If you’re planning to use AI in your business, be careful

Artificial intelligence is set to affect nearly 40% of all jobs, according to a new analysis by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

While that might sound like good news in terms of reducing your overheads, particularly payroll costs, there is a downside to using AI.

The IMF warns “The technology is facing increased regulation around the world. Last month, European Union officials reached a provisional deal on the world’s first comprehensive laws to regulate the use of AI.”

Generative AI is, put simply, AI that can quickly create new content, be it words, images, music or videos. And it can take an idea from one example, and apply it to an entirely different situation.

This has already led to court cases for copyright infringement as it is not possible to establish where the information generated has come from, usually multiple sources.

Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, says: “regulation and legal battles might cool off the current mania for generative AI.”


Beware new legislation if your business depends on online reviews and sales

As part of the digital markets, competition and consumers bill currently progressing through parliament, fake reviews and unavoidable hidden online charges – which cost consumers £2.2bn a year – are to be banned.

In future mandatory fees must be included in the headline price or at the start of the shopping process, including booking fees for cinema and train tickets.

According to a Guardian report: “drip pricing, where consumers are shown an initial cost only to find unavoidable fees added later, is widespread.

“More than half of entertainment providers, 56% of the hospitality industry, and 72% of the transport and communication sectors use the practice, according to the government.”

Which? also reports that “fake reviews on sites such as Amazon, Google and Trustpilot are still thriving on Facebook.

While it welcomed the announcement Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “Further action may be needed to tackle the range of sneaky pricing tactics used to bump up the advertised price in areas like flight bookings.”


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AI & Cyber Security

AI & Cyber Security

According to a survey by PWC 37% of the 3,900 companies they asked were worried that they were “highly or extremely exposed to cyber risks”.

While three fifths saw AI as a positive cyber and digital risks were top-of-mind in 2023, with those leaders responsible for managing risk ranking cyber higher than inflation.

More than ever, this emphasises the need for robust processes in business to guard against hacking and other cyber security risks.

This means ensuring that only those who need it have access to sensitive data.

It also means having a robust password system including regular changes and two factor authentication.

Plus, it is wise to ensure that all employees are trained to be security aware online and are kept regularly updated as new threats emerge.


AI – Friend or enemy?

The risks from AI should be treated as seriously as the climate crisis, according to one of the technology’s leading figures.

He was speaking ahead of a UK-hosted summit on the safety of AI due to be held on 1 and 2 November at Bletchley Park, the base for the code breakers in World War 2.

He was advocating the creation of a body similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Among the risks cited were “aiding the creation of bioweapons and the existential threat posed by super-intelligent systems.”

His call has been echoed by others including Eric Schmidt, the former Google chief executive, and Mustafa Suleyman, the co-founder of DeepMind.

While there is no denying the immense opportunities in the use of AI.

There is no denying that AI has its uses, particularly for routine tasks, freeing up human resources for more creative activity.

But it is a powerful tool and thus susceptible to abuse without proper regulation and oversight.

What do you think?


Where your documents are stored in the cloud is more important than you might think

We perhaps all take for granted our use of the hardware and software, data centres and communications networks that power modern business.

But differences in the laws in Europe and the USA are becoming an increasing cause for concern across the EU.

It is all about who controls the data.

Europe is heavily dependent on US firms for cloud services.

There are laws in the EU (GDPR) and UK to protect the privacy of data. But in the USA, the intelligence and law-enforcement services broad powers to access data.

At the moment Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google have a 65% share of the world cloud market between them.

But there are moves afoot to create what is being called Europe’s first “sovereign hyperscale cloud” thanks to €15m in seed funding and plans to build eight data centres in Europe in the next five years.

This will be managed by a Stockholm based company called Evroc.

There are 377 organisations participating in the Gaia-X project, which aims to join up cloud service providers in a federated system, so data can move between them while data owners remain in control.

Watch this space….


Copyright and AI

It had to happen eventually.

Writers, artists and others are realising that they need to protect themselves as it has become clearer that AI uses multiple sources to find the information people are using for research.

The information collected by AI is not attributed so it is impossible to know where it has come from.

According to a BBC investigation: “The new wave of generative AI systems are trained on vast amounts of data – text, images, video, and audio files, all scraped from the internet. Content can be created within seconds of a simple text prompt.”

There has been a growing number of lawsuits about the issue, including one by Getty Images earlier this year.

There clearly needs to be more regulation of the issue and artists and writers in particular are campaigning for copyright laws to be updated to reflect the new environment created by AI.

According to the BBC:

“The EU appears to be taking the lead, with the EU AI Act proposing that AI tools will have to disclose any copyrighted material used to train their systems.

In the UK, a global summit on AI safety will take place this autumn.”


Cyber criminals are increasingly using pictures for phishing

Cyber criminals are luring victims to click on images rather than downloading malicious files or clicking on suspicious links.

When you click on it, you don’t go to the real website, instead it is a fake site that is designed to steal your personal information.

Watch out for unexpected emails, particularly for bad spelling and grammar. Also watch out for emails from someone you don’t know and so-called offers that are too good to be true.

Faked branding that isn’t somehow quite right is another giveaway.

To protect your business from these types of scams make sure your staff are up to date on security protection and the latest scams.

Keep your IT and protection measures up to date.

Use strong passwords and limit them only to those who really need to know them.

Regularly back up data.


What is a circular economy?

If you are concerned about the environment and the effects of your business on the planet there is an interesting experiment being carried out in Amsterdam.

It is called the Circular Economy and its aim is to break the link between economic activity and using up the earth’s resources.

Currently being tried out in the clothing industry, where fast fashion has made it one of the most wasteful sectors, it involves reusing, repairing, and sharing materials and products.

Other industries that could become circular are food and organic waste streams, consumer goods, and the built environment.

In seven years’ time Amsterdam plans to have halved its use of new raw materials. By 2050, the ambition is to be fully circular – relying only on used and recycled materials.

It is an ambitious target but definitely one to watch.


Looking for a new laptop?

We came across this review in the Guardian for what looks to be a relatively affordable new laptop.

The Framework Laptop 13 is fixable and upgradeable and installed with Windows 11.

According to the review “the new parts are compatible with older machines. The laptop is thin, light and made of recycled aluminium. It looks and feels premium.”

Its screen has a matt, rather than a gloss, finish, reducing glare and reflections.

“The fixable and upgradeable premium Framework Laptop 13 has been improved all round for 2023 and is packed with small changes that are backwards compatible with older models.”

It has modular ports allowing the user to swap between any combination of USB-4/Thunderbolt 4, USB-A, HDMI, DisplayPort, ethernet, microSD and expandable storage drives.

It also runs cooler and has a higher-capacity battery that stores 11% more energy in the same physical size.

The Framework Laptop 13 is available as a pre-built, ready-to-use machine or in a DIY edition.

According to the reviewer it is “an excellent, adaptable and upgradable marvel suitable for more than just PC enthusiasts.”