E-Comerce Times – Artificial intelligence will be having a big coming out party in 2017. While there are plenty of opportunities in this space for workers, executives, investors and partners, not every company that uses the term “AI” in its marketing will become a serious winner in the field.
The Conversation – If you want to make predictions for the future, you need to find the trajectory of events in the past. So to work out what shape digital technology will likely take next year, we should look back to the major developments of 2016. And the past year’s developments point to a 2017 shaped by the next phase of virtual and augmented reality, the emergence of an internet for artificial intelligence and the creation of personalised digital assistants that follow us across devices.
NewsFactor Network – Virtual reality/augmented reality are poised to be the rabbit everyone chases at the upcoming CES 2017 trade show in Las Vegas — a massive consumer electronics extravaganza that opens Jan. 5.
E-Comerce Times – The price of bitcoin soared to a new three-year high on Monday, surpassing the US$1,000 mark for the first time, in response to economic and geopolitical uncertainty in China following the U.S. presidential election.
CORDIS – It is a well-known fact that Facebook is more than a social media channel. Each year, the company makes about 4 billion dollars in advertising revenues. What people advertising on Facebook did not know until now, however, is how much profit their own activity actually generates.
MIT CSAIL – Transportation studies put the annual cost of congestion at $160 billion, which includes 7 billion hours of time lost to sitting in traffic and an extra 3 billion gallons of fuel burned. One way to improve traffic is through ride-sharing – and a new MIT study suggests that using carpooling options from companies like Uber and Lyft could reduce the number of vehicles on the road 75 percent without significantly impacting travel time.
This week’s headline story: FCC Delivers More Data Protection for Consumers
New rules adopted yesterday in a close vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are aimed at increasing privacy protections for customers of broadband Internet services. The rules spell out opt-in and opt-out requirements for different types of customer data that ISPs can use or share with others, and also set out new requirements for transparency and security. The new rules classify as “sensitive” any ISP data about customers’ exact geo-location, Social Security numbers, Web browsing history, communications content as well as health, financial and children’s information. Before service providers can use or share such data, they will have to obtain an opt-in OK from customers. In addition, customers will be able to opt out of the sharing of other kinds of personal information such as email addresses or types of ISP services used.
While consumer data is now more heavily protected from abuse by ISP’s, there are no policies protecting your data from the many data brokers that buy and sell people’s personal information in a multibillion-dollar industry. Nobody knows how many so-called list owners and list brokers are operating nationwide. The best guess is tens of thousands. These businesses operate largely unregulated, overseen day to day by no official authority, and if there’s ever need to correct files as a result of a death, divorce or similarly life-changing event — there’s pretty much nothing you can do to hold these firms accountable. Federal regulators are working to address the problem.
Flying drones could soon re-charge whilst airborne with new technology [Imperial College]
One of the greatest limitations of drone aircraft is the limited time that they can be powered by a rechargeable battery. The time for flight of a hobbyist drone ranges from minutes to a couple hours. Researchers at Imperial College in London have developed a system in which drones can recharge wirelessly in-flight, allowing the aircraft to stay airborne indefinitely.
and in Tech Industry News…
New Generation of MacBooks Are Here [NewsFactor]
Apple has released a new generation of MacBooks. The new MacBook pro features a fingerprint sensor to unlock the computer, and a new touch-sensative display panel above the keyboard that can be programmed to be used with different software for different functions.
Google Suspends Fiber Expansion Plans, Cuts Staff [NewsFactor]
Google has suspended its Google Fiber project that has brought Gigabit speed internet to more than eight cities in the US. The reasons behind the pause is that subscriber numbers are much lower than expected, and new wireless technologies may allow the company to provide equally fast networks to cities for much less money.
Facebook Fighting Snapchat With New Photo App [NewsFactor]
Facebook is rolling out a new feature in its mobile app that works just like Snapchat. The feature uses the phone camera and messaging feature to allow users to”share moments as they happen and express yourself more.” The camera includes a number of optional special effects like facial masks, and once a photo or video is opened you’ll have 24 hours to respond to it otherwise it’ll disappear.
Accepting More Facebook Friend Requests Is Linked to Lower Mortality [NewsFactor]
Scientists who studied Facebook activity and mortality rates of registered California voters found that people who received many friend requests were far less likely to die over a two-year period than those who did not. Initiating friend requests, however, seemed to have no effect on death rates whatsoever.
