Russian Paid Pro Trolls Influenced Election, Apple Watches Can’t Keep It Up, and Electric Bus Sets Record

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.
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Fruit Company Sells $1,000 Phone, Ford Hides Man in Car, and the New Arms Race

It was a huge week in tech, especially for the Cupertino faithful. We talk about the latest iPhone, driverless cars, and the futuristic arms race happening right now on First News 570 with Mark Starling this morning.

A little man in front of a small phone.

A little man in front of a small phone.

JUST IN TIME FOR THE FAITHFUL, THE FRUIT COMPANY RELEASES $1,000 PHONE
The big news this week comes from our friends in Cupertino. This week is the annual Fall event for Apple and for haters they disappointed, for fans, they disappointed. Apple announced updates for the Apple TV, Apple Watch, and the iPhone. ATV got a performance boost with improved processor and graphics capabilities, the Apple Watch gets an improved processor and GPS. The big, big news is Apple’s new iPhone X. It’s the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and they released a phone with an edge-to-edge screen and uses advanced machine learning technology to facially unlock the device. This month, you’ll be able to pre-order then pickup a new iPhone 8 with a glass front and back with upgraded camera. But for me, the big ticket is the X. Honestly, it looks like a $1,000 phone and when you think about it, the damned thing has the performance of a low to midrange laptop that fits in your hand. I asked some people who were skeptical about the device, “what more would you want in a phone?” The response, “I don’t know.”

Have You Been Pwned, AMZN Slashes Arugula Prices, & Cortana and Alexa Team Up

I’m back from vacation and back on the air to share this week’s technology news on First News 570. Listen in LIVE and here Mark and I kick around the zany and unpredictable industry who’s mission is to save the world.

SPAMBOT SCOOPS UP 711 MILLION EMAIL ADDRESSES IN BIGGEST HEIST EVER
Parisian malware researcher, Benkow, has discovered a spamming operation that has lifted over 700 million email addresses. The size of the spam operation is the largest of its kind with many of the hijacked email addresses being used to spam others into getting their address lifted. People interested in knowing if their email address was caught in the breach can use Troy Hunt’s website, haveibeenpwned.com. I can safely report that my email address has only been found on one breached site. Which only means I use the internet for more research purposes than anything else and I don’t have a social media life to speak of. Still this number is staggering and eclipses anything we’ve seen from Yahoo’s massive breach, the ashleymadison hack, or Adult Friend Finder.
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Facebook to Monetize Your Chats, USA Steals Chinese Jobs, and Nosy Roombas

Is there such a thing as privacy any more? Do any of us who use social media have a right to keep our data to ourselves? We point, laugh, and explore these questions and more on First News 570 with Mark Starling. Listen in.

Foxconn to Build $10 Billion Plant in Wisconsin

Foxconn to Build $10 Billion Plant in Wisconsin

BEWARE: ADS COMING TO AN I.M. NEAR YOU
During a long car ride coming back from a customer, one of my mentors lectured me on the four ways you can make money: subscriptions, fees, commerce, and of course advertising. Just as denizens of the Internet were getting used to seeing ads in their news, ads in their searches, and ads in their timelines, Facebook ups the ante and is beta testing delivering ads to your chat conversations in Messenger. Showing that there’s no screen real estate for eye balls to see, the Big Blue App company started testing ads beneath your previous chats this week. When you have 2.4 billion people wasting an hour a day on your platform, why not take advantage of their eye balls? And this coming off of news of FB hitting all new share price highs.
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Knightscope K5 Kills Self, Academics Paid for Science, Spotify Gets Caught, and Cyberbullying

Sometimes the only explanation I can muster for some of the zany news we’ve been reading lately is that we live in a simulation and the code governing this existence needs to be patched. This week proved to be another interesting news cycle in the world of technology. Here are this week’s stories discussed with Mark Starling and the First News 570 crew, listen in live.

