Hashtag Trending Jan.26-AI solves bus driver shortage; Impact of AI on quality of code; Apple’s privacy rules getting bypassed by Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more

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AI solves a bus driver shortage, a study is questioning the impact of AI on the quality of code – and researchers discover that your iPhone might be sending out a lot more data on you than anyone thought. 

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All this and more on the final day of privacy week edition of Hashtag Trending. I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and TechNewsDay in the US.  

In the face of nationwide bus driver shortages, school districts are turning to an innovative AI-powered tool for a solution. District 11 in Colorado Springs, serving around 22,000 students, has successfully implemented this technology, developed by child-transportation provider HopSkipDrive, to optimize bus routes and transportation options.

The AI tool, named “Strategic Routing,” analyzes student pickup needs and suggests efficient combinations of traditional buses and HopSkipDrive’s “CareDrivers.” This strategic approach has led to significant improvements for District 11. They’ve managed to reduce their bus routes from over 100 to 55, replacing some underutilized routes with HopSkipDrive rides. This change has not only increased on-time arrival rates from 85 per cent to 99 per cent but also projected savings of $8 million over a decade.

D11 superintendent Michael Gaal highlights the tool’s ability to provide predictive, rather than reactive, solutions. It offers a variety of options, including the use of smaller vehicles for less frequented routes, ensuring a more tailored approach to student transportation needs.

While some parents initially expressed skepticism about HopSkipDrive rides, they have come to appreciate the personalized transportation service. The tool’s flexibility allows for adjustments throughout the school year, ensuring optimal routing based on changing needs.

In the midst of concerns about job losses and hallucinations and all of that, we can easily lose sight of how AI can address worker shortages effectively, providing solutions that complement human efforts rather than replacing them.

Sources include: [Axios](https://www.axios.com/2024/01/25/ai-school-bus-driver-shortage-hopskipdrive)

A story I read today talked about how Google may finally come to market with something that will really challenge ChatGPT. 

Reportedly, in an upcoming release, Chrome will introduce an experimental AI-powered feature aimed at enhancing users’ writing experiences on the web. This includes a “Help me Write” feature, which can be accessed by right-clicking on any text box, prompting Google’s AI to assist in generating initial drafts for various writing tasks.

This integration could significantly reduce the reliance on external platforms like ChatGPT for drafting content, as users often work directly on the web for emails, articles, and presentations. Google CEO Sundar Pichai emphasized the ease these AI features bring to web tasks.

Google is not just focusing on text generation. It’s also advancing in multimodality with the introduction of Lumiere, a text-to-video diffusion model capable of synthesizing videos with realistic and coherent motion. 

The integration of AI and machine learning into Chrome is significant, considering Google’s dominance in online search and the widespread use of Chrome, which currently has 3.22 billion users compared to ChatGPT’s 100 million.

Google’s integration of AI into Chrome, coupled with advancements in multimodal AI capabilities, positions the company as a strong contender in the AI space, potentially challenging platforms like ChatGPT.

Over to you – OpenAI…

Sources include: Analytics India

Recent research by GitClear, a developer analytics company, suggests that the growing popularity of AI assistance in software development is leading to lower code quality. The study, analyzing 150 million changed lines of code from both private corporations and open-source projects, highlights issues like increased code churn (code added and then shortly deleted) and a higher proportion of repeated code.

GitHub’s Copilot, a prominent AI coding tool, boasts over 1 million developers with paid subscriptions. While it has been reported that developers complete tasks 55 per cent faster with Copilot, and 46 per cent of code in enabled files is completed by it, GitClear’s research focuses on the quality rather than the quantity of code. The study observes that AI assistants primarily suggest added code, but rarely advise on updating, moving, or deleting code. This trend leads to concerns about the conciseness and readability of the code.

The research identifies a rise in code churn, now at 7.1 per cent compared to 3.3 per cent in 2020, and a decrease in instances of code being moved, which could indicate less refactoring. The researchers criticize the increased use of copy/pasted code, calling it a major issue for long-term code maintainability.

