Technology

Google’s decision to work with China, not US, ‘unprecedented’: Peter Thiel

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel Opens a New Window. said on Sunday that his calls for the U.S. government Opens a New Window. to investigate Google Opens a New Window. are in an effort to see if there is any “foreign infiltration” at the tech Opens a New Window. giant. Thiel, a conservative who is an outlier among his peers in Silicon Valley, originally called for the federal investigation in mid-July at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C., accusing Google of working with China Opens a New Window. but not the U.S. government. The billionaire, who also sits on the board at Facebook, said Sunday that regardless of whether an American firm works with a civilian company in China, all technology is passed along to the communist nation’s military. “It’s not like the U.S., where you have different companies and different people and you have a government sector and a private sector and these things don’t always coordinate or work together,” Thiel told “Sunday Morning Futures.” “In China, these things are still tightly coordinated across the board.” In particular, Thiel said he is most concerned about Google’s sharing of its artificial intelligence called “DeepMind,” what he deems the tech firm’s “crown jewel.” DeepMind was founded in 2010 and purchased by Google four years later. The search giant opened its AI research lab in China, the same year that the nation amended its constitution to include a mandate that requires all research done inside the country to be shared with its armed forces (the People’s Liberation Army). “I think it is unprecedented in the last 100 years, or ever, that a major U.S. company refused to work with U.S. military and has worked with our geopolitical rival,” he said. “So this is not a liberal-conservative thing … this is absolutely unprecedented.” While Thiel stopped short of calling the company’s alleged links to China treasonous (though he has previously used the term regarding the same matter), he described the company’s self-image as “globalist,” “post-national” and “cosmopolitan,” adding that he believes “more that it’s incredibly insular.” The billionaire noted the first step toward making change is to talk about the issue. “This is an open secret in Silicon Valley,” Thiel said. “A lot of people think this is like kind of crazy what Google’s doing … And I sort of feel like I’m the little kid saying ‘the emperor has no clothes.’ It’s the secret hidden in plain sight.” A Google spokesperson called Thiel’s allegations “baseless” and said the company does not work with the Chinese military. “Our AI work in China is limited, with a small number of people working on global open source and education-related activities,” the spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement. “We are proud to continue our long history of work with the U.S. government, including the Department of Defense, in many areas including cybersecurity, recruiting and healthcare.” Thiel’s original comments also gained the attention of President Trump (whom Thiel supports), who said he will recommend various federal agencies, and possibly the Department of Justice, “take a look” into Google. “It’s a big statement when you say that Google is involved with China in not a very positive way for our country,” Trump, who referred to Thiel as a friend, told reporters at the White House. “So I think we’ll all look at that. I know that our other agencies will be looking at it and we’ll see if there’s any truth to it.”

And, we of course will keep on this developing story.  If Peter’s accusations are correct, then shame on Google.   That indeed would be treasonous.  We urge the Trump Administration to take a serious look into this, and then report back to we-the-people.  We need to know if Google is selling us out to the communist Chinese government and its military.

Swedes are getting implants in their hands to replace cash, credit cards

Thousands of people in Sweden are having futuristic microchips implanted into their skin to carry out everyday activities and replace credit cards and cash. More than 4,000 people have already had the sci-fi-ish chips, about the size of a grain of rice, inserted into their hands — with the pioneers predicting millions will soon join them as they hope to take it global. “It’s very ‘Black Mirror,’” Swedish scientist Ben Libberton told The Post of the similarity to the TV series highlighting futuristic scenarios. Like glorified smartwatches, the chips help Swedes monitor their health and even replace keycards to allow them to enter offices and buildings. They have particularly caught on, however, by enabling owners to pay in stores with a simple swipe of the hand, a big deal in a forward-looking country that is moving toward eliminating cash. The microchips were pioneered by former body piercer Jowan Österlund, who calls the technology a “moonshot” — and who told Fortune magazine that he’s been hit up by hopeful investors “on every continent except Antarctica.” “Tech will move into the body,” the Biohax International founder told the mag. “I am sure of that.” Österlund insists the technology is safe — but that has not stopped alarm bells from ringing, with some fearing a link to a doubling in cybercrime in the country over the last decade. Libberton, a British scientist based in Sweden, praised the “definitely exciting” potential health benefits of accurate health metrics taken from inside the body. “Think if the Apple Watch could measure things like blood glucose,” he told The Post. But he also fears the mass of highly personalized data and how it could be used. “The problem is, who owns this data?” he asked. “Do I get a letter from my insurance company saying premiums are going up before I know I’m ill? If I use the chip to buy lunch, go to the gym and go to work, will someone have all of this info about me? Is this stored and is it safe?” Libberton added, “It’s not just about the chip, but integration with other systems and data sharing.” And he fears Swedes are not giving enough thought to the potential dangers. “People have shown they’re happy to give up privacy for convenience,” he said. “The chip is very convenient, so could we accept our data being shared very widely before we know the risks?” The trend coincides with Sweden’s march toward going cashless, with notes and coins making up just 1 percent of Sweden’s economy. At the same time, the country has seen a dramatic decrease in some crimes — with just two bank robberies last year compared to 110 in 2008.