This week’s headline story: Internet of Things Attack Takes Down the Web
A cybersecurity attack that brought down half the Web for two hours Friday morning ushers in a new era of hacking. The attack used Internet-enabled cameras as a platform to launch a huge Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack against Inernet performance management company Dyn. The attackers exploited default passwords in web cams and other Internet-connected hardware to send a monstrous 1.2 trillion bits of data every second at Dyn’s servers. Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology, a Chinese electronics company, has acknowledged that weak default passwords on many of its devices were partly to blame for the attack and is recalling millions of Web-enabled cameras that were sold in the U.S.
Security experts are blaming the rise of increasingly massive DDoS attacks on the rapidly expanding number of network-connected devices on the Internet of Things (IoT). Earlier this month, researchers at Akamai Technologies noted that weak protections on IoT devices has helped to create the “Internet of Unpatchable Things.” Cybersecurity experts are calling for standardized security measures for connected devices like webcams, printers and routers in the wake of a massive cyber attack.
Sweden’s highest court bans drones with cameras [ars technica]
The Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden has ruled that all drone cameras count as surveillance devices, and as such, can only be used to prevent crime or accidents, banning the use of camera drones by the general public. Car- or bike-mounted cameras are legally fine the court decided.
Pittsburgh’s AI Traffic Signals Will Make Driving Less Boring [IEEE Spectrum]
Traffic congestion costs the U.S. economy $121 billion a year, mostly due to lost productivity, and produces about 25 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions. In urban areas, drivers spend 40 percent of their time idling in traffic. One major contributor to the problem is traffic light technology that is not responsive to traffic needs. New smart artificial-intelligence-fueled traffic signals have been developed by a new startup company named Surtrac, that adapt to changing traffic conditions on the fly. In pilot tests in Pittsburgh, the smart traffic-management system has reduced travel time by 25 percent and idling time by over 40 percent.
and in Tech Industry News…
Tesla Equipping Cars To Drive Completely on Their Own [NewsFactor]
Tesla Motors is starting to build its electric cars with all the sensors, cameras and other gear needed to drive completely on their own when regulations allow the technology to take over that responsibility. After additional testing and getting the necessary regulatory clearance, all the cars rolling off Tesla’s assembly lines will have the equipment needed to be fully autonomous, says CEO Elon Musk who believes the technology will be twice as safe as a human driver.
Microsoft Stock Pushes to an All-Time High [NewsFactor]
Microsoft’s quarterly earnings exceeded investor expectations last week, fueled by growth in sales of server software and the company’s range of cloud-computing offerings. The optimistic report boosted the company’s share price to all-time highs in after-hours trading.
AT&T To Acquire Time Warner for More than $108 Billion [NewsFactor]
AT&T has made a bid to acquire Time Warner for more than $108 billion. If approved, the deal would give AT&T control of some of the most valuable content companies in the world, including Warner Bros. Entertainment, DC Comics and HBO as well as television networks TNT, TBS, and CNN.
Uber’s First Self-Driven Truck Delivery Was a Beer Run [NewsFactor]
Otto, the self-driving truck startup that was acquired by Uber for $700 million, has completed the world’s first completely autonomous commercial freight delivery. It’s cargo? 45,000 bottles of beer. Budweiser to be precise.
This week’s headline story: Whitehouse Embraces AI
The White House has released a new pair of reports, offering a framework for how government-backed research into artificial intelligence should be approached and what those research initiatives should look like. The primary paper, entitled “Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence,” focuses on the general state of and challenges faced by AI. The paper points out that “AI needs good data. If the data is incomplete or biased, AI can exacerbate problems of bias.” The Whitehouse wants AI researchers to share information across the industry so that all involved can make informed decisions. The report emphasizes the need for early education in data science because doing so “helps to avoid the negative consequences of narrowly focused AI development, including the risk of biases in developing algorithms, by taking advantage of a broader spectrum of experience, backgrounds, and opinions.” Read more about the Whitehouse reports on AI at TechCrunch using the link in the shownotes.
Google, automakers object to California rules for self-driving cars [Reuters]
Google and Automakers raised a litany of concerns about California’s proposal to set new, mandatory rules for testing self-driving cars in the state. Industry officials said the rules could hobble their efforts in self-driving vehicle testing and development, claiming it would force a 12-month delay between testing a vehicle and deploying it on public roads.
and in Tech Industry News…
Amazon Launches For-Pay Streaming Music Service [NewsFactor]
Amazon is launching a paid streaming music service, the latest entry in an increasingly crowded field. Amazon Music Unlimited is being positioned to compete against existing services such as Spotify and Apple Music. It will cost $8 per month, or $80 a year, for members of Amazon’s $99-a-year Prime loyalty program. Non-Prime members will pay $10 a month, the same monthly fee charged by Spotify and Apple Music.
