaboration in standardizing these safety measures. Purple Llama, named after a blend of red (attack) and blue (defense) teams, is part of an AI Alliance including major tech players like Microsoft and Google Cloud. Critics, however, have questioned the effectiveness of Meta’s open-source model management in real-world applications.

Sources include: Axios

Meta has announced that all Facebook and Messenger chats will now be automatically encrypted, ensuring that messages and calls can only be read by the sender and recipient. This shift to end-to-end encryption (E2EE) as the default setting has sparked criticism from the UK government and police, who argue it will hinder efforts to detect child sexual abuse on Messenger. Home Secretary James Cleverly expressed disappointment, seeing it as a step back in online child safety. Despite these concerns, Meta insists on the importance of privacy and safety, working with experts to balance these aspects. The company plans to extend default encryption to Instagram messages in the new year. While encryption protects user privacy, it has become a contentious issue, with law enforcement and children’s charities opposing its expansion due to concerns over child safety. Meta, however, is committed to using tools like artificial intelligence to detect malicious behavior without scanning private messages.

Sources include: BBC News Article

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), along with cybersecurity authorities from the Five Eyes nations, is urging business and technical leaders to prioritize memory safety in software development. In a paper titled “The Case for Memory Safety Roadmaps,” CISA highlights the significant damage caused by memory safety errors like buffer overflows and type confusion.

These vulnerabilities can lead to system takeovers and data theft. The agency’s guidance, part of its Secure By Design recommendations, calls for a shift towards memory safe languages (MSLs) and the creation of roadmaps to eliminate these vulnerabilities in products. This initiative follows a year of criticism of C/C++ languages, known for memory safety bugs, and praise for memory safe languages like Rust. Microsoft, acknowledging that about 70 per cent of its bugs are memory safety vulnerabilities, has committed $10 million to Rust tooling development. CISA advises developers to transition to memory safe languages like C#, Go, Java, Python, Rust, and Swift to reduce these vulnerabilities.

Sources include: The Register

Google has addressed a recent issue with missing files in Google Drive for desktop users on Windows and macOS. The solution involves installing the latest version of the Drive for desktop app (version or newer) and following a simple recovery process.

Users are instructed to open the app, access the settings while holding the Shift key, and select “Recover from backups.” This process will recover files and folders into a new folder named “Google Drive Recovery” on the desktop, separate from the locally synced Google Drive space. Google encourages users facing any recovery issues to provide feedback through the Drive desktop app with the hashtag #DFD84 and include diagnostic logs.

For those seeking more control over file recovery, Google also provides command line instructions. However, users who have disconnected their account or removed their local Drive cache as a DIY fix are limited to restoring from Windows backups or macOS Time Machine. The issue, which began affecting users in late November, was linked to Google Drive versions to and involved local files not yet synced to Drive. Google’s release notes for version 85 don’t clarify the cause of the problem, and further details are awaited.

Sources include: The Register

The race to deploy 5G networks by major US carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile has reached a pivotal point where the focus shifts from expansion to managing the financial aftermath. Initially, 5G was touted as a revolutionary technology for autonomous vehicles, remote surgery, and augmented reality. However, the actual applications have been more mundane, such as improved streaming capabilities and home internet options.

Verizon, having spent $45.5 billion on new spectrum licenses, is now under investor scrutiny for returns on this massive investment. The company’s approach includes selling private networks for industrial and manufacturing businesses, but progress has been slow due to the complexity of tailoring services to specific industries.

The most successful 5G application so far has been fixed wireless access (FWA), providing an alternative for home broadband. However, this falls short of the transformative benefits initially promised. Network slicing, a feature that prioritizes certain types of network traffic, shows potential but requires a standalone 5G network, which is still under development.

The rapid deployment of 5G has led to significant debt for these companies, prompting them to seek new revenue streams, often resulting in higher costs for consumers. The consolidation of wireless carriers, with T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, has further limited competition in the market. The long-term benefits of 5G may still materialize, but for now, the technology’s impact is more incremental than revolutionary.

Sources include:  The Verge

Apple has quietly released Apple MLX, a new set of open-source machine learning tools optimized for Apple Silicon. Aimed at simplifying AI development, MLX is accessible via platforms like PyPI and GitHub. It’s designed to be efficient and user-friendly, supporting various AI tasks such as language processing and image generation. This move highlights Apple’s strategy to integrate advanced AI capabilities into its products, leveraging its powerful in-house silicon technology. While less publicized than its competitors, and dwarfed by Google’s Gemini, Apple’s MLX launch signals a significant step in its AI innovation journey, catering to both researchers and developers.

Sources include: ITPro Article

McDonald’s is set to collaborate with Google in 2024 to integrate generative AI into its operations. This partnership will involve hardware and software upgrades in thousands of McDonald’s stores, enhancing various systems including ordering kiosks and the mobile app. The goal is to utilize AI for optimizing operations, with a promise of delivering “hotter, fresher food” to customers.

While specific applications of AI in McDonald’s operations are not detailed, the upgrades will run both in-store and through Google Cloud services. These improvements aim to help managers quickly identify and solve operational issues, potentially reducing complexity for store staff and creating new experiences for customers and crew.

This move towards AI-driven automation aligns with trends in the fast-food industry, as seen with Wendy’s AI ordering tests. However, McDonald’s has not explicitly addressed the potential impact on human employment, focusing instead on enhancing operational efficiency and customer experience. The integration of AI in McDonald’s operations is part of a broader shift towards digital transformation in the fast-food sector, with potential implications for service quality and efficiency.

Sources include: The Verge 

And that’s what’s trending today.

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