SiliconANGLE: Biden’s AI executive order is promising, but it may be tough for the US to govern AI effectively

President Biden signed a sweeping executive order yesterday covering numerous generative AI issues, and it’s comprehensive and thoughtful, as well as lengthy.

The EO contains eight goals along with specifics of how to implement them, which on the surface sounds good. However, it may turn out to be more inspirational than effective, and it has a series of intrinsic challenges that could be insurmountable to satisfy. Here are six of my top concerns in a post that I wrote for SiliconANGLE today.

All in all, the EO is still a good initial step toward understanding AI’s complexities and how the feds will find a niche that balances all these various — and sometimes seemingly contradictory — issues. If it can evolve as quickly as generative AI has done in the past year, it may succeed. If not, it will be a wasted opportunity to provide leadership and move the industry forward.

Using Fortnite for actual warfare

What do B-52s and a Chinese soccer stadium have in common? Both are using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine to create digital twins to help with their designs. Now, you might think having a software gaming engine would be a stretch to retrofit the real engines on a 60-plus year old bomber, but that is exactly what Boeing is doing. The 3D visualization environment makes it easier to design and provide faster feedback to meet the next generation of military pilots.

This being the military, the notion of “faster” is a matter of degree. The goal is for Boeing to replace the eight Pratt and Whitney engines on each of 60-some planes, as well as update cockpit controls, displays and other avionics. And the target date? Sometime in 2037. So check back with me then.

Speaking of schedules, let’s look at what is happening with that Xi’an stadium. I wrote about the soccer stadium back in July 2022 and how the architects were able to create a digital twin of the stadium to visualize seating sight lines and how various building elements would be constructed. It is still under construction, but you can see a fantastic building taking shape in this video. However slowly the thing is being built, it will probably be finished before 2037, or even before 2027.

Usually, when we talk about building digital twins, we mean taking a company’s data and making it accessible to all sorts of analytical tools. Think of companies like Snowflake, for example, and what they do. But the gaming engines offer another way to duplicate all the various systems digitally, and then test different configurations by literally putting a real bomber pilot in a virtual cockpit to see if the controls are in the right place, or the new fancy hardware and software systems can provide the right information to a pilot. If you look at the cockpit of another Boeing plane — the iconic 747, now mostly retired, you see a lot of analog gauges and physical levers and switches.

Now look at the 777 cockpit — see the difference? Everything is on a screen.

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It is ironic in a way: we are using video gaming software to reproduce the real world by placing more screens in front of the people that are depicted in the games. A true Ender’s Game scenario, if you will.

SiliconANGLE: Smarter shopping carts are coming but usability and privacy concerns loom

A new version of the smarter shopping cart will be coming to a nearby market this fall. Thanks to various partnerships and technological innovations of Instacart Inc., the latest embodiment of what the company calls Caper Carts will be able to track purchases while shoppers navigate through the aisles. The goal is to make it easier for shoppers to skip the checkout lines.

But it’s a tough reach, given the complexities of the retail channel and how the items will be scanned and tracked. If it works, it could be a major time saver. If it stumbles, it could be another example of bad user interface technology that is presently in most grocery and other retail chains: automated checkout scanning lanes. I write about it for SiliconANGLE today here.


SiliconANGLE: It won’t be long before we are all chatbot prompt engineers

Back in January, Andrej Karpathy, who now works for OpenAI LP and used to be the director of artificial intelligence for Tesla Inc., tweeted: “The hottest new programming language is English.” Karpathy was only semiserious, yet he has identified a new career path: AI chatbot prompt engineer. It could catch on.

The term describes the people who create and refine the text prompts that users type into the chatbot query windows — hence the use of English, or any other standard human language. These types of engineers don’t need to learn any code, but they do need to learn how the AI chatbots work, what they’re good at doing and what they’re not good at doing.

I interviewed several experts about whether the discipline will become its own career path in my post for SiliconANGLE here.

SiliconANGLE: ChatGPT detectors still have trouble separating human and AI-generated texts

The growth of ChatGPT and other chatbots over the past year has also stimulated the growth of software that can be used to detect whether a text is most likely to originate from these automated tools. That market continues to evolve, but lately there is some mixed news that not all detector programs are accurate, and at least one has actually been discontinued.

I examine two different academic reviews of several of these detector tools, and how they have failed under varying circumstances, for my post for SiliconANGLE here.

SiliconANGLE: That next computer in the cloud could be an IBM mainframe

A small Minneapolis mainframe computer software startup is poised to change the way enterprises use and share data across the cloud.

Virtual Z Computing Inc. claims to be the first and only women-founded and women-led mainframe systems integrator in history. That is a bold position, but perhaps more important is its pair of revolutionary software applications called Lozen and Zaac that connect native mainframe data with various third-party distributed, cloud-based applications.

I explain how the company’s products fit into the future of cloud computing in this story for SiliconANGLE here. 

SiliconANGLE: Databases then and now: the rise of the digital twin

When I first started in IT, back in the Mainframe Dark Ages, we had hulking big databases that ran on IBM’s Customer Information Control System, written in COBOL. These mainframes ran on a complex collection of hardware and operating systems that was owned lock, stock, and bus and tag barrel by IBM. The average age of the code was measured in decades, and code changes were measured in months. They contained millions of transactions, and the data was always out of date since it was a batch system, meaning every night new data would be uploaded.

Contrast that to today’s typical database setup. Data is current to the second, code is changed hourly, and the nature of what constitutes a transaction has changed significantly to something that is now called a “digital twin,” which I explain in my latest post for SiliconANGLE here.

Code is written in dozens of higher-level languages that have odd names that you may never have heard of, and this code runs on a combination of cloud and on-premises equipment that uses loads of microprocessors and open source products that can be purchased from hundreds of suppliers.

It really is remarkable, and that these changes have happened all within the span of a little more than 35 years. You can read more in my post.



SiliconANGLE: CIOs’ relationship with AI is complicated, but they have hopes for a promising future

Artificial intelligence — its value, risks and utility in enterprise scenarios — not surprisingly dominated the discussion at this week’s MIT CIO Symposium, one of the year’s biggest gatherings of senior information technology executives. In this post for SiliconANGLE, Paul Gillin and I review what some of the CIO panelists revealed about the state of their domains, and their relationship with AI tools.

SiliconANGLE: We need more breach transparency, but a lot of obstacles are in the way

The U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center last week posted a joint blog with the nation’s regulatory commissioner’s office about the need for better cybersecurity breach transparency. They’re concerned about the unreported incidents, in particular ransomware cases, which are getting more dangerousmore prevalent and more costly. The situation creates a vicious cycle: “If attacks are covered up, the criminals enjoy greater success, and more attacks take place,” they wrote in the post.

In this analysis for SiliconANGLE, I look at the implications for designing the next generation of customer support systems using AI enhanced tools.