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IT’S TIME FOR RAMPANCY TESTS: DEPRESSED BY HUMANITY ROBOT COMMITS SUICIDE
We’ve reported on the many wonders given to us by technology including machines who have bested humans in Chess, Go, and Ms. Pac-Man. We’ve even reported on AIs that discourage humans by spewing out depressing thoughts. This week, we report on the first reported, robot suicide in my backyard, Washington, DC. Again, this robot news involves, Knightscope, the robotic security patrol company who’s robots have run over a toddler, and was attacked by a drunken reveler. This Knightscope robot, contemplating its programming and wondering if there was more to life than being a security guard, decided to end his bitfilled life while patrolling the Washington Harbour complex in Georgetown. It’s uncertain if the robot shouted, “what a world, what a world,” as it plunged in a fountain inside the building. Many people took photos and posted them on Twitter including one with the comment, “we were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots.” I don’t think the 3 Laws included, “perform suicide if everything else fails”, but I do know it’s time for those rampancy tests.
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BEWARE ACADEMICS PAID FOR SCIENCE
The Campaign for Accountability, an advocacy group has released a list of academics who claim to have received funding from Google in some form or fashion and the Internet went a twitter. The controversy stems from the belief that academics who receive funding from Google aren’t performing pure research. Especially if their research spans consumer influence, information privacy, and Internet usage. The report is misleading because academics were listed on the report who received funding from Google before their research was published. Furthermore, the CfA is funded by, Oracle Corporation, one of those other big Internet companies who, fund academics who perform basic research. The moral of the story is, don’t just read the headlines.
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SPOTIFY GETS CAUGHT PROMOTING FAKE ARTISTS WHO MAKE MUZAK
Most of us know that the music industry can be a cut throat affair. The latest in music tech drama comes from the popular streaming service Spotify. The British press have been publishing stories stating that many of the instrumental tracks streamed from Spotify’s service aren’t produced by indy artists but mainstream producers from Universal Music Group and others on its own dime! Why is this problem, because Spotify earns money and pays out cash based upon the number of times a track is streamed for listening. Some instrumental tracks have earned more than 520 million streams, which means Spotify is paying for and earning money on its own music. Thereby gaming the system in its favor. Spotify got caught because some of the most frequently music has no listening audience outside of its own service.
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INSTAGRAM LEADS SOCIAL MEDIA IN CYBER BULLYING STUDY
Research from Ditch the Label, a UK cyber bullying institute has discovered that more teens report being bullied on Instagram than other social networks. 40% of teens said they felt bad if no one liked their selfies, and 35% said their confidence is directly linked to how many followers they had. 7% of teens reported being bullied on Instagram, compared to 6% on Facebook, 5% on Snapchat, and 2% on YouTube. One in three teens said that they live in fear of cyber bullying and 47% said they won’t discuss bad things in their lives on social platforms. Overall, cyberbullying is a rare event on social media, but how these networks affect a child’s happiness and well being is troublesome. For me, I’m keeping my kids off as long as I can.
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Panasonic Invents Funk Busting Clothes Hanger, Tax Software Infects PCs, EU Hands El Goog Record Fine

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As we roll into Fourth of July weekend, I hope you are having an awesome summer and keeping cool. One of today’s stories features a gadget that can help defunkify some of your summer sweat soaked gear. We talk about Japan’s knack for useless gadgets and more on First News 570 with Mark Starling. Make sure you listen in.

SATURDAY NIGHT REVELERS REJOICE AS PANASONIC IMPRESSES US WITH USELESS CLOTHES HANGER THAT ZAPS FUNK
Oh! Those zany Japanese. Forever crossing the line from efficient progress into useless gadgetry.
The latest out of Japan’s Chindogu culture is a smart coat hanger that deodorizes clothing. According to Panasonic, this coat hanger eliminates the aromas of smoke, sweat, and grilled meats from your clothes. The gadget uses a proprietary technology called NanoE, which uses tiny charged particles that inhibit mold and bacteria. Originally invented for skin moisturizing the NanoE has found new life in clothing. Just think, now you can re-wear your club suit worn the night before at church without getting suspicious sniffs and frowns from the little old lady sitting next to you.
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Kalanick Exits and Tips Enter, Amazon Buys Whole Foods, FTC Blocks Gambling Rings, and Russian’s Hack Us

A lot of drama this week in tech. Big news coming from Uber, Amazon, and the FTC. Listen in to hear Mark and I point and laugh this morning on First News 570.

UBER ATTEMPTS TO STOP THE DRAMA WITH KALANICK’S EXIT
If there’s one company drama we can’t get enough of it’s the Uber Turns. Shortly after beginning is indefinite leave of absence, Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick has stepped down from Uber. It’s been a tough year for the company as they’ve been busted avoiding regulators via their Greyballs app, has had a historical problem with women and family employees, couldn’t retain a COO responsible for upholding its image, sexual harassment allegations, and their latest episode of Bro-culture, a board member complaining about needing to be polite to broads. Kalanick will keep his board seat though, and no one knows who will step in as CEO.
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NYT Deploys AI Comment Police, North Korea Makes Us Cry, and Microsoft Plays Perfect Ms. Pac Man

I don’t know about you, but work has gotten more intense since it started getting warm in the Nation’s capital. This week we talk about Google’s AI Comment Police Bot, E3, North Korea’s deployment of WannaCry, and Microsoft plays a perfect score of Ms. Pac Man on First News 570 with Mark Starling. Listen now.

