ABL-Tech Member News & Industry Trendletter * February 22, 2024
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ICYMI: The Video Recording of ABL's "Supercharging Your Company's AI Game - to Surf Instead of Sink in Today's AI Growth Wave" (held in person on 1/23/24) Is Now Available on the Password-Protected "MEMBERS ONLY" Section of the ABL Website, Under "Presentations"
There you'll find the videos and slide presentations given by our excellent presenters as well as discussion among the event's attendees.

Alvaka (Oli Thordarson) Named a Top Workplace for 3rd Year in a Row

Alvaka has been awarded a Top Workplaces 2023 honor by The Orange County Register Top Workplaces - for the third consecutive year. This list is based solely on confidential employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey, which measures the employee experience and its component themes, including employees feeling Respected & Supported, Enabled to Grow, and Empowered to Execute, to name a few. (LA)

Eckert & Ziegler (Frank Yeager) Inks Supply Agreements with Nucleus Radiopharma & Full-Life Technologies

Eckert & Ziegler (EZ) and Nucleus Radiopharma have signed extensive supply agreements for major therapeutic radioisotopes. EZ will serve as the core supplier for high-quality Lutetium-177 and Actinium-225. Nucleus will use these radioisotopes to complement and advance their services for clinical development and manufacturing of radiopharmaceuticals used in cancer treatment.
AND, EZ and Full-Life Technologies have entered into an agreement whereby EZ will provide Full-Life with access to high-purity Actinium-225, as a radionuclide for use in developing the next generation of therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals. (LA)

myKaarma (Ujj Nath) Collaborates with Logitrac, Debuts New Features & More

myKaarma and Logitrac have announced a completely integrated solution to further improve the service experience for vehicle owners and dealership employees. It is now possible to access Logitrac, the most innovative fleet management provider, through a built-in tab in the myKaarma application. All Logitrac features such as pucks, zones, alerts, and charges for tolls are a click away without having to sign into a separate system.
AND, at the recent NADA Conference, myKaarma launched multiple new features, including ServiceCart Video MPI Premium; ShopChat feature; Mobile Check-in; and ServiceConnect Outreach solution.
PLUS, Ujj Nath was interviewed in a recent episode of Fixed Ops 5 podcast - Charging Ahead: Unpacking Strategies, AI Integration, and Having a Vision for 2024 in Fixed Ops. (OC)

Payani Group's Ali Payani Interviewed on ABC News Program

Ali Payani, CEO of Payani Group, was interviewed recently on an ABC News program about his company's goals and vision for 2024, as well as Ali's career background - watch the 3:53-minute video here.
MEANWHILE, check out some of Payani Group's recent work: The Future, Wrapped - an imaginative campaign developed for client MetWest, a leader in full-service building wraps, glass films, and wall coverings; and Chris Dyer's New Website: A First Look. (LA)

ProProfs (Sameer Bhatia) Acquires Webinar Software Provider WebinarNinja

ProProfs, a leading provider of SaaS products and on-demand learning tools, has acquired Webinar Ninja, a popular webinar software solution built for coaches, teachers, trainers, and consultants. This acquisition marks a strategic step forward by expanding ProProfs capabilities to deliver both live and on-demand learning experiences - reaffirming ProProfs' commitment to providing innovative and accessible learning experiences across various formats. WebinarNinja supports all devices and operating systems without the need for any software download or installation. Powerful analytics inform decision-making, offering invaluable audience insights that drive business growth and success. (LA)

John Tanner's NuSci Presenting In-Person Event on March 13

On the evening of March 13, NuSci Nutrition Science Foundation will present a Nutrition Science Workshop, in which John Tanner, Ph.D., will share his nutrition journey after suffering a near-fatal cardiac arrest in 2009. John will relay the scientific information the attendees need to avoid heart disease and other leading killers, discuss strategies for change, and field questions. The evening, to be held at Tanner Research in Duarte, will include dinner and a gift book. (LA)

Toast Technology (Ken Neeld) Selected by Choice Hotels as Brand Standard for Two Upscale Brands

Toast (NYSE: TOST), which now incorporates Delphi Display Systems' digital technology in its platform built for restaurants, has announced an innovative collaboration with Choice Hotels International to make its Toast for Hotel Restaurants technology a brand standard for two of Choice's upscale brands, Cambria Hotels and Radisson. Toast is also a Qualified Vendor for Choice's other brands. The implementation will digitalize the guest's food and beverage experience on the property while streamlining food and beverage operations for hotel staff.
ALSO, Toast is partnering with Careers through Culinary Arts Program to support youth culinary training programs across the U.S. with a commitment of $500,000. (OC)

