Radar trends to watch: December 2021 – O’Reilly



Last month has some surprises in store. Three articles on quantum computing, all published on the same day. You would think that they coordinate with each other. And of course, everyone wants to build their own version of the metaverse. There are several approaches to organizing meetings filled with avatars in virtual spaces. Unfortunately, this fixes the wrong problem. The problem to be solved is not to improve meetings, it is to make them unnecessary.

AI, ML and robotics

  • A stand-alone library? This public library robot in Korea carries 100 books and walks on sidewalks; people with library cards can view the books.
  • Growing skepticism about artificial general intelligence could be a harbinger of another IA winter-or at least one AGI winter, since current AI techniques have found many homes in the industry. We don’t have to worry about paper clips yet.
  • The US Department of Defense published ethical guidelines for the use of artificial intelligence by its subcontractors.
  • Facebook has built a AI model that can translate between 100 human languages in any direction without relying on English data. This model is now Open source.
  • Israel Defense Force product an AI-based video (“deepfake”) that animated photos of soldiers who died during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. What does the ability to alter and forge historical documents mean to our ability to imagine the past and understand the story ?
  • Self-supervised learning with heavily pruned models can be used to build voice recognition systems for languages ​​with a relatively low number of speakers.
  • A framework for challenge and justify algorithmic Decisions are an important part of AI accountability. It is not possible to repair damage if a decision cannot be challenged, and it is not possible to challenge decisions if a system is unable to offer a rationale.
  • Facebook goes stop using facial recognition technology and deletes its database of faces, although it keeps the model trained on this database. On the other side of their mouth they said this ad did not apply to Meta, which will use this model to produce VR products.
  • An AI system for giving ethical advice gives unethical advice. What is worrying is not so much the bad advice as the naivety of the research project. Without a huge leap forward in understanding natural language and being able to reason about the history of human thought, why would anyone expect an AI system to do more than repeat bad ethical advice? that it finds en masse on the web? Stochastic parrots Indeed.
  • If language models are to be more than stochastic parrots, they need ways to represent knowledge. Are knowledge graphics the key? The question of the representation of knowledge raises the question of what knowledge is, and how clever counterfeits as well as recalcitrant ideologies challenge the meaning of “knowledge”.
  • Unimaginable instruments may not exist in the physical world, but can be created (and played) with AI. Those instruments perceive and understand music, and try to respond to what the musicians are doing and help them. (Too many of these instruments sound like they’re from the soundtrack to bad sci-fi movies, but maybe it’s just me.)


  • The Empire of stalemate is a tutorial disguised as a game in which participants solve simultaneous programming challenges to avoid dead ends. This is an important new approach to online learning.
  • Because Git by nature tracks what changes have been made and who made those changes, GitOps can have an important and underrated role in compliance.
  • ARM has joined the foundation promoting the Rust programming language, along with Toyota and 14 other new industry members.
  • East cloud repatriation (moving from cloud to on-premises data centers) is happening? On-premise infrastructure will never go away; there will always be data that is too difficult or important to move. And there are definitely some cloud projects that don’t deliver and come back to the premises. But we don’t see a big change, nor do we see “edge” as a new kind of “on-premise”.

the Web

  • Bringing back the browser wars: in Windows 11, Microsoft did it hard to use a browser other than their Edge, and requires the Edge browser for certain functions that use the proprietary microsoft-edge: // protocol. They have blocked workarounds that allow other browsers to use this protocol.
  • Hydrogen is a new React-based web framework developed by Shopify, optimized for ecommerce. He is now in developer preview.
  • A bipartite proposal in the US House of Representatives would require social media companies like Google and Facebook to provide users with results that are not filtered by “algorithms.”

Virtual and augmented reality

  • The inhabitants of Métavers will be faced with the problem of how to present themselves online: how design appropriate avatars. This can lead to a new level of anxiety regarding physical appearance and presentation, especially if the options presented are limited.
  • Niantic is also building a metaverse, based on its flagship augmented reality development kit, which he has just opened to the public. Their take on the Metaverse is that it’s bad for humans to stay indoors, locked in virtual worlds.
  • Microsoft will have its own Teams-based metaverse. It’s built on avatars, not presence, and aims to enhance the work-from-home experience.

Quantum computing

  • A startup claims to have built a 256-Qubit quantum processor; they also have a track record of reaching 1,000 Qubits in two years. They claim that their approach offers greater fidelity (precision) than traditional approaches.
  • IBM built a 127-Qubit quantum processor, with a roadmap to reach 1,000 physical Qubits in two years.
  • IBM claimed (without providing evidence) that it achieved quantum supremacy by solving a problem unsolvable by conventional computers. At this point the reaction was “interesting, but show us the data”.

Security and confidentiality

  • Gmail adds confidential mode for encrypted emails. It’s not fully end-to-end encrypted (among other things, Google performs spam detection), but it’s by far the simplest approach to securing emails.
  • Ransomware Defense Tips for Small Businesses from the United States Federal Trade Commission: The first step is to perform offline encrypted backups. The FTC also has a guide on how to respond to a ransomware attack.
  • Securing your digital life is a great four partial series on personal security. (There may be more to come.)
  • A study (apparently in the UK) has reported that a third of people working at home are monitored by their employer.
  • The international cybersurveillance sector is booming and is becoming a serious international security problem.
  • Deception as a defense against attack: traditional honeypots are old school. Software development teams can create observable distributed systems that mimic real software, so that an attack can be monitored securely and in detail, and developers can learn about vulnerabilities and techniques.
  • The attackers are steal sensitive encrypted data and sit on it, in the hope that when quantum computers become more widely available, they can crack the encryption. It’s long-term planning. This type of hacking can be the responsibility of foreign states.
  • Most security talk centers around software. However, the software is only part of the problem. Miter published a list of hardware vulnerabilities. Many of these come from software embedded in hardware, but regardless, programmers largely assume that the hardware their code runs on isn’t vulnerable to attack.
  • Ransomware targets businesses for Mergers and Acquisitions. It makes sense; this is a period when access to data is important and very time sensitive.
  • Prossimo is a project of the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) to discover and solve memory security issues in Internet infrastructure code, and (more generally) to change the way programmers think about memory security .
  • The Trojan Source vulnerability uses Unicode’s ability to handle two-way text to hide malware directly in the source code, where it is invisible. The code literally doesn’t seem to say what it means.


  • The ConstitutionDAO is a decentralized, autonomous organization that attempted to purchase one of the original copies of the US Constitution. It’s a fascinating attempt to create an organization that exists on the blockchain but owns a physical object. What is most fascinating is the many layers of traditional trust that are needed to run this decentralized organization without trust.
  • TVN could be more than the “ownership” of a URL. Because they are programmable, they can include behaviors and have the potential to create new types of markets.


Internet of things

  • A server issue at Tesla prevented Tesla owners from starting their cars with their app. Why did Tesla not learn problems other IoT vendors have had with smart locks and other devices? Smart devices that don’t work are really dumb.
  • Operating systems for the Internet of Things: The Eclipse Foundation launched Oniro, an open-source multicore operating system for small devices, in the hope that Oniro can unify a fragmented ecosystem. Unification will benefit security and interoperability between devices.
  • The US National Institute of Standards and Technology “lightweight cryptography”Tries to find cryptographic algorithms suitable for small devices. The most common cryptography is very computationally demanding, requiring (at least) a laptop and is not suitable for an embedded system.

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