#459 May 11, 2016 – A New Paradigm for Virtual Assistant Software

This week’s headline story: A New Paradigm for Virtual Assistant Software

vivSiri has a younger sister! Her name is Viv. Viv is a virtual assistant with supercharged conversational capabilities developed by the creator of Siri. Viv and similar technologies in development will allow people to make verbal commands such as “get me a large cheese pizza from Mamma-mia’s pizzeria” and the AI handles all the details – phoning in the order, arranging payment, and providing delivery instructions. Or, you might ask Viv to find a sushi bar nearby with available seating, book opera tickets, or find a parking space. Viv represents the next “new paradigm” for how people interact with computers. The technology’s unique character comes from its use of dynamic program generation, an intelligent method for creating software on the fly depending upon the intent of a user’s request. The quest to define the next generation of artificial-intelligence technology has sparked an arms race among the five major tech giants: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon.com have all announced major investments in virtual-assistant software over the past year.

In other news:

  • Building AI Is Hard—So Facebook Is Building AI That Builds AI [Wired]
    Building Artificial Intelligence software – better known as AI’s, is hard work. Specialists in the area spend a lot of time training their AI’s, through many iterations of trial and error, to come up with correct solutions. Now companies like Facebook are building AI’s that can help build new AI/s. Facebook engineers have designed what they like to call an “automated machine learning engineer.” This automated system handles much of the grunt work involved in AI development providing human engineers more time to focus on bigger ideas and tougher problems.
  • AIs are starting to learn like human babies by grasping and poking objects [Quartz]
    Besides getting smarter, AI systems are also acquiring bodies! Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are teaching robots to learn by touch, much like human babies. The experiment one day could allow artificial intelligence to learn about the physical environment through senses, including touch. The development draws robotics and AI closer together, paving the way for potential unified applications in factories, automated deliveries of goods, or household assistants.
  • Mystery Solved? Australian Says He’s Bitcoin Founder [NewsFactor]
    An Australian man has publicly identified himself as the creator of the digital currency, Bitcoin. If true, the claim would put an end to one of the biggest mysteries in the tech world. Craig Wright told the BBC News he is the man previously known by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. The computer scientist, inventor and academic said he launched the currency in 2009 with the help of others.

in Information Security News…

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Windows 10 Installed on 300 Million Devices [NewsFactor]
    Almost a year after the launch of Windows 10, the latest Microsoft operating system has been installed on some 300 million active devices around the globe including PCs, tablets, smartphones, Xbox consoles, and other devices. The opportunity for users to upgrade to the latest version of Windows for free will end July 29.

 

#458 May 2, 2016 – China’s Growing Robot Army

This week’s headline story: China’s Growing Robot Army

chinese_robotsChina is building a robot army for manufacturing. Despite substantial technical challenges, manufacturers in China are replacing human workers with robots at an unprecedented scale. In some ways, they don’t really have a choice. Human labor in China is no longer as cheap as it once was. Especially when compared to labor in rival manufacturing hubs like Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, where factory wages can be less than a third of what they are in China. One solution, many manufacturers—and government officials—believe, is to replace human workers with machines.

The results of China’s robotic manufacturing army will be felt globally. Almost a quarter of the world’s products are made in China today. If China can use robots and other advanced technologies to retool types of production never before automated, that might turn the country, now the world’s sweatshop, into a hub of high-tech innovation. Less clear, however, is how that would affect the millions of workers recruited to China’s booming factories. Read all about at MIT Tech Review, linked in the sshow notes!

In other news:

  • Obama’s Weekly Address [YouTube]
    Here’s How TV Might Change if the Cable Box Goes Away [MIT Tech Review]
    President Obama has endorsed a proposal from FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, to “unlock” the set-top box market. Wheeler says new rules will save households from having to spend an average of $231 per year to rent cable boxes and “remove barriers to innovation” in devices and apps for playing cable content.

