Apple’s Siri Might Protect Us From Machine Learning Misused Against Us

AI concept
AI concept
Knock, knock. “Who’s there?”

Two Can Play at Machine Learning

• It’s been theorized that AI/ML in the wrong hands could wage a horrific war on unsuspecting citizens. Now, it may be more of a reality than previously thought. Forbes has the story. “The Rise Of The Intelligent Machine In Cybersecurity.” Here’s the upshot:

Protecting your data today means dealing with hacking attempts powered by machine learning (ML), the science of computers learning and acting like humans…

Public information about company leadership can make an email or social media phishing attack more convincing, especially as hackers automate data collection on a targeted company using ML to emulate both the timing of communications and writing style.

Just one question. When will Siri be smart enough to step in and protect us? ::cough:: Is that even on Apple’s radar?

More Debris

• There are things that can be easily done with an iPad, more easily than with, say, a MacBook of some kind. And vice versa. The technical journalist’s job is to know the strengths and weaknesses of each platform and to educate the user about them.

11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro with USB-C
New iPad Pro has both strengths and weaknesses.

This next article is the worst kind of technical journalism. It illustrates the apparent naiveté of the author, if that’s what it was, and hardly serves the reader. I’ll link to it only so you can start the weekend with a good laugh. “I returned the new iPad Pro less than 24 hours after buying it — here’s why.”

• Science fiction, written by competent authors, can often give us a glimpse into the future and explore plausible reactions of humans to new technologies in an entertaining way. But technical futurists can do that too, without the entertainment value, but often with rather more blunt diagnoses. Here’s one of those. “8 fascinating and fearsome frontiers of science you should know about.” These look like things to pay attention to.

• Apple’s Tim Cook recently reported that iPhone sales are not doing that well in India, but he has high hopes for the future. Here’s the current assessment by Business Insider: “Apple is getting crushed in India — here’s why.

Cult of Mac, tells the story of how “Steve Jobs stood in the lunch line like a regular Joe.” My take is that while Mr. Jobs didn’t have the patience to deal with license plates for his car, like any good executive, he wanted to be in touch with the pulse of his employees. Listen and learn. And enjoy the often hilarious reactions as well.

Steve Jobs 1994 video interview
“Pastrami and Swiss on rye, please. This tall.”

• The loss of net neutrality = shenanigans. But never fear. We are told that it’ll be good for business. And here’s one example of that from Motherboard. “Researchers Believe Sprint Is Throttling Skype Without Telling Consumers.” If true, the Golden Goose takes another hit.

• Dan Moren at Macworld has been on my radar lately. This time, he takes a look at the logic of Apple’s (rumored) transition of the Mac from Intel to ARM processors. Good stuff. Good logic. “Chips ahoy: The Mac’s transition to Apple processors is happening sooner than you think.

• A big portion of Apple’s Mac lineup has now gone with USB-C. And now the 2018 iPad Pro as well. Cult of Mac, fills us in on the iPad Pro aspects. “USB-C for iPad Pro: Everything you need to know.

• Finally, do you laugh at your friend’s parents for running Windows XP on their PCs? That’s nothing, according to this article at The Register. “Windows XP? Pfff! Parts of the Royal Navy are running Win ME.” In the end, it’s not as bad as it sounds. But, OMG. Seriously?


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

3 thoughts on “Apple’s Siri Might Protect Us From Machine Learning Misused Against Us

  • John:

    First, happy Remembrance Day or Veterans Day, a time to acknowledge and be grateful for the sacrifice of others for our freedom, and a salute to all members of the armed forces worldwide. May they never have to lift a weapon in anger.

    So many topics, so little time.

    AI:
    If ever anyone needed proof that we live in a post-PC era, AI whether as ‘artificial’ or ‘augmented’ intelligence is it. AI, and not PC specs like CPU and GPU processing power, is the driver behind our most pressing objectives and both current and emerging cyber threats, and is the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in most of these discussions. The primary reason? AI is changing the way in which we not simply conduct business and play, it is going to compel reorganisation and structural changes to our infrastructure that in turn will have an impact on every day life and therefore culture. Brett Piatt outlines four thematic challenges around cybersecurity alone in his Forbes piece, including AI-mediated reconnaissance, password protection and behaviours around critical systems protection, AI as a bad guy cloaking device, and the prime requisite for businesses to stay current with AI and machine learning. In commenting on this last category, Piatt discusses businesses hardening themselves against AI attacks “by joining an information sharing and analysis organization (ISAO) or an information sharing and analysis center (ISAC) through the National Council of ISACs”.

