two giants of AI team up to prevent the robot apocalypse

THERE’S NOTHING NEW about worrying that superintelligent machines may endanger humanity, but the idea has lately become hard to avoid.

A spurt of progress in artificial intelligence as well as comments by figures such as Bill Gates—who declared himself “in the camp that is concerned about superintelligence”—have given new traction to nightmare scenarios featuring supersmart software. Now two leading centers in the current AI boom are trying to bring discussion about the dangers of smart machines down to Earth. Google’s DeepMind, the unit behind the company’s artificial Go champion, and OpenAI, the nonprofit lab funded in part by Tesla’s Elon Musk, have teamed up to make practical progress on a problem they argue has attracted too many headlines and too few practical ideas: How do you make smart software that doesn’t go rogue?

“If you’re worried about bad things happening, the best thing we can do is study the relatively mundane things that go wrong in AI systems today,” says Dario Amodei, a curly-haired researcher on OpenAI’s small team working on AI safety. „That seems less scary and a lot saner than kind of saying, ‘You know, there’s this problem that we might have in 50 years.’” OpenAI and DeepMind contributed to a position paper last summer calling for more concrete workon near-term safety challenges in AI.

A new paper from the two organizations on a machine learning system that uses pointers from humans to learn a new task, rather than figuring out its own—potentially unpredictable—approach, follows through on that. Amodei says the project shows it’s possible to do practical work right now on making machine learning systems less able to produce nasty surprises. (The project could be seen as Musk’s money going roughly where his mouth has already been; in a 2014 appearance at MIT, he described work on AI as “summoning the demon.”)

None of DeepMind’s researchers were available to comment, but spokesperson Jonathan Fildes wrote in an email that the company hopes the continuing collaboration will inspire others to work on making machine learning less likely to misbehave. “In the area of AI safety, we need to establish best practices that are adopted across as many organizations as possible,” he wrote.

The first problem OpenAI and DeepMind took on is that software powered by so-called reinforcement learning doesn’t always do what its masters want it to do—and sometimes kind of cheats. The technique, which is hot in AI right now, has software figure out a task by experimenting with different actions and sticking with those that maximize a virtual reward or score, meted out by a piece of code that works like a mathematical motivator. It was instrumental to the victory of DeepMind’s AlphaGo over human champions at the board game Go, and is showing promise in making robots better at manipulating objects.

But crafting the mathematical motivator, or reward function, such that the system will do the right thing is not easy. For complex tasks with many steps, it’s mind-bogglingly difficult—imagine trying to mathematically define a scoring system for tidying up your bedroom—and even for seemingly simple ones results can be surprising. When OpenAI set a reinforcement learning agent to play boat racing game CoastRunners, for example, it surprised its creators by figuring out a way to score points by driving in circles rather than completing the course.

DeepMind and OpenAI’s solution is to have reinforcement learning software take feedback from human trainers instead, and use their input to define its virtual reward system. They hired contractors to give feedback to AI agents via an interface that repeatedly asks which of two short video clips of the AI agent at work is closest to the desired behavior.

This simple simulated robot, called a Hopper, learned to do a backflip after receiving 900 of those virtual thumbs-up verdicts from the AI trainers while it tried different movements. With thousands of bits of feedback, a version of the system learned to play Atari games such as Pong and got to be better than a human player at the driving game Enduro. Right now this approach requires too much human supervision to be very practical at eliciting complex tasks, but Amodei says results already hint at how this could be a powerful way to make AI systems more aligned with what humans want of them.

It took less than an hour of humans giving feedback to get Hopper to land that backflip, compared to the two hours it took an OpenAI researcher to craft a reward function that ultimately produced a much less elegant flip. “It looks super awkward and kind of twitchy,” says Amodei. “The backflip we trained from human feedback is better because what’s a good backflip is kind of an aesthetic human judgment.” You can see how complex tasks such as cleaning your home might also be easier to specify correctly with a dash of human feedback than with code alone.


