Hashtag Trending Jun.16- Google cautions employees using AI; Postgres overtakes MySql as the leading open-source database; What do you do when your smart home locks you out?

Google tells staff to be cautious using AI. Postgres overtakes MySql as the leading open-source database.  And what do you do when your smart home locks you out?

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These and more top tech news stories from Hashtag Trending and Tech News Day. I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US.

Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google, is issuing a cautionary note to its employees regarding the use of chatbots, including its own AI program, Bard. This warning comes even as the company markets Bard globally. The company has advised employees not to input confidential materials into AI chatbots, citing the need to safeguard information. 

Chatbots like Bard and ChatGPT use generative artificial intelligence to converse with users and respond to various prompts. However, these chatbots pose a potential risk as human reviewers may read the chats, and the AI could reproduce the data it absorbed during training, leading to potential leaks. 

Alphabet has also alerted its engineers to avoid the direct use of computer code generated by chatbots. The company acknowledges that Bard can make undesired code suggestions but asserts that it still aids programmers. 

This cautionary stance reflects a growing trend among corporations to warn their personnel about using publicly available chat programs. Companies such as Samsung, Amazon.com, and Deutsche Bank have set up guardrails on AI chatbots. 

Interestingly, a survey by networking site Fishbowl revealed that 43 per cent of professionals were using ChatGPT or other AI tools as of January, often without informing their superiors. 

This comes as Alphabet rolls out Bard to more than 180 countries and in 40 languages and as the company is addressing regulators’ questions about the chatbot’s impact on privacy. 

Sources include: Reuters

A recent survey of 90,000 developers conducted by Stack Overflow reveals a significant shift in the choice of database engine. PostgreSQL has now overtaken MySQL, with 45.55 per cent of respondents using PostgreSQL compared to 41.09 per cent using MySQL. This marks a notable change from the same survey three years ago, which had MySQL at 55.6 per cent and PostgreSQL at 36.1 per cent.

Microsoft’s SQL Server, the highest-ranking fully commercial database engine, is used by 25.45 per cent of respondents, down from 33 per cent in 2020. However, it’s important to note that this survey reflects developer preferences and not necessarily production usage. 

PostgreSQL, which began as a project to improve on the Ingres database engine in the 1980s, is cross-platform, free, and open source. The fact that developers are choosing PostgreSQL for the applications they are working on is a significant vote of confidence and may be a leading indicator of future production use.

In terms of programming languages, JavaScript remains the top choice, although its usage has slightly decreased from 65.36 per cent in 2022 to 63.61 per cent this year. Python is the second most popular language, with its usage fractionally up to 49.28 per cent.

The survey also covered cloud platforms, with AWS, Azure, and Google remaining the top three. Newcomers to the list include Cloudflare, Vercel, and Netlify, all examples of the growing trend towards edge computing.

Sources include: DEVCLASS

EU industry chief Thierry Breton has urged more EU countries to join the 10 that have already restricted or banned China’s Huawei and ZTE from their 5G telecoms networks. Breton cites risks to the bloc’s collective security as the primary reason for this call to action.

The countries that have already taken action against Huawei and ZTE include Romania, Sweden, and France. These countries have either restricted or completely banned the Chinese companies from their 5G networks due to security concerns. 

Breton’s call for more countries to follow suit comes at a time when the EU is working on its toolbox of measures to mitigate the main cybersecurity risks of 5G networks. The toolbox, which was adopted last year, includes a range of measures, such as strengthening security requirements for mobile operators and assessing the risk profiles of suppliers.

Breton’s comments reflect a growing concern among Western countries about the potential security risks posed by Chinese telecom equipment makers. These concerns center around the possibility of the Chinese government using the companies’ equipment for espionage, a claim both Huawei and ZTE have repeatedly denied.

Sources include: Reuters

Yann LeCun, one of the three “godfathers of AI” and chief AI scientist at Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has dismissed fears that AI will take over the world or permanently destroy jobs as “preposterously ridiculous”. 

LeCun argues that while computers will become more intelligent than humans, this is many years away. He also believes that if a technology is deemed unsafe, it simply won’t be built. This perspective is in contrast to some experts who worry that AI might pose a risk to humans because they can’t imagine how it could be made safe.

LeCun likens the situation to asking someone in 1930 how they would make a turbo-jet safe, a technology that hadn’t been invented yet. He believes that just as turbo-jets were eventually made incredibly reliable and safe, the same will happen with AI.

Meta has a large AI research program, and one of its goals is to produce intelligent systems as capable as humans. The company uses AI to help identify harmful social media posts and is working on so-called Objective Driven AI, which aims to produce safe systems that can remember, reason, plan, and have common sense.

LeCun acknowledges that AI will surpass human intelligence, but he believes that researchers are still missing essential concepts to reach that level, which will take years if not decades to arrive. 

On the topic of AI’s impact on jobs, LeCun believes that while work will change, AI is “not going to put a lot of people out of work permanently”. He envisions intelligent computers creating “a new renaissance for humanity” similar to the impact of the internet or the printing press.

Sources include: BBC News

Brandon Jackson, a Microsoft engineer, found himself locked out of his smart home for a week after an Amazon delivery driver mistakenly accused him of being racist. The incident began when the driver misheard an automated response from Jackson’s smart doorbell, leading to a report that resulted in Jackson’s Amazon account being locked.

The lockout rendered all of Jackson’s smart home devices, which he primarily interfaces with through Amazon Echo devices via Alexa, unresponsive. This left him unable to interact with his smart devices, turning his smart home into a silent and unresponsive environment.

Jackson contacted Amazon and submitted footage from his smart doorbell to prove his innocence. Amazon initiated an investigation and finally unlocked his account nearly a week later. 

Jackson expressed his support for Amazon’s measures to ensure the safety of their drivers but questioned why his entire smart home system had to be rendered unusable during their internal investigation. He is now considering discontinuing his use of Amazon Echo devices and has cautioned others about this incident.

This incident raises questions about the control tech companies have over smart home appliances and devices. Jackson argues that if you buy a device, you own it, and tech companies like Amazon, Google, or Apple should not have the power to render it unusable.

Or maybe every smart home should be equipped with pod bay doors. 

Alexa, open the door.  

I’m afraid I can’t do that Jim…

Sources include: The Independent

And that’s the top tech news stories for today. 

Links to all of the stories can be found in the text version of this podcast at itworldcanada.com/podcasts 

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Jim Love
Jim Love
I've been in IT and business for over 30 years. I worked my way up, literally from the mail room and I've done every job from mail clerk to CEO. Today I'm CIO and Chief Digital Officer of IT World Canada - Canada's leader in ICT publishing and digital marketing.

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