#465 June 20, 2016 – China Blows away US in Supercomputer Development

This week’s headline story: China Blows away US in Supercomputer Development

china-supercomputerChina has revealed its latest supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight, a monolithic system with 10.65 million compute cores built entirely with Chinese microprocessors. This follows a U.S. government decision last year to deny China access to Intel’s fastest microprocessors over concerns that China was using its supercomputers for nuclear explosive testing activities.

There is no U.S.-made system that comes close to the performance of China’s new system, Its theoretical peak performance is 124.5 petaflops. It is the first system to exceed 100 petaflops. A petaflop equals one thousand trillion (one quadrillion) sustained floating-point operations per second. The world’s next fastest system, China’s Tianhe-2, has a peak performance of 54.9 petaflops using Intel Xeon processors. China has set 2020 as the date for delivering the Tianhe-3, an exascale system 10 times the speed of it’s current record breaker. China now has more supercomputers in the Top500 Supercomputer list than the U.S.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Toyota to build artificial intelligence-based driving systems in five years [Reuters]
    Are you ready to drive an intelligent car? One with a mind of it’s own? Well, Toyota is developing driver assistance systems that integrate artificial intelligence (AI) to improve vehicle safety. The concept of allowing vehicles to think, act and take some control from drivers to perform evasive maneuvers forms a key platform of Toyota’s efforts to produce a car that can drive automatically on highways by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
  • Pro-ISIS Online Groups Use Social Media Survival Strategies to Evade Authorities [IEE Spectrum]
    One of ISIS’ most dangerous weapons has been the Internet. The extremist group relies heavily on social media to spread news and recruit soldiers. A group of computer scientists led by Stefan Wuchty at University of Miami have published research that characterizes the fundamental way that terrorists and other groups use social media to organize themselves. The findings are being used to create an algorithm that may be able to predict the future behaviors of these groups, including when their activity escalates leading up to an event.
  • FCC Wins Huge Net Neutrality Victory Over Big Telecom [Ecommerce Times]
    Digital Rights Group Says Net Neutrality Decision a Win for All [NewsFactor]
    An appellate court on Tuesday handed a major victory to the Federal Communications Commission by upholding the agency’s watershed Open Internet Order, which ensures equal access to the Internet. The decision likely guarantees that the Internet won’t go the route of cable television, and that the public will be the ones to decide what sites and services we use online rather than companies like Comcast or AT&T. The ruling “is a tremendous and decisive win for all Americans,” says Sarah J. Morris of the Open Technology Institute, “The court’s decision recognizes the value of an open platform over which all voices have a space and all ideas can flourish,” said Morris.
  • Rubin Sees AI Quantum Computer Running the Show [Ecommerce Times]
    Android’s Andy Rubin: Future of Tech Is Quantum Computing and AI [NewsFactor]
    Between quantum computing and advancements in artificial intelligence, a conscious intelligence could emerge that would help form the foundation of every piece of technology, says Android Creator, Andy Rubin. Rubin, who also launched Google’s efforts in robotics, is now CEO of Playground, which together with Redpoint Ventures has invested in an unnamed startup working on quantum computing. New computing platforms emerge every 10-12 years, and the next platform will be based on data and people training AI systems to learn, Rubin said. Learn more using links in the show notes.
  • More Than 8 Billion Devices Worldwide Are Connected to the Internet [Newsfactor]
    A new study by London-based IHS Inc. has determined that at the end of 2015, there were 8.1 billion connected smartphones, tablets, personal computers, TVs, TV-attached devices and audio devices in use worldwide. The world population is currently at about 7.4 billion. The study found that on average, across the globe, the 8.1 billion total equates to around four devices per household.
  • New Driverless Vehicle Olli Is Watson-Powered [NewsFactor]
    There’s a new driverless vehicle in town. “Olli” is the product of IBM and Local Motors and uses IBM’s Watson AI as its driver. Not only can this vehicle maneuver the roads, but it can converse with passengers along the way, answering in-depth questions about its own inner workings, making restaurant suggestions based on an analysis of an individual’s personal preferences, or fielding the age-old question, “Are we there yet?” Olli made its debut on public roads in Washington, D.C., last week, and will begin operating in Las Vegas later this year. Miami-Dade County in Florida is also developing a pilot program that would use a group of Ollis for public transportation.

