Weekly Editorial – 2024 Week 14

Welcome to a new segment I call the “Weekly Editorial”!

What is the Weekly Editorial?

Normally when I blog, I keep it strictly technical. I try to make my posts educational, entertaining, and without emotion. That’s part of the joy of working with data – in and of itself it is just data. Our interpretations and perceptions applied to it make it mean something and that can conjure up an emotional response.

This week’s thoughts, meanderings, ruminations, and reflections are:

  • Will AI Take Your Job?
  • You Cannot Spend Your Way Out of Data Breaches
  • Spying With Open Source Data
  • We Have Been In The Matrix For 25 Years

Will AI Take Your Job?

I speak for data professionals like myself when I ask this question. In short, no. ChatGPT will likely not take your job. My guess is that it will be a situational tool used to facilitate productivity. Right now it’s a glorified chatbot. There – I said it.

That’s probably going to draw some ire but look at how people use it. Ask someone, especially not a software engineer, to use ChatGPT for the first time and they will treat it like Siri asking it philosophy questions or trying to do their homework for them. It fails the Turing Test when I read “articles” written by people which are a word salad – clearly the mark of ChatGPT.

In the end, your job will likely not obsolete you but rather you will not grow with the times and be replaced. That’s why it is always crucial for us data professionals to stay abreast of the latest technologies and trends. You don’t want to become a dinosaur.

You Cannot Spend Your Way Out of Data Breaches

MGM was the victim of a massive data breach late last year. It wasn’t some Ocean’s Eleven style heist but rather a basic phish on a help desk person. The attacker phoned the help desk and provided enough basic information to “authenticate” the person was an employee and reset their password. The rest is history.

Companies like this spend millions of dollars on InfoSec each year. They purchase most COTS cybersecurity software even if they don’t install or configure it. Large groups of people are hired into positions to make sure this doesn’t happen. Then a group of online teens bored from playing video games decides to turn their attention to a mega-corp. Maybe it’s for the lulz, perhaps the ransomeware is for money, maybe it’s just bragging rights to say they could do it. Regardless, the damage is done and cannot be undone.

Human are always the weakest link. Cybersecurity companies pour massive amounts into marketing their products but in the end if the fundamentals aren’t right it won’t matter a bit. If you follow poor security methods and don’t handle the basics (authentication, authorization, logging, monitoring, training, etc.) then the amount you spend on expensive software suites the purchasers likely don’t understand won’t help much.

Spying With Open Source Data

We know the government collects and analyzes massive amounts of data on the people of the world (I’m speaking from a US perspective but applies worldwide). After Wikileaks, Snowden, and countless other instances it’s not up for debate anymore nor is it a conspiracy.

What people might not realize is that much of data collected isn’t from the government per-se but rather from data brokers selling to corporations and governments. This is an easy way to get around a warrant. Publically available data doesn’t need a warrant. When people make information on their social media accounts that is now public information to be collected and analyzed.

Without getting too far in the weeks about this topic (which I could go on for hours…) consider this is conceptually the big concern about TikTok from a US national security standpoint. When that app is installed on a smartphone, it collects a whole lot of data about you. Some of that could be your browsing history (on the device as a whole – not just one app), you location over time, your personal details, what apps you have installed, what sites you frequent, and more.

Imagine the grandchild of a senator having TikTok on their iPhone and they happen to be at a family event where things are discussed around you in the room. Not specifically to the grandchild but rather just heard in the room by the phone’s microphone. Many correlations and data points can be assembled for many nefarious means e.g. blackmail, SIGINT for nation state, assissination / accident, crafting a profile fo the person to exploit weaknesses, establishing a network of associates, etc.

We Have Been In The Matrix For 25 Years

The classic movie, The Matrix has been out now for 25 years. Since then smart phones, social media, and online life has taken off with explosive acceleration. I make my living on the computer and enjoy software engineering – especially involving data and databases. Still – it’s important to unplug.

Being online all the time isn’t healthly for you. I’m glad you’re here reading this but now the post it at its end. So go outside and touch grass!


So there you have it. I’ll conclude with 2 things:

Thanks for reading!

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