Look for this to come to America at some point..  But, hopefully not anytime soon.  Don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of this on oh so many levels.  There are the security and privacy concerns.  But, also..  How about big brother?!?  Way too many risks.  I guess let the Swedes be the guinea pig on this one for now..

Pentagon eyes expanding DARPA future warfare research office

The U.S. Department of Defense is close to expanding its legendary future warfare and technology agency DARPA by combining it with the Pentagon office in charge of adapting existing weapons to new uses, people familiar with the plans said. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency would absorb the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) and centralize more research units under the Pentagon’s Chief Technology Officer Michael Griffin. The combination would end an experiment with SCO that began as an attempt to adapt to future threats quickly and with less bureaucracy. SCO reported directly to the defense secretary, removing it from traditional bureaucratic channels at the Pentagon. If all of SCO’s $1.3 billion 2020 budget request were transferred to DARPA, DARPA would gain control over 37 percent more funding on top of its 2020 funding request of $3.5 billion. The SCO is charged with developing unexpected and game-changing capabilities to counter emerging threats. The SCO has looked into projects like swarming small drones and transforming the Raytheon Co-made Standard Missile 6, a defensive weapon, into an offensive weapon. Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, initiatives including hypersonic weapons, lasers and space-based projects. Last year, Congress asked the Pentagon to explore how it could shut down the SCO or transfer its functions to another entity. On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee rolled out its proposals for a $750 billion 2020 defense budget.

STUDY: The CNN Search Engine — Google Search Results Overwhelmingly Favor Mainstream Media

According to data compiled by Northwestern University, Google search results overwhelmingly favor CNN compared to other news sources, followed by the New York Times and the Washington Post. Of the top 20 news sources promoted by Google in its “top stories”, the top results on its News Search feature, just one was somewhat right-wing, Fox News. But Fox accounted for just three percent of the stories that appeared in “top stories,” compared to 10.9 percent for CNN, 6.5 percent for the New York Times, and 5.6 percent for the Washington Post. Other mainstream or left-wing media sources which represented the top 20 sources include ABC, CBS, NPR, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, BBC, The Verge, Al Jazeera, Politico, and the LA Times. 86 percent of all results in Google’s “top stories” came from the top 20. Of those, all but the three percent of Fox results came from left-wing or establishment news sources. Even mainstream media sources with a reputation for a right-of-center editorial line, like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post do not appear in the top 20.

Gee..  What a shocker.  Soo..  To be VERY clear..  If you Google anything, the top 20 results you’ll get will be links to sources from the dominantly liberal mainstream media.  And to think Dems in the House and in the Senate have actually been suggesting that “big tech” is in bed with Republicans.  This study more than suggests it’s just the exact opposite.  And, keep in mind, Northwester University near Chicago is not exactly a bastion of conservatism.  For more, click on the text above.

‘Spaceplane’ that flies 25 times faster than the speed of sound passes crucial test

A ‘spaceplane’ that flies 25 times faster than the speed of sound has successfully passed a crucial testing milestone. The hypersonic plane is so fast it could jet from London to New York in less than 60 minutes and transport you from the UK to Australia in four hours. Oxford-based Reaction Engines has been working with the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency, along with BAE Systems, to make the powerful aircraft. Reaction Engines has recently been testing a ‘pre-cooler’ for the plane, which is technology that would allow it to travel faster than ever before. The pre-cooler is critical in the plane’s development because it is required to stop the engine from melting by lowering the temperature of compressed air in the engine from more than 1,000°C to room temperature in one-twentieth of a second. Thousands of tubes inside the pre-cooler, which are thinner than human hair, contain liquid helium that can cool the air as it rushes past them. Until now, heat has been a limiting factor for how fast aircraft can travel, including Concorde which traveled at two times the speed of sound. This technology could now be combined with the spaceplane’s experimental engine, referred to as Sabre. Sabre is intended to be much lighter than a conventional rocket engine because it would carry less fuel-oxidant. It is being designed to draw oxygen into the engine to use for combustion from take off until it reaches just over 4,000 mph. After this point, the engine would need to burn liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen from on-board fuel tanks. The spaceplane would need to continue using this process until it reached 25 times the speed of sound to enter space. The company ultimately aims to create a reusable vehicle that has the fuel efficiency of a jet engine with the power of a rocket. Plans for the hypersonic plane don’t just include getting people around the world in a fraction of the time but also taking people or cargo into Space and back for just a fraction of the current cost.

