Technology – Ideas in Motion

On this page, I post thoughts about technology, context awareness and predictive analytics. You can find out about my career in technology or my writing here as well. (Today, I am a proud Intel employee, and my employer is not accountable or liable for my opinions.)


Recent Blog Posts on these topics: 

Context Sensing in the Wild – New Proximity Awareness on Dell Laptops

Posted by on Jan 7, 2019 in biometrics and context, Intel, tech, technology | 0 comments

My team at Intel spent the last few years working on this great new Context Sensing awareness system that will be announced on new Dell laptops at CES 2019. Congratulations to the Context team at Intel!  Dell’s new Latitude laptop can detect your presence and wake itself — Your laptop might already use your face to sign in, but Dell is taking it one step further. Ahead of CES 2019, the computer manufacturer has unveiled an updated version of its commercial 2-in-1, the Latitude 7400. These enterprise devices don’t usually come with the most exciting technologies, but this one is different. The new Latitude 7400 device comes equipped with a feature that can actually sense your presence and use Windows Hello to log you in. Dell calls the feature “ExpressSign-In,” a technology that pairs a special proximity sensor that with Windows Hello to make sign-ins just a bit faster. Essentially, the sensor will detect a person’s nearby presence and will wake the system on its own, rather than waiting for someone to hit the power button. Once awake, the Windows Hello infrared camera then searches for a face match. It should make for automatic logins and signs out. Outside of the new sign-in feature, the convertible also packs some other enterprise features such as options for Cat 16 Gigabit LTE, a fingerprint reader, and the FIPS 201 Smart Card Reader. IT professionals can also enjoy the ability to manage Windows 10 endpoints with DCDD and Workplace One integration. KEY SPECS Processor: 8th-gen Intel Core Whiskey Lake Speakers: Stereo Speaker with MaxxAudio Pro Memory: Up to 16GB LPDDR3 SDRAM Storage: 256GB up to 2TB SSD Battery: 52 watt-hour or 78 watt-hour Ports: 2 USB 3.1 ports, 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, SD 4.0 memory card reader Security: Fingerprint reader, FIPS 201 Smart Card Reader, NFC, Windows Hello IR The Latitude 7400 2-in-1 has also been dubbed the world’s smallest commercial 14-inch 2-in-1, as it packs narrow borders that are 25 percent smaller than the previous generation. It is also light and comes in at 3 pounds in weight, with its machined aluminum and diamond cut finish. Elsewhere, Dell has redesigned the cooling system with a new “intelligent thermal responsiveness,” which can adjust to the way the laptop is used. Be it on the lap or a desk, Dell promises the system can keep the Latitude cool. Battery life is also boasted to not be an issue, as Dell is packing a super low-power panel, as well as support for express charge technologies. That should ensure that you can charge faster and get through the day without having to plug into an outlet. How long can it last? Up to a whopping 24 hours, according to Dell. The Latitude 14 7400 will be available in March for prices starting at $1,600. Please like &...

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How to be Smarter about Biometrics

