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Beware the Killer Robots
June 12, 2015
Russia's advanced military combat robot -- which has drawn alarmed comparisons to Hollywood's Terminator -- will be able to run and clear an obstacle course by late this year, according to reports this week. That's just the latest news fueling the already-fiery debate over what to do about killer robots. Stuart Russell, a UC Berkeley professor, believes the issue is urgent.
US Snooping Costs High-Tech Sector $35B and Counting
June 10, 2015
Other countries' concerns over U.S. government surveillance programs likely will cost American businesses more than $35 billion, according to a report released Tuesday by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. Originally it was thought that the fallout from Edward Snowden's revelations of U.S. mass surveillance programs would be limited to cloud service providers.
It's Hard to See WWDC Through My Apple TV Tears
June 4, 2015
By the time you read this, I'll have finished swearing in the privacy of my office, and likely will have entered the acceptance stage of grief. Already, realization is dawning that I was right to withhold hope that Apple would reveal a new Apple TV at its WorldWide Developers Conference on Monday. I hate it when pessimism wins. But how can I know that Apple isn't going to introduce a new Apple TV?
And the Dish Ran Away With T-Mobile?
June 4, 2015
T-Mobile, which has tried unsuccessfully several times to get acquired, is now in talks with Dish, according to press reports. The purchase price and possible cash-stock mix that could pay for the deal remain to be thrashed out. The two companies reportedly are planning a merger with Dish CEO Charlie Ergen to chair the new company and T-Mobile head John Legere (shown here) to be its CEO.
AT&T May Leave Anti-Net Neutrality Ranks
June 3, 2015
AT&T has just revealed what it would take for it to change its stance on Net neutrality: regulators' approval of its purchase of DirecTV. The company has offered to accept the rules adopted by the FCC early this year, according to reports. It was just last month that the FCC denied petitions from a slew of companies -- including AT&T -- to delay its implementation of the rules.
Customer Satisfaction With Pay-TV, ISPs Hits New Low
June 2, 2015
"Customer first" is the motto businesses live by -- or should -- but that doesn't seem to resonate with companies providing pay-TV or Internet-access services, based on ACSI data gathered in Q1 of 2015. Customer satisfaction with information services fell to 68.8 percent, the lowest level in seven years. Subscription-TV services and ISPs are at the bottom of the 43 industries covered by the index.
Nintendo Scotches Android Console Rumor
June 2, 2015
Nintendo not only has embraced the idea of releasing its iconic intellectual properties for mobile devices, but also is planning to base its next videogame console on a version of the Android operating system, according to a Japanese-language business publication. The publication claimed an inside source revealed that Nintendo's next console, code named "NX," will run on Android.
Senate Ready to Rumble Over Freedom Act Amendments
June 2, 2015
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to close debate on the USA Freedom Act, a measure that would prohibit the NSA from the indiscriminate collection Americans' phone call data. The bill already has passed in the House. However, the brawling over the bill is not quite over. The Senate has yet to address several proposed amendments to the legislation before voting on it later on Tuesday.
5 Reasons Jony Ive's Step Back Is Apple's Step Forward
May 28, 2015
There seem to be two major reactions to the "promotion" of Apple's Jonathan Ive to the newly created position of chief design officer: first, that he deserves the recognition and reward; and second, that this is the beginning of the end for Jony Ive's tenure at Apple. Apple released the news in the UK... on Monday, which was the Memorial Day holiday in the United States.
Charter, TWC Approval May Not Be Enough to Revitalize Cable
May 28, 2015
Will the Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable merger be approved? Comcast and Time Warner Cable decided to merge last year, but that deal eventually was blocked by regulators. After it fell apart last month, we all wondered what big deal might be next. Now we know. So will the Charter, TWC deal be approved? It's way too early in the process to know for sure one way or the other.
Charter, TWC Merger Could Be Fine With Feds
May 26, 2015
Charter Communications on Tuesday announced a deal to acquire and merge with Time Warner Cable, and also reaffirmed its commitment to buy Bright House Networks. The $56 billion cash-and-stock acquisition, if regulators give it a nod, will result in a merger of Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable under a new parent company called "New Charter." The deal values TWC at $78.7 billion.