    This is a behaviour change paradigm that borrows from nature, and mimics how living organisms protect themselves from invasive threats, but only partially so. That ‘partially’ is critically important. Trees, for example, attacked by certain caterpillar or beetle species release chemicals that alert other trees in the vicinity to harden themselves against attack, which they do by undergoing internal chemical changes to make themselves less palatable, but the community of trees then release chemicals that call in the cavalry; predatory bird and insect species that prey on these marauders. Respiratory epithelial cells in the human body, when invaded by viruses release cytokines that alert other cells in the body that invading viruses are nearby, enabling neighbouring cells to undergo mitigation protocols that make them harder to invade, but also these cells then release chemokines that call in the cavalry; immune mediator cells (plasma cells and T-cells) and Natural Killer Cells that come inbound hot and kill everything, including infected human cells, that is not ‘healthy self’.

    If this ISAO/ISAC paradigm is to realise its full potential, then it must do more than simply share information that will permit member organisations to harden themselves from attack, but do so in realtime. Equally important, they must do the second part, summon the cavalry in real time – defensive systems that will attack the invaders while they are still in the system, and kill them. Dead. Cybernetically speaking, of course.

    This intersects with David Gleicher’s piece on 8 fascinating and fearsome technologies, notably that of quantum biology and how this affects consciousness. Understanding this may have an unanticipated but important impact on machine learning. Gleicher correctly points out, in his treatment of machine learning (ML) that ML requires large amounts of data, and even then, that ML is a limited one trick pony. Human learning, conversely, can take small data sets and extrapolate incisively to broader understanding, deeper insight and predictive ability. On the one hand, this underscores that we are in no present danger of being subjected by AI overlords anytime soon, and on the other highlights the potential to port what we learn in human to machine ‘consciousness’ and therefore situational awareness to threats, with perhaps the opportunity to reduce effective response times to those threats. That would be a beneficial use and end product of one of these science frontiers. Whether ‘fascinating’ or ‘fearsome’, what we do with our expanding knowledge and power is a question of choice, governed by the rule of law and enforcement. The piece, however, is a reminder for vigilance.

    iPad Pros and Cons
    As for Dave Smith’s iPad Pro piece, his opening lines, “Given the steep price of the iPad Pro — it starts at $800 but quickly gets into laptop or desktop territory” end with the non sequitur “— you would expect it to be able to do laptop or even desktop things”. The illogic of this sequence presages the reason-tortured remainder of his article. That two things may be in the same price bracket and be able to do many of the same things does NOT mean that they have the same use case and are interchangeable; as a luxury sedan and a high end pickup truck amply demonstrate. And even when they can do the same tasks, like a weekend drive, one may prefer one over the other for any variety of reasons, not least of which a specific task may simply be more efficient or enjoyable on one versus the other. When it comes to most things communicative, my iPad Pro is my arsenal’s MVP. And, if I can only take one machine to a conference, it’s my iPad Pro. As I discovered on a working trip earlier this year, it outperformed even my colleague’s MBA, including battery life; and I was able to assist a local ministry of health to submit a complex, data and graphic intensive application for vaccine on nothing more than, that’s right, my iPad Pro; whilst interacting with co-authors across devices and platforms, muti-tasking all the way.

    Bottom line, equipment choice and use case is highly individualised, and while I can sympathise with some of Smith’s criticisms, these have not posed limitations for my workflow or productivity.

    Net Neutrality
    As for Sprint and Skype throttling and the promise of an internet free from net neutrality, ‘Res ipsa loquitur’ – the thing speaks for itself.

  • That BI article on returning the iPad Pro is horrible. If you want to read what I consider a FAIR review of the product, I recommend this article by Craig Mod

    https://craigmod.com/essays/ipad_pro/

    This next article is not a review but I think makes a good case on Apple’s strategy with the iPad Pro:

    “Instead, when it comes to machines priced below $1,000, Apple’s new iPads are taking the spotlight. It may seem like a strange move, but if you read the tea leaves, it becomes clear that Apple believes the iPad can replace the modern mainstream laptop.”

    https://theweek.com/articles/804670/apple-trying-kill-laptop

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