Tech companies are facing mounting pressure to show what’s under the hood of their artificial intelligence tools, which guide driverless cars, enable facial recognition apps, decide what ads to show internet users and much more. The decision-making software that automates such tasks is usually a closely guarded secret. Advocates for transparency say that tech companies should reveal more information about how these systems work when they are used to guide public policy. Continue reading “Will Tech Companies Have to Divulge AI Secrets?”
A major computer chip security flaw will continue to roil the tech industry for years to come. The problem affects a staggering amount of modern information technology around the globe, including PCs, smartphones and servers that run widely used cloud computing apps. The issue stems from processors from Intel, AMD and ARM, which are at risk of exposing sensitive data to hackers, such as passwords and encryption keys.
The vulnerabilities were discovered in June by security researchers at Google, who quickly reported it to the chipmakers and other hardware and software companies, prompting a rapid behind-the-scenes company response. The problem was made public on January 3 by the tech website The Register, causing tech firms, particularly Intel, to scramble to disclose more information. Continue reading “Tech Companies are Racing to Fix a Chip Bug, But Threats Will Linger”
As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to look ahead to a new year in technology. Some of the key tech trends that bear watching closely in 2018 follow. We’ll be covering these topics—and many others—next year in our Alerts. As always, please send along any questions or comments about technology and I’ll do my best to answer. Continue reading “Key Technology Trends to Watch in 2018”
In a big win for internet providers, federal telecom regulators are ditching utility-style internet rules. As we predicted in July, the five-member Federal Communications Commission will ditch the net neutrality rules that went into effect in 2015. They will split along party lines, with the Republican majority voting to do away with the 2015 framework at the FCC’s upcoming December meeting.
The Obama-era rules, implemented when Democrats had a 3-2 majority on the commission, barred web providers from blocking or throttling lawful content. They also banned so-called fast lanes—special agreements between web providers and content makers to speed up their data. Continue reading “Internet Regulation Food Fight Far from Finished”
The race to make driverless car service a reality is revving up. Carmakers are ramping up investment in an array of technologies fundamental to autonomous vehicles. The industry poured more than $80 billion into self-driving technology recently, according to a tally by the Brookings Institution spanning August 2014-June 2017. It’s a full-fledged spending spree on everything from artificial intelligence software to sensors to computer chips.
“Every manufacturer in the world wants to be an early mover—or at least avoid competitive disadvantage,” notes the Brookings report. Investments by car companies, tech giants and venture capitalists will only accelerate. The whole industry is riding on more than a decade of development, steep price drops on sensors and other key hardware and breakthroughs in artificial intelligence software. Carmakers know they are also competing outside of their industry—against Apple, Google and China’s Baidu to name a few—on the technology front. Continue reading “The Driverless Car Race Shifts into High Gear”
Apple’s new facial recognition technology will bring facial biometrics into the mainstream. The tech giant’s new $1,000 iPhone X will let users scan their face for added security when paying at the grocery store or signing into a bank account. The high-end phone is one of three new iPhone models, and the only version with facial recognition. But the top-tier iPhone X could end up netting one-third of all sales of the new iPhone fleet. That would put the new tech in the hands of 70 million or more users around the world within 12 months, barring severe shipping delays or supply shortages. Continue reading “Apple Brings Facial Recognition to the Masses”
Specialized computer chips are giving cars more brainpower to rapidly crunch data and assess their next move. Chip makers are designing new silicon that can run artificial intelligence software to speed up computing tasks, both in the car and in the cloud.
The first place to look for extra smarts: Data centers that are adding AI chips that will improve driverless software. Tech giants Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, along with Chinese companies Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent, are racing to scoop up the server chips for their massive data centers around the globe. The chips accelerate data-intensive tasks, such as running voice recognition and analyzing photos, while using less power. Continue reading “Driverless Cars Are Getting Smarter”
The rise of the Internet of Things isn’t just about superfast speeds and vast data transmissions. New options for transmitting small amounts of data at slower speeds also have the potential to transform billions of everyday products by connecting them to the web for the first time.
Advances in low-power wireless technology will spark stronger sales of connected products, from mobile medical kits to warehouse lighting. The companies involved in the design of wireless chips and the products they go into are vying to establish themselves as the go-to suppliers for these nascent markets. To conserve power, the radio signals involved work at much slower speeds and pass along far less data. The chips are designed to run off of batteries for up to 10 years by going into a “deep sleep” power-saving mode. Continue reading “Emerging Wireless Tech is Revving Up the Internet of Things”
Apple faces a huge test next month. The world’s largest company will unveil an updated edition of its flagship product, the iPhone. The question is, can Apple’s latest model “wow” consumers and investors alike?
Apple’s near-term success rides on the fate of the new phone. The iPhone first came on the scene in 2007 and has become Apple’s profit engine, accounting for a whopping 60%-70% the company’s sales. Much of Apple’s ecosystem, from apps to music, stems from the device. The new phone debuts in early September and starts shipping soon after. Here’s what to expect: Continue reading “Will Apple’s Next Smartphone Be a Hit?”
There’s no end in sight to paid TV customers joining the cord cutters in droves. The media business, reeling from the upheaval, is racing to adjust to this swift disruption that is rerouting billions of dollars in advertising, subscriptions and programming fees from traditional TV firms to tech giants and others.
A new set of winners is likely to emerge in the aftermath of the shake-up as incumbents try to ward off rising startups and tech behemoths. Count on even more turmoil over the next five to 10 years as new technology emerges, from virtual reality to next-generation 5G wireless, that further upends the way people consume media.