Eeek! DNA-born malware at ESC Minneapolis 2017

August 18, 2017

Max The Magnificent-August 18, 2017

As I've said on several occasions, things are beginning to move very, very quickly in Embedded Space (where no one can hear you scream).

Just a couple of years ago, things like machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) were topics that were primarily of academic interest only. Now these technologies are being deployed in all sorts of real-world embedded systems, and we're only just scratching the surface of what's possible.

Day-by-day, I see more and more weird and wonderful items of techno-weenie news crossing my desk, such as a system with the ability to listen to a group of people talking -- along with noise sources like air conditioners and television news programs playing in the background -- analyze the entire sound space, disassemble it into the individual elements, and then isolate all of the elements and listen to them in real-time, including tracking the locations of individual speakers as they more around the room (see A game-changer for embedded speech).

Or how about a start-up company whose deep-learning/neural-network-based systems can analyze as little as a minute of someone speaking and use this to generate a unique key. This key can subsequently be used to generate any speech, mimicking its corresponding voice, augmented with any desired emotion (see Thinking of using voice authentication? Think again!).

The thing is that, although some of this stuff is exciting, a lot of it is starting to get somewhat scary. Consider, for example, the AI system at Facebook that invented its own language. Researchers pulled the plug when they realized they didn’t understand what the AI agents were saying to each other (see Researchers shut down AI that invented its own language).

Or how about the fact that researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated that biohackers, using widely available tools, could embed malware in synthesized strands of deoxyribonucleic acid that would allow them to take over the computer analyzing the DNA (see New Security Worry: DNA-borne Malware).

So where should you go to learn about all the things you can look forward to, and all the things you have to start worrying about? Well, a good place to start is the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC), November 8-9, in Minneapolis.

In particular, you should attend my talk on Advanced Technologies for 21st Century Embedded Systems, in which we will delve into cognitive (thinking / reasoning) embedded systems, artificial neural networks, deep learning, machine vision, virtual and augmented realities, and how all these technologies are coming together.

Happily, this talk will be in the ESC Engineering Theater, which means anyone can attend so long as they are flaunting a Free Expo Pass, but you do have to register. Hopefully I'll see you there. I'll be the one in the Hawaiian shirt. As always, all you have to do is shout "Max, Beer!" or "Max, Bacon!" to be assured of my undivided attention.

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