Spy Agencies Planned to Corrupt Google Play
May 22, 2015
The United States and its leading Western allies, known as the "Five Eyes," reportedly planned to hack into smartphones through their links to Google and Samsung's app stores. They wanted to infect apps with spyware and find ways to send misinformation to targets, according to documents released to the media by National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
Popcorn Time Offers Smooth-as-Butter Streaming
May 20, 2015
Popcorn Time, known as the "Netflix for Pirates," has introduced a browser-based service that lets users play streaming videos without having to download anything. The videos play on the company's servers. However, the browser-based service does not include a built-in virtual private network, a feature of the downloadable Popcorn Time app. Most of the videos stream in HD.
Researcher's Airplane-Hacking Claims May Not Fly
May 19, 2015
A security researcher who last month bragged he'd hacked into a passenger jet's internal computer systems while in flight appears to have performed the act more than a dozen times over a three-year period. Chris Roberts, founder and CTO of One World Labs, told FBI investigators earlier this year that he'd hacked into the flight systems of commercial passenger aircraft from 15-20 times.
Google's Driverless Cars to Leave the Nest
May 16, 2015
Google on Friday announced it will begin testing prototypes of its fully autonomous self-driving cars on public roads. The vehicles won't roam too far from their Mountain View, California, home -- but this latest phase of testing could be critical both for cultivating positive consumer perceptions, and influencing future legislation affecting the nascent sector.
Reddit Flaps Gums at Harassers
May 15, 2015
Reddit has announced a new policy prohibiting personal attacks. "We are updating how we apply existing policies to address new types of harassment on Reddit," said company spokesperson Heather Wilson. However, Reddit did not indicate what action it would take against harassers. Instead, it promised a thorough investigation by the company and a response based on the nature of the harassment.
Apple Likely to Pony Up to Settle A123 Poaching Suit
May 14, 2015
Apple reportedly has agreed to settle the lawsuit brought by battery manufacturer A123 Systems, accusing it of poaching engineers who were under non-compete agreements. A123 develops technologies for electric car batteries. News of the rumored settlement has fueled speculation that Apple poached talent from the firm to forward its ambitions to enter the electric vehicle market.
Consumer Group Worries Over Safety of Google's Self-Driving Cars
May 14, 2015
Even though Google's self-driving technology was not at fault in any of 11 minor accidents involving the cars over six years of testing, Consumer Watchdog has raised an alarm over the vehicles' safety, even releasing a video that simulates a serious crash in a tech-failure scenario. The group frequently accuses Google of privacy violations and exerting undue influence on the U.S. government.
Facebook's Instant Articles Raise Troubling Questions
May 13, 2015
Facebook on Tuesday introduced Instant Articles, a feature that lets publishers place their stories directly on its site. Nine major media outlets have signed on so far. The content is optimized for mobile devices, and Instant Articles currently is available only on iOS. Publishers get 100 percent of the revenue from ads they place with their content.
FAA's Next-Generation Air Transportation System Falters
May 11, 2015
The United States Federal Aviation Administration last week came under fire once again for problems with the implementation of its troubled Next Generation Air Transportation System. The NextGen program to overhaul the U.S. national air traffic control system, estimated to cost $29 billion between 2013 and 2030, long has been the target of congressional wrath.
Uber Wants to Get Off Google's Maps
May 8, 2015
Ride-sharing company Uber reportedly has submitted a bid of up to $3 billion to acquire Nokia's Here maps service. Several Here suitors have surfaced since April, when Nokia made known its intent to sell the service, including Facebook, Google, and a consortium of German automakers and Chinese search engine Baidu. The biggest threat to Uber's bid may be that consortium.
Wild Salesforce Speculation
May 8, 2015
The blogosphere lit up last week after rumors surfaced that Salesforce was working with unnamed bankers on a possible merger. It seemed Salesforce was in play, and my colleagues and I went into overdrive speculating about who the suitor might be, what the striking price would be, and whether it was a good idea to do the deal. Of course, as a public company, Salesforce in theory could be bought.
Users Choose to Wear Blinders, Facebook Suggests
May 8, 2015
Facebook, in collaboration with the University of Michigan, conducted a study on the diversity of news and opinions posted by members of the network, in an effort to determine whether its manipulation of News Feed algorithms could be responsible for creating an echo chamber of viewpoints. Users themselves are to blame if all they're exposed to is preaching to the choir, the study found.
The Last Apple Watch Review You'll Ever Need to Read
May 8, 2015
If you're thinking about getting an Apple Watch and have been on the fence, this review is for you. Why? The Apple Watch, it turns out, is less about being the perfect smartwatch than about being a watch. For the fence sitters out there, these two questions are really where you should start: First, do you want a watch? Second, do you want a digital wearable device that can transform your life?

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