Always On: Privacy Implications Of Microphone-Enabled Devices

from <re/code> Is your smart TV listening to your conversations? Are your children’s toys spying on your family?  These questions are being raised as the next generation of Internet-connected devices enters the market. Such devices, often dubbed “always on,” include televisions, cars, toys and home personal assistants, many of which now include microphones and speech-recognition capabilities. Voice is an increasingly useful interface to engage with our devices. Consider the Amazon Echo, which can be activated by spoken command (“Alexa”), Mattel’s Hello Barbie, or Apple’s familiar personal assistant Siri, which can be activated by spoken command (“Hey, Siri”). The growing prevalence […]

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The Untold Story of Magic Leap, the World’s Most Secretive Startup

from Wired THERE IS SOMETHING special happening in a generic office park in an uninspiring suburb near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Inside, amid the low gray cubicles, clustered desks, and empty swivel chairs, an impossible 8-inch robot drone from an alien planet hovers chest-high in front of a row of potted plants. It is steampunk-cute, minutely detailed. I can walk around it and examine it from any angle. I can squat to look at its ornate underside. Bending closer, I bring my face to within inches of it to inspect its tiny pipes and protruding armatures. I can see polishing swirls where […]

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Inside OpenAI, Elon Musk’s Wild Plan to Set Artificial Intelligence Free

from Wired The Friday afternoon news dump, a grand tradition observed by politicians and capitalists alike, is usually supposed to hide bad news. So it was a little weird that Elon Musk, founder of electric car maker Tesla, and Sam Altman, president of famed tech incubator Y Combinator, unveiled their new artificial intelligence company at the tail end of a weeklong AI conference in Montreal this past December. But there was a reason they revealed OpenAI at that late hour. It wasn’t that no one was looking. It was that everyone was looking. When some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful […]

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China’s Mobile Revolution (pt. 1)

from The Startup In February 2016, I went to China to celebrate Lunar New Year with my relatives. Having emigrated to North America over 14 years ago, I’ve always been amazed by China’s continuous transformation. As my life in the West became interweaved with services provided Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Uber, Youtube, and Amazon, I realized that my relatives in China couldn’t access any of these services (with the exception of Uber and Amazon in some cities). This is due to China’s Great Firewall, which blocked off most Western Internet technologies. Though I had read about the rise of WeChat, Alibaba […]

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Could There Ever be an ‘American Alibaba’? Jack Ma’s Biographer Explains What It Would Take

from The Atlantic A few days ago I posted a first round of questions-and-answers with Duncan Clark, a longtime analyst of and participant in China’s high-tech economy, and author of the new book Alibaba: the House that Jack Ma Built. Duncan is also a friend of my wife’s and mine, from the years we lived in China. He’s back for a second round of followups. I’m posting these mainly because I think the answers are interesting and illuminating in their own right. I encourage you to read very carefully what Duncan Clark is saying about the strengths and weaknesses of the Chinese innovation model. But […]

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Obama Supports Cable Box Competition And—Surprise—Cable Lobby Is Angry

from ars technica President Obama today pledged support for the Federal Communications Commission effort to give cable TV customers a greater choice of set-top boxes. Shortly after, the top cable lobby group expressed its displeasure, saying the White House’s statement “may be good politics, but it’s bad government.” The White House published a blog post this morning saying that cable TV subscribers shouldn’t have to spend “nearly $1,000 over four years to lease a set of behind-the-times boxes.” Americans should “have options to own a device for much less money that will integrate everything they want—including their cable or satellite content, as well as […]

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Why You Should Put a Post-It Over Your Laptop Camera

from Note to Self How much would it take for someone to hack your life? And really, how worried do you actually need to be? For most of us, this question stays in the realm of the hypothetical. For others, it only turns into a question after the worst has happened. For tech journalist Kevin Roose, co-host of Fusion’s new documentary series Real Future, it was a chance to be the human embodiment of a Fortune 500 company. On this week’s Note to Self, hear what happened when Roose asked some of the best hackers in the world to put him through a […]

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The Future Of Big Data Is Bigger Than You Can Possibly Imagine

from co.Exist Imagine a world without government, schools, a legal system, law enforcement, or companies. It’s a world unlike the one we currently live in—but based on the evolution of technology and how we use it—representative of what the world may become. Imagine a computer infrastructure that could—with global knowledge and the ability to enact precise tweaks to the social and economic structure—drive the evolution of society. This is the idea behind the Universal Graph. More here.

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Apple’s Security Debate is Everyone’s Problem (Including Yours)

from Note to Self The debate over whether the government can access your phone is here. Hello! You’ve probably been following along, but in case you need the tl;dr: The debate revved up last month when the FBI asked Apple to hack into a locked iPhone associated with one of the gunmen from the San Bernardino massacre last December. Since then, the conversation has evolved into a national debate over what the government should (and shouldn’t) be allowed to access. The conversation has officially moved outside the realm of tech and the government. With 90 percent of American adults owning a cell phone, the issue is hitting a […]

