30 May 2016

Bio-NanoThings: beyong the Internet of Thing

Internet of Things (IoT) is under the spot since a few years. With the development of IoT, any object will be empowered with intelligence and with the capabilities to interconnect with any other object, machine and people anywhere, anytime. Several applications are envisioned today: from health to domotics, from energy management to security to types of digital enterprises.

Moreover while IoT foresees billion of things potentially communicating with one another, the Internet with Things (IwT) foresees a growing number (in the hundreds of millions initially, to become hundreds of billion) of objects that will become accessible to human beings through the Internet. The IwT shares several technologies and architectures with the IoT although the “communications interface” should be adapted to meet human needs and the form factor of the object matters since the object is “visible” and its physical characteristics are a selling point, as important as its functionality. In the IoT the functionalities exposed are the ones designed by the producer of the “T”; in the IwT a significant number of functionalities will be mashed up by third parties.

This evolution will have a deep impact from a socio-economic viewpoint, influencing economy development as a whole, public institutions, social relations, diffusion of information, privacy of citizens, etc. This evolution raises technical challenges and important socio-economic issues for stakeholders to consider: from simplifying such emerging complexity when managing future networks to identifying new business opportunities and models. 

But there is another new trend, which I believe will be even more impactful: the Internet of Bio-NanoThings, which in some way strictly related to my last post on the Microbiome. 

Have a look at this impressive paper of my friend Ian F. Akyildiz:

Paper presen the novel paradigm of the Internet of Bio-Nano Things (IoBNT), stemming from synthetic biology and nanotechnology tools that allow the engineering of biological embedded computing devices. 

Bio-NanoThings will enable applications such as intra-body sensing and actuation networks, and environmental control of toxic agents and pollution. It is definitely a paradigm-shifting concept for communication and network engineering, where novel challenges have to be faced: e.g., the definition of information for biological devices, efficient and safe techniques for the exchange of biological information, interaction, and networking within the biochemical domain, while enabling an interface to
the electrical domain of the Internet.

27 May 2016

The Internet of "Microbiomes"

On May 13th , the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), with Federal agencies and private-sector stakeholders, announced the National Microbiome Initiative (NMI).
Microbiomes, which are communities of microorganisms that live on and in people, plants, soil, oceans, and the atmosphere with a fundamental role in maintaining the healthy function of diverse ecosystems: Microbiomes influence radically human health, climate change, and food security.
The NMI brings together scientists from more than 100 universities, companies, research institutions, and federal agencies in the US. The main goal of NMI is understanding of microbiomes for the development of useful applications in areas such as health care, food production, and environmental restoration: what are the fundamental principles that govern microbiomes ecosystems, which tools developing to monitor and control  microbiomes dynamics, etc...

ThepotentialimpactofaunifiedMicrobiomeinitiativetounderstandandresponsiblyharnesstheactivitiesofmicrobial communities. (Credit: Diana Swantek, Berkeley Lab)
The potential impacts of Microbiome (Credit: Diana Swantek, Berkeley Lab)

Just imagine that there are trillions of microbes in the human microbiome: the entire human microbiome is a world of living entities accounting for about for 1-3% total body mass, with weight-estimates ranging as high as 1,400 grams. Human microbiomes influence radically human body and mind states. So, mapping human microbiome is a grand challenge: consider that DNA of the microbes that inhabit a person's human body can uniquely identify the person.
Having said that, and considering that today DNA storage and computing prototypes are getting more and more momentum (for feasibility at affordable costs)...

...it’s likely that a new big Industry "handling" this universe of microbiomes, for plenty of applications, may emerge !

23 May 2016

In-Network Programmability for next-generation personal cloUd service support (INPUT)

INPUT (www.input-project.eu) is a research project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 program which aims at designing a novel SDN/NFV platform to support the Future Internet personal cloud services in a more scalable and sustainable way, with innovative added-value capabilities and much closer to the end-users, by exploiting and fostering upcoming in-network fog computing technologies.

