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Unlock Open Source value

Open source software is a powerful springboard for innovation and collaboration. When harnessed correctly it can enhance data security, expedite services through innovative coding and development, as well as unlock restrictions to commercial freedom, writes SIMON MCCULLOUGH, Major Channel Account Manager, F5 Networks.

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The spirit of collaboration and peer-to-peer problem solving is particularly important at a time when cybersecurity threats are escalating the complexity of security and compliance. The need for trust in the app development and delivery space is also intensifying.

In some circles, experts believe open source is on the wane. I strongly disagree. At its best, open source software explodes barriers to progress and accelerate innovation in ways licensed software with all its legislative impediments can only dream about. Furthermore, adopting open software as a strategy means users can add value and diversify with more speed and flexibility than ever before – all while raising overall operational standards.

A good use-case of open source’s adaptability is its ability to raise awareness of major threats, such as backdoors. How else can a vast community of developers converge, connect and forensically interrogate code to identify if something is truly secure or has vulnerabilities affecting crucial assets like applications and infrastructure?

According to Eric Marks, VP of Cloud Consulting at CloudSpectator, open source is “is getting more popular, not less, and more components are offered in this format.” Speaking to the Foresight Factory’s recently launched Future of Multi-cloud (FOMC) report, he added that it is “becoming more and more viable” and that we will soon see “a full IT stack that is entirely built from open source components.”

Another key benefit of open source is its inherent capacity to bridge existing interoperability gaps. For instance, with a multi-cloud strategy, enterprises have more freedom to easily assign workloads to public clouds best suited to specific tasks, including speed, agility, and security. It is notable that many enterprises are currently and convincingly increasing multi-cloud flexibility and avoiding historic cost impediments with open source using resources, including Kubernetes or OpenStack.

According to some expert contributors to the FOMC report, a lack of open source options could adversely hit the development of user-friendly and intelligent multi-cloud dashboards and various levels of abstraction (i.e. security, monitoring, compliance, and containers). It could also inhibit the ability to communicate between multiple clouds due to the increasing complexity of controlled proprietary platforms.

While open source may have multifarious and vocal detractors, it is important that we are not intimidated by negativity or prompted to stifle its potentially paradigm-shifting influence in any way.

The non-profit open.ai research organisation is a case in point. Exclusively founded to grapple with the life-altering impact of artificial intelligence, it was explicitly committed to open sourcing its software and sharing research findings from the outset.

To solve big problems, we clearly need big collaborations and nimble mindsets. The problems stemming from different industry sectors adopting technology at different rates due to strict security policies and diverse commercial objectives is another example. Open source can overcome all those issues and help standardise on best practice. It can also offer consumers more choice, including access to free versions of cloud-based services like storage, not to mention spark technological entrepreneurialism by avoiding the high costs of licensed software.

Fundamentally, open source is a conduit for new forms of collaboration and productive dialogue that can push businesses to the next phase of progressive digital engagement. By driving value across the entire ecosystem of creation through service innovation, organisations can gain greater visibility into their applications’ performance and understand what is happening across different cloud and enterprise environments. Furthermore, adopting an open source culture helps people more readily share best practice and nurture protocols for coding excellence, which in turn ensures secure data protection and accountability.

Organisations should never fear disruptive technology or new methodologies. Major digital shifts are imminent. The pressure to stay ahead of the technological curve has never been greater. We could all do with being more openminded to open source and embracing its associated freedoms.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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