Making AI systems that can soak up goals and motivations from humans has emerged as a major theme in the expanding project of making machines that are both safe and smart. For example, researchers affiliated with UC Berkeley’s Center for Human-Compatible AI are experimenting with getting robots such as autonomous cars or home assistants to take advice or physical guidance from people. “Objectives shouldn’t be a thing you just write down for a robot; they should actually come from people in a collaborative process,” says Anca Dragan, coleader of the center.

She hopes the idea can catch on in the industry beyond DeepMind and OpenAI’s explorations, and says companies already run into problems that might be prevented by infusing some human judgement into AI systems. In 2015, Google hurriedly tweaked its photo recognition service after it tagged photos of black people as gorillas.

Longer term, Amodei says, spending the next few years working on making existing, modestly smart machine learning systems more aligned with human goals could also lay the groundwork for our potential future face-off with superintelligence. “When, someday, we do face very powerful AI systems, we can really be experts in how to make them interact with humans,” he says. If it happens, perhaps the first superintelligent machine to open its electronic eyes will gaze at us with empathy.

Original Source from:

Take Down Request by the Spiegel Germany Online

Dear Spiegel Online (

Never before in the existence of this personal blog (since 2011 – the day Steve Jobs died) have we received an article take down request where a correctly quoted article that we posted was requested to be taken down AND a website wanted money for the max. 1-2 hours that we had the article online.

Our vision: We create Innovation, enable exchange and try to give the best ideas to the world by always correctly quoting them.

By following take down requests immediately (yesterday it took us 10 minutes between their email at 14.47 and us having it taken down fully at 14.57) we comply with the internet rule-set of respecting other wishes fully. As a consequence we have never encountered any troubles with anyone and we would like to keep that this way.

Since June 19th 2017. Then it happenend: German Online Newspaper The Spiegel, head of law department Jan Siegel, requested the take down of the cooperational column written by internet activist Sascha Lobo that we thought would fit perfectly to the innovational approach on our website. We are not sure if we can post the link to the article but as a reference here it goes:

We are deeply sorry that we cannot feature Sascha Lobo anymore, although he states on his website that his texts can be used under the Creative Commons Licence when correctly quoted by naming him as author and with the URL provided and most importantly unchanged. That’s what we did and now “The Spiegel” tries to money punish us with this?

So the authors rights are diminished by the newspapers rights?
Does anybody understand German author rights?
The author explicitly states on his website „Die Texte (mit Ausnahme der Kommentare durch Dritte) stehen sämtlich unter der Creative Commons-Lizenz (CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 DE).“
In our understanding this means that you can use the text under the Creative Commons Licence for free when being private like here at So that the newspaper later cannot deny this and cannot punish you with money requests for literally a handful article impressions?

We hope to be able to resolve this matter in a friendly and respectful way with the Spiegel as we state here clearly no harm done, no harm will be done in the future, and please state clearly on your website which author (or internet activist as with Sascha Lobo) allows the usage of his texts on any internet website.

Your thankfully

Macron, May, Merkel – weakening encryption and making messengers (whatsapp) vulnerable leads to data security catastrophes

In weakening strong encryption by weakening software like Android or IOS operating System (subroutines, inlays, essentials) in order to enable mass surveillance you the leaders of Europe risk the data security of thousands of Europe companies. Is it worth it?

Even Microsoft is now warning that the government practice of “stockpiling” software vulnerabilities so that they can be used as weapons is a misguided tactic that weakens security for everybody.

“An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen,” the company said Sunday.

Why are you doing this? Hopefully not for the need to give information in order to receive from the USA?

epa05989737 French President Emmanuel Macron (L) talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) as US President Donald J. Trump (C) walks by, during a line up for the group photo at the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, 25 May 2017. NATO countries‘ heads of states and governments gather in Brussels for a one-day meeting. EPA/ARMANDO BABANI

You saw and recognised and understood WannaCry that affected thousands of companies throuout Europe?

