Showing posts from December, 2015

Techno-skeptics’ objection growing louder

Techno-skeptics’ objection growing louder By Joel Achenbach December 26 at 5:40 PM Astra Taylor’s iPhone has a cracked screen. She has bandaged it with clear packing tape and plans to use the phone until it disintegrates. She objects to the planned obsolescence of today’s gadgetry, and to the way the big tech companies pressure customers to upgrade. Taylor, 36, is a documentary filmmaker, musician and political activist. She’s also an emerging star in the world of technology criticism. She’s not paranoid, but she keeps duct tape over the camera lens on her laptop computer — because, as everyone knows, these gadgets can be taken over by nefarious agents of all kinds. Taylor is a 21st-century digital dissenter. She’s one of the many technophiles unhappy about the way the tech revolution has played out. Political progressives once embraced the utopian promise of the Internet as a democratizing force, but they’ve been dismayed by the rise of the “surveillance state,” and t

Rise of the robot crops

Rise of the robot crops Dec. 29, 2015, 3:30 a.m. TOP robotics researchers say Australia could see fully automated vegetable farms by 2025 with the ability to automate the entire production process for some crop commodities. Professor Salah Sukkarieh, from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney, said there was potential for fully automated solutions to be developed for certain crops when it came to seeding, spraying or harvesting. AUSVEG deputy chief executive Andrew White said there was potential to have a fleet of robots and automated vehicles working in conjunction with each other. For more of this story, purchase your copy of Tuesday's Sunraysia Daily 29/12/2015.To subscribe to our Digital Edition Click here

China passes controversial counter-terrorism law

China passes controversial counter-terrorism law By Ben Blanchard December 27, 2015 BEIJING (Reuters) - China's parliament passed a controversial new anti-terrorism law on Sunday that requires technology firms to hand over sensitive information such as encryption keys to the government and allows the military to venture overseas on counter-terror operations. Chinese officials say their country faces a growing threat from militants and separatists, especially in its unruly Western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds have died in violence in the past few years. The law has attracted deep concern in Western capitals, not only because of worries it could violate human rights such as freedom of speech, but because of the cyber provisions. U.S. President Barack Obama has said that he had raised concerns about the law directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Speaking after China's largely rubber-stamp parliament passed the law, Li Shouwei, deputy head of the parli

Apple sales set to slump in 2016 with no new products, analysts warn

Apple sales set to slump in 2016 with no new products, analysts warn DECEMBER 27, 2015 9:22AM Rod Chester News Corp Australia Network AFTER a year of big Apple releases, analysts are predicting a flat 2016 where the world’s biggest tech company refines product lines rather than produces the next big thing. Apple’s share price has taken a battering in the past six months, with more than $220 billion slashed from the company’s value as analysts look towards an era of smartphone saturation. Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty recently predicted that 2016 would be first time that iPhone sales would shrink, dropping by up to three per cent. Given the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus sold 13 million in their opening weekend, a jump from the 10 million sales for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the previous year, a decline of that scale would be a massive turnaround. However the Morgan Stanley grim forecast was matched by other analysts, including Pacific Crest and KGI Securities. Jan

Twitter vows to wage war on internet trolls

Twitter vows to wage war on internet trolls Bruce Daisley, head of website in Europe, says it will expose the worst offenders by encouraging people to share lists of blocked users By Tom Morgan 9:24AM GMT 26 Dec 2015 Twitter is giving its users new powers to block internet trolls amid claims abusive behaviour is hampering the social media site from catching up with Facebook. Bruce Daisley, the head of Twitter in Europe, said the site would give its 320 millions users new tools to protect them from trolls and expose the worst offenders by encouraging people to share lists of blocked users. Twitter, which celebrates its tenth birthday next year, is worth more than £22 billion but is lagging behind Facebook, which has more than one billion users and a valuation of £167 billion. In February Dick Costolo, Twitter's former chief executive, admitted in an internal email that the company "sucked" at dealing with trolls. But Mr Daisley now says the sit