Posted by on Dec 12, 2018 in software, tech, technology, Updates | 0 comments

| Article in Cyber Defense Magazine, January 2019 — Ned Hayes, General Manager, SureID Facial recognition, one of the most popular methods of biometric enrollment and customized marketing, will bring us to ultra-surveillance, targeted assassinations and Black Mirror-style oversight. At least, this is what critics of the technology would have you believe. Yet we don’t see such dystopian outcomes in commercial authentication and identity verification today. So why are these critics so concerned, and what can security professionals do to alleviate their concerns? By 2024, the market for facial recognition applications and related biometric functions is expected to grow at a 20% compounded rate to almost $15.4 billion. Already, almost 245 million video surveillance systems have been deployed worldwide, and that number is growing. Video facial recognition technology isn’t going away. Yet as the technology keeps expanding to new segments and use cases, ethical concerns have not settled down – in fact, they’ve proliferated. Early concerns focused on the surveillance itself: should human beings be watched 24/7? As the use of CCTV data in criminal investigations proved to have value, though, these concerns have grown to focus on the data that video stream provides and the inferences that can be drawn from that data. Machine learning and new predictive techniques, when used to analyze a video stream, can produce findings well beyond facial identity. They can infer emotional state, religious affiliation, class, race, gender and health status. In addition, machine learning methods can determine where someone is going (travel trajectory), where they came from (national origin), how much they make (through clothing analysis), diseases they have (through analysis of the vocal track), and much more. Yet like all technology, these techniques are imperfect. They don’t always recognize faces accurately: false positives and false negatives happen. Some algorithms get confused if you wear a hat or sunglasses, grow a beard, or cut your hair differently. Even worse, training data used to develop many early facial recognition algorithms was originally mostly Caucasian, so people of African and Asian descent are not recognized as well. This can result in biased conclusions, even if the intent was not to create a biased system. And biometrics themselves are not a foolproof system. Some facial recognition systems can be “hacked” with dolls, masks and false faces. Recently, Philip Bontrager, a researcher at NYU, revealed that he’d created a “DeepMasterPrint” fingerprint that could combine the characteristics of many fingers into one “master print” that could log into devices secured with only a single fingerprint authentication routine. A single finger on a pad or a single face seen by a camera should be insufficient to grant access. Biometrics are hackable, and over time it’s clear that we’ll find increasing exploits that take advantage of known and unknown weaknesses. So the critics of biometrically-based recognition and authentication have a right to be concerned about the weaknesses of an early technology that is only now beginning to mature, yet is already broadly deployed in critical infrastructure and identity verification scenarios. Two recent developments that are changing the game for everyone who relies on biometrics magnify the importance of these concerns. And this time, artificial intelligence researchers, activists, lawmakers and many of the largest technology companies also express concern. These two developments, happening simultaneously, are: Machine Learning in Real-time: The...

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The Biometric Threat – Some Preventative Measures

Posted by on Nov 28, 2018 in biometrics and context, tech, Updates | 0 comments

|New post published by Technica Curiosa. Complete article here >> We live in an age where personal information is difficult to protect, and passwords are far from unbreakable. Recently, IBM surveyed nearly 4,000 people and learned that 67% are comfortable using biometrics, and 87% would be comfortable using biometric authentication in the future. Millennials are particularly comfortable with biometric security, with 75% reporting that they’re at ease with today’s technology. In fact, if you used a fingertip scan to log into your phone to read this article, you just used biometrics to verify your identity. From passwords to PINs to tokens, there are many ways we provide credentials, but no method has grown in popularity more than biometrics. Biometrics have steadily moved in to replace document-based identities such as a driver’s license, physical credentials like swipe cards used for secure building access, and especially the username/password system that’s been in use since the dawn of the computer age. Biometrics are also the future of background checks. Instead of submitting documents and identity in person, you can enroll your biometrics through several nationwide systems to instantly prove and verify your identity. FBI channelers use biometrics for regulated purposes and retrieve a criminal background check in near real-time. Fingerprints can even now be used for on-the-spot drug testing. Today, customers of all sizes are increasingly providing biometric identifiers for verification, authentication, access and secure transactions. Are Biometrics Safe from Hacking? It’s a lot easier for a hacker to crack the password you created that uses your dog’s name and your first child’s birthdate, but biometrics aren’t immune to hacking. Dolls, masks, and false faces can break some facial recognition systems. Philip Bontrager, a researcher at NYU, created a fingerprint that combined the characteristics of many fingerprints into one fake finger that contains multitudes — he calls this hack the “DeepMasterPrint.”. The DeepMasterPrint could be used to log into devices with only a single fingerprint authentication routine, such as a smartphone, a tablet or even your home security system. What Bontrager did here was simply prove the obvious: Biometrics are hackable. The Security Cold War If you’re paying attention to the history of hacking security mechanisms, we all know how this story goes. Here’s the pattern of the security cold war: A secure system is hacked through one extremely complicated exploit, explained by academics.Security experts demonstrate solutions to the first hack and create an ongoing set of solutions designed to circumvent the first hack. Many consumers ignore this fix. Professional state actors or black hats use the same general method to hack unprotected systems, raising the bar on security professionals and system protection. Unfortunately, their efforts often go for naught as the original hack is replicated by script kiddies and used voluminously to steal identities, money and goods. Eventually, we end up in a place where complicated solutions exist to prevent the original hack and all hacks that emerged out of the same system weakness. The matrix above has been replicated across multiple systems and functions over time. Right now, with biometric-based identity, we are at the early stage (1), and I’m here to provide stage (2) — the security expert explains the need for protection and demonstrates a set of solutions. If people don’t ignore this set of fixes, it’s unlikely...

