On Tuesday at a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, American intelligence chiefs said its citizens should not use phones manufactured by Huawei and ZTE.
The directors of the CIA, FBI, NSA, as well as the director of national intelligence appeared before the committee, and they all issued the same warning against the two Chinese tech giants.
Chris Wray, who is the director of the FBI, said during his testimony that he was worried about letting any company or organization have access to American telecommunication networks when such a company or organization was bound by a foreign power that does not share American values. He went on to say that, by allowing this to happen, it would give these foreign powers the ability to steal or modify proprietary information. It would also give them the ability to spy on the United States without detection.
U.S. intelligence agencies have been suspicious of Huawei for many years. The Chinese company was founded by an engineer who previously worked for the People’s Liberation Army in China, and many in the U.S. government think that the company is essentially an extension of the Chinese government. It was this that led the U.S. government to ban Huawei in 2014 from receiving government contracts.
Huawei began as a telecommunication company that manufactured various forms of infrastructure-related hardware. But it has since become a major worldwide producer of smartphones. Last fall it even surpassed Apple to become the second largest manufacturer of the devices in the world, trailing only Samsung.
However, Huawei has so far failed to have much success in America, mostly because of the actions of the U.S. government. In January, it was about to announce an agreement to sell its phones through AT&T, but the deal fell through at the last moment, reportedly because of government pressure.
U.S. legislators are currently considering a bill that would prevent government employees from using phones made by either Huawei or ZTE.
In the past 10 years there has been a lot of changes made to how people consume entertainment. Just a little over 15 years ago, if anyone wanted to watch any type of video, they needed a TV set. However, there were some computers and laptops with DVD drives. Then YouTube has came out which has brought forth advancements to streaming technology. Eventually, streaming has gotten to the point where people can watch high quality pictures in fluid motion. Before YouTube, people were for the most part stuck with choppy and blurry video. The interesting thing is that the choppy and blurry videos were viewed on much larger screens.
Then as recently as 5 years ago, the smartphone has become one of the most popular devices. One thing that made the smartphone stand out from the other types of phones is that people were able to watch videos. The best part is that some of the best smartphones at the time allowed 1080p high definition playback. This gave people the ability to watch images that are very clear and sharp. The best thing about this is that even though the screen is a lot smaller than a television or even a smaller computer monitor, the definition was so high that people can easily make out video definition as if they were watching it on a larger screen.
Another interesting thing about smartphones is that they can present images that have a sharpness that can actually surpass that of some of the lower end digital cinema projectors. With 4K technology available, it is only a matter of time before they start releasing smartphones equipped for 4K playback.
Rick Smith is the current chief executive officer of Securus Technologies, and he is vital in making the company one of the leading telecommunications company in North America. The company is serving over 3,000 prisons in the United States and Canada, and they are currently the leading choice of prison authorities when it comes to communication services inside the correctional facility. The reason why they are the first choice when it comes to communication services is because of the high end devices that they create, and another reason is because of the efforts of Rick Smith to promote the company and its products. Read more on PRNewsWire.com.
The current chief executive officer of Securus Technologies worked with a number of companies before, all of them specializing in telecommunications. The last company Rick Smith worked with before transferring to Securus Technologies is Eschelon Telecom Inc., where he served as the president. During his term, he managed to increase the company’s revenue, and he managed to get them out of financial troubles. The board of directors noticed the performance of Rick Smith with Eschelon Telecom Inc., and they ultimately decided to invite him to work for Securus Technologies. Rick Smith accepted the offer, and he joined the company in 2008. According to the board of directors, Rick Smith was chosen because of his expertise in the field of telecommunications. Check this article at Bloomberg.com to know more about Rick Smith.
Their decision to include Rick Smith in the team paid off, as the new chief executive officer immediately released memos and notices on how the company should work to get to the top. Under the leadership of Rick Smith Securus, the company managed to develop devices and products that are considered to be top of the line, providing video calling services and voice calling services for prisoners, with incredible speed. They also created software that helps the jail authorities in monitoring the inmates, increasing the security inside the correctional facilities as well as the community where the facility is located. Rick Smith is also known for spending hundreds of millions of dollars to protect the company’s inventions and patents, and he stated that it is very important to protect their assets so that introduction of fake counterparts can be prevented.
