Tag Archives: Technology

Facebook will test Messenger ads worldwide

You might be cringing at the thought of seeing ads in Facebook Messenger, but Facebook doesn’t appear to have those reservations. The social network has revealed that it’s expanding its beta test of home screen Messenger ads worldwide in the weeks ahead. It’ll be a slow rollout, but the targeted promos should be widely visible by the end of 2017. At least the company isn’t shy about why it’s pushing forward.

 

 

Messenger product lead Stan Chudnovsky tells VentureBeat that it’s a simple matter of income: advertising is “how we’re going to be making money right now.” There are “other business models” under consideration, he says, but they all tie into ads. In short: don’t expect Facebook to have second thoughts as long as it’s making billions of dollars in profit from ads.

 

 

Facebook does care about the kinds of ads you see. While it’s fine with ads kicking you to a website, it would prefer that ads lead to chats with businesses. You’re more likely to respond to an ad if it takes you to another conversation inside the chat app, Chudnovsky says. The question is whether or not people will simply roll with the changes or balk at them. It’s entirely likely that people will just shrug and move on, but there is a chance this could steer some users toward ad-free alternatives.

Source:

https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/11/facebook-tests-messenger-ads-worldwide/

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Conductive 3D printed nanotubes developed in South Korea could advance wearable technology

As technology becomes more and more enmeshed within our everyday lives, it’s surely only a matter of time before more of us start wearing it on our bodies. It’s been dismissed as a fad, but according to a 2014 study by Forbes, 71% of 16- to 24-year-olds want wearable tech. After a couple of false starts with products like Google Glass, we could soon be seeing some more promising developments in this field, thanks in part to a recent breakthrough by scientists in South Korea. They have come up with a new way of 3D printing electronic microstructures, which will be useful in the construction of all kinds of components, particularly for wearable tech.

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The development of conceptually new technology applications is dependent in part on producing new structures and shapes for highly conductive materials. The smaller the structure, the smaller the electrical components need to be, and this gives designers and inventors more freedom to implement technology in new ways. 3D printing has been used in the past to make tiny structures that can be used for electronic components, but the technology was relatively limited in usage, according to the head of the South Korean research team, Seol Seung-Kwon. He and the rest of his scientists from the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute were able to 3D print highly conductive carbon nanotubes by developing a new type of printing nozzle.

The statement from the researchers says that, “To achieve high-quality printing with continuous ink flow through a confined nozzle geometry, that is, without agglomeration and nozzle clogging, we (designed) a polyvinylpyrrolidone-wrapped MWNT ink with uniform dispersion and appropriate rheological properties.” What this breakthrough has achieved is to make the advantages of 3D printing technology, such as its broad design scope and fast, cheap prototyping capabilities, available to electrical engineers without the manufacturing limitations that were previously stalling progress. Engineers making use of 3D printing can now have signficantly more control over the ink that they are using to produce 3D structures.

Making the tiny components needed for wearable technology is one new application that is particularly desirable. Advanced wearables require a bendable material that is still able to integrate a huge amount of miniature circuit boards and components. The carbon nanotubes that can now be 3D printed would fit this requirement perfectly, due to their high level of conductivity and their ability to be fitted together into a complex, flexible structure.

Source:

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20170612-conductive-3d-printed-nanotubes-developed-in-south-korea-could-advance-wearable-technology.html

Amazon launches Prime Reload, offering 2% back on purchases funded through debit cards

Amazon today is launching a new perk for Prime members that will give them cash back on purchases – even if they’re not paying for items using an Amazon cashback credit card. Through a new rewards program called Amazon Prime Reload, Prime members can receive 2 percent back on purchases when they first load funds into their Amazon Balance using a debit card attached to their bank’s checking account.

Amazon Prime Reload is meant to encourage more people to sign up for Prime, the $99 per year membership program that includes free, 2-day shipping on millions of products, plus same-day shipping in select markets, along with a host of other features like access to Amazon’s Netflix-like service Prime Video, music streaming via Prime Music, free e-books and magazines through Prime Reading, Audible Channels, unlimited photo backup and storage via Prime Photos, Twitch Prime, early access to deals and much more.

However, Amazon Prime Reload has another advantage for the retailer, as well – it may encourage people to load large lump sums into their Amazon Balance, in order to ensure they never accidentally pay for an item through their debit or credit card directly, therefore missing out on the cash back option.

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And with additional funds just sitting around in their Amazon account, that could prompt users to make more impromptu purchases, as they won’t have to do the math as to whether the item is something they can afford. Effectively, it feels the same as having a Gift Card balance ready to be used.