This week’s headline story: Yahoo’s in Hot Water over Email Tapping
According to an exclusive report by Reuters, Yahoo developed custom software so it could scan “hundreds of millions” of incoming email messages for specific types of information specified by the National Security Agency (NSA) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It appears to be the first time an Internet service provider has searched such a large number of emails in real time for an intelligence agency, Reuters added, citing “some surveillance experts.”
Meanwhile, other tech giants, including Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Apple, have denied receiving such surveillance requests or said they would not comply with such requests.
A recent report, however, claims that Apple retains iMessage metadata and shares it with law enforcement when presented with a court order. iMessage encryption prevents Apple from accessing the actual content of conversations, but the company maintains logs that contain a range of information, including contacts, IP addresses, and dates and times of conversations, that it sometimes shares with law enforcement.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note7 Assembly Lines Grind to Halt [Ecommerce Times]
Samsung has stopped production of its problematic Galaxy Note7 smartphones, after replacements of the phone with new batteries exhibited similar problems, including smoking and catching fire.
in Information Security News…
Amid Breach Talk, Some Yahoo Users Finding It Hard To Exit [NewsFactor]
After hearing that data associated with hundreds of millions of Yahoo user accounts was compromised and that Yahoo has been snooping on email for the NSA, some Yahoo email users are considering switching to other email services. Unfortunatly, Yahoo disabled email forwarding at the beginning of the month making it difficult for users to pull out. Yahoo declined to comment on the recent change beyond pointing to a three-line notice on Yahoo’s help site which says that that the company temporarily disabled the feature “while we work to improve it.”
Batman, Battlezone and Brainteasers Lead Sony VR Lineup [NewsFactor]
Sony has released it’s virtual reality headset named PlayStation VR. the headset connects to the Sony Playstation game console to provide an immersive experience for gamers. The company anticipates having 50 games for the VR experience by the end of the year.
Facebook’s Oculus To Start Selling Hand Controllers [NewsFactor]
Facebook’s Oculus division has announced the long-awaited shipping date for its Oculus Touch hand controllers will be December 6. The hand controllers will allow users to make gestures and grasp virtual objects within the simulated worlds projected by Oculus Rift headsets.
Facebook Launches Workplace, a Business Version of Facebook [Newsfactor]
Facebook has launched a communications platform for businesses, nonprofits and other organizations called Workplace. The platform is ad-free and not connected to users’ existing Facebook accounts. Instead, businesses sign up as an organization and pay a monthly fee based on the number of users. It’s free for nonprofits and educational institutions.
This week’s headline story: The Big Internet Handoff
The past Saturday was the day that Internet governance was passed from the US Department of Commence to a nonprofit organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN has been managing Internet names and addresses since 1998 with oversight by the US government. This past Saturday, its contract expired and a new contract was signed giving ICANN full power to manage Internet names and addresses. Some republican senators attempted to block the move. Sen. Ted Cruz stated that “When ICANN escapes from [US] government authority, it escapes from having to worry about the First Amendment, from having to worry about protecting your rights or my rights.” Attorneys general of Arizona, Nevada,Oklahoma, and Texas filed a lawsuit to block the turnover. But a federal judge in the Southern District of Texas denied that request for a temporary restraining order.
ICANN says that these fears were uninformed. It said that the handoff would ensure an open internet. “This transition was envisioned 18 years ago, yet it was the tireless work of the global internet community, which drafted the final proposal, that made this a reality,” ICANN Board Chair Stephen D. Crocker said in a statement. “This community validated the multistakeholder model of internet governance. It has shown that a governance model defined by the inclusion of all voices, including business, academics, technical experts, civil society, governments and many others is the best way to assure that the internet of tomorrow remains as free, open and accessible as the internet of today.” The Internet Governance Coalition, a group of companies that includes Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Verizon, also expressed approval of the move.
Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft form AI non-profit [ZDNet]
Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft have announced they are forming a non-for-profit organization to educate the public about artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, as well as alleviate anxieties around its application. The organization, called Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society (Partnership on AI), will address legal and ethical challenges that AI presents, encourage public discourse, and identify opportunities to use AI to bring improvements to society.
in Information Security News…
The Internet Is No Place for Elections [MIT Tech Review] A Close Election Could Expose Risky Electronic Voting Machines [MIT Tech Review]
There is much concern over voting systems that are connected to the Internet. Computer security experts warn that such systems are vulnerable to hacking and might create a shadow of doubt over the upcoming election. MIT Technology Review states that 32 states and the District of Columbia allow at least some absentee voters to return their completed ballots using poorly secured e-mail, Internet-connected fax machines, or websites. Additionally, Voters in 15 states, including several battlegrounds, will be voting on systems that lack an important safeguard against software errors and tampering.
and in Tech Industry News…
What to expect from Google’s October 4 Pixel and hardware event [Tech Crunch]
Google’s new Pixel Smartphones are set to launch at a Tuesday press event. Much information has been leaked about the new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones that look to be iPhone quality (and price) running the stock Android OS. Google is also expected to talk about Google Home, Chromecast Ultra, Daydream VR and Google WiFi. Read about all that is expected at Tech Crunch or just wait until tomorrow and see for yourself!
Donald Trump’s campaign says a government plan to give up managing key operations of the internet poses a threat of outside censorship of online information. The upcoming Oct. 1 transition is the result of planning that started under President Bill Clinton in 1998 and continued largely unopposed during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The U.S. government’s role has diminished as the behind-the-scenes, technical administration has increasingly been performed by a the Internet Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, a California-based nonprofit organization that coordinates with private experts around the world.
The exposure of NSA spying by the Edward Snowden leaks brought increased pressure from international allies to bring international governance to the Internet.
“If we don’t make a transition to a more global form of governance, many people will say, ‘Look, this is a U.S tool, and we’re going to make our own internet,'” said Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security secretary under George W. Bush and Obama. “We have to realize that even though we know our motives are good motives, there are people who will argue that if we don’t give it up that we have bad motives. To maintain credibility we have to go through this process.”
The planned change “offers the best hope of protecting internet freedom,” NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said. He said there are robust checks and balances that will be put in place after the transition to ensure the internet’s technical management is properly handled.
UPS Testing Drones for Use In Its Package Delivery System [newsfactor]
UPS, one of the world’s largest package delivery companies, is stepping up efforts to integrate drones into its system. UPS has partnered with robot-maker CyPhy Works to test the use of drones to make commercial deliveries to remote or difficult-to-access locations.
in Information Security News…
Yahoo says 500 million accounts stolen [CNN Money]
Yahoo has confirmed that data “associated with at least 500 million user accounts” have been stolen in what may be one of the largest cybersecurity breaches ever. The company said it believes a “state-sponsored actor” was behind the data breach, meaning an individual acting on behalf of a government. The breach is said to have occurred in late 2014. “The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers,” Yahoo said in a statement.
and in Tech Industry News…
Snapchat’s Spectacles Might Seem Silly, But Could Actually Be Cool [Apartment Therapy]
Snapchat has announced that they are renaming themselves Snap, Inc. and releasing their first hardware product: a pair of video sunglasses. The new Snap Spectacles are a pair of sunglasses with two front-facing 115-degree cameras that record circular video that’s more similar to the human field of vision. When you tap on the button near the hinge, Spectacles shoot a 10-second video; tap again, and they’ll add another 10 seconds (you can record up to 30 seconds at a time).
LinkedIn Redesign Targets Global Workforce with Bots and E-Learning [Newsfactor]
The social networking site for professionals, LinkedIn has experienced an upgrade. The site has a redesigned look for its desktop app, a new online learning platform and smarter messaging capabilities with support for bot-enabled assistance. The news comes a little over three months after Microsoft revealed plans to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, and on the heels of the company’s acquisition of the online learning firm lynda.com last year.
This week’s headline story: Samsung Recalls 1 Million Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones Samsung has formally recalled 1 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold in the United States, replacing or refunding the flagship phones, whose susceptibility to catching fire has damaged the image of the Korean powerhouse. Samsung received 92 reports of batteries overheating in the United States, including 26 reports of burns and 55 cases of property damage, the company said as it announced the recall in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The recall is a costly setback for Samsung, which was counting on Galaxy Note 7 to bolster sales as rivals such as Apple Inc launch new devices. The scale of the recall is unprecedented for Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker.
Opera’s New VPN Promises To Keep Your Web Browsing Private [newsfactor]
The latest version of the Opera web browser is the first browser to include an embedded virtual private network (VPN) services. A VPN can mask a device’s IP address, providing a high level of privacy. “We strongly believe that if more people knew how the Internet truly works, they would use a VPN — and we hope that by making our browser VPN free and easy to use, it will become an essential tool for everyone,” a representative from Opera posted.