Rick Smith is working hard to expand the company’s presence outside of North America. He is currently studying the possibility of exporting their products and services to Europe and Asia, and he is hoping that new markets would open for Securus Technologies. For the meantime, he is dedicating his time to oversee several products and software that is being developed inside the company. He promised everyone who are using the product from Securus Technologies that more improvements would come, and that the company is dedicated in providing high quality communication services to connect the prisoners with their loved ones outside.
In 2016, speculations were rife that Interswitch, a payment processing firm based in Lagos, Nigeria, would be the first African tech firm to be listed both on the Lagos and London stock exchanges. The tech firm would be listed at a $1 billion valuation. All indicators were right, Interswitch had selected investment bankers, and Helios Investment Partner stood by the company as a primary backer.
Almost two years later, Interswitch has not gone public; neither has any other VC backed African tech firm. TechCrunch sought to establish why Interswitch has not made good its promise. However, it appeared as if Interswitch is unwilling to discuss the matter as the spokesperson for the tech firm reserved their comments regarding the pending IPO. Nevertheless, TechCrunch found out that Interswitch had partly addressed the matter in the last quarter of 2016. Through Akeem Lawal, Interswitch divisional officer, Interswitch had blamed “unfavorable equity markets,” while affirming it would go public before the end of 2019.
In pursuit of more information on Interswitch’s delay to go public, TechCrunch sought the opinions of some Nigerian tech insiders. Also, TechCrunch wanted to establish whether another company could be publicly listed before Interswitch.
Tayo Oviosu, the CEO of Paga—a Nigerian mobile money firm—suspects that Interswitch had not gone public owing to macroeconomic dynamics in Nigeria. He added that 2016 was unfavorable economically to launch an IPO. The weak Naira made it impossible to fetch a reasonable IPO valuation or opening share price. Consequently, Interswitch would have been valued lower than its actual market standing. Omobola Johnson, a senior partner at TLCom Capital, echoed Oviosu sentiments. Apparently, all analysts agree that 2016 was a bad year for a private company to go public. Johnson is also a former Minister of Communication Technology.
While Interswitch remains capable of going public anytime, Johnson named some companies which he believes might be listed soon. They include Andela and Flutterwave and Kenya’s Twiga Foods. Nigeria’s 2017 economic outlook is a marked improvement from 2016.
When most people think about jobs that can be lost to artificial intelligence (AI), their first though is not an attorney’s job. Case Cruncher Alpha‘s founders, Jozef Maruscak, Rebecca Agliolo and Ludwig Bull, saw the outcome of legal cases as something that deep learning could predict. The three were Cambridge law students who started out developing a chatbot to answer legal questions, even though they had no tech background.
To test Case Cruncher Alpha’s artificial intelligence, the U.K startup pitted its program against 100 London lawyers. Both the lawyers and Case Cruncher Alpha were given payment protection mis-selling complaints, which were already decided by a Financial Ombudsman Service. The attorneys correctly guessed the outcome of 62.3 percent of the mis-selling complaints, while CaseCruncher Alpha correctly predicted the outcome of 86.6 percent of the complaints.
Law firms and other organizations that currently devote resources to legal decision predictions could use Case Cruncher Alpha to do the work faster, and more accurately. Each of the AI company’s customers receive a program tailored to predict specified types of legal cases. Case Cruncher Alpha’s founders are quick to point out that the AI can make predictions when it is asked a precise question; they will be publishing a paper soon that explains exactly predictions their AI can make for organizations.
Case Cruncher Alpha’s AI cannot replace a flesh and blood lawyer who empathizes with clients or argues in front of a jury, however, large firms often use junior attorneys to make outcome predictions based on many billable hours of research. Would it be possible for law firms to bill for an AI’s hours or its use in the client’s case? While Case Cruncher Alpha has not released any pricing information yet, a customized AI program will not be cheap.