In fact, Amazon Prime Reload is built on top of the Gift Card infrastructure that’s already in place, according to the page detailing how the new service works.

Here, Amazon explains how to get started earning rewards.

First, you’ll need a Prime membership if you haven’t yet signed up. Next, you’ll need to provide both your debit card number and U.S. bank account information (account number and routing number) to Amazon, along with your U.S. driver’s license number. You then continue to reload your Gift Card Balance – aka your Amazon Balance – so you have funds available for use when shopping.

Your 2 percent rewards will be added to your Gift Card Balance every time you reload, Amazon explains, instead of being calculated on a per transaction basis.

Amazon says it asks for both your debit card number and bank information because it will sometimes route orders through your debit card to fulfill your reload requests faster. (It doesn’t say when or why that would be the case, however.)

Reloads will make funds available within 5 minutes, in most cases. However some reloads may be delayed up to 4 hours if a closer review is necessary, says Amazon.

Source:

Amazon launches Prime Reload, offering 2% back on purchases funded through debit cards

The future of healthcare: AI, augmented reality and drug-delivering drones

Imagine being paralyzed and having an implanted microchip that could action a message from your brain to move your prosthetic arm. Or a diagnostic system that could pick up Alzheimer’s a decade before you develop any symptoms. Or a 3D printing machine that could print a pill with a combination of drugs tailored just for you.

Sound far-fetched? Then meet Dr Daniel Kraft, a Harvard-trained oncologist-cum-entrepreneur-cum-healthcare futurologist. The faculty chair for medicine and founder of Exponential Medicine at the Silicon Valley-based Singularity University, no one could be more serious – or ambitious – about the revolutionary impact that technology will have on the future of healthcare.

The internet of things, constant connectivity, ever cheaper hardware, big data, machine learning: Kraft’s list of converging “meta-trends” goes on. “This set of technologies, especially when meshed together, offers a real opportunity to reshape and reinvent healthcare around the planet,” he says.

Kraft’s vision is of a patient-centred, tech-led healthcare system (as opposed to “sickcare”, as he defines the current system) that promises to turn the medical world on its head. But what implications does it hold for future business of healthcare?

Big pharma is one of the first in line for a shake-up, Kraft warns. Today drug firms’ profits are based on blockbuster drugs for pervasive diseases. But what if medical science reveals (as it is doing) that there are really hundreds of sub-types of diabetes, say, or lung cancer? And what if a patient’s full genome sequence can show the likelihood of a blockbuster treatment not working?

“There’s a spectrum of diseases with different molecular pathways and pharma is going to have to adapt to smaller markets in terms of individual drugs,” Kraft says.

On the flipside, the prospect of people being able to take part in clinical trials on their smartphones promises to drastically speed up the time drugs can get to market. Prescribing an app along with a pill will also become commonplace, he suggests, enabling patients to keep on track with their medicine and adjust their dosage if required. Both potentially promise big returns for the pharmaceutical industry.

Drug distribution is set for a radical overhaul too. Digital device manufacturers are already experimenting with so-called “implantables” that use bioelectric sensors to track patients’ vital signs and release a drug dose as and when required. At the other end of the spectrum, drones are now being used to deliver drugs to remote areas or disaster zones. Matternet, one of 50 or so start-up firms to have spun out of Singularity University, has been doing exactly that in Haiti recently.

Kraft warns that radical change is afoot for healthcare providers as well. Imagine a scenario where patients can compare the results of different hospitals or even individual doctors? Or where patients don’t need to come to a clinic once a month for an electrocardiogram but instead wear a smart Band-Aid “patch” that sends the same information 24/7 to their doctor’s surgery? Patient power, in other words.

Source:

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/nov/01/the-future-of-healthcare-ai-augmented-reality-and-drug-delivering-drones

How Digital Technology Is Changing Farming in Africa

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the world population will reach 9.1 billion by 2050, and to feed that number of people, global food production will need to grow by 70%. For Africa, which is projected to be home to about 2 billion people by then, farm productivity must accelerate at a faster rate than the global average to avoid continued mass hunger.

The food challenges in Africa are multipronged: The population is growing, but it is threatened by low farm productivity exacerbated by weather changes, shorter fallow periods, and rural-urban migration that deprives farming communities of young people. In Northern Nigeria, herdsmen are moving south looking for pasture as their ancestral lands face severe deforestation. In Somalia, the Shebelle River, which supports many farmers, is drying up, causing additional pains in the war-torn country. The combination of higher food demand, stunted yield potential, and increasingly worse farmland must stimulate a redesigned agro-sector for assured food security. Agriculture accounts for more than 30% of the continent’s GDP and employs more than 60% of its working population.

