Hashtag Trending Jun. 23- AI startups driving down cost with smaller, private open source models; Disks from SAP data center turn up on Ebay; TikTok COO resigns

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Startups build smaller custom private open source AI offerings, disks from a SAP data centre turn up on E-Bay the American COO of TikTok resigns and brace yourself for price increases in cloud and cloud software.

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.

In the world of AI, bigger isn’t always better. That’s the message from MosaicML, a startup that’s driving down the costs of training AI with software improvements and open source models. Naveen Rao, CEO and co-founder of MosaicML, explains that businesses don’t need to spend millions to train AI. Instead, they can access models from a range of APIs or choose off-the-shelf systems from cloud providers. 

MosaicML recently released a series of open source large language models (LLMs) based on its MPT-7B architecture, which supports commercial applications. Unlike most LLMs, which are typically used for research purposes, the MPT-7B can process text from hundreds of pages of documents at one time. 

Rao, former VP and general manager of the AI Products Group at Intel, says, “If a customer came to us and said, train this model, we can do it for $200,000 and we still make money on that. So I think what’s important here is that this is a real business number – it’s not in the order of tens or millions of dollars.”

MosaicML also offers more powerful models in-house and can help businesses develop their own private models. These models can be hosted on various cloud platforms or fine-tuned open-source ones. The data is not shared with the MosaicML, and their clients own the model’s weights and the IP. 

Rao emphasizes the importance of data privacy for companies, stating, ” Companies want to protect their data, right? If anything, they want to do it more now so that you can actually activate that data with large models.”

Sources include: The Register

In a surprising turn of events, an SSD disk that went missing from a SAP datacenter in Walldorf, Germany, has surfaced on eBay. The disk, which was one of four that disappeared from the datacenter in November last year, was purchased by an SAP employee who was able to identify it as belonging to the company. The disk contained personal records of over 100 SAP employees.

This incident has led to a security investigation by SAP, as it was discovered that the disks were stolen from an unsecured building within the HQ complex. There were no physical checks on people leaving the datacenter, contributing to the loss. The location of the three remaining disks is still unknown.

This is reportedly the fifth incident of disks going missing from SAP’s European datacenters in two years. In response to the incident, an SAP spokesperson stated, “SAP takes data security very seriously. Please understand that while we don’t comment on internal investigations, we can confirm we currently have no evidence suggesting that confidential customer data or PII has been taken from the company via these disks or otherwise.”

This security breach is a significant concern for SAP, a company that is striving to increase its success in cloud computing and software as a service. The incident highlights the importance of robust security measures in the era of digital data storage and cloud services.

Sources include: The Register

The demand for generative AI-related jobs in the United States has seen a significant increase, with job postings jumping about 20 per cent last month, according to data from job portal Indeed. This surge is more than double the 2021 level, reflecting the growing interest in AI technologies, particularly following the success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Data scientist roles made up 5 per cent of the AI job postings on Indeed’s U.S. platform, with software engineer, machine learning engineer, and data engineer roles also in high demand. Nick Bunker, director of economic research at Indeed, noted, “There has been a notable increase in job seeker interest in AI-related jobs, especially since the introduction of ChatGPT.”

However, the rise in AI job postings comes amidst a broader downturn in the tech job market, with overall tech jobs down 43.6 per cent in the United States from June last year. Companies like Meta Platforms and Amazon have been laying off employees due to economic uncertainties.

Even companies that have had extreme layoffs like Meta and Amazon have listed generative AI jobs on Indeed’s U.S. website along with other giants like Apple,TikTok and Pinterest to name just a few.

Sources include: Reuters

In a significant development at TikTok, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, V. Pappas, has announced their resignation. Pappas, who has been with TikTok for nearly five years, stated in a memo posted on Twitter that they believe the “time is right to move on and refocus” on their entrepreneurial passions. However, Pappas will continue to serve TikTok in an advisory role.

