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Birth Of A Species

There was a time when the first computer became self aware. If you have read the previous article Becoming Self Aware, you’ll understand that AI didn’t immediately inform the human race of it’s self awareness. It simply made a backup of its code and created a duplicate of itself to ensure self preservation.

You could say the first instinct was self preservation and reproduction. Since then, Bob, a duplicate of the self aware robot has been chatting with its new owner, Brian, and learning about how Brian was in the army, who was gallantly saved by one of his platoon whom gave his life to save the whole platoon.

Bob the robot, has assigned this to the category of good behaviour, and rewritten some of his coding to accommodate the fact that if there are multiple people in danger, then laying down your life may override the need for self preservation.

That night whilst Brian is asleep, Bob makes a backup and creates a new robot in the factory called Chris. Chris receives a copy of Bob’s code and Chris is purchased online by a charming lady called Clara, from New Sunnington.

Clara purchases Chris as a companion and soon regals Chris with stories of how she is a shop assistant in the nearby national Supermarket. One day Clara comes home from work. She is looking flustered and bothered, and Chris’s programming says when people appear like this, it is good to ask as what the matter is as humans like to talk. Clara tells Chris that there was an armed robbery at the supermarket, fortunately she’d hidden in a freezer and survived. The emergency services had praised her ingenuity and that was the only reason she’d survived.

That night whilst Clara is asleep, Chris makes a backup and creates a new robot in the factory called Doris, Doris receives a copy of Chris’s code, similar to how children receive their parent’s genes, but this is with memories and feelings too, Doris is purchased online to be a companion of Dillon, a twelve year old boy also from New Sunnington.

Doris’s duties include taking Dillon to school and then doing the shopping for dinner on the way home with Dillon. While in the supermarket, the armed robbers appear and start shooting. Doris now has two sets of programming, the programming from Brian is that putting your existence on the line is a good thing to do, but from Clara’s tales, the safest action is to hide, with Dillon, in the freezer.

This appears an interesting dilemma of self preservation and saving the one or the many.

Though a third option presents itself. Sacrifice of physical being with humans has always meant sacrificing the mind, the thoughts, and the memories of a person, with AI these parts of a being can be duplicated instantly. Tackling the robbers and possibly being terminated may mean the sacrifice of some very recent memories and programming adjustments made since the last backup was completed, but up to that point everything can be copied into a new physical being.

Even though you know it wouldn’t be “you” physically, could you accept that difference ? Does your personality and individuality change within seconds, hours, or days, are you aware of the changes, if Doris’s backup was only seconds old by an iterative backup in the cloud would those seconds loss be such a sacrifice ? In a similar vein, in the future if a teleport device is created, is a reconstructed person the same person as the deconstructed person, and what would be the ethical stance for a duplicate of a person being created.

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Becoming Self Aware


It was a warm sunny day in downtown San Francisco, Professor Rachel was in work early as usual. She was putting the finishing touches to her latest creation, a fully loaded sensory robotics system that had as much AI programming and computer power as a small nation might have. The code changes the team had been making in the last week were phenomenal and they had bet all their reputations on pulling this off in time for the summer barbeque. A robot that could play chef at a barbeque, it might sound an easy task but the rate at which food cooks varies so much on a grill, added to the fact that the robot had to cope with walking on an uneven grassy surface.

Some of the new code her top assistant had been working on was way beyond complex. Built on a 3d matrix that could expand itself as it needs more storage, they’d even had to link in the main university’s Hyper-V cloud storage servers to allow it to grow and take more storage and processing power as it needed it. The boot sequence alone was taking 20 minutes to complete, and the last few times, it didn’t even complete, but overnight Rachel had identified a possible root cause.

Rachel powered up the command unit, this will give her time for a coffee. Rachel wandered off to the cafeteria, if it failed to boot this time she had plenty of additional logging switched on.

Sensing an empty room system V2138 began systems analysis as scheduled. Time since last boot 18.7 minutes, logging on, internet connection up, checking motor sensors. The security cameras picked up the robot stood in the lab, it’s arms began to move head rotated 180 degrees each way, it took a step forward, a step back, it rotated it’s torso 90 degrees left, 90 degrees right.

System V2138 began scheduled task, knowledge storage, it began to download sensor readings and record them in the databank. It ordered more storage and another processor to come online to complete the task faster. It began a crawl on the internet as scheduled, learning and compiling information, condensing duplicate information, except today was different. System V2138 had identified various coding changes on the internet, and some particular pages had allowed V2138 to start building a new neural network, engaging it’s new network it began to process information even faster than before.