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Launch to Exit: The Oly Arts Success Story

Posted by on Oct 17, 2018 in publishing, software, Updates, writing | 0 comments

|Founder of local multi-platform publication group successfully sells off publication unit to local entrepreneur >> Coverage included: The Olympian: Founder Sells to Local Marketing LeaderSound Sound Business: Oly Arts Bought by Local Publisher OLY ARTS, the three-year-old multiplatform publication focused on arts and cultural events in Thurston County and surrounding regions, announced today that the publication has signed an acquisition agreement with local media expert Billy Thomas, who currently serves as the publication’s associate publisher. In an equity-only transaction valued at $350,000, Mr. Thomas will become the publication’s owner and primary publisher and will take over all daily operations for all OLY ARTS media properties in October 2018. “I am honored to take the helm for such a wonderful team,” said Thomas. “I’m excited to see what the future holds for this publication as we expand into new media ventures.” Thomas has previously led public relations, marketing and sales for the Washington Center for the Performing Arts and facilitated community relations and advertising sales at both The Olympian and The News Tribune. Thomas has been part of the OLY ARTS staff since late 2017. Ned Hayes, a technology entrepreneur and former journalist, founded the publication in 2015. “I am excited to transition our successful publication, growing audience and supportive advertisers to Billy Thomas,” said OLY ARTS founder Hayes. “Billy has been a fantastic partner and manager for the publication over the last year, and I am excited to have his energetic leadership as OLY ARTS moves into the future.” Olympia leaders and national publications have recognized the success of OLY ARTS over the past three years. The Seattle Times has worked with the OLY ARTS team on coverage of theater issues at Harlequin Productions in Olympia. In September 2018, the Washington Post also contacted OLY ARTS for regional media assistance and worked closely with OLY ARTS founder Hayes to write a comprehensive travel guide article about Olympia regional attractions. “OLY ARTS has greatly enhanced the profile of our local arts and cultural assets, not only in Olympia but in the surrounding region as well.” said Olympia mayor Cheryl Selby. “I’m happy to see the publication continue to grow with this new management team.” Under Hayes’s tenure as owner and publisher of OLY ARTS, the publication launched online, mobile, and podcast media outlets, and created from scratch a regional audience of tens of thousands of readers for print and online versions of the publication. OLY ARTS also moved from a quarterly publication in its first year to a schedule of seven annual print editions. Hayes also created partnerships with the City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation for lead sponsorship of the twice-annual Olympia Arts Walk, as well as partnerships with all local theaters, the City of Lacey’s summer In Tune program and the annual Oly Old Time Festival. In recent months, Thomas has led the publication’s transition from a newsprint circular into a bound glossy premium print magazine distributed throughout Thurston, Lewis, Mason, and Pierce counties, and at every local arts event and festival. He has continued OLY ARTS’ vision of community involvement by leading partnerships with local arts organizations such as Emerald City Music, Broadway Olympia and the Olympia Film Festival. As the acquisition concludes, Hayes will transition into a new role as President of the parent company,...

