A roundup of the week’s news including a brief mention of Donald Trump.
The vote is done and the results are in. Congratulations to the new US President. I’m sure you’ve already read enough about it by now.
From exploding Note 7s to jaw-breaking washing machines
Samsung just can’t catch a break. First, a load of Note 7s explode, leading to a mass recall, product cancellation, and some serious losses. The Korean giant has even run whole-page apology adverts in national papers. Then reports of a similar problem with another model have started surfacing. Now the company has been forced to recall 2.8 million washing machines after they started shaking themselves apart.
34 models of top-loading washers are being recalled after hundreds of reports detailing “excessive vibration or the top detaching from the washing machine chassis.” Injuries from defective machines include a broken jaw.
Snap vs Flash
Snap (nee Snapchat) has released its first foray into hardware to the whole wide world. Sort of. The super-cool video-recording Spectacles are only available through Snapbots; creepy vending machine-come-selfie booths of which there is currently just one in the world (located in California, obviously). Although normally nothing creates demand like scarcity, we all remember how well Google Glass went down.
In related news, Facebook has launched another product aimed to draw people away from Snap/Snapchat, this time aimed at emerging markets. Facebook Flash launched in Brazil and looks almost exactly like Snapchat. It does however, take up less memory and have a few more data-preserving options. If can’t buy ’em (or a Chinese clone product), keep releasing a similar product under different guises until you crush them into significance, eh?
Not happy with just trying to crush one multi-billion-dollar company, Facebook has set its sights on LinkedIn. The social network is reportedly testing out job openings on company pages. “Based on behavior we’ve seen on Facebook, where many small businesses post about their job openings on their Page,” and FB spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We’re running a test for Page admins to create job postings and receive applications from candidates.”
Apple has acqui-hired Omnifone, Tesla now owns Grohmann Engineering, Facebook has snaffled Crowdtangle, Adobe has bought TubeMogul, OneLogin has purchased Sphere Secure Workspace, Synopsis has got its hands on both Cigital and Codiscope, Accenture has gobbled Nashco, Medina Capital and others in a consortium have bought a load of datacenters from CenturyLink as well as Cryptzone and will form a new cloud/cybersecurity company, dial-up specialist Earthlink has been swallowed up by Windstream, and Canyon Bridge has snapped up Lattice Semiconductor.
Google once tried to buy Reddit, but the founders didn’t want to become “Googlers”.
Uber rival Karhoo is shutting up shop.
More scary AI headlines
IBM has announced a new project to get Watson into devices of all shapes and sizes. Project Intu is designed to be a system-agnostic platform that means Watson’s AI capabilities can be embedded into anything from robots and IoT devices to Raspberry Pis. It’s currently an experimental project, so isn’t a fully-fledged project yet.
Another week, more depressing reports about how automation is going to take all the jobs. This week’s installment comes from the UN, which reaffirms that nearly two-thirds of all jobs in developing countries could be affected by robots and automation. Talk about UBI all you like, a lot of developing countries are struggling to keep things going as they currently are.
“The increased use of robots in developed countries risks eroding the traditional labour cost advantage of developing countries,” the report states. “Adverse effects for developing countries may be significant.”
It suggests moving current manual workers into areas where robots aren’t so useful, such as garment-making in the short-term, and working hard on education kids so they can move into high-skilled and less-likely-to-be-automated jobs.
- Swedish police will interview Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy.
- US intelligence agencies are apparently feeling quite apprehensive after the election results.
- Facebook has been told not to mix WhatsApp and FB data in the UK.
- Driverless cars could be a potential terrorist threat, according to Australian police.
If Microsoft release a rival product, take the high ground
Hats off to IFTTT then for taking the high ground. Microsoft recently released Flow, its own automated workflow tool. But instead of condescension, IFTTT just got on with life and announced a few product changes that were in the works for a while. Good job guys.
You’ve Got Uber
Times are clearly tough for a lot of the early tech veterans. Just look at Yahoo!. But spare a thought for Elwood Edwards, aka the voice of AOL’s “You’ve got mail” chime. The guy is now an Uber driver, a fact discovered and broadcast to the world by Facebook PR Brandee Barker. He still seems quite chipper about life and getting mail, though.
The future isn’t chatbots. It’s smart fish. Chat-carp. Sole-ful Siri. IoT-Idiotfish, Alexa-enabled Anchovies etc. etc.
Jon Collins’ in-depth look at tech and society
Phil Muncaster reports on China and beyond