MORE than 100 children of Accenture employees took part in the Malaysian office’s Bring Your Kid To Code Day.
The initiative is part of the company’s commitment to help children build science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and computer skills.
A coding tutorial was conducted for both children and adults with a special focus on artificial intelligence (AI).
“It may seem premature to encourage coding in children below 10 years but we have seen how their agile minds grasp coding concepts, sometimes faster than their parents,” said Accenture Malaysia technology lead Janet Yap.
“It was also a great way to let the children explore their parent’s or family’s workplace.”
The activity was part of Accenture’s global Hour of Code initiative in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week.
This follows Accenture’s pledge of US$10mil (RM41mil) to support initiatives to expand STEM and computer science education through Internet Association, a group that represents global Internet companies on matters of public policy.
“Technology is creating jobs that didn’t exist five years ago and learning to code can transform the trajectory of a student’s life and career,” said Accenture chief technology and innovation officer and chief coder Paul Daugherty.
“We’ve seen the impact that Code.org is having on students and this year we’re doing more to support that.”
For the third straight year, Accenture is teaming with Code.org, that launched Hour of Code in 2013 and other STEM-related educational initiatives.
This year, Accenture Technology harnessed its internal expertise to create a coding tutorial that gives students a better understanding of AI.
Students discover how various AI techniques can teach a robot to explore a new planet — including recognising animals and plants, understanding a new language, and conversing with inhabitants.
Which robot do you find easier to like — “Iron Man” Tony Stark’s efficient helper J.A.R.V.I.S., or the error-prone Dummy, which fumbled with kitchen equipment and sprayed an exasperated Stark with fire-extinguishing foam?
You might think a robot would be more likely to win people over if it were good at its job. But according to a recent study, people find imperfect robots more likable.
In previous studies, researchers noticed that human subjects reacted differently to robots that made unplanned errors in their tasks. For their new investigation, the study authors programmed a small, humanoid robot to deliberately make mistakes so the scientists could learn more about how that fallibility affected the way people responded to the bots. They also wanted to see how these social cues might provide opportunities for robots to learn from their experiences. [Super-Intelligent Machines: 7 Robotic Futures]
The researchers found that people liked the error-prone robot more than the error-free one, and that they responded to the robot’s mistakes with social signals that robots could possibly be trained to recognize, in order to modify future behavior.
For the study, 45 human subjects — 25 men and 20 women — were paired with a robot that was programmed to perform two tasks: ask interview questions, and direct several simple Lego brick assemblies.
For 24 of the users, the robot behaved flawlessly. It posed questions and waited for their responses, and then instructed them to sort the Lego bricks and build towers, bridges and “something creative,” ending the exercise by having the person arrange Legos into a facial expression to show a current emotional state, according to the study.
But for 21 people in the study, the robot’s performance was less than stellar. Some of the mistakes were technical glitches, such as failing to grasp Lego bricks or repeating a question six times. And some of the mistakes were so-called “social norm violations,” such as interrupting while their human partner was answering a question or telling them to throw the Lego bricks on the floor.
The scientists observed the interactions from a nearby station. They tracked how people reacted when the robots made a mistake, gauging their head and body movements, their expressions, the angle of their gaze, and whether they laughed, smiled or said something in response to the error. After the tasks were done, they gave participants a questionnaire to rate how much they liked the robot, and how smart and human-like they thought it was, on a scale from 1 to 5.
The researchers found that the participants responded more positively to the bumbling robot in their behavior and body language, and they said they liked it “significantly more” than the people liked the robot that made no mistakes at all.
However, the subjects who found the error-prone robot more likable didn’t see it as more intelligent or more human-like than the robot that made fewer mistakes, the researchers found.
Their results suggest that robots in social settings would probably benefit from small imperfections; if that makes the bots more likable, the robots could possibly be more successful in tasks meant to serve people, the study authors wrote.
Ransomware is a sophisticated piece of malware that blocks the victim’s access to his/her files, and the only way to regain access to the files is to pay a ransom.
There are two types of ransomware in circulation:
Encryptors, which incorporates advanced encryption algorithms. It’s designed to block system files and demand payment to provide the victim with the key that can decrypt the blocked content. Examplesinclude CryptoLocker, Locky, CrytpoWall and more.