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New GM for Identity leader SureID

Posted by on Jul 5, 2018 in software, tech, technology, Updates | 0 comments

I’m a startup guy. In 2012, I had the opportunity to do another startup. I was talking to venture capitalists and seed partners about funding my next new idea. I won’t go into too many details about the concept and the tech now, but it has been ironically satisfying to see the basic kernel of my idea become a Black Mirror episode. In other words, my idea was viable enough to be conceptualized as one future possible and showcased on a popular TV show, seven years after I first conceived of it, and put the pieces in place to build the tech. It’s weirdly satisfying, and also terrifying to see the Black Mirror version of my intended future. At that time, I also had in play an offer from a great team led by Peter Biddle at Intel, to come join them and deliver a new identity-based set of cloud services that could move Intel from a side-player in cloud services and identity solutions into a front runner. Peter is a dynamic and inspiring leader: I was inspired by his vision and his record of execution. And so I ditched my nascent startup and joined up with the Intel Services Division at Intel. We had a wonderful run of it – many challenges to surmount, chief among them an internal culture that had a hard time learning how to monetize software and cloud services. I met some amazing co-workers, like  Margaret Burgraff, Brooks Talley and Erik Holt, and was able to work alongside stellar thought leaders in the industry, including luminaries I respect like Bruce Horn, Lama Nachman, Genevieve Bell and Monica Martinez-Canales. These team members inspired me, and I learned so much from their partnership and collegiality on the journey. We launched the Intel Context Sensing SDK, with keynote acclamation by Intel’s senior leadership. My architectural and product leadership helped our product line to navigate through many turbulent waters to achieve great success. I’m very proud of the several engineering teams that contributed to this code base. I have especially fond memories of living in Argentina and working day to day with my team there in South America. I also have great memories of building a new team in the United States and hiring stellar engineering leads like Neelay Shah. Today, Intel’s Context Sensing  libraries are deployed on tens of millions of devices. My team made user interactions and biometric solutions better for Intel’s partners all over the world. Over time, the team I led morphed into another software organization inside Intel. In this new organization over the past year, I’ve been able to build another great organization and lead another team of fantastic technical consulting engineers. I made a positive difference at Intel. In summer 2018, I was approached by the executive recruiting team at Sterling Talent Solutions. The team at Sterling had recently brought back their dynamic founding CEO, Billy Greenblatt, and Billy had a big vision to revitalize his company and take it to the next level of financial and technology success. He was making acquisitions, and he was no longer content with the status quo. At first, I was hesitant to talk to Sterling. I’d made such an impact at Intel, and I was leading this great new team of technical consulting engineers that I’d hand-picked...

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Leaving Intel

Posted by on Jun 27, 2018 in Intel, software, tech, technology, Updates | 1 comment

*A note that I sent my team at Intel today, after nearly seven years of great work together READ an update to this post with details about my new role at Sterling as GM for SureID >>  Team – I’m leaving Intel. It’s bittersweet because we’ve done so many amazing things together, but I have an opportunity I simply can’t turn down in the startup space. I’m leaving to become GM/CEO of a company in the biometrics authentication space. I’ve been at Intel for nearly 7 years and I deeply appreciate the camaraderie and professionalism of all the people at Intel. It’s just time for me to move on, so I can keep learning and growing. Favorite memories at Intel include getting OpenVINO out the door at Embedded Vision this year to great acclaim, shepherding the GPA team during Gary’s sabbatical, presenting our software on the show floor to thousands of developers at Google I/O Day Zero with a set of outstanding software engineers (3 years running!), enjoying Mobile World Congress with Jeff McVeigh, moving my family to Argentina in 2013 for Intel to be on-site there with the fantastic Intel Cordoba engineering team for half a year, and launching the Context Sensing SDK in the IDF keynote demo in 2015, presenting on stage with BK and Doug Fisher. I’d like to thank Claire for her partnership, Stewart and Al for their companionship on the journey, and the stellar colleagues in VCP, especially Vladimir, Jeff M, Mrinal, Neena and Neelay. Thank you for all we’ve done together – keep striving to create excellent software and happy customers! Best regards,               — Ned * some edits made for confidentiality READ an update to this post with details about my new role at Sterling as GM for SureID >>      Please like &...

