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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.
Fact-Checking the President-Elect's Tweets
December 24, 2016
Fact-checking President-elect Donald Trump can be a chore, even for people paid to do it. The Washington Post wants to make it less so, with add-ons to the popular Chrome and Firefox browsers. The browser extension, RealDonaldContext, is available from the Chrome Web Store or the Mozilla Foundation. Once installed, the extension displays any fact-checking the Post may have done.
Is Peter Thiel the Most Powerful Person in Tech?
December 19, 2016
There are generally two paths for dealing with someone in power when disagreements arise. One is to confront, and the other is to understand and influence. What is interesting is the most common path taken is the former while the most successful is the latter. I think the reason is that the former path is both the natural path for disagreement and the most visible.
Uber Staff Still Stalking Customers, Claims Suit
December 17, 2016
The controversy over Uber staff using the company's tech to track people's movements was reignited this week when information in a pending lawsuit began circulating in the tech press. Uber employees can pull customer data at will, alleged Ward Spangenberg, the company's former forensic investigator, in a court declaration filed earlier this fall.
Yahoo Suffers Major Data Breach Deja Vu
December 16, 2016
Yahoo has revealed that Net bandits stole data associated with 1 billion of its user accounts -- one of the largest data breaches in Internet history. The theft, which occurred in 2013, is distinct from the theft disclosed earlier this fall, in which 500 million accounts were compromised, Yahoo CISO Bob Lord explained. Stolen data may include names, email addresses, telephone numbers and more.
Tech Leaders, Trump Team Search for Common Ground
December 15, 2016
There appears to be some optimism in the air following Wednesday's highly anticipated sit-down between the Trump transition team and more than a dozen top Silicon Valley executives at Trump Tower. The Trump transition team and executives who attended the summit suggested that the two sides found common ground on a number of issues that could spur economic growth.
FCC's Tom Wheeler Hitting the Road
December 15, 2016
United States Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday announced that he will leave the agency he helmed for the past three years on Jan. 20, the day President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn in. "Serving as FCC chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honor of my professional life," Wheeler said.
Facebook Investors Slam Zuckerberg, Andreessen
December 14, 2016
Facebook investors have accused director Marc Andreessen of secretly coaching CEO Mark Zuckerberg regarding a major sale of shares he held. The structure of the sale enabled Zuckerberg to refocus on philanthropic activities while maintaining lifetime control over the company. The suit alleges that Andreessen secretly tipped off the CEO about concerns raised by other members of Facebook's board.
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.
Trump, Tech Bigwigs to Meet Wednesday
December 13, 2016
Some of high-tech's heaviest hitters will be in New York City Wednesday to meet with President-elect Donald J. Trump. On the list of all-stars expected to attend the meeting are Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and Oracle CEO Safra Catz. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is likely to attend as well.
Traversing the Social Media Minefield
December 9, 2016
Many people expect celebrities and other prominent figures to have thicker skins than the average Jane or Joe. However -- as evidenced by the numbers of celebrities who've forsaken social media -- fame and fortune are not effective defenses against an all-out troll assault. While attacks on private individuals can be more personal and more targeted, they're typically much less numerous.
Without Numbers, Cook's Apple Watch Claims May Be Hollow
December 8, 2016
Apple drew some pointed questions this week following CEO Tim Cook's vague response to reports suggesting Apple Watch demand has plummeted. The Apple Watch is on track to set a holiday sales record and post its best quarter ever, Cook said. Sell-through of the watch -- that is, units sold to consumers and not just stocked on retailers' shelves -- also is on track to reach a new high, he added.
SCOTUS Scuttles Apple's Big Samsung Award
December 7, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday spoiled Apple's hopes for a big payday, scotching the $399 million award in its successful patent infringement suit against Samsung. Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered the Court's decision, which turned on what lawmakers meant by the term "article of manufacture." The appeals court had ruled that it encompassed the entire phone. The Supremes disagreed.
Tech Giants Team to Battle Terrorism Online
December 7, 2016
Facebook has teamed up with Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft to fight the proliferation of terrorist content on the Web. The tech giants will create a shared industry database of hashes for violent terrorist imagery, terrorist recruitment videos, or images they have removed from their services. They may use these shared hashes to help identify potential terrorist content on their platforms.
iPhone Envy May Have Felled Galaxy Note7
December 6, 2016
Samsung's desire to match the iPhone 7 Plus led it to implement an aggressive design and manufacturing approach that led to problems with its Galaxy Note7 -- including some instances of the smartphones bursting into flames, Instrumental reported last week. Instrumental engineers tore down a Galaxy Note7, and found "tension between safety and pushing the boundaries," CEO Anna Shedletsky revealed.
Facebook Videos Explain AI in a Nutshell
December 5, 2016
Facebook last week released six videos to educate people about artificial intelligence. AI will bring major changes to society, and will be the backbone of many of the most innovative apps and services of the future, but it remains mysterious, noted Yann LeCun, Facebook's director of AI research, and Joaquin Candela, the company's director of applied machine learning in an online post.
