Posted by & filed under Quantum Computing.

A scientist in "clean room" gear holds up a large computer chip wafer the size of a fist

magine a world where encrypted, secret files are suddenly cracked open – something known as “the quantum apocalypse”.

Put very simply, quantum computers work completely differently from the computers developed over the past century. In theory, they could eventually become many, many times faster than today’s machines.

That means that faced with an incredibly complex and time-consuming problem – like trying to decrypt data – where there are multiple permutations running into the billions, a normal computer would take many years to break those encryptions, if ever.

But a future quantum computer, in theory, could do this in just seconds.

Such computers could be able to solve all sorts of problems for humanity. The UK government is investing in the National Quantum Computing Centre in Harwell, Oxfordshire, hoping to revolutionise research in the field.

But there is also a dark side.

Source: BBC Future

Date: January 25th, 2022

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-60144498

Discussion

  1. ” “Quantum computers will render useless most existing methods of encryption.” Make sure students understand that this is because the current encryption can be cracked.
  2. How do you prepare for “the quantum apocalypse”?

Posted by & filed under crypto-currency.

Last year Kazakhstan became the second biggest crypto-currency mining country in the world, thanks partly to a vast mine containing 50,000 computers in the desert near the northern city of Ekibastuz.

Young men work 12 hours a day for 15 days in a row without leaving the site, in order to keep it running round the clock.

But the rapid growth of crypto-mining in the country has put pressure on the energy sector, which relies heavily on polluting, carbon-intensive coal-fired power stations.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: January 26th, 2022

Link to 3 minute 36 second video: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-60148754

Discussion

  1. Note: the video actually gets a few things incorrect. For one, the cryptomining calculations are not “extremely difficult”. For the most part they are rather simple. The issue is not complexity of the calculation but that it can be found by almost any machine doing the calculation. As a result, the one to solve the problem is driven by two things: 1) how many machines are tackling the problem, and 2) the speed of the machines tacking the problem.
    So, when the video says that the machines are hot because of the complexity of the calculations, that is incorrect. The machines are hot because they are “overclocked”. That means that they have been “juiced” to run as fast as they can.
    This is an important point to raise as it is frequently misunderstood.
  2. Why does it matter that cryptomining uses a lot of electricity?

Posted by & filed under Cyber Security.

A worker labors to assemble the Olympic Rings onto of a tower on the outskirts of Beijing, China, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. Researchers at a Toronto-based tech laboratory have uncovered security vulnerabilities and censorship frameworks in an app all 2022 Beijing Olympics attendees must use.

TORONTO – Researchers at a Toronto-based tech laboratory have uncovered security vulnerabilities and censorship frameworks in an app all 2022 Beijing Olympics attendees must use.

The Citizen Lab, a research institute at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy that studies spyware, found a “simple but devastating” flaw in the MY2022 app that makes audio files, health and customs forms transmitting passport details, and medical and travel history vulnerable to hackers.

Researcher Jeffrey Knockel found MY2022 does not validate some SSL certificates, digital infrastructure that uses encryption to secure apps and ensures no unauthorized people can access information as it is transmitted.

This failure to validate means the app can be deceived into connecting with malicious hosts it mistakes as being trusted, allowing information the app transmits to servers to be intercepted and attackers to display fake instructions to users.

“The worst case scenario is that someone is intercepting all the traffic and recording all the passport details, all the medical details,” said Knockel, a research associate, who investigated the app after a journalist curious about its security functions approached him.

Olympic organizers have required all games attendees, including athletes, spectators and media members, to download and start using the MY2022 app for submitting health and customs information like COVID-19 test results and vaccination status at least 14 days ahead of their arrival in China.

Source: Toronto Daily Star

Date: January 19th, 2022

Link: https://www.thestar.com/business/2022/01/19/toronto-lab-finds-security-vulnerabilities-censorship-framework-in-olympic-app.html

Discussion

  1. ” MY2022 does not validate some SSL certificates, digital infrastructure that uses encryption to secure apps and ensures no unauthorized people can access information as it is transmitted “.
    SSL = secure socket layer
    “does not validate some SSL certificates” = doesn’t check that the SSL is actually valid. That means someone could provide a fake certificate, which is then not checked, and the app continues on anyway.
    Explain this to students
  2. What is your advice to Olympic Athletes, who are required to download this app to be able to be at the Olympics?
    Answer: burner phone and burner laptop – and don’t use it for anything you don’t want to be publicly shared.

Posted by & filed under Robotics.

Source: Ameca

Date: January 19th, 2022

Link to 41 second video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=IPukuYb9xWw&feature=youtu.be

Discussion

  1. Why is it important to have such a close-to-perfection humanoid robot?
  2. The “uncanny valley” is a term used for when a robot (or video) is close to human, but not perfect, and humans just get creeped out by this. Does this cross the “uncanny valley”?

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Gamers play the game Call of Duty: Black Ops at the 24th Electronic Expo in Los Angeles in 2018.

Microsoft is the dominant force in business software, and a giant player in cloud computing. On Tuesday, the company made clear that its ambitions were even bigger, saying it planned to buy the powerhouse video game player Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion, in a deal meant to position the company for the next generation of the internet.

The acquisition, Microsoft’s largest ever, would catapult the company into a leading spot in both the video game industry and could strengthen its hand in the nascent world of virtual and augmented reality.

