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Showing posts from July, 2017

Singapore Startup Takes Bitcoin Into Real World With Visa

Singapore Startup Takes Bitcoin Into Real World With Visa
TenX’s Visa prepaid card converts digital currencies to cash The company has raised $80 million through a token sale
By Krystal Chia  and Sterling Wong July 23, 2017, 2:00 PM PDT July 23, 2017, 8:46 PM PDT
A recurring challenge for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is how to make them work in the real world. A Singapore-based startup says the answer is its Visa card.
TenX is pitching its debit card as an instant converter of multiple digital currencies into fiat money: the dollars, yen and euros that power most everyday commerce. The company said it takes a 2 percent cut from each transaction and has received orders for more than 10,000 cards. While transactions are capped at $2,000 a year, users can apply to increase the limit if they undergo identify verification procedures.
Tenx’s bid to make digital currencies easier to spend comes amid massive volatility and infighting within the cryptocurrency community. Bitcoin, the m…

SoftBank, Didi Hand $2 Billion to Uber's Biggest Asian Rival

SoftBank, Didi Hand $2 Billion to Uber's Biggest Asian Rival
Grab expects $500 million more to set record regional funding Grab is said to be valued at $6 billion when round closes
By Yoolim Lee July 23, 2017, 8:00 PM PDT July 23, 2017, 9:03 PM PDT
Grab raised $2 billion from Didi Chuxing and SoftBank Group Corp. in the largest–ever venture fundraising in Southeast Asia, as it joins forces with the Chinese company that drove Uber Technologies Inc. out of China.
The deal cements a loose alliance between Didi and Grab, which competes against Uber in markets from Malaysia to Thailand. The Singapore-based ride hailing company said Monday it expects to close another $500 million from unspecified new and existing backers. That will take its valuation north of $6 billion, making it the most valuable startup in Southeast Asia, a person familiar with the matter said.
The record financing follows Uber’s retreat from Russia and China, massive markets where Uber spent billions but ultimately…

Wisconsin Company To Implant Microchips In Employees

Wisconsin Company To Implant Microchips In Employees
July 22, 2017 07:24 AM
A Wisconsin company is about to become the first in the U.S. to offer microchip implants to its employees.
Yes, you read that right. Microchip implants.
"It's the next thing that's inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it," Three Square Market Chief Executive Officer Todd Westby said.
The company designs software for break room markets that are commonly found in office complexes.
Just as people are able to purchase items at the market using phones, Westby wants to do the same thing using a microchip implanted inside a person's hand.
"We'll come up, scan the item," he explained, while showing how the process will work at an actual break room market kiosk. "We'll hit pay with a credit card, and it's asking to swipe my proximity payment now. I'll hold my hand up, just like my cell phone, and it'll pay for my product."
More than 50 T…

Big, bold … and broken: is the US shopping mall in a fatal decline?

Big, bold … and broken: is the US shopping mall in a fatal decline?
Once at the heart of the US consumer experience, the ubiquitous mall is in crisis. Of 1,200 across the country, just 50% are expected to be in business by 2023
Brian Sonia-Wallace, poet-in-residence, in action at the Mall of America. Photograph:
By Dominic Rushe in Minneapolis
Sunday 23 July 2017 05.39 EDT First published on Saturday 22 July 2017 07.00 EDT
Twenty-five years ago this August, the Mall of America, America’s largest shopping mall, opened its many, many doors for business. The Minnesota mall is currently wrapping up a year of celebration at the dizzyingly vast temple to consumerism. It’s a celebration that comes, ironically, as America’s malls are dying. But not the Mall of America.
Once the epicenter of American retail, malls are in crisis. Pictures of dead malls, their hollow shells left like abandoned sets for a George Romero zombie movie, are rapidly replacing pictures of decaying Detroit as the go-t…

Next Leap for Robots: Picking Out and Boxing Your Online Order

Next Leap for Robots: Picking Out and Boxing Your Online Order
Developers close in on systems to move products off shelves and into boxes, as retailers aim to automate labor-intensive process
Facing more pressure to speed orders more quickly to customers, a rising number of companies are using high-tech robots in their manufacturing process. But could it render humans obsolete? The WSJ takes a look inside.
By Brian Baskin July 23, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET
Robot developers say they are close to a breakthrough—getting a machine to pick up a toy and put it in a box.
It is a simple task for a child, but for retailers it has been a big hurdle to automating one of the most labor-intensive aspects of e-commerce: grabbing items off shelves and packing them for shipping.
Several companies, including Saks Fifth Avenue owner Hudson’s Bay Co. and Chinese online-retail giant JD.com Inc., have recently begun testing robotic “pickers” in their distribution centers. Some robotics companies say their machin…