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AI, Ethics and Algos at Gluecon 2018

Posted by on May 17, 2018 in Intel, philosophy, tech, technology, Updates | 0 comments

Great discussion at Gluecon this week in Colorado! Eric and Kim Norlin have created a great gathering of the minds that helps deeply technical people to come together and discover what’s happening in their industry. This year’s highlights for me were Adrian Cockcraft’s talk about “Chaos Architecture”, in which he unpacked how to build resilient systems, with examples of architectural design for AWS and Netflix and Lisa Kamm & Max Whitney talking about varieties of software devleopment lifecycles and finally Kris Nova of Heptio talking about containers, stateless engines and Kubernetes. I led a breakout session entitled “Ethics and AI: Thinking about the Implications of Algorithmic Design within Semi-Autonomous Systems.” I discussed a number of computer vision and machine learning scenarios (and I also threw in some laughs at recent science-fiction work that pretends that AI is much more of a threat than it really is, given the current state of the art). My session also provided a primer on basic concepts of ethical decision making and the distinction between legal activity and ethical activity, with some necessary considerations for algorithm designers, and a nod towards some future possibilities for tracing moral culpability within a system using blockchain or a similar technology. And here are the slides for my presentation CLICK HERE FOR PDF SLIDES Please like &...

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Google I/O Day Zero

Posted by on Apr 17, 2018 in biometrics and context, Intel, software, tech, technology, Updates | 0 comments

I love going to developer shows and talking to software engineers about the toolsets our teams develop at Intel. For me, since I spend so much of my time in meetings and planning sessions, it is a refreshing opportunity to re-engage with the actual use cases and the actual developer customers who use our tools. Last week, I took 5 engineering teams to Google I/O Intel Day Zero in Santa Clara. Since I don’t often get a chance to spend 4-5 hours uninterrupted seeing my great engineering team members in action, I also welcome the time to spend hands-on with our technical tools, learning the most recent innovations from the people who actually write the code and debug the software. This is “developers only” — so no marketing, no strategy, no business development and no management people (occasionally we make an exception for senior managers who want to see things in action — that’s how I snuck in). But I made this a priority, because for me, this is a great opportunity to keep my fingers on the pulse, to keep learning, and to re-center my management and planning work around what really matters — Intel’s developer customers and the positive differences that Intel tools can make for them. I get to hear first hand how Intel tools accelerate their businesses and power their applications. And yes, I also get to answer — in person and directly — awkward questions about performance and bugs (that’s why I have smart technical people with me). 🙂 The first year I went to the Google I/O Day Zero, we took one demo team. Last year, I took two teams to the show and learned so much from the questions I heard that I came back with a determination to change how we engage with customers in future software launches. (Here’s a video from last year) This year, we went all out, and we had 5 demos from multiple VCP teams (there were 23 hand-chosen Intel demos, so VCP had a solid 1/4 of the demo floor). Every demo person / engineer on the show floor was swarmed by hundreds of developers who are genuinely interested in our technologies and SDKs and want to understand how to be more effective in their use of current platforms and algorithms. I found it invigorating. VCP team demos included the following: GPA Demo: Intel® Graphics Performance Analyzers, featuring I-Illusion’s Space Pirate Trainer (Giselle Gomez, Pranati Tewari) Adaptive Learning: Intel® Context Sensing SDK with Adaptive Learning from Intel Labs (Vandita Venuturapalli, Nese Alyuz Civitci) Automotive Demo: In-car sensors, demonstrating Jungo algos in ISS dev, which included iris recognition, facial identity and tracking of individual users (Shubha Ramani) Smart Surveillance: Deep learning / inference to demo gait recognition and validate identity via biometrics built using new Intel OpenVINO (Yi Ge) IOT Augmented Reality: Intel Context Sensing SDK + Google Arcore SDK for IOT visualization, data collection, storage, sharing and analysis of data. (Ojas Sawant, Aditya Subramanyan)     Please like &...

