Wednesday, October 21, 2015

IBM Watson for China would power sales of POWER8 chips and servers

China becomes battleground between IBM and Intel for server business

According to an article in the New York Times entitled "IBM Venture With China Stirs Concerns," IBM is planning to provide a 100% Chinese server solution via a company called Beijing Teamsun Technology.  They are doing this through the OpenPOWER Foundation, an institution through which IBM is offering licenses to its POWER8 chip-and-server technology.  This has stirred some controversy.

Watson, IBM’s “cognitive computer,” originally ran on POWER7-based servers and has now been enhanced by running on POWER8-based systems.

A week ago, on October 14th, IBM announced that it was launching its Bluemix development platform in China, in collaboration with local firm 21Vianet.  “The open-standards-based Bluemix catalog includes over 120 tools and services spanning categories of big data, mobile, Watson, analytics, integration, DevOps, security and Internet of Things."

So it’s in IBM’s interest to release its Watson instances in China, and to help Chinese developers develop Watson-based apps using the Bluemix platform, since they’ll need POWER8-based servers to optimize their performance.  Does making Watson technology available to the Chinese threaten any vital American interests?  Will Watson be put to use by malicious Chinese hackers interested in penetrating American and other cyber-defenses?  IBM Watson Ecosystem partner SparkCognition has built a system using Watson to defend against cyber-intrusion.  Could similar Watson-powered programs be developed by the Chinese using IBM development tools to protect Chinese networks and data assets against American and other entities’ cyber-attacks?

According to an article in Forbes, IBM is making its inner workings transparent to the Chinese so that they (the Chinese) can be satisfied that the systems don’t contain malicious hardware, firmware, or software that would compromise Chinese national security.  Intel, its great competitor in the race to provide the Chinese digital infrastructure, has, according to this same article, refused to open the “black box” of its chip technology.

The Chinese developing indigenous server technology is not the only instance of the U.S. Government being deprived of potential access to others’ data.  Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, has been adamant in his stance that Apple product users’ data should be under their exclusive control, despite pleas by NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers to allow more access by government surveillance agencies.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Wells Fargo makes it clear that you have to update your expiration date when you get a new chip card

In order to increase the security with which card-mediated electronic transactions take place, the credit and debit card industry is transitioning from a swipe-only card form factor to a chip-and-swipe model.  Even if the main card number remains the same, the millions of newly-issued chip-and-swipe cards users will be getting contain new expiration dates.  In order to keep the virtual wheels of e-commerce humming, they’ll need to update these payment details with the merchants they do business with, according to Wells Fargo spokesperson Kristopher Dahl, who today told Etopia News:

“If you receive a newly issued chip card and you activate the chip card, your old card will no longer be active. You should update merchants with your new card information, including your new expiration date. This is the most reliable way of making sure the services you pay for by using your card will remain available.”

He added:

“Wells Fargo subscribes to the Visa® Account Updater Service (VAU). Wells Fargo provides the new/updated information to this service. Merchants have to subscribe to this service and not all merchants subscribe to it.  If the merchant subscribes to the VAU Service the merchant will receive this update but as a cardholder with a new card number or new expiration date, you should contact the merchant to make sure. Changes to your Card number as a result of a lost/stolen Card will not be provided to the Visa Account updater service if there is reported fraud on the Card number that is being replaced, and you must contact merchants to notify them of your new Card information. Because not all merchants or billing entities subscribe to the VAU Service, you should always notify each individual merchant of your new card information.  Please review your account statements for any additional merchants you may need to notify.”

Netflix recently blamed difficulties caused by this transition for lower-than-expected user growth, caused by “involuntary churn,” as you can read here.