Posted by & filed under Business to Business, Emerging Technologies.

Airbus Beluga XL on tarmac

Passenger aircraft are built in sections around the world then assembled in various locations, so how do you transport huge parts like wings and fuselages? Meet the super-transporters – giant planes for giant jobs.

Source: BBC Technology of Business

Date: April 6th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-43641665

Discussion

1) “why not simply build everything in one place to do away with the need for giant transporters?”  Great question.  What is the answer for Airbus, and does it make sense?

2) What sorts of companies would also benefit from this approach?

Posted by & filed under Emerging Technologies, Ethical issues.

There is no proof that memories can be retrieved from a dead brain

A start-up that claims it will one day allow people to back-up their brains admits it will come at the ultimate price: death.  Nectome has said it will one day be capable of scanning the human brain and preserving it, perhaps running a deceased person’s mind as a computer simulation.  However, its current process requires a fresh brain.  The product is “100% fatal”,

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: April 6th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43394758

Discussion

1) The ability to scan and preserve the brain has been a feature of sci-fi movies for decades.  How would you sell such a service to clients?

2) The technology is currently “100% fatal” meaning your brain dies during the process, along with you.  The article mentions that people who have chosen to take their own lives in a doctor-assisted method are currently testing this technology.   How ethical is this?

Posted by & filed under Virtual goods.

We spend way too much time talking about digital currencies and not nearly enough time on digital cats.  “I’ve spent a few days this week dropping in and out of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, and I’m struck by how quickly the video game business has been taken over by virtual goods. I spoke to executives at five game companies; most were focused on building digital worlds where people want to spend a good chunk of their time, and occasionally spend money, on cosmetic modifications to those worlds.”

Source: Bloomberg

Date: March 27th, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-23/enough-about-cryptocurrency-let-s-talk-about-virtual-cats

Discussion

1) What factors go into pricing for a virtual cat in a game or app?

2) Could companies like Facebook start charging for virtual cats, and such?

Posted by & filed under Intellectual Property.

Spotify Technology SA wants to be the next Netflix Inc. Both are pioneers in getting people to pay for a digital entertainment buffet—Spotify’s chief financial officer even had the same job at Netflix.   But the economics of music streaming are very different from video.

Source: Bloomberg

Date: March 27th, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-23/why-spotify-can-t-scale-like-netflix

Discussion

1) “Spotify’s product—35 million songs—costs the company more as more people sign up.”  This means Spotify is subject to the same economics as regular manufacturers, not other digital companies.  Do you understand why Netflix can add 1 million new subscribers and have zero extra costs whereas Spotify adds 1 million new subscribers and it has 1 million new costs?

2) Just because Spotify is not like Netflix does not mean it is going out of business.  What other digital products cost more as more people use them?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence, Self-driving vehicles.

A test driver was behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber vehicle when it struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday night.  Autonomous car companies have test drivers on board so they can take over in case of emergencies.  But that safeguard wasn’t enough to prevent the death 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. Tempe police say Herzberg was walking her bicycle across a street when Uber’s Volvo XC90 SUV hit her.

Source: CNN Technology News

Date: March 27th, 2018

Link: http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/21/technology/uber-test-driver-duties/index.html

Discussion

1) What other technology developments need a human to possibly step in and intervene for the computer?

2) At what point does it make sense to let self-driving vehicles self-drive without a human to step in?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence.

Robot looking at AI sign

As with the human brain, the neural networks that power artificial intelligence systems are not easy to understand.  DeepMind, the Alphabet-owned AI firm famous for teaching an AI system to play Go, is attempting to work out how such systems make decisions.  By knowing how AI works, it hopes to build smarter systems.

But researchers acknowledged that the more complex the system, the harder it might be for humans to understand.  The fact that the programmers who build AI systems do not entirely know why the algorithms that power it make the decisions they do, is one of the biggest issues with the technology.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: March 27th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43514566

Discussion

1) Is it ethically alright that “programmers who build AI systems do not entirely know why the algorithms that power it make the decisions they do”?

