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Pulling Back On The A.I. Reins

The race is on, and its not to determine who will make the best camera for cell phones next year, or who will go to market with the first smart ring. The race that is on right now in the silicon valley which carries the most weight and will determine the future of our very economy and potential livelihood is an all encompassing push to make sure we have the means to control artificial intelligence. The high profile win bbfghby Google in the artificial intelligence arena came in the form of a program that could be champion in the complex board game Go this month, that was a big deal; it said, A.I. are starting to wake up at least enough that we need to stop looking at this as a problem of science fiction, but of just plain old, stone cold Steve Austin hard core real science. This statement wasn’t made to game players, but it was to the rest of silicon valley and it said loud and clear “wake up.” This goes beyond the Tech at a glance we are accustomed to.

Many monster tech companies such as IBM, Microsoft(who is in the midst of a PR nightmare in A.I. with the release of their Tay tweet bot), and of coarse Google, are trying to become the clear front runner when it comes to A.I and A.I market applications. This is the future of all markets to some degree so whoever can separate themselves as the go to company will be positioned to separate themselves from the competition in a way that hasn’t been since the electricity boom. “Whoever wins this race will dominate the next stage of the information age,” said Pedro Domingos, a machine learning specialist and the author of “The Master 7a3d7d5f6cc659cb9a1020c939e36d47Algorithm,” a 2015 book that contends that A.I. and big-data technology will remake the world. In 2015 alone Amazon and microsoft both added machine learning capacity to their cloud software platforms, Amazon Web Services and microsoft Azure. “Our goal is to capture all human knowledge,” he said. “I would like for Diffbot to build an iconic company around data. There are companies focusing on computing, but there is no Amazon of data.”

This is something that many people have such tunnell vision on that no one ever really looks up and says perhaps this is not the healthiest path we need to take, and perhaps A.I. is something that is so far out of our relm of understanding that before we could make an actual mind capable of empathy, we can make a machine capable of death.The only question is, is who is going to be loud enough to head the call that these puppies could, even if not undo the human race in a terminator Esq apocalypse, they could still really mess things us. Consider a situation where an A.I program can go into someones personal information and ruin your personal record. This is the world we need to consider, because it is the world that is on the door step. Maybe we should wait until we let it in.

Coping with the Unimaginable; Your Entire Hard Drive Just Went Belly Up

IMAGINE THIS

You’re minding your own business… literally, working at your computer handling your business affairs when suddenly (gasp!) you can’t access the mountains of business and customer data saved on your external hard drive for no apparent reason. Your corporate life flashes before your eyes (including multiple scenes of you accidentally spilling coffee on your hard drive, dropping it on the ground, brushing Cheetos crumbs off of it, etc.) and you consider finally trying to make it as a singer-songwriter.

lady screaming

Don’t do it!

There are people that can help you, and there is some troubleshooting even you can do to potentially save yourself a few hundred bucks on data recovery.

HOW IT HAPPENS

Generally data loss can be attributed to one of two causes. Either you’ve got a software issue, or the problem lies in the hard drive itself. Software problems include issues caused by viruses and malware, accidental deletions, formatting errors and the like. With hardware we’re talking physical damage caused by water exposure, dirt/debris contamination, physically dropping the device, etc. Most of these issues require professional assistance, but there are some things you can try out yourself.

RECOVERING DATA DESPITE SOFTWARE ISSUES

Repeat after me: When dealing with data loss due to software issues, I will never work with the drive in question. This is number one, folks. Every second that the damaged drive is connected to a running system works against your chances at recovering your precious data. Your operating system is in constant communication with your drive, so if it sees free space where you know you saved your niece’s baby pictures, you can count on forgetting how much she looked like every other baby during that precious time of life. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Power off the machine connected to the drive that has suffered data loss. Now that the drive is secure, you can make a copy of the drive and attempt to recover information from the copy. Linux has a drive cloning service, and you can also check out Redo Backup & Recovery.
  2. Scan the clone using recovery programs such as Recuva (free!) or Zero Assumption Recovery ($70 – $200).

RECOVERING DATA DESPITE HARDWARE ISSUES

Hardware issues can stem from all kinds of damage, so it helps to know a little about the main components of a drive to better understand what might be damaged.

hard drive parts

  • PCB: This is the green circuit board attached to the bottom of the drive. Within it is the main controller. This is the interface that converts 0s and 1s from the platter into data that your computer can actually use and interpret. If you apply power to your drive and hear no noises whatsoever, it’s most likely a PCB issue. If possible, just swap your PCB with one from a matching drive.
  • Platters: Every drive contains one or more thin, disk-like platters. These glass/alloy platters are coated with a magnetic layer and spin rapidly. They contain the media where the data is actually stored. If your drive is spinning up or making clicking noises,  you generally have a platters problem. This is a job for professional data recovery engineers, and it’s imperative that you not apply any further power to the drive or else   risk further data destruction.
  • Head Assembly: Your data is read using a series of read and write heads. These heads never touch the platters directly, but instead remain nanometers above the platters’ surface. There are generally two heads per platter. If these heads are damaged, it can lead to a ‘head crash’ where the heads actually do contact the surface, which is extremely destructive towards your data. If you hear a beeping sound when you power up your drive, you probably have an issue with the heads having become stuck to the platters. The drive needs to be opened up in a lab, so this is another job for the pros.
  • Firmware: The operating system that deals with all your data and the operations required to access it. The firmware is mostly stored on the platters and on the PCB. If your drive sounds normal but is not detected or is detected wrong, you probably have a firmware issue. If you have the well-known firmware bug Seagate 7200.11, there are a lot of DIY solutions you can find just by googling it. If the issue is with a more recent drive, you’ll have to get professionals in on the deal.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT

Drive malfunctions are no laughing matter, but data recovery is often possible. Don’t freak out, just make sure to turn your drive off immediately upon recognizing an issue and don’t be afraid to bite the bullet and fork some money over to the pro’s- your business could depend on it.