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GE Digital VP Beena Ammanath: For Most Women, STEM Is an Uphill Battle
February 23, 2017
Beena Ammanath is VP for data and analytics at GE Digital. She has worked in the data analytics field for more than 20 years and serves as board director at ChickTech, a nonprofit dedicated to recruiting girls and women into the tech workforce and retaining them once they're there. Ammanath also serves on the Cal Poly Computer Engineering Program Industrial Advisory Board.
Microsoft Makes VR Drone Fight Simulator Available on GitHub
February 21, 2017
Microsoft has introduced an open source virtual reality toolkit for the training of autonomous drones. The beta software became available on GitHub last week. The toolkit is designed to allow developers to "teach" drones how to navigate the real world by recreating conditions such as shadows, reflections and even objects that might confuse a device's on-board sensors.
Could IBM's Watson Fix President Trump?
February 20, 2017
President Trump offers a good emulation for a future artificial intelligence system, suggests a column I read earlier this month, and his presidency may be an early warning of what could happen if we should fail to think through its training and information sources. Cathy O'Neil, the author of the piece, compares artificial intelligence to human intelligence that is mostly id.
Output vs. Outcomes
February 14, 2017
How many times have we been lulled into complacency over getting a project or a product done but not necessarily well received, because it was someone else's gig? This is a great reminder that the job isn't done simply because we produce something and shove it out the door. It's also a cue to pay close attention to what our CRM systems tell us. Our concept of a product has changed.
AI Deconstructs Phone Sales Pitches
February 13, 2017
SaaS solutions firm Gong last week released the findings of a study on sales phone conversations, including an analysis of gender speaking patterns. Women delivered slightly longer sales monologues, averaging about 9-12 seconds longer than those their male counterparts gave, but men generally spoke faster, the study found. Men tended to speak at a faster pace than women.
Tesla Goes Underground and Uber Takes to the Skies: The Birth of Magic
February 13, 2017
As in crazy short, in a very short period of time we have two very different companies looking at two very different ways to eliminate traffic. Tesla wants to tunnel under the ground to avoid traffic, while Uber wants to fly overhead. Transportation has been a tad static for the last 40 years or so, and that apparently is about to change big time. This is just the start.
Gadget Ogling: Gaming's New Virtual Reality Frontier and Personal Cargo Robots
February 10, 2017
Regular readers will know that I've played games my entire life. I hold deep reverence for the care and attention that go into creating these experiences, and I've rarely met a game I didn't want to conquer. Yet I am nervous about virtual reality. I've tried it and found those disorientating worlds difficult to handle, though I suspect that over time I could grow more accustomed to it.
3 Teams Qualify for Tube Test in Hyperloop Pod Competition
February 1, 2017
Elon Musk's hyperloop dream began to take shape in reality last weekend as 27 teams, including six from outside the U.S., participated in a competition to create the mass transit vehicle of the future. The competition in Hawthorne, California, sponsored by SpaceX, which Musk founded, attracted teams made up mostly of students who created pods designed to run on hyperloop transportation systems.
Apple Formally Joins High-Powered AI Partnership
January 28, 2017
The Partnership on AI has announced that Apple, well known for its culture of secrecy, has joined the organization as a founding member. The other founding members are Amazon, Facebook, Google/Deep Mind, IBM and Microsoft. The group also announced the final composition of its inaugural board of trustees. The group plans to announce additional details sometime after the board's Feb. 3 meeting.
Facebook Taps Barra to Push VR to the Next Level
January 27, 2017
Facebook has announced that Hugo Barra will be onboarding the company to head up its virtual reality business, including the critically important Oculus team. Barra just days ago announced his departure from Xiaomi. Barra will fill the void left last month, when Brendan Iribe stepped down as CEO of Oculus to head up a new Facebook unit that will develop the PC side of its VR business.
