#386 Nov 03, 2014 – Computers Better get Wise, for IBM’s Sake

This week’s headline story: Computers Better get Wise, for IBM’s Sake

ibm-watson-doctorWill computers ever become genuine thinking machines? IBM hopes so! “We’re betting billions of dollars, and a third of our research division …on it,” John Kelly, director of IBM Research. IBM calls it cognitive computing, a term the company uses to refer to artificial intelligence techniques related to Watson. You may recall that IBM’s Watson was the computer that won in the game show Jeopardy! in 2011. The hope is that the technology will be able to answer more complicated questions in all sorts of industries, including health care, financial investment, and oil discovery; and that it will help IBM build a lucrative new computer-driven consulting business. One example of the companies efforts can be found at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, a version of Watson is helping doctors there develop treatment regimens from a patient’s symptoms based on an analysis of thousands of pages of medical papers and doctors’ notes.

Does Watson Know the Answer to IBM’s Woes? [MIT Tech Review]

in other tech news…

  • Amazon Echo: Siri-Like Digital Home Assistant [NewsFactor]Many smartphone users have become acquainted with Apple’s Siri. There may be a few smartphone users who are acquainted with Microsoft’s Cortana. Google never gave a name to its Google Now personal assistant. Well, make way for Amazon’s Alexa! Like Siri, Cortana, and Google Now, Alexa responds to questions and commands like: Will it rain tomorrow?; Set my alarm for 8 a.m.; Play music by Bruno Mars; How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?; Add gelato to my shopping list; When is Thanksgiving?; Play my “dinner party” playlist; Wikipedia: Abraham Lincoln; What’s the weather in Los Angeles this weekend?; and Add “make hotel reservations” to my to-do list. However, Alexa is different in that she lives in your house not on your smartphone. She is the star of Amazon’s new product named Echo. Amazon Echo is an always-ready, connected cylinder-shaped device that sits on your entertainment center, your kitchen counter or your nightstand listening for your voice to say the wake word “Alexa” and so she can provide digital information and services you require. Using the companion App you can also ask Alexa questions mobile devices and computer. Amazon Echo costs $199, or $99 if you’re a Prime member.
  • “Dark Web” Version of Facebook Shows a New Way to Secure the Web [Technology Review]Facebook is making it easier for users to access its website securely and anonymously via the “dark Web.” By using a special URL and the Tor browser, users are provided a version of Facebook’s service accessible only via the Tor anonymity software. Tor users include dissidents trying to avoid censorship, criminals, and U.S. government workers who need to escape scrutiny from foreign security services. If you access Facebook through Tor your Internet service provider or authorities won’t be able to tell that you did so. The new URL will be especially useful to users in Iran and China, countries where government authorities block Facebook access. Facebook’s lead could serve as a model for other sites.

and in Information Security news this week..

  • Facebook Reports Government Data Requests Rise 24% [NewsFactor]Facebook has released its third-ever report on government data requests. The company reports that there has been a 24 percent growth in requests from governments for Facebook user data. In the U.S, Facebook reported receiving 15,433 government requests for data associated with 23,667 users or accounts from January through June of this year. It added that it produced at least some data in 80.15 percent of those requests.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Amazon Adds Unlimited Photo Storage to Prime Goodie BagAmazon just keeps loading on the goodies for its Prime members. In addition to free shipping, videos, music and reading perks, it now offers unlimited storage fpr their photo collections.
  • ASUS’ ZenWatch comes to the US on November 9th for $199 [Engadget]There’s a new smart watch on the market. It’s the ASUS ZenWatch and it runs the Android Wear platform which connects with Android smartphones. Some find it to be the most attractive Android watch to date. The ZenWatch costs $199.
  • Android Hoards 84 Percent Smartphone OS Market Share [Ecommerce Times]Google’s Android operating system now owns 84 percent of the smartphone OS market, leaving Apple’s iOS with 12 percent, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone with 3 percent. Android is actually down one percent from the previous quarter, causing some to think the OS has reached its peak. “I don’t agree,” says Nick Spencer, a senior practice director with ABI Research who believes Android will grow to 90 percent before peaking.
  • Office for iPad apps climb to top of Apple’s download list [Computerworld]Currently the most popular free apps on the iPad App Store are owned by Microsoft! You heard right! Microsoft has just opened up it’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint iPad apps for everyone to use free of charge. Previously, only Office 365 users were allowed to edit documents with the Apps.

and finally…

  • Microsoft Kicks Windows 8 to the Curb [Ecommerce Times]Say goodbye to Windows 8! Microsoft has ended retail sales of the much-criticized version of Windows, leaving only Windows 8.1 for purchase and the vision of Windows 10 which is due out next year.

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