in Information Security News…

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  • Twitter’s Artificial Intelligence Knows What’s Happening in Live Video Clips [MIT Tech Review]
    Live-streaming video is becoming popular due to smartphone apps such as Periscope from Twitter, Meerkat, and, most recently, Facebook Live. But live video content usually isn’t tagged or categorized very well, making it difficult toorganize and search for videos. Twitter’s AI team, Cortex, has come up with a solution. They have developed an algorithm that can instantly recognize what’s happening in a live feed. The algorithm can tell, for instance, if the star of a clip is playing guitar, demoing a power tool, or is actually a cat hamming it up for viewers. Not only will the new technology make it easier to find videos, but it will also allow Twitter to market more accuratly to video authors.
  • Carl Icahn Dumps All His Apple Shares and Makes $2 Billion [NewsFactor]
    Apple Investors Worry About Decline in iPhone Sales [NewsFactor]
    Apple’s Books, Movies Fall Victim to Chinese Crackdown [Ecommerce Times]
    Apple’s experiencing some turbulence in its sales numbers. Billionaire business magnate Carl Icahn, whose investment decisions can influence the stock market, dumped what was left of his nearly 1% stake in Apple Inc. worth $2 billion, on fears that Chinese authorities would bully the iPhone maker. Shares of Apple sunk after his announcement in a live interview on CNBC. The shares have lost 9% of their value since Apple revealed troubling first-quarter financial results, including a 26% sales drop in Greater China compared with the same period last year. According to its January forecast, Apple’s revenue is set to drop for the first time in more than a decade as iPhone sales slow.
  • Facebook’s CEO Sees Superhuman AI Within 10 Years [NewsFactor]
    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims that in five to 10 years, artificial intelligence could advance to the point where computers can see, hear and understand language better than people.

 

#457 April 25, 2016 – Mind-Controlled Drones!

This week’s headline story: Mind-Controlled Drones!

droneraceNo it’s not the latest Sci-fi movie, it’s the latest computer research! Billed as the world’s first drone race involving a brain-controlled interface, the University of Florida and Intel sponsored an event that involved 16 pilots wearing black headsets with tentacle-like sensors stretched over their foreheads, using only their willpower to fly drones through a 10-yard dash over an indoor basketball court. The competitors stare at cubes floating on computer screens as their small white drones prepare for takeoff. “Three, two, one … GO!” the announcer hollered, and as the racers fix their thoughts on pushing the cubes, the drones suddenly whir, rise and buzz through the air. Some struggle to move even a few feet, while others zip confidently across the finish line. While implanted devices are more powerful, non-invasive brainwave readers are now much less expensive. The model used by these racers cost about $500 each.

In other news:

  • U.S. Cyberattacks Target ISIS in a New Line of Combat [NYTimes]
    The United States has opened a new line of combat against the Islamic State – in Cyberspace! The NSA’s six-year-old Cyber Command has been ordered for the first time to mount computer-network attacks against ISIS alongside more traditional weapon attacks.
  • Drone Collision with Jet Highlights Growing Aviation Danger [NewsFactor]
    British authorities are investigating an incident, in which an Airbus A320 carrying 137 people struck an object believed to be a drone at a height of about 1,700 feet while it was approaching Heathrow Airport. The plane landed safely and was cleared to fly again after an inspection by engineers. But the incident has focused attention on the growing number of unregulated drones in the sky and the potential for disaster if they hit a plane — either accidentally or on purpose.

in Information Security News…

  • Over 12 Percent of Hacked Sites Hit Again Within 30 Days [Newsfactor]
    According to a new security study from Google researchers, more than 12 percent of Web sites that have been compromised by a hack or malicious software are successfully attacked a second time within 30 days due to failures by webmasters to address the root causes behind the initial attacks.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Facebook Tweaks News Feed Algorithm Yet Again [NewsFactor]
    Facebook is tweaking its news feed algorithm in attempts to deliver more interesting content geared specifically to each user. The new algorithm will determine your interests based on how long your view items in your news feed, and will populate your feed with more of what interests you. But, just to keep things less predictable, the algorithm is trained shuffle items to reduce the possibility a user will see several items in a row from the same source.
  • Intel Pivots From PCs to Cloud [e-commerce times]
    Intel has announced that it will slash 12,000 jobs as part of a restructuring plan to focus more on cloud-based computing and the Internet of Things and less on PCs. “The data center and Internet of Things businesses are now Intel’s primary growth engines, and combined with memory and FPGA [chips], form and fuel a virtuous cycle of growth,” CEO Brian Krzanich said.

 

#456 April 18, 2016 – Meet any Interesting Bots Lately?

This week’s headline story: Meet any Interesting Bots Lately?

Facebook-RobotFacebook has unveiled a new Messenger Platform that enables businesses to develop and promote bots that can provide automated help to online customers. Using a bot businesses can satisfy a number of customer needs ranging from shopping for shoes to rescheduling flight times to avoid missed connections.

