Posted by & filed under Amazon.

Black Friday

Many shops are still expected to offer deals online for the pre-Christmas sales event on 27 November.

It’s been a difficult year for lots of retailers, who will be hoping Black Friday – and its bigger cousin Cyber Monday – will give them a much-needed boost

But this all comes with a health warning if you’re buying online.

Amazon is struggling to prevent fake reviews which can mislead shoppers this Black Friday, according to Which?.

The consumer group looked at some of the most popular purchases, including tablets and phones, and found some review ratings were being manipulated.

Amazon responded to the claims saying it has clear policies that reviewers and sellers must stick to.

It says it will suspend, ban, and take legal action against those who break the rules.

Source: BBC

Date: November 25th, 2020



  1. The first piece of advice is “be sceptical…if there are an unusually high number of reviews compared to others in that category ” What sort of algorithm or program could Amazon (and others) use to detect this so you don’t have to?
  2. Brands you don’t know. If you don’t recognise the brand, check to see if it has its own legitimate-looking website, with clear contact details.” How might you game this advice if you were unscrupulous?

Posted by & filed under Cyber Security.

Major security flaws in popular smart doorbells are putting consumers at risk of being targeted by hackers inside their homes, according to Which.

The consumer group says devices being sold on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, could easily be hacked or switched off by criminals.

It is asking the government for new legislation to safeguard consumers.

Amazon has removed at least seven product listings in response to the findings.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: November 23rd, 2020



  1. “If you have decided to purchase a smart doorbell, make sure it is from a well-known, trusted brand. When you set it up change the default password to something long, and if possible enable two-factor authentication in the set-up,” she added. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is when a secondary step is introduced to the log-in process, such as a code sent as an email or text.”
    Do you have 2FA set up for your banking and credit card accounts? If not, why not?
  2. How could you help a company or business make themselves more secure online?

Posted by & filed under Facebook, Google, Internet Advertising, IT and Politics.

President-elect Joe Biden’s policies may be shaped by who his advisers are. And Kamala Harris, foreground, is a senator from California whose constituency includes Silicon Valley, and is seen as friendly with big tech.

Navdeep Bains chooses his words carefully when asked what a Biden administration could mean for Canada’s approach to big tech regulation.

Surely Canada would have a freer hand under President Joe Biden to regulate and tax multinational internet giants, without Donald Trump threatening trade sanctions and tariffs?

“I would say there’s a broader understanding that protectionism is on the rise in the U.S.,” Bains, Canada’s industry minister, told the Star in an interview this week.

“Even with the current administration, the future administration, we need to be mindful of those challenges that exist.”

Source: The Toronto Star

Date: November 23rd, 2020



  1. ” For years, the Liberal government has talked about the influence the FAANGs — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google — have on the Canadian economy and citizens. ” What sort of influence are we talking about here?

2. “When France imposed a ….tax [on tech giant’s overseas advertising revenues] , Trump threatened to levy $2.4 billion (U.S.) in tariffs on French goods — including champagne and cheese. French President Emmanuel Macron eventually agreed to delay the tax plans.” ” A promised tax on tech giants’ advertising revenues and profits from Canadian user data has yet to materialize, but is still on the plate. ” Why shouldn’t the Canadian government be able to tax an American companies advertising revenues that are generated in Canada?

Posted by & filed under Cyber Security, Cyberattack.

State-sponsored actors are “very likely” trying to shore up their cyber capabilities to attack Canada’s critical infrastructure — such as the electricity supply — to intimidate or to prepare for future online assaults, a new intelligence assessment warns.

“As physical infrastructure and processes continue to be connected to the internet, cyber threat activity has followed, leading to increasing risk to the functioning of machinery and the safety of Canadians,” says a new national cyber threat assessment drafted by the Communications Security Establishment.

“We judge that state-sponsored actors are very likely attempting to develop the additional cyber capabilities required to disrupt the supply of electricity in Canada.”

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Date: November 19th, 2020



  1. Why would a “state-sponsored actor”, which usually means a country, go after Canada’s electricity supply?
  2. If you ran an online business that was fundamentally linked to have electricity, what might you do to guard against this threat or provide a backup for this threat?

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

The Ubamarket app

now more retailers are using AI (artificial intelligence) – software systems that can learn for themselves – to try to automatically predict and encourage our very specific preferences and purchases like never before.

Retail consultant Daniel Burke, of Blick Rothenberg, calls this “the holy grail… to build up a profile of customers and suggest a product before they realise it is what they wanted”.

