Posted by & filed under Bitcoin, Blockchain.

Gold bitcoins on circuit board graphic

As we approach Bitcoin’s 10th anniversary at the end of this month, we ask whether blockchain – the technology underpinning the cryptocurrency – is fulfilling its promise, or a tech still looking for a better reason to exist.

There have been some very grandiose claims made about blockchain.

Source: BBC Business Technology

Date: November 30th, 2018

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-45919700

Discussion

1) Do you understand what the difference is between Bitcoin and Blockchain?

2) Blockchain should really be called Distributed Ledger Technology.  Why?

Posted by & filed under Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix.

The FAANGs have been savaged over the past week

 

Technology stocks have had a very bad week. For the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) which have led the charge in growth over the past decade, it was grim.

At their lowest point, all five were down more than 20 per cent from their peaks. This translates to hundreds of billions of dollars in value being wiped from them.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: November 30th, 2018

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-46317205

Discussion

1) Who else might we consider adding to the FAANG group?

2) This article brings up a very interesting point: “Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, has co-authored an important new book called Blitzscaling. This riffs on the idea that it is the remorseless pursuit of scale that gives data-based companies their advantage. The first scaler, rather than the first mover, will emerge victorious in various markets. That, according to Hoffman, is why venture capitalists are happy to tolerate the lack of profits at a company like Uber.”  Which do you think is more important, being the first mover or being the first scaler?

Posted by & filed under Apple.

Well, you don’t see that every day – Apple has rushed out a patch to fix a major security bug.  It had been revealed that users of its new MacOS High Sierra operating system can access it without using a password.

Just use “root” as a username, leave the password field blank and hit “Enter” a few times.  It’s an embarrassing slip-up and not one users are used to from Apple, whose products are often cited as more reliable and secure than its rivals’.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: November 23, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-42166438

Discussion

1) “We are auditing our development processes to help prevent this from happening again.”  What steps might this audit include?

2) Apple’s development process has obviously already been audited many times, so to suggest that Apple is now “auditing our development processes” is just saying something that is obviously true but not very useful.  What could have gone wrong here?

Posted by & filed under Big Data, Bots, Business Analytics, Civil Liberties, Electronic Surveillance, Ethical issues.

HiQ is a “people analytics” firm that creates software tools for corporate human resources departments. Its Skill Mapper graphically represents the credentials and abilities of a workforce; its Keeper service identifies when employees are at risk of leaving for another job. Both draw the overwhelming majority of their data from a single trove: the material that is posted—with varying degrees of timeliness, detail, accuracy, and self-awareness—by the 500 million people on the social networking site LinkedIn.

Source: Bloomberg

Date: November 23, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-11-15/the-brutal-fight-to-mine-your-data-and-sell-it-to-your-boss

Discussion

1) “Depending on whom you talk to, the sides are arguing about free speech or privacy, the scourge of data scraping or the danger of digital monopolies.”  Where do you come out in this debate?

2) What other sources of data might be scraped by bots and what could you learn from this?

 

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence, Ethical issues.

Taryn Southern, a YouTube star and content creator, has just released a song she wrote with the help of artificial intelligence.  Called Break Free, it’s a brooding ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Hunger Games soundtrack. Southern wrote the lyrics and melody, but the backing track was built by her laptop, after she punched in a number of settings for the song’s mood, tempo and instrumentation. “My new collaborator is not human,” she grins. “It’s an AI algorithm”.

Source: BBC Music News

Date: November 23, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-41935971

Discussion

1) Why does it matter (or not) that AI is creating music we might actually pay to buy?

2) What are the ethical issues here?

Posted by & filed under Bitcoin.

 

Bitcoin’s ongoing meteoric price rise has received the bulk of recent press attention with a lot of discussion around whether or not it’s a bubble waiting to burst.   However, most the coverage has missed out one of the more interesting and unintended consequences of this price increase. That is the surge in global electricity consumption used to “mine” more Bitcoins.  According to Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index Bitcoin’s current estimated annual electricity consumption stands at 29.05TWh.  If Bitcoin miners were a country they’d rank 61st in the world in terms of electricity consumption.

