Radar Trends to Watch: September 2023

Developments in Hardware, Operations, Cryptocurrency, and More

By Mike Loukides
September 5, 2023

While the AI group is still the largest, it’s notable that Programming, Web, and Security are all larger than they’ve been in recent months. One reason is certainly that we’re pushing AI news into other categories as appropriate. But I also think that it’s harder to impress with AI than it used to be. AI discussions have been much more about regulation and intellectual property—which makes me wonder whether legislation should be a separate category.

That notwithstanding, it’s important that OpenAI is now allowing API users to fine-tune their GPT-4 apps. It’s as-a-service, of course. And RISC-V finally appears to be getting some serious adoption. Could it compete with Atom and Intel? We shall see.

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  • OpenAI has announced ChatGPT Enterprise, a version of ChatGPT that targets enterprise customers. ChatGPT Enterprise offers improved security, a promise that they won’t train on your conversations, single sign on, an admin console, a larger 32K context, higher performance, and the elimination of usage caps.
  • Facebook/Meta has released Code LLaMA, a version of their LLaMA 2 model that has been specialized for writing code. It can be used for code generation or completion. Its context window is 100,000 tokens, allowing Code LLaMA to be more accurate on larger programs.
  • OpenAI has announced that API users can now fine-tune GPT-3.5 for their own applications. Fine-tuning for GPT-4 will come later. To preserve safety, tuning data is passed through OpenAI’s moderation filter.
  • txtai is an open source embeddings database. It is a vector database that has been designed specifically to work with natural language problems.
  • TextFX is a set of tools that use Google’s PaLM 2 model to play with language. It doesn’t answer questions or write poems; it allows users to see the possibilities in words as an aid to their own creativity.
  • A US judge has ruled that an AI system cannot copyright a work. In this case, the AI itself—not the human user—was to hold the copyright. This ruling is in line with the Copyright Office’s guidance: giving prompts to a generative algorithm isn’t sufficient to create a copyrightable work.
  • Despite an error rate of roughly 50% for ChatGPT, a study shows that users prefer ChatGPT’s answers to programming questions over answers from StackOverflow. ChatGPT’s complete, articulate, and polite answers appear to be the cause of this preference.
  • AI was on the agenda at DefCon and, while results of a red teaming competition won’t be released for some months, it’s clear that security remains an afterthought, and that attacking the current AI models is extremely easy.
  • Emotion recognition is difficult, if not impossible. It is not clear that there are any credible use cases for it. AI systems are particularly bad at it. But companies are building products.
  • Watermarking has been proposed as a technique for identifying whether content was generated by AI, but it’s not a panacea. Here are some questions to help evaluate whether watermarks are useful in any given situation.
  • Zoom and Grammarly have both issued new license agreements that allow them to use data collected from users to train AI. Zoom has backed down after customer backlash, but that begs the question: Will other applications follow?
  • Using large language models for work or play is one thing, but how do you put one into production? 7 Frameworks for Serving LLMs surveys some tools for deploying language models.
  • Simon Willison provides instructions for running LLaMA 2 on a Mac. He also provides slides and a well-edited transcript of his talk about LLMs at North Bay Python.
  • PhotoGuard is a tool for protecting photos and other images from manipulation by AI systems. It adds data to the image in ways that aren’t detectable by humans, but that introduce noticeable distortions when the image is modified.
  • C2PA is a cryptographic protocol for attesting to the provenance of electronic documents. It could be used for specifying whether documents are generated by AI.
  • Google’s DeepMind has built a vision-language-action model called RT-2 (Robotic Transformer 2) that combines vision and language with the ability to control a robot. It learns both from web data (images and text) and robotic data (interactions with physical objects).


  • Maccarone is an extension to VSCode that allows you to “delegate” blocks of Python code to AI (GPT-4). The portions of the code that are under AI control are automatically updated as needed when the surrounding code is changed.
  • Microsoft is adding Python as a scripting language for Excel formulas. Python code executes in an Azure container that includes some commonly used libraries, including Matplotlib and Pandas.
  • Many companies are building platform engineering teams as a means of making software developers more effective. Here are some ideas about getting started with platform engineering.
  • A Google study of its in-house Rust use supports the claim that Rust makes it easier to produce high-quality code. The study also busts a number of myths about the language. It isn’t as hard to learn as most people think (then again, this is a Google study).
  • deno_python is a Javascript module that allows integration between Javascript (running on Deno) and Python, allowing Javascript programmers to call important Python libraries and call Python functions.
  • The Python Steering Council has announced that it will make the Global Interpreter Lock (GIL) optional in a future version of Python. Python’s GIL has long been a barrier to effective multi-threaded computing. The change will be backwards-compatible.


  • Google’s controversial Web Environment Integrity proposal provides a way for web servers to cryptographically authenticate the browser software making a request. WEI could potentially reduce online fraud, but it also presents some significant privacy risks.
  • Trafilatura is a new tool for web scraping that has been designed with quantitative research (for example, assembling training data for language models). It can extract text and metadata from HTML, and generate output in a number of formats.
  • Astro is yet another open source web framework that’s designed for high performance and ease of development.
  • While the “browser wars” are far behind us, it is still difficult for developers to write code that works correctly on all browsers. Baseline is a project of the W3C’s WebDX Community Group that specifies which features web developers can rely on in the most widely used browsers.
  • How Large Language Models Assisted a Website Makeover raises some important questions: When do you stop using ChatGPT and finish the job yourself?  When does your own ability start to atrophy?
  • Remember Flash? It has a museum… And Flash games will run in a modern browser using Ruffle, a Flash Player emulator that is written in WebAssembly.


  • Proof-of-work makes it to the Tor network. It is used as a defense against denial of service attacks. PoW is disabled most of the time, but when traffic seems unusually high, it can switch on, forcing users to “prove” their humanness (actually, their willingness to perform work).
  • A retrospective on this year’s MoveIT attack draws some important conclusions about protecting your assets. Mapping the supply chain, third party risk management, zero trust, and continuous penetration testing are all important parts of a security plan.
  • Bitwarden has released an open source end-to-end encrypted secrets manager. The secrets manager allows safe distribution of API keys, certificates and other sensitive data.
  • The US Government has announced the AI Cybersecurity Challenge (AIxCC). AIxCC is a two year competition to build AI systems that can secure critical software. There’s $18.5 million in prizes, plus the possibility of DARPA funding for up to seven companies.
  • OSC&R is the Open Source Supply Chain Attack Reference, a new project that catalogs and describes techniques used to attack software supply chains. It is modeled on MITRE’s ATT&CK framework.
  • The Lapsus$ group has become one of the most effective threat actors, despite being relatively unsophisticated. They rely on persistence, clever social engineering, and analyzing weak points in an organization’s security posture rather than compromising infrastructure.
  • The NSA has issued a report that gives guidance on how to protect systems against memory safety bugs.
  • Bruce Schneier has an important take on the long-term consequences of the SolarWinds attack. Those consequences include the theft of an Azure customer account signing key that in turn has been used by attackers to access US government email accounts.
  • A new generation of ransomware attacks is targeting IT professionals via fake advertisements for IT tools. While IT professionals are (presumably) more wary and aware than other users, they are also high-value targets.


  • Parmesan cheese producers are experimenting with adding microchips to the cheese rind to authenticate genuine cheese.
  • Adoption of RISC-V, a royalty-free open source instruction set architecture for microprocessors, has been increasing. Could it displace ARM?
  • Speculative execution bugs have been discovered for recent Intel (“Downfall”) and AMD (“Inception”) processors. Patches for Linux have been released.


Quantum Computing

  • Peter Shor, inventor of the quantum algorithm for factoring prime numbers (which in turn could be used to break most modern cryptography that isn’t quantum-resistant), has published the lecture notes from the course on quantum computing that he teaches at MIT.
  • A Honeywell quantum computer has been used to find a material that can improve solar cell efficiency. It’s likely that the first applications of quantum computing will involve simulating quantum phenomena rather than pure computation.


  • If you’re interested in iris-scanning WorldCoin, a cryptographer analyzes the privacy promises made by their system. He remains skeptical, but came away less unimpressed than he expected to be.
  • Paypal has introduced a stablecoin that claims to be fully backed by US dollars.


Post topics: Radar Trends
Post tags: Signals