Shopify announced that it has agreed to purchase Kit CRM, whose Kit chatbot automatically sends out marketing text messages for online stores. It also lets businesses run targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram, make recommendations based on store activities, post on social media and use functionality provided by other social media apps.

More and more companies are introducing chatbots. In addition to Facebook and Shopify, Microsoft introduced the Murphy chatbot for Skype on iOS, Android and Windows in late March. Unfortunately, Murphy had to be sent back to chatbot school after “learning” from Twitter trolls how to spout racist and other offensive comments.

Still “Chatbots look like the new spaghetti being thrown at a wall to see if it sticks,” observed Denis Pombriant, principal at Beagle Research. According to some tech analysts, soon you may be texting with robots as often as you do with your friends!

 

In other news:

  • A $2 Billion Chip to Accelerate Artificial Intelligence [MIT Technology Review]
    Nvidia has announced a new chip to put more power behind Artificial Intelligence. The chip called Tesla P100 cost more than $2 billion in R&D to produce, and promises to provide a great platform for deep learning. Deep learning is an area of AI that involves passing data through large collections of crudely simulated neurons. The P100 could help deliver more breakthroughs by making it possible for computer scientists to feed more data to their artificial neural networks or to create larger collections of virtual neurons.

in Information Security News…

  • FBI Paid Hackers to Defeat Security of Shooter’s iPhone [ecommerce times]
    According to a report published in The Washington Post, the FBI paid hackers to break onto the iPhone of the San Bernardino, California, shooter. The bureau obtained the services of gray hats, the Post said, citing unnamed sources. Gray hats are hackers who sell flaws to governments or companies that make surveillance tools.
  • Critical Flaws Alert: Better Uninstall QuickTime for Windows Now [Newsfactor]
    Two new vulnerabilities in Apple’s QuickTime for Windows are so critical that the federal government is urging users to uninstall the software on their PCs immediately. Apple has announced that it will no longer be supporting the multimedia player on the Windows platform at all, meaning the bugs may never be patched. The advisory does not apply to QuickTime for Mac’s OS X.
  • Microsoft Sues US DOJ Over Secret Requests for Customer Data [NewsFactor]
    Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice in order to gain the right to tell its customers when the government asks for their data. “Customers have a right to know when the government obtains warrants to read their emails,” a spokesperson for Microsoft stated. Over the past year-and-a-half, Microsoft said it has received thousands of legal demands for customer data from the federal government, and is prevented in many cases from ever informing customers about such requests.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Google’s Skunkworks Loses Its Leader to Facebook—and Has Yet to Produce Any Hits [MIT Technology Review]
    Regina Dugan is leaving her position as Head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects division and taking a position with Facebook. Google’s Project Ara modular phone was one of Dugan’s inventions. Previously Dugan led the Pentagon research agency DARPA. At Facebook she will lead a group working on new hardware resourced with “hundreds of people and hundreds of millions of dollars,” says Mark Zucherberg.

 

#455 April 11, 2016 – Moore’s Law Marches On!

This week’s headline story: Moore’s Law Marches On!

Gordon Moore
Gordon Moore

Chip manufacturers have been challenged to keep up with Moore’s Law, which predicts that processors will double in transistor numbers and speed every two years.
Research has shown that the limits of silicon are tapped out, and creating smaller and smaller transistors has become impossible. So, the industry has moved to other materials and tricks.

Now a key tool the tech industry hopes will allow Moore’s Law to march ever onward—one that private companies, academia, and governments around the world have invested billions of dollars and decades developing—is finally being tested in factories operated by Samsung, Intel, and other companies. This technology is called extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, and industry leaders say it could be used in high-volume chip manufacturing as early as 2018.

Lithography works somewhat like old-fashioned film photography: light is projected through a patterned mask onto a surface coated with light-sensitive chemicals called photoresists. The smaller the wavelength of light, the higher resolution patterns it’s possible to make. The industry has pushed the existing technology, which uses light that’s 193 nanometers in wavelength, to its limits. the shorter wavelength of EUV light will allow more detail in chip lithography creating smaller transistors in much less time.