in Information Security News…

  • Air, Land, Sea, Cyber: NATO Adds Cyber to Operation Areas [NewsFactor]
    NATO agreed Tuesday to make cyber operations part of its war domain, along with air, sea and land operations, and to beef up the defense of its computer networks. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the decision to formally consider cyber operations a military domain is not aimed at any one country. He says the allies need to be able to better defend themselves and respond to attacks on their computer networks.
  • Did It for Orlando: ISIS Twitter Sites Hacked To Support Gay Pride [NewsFactor]
    The hacker group Anonymous is retaliating against terror and showing support for LGBTQ community in its own unique way. The hacker collective took over several social media accounts managed by the terrorist group ISIS and its supporters, replacing images of bloodshed and violence with rainbows and affirmations of gay pride. “I did it for the lives lost in Orlando,” said the Anonymous hacker who goes by the online handle WauchulaGhost. “Daesh [ISIS] has been spreading and praising the attack, so I thought I would defend those that were lost.”
  • New York criminalizes the use of ticket-buying bots [engadget]
    A three-year investigation by NY’s attorney general has uncovered widespread use of ticket scalping bots programmed to scoop up hundreds of prime seats for concerts within seconds of the tickets going on sale. Scalpers then resell the tickets at prices many times over face value. Using such bots was illegal before, but only brought civil charges. Scalpers who exploit such software could now face criminal, class A misdemeanor charges.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • WatchOS 3 Offers New Hope for Smartwatch Category [Ecommerce Times]
    Apple WWDC: Developer Conference Keynote Brings Big Promises [NewsFactor]
    Apple Rolls Out Privacy-Sensitive Artificial Intelligence [MIT Tech Review]
    The big news from Apple’s WWDC is all about OS and AI. CEO Tim Cook says that the upgrade to iOS coming this fall will be “the mother of all releases.” Apple also unveiled a new macOS, formerly known as OS X, a new watchOS and tvOS.
    A new, more intelligent Siri is in the works, and Apple Photos is getting face, object and scene recognition for sorting, grouping and categorizing photographs. Although late to the game compared to Google and Facebook, Apple’s face recognition claims to treat your data with respect for privacy, analyzing photos on the device rather than sending them to the cloud. Finally, Apple is releasing Swift Playgrounds, a coding education app that teaches Apple’s Swift programming language. Read more about it, using links in the show notes.
  • Symantec Buys Blue Coat for $4.65B To Create Cybersecurity Giant [Newsfactor]
    Security company Symantec is spending $4.65 billion to acquire Web and cloud security firm Blue Coat, creating a cybersecurity behemoth for the enterprise market. Combined, the companies will generate around $4.4 billion in revenues this fiscal year, more than 60 percent of which is expected to come from enterprise security.

 

#464 June 13, 2016 – Facebook Wants to Know, Are you Safe?

Techminded News of the
Week

Episode
464 06/13/2016

This week’s headline story: Facebook wants to know – Are you safe?

facebook_safetycheckIn the aftermath of the weekend’s horrendous mass shooting in Orlando, Facebook stepped up to provide a new service to those in the vicinity. Facebook’s “Safety Check” tool allowed those around the Orlando club to quickly let their Facebook friends know if they were safe. The tool asks Facebook users who are in the affected area if they are safe. With a click of a button, those in danger can quickly notify their friends about their safety. Facebook has activated Safety Check 18 times this year compared to 11 instances in the previous two years. The recent disasters for which the tool was activated included earthquakes in Ecuador, a wildfire in Alberta, Canada, a cyclone in Bangladesh and flooding and landslides in Sri Lanka.. This was the first time the service was used in the U.S.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Cisco Says Global IP Traffic To Triple by 2020 [NewsFactor]
    Global IP traffic is expected to triple over the next five years, as a result of more than 1 billion new Internet users coming online before 2020, according to Cisco. As many as 10 billion new devices may join the Internet in that time, bringing the total number of connected devices up to 26.3 billion from the 16.3 billion that were connected in 2015.
  • Google moves closer to a universal quantum computer [nature]
    For 30 years, researchers have pursued the universal quantum computer, a device that could solve any computational problem, with varying degrees of success. Now, computer scientists at Google, and physicists at the University of California/Santa Barbara and the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain, have made an experimental prototype of such a device that can not only solve a wide range of difficult problems, but can also be scaled up to larger systems. Quantum computing expert Daniel Lidar says that while the new Google device is still very much a prototype, in a couple of years, devices with more than 40 qubits could become a reality. “At that point,” he says, “it will become possible to simulate quantum dynamics that is inaccessible on classical hardware, which will mark the advent of ‘quantum supremacy’.”