Alvaka (Oli Thordarson) on Ransomware Groups to Watch For in 2024

In Which Ransomware Groups Should We Watch For in 2024?, Alvaka reports that the three most active ransomware gangs in 2023 were LockBit 3.0, Alphv, and Cl0p. The ransomware industry witnessed a startling surge in 2023, experiencing a 55.5% increase in global victims, totaling an astonishing 4,368 cases. For 2024, Alvaka shares that the three new ransomware gangs to look out for are Akira, Rhysida, and 3AM.
ALSO, click here to read other recent blogs from Alvaka, including "LockBit Attacks Major Taiwanese Semiconductor, Foxsemicon;" "Water Companies Attacked by Ransomware: Global Critical Infrastructure at Risk;" and "What is the 'Black Basta Buster?'" (LA)

Dave Berkus on Importance to CEO of Relationships & Costs of Taking Investor Money

In Wow! Are your relationships important!, Dave says that as you follow his insights from ignition to a liquidity event, you'll detect a continuing theme, emphasizing the need for deep and wide relationships that the CEO and senior staff can call upon for advice and guidance. This is the time to elevate those insights to the level of highest value for the corporation, one that cannot be listed on a balance sheet nor included in an appraisal of corporate worth. And yet, Dave continues, such relationships - properly used and never overused, can quickly and precisely help you cut through delays in government agencies, speed the process of product planning and ultimate release, aid in positioning in the market, and help you avoid a myriad of mistakes that could prove costly in time and money.
AND, in What are the Costs of Taking Investor Money?, Dave talks about the reality of taking money from professional investors and concentrating on governance changes. This money comes with restrictions a founder may not expect, including restrictions upon the sale of founder stock, clauses that require the investor be allowed to sell an equal proportion of stock upon any other person's sale of stock, anti-dilution provisions that protect the investor from a subsequent offer of stock at a lower price, and much more. (LA)

CuraeSoft (Mark Parinas) on Importance of Wage & Hour Compliance + Project Deliverables

In a recent post, CuraeSoft CEO Mark Parinas discusses Wage & Hour Compliance, in which he reports that data points are signaling a tectonic shift in employee victories within wage and hour lawsuits, clocking an 81% win in 2021 and an 84% triumph in 2020. These spikes are intimately linked to Infrastructure Gaps; Rest Periods and Meal Breaks; and Off-the-Clock Work.
AND, in another post, Mark examines Project Deliverables and why they are important. He describes them as the backbone of any project - "think tangible results - documents, prototypes, or other project necessities. They establish the scope, timeline, and budget." (LA)

Get Visible (Jason Ciment) on Transforming SEO with Better AI Strategies & the Power of Brand Visibility

In Transform SEO in 2024 with Better AI Strategies, Get Visible discusses: Demystifying the use of ChatGPT in SEO; Effective AI deployment strategies; Avoiding common pitfalls with generative AI; and Finding innovative ways to use Chat GPT and other AI tools in your digital marketing efforts.
AND, in Unlocking the Power of Brand Visibility - A Comprehensive Publicity Guide for Small Business Owners, Lawyers, and Doctors, Get Visible declares that making a name for yourself extends far beyond just offering top-notch services or products. It's about strategically leveraging every ounce of publicity to cement your authority, build trust, and connect with your audience on a deeper level. (LA)

Instil (Adam Miller, JD) on Enhancing Donor Engagement with Personalized Marketing

In Enhance Donor Engagement With Personalized Marketing: 3 Tips, Instil discusses creating donor profiles; segmenting your supporters; and taking an omnichannel approach. Instil contends that once you make initial contact with potential donors, you can nurture and strengthen long-term connections with supporters who are genuinely interested in your cause through personalized marketing efforts. (LA)

Optimum Info (Arvind Verma) on Tools & Tech to Build Strong & Effective Field Operations

In Making Strong and Effective Field Operations, Optimum Info states that Field Operations are a critical link between an Original Equipment Manufacturer and its franchise network. The success and failure of a company's sales and after-sales strategies depend on the field operations team's efficiency in working with the retailers to implement those strategies. It is therefore important for a company to consider how it can strengthen and equip its field personnel with the right set of tools and technologies to help them succeed; these can be broadly classified into three categories: Providing your team with the right set of data and KPIs; Centralizing field managers' tasks and activities with real-time information; and Implementing a collaborative platform to expedite the execution of field initiatives. (OC)