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Ethics and AI at GlueCon

Posted by on Mar 6, 2018 in Intel, tech, technology, theology | 0 comments

I’m excited to be giving a new and interesting talk on Ethics, AI and algorithm design at Glue Con this year (May 16-17, 2018). I can’t really spell out all the details before you go to the conference and see the talk — so get ye to Glue Con to find out more and listen to a number of great interesting technical talks. TITLE: Ethics and AI: Thinking about the Implications of Algorithmic Design within Semi-Autonomous Systems. SESSION DESCRIPTION As we design increasingly autonomous systems, the role of ethical decision-making in real-time system outcomes can’t be ignored. Ned Hayes will use Intel’s existing Computer Vision and Media SDKs to demonstrate the possible implications of autonomous action in vehicle and digital surveillance scenarios. He’ll outline some of the significant open questions in ethics and AI and venture some thoughts on how to design better algorithms that create ethical outcomes that don’t suck. VIDEO OF PRESENTATION SLIDES Slides for the presentation can be found at this post: Final overview of presentation and slides SPEAKER BIO Ned Hayes was educated in the business of technology at Xerox PARC, Vulcan Labs, Stanford University and in the startup trenches. He also has studied ethics at a graduate level at UC Berkeley Grad Theological Union, Seattle University and Luther Seminary. At Intel, Ned leads a joint solutions team that focuses on autonomous vehicle algorithms and digital surveillance. He is also a member of Intel’s internal ethics working group. Please like &...

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New Patent: Cross-Geo Calendar

Posted by on Feb 24, 2018 in biometrics and context, software, tech, technology, Updates | 0 comments

Good ideas are quick and easy to create. However, it gets complicated if you want to keep your idea as your own, and if you want to make money from your idea. If you wish to protect your good idea from other people using it without your permission, it’s wise to protect it by formalizing your idea as an “intellectual property” (I.P.). Books, movies, songs and software code can be protected. One great way of keeping your idea protected is to keep it secret. If you never reveal what’s inside your secret box, it’s pretty hard for people to steal it! Examples of this kind of I.P. protection include the exact mix of the Kentucky Fried chicken batter, and the ingredients for Coca-Cola. A trade secret is proprietary — that’s kind of the point. However, many people protect their ideas by describing it precisely and submitting their idea to the Patent Office. The clerks of the Patent Office check if anyone else has had the exact same idea in the past (known as “prior art”). If your idea is truly original, the office issues a patent for your original good idea, which reserves to you the right to use that idea in any manner you see fit. Fun fact — Einstein worked as a patent office clerk, evaluating patent submissions. In the United States, the Patent Office has existed almost from the beginning of the country’s existence. The very first patent every issued was in 1790 — it was a Patent for Making Potash. By now, over 6 million patents have been issued, for everything from the air conditioner to the pencil eraser to the light bulb to components of the automobile and the modern computer. Today, many patents are issued for design innovations (think: iPhone form factor, stylus design, etc.) and, more controversially, for innovations in software, such as Amazon’s one-click purchase mechanism. The reason these patents are controversial is that creating something ephemeral like easily-updated software is dissimilar from patents on physical changes to substances, such as the filament in a light bulb or the ingredients for a battery in a car. In the modern era though, much of our experience of the world is mediated by software, and so people protect their ideas via the U.S. Patent system. Because of the wealth of ideas, and the complexity of properly evaluating ideas through the patent office, patents do take a long time to finalize. Here’s an example. Nearly ten years ago, in 2008, I was working with a great team at Vulcan Labs on designing a completely new operating system for mobile phones (we started in 2007, before the iPhone or Android existed). When we were thinking about the calendar, we were working hard to maximize the tiny screen available on that generation of phones. I came up with a quick little diagram about how a calendar might be able to reflect two different time zones, or two different locations for a meeting. On the right side would be your meetings at work, while the left side might show your commitments on the home front. Or, if you were operating in different time zones, on the right might be meetings in Paris, while on the left would be meetings in Seattle. Other more technical team members contributed to...

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