The advances of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are driving discussions of technology’s threat to humankind into the mainstream. Science Fiction classics like The Terminator and 2001: A Space Odyssey depict rogue, fully sentient AI turning against their inventors. The question on everyone’s mind though, is if these Sci-Fi classics are foreshadowing real, scientific potentials. Recently, the European Union proposed AI regulation aimed at reducing the likelihood of events such as these occurring. The bill would require AI developers and users of “high-risk” AI systems to keep detailed records, increase internal transparency, and comply with data safety regulations. The question, though, is whether regulation like this is necessary and if it will be implemented in the US.
The risks of AI have been widely discussed, with excessive job automation concerning some and the potential risks to human freedoms and safety piquing the interest of others. Keeping in mind, even the most mundane project can experience issues when the time is not taken to determine the intent versus the actual impact. We will continue see jobs automated, but the drastic, sci-fi-esque future of an AI takeover is still that of imagination. As we progress towards a future where more jobs are being automated, we may experience a point where labor is less of an individual necessity.
However, because of how quickly AI technology is advancing, we should be considering the ramifications of this potentially dangerous technology, now. As mentioned in our article about AI bias, machine learning has other potential dangers that need to be managed. As AI is an incredibly impactful technology, even minor biases can have massive real-world impacts. Additionally, as AI does advance to a stage where it becomes a potential threat, we need to have regulations and safety measures in place to be ready for the risk.
The consensus is that AI needs to be regulated, but simultaneously, explored and tested. Being one of the most promising and revolutionary technologies, it could be harmful to heavily hamper its development; even in exchange for regulations that could prove beneficial. The challenge becomes planning for what can’t possibly be imagined. The US is currently discussing what that regulation might look like here; they will need to find a cohesive balance between safety and innovation that will optimally support our country into the future.
Congratulations! You’ve been promoted to team lead. You have demonstrated that you are responsible, motivated, and trustworthy enough to lead. This is the role you’ve worked so hard to achieve, and you want to do it right. Here are three actions you should take immediately to ensure that your leadership is a success.
1) Get to know your team
You may be eager to jump right in to work in your new role, but don’t forget this incredibly important step. Get to know your team and encourage them to get to know each other as well. This will help you get a better feel for each individuals’ goals and work style and will allow you to be not only a more effective, but a more empathetic leader. This might mean planning a retreat, doing team building exercises, hosting virtual happy hours, or simply checking in with your team members to see how they’re doing at the start of meetings. Throughout this process, you should also allow your team members to get to know you and your values, goals, and expectations.
2) Get Organized
As team leader, you will have many new responsibilities – from motivating your team to keeping detailed reports of projects. It is easy to become overwhelmed at first, but you’ve got this! Start by defining the team goals, and from there you can work on delegating responsibilities, developing a timeline and checklist, and setting up a strong communication network. Which brings us to number three…
The importance of communication early in the game cannot be stressed enough. Often when conflicts arise in teams, they could have been avoided by better communication. Take the time to check in with your team members and make sure that everyone is on the same page. When in doubt, over-communicate. Setting up a foundation of open communication will help to avoid misunderstandings and poor outcomes later on.
Being a team leader comes with many responsibilities, but also many opportunities. This role will take your career to an exciting new level, but it’s normal for you to be a little nervous, after all it shows that you care. You’ve worked hard to get to this point and have proven that you’re up for the task. Well done for all your hard work! Taking these three initial steps on becoming team lead will set you up for success.
Traditionally, parental leave was seen as a “mother’s issue”, but not anymore. Paternal leave is becoming increasingly more common, and it’s a good thing for everyone. Here are some reasons why new dads should take paternity leave. Additionally, while this article focuses primarily on fathers in heterosexual relationships, it’s important to acknowledge that there are many other kinds of families, and that they all benefit from more family leave.
Better relationships with spouse and children
Paternal leave can have powerful, positive effects on families. Paternal leave allows fathers to be bigger parts of their children's lives from the very beginning. Studies have shown that dads having a more active role in parenting leads to better behavioral, social, and psychological outcomes for the children. Paternity leave has also been shown to strengthen romantic partnerships, and even correlates with lower divorce rates. When both parents are able to take time off, they learn together how to navigate the new responsibilities of parenthood. This builds trust, understanding, and sets up a strong foundation for their relationship as partners and co-parents.