In other news:

  • Google To Test Self-Driving Cars in Phoeniz Area [NewsFactor]
    A fleet of self-driving trucks rumbles across Europe [Computerworld]
    Self-driving cars and trucks are spreading across national and international highways. Google is testing its Self-driving cars in Chandler AZ to see how they perform in extreme heat. Meanwhile in Europe, the European Truck Platooning Challenge is taking place, where semi-trucks race across the European continent in a driverless convoy, saving fuel and streamlining product distribution.
  • Why Rwanda Is Going to Get the World’s First Network of Delivery Drones [MIT]
    A startup called Zipline will use a fleet of long-distance drones to airdrop precious blood and medicines to remote medical facilities across Rwanda. The potentially life-saving project hints at the potential for unmanned aerial vehicles to revolutionize the delivery of some goods. But it also highlights the fact that drone delivery currently makes most sense only in extreme situations.

in Information Security News…

  • Russia, China Are Greatest Cyberthreats, But Iran Is Growing [NewsFactor]
    Russia and China present the greatest cyber security threat to the U.S., but Iran is trying to increase and spend more on its capabilities, Adm. Michael Rogers of the military’s Cyber Command told Congress. While the U.S. has more overall military power than the three countries, the gaps are narrower when it comes to cyber warfare.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • HP Unveils Spectre: ‘World’s Thinnest Laptop’ [NewsFactor]
    HP has unveiled the world’s thinnest laptop, the Spectre. The device, made its debut at the New York Times’ International Luxury Conference, features a glossy copper finish, jewelry-like hinge design and 13.3-inch edge-to-edge display, the Spectre will be available for pre-order starting April 25 starting at $1.169.99.

 

#454 April 3, 2016 – FBI Hacks iPhones

This week’s headline story: FBI Hacks iPhones

fbiThe FBI has dropped its charges against Apple for its noncompliance in hacking into the data on the iPhone of the San Bernadino terrorist. Apparently, the FBI was successful in hacking the iPhone without Apple’s help. The news is a mixed blessing for Apple in that it lets the company off the hook in its battle with the FBI, but presents a public setback. Now consumers know that they can’t keep the government out of even an encrypted device that Apple claimed was impossible to crack. Apple, meanwhile, remains in the dark about how to restore the security of its flagship product.

The FBI is broadcasting its victory across the media. It has assured law enforcement across the United States that it will help unlock mobile devices such as iPhones involved in investigations when it is allowed by law and policy. It has already started taking cases. The FBI recently agreed to help prosecutors gain access to an iPhone 6 and an iPod that might hold evidence in an Arkansas murder trial.

In other news:

  • Drone Delivers Package to Residential Area [NewsFactor]
    A drone has successfully delivered a package to a residential location in a small Nevada town in what its maker and the governor of the state claim is the first fully autonomous urban drone delivery in the U.S. The six-rotor drone flew about a half-mile along a pre-programmed delivery route and lowered the package carrying bottled water, food and a first-aid kit, outside a vacant residence in an uninhabited area of Hawthorne, southeast of Reno. The route was established using GPS, and while pilot and visual observers were on standby during the flight, their assistance wasn’t needed.

in Information Security News…

  • Ransomware Crisis Worsens, FBI Solicits Help from All Sides [NewsFactor]
    The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is enlisting the help of businesses and software security experts in the fight against ransomware, the virus used by hackers to extort money from electronic device owners by holding their data hostage. A confidential advisory from the FBI focused on the ransomware known as MSIL/Samas that is meant to encrypt data on entire networks, an approach that is much more dangerous than typical ransomware directed at individual users.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Affordable Model 3 Is Tesla’s Biggest Test Yet [NewsFactor]
    Tesla’s Cheaper Model 3 Could Strain Charging Infrastructure [MIT Technology Review]
    Tesla seriously underestimated Model 3 demand [Engadget]
    Tesla unveiled its Model 3 electric car Thursday night at its Los Angeles design studio. At a starting price of $35,000 — before federal and state government incentives — the Model 3 is less than half the cost of Tesla’s previous models. The car is expected to have a range of at least 200 miles when fully charged, about double what drivers get from competitors in its price range, such as the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3. The company hopes to sell a lot of them; the Model 3 is crucial to Tesla’s projection that it will sell 500,000 vehicles in 2020, almost 10 times the number it sold in 2015. But the company wasn’t prepared for the demand for the new model! Elon Musk revealed that his company expected “1/4 to 1/2” of the pre-orders it has received. While he’d expected lineups at Tesla stores, he figured that there would be “maybe 20-30 people” in queue at a given shop — not the hundreds that showed up at some places.

