3 Things to Note (July 15, '21)

3 Things to Note (July 15, '21)
Photo by Sigmund / Unsplash

Through a mishap of scheduling and system time-zones, I'm late in sending out this weeks' round up.  But this got me thinking, so I decided to shift my 3 items to point out couple of interesting news stories related the potentially devastating ramifications of system related errors.   In one case the errors are were really deliberate hacks, while in the other, humans had nothing to do with it.

For our third item - DUST films: these are great fun to watch.

Warship GPS spoofing

Instances of warships seemingly teleporting to different locations is definitely cause for concern, but definitely something that is easily identifiable as either a glitch or a hack.  What's worse is GPS hacks being made to look like the ship is legitimately crossing international boundaries they shouldn't, with the GPS coordinates spoofed in increments to resemble a steady passage.  New Scientist article where I read this is behind a paywall, but the story is also available here for free.

Faulty chips quietly corrupting data

This has all the trappings to make a great epic about humanity's destruction. Faulty chips are creating computational errors resulting in corrupt data.  The problem is that it's not predictable, and it's only detectable if (a) someone is paying attention to the data, and (b) knows what the data "should" look like.  Google published a paper recently where they discuss the problems of cores which consistently corrupt the data, flipping bits from 0 to 1 or vice versa.  If enough of these cores develop these errors, at the speed and scale at which we're relying on AI, ML, and other computationally heavy applications, this is fodder for AI destroying humanity (if you're prone to that anxiety).  It just wouldn't be because of AI's cold calculating logic nor malicious deliberations.

DUST Films

I came across this group in passing early this year and I enjoy these quite a bit.  Brief, high-quality sci-fi shorts with excellent actors, directors, and writers creating thought-provoking vignettes. I particularly enjoyed "Jonah" starring Daniel Kaluuya, about the effects of tourism, globalization, and capitalism on developing countries; and "Alone" - a well crafted wormhole story.  But they have so many more.  You can keep tabs on their work at their website: https://watchdust.com/