Posts Tagged 'Risk Management'

Jun 142016

The boundary between machine capabilities and what once seemed uniquely human has certainly moved over the years, justifying concerns that the relatively new field of roboethics addresses. Roboethics goes beyond job losses and looks at the impact of robotization on society as a whole; that is the major topic here. (I will address job losses at the end.) An algorithm can be unethical in both obvious and subtle ways. It could be illegal, as may have been the case with Volkswagen’s engine management algorithms for its “clean” diesel engines. It could be unethical in the sense that it violates a sense of fair play. More subtly, an algorithm could take on decision-­making roles that a Read more

Mar 082016
Call for Papers: Can Algorithms be Ethical?

“We are rushing headlong into the robotics revolution without consideration for the many unforeseen problems lying around the corner. It is time now to step back and think hard about the future of the technology before it sneaks up and bites us when we are least expecting it.” – Noel Sharkey, Foundation for Responsible Robotics One of the more vexing issues of Sharkey’s robotics revolution requires hard thinking – whether or not the computing algorithms that underpin it are “ethical.” For example, what path should a self-driving car be programmed to take in the event it finds itself in a situation where it may either have to crash into a bus stop full of school Read more

May 142015

Cloud computing, data analytics, sensors and the Internet of Things, robotics, mobile and social computing, “super-intelligent” systems and advanced cognitive systems are merely a few of the technologies that have moved from the realm of being an interesting idea into the main stream. Just over the horizon are not only improvements to each of these technologies but also virtual/augmented reality systems, autonomous vehicles, private drones, 3D printing, quantum computing, gesture control systems and wearable computing, among others that promise to change our daily routines in a myriad of ways. High tech companies like to tout the many benefits of these technologies — for example, it is believed that moving to autonomous vehicles will not only Read more

Apr 242014
Process and Information Integration – a Matter of Life and Death?

I don’t want to act as the proverbial ambulance-chasing lawyer, but certain accidents lead me to shake my head about the ways in which we prevent effective action in matters of safety. I am specifically referring to the lack of end-to-end information and process integration we see in certain industries and activities. The tragedy of the South Korean ferry, the Sewol, which capsized last week, killing many people, brings this point home again. But this is not the only situation that comes to mind. Sunday marked the fourth anniversary of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Macondo prospect in the Gulf of Mexico. While there were many reasons for that tragedy, in Read more

Dec 152012
Agility, the Personal Cloud, and Complex Analytics on the Horizon

Predictions are always difficult in interesting times, because tomorrow’s concepts depend upon activity which has not yet occurred. We expected flying cars; we are getting autonomous cars.  In the 1950s, the computer revolution, robotics, GPS, and today’s traffic patterns would have been difficult to envision.  Today, we are seeing rapid evolution across Information and Communications Technology, affecting every component and every meme. But we can see the direction that some areas of recent concentration are likely to take. Concepts of Agility will continue to evolve, moving beyond specific processes such as Scrum toward more comprehensive programs capable of incorporating a wider variety of projects, under more conditions and supporting greater integration with governance. This can Read more

Nov 302012
The New Darlings of the Globe

It’s not going to be a pretty year ahead, unless you’re in the “doom and gloom” business. As one of the “risk guys,” I’m in a sweet spot for the year ahead, but I don’t think I have a lot of company. I believe a lot of businesses are going to retrench even more deeply, hoarding capital and waiting for some semblance of stability in terms of business regulation. I don’t believe that stability will be forthcoming, which means that the money that has been holed up for several years now will begin to find its way off shore. This makes for an interesting year ahead for the folks outside the States and outside the Read more

Feb 172011

Some argue that a cyber-Armageddon — or a “digital Pearl Harbor” — may be just around the corner, while others counter that while cybersecurity needs to be taken seriously, the overall cyberthreat and its consequences are vastly overblown and are merely a convenient excuse to sell over-priced security software and consulting. The May 2011 Cutter IT Journal will try to separate the wheat from the chaff as pertains to security threats from current and potential cyberweapons. Proposals of interest are due 2 March 2011. To respond, please visit

Jan 112011

Risk management is a formal process owned by senior executives responsible for keeping everyone safe and sound day and night. They report to internal and external audit committees or, actually, prefer to avoid any and all interaction with audit folks since even a casual discussion with auditors can result in a boatload of work for entire teams of already overworked professionals. So what do they audit and how is risk assessed? Most risks are the standard fare. If the audit tells you that your disaster recovery plans are inadequate, then the company will be placed at risk. If your wireless networks are insecure, then the risk bells will go off. If your change-control processes are Read more

Oct 052010

There are no computer systems that are “too important to fail.” Failure, as any competent engineer will tell you, is always an option. Yet modern societies increasingly depend on systems to be foolproof. Electrical grids, air traffic control, automobile control, and medical equipment are all life-critical systems, and none of us wants to depend on life-critical systems with a high failure rate. Nobody wants to trust a large portion of his life savings to a financial trading system that is subject to unpredictable failure either. The same is true of the Internet itself. What we need to do is take a step back and study the design, architecture, and feedback control of these systems. Without Read more

Sep 212010

The worst mistake is not telling the boss. Or so said an article a few years ago in the Washington Post about the importance of immediately disclosing problems or mistakes to your boss.1 I am a great believer in this idea as well, which is part of what the late management theorist and practitioner Peter Drucker called “information responsibility.” Without knowing the true state of play, it is pretty difficult to manage enterprise risk effectively.2 This Washington Post article came to mind again as I read a Bloomberg News article last week dealing with the roots of the financial meltdown,3 as well as from a recent coincidental conversation I had with a friend of mine Read more