This week’s headline story: Obama’s Tech Startup
President Obama has amassed an army of tech all-stars to assist in overhauling government systems and the way government works. He has quietly recruited top tech talent from the likes of Google and Facebook to donate a year or two of their time to improve US government information systems and services. The President hopes to continue the trend long term, working with tech companies to have a continuous pipeline of tech talent assisting on government projects. While the plan originally focused on improving information systems, the team soon realized that the arrangement could be a recipe for something much larger. In an interview with Fast Company, that president said that “Involving tech professionals in government projects creates a more user-friendly and responsive government. A government that can work with individuals on individual problems in a more tailored way, because the technology facilitates that the same way it increasingly does for private-sector companies.” In other words, if Obama’s tech team can successfully rebuild the digital infrastructure of Washington—an outcome that is by no means certain yet—you might not only change its functionality. You might transform Americans’ attitudes about government too while building a dedicated group tech geniuses who embrace public service as an essential element of their careers. The president stated that “if we build that culture of service, then, what I do believe will happen is the government as a whole will start thinking about its relationship to citizens differently.
- Inside Obama’s Tech Startup (Fast Company)
- President Obama: The Fast Company Interview (Fast Company)
in Information Security News…
- Online Password Manager LastPass Hacked [NewsFactor]
Users of the online password management service LastPass are being told to update their master passwords in light of “suspicious activity” detected on the company’s network last week. However, the company said the incident is not believed to have compromised users’ accounts or their encrypted data.
- Massive Security Flaw Puts 600 Million Samsung Smartphones at Risk [NewsFactor]
A massive security flaw in Swiftkey keyboard software that comes per-installed on Samsung phones is reportedly putting as many as 600 million mobile device users at risk of being hacked. Samsung says that it is working on a patch, but in the mean time Samsung phone users are warned to stay off of public wifi networks.
and in Tech Industry news…
- Facebook and Google Think You’re Ready for Some More Facial Recognition [MIT Technology Review]
A hot new area of Artificial Intelligence research called deep learning, is fueling a new generation of software services. Facebook and Google are both using it for face recognition features in new photo apps. Facebook’s Moments uses facial recognition to group together photos taken by friends at the same event, say a wedding, so you can see them all without having to pester people to send them around. Google Photos creates a virtual photo album dedicated to each of the faces you photograph most, providing a new way to browse and rediscover your snaps. The new, more powerful facial recognition has stirred up more concern over privacy, and how these companies are using the information they collect about users through their photos.
- Skies May Soon Be Friendlier to Amazon Drones [Ecommerce Times]
Amazon may begin delivering packages to homes and businesses across the U.S. using drone aircraft as early as next summer. The Federal Aviation Administration is committed to finalizing proposed rules for small unmanned aircraft systems, or sUAS, by June 2016. The establishment of rules would clear the way for commercial drones to operate in the public space. Amazon’s Prime Air plan calls for drones to be used as delivery vehicles for packages that weigh less than five pounds — which should cover about 86 percent of the products that Amazon currently delivers. Drones could allow Amazon to deliver packages to many customers — at least, those in urban areas — within 30 minutes of ordering. That would be a big improvement on the two-day free deliveries typically carried out by UPS, FedEx or USPS trucks.
- Amazon May Try Out Delivery-Sharing [Ecommerce Times]
Apparently, Amazon does a lot of thinking about delivery mechanisms. The company has been exploring a delivery system experts are referring to as “People as a Service.” In other words, Amazon would pay the public to make deliveries. For example, an Amazon customer might purchase a box of cupcakes online, and a person in the neighborhood might earn credit towards online purchases by picking up the cupcakes and delivering them.
- Virtual reality dominates floor at E3 gaming show [Reuters]
Virtual reality gaming, once a distant concept, became the new battleground at this year’s E3 industry convention, with developers seeking to win over fans with their immersive headsets and accessories. Microsoft, Sony and virtual reality company Oculus squared off at last week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, promoting their virtual reality accessories. that promise to be the BIG THING in game technology market next year.
- Facebook Tests ‘See First’ Feature for Prioritizing Certain Posts [NewsFactor]
Soon you will be able to have some control over what Facebook selects to show you in your news feed. Facebook is testing something called “See First,” which lets people ensure they see content from specific friends or pages at the tops of their feeds.
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