NEW YORK TIMES DEPLOYS NEW GOOGLE AI TO POLICE COMMENTS
The New York Time is enabling comments again on many of its articles. Over the years, the top newspapers such as the Times, Washington Post, and others have limited comments on articles because of the proliferation of hate speech. NYT is using Google’s commentary AI, Perspective to police comments on its articles. Perspective scores comments on a scale from 0 to 100 with 100 being most likely to be rejected by a human. Currently, the Times only allows comments on 10% of its articles. Over time and thanks to Perspective they hope to allow comments on 80% of its articles in the future.
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AI Writes Screenplay, UK Leaders Demand More from Tech Firms, and SONY Tops in VR

I began this week by joining the news crew on First News 570 Monday morning reporting on the London attacks and the technology the attackers could have possibly used to plan and execute the attacks. We finish the week with some lighter news and reflection on what’s at stake for personal privacy and what’s needed to combat terrorism. Tune into First News this morning and listen in with Mark Starling.

POSSIBLY SIGNALING THE END OF FORMULAIC MOVIES AI WRITES SCREENPLAY
Director Oscar Sharp and AI researcher Ross Goodwin collaborated on writing the screenplay of Sunspring, a sci-fi movie that debuted at SciFi London using an AI called Benjamin. Benjamin is an AI which uses the latest in state of the art technology, a recurrent neural network. Benjamin was fed with over a dozen sci-fi films sourced online and wrote a compelling and funny film. SciFi London’s Judges placed Sunspring in the Top 10 out of hundreds of entries, a first for a screenplay written by an AI. Voting got intense at the end as voting was opened to an online audience for the top 10 films.
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DAYS AFTER LONDON ATTACKS UK LEADERS SAY MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE BY TECH FIRMS
The first ask from all government leaders is to do more to stop the spread of hate speech which no one disagrees with. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all have flawed systems but take quick action when hate speech is posted online and reported by users. The second ask is problematic. UK leaders are asking for weaker encryption which is a bad idea or the equivalent of a wiretap for encrypted transmissions. Part of the problem is that implementations are different between one tech firm and another, it’s not like the standards used in voice traffic. The other part of the problem is that once you provide this access is becomes open to the world as witnessed by the leaked NSA exploits. There’s no easy answer, but we all need to do something.
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THREATENING TO BECOME MORE THAN JUST A FAD, SONY SELLS ONE MILLION HEADSETS
Yesterday, Sony announced that they have sold more than 1 million virtual reality headsets. Sony’s headset is priced cheaper than its competitors from Facebook and HTC at $399 and probably has something to do with it. Also, SONY is uniquely positioned because it has a built in market. More than 60 million players play games on the PlayStation 4 and VR is a new content stream for the console. Analysts estimate that more than 2 million headsets were sold in the first quarter of 2017 and this may make VR more than just a passing fad.
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AMAZON OFFERS DISCOUNT PRIME MEMBERSHIPS TO LOWER INCOME FAMILIES
American families who qualify for government assistance will be eligible to receive discounted Amazon Prime memberships for $5.99 per month instead of $10.99 per month. Amazon is trying to persuade low income families away from Wal-Mart to buy more crap from them instead. Last year, Wal-Mart generated about $3 billion in sales from shoppers who qualified for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, SNAP, or formerly known as food stamps.
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Amazon Steals Alexa Tech, the Air Force’s Secret Space Plane, a Man and His Nuggs

People are always shocked and surprised when I say, “I hate the Internet.” They clutch their pearls, shocked and dismayed, because, “but, you’re a technologist.” The Internet used to be cool, when only nerds were on it. Now there’s no new innovation, companies hire the best and brightest talent to help program ways for people to share completely inane, questionable facts. We talk about how the Internet is helping a kid get free nuggets and more on First News 570 with Mark Starling. Make sure you listen in.

nuggboy

MODERN DAY UMBRELLA CORPORATION AMAZON STEALS INVESTMENT COMPANY’S TECH AND BAKES INTO ECHO
Some weeks, I feel like Amazon is the only company on the inter webs producing anything. Well, in the latest tech news, Amazon is releasing yet another add-on service to their ever popular device, the Echo. The Echo Show, is an intercom for anywhere. It’s an Echo attached to, that’s right, a small video screen that allows you to make video calls to other Echo’s. Amazon has been on an innovation rampage lately, but in this realm they are actually stealing an idea from a company they invested in. Alexa fund recipient, Nucleus, created an Alexa with a screen using $5.6 million of Amazon’s own money. Amazon has lots of cash to throw and it appears to be paying off. Now that Alexa orders clothing, gives style advice, and entertains 9 year olds, when will Alexa go to work for me so I don’t have to. Oops, that’s already happening…
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