Silicon Valley, Wikipedia & Other Tech News This Week 10/19/17

Neil Henry security, Tech, Tech News Leave a Comment

News and views from this week in tech. What inspired and encouraged, shocked and appalled? Here’s our top 10.

1. Silicon Valley

Kicking off this week, how Silicon Valley-led disruption has become impossible to ignore. So much so that “we are beginning to understand that tech companies don’t have our best interests at heart.” Indeed, “did they ever?”

This is a horrible thought considering how much power they wield, but then again it’s naive to think otherwise.

Good read: Silicon Valley Is Not Your Friend

It’s such an enlightening article, which looks at the way these companies manifest, becoming guided (if not outright obsessed) by some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Where “growth becomes the overriding motivation — something treasured for its own sake, not for anything it brings to the world.”

The game of monopoly these companies play needs better rules of engagement, but money talks.

2. Wikipedia

A must read! Dissemination vs. consumption of knowledge, and how this could well be the end for Wikipedia.

There is a “troubling sign of a general trend around the world” and “the very idea of knowledge itself is in danger.”

Why?

Social networks cater to a fast food culture. They train us to focus on images and emotions, scroll and go, laugh and cry. They dumb everything down for the purpose of instant gratification. In so doing they sap our quest for knowledge.

Good read: Wikipedia’s Fate Shows How The Web Endangers Knowledge

But is it time to give up? Not at all. We just need to understand that the decline of Wikipedia style encyclopaedias of knowledge will probably see a gradual decline of the web as we know it.

In some ways that may not be a bad thing as more interactive forms of learning evolve, but we have to be careful. The evolutionary cycle of the web as a knowledge base is going to impact a civilizational shift on a global scale.

If knowledge is power – and we’ve seen what ‘fake news’ can do in shaping opinions in politics, business, sport – where we are heading could have a destabilizing effect on a core human value, that enlightenment comes through GENUINE knowledge.

3. Google Web Crawler

More marketing news than tech, but a significant insight from Google and it’s usually top secret view of how its search algorithm works.

It has been revealed that version 41 of the Google Chrome browser is the technology behind Google’s web crawler. And that is extremely helpful knowledge for developers and marketers alike.

Good read: Google Shares Details About the Technology Behind Googlebot

It’s a clever move by Google, in that at the very least Chrome (v41) should now be a big part of any SEO toolkit a business uses. How’s that for a strategy to boost downloads and use.

4. WiFi Security

A legitimate threat but easily fixed.

“Researchers have discovered a key flaw in the WPA2 WiFi encryption protocol, which could allow hackers to intercept credit card numbers, passwords, photos and other sensitive information.”

Good read: Severe WiFi security flaw puts millions of devices at risk

As intimated, it’s relatively easy to fix and prevent such a breach of your own WiFi connection, but it is yet another insight that highlights when it comes to cyber security, the technology we use is only as secure as the time it takes for some unscrupulous soul to find a way in.

5. Robots

The future of computing is almost certainly going to take human form, well in the form of robots.

Quantum and cognitive computing, fused with deep learning in smart machines will create a new world of assistive technologies. But where we can easily see how robots will aid in the delivery of automation, we are not used to the idea of machines making ethical decisions.

Good read: Can we teach robots ethics?

How long will it be before we see robots taking decisions out of our hands at an emotive level? This piece suggest the day isn’t far away, we just need to teach them to do the right thing.

Now that’s scary! Someone better have good testers!

6. AI

Speaking of cognitive computing and machine learning. In a “major breakthrough for artificial intelligence, AlphaGo Zero took just three days to master the ancient Chinese board game of Go … with no human help”

Good read: ‘It’s able to create knowledge itself’: Google unveils AI that learns on its own

That does indeed suggest (as intimated in No.5) that we’re not far away from robots self-analysing, learning and enhancing their own performance.

To be honest I’m struggling to even comprehend the opportunities, challenges and threats this poses.

7. Quantum Computing

Quantum computing is becoming quite a popular choice in our weekly top 10. It’s certainly a top tech trend for 2018 and beyond.

This week an interesting article that got lots of viral shares across social media, discusses how “widespread use of quantum computing is likely still years away,” and yet “experts stress that government should ramp up preparations for a future that could disrupt the underpinnings of conventional encryption.”

Good read: Is the U.S. ready for a quantum leap in computing?

To take the necessary steps in “ramping up” development of quantum computing, it’s going to take billions. But the benefits are exponential.

8. Cloud

Very few cloud trend articles actually shed new light on the subject, but this is a great one as we approach the new year.

Good read: 5 cloud computing trends to prepare for in 2018

Spoiler alert, we’re looking at:

  • Growth in cloud services solutions
  • Increased cloud storage capacity
  • Internet of Everything (IoE) explosion
  • Super Internet quality and 5G
  • Ever-evolving security challenges

The cloud is now a benchmark technology trend, a staple of business thinking and a significant component of any IT infrastructure. As such, innovations revolve around it.

But challenges will increase in complexity as we look to develop new and improved ways of leveraging the cloud. And the aforementioned 5 trends will certainly move the goalposts for cloud computing over the next 12 months.

9. Blockchain

Innovation in blockchain technologies has rapidly increased in the past 12 months. From humble coin offerings to insurance company’s conducting smart contract tests, the possibilities are endless.

Good read: How blockchain promises to speed up tech evolution

Now we’re even seeing chicken farms on a blockchain, which even 6 months ago would have seemed ridiculous.

Which poses a very interesting question, when will blockchain hit the mainstream?

10. 3D Printing

Novel or not really?

“Dutch officials have toasted the opening of what is being called the world’s first 3D-printed concrete bridge.”

Good read: World’s first 3D-printed bridge opens to cyclists in Netherlands

So we have a bridge…

‘Printed’ out of 800 layers of concrete…

I have a question, was it REALLY printed?

How do we define a ‘printer’? Because to me, constructing a bridge, make from concrete and steel, that can carry the weight of 40 trucks no less, can’t conceivably be produced on a printer as we know it.

It needs way more than that, it needs a machine with many components, processes, calibrators and functions. It’s not really a printer. Or maybe that’s just my brain struggling to think of anything outside the realm of a laser or dot matrix.

Aint technology (and our perceptions of it) grand!

Until next week.

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