Pappas’ decision to step down comes amidst a period of renewed government scrutiny over TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and its ties to China. This follows the recent departure of Eric Han, TikTok’s head of trust and safety in the US.

In the wake of Pappas’ departure, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew announced that Adam Presser, TikTok’s current chief of staff, will become TikTok’s head of operations. Additionally, Zenia Mucha, a 20-year Disney veteran, is joining TikTok as the chief brand and communications officer.

Pappas, who served as the US general manager of TikTok in 2018 and later became COO in April 2021, has been a prominent figure in the company, often making key announcements and discussing the company’s future strategy. 

Sources include: The Verge

The rise of Generative AI applications, such as ChatGPT, has brought with it a surge in security concerns. According to the Astrix Security Research Group, mid-size organizations already have an average of 54 Generative-AI integrations with core systems like Slack, GitHub, and Google Workspace, and this number is expected to grow.

The two main security concerns with AI-based apps are data sharing and the use of unverified Generative-AI apps. Employees may unintentionally share sensitive information, including customer Personally Identifiable Information and intellectual property, through apps like ChatGPT. This can expose organizations to data breaches, competitive disadvantages, and compliance violations. 

A case in point is Samsung, which reported three different leaks of highly sensitive information by employees using ChatGPT for productivity purposes. All this information is now used by ChatGPT to train the AI models and can be shared across the web.

Furthermore, employees are increasingly connecting high-privilege access AI-based apps from unverified sources to core systems like GitHub and Salesforce, raising significant security concerns. 

Sources include: The Hacker News

Netskope, a security cloud, has developed a solution that uses data insights to manage the use of ChatGPT and similar tools in a way that doesn’t compromise enterprise data, according to the company.

Their solution includes data analysis of generative AI inputs and real-time user engagement elements such as policy and risk coaching. It can monitor the data that users feed to generative AI models and blocks inputs if they include sensitive data or code.

According to Netskope’s data, about 10 per cent of enterprise organizations are actively blocking ChatGPT use by teams, and each user submits, on average, eight ChatGPT prompts per day. However, ChatGPT usage is growing 25 per cent monthly in enterprises. 

Netskope’s offering provides IT access to specific ChatGPT usage and trends within the organization and enables adaptive policy controls.

James Robinson, deputy chief information security officer at Netskope, emphasizes that managing access to these new AI tools is not a “use” or “don’t use” gateway. He said, “As security leaders, we should not just say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Rather, we should focus more on ‘know’ because this is a granular problem.”

The user experience includes a real-time “visual coaching” message popup to warn users about data security policies and the potential exposure of sensitive data. The platform also queries users to clarify their use of AI if they take an action that is against policy or is contrary to the system’s recommendations.

Sources include: TechRepublic

In the face of rising inflation, businesses are grappling with price hikes of up to 24 per cent from some tech vendors. According to research from The ITAM Review, the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, inflation, soaring energy costs, and geopolitical instability have led to price increases across both on-premises and SaaS product lines during the 2022/2023 financial year.  

IBM, for instance, increased prices in January 2023 across its “Passport Advantage Eligible” scheme, leading to a 24 per cent hike in several regions including the UK, Eurozone, and Japan. Microsoft also made significant moves, with users in Japan facing a 20 per cent increase for on-prem software and a 15 per cent hike for online services. CIOs in Canada and US are reporting similar trends.

Rich Gibbons, managing director at The ITAM Review, stated, “With spending increasing and no commensurate increase in value being received by customers, software and cloud cost management must be a C-level imperative for all organizations.”

Other vendors, such as Oracle and SAP, also increased prices, albeit at more modest increments. Oracle announced an 8 per cent increase to their US support prices, while SAP announced a 3.3 per cent increase in support costs from January 1, 2023.

The report also highlighted the impact of mergers and acquisitions on tech users, with a common tactic being to increase the focus on software non-compliance audits to quickly recoup a portion of the acquisition costs. 

Sources include: The Register

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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