Alibaba announced Wednesday it will invest $15 billion over the next three years into “cutting-edge technology” including quantum computing and artificial intelligence.
The DAMO Academy will oversea the launch of research labs worldwide and recruit scientists and researchers to join.
The Chinese e-commerce giant will open seven labs including ones in San Mateo, Calif., and Bellevue, Wash., as well as Beijing, Moscow and Tel Aviv.
The academy will focus on topics such as Internet of things, network security, machine learning, and natural language processing.
“We aim to discover breakthrough technologies that will enable greater efficiency, network security and ecosystem synergy for end-users and businesses everywhere,” said Alibaba chief technology officer Jeff Zhang in a statement.
The academy will create an advisory board featuring educators and researchers to decide where to focus its research.
Artificial intelligence is a hot market for tech, with many companies using it to power services such as digital voice assistants like Siri or Alexa.
Among the biggest champions of AI is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said last summer the technology could create safer cars or ways to better detect diseases.
However, many critics — notably Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk — have raised concerns about AI’s potential threat to humanity. Musk is calling for governments to institute regulations before the use of AI becomes more common.
The investment is part of Alibaba’s broader plan to serve 2 billion customers and create 100 million jobs in 20 years, the company said.
Earlier this year, Alibaba introduced a program to help small businesses based in the U.S. sell their goods to its 443 million customers in China.
We live in a world where formerly unattainable futuristic touchstones like “flying cars” and autonomous vehicles are being treated with straight-faced sincerity by some of the biggest companies in world. So I guess it was only a matter of time before we had to start taking jetpacks seriously, too.
A new two-year, $2 million global competition called the Go Fly Prize was introduced today at an aerospace industry conference in Texas with the goal of producing “an easy-to-use, personal flying device.” The organizers of the contest, which is being sponsored by aerospace giant Boeing, say they want to incentivize teams of students, engineers, and inventors to develop a vertical take-off and landing device (or one that is nearly VTOL) that is safe, quiet, ultra-compact, and capable of carrying a single person 20 miles or more without refueling or recharging. In other words, a jetpack that can be “used by anyone, anywhere,” Go Fly’s organizers say.
Jetpacks aren’t a completely fanciful idea, with daredevils demonstrating amazing aeronautical feats in the US and across the world. But the idea that jetpacks have commercial applications or that personal flying devices will solve our transportation and infrastructure challenges is completely ludicrous.
But don’t tell Gwen Lighter, a self-described “serial entrepreneur” who has been shopping her idea of a global competition for over two years to various stakeholders before landing Boeing as a “grand sponsor.” With the backing of the second largest aerospace manufacturer in the world, Lighter is now able to take her brainchild mainstream, officially unveiling the Go Fly Prize at the SAE 2017 AeroTech Congress and Exhibition in Fort Worth, Texas.
“What we are really talking about is making people fly,” Lighter told me last week. “There is no dream that is more universally shared than that of soaring through the skies. It unites us all.”
Lighter said that a number of innovations in the world of transportation have made the idea of a personal flying device less ridiculous than it seems. She cited autonomous vehicles, improved battery technology, 3D printing, and lightweight drones as some of the advances that could converge to make jetpacks a reality. “Now is the first moment in history where something like these personal flying devices can be built,” she said.
The image of ordinary people blasting around like James Bond in Thunderball (or The Rocketeerfor you ‘90s kids) is equal parts thrilling and terrifying. Asked how jetpacks could be anything other than a technological curiosity, Lighter noted that more people are moving to densely populated urban centers at a time when our transportation infrastructure is buckling under the strain. It’s an argument frequently echoed by supporters of other outlandish transportation ideas like flying cars and hyperloops: all options need to be on the table when it comes to moving people around in the future.
“Go Fly hopes to inspire a future where we use these personal flying devices to get around, to move around,” she said. “At the end of our two-year competition, we hope we have new technology and frankly a whole new industry, where we have a mini Ford and a mini GM and a mini Chrysler at the start of the automotive industry, except now we have those mini companies at the start of a personal flying device industry.”
But when you analyze the statements of the Go Fly Prize’s sponsors and supporters, the overarching message is about inspiring the future generation of aerospace engineers, rather than strapping a miniature helicopter to grandma’s back and watching her get dizzy. Boeing’s chief technology officer Greg Hyslop said the competition “aligns with our company’s goals of inspiring people across the globe and changing the world through aerospace innovation.”
Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society and an adviser to Go Fly, told me that the goal of the contest was not to build and sell jetpacks like accessories, but rather inspire students and would-be engineers to get involved in VTOL.
“I don’t think Boeing wants to put into production small personal flying devices,” Hirschberg told me. “There’s no market for it. It’s not the product itself, it’s the inspiration to students. Really it’s about inspiring the next generation of aerospace engineers, scientists, and technicians so they don’t all go to Google.”
To be sure, there are jetpacks that exist outside the pages of Popular Science. A pair of daredevil Frenchmen, Yves Rossy and Vince Reffet, have been chasing 747s and buzzing above the Burj Khalifa and the Grand Canyon in their jetpacks for several years now. Dubai, a city obsessed with all things glossy and futuristic, has an order out for 20 jetpacks for its firefighters. A company called Jetpack Aviation flew its prototype beyond the stern, disapproving stare of Lady Liberty in 2015. And Google founder Larry Page is aiming to have a consumer model of his weird, lake-skimming Kitty Hawk Flyer available by the end of this year.
Any of these types of flying devices would qualify for entry in the Go Fly Prize, Lighter said. Jetpack, flying car, and hoverbikes will all be considered if submitted. And if the contest’s parameters for a winning entry sound vague, it’s by design. “So right now, the technology that we are asking people to build doesn’t exist,” she said. “We are about catalyzing the creation of the new technology.”
EU antitrust regulators will rule in the “next few months” whether Alphabet’s Google abused its dominance of internet searches and other areas, a senior European Commission official said on Monday, an outcome that could lead to a hefty fine.
The world’s most popular internet search engine has been in the Commission’s crosshairs since 2010 over the promotion of its own shopping service in internet searches at the expense of the services of rivals.
The EU competition enforcer opened a second front against Google last year as it charged the company with using its dominant Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals.
It has since leveled a third charge, that of blocking rivals in online search advertising. This relates to Google’s “AdSense for Search” platform, in which Google acts as an intermediary for websites such as online retailers, telecoms operators or newspapers. These searches produce results that include search ads.
“In the next few months, we will reach a decision on the Google cases, Google search, AdSense and to me the most interesting is Android,” Tommaso Valletti, the Commission’s chief competition economist, told a conference organized by the University of Oxford Centre for Competition Law and Policy.
The Commission has already warned Google that it would be fined if found guilty of breaching EU antitrust rules. Sanctions could reach 10 percent of annual global turnover for each case.
Alphabet made consolidated revenues of around $90 billion in 2016.
Google has in the past rejected the accusations, saying that its innovations had increased choice for European consumers and promoted competition.
It made three unsuccessful attempts to settle the internet search case without any finding of wrongdoing and sanctions with European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s predecessor, Joaquin Almunia.
The App Store has several programs that borrow the iPhone’s camera and use it to display a magnified view of objects in front of the device, but the current iOS 10 system software comes with its own Magnifier function. This tool is part of Apple’s suite of Accessibility features.
To use the Magnifier on an iOS 10 device, open the Settings icon and select General. On the General settings screen, choose Accessibility and then Magnifier. On the next screen, tap the button to the On position. Press the Home button to return to the iPhone’s main screen.
Now, when you want to read the fine print on the page or need to get a close-up look at something, press the iPhone’s Home button three times quickly. This triple-click action (also known as the Accessibility Shortcut) brings up the Magnifier and any other preconfigured functions geared toward users with impaired vision, hearing or motor skills.
When you have the Magnifier open in a dark restaurant, tap the lightning bolt icon on the screen to turn on the iPhone’s flash for a steady stream of bright light. Tap the Filters icon to change the color cast on the screen. You can zoom in by dragging the slider on the screen and tap the padlock icon to lock the camera’s focus.
