Week Ending: 13th August - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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It’s Friday the 13th, anyone superstitious? It’s certainly been an unlucky week for some, particularly in the I.T. and tech world.

This week saw one of the largest cryptocurrency heists in history unfold as Blockchain site Poly Network fell victim to a vulnerability hack. The hacker responsible revealed on Thursday that the heist was a test to highlight vulnerabilities. However, in our opinion, they may have taken things too far after stealing $600m (£433m). The funds, or half of them anyway, had been returned by Thursday morning, so we’re sure we can expect more to come with this story next week.

In other news this week, there have been some more positive headlines including news that AI may help diagnose dementia in a day, how Covid has ‘accelerated’ industrial automation and how Microsoft is using machine learning to catch ransomware infections early.

Let’s bring you up to date.

Could AI help diagnose dementia in a day?

Scientists at Cambridge University announced this week that they are currently testing an artificial intelligence system that they believe is capable of diagnosing dementia after a single brain scan.

The scientists behind the technology also stated that this new system could predict whether a patient’s condition would remain stable for many years, or whether immediate treatment would be required.

This finding, the researchers explained, would dramatically transform how dementia patients are tested and treated and ultimately greatly improve their outcomes.

So, how does it work?

The AI system being developed uses an algorithm to detect the patterns on brain scans – patterns that even expert neurologists cannot see. These patterns will then be matched to patient outcomes in its database.

Neurologists will then be able to view the results to help determine whether dementia has been detected and its severity level.

Dr Timothy Rittman, a senior clinical research associate and consultant neurologist at the University of Cambridge, who is leading the study, told the BBC the AI system is a “fantastic development”.

He said:

“These set of diseases are really devastating for people, so when I am delivering this information to a patient, anything I can do to be more confident about the diagnosis, to give them more information about the likely progression of the disease to help them plan their lives is a great thing to be able to do.”

According to the BBC, we can expect to see trials of the AI system over the next year. The trials will take place in a “real-world” clinical setting on about 500 patients at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge and other memory clinics across the country.

We continue to be amazed at what AI can do, particularly in the healthcare sector. The technology has helped transform healthcare over the last year or so, not just in improving patient outcomes but also in improving the day-to-day life of healthcare practitioners.

Read more on this story here.

Acceleration in industrial automation due to Covid

Manufacturing Wales announced this week that industrial automation, which includes the adoption of robotics within business, has accelerated twice as fast as expected as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The organisation stated that businesses across the country were introducing robotics into the workplace two to three years faster than expected.

The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on all businesses across the globe, but in manufacturing especially it’s highlighted a need for change and has acted as a catalyst for many to “move with the times.”

Technology has certainly changed the way we work, and in part for the better. In manufacturing, the use of automated systems and robots can make the process quicker and more efficient, meaning businesses can offer more products to market.

Cardiff-based Industore, which makes automated storage and retrieval units for warehouses, said interest in its products had gone "through the roof" in recent months, including from blue-chip companies. Managing Director, Ross Powell said:

"People have been forced to turn to automation and use machines like this to ensure they can still open the doors of their business during the pandemic.”

However, although these new systems are being put in place, Unite Union were keen to stress that new technology doesn’t mean staff should lose their jobs.

Unite Wales regional secretary, Peter Hughes, said:

"Unite will always seek to ensure that the introduction of new technology must not be at the expense of workers’ jobs. Employers introducing automation should work with unions to explore solutions such as shorter working time to maintain employment levels.”

Read more of this story here.

How machine learning is helping Microsoft catch ransomware infections early

It’s true what they say, prevention is better than cure, and that’s certainly the philosophy behind Microsoft’s new ransomware detection tool “Fusion Detection for Ransomware,” aka Fusion.

Given the recent increase in ransomware attacks, the tech giant has launched a security tool which detects if a ransomware attack is likely before it has even happened.

The tool, which is a collaboration between Microsoft’s cloud computing software, Azure, and Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC), uses machine learning to detect actions that are typically associated with ransomware activities and alerts security teams in time to act before they become more serious.

In theory this sounds like a great idea, but only time will tell whether these threats are taken seriously.

One concern amongst I.T. professionals is the number of false positives the system will throw up, particularly in the early stages. In response to this, Microsoft has said that Fusion has been designed to connect with and collate relevant data from Azure Defender (Azure Security Center), Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, Microsoft Defender for Identity, Microsoft Cloud App Security, and Azure Sentinel scheduled analytics rules in order to reduce false positives.

Sylvie Liu, Security Program Manager at Microsoft said:

“As you investigate and close the Fusion incidents, we encourage you to provide feedback on whether this incident was a True Positive, Benign Positive, or a False Positive, along with details in the comments. Your feedback is critical to help Microsoft deliver the highest quality detections.”

Those were just some of this week’s top stories but if you want more content, follow us across our four social media channels: