Category: News

Woz predicts dystopian future with Apple still there

The founder of Apple is predicting a dystopian future where Jobs’ Mob, Google and Facebook rule a world which lives in deserts.

The theme of next weekend’s Silicon Valley Comic Con (SVCC), “The Future of Humanity: Where Will We Be in 2075?” Woz, who predicted the rise of portable laptops said that in 58 years, Apple will be still around.

“Apple will be around a long time, like IBM (which was founded in 1911). Look at Apple’s cash ($246.1 billion, as of the end of its last fiscal quarter). It can invest in anything. It would be ridiculous to not expect them to be around (in 2075). The same goes for Google and Facebook.”

Other areas will not be great either. There will be new cities in deserts which could be ideal locations for cities of the future, designed and built from scratch. People will shuttle among domed structures. Special wearable suits will allow people to venture outside, he said.

AI will be ubiquitous, Wozniak says. Like a scene straight from the movie Minority Report, consumers will interact with smart walls and other surfaces to shop, communicate and be entertained. Medical devices will enable self-diagnosis and doctor-free prescriptions, he says. “The question will be ethical, on whether we can eliminate the need for physicians,” he says.

Woz is convinced a colony will exist on the Red Planet. Echoing the sentiments of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose Blue Origin start-up has designs on traveling to Mars, Wozniak envisions Earth zoned for residential use and Mars for heavy industry.

Wozniak says there is a “random chance” that Earthlings will communicate with another race. “It’s worth trying,” he says, “but I don’t have high hopes”.

Headless AI bots making huge leaps in productivity

The CTO of Textio claims that AI is already disrupting life and no one has noticed.

Jensen Harris said that voice-activated assistants are “just one small part of what AI is about – and not the part that will matter the most for the enterprise companies that actually buy almost $4 trillion in software and services each year”.

Harris said that the “the less-flashy flavour” of AI that is changing the nature of work itself.

Headless AI which is the application of artificial intelligence to vastly improve internal business processes is transforming the crucial machinery of business.

“Processes like hiring, lead generation, financial modelling, and information security. Legacy software has become a commodity in these areas, and purpose-built AI solutions will get a larger and larger wallet share of these huge enterprise cost centres,” Harris said.

Combining machine intelligence with learning loops, these constantly-evolving algorithms are “where the money is.”

Headless AI “doesn’t try to replace people; it gives them superpowers” — for example, predicting the future.

Harris said Headless AI is delivering radical productivity leaps that they haven’t seen from software in decades.

In the near future, AI will have transformed every core business function — hiring, sales, security, marketing, finance, manufacturing.

“Legacy software will get squeezed down into a smaller portion of the IT wallet as the most valuable services become the native AI platforms — just as form-based desktop software got squeezed out by the cloud in the last generation… the real enterprise revolution is happening in the companies that are using headless AI to transform their core businesses.”

Oracle forced to pay back taxes

Multinational tech giant Oracle has been charged $293 million for corporate tax evasion in South Korea.

The $293 million charge is made up of back taxes, as well as a punitive charge from the government tax agency.

Oracle was told of the tax debt in January last year, when the National Tax Service charged Oracle with evasion of corporate tax payments from 2008-2014.

The outfit was accused of funnelling revenues to Ireland to avoid paying taxes in South Korea. In an audit of the company’s books, the tax authority found that Oracle had channelled profits generated in South Korea to an Irish subsidiary.

It was found that those funds profited the company’s headquarters in the United States.

Because of this, the NTS figured out that Oracle should have paid taxes on profits generated in South Korea to the South Korean government.

 

EFF sues Aussie patent troll

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has sued an Australian patent troll which it previously awarded the  “Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer.”

Last year Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (GEMSA), managed to get an Australian court to order EFF to remove the post, but the EFF told the court to sod off.

In January 2017, Pasha Mehr, an attorney representing GEMSA, further demanded that the article be removed and that EFF pay $750,000. EFF still did not comply.

Instead it filed in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, and asks that the American court declare the Australian ruling unenforceable in the US, because the Australian ruling runs afoul of free speech protections granted under the United States Constitution.

GEMSA attorneys have threatened to take this Australian court order to American search engine companies to deindex the blog post, making the post harder to find online.

The EFF’s Stupid Patent of the Month campaign began back in August of 2014.  GEMSA won the title with US Patent No. 6,690,400 (the ’400 patent), claims the idea of using “virtual cabinets” to graphically represent data storage and organisation.

GEMSA is incorporated in Australia and appears to have no business other than patent litigation. The patent began its life with a company called Flash VOS. This company once offered a product that allowed users to run multiple operating systems on personal computers with x86-compatible processors.

In the past year, GEMSA has sued dozens of companies, ranging from Airbnb to Zillow. In each case, it makes the assertion that the defendant’s website infringes the ’400 patent. For example, it simply states that “AIRBNB maintains, controls and/or operates a website with a graphical user interface (“GUI”) at www.airbnb.com that infringes one or more claims of the ‘400 patent”.

In his initial letter to EFF dated August 26, 2016, Mehr dubbed the blog post as “defamatory, false, and malicious slander”.

By October 2016, GEMSA’s director, Schumann Rafizadeh said that if the article was not immediately removed from EFF.ORG, and the defendant otherwise publishes or broadcasts the statements, GEMSA will sustain irreparable damage to its reputation and credibility.

The article’s continued publication and circulation through various common web search engines and other such websites is continuing to damage the reputation and credibility of GEMSA, which it critically relies upon for its negotiations and ongoing discussions for the licensing arrangements and our Intellectual Property (IP), including the referenced patent.

In other words ,if EFF says it is just a patent troll it might make it harder to squeeze money from other companies. Indeed, in a second affidavit, Rafizadeh admitted that its business and legal tactics were meeting some resistance for the first time. US Defendants have joined and instated two lnterparte Proceedings against GEMSA in the United States.

As EFF has made no appearance before an Australian court, GEMSA was likely able to be granted the default judgement against the organization—the removal of the purportedly offending blog post. Six months later, the EFF post remains.

Samsung Galaxy S8 pre-orders eclipse S7

Despite outright threats from the Tame Apple Press which imply that the S8 will catch fire like the S7, Samsung says that pre-orders for the S8 have eclipsed the S7.

Apple’s favourite news agency Reuters whinged that the news meant that users did not seem to fear that S8 would catch fire. Given that none of the other Galaxy phones caught fire it does seem rather unlikely. Apple also has reasons for wanting its rival buried, the S8 looks to be far superior than anything that Jobs Mob has now, or has planned.

Mobile business chief Koh Dong-jin said the S8, which begin sales in South Korea, the United States and Canada on April 21. The new device has been well-received, and some investors and analysts said it could set a first-year sales record for the smartphone giant.

“It’s still a bit early, but initial response to the pre-orders that have begun at various places across the world have been better than expected,” Koh said at a media briefing.

The S8 will be the safest Galaxy smartphone to date due to safety measures implemented to avoid the battery failures that caused some Note 7s to spontaneously combust, he said.

Analysts expect Samsung to record its best-ever quarterly profit in April-June, buoyed by strong S8 sales and a memory chip market boom that is widely expected to deliver record revenue for the industry this year.

The new device, equipped with either 5.8-inch or 6.2-inch (14.73 cm or 15.75 cm) curved screens, sports the largest screens to date among all of Samsung’s flagship phones due to a redesign.

Koh also said the firm plans to use the S8 to try to recover in China, where Samsung has been out of the top five vendors in recent years due to heightened competition from local rivals such as Huawei.

Investors fear Samsung might be over stretching itself

While Samsung is set to deliver huge profits this year, some investors are already starting to fret the tech giant will soon become a victim of its own success.

The outfit has a market capitalisation of $293 billion and is Asia’s most valuable company. Its shares have jumped 60 percent since end-2015, hitting a record high in late March.

Wall Street analysts are predicting that high chip prices continuing at least through to the end of this year, and the launch of a new flagship smartphone this month reviving its mobile business after last year’s Galaxy Note 7 fires.

But shareholders are less excited than they should be. The Stock is only up three percent since April and some investors are questioning the company’s long-term growth potential and whether it can maintain the double-digit profit growth expected this year.

Samsung’s operating profit is expected to grow just 5.5 percent next year compared to 61 percent in 2017, according to the average forecast from a Thomson Reuters survey of 16 analysts.

This is because most of Samsung’s growth has been the booming memory chip market, with prices for both DRAM and NAND chips soaring. Researcher IHS expects 2017 memory industry revenues to leap 32 percent to a record $104 billion this year.

But this growth will not be repeated, analysts say, with more production capacity coming online to alleviate the bottleneck. IHS projects 2018 memory industry revenue to grow by just 3 percent to $107 billion.

Microsoft retires security bulletins

Microsoft retired the security bulletins making many security experts lives rather difficult.

Vole announced the demise of bulletins in November, saying then that the last would be posted with January’s Patch Tuesday, and that the new process would debut 14 February.

A searchable database of support documents would replace the bulletins. Accessed through the “Security Updates Guide” (SUG) portal, the database’s content can be sorted and filtered by the affected software, the patch’s release date, its CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) identifier, and the numerical label of the KB, or “knowledge base” support document.

SUG’s forerunners were the web-based bulletins that have been part of Microsoft’s patch disclosure policies since at least 1998.

Vole did such a good job turning out those bulletins that they were considered the aspirational benchmark for all software vendors, so getting rid of them seemed so strange.

