The art of cyber conflict by h sienkiewicz book review chinese text

“The Art of Cyber Conflict” by H. Sienkiewicz (Book Review)

No war can be raised to a state-of-the-art level. Art must be beautiful, in the sense of producing a renewed faith of acceptance and I’m not sure war could ever do that. “The Art of Cyber Conflict” is about the new types of wars being led in the digital sphere.

Yet despite the absence of face-to-face combat or maybe exactly because of that, the author Henry Sienkiewicz points out that cyber conflicts can indeed have devastating consequences. 

The main purpose of the author is to make a parallel to another well-known book about fighting strategy – “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu and reinforce the new meaning of war in cyberspace. 

As a slight digression from the main point of this review, I found it curious that the author’s name resembles the name of another favorite writer of mine, the Polish Nobel Prize winner Henryk Sienkiewicz, whose “Quo Vadis” is among my top 30 best novels of all time. 

Except for the warlike state in the era of Christ, there are no other major similarities between these two books. If you are interested in a book that will feed your soul, the pick “Quo Vadis”, I highly recommend it.

But if you want to digest a few unpalatable truths about how wars are planned and executed, you might as well get the one by Henry, not the one by Henryk.

the art of cyber conflict book review chinese dragon

Image by Booth Kates from Pixabay

How Well Do You Know Your Adversaries?

“The Art of Cyber Conflict” features a modern theme, a link to a popular “enemy” – China, and a comparison to war wisdom that stays evergreen across centuries and cultures. The author Henry Sienkiewicz is (or used to be?) a member of the U.S. military. So the fact that he wants to understand his adversaries through the prism of an ancient Chinese military strategist is not a huge surprise. 

The most striking revelation for me, or anyone else reading this book presumably, was the notion about how much of the fight happens in the mental realm.

The six principles explained in Sun Tzu’s book “The Art of War” are not about direct conflict and can be applied to the cybersphere: “know yourself, know your enemy, know the environment, use all of your advantages, exploit the enemy’s weaknesses, be deceptive and attack along unexpected lines.”

I guess that there is no better way to defeat an enemy than knowing their strategy and always being one step ahead. Fighting in the elusive space of electronics assumes difficulties in identifying an enemy.

The art of war, including the art of cyber conflict, must be based on deep penetration into the enemy’s mind. But when your enemy is ghostlike as it is the case in the cyberspace, different rules apply. 

the art of cyber conflict book review get-me-out

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

There is a parallel to be drawn between the age described in the Sun Tzu’s military strategy book and current China. Both Chinas are characterized by unprecedented growth. What was happening in the era of Sun Tzu is very similar to what is happening in modern China. 

Can You Create Enemies with a Fearful Mindset?

One thing that made a lasting impression – the Chinese believed that people are inherently bad or predetermined to be evil without control. Evil is in the human nature in the sense of the old Latin proverb “Homo homini lupus est”.

Chinese accepted that humans are predisposed to act like wolves, which is just another proof of the ignorance about the true wolf nature. And I’d like to hope so – human nature, too.   

Such a stance creates a warlike mindset. Talking so much about how to lead a war encourages fear and warmongering. I don’t like calling war art, but I guess that’s one way to rationalize it and dehumanize it when it’s imminent and inevitable. 

The Cautionary Tale of Ubiquitous Cyber Dangers

Living in fear never helped anyone but living in caution does help occasionally. I’d rather be a pacifist and crucify war wisdom proponents altogether but, in today’s growing cyber volatility and angst, I risk being labeled as crazy. 

Let’s keep it real and admit that, sometimes, there are dangerous people on the web that do commit cybercrimes, the least of which are stolen credit card passwords. This is a chance to spot those rotten apples more easily.

I’d rather not think about cybercrime intelligence, but this book was great to alert me that it is not only in the realm of Netflix series.

The perfect use of this book is to enhance your skills in spotting vulnerabilities in the ever-expanding IoT network which looms on the horizon. Otherwise, too much high-level military strategizing, which I’m sure I won’t be using, ever.

I hope that others won’t be using it to fight endless senseless wars or to be “crucified again”, as the risen Jesus relentlessly continued to walk his path when Peter asked him “Quo vadis?” (Whither goest thou?) at the gates of Rome. 

the art of cyber conflict book review quo vadis

Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.
make your own neural network in python synapses

I Dare You to “Make Your Own Neural Network in Python” (Book Review)

If you’re a developer and expect deep expert insights about machine learning and neural networks, this “Make Your Own Neural Network in Python” review is not for you.

But if you are a tech addict and like reading and learning about new software applications, then this will most likely hit a spot. If you like to improve general knowledge on the matter, then you may find this reading experience useful as well. 

The Special Spot for Neural Networks in Machine Learning

Alongside developments in the complex field of AI in recent years, machine learning (ML) went from an emerging to mainstream technology. It will become even more essential as the years go by.

In parallel, I’ve asked myself many questions about what machine learning is and what is all the fuss about it – will computers truly be able to learn as humans do? Can they replicate learning from an example? Are we looking at a doomsday where machines take over?

I was sure that this last scenario is not likely to take place, but I was still curious about the essential differences between machine learning (ML) algorithms and existing code. 

Although conventional algorithms are not that simple, they can be packed into neat boxes for classification purposes.

How Are ML Algorithms Different Than the Rest of Computer Code

But a machine learning algorithm is one of a kind. It doesn’t require continuous instructions by the coder – it is rather capable of instructing itself on the principle of learning from example by trial and error.

And as the machine goes through the process of making sense of the input data, it improves by one sort of a sieving process, leaving the coarse mistakes behind, and making fewer and tinier mistakes as it goes forward and generates the desired output.

