Hashtag Trending Jan.10- Only 700 IT jobs added in the U.S. in 2023; 23 vulnerabilities in network-connected wrench used globally in factories; Microsoft discovery that could reduce lithium use in batteries by 70 percent

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Only 700 net new jobs were added in the U.S. in 2023, an “intelligent wrench” has vulnerabilities that would permit hackers to breach a network, AI solves an innovation dilemma, more from the X files and – they might call it the “smellphone” 

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I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US.

In a startling revelation for the tech industry, a mere 700 IT jobs were added in the U.S. in 2023, a dramatic downturn from the 267,000 jobs in the previous year. This information, based on an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Janco Associates, highlights a significant shift in the IT job market. The report indicates that while over 21,000 IT jobs were created in the last quarter of 2023, the overall growth remained stagnant due to mass layoffs. Interestingly, despite these layoffs, there remains a surplus of vacant IT roles, with about 88,000 positions unfilled. This paradox is attributed to a skills mismatch in the industry, with a high demand for professionals skilled in AI, security, development, and blockchain, while entry-level positions are increasingly automated. Salaries in AI-related roles are on the rise, suggesting a pivot towards more specialized skills in the IT sector. 

So where are all the new jobs coming from if not from tech?  It turns out the construction industry is booming in Canada and the U.S.  Apparently nobody’s laughing at “bricks and mortar” now. 

Sources include: The Register

Security researchers from Nozomi have discovered 23 vulnerabilities in the Bosch Rexroth Handheld Nutrunner NXA015S-36V-B, a network-connected wrench used globally in factories for assembling sensitive instruments and devices. These vulnerabilities could allow hackers to sabotage or disable these tools, posing significant risks to manufacturing processes. The Nutrunner, critical for ensuring precise torque levels for safety and reliability, can be compromised to either tighten fastenings too loosely or too tightly, while falsely indicating correct settings.

Bosch Rexroth has acknowledged the issue and is working on a patch, expected to be released by the end of January 2024. The vulnerabilities allow for remote execution of arbitrary code with root privileges, enabling various attack scenarios. In a lab environment, Nozomi researchers demonstrated two potential attacks: installing ransomware to make the device inoperable and demanding a ransom, and stealthily altering the tightening programs while displaying normal values to the operator. These findings highlight the growing cybersecurity challenges in the increasingly networked manufacturing sector.

Sources include: Ars Technica

If you remember your high school science history you may know that Edison didn’t invent the light bulb. What he did was have 1,000 unsuccessful attempts before he figured out what filament in what bulb construction would work to design a light bulb that could be commercially produced and used in homes and businesses.  

That method of discovery hasn’t changed much in the decades since Edison until recently. 

Microsoft and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have discovered a new material using AI and supercomputing that could reduce lithium use in batteries by up to 70 per cent. This breakthrough was achieved by using advanced AI and high-performance computing to narrow down 32 million potential materials to 18 candidates in less than a week, a process that would traditionally take decades. 

The new material, a solid-state electrolyte, has been used to power a lightbulb and shows promise as a sustainable energy storage solution.  

It’s one of many proposed solutions to a key dilemma. Lithium is not only rare, but also dangerous.    

But this invention is the one that has also leveraged AI to accelerate innovation and invention.  

Sources include: BBC News

I almost didn’t cover this story, but in the end I had to run it, because IF it’s true, and that’s an IF, it explains a lot.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is facing allegations of possible illegal drug use, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. These allegations have raised concerns among executives within his companies. 

The report details an incident at a recent SpaceX meeting where Musk’s behavior was described as “nonsensical,” “unhinged,” and “cringeworthy.” He reportedly arrived nearly an hour late and was rambling and slurring his words. Linda Johnson Rice, a former Tesla board member, reportedly decided against re-election due to concerns about Musk’s drug use and unpredictable behavior.

According to recent reports, Musk has previously admitted to using ketamine to treat depression and smoked marijuana during a “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast in 2018, which led to complications with NASA.

Musk has denied these claims, stating that no drugs or alcohol have been found in his body during random tests conducted over the past three years.

Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, confirmed that Musk had never failed a drug test and criticized the report for citing “false facts” without specifying them.

Source: Euronews 

And I’m getting tired of the continued bad news in tech jobs, but here’s another story I thought I had to cover.  

Unity, the company behind the popular game engine, is facing a significant workforce reduction, with plans to lay off about 25 percent of its staff, amounting to around 1,800 employees. This decision, as stated in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is part of Unity’s restructuring and refocusing efforts on its core business to achieve long-term and profitable growth.

This latest round of layoffs follows several others within the past year, including a notable reduction of 265 workers last November. The specifics of whether the 1,800 job cuts are in addition to last year’s layoffs remain unclear. Unity’s recent layoffs occurred shortly after the company altered its pricing model, which initially frustrated developers. These changes were partially reversed, and former CEO John Riccitiello resigned in the aftermath.

Kelly Ekins, Unity’s director of PR, expressed that the decision to reduce the workforce was challenging and extended gratitude to those affected for their dedication and contributions. Unity’s game engine is used in popular games like Fall Guys and Pokémon Go. The gaming industry has seen a wave of layoffs over the past year, with major companies like Epic Games, EA, and Naughty Dog also announcing job cuts, affecting over 9,000 people in the industry in 2023.

Source: The Verge

And to get a whiff of something different to close off the show…

An Israeli firm Mobile Physics, backed by Oracle founder Larry Ellison, has developed this technology to transform any cellphone into a personal “envirometer” and weather station. It utilizes a phone’s existing sensors to measure air quality, smoke levels, temperature, and UV exposure. In real-time, the technology can alert users to hazardous conditions, advising actions like opening or closing a window, turning on an air purifier, or wearing a mask.

This innovation is particularly timely as air pollution and increasingly severe wildfires pose growing health risks. The technology has been embedded within Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 mobile processor, using STMicroelectronics’s direct time-of-flight (dToF) sensors, capable of detecting small particulate matter. Phone manufacturers like Samsung, Google, and Xiaomi have shown interest in this technology.

The data collected by these “envirometer” phones could be invaluable not only to individual users but also to governments, health authorities, and insurance companies, offering a detailed portrait of local environmental conditions. Mobile Physics also plans to introduce a subscription version with additional information, which could be especially beneficial for people with respiratory diseases.

Source: Axios

Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show we call “the Weekend Edition.”

You can get us anywhere you get audio podcasts and there is a copy of the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts 

I’m your host, Jim Love. Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

The post Hashtag Trending Jan.10- Only 700 IT jobs added in the U.S. in 2023; 23 vulnerabilities in network-connected wrench used globally in factories; Microsoft discovery that could reduce lithium use in batteries by 70 percent first appeared on IT World Canada.

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