Improved gender equality in the workplace
It’s well-known that women, on average, earn less than men and that this wage gap is especially large for women of color. A contributing factor is that women disproportionately are driven out of the workforce due to caregiving. This also contributes to hiring bias. Employers may subconsciously choose a man over a woman expecting that the man will have fewer responsibilities at home, and therefore have better availability for work. Normalizing paternal leave will help to level the playing field at work. Additionally, research shows that with every additional month of parental leave taken by the father, the mother’s earnings increase by about 7%. And mothers whose spouses take paternal leave tend to return to work more quickly.
Help fight the stigma that caregiving is a female responsibility
The idea that keeping house is a woman’s responsibility is obviously problematic and outdated. Caregiving is valuable and rewarding for people of all genders. In fact, qualities that are often strengthened during caregiving like empathy and patience are also qualities of great leaders at work. Studies have shown that dads who take paternity leave continue to have a greater role in housework and childcare long after they return to work, which not only contributes to better equality and satisfaction at home but leads to them being more well-rounded individuals.
Better work-life balance
Half of fathers say that they have missed out on important milestones and events in their children’s life because of work conflicts. Dads who take paternity leave often report better job satisfaction. Better job satisfaction allows them to be more productive at work and home. They also frequently report that the time they spend at home is very fulfilling. While on leave, they don’t have to worry about missing out on important parenting moments. Paternity leave gives them the time they need to establish routines and get used to parenting, so it’s not quite as overwhelming once they go back to work.
What prevents fathers from taking it?
Now that we’ve talked about the benefits of paternal leave, it’s important to talk about why not everyone takes it. Some of the main reasons are economic pressures and stigma.
In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows up to 12 weeks of job-protected (but unpaid) leave for specific family and medical reasons. Of course, with no source of income it can be a challenge for parents to take much time off. Some parents even report fear of losing their jobs over taking too much time off. That's why paid family and medical leave (PFML) is crucial. Many people are working to expand paid family leave and allow both mothers and fathers to take time off to raise their family without penalty. Celebrities like Chance the Rapper, Anne Hathaway, and John Legend are even joining the fight.
The old-fashioned idea that men are supposed to be the sole breadwinners of the family may be outdated, but it still leads many men to feel as though they shouldn’t take time off for family. What’s more, just 26% of managers encourage men to take leave. But choosing to take paternal leave, even if it is not already encouraged, is a huge step fathers can take in breaking the stigma. 73% of fathers believe there is little support for fathers in the workplace, and 72% of men said they would have taken longer parental leave if they had seen their co-workers do so. Being brave enough to push for paternal leave at companies where it’s not already offered will help employers understand that it’s something employees value, and this is a huge step toward changing the culture. Plus, because companies that offer paternal leave generally have happier and more productive employees, it is beneficial to the companies as well.
Taking paternal leave improves dads’ relationships with their children and spouse, leads to a better work-life balance, enables better gender quality at home and in the workplaces, and even benefits companies by creating happier and more productive employees. However, it’s not always accessible and there is a stigma surrounding it. If paternity leave is offered at your company, you should take it. If it’s not, we greatly encourage you to push for it.
With data and company processes moving more and more online, cybersecurity is one of the most important things for your company. However, as the actions of every employee influence a company’s overall security, it’s important to make sure your system is secure from the bottom up. Even though an individual’s mistake could result in a data breach, employees shouldn’t be blamed; it’s each company’s job to adequately train its employees in cybersecurity.
First, it’s important that employee training is a priority for the company. You could have the best training practices in the world, but if the manpower and time aren’t allotted, you’re not going to get good results. A company’s cybersecurity is only as strong as its weakest link, and often, that’s an untrained employee. Second, as a part of onboarding and routine training, you should highlight cybersecurity as a priority. These days, cybersecurity is almost as important as the job an employee is tasked with and should be thought of as a necessary part of training.