Marshall Toplansky on Top Key Issues Facing Society in 2024

Recent episodes of Marshall's and Joel Kotkin's podcast, The Feudal Future, include:
> The Top Key Issues Facing Society in 2024, in which Marshall and Joel preview the topics they plan on delving into further in upcoming episodes. They include Education; Net Zero; Infrastructure; Renewable Energy; Third World War; Supply Chain; Rise of Latino Prosperity; Entrepreneurship; Lack of Trust in All Kinds of Institutions; Time for the Next Generation; and Artificial Intelligence.
> Navigating the Future of Higher Education: Challenges, Reform, and the Role of Civic Engagement, in which they and their distinguished panel scrutinize waning public confidence in academic institutions, dissect the legislative counteracts to campus culture, and address the impending demographic shift that predicts a drop in college-age students. (OC)

Biospectal (Eliott Jones) Launches OptiBP App in Switzerland

Biospectal's groundbreaking OptiBP, the first CE approved smartphone app to measure blood pressure using a fingertip on a smartphone camera, launched in Switzerland on January 30, and was featured on Swiss national television channel RTS. OptiBP will be available in multiple European countries later in 2024. (BA)

Eitan Medical's (Roger Massengale) Infusion Pump was Validated in Collaboration with an Israeli Hospital

A clinical research collaboration between Beilinson Hospital in Israel and Eitan Medical has been published in "Nutrition" on sciencedirect.com. This research illustrates the validity of the data captured by Eitan's Sapphire Infusion Pump during home parenteral nutrition infusions and the clinical potential of the data analysis presented on the Eitan Insights platform for remote data monitoring. (OC)

MedWand (Bob Rose) Receives Regulatory Clearance in Thailand + Featured in Video from The Tech Times

MedWand announced its latest international regulatory green light, which enables the use in Thailand of the company's sensor-based medical device for comprehensive patient assessment.
AND, MedWand was spotlighted in a 9-minute video from The Tech Times while at CES 2024, which included an interview with Bob Rose. (OC)

Providence Digital Innovation Group (Marcee Chmait) on Meeting Patient Needs in a Personalized, Systematic Way

Providence Digital Innovation Group (DIG) is featured in a recent article from Health System CIO - Q&A: Providence's Sara Vaezy on Meeting Patient Needs "In a More Personalized, Systematic Way," which observes that healthcare organizations don't seem to know how to leverage the information they've been gathering digitally for the past several years to engage more effectively with individuals. Providence DIG took a major step toward achieving that goal with the recent launch of Praia, a platform designed to create more personalized online care experiences for patients. (LA)

WestFax (Barry Clark) Releases CloudFax Toolkit to Optimize Healthcare Communications

WestFax has unveiled its latest advancement in healthcare secure cloud fax technology: the CloudFax Toolkit (CFT). This toolkit is designed to integrate seamlessly with existing healthcare infrastructures, enhancing fax process automation, whether outputting faxes from an EHR or inbound auto-printing. The WestFax CFT is a Windows-based service that acts as an all-in-one fax document engine - enabling robust inbound and outbound fax document workflow with unlimited customizable actions. "It's a healthcare fax document management system that not only meets current needs but is also poised to adapt to the evolving landscape of healthcare information transformation," CEO Barry Clark said. (OC)

Xolv, Catalight's IT & Tech Innovation Group (Susan Armiger), Becomes Independent Corporation

Xolv has transitioned into a new corporation as part of a strategic initiative to enhance its innovative capabilities in the rapidly growing behavioral health space. Xolv is now poised to unlock new avenues of expansion, attract investment, and retain and recruit top-tier tech talent. Before the new venture, Xolv provided technology solutions to Catalight that supported the treatment of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Catalight will continue as Xolv's preferred partner and become the largest shareholder of the new company. Catalight CEO Susan Armiger will serve as the Xolv CEO while the Xolv leadership team and board of directors are finalized. (BA)

National Cyber Director Urges Private Sector Collaboration to Counter Nation-State Cyber Threat

