Sept 8 – 14

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roboticsThis week’s headline story: Smart Computers: Collaborators or Competitors?

A recent report from the Oxford Martin School’s Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology concludes that 45 percent of American jobs are at high risk of being taken by computers within the next two decades. The authors believe this takeover will happen in two stages: first, computers will start replacing people in especially vulnerable fields like transportation/logistics, production labor, administrative support, perhaps in services, sales, and construction as well. Eventually the rate of replacement will slow down until new advances in AI bring on a second wave of smart technologies that allow computers to replace workers in more intellectually challenging careers such as management, science and engineering, and even the arts. “Our findings thus imply that as technology races ahead, low-skill workers will reallocate to tasks that are non-susceptible to computerization—i.e., tasks that required creative and social intelligence,” the authors write.

Analysts and authors Robert Atkinson and Stephen Ezell disagree with the belief that technology is displacing workers. In their book Innovation Economics, they argue that the increase in production provided by the increased use of technologies will provide increased revenues which companies will reinvest in their workforces. In other words, more technology means more jobs. They warn that pitting man against machine could cause a backlash against technology which would have a chilling effect on the innovation essential to grow our economy.

Whether computers will be considered human competitors or collaborators, we can count on them to continue to get smarter. the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced the funding of a new AI lab at MIT named the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines (CBMM). CBMM Director, Tomaso Poggio believes that after a lengthy hiatus, AI research needs to revive its early ambition of creating intelligent machines.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • In this era of innovation with exponential growth, new start-up companies are disrupting established companies faster than they used to. Richard N. Foster, calls the phenomenon “creative destruction”- the process by which large companies eventually get crushed by innovations made elsewhere. Foster found that the rate at which companies get bumped off the S&P 500 has been accelerating. Back in 1958, a company could expect to stay on the list for 61 years. These days, the average is just 18 years. Foster’s view is that big companies can’t ever out-innovate the market. Instead, he thinks that to stay big, companies need to be willing to exit old businesses and enter new ones—and do so quite boldly.Technology Is Wiping Out Companies Faster than Ever [MIT Technology Review]

and in Information Security news this week…

  • Hackers broke into the network belonging to Vodaphone Germany and stole personal information of roughly 2 million customers including addresses, bank account numbers and dates of birth. Information security professional Kevin O’Brien says that traditional on-premise data security models have failed to keep up with the ever-changing set of vulnerabilities, patches, and zero-day exploits that leave this kind of information at risk. He believes that the future of information security lies in cloud-based data storage, where off-site experts focus on locking down data and keeping it inaccessible to hackers.Massive Hack on Vodafone Germany Affects 2 Million Users [NewsFactor]

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Apple unveiled two new iPhone: the iPhone 5s and the 5c. C is for color. The iPhone 5c comes in a rainbow of colors and can be paired with custom color covers to provide dozens of possible color combinations. The 5c is the first iPhone with a plastic case which Apple says is more solid-feeling than any other plastic phone due to a steel-reinforced frame. The 5c is obviously designed to compete against Google’s new Moto X which also comes in many customizable colors. The iPhone 5c is more affordably priced at $99 with a cellular contract which Apple hopes will assist the phone in breaking into global markets. The new iPhone 5s extends the capabilities of the iPhone 5 by providing what Apple calls Touch ID, the ability to unlock the phone with your fingerprint. The 5s has a faster processor, better camera specs, and ultrafast LTE wireless technology. the 5s comes in three metallic colors: black, silver and bronze, with optional leather covers, and starts at $199 with a cellular contract. Both the iPhone 5c and 5s will run Apple’s new iOS 7 and are due out later this month. Apple stocks fell more than 5 percent in reaction to the new iPhones with investors voicing concern that the company is not being aggressive enough in its fight against Google’s Android operating system.Two New iPhones Unveiled at Apple Launch Event [NewsFactor]

    Apple Alters Course To Challenge Google’s Android [NewsFactor]

    As Mobile Market Matures, Apple Bets Big in China [NewsFactor]

    Apple Unwraps iPhone 5c, and 5s with Fingerprint Sensor [NewsFactor]

    iPhone 5s Impresses Some, But Fails To Dazzle [NewsFactor]

    Apple stock hit by fears iPhone 5C not cheap enough [Chicago Tribune]

  • PayPal has released a new ecommerce technology for smartphone and merchants that it calls Beacon. Beacon is a new add-on technology for merchants that makes it possible for consumers to pay at their favorite stores completely hands-free. Users of Beacon select businesses where they intend to shop, authorizing those businesses to debit their account when purchases are made. At check out, Beacon automatically transfers customer information to the clerk, displaying the customer’s photo on the screen of the point-of-sale system for verification. Paying only requires verbal confirmation. No credit card swiping or even touching your phone is required.PayPal Beacon May Revolutionize the Way We Pay [NewsFactor]
  • Apple has Siri and Google has Google Now to predict what users need and provide answers to any question. Now Microsoft has Cortana, a personal assistant for Windows Phone who is also likely to assist on other Windows devices and on the Xbox. The name Cortana originated in Microsoft’s Halo series in which Cortana was an artificially intelligent character. Unlike Siri or Google Now, Cortana will be hard-wired into almost all of the core Windows Phone features.Cortana: Microsoft’s Answer to Siri and Google Now [NewsFactor]
  • If you’ve ever used wireless Internet on an aircraft you are probably aware of how slow it is, and its limitations the number of users it can service. Well, in-flight wireless Internet is about to get much faster. Internet service provider Gogo, has developed a new technology it calls GTO (Ground to Orbit), which uses satellites for downloads, and cellular networks for uploads, providing speeds that are 20 times faster.Gogo’s In-Flight Internet To Move at Jet Speed [NewsFactor]
  • Microsoft is doing everything it can to get iPad users to switch over to its Surface tablets, including giving them money! This week Microsoft announced a trade-in program that allows iPad users to trade-in their iPads for a $200 gift card.Microsoft Shows iPad Users the Money [NewsFactor]
  • Microsoft’s outlook.com now offers features that gmail users have enjoyed for some time now. Outlook.com email now includes IMAP technology that allows users to access outlook email using other clients. It also features Skype integration, an enhanced calendar, and two-factor authentication.Outlook.com Adds Support for IMAP [NewsFactor]

and finally…

  • Microblogging service Twitter has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to make its debut on the public markets with an initial public offering. With more than 200 million members, and never a profit, investors are divided on whether the timing is right for Twitter to go public.Is Twitter Really Ready To Go IPO? [NewsFactor]

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