RandomAnt


Technology + Management + Innovation
19
Aug
2014
Robotics

Self-Organizing Kilobots Attack!

by Jake Bennett

Harvard University recently developed swarm-intelligent micro-bots that can self-organize and accomplish simple tasks. This is a great illustration of the possibilities of emergent phenomenon.

Harvard researchers developed a system of 1,024 micro-robots that move using vibration and can self-organize to accomplish simple tasks, like forming the shape of a wrench or a star. The swarm system is based on biological systems (like ants!) who display complex behavior by following a handful of simple rules. The feat was considered a breakthrough due to the large number of bots in the swarm. Previous micro-bot swarms were less than 100.

I can’t wait to see how big these colonies can get, and how complex their work will become. Ant colonies can grow up to 1 million in size, so the micro/nano-bots have a ways to go before they catch-up with their biological brethren.

17
Aug
2014
Security

CIA’s Top Security Innovator Proposes Some Ideas That Are Crazy Enough to Work

by Jake Bennett

Dan Geer, the top security chief at the CIA’s VC firm In-Q-Tel, gave a thought provoking keynote at this year’s Black Hat security conference, arguing that thoughtful government regulation was the best hope for shoring up our cyber defense. He may just be right.

The Iconoclast

Dan Geer has never been one to walk away from a fight. In 2003, he was fired from security firm @Stake after authoring a report released by the Computer and Communications Industry Association arguing that Microsoft’s monopoly over of the desktop was a national security threat. Given that Microsoft was a client of @Stake at the time, it’s not a shocker that he didn’t make employee of the month. Somewhat humorously, in an interview with Computerworld after the incident, Dan remarked, “It’s not as if there’s a procedure to check everything with marketing.”  Somehow I think a guy with degrees from MIT and Harvard didn’t need to check-in with marketing to gauge what his firm’s reaction to the paper would be.

Fortunately for the Black Hat audience (and those of us who watched the presentation online), Dan continued to live up to his reputation. He outlined a 10-point policy recommendation (well summarized here) for improving cyber security. In the preamble leading up to the policy recommendations, he made two key points that provide critical support for his policy argument:

  1. The pace of technology change is happening so quickly now that security generalists can no longer keep up. Highly specialized security experts and governments are now needed to protect our information assets.
  1. If you want to increase information security, you have to be pragmatic and willing to make compromises. As Dan succinctly put it: “In nothing else is it more apt to say that our choices are Freedom, Security, Convenience—Choose Two.”

These points are important to keep in mind when listening to his presentation because they provide critical context for his potentially unpalatable policy recommendations.

To Regulate or Not to Regulate

As a card-carrying capitalist, I’m naturally wary of government technology regulation. But as a digital technologist I’m absolutely terrified of it.

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