Luckey Dons Virtual Flak Jacket for Zenimax Testimony
January 19, 2017
Palmer Luckey on Wednesday denied that he stole proprietary code from ZeniMax Media, in the little-known company's blockbuster $2 billion lawsuit against Oculus VR and Facebook. ZeniMax has alleged that in 2012, when Luckey was just a video game enthusiast, he corresponded with John Carmack, who allegedly used proprietary hardware and software information to develop the Oculus Rift VR headset.
Pentagon Battle-Tests Micro Drone Swarm
January 11, 2017
The U.S. Department of Defense on Monday announced a successful demonstration of one of the world's largest micro drone swarms at China Lake in California. Three F/a-18 Super Hornet combat jets launched 103 Perdix drones in the exercise, which took place last fall. The micro drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision making, adaptive formation flying and self-healing.
CES 2017's Magic
January 9, 2017
CES was a fascinating show this year. One of the things that made it so fascinating was that everyone and their brother had cars demonstrating one form of technology or another. It kind of makes me wonder what we'll see at the next car show -- PCs, drones, tablets and smartphones? That wasn't the only surprise at the show, though. Nvidia, long thought of as living in Intel's shadow, broke out.
Nvidia Lays Out Bold Strategy at CES
January 6, 2017
Nvidia offered a bold new strategy at this week's International CES in Las Vegas. The company, which has been a leader in hardware graphics technology for decades, recently has expanded into the realms of artificial intelligence, deep learning and automotive tech. Graphical support and video delivery will however remain a key component of the company's strategy, according to Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang.
Gadget Ogling: Floating Speakers, Neckbrace Audio, and Charming Caffeine Fixes
January 6, 2017
LG features twice in this edition of the column with two very different but similarly strange speakers. The "Levitating Portable Speaker" has as descriptive and accurate a name as the "Small Transparent Speaker" from last month's edition of this column. You can call it "PJ9" if you prefer the duller moniker. Yes, through the magic of electromagnets and a base station, this speaker will levitate and pump out audio in every direction.
Crowd Forms on Alexa Bandwagon
January 5, 2017
New additions to Amazon's growing ecosystem of Alexa-based products are making a splash at CES this week. With a growing number of home appliance, computer and electronics makers announcing integrations with the company's digital assistant technology, the transformation to automated homes and home offices appears to be taking place before our eyes. Among the most notable integrations is Lenovo's Smart Assistant.
Snapdragon-Powered AR Smartglasses Are the Real Deal
January 4, 2017
Qualcomm on Tuesday debuted its groundbreaking Snapdragon 835 system on a chip at CES. Following the 835 launch, the company joined Osterhout Design Group in unveiling two new ODG augmented reality headsets, the R-8 and R-9, which are the first Snapdragon 835-powered devices to be announced. The Snapdragon SoC is the first chip built using the ultra-advanced 10nm FinFET process node.
Bitcoin Rides the Uncertainty Wave
January 4, 2017
The price of bitcoin soared to a new three-year high on Monday, surpassing the $1,000 mark for the first time, in response to economic and geopolitical uncertainty in China following the U.S. presidential election. The price of bitcoin stood at more than $1,025 in late trading on Tuesday, after rising to nearly $1,030. The market cap was $16.49 billion, according to the CoinDesk index.
Norton Core Router Gives Home Security a New Design
January 3, 2017
Norton by Symantec on Tuesday announced the Norton Core secure router for smart devices in the connected home at CES. The router protects up to 20 PCs, Macs, Android and iOS smartphones and tablets on a home network, and unlimited devices connected to the IoT. It will update its firmware in background mode automatically, said Ameer Karim, GM of consumer IoT security at Symantec.
Looking Ahead to CES: This Will Be a Big One
January 2, 2017
CES week is here, and it's the one week of the year I look forward to looking back on. CES is a killer show -- not because you are up to your armpits in interesting new products, but because it is so spread out that it'll kill your legs as you hike all over the damn place. One year, I walked so much I actually ripped the soles off both shoes. This show is weird, in that it really comes too early.
2016: The Year That Was
December 26, 2016
2016 really was a year like no other. We had yet another election defined by the misuse of analytics -- and folks seem to be getting worse rather than better at this. We had a rush to robotics, particularly self-driving cars, and some firms even leaped ahead to self-flying, people-delivering drones. We had a wave of fake news, mostly paid for by Google, because that company has no compass.