So with that out of the way, what does a company really need to teach its employees? First, it’s crucial to teach good password security habits and best practices. It helps to use longer and more complex passwords, but ultimately, it’s best to use a service such as LastPass or 1Password. Such services auto generate individual, incredibly complex passwords for each of your accounts, locked behind one, the long and complex password you can remember. This ensures that your accounts are incredibly difficult to attack via brute-force, and if they do get hacked, each account will be separately secured.
Next, it’s important to train employees to understand and notice social engineering attacks. If all of your employee’s passwords are secure, the only way for a potential attacker to compromise your system would be to phish or get those passwords from the employees themselves. Spoofed emails, URLs, and websites are becoming more common and are used to perform man-in-the-middle attacks. Your employees could think they’re merely signing into a work account but could really be sending their passwords directly to bad actors. Infosec recommends these 5 simple steps to combat phishing and social engineering attacks:
- Confirm sender email or phone number
- Make sure the email format is professional
- Make a phone call to the sender before fulfilling a strange request (just to make sure nothing is fishy)
- Hover over links to verify their authenticity
- Don’t click on attachments from unverified sources
Finally, to make sure your training is working and to give your employees real experience, it’s recommended to perform live, simulated attacks. There are many vendors that will perform such attacks for you or you could perform them in-house. Drills like this will help your company learn progressively how to deal with social engineering attacks and could be crucial in reinforcing your training.
Cybersecurity, overall, is one of the most important aspects of employee training right now. With frequent news stories coming out about data breaches, your company’s cybersecurity is also an aspect of your public relations. A large-scale data breach could tarnish your company’s record and lose future clients or customers. To combat these malicious attacks, you must train your employees better and with a focus on cybersecurity awareness.
A blockchain, simply, is a decentralized, public ledger of transactions. This technology can be used for cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and many other applications currently swirling around the web. However, one ongoing problem in blockchain technology is how to deal with security. Currently, many of the most popular cryptocurrencies use the technique Proof of Work (PoW). To validate any transaction, several third-party computers, “nodes,” in the system have to solve a cryptographic puzzle then verify the transaction as legitimate. This way, nodes must be at least somewhat powerful to ensure an individual doesn’t create thousands and thousands of virtual systems to verify false transactions, these nodes are then rewarded for their effort with small amounts of generated cryptocurrency.
There are serious problems with this technique, however. Because such a system incentivizes individuals to sink more and more power into verifying these transactions, significant pollution and waste can be produced. According to an article by Investopedia, “By the latest estimates, the bitcoin network uses as much energy in one year as the country of Argentina … accounts for about 35.95 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year—about the same amount as New Zealand.” These insane figures show both the size of the cryptocurrency industry, but also how surprisingly damaging it is.
There’s also another source of waste produced by the blockchain, Ewaste. As crypto “mining” becomes more and more popular, more specialized hardware is being produced to increase efficiency. However, due to their specificity, it’s almost impossible to repurpose these circuits which then, after obsoletion, simply become waste. Additionally, because in the PoW protocol verification power is directly related to computational power, a potential attacker would only need 51% of the network’s computational power to verify a false transaction.
One potential and increasingly popular solution is the Proof of Stake (PoS) mechanism. Instead of relying on cryptographic puzzles and computational power, PoS distributes mining and verification by the usage of total coins a miner holds. This way the high computational power and electrical requirements plummet because the system doesn’t inherently require them. Additionally, as an attacker would need to acquire 51% of total coins in the system in order to create a fraudulent block, these assaults would be practically impossible. Even if an individual or group was able to obtain 51% of the total coins in a network, it would no longer be in their interest to perform such an attack.
This greener and more secure solution is slowly being adopted by new cryptocurrencies. In an NBC article published in May, Polygon, Tezos, Polkadot, and EOS are all cited as coins that have implemented PoS mechanisms. Additionally, Etherium 2.0, a supposed successor to the wildly popular Etherium, will use PoS. The main problem, though, is that it’s immensely difficult for an established PoW cryptocurrency to transition to PoS. And as Bitcoin is by far the most popular cryptocurrency right now, it may take a while for the crypto community to transition to a more sustainable future.
Please Note: The information discussed in this article is relatively new and encapsulated within a continuously evolving field. Some information may be outdated by the time of reading and some new information or ideas may be unmentioned. Look out for follow-up articles and updates from us regarding this subject in the near future!