For decades, African governments have used many policy instruments to improve farm productivity. But most farmers are still only marginally improving yields. Some continue to use traditional processes that depend heavily on historical norms, or use tools like hoes and cutlasses that have not evolved for centuries. In some Igbo communities in Nigeria, where I live, it’s common for farmers to plant according to the phases of the moon and attribute variability in their harvests to gods rather than to their own methods.

Those that do look to leverage new technologies run into financial issues. Foreign-made farm technologies remain unappealing to farmers in Africa because they are cumbersome for those who control, on average, 1.6 hectares of farmland. What’s more, less than 1% of commercial lending goes into agriculture (usually to the few large-scale farmers), so smaller farms cannot acquire such expensive tools.

But this is about to change. African entrepreneurs are now interested in how farmers work and how they can help improve yields. The barrier of entry into farming technology has dropped, as cloud computing, computing systems, connectivity, open-source software, and other digital tools have become increasingly affordable and accessible. Entrepreneurs can now deliver solutions to small-size African farms at cost models that farmers can afford.

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For example, aerial images from satellites or drones, weather forecasts, and soil sensors are making it possible to manage crop growth in real time. Automated systems provide early warnings if there are deviations from normal growth or other factors. Zenvus, a Nigerian precision farming startup (which I own), measures and analyzes soil data like temperature, nutrients, and vegetative health to help farmers apply the right fertilizer and optimally irrigate their farms. The process improves farm productivity and reduces input waste by using analytics to facilitate data-driven farming practices for small-scale farmers. UjuziKilimo, a Kenyan startup, uses big data and analytic capabilities to transform farmers into a knowledge-based community, with the goal of improving productivity through precision insights. This helps to adjust irrigation and determine the needs of individual plants. And SunCulture, which sells drip irrigation kits that use solar energy to pump water from any source, has made irrigation affordable.

Beyond precision farming, financial solutions designed for farmers are blossoming. FarmDrive, a Kenyan enterprise, connects unbanked and underserved smallholder farmers to credit, while helping financial institutions cost-effectively increase their agricultural loan portfolios. Kenyan startup M-Farm and Cameroon’s AgroSpaces provide pricing data to remove price asymmetry between farmers and buyers, making it possible for farmers to earn more.

Ghana-based Farmerline and AgroCenta deploy mobile and web technologies that bring farming advice, weather forecasts, market information, and financial tips to farmers, who are traditionally out of reach, due to barriers in connectivity, literacy, or language. Sokopepe uses SMS and web tools to offer market information and farm record management services to farmers.

Source:

https://hbr.org/2017/05/how-digital-technology-is-changing-farming-in-africa

Apple won’t let apps annoy you with their own review prompts anymore

Apple is putting an end to the scourge of review prompts that seemed to pop up inside of some apps every few days. In a change to the App Store rules this week, Apple said it will now enforce hard limits on how review prompts show up and how often users have to see them. The changes were first spotted by 9to5Mac.

 

Under the new rules, developers will no longer be able to display review prompts however and whenever they’d like. Instead, there’ll be two key restrictions that should reduce headaches for everyone: First, apps will be required to use a new Apple-made review prompt, which allows users to leave a rating without exiting an app. That’s a huge convenience that may well get a lot more people to leave ratings. Apple introduced the rating prompt a few months ago, but it’s been optional up until now.

The second restriction is on how often that prompt can show up. An app can only display the prompt three times a year, regardless of how often it’s been updated. And once a user has left a rating, they’ll never see it again. Users also have the option to completely disable app review prompts inside the iOS Settings app, preventing the prompts from annoying them at all.

This seems like it should be a win-win for users and developers. People have been annoyed by app review prompts for years, and this update seems to remedy the problem. It may even make people more interested in leaving a review, because it can be done without exiting the app and because it means they’ll be done with the prompt for good. If that results in more reviews — and reviews from users who aren’t annoyed about switching apps — that’s a good thing for developers, too.

 

Part of the reason developers have their apps show review prompts so often is because Apple has always reset an app’s rating after every update, even very minor ones. With the redesigned App Store, developers will have the option to change that, so that their app’s ratings are maintained between updates. That’s likely to become a common choice — for good apps, at least — since users will only be able to get prompted for a rating once.

Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/9/15768196/apple-ending-annoying-app-store-review-prompts

Facebook to fund training of 3,000 Michigan workers for digital jobs

Facebook will fund the training of 3,000 Michigan workers for jobs in digital marketing over the next two years, the social media giant’s COO Sheryl Sandberg announced Thursday during a visit to Detroit.