National Cyber Director Harry Coker recently reiterated warnings that hackers linked to the People's Republic of China are actively working to gain access to critical infrastructure in the U.S. to potentially launch malicious attacks. He emphasized that most of the critical infrastructure in the U.S. is owned by the private sector, and the U.S. needs collaborative work from the industry to make sure these systems are protected from malicious threats.
       Coker said that his office is working on several key initiatives that are part of the Biden administration's national cybersecurity strategy. They include: Consulting with academic and legal experts to explore a variety of tactics to hold manufacturers accountable when they rush insecure products to market; Reaching out to interagency partners to harmonize several wide-ranging cyber rules and regulations so companies are not overwhelmed by compliance burdens; and Working to build a more diverse and robust cybersecurity workforce, as the industry still has about a half million vacant job opportunities and there is a desperate need to attract qualified workers. Coker also highlighted an upcoming white paper on efforts to develop the use of memory-safe languages and improve software measurability. (https://www.ciodive.com/news/national-cyber-director-private-sector-collaboration/707439/)
MEANWHILE, State Department Puts $10M Bounty on AlphV Ransomware Group: The State Department offered up to a $10 million reward for information about the identity or location of leaders affiliated with the AlphV ransomware group aka BlackCat. The bounty includes a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of anyone participating in a ransomware attack using the AlphV variant. The FBI and international law enforcement agencies disrupted the prolific ransomware group's infrastructure in December, but the group regenerated itself mere hours later and continues naming new victims on its data leak site. It has compromised more than 1,000 entities and received nearly $300 million in ransom payments as of September, according to the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. (https://www.cybersecuritydive.com/news/alphv-ransomware-bounty/707660/)

Flying Taxis to Get Chargers at John Wayne & Van Nuys Airports

Flying taxi company Overair in Santa Ana said it is partnering with Clay Lacy Aviation to introduce an electric charging facility at John Wayne and Van Nuys airports - while exploring the establishment of "vertiports" in Southern California to handle the new aircraft. Overair's Butterfly, an electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing craft, is scheduled to start testing early this year. Clay Lacy, a jet management company and infrastructure developer based in Van Nuys, says the airport facilities will also be available to other flying taxi companies including Joby Aviation of Santa Cruz. (https://www.ocbj.com/newsletter-feed/overair-flying-taxis-to-get-chargers-at-john-wayne/)

What CIOs Stand to Gain in a Tech M&A Revival

Tech M&A volume and value jumped during the second half of 2023, teeing up an expected surge in 2024, according to EY's market analysis. EY forecasts private equity deal volume to be up 13% year over year and corporate M&A to increase 12%. A rekindling of M&A activity among tech providers can give CIOs a chance to weed out complexity in the tech stack, as critical services move under a single provider; companies can consider joining the fray, acquiring a vendor to bring skills and technology in-house; and vendors can also integrate complementary capabilities through strategic acquisitions. (https://www.ciodive.com/news/tech-mergers-acquisitions-ey-ibm-sap-cisco/707043/)

"AI Native" Gen Zers are Comfortable on the Cutting Edge

While some workers are fearful or ambivalent about how ChatGPT, DALL-E and their ilk will affect their jobs, many college students and newly minted grads think it can give them a career edge. So-called "AI natives" who are studying technology in school may have a leg up on older "digital natives" - the same way that "digital native" millennials bested their "digital immigrant" elders. College students are piling into generative AI (GAI) courses - the better to give them an advantage in the growing number of jobs requiring such skills. A third of this year's seniors - and more than half of tech majors - say they plan to use GAI in their careers, per a class of 2024 trends report from Handshake, a job-search platform for college students. "We're not seeing a nervousness" among Gen Zers, says Valerie Capers Workman, chief legal officer at Handshake. "They see it as an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of a transformational technology." (https://www.axios.com/2024/02/12/ai-gen-z-students-workers-school-jobs)

California Lawmaker Unveils Landmark AI Bill, With Nationwide Implications

California state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat who represents San Francisco, has introduced a bill to force companies to test the most powerful artificial intelligence models before releasing them - a landmark proposal that could inspire regulation around the country as state legislatures increasingly tackle the swiftly evolving technology. The new bill would require companies training new AI models to test their tools for "unsafe" behavior, institute hacking protections and develop the tech in such a way that it can be shut down completely, according to a copy of the bill.
       AI companies would have to disclose testing protocols and what guardrails they put in place to the California Department of Technology. If the tech causes "critical harm," the state's attorney general can sue the company. Wiener's bill comes amid an explosion of state bills addressing AI, as policymakers across the country grow wary that years of inaction in Congress have created a regulatory vacuum that benefits the tech industry. But California, home to many of the world's largest technology companies, plays a singular role in setting precedent for tech industry guardrails. There are 407 AI-related bills active across 44 U.S. states, according to an analysis by BSA the Software Alliance, an industry group that includes Microsoft and IBM. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2024/02/08/california-legislation-artificial-intelligence-regulation/ )