The future of electric cars comes with many question marks. At some point, these vehicles will become immensely popular. Electric cars offer a lot of things traditional diesel fuel cars deliver to customers. Electric cars, however, are a bit too new to attract large numbers of new customers. The Chinese electric vehicle maker NIO seems to understand focusing on user experiences may be the right way to build up customer numbers.
Izzy Zhu, NIO’s VP of User Development, has pointed out his company works very hard at creating the perfect hardware and software necessary to power an electric car. Zhu does stress that hardware and software must take a backseat to user experience and feedback. No matter how advanced the hardware or software might be, if the user experience ranks as poor, cars aren’t going to move in the market.
Poor user experiences mean a bad word of mouth, online reviews and more. Selling even the most advanced and sophisticated cars won’t exactly be easy when users dislike the models. Hence, revisions and improvements must be made based on user feedback.
One sign that NIO wishes to meet customer demands reveals itself in the current development of the E8. The E8 is the name fo the company’s new SUV model. A significant segment of car buyers maintains an affinity for the SUV. For families and active people, an SUV often delivers on needs. The sporty look of an SUV also appeals to those who wish to own a hip-looking vehicle.
One drawback with an SUV would be the cost of fuel. When fuel prices rise, the sales figures on SUV’s don’t always look great. Electric cars do present a cost-saving alternative when fuel prices increase. Manufacturing an electric SUV falls under the category of “meeting customer demands” and could draw more people into the electric vehicle market.
NIO wants to be a major player in the electric vehicle market. Making decisions designed to give customers what they want surely helps with succeeding in these plans.
Facebook recently announced the use of IA to detect worrisome posts emanating from its users: posts that suggest that a user is on the brink of committing suicide. The AI technology employed by Facebook scans posts from users and can locate suspicious posts which it highlights to human moderators. The technology will drastically reduce the time between when such posts are made and when Facebook makes an effort to help out the individuals involved. What’s more, the AI will also classify user reports based on urgency.
While the Facebook’s artificial intelligence system can identify posts from mentally ill people, are the human moderators ready to offer assistance to such people? TechCrunch reports that Facebook is dedicating a significant number of moderators to suicide prevention; this involves training them to deal with cases at whatever time of the day. Also, Facebook has some new partners in its mission to stem suicide on its platform. They include Save.org, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, etc. So far, Facebook has initiated over 100 “wellness check.” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s VP of product management emphasizes that the social media’s AI is tailored to reduce the time between when disturbed user posts a comment or uses Facebook Live and when first responders reach out to the user.
There is no doubt Facebook means well with its AI technology, but experts are raising questions regarding its use. Could the technology be misused? Well, Facebook does not have all the answers at this point, and Rosen explains that Facebook saw an opportunity to help and the social media giant embarked on it. Notably, users cannot opt out of the AI tech scanning their posts.
Rosen states that mental experts had an input in the development of Facebook’s AI. According to him, many ways of stopping suicide exist but connecting distressed people with their family and friends beats them all. Facebook is in a unique position to connect people at risk not only to their friends or family but also organizations that can assist them.
The aviation industry is known for its notoriety for pollution and noise. In fact, the European Commission envisions an aviation industry that produces 60 percent lesser carbon dioxide, 90 percent lower nitrogen oxide, and 75 percent lesser noise by 2050. So far, the most significant efforts towards the European Commissions’ goals have been announced by Airbus, Siemens, and Rolls-Royce. Paul Eremenko, Airbus’ chief technology officer, is optimistic that hybrid-electric technology is the future of aviation.
The three companies are working on a joint venture, E-Fan X programme, that will test an electric engine alongside three jet engines on BAe 146 aircraft. As expected, the venture will cost the three firms tens of millions of pounds, but that is the price that the companies are willing to pay to make the aviation industry more eco-friendly. The three corporations are planning to fly a demonstrator plane in the next two years and commission commercial applications in 2025. A spokeswoman for the venture emphasized that the three companies are working on developing a hybrid technology as opposed to fully electric commercial planes as the latter has proved challenging.
