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YouTube Aims to Put the Brakes on Online Conspiracies
March 16, 2018
YouTube intends to ramp up its efforts to combat conspiracy mongers, perhaps in response to the rash of conspiracy videos that trended following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month. Among other things, YouTube will supply links to relevant Wikipedia pages and other credible websites to provide viewers with a counter narrative, according to CEO Susan Wojcicki.
Data Storage, Privacy and Metaphysics: SC Weighs Arguments in MS Case
March 13, 2018
How far does the long arm of U.S. law enforcement extend when government agencies seek electronically processed information? The U.S. Supreme Court recently addressed that issue in an intriguing session covering global electronic connectivity, the law, and the significance of national borders. The discussion came during last month's oral arguments in U.S. v. Microsoft.
White House Video Game Violence Discussion Fails to Move the Needle
March 9, 2018
President Donald Trump on Thursday met behind closed doors with several top video game industry executives, association representatives, politicians and others to discuss video game violence in the aftermath of the fatal shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month. Among the scheduled attendees were Strauss Zelnick, CEO of TakeTwo Interactive Software.
Amazon Courts Medicaid Recipients With Deep Prime Discount
March 8, 2018
Amazon this week expanded its discounted Prime membership program, already available to EBT card holders, to include Medicaid recipients. Eligible customers can become Prime members for $5.99 a month, less than half the regular $12.99 monthly fee. The move -- another step in Amazon's efforts to reach underserved economic communities -- ratchets up its competition with Walmart.
Russians Pose as Americans to Steal Data on Social Media
March 8, 2018
Americans have been targeted on social media by Russian agents on a mission to harvest personal information. The agents pretended to work for organizations promoting African-American businesses as a ruse to obtain personal information from black business owners during the 2016 presidential election campaign. Using names like "BlackMattersUS," the agents set up hundreds of social media accounts.
Facebook Under Fire for Bizarre Child Predator Survey Question
March 5, 2018
Facebook has come under fire after posing a survey question on how it should deal with predatory sexual behavior against children over the weekend. Survey participants were asked whether sexual predators should be allowed to request photographic images from 14-year-old girls online. Further, users were queried about how Facebook should handle such a request if it learned about it.
Most Companies Have No Idea Where They Are Going
March 5, 2018
Dell recently collaborated with the Institute for the Future -- an interesting think tank largely driven by futurists, which focuses on helping firms ride future waves rather than being killed by them -- on a survey that creates a frightening view of 2030. It could be far closer to Terminator than the utopia we once hoped for. I think more companies should go through a process like this.
Disaffected Social Media Users Flock to Vero
March 1, 2018
Vero, a relatively unknown social network, has been enjoying a surge in user engagement in recent weeks, a trend that may be tied to growing user discontent over recent changes to Instagram's algorithm, along with an assortment of other objections that have been driving users away from the leading social platforms. Vero has rapidly moved up in the App Store and Google Play rankings.
SC Justices to Hear Arguments in Microsoft, DoJ Data Privacy Face-Off
February 27, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear oral arguments in a landmark case over whether federal law enforcement can force Microsoft to hand over email stored in an overseas data center as evidence in a drug-trafficking case. The case, United States of America v. Microsoft Corporation, which dates back to 2013, is viewed as a potentially groundbreaking showdown over data privacy.
Real Danger and Dangerous Distraction - AI to the Rescue?
February 26, 2018
The shooting at the school in Florida was devastating, and it appears clear that Russia has been manipulating public opinion in the U.S. to stoke the flames of a divisive argument on guns. What is being missed is a brewing problem that potentially could have an even more devastating impact. Competing for our eyeballs is the news that the U.S. president kissed a woman without her permission.
FCC's Final Rule on Net Neutrality Sparks Legal Challenges
February 23, 2018
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday officially published its Net neutrality rollback order in the Federal Register, triggering a flurry of legal actions and Capitol Hill scrambling to stop it before it takes hold. The order, which goes into effect on April 23, reverses an Obama era rule requiring that broadband access be regarded as a utility.
Right Blasts Twitter's Bot Takedown
February 23, 2018
Conservatives on Twitter have been fulminating over their losses of followers measured in the thousands, a consequence of the network's unannounced lockout earlier this week of suspected bot accounts. Among those objecting to the move are conspiracy theorist Michael Flynn Jr., white supremacist Richard Spencer, Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson, and NRA TV host Dan Bongino.
AI's Malicious Potential Front and Center in New Report
February 22, 2018
As beneficial as AI can be, it has its dark side, too. That dark side is the focus of a new 100-page report. AI will be used by threat actors to expand the scale and efficiency of their attacks, it predicts. They will employ it to compromise physical systems and to broaden their privacy invasion and social manipulation capabilities. Novel attacks are to be expected.
Uber's New Express Pool: Walk and Wait
February 22, 2018
Uber has launched a new service that lowers ride-sharing costs for customers who are willing to walk to and from designated locations. Express Pool became available this week in several participating cities. Passengers must walk a short distance to a pickup intersection. They are then dropped off at another designated spot, close to their final destination.
Russian Twitter Trolls Exploit Florida School Shooting
February 21, 2018
Within an hour of the shooting at a Florida High School last week, divisive messages began pouring out of Twitter accounts believed to be controlled by Russia. At a rapid speed, messages reportedly began flooding Twitter using popular hashtags to exploit the rampage by a lone gunman with an assault rifle at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Silicon Valley's Corrupt Underbelly: It's Far Worse Than We Thought
February 19, 2018
After addressing the topic of sexual harassment and misconduct in Silicon Valley last month, I finally got my hands on a copy of Brotopia, an eye-opening new book, and a lot of executives should be happy I did not pursue my career in law enforcement. Otherwise I would be working my butt off to get them off the streets behind bars. Everyone connected to tech should read this book.