Microsoft, Google, Amazon & Tech Peers Sign Pact to Combat Election-Related Misinformation

A group of 20 leading tech companies last week announced a joint commitment to combat AI misinformation in this year's elections. The industry is specifically targeting deepfakes, which can use deceptive audio, video and images to mimic key stakeholders in democratic elections or to provide false voting information. Microsoft, Meta, Google, Amazon, IBM, Adobe and chip designer Arm all signed the accord. AI startups OpenAI, Anthropic and Stability AI also joined the group, alongside social media companies such as Snap, TikTok and X. (https://www.cnbc.com/2024/02/16/tech-and-ai-companies-sign-accord-to-combat-election-related-deepfakes.html)

Google Joins Effort to Help Spot Content Made With AI - Plan is Similar to Meta's

Google recently announced that it is joining an effort to develop credentials for digital content, a sort of "nutrition label" that identifies when and how a photograph, a video, an audio clip or another file was produced or altered - including with AI. The company will collaborate with companies like Adobe, the BBC, Microsoft and Sony to fine-tune the technical standards. The announcement follows a similar promise from Meta, which like Google has enabled the easy creation and distribution of artificially generated content. Meta said it would promote standardized labels that identified such material. Configuring digital files to include a verified record of their history could make the digital ecosystem more trustworthy, according to those who back a universal certification standard. Google is joining the steering committee for one such group, the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity, or C2PA. OpenAI said recently that its AI image-generation tools would soon add watermarks to images according to the C2PA standards. (https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/08/business/media/google-ai.html)

Biden Administration Announces U.S. AI Safety Institute Consortium

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo recently announced the creation of the U.S. AI Safety Institute Consortium, which will unite AI creators and users, academics, government and industry researchers, and civil society organizations in support of the development and deployment of safe and trustworthy artificial intelligence. The consortium will be housed under the U.S. AI Safety Institute and will contribute to priority actions outlined in President Biden's Executive Order, including developing guidelines for red-teaming, capability evaluations, risk management, safety and security, and watermarking synthetic content.
       The consortium includes 200+ member companies and organizations that are on the frontlines of creating and using the most advanced AI systems and hardware, the nation's largest companies and most innovative startups, civil society and academic teams that are building the foundational understanding of how AI can and will transform our society, and representatives of professions with deep engagement in AI's use today. The consortium will focus on establishing the foundations for a new measurement science in AI safety. The consortium also includes state and local governments, as well as non-profits, and will work with organizations from like-minded nations that have a key role to play in developing interoperable and effective tools for safety around the world. The full list of consortium participants is available here. (https://www.commerce.gov/news/press-releases/2024/02/biden-harris-administration-announces-first-ever-consortium-dedicated)
MEANWHILE, US Takes Next Steps to Understand the Pros & Cons of AI Foundational Models: On February 21, the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration launched a request for comment on the benefits and risks of widely available foundation AI models to inform potential policy recommendations. NTIA does not have regulatory authority, but its report could assist lawmakers in knowing where to draw the line. The agency plans to investigate the availability of model weights and compare to the risks and benefits associated with closed models. Open-weight models allow developers to build upon and adapt previous work. The request for comment will close in mid-to-late March and was directed by the White House's AI-focused executive order. (https://www.ciodive.com/news/NTIA-inquiry-open-foundation-models-WH-AI-executive-order/708015/)

Sam Altman Seeks Trillions of Dollars to Reshape Business of Chips and AI

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is in talks with investors including the United Arab Emirates government to raise funds for a wildly ambitious tech initiative that would boost the world's chip-building capacity, expand its ability to power AI, among other things, and cost several trillion dollars, according to people familiar with the matter. The project could require raising as much as $5 to $7 trillion, one of the people said. The fundraising plans, which face significant obstacles, are aimed at solving constraints to OpenAI's growth, including the scarcity of the pricey AI chips required to train large language models behind AI systems such as ChatGPT. Altman has often complained that there aren't enough of these kinds of chips - known as graphics-processing units, or GPUs - to power OpenAI's quest for artificial general intelligence, which it defines as systems that are broadly smarter than humans. (https://www.wsj.com/tech/ai/sam-altman-seeks-trillions-of-dollars-to-reshape-business-of-chips-and-ai-89ab3db0)

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