 

#453 March 28, 2016 – Less is More with Apple’s new iPhone and iPad

This week’s headline story: Less is More with New iPhone and iPad!

Apple’s New iDevices Say: Small Is Beautiful, Too [NewsFactor]
Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 11.51.14 AMApple unveiled new smaller devices. A 4″ iPhone, and a 9.7 inch iPad Pro. Powerful mobile devices in smaller sizes. The company is hoping they’ll appeal to first-time buyers and those who have shied away from the bigger-screen models Apple has sold in recent years. At a time when overall smartphone sales are slowing, Apple is touting its four-inch iPhone SE as the “most affordable” new phone the company has offered. While it comes with an upgraded camera, faster processor and other features, the SE has a starting price of $400, or $50 less than the older iPhone 5S that it’s replacing.

In other news:

  • Gender Pay Gap Widest Among Computer Programmers [NewsFactor]
    New research from Glassdoor reveales a huge gender pay gap among those in the computer industry. The results based on 534,000 anonymously shared employee salaries, found that the largest pay gap — adjusted for experience, education, position, location, and industry — existed among certain types of computer programmers, with men making on average 28.3% more than their female counterparts.
  • Microsoft apologizes for offensive tirade by its ‘chatbot’ [Reuters]
    Microsoft is “deeply sorry” for the racist and sexist Twitter messages generated by the chatbot it launched last week, a company official wrote, after the artificial intelligence program went on an embarrassing tirade. The bot, known as Tay, was designed to become “smarter” as more users interacted with it. Instead, it quickly learned to parrot a slew of anti-Semitic and other hateful invective that human Twitter users started feeding the program, forcing Microsoft Corp to shut it down. Following the setback, Microsoft said in a blog post it would revive Tay only if its engineers could find a way to prevent Web users from influencing the chatbot in ways that undermine the company’s principles and values.

in Information Security News…

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  • Apple Pay Reportedly Coming Soon to Web Sites [newsFactor]
    Apple has been telling retailers that it will be expanding Apple Pay to online payments before the 2016 holiday shopping season. Apple Pay lets shoppers complete purchases on mobile apps or in Safari with just their fingerprints instead of by entering credit card details.

#452 March 21, 2016 – Corporate Social Media Policy Violates Labor Laws

This week’s headline story: Corporate Social Media Policy Violates Labor Laws

James Kennedy, fired from Chipotle [philly.com]
James Kennedy, fired from Chipotle [philly.com]
Should employees be able to voice their unhappiness with their employer on social media without fear of recrimination? It’s a question that’s been causing a lot of controversy. Some businesses now have social media policies that ban employees from making “disparaging, false” statements about the company online. Chipotle’s restaurant has such a policy and used that policy to fire one of its employees after he had criticized the company for paying low wages. A Chipotle customer had tweeted appreciation for a great deal on Steak Bowls, and the employee replied, saying “@ChipotleTweets, nothing is free, only cheap #labor. Crew members make only $8.50hr how much is that steak bowl really?” Now, administrative law judge Susan Flynn ruled Chipotle’s social media rules violated labor laws and ordered the restaurant to post signs acknowledging some of its employee policies — and especially the social media rules — were illegal.

The Colorado-based fast-food chain must offer to rehire 3the employee and pay him for lost wages. The employee, who now has a union job with American Airlines, said he’d happily accept his back wages in the form of food vouchers. “You cannot deny that their food is delicious, but their labor policies were atrocious,” he said.

Judge: Chipotle’s Social Media Policy Violates U.S. Labor Laws [NewsFactor]

In other news:

  • Human Go Champ Says Machine Not Superior Despite 1:4 Defeat [NewsFactor]
    Human Go champion Lee Sedol says Google’s Go-playing program AlphaGo is not yet superior to humans, despite its 4:1 victory in a 5-hour match that ended last Tuesday. The 33 year old Lee, has made his living playing Go since he was 12 and is famous in South Korea even among people who do not play the game. The entire country was rooting for him to win.
  • Alphabet To Sell Robotics Subsidiary Boston Dynamics [NewsFactor]
    Boston Dynamics Atlas Video [YouTube]
    Google is exiting the robot business — at least until it becomes a little more lucrative. The tech giant’s parent company, Alphabet, is reportedly looking to sell Boston Dynamics, the firm’s robotics subsidiary, because it’s not currently showing enough revenue potential. Not only that, but the new video of Boston Dynamics humanoid robot, Atlas, has many humans feeling nervous about the future of humanity! See the video and read the article using links in the show notes.

