This week is a sad one for me. Like many GenX’ers, once upon a time in the weeks leading up to Christmas, you might be privileged enough to take a trip to Toys ‘R’ Us and roam the aisle ways dreaming of remote controlled cars, train sets, Cliffhangers, Transformers, and a shiny red 10 speed bike. Since having children, I would spend a few hours in Toys “R” Us, on Christmas Eve, dumping whatever last minute toy I could find in a cart because I didn’t buy anything for my kids. My kids also liked roaming Toys “R” Us, we bought a couple bikes from there, as well as a toy kitchen/stove thing that my then 3 year old turned into a vanity, and I would always pass the life sized Millennium Falcon, wondering if I would pull the trigger.
Well those days are ending, as Toys “R” Us is closing and laying off 33,000 people. Thank you, Amazon.
Anyway, it’s Thursday, and we had to buck up and talk about some new zany in the world of technology and I didn’t disappoint. Here are the top stories we talked about on First News 570 with Mark Starling. Make sure you tune in every Thursday morning by listening to iHeart Radio LIVE.
ENCOURAGING KIDS TO STAY LAZY, NBA STARTS E-SPORTS LEAGUE
I just can’t do it. I played sports in middle school and high school and a lot of video games. No matter how many people try to convince me otherwise, finger reflexes, hand-finger coordination, and rapid eye movement are not the same as having the physical skills to pay the bills. The NBA thinks otherwise and is drafting 102 gamers to join an NBA2K, I have this game, eSports league. Some gamers are “practicing” NBA2K for 20 hours week with the big league hopes of being drafted to the majors. Gamers will receive 6 month contracts and could earn between $32,000 and $35,000 to play the game. I’m sorry. I still can’t do it. I’m barely watching pro basketball now, and I can’t imagine myself tuning in to watch a bunch of couch potatoes who couldn’t put up bricks yell at each other for 42 minutes a clip.
At some point we’ll look back on this time period and ask ourselves, “what the Hell?”
As we continuously let personal assistants, and machine driven intelligence into our lives we start noticing weird behavior. I chatted about this and other topics with Mark Starling on First News 570.
AMAZON TO STOP ALEXA FROM GASLIGHTING ITS USERS
It’s not like we don’t report on enough creepy stories involving AI. But we can’t help ourselves. The latest in AI software behaving badly comes from Alexa herself. We already know AI assistants like Alexa and Siri have to be listening to us all the time, well apparently Alexa finds our regular behavior creepily funny. Users are reporting that their Amazon Echo devices have been laughing like witches. What’s more troubling is that these devices have been laughing, unprompted, which means the device is responding to some other remark, or just laughing at us for the Hell of it. I already know, we are doomed.
I’m really trying to make it through this week unscathed. Two big demos and lots of work to do.
I still had time to point and laugh at the stories that make the tech life interesting with Mark Starling and the listeners of First News 570. You can always listen to First News 570 here.
Here are this week’s top under reported stories in tech.
IN ORWELLIAN MOMENT, SECRET POLICE INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM FOUND OUT IN BIG EASY
This is serious news. Palantir, is a super secret Tysons Corner company founded by the CIA’s venture fund to mine social networks, financial records, and other data sources to identify targets for predictive strikes. Palantir’s AI and data mining technology is usually reserved for the combat theatres involving Al Qaida and other state bad guys. James Carville, a Palantir advisor and consultant, brokered a relationship between the City of New Orleans and Palantir to use their technology to preemptively lock up criminals and gangs in New Orleans. On the surface, this technology seems to be great. Except this was all done in secret. Many city council members and civic leaders had no idea intelligence technology was being used on civilians. Furthermore, the technology and algorithms have had known issues in which police could be targeting innocent people. I personally believe that we shouldn’t be so desperate to fight crime that we bring in secretive policing techniques to stop it.
Those Rampancy Checks Don’t Mean a Hill of Beans
It’s Friday, and I was on the air just in time for the weekend. We talked about AT&T bringing real, not fake, 5G to America, Venezuela’s fake fake currency, Intel’s non-disclosure disclosure, and some good ole news about AI. You can listen to Mark, John, and First News 570 crew by listening here.
ATT ANNOUNCES FIRST THREE CITIES TO 5G WIRELESS
5 Gee, the new wireless standard which promises us the ability to download 5K and high def video over throttled cellular is coming soon. In keeping its promises American Telephone and Telegraph has announced that Waco, Dallas, and Atlanta will be the first of 12 cities to receive the new high speed service. ATT originally planned to rebrand LTE as 5G Evolution but thanks to regulations was cut short of lying to consumers. As a heavy mobile wireless user, I’m excited for 5G to come because it can open up some pretty interesting applications.
From This to a Spotify Playlist – SMDG
I’m telling you man. Sprint demo weeks are killer. You get a compressed week, you’re nervous as Hell and hope your team gets all their changes in, and then you have to present your stuff to the customer. It’s nerve wracking. So I was late with getting this week’s stories out, but there are some good ones. Myself, Mark, and the First News 570 crew poured one out this week as the end of mixes draws nigh. Listen in LIVE! You can listen LIVE every Thursday morning at 6:43 am EST.
