Posted by & filed under COVID-19, SaaS Software as a Service.

More than two decades ago, India began its transformation into a global IT powerhouse, ushering in an era of wealth and job creation never before seen in the country. Now, Asia’s third largest economy is ready for the next big frontier in tech: Coming up with a new generation of software companies like Zoom or Slack. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced business around the world to make huge investments in digital infrastructure, furthering the influence of companies providing software-as-a-service, or SaaS. Businesses spent an extra $15 billion per week last year on tech as they scrambled to create safe remote working environments, according to a KPMG survey

Source: CNN Tech news

Date: September 14th, 2021

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/09/tech/india-software-saas-intl-hnk/index.html

Discussion

  1. What is “Software as a service”?
  2. Why did Covid-19 lead to a boom in SAAS products?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence, Ethical issues, Social Media, Social Networks, Social Responsibility.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, right, is escorted by his RCMP security detail as people protest while he leaves a campaign in Brantford, Ont., on Monday.

The trolls accosting Justin Trudeau at campaign stops across Canada are hardly the first to bring the worst of Facebook to real life.

“Death to Trudeau” memes have been dominant on Facebook for years. The guy who packed his truck full of guns and drove through the gates of Rideau Hall in search of the “traitor” Trudeau was neck deep in conspiracy theories on Facebook.

The convoy of petro-fanatics that descended on Ottawa in 2019 sporting signs reading “Oil in the pipe, Trudeau in the ground” used the same language. And wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that the Conservative Party slapped Trudeau’s face onto the body of Veruca Salt performing her famous tantrum in Willy Wonka’s factory? What’s not to hate?

That so many in the media are asking how we came to this shows how uninformed Canadians are about the harms of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Promoting indignation isn’t an accidental side effect of their work. It’s their core business.

Source: Toronto Star (note: this is an “opinion piece”)

Date: September 10th, 2021

Link: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/09/08/social-media-giants-continue-to-harm-democracy-and-its-evident-during-this-election.html

Discussion

  1. ” A 2017 Pew Research Center study found posts expressing “indignant disagreement garnered 50 per cent more likes, twice as many shares, and three times as many comments as those expressing bipartisanship or solidarity. ” If this is known to be true, what could Facebook, Twitter and others do to automatically moderate content?
  2. How might Facebook, Google, Twitter and others design an AI (Artificial Intelligence) to make reasonable decisions around what content is “objectionable”?

Posted by & filed under Consumer Technology, Facebook.

Google Glass debuted 10 years ago, and crashed-and-burned. Facebook has partnered with Ray Ban to create the latest incarnation of smart glasses.

Source: CNet

Date: Sept 9th, 2021

Link to 9 minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4k7oMPq1Cs

Discussion

  1. What is it about tech like this that would make it successful or not successful
  2. Does it matter, and why (or why not) that Facebook is leading the charge on this technology?

Posted by & filed under crypto-currency.

Kevin Pan (left) and Alejandro De La Torre

China’s ban on cryptocurrency mining has forced bitcoin entrepreneurs to flee overseas. Many are heading to Texas, which is quickly becoming the next global cryptocurrency capital.

When China announced a crackdown on bitcoin mining and trading in May, Kevin Pan, CEO of Chinese cryptocurrency mining company Poolin, got on a flight the next day to leave the country.

“We decided to move out, once [and] for all. [We’ll] never come back again,” Mr Pan told the BBC.

Headquartered in Hong Kong, Poolin is the second largest bitcoin mining network in the world, with most of its operations in mainland China. The country was home to around 70% of global bitcoin mining power, until the clampdown sent the price of bitcoin into a tailspin and caught miners off guard.

Now China’s “bitcoin refugees” are urgently scrambling to find a new home, whether in neighbouring Kazakhstan, Russia or North America, because for bitcoin miners, time is literally money.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: Sept 9th, 2021

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58414555

Discussion

  1. What does it mean when the article says ” for bitcoin miners, time is literally money.”?
  2. Cryptomining uses enourmous amounts of electricity, and produces no intrinsic value beyond new cryptocurrency. Why is this an issue?