So the next time you dash into your local shop to buy certain snacks and a particular wine on a Friday night, perhaps you can blame AI, and a computer that has learned all about you, for the decision.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: November 18th, 2020



  1. Is it ethical to install an app and then have it use AI to try and sell things to you?
  2. “We need to ask how equitable and ethical the data collection is. So, for example, are middle-class white women being offered money off fresh vegetables, but it is not being offered to someone who could really benefit from it?” What sort of work would need to be done to make sure that AI was not racial biased based on the data it analyzes?

Posted by & filed under COVID-19, Emerging Technologies.

Raspberry Pi 400

This is the Pi 400. It’s the latest product from Raspberry Pi, the organisation founded to get children coding.

And the £67 device ($87) – or £95 ($125) with a mouse and cables – may help answer the challenge of getting cheap computing to youngsters affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The idea, says the organisation’s founder Eben Upton, is to mirror the simplicity of those 1980s devices.

“It gets into your life as a utility device, as a thing that you buy to do your schoolwork or play games on,” he explains.

“But it’s bundled with everything that you need and it kind of sidles its way into your life.”

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: November 17th, 2020



  1. What sort of business or service could you build around a $125 computer?
  2. Why is this billed as “A computer for the coronavirus age”?

Posted by & filed under Facial Recognition.

Melanie Clapham has spent the last three years snapping images of grizzly bears at Knight Inlet, on the B.C. coast, using small camera traps housed in metal and strapped securely to the forest branches.

Three years and thousands of images later, the behavioural ecologist and postdoctoral student at the University of Victoria has partnered with two software developers living in Silicon Valley and a grizzly research centre in Alaska to develop facial recognition technology used to identify the bears.

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Date: November 11th, 2020



  1. People. Bears. What else could you apply facial recognition software to in order to do useful research?
  2. What sort of company or service could you set up around this?

Posted by & filed under App Economy, COVID-19.

woman coughing

An algorithm developed in the US has correctly identified people with Covid-19 only by the sound of their coughs.

In tests, it achieved a 98.5% success rate among people who had received an official positive coronavirus test result, rising to 100% in those who had no other symptoms.

The researchers would need regulatory approval to develop it into an app.

They said the crucial difference in the sound of an asymptomatic-Covid-patient cough could not be heard by human ears.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: November 10th, 2020



  1. This is an application of AI – Artificial Intelligence. “MIT lab has collected about 70,000 audio samples each containing a number of coughs. Of those, 2,500 are from people with confirmed cases of coronavirus.” How do you think the AI might work?
  2. Why do you think that this app ” would need regulatory approval to develop it into an app. “?

Posted by & filed under 5G.

Super fast 5G connectivity provided by a continually airborne fleet of pilotless planes would be a “breakthrough”, said the team developing it.

Engineering firm Cambridge Consultants has been working on an antenna system that, once mounted to specially designed aircraft, can provide data speeds of over 100 megabits per second.

Richard Deakin, chief executive of Stratospheric Platforms near Cambridge, which has also been working on the project, says each plane would be able to provide signals that cover land areas of about 140km (85miles) in diameter, from a height of 60,000ft.

“With the aircraft up very high, you have an unobstructed view of the ground,” he said, adding that buildings and trees would not get in the way, as is the case with normal terrestrial masts.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: November 10th, 2020

Link to video (3 minutes):


  1. ” 100 megabits per second ” data transfer speeds. Is that good? What is it good enough for, and what is it not good enough for?
  2. Why is 5G 60,000 feet-in-the-air internet going to be a gamechanger?

Posted by & filed under Automation, Future of Work.

Statistics Canada says domestic firms that invested in robots since the late 1990s have also expanded their human workforces, suggesting a less than “apocalyptic” result for workers overall.

The findings released today show that over two decades, firms that invested in automation had workforces 15 per cent larger relative to other companies in the same industry.

Overall increases were from bumps in high-skilled jobs, such as programmers, that require university degrees, and low-skilled workers with high-school diplomas or less.

Those in the middle, such as trades workers, were more likely to not be replaced once a robot arrived.

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Date: November 3rd, 2020



  1. This is a similar result that was found for companies that did outsourcing and offshoring to India and China: those that did it actually hired more workers locally. Why might this be? (The answer is that outsourcing, offshoring, and using robots locally means the company frees up capital (money) to spend on other workers that they can’t do this for).
  2. Why is it that “trade workers” get hit so hard by robots being introduced, and what should be done about this?