AVP & CTO Update October 9, 2018
Good morning colleagues
I hope you had a fantastic long weekend, celebrating Thanksgiving with your family and friends. There is so much for us to be thankful for – taking time to feel grateful can make the ordinary extraordinary in all aspects of our lives.
What I learned last week
- Most of last week I was in Ottawa at the CANARIE Summit, as my email from last week. It was a fascinating line up of speakers, focusing on the theme of ‘Automation Nation’, with much of the program exploring artificial intelligence and augmented reality. I jotted down a number of notes and ideas and references as I realized that there is a lot that I do not know about either AI or AR, and this area is developing so quickly. Here are a few highlights:
- Dr. Helen Papagiannis is an expert in AR and works with York U, and she demonstrated how AR is changing and becoming more common for everyday uses, and proving its societal promise. I found an interview with her on YouTube so you can get a feel for her research. She showed this Microsoft clip of software engineer Saqib Shaikh to help demonstrate some of the possibilities as well. Exciting…
- A really interesting session discussed the potential for computers to learn even creative capabilities – in this case it was to assist with lyrics and music writing. Researcher and musician Dr. Pablo Samuel Castro talked about teaching a computer to help write lyrics. He worked with David Usher from Moist. You can watch a clip to get a sense of this. Dr. Castro also presented a demonstration of he and an AI program working together to create music. It was a really interesting demonstration of collaborative AI.
- Alex Benay, CIO for the Government of Canada was a very entertaining speaker – very off the cuff and a bit brash – outlining the way in which the government is advancing its digitization approach, including trying to embrace AI for service delivery. He talked about some of the considerations the government to improve its approach to data and IT, while also ensuring privacy and data governance enhance rather than diminish the potential of moving to more access. It was really interesting. I found an IT World article and clip of him that was pretty close to his presentation, so you can watch him in action.
- One of the other reasons I was in Ottawa was to discuss a Canadian Shared Security Operations Centre initiative in Higher Ed. Along with our peers at UofT, UofA, Ryerson, UBC and McGill, McMaster is exploring participation in a proof of concept around a Shared SOC – we are calling it CanSSOC. We have colleagues in the US who have undertaken an initiative of this nature, called OmniSOC, and it will be an interesting security initiative. There will be more communication to share on this over the next couple of months.
- Paul Muir and I presented the latest IT Security update to the Audit Committee on Thursday AM. It included an update on the October Cyber Security Awareness Month activities: Paul and the UTS IT Security team are making themselves visible in MUSC this month. We also updated the committee on the various projects that the security team has been involved in: the Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), or Next generation firewall, project is complete and in action. Paul was able to share some of the statistics from its use: the system is blocking 12K+ attempts to access malicious websites per day, protecting against approximately 1K malware infections per day and preventing 10K – 200K intrusion attempts per day. I want to thank everyone involved in the implementation. And finally, we provided the latest risk report, which shows that we have also seen a decrease in vulnerability due to patching and updating efforts across campus – so thank you to all of you who are continuing to keep IT Security front of mind. It is a TEAM effort.
- The IT Executive met on Thursday of last week. Melissa Pool presented her initiative for a new exam scheduling system and it received endorsement from the committee. I also presented on the McMaster IT Strategic Plan. I received valuable feedback and will return to IT Exec in November to pursue their final endorsement.
- As many of you know, I presented the McMaster IT Strategic Plan on Friday AM through a Teams video meeting. The process went well and we recorded the session.I will be presenting at IT Forum this coming Friday, so we will not be posting the presentation at this time.
What I read last week
I am hooked and continue to work my way through Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, I do plan to read a few other books over the next couple of weeks to break it up…but…pure escapism:
- A Red Herring without Mustard
- Speaking from Among the Bones
What I am focused on this week
- I have a budget meeting first thing on Tuesday with Roger Couldrey and David Farrar, as well as Linda Coslovi, to prepare for our budget presentation.
- I am meeting with Kerri Moreno from IBM.
- Ranil Sonnadara and I have an update meeting.
- I have a meeting with Aaron Knowlton from EAB.
- On Wednesday I am participating in a CIOToronto event, which includes a technology tour of Communitech and The Perimeter Institute followed by a discussion about AI.
- Thursday is the IT Forum! The agenda looks amazing – thank you to everyone who is presenting and all who are participating. And of course, a great amount of thanks to our organizers. I will be presenting twice – first thing in the morning and then on a panel later in the day. Looking forward to seeing many of you there!
- I am out of the office on Friday as I will be back in Ottawa for a Cyber Security meeting with CSIS – the Academic Outreach division – along with my CIO peers from the rest of the U15 institutions.
That sums things up for now. I wish you all a wonderful week and look forward to seeing many of you on Thursday!