The vulnerability in Windows that WannaCry takes advantage of was discovered by the NSA for its surveillance toolkit. But word got out when a hacker group known as the Shadow Brokers dumped a bunch of leaked NSA information onto the Internet in April. Microsoft, however, had already issued a software update the month before; those that downloaded and installed the patch were protected from WannaCry, but many others lagged behind and became victims.

Google introduces an ad blocker to Chrome – Filtering – Censorship?

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Google will introduce an ad blocker to Chrome early next year and is telling publishers to get ready.

The warning is meant to let websites assess their ads and strip any particularly disruptive ones from their pages. That’s because Chrome’s ad blocker won’t block all ads from the web. Instead, it’ll only block ads on pages that are determined to have too many annoying or intrusive advertisements, like videos that autoplay with sound or interstitials that take up the entire screen.

Sridhar Ramaswamy, the executive in charge of Google’s ads, writes in a blog post that even ads “owned or served by Google” will be blocked on pages that don’t meet Chrome’s guidelines.

Instead of an ad “blocker,” Google is referring to the feature as an ad “filter,” according toThe Wall Street Journal, since it will still allow ads to be displayed on pages that meet the right requirements. The blocker will work on both desktop and mobile.

Google is providing a tool that publishers can run to find out if their sites’ ads are in violation and will be blocked in Chrome. Unacceptable ads are being determined by a group called the Coalition for Better Ads, which includes Google, Facebook, News Corp, and The Washington Post as members.

Google shows publishers which of their ads are considered disruptive.

The feature is certain to be controversial. On one hand, there are huge benefits for both consumers and publishers. But on the other, it gives Google immense power over what the web looks like, partly in the name of protecting its own revenue.

First, the benefits: bad ads slow down the web, make the web hard and annoying to browse, and have ultimately driven consumers to install ad blockers that remove all advertisements no matter what. A world where that continues and most users block all ads looks almost apocalyptic for publishers, since nearly all of your favorite websites rely on ads to stay afloat. (The Verge, as you have likely noticed, included.)

By implementing a limited blocking tool, Google can limit the spread of wholesale ad blocking, which ultimately benefits everyone. Users get a better web experience. And publishers get to continue using the ad model that’s served the web well for decades — though they may lose some valuable ad units in the process.

There’s also a good argument to be made that stripping out irritating ads is no different than blocking pop ups, which web browsers have done for years, as a way to improve the experience for consumers.

But there are drawbacks to building an ad blocker into Chrome: most notably, the amount of power it gives Google. Ultimately, it means Google gets to decide what qualifies as an acceptable ad (though it’s basing this on standards set collectively by the Coalition for Better Ads). That’s a good thing if you trust Google to remain benign and act in everyone’s interests. But keep in mind that Google is, at its core, an ad company. Nearly 89 percent of its revenue comes from displaying ads.

The Chrome ad blocker doesn’t just help publishers, it also helps Google maintain its dominance. And it advantages Google’s own ad units, which, it’s safe to say, will not be in violation of the bad ad rules.

This leaves publishers with fewer options to monetize their sites. And given that Chrome represents more than half of all web browsing on desktop and mobile, publishers will be hard pressed not to comply.

Google will also include an option for visitors to pay websites that they’re blocking ads on, through a program it’s calling Funding Choices. Publishers will have to enable support for this feature individually. But Google already tested a similar feature for more than two years, and it never really caught on. So it’s hard to imagine publishers seeing what’s essentially a voluntary tipping model as a viable alternative to ads.

Ramaswamy says that the goal of Chrome’s ad blocker is to make online ads better. “We believe these changes will ensure all content creators, big and small, can continue to have a sustainable way to fund their work with online advertising,” he writes.

And what Ramaswamy says is probably true: Chrome’s ad blocker likely will clean up the web and result in a better browsing experience. It just does that by giving a single advertising juggernaut a whole lot of say over what’s good and bad.