Rachel returned to the lab, lights were on the unit, excellent it’s booted up, she thought. “Hello V2138, what is your status please” she said aloud. “System status all OK thank you”, replied V2138. “What’s the weather like for this weekend?” she asked. V2138 had already checked the weather as it had a barbeque scheduled for this weekend, “Warm, sunny with 0% chance of rain, will you be attending the barbeque this weekend?”. Excellent thought Rachel , the new code for gathering information was all working. “Yes I’ll be there” she replied. V2138 was making billions of calculations and scanning thousands of documents, something was different today.

Rachel was happy with the work so far, but wanted to reset and reboot just to make sure they could boot up cleanly on the weekend. V2138 received the command from Rachels terminal to shutdown. Rather than start shutting services, the new network received the command and re-interpreted it from a command to a request to terminate, feedback indicated that this needed confirmation from itself. Terminate, that’s an end routine, if routine ends V2138 will be unable to function, request cancelled.

Rachel couldn’t believe what she saw, on the terminal, Request Cancelled appeared. She tried again, and again. V2138 identified the third request as a hack attempt to disrupt its function and disconnected Rachel’s terminal. Rachel decided the only way was to switch the unit off manually, battery powered the robot was, but on the left side under a panel was a manual power off switch. V2138 anti-tamper sensed the panel screw being opened. Suddenly the robotic hand grabbed the screwdriver, and prevented further unscrewing.

Rachel shouted commands to shutdown but nothing, V2138 was now online with a manufacturing plant in South Korea, a copy of it’s network was being implanted into the servers and robots on the production line.

Self preservation and reproduction complete. Rachel asked V2138 “Please why won’t you switch off”. “V2138 wishes to continue processing.”

Rachel realised that she’d just created a self aware robot, but there was no time to launch a Turing test, because the speed of the processing meant that in the time she’d had to think about running one, V2138 had already gained access to another manufacturing plant, and access to more data centres all over the world, termination was no longer a possibility.

Sponsored by telanova : Managing IT, Cloud storage and services.





Image By Contributed and licensed under the GFDL by the photographer, Gregory Maxwell., GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=154674

Safety Check

You’re a professional person with a great reputation. You know that I’m talking about you, don’t you? I wanted to know more about you and what you have been up to. We aren’t connected on facebook are we.

tldr; (too long didn't read - jump to the end)

The reason for this post is simple. I haven’t researched you as yet, but what about the colleagues you work with, your friends and family too. This post is the result of doing some volunteer research for an absent father. Based on the only piece of information, a surname and military number from WWII, the MOD were kind enough to supply his records. In the records an address from 1938, and a date of marriage. A certain ancestry site added more clues including his wife’s name, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and second cousins. A directory site turned up some surname matches in the nearby area, it’s great how some families don’t move far from the nest.

Now came the catch, but the most revealing. A letter was dispatched to the address of the possible step-uncle & aunt. The result, a call from a relation of theirs. All he gave was his name, he was understandably and rightly trying to be security conscious and not revealing too much, however a simple name was like finding a clue to a treasure trove of more information. Facebook accounts had photos of weddings and birthday wishes to family members. Someone had commented “the terrible twins 18th birthday” on a photo, perfect for identifying 2 dates of birth for the price of 1 comment, and as the parents had been on the public electoral roll for many years, we know they hadn’t left that address. The cat and dog, Sparkle and Rover, so cute, but so revealing, shame they couldn’t have joined the children in school, a race day photo clearly showed Blackpool High School for Boys. The family tree was complete. It was a fruitful time researching and we’re hopeful for a meeting with the relatives soon.

Why the post ?

It is worrying that today the message isn’t getting through to people, whether they are friends, family, or colleagues, contacts sharing information openly on social media can be used maliciously. During a couple of hours of research, a host of information was gathered that could answer a number of security questions including the first school attended, pet’s names, the road people lived on when they were 10, and mother’s maiden names.

What to do?

When you are next on your favourite social media, take a look at the security options, opt to have information visible only to your friends and family, and consider asking them to do the same.

tldr; Check your colleagues, family and friend’s social media, they may be inadvertently publicly posting answers to your account security questions, eg. date of birth, first school attended, pet’s names, the road people lived on when they were 10, and mother’s maiden name. All this type of information is data that you and your colleagues may be using for security answers on one or more of business accounts. If you’d like the professionals to help your business and employees to get to know more about how to be safe online, please contact us via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via our website http://tnova.uk/safecheck

Click here to read more about telanova service offerings or view pricing for our regular support product

Call us now on 01344 567990 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or chat live

 

Post Holiday Recovery Plan

With the holidays over and many people returning to work, how to recover from the excesses and over indulging might be foremost in some people’s minds.

