Welcome to The Systematic Summary, Systematic’s weekly roundup of the news, books, and interviews that will make you a more informed business technology professional. Every week, I’ll be bringing together the best media for IT and BT leaders to consume in one, easy-to-digest list. Let’s get started.

Catch up on this week’s news: 

As AI develops at a rapid pace, how should the ethics of innovation be measured?

Matthew Hutson takes a deep dive into the world and ethics of AI for this feature that explores the ways in which research in the field of computer science is presented and disseminated. More and more, people are wondering if an ethics board or more robust peer-review process should be instituted to guide AI research. Groups like The Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interactions are beginning to assess the impact AI research specifically can have on a wide scale, but as new research proliferates, who is the gatekeeper for what could harm humanity? 

Via The New Yorker

Q4 of 2020 saw private-equity tech investments soar to $31.73 billion, up more than 90% from the same period in the previous year. 

The need for IT services catapulted in 2020, and businesses’ continued efforts to update their systems in an increasingly online world has given many private equity firms a new focus. The appeal of investing in IT comes as a result of the operating kinks that were revealed at the start of the pandemic. From supply chain management to customer service, many businesses had to quickly rethink the way they were operating, and they relied heavily on new software to do so. As worldwide IT spending is expected to increase this year, so are emerging cloud and security services, giving investors new opportunities to rally.  

Via the Wall Street Journal

There are three essential things missing in the shift to remote work: tools that optimize virtual collaboration, events, and a true office experience. 

Adam Preset, senior director and analyst for digital workplace at Gartner, spoke with CIO Dive to highlight the three areas where remote work seems to be lacking. As it turns out, it is nearly impossible to have a “water cooler chat” over Slack or generate the same energy in a Zoom event versus one that happens in real life. The team at Gartner has seen a nearly 300% increase in inquiries related to these three tool groups, so businesses are keenly aware that in order to truly make hybrid working a reality, they will need to find solutions for these areas. 

Via CIO Dive

Two product managers at MongoDB are working to erase the racist language pervasive in code. 

Garaudy Etienne and Marcus Eagan are starting the long process of eliminating the use of “master” and “slave” when describing primary entities (often referred to as the “master”) and those that take command from the primary entity (often referred to as “slaves”). The code repository also includes terms like “master servers,” “slave nods,” and “whitelist”/”blacklist” to describe actions that should be allowed or prohibited. Such language runs deep in code and exists across legacy systems, so while many organizations are taking initial steps to make these changes, it will likely take some time to fully transition and make the shift to terminology that is not racist. 

“As engineers, people have to seek to iteratively improve the accuracy of their creation, the accuracy of the software,” says Eagan who points out that the terminology doesn’t even accurately reflect the relationship between systems. “It’s not just about building in new features, new shiny whistles, it’s also very much about maintenance and readability so it can go forward and other people can add to it. And to do all that, you have to strive to improve the accuracy.”


Find some weekend reading: 

Reprogramming the American Dream: From Rural America to Silicon Valley—Making AI Serve Us All (2020) 

Kevin Scott with Greg Shaw and J.D Vance

Microsoft’s Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott takes on the future of artificial intelligence in this book, considering the ways AI can be used responsibly to change society. Although the prevailing narratives around AI exist at opposite ends of the spectrum (AI destroying jobs vs. AI revolutionizing the modern workplace), Scott imagines a world where AI benefits everyone. 

The Future Is Faster than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives (2020)

Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler 

Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler outline a roadmap for the next ten years of rapid digital transformation and technological disruption. As society continues to build upon developing technology, The Future Is Faster than You Think considers how these advancements might begin to converge and progress. 

Learn from the experts:

Ryan Floyd, Managing Director of Storm Ventures, speaks with Markus Zirn, head of strategy and business development at Workato about all things enterprise automation. They cover everything from the future of workflows automation to the commonly used terms in the space.

Via AskAVC

Mark Wojtasiak, VP of Security Portfolio and Product Research at Code42, and Nathan Hunstad, Principal Security Researcher and Engineer at Code42, host an on-demand webinar that covers mitigating insider risk in your organization.

Via Code42 and Cybersecurity Dive

Feedback for The Systematic Summary: If there is something you’d like to see in next week’s roundup, email me at [email protected] with the subject line “The Systematic Summary.”

Sarah Dotson
About Sarah Dotson

Sarah is the Content and Community Lead for Systematic.