Very cool!!    🙂

Apple gets ready for life after the iPhone with services push

On Monday, Apple will do something it has never done when making a product announcement — focus largely on other companies, not itself. Apple is expected to launch two services on March 25, including its rumored video streaming service, at an event in Cupertino, Calif. that will be attended by Hollywood celebrities such as JJ Abrams and Jennifer Aniston. This is in stark contrast to past events, which have largely featured tech journalists, Wall Street and industry analysts. As part of the video streaming service, Apple is expected to place a heavy emphasis on selling others’ services for them, according to a report in Recode. It will work similar to the App Store and Amazon’s successful Amazon Channels initiative, in that it will sell the services for them and take a cut of the transaction. Apple is also likely to unveil some of its own content, some of which stars Aniston as well as Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carrell and others. On Sunday, The New York Times reported that five of the first shows that Apple has funded as part of its big content push have already been completed. Apple, which has not yet given a name to the service, is also said to be wooing other cable companies, such as HBO, Starz and Showtime ahead of the launch, according to Bloomberg. Earlier this week, Apple unveiled new iPads, new iMacs and new AirPods. They were all introduced with simple press releases and without the usual fanfare Apple has given its products in the past, a stark reminder that Apple sees itself as more than just a consumer electronics company. CEO Tim Cook, who has become increasingly active in touting the company’s business outside of its iPhone, has previously said the company would double its service revenue by 2020 from 2016 levels. Revenue attributed to its Services-related business totaled $10.9 billion in its most recent quarter, up 19 percent year-over-year. To effort this along, Apple is said to be spending at least $1 billion on content, a venture that has been marred by reports of intrusion from Apple executives wary of content that might be considered overly graphic or anti-technology. Earlier this month, The New York Post reported that Cook has been seen on the set on one of the Apple-funded shows “See,” a futuristic sci-fi drama starring “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa. Several of the company’s top brass, including Cook himself, have given notes to writers and showrunners, a process that has been deemed “intrusive,” according to the Post’s sources. Apple’s push into television and movie making is being led by two executives it hired away from Sony, Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who were responsible for shows such as “Breaking Bad” and “The Goldberg’s.” Monness Crespi analyst Brian White, arguably Apple’s biggest supporter on Wall Street, believes the event will kick into high-gear the mindset that Apple is trying to shape how it is viewed. Apple is no longer just about iDevices, but rather a ubiquitous and indispensable part of everyone’s lives, White believes. “In our view, Apple’s digital ecosystem remains a major differentiator, developing hardware, software and services to create a unique experience with devices working seamlessly together on Planet Apple,” White wrote in a note to investors. White added that Apple, which had more than 1.4 billion active devices at the end of its most recent quarter, will be well-positioned as more devices become a computer, allowing it to sell more services. “As more ‘things’ become a computer, we believe Apple is well positioned to benefit and unveil even more new services,” White continued.

For more, click on the text above.

Nude photos, tax statements and more: Old USB drives contain highly sensitive info

A whopping two-thirds of secondhand USB drives contain recoverable data from the previous owner, including some highly sensitive and personal information, according to a new study. The study, done by the University of Hertfordshire and commissioned by Comparitech, said almost 70 percent of secondhand USB flash drives sold in the U.S. and U.K. still contain recoverable data from their previous owners. Researchers purchased 200 USB memory sticks – 100 in the US, 100 in the UK – from eBay, secondhand shops, and traditional auctions, Comparitech said. Of the 100 drives purchased in the U.S., 64 had data deleted but it could easily be recovered. The corresponding number was 47 for the U.K. “Researchers discovered a wide range of intimate, private, and sensitive files,” Paul Bischoff, a privacy advocate who writes for Comparitech.com, said. That includes nude photos, business documents, ID scans, job applications, wage slips, private memos, tax statements, receipts, and medical documents. Click here for details of some of the more notable recovered data: