2019 Minnebar Conference

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Minnebar 14 conference was hosted at the Best Buy Headquarters in Bloomington Minnesota.  The event has grown to over 1700+ attendees ranging from technologists, start-ups, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.  The all day conference featured over 160+ speakers across multiple tracks.

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Conference speaker and sessions list below:

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2019 IoT Fuse Conference

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The 2019 Internet of Things / IoT Fuse Conference was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  The event grows each year from attendees all around the USA.  The event was kicked off by newly appointed Minnesota DEED commissioner Steve Groves.  The keynote featured a large scale IoT Implementation from Chick-Fil-A.   They support a wide deployment of IoT devices across their franchises.  This management of this distributed environment was a point of many questions in the Q&A session.

The two days prior to the conference was workshop sessions for practitioners to get experience in the many layers of IoT sensor, coding and data aggregation.  There was a wide number of topics across several speaker tracks.

Here is an example of topics from my schedule that day:

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A large number of IoT venders and technology platform providers were at the event.

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FBI/NSA InfraGard on Cyber Security

FBI-Seal

Elements Group attends the FBI/NSA Infragard session on cyber security hosted at the Cargill auditorium in Hopkins Minnesota.  Speakers representing the FBI, NSA and local security firms presented on many topics including:
– Artificial Intelligence
– Machine Learning
– Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN)
– Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN)
– Bias and Variance
– Cloud Computing
– 5G
– Cyber Crime

Nation state threats included a briefing on:
– China
– Russia
– Iran
– North Korea

The examples provided on current day threats and impacts directly to Minnesota based companies was very informative.   The sessions also provided an overview of a number of cutting edge technologies and their implications to cyber security.

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Robotics, Automation and AI – Investing

ACG LogoThe investment opportunities for growth in AI, Robotics and Automation will be greater than that of the internet companies like Facebook, Google or Amazon.  This was the position of William Studebaker, President, Chief Investment Officer, and Managing Partner at ROBO Global, LLC.   He was a featured speaker at the ACG event hosted at the Windows over Minnesota on the 50th floor of the IDS building in downtown Minneapolis.

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IoT and Smart Water

IMG_4570Minnesota DEED Trade Office hosted a Smart Water Round Table event at the Uponor corporation on May 10th, 2018.   Featured were a host of IoT companies showcasing their work in smart water solutions.   The audience and speakers who attended came from as far away as Europe and South America.   This event came on the heels of the Minnesota IoT Fuse conference.   The solutions they covered spanned a vast array of topics including:  precision agriculture, water treatment, smart cities,  transportation, city infrastructure optimization, etc.    The companies also represented specializations in hardware & sensors,  data aggregation and analytics, and business model development.

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ACG – Food Technology

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IMG_4305The Alliance for Corporate Growth hosted their monthly lunch at the Hilton Gallery on April 17th, 2018.   This event was focused on several local companies that specialized in advanced food technologies.  Their stories on how they are revolutionizing the food industry and paving the way for an entirely new age of healthy food was inspiring.

Some of the major challenges facing society is the level of overall illness that has been created by the current agriculture and food industries that are more focused on profits than actually on the nutrition and health of their products they are selling to consumers.  Another global challenge is the exponential population growth rates in many countries around the world.   This increase places huge food production and transportation issues for the industry.  One statistic shared stated that in the next 40 years we will have to grow 4000 times the amount of food that we have in the past just to feed the world’s population.  The talk also covered more Trends that are impacting the food industry overall.   Continue reading “ACG – Food Technology”

Cybersecurity: An FBI Perspective

IMG_4068I attended a presentation by a former FBI executive director John Slattery.   He spoke about his experience across more than three decades with the FBI involving counter-intelligence work and the rise of cybersecurity.

The first part of the program covered his career with the agency that spanned from agent training, to field agent, to undercover agent, then the move into management and lastly really unique roles working in CIA HQ around joint FBI/CIA efforts.  His career included many external cases on counter-intelligence, as well as, some internal crisis within government agencies.

The second part of the session talked about real-world public examples in the private sector.  This part of the talk demonstrated how companies were at huge risks in terms of their security protocols and technology vulnerabilities.   Mr. Slattery talked about his current role consulting with both corporate and government parties around cybersecurity and internal security processes.

Key Take-Aways from the conversation that was covered in some depth.

  1. The top countries that are actively organizing and threatening America include:
    1. China
    2. Russia
    3. North Korea
    4. Iran
  2. Levels of espionage and intelligence gathering are as high as cold war era.
  3. Technology is being employed and developed as weapons of warfare.  Just like military arms and economics have been highly refined technology is the new frontier for waging conflict.
  4. Top areas of technology risks include:
    1. Planting or turning inside personnel to gather data and/or access to systems.
    2. Email / Phishing for data.
    3. Tunneling or hacking into systems.
    4. Big Data gathering of public data and network traffic for analytics
    5. The growth of IoT is creating a huge security risk for nations because of all the data and lack of security maturity in those platforms.
    6. The growth of the dark web and its capabilities.
    7. The use of social media to spread disinformation and shape public opinion by hostile groups.
    8. Security policies at all levels of society ( Government, Business, Social ) are not in place and lack maturity given the pace of technology evolution.
    9. Lack of funding to create national security assets to manage and counter the threat.
    10. Lack of public and business understanding of the threats and the scale of damage that can be inflicted upon public and private institutions.

The Q&A session ranged broadly across the topics above and current FBI investigations going on at the highest levels in Washington in terms of foreign powers disrupting our government.    A key message here was that foreign powers have been trying to do this forever,  it is just the level of sophistication is increasing exponentially.

Another key topic included the use of artificial intelligence employed in counter-intelligence.  There is great potential here in terms of pattern or anomaly identification across large sets of integrated big data.   The concern is that it will still take a thoughtful human interpretation of information to develop insight and provide the intervention plans required to stem the threat.

As the conversation started to cover what companies need to do it was clear that besides all the basic policy and technology infrastructure that security still must be lead by people.  Every situation has its own context that must be investigated and understood.   The other aspect that companies must address is that they provide the channels for employees to share concerns and have the ability TO ACT when this information is received.

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