Google Expected To Unveil New Pixel Smartphones on Oct. 4 [NewsFactor]
A new smartphone announcement is expected from Google on October 4. A new wbesite at madby.google.com features a smartphone shaped image and the date October 4. Rumors about what might replace Google’s Nexus line have been circulating since earlier this year, when the company brought former Motorola president Rick Osterloh on board to lead a new hardware division. Several recent leaks have provided a few glimpses at the new smartphones known as the Pixel and the Pixel XL.
GoPro Unveils Its New Karma Quadcopter [NewsFactor]
The rugged camcorder maker GoPro, has unveiled a compact drone designed to record people’s adventures from above. The Karma enters the burgeoning market for consumer drones as one of the first models to be more than a toy, but the quadcopter is coming out a time when several cities and businesses are restricting such aircraft from their skies.
While Amazon and Google are working hard on unmanned aircraft to make deliveries, Mercedes-Benz is developing “Robovan,” a vehicle designed to transport eight delivery robots from Starship Technologies and release them onto sidewalks to make deliveries. “By leaving the door-to-door part to delivery robots the van drivers’ productivity will significantly rise while reducing congestion on the streets and CO2 emissions,” said Allan Martinson, Starship’s chief operating officer. Left unsaid was that fewer van drivers will be needed for a given volume of business. The typical volume of deliveries is 180 packages per nine-hour shift, according to Martinson. The Robovan and its robots will more than double that, to 400 packages, he said.
FAA Warns Airline Passengers Not To Use Samsung Smartphone [newsfactor]
Samsung has ordered a global recall of Galaxy Note 7 phones after its investigation of explosion reports found the rechargeable lithium batteries were at fault. In one case, a family in St. Petersburg, Florida, reported a Galaxy Note 7 phone left charging in their Jeep caught fire, destroying the vehicle. U.S. aviation safety officials took the extraordinary step of warning airline passengers not to turn on or charge a new-model Samsung smartphone during flights following the numerous reports of the devices catching fire.
in Information Security News…
Authorities Nab Two Teens Connected to Massive DDoS-for-Hire Scheme [newsfactor]
Alerted by the FBI, Israeli authorities have arrested two Israeli teens in connection with an online attack-for-hire service. In operation since 2012, the vDOS, “booter” service has earned more than $600,000 over the past two years by helping customers coordinate distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on Web sites around the world
Tesla Says It’s Improving Autopilot By Boosting Radar [newsfactor]
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the electric car company is making major improvements to the Autopilot system used by its vehicles, which will dramatically reduce the number and severity of crashes in which they are involved. On a conference call with reporters, Musk said he thinks that the improvements, which will roll out globally in the next week or two in the form of a software update, probably would have prevented recent crashes.
This week’s headline story:Vulnerabilities in the U.S. Voting System
Russian intrusions into U.S. election systems recently have shocked the public, but computer experts are not surprised. After the 2000 election where paper-based voting systems caused confusion and controversy, many states have moved to electronic voting systems and a new set of vulnerabilities.
“There are computers used in all points of the election process, and they can all be hacked,” Princeton computer scientist Andrew Appel, told the Washington Post. “So we should work at all points in that system to see how we make them trustworthy even if they do get hacked.”
The alleged Russian hacks to voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois exposed one of the major weak spots in election systems. Deleting or altering data on voter rolls could cause mayhem on Election Day, disenfranchising some voters. But that’s just one point of failure. Many voting machines themselves also are vulnerable.
At stake are not just the election results, but faith in the reliability and transparency of balloting, which is crucial to democracy. This is especially true in a year when allegations of voting irregularities already have been aired by politicians like Donald Trump.
Read more about how Russian hackers could actually tip an American election, using the link in the show notes.
Des Moines’ city council is trying to ‘opt out’ of ‘Pokémon Go’ [Engadget]
Some cities are looking to “opt-out” of Pokeman Go! The City Council of Des Moines, Washington is concerned about the droves of teenagers and other players walking around idly, looking down at their phones while crowding the public spaces, making noise, littering, partaking in certain legal and illegal vices, and disrupting local business. Council members voted unanimously to request that the entire area “opt out” from the game.
in Information Security News…
Secret commands in online videos could hack your smartphone [CNBC]
Hackers are experimenting with gaining illegal access to systems through the voice-command interface. They are embedding hidden audio within YouTube videos that sounds like strange background noise to the human viewer, but sounds like audio commands to voice-controlled interfaces on phones and computers.
and in Tech Industry News…
Google Ditches Project Ara Modular Phone Ambitions [newsfactor]
Google has been promising to launch a developer edition of its Project Ara modular smartphone by the end of the year, but now those ambitions have apparently been shelved. Reuters has reported that Google is making an “about-face,” and taking the ax to Project Ara.