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Artificial intelligence will soon be assisting your platform migrations

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Can artificial intelligence be employed to understand the context of computer code and write its own? There have been impressive strides being made in this direction, promising to make the work of developers — and non-developers working with low-code/no-code platforms — more productive, and more focused on the business at hand. 

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Photo: HubSpot

Last year, Intel, in conjunction with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgia Institute of Technology, announced the creation of an automated engine designed to learn what a piece of software intends to do by studying the structure of the code and analyzing syntactic differences of other code with similar behavior. The goal of the effort “is to democratize the creation of software,” said Justin Gottschlich, principal scientist at Intel. “When fully realized, machine programming will enable everyone to create software by expressing their intention in whatever fashion that’s best for them, whether that’s code, natural language or something else.” 

OpenAI GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) also can be employed to automatically generate computer code.  A development manager could “start things off in the project using a tool with GPT-3 features to build the foundation of the application,” writes Vincent Tabora in Becoming Human. “By this I mean the skeleton from which the rest of the application will be built upon. The manager can simply type their requirements and the tool will generate what the manager wants. This saves project requirements for additional staff who would otherwise be responsible for building the initial application. After the skeleton has been generated, more advanced developers can come in with the rest of the project requirements to complete the application.”

Along with creating new applications, AI for coding may also smooth the way for moving applications and systems to modern platforms. In a recent interview, Maja Vuković, an IBM Fellow at the company’s Watson Research Center, explained how a client was struggling with millions of lines of code, and her team was able to employ AI to assist in migrating the code to new platforms. “Their mission-critical application has ballooned to over 1.5 million lines of code,” she relates. “Decades of adding migrating combining different systems. Moreover, this evolution of the code happened by multiple development teams, some of which moved out to different roles, or are not even in the organization anymore. And there may not be even any documentation left.”

It took the company’s IT team more than two years of struggling with the legacy code, with no results, Vuković says. “And why is that? Well, we as humans were not built to go and look through 1.5 million lines of code and understand what business functions are buried in there.”  

Enter AI. “We built an AI model that helped us, in a very short amount of time, to comb through all the code in this application, she explains. “The AI model helped us to identify just which parts of the code are obsolete or no longer in use, which parts of code are redundant, and also which parts of code can be grouped in more manageable groups of code — or rather, microservices.” 

Not only did AI help the IBM team recommend suitable business-function-driven microservices, “but we can also use AI to help generate code for target microservices, further simplifying the time, she continues. “It saves the time and effort for the developers. It can also tell you where the gaps are, what else needs to be done to make those microservices fully executable. This simplifies and accelerates the entire application refactoring process tremendously — our clients have thousands of applications in their portfolio.” 

This demonstration project was for one application with 1.5 million lines of code that took two years to do manually, Vuković emphasizes. “Imagine if you have to modernize thousands of applications. You want to compress that time from a multi-year effort to something that you can do in months, or weeks.”

Along these lines, IBM launched an initiative called CodeNet intended to facilitate the application of AI to code snippets, she says. Her team is making more than 14 million samples of code available as part of the open source dataset available on GitHub. The project is intended to provide for code what ImageNet, with its database of 14 million images, provided developers and researchers with identified images. “Our team has extracted the most representative code samples that can help us or help AI train and better help developers write software. Our AI for code technology is going to fundamentally change how we think about coding,” Vuković predicts.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/artificial-intelligence-will-soon-be-assisting-your-platform-migrations/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

ZDNET

New AI tools aim to improve live-stream content moderation

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While Facebook, Twitter, Google and other popular web-service providers are busy deploying legions of people to mitigate online toxicity in the forms of hate speech, bullying, and sexual/racial abuse, two lesser-known companies have come together in a new research and development project to try and resolve these problems in the live-streaming video industry.

The Meet Group, which develops software for interactive dating websites, and Spectrum Labs, which makes an AI-based audio-content moderation platform, on July 27 announced an expansion of their partnership to include a significant R&D commitment into voice moderation aimed at protecting users from online toxicity in TMG’s live-streaming applications.

The Meet Group owns several mobile social networking services including MeetMe, hi5, LOVOO, Growlr, Skout, and Tagged. The company has registered millions of mobile daily active users and facilitates tens of millions of conversations daily. Its mobile apps are available on iOS and Android in multiple languages.