Grand Circus, a computer coding training firm that’s part of Dan Gilbert’s family of companies, will offer the 10-week training courses in Detroit and Grand Rapids in partnership with Facebook.

Sandberg told Crain’s that the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company’s funding of the training is designed to help fill a growing shortage of computer coding jobs and develop talent for a future possible expansion into Michigan.

“Auto is a very important industry for us,” Sandberg said in a interview with Crain’s. “This is a growing part of our business and we’re hoping we can expand here because our business will demand it.”

The training courses at Grand Circus’ offices in the David Broderick Tower next to Grand Circus Park will begin in July, said Damien Rocchi, co-founder and CEO of Grand Circus.

“Facebook’s intention is to do this nationally, but this has been launched here (first),” Rocchi told Crain’s. “I think it’s an endorsement for the tech community that we’ve built here and the sort of traction we’ve been getting in Detroit over the last five or six years.”

Grand Circus is about to graduate its 50th class of coders this summer and said it has 650 graduates working in 120 companies across the state.

Ellen Zimmer, 55, went through Grand Circus’ 10-week training last fall for front-end website development and landed a job at Quicken Loans Inc. in February as a software project manager — after spending 10 years out of the workforce.

“It enabled me to form a network so I knew who was hiring, what kind of skills they were looking,” said Zimmer, who had a previous career in early internet marketing at at the former Ameritech Corp. “It brought me up to current.”

During an announcement speech, Sandberg highlighted Zimmer’s story as “an example” of how training experienced workers in new skills can help get in-demand tech jobs.

“The world changed an awful lot in those 10 years you were out of the workplace,” Sandberg said to Zimmer. “But it didn’t matter because what Ellen needed — she had the core skills — she needed an opportunity to learn and she got that here.”

Sandberg said Facebook will work closely with Grand Circus on training Michigan workers in the areas where Facebook and other companies need help.

“When we can find a great local partner like this that we can partner with to help provide the training people need and we can bring them what we know, it’s just a great opportunity for us to develop people who will go to do great work with Facebook and other local companies,” she said.

Facebook is adding emphasis on getting Grand Circus to train women and racial minorities for jobs in digital and social media marketing, Sandberg said.

“We want to develop diverse talent,” she said. “And we want to make sure that we can get the talent that we need. And some of these people go on to work for other companies — that’s great.”

Facebook operates a small sales office in Birmingham and Sandberg did not rule out a future expansion of the technical end of website’s business in Michigan. “We always start with sales offices,” she said.

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Gov. Rick Snyder praised Facebook’s job training initiative.

“This commitment Facebook is making to Michigan shows their confidence in the state and its residents,” Snyder said Thursday in a statement. “Convergence between the tech and manufacturing sectors is becoming more prominent throughout Michigan and the world, making this type of partnership between employers and education to grow the professional trades more important than ever before.”

Sandberg visited Grand Circus’ offices Thursday morning and had a private meeting with Gilbert before announcing the job training initiative with Rocchi before a crowd of Grand Circus graduates, many of whom land jobs down Woodward Avenue at Gilbert’s Quicken Loans.

In her one-day visit to Detroit, Sandberg went from Grand Circus to General Motors Co.’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant to get a tour with GM CEO Mary Barra.

Before the tour, Sandberg and Barra talked about the convergence of automobiles and computer technology in a Facebook Live video recorded at the assembly plant Barra once ran as general manager.

“I think the fact that you’re giving them that core skill of coding, which is going to be necessary in every industry, is just so important,” Barra said of Facebook’s job training initiative.

Source:

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20170608/NEWS/170609851/facebook-to-fund-training-of-3000-michigan-workers-for-digital-jobs

Musk predicts AI will be better than humans at everything in 2030

In response to an article by New Scientist predicting that artificial intelligence will be able to beat humans at everything and anything by 2060, Elon Musk replied that he believed the milestone would be much sooner – around 2030 to 2040.

The New Scientist Study based its story from a survey of more than 350 AI researchers who believe there is a 50% chance that AI will outperform humans in all tasks within 45 years.

At a high level, the data is not shocking, but more of an interesting tidbit from the future. Dive into the details of when those very same AI experts believe machines will be better at specific tasks than humans and things get a little creepy. Experts believe they will be better at translating languages than humans by 2024 – something that is already being done on-the-fly by Google for webpages and for spoken word via Google Translate.

High school students everywhere will be outclassed by AI that is estimated to outperform them in essay writing by 2026. AI moves in to takeover truck driving by 2027 thought we believe this will happen much sooner based on the progress Tesla is making with autonomous driving. Tesla has a fully autonomous cross-country trip planned for later this year that, if successful, will pave the way for autonomous vehicle technology to go mainstream.