Norway Takes Lead in Race to Build Autonomous Cargo Ships

Norway Takes Lead in Race to Build Autonomous Cargo Ships
The Yara Birkeland, slated for launch late in 2018, will make short trips delivering fertilizer
By Costas Paris July 22, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET
OSLO—Two Norwegian companies are taking the lead in the race to build the world’s first crewless, autonomously operated ship, an advance that could mark a turning point in seaborne trade.
Dubbed by shipping executives the “Tesla of the Seas,” the Yara Birkeland now under development is scheduled in late 2018 to start sailing fertilizer 37 miles down a fiord from a production facility to the port of Larvik. Using the Global Positioning System, radar, cameras and sensors, the electric ship is designed to navigate itself around other boat traffic and to dock on its own.
The vessel will cost $25 million, about three times as much as a conventional container ship of its size, but its backers say without need for fuel or crew it promises to cut annual operating costs by up to 90%. The 100-contain…

Millennials only have a 5-second attention span for ads, says comScore CEO

Millennials only have a 5-second attention span for ads, says comScore CEO
Millennial attention spans require ads that are just 5 to 6 seconds in length, according to a new study by comScore.
Millennials spent 61 percent of their online time in smartphone apps, 8 percent on the mobile web, 25 percent on desktop, and just 5 percent on tablets.
Michelle Castillo July 21, 2017
If you're an advertiser who wants to market a product to millennials, you're going to have to make it quick.
A new study by comScore revealed online ads targeted toward millennials have to be around 5 to 6 seconds to be effective, a sharp contrast from the traditional 30-second commercial seen on TV.
"The length of time of an episode or a viewing period is really important and has got to be short, otherwise you just won't keep the attention of millennials," comScore CEO Gian Fulgoni told CNBC's "Squawk Alley."
The format of advertising may have to be radically changed to reach m…

As California’s labor shortage grows, farmers race to replace workers with robots

As California’s labor shortage grows, farmers race to replace workers with robots
By GEOFFREY MOHAN  Photography by GARY CORONADO JULY 21, 2017 | REPORTING FROM SALINAS, CALIF.
Driscoll’s is so secretive about its robotic strawberry picker it won’t let photographers within telephoto range of it.
But if you do get a peek, you won’t see anything humanoid or space-aged. AgroBot is still more John Deere than C-3PO — a boxy contraption moving in fits and starts, with its computer-driven sensors, graspers and cutters missing 1 in 3 berries.
Such has been the progress of ag-tech in California, where despite the adoption of drones, iPhone apps and satellite-driven sensors, the hand and knife still harvest the bulk of more than 200 crops.
Now, the $47-billion agriculture industry is trying to bring technological innovation up to warp speed before it runs out of low-wage immigrant workers.
California will have to remake its fields like it did its factories, with more machines and better-educat…

Lyft to Develop Self-Driving Car Technology in New Silicon Valley Facility

Lyft to Develop Self-Driving Car Technology in New Silicon Valley Facility
By MIKE ISAAC JULY 21, 2017
Waymo is among the companies that are becoming partners in Lyft’s Open Platform Initiative on technology for self-driving cars. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times
SAN FRANCISCO — Controlling the future of the smartphone was the defining technology battle of the last decade. Now, technology companies are betting that the next 10 years and beyond will be spent battling for control of the self-driving automobile.
On Friday, Lyft, the ride-hailing company, announced that it was developing its own self-driving technology, marking yet another company’s gamble that the future of transportation will be marked by self-driving cars.
Lyft is marking the occasion with the opening of a new self-driving-research facility in Palo Alto, Calif., and plans to heavily recruit new engineering and technical people for the facility after it opens in the coming weeks.
“We aren’t thinking of our self-dri…

China has vowed to become artificial intelligence ‘world leader’ by 2030

TECH-POCALYPSE China to become artificial intelligence ‘world leader’ by 2030 – but will it spark a killer computer arms race?
Experts fear the race to develop a super-smart machine mind could end up creating the digital destroyer which wipes out humanity
By Jasper Hamill 21st July 2017, 11:40 am  Updated: 21st July 2017, 12:02 pm
CHINA has vowed to become a world leader in artificial intelligence within a decade.
The People’s Republic has revealed plans to spend billions on developing computers that are capable of thinking for themselves.
However, experts believe an AI version of the space race could be disastrous for the world and even lead to the creation of a digital destroyer that ends up wiping out humanity.
Yesterday, China released a “national AI development plan” which committed it to spending $22.15 billion (£17 billion) on AI research by 2020 and $59.07 billion (£45 billion) by 2025.
China wants to square up to Western market leaders including Google and Microsoft, who ar…

100 accept buyout packages from NY Times ‘death panels’

