Hashtag Trending May 26-Microsoft predicts that deep fakes are the greatest threat from AI; Gartner survey shows government CIOs not satisfied with DX rate; Meta doubles down on layoffs

This week we have an interview with Rob Barton, CTO of Cisco Canada. Find out why Cisco has such ambitious and aggressive goals to meet net carbon zero and even a little bit about how they are going to get there when Hashtag Trending, the Weekend Edition is released Saturday Morning for your weekend listening.

Forget the “Terminator” warnings, Microsoft predicts that deep fakes are the greatest threat from artificial intelligence.  And Meta doubles down on layoffs but struggles to find efficiencies.

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These top tech news stories and more for Friday, May 26th , I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada, and Tech News Day in the US.

Worldwide government IT spending is set to rise by 8 per cent in 2023 according to research firm Gartner.

Technology leaders in government have been struggling with inflation and its impact on their budgets as well as the difficulty in attracting and retaining tech talent. Even with the lay-offs and cuts in big tech, there is still a world-wide shortage of tech talent and governments are feeling the pinch more than others.  According to Gartner, this has forced governments to “re-examine their approaches to counterbalance internal talent scarcity.”

Add to that, the need to replace legacy systems, Gartner’s 2023 CIO and Technology Executive Survey predicts that 57 per cent of government CIOs plan to increase funding for application modernization in 2023, up from 42 per cent in 2022.

The big winner in this new spending will be software providers. According to the report, “in 2023, software will continue to be the highest growing segment. Application modernization investments will be increasingly supported by more software-as-a service-based solution offerings. The use of low-code application platforms is also on the rise and will further accelerate legacy modernization efforts.”

The report also notes that government CIOs are increasingly concerned that they are not realizing the full benefits of their digital transformation investments. And governments think in terms of their mission and purpose,  so software and solution providers would be well advised to be able to link their solutions not just to efficiency but to their ability to fulfil the outcomes that governments are seeking.

Sources include: Gartner Inc.

Chip maker Nvidia became the first trillion-dollar chip firm as its stock surged over the past week.  Nvidia stock rose over 25 per cent taking it to the trillion-dollar market cap, which is double that of its nearest rival. That’s the largest one-day gain in US market history, beating the record previously established by Apple last November.  

What’s driving this growth?  Nvidia’s GPU chips are an integral part of Artificial Intelligence and the spectacular growth of demand for AI systems caused the company to project quarterly revenue that was 50 per cent above Wall Street expectations. 

That makes Nvidia the 5th most valuable company in the US and some predict it may even take the number four spot from Amazon in the near future if growth in the AI market continues.

Will it grow? Is it a blip? At least one analyst thinks not. Derren Nathan, head of equity analysis at Hargreaves Lansdown told Reuters, “We’re really just seeing the tip of the iceberg. This really could be another inflection point in technological history, such as the internal combustion engine – or the internet.” 

Sources include: Reuters

And forget the Terminator – the real and present danger of AI comes from deep fakes.  That’s according to Brad Smith, president of Microsoft.

With the advances in AI technology, Deep Fakes, the ability to alter existing or even generate totally new content that is almost indistinguishable from “reality” allows anyone  to create a realistic fake audio or video. There are numerous examples of this and we’ll post a few links in the text version for those who have not seen this in action. 

Recently someone who wanted to comment on this podcast did a fake version of the podcast using AI. Thankfully they only did a fake of my voice, but I was almost unable to tell that it wasn’t me.

In a world where cybercrooks are leveraging phishing and fraud like never before, this will indeed be a danger. A familiar fraud scheme where elderly parents are phoned by people impersonating their children and told to send bail money, can now feature absolutely realistic voices of these children. In corporate life, you could get a message from your boss instructing you to make a transfer of funds or some other instruction.

What is called Spear Phishing – carefully targeted emails and other electronic communications that fool employees into taking a action that leaves the company open to a subsequent theft or cyber attack, is already one of the most successful ways to circumvent even the best defences. Deep fakes give the perpetrators a devastating addition to their tool kit.

But Smith and others aren’t only worried about corporate fraud. The ability of foreign adversaries to interfere in elections and other government activities, things that our adversaries are already doing –  is going to get much worse.

In a speech in Washington, Smith talked about the need to regulate AI to control the damage, saying:

“We need to take steps to protect against the alteration of legitimate content with an intent to deceive or defraud people through the use of AI.”

Sources include: Reuters

And it seems that layoffs aren’t making tech companies more efficient.  On Wednesday of this week Mark Zuckerberg began yet another phase of layoffs, axing 4,000 staff with another 5,000 expected to follow. There’s a real morale boost. That’s in addition to the 11,000 that were let go earlier.  

Zuckerberg has said that Meta was ” restructuring teams to increase our efficiency,” saying that he had allowed the company to “over-hire” during the pandemic. That was echoed by people like venture capitalist Keith Rabois said that this “over hiring” had led to employees doing fake work.

But staff at Facebook have reportedly told Bloomberg that they are unsure about who they are supposed to “collaborate with” and how or to whom they can re-assign responsibilities.

Without a clear direction, staff say they have been “making up things to do” and ignoring some key priorities. 

So the “fake work” problem, if it really happened, has gotten worse and not better.

Which raises a question about what role Meta’s leadership are playing – after all, they are so valuable that many of them got six figure bonuses as high as 940,000 dollars in one case while thousands of employees were being let go to rein in costs. 

Which makes you wonder – who is doing the “fake work?”

That’s the top tech news for today.  We go to air with a daily newscast five days a week, as well as a special weekend interview with an expert on topics relevant to today’s tech news.

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We love your comments. You can find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or on Mastodon as @therealjimlove on our Mastodon site technews.social.  Or if that’s too much, just leave a comment under the text version at itworldcanada.com/podcasts and there you can also find all of the links in those text versions.

I’m your host, Jim Love.  Have a Fabulous Friday!

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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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