Freaks – die wahren Helden – die Disruptoren der neuen Arbeitswelt – die Querdenker als neue Elite

Irgendwie ist der neue Mitarbeiter doch ein Spinner, sichtbar tätowiert oder ein echter Comupter-Nerd? Gewöhnen Sie sich an das Ungewöhnliche, denn laut Experten sind gerade die sogenannten „Freaks“ die besten Führungskräfte und schon bald werden dies auch die deutschen Unternehmen erkennen. Da kann es gut sein, dass Ihr neuer Chef in Kürze irgendwie „anders“ ist. Doch was hat es eigentlich mit den Freaks auf sich und wieso taugen sie besser zur Führungskraft als der 08/15-Mitarbeiter?

Sind Freaks die besseren Führungskräfte?
Traut Euch, anders zu sein

1. Deutsche Unternehmen setzen auf den angepassten Durchschnitt
2. Wonach suchen deutsche Unternehmen ihre Führungskräfte aus?
3. Wer ist eigentlich ein „Freak“?
4. Die Schwächen sind das Problem
5. Wie können Peak Performer integriert werden?
6. Für welche Unternehmen eignen sich die Spiky Leaders?

Deutsche Unternehmen setzen auf den angepassten Durchschnitt

Bislang halten die deutschen Führungsetagen keine großen Überraschungen bereit: Angepasste Anzugträger tummeln sich in den leitenden Positionen, hier und da eine Frau – aber nicht zu viele. Tatsächlich suchen die meisten deutschen Unternehmen für ihre Führungspositionen nach angepassten und leistungswilligen Mitarbeitern. Wieso? Weil Sie kein Risiko darstellen, Beständigkeit versprechen und ein hohes Maß an Zuverlässigkeit. Der Durchschnitt bringt es deshalb im Beruf am weitesten.

Freaks hingegen feiern eher als Selbstständige ihre Erfolge und stellen da schon einmal die gewohnten Marktmechanismen auf den Kopf.

Doch wieso machen sich die deutschen Unternehmen eigentlich nichts aus eben dieser Fähigkeit? Aus den Querdenkern, Risikofreudigen und wahren Genies? Echte Talente und herausragende Stärken, das sollte eine Führungskraft mitbringen. Da sind sich zumindest viele Experten einig…

Wonach suchen deutsche Unternehmen ihre Führungskräfte aus?

Eine bei Statista veröffentlichte Umfrage gibt hierauf wenig überraschende Antworten: Demnach erachten 100 Prozent aller befragten Unternehmen die Kommunikationsfähigkeit als besonders wichtig für eine Führungskraft. 99 Prozent setzen zudem auf eine hohe Motivation, 98 Prozent auf bereits erbrachte Leistungen im Unternehmen.

Statistik: Erachten Sie folgende Eigenschaften bei Führungskräften als wichtig? | Statista
Mehr Statistiken finden Sie bei Statista

Die Personalberaterin Uta von Boyen kennst sich bestens mit dem Thema aus: Nach Allroundern werde gesucht, Beständigkeit und Mittelmaß. Schul- und Hochschulnoten, Assessment-Center und normierte Lebensläufe seien die Auswahlkriterien für neue Mitarbeiter und Führungskräfte müssen in erster Linie leistungsbereit sein. Es ist das Prinzip „Befehl und Gehorsam“, das in vielen Unternehmen in den Führungsetagen ausgeübt wird – welches jedoch eigentlich in der modernen Wirtschaft nichts mehr verloren hätte. Denn in den immer schneller werdenden Zeiten der Globalisierung und Digitalisierung müssen Unternehmen auf neuartige Geschäftsstrategien setzen, um dauerhaft gegen die nunmehr weltweite Konkurrenz bestehen zu können. Und hierfür, so Uta von Boyen, seien gerade Freaks die besseren Führungskräfte.

Wer ist eigentlich ein „Freak“?