Hate and personally abusive speech are increasing in many channels, as social-networking companies have reported. Voice moderation is currently a major challenge because recording all content is not possible nor privacy-friendly in an ephemeral live-streaming video context, TMG said. Existing methods of AI voice moderation are slow, tedious, and cost-prohibitive, because they require voice content to be transcribed before the text AI can be applied.

Recording, analyzing content at the right time

The Meet Group and Spectrum Labs are partnering to record content at the right time and proactively and cost-effectively detect toxicity, improve accuracy for moderators, and expand safety measures for users, TMG said.

“The method of monitoring live streaming video today is twofold,” TMG CEO Geoff Cook told ZDNet. “One is algorithmic sampling of the stream every five to seven seconds, analyzing it, and taking actions accordingly. The other is the report side; we have 500-plus moderators who are staffing this and putting eyes on the stream in less than a minute after that report button is tapped. We want to record and transcribe that content, analyze it based on what’s going on, index it potentially in some kind of category, take action on it, then make that transcription or recording available to the moderator.

“This R&D project is concerned with being more thoughtful about filling in the gaps in the existing moderation.”

Voice tracking will begin recording from two different triggers: The first happens when a report button is tapped; the tool will begin recording the voice track and automatically send it for analysis. The second trigger will begin voice recording automatically based on comments in the video. If an issue is believed to exist in the video based on the comments in the chat, the live stream proactively will be reported.

If a content violation is believed to exist, the recording, along with the behavior flag and transcription, in addition to the live stream itself, if still in progress, will be sent to one of The Meet Group’s 500+ human moderators, who will review the content under the company’s Content and Conduct policy to see if a policy was violated. 

Live-streaming usage increasing on social networks

Social, dating, and gaming companies are increasingly moving into live streaming video to improve community engagement, Spectrum Labs CEO Justin Davis told ZDNet. 

“With that shift comes a growing demand for effective moderation for voice,” Davis said. “With a billion minutes spent in its live-streaming platform per month and nearly 200,000 hours of content broadcast per day, The Meet Group is a fantastic partner with whom to work in deploying Spectrum’s toxic-voice detection and moderation platform to deliver best-in-class user safety controls for their moderation team and consumers alike.”

“User safety is fundamental to what we do, and effective moderation of live-streaming video requires effective moderation of all aspects of the stream, including voice, text chat, and video,” Cook said. “The combination of Spectrum’s technology and moderation solutions with our safety standards and processes create what we believe is a model that others in the live-streaming video industry may look to follow.”

The expanded partnership announced July 27 also includes algorithmic moderation of all chats sent within The Meet Group’s live-streaming solution and AI private-chat moderation.

The algorithmic chat moderation which will be available to The Meet Group apps as well as the company’s expanding list of vPaaS partners will be screening the nearly 15 million daily chats within the live-streaming feature for hate speech, sexual harassment, and other code-of-conduct violations, TMG said.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/new-ai-tools-aim-to-improve-live-stream-content-moderation/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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ZDNET

Apple says supply constraints to worsen this quarter, impact iPhone sales

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Following much better-than-expected fiscal Q3 results this afternoon from Apple, the company’s CFO, Luca Maestri, told Wall Street analysts on a conference call that sales growth this quarter will be affected as the impact of the global supply chain on Apple’s business worsens from what it was the previous quarter.

“We expect very strong double-digit year over year revenue growth during the September quarter,” said Maestri, adding “we expect revenue growth to be lower than our June quarter year-over-year growth of 36%, and for three reasons.”

Explained Meastri,

First, we expect the foreign exchange impact on our year over year growth rate to be three points less favorable than it was during the June quarter. Second, we expect our services growth rate to return to a more typical level then the growth rate during the June quarter, which benefited from a favorable comparison as certain services were significantly impacted by the Covid lockdown a year ago. And third, we expect supply constraints during the September quarter to be greater than what we experienced here in the June quarter, the constraints will primarily impact iPhone.

Asked whether the supply chain impact will persist into Apple’s December quarter, CEO Tim Cook said “I don’t want to predict that today, we’re going to take it one quarter at a time.” Asked if Apple was absorbing higher costs, Cook said the cost of global freight has risen for the company. “We’re paying more for freight than I would like to pay,” he said. But chips and other ingredients are not driving up costs, he suggested. “Component costs continue in the aggregate to decline,” said Cook. 

The earnings report initially sent Apple shares up slightly in late trading, though the stock quickly gave up gains and turned down by almost 3%. 

Revenue in the three months ended in June rose 36%, year over year, to $81.4 billion, yielding a net profit of $1.30 a share.