Rolls Royce’s role in the venture is at the very heart of the project. The company will develop an electricity generator that will power the E-Fan X plane. Rolls Royce has a challenging task of making the generator lightweight without compromising performance. The Rolls Royce generator will run on jet fuel to generate power for the electric engine. Also, Rolls Royce will make an effort to store any excess energy in batteries; the energy will be handy in either taking off or landing.
BBC’s Theo Legget notes that the Airbus mission is laudable. According to him, jet fuel accounts for between 17 percent to 35 percent of an airline’s running costs. Therefore, the reduction on overreliance on fossil fuel will significantly improve an airline’s earnings. Although he supports the move by the three firms, he believes the technology needs to be proven.
South Korean’s multinational conglomerate Samsung is always hitting the headlines for innovating cutting-edge products or technology. Samsung’s Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) announced that the multinational was an advanced stage of developing a new battery technology. The new technology would allow batteries to charge extremely fast over and above increased storage capacity. The institute went on to intimate that the technology would be useful not only for smartphones or other such devices but also electric vehicles.
Presently, people are increasingly relying on fast-charge technology. The fast-charge innovation shortens the time that batteries need to become fully charged to one hour, down from two hours that a cell takes to be fully charged when under regular charging. However, the recent innovation by Samsung could fill up batteries in just 12 minutes. Impressive.
Samsung had to develop a new battery altogether to achieve its goal. The new battery incorporates the use of graphene and as opposed to silicon currently used in lithium technology. A comparison between graphene and silicon reveals that the two are markedly different regarding performance; graphene transfers energy over 140 times faster than silicon. Also, it is 100 times more efficient than copper.
While it has not been proven, Samsung’s new battery technology could lead to a longer battery life than that witnessed in batteries currently used in smartphones and electric cars. Although Samsung has not spoken regarding how long the cells that incorporate the new technology would take before they are fully drained of energy, their ability to be charged in slightly over ten minutes make them convenient.
As if the news about the new battery technology is not enough, Samsung announced that it had found a way of mass producing the revolutionary batteries at an “affordable cost.” However, the tech giant did not mention when it expects to roll out the new batteries or whether it will incorporate them into its future devices especially the smartphones. Nevertheless, it is comforting that we may soon be able to charge our smartphone batteries in record time—12 minutes.
There are many areas of technology that excite people because of how they have already improved our lives and how their ongoing development promises to continue to do so in the future. Breakthroughs in new medical devices and the continuing evolution of mobile computing technology are just a couple examples of this. There are certain fields of technology that seem relatively stagnant in comparison to such advancements, however, and the transportation sector is definitely one of these.
Despite new designs, conveniences, and bells and whistles, most cars today basically use the same internal combustion engine technology that was rolling off the assembly lines of the Ford Model T factories at the beginning of the last century. Trains have been around even longer. Jet-powered passenger planes were a relatively new advent, but despite some attempts at supersonic flight with the now canceled Concord, this technology has not advanced fundamentally in decades either. Electric cars hold promise for helping the environment, but they still get stuck in rush-hour traffic next to their internal combustion relatives. What’s needed is a conceptual breakthrough in ground transportation technology. For this, enter the brainchild of entrepreneur Elon Musk known as the hyperloop.
Basically, the idea behind a hyperloop is to have people traveling in a pod within a tunnel, either along the ground or underground, at speeds approaching those that would normally be associated with travel by plane. Building such a travel pod system between major cities and areas within a state could revolutionize ground travel between such locations. The economic benefits that could be had from drastically cutting the amount of otherwise productive time people spend simply traveling to and from work on congested roadways has certainly not been lost on the state of Colorado.
Politicians in Colorado are taking a serious look at implementing a hyperloop travel system between Denver International Airport and various cities in the state as well as directly between major cities. It is also being looked at for moving cargo far more quickly as well. Colorado may be in on the ground floor of an advancement in transportation technology that is long overdue given that most of us are still using the same basic technology to get around that our grandparents did when they were young and spry.