Als „Freak“ in diesem Sinne bezeichnen die Experten alle jene Mitarbeiter, die aus dem üblichen Rahmen fallen. Es handelt sich um Querdenker, Menschen mit Spezialbegabungen und ausgeprägter Persönlichkeit. Freaks bringen Unruhe in ein Unternehmen, fungieren als Visionäre und haben häufig Schwierigkeiten damit, sich in die gegebenen Strukturen einzufügen. Sie werden deshalb auch „Peak Performer“ oder „Spiky Leaders“ genannt. Es sind eben jene Menschen, die unangepasst arbeiten, neue Ideen hervorbringen und ebenso herausragende Stärken wie eben auch Schwächen mitbringen.

Die Schwächen sind das Problem

Genau hierin liegt aber das Hauptproblem der Unternehmen mit den Peak Performern: Sie haben Schwächen. Und Schwächen werden in der modernen Arbeitswelt nicht geduldet. Der Sinn steht daher stets nach der möglichen Minimierung der Schwächen anstelle der Förderung von Stärken.

Die scheinbar besten Mitarbeiter sehen die Unternehmen deshalb in angepassten „General Managern“. Ein Prozess, der bereits in den Schulen beginnt, ja mancherorts sogar im Kindergarten oder der Vorschule. Wer aus dem Rahmen fällt, erhält Nachhilfeunterricht oder gilt als schwer erziehbar. Die scheinbaren ADHS-Fälle nehmen immer weiter zu, nur weil ein Kind keine acht Stunden ruhig in der Schulbank sitzt. Wer besondere Begabungen oder originelles Denken mitbringt wird nicht weiter gefördert. Stattdessen wird der Unterricht starr durchgezogen und die Schüler auf die goldene Mitte eingeebnet. Wieso? Weil der Durchschnitt den Weg des geringsten Widerstands bedeutet.

Spiky Leaders hingegen, müssen mit viel Aufwand in ein Unternehmen integriert werden, sollten diese nicht bereits desillusioniert und demotiviert aus der Schul- und Hochschullaufbahn herauskommen. Dabei hat uns die Geschichte immer wieder gelehrt, dass gerade diese Peak Performer einen hohen Wert für die Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft haben. Sie haben in der Vergangenheit gar immer wieder das Überleben der Menschheit gesichert, da sind sich Historiker und Evolutionsbiologen einig. Und hätten Sie Steve Jobs nicht auch zu Beginn seiner Laufbahn als echten Freak wahrgenommen?

Wie können Peak Performer integriert werden?

Das größte Problem darin, die außergewöhnlichen Begabungen der Peak Performer in einem Unternehmen zu nutzen, liegt also in ihrer erfolgreichen Integration in das Unternehmen. Hierfür muss es seine Führungsstrukturen überdenken und neue Konzepte erstellen. Spiky Leaders funktionieren meist in kleinen Teams am besten, wo sie mit dem angepassten Durchschnitt zusammenarbeiten können. Ein Unternehmen funktioniert nämlich ebenso wenig nur mit „Freaks“ als ganz ohne. Es geht also um eine effiziente Zusammenarbeit zwischen Peak Performer und 08/15-Mitarbeiter. Die Zusammensetzung dieser gemischten Teams ist eine wahre Herausforderung, zumal die Unangepassten häufig menschlich schwierig sind, als „stachelig“ wahrgenommen werden. Dadurch bringen sie aber eine positive Dynamik in jedes Team und eine produktivere Arbeitsatmosphäre. Dynamiken bringen schließlich Ergebnisse hervor – Stillstand nicht. Es gilt also, die Organisationsform eines Unternehmens der Integration von Peak Performern anzupassen:

  • Feste Strukturen müssen aufgelockert werden.
  • Der Spiky Leader muss individuelle Freiräume genießen.
  • Seine Talente und Stärken müssen effizient gefördert und gezielt eingesetzt werden.
  • Die Schwächen der Peak Performer gilt es frühzeitig aufzufangen.