Interestingly, INPUT technologies aims at enabling next-generation cloud applications to go beyond classical service models (i.e., IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS), and even to replace physical smart devices, usually placed in users’ homes (e.g., network-attached storage servers, set-top-boxes, video recorders, home automation control units, etc.) or deployed around for monitoring purposes (e.g., sensors), with their “virtual images,” providing them to users “as a Service.”
Main objectives includes:

  • introducing computing and storage capabilities to edge network devices (i.e. the “in-network” programmability) in order to allow users/telecom operators to create/manage private clouds “in the network”;
  • moving cloud services closer to end-users and smart devices, in order both to avoid pointless network infrastructure and datacenter overloading, and to provide lower latency reactiveness to services;
  • enabling personal and federated cloud services to natively and directly integrate themselves with the networking technologies close to end-user SDs to provide new service models (e.g., Personal Networks).
  • assessing the validity of the proposed in-network cloud computing model through appropriately designed use cases and related proof-of-concept implementations.

INPUT is fostering future-proof Internet infrastructures that will be “smarter,” fully virtualized, power vs. performance optimized, and vertically integrated with cloud computing, with a clear impact on operating and capital expenses of Telecoms, of service providers, and of end-users. In this respect, INPUT will extend the programmability of network devices and in-network fog resources to make them able to host cloud applications, which will cooperate with those in users’ terminals and datacenters to realize the cloud services. Specific solutions based on state-of-the-art cloud and SDN APIs and protocols are going to be exploited and extended for providing suitable interfaces to manage and to autonomically drive such ecosystem according to different players, such as fog service providers/tenants, infrastructure providers and end-users.

Regarding advancements on NFV, INPUT is focusing on specific solutions for:
  • making the migration of network function much lighter and smoother than the migration mechanisms provided today from virtual machine and container hypervisors;
  • a radically new virtual home-gateway, which will be powered by a modular chain of open-source and DPDK-based Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), and an OpenWRT control/user plane;
  • Proposing paradigms for the flexible offload of modular VNFs to hardware accelerators available into network or IT hardware (e.g., Systems on Chip).

Currently, the project is reaching the half of its life time and it is going to release the first version of the main components of the platform as an open-source modules. Additional details or information about the INPUT can be found in the project website www.input-project.eu, on the LinkedIN group or following the Twitter account @INPUT_Proj.

20 May 2016

AI + Humans = AI2 for Cyber security

Cyber security is the major challenge of today's and tomorrow’s world.

A group of researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are working with machine-learning startup PatternEx to develop an Artificial Intelligence system that can detect 85 percent of attacks by reviewing data from more than 3.6 billion lines of log files each day and informs anything suspicious.

In this interesting paper the authors present their analyst-in-the-loop security system, which combines analyst intuition with state-of-the-art machine learning to build an end-to-end active learning system. They have called this system AI2 (AI Squared) as it  learns and automatically creates models that, when executed on new data, produce predictions as intelligent as those deduced by human analysts. In other words the human analyst then identifies which events are actual cyber attacks and which aren't. This feedback is then incorporated into the machine learning system of AI2 and is used the next day for analyzing new logs. The system has four key features: a big data behavioral analytics platform, an ensemble of outlier detection methods, a mechanism to obtain feedback from security analysts, and a supervised learning module.

A video here: http://thehackernews.com/2016/04/artificial-intelligence-cyber-security.html

Structural similarities between future Internet and the "nervous system" of a living entity indeed may help to develop enhanced AI systems in the Web, combining humans capabilities, pervasive sensors and actuators with state-of-the-art machine learning to build an end-to-end active learning and pervasive system.

Optimizing any socio-economic processes (precision agriculture, I4.0, business agility), searching, sorting, and interpreting data and information, and above all cyber security will be the “killer application” for this WWW AI2: maybe billions of people would be willing to pay for it!