Lockers, which locks the victim out of the operating system, making it impossible to access the desktop and any apps or files. The files are not encrypted in this case, but the attackers still ask for a ransom to unlock the infected computer. Examplesinclude the police-themed ransomware or Winlocker.
Some locker versions infect theMaster Boot Record (MBR). The MBR is the section of a PC’s hard drive which enables the operating system to boot up. When MBR ransomware strikes, the boot process can’t complete as usual and prompts a ransom note to be displayed on the screen. Examples include Satana and Petya families.
Crypto-ransomware, as encryptors are usually known, are the most widespread ones, and also the subject of this article. The cyber security community agrees that this is the most prominent and worrisome cyber threat of the moment.
Ransomware has some key characteristics that set it apart from other malware:
It feature sunbreakable encryption, which means that you can’t decrypt the files on your own (there are various decryption tools released by cyber security researchers – more on that later);
It has the ability to encrypt all kinds of files, from documents to pictures, videos, audio files and other things you may have on your PC;
It can scramble your file names, so you can’t know which data was affected. This is one of the social engineering tricks used to confuse and coerce victims into paying the ransom;
It will add a different extension to your files, to sometimes signal a specific type of ransomware strain;
It will display an image or a message that lets you know your data has been encrypted and that you have to pay a specific sum of money to get it back;
It requests payment in Bitcoins because this crypto-currency cannot be tracked by cyber security researchers or law enforcements agencies;
Usually, the ransom payments have a time-limit, to add another level of psychological constraint to this extortion scheme. Going over the deadline typically means that the ransom will increase, but it can also mean that the data will be destroyed and lost forever.
It uses a complex set of evasion techniquesto go undetected by traditional antivirus (more on this in the “Why ransomware often goes undetected by antivirus” section);
It often recruits the infected PCs intobotnets, so cyber criminals can expand their infrastructure and fuel future attacks;
It can spread to other PCs connected to a local network, creating further damage;
It frequently features data exfiltration capabilities, which means that it can also extract data from the affected computer (usernames, passwords, email addresses, etc.) and send it to a server controlled by cyber criminals; encrypting files isn’t always the endgame.
It sometimes includes geographical targeting, meaning the ransom note is translated into the victim’s language, to increase the chances for the ransom to be paid.
Their feature list keeps growing every day, with each new security alert broadcasted by our team or other malware researchers.
Here’s a great source if you’re curious to learn more about the history of this malware threat.
As you can see for yourself, things escalated quickly and the trend continues to grow.
Cyber criminals are not just malicious hackers who want public recognition and are driven by their quest for cyber mischief. They’re business-oriented and seek to cash out on their efforts.
Ransomware is here to stay. The current conditions are a perfect storm which makes it the easiest and viable source of money for any malicious hacker out there:
Ransomware-as-a-service, where malware creators sell its services in exchange for a cut in the profits.
Anonymous payment methods, such as Bitcoin, that allow cybercriminals to obtain ransom money knowing their identity can’t be easily revealed.
It’s impossible to make a completely secure software program. Each and every program has its weaknesses, and these can be exploited to deliver ransomware, as was the case with WannaCry.
The number of infections would drastically shrink if all users were vigilant. But most people aren’t, and they end up clicking infected links and other malicious sources.
Top targets for ransomware creators and distributors
To give you some perspective, nearly 70% of infected businesses opted to pay the ransom and recover their files. More than half of these businesses had to pay a ransom worth $10,000 to $40,000 dollars in order to recover their data.
But for now, let’s find out how online criminals target various types of Internet users. This may help you better understand why things happen as they do right now.
Why ransomware creators and distributors target home users:
This 3-D hexapod robot moves via a single motor, which spins a crankshaft that pumps fluid to the robot’s legs. Besides the motor and battery, every component is printed in a single step with no assembly required. Among the robot’s key parts are several sets of “bellows” 3-D printed directly into its body. To propel the robot, the bellows uses fluid pressure that is translated into a mechanical force. (As an alternative to the bellows, the team also demonstrated they could 3-D print a gear pump that can produce continuous fluid flow.) Read More.