in Information Security News…

  • Companies Are Stockpiling Bitcoin to Pay Off Cybercriminals [MIT Technology Review]
    New research suggests that companies are now stockpiling the digital currency, Bitcoin so that they can quickly pay off hackers who hold their data for ransom using malicious software. According to MIT Technology Review, one third of the 250 companies surveyed, said that they were stockpiling the currency. Half of respondents in the Citrix survey said that company data was not backed up daily – which is the best defense against ransomware.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • Your Phone May Soon Sense Everything Around You [NewsFactor]
    Google shows what Tango is capable of in 3 new videos
    [Android Authority]
    Google’s Tango Aims To Map the Great Indoors [NewsFactor]
    Lenovo’s Tango Phone
    A new mobile technology from Google named “Tango” utilizes smart phone sensors to map interior spaces. Users of Tango can try out virtual furniture in their home prior to purchasing it, or adopt a virtual pet that runs around the house, or play games that integrate with their environment. The first Tango-enabled phone is being manufactured by Lenovo and is expected to hit the market later this year or in early 2017.
  • Google Demos How Android Apps Will Run on Chromebooks [NewsFactor]
    Google Chromebooks will soon be able to run Android apps. The new capability will bring thousands of new apps to the Chrome platform widely expanding the capabilities of the cloud-based system. Google expects to launch the updated version of Chrome for the general public later this year.
  • Alphabet Aims To Connect Homes to Internet via High-Speed Wi-Fi [NewsFactor]
    Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has acknowledged that it is exploring the possibility of deploying gigabit Internet service to homes over WIRELESS technology as an alternative to Google Fiber in some areas. Google CEO Eric Schmidt said high-speed wireless technology has appeared to reach a point where it’s become affordable to deploy. However, he added, “We don’t have anything to announce yet.”
  • Samsung Reportedly Launching Bendable Phones in 2017 [NewsFactor]
    Lenovo Unveils Bendable Phone That Can Be Worn Like a Watch [NewsFactor]
    Bendable phones are almost here! Samsung plans to release mobile devices with flexible displays as soon as early 2017. One of the phones would feature a five-inch screen that could be unfolded into an even larger, 8-inch display. Lenovo has unveiled a prototype of a phone that can bend around your wrist, as well as a concept tablet that can fold to act as a regular smartphone.
  • Microsoft to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion [The Verge]
    Microsoft has announced that it plans to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. Microsoft is positioning the combination as the “world’s leading professional cloud” together with the “world’s leading professional network.”
  • Yahoo Puts More Than 3,000 Patents on Auction Block [NewsFactor]
    Yahoo is auctioning off more than 3,000 of its technology patents as part of a purge that also could culminate in the sale of its Internet operations. Analysts have estimated that Yahoo Inc.’s patents are worth more than $1 billion.
  • Verizon To Bid $3 Billion for Yahoo’s Core Business, Report Says [NewsFactor]
    According to the Wall Street Journal, Verizon is expected to bid $3 billion for Yahoo’s core Internet business. Last year, Verizon acquired AOL Inc., and analysts have said that buying Yahoo could give Verizon more scale on the Internet.
  • Twitter Sale ‘Inevitable’ if Company Continues To Struggle, Analyst Says [NewsFactor]
    Analysts are speculating that Twitter may soon be ripe for acquisition. “We do not think the company is up for sale in the near term,” wrote Bob Peck, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “However, we believe that if current trends persist, Twitter would be a top candidate in 2017.” Google, Facebook, Apple and traditional media companies are the most likely buyers, he wrote.

 

#463 June 6, 2016 – AI Gets Real

This week’s headline story: AI Gets Real

irobot-glance-300x170The “AI dream is finally arriving” according to Bill Gates, who spoke at the Code Conference in Southern California. “This is what it was all leading up to” Gates said. He believes that enough progress has been made to ensure that in the next 10 years there will be robots managing tasks like driving and warehouse work and AI’s that out pace humans in certain areas of knowledge. He also mentioned that it could be a major concern for the future of humanity.

The Obama administration agrees. Last week, the White House hosted the first of four workshops to examine how to address an increasingly AI-powered world. The participants are considering how to regulate and use powerful AI technology while it is still dependent on humans. “One thing we know for sure is that AI is making policy challenges already, such as how to make sure the technology remains safe, controllable, and predictable, even as it gets much more complex and smarter,” said Ed Felten, the deputy US chief of science and technology policy. “Some of these issues will become more challenging over time as the technology progresses, so we’ll need to keep upping our game.”

Meanwhile Google is upping its game when it comes to providing safeguards against an AI takeover. As Google develops artificial intelligence that has smarter-than-human capabilities, it’s teamed up with Oxford University researchers to create a panic button to interrupt a potentially rogue AI agent. The researches have proposed a framework that allows humans to repeatedly and safely interrupt an AI agent’s reinforcement learning while simultaneously blocking its ability to learn how to prevent a human operator from turning off its machine-learning capabilities.

other Technology Headlines…

  • EU Links Up With Twitter, Tech Firms To Combat Hate Speech [NewsFactor]
    The European Union reached an agreement with some of the world’s biggest social media firms, including Facebook and Twitter, on ways to combat the spread of hate speech online. Under the terms of a code of conduct, the firms have committed to “quickly and efficiently” tackle illegal hate speech directed against anyone over issues of race, color, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin. Social media sites have often been used by terrorist organizations to relay messages and entice hatred against certain individuals or groups.

in Information Security News…

  • Google plans to replace smartphone passwords with trust scores [New Scientist]
    Google Has a Plan to Kill Off Passwords [MIT Technology Review]
    Sick and tired of remembering passwords?
    Google’s working to do away with them on Android devices. Daniel Kaufman, head of Google’s advanced technology projects, announced that the company plans to phase out password access to its Android mobile platform in favor of a trust score by 2017. Your trust score would be based on a suite of identifiers such as what Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth devices you’re connected to and your location, along with biometrics, including your typing speed, voice and face. The phone’s sensors will harvest this data continuously to keep a running tally on how much it trusts that the user is you. A low score will suffice for opening a gaming app. But a banking app will require more trust.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • Intel Goes Extreme With 10-Core Desktop Chips [NewsFactor]
    Intel has unveiled four new extreme chips designed for content creators and gamers. They come with six, eight or 10 cores. The 10-core model alone will set you back a cool $1,723.
  • Uber and Lyft Drivers Are Safer than the Average American Driver [NewsFactor]
    A new study by automotive analytics firm Zendrive and research firm Aite GroupDrivers found that drivers for ride-hailing services Uber, Lyft, and HopSkipDrive are generally safer than the average American driver. The research compared data collected anonymously from the smartphones of about 12,000 ride-hailing drivers across the U.S. to millions of data points from trips taken by average American drivers and found that ride-hailing drivers were less likely to speed, drive aggressively or fumble with their phones during a trip.

 

#462 May 31, 2016 – Floppy Disks in Washington

This week’s headline story: Floppy Disks in Washington

floppyAccording to a recent report, the US government is spending three quarters of its $80 billion technology budget maintaining archaic computer systems that support critical areas from nuclear weapons to Social Security. Amazingly, some of these systems are so old that they depend on floppy disks to operate. The ongoing investment in these ancient systems comes at the cost of modernization.

The White House HAS been pushing to replace legacy systems, some of which date back more than 50 years. But the government is expected to spend $7 billion less on modernization in 2017 than it did back in 2010, said the Government Accountability Office. “Clearly, there are billions wasted,” GAO information technology expert David Powner told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at a hearing.