Isn't Fake News Propaganda?
December 5, 2016
A few years back, when it was one company, HP made a huge mistake that cost a number of people their jobs and forced the replacement of many of its board members. The company suffered through some nasty litigation and several top executives almost landed in jail. The mistake was tied back to something called "pretexting." It also went by the more common term "identity theft."
Reddit Has Had It With Trolls
December 2, 2016
Reddit has announced reforms designed to crack down on trolls and punish its most abusive community members. Reddit has identified hundreds of the most "toxic users," said CEO Steve Huffman, who founded the site 11 years ago while in college, and it has devised a plan to take action against them. Consequence for unacceptable behavior could range from warnings to timeouts to permanent bans.
Fact-Checking Social Content
December 1, 2016
There's an argument that it's not Facebook's job to fact-check the growing flood of fake news coming at us through its portal. After all, Facebook is just a set of pipes delivering something and is not responsible for the content. Nebulous others have that responsibility. However, Facebook is in the business of delivering content to a wide variety of people for a multitude of reasons.
Samsung Floats Possibility of Split
November 30, 2016
Samsung has announced road map for a corporate restructuring that might include splitting itself into two. The company has retained external advisors to review the optimal corporate structure for its activities. The review is expected to take six months. Depending on the findings, Samsung may create a holding company structure and might list its shares on additional international exchanges.
Here's Looking at You, Alexa
November 30, 2016
Amazon is developing a premium version of its Alexa-powered Echo speaker, which will have a 7-inch touchscreen, in a bid to stave off competition from Google and other companies developing rival offerings, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. Designed for use in the kitchen, the new device would have an upward-tilting touchscreen that would permit a user to swipe controls from a standing position.
iPhone 8 Dreaming in Full Swing
November 29, 2016
Apple's latest iPhone was barely out of the gate when rumors began percolating about the company's next new phone. Although the iPhone 7 garnered mostly tepid reviews, initial inventories sold out quickly, and the company had to scramble to meet demand. That demand may have peaked, though, which may be why chasers of the next big thing are looking down the road.
iPhone Call Logs Easy Pickings on iCloud, Says Russian Security Firm
November 17, 2016
Russian digital forensics firm ElcomSoft on Thursday reported that Apple automatically uploads iPhone call logs to iCloud remote servers, and that users have no official way to disable this feature other than to completely switch off the iCloud drive. The data uploaded could include a list of all calls made and received on an iOS device, as well as phone numbers, dates and times, and duration.
Twitter Cracks Down on Cyber Hate
November 17, 2016
Twitter on Tuesday suspended the account of Richard Spencer, one of the leading voices of the alt-right movement. It also expanded the use of several existing tools and changed policies to make it easier for users to fight back against abuse and harassment. Twitter suspended the accounts of Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank.
Post-Election Backlash Spurs Fake News Crackdown
November 15, 2016
Facebook and Google have amended their internal policies regarding advertising on fake news posts in response to increasing pressure from users and a growing controversy within the company. There are mounting concerns that the presidential election may have been influenced by unvetted fake news stories trending on the network during the past few weeks of the cycle.
Conspiracy Theories in the Information Age, Part 2
November 15, 2016
In the past, heightened rhetoric and propaganda were the tools of choice for those looking to convince an electorate to vote them into office, and conspiracy theories were their bane. This election season has seen the rise of a new form of persuasion, one that's unique to the Information Age. For months, WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange had promised to rain bombshells.
Russia May Kick Out LinkedIn
November 14, 2016
A LinkedIn block in Russia could be imminent, in light of last week's court ruling that the company broke a law requiring personal data on Russian citizens to be stored on servers within the country. Roskomnadzor, Russia's telecommunications and media authority, is waiting until it has the full text of the ruling before acting on it. Russia had 5 million registered LinkedIn members in Q1.
Google Insists Android Plays on Level Field in Europe
November 11, 2016
Google on Thursday fired back at the European Commission's charges that it violated antitrust law by imposing coercive rules on mobile operators and developers who use or write applications for its Android operating system. The EC this spring charged that Google's requirements to use its search engine and its Chrome browser on mobile devices running Android were coercive tactics.
Silicon Valley Reels From Trump Shock
November 10, 2016
PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel ran a victory lap following Tuesday's presidential election, but many other Silicon Valley figures were stunned by the historic upset victory of real estate mogul Donald Trump against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Thiel, a billionaire conservative activist, last month made headlines by donating $1.25 million to Trump.
Samsung's Next Galaxy Phone Could Have Siri-Like Smarts
November 9, 2016
Samsung Electronics this week revealed plans to unveil its flagship Galaxy S8 mobile phone with a new digital assistant powered by AI. The assistant will be based on technology gained with Samsung's recent acquisition of Viv Labs. The plans call for Samsung to incorporate the AI into its family of electronics and appliances, ranging from mobile devices to wearable technology and home devices.
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