In February Microsoft cancelled that month’s Patch Tuesday just hours before the security updates were to reach customers, making the bulletins’ planned demise moot. Microsoft kept the bulletins the following month as well, saying it wanted to give users more time to prepare for the change to SUG.

Finally, when Microsoft yesterday shipped cumulative security updates for Windows, Internet Explorer, Office and other products, it omitted the usual bulletins.

SUG is not so popular, even if analysts say it has great potential.  Many are undecided whether it would be able to deliver the same quantity and quality of information as the bulletins, without burdening administrators with more work.

Most of the information packed into the earlier bulletins remained available through SUG by digging into the numerous online documents, it is not as accessible.

Russian hackers might have gamed Brexit

A website which allowed Britons to register to vote in last year’s European Union referendum might have been targeted by Russian hackers who crashed it before the deadline.

A committee of British MPs said that more than a million potential voters applied to register online in the run up to the deadline two weeks before last June’s vote and the government extended the cut-off point after the website crashed, blaming it on a late rush by mainly young citizens.

But parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) said it did not rule out the possibility that the crash was caused by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) cyber attack.

“PACAC is deeply concerned about these allegations about foreign interference,” said the report.

The committee said that the interference would not have changed the outcome, but it was rather disconcerting anyway.

Russia has been accused of trying to influence the 2016 U.S. election and the committee said the government needed to ensure future elections and referendums were monitored with plans in pace to respond to and contain any cyber-attacks.

The report said that Russia and China use a cognitive approach based on understanding of mass psychology and of how to exploit individuals.

“The implications of this different understanding of cyber-attack, as purely technical or as reaching beyond the digital to influence public opinion, for the interference in elections and referendums are clear.”

The committee was also critical of the government’s failure to prepare for a vote for Brexit and former Prime Minister David Cameron’s motives for calling the referendum in the first place, saying using plebiscites as a “bluff call” to close “unwelcome debate” was questionable.

“There was no proper planning for a Leave vote so the EU referendum opened up much new controversy and left the prime minister’s credibility destroyed,” the report said.

Songs are getting shorter

A new study finds that pop songs themselves are getting faster as listeners’ attention spans diminish  and young people have the attention span of goldfish

The study was penned by Hubert Leveille Gauvin, a doctoral student in music theory at the Ohio State University who looked at the year-end top 10 on the US Billboard chart between 1986 and 2015.

He found that instrumental openings to songs have shrunk dramatically over the past three decades and, to a lesser extent, the average tempo of hit singles has been speeding up.

In 1986, it took roughly 23 seconds before the voice began on the average hit song. In 2015, vocals came in after about five seconds, a drop of 78 percent, he found.

His study was published in Musicae Scientiae, the Journal of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music. He linked the trend to the rapid rise of Spotify and other streaming sites that give listeners instant access to millions of songs.

“It makes sense that if the environment is so competitive, artists would want to try to grab your attention as quickly as possible and the voice is one of the most attention-grabbing things that there is.”

Apparently if you like to concentrate, you like instrumental music.

As an example of the shift, Leveille Gauvin pointed to Starship’s 1987 hit “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” which takes 22 seconds for the vocals to begin and more than a minute for the chorus.

On the 2015 hit “Sugar” by Maroon 5, Adam Levine gets to the point within seven seconds with the lines: “I’m hurting baby / I’m broken down.”

Leveille Gauvin doubts that many pop stars are clamouring in the studio for shorter intros, he just thinks it is a steady evolution in songwriting conventions.

He connected the trend to scholar Michael H. Goldhaber’s concept of the “attention economy”—the quest to hold attention in an internet overflowing with information.

“You can think of music as this double role. Music has always been a cultural product, but I think that more and more songs are also advertisements for the artists,” Leveille Gauvin said.

Berners-Lee fears AI monster

The bloke who created the world-wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee,  said he is worried that artificial intelligence (AI) could become the new ‘masters of the universe’ by creating and running their own companies.

Speaking at the Innovate Finance Global Summit today, Berners-Lee envisioned a world where AI systems start to develop decision-making capabilities and the impact this will have on the fairness of our economic systems.

He said that AI could decide which companies to acquire: “So when AI starts to make decisions such as who gets a mortgage, that’s a big one. Or which companies to acquire and when AI starts creating its own companies, creating holding companies, generating new versions of itself to run these companies.

“It becomes difficult to understand how to ensure they are being fair, and how do you describe fairness to a computer anyway.”

The scenario does threaten to wipe out an entire industry and raises some fundamental questions about how fair a financial system without any human involvement can be.

Berners-Lee also slammed the Trump administration’s rollback of net neutrality protections.

He recently published a letter on the 28th anniversary of the world wide web, detailing what he views as the three main challenges for the web: loss of control over personal data, the spread of misinformation across the web and the need for transparency with online political advertising.