Gadget Ogling: Heightened Hearing, Toasty Toes, and Glass Speakers
December 22, 2016
Bose's latest earbuds are designed to help you tune in to the specific sounds you want to hear. Hearphones are a sort of blend of noise-cancelling earbuds and hearing aids. There are several presets in the app, with names like "focused conversation," "gym," "airplane" and "television." You can opt to crank up the volume on all sound from the world around you or turn it down.
Waymo Offers Glimpse of Autonomous Chrysler Minivans
December 20, 2016
Waymo, the standalone venture that emerged from Google's self-driving car project, on Monday unveiled a fleet of 100 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans with the latest high-tech sensors, telematics, and other gear designed for fully autonomous operation. Modifications were made to several parts of the Pacifica to optimize it for fully autonomous driving.
Sales, Marketing Poised for AI Revolution
December 16, 2016
Artificial intelligence will revolutionize marketing in the next five years, according to a Demandbase survey conducted last month. Eighty percent of the 500 B2B marketers who participated in the online poll, conducted last month by Wakefield Research, said they expected an AI-fueled marketing revolution. However, only 26 percent were very confident they understood how AI was used in marketing.
Nvidia Takes Self-Driving Journey to California Roads
December 15, 2016
Nvidia last week began test-driving autonomous cars on California roads, after the state's Department of Motor Vehicles gave it the green light. The company is testing its Drive PX2 autonomous driving platform, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. Nvidia recently has made several well publicized moves in the autonomous car arena.
Amazon Prime Air Zips Through British Countryside
December 15, 2016
Amazon on Wednesday announced that it had completed its first drone delivery in the UK. During the private customer trial period, packages of up to 5 pounds will be delivered within half an hour. The first live delivery took place a week ago, when a highly automated drone delivered a bag of popcorn and an Amazon Fire TV to a customer near Cambridge. It took 13 minutes for the order to arrive.
Uber's Self-Driving Fleet Takes On San Francisco
December 14, 2016
Uber on Wednesday rolled out a fleet of self-driving cars in San Francisco, the second U.S. city to participate in its pilot project. Pittsburgh was the first. Riders who request an UberX -- the lowest-priced Uber vehicle -- will be matched with one of the self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs if one is available and if the customers are willing, according to Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber's Advanced Technology Group.
Magic Leap Catches Flak Over Tricky Video
December 13, 2016
It turns out the awe-inspiring video Magic Leap unveiled last year is not a demo of its still-secretive mixed reality technology, but a bit of sleight of hand from special effects firm Weta Workshop, which is credited at the beginning and end of the clip. Magic Leap's post -- titled "Just another day in the office at Magic Leap" -- claims the video shows a game being played around the office.
Microsoft and Intel's Project Evo Ups the PC Game
December 9, 2016
Microsoft and Intel have announced Project Evo, their highly anticipated collaboration to create the next generation of personal computers. The project aims to expand on new advances in AI, mixed reality, advanced security and gaming, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, unveiled some of Project Evo's ambitious plans at the WinHEC event in China.
Microsoft, Qualcomm Tuck Windows 10 Into ARM Devices
December 8, 2016
Microsoft on Wednesday announced the compatibility of Windows 10 and native Windows apps with ARM-based processors, including Qualcomm's Snapdragon, which currently powers a large percentage of Android devices. The new partnership will make it possible for Windows applications, peripherals and enterprise solutions to run on new mobile, power efficient and always-connected cellular PCs.
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What's your reaction to the Turkish Crime Family's claim that it can access hundreds of millions of iCloud accounts?
I'm very worried -- I take all cyberthreats seriously.
I'm feeling secure -- I changed my password and set up 2FA.
I'm angry -- companies need to be more responsible.
I'm not at all concerned -- I trust Apple.
I'm resigned -- I expect to be breached at some point.
I don't care much -- the world has bigger problems.