Source: New York Times

Date: January 18th, 2022

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/18/business/microsoft-activision-bilzzard.html

Discussion

  1. $70 billion for a gaming company. Why does this make sense for Microsoft?
  2. ” The deal could also give Microsoft a significant boost against Facebook, which is considered the leader in the so-called metaverse, the name given to the virtual world. The metaverse is more of a buzzword than a thriving business, but companies are putting huge sums of money and talent behind the idea.  ” What’s going on here?

Posted by & filed under Consumer Technology.

Apple iPhones at a new store in Los Angeles. Apple is off to create augmented reality glasses and maybe even a car, but the iPhone is no longer a paragon of the ideal that “it just works,” writes Navneet Alang.

Two years into a pandemic, with a new variant whittling away what little hope anyone had left, and it’s hard to find reason for cheer, even in December.

Still, we can at least find solace in how good Zoom calls are. Right?

Forgive me: I shouldn’t poke at a sore spot. But as a COVID-weary world drags itself into a third year of lockdowns and online meetings, it does strike one as a bit strange that a fundamental thing like video calls are still so bad, often plagued by poor picture quality, stuttering connections and low quality sound.

This week, some hope arrived in the form of an expensive new webcam. Made by a new company called Opal, the C1 uses both tech from high-end cameras and software smarts to finally produce a webcam that produces a great picture. Tech sites posted glowing write-ups, with The Verge saying the C1’s image “look(s) far better in multiple lighting scenarios than any webcam” they had tested so far.

For $300 (U.S.), so it well should. But the stark difference between the Opal C1 and other webcams also highlights the fact that, too often in tech, a basic problem that affects millions goes unaddressed simply because focus lies elsewhere.

Source: Toronto Star

Date: January 10th, 2022

Link: https://www.thestar.com/business/opinion/2021/12/18/why-cant-we-make-good-quality-zoom-calls-or-easily-program-our-smart-tvs-because-big-tech-is-fixated-on-novelty.html

Discussion

  1. ” in forever keeping its eyes on the horizon, tech also has allowed day-to-day issues — the sorts of things people need to make the material circumstances of their lives better — fall to the wayside ” Is this a fair and accurate statement?
  2. ”  Facebook is busy creating a metaverse that it’s possible no one wants, while the problems of misinformation and polarization on the platform linger. ” Is this a fair and accurate statement?

Posted by & filed under Consumer Technology.

A screenshot of a Lynit page

Celebrated American author Mark Twain was very dismissive of people who think it is possible for someone to learn how to write a novel.

“A man who is not born with the novel-writing gift has a troublesome time of it when he tries to build a novel,” he said. “He has no clear idea of his story. In fact, he has no story.”

These days, however, technology is increasingly making the life of an author a little easier.

Source: BBC

Date: January 10th, 2022

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58098481

Discussion

  1. This “technology” doesn’t look like much more than a version of social network mapping, which just shows the connections between people and things, combined with project management software.
    How might you put this to other uses?
  2. Does it make sense to use this sort of technology to write college papers?

Posted by & filed under Bots.

Twitter is dropping the terms 'master', 'slave' and 'blacklist' from internal documents.

Twitter has announced a new feature allowing accounts to self-identify as bots, by adding a label to their profile.

Twitter said the update was based on research that found that people wanted more context about non-human accounts.

The company gives several examples of “good bots” including accounts that share vaccination updates, information about seismic activity or material from public museums.

The move will not be mandatory.

The company will continue to remove inauthentic accounts it deems to break the company’s platform rules.

Source: Twitter
Date: January 10th, 2022
Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-58510594

Discussion

  1. The article lists ” accounts that share vaccination updates, information about seismic activity or material from public museums” that are “good bots”. What might be some others?
  2. What sorts of people configure a bot to send out messages?

Posted by & filed under Entrepreneurship.

GettyImages-927918996

Grocery delivery startup Tiggy is a new player in the Canadian quick commerce space, announcing Friday $6.35 million in seed funding to get its dark stores up-and-running to accommodate 15-minute deliveries.

Source: TechCrunch

Date: January 3rd, 2022

Link: https://techcrunch.com/2021/12/10/tiggy-ready-to-take-on-canadian-food-delivery-incumbents-with-15-minute-option/

Discussion

  1. What is a “dark store”?
    A: a large retail facility that resembles a conventional supermarket or other store but is not open to the public, housing goods used to fulfill orders placed online.
  2. Why do you need a “dark store” to make this 15-minute delivery idea work?

Posted by & filed under Robotics.

If you are dreading having to cook your family’s Christmas Day dinner then you are definitely not alone.

But for future Christmases there is now a new alternative – get a robot chef to do everything.

A number of tech firms are now developing robots that can cook and plate up entire meals, both for commercial and domestic kitchens.

One of those at the forefront is London-based Moley Robotics, which is due to release its product, the Moley Robotic Kitchen, next year.

Attached to rails fitted to the ceiling, two robotic arms hang down over your oven and hob, and can cook more than 5,000 different recipes. You just pick the dish in question on a touch screen, add the ingredients it tells you to the built-in containers, and it does everything else.

It can turn on the oven and hob, pick up and put down saucepans and spatulas, stir, whisk and flip.

Source: YouTube / BBC

Date: January 3rd, 2022

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-59651334

Discussion

  1. Where does tech like this actually make sense?
  2. Does it make sense to build a robot that actually moves like a human, as this one does, or to change the process (remove the human)?