If you want to freeze the frame, tap the round camera shutter button. Once the frame is frozen, you can zoom to the part you want to see better. Press your finger on the screen and select Save Image if you want to keep a copy in your Camera Roll. Tap the shutter button to unfreeze the frame, and press the Home button to leave the Magnifier.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday tightened rules for where patent lawsuits can be filed in a decision that may make it harder for so-called patent “trolls” to launch sometimes dodgy patent cases in friendly courts, a major irritant for high-tech giants like Apple and Alphabet Inc’s Google.
The justices sided 8-0 with beverage flavoring company TC Heartland LLC in its legal battle with food and beverage company Kraft Heinz Co, ruling that patent infringement suits can be filed only in courts located in the jurisdiction where the targeted company is incorporated. Justice Neil Gorsuch did not participate in the decision.
The decision overturned a ruling last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a Washington-based patent court, that said patent suits are fair game anywhere a defendant company’s products are sold.
Individuals and companies that generate revenue by suing over patents instead of making products have been dubbed “patent trolls.”
The ruling is likely to lessen the steady flow of patent litigation filed in a single federal court district in rural East Texas because of its reputation for having rules and juries that favor plaintiffs bringing infringement suits.
The dispute began when Heartland, a subsidiary of Heartland Consumer Products Holdings, sought to transfer a patent infringement suit Kraft filed against it in Delaware federal court to Heartland’s home base in Indiana.
Heartland said it has no presence in Delaware and 98 percent of its sales are outside of that state, but the appeals court denied the transfer last year.
Even though the lawsuit was not filed in Texas, the arguments in the case touched on the peculiar fact that the bulk of patent litigation in the United States flows to the Eastern District of Texas, far from the centers of technology and innovation in the United States.
More than 40 percent of all patent lawsuits are filed in East Texas. Of those, 90 percent are brought by “patent trolls,” according to a study published in a Stanford Law School journal.
Limiting patent lawsuits to where a defendant company is incorporated would potentially make it harder to get to trial or score lucrative jury verdicts.
The Federal Circuit denied the transfer by relying on one of its precedents from 1990, which loosened the geographic limits on patent cases. Heartland urged the Supreme Court to overturn that decision, arguing that the high court’s own precedent from 1957 held that patent suits are governed by a specific law allowing suits only where defendants are incorporated.
On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed with Heartland. Writing the opinion for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said that, contrary to the Federal Circuit’s rationale, the U.S. Congress did not change the rules over where patent suits may be filed since the 1957 decision.
FILE PHOTO: The Facebook logo is displayed on the company’s website in Bordeaux, France, February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo
Leaked Facebook Inc (FB.O) documents show how the social media company moderates issues such as hate speech, terrorism, pornography and self-harm on its platform, the Guardian reported, citing internal guidelines seen by the newspaper.
New challenges such as “revenge porn” have overwhelmed Facebook’s moderators who often have just ten seconds to make a decision, the Guardian said. The social media company reviews more than 6.5 million reports of potentially fake accounts a week, the newspaper added.
Many of the company’s content moderators have concerns about the inconsistency and peculiar nature of some of the policies. Those on sexual content, for example, are said to be the most complex and confusing, the Guardian said.
Facebook had no specific comment on the report but said safety was its overriding concern.
“Keeping people on Facebook safe is the most important thing we do. We work hard to make Facebook as safe as possible while enabling free speech. This requires a lot of thought into detailed and often difficult questions, and getting it right is something we take very seriously”, Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management Monica Bickert said in a statement.
Facebook confirmed that it was using software to intercept graphic content before it went on the website, but it was still in its early stages.
The leaked documents included internal training manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts, the Guardian said.
The newspaper gave the example of Facebook policy that allowed people to live-stream attempts to self-harm because it “doesn’t want to censor or punish people in distress.”
Facebook moderators were recently told to “escalate” to senior managers any content related to “13 Reasons Why,” the Netflix original drama series based on the suicide of a high school student, because it feared inspiration of copycat behavior, the Guardian reported.
Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the documents published on the Guardian website.
For Kris Hagerman, chief executive of UK-based cyber security firm Sophos Group Plc, the past week could have been bad. The WannaCry “ransomware” attack hobbled some of its hospital customers in Britain’s National Health Service, forcing them to turn away ambulances and cancel surgeries.
The company quickly removed a boast on its website that “The NHS is totally protected with Sophos.” In many industries, that sort of stumble would likely hit a company’s reputation hard.
Yet on Monday, three days after the global malware attack was first detected, Sophos stock jumped more than 7 percent to set a record high and climbed further on Wednesday after the company raised its financial forecasts.
As for most other cyber security firms, highly publicized cyber attacks are good for business, even though experts say such attacks underscore the industry’s failings.
“We are making good progress and are doing a good job,” Hagerman said in an interview this week. “People ask ‘How come you haven’t solved the cyber crime problem?’ and it’s a little like saying ‘You human beings have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, how come you haven’t solved the crime problem?'”
Hagerman pointed out that his company only claimed to protect 60 percent of NHS affiliates and that other factors contributed to the disaster at the hospitals.
“They have their own budgets. They have their own approach to IT generally and IT security,” Hagerman said of individual hospitals, which pick their own operating systems, patching cycles and network setups. Microsoft Corp had issued a patch in March for the flaw WannaCry exploited in Windows operating systems.
Yet Hagerman acknowledged that Sophos did not update its basic antivirus software to block WannaCry until hours after it hit customers.
Security experts say hospitals, where the stakes are especially high, represent a case study in how legacy industries need to up their cyber security game.
“We’ve tolerated a pretty poor level of effectiveness, because so far the consequences of failure have been acceptable,” said Josh Corman, a cyber security industry veteran now working on related issues at the Atlantic Council and a member of a healthcare security task force established by the U.S. Congress.
“We are going to see failure measured in loss of life and a hit to GDP, and people will be very surprised.”
Some long-lived medical devices have more than a thousand vulnerabilities, Corman said, and perhaps 85 percent of U.S. medical institutions have no staff qualified for basic cyber security tasks such as patching software, monitoring threat advisories and separating networks from one another.
Increasingly serious cyber security problems are partly an inevitable consequence of the growing complexity of digital technology.
But there are other causes too, including a lack of accountability that stems from the wide range of technology handlers: computer software vendors, antivirus suppliers, in-house professionals, consultants and various regulators.
Ultimately, Corman said, hospitals need to hire solid cyber security people instead of another nurse or two.
GOOD FOR BUSINESS
“What’s needed is punishment of the negligent,” said Ross Anderson, a University of Cambridge pioneer in studying the economics of information security, referring to the hospitals that did not stop WannaCry.
“This is not about technology. This is about people fouling up in ways people would get a pink slip for” in less-insulated environments, he said, meaning they would lose their jobs.
For now, though, there are few signs of any revamp in large institutions’ approach to cyber security – and little incentive for contractors in the cyber security industry to change.
Sophos was not the only company whose stock rose on Monday, as the global scale of WannaCry became apparent. Shares of U.S.-based FireEye Inc and Qualys Inc both rose more than 5 percent.
But Sophos stood out, aided by higher expectations for a product the company introduced last year to fend off ransomware – so called because the authors of the malware demand a ‘ransom’ to restore a user’s infected computer – which worked at the hospitals that had installed it.
“It’s good news for our business,” one Sophos employee, who asked not to be named, told Reuters this week. “We were so inundated with people calling us.”
As summer draws to a close and fall and winter draw near, local tech startups prepare for the long road ahead.
Although Panama City is known for its hot summers, beautiful beaches, and spring breakers, it is becoming renowned along the Emerald Coast for its ability to launch successful technology businesses. The Business Innovation Center (BIC) on the FSU satellite campus and TechFarms, LLC, an independent for profit entity, both serve as incubators for tech startups in this community. Continue reading “Panama City Isn’t Just A Beach, It’s A Destination For Tech Startups”→