Rank #1: Harvesting tech shows up down on the farm as Brexit labor shortage looms
As it turns out, there are jobs where a human touch is — or has been — irreplaceable, like fruit picking. Soft, delicate fruits must be assessed for ripeness and then gently plucked without smooshing. But in Britain, one looming effect of Brexit is a shortage of cheap human labor, which has spawned a new flurry of interest in robots that can do the job.
Feb 03 2020
Rank #2: Quibi spending more than a billion wading into streaming wars. Luring subscribers will be key.
These days, we’ve all got a Las Vegas buffet of subscription streaming services to pick from. One new one called Quibi — short for quick bites — will launch in April and is only for your phone. Quibi was founded by former Disney executive and producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Meg Whitman is CEO. They gave a big presentation about the service last week at CES in Las Vegas. They’ve raised more than $1 billion and signed up a lot of big-name talent to create all new shows and movies. But no video will be longer than 10 minutes at a time.
Jan 14 2020
Rank #3: Sure, you can have your data … after reaching out to 150 brokers
Now that the California Consumer Privacy Act is in place, lots of researchers and consumers are testing out their new rights under the law to find out what information data companies have about them. It’s now possible to ask companies to delete that data if you so desire, but to really scrub yourself out of the data machine, you’re going have to put in some work. Luckily, Laura Noren, a vice president at Obsidian Security, is using her machete to hack through the data privacy jungle for us.
Jan 27 2020
Rank #4: How US businesses can prepare for an Iranian cyberattack
Intelligence and security experts say there is a real risk of cyberattacks on American businesses as retaliation after a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. It’s not exactly clear how this new front in warfare could play out. It could, however, be a big, bold attack on symbolic targets, like government websites or the power grid, which Iran openly claims responsibility for. The attacks could even be much more subtle, damaging but not immediately apparent.
Jan 08 2020
Rank #5: Can we count on tech to protect the online 2020 Census?
This year’s census is going digital — the first one in history to be available to complete online, instead of on paper. That’s fitting in a world that’s much more connected, compared to 10 years ago, but our online lives mean there’s some risks, too. Disinformation is a big one — mainly fake news designed to influence people’s thinking, which led to intense criticism of social media platforms after the 2016 elections. The Census Bureau is warning that false information could affect the number of people who take part in the upcoming Census.
Jan 20 2020
Rank #6: The next wave of driverless cars won’t have pedals or steering wheels. Is that allowed?
This week, Cruise, the self-driving car subsidiary of GM, introduced Origin, a fully autonomous vehicle that has no driving controls whatsoever. It’s meant to be a rolling pod that carries passengers on demand, almost like a small bus or train car. But are companies allowed to operate cars without steering wheels on public roads? Both Cruise and Waymo have pushed the federal government to lift requirements on equipment like pedals, steering wheels and mirrors, and they are allowed in certain conditions. States have their own rules. Although carmakers and safety advocates have been hoping for some clear guidance on what will and won’t be allowed nationwide, Jack Stewart, who covers transportation for Marketplace, says that’s not coming anytime soon.
Jan 24 2020
Rank #7: In William Gibson’s new novel, AI is actually the good guy
This week, Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai argued that we need to regulate artificial intelligence and also suggested a temporary ban on facial recognition technology. Microsoft President Brad Smith, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, also said we need to create ethical guidelines and rules for how AI should be used. In a new novel out this week by legendary sci-fi author William Gibson, the tech is good enough to decide for itself. The book is called “Agency,” and it’s a sequel to Gibson’s 2014 novel “The Peripheral.” In that book, a super technologically advanced future society can create new alternate histories called stubs for fun or influence the timeline leading to their own present. Gibson talks about “Agency” and the upcoming TV series based on “The Peripheral” with host Molly Wood.
Jan 22 2020