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In Recent Test, Blockchain Brings Transparency To Notorious Credit Default Swaps

from ars technica On Thursday, Wall Street’s bookkeeper announced that it had successfully tested blockchain technology to manage single-name credit default swaps (CDS) among four big banks: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, Credit Suisse, and JP Morgan. In a credit default swap, one bank buys the debt owed to another bank with the understanding that if the debt holder defaults on their loan, the buyer bank will be compensated by the selling bank. In the years leading up to the 2008 recession, the buying and selling of credit default swaps was not watched by regulators at all, and as an NPR explainer […]

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A Nostalgic Fan Visits A Still-Functioning Blockbuster Video In Indiana

from AV Club There was a time, in the primitive era before Netflix and streaming video, when Blockbuster Video provided its customers with a portal to a whole world of amusement and entertainment, with shelf after shelf of music and games just begging to be rented. The local Blockbuster wasn’t just a place to get movies, though. It was a community center, a place to hang with like-minded cineastes. People may think that Blockbuster and other purveyors of physical media are completely extinct in 2016, but it’s not entirely true. A few hardy survivors managed to weather the storm and […]

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Andrew S. Grove, Longtime Chief of Intel, Dies at 79

from NYTs Andrew S. Grove, the longtime chief executive and chairman of Intel Corporation who was one of the most acclaimed and influential personalities of the computer and Internet era, died on Monday at his home in Los Altos, Calif. He was 79. The cause of his death has not yet been determined, said Chuck Mulloy, a spokesman for the family. At Intel, Mr. Grove helped midwife the semiconductor revolution — the use of increasingly sophisticated chips to power computers — that proved to be as momentous for economic and social development as hydrocarbon fuels, electricity and telephones were in […]

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A New, Efficient Solar Material Could One Day Roll On To Windows

from co.EXIST It took silicon-based solar panel technology 30 years to reach an efficiency of 21%. At the end of 2015, a new kind of solar material hit that milestone in a research lab in just three years, making it the fastest improving solar technology to date. If the material, a crystalline mineral made of calcium and titanium called perovskite, works out as researchers hope, it could one day provide an alternative to today’s silicon-based solar panels that is at once cheaper, more efficient, and lightweight. The material was first explored in the 1990s as a transistor and LED material. It wasn’t until […]

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Domino’s Is Trialling An Autonomous Pizza Delivery Robot

from ars technica Pizza delivery boys and girls, beware! Pizza giant Domino’s has unveiled an autonomous pizza delivery robot that is being trialled in New Zealand. On Friday the company unveiled the Domino’s Robotic Unit (DRU), and announced that the bot had already carried out its first successful pizza delivery on March 8. “DRU is an autonomous delivery vehicle and is set to take the world by storm,” the company wrote in a statement on its website. The vehicle’s development started in 2015 and was pushed towards commercialisation by Domino’s Australia-based skunkworks DLab. According to a promotional video (embedded below), DRU uses software developed by the […]

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A Glimpse Of The Future Through An Augmented Reality Headset

from TED What if technology could connect us more deeply with our surroundings instead of distracting us from the real world? With the Meta 2, an augmented reality headset that makes it possible for users to see, grab and move holograms just like physical objects, Meron Gribetz hopes to extend our senses through a more natural machine. Join Gribetz as he takes the TED stage to demonstrate the reality-shifting Meta 2 for the first time. More here.

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Your Quantified Body, Your Quantified Self

from Note To Self One of the fastest-growing sectors of the tech industry involves turning all of the little details about our health into quantifiable data points. Millions of users have strapped heart-rate monitoring pieces of plastic to their wrists, scanned in the calories from their frozen dinner, and squinted at charts representing everything from the quality of a night’s sleep to the regularity of their menstrual cycle. And, according to a recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, almost as many have stopped wearing them within the first six months. To the many, many people who have tried these tools – not […]

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John Oliver Explains Why iPhone Encryption Debate Is No Joking Matter

from ars technica The FBI’s legal showdown with Apple over iPhone security has spilled into just about every facet of popular culture, from endless news coverage to Congressional hearings and even to comments from President Obama. On Sunday, it got treatment from comedian John Oliver, whose weekly HBO series Last Week Tonight does a better job than most news shows covering the important news stories of the day. In an 18-minute segment, Oliver brought the stakes of the fight front and center and explained in some of the most concrete terms yet why—contrary to the repeated claims of the Obama […]

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Why Are We Fighting the Crypto Wars Again?

from Backchannel Last week I arrived in San Francisco to hear good news: Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman had won the ACM A.M. Turing Award. This is the Nobel Prize of computer science, with a million-dollar check and priceless prestige. The choice of these 2016 honorees is both long overdue and appropriately timely. Overdue because their contribution to the field (and to the world) was public key cryptography, which they created in 1976. And timely because the consequences of their invention?—?which would lead to the development of online privacy tools, whether the government liked it or not?—?are once again a flash point of […]

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Linden Lab’s Project Sansar and the Future of Virtual Reality

from readwrite Since 2003, members of Linden Lab’s virtual world Second Life have been able to participate in an immersive reality filled with nightclubs, art exhibits, shopping malls, in-world corporate offices, and even higher education campuses. With a surge of virtual reality headsets coming to market such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the big question on the horizon remains: What needs to happen for the metaverse to catch on in the mainstream? To better understand what it would take to bring about a resurgence in virtual worlds like Second Life, I spoke with Linden Lab‘s CEO Ebbe Altberg and Peter Gray, the Lab’s Director […]

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