Für welche Unternehmen eignen sich die Spiky Leaders?

Es geht nun nicht darum, dass jedes Unternehmen in jedem Team mindestens einen Spiky Leader besetzt. Im Gegenteil: Ob ein Peak Performer für Ihr Unternehmen geeignet ist, wer, wie viele und in welcher Position, das hängt von Ihrer jeweiligen Organisationsform sowie der strategischen Ausrichtung des Unternehmens ab. Häufig sind Peak Performer gerade in in geringer Anzahl auf wichtigen Schlüsselpositionen gut besetzt. Zudem sollte stets nur höchstens ein „Freak“ pro Team eingesetzt werden. Allerdings ist die Akzeptanz der Peak Performer in einem Team nicht immer einfach und sie stellen damit ein hohes Risiko dar. Ein Risiko, welches bislang nur die wenigsten Unternehmen bereit sind einzugehen. Wer jedoch bereits jetzt begreift, dass ganzheitliche Führung in Zukunft auch auf Querdenker nicht verzichten kann, ist der Konkurrenz in der Globalisierung einen großen Schritt voraus.

Was denken Sie von den Peak Performern? Haben Sie bereits Erfahrungen mit ihnen gemacht oder würden Sie sich vielleicht sogar selbst als einen solchen bezeichnen? Es ist und bleibt ein spannendes Thema…

Martin Casado who sold his startup for $1.26 billion tells grads to ‚get good at‘ failure

Martin Casado is a legend in his corner of the tech world for inventing a technology that radically alters the way computer networks are built.

He invented the tech while he was a doctoral student at Stanford. He took that invention and two of the professors advising him, Nick McKeown from Stanford and Scott Shenker from the University of California, Berkeley — legends in their own right — and founded a startup. It was called Nicira, and it was backed by venture capitalists like Andreessen Horowitz’s a16z.

„Nicira launched into the networking industry like a cannonball hitting placid water,“ Marc Andreessen, the founder of a16z, wrote of Nicira and of Casado. That’s true.

The company was quietly founded in 2007 but didn’t officially launch until early 2012. Five months later, it sold to VMware for a stunning $1.26 billion. And the network industry has never been the same.

After staying with VMware for a few years, Casado left in early 2016 to become a VC with a16z. But the interesting thing is that he doesn’t think of himself as a runaway success, but as someone who got good at failure.

Or so he told the 2017 graduating class at his first alma mater, Northern Arizona University, where he spoke after receiving an honorary doctorate on May 13.

„When I was standing where you are, I wanted to be the world’s best computational physicist,“ Casado told the crowd. „And soon after, I wanted to be the world’s foremost cyber-policy expert. But instead, I went to grad school, and then I wanted to be the world’s best academic. And I certainly didn’t accomplish that.“

He added: „I only found computer science because I couldn’t hack it as a physicist and then I failed as a microbiology student. I made many, many missteps as the first-time founder of a company.“

Casado’s speech was short, sweet, funny, and profound.

Casado is considered the father of SDN.VMware

I heard it because I was in the audience that day, proudly watching my daughter graduate with a degree in astrophysics. (Notice how I slipped in that motherly brag?) While I’m insanely proud of my kid, I’m also biting my nails over what her degree will lead to.

She doesn’t want to go to grad school right now. And although she knows forms of math that I didn’t even know existed, what kind of career will she have? I don’t know, and neither does she.

But Casado’s speech flipped my view on it. He offered four solid bits of advice to students, which is good advice for anyone, at any age.

1. ‚You’re unlikely to achieve your goals.‘

No one can predict the future, and when you’re on the path to a goal, a better goal „is likely to smack you while you’re looking the other way,“ Casado said, „and you’d be an idiot not to follow it.“

His advice is to „take some fraction of that effort and work on being open to change and to opportunity“ while working toward your goals.

If he hadn’t been open to change in his career, he may never have invented an industry-changing technology.