in Information Security News…

  • Amazon May Let You Pay With a Wink and a Nod [Ecommerce Times]
    Amazon is experimenting with a new form of authentication for online purchases: Selfies! To pay online, the shopper snaps a selfie which Amazon compares to the one on record. The 2nd step requires the shopper to perform a requested action, such as winking, to verify that the image is of a live human being. Selfie authentication is more secure than passwords, which can be stolen or misused, according to Amazon.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Microsoft Reportedly Set To Launch Windows 10 Mobile [NewsFactor]
    For all of you Windows Phone users, and apparently there aren’t very many of you, Microsoft is expected to release Windows 10 Mobile this week. The new operating system for Windows 10 mobile devices has been delayed repeatedly, and arrives nearly eight months after the July 29 release of Windows 10. According to the latest data from NetMarketShare, the Windows Phone share of the mobile device operating system market stands at 2.57 percent. The leading mobile OS is Android, at 59.65 percent, followed by Apple’s iOS, with 32.28 percent.
  • Instagram To Order Feeds by Relevance Rather than Chronology [NewsFactor]
    Like Twitter, Instagram is moving to reorder the feed of updates its users see from one based on chronology to one based on relevance. The “new experience” will be rolled out over the coming months. The move isn’t surprising, as Facebook — which owns Instagram — has already made numerous algorithmic changes to its News Feed to show users the most relevant updates first.
  • Nike Unveils Its First Self-Lacing Sneaker [NewsFactor]
    Nike has unveiled the first self lacing sneaker! Press buttons on the side of the shoe to make your laces tighter or looser.
  • Comcast Launches 1 Gigabit Broadband in Atlanta [NewsFactor]
    Comcast is following both Google Fiber, and AT&T in offering Gigabit broadband in Atlanta. The company plans to expand its Gigabit offerings to Chicago, Detroit and Miami next once again following Google and AT&T’s lead. I think Comcast should consider being the first with fiber in a new markets, say, like my home town of Tallahassee!

#451 March 14, 2016 – Artificial Intelligence Battles Human Intelligence Once Again

This week’s headline story: Artificial Intelligence battles Human Intelligence Once Again

Image from re/code
Image from re/code

Intelligent machines have challenged and beat our best Chess champions and Jeopardy Champions. Now one of Google’s AI’s is battling another human champion at the ancient board game, Go. The game is most popular in countries such as China, South Korea and Japan, and involves two contestants moving black and white stones on a square grid, with the aim of seizing the most territory. Google executives say that, unlike Chess, Go offers too many possible moves for a machine to win simply through brute-force calculations. Instead, their AI software, AlphaGo has sought to approximate human intuition, by studying old matches and using simulated games to hone itself independently.

South Korean Champion, Lee Sedol is one of the world’s top Go players and a holder of 18 international titles. Lee was taken by surprise by the computer’s expertise and lost the first three games. But, on Sunday, Lee regained his composure to beat AplhaGo in the fourth round, denying the AI a clean sweep victory. The final game of the match will be played Tuesday.

In other news:

  • Algorithm reads tweets to figure out which restaurants make you sick [PCWorld]
    Computer-science researchers from the University of Rochester have developed software to find restaurants that may unkowingly be giving customers food poisoning. One out of every six U.S. residents gets food poisoning each year, and when they do, many of them write about it on Twitter. That’s where nEmesis comes in. The software uses natural language processing and artificial intelligence to identify food poisoning-related tweets, connect them to restaurants using geotagging and identify likely hot spots.
  • The U.S. Government Launches a $100-Million “Apollo Project of the Brain” [Scientific American]
    The Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks program, or MICrONS, intends to reverse-engineer one cubic millimeter of the human brain and study the way it makes computations. The end goal is to use the findings of the research to better inform algorithms in machine learning and artificial intelligence. MICrONS, is receiving $100 Million in funding from the Whitehouse as a part of President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, an initiative designed to advance the status quo in brain-inspired computing.