other Technology Headlines…

  • E Ink Unveils New Full Color Display [NewsFactor]
    The eInk and ePaper that was introduced with the first Kindle, is entering a new phase of development: Color! The new electrophoretic display technology is named Advanced Color ePaper (ACeP) and brings a full color array to every pixel on the display. Like regular E Ink ePaper, ACeP maintains the ultra-low power and paper-like readability under all lighting conditions, the company said. The technology will be primarily used for digital signage at first.
  • Facebook and Microsoft Team On Transatlantic High-Speed Data Cable [NewsFactor]
    This August, Facebook and Microsoft will belaunching a 14-month-long project to lay 6,600 kilometers (4,100 miles) of high-speed cable across the Atlantic, from Virginia Beach to Bilbao, Spain.
    The companies said the system — designed to support the fast-growing demand for cloud and online services — will be the highest-capacity subsea cable ever across that span. Composed of eight fiber pairs, the cable will have an initial estimated data-carrying capacity of 160 terabytes per second.
  • House Republicans Move To Eliminate Net Neutrality [NewsFactor]
    The battle over Net Neutrality continues. A new proposal by House Republicans would effectively put an end to net neutrality while slashing funding for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The legislation would reduce the agency’s funding by more than 17 percent, leaving the agency crippled and incapable of enforcing its regulations. While Obama is likely to veto any legislation that would block one of the key initiatives of his FCC chairman, Republicans are likely to continue the fight against Net neutrality with the next president.

in Information Security News…

  • The most followed account on Twitter has been hacked [Engadget]
    Twitter’s most popular user, with 89 million followers, Katy Perry, had her account hacked. After briefly spewing a few vulgar and racist tweets the incident was quickly cleaned up, with no indication of exactly what went down.
  • Researchers: Asian Bank Hacks May Be Linked to North Korea [NewsFactor]
    Cybersecurity researchers say North Korea might be connected to a recent attack that resulted in the theft of over $100 million from the Bangladeshi central bank and the attempted thefts of millions more from other Asian banks. Security researchers at Symantec say that the malware used in the bank attacks is similar to that used in the past by a group sponsored by the North Korean government.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • Microsoft Drastically Scales Down Smartphone Biz [Ecommerce Times]
    More Job Cuts Signal Microsoft’s Flee from the Phone Business [NewsFactor]
    Microsoft seems to be backing away from the smartphone business. Last week, the company announced that it would be cutting 1,850 jobs from its mobile division. “We are focusing our phone efforts where we have differentiation — with enterprises that value security, manageability and our Continuum capability, and consumers who value the same,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Microsoft is also selling off its feature phone brand and design business to Finland-based HMD Mobile.
  • PayPal Deep Sixes Windows, BlackBerry and Amazon Apps [NewsFactor]
    PayPal has announced that it is abandoning its apps for Microsoft Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Amazon Fire OS and focusing on Apple IOS and Google Android that together account for 97 percent of phone sales.
  • Apple Reportedly Prepping Siri SDK Launch Ahead of WWDC [NewsFactor]
    Apple appears to be ready to unveil a smart home device controlled by Siri. The new device would resemble Amazon’s Echo that responds to voice commands to provide useful information and services. Google announced a similar device last week called Google Home. Advances in artificial intelligence are expected to improve our device’s ability to understand what we say, leading to what analysts are referring to as the “voice-first” revolution where we speak instead of type.

 

#461 May 23, 2016 – Google Products Get Smarter!

This week’s headline story: Google Products Get Smarter!

GOOGLE-HomeCompanies are investigating BIG in artificial intelligence, and this past week Google provided a peek at what it’s been working on in the area or AI at it’s annual Developers Conference. This year’s conference was all about SMARTER! Smarter artificial intelligence, smarter messaging services, smarter home technology, and smarter smartphones.

Google has ramped up its efforts in machine learning with a powerful new artificial intelligence tool named Google Assistant. According to Google, about 20% of searches done on Android phones are voice searches. Google Assistant will expand on that service using smarter voice recognition and natural language learning. Users can have a conversation with the virtual assistant, ask for movie recommendations, book tickets and perform complex searches.

Google has also unveiled a home table-top device named Google Home. Similar to Amazon Echo, Google Home is always listening, waiting for a command to play music, adjust the home temperature, run a Google search, order meals, send flowers or book rides.

Finally, Google announced a new chip it has developed named the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) that accelerates the process of machine learning. Google’s TPU excels at tasks such as data analysis and voice translation.