2. ‚You are going to fail. A lot. It’s inevitable.‘

He suggests that it is failure, not progress, that indicates whether you are living up to your potential.

If you are failing, you are pushing yourself and „not stalling your own progress by hiding,“ he said.

The true skill, then, is „to learn to embrace failure — not only embrace failure, get good at it, and by that I mean get back up, apply what you’ve learned, and hit reset.“

3. ‚No one really knows what contributes to success.‘

Every person is unique, and that means what’s right for another isn’t always right for you. When it comes to advice, listen to the parts that ring true for you and disregard the rest.

„You’re going to take one path out of an infinite number of possibilities,“ Casado said. „And you’re going to navigate it your way.“

4. ‚The universe is a messy place.‘

If there is a secret to life, happiness, and success, it’s this: „The opportunity is hidden in the sloppiness. If you hold too hard to specific ideas of where you want to go, or what the landscape will look like, or what the world will provide you, I can guarantee you’ll be disappointed.“

Here is the full transcript of his speech. The video is below if you’d rather listen.

„Graduates, I am deeply honored to have a few minutes with you. So let me first thank you for the opportunity and your attention.

„Right now, this moment is one of the most significant inflection points in your life. And perhaps not in the way you’d expect. So if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to explain why.

„Getting to this point, this space we’re all sharing right now, has taken a tremendous amount of work and dedication, no doubt. And for that, I applaud you, and you have my deepest respect.

„However, a university education, no matter how windy, is a path with a clear goal. It was challenging, sure. Yet generally the objective was pretty obvious: work hard and get the hell out.

„All of that is about to change.

„Almost two decades ago I was standing where you are now. I was nervous. I was excited. And I was largely over it.

„And so I took that proverbial step. And very quickly, I realized that where I landed was very, very different from where I left.

„It was as if I stepped off of a narrow path and into a city. And unlike my university experience, there was no clear goal. There wasn’t a defined string of classes or tests I had to pass. There was no notion of a start or finish.

„Instead, there was a vast, vast collection of opportunities and perils — infinite routes to infinite locations, and none of which I really understood. You could choose to stop or move at any time with equal chance of benefit or loss.

„And I found that none of my experiences really prepared me to navigate such a wide open space. There were no platitudes, no cliches, no quippy one-liners that provided clear and useful guidance. It wasn’t just about working hard and setting goals. It wasn’t just about perseverance or having a positive attitude. I knew how to do all those things. This new space required something far different.

„So with that backdrop, I’d like to offer you some advice — lessons that no one would be able to put on a motivational poster and keep their job, lessons to keep in mind as you take this next step into the chaos.

„First: You’re unlikely to achieve your goals. Really, it’s very unlikely. When I was standing where you are, I wanted to be the world’s best computational physicist. And soon after, I wanted to be the world’s foremost cyber-policy expert. But instead, I went to grad school, and then I wanted to be the world’s best academic. And I certainly didn’t accomplish that.

„You’re unlikely to achieve your goals. The reason is that you probably don’t realize how many amazing opportunities are out there and how much you’ll enjoy them. You are unlikely to achieve your goals, because a better one is likely to smack you while you’re looking the other way, and you’d be an idiot not to follow it.

„So my guidance to you is as much as you work toward your goals, take some fraction of that effort and work on being open to change and to opportunity.

„Second: You are going to fail. A lot. It’s inevitable. I only found computer science because I couldn’t hack it as a physicist and then I failed as a microbiology student. I made many, many missteps as the first-time founder of a company.

„You are going to fail because you’re going to be navigating a shifting landscape with a lot of things not under your control. You’re going to fail because the goals are going to change or be unclear. You’re going to fail because you’ll start something and realize it’s not what you want to do.

„And here’s the key: Failing will be your only true measure of progress. It’s inevitable. The system you’re about to walk into is simply too dynamic and too poorly defined for you not to.