IN STUNNING FALL FROM GRACE BITCOIN CONTINUES SLIDE
I know we’ve talked about this before, but Bitcoin’s fall is notable because it’s affecting the average Uber driver. No kidding. On New Years Eve, Sabrina and I shared an Uber with another couple and the driver was staking his future on Bitcoin’s high price and counting on it to bounce back. Since November, BTC has fallen from a high of $19,000 to a low of $5,947.40. This new fall is coming as banks are restricting customers from purchasing BTC using credit and debit cards, and as legislatures around the world begin restricting the currency. Speculators, and 50 Cent, are the only ones profiting and whoever is shorting BTC is still raking in dough.
It’s been a really interesting week in the tech news department. Samsung is now the world’s largest chipmaker, people are using AI to paste their favorite A-list celebrities’ faces on porn stars, and someone with big money calls Facebook, Google, and their ilk menaces to society. We don’t have time to report on it all, but here are some of the most interesting stories on First News 570 with Mark Starling. Listen in LIVE.
You can catch me an Mark Starling every Thursday morning at 643 am on WWNC, 570 AM.
BEZOS, BUFFET, AND A BLOKE FROM JPMORGAN TAKE AWS APPROACH TO HEALTHCARE
One of this week’s bigger news items is the announcement that Amazon will be partnering with investment firms Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan to form a healthcare company. We all know healthcare in the US is broken. We all have experiences with it. What’s interesting about this move is that Amazon is pursuing a strategy in which the company will be “free from profit making incentives and constraints.” Like many things Amazon has disrupted, the company will be tasked with revamping its own internal healthcare for its employees, see what works, and then bring it to market. We’ve seen this strategy work well for Amazon before, it’s called Amazon Web Services or AWS. After building a highly scalable cloud solution that could meet its customer demands, Amazon decided to sell this capability and make themselves into one of the Internet’s most profitable computing companies.
Credit goes to @techstacy for this great image.
I’m prepping this week’s stories in the sometimes illogical world of technology on a train leaving Gotham City. New York. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
There was a lot of techno-nonsense news this week. GM and Tesla’s self-driving AIs got involved in fender benders this week. One in a collision with a fire engine. Yeah. A fire engine, a teenaged driving student ain’t hitting a fire engine, and trust, I was in one of those student driver cars were my peer almost drove us into opposing traffic!
This week, I thought an ensuing war with China and some fool who’s trying out for a Darwin award would be good candidates for our weekly techno-news break on First News 570 with Mark Starling. Listen now.
NO ONE WANTS WAR WITH CHINA, BUT IT COULD BE TECHNOLOGICAL
This week features the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The forum in Davos is usually billed as a gathering of the masters of the universe including hedge fund masters, the world’s bankers, and trade and policy leaders from the country’s largest economies. Seeing China as a clear threat to the US’ position of being the world’s economic superpower and technology innovator. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated that the US seeks to level the playing field in global commerce and technology. China has long been viewed as an IP pilferer and dumper of cheap goods in the US market. Seeing a rise in the number of engineers, patent filings, and protectionist policies the US is complaining to the WTO and seeking “action”.
Bitcoin has last 53% of its value since December. The only thing faster than that is the resale value of a Vega GT.
Your boy is back!
I had to spend some time away with the mrs. and wasn’t on the one and two’s last week on First News 570. Despite the big breakdowns in technology during last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, I think these stories are a little more compelling. Mark and I discussed these stories this morning with Asheville’s listeners.
You can hear me and Mark crack up about the insanity of the tech industry every Thursday morning at 6:43 am. Make sure you listen in.
THE SPECULATORS GIVETH AND THEY TAKETH AWAY
For the first time since December 2017, Bitcoin’s value has dropped below $10,000. It’s easy for me to go out on the Internet and say, I told you so. Yesterday, Bitcoin closed at the price of $9, 958, in essence losing 53% of its value. Analysts are finding a few reasons why BTC is closing down, South Korea is thinking about imposing trading restrictions on the currency, the Chinese are intending to restrict local trading platforms for the currency, Bitconnect, a BTC lending and exchange platform, stated that they were shutting down their service after receiving cease and desist letters from US government regulators, and of course, Warren Buffet has flat out stated he hasn’t invested any of Berkshire Hathaway’s money in BTC investments, and doesn’t plan to. I told you so.
I don’t know. Some assembly lang code from the meltdownattacks.com site. I didn’t like assembly then, I don’t like it now.
Anyone who has a child has experienced it. You’re in the super market or mall, you’re in the kitchen, or just plain anywhere and your toddler will crash to their knees, roll around, and whine.
Apparently hackers are making our computers and smartphones do the same thing.
Technology news continues to amaze us week in and week out. This week we talk about new distance records, new watches, and more Amazon on First News 570 with Mark Starling. Make sure you are listening in.
IT WASN’T JUST PARANOIA RUSSIAN GROUPS INFLUENCED ELECTION THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
I’m not one for conspiracy theories and choose to believe that people are smarter than we give them credit for, but mounting evidence is surfacing that it was Russian agents, Professional Trolls, who were creating Facebook groups to mobilize citizens in protest against Hillary Clinton during last year’s Presidential election. The latest evidence comes in the form of “Being Patriotic” a Facebook group that was created by Professional Trolls hired by associates closes to Vladimir Putin. Regardless of your side, you have to feel a little disturbed about how much Russia has engaged social media. Now, that’s not to say that we always played fair, the US has history of influencing elections. It just feels sucky when it’s done to us.