Paying Ransom For Your Data, Hiding From Machines, Gene Therapy, Amazon Fires and Investment Robots

As a civilization, may of us feel that we have entered the ‘Golden Era’ of Data – where issues & problems, major or minor, can be solved with data science, algorithms and processing power. Unfortunately, what we are also witnessing, are some of the more nefarious aspects of this Data Age. Our first story is about how cyber criminals have graduated from crashing your networks – to holding your data ransom. What is worrying is that these attacks are being experienced by government departments, hospitals, critical service providers and financial agencies, where a breakdown may have more than just an economic fallout.

Our other stories include a piece on the moral implications of hiding data from machines, algorithms and AI, how a big pharma giant hid the bad & manipulated testing data in mice used in the early phases of a $2.1 million gene therapy drug, a detailed overview of around 50,000 fire hotspots in the Amazon as it burns this August and finally, how quants, traders, hedge funds and the investment bank community is using non-financial or alternative data to make big investment bets.

How cybercriminals hold data hostage… and why the best solution is often paying a ransom

Twenty-two towns, counties and police departments in Texas are recovering after their computer systems were taken hostage just over a week ago. The state of Texas says the attacks, which happened simultaneously, were ransomware and the FBI is investigating. Ransomware locks up a victim’s files until money is paid or the users find another way to recover their data.

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The Ethics of Hiding Your Data From the Machines

I don’t know about you, but every time I figure out a way of sharing less information online, it’s like a personal victory. After all, who have I hurt, advertisers? Oh, boo hoo. But sharing your information, either willingly or not, is soon going to become a much more difficult moral choice. Companies may have started out hoovering up your personal data so they could deliver that now-iconic shoe ad to you over and over, everywhere you go. And, frankly, you did passively assent to the digital ad ecosystem.

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Novartis Delayed Reveal Of Bad Data For $2.1 Million Gene Therapy. Now Patients And Pharma Suffer.

Novartis CEO had a rocky start to his tenure. Last year, the newly appointed boss was in a car when he learned that his predecessor had signed a $1.2 million contract with then Trump attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, for him to provide access to the Trump administration. As he told STAT’s Matt Herper: “I was not mentally prepared, nor prepared from a crisis-management standpoint. It’s not a phone call you expect to get from your mother, which was one of the first people I heard from.”  One would assume that this was a learning moment for the young Novartis CEO.

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How many fires are burning in the Amazon?

Amazon fires are nearly double over last year, but remain moderate in historical context. The 41,858 fires recorded so far this year, as of August 24, in the Brazilian Amazon are the highest number since 2010, when 58,476 were recorded by the end of August. But 2019 is well below the mid-2000s, when deforestation rates were very much higher.

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Investment Robots Are Listening to CEOs and Reading Your Twitter Feed

In less than a decade, Danske Bank A/S changed auditors four times before a $230 billion money-laundering scandal hammered its share price. It’s those type of red flags that PanAgora Asset Management Inc. wishes its factor-investing models could capture. So now it’s trained them to. The Boston firm has programmed robots to look beyond financial statements and market prices, trying to adapt cutting-edge data science to a brand of quant trading that before now had little use for it.

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