Posted by & filed under crypto-currency.

Billionaire investor John Paulson says cryptocurrency is ‘a limited supply of nothing.’

Billionaire investor John Paulson had harsh words for cryptocurrencies Monday, calling digital currencies “a limited supply of nothing.”

Paulson, co-founder of Carlyle Group who became famous in 2007 by shorting the US housing market, made the comments to “Bloomberg Wealth with David Rubenstein,” adding that cryptocurrencies are a bubble that will “eventually prove to be worthless.”

“I would describe them as a limited supply of nothing,” he said. “There’s no intrinsic value to any of the cryptocurrencies except that there’s a limited amount.”

“Once the exuberance wears off, or liquidity dries up, they will go to zero,” he added. “I wouldn’t recommend anyone invest in cryptocurrencies.”

Source: Toronto Daily Star
Date: September 2nd, 2021
Link: https://www.thestar.com/business/thestreet/2021/08/30/cryptocurrency-price-check-john-paulson-calls-crypto-a-worthless-bubble.html

Discussion

  1. “Canada has been enforcing a tightened regime for cryptocurrency exchanges in recent months. He noted that the Ontario Securities Commission has barred a pair of trading platforms that offer crypto services from trading the popular stablecoin Tether, according to regulatory documents.”
    First off, what is a “stablecoin”.
    Answer: it is a cryptocoin that attempts to peg its value to an outside asset, which for Tether is the U.S. dollar.
  2. Second, why the regulation from Canada (and others)? Problematically, the stablecoin Tether only has about 1% of U.S. dollars on hand to peg to that dollar, leading many to believe that it is not a stablecoin at all.

Posted by & filed under Supply Chain Management.

Employees work on the production line of silicon wafer at a factory of GalaxyCore Inc. on May 25, 2021 in Jiashan County, Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province of China

The tech industry is at a crunch point.

Today, millions of products – cars, washing machines, smartphones, and more – rely on computer chips, also known as semiconductors.

And right now, there just aren’t enough of them to meet industry demand. As a result, many popular products are in short supply.

It has become almost impossible to buy a PS5 games console. Toyota, Ford and Volvo have had to either slow or temporarily halt production at their factories. Smartphone makers are feeling the pinch too, with Apple warning that the shortage could affect iPhone sales.

Even companies that wouldn’t necessarily be associated with computer chips haven’t been spared, such as CSSI international, a US firm that makes dog-grooming machines, is feeling the effects.

Some shoppers have already noticed these problems. Sales of used-cars are up, for instance, because new vehicles, often packed with thousands of individual chips, are in short supply.

Source: BBC Technology News
Date: September 2nd, 2021
Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58230388

Discussion

  1. Shipping issues and costs are part of the problem: “Sending a single 40ft container from Asia to Europe currently costs $17,000 , says George Griffiths, editor of global container markets at S&P Global Platts. That’s a greater than ten-fold increase compared to a year ago, when it cost around $1,500. Is there any way to solve this problem?
  2. “Chip makers are responding to sustained demand by increasing capacity but that takes time,, not least because semiconductor factories cost billions of dollars to build. “That is not going to be solved by this Christmas and I find it hard to believe it will be solved by the next Black Friday [November 2022] ” Does this mean countries would be better off building their own chip making fabs, rather than rely on South Korean and Taiwan?

Posted by & filed under Healthcare, Privacy.

Images from an MRI scan

Sitting, tablet in hand, I’m playing a weird kind of cognitive video game.

Split-second images flash in front of me, and I’m supposed to indicate with my thumbs whether I’d seen an animal or something else. It’s fun, and over in just 60 seconds. But there’s a serious intention here.