While the reasons for these trends are speculative, the researchers link them to the growing use of AI coding techniques. They suggest that engineering leaders should monitor these trends and their implications for future product maintenance. The study concludes that AI coding assistants are not likely to replace human developers anytime soon, as current AI is too error-prone and far from being able to securely modify existing code.

This research may reassure developers concerned about being replaced by AI tools, emphasizing the current limitations of AI in coding contexts.

Sources include: The Register

Apple is set to allow alternative app stores on its iPhones in the European Union (EU) starting from March, marking a significant shift from its current policy where iPhone users can only download apps from Apple’s own App Store. This change is a response to the EU’s Digital Markets Act, aiming to regulate large companies and create a fairer market for both established and smaller firms.

The move could potentially enable iPhone users in Europe to access apps like Fortnite, which was withdrawn from the App Store in 2020 due to disagreements over Apple’s policies. However, the changes will not be applicable in the UK since it’s no longer part of the EU, but they have similar legislation being proposed called the UK’s Digital Markets Bill.

Apple has always maintained that its App Store rules are designed to protect users’ security. However, it has faced accusations of creating a monopoly and charging high commissions to developers. The introduction of alternative app stores is expected to address these concerns but comes with a warning from Apple about potential security risks, including increased exposure to malware, fraud, and scams.

Additionally, Apple announced it would open up browser choices for EU users, allowing them to opt out of using Safari from the first use. This development reflects the ongoing efforts to maintain open and competitive markets in the tech industry.

This has the potential to hit Apple’s bottom line and you can bet that Apple will do everything in its power to keep this from spreading to North America.

In its various stores some estimates say that Apple reportedly there are close to 100 billion dollars of purchases on in app purchases, subscriptions and premium apps.  A billion here, a billion there – soon you’re talking real money. 

Sources include: BBC and Statista 

And one more Apple story for today, this one with a theme to end privacy week.

Security researchers at Mysk Inc. have discovered that iPhone apps, including major ones like Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Twitter, are bypassing Apple’s privacy rules to collect user data through notifications. 

This method allows these apps to gather data even when users close them to prevent background data collection. The data collected, which is not necessary for processing notifications, appears to be used for analytics, advertising, and tracking users across different apps and devices.

The researchers were surprised to find that dismissing a notification could trigger the sending of detailed device information to remote servers. 

This practice is widespread in the iPhone ecosystem, not limited to a few apps. Meta (Facebook’s parent company) and LinkedIn have denied using the data for advertising or other inappropriate purposes, with LinkedIn stating that the data is only used to ensure notifications work properly and is in compliance with Apple’s guidelines.

This issue raises concerns about “fingerprinting,” a technique used to identify users based on various device details, which Apple explicitly forbids. The data collected includes IP addresses, phone memory space, and other details that can be combined to identify a person accurately. 

However, companies like Google, through apps like Gmail and YouTube, only collect data directly related to processing notifications, suggesting that the extensive data collection by other apps might have ulterior motives.

The upcoming changes to the iPhone operating system’s rules might improve the situation by requiring app developers to explain why and how they use certain APIs. However, it’s unclear how Apple will enforce these rules.

This revelation highlights the ongoing challenges in digital privacy and the complexities of managing user data collection in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

Well, that’s one way to end privacy week.

Sources include: Gizmodo

Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with a daily news show and every Saturday, we have an interview show called the Weekend Edition.  This weekend we’ll be looking at how Vancouver is becoming a hub for the new breed of financial services companies. I hope you’ll catch the show.

We love your comments. Please let us know what you think. You can reach me at jlove@itwc.ca  or leave a comment under the show notes at www.itworldcanada.com/podcasts

I’m your host Jim Love, thanks for listening and have a Fabulous Friday!

 

The post Hashtag Trending Jan.26-AI solves bus driver shortage; Impact of AI on quality of code; Apple’s privacy rules getting bypassed by Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more first appeared on IT World Canada.

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