In Sweden, a Cash-Free Future Nears-Where Even Banks Don’t Accept Cash Anymore

In Sweden, a Cash-Free Future Nears By LIZ ALDERMANDEC. 26, 2015 STOCKHOLM — Parishioners text tithes to their churches. Homeless street vendors carry mobile credit-card readers. Even the Abba Museum, despite being a shrine to the 1970s pop group that wrote “Money, Money, Money,” considers cash so last-century that it does not accept bills and coins. Few places are tilting toward a cashless future as quickly as Sweden, which has become hooked on the convenience of paying by app and plastic. This tech-forward country, home to the music streaming service Spotify and the maker of the Candy Crush mobile games, has been lured by the innovations that make digital payments easier. It is also a practical matter, as many of the country’s banks no longer accept or dispense cash. At the Abba Museum, “we don’t want to be behind the times by taking cash while cash is dying out,” said Bjorn Ulvaeus, a former Abba member who has leveraged the band’s legacy into a sprawling business

The world's first website just turned 25 years old

The world's first website just turned 25 years old Look how far we've come. BEC CREW 23 DEC 2015 On 20 December 1990, Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist at the CERN research facility in Switzerland, turned on the world’s first website.  Hosted by the World Wide Web (where "www" comes from) on Berners-Lee's NeXT computer, the site was used internally by CERN scientists until the whole server was opened up to anyone with an Internet connection in August 1991.    The website itself   is like a 'self-help' guide to the web - it tells you how to access other people's documents and how to set up your own server. In 2013, CERN made an effort to return it to its original address,   and you can visit it here now , in stripped-down form.  As Berners-Lee explained   in his initial proposal   for the World Wide Web project, clarity of words was more important than fancy graphics: "Where facilities already exist, we aim to allow graphics interchange, bu

China Legislature to Vote on Anti-Terror Law Criticized by U.S. - requires encryption keys

China Legislature to Vote on Anti-Terror Law Criticized by U.S. Draft of law requires phone companies provide encryption keys Chinese offical says U.S. has same laws, uses double standards December 25, 2015 — 1:50 AM PST China’s legislature is scheduled to vote Sunday on a new anti-terrorism law that has drawn criticism from the U.S. government on concerns it could give Chinese authorities surveillance access to users of American technologies. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will meet to vote on the anti-terrorism law along with other resolutions, according to a schedule posted on the legislature’s website. The first draft of the law, published last year, requires phone companies and Internet providers to submit encryption keys, the passcodes that help protect data, to Chinese authorities, and keep equipment and local user data inside China. U.S. President Barack Obama said in a March interview with Reuters such requirements would let Chi

Switzerland to vote on banning banks from creating electronic money

Switzerland to vote on banning banks from creating money Referendum on radical proposal to give central banks sole money creation power will be held after petition gains 110,000 signatures 90pc of all money in circulation in Switzerland is "electronic" money By Mehreen Khan 5:00PM GMT 24 Dec 2015 Switzerland will hold a referendum to decide whether to ban commercial banks from creating money. The Swiss federal government confirmed on Thursday that it would hold the plebiscite, after more than 110,000 people signed a petition calling for the central bank to be given sole power to create money in the financial system. The campaign - led by the Swiss Sovereign Money movement and known as the Vollgeld initiative - is designed to limit financial speculation by requiring private banks to hold 100pc reserves against their deposits. "Banks won’t be able to create money for themselves any more, they’ll only be able to lend money that they have from sa

Eric Schmidt: AI should have verification systems to avoid 'undesirable outcomes'

Eric Schmidt: AI should have verification systems to avoid 'undesirable outcomes' By Tom Warren  on December 22, 2015 05:02 am  Eric Schmidt has long been a prominent supporter of research and investment into artificial intelligence. The Google (Alphabet) chairman has been involved in the company's self-driving car and predictive search engines, and previously warned we shouldn't fear a future of AI. In a new op-ed in Time Magazine, Schmidt praises the promise of AI, but warns it "will require the right approach." Schmidt calls for the makers of AI to follow three guiding principles. The first is that "AI should benefit the many, not the few," and always ensure that any creation "aims for the common good." Schmidt also wants AI development to be "open, responsible, and socially engaged." Challenges and questions will undoubtedly arise as AI becomes a lot more powerful, and Schmidt wants an open and collaborative convers

Why up to 37 million will have restricted Internet access starting next week

Why millions will have restricted Internet access starting next week By Anita Balakrishnan 1 Hour Ago Internet surfers may take that little green or gold lock in the corner of their Web browser for granted. But starting Jan. 1, 2016, it might go away for a small percentage of people across the globe, and millions of users could lose access to websites because of it. It's all to do with the "SHA-1 Sunset," a phrase used by technology insiders to describe the expiration of support for a certain level of encryption. Over the next year, the algorithms older than SHA-1 level of encryption will no longer meet the trusted level of security for many websites, leaving as many as 37 million people unable to access them, according to research from Internet performance and security company CloudFlare. It's a routine update to a Web feature called the certificate signature hashing algorithm. But the change, decided by a consortium of vendors of Intern

If Two Cars Crash and No One Is Driving Them, Does It Make a Sound? Yes: Ka-Ching!

If Two Cars Crash and No One Is Driving Them, Does It Make a Sound? Yes: Ka-Ching! By Keith Naughton & Margaret Cronin Fisk December 22, 2015 — 2:00 AM PST Imagine a robot car with no one behind the wheel hitting another driverless car. Who’s at fault? The answer: No one knows. But plaintiff’s lawyers are salivating at the prospects for big paydays from such accidents. If computers routinely crash, they say, then so will cars operated by them. And with no one behind the wheel, lawyers say they can go after almost anyone even remotely involved. “You’re going to get a whole host of new defendants,” said Kevin Dean, who is suing General Motors Co. over its faulty ignition switches and Takata Corp. over air-bag failures. “Computer programmers, computer companies, designers of algorithms, Google, mapping companies, even states. It’s going to be very fertile ground for lawyers.” Driverless cars from Google Inc. and other manufacturers are touted as leading to an acci

Google Pairs With Ford To Build Self-Driving Cars

Google Pairs With Ford To Build Self-Driving Cars Justin Hyde and Sharon Carty, Yahoo Autos December 21, 2015 Google and Ford will create a joint venture to build self-driving vehicles with Google’s technology, a huge step by both companies toward a new business of automated ride sharing, Yahoo Autos has learned. According to three sources familiar with the plans, the partnership is set to be announced by Ford at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. By pairing with Google, Ford gets a massive boost in self-driving software development; while the automaker has been experimenting with its own systems for years, it only revealed plans this month to begin testing on public streets in California. Google has 53 test vehicles on the road in California and Texas, with 1.3 million miles logged in autonomous driving. By pairing with Ford, the search-engine giant avoids spending billions of dollars and several years that building its own automotive manufacturing expertise

Apple raises concerns over UK's draft surveillance bill

Apple raises concerns over UK's draft surveillance bill By Gordon Corera Security correspondent, BBC News 6 hours ago Apple waited until the last moment to file its response to the draft surveillance law Apple has raised concerns about the UK's draft Investigatory Powers Bill. The proposed law aims to overhaul rules governing the way the authorities can access people's communications. The US-based firm has passed on its thoughts to a parliamentary committee scrutinising the legislation. It focuses on three issues: encryption, the possibility of having to hack its own products, and the precedent it would set by agreeing to comply with UK-issued warrants. The Home Secretary Theresa May said last month that the proposed powers were needed to fight crime and terror. Monday was the final deadline for written evidence to be received by the committee scrutinising the draft legislation. It is expected to report in February 2016. Blocking a backdoo