One of the leading trends in IT that not even many technologists know much about is “affective computing.” It’s adding EQ to AI’s IQ,

The idea of computers that can engage and effect human emotions is as old as the first sci fi robots. A more modern example are video games that immerse players in environments designed to trigger a variety of emotions.

Today’s affective computing seeks to recognize human emotion and respond to it, not simply to evoke it. At MIT’s Media Lab, the mission of the affective computing group is to “bridge the gap between human emotions and computational technology.” The goal is to develop “new software tools to help people gather, communicate, and express emotional information and to better manage and understand the ways emotion impacts health, social interaction, learning, memory, and behavior.”

These are no mere high-minded aspirational hopes. Tools like these already exist, and not just in the lab. Many models of cars come equipped with sensors that detect drowsiness, warning the driver and urging them to take a break. At New York’s Fashion Week in September “Experience Management” technology analyzed attendees to customize drinks and fragrances just for them. McDonald’s is using technology to tailor drive-thru menu features based on weather, trending items and what the current restaurant traffic is like.

Deloitte report says uses like these are just the beginning: “Using data and human-centered design (HCD) techniques — and technologies currently being used in neurological research to better understand human needs — affective systems will be able to recognize a system user’s emotional state and the context behind it, and then respond appropriately.”

Human experience platforms employ a range of AI technologies like sentiment analysis, eye tracking, facial recognition and natural language processing to recognize and understand human emotion and, most significantly, respond to it in a natural, human-like way.

Deloitte gives us a practical example of how this could work:

“Imagine if you could walk into [a clothing retailer] and a bot appearing on the screen recognizes you and addresses you by name. This bot has been observing you walk around the store and has identified jackets you might love based on your mood today and your purchasing history. In this moment, technology engages you as an individual, and as a result, you experience this store in a very different, more human way. AI and affective technologies have scaled an experience with very human-like qualities to encompass an entire business environment.”

Each of these capabilities exists now in some form. Assembling them into an experience platform isn’t far off. Deloitte found that companies focusing on the human experience are already twice as likely to outperform their peers. They grow revenue 17 times faster than competitors that do not focus the human experience.

“The ability to leverage emotionally intelligent platforms to recognize and use emotional data at scale,” Deloitte predicts, “Will be one of the biggest, most important opportunities for companies going forward.”

Image: Deloitte Insights


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Green Key

‘Outlandish Job Requirements’ Are Causing an IT Shortage

Too many employers are asking for too much when seeking to fill entry-level cybersecurity positions, then lamenting that there’s a shortage of talent applying for the job.

“There’s a misunderstanding, I think, out the door of what the [requirements] really should be for junior, midlevel and senior roles, and what those expectations are,” said Neal Dennis, a threat intelligence specialist, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Citing a report by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2), the Journal said there is a need for 3.1 million cybersecurity professionals to meet security requirements. But companies leave positions unfilled insisting they can’t find people to fill them.

Researchers tell the Journal “outlandish job requirements are the problem,” not than a lack of workers.

“We’ve created this self-licking ice-cream cone of misery that continues to drive the narrative forward that we don’t have the ability to solve this problem, or we don’t have enough humans,” said Chase Cunningham, principal analyst at research firm Forrester Inc.

The Journal article notes that job postings for entry-level security roles frequently request two to four years’ experience and advanced knowledge, which can be evidenced by certifications such as the Certified Information Security Systems Professional.

But Clar Rosso, chief executive of ISC2, which issues the certification, points out in the article that it takes 5 years of experience before earning a CISSP. “Possibly the human resources recruiter doesn’t have experience in the area and they’re not able to say, wait, that doesn’t even make sense,” she told the Journal.

The solution, says the Journal, is for companies to rework their expectations and hire tech professionals with non-traditional backgrounds, then invest in training. “Apprenticeship schemes and firm career development paths for new cybersecurity workers would help,” says the Journal.

“Once that shift occurs,” Dennis said, referring to on-the-job training and certification prep programs, “I think that the skill shortage starts to answer itself. And then we’ll finally realize that there’s not really a people shortage, there’s just a knowledge shortage on the people who are available.”

Photo by Patrick Amoy on Unsplash


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Green Key

Happy SysAdmin Appreciation Day!

Behind every computer network is a person or a team you may have never met, yet it’s thanks to them that every email you write is sent, every file is there when you need it and every report you print gets printed.

These are the system administrators. They’re the ones who keep the computer system running. They update the programs and make sure the virus protection is still protecting.

When a new employee starts, who wires up their cubicle and gets them a login? You got it, a sysadmin.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to have everyone work from home, sysadmins made it happen.

So unsung are these heroes of the network that it took a lone admin to create System Administrator Appreciation Day. 21 years ago Ted Kekatos had just finished installing new printers when he came across an ad for the very same printer. It showed a sysadmin with a grateful group of employees showering him with fruit baskets and flowers and wine. As a joke, he showed the ad around, then created a website and began promoting sysadmin day.

The day has grown so popular that besides the website Kekatos still runs there are dozens of video tributes on YouTube. There’s even a musical.https://www.youtube.com/embed/M32SJ2GGX3Q?feature=oembed

Besides sending your sysadmin a Happy System Administrator Appreciation Day message, take a hint from Ted Kekatos and gift your admins with ice cream and cake, cookies (chocolate, naturally) or cases of Monster, Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew.


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Green Key