2) What are some possible issues with the fact that “programmers who build AI systems do not entirely know why the algorithms that power it make the decisions they do”?

Posted by & filed under Facebook.

Facebook is under scrutiny in the wake of another privacy scandal.

Facebook’s latest privacy scandal, involving Trump campaign consultants who allegedly stole data on tens of millions of users in order to influence elections, has some people reconsidering their relationship status with the social network.

There’s just one problem: There isn’t much of anywhere else to go.

Source: CBC News

Date: March 22nd, 2018

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/breaking-up-facebook-1.4586508

Discussion

1) “For other users looking to leave, it can feel as if there are no real alternatives. Twitter? Too flighty, too public. Instagram? Whoops, owned by Facebook. Snapchat? Please, unless you’re under 25 — in which case you’re probably not on Facebook to begin with.”  What are your thoughts on these comments?

2) How has Facebook become so dominant?

Posted by & filed under Cyber Security, Ethical issues, Facebook.

A cellphone user thumbs through the privacy settings on a Facebook account in Ottawa on Wednesday. Limiting access by third-party apps is one way users can help protect their privacy.

Facebook users who are worried about protecting their personal information in the wake of the alleged privacy breach by Cambridge Analytica have a few options at their disposal.

The U.K. data firm has denied any wrongdoing and Facebook has said that, while none of the information leaked was the result of a data breach, it did appear to involve the passing of personal information from Cambridge Analytica to a third party when that data was supposed to have been destroyed.

The scandal has hit Facebook’s stock price hard, and angry users have launched a social media campaign encouraging people to delete their accounts. Short of taking that step, there are also a few other things that can help to control how your personal information is used.

Source: CBC

Date: March 22nd, 2018

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/facebook-data-privacy-settings-cambridge-analytica-1.4586185

Discussion

1) If you were managing technology at a company, how would you make sure the company’s employees followed all the instructions given in this article?

2) Is it appropriate for a technology manager to ask company employees to change settings on Facebook when Facebook is not part of their assigned work?

Posted by & filed under Automation.

Illustration of robot wrangler

How about this for a future job advert? “Wranglers wanted for growing fleets of robots. Your responsibilities will include evaluating robot performance, providing real-time analysis and support for problems.  “You must be analytical, detail-oriented, friendly – and ready to walk. No advanced degree required.”  Even if this particular advert has not yet appeared, some are already carrying out the role.  Brandon Rees, 32, used to make food deliveries. Now he watches robots do them.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: March 22nd, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-43259903

Discussion

1) Humans wrangling robots?  What sorts of skills would actually be required (as opposed to “No advanced degree required”)?

2) How should human – robot interactions be managed?

Posted by & filed under Blockchain, Disruptive Innovation, Ethical issues, IT and the law.

Bitcoin tokens

Researchers in Germany have found hundreds of links to child sexual abuse imagery on Bitcoin’s blockchain.

This could make using the blockchain, a digital ledger of crypto-currency transactions, illegal.  The study, from RWTH Aachen University, also said other files on the blockchain may violate copyright and privacy laws.  Researchers said they had found eight files with sexual content. And three of these contained content “objectionable for almost all jurisdictions”.  Two of these between them listed more than 200 links to child sexual abuse imagery, the study said.  And if records of the files were stored on users’ computers, they may be in violation of the law.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: March 22nd, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43485572

Discussion

This article raises all sorts of issues about blockchain.

1) One of them is about how stuff gets validated on to the blockchain.  Clearly validation of content put on to the blockchain was not done in this case before the content was “mined” to be an integral part of the chain.   How might validation work?

2) Another issue that one of blockchain’s whole premises is that it is a distributed ledger, which means it is almost impossible to corrupt (unless you control 51% of the chain).   This article not only suggests that it could be illegal to have a copy of this particular blockchain, but also that “Pruning, or altering parts of the blockchain ledger, would allow users to rid their local copies of illegal content”.  Why does this take away exactly what blockchain is all about?