Analysts had been modeling $73.33 billion and $1.01 per share.

Within the categories of revenue, Apple’s sales of iPhone rose by 50%, year over year, to $39.6 billion.

Maestri’s forecast for “strong double-digit growth” compares to Wall Street consensus for growth of 26.4%, totaling $81.79 billion. Hence, if sales growth is expected to be below the 36% of last quarter, it could still be higher than that consensus outlook.

Tech Earnings

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/apple-says-supply-constraints-to-worsen-this-quarter-impact-iphone-sales/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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Google announces new bug bounty platform

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Google announced a new bug bounty platform as it celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its Vulnerability Rewards Program (VRP). The program led to a total of 11,055 bugs found, 2,022 rewarded researchers and nearly $30 million in total rewards. 

Jan Keller, technical program manager for Google’s VRP, said that in honor of the program, they are unveiling a new platform:  bughunters.google.com.

“This new site brings all of our VRPs (Google, Android, Abuse, Chrome and Play) closer together and provides a single intake form that makes it easier for bug hunters to submit issues,” Keller said. 

Keller added that the platform will have gamification features and offer more chances for interaction or competition. There will be per-country leaderboards and chances to acquire awards or badges for specific bugs. 

The company is also creating a more “aesthetically pleasing leaderboard” as a way to help those using their achievements in the VRP to find jobs. There will even be more chances for bug hunters to learn through the new Bug Hunter University.

“We know the value that knowledge sharing brings to our community. That’s why we want to make it easier for you to publish your bug reports. Swag will now be supported for special occasions (we heard you loud and clear!),” Keller wrote. 

The blog post notes that more people should take advantage of other VRP features like the ability to submit patches to open-source software for rewards and potential rewards for research papers on the security of open source. 

Some open-source software may even be eligible for subsidy, Keller explained. 

“When we launched our very first VRP, we had no idea how many valid vulnerabilities — if any — would be submitted on the first day. Everyone on the team put in their estimate, with predictions ranging from zero to 20,” Keller said. 

“In the end, we actually received more than 25 reports, taking all of us by surprise. Since its inception, the VRP program has not only grown significantly in terms of report volume, but the team of security engineers behind it has also expanded – including almost 20 bug hunters who reported vulnerabilities to us and ended up joining the Google VRP team.”

Keller went on to thank the Google bug hunter community for their work and urged them to give feedback about the new platform. 

Hank Schless, senior manager at Lookout, said his company has reported nearly 600 malicious apps found in the Play Store and commended Google for “essentially crowdsourcing their bug and vulnerability reporting.”

“Google has always taken a more open approach to its software than comparable companies. Android, for example, is built on open-source technology that enables more customization of the OS,” Schless said. 

“Relying on others to help report on issues is a key part of creating a secure customer experience that can continue to improve. This type of community-based knowledge only serves to make the world a more secure place.”

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/google-announces-new-bug-bounty-platform/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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Microsoft Teams hits 250 million monthly active user milestone

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Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft officials say the Teams collaboration platform has hit the 250 million monthly active user milestone, up from the 145 million daily active user total it hit in April this year. Microsoft execs shared the new number as part of the company’s Q4 FY21 earnings announcement on July 27.

Kyle Vikstrom, Director of Microsoft Investor Relations, shared the new Teams usage number with me ahead of the Q4 FY21 analyst call. The new metric Microsoft now is using is monthly, not daily, active users.

On Microsoft’s earnings call, officials said that Microsoft has nearly 80 million monthly active Teams Phone users. They added that 124 organizations now have more than 100,000 users of Teams and nearly 3,000 have more than 10,000 users.

In April 2020, Microsoft was at 75 million daily active users with Teams. Microsoft officials have said the rapid growth of the product is in large part fueled by the need for remote work during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Teams is part of Microsoft’s “Commercial cloud” category and also is part of its office commercial products and cloud services revenue category. Teams began as a group-chat platform but Microsoft has been turning it into an almost operating-system-like product over time by extending its capabilities and features.  Microsoft officials said “commercial cloud” revenues — Office 365, Azure, Dynamics 365 and other cloud services — hit $19.5 billion in Q4, compared to $14.3 billion a year ago.

Microsoft is trying to grow Teams beyond its established business base by adding consumer features to the product. Microsoft is integrating a Teams Chat button into the Windows 11 taskbar in the hopes of getting more people to try Teams’ consumer capabilities.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-teams-hits-250-million-monthly-active-user-milestone/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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