6 min read

Weekend Briefing No. 10

Without sounding like a "Doomer," I do believe that it's always best to be informed and follow the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared."
Weekend Briefing No. 10
Photo by FLY:D / Unsplash

Good Saturday morning! In this weekend's briefing we look at the risk associated with where you live, will AI replace 1 in 5 white-collar workers, and what the heck is OSINT?

Interesting data points

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)

I was lucky to have attended a Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems (DoDIIS) conference last year in San Antonio. I supported one of our Federal space partners and talked to people about our AutoML product and how to use it. Overall, it was a good conference.

In my free time, I walked the floor and visited many vendors. Some vendors provided digital data destruction and hard drive shredding while others provided new surveillance tools. The vendors that intrigued me the most were the ones that sold enriched information gathered from public sources.

OSINT: What is open source intelligence and how is it used?
Long favored by spooks and spies, OSINT is also a powerful weapon in the security pro’s armory
OSINT is intelligence “drawn from publicly available material”, according to the CIA. Most intelligence experts extend that definition to mean information intended for public consumption.
OSINT is information that can be accessed without specialist skills or tools, although it can include sources only available to subscribers, such as newspaper content behind a paywall, or subscription journals.

These vendors would scrape the regular and dark web, parse reports, and build databases of information. Then they'd feature engineer them and either provide the raw datasets or combine them into a product. Our AutoML tool does advanced feature engineering and my mind began to race toward all kinds of use cases I could build with featured engineered OSINT data.

To help anyone interested in this field, there are a lot of open source resources to get you started. Whether you want to know if you're organization is exposed or you want to do some 'pen-testing', the link below has a nice set of resources.

“Must Have” Free OSINT Resources | SANS
This blog provides details about Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) free resources


The National Risk Index

The other day I came across an interesting website that I had no idea existed. I stumbled upon The National Risk Index (NRI). The NRI evaluates 18 hazard types and compares them with the probable loss cost, whether it's financial, social, or community.

Learn More | National Risk Index
Discover what’s inside the National Risk Index and learn how FEMA created a first of its kind, nationwide, natural hazard risk measurement for U.S. communities.

The 18 hazard types are: Avalanche, Coastal Flooding, Cold Wave, Drought, Earthquake, Hail, Heat Wave, Hurricane, Ice Storm, Landslide, Lightning, Riverine Flooding, Strong Wind, Tornado, Tsunami, Volcanic Activity, Wildfire, and Winter Weather.

I checked out the county I live in and found our community resilience to be very high (that's great), our social vulnerability to be very low (awesome), but our expected annual loss to be very moderate (not so good). The hazards we could expect range from hurricanes and ice storms to heat waves and riverine flooding.

Go check out your area!

AI is Coming For Your White Collar Job

Another sensationalist story meant to scare us about AI. In this CNBC article they're claiming that 1 in 5 American's white collar work could be replaced by AI. There's no doubt that the advances in AI are accelerating, especially now in the open-source LLM space, and I would expect white-collar jobs to be replaced.

A.I. is on a collision course with white-collar, high-paid jobs — and with unknown impact
Technology has disrupted many workplaces. Artificial intelligence like ChatGPT may have an outsized impact on higher-paid office jobs, experts said.

Properly trained LLMs are definitely making huge inroads, especially in the area of software development. Yet, I don't see these LLMs replacing anyone just yet. There have been several companies, like NEDA, that have jumped the gun without thinking of the long term consequences.

I see LLMs acting in a complementary fashion and slowly taking over the very low value tasks. Will a LLM replace a smart and capable software developer/engineer? Not at all, but it will take mundane code development off his/her desk. Could it replace some software developers? Yes, and that's why I believe that we need to support Universal Basic Income (UBI).

On the flip side, AI could create many new jobs! I'm leaning more toward new jobs and replacing older outdated ones, but I think we won't know for sure until a few years have passed. In the meantime, let's treat all workers with kindness, respect, and support.

End Notes

It's hard to believe but we've enter the last half of the "summer game" now that August is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere. While I look toward warm days and cooler evenings, I'm not looking forward to hurricane season. I expect this year to be a doozy of a hurricane year filled with a lot of rain.

Generally speaking, we're far enough inland from the ocean to not get the brunt of a major hurricane but we do get a lot of damage from falling trees, limbs, and torrential downpours. Lately our weather has been unstable and we've been experiencing high intensity bursts of rain that have led to a lot of destruction and flooding.

The most recent one was the massive downpour near West Point in New York State. They received over 7 inches of rain in the span of 6 short hours, which is the equivalent of 1,000 year storm event. That doesn't mean it's a storm that happens once every 1,000 years, no, it means that a storm of this magnitude has a 0.01% chance of happening per year.

As a retired Civil Engineer, I always take notice of the damage during these rainfall events. All of our infrastructure is designed at the most for a 100 year storm (1% probability per year) and I can't help but wonder if our design standards need to be updated in the face of our climate change emergency.

We should expect more flooding and more violent storms in the future and we need to be prepared for it. I firmly believe that every family, whether it's a family of 1 or 30, should have some sort of emergency plan. After living through the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and being partially prepared for it, our lives would've been a lot easier if we had stocked a few more basic necessities.

Without sounding like a "Doomer," I do believe that it's always best to be informed and follow the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared." Take a few minutes to look around your property before the summer ends and see what you can do to make a few preparations, just in case!

Happy August everyone!

Get all past and future Weekend Briefings by signing up below