Risk Management Article

Multiple Authors
By: David Darais, Joseph Near

How many people drink pumpkin spice lattes in October, and how would you calculate this without learning specifically who is drinking them, and who is not?

Although they seem simple or trivial, counting queries are used extremely often. Counting queries such as histograms can express many useful business metrics. How many transactions took place last week? How did this compare to the previous week? Which market has produced the most sales? In fact, one paper showed that more than half of queries written at Uber in 2016 were counting queries.

Counting queries are often the basis for more complicated analyses, too. For example, the U.S. Census releases data that are constructed essentially by issuing many counting queries over sensitive raw data collected from residents. Each of these queries belongs in the class of counting queries we will discuss below and computes the number of people living in the United States with a particular set of properties (e.g., living in a certain geographic area, having a particular income, belonging to a particular demographic).

Graham Freeman’s picture

By: Graham Freeman

Here’s an unfortunate truth: The story of the Covid-19 pandemic is one of epic quality failures in almost every area imaginable. Although there have been some admirable successes, such as the food and beverage organizations that have ensured the continued safe delivery of food supplies to most regions, failures both large and small have caused an untold amount of damage to the infrastructure of society and business. Arguably, these quality failures have worsened the impact of the pandemic, including economic devastation and even a higher death toll.

Here are just a few of the quality failures that will become prominent themes in the Covid-19 narrative.

Multiple Authors
By: Bob Holmes, Knowable Magazine

This story was originally published by Knowable Magazine.

Most of us won’t soon forget that disconcerting moment last spring when grocery store shelves were suddenly bare where the flour, pasta, and other staples should have been. The news told of farmers dumping milk—nearly four million gallons a day, by one account—smashing eggs, and euthanizing chickens that they couldn’t get to market. Crops worth billions of dollars were wasted, some rotting in the field, as restaurants and other food service businesses, shuttered by lockdowns, stopped buying.

The problem was short-lived, fortunately, as growers pivoted to new buyers, shippers and packers adapted, exports resumed, and the food system—the complex web of players that move food from farm to fork—came back to life. “Overall, the food system has been quite resilient,” says Johan Swinnen, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute, a leading international think tank. “It’s hard to imagine a bigger shock than we’ve had now. And despite that, if you look at the rich countries, even countries like China, the food supply has not been a problem almost anywhere.”

Rita Men’s picture

By: Rita Men

Ending the pandemic depends on achieving herd immunity, estimated at 70 percent or even 80 percent to 90 percent of a population. With some 30 percent of Americans telling pollsters they have no interest in getting vaccinated, that’s cutting it a bit close. The numbers are even worse in many other countries.

Del Williams’s picture

By: Del Williams

On conveyor systems in the food processing industry, some powdered and bulk solid materials such as grains, sugar, and creamer are ignition-sensitive in specific concentrations, particularly when exposed to static electricity discharge. Key concerns are conveyor-system connection points such as inlets, outlets, and storage bins. The concentration of dust can become sufficiently high for a deflagration to occur with accidental exposure to an ignition source, such as static electricity, a spark, flame, or even high heat or friction.

So, the characteristics of the material conveyed and the type of conveyor along with its associated component parts and connection points should be considered in the system’s design to avoid a serious risk of dust combustion and explosion. By carefully selecting and integrating the conveyor system and its components, food processors can minimize the risk of dust explosions while safely conveying materials in a hygienic and energy-efficient manner.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Quality professionals no longer focus solely on product or service quality. Today, the quality function is involved in almost every aspect of a company, from customer interactions and compliance management to environmental health and safety, supply chain management, risk management, and more.

A key reason for this broadened scope is the skills that already exist within the quality department. If you already have experience dealing with quality compliance, you already have many of the skills for environmental health and safety (EHS) compliance. If you’re already versed at risk management from a quality perspective, supply chain risk isn’t much of a reach.

Sophia Finn, director of strategy, QualityOne at Veeva Systems, agrees. “More is expected of the quality function, from managing risk to addressing sustainability and transparency across the supply chain,” says Finn, adding that the extended scope has also changed the focus. “As quality is elevated, the duties shift from tactical—like fighting fires—to more strategic—like determining how quality can help companies meet their objectives.”

Multiple Authors
By: Joseph Near, David Darais

It’s not so simple to deploy a practical system that satisfies differential privacy. Our example in the last post was a simple Python program that adds Laplace noise to a function computed over the sensitive data. For this to work in practice, we’d need to collect all the sensitive data on one server to run our program.

What if that server gets hacked? Differential privacy provides no protection in this case—it only protects the output of our program.

When deploying differentially private systems, it’s important to consider the threat model—that is, what kind of adversaries we want the system to protect against. If the threat model includes adversaries who might compromise the server holding the sensitive data, then we need to modify the system to protect against this kind of attack.

Sharona Hoffman’s picture

By: Sharona Hoffman

Artificial intelligence holds great promise for improving human health by helping doctors make accurate diagnoses and treatment decisions. It can also lead to discrimination that can harm minorities, women, and economically disadvantaged people.

The question is, when healthcare algorithms discriminate, what recourse do people have?

A prominent example of this kind of discrimination is an algorithm used to refer chronically ill patients to programs that care for high-risk patients. A study in 2019 found that the algorithm favored whites over sicker African Americans in selecting patients for these beneficial services. This is because it used past medical expenditures as a proxy for medical needs.

Poverty and difficulty accessing healthcare often prevent African Americans from spending as much money on healthcare as others. The algorithm misinterpreted their low spending as indicating they were healthy, and deprived them of critically needed support.

Michael P. Powell’s picture

By: Michael P. Powell

The promise of advanced manufacturing technologies—also known as smart factories or Industry 4.0—is that by networking our machines, computers, sensors, and systems, we will (among other things) enable automation, improve safety, and ultimately become more productive and efficient. And there is no doubt that manufacturing has already benefited from that transformation.

However, connecting all of these sensors and devices to our industrial control systems, along with the increase in remote work and monitoring, results in manufacturing networks with greater vulnerabilities to cyberattack. This is an increasingly challenging dynamic as manufacturers sort out how to adopt commercial information technology (IT) standards that are compatible with their operational technology (OT) standards.

Manfred Kets de Vries’s picture

By: Manfred Kets de Vries

Serge faced a conundrum. One of his business partners was in a legal dispute with Serge’s father, Charlie, and asked for his help. Serge knew that his father was prone to suing everyone who crossed his path—including family members. The business partner had repeatedly tried to end this legal fight, to no avail. It seemed like Charlie didn’t want to find a resolution. He preferred to engage in self-sabotage to escalate the conflict. Impulse control was not one of Charlie’s strengths.

Many of us know people like Charlie who enjoy arguing for the sake of argument, and who thrive on drama and conflict. Personality types come in many shapes and colors, but quarrelsome people like Charlie don’t belong to a single one. Their combative behavior is an amalgamation of antisocial (psychopathic), borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic personalities.

The belligerent personality traits

Like many other psychiatric disorders, the specific causes of the belligerent personality have not been clearly identified. There is no known genetic link for this disorder. It is, however, associated with chaotic early child-parent attachment patterns in the form of abuse, neglect, and conflict.

Syndicate content