“It’s a kind of early warning system for cognitive impairment,” says Dr Thomas Sawyer. He is the chief operating officer of Cognitivity Neurosciences, the Anglo-Canadian firm that developed the app.

“The tool solves a global problem. Early impairment is just not detected. This could have a huge impact on outcomes for patients, and healthcare systems, because late diagnosis costs trillions of dollars every year in global healthcare.”

Designed as a simple, quick, and easy test to spot the earliest signs of dementia, the app’s algorithms are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) – software that can “learn” and adapt by itself.

They can automatically detect if a person has some signs of slow reaction, or poor visual recognition skills, irrespective of the language they speak.

Source: BBC Business News
Date: Sept 2nd, 2021
Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57817804

Discussion

  1. The article suggests that making advances in health requires large amounts of very specific patient data, which then means that patient’s data use and mis-use is a problem. How can these two objectives (health care improvements and patient data privacy) be reconciled?
  2. Why are companies and governments so apt to want to track citizens so closely?

Posted by & filed under Electric vehicles.

This week’s meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden was a signal of momentum for electric vehicles that those in Canada’s industry have been waiting for.

In the roadmap released following the meeting, both leaders promised to work together to build supply chains for electric vehicle (EV) battery development so Canada and the U.S. could compete globally.

Capitalizing on Canada’s access to the minerals and metals needed to make electric vehicle batteries is something experts in the renewable energy industry have long said needs to happen.

Now is the time for Canadian companies, researchers and governments to seize on the U.S. and Canada agreement and become leaders in specific areas including battery development, said Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.

“The highest added-value component in electric vehicles is the battery, the chemistry of the battery,” he said. 

“Canada has its own in-the-ground opportunity to be a superpower in the battery space, which will drive where some of those investments are. The risk of Canada falling behind is a Canadian risk.”

Source: CBC News

Date: May 26th, 2021

Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/trudeau-biden-electric-vehicles-1.5926899

Discussion

  1. Why is the battery the major component for an EV?
  2. What technology might go into making a battery for an EV useful?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning.

A black woman looks directly into the camera lens in a photo with overlaid graphics indicating "scanning"

In September last year, a university employee noticed that when he posted two photos – one of himself and one of a colleague – Twitter’s preview consistently showed the white man over the black man, no matter which photo was added to the tweet first.

Other users discovered the pattern held true for images of former US President Barack Obama and Senator Mitch McConnnell, or for stock images of businessmen of difference racial backgrounds. When both were in the same image, the preview crop appeared to favour white faces, hiding the black faces until users clicked through to the full photo.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: May 26th, 2021

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-57192898

Discussion

  1. Most AI racial bias seems to come from the fact that the algorithms are trained using a technique called machine learning. Machine learning means that you feed into the machine (the AI) a set of know things (in this case images of people’s faces) and then let the AI make a decision (in this case the decision would be “this is a face to show”). You score the AI based on what you know from the images of people’s faces that you are training the AI on. So, if the AI gets it correct you say “correct” and if not you say “incorrect”. The AI “learns” when it is getting things correct and when it is getting things incorrect, and adjusts (or should adjust) accordingly. What could be going wrong here with Twitter’s AI?
  2. How do you design AI better?

Posted by & filed under App Economy, Ethical issues.

Courtne Smith

How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life? A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him.

Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought.

“I couldn’t decide between Chinese or Korean, so it was very helpful,” says Mr Wong, who lives in Edmonton, Canada. “I have also used NewNew polls to decide what clothes I should wear that day, and lots of other personal stuff.

“I joined back in March, and I post [polls] three or four times a week. I’ve now had more than 1,700 total votes.”

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: May 26th, 2021

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57085557

Discussion

  1. “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. What might be some of the ethical issues arising from this app?
  2. “Business psychologist Stuart Duff, a partner at UK firm Pearn Kandola, says that NewNew sounds fun, and should “create special bonds between creators and their followers” . What are some of the issues with “special bonds”?