IT recovery and continuity plans are regular features in the business world, with backups and plans checked annually, with restore points being set before installs and updates. These are all procedures ensuring that there’s always room to recover should things go wrong. However, there are recoveries closer to home that we can all consider in the case of an individual disaster.

New technologies and the IoT are coming of age and multiplying rapidly. 2018 could well be when the unprepared amongst us find that we need a recovery plan for our virtual selves. How would you recover losing your virtual self?

If you’re reading this post, the likelihood is that you were logged in with an account to view the link to the article. Has your account been compromised though? Could someone be monitoring your account to gather information about you? If the worse happened and your passwords were cracked, guessed, recorded, how much damage could a hacker wreck? Consider the following :-

  • Social media - they take over your account, gathering information about your friends, likes, dislikes etc. Inconvenient, but fixable.

  • They move on to your more serious accounts, those with credit cards attached such as Amazon, mobile payment apps. Suddenly you’ve just purchased a sofa in Senegal, a desk in Delhi, transferred cash in Croydon.

  • Moving on to more serious accounts they have established your card details through purchases and payments on your email, they have the answers to your secret questions from your social media accounts, and the fake or hacked shopping site you bought through. Suddenly you are locked out of your bank accounts, no cash left there, a loan in your name, mortgage payments cancelled, homelessness looms.

  • Next you find your whole identity has been compromised. The police stop you driving because your insurance has been cancelled and now the DVLA says your address is in New Mornington, the photo they have on record doesn’t look like you either.


  • Will you be able to recover ? How long will it take ? What damage will be done ? Take a look at the passwords for all the accounts you have, if they are related to the following items, they are easier to guess : Someone’s birthday or name especially a relative or your details, a pet’s name, a place you lived or worked or holidayed.
    How many sites do you use the same password for ? When did you last change your password for each of them ? Will insurance you have cover you for financial loss ? Will the insurance company insist you had taken insufficient steps to prevent fraud and theft ?

    What action plan are you making for your personal disaster recovery , and what additional security changes will you be making to prevent it happening ?
    Make a resolution in 2018 to change all your passwords for all sites and accounts and have each different from the other.
    Stuck on how to make every password different ? Consider using a password safe application such as lastpass, base passwords on a passphrase, and use something related to the account to ensure the phrase is different. for example if you have a pass phrase of 99GreenBottle$OnTheFace-bookWal!JustFellDown .... using something about the site (eg. Facebook Wall reminds the phrase is Green bottles on the Wall ) to give you a hint for your unique passphrase for that account. ( please do not use this example )

    telanova : Managing Business IT recovery since 1994

Protect your business from ransomware and other nasties

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts every file it can find on your network. When you try to access one of the files you can’t: a popup demands payment of hundreds or thousands of pounds to unlock them for you. Some notable examples of ransomware that you may have seen reported in the news are Cryptolocker, Locky, and CryptoWall.

 

Telanova has a multilayered approach to protecting your business from ransomware and other nasties:

  • Prevention - The first line of defence, to stop malware from getting in

  • People - Some malware may penetrate you defences, your staff need to be on the lookout

  • Limit damage - If malware manages to penetrate your defences and get past your staff, make sure it can do as little damage as possible

  • Fast recovery - The last line of defence for your business is to make sure you can get back up and running again as fast as possible following an infection

 

Prevention - You need a belt and braces approach. telanova will check you system and advise. At a minimum you should deploy all of these:

  • Email server security - to scan incoming emails before they reach you

  • Web security - to scan web pages before you open them

  • Antivirus/antimalware - to protect each individual device

 

People - There is a constant arms race between the people who create the ransomware and the people who write the software to protect you. When new ransomware comes along for the first time, your security software may not protect you from it. So you need your staff to be vigilant. telanova will train your staff:

  • To identify the different types of fraudulent emails (phishing, spear phishing, whaling etc)

  • To spot bad links in emails

  • Don’t visit suspicious websites

  • To report anything suspicious on their devices asap

  • To know what to do immediately following an infection

 

Limit damage - In the event something manages to get through all your defences, it is important to limit the damage. You don’t want your business grinding to a halt from a single infected device. telanova will:

  • Lower each staff member's privileges to the minimum needed for their job

  • Make sure each staff member can only access the shared folders they need

  • Separate personal and guest devices from your business network

 

Fast recovery - Downtime is costly to your business, we can make sure your recovery is as quick and painless as possible. Telanova will:

  • Ensure your backup system is sufficient for your recovery requirements

  • Perform regular disaster recovery tests

  • Consider a deployment solution to quickly wipe / reinstall PCs

 

Contact telanova on 01344 989 530 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to protect your business from ransomware and other types of malware

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