Hashtag Trending Nov.3-Cloudflare experiences technical issues; Microsoft cracks down on excessive use of AI; Security professionals unhappy?

Cloudflare experiences more technical issues, Microsoft may be moving to restrict excessive use of AI, Security professionals are reporting “low happiness” ratings and the use of automation and AI has MSN.com taken to task by rival CNN for low quality and sometimes erroneous content. 

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

Cloudflare, a leading web and internet services provider, known for protecting companies from DDoS attacks and other security issues has been experiencing technical difficulties. Their Dashboard and several associated APIs were reported to be down for a wide range of customers.  

Thankfully the disruption didn’t impact their Content Delivery Network or security features, which faced an outage just last week. On October 30, an unsuccessful update caused a 37-minute service interruption. 

The current issue, while less severe, persisted for many hours.  The primary cause is identified as a data center power failure and challenges in service /switch-over. Cloudflare stated that they are actively addressing the situation, but noted that the resolution might be prolonged due to the nature of the problem. 

Sources include: ZDNET

Here’s some more on a story we did yesterday on the struggle companies are having pricing their AI services.

Microsoft has updated its terms for online services, signaling that “excessive” users of its generative AI services might find their access limited. This change, highlighted on November 1, doesn’t clearly define what “excessive use” entails or the duration of any “temporary” restrictions. 

The move hints at potential bottlenecks in Microsoft’s AI infrastructure that could affect performance. It’s worth noting that Microsoft recently disclosed that scaling its cloud-based AI would be a costly endeavour. 

On October 24, they reported Q1 2024 capital expenditures of $11.2 billion, partly used for scaling AI infrastructure. 

Limiting high-frequency users could be a cost-saving strategy, especially since Microsoft’s GitHub AI Copilot reportedly operates at a loss, but it is also reflective of the challenges that companies are facing as they try to effectively price their AI product offerings.  

Sources include: The Register

A recent survey by ISC2 has highlighted a concerning trend in the cybersecurity industry: a sharp rise in professionals reporting low “happiness ratings.” 

Out of close to 15,000 global infosec workers surveyed, almost 37 per cent indicated low levels of workplace happiness. 

While 70 per cent of respondents expressed satisfaction with their jobs, the primary issues causing distress seem to be organizational. Factors such as departmental cutbacks, potential layoffs, and inadequate managerial support are contributing to the decline in overall happiness. 

ISC2 emphasized the importance of a positive workplace culture, noting that satisfied workers are more motivated and less prone to errors. The data also suggests that the anticipation of layoffs can have a more detrimental impact on job happiness than actual layoffs.

Sources include: The Register

Amazon’s covert pricing algorithm, “Project Nessie,” is under the spotlight, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggesting it might have boosted the company’s profits by over $1 billion at the expense of its customers. 

The FTC, along with several state attorneys general, has taken legal action against Amazon, accusing it of operating an illegal monopoly. The complaint alleges that Amazon suppressed lower-priced listings from other retailers and imposed hefty fees on sellers, leading to inflated product prices. 

Project Nessie, revealed in the complaint, was designed to hike Amazon product prices and observe if competitors would match them. If not, prices would revert to normal. Although Amazon ceased using Nessie in 2019, the FTC claims the company has contemplated its reactivation. Amazon’s spokesperson, Tim Doyle, defended Nessie, stating it aimed to prevent unsustainable low prices due to price matching.

Sources include: The Verge

Microsoft’s homepage, MSN.com, a major news portal, has been under scrutiny for amplifying false and bizarre news stories. 

This shift in content quality is attributed to Microsoft’s increased reliance on automation and artificial intelligence over human editors. Previously, the site employed over 800 editors to curate news, but many were laid off in favor of “automation.” 

Recent blunders include a distasteful AI-generated poll on a sensitive news story asking readers to vote for their guess at a cause of death. 

The site has also reportedly promoted several clearly false articles, one of which claimed falsely that President Joe Biden had fallen asleep during a moment of silence for victims of a catastrophic wildfire.  

In another example Microsoft reportedly republished a story about Brandon Hunter, a former NBA player who died unexpectedly at the age of 42, with a headline, “Brandon Hunter useless at 42.”

Ryn Pfeuffer, one of the editors that Microsoft let go as they moved to a more “automated” and “algorithmic” approach to content curation, expressed concerns about the site’s current content, noting that such stories would never have been featured during her tenure. 

Sources include: CNN

And that’s the top tech news for today.

Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show we call “the Weekend Edition.”

You can get us anywhere you get audio podcasts and there is a copy of the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts 

I’m your host, Jim Love – have a Fabulous Friday

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