Apple's HomePod Could Leave a Lasting Mark With Customers
February 15, 2018
Apple's new $350 HomePod could make an impact in several ways. In addition to providing listeners with highly praised sound quality, the smart speaker literally could make an impression on some of the wood surfaces it touches -- in the form of white rings. The HomePod can stream music to those who have an Apple Music subscription. It has a few other capabilities too.
Intel's Fake 5G Olympic Hail Mary
February 12, 2018
If there ever were a time when perception Trumped reality, this would be it. So much of what we see these days that looks real just isn't. I can connect a lot of this back to Steve Jobs, who was the master at this in the tech world. However, I'm worried that too many people don't realize that there were several times Steve missed jail by the skin of his teeth, largely because he did amazing work under pressure.
SEC, Senators Lean Toward Tighter Cryptocurrency Regulation
February 7, 2018
Federal securities regulators and Senate Banking Committee members on Tuesday signaled that additional regulation may be necessary in the rapidly growing area of virtual currency. "The cryptocurrency and ICO markets, while new, have grown rapidly, gained greater prominence in the public conscience and attracted significant capital from retail investors," said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton.
Former Execs Team Up to Fight the Tech Addiction Monster
February 7, 2018
A group of former Facebook, Google and Mozilla executives have joined forces to establish the Center for Humane Technology, a new organization dedicated to combating the growing problem of addictive behavior among social media users. The new center, along with the children's advocacy group Common Sense, has announced a campaign to help change the social media model.
Will 2018 Be the Year of Reckoning for Online Tax Collection?
February 6, 2018
The United States Supreme Court recently decided to revisit Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, which basically allowed states to collect taxes on online sales only from sellers that had a physical presence within their boundaries. Brick-and-mortar retailers for years have argued that the ruling puts them at a competitive disadvantage. At least 35 states have been urging a reconsideration of Quill.
Amazon's Soaring Healthcare Ambition: The Promise and the Problem
February 5, 2018
Healthcare is a mess in the United States. Consumers pay more and get less than in most other developed countries. Strong comprehensive healthcare is unaffordable for most without substantial help, which is why putting the burden on the government really does not work. If people cannot afford something, individually aggregating it under what amounts to a tax is not really any better.
Facebook Is Gobbling Less of Users' Time
February 1, 2018
The social media industry may have to struggle to rehydrate in light of some surprising and troubling metrics Facebook released on Wednesday. In addition to a pause in user growth, there have been signs that user engagement may have reversed course. The decline may have something to do with Facebook's efforts to recover from accusations that it has provided fertile ground for fake news.
Feds to Probe Apple's iPhone Performance Disclosures
February 1, 2018
Both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have launched investigations into Apple. The company has said that it will respond to the federal inquiries. Apple faces allegations that it may have misled investors when it decided to throttle performance on older iPhone models while introducing two pricey new ones, including the thousand-dollar iPhone X.
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JP Morgan Aim to Untangle Employee Healthcare Knot
February 1, 2018
Three corporate giants on Tuesday announced they were banding together to provide healthcare for their 1.1 million employees. The companies -- Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase -- plan to form a company "free from profit-making incentives and constraints" in order to improve employee satisfaction with their healthcare coverage as well as reduce costs.
Don't Pay the Hackers
January 30, 2018
If you follow security news, you may have noticed a disturbing trend. Last year, we learned that Uber paid attackers $100,000 to keep under wraps their stealth of the personal information of 50 million Uber riders. More recently, we learned that Hancock Health paid approximately $55,000 in bitcoin to bring hospital systems back online. The payment of ransoms could be more common than it appears.
AT&T Raises Eyebrows With Call for Internet Bill of Rights
January 25, 2018
In an open letter and a series of full-page ads in major newspapers, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has urged Congress to enact an Internet Bill of Rights and to bring the Net neutrality debate to an end. Although AT&T supported the FCC's December vote to repeal its Net neutrality rules, the company has called on legislators to establish new laws to regulate the Internet.
Batteries in New iPhones Could Have Shorter Life Spans
January 23, 2018
There was some bad news for owners of the latest iPhone models on Monday. Batteries in the iPhone 8 and X may have shorter life spans than those in prior models. Typically, phone batteries begin losing their effectiveness after 500 recharges. Up to that point, they can hold up to 80 percent of their charge. After that, it's usually downhill for the battery.
Facebook's Move to Dial Back News Ratchets Up Drama
January 17, 2018
Facebook once again has found itself at the center of a media storm, following Mark Zuckerberg's recent announcement of plans to shift its focus away from news and business content and toward interactions between friends and family. The shift follows more than a year of heavy criticism directed against Facebook, including blame for failing to combat fake news during the 2016 presidential election.
Intel, Microsoft, Google Scramble for Solutions as Patches Slow Systems
January 12, 2018
Major tech companies, including Intel, Microsoft and Google, scrambled to calm the mood this week after a large number of computer users reported performance problems linked to security updates for the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. A firestorm of criticism has erupted over the response to the chip flaws, which researchers at Google's Project Zero discovered in 2016.
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What should be done about UFOs?
World governments should cooperate to address a potential planetary threat.
The DoD should investigate -- they could signal a hostile nation's tech advances.
The government should reveal what it already knows.
The government probably has good reasons for secrecy and should be trusted on this.
Wealthy corporate space-age visionaries should take the lead.
Nothing. Studying UFOs is a waste of resources.
Keep the stories coming. People love conspiracy theories, and it's fun to speculate.