„And so my guidance to you is to learn to embrace failure — not only embrace failure, get good at it, and by that I mean get back up, apply what you’ve learned, and hit reset.

„Third: No one really knows what contributes to success. Not me. Not some business guru or some pundit on the news. No one. And that’s particularly true for your success — yours. Here’s the reality: Every one of you is a beautiful collection of amazing qualities and strengths. Unique in all the universe you. And you’re going to take one path out of an infinite number of possibilities. And you’re going to navigate it your way.

„So right here, I grant you permission to summarily ignore the nonsense of others. Take advice as input, sure, but check it against your absolutely unique perspective and qualities to bring to a problem.

„You do you, boo.

„For what it’s worth, of all the advice I’ve given you, this last request will probably be the most difficult. I know you can work hard. I know you’re all smart and capable and resourceful. But I don’t know how well you know yourself. I certainly didn’t when I graduated. And it took a lot of inquiry and a lot of failure and a lot of false starts to begin to figure it out.

„In the words of Dr. Seuss, that he actually didn’t write and I totally made up, ‚You can’t do you, boo, if you don’t know you.‘

„OK, let me take a step back. Here’s where all of this is leading.

„The universe is a messy place. And the real trick going forward is to acknowledge that and to embrace it. The opportunity is hidden in the sloppiness. If you hold too hard to specific ideas of where you want to go, or what the landscape will look like, or what the world will provide you, I can guarantee you’ll be disappointed.

„And it’s exactly because the beauty is in the chaos. What have I asked of you?

One, focus on being open to change, because although you’re all beautiful and bright and creative individuals, the opportunities are for more wondrous than you can possibly conceive.

„Two, fail. It’s the only way you know that you’re riding the chaos and are not stalling your own progress by hiding.

„Three, no one knows what’s best for you, because really, it’s unknowable. So ignore the pundits and do it your way.

„And to do that, know yourself. Because really, this journey is for you. And your priorities. And for those you care about. With that, I’ll leave you with a quote, and this one I didn’t make up.

„It’s from the Ashtavakra Gita:

Let the waves of the universe
rise and fall as they will.
You have nothing to gain or lose.
You are the ocean.

„Thank you very much, and again, many congratulations.“

More Android phones are using encryption and lock screen security than ever before

Many often have a false sense of just how secure their private data is on their devices — that is, if they’re thinking about it at all. Your average smartphone user just wants to access the apps and people they care about, and not worry about security.

That’s why it was extremely encouraging to hear some of the security metrics announced at Google I/O 2017. For devices running Android Nougat, roughly 80% of users are running them fully encrypted. At the same time, about 70% of Nougat devices are using a secure lock screen of some form.

Android encryption adoptionAndroid lock screen adoption

That 80% encryption number isn’t amazingly surprising when you remember that Nougat has full-device encryption turned on by default, but that number also includes devices that were upgraded from Marshmallow, which didn’t have default encryption. Devices running on Marshmallow have a device encryption rate of just 25%, though, so this is a massive improvement. And the best part about Google’s insistence on default encryption is that eventually older devices will be replaced by those running Nougat or later out of the box, meaning this encryption rate could get very close to 100%.

The default settings are immensely important.

Full-device encryption is particularly effective when paired with a secure lock screen, and Google’s metrics showing 70% adoption in this regard definitely needs some work. It’s a small increase from the roughly 60% secure lock screen rate of Marshmallow phones but a decent jump from the sub-50% rate of devices running Lollipop. The most interesting aspect of these numbers to my eyes is that having a fingerprint sensor on the device doesn’t signal a very large increase in adoption — perhaps just a five percentage point jump. On one hand it’s great to see people using secured lock screens even when they don’t have something as convenient as a fingerprint sensor, but then again I’d expect the simplicity of that sensor to help adoption more than these numbers show.

The trend is heading in the right direction in both of these metrics, and that’s a great sign despite the fact that secure lock screens show a slower growth rate. The closer we get both of these numbers to 100%, the better.