This is, of course, an analogy and not an expert elaboration of how machines learn. It is an aspect that relates to neural networks, as well. 

make your own neural network in python review brain

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

With visual aids, sketches, and diagrams, the authors Michael Taylor and Mark Koning explain a substantial segment of machine learning – neural networks, which is a sub-segment of deep learning. If you don’t have some programming background (and I don’t) it won’t be as easy to delve into the details.

Nevertheless, this is not only a coding book, but a text that ventures into the math and the logic of neural networks and can be interesting for someone with a mathematical or data science background.

Neural Networks Architecture

Again, if you are not a Python developer or don’t have another experience with creating algorithms, you will still find the book useful, but maybe only partially.

However, you do need to have some knowledge of high-level math – matrices and complex functions, and statistics – regression principles, for instance, to be able to decipher the logic of neural networks explained in this text.

make your own neural network review artificial synapses

Image by Ahmed Gad from Pixabay

Here is what I gained from this book:

  • Understanding of the concentric circles around neural networks, with them being the center-most, while AI being the outermost layer, with deep learning and machine learning positioned in-between.
  • Key terminology about neural networks, for example – nodes, synapses, connections, layers, and the ability to identify synonyms, for example, node=neuron.
  • Why deep learning is called “deep” and what are hidden, input, and output layers.
  • What is supervised, unsupervised, and semi-supervised machine learning
  • The critical value of partial derivatives and why you need to understand them before reaching out for this book to build upon that knowledge and make your own network.

Thanks to my neverending interest in psychology, the last point was intriguing for me. Neural networks are structurally set to correspond to the neuron synapses in the human brain, thus the similar technology. I haven’t seen many visual presentations of how neural networks work, but I like this one. 

Once I was done with the reading, it became clear that this field has only scratched the surface and that there are many new insights skilled experts need to make before we have a better grasp of it.

Now, will I be able to make my own neural network? Absolutely not. But will I read about technology development and innovations with a bit more confidence and acumen behind me? A definite yes.

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.
Jobs for Robots by Jason Schenker review

“Jobs for Robots” by Jason Schenker: How to Make Yourself Irreplaceable in the Age of Robotics

Informed in one way or another, we all await for the faraway future to welcome robots on a grand scale. But robots are coming faster than we can tell. In fact, robots are already here and now it’s the best time to start preparing yourself for what once seemed only a distant possibility on the horizon. 

We had a poignant but necessary history lesson about the first time machines took over jobs from people. Similarly, a new lesson won’t be pleasant for the unprepared worker. Therefore, if you want to think middle and long-term, it’s time to train your coping skills about the age of the fourth industrial revolution when robots take a stronger hold on our lives. Despite this murky start, this is not an apocalyptic review, we’ll get to more of the bright side at the end.

In case you were wondering when will that be, don’t hold your breath for too long. It’s beginning now. 

I see it everywhere – the buzz about robots, artificial intelligence, Universal Basic Income (UBI), and the accompanying job changes. If you are just a bit like me and read entrepreneurial, business, tech or finance magazines then you can make use of the book “Jobs for Robots” in more than one way. Even if your common literature is mainstream lifestyle magazines, you probably haven’t missed an article or two about robotics and automation. I guess you’ve used a kiosk or talked to Alexa – in that case, you’ve interacted with a robot. 

Ever used a self-service checkout machine? Have you considered that behind the simple DIY cashier is a human who has lost a job? The latter may be or may not be true. After all, many cashiers are now customer service agents in a different way, focusing more on the human interaction aspect of the job.

But for many jobs of the current present, the science of robotics is working on their replacements or improvements. Many jobs are forever lost at the same time while new ones are being created. Some jobs will thrive and others won’t survive at all. What’s Schenker’s stance on the doomy-gloomy vs. the utopian outlook on robots?

It is somewhere in-between Robocalypse and Robotopia, and he seems to know what he is talking about. 

Jobs for Robots by Jason Schenker review robotic head

Image by DrSJS from Pixabay

Jason Schenker is an authoritative predictor of economic and social trends and comes with a long list of degrees, certifications, and references from reputable sources. Even if you don’t agree with him about everything – and I don’t, for example, I find his view on UBI too conservative and restrictive – you will reap a lot of benefits from listening to his tips about making yourself irreplaceable in the robotics era. 

Building on his past experience in predictive economics, the meaningful insights picked up in past work, and a comprehensive list of web resources on the topic at hand, Schenker gives several clues to help you sail to the other side of the robotics age. 

You will become more aware of how job trends are interdependent with tax policies, social security, debt, new technologies, as well as how past economic cycles repeat, and how to learn from them. Jobs with a human touch are not jeopardized. If you are in healthcare, you are most likely to thrive in the future. But many low-skill, low-income, and low-education jobs will disappear – so there is a risk if you belong to one of the occupations under these categories.

One example of substantial transformation is jobs in transportation, including a very well known robot – the driverless car. As another example of human-replacing machines, Schenker mentions kiosks – for cupcakes even – and positions them in the future work as machines people will be happy to use. 

jobs for robots: education to future-proof your job

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Finally, I’m not so happy with Schenker’s saying “Busy people are happy people” because he connects happiness to having something to do.

Many busy people are anxious people, using their jobs as anxiety drivers or curtains, and are very unhappy. I wouldn’t give someone a job only to keep that person so occupied as to not be able or have time to notice their misery!

Future automation jobs will require education and you need to prepare for a steep learning curve. In a nutshell, Schenker’s advice to survive in the automation era comes down to three elements: work in an evergreen industry, learn valuable skills, and keep moving from jobs, companies, and locations.

It’s a book that gives yes to novelty and alertness, and no to complacency, a proven tactic for growth and avoiding unpleasant circumstances such as getting fired or becoming redundant.   

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.