It’s that time of year! Back to school!
IT HAS BEEN A HARD WEEK! My kids are back in school, we’re still operating under summertime scheduling and it has been a struggle getting up in the morning and getting things moving.
But, when it’s Thursday, it’s time for tech time with Mark and the folks over at First News 570. You can always listen LIVE with Mark Starling and the crew each Thursday morning at 643 am.
Here are this week’s top tech stories.
ORACLE OF OMAHA INVESTS IN FIRST TECH FIRM, IN INDIA
Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, has made a first time investment of 25 billion rupees, $360 million in Indian mobile payment platform Paytm. The investment will value the company at $10 billion. Warren Buffet wasn’t personally involved in the transaction, but knowledge of his company, Berkshire Hathaway entering the payments market is bound to have an impact. Berkshire Hathaway enters a playing field in which Google, Facebook, and Walmart are trying to gain a foot hold. Payments and fintech are getting a lot of attention lately and I don’t think it’s over.
Photo, courtesy of TheVerge
If it’s Thursday morning, that means another segment with Mark Starling and the crew at First News 570. It seems a week can’t escape my view before I have to talk about Facebook. Personally, the big news this week is Magic Leap. For years, people pegged it as vaporware, but they announced a not-so-vaporific headset that may compete against Hololens and Occulus. We’ll just have to see.
Always tune in LIVE on Thursdays at 6:43 am on First News 570.
SCIENCE FICTION MEETS SCIENCE REALITY AS FORD OUTFITS 75 WORKERS WITH EXOSUITS, PUTTING RIPLEY TO SHAME
Remember the movie Aliens, and the exosuit Ripley was wearing when she kicked the Xenomorph’s ass? Well, science fiction meets science reality. Ford Motor Company is outfitting 75 of its employees in 15 countries with EksoVests. A device that wraps around the upper body and provides an assist when lifting heavy objects or reaching for items overhead. Ekso Bionics is the company who invented the device and were original deployed in 2 US factories for testing. Ekso says a person’s work day at Ford may consist of listing a bag of flour over their heads 4600 times. Ford thinks the EksoVests are an intermediary between a human doing something and a full-on robotic solution.
Yeah, we won’t learn until it’s too late.
I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend!
Mine was alright, pretty busy, lots of late nights. But if it’s Thursday morning, it’s time to point and laugh at the latest technology news, and we have some good stories for First News 570. You can always listen LIVE and hear me and Mark Starling talk trash about tech.
OK GOOGLE, FIRE
Artist Alex Reuben decided to try something different with Google Assistant. Instead of asking Assistant for directions or order a pizza, he instructed Google Assistant to fire a gun. And Google Assistant dutifully did. Now, this isn’t necessarily AI, but really programming and an impressive rig to pull the trigger. But it does raise some questions about what limits, if any, we should put on artificial intelligent software. In real terms, Reuben still pulled the trigger and not the AI, but remember these machines think. Honestly, I don’t think we’ll seriously explore limitations on AI until it’s too late. But until then, we can use Google Assistant to shoot up apples.
I liked the Internet more when you had to use sendmail to actually send an email and only nerds and academics used the thing. The latest, shiny, Internet thing has caused grown ass people to question their hearing trying to discern the words “Yanny” and “Laurel” from a fuzzy audio recording. I can implement this stuff, but don’t understand the allure.
Definitely not, Laurel
I talk about Yanny (not to be confused with Yoni), ZTE, and cable this week on First News 570 with Mark Starling. Make sure you listen in every Thursday morning.
TEENAGERS CAUSE GROWN ASS PEOPLE TO QUESTION THEIR HEARING
For the record, the word that was spoken is “Laurel”. Unless you have better things to do, or live under a rock, you may have noticed that many usually rational people fell into another Internet trap of listening to a poorly recorded word and determining if the spoken word was “Laurel” or “Yanny”. Not to be confused with Yanni. And yes, I heard the word spoken as Laurel. People I respect and thought were “alright” claimed that they heard “Yanny”, when in actuality, Vocabulary.com said that they hired an opera singer to speak the word Laurel for its records. The Internet has a penchant for new and shiny things, what makes this worse than the dress is that a whole bunch of adults wasted time on a sensation started by some high school kids. I hate the Internet.
It’s summertime up here in DC. Anyone who’s lived here long enough knows that Spring only lasts a day and then the heat comes on. Automation is the theme for this week’s stories, as El Goog’s conference, IO, leads the news this week announcing new gadgets and services that will be available this year. Mark and I shared these stories and more on First News 570. Listen LIVE.
VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS OUT OF WORK, BECAUSE VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS TAKE THEIR JOBS
First, in-house secretaries got the shaft because of virtual assistants. Now virtual assistants are getting the shaft because AI virtual assistants will soon be putting the human-based remote workers out of business. Earlier this week, Google announced a service called Google Duplex which is an AI that can make calls on your behalf. Instead of calling up your human virtual assistant, Google users can now call up a service and ask the service to make an appointment based upon their behalf. So, instead of calling the beauty shop to book an appointment, you would first call Google to tell them you’d like to book an appointment. The AI uses human speech technology to communicate with a real human on the other side. I can’t wait for the day when AIs communicate with each other based upon humans’ behalf and fight it out.
UBER AND THE US ARMY TEAM UP TO BE ALL THEY CAN BE
Uber recently launched a contest to find an international city to become a test bed of its flying taxi service. In preparation for the contest, Uber needs a quieter copter car to shuttle people around. The US Army, and Uber have decided to collaborate on development of a new kind of air taxi that features double rotating propellers to for a quieter flight.
ROBOTS CONTINUE TAKING JOBS, THIS TIME IT’S THE STOCK BOYS
Thanks to Peapod, Uber Eats, and other food delivery services, humans aren’t expecting to travel anywhere. In order to take advantage of a population wanting delivery, British supermarket chain, Ocado, has deployed a workforce of 600 robots to fulfill grocery delivery orders. The supermarket has deployed robots that travel in the drop ceiling and robotic arms that can pick up to 50 items to fulfill an order. After the orders are picked they are then guided to trucks for deliver. The 600 robots are supported by 300 human personnel. As more supermarkets get into grocery delivery, Ocado intends to build fully automated distribution centers that can be offered as a service to others.
Imagine recognizing this fool as an electronic person!
It’s true. I’m not a fan of the month of April. And it has nothing to do with showers, golden or otherwise. For the last decade, I have dueled with the Tax Man and writing these grip worthy checks. I can’t stand it. But, I’m coming to the end. Anyway, I had enough time to come up with some of the week’s top tech stories. Facebook can’t keep its nose clean and is asking the EU and Canada if it can use its facial recognition tech. Strange given the heat they’ve been taking these last several weeks. Well, here are the stories Mark Starling and I shared with the good listeners of First News 570. You can always listen LIVE on Thursday mornings. Oh yeah, Task Rabbit.
EU PUSHES HUMANITY ONE STEP CLOSER TO ROBOT APOCALYPSE BY INTENDING TO TREAT BOTS LIKE PEEPS
150 experts from 14 countries wrote and signed an open letter to the European Union as the body began deliberations to recognize robots as electronic persons. The parliament intended for the law to be used as a means of holding smart bots and other decision making systems accountable for their actions when they do something wrong. THIS JUST SEEMS BAD. I’d like to think there’s already recourse available through the company, but recognizing robots as people, electronic or organic opens up a huge can of worms when we really don’t understand how these systems work. If you want to have a debate on what it means to be alive, my personal question: “do you have to fog a mirror in order to be alive?”, sounds fine and we can do that all day.
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.