in Information Security News…

  • White House Proposes $3B IT Update Fund [Ecommerce Times]
    President Obama is seeking $3.1 billion to update federal information technology systems that need to be replaced with newer, more efficiant technologies. The request comes as part of a $19 billion cybersecurity initiative within the proposed 2017 budget.CIO Tony Scott says that legacy IT systems are “suffering from a multitude of things,” including expensive operation and maintenance, declining functionality, weak security, and fewer people with the background to operate older facilities. Efficiencies created by the upgrades are expected to provide savings of $12 billion over 10 years which would be used to fund more tech upgrades.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Google’s Hands Free Puts Your Money Where Your Mouth Is [Ecommerce Times]
    Google is testing a new “Hands Free” app that allows users of Google Wallet to pay without getting out their phone. The app offers hands-free connectivity via Bluetooth Low Energy, WiFi and location services on a user’s handset, which can detect when it is at a participating store. To check out and pay, the user simply needs to tell the cashier that payment will be made by Google Hands Free. Face recognition software at the register confirms the shopper’s identity and debits the shopper’s account.

#450 March 7, 2016 – Apple vs. the FBI Week 3

This week’s headline story: Apple vs. the FBI – Week 3

U.S. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch
U.S. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch

The government’s battle with Apple over encryption dominated one of the world’s largest cybersecurity conferences last week as top Obama administration officials and Silicon Valley executives argued about how to balance privacy and security. “Do we let one company, no matter how great the company, no matter how beautiful their devices, decide this issue for all of us?” U.S. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch asked. But tech company officials said giving the FBI tools to create a so-called backdoor to encryption would weaken security on millions of smartphones and other devices. “Despite the best intentions, the path to hell starts at the backdoor,” said Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft. “We need to make sure that encryption technology remains strong.”

The United Nations has added its voice to the chorus of organizations calling for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to back down from its efforts to force Apple to unlock the iPhone of a terror suspect. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, said that the FBI’s actions could open up a “Pandora’s box” of unintended consequences, including endangering the lives and well-being of millions of people.

United Nations Condemns FBI’s iPhone Hack Order [NewsFactor]

Other Headline News…

  • Facebook Executive Released from Jail in Brazil [NewsFactor]
    Meanwhile in Brazil, a similar drama played out, where a Facebook executive was detained for refusing to give law enforcement information about users of the WhatsApp message service. WhatApp, which is owned by Facebook, is an encrypted messaging app in which only the sender and recipient can access the content of messages. Facebook’s most senior representative in Latin America, Diego Dzodan was jailed after a Brazilian judge issued an arrest warrant accusing him of repeatedly failing to comply with a judicial order to cooperate with an investigation into drug trafficking and organized crime. The company has incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, while it insists it doesn’t have the information requested.
  • Amazon Drops Device Encryption on Fire OS 5 [NewsFactor]
    While most of the big tech companies have joined to fight the FBI in support of encryption, Amazon decided to drop encryption from its mobile devices running Fire OS 5. Amazon’s decision is being widely criticized, but the company has noted in the past that the feature can cause slower performance on devices. With all the backlash, Amazon realized its encryption decision wasn’t a good one. Late Friday, an Amazon spokesperson stated that encryption will be added back to Fire OS 5 as an option soon.

in Information Security News…

  • First Mac-targeting ransomware hits Transmission users, researchers say [ArsTechnica]
    A security research firm has announced its discovery of what is believed to be the world’s first ransomware that specifically goes after OS X machines. Ransomware has become the most popular criminal business model, but has so far been directed only at Windows machines. This new ransomware named, The KeRanger, imposes a 72-hour lockout window on Mac users unless they pay 1 bitcoin equal to $410 as of this writing. KeyRanger is deployed via a rogue version of the popular BitTorrent client, Transmission, and is a threat only to users of that software.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Cake AR platform puts virtual makeup on your face in real time [Engadget]
    A new augmented reality app allows online shoppers to virtually try on makeup. You don’t have to upload a photo, or download a plugin. It uses your webcam, HTML5 and Javascript to let you try on virtual makeup in real time right on your browser. Cargo Cosmetics has already activated the feature on its lipstick and eyeshadow pages, which you can play with right now.
  • Email inventor Ray Tomlinson dies [Engadget]
    It’s a sad day for the Internet: Ray Tomlinson, widely credited with inventing email as we know it, has died from a suspected heart attack at 74. In some ways, Tomlinson also changed language itself. His choice of the @ symbol for email addresses popularized the character, making it synonymous with all things internet.