100 accept buyout packages from NY Times ‘death panels’
By Keith J. Kelly July 20, 2017 | 10:37pm | Updated
The New York Times “death panels” have concluded their work, Media Ink has learned, and as of 5 p.m. on the July 20 deadline, it appeared 100 employees at the Gray Lady have accepted “voluntary” buyout packages and are leaving the building.
Aside from the complete elimination of the title of copy editor, and layoffs of many holding that job, the Times offered buyouts to a limited number of reporters, photographers and design people, according to Grant Glickson, president of the NewsGuild of New York, who was still tallying the final numbers at press time on Thursday.
There is no word on whether the number will satisfy Times management — or whether involuntary layoffs will follow.
The Times declined to comment on the process.
How voluntary the buyout packages really were is subject to some debate as well.
There were an estimated 110 copy editors and backfield editors who were to…

Elon Musk Says He Has Approval to Build NY-DC Hyperloop

Elon Musk Says He Has Approval to Build NY-DC Hyperloop
The line would make stops in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and D.C. Skeptics wasted no time in challenging Musk on the details
The Hyperloop, an electromagnetic tube system, would transport people from city to city in 29 minutes
Musk first proposed the idea of an intercity Hyperloop in 2013
July 20, 2017
New York to Washington in 29 minutes? Elon Musk says it's possible and he has the government's approval to do it (though it's anyone's guess which government or how long it'd take to build). "Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins," the billionaire inventor and entrepreneur tweeted Thursday afternoon.
"City center to city center in each case, with up to a dozen or more entry/exit elevators in each city," he said in another tweet. The Boring Company is Musk's tunneling venture.
It was not clear…

Google, EU dig in for long war

Google, EU dig in for long war
The EU accuses Google of giving its multitude of services too much priority in search results to the detriment of other price comparison services
By Céline LE PRIOUX and Alex PIGMAN July 20, 2017
Brussels (AFP) - Google and the EU are gearing up for a battle that could last years, with the Silicon Valley behemoth facing a relentless challenge to its ambition to expand beyond search results.
Brussels has already spent seven years targeting Google, fuelled by a deep apprehension of the company's dominance of Internet search across Europe, where it commands about 90 percent of the market.
In a verdict that could redraw the online map worldwide, the EU's top anti-trust sheriff Margrethe Vestager in June imposed a record 2.4-billion-euro ($2.79 billIon) fine on Google for illegally favouring its shopping service in search results.
"A decade-long nightmare is beginning for Google," said Jacques Lafitte, of Avisa, a consultancy that represent…

DOJ takes down dark net marketplace

DOJ takes down dark net marketplace
BY JOE UCHILL - 07/20/17 10:37 AM EDT
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday said it had shut down the online criminal market AlphaBay and one of its chief competitors, Hansa.
"This is likely one of the most important criminal cases of the year," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a press conference.
Sessions said the DOJ had seized the infrastructure and arrested the criminal market's owner, ending speculation about why AlphaBay had recently disappeared.
On July 5, Alexandre Cazes, a Canadian citizen living in Thailand, was arrested for creating and running the AlphaBay marketplace. He reportedly took his own life in Thai custody one week later. AlphaBay went offline around the same time as the arrest.
AlphaBay sold illegal goods, including drugs, weapons and hacking tools, anonymously. Like the Silk Road marketplace before it, was a site hosted on the Tor network's hidden services — meaning it didn't leave a trace…

Pension Fund Crisis: Benefits cuts in half at one Union/Employer administrated fund - Many more in the same state

Another blow for heartland workers: Slashed pensions
By ED LEEFELDT MONEYWATCH July 20, 2017, 6:00 AM
February was a bad month for Larry Burruel and thousands of other retired Ohio iron workers. His monthly take-home pension was cut by more than half from $3,700 to $1,600.
Things have been rough in the Rust Belt, but this was a particularly powerful punch in the pocketbook for Burruel, who started in the trade at 19 and worked 36 years before opting for early retirement to make way for younger workers. Unfortunately, this sagging industry doesn't have enough younger workers to pay for retirees like Burruel, whose pension plan is in what the U.S. Treasury Department calls "critical and declining status."
Burruel and the 400,000 members of his Central States Pension Fund are the canaries in the coal mine as far as pension cutbacks go. At least 50 Midwestern pension plans -- mostly the kind jointly administered by trustees for a labor union and a group of employers -- are …

9 forces shaping the future of IT

9 forces shaping the future of IT
New technologies and approaches will free IT leaders to cut costs, save time and let machine intelligence do the heavy lifting.
Paul Heltzel (CIO (US)) 11 July, 2017 20:00
IT is on the precipice of unprecedented change. Every company, now in the business of technology, is experiencing glimmers of larger shifts to come: automation, decentralized technology budgets, rapid adoption of cloud-based services, and most recently, artificial intelligence as a business necessity.
Thanks to these emerging and converging trends, technology is increasingly freeing workers from routine tasks, from the warehouse to the C-suite. Massive amounts of data are being ingested in real time, as business decisions are beginning to be offloaded to machines, leaving more time to focus on planning, pursuing leads, and adopting new technologies.
IT stands at the center of all this, poised to change dramatically. To help you navigate the years ahead, we’ve broken down the force…