In addition to AI products, Google also unveiled a new messaging app named Allo, and a new one-on-one video calling app named Duo, the newest version of Android named Android N with a Virtual Reality mode, and Daydream, a virtual reality platform for Android.

in Information Security News…

  • LinkedIn Passwords from 117M Accounts Hacked and Up for Sale [NewsFactor]
    A four-year-old data breach at LinkedIn has returned to haunt the professional networking site, with the recent discovery that 117 million user emails and passwords were being offered for sale on the dark Web.
    LinkedIn says it is “moving swiftly” to address the issue by working to invalidate passwords for at-risk accounts and contacting individual users to advise them to reset their passwords.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • IDC: Google Chromebooks Outsell Macs for the First Time [NewsFactor]
    While PC sales have been declining globally, one type of PC has seen increasing sales this year in the U.S. Is it Windows? of Macs? No! It’s Google’s cloud-based Chromebooks, that have been performing strongly, especially in the education sector. In fact, Chromebooks from Dell, HP and Lenovo were — for the first time — stronger than sales of Apple’s Macs during the first quarter of this year.
  • Apple’s New SF Store Showcases Jony Ive’s Design Vision [Wired]
    Apple stores will be getting an update. A flagship store sporting the new design has opened in the heart of San Francisco, in Union Square. The new design blends indoor and outdoor environments, with a lot os space dedicated to hanging out. Take the video tour using the links in the show notes.

 

#460 May 16, 2016 – Facebook’s Trending Topic is the Trending Topic

This week’s headline story: Facebook’s Trending Topic is the Trending Topic

zuchWill “Trending topics” become a “trending” topic on Facebook? Last week tech blog Gizmodo published an article claiming that Facebook downplays politically conservative news topics on its trending topics list in favor of more liberal topics. The new media lit up with reactions to the Gizmodo story with everyone asking for details on the news filtering and manipulation practices at Facebook. Facebook denies that it applies ANY bias to its Trending topics selections. The company says a series of checks and balances — involving both software formulas and humans — ensures that stories displayed in the “trending topics” section aren’t biased.

In other news:

  • Microsoft Study Shows Digital Infrastructure Overtaking Physical [NewsFactor]f
    A new study from Microsoft titled “The Digital Revolution, Powered by Cloud” found that organizations now rely more on digital infrastructures than they do on physical infrastructures. Today 51 percent of organizational infrastructure is digital, compared with physical. In two years, its expected to rise to 57 percent. The study also found that 95 percent of customers intend to renew their contracts with their primary cloud and hosting providers, indicating a high degree of customer loyalty.
  • Disney Brings RFID Magic To Make Objects Smart [NewsFactor]
    A team of researchers from Disney and Carnegie Mellon University have developed a way to use RFID tags for near-real-time interactions with a wide variety of objects. The new system, called RapID, uses probabilistic models to enable computers to quickly read the movements of RFID-enabled objects to play games and identify other real-world actions. Because RFID tags are passive devices that don’t require batteries or wiring they could be applied to, printed onto or drawn on almost any object, from a piece of paper to a human granting the object basic processing capabilities. The research provides new inexpensive capabilities for objects on the Internet of Things.

in Information Security News…

  • Banks Beware: Another Day, Another Cyberattack [NewsFactor]
    A new cyberattack has been made against an unnamed bank, part of a coordinated campaign that follows February’s theft of $101 million from the Bangladesh central bank. International money transfer firm, Swift stated that “the attackers clearly exhibit a deep and sophisticated knowledge of specific operational controls within the targeted banks” and urged clients to urgently review their security systems.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Apple Watch gains yet another ‘killer app’ [Computerworld]
    Apple Pay remains the killer app for Apple Watch, but a new home security solution from Dutch smart home firm, smanos, may convince more people of the value of having the Internet on their writst. The company has released three new Apple Watch apps that integrate with the company’s home security solutions so that Apple Watch users are alerted when sensors are triggered. Users can also use the Apple Watch app to arm and disarm their security systems (no pun intended).
  • Google To Ban Payday Lending Ads, Calling Industry ‘Harmful’ [NewsFactor]
    Internet giant Google has announced that it will ban all ads from payday lenders, calling the industry “deceptive” and “harmful.” The Payday Loan industry joins Google’s other banned categories of ads, such as counterfeit goods, weapons, explosives, tobacco products and hate speech.
  • Why Apple Is Investing $1 Billion in Didi, China’s Version of Uber [NewsFactor]
    Apple has invested $1-billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing. With sales of iPhones slowing on mainland China and Apple running into trouble with regulators there, the Cupertino, Calif., company may see its investment as a source of new revenue streams and goodwill in the massive market. Didi says it works with more than 14 million drivers in 400 Chinese cities and has 300 million users who place 11 million ride orders a day.

 

#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…

  • N/A

and in Tech Industry news…

  • 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.