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The estimates get stranger with AI predicted to be able to write a bestselling book better than humans by 2049 and to perform extremely complex, dynamic surgery by 2053. All human jobs are expected to be automated within 120 years which is admittedly quite a bit farther out than 2060 but that is representative of the long tail of increasingly smaller tasks.

Elon is not all rainbows and sunshine with AI which is why he created the non-profit OpenAI organization. He co-founded the organization specifically to map out a path forward for AI research and development, and to ensure that AI is created in an intentional and safe manner.

OpenAI is a non-profit AI research company, discovering and enacting the path to safe artificial general intelligence.

While the individual tasks or groups of tasks that comprise each automated industry from trucking to making tacos at your local taqueria, OpenAI is looking beyond that to the first Artificial General Intelligence. This is an intelligence that will have the ability to adapt dynamically to a situation, learn new tasks, creatively apply itself to the new conditions and to perform much like a human would. OpenAI believes that a dynamic AGI will far surpass the AI implemented in any specific industry and will be a game-changer in AI packing the power to change the world in ways we never imagined.

With that goal in mind, OpenAI is pushing the envelope in an attempt to define the cutting edge of AI and to thereby earn the right to define the future of AI for the world. As famed computer scientist Alan Kay once said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Elon surely has his finger on the pulse of AI and believes that it is highly likely that it will have a massive impact on humanity. OpenAI carries this belief forward, stating that,

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) will be the most significant technology ever created by humans.

Though Elon is confident AI is moving forward at a far faster pace than scientists believe and is actively work to shape its future, he still fears the technology.

https://www.teslarati.com/musk-predicts-ai-will-better-humans-everything-2030/

Electronic Setups of Driverless Cars Vulnerable to Hackers

Any part of a car that talks to the outside world is a potential opportunity for hackers.

That includes the car’s entertainment and navigation systems, preloaded music and mapping apps, tire-pressure sensors, even older entry points like a CD drive. It also includes technologies that are still in the works, like computer vision systems and technology that will allow vehicles to communicate with one another.

It will be five to 10 years — or even more — before a truly driverless car, without a steering wheel, hits the market. In the meantime, digital automobile security experts will have to solve problems that the cybersecurity industry still has not quite figured out.

“There’s still time for manufacturers to start paying attention, but we need the conversation around security to happen now,” said Marc Rogers, the principal security researcher at the cybersecurity firm CloudFlare.

Their primary challenge will be preventing hackers from getting into the heart of the car’s crucial computing system, called a CAN (or computer area network).

While most automakers now install gateways between a driver’s systems and the car’s CAN network, repeated hacks of Jeeps and Teslas have shown that with enough skill and patience, hackers can bypass those gateways.
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And the challenge of securing driverless cars only gets messier as automakers figure out how to design an autonomous car that can safely communicate with other vehicles through so-called V2V, or vehicle-to-vehicle, communication.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed that V2V equipment be installed in all cars in the future. But that channel, and all the equipment involved, open millions more access points for would-be attackers.

It’s not just V2V communications that security experts are concerned about. Some engineers have imagined a future of vehicle-to-infrastructure communications that would allow police officers to automatically enforce safe driving speeds in construction zones, near schools or around accidents.

Given the years long lag time from car design to production, security researchers are also concerned about the shelf life of software deeply embedded in a car, which may no longer be supported, or patched, by the time the car makes it out of the lot.

Source:

Walmart Is Testing a Giant Grocery Vending Machine

Not to be outdone by Amazon, Walmart is now piloting a pick-up grocery service.

The retail giant has started testing the new service with a self-serving kiosk stationed in the parking lot of its Warr Acres, Okla., store. Customers order groceries online and, after entering a special five-digit code, can pick them up at the kiosk, Business Insider reported.

 

While there is no extra cost to using the service, customers must purchase at least $30 worth of groceries to use the new option. More than 30,000 products are available for purchase through the self-service option, and freezers and fridges are used in the kiosk.

The new option from Walmart comes just after Amazon launched a self-serving grocery pick-up service in Seattle, called AmazonFresh Pickup. Like Walmart’s service, customers can order their groceries online then travel to a store for pickup. Amazon’s service differs from Walmart’s in that the groceries will be brought to the car (a license plate scanner identifies the vehicle).

In an effort to bolster its presence online, Walmart also recently launched a home delivery service that uses its in-store employees to deliver items to customers while on their commute home. That service, however, doesn’t include the delivery of perishable groceries.

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Source:

http://time.com/money/4810543/walmart-grocery-pick-up/

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