Source: PowerCompare

Date: November 23rd, 2018

Link: https://powercompare.co.uk/bitcoin/

Discussion

1) Why does it matter that Bitcoin mining consumes so much energy?

2) The article shows that places like the Gaza Strip are some of the top places in the world for Bitcoin mining.  Is this a concern, or not?

Posted by & filed under Innovation.

This handout image supplied by the European Space Agency (ESA), shows a view of The Palms, Dubai as the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft psses below, in an image taken by ESA astronaut Tim Peake from the International Space Station on April 10, 2016. FCC has cleared SpaceX and three other companies to launch new internet-beaming satellites, which can help connect rural Americans.  (Photo by Tim Peake / ESA/NASA via Getty Images)

In a move that is expected to expand satellite Internet connectivity, the US Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted Thursday to allow SpaceX and three other companies to deploy new satellites systems.

The approval allows Elon Musk’s company to operate more than 7,000 “very-low-Earth orbit” satellites and the additional flexibility to provide “both diverse geographic coverage and the capacity to support a wide range of broadband communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental and professional users in the United States and globally.”

Source: Forbes Technology News

Date: November 15th, 2018

Link: http://fortune.com/2018/11/15/fcc-approves-spacex-to-launch-new-very-low-earth-orbit-internet-beaming-satellites/

Discussion

1) This could radically change the way we receive internet, as it allows completely new companies to compete without having to dig up roads and put cables in to homes to deliver internet services.  Why is this such a big deal?

2) Are there any services you could package around this sort of internet?

Posted by & filed under Amazon, Ethical issues.

Amazon’s search for a second headquarters was never just about finding a new home.

Throughout the process, Amazon skillfully obtained data from 238 cities and metro areas in North America for free, including proprietary information about real estate sites under development, details about their talent pool, local labor cost and what incentives cities and states were willing to cough up to bring the company to town.

“Amazon was not going through this exercise to pick a single HQ2,” said Richard Florida, a leading urbanist and professor at the University of Toronto. “It was part of a broader effort — a corporate relocation strategy — to crowdsource a wide variety of data.”

Source: CNN Technology News

Date: November 15th, 2018

Discussion
1) Is this notion that Amazon “crowdsourced” its collection of data from 238 cities genius, or just plain unethical?
2) Amazon chose to open 2 new HQs, in New York and Washington.  On what dimensions does this make sense, and on what does it not?

Posted by & filed under crypto-currency.

A woman touches an ATM machine for digital currency Bitcoin in Hong Kong on December 18, 2017.

International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde said central banks around the world should consider issuing digital currency.

Speaking in Singapore, Ms Lagarde said this could make digital currency transactions safer.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: November 15th, 2018

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46203869

Discussion

1) How much do you know about how cryptocurrencies, of which Bitcoin is just one example?  Why is it important to know about this?

2) “The advantage is clear. Your payment would be immediate, safe, cheap and potentially semi-anonymous… And central banks would retain a sure footing in payments.”  Why is all this important?

Posted by & filed under App Economy, Emerging Technologies, Innovation.

Who is going to decide how we travel around our cities – Californian tech giants or local transport businesses?

On Tech Tent we hear from the UK firm helping local taxi operators take the fight to Uber and from an American scooter firm trying to change the law in Britain.

I took a trip to Manchester this week and leaving the station, I had a number of options to get to my destination in Cheadle, on the outskirts of the city.

I could have grabbed a cab from the station rank or used the ubiquitous Uber – but instead I downloaded an app called Streetcars.

This enabled me to order a minicab from the local firm of that name and it deposited me at the headquarters of Autocab – the company that built the app for Streetcars and about 500 other local taxi firms across the UK.

Source: BBC Tech Tent

Date: November 9th, 2018

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-46151994

Discussion

1) “Tens of others had technology just as good as Uber that never went anywhere. The difference is Uber has been heavily financed by Wall Street and they’ve raised more than $13bn. We didn’t have the same access to capital.”  Is this really only about money?

2) “Uber with its early “move fast and break things” approach, which saw it clash with local regulators”  Why is it that regulations take time to catch up with technology innovation?