News Roundup: IoT mousetraps, Robo-races, and drones with flamethrowers

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News Roundup: IoT mousetraps, Robo-races, and drones with flamethrowers

A roundup of the week’s tech news including Trump domain squatting, cars & Doom, and Swedish data centers.

AI: No one knows

Artificial Intelligence: The best thing since sliced bread or the end of humanity? No one knows. Pew asked over 1,000 technology experts, scholars, corporate practitioners and government leaders the question: Will the net overall effect of algorithms be positive for individuals and society or negative for individuals and society? and managed to come out with an annoyingly indecisive result: 38% said positive, 37% said negative, and 25% said 50-50.

Swedish data centres

Given ‘what’s happening in Sweden’ lately, it’s nice to have some good news coming out of the country. A new data centre is planning to use its excess heat to warm up nearby homes. The EcoDataCenter, once building is complete, will be based north of Stockholm, powered by a mix of solar, wind, hydropower, and wood chips and sawdust from local forestry, and the heat generated by the servers will warm up water which will then be sent to houses in the city. It’s not the first facility to do this; heat from data centres has been used to warm pools, create greenhouses, and more.

M&A

Magic Leap has acquired the 3D division of Swiss startup Dacuda, Apple has reportedly snapped up facial recognition startup RealFace and bought out Chinese social network iCloud.net for the domain, ARM has made a double swoop for Mistbase and NextG-Com, Accenture now owns German digital agency SinnerSchrader, and Arris has bought Ruckus and ICX from Brocade.

HoloLens v2, coming 2019

Microsoft HoloLens has been around for a couple of years now, but don’t expect a new version until 2019. According to Thurrott.com, the Redmond Company is shelving its current version 2 and will be looking to make many more changes with the next iteration, rather than simple incremental upgrades. Thurrott claims this is because there’s so little competition currently in the space the company feels it has more time to work on development.

Meanwhile Samsung will be revealing its own monitor-free workspace concept at MWC this year. The concept video combines the Windows 10 office spaces you can use on HoloLens but the hardware looks closer to the kind of AR glasses of ODG than a full headset.

RoboRace

This first driverless race cars took to the streets of Buenos Aires last week. And what an eventful race it was, even though only two cars took part. One car managed to avoid running over a dog on the track, while the losing car crashed into the barriers after pushing a little too hard. The cars managed 20 autonomous laps and reached a top speed of 115mph. You can see some of the video highlights here.

Tech press AKA big meanies

The press often get a bad rep. And now technology think tank the ITIF says we’re too negative about technology. The organisation’s latest report; Why So Sad? A Look at the Change in Tone of Technology Reporting From 1986 to 2013 says that even though most reporting is still positive, the technology press is a lot more negative than it used to be in the 1980s and 90s.

“This report finds that there has been a notable decline in the favorable coverage of technology in the US media,” the report claims. “The media does have a responsibility not to give more weight to the pessimists and technophobes than is warranted – even if doing so generates more revenue.”

Bitcoin highs

Bitcoin is on the up again. The cryptocurrency sharply rose yesterday to reach an all-time high of $1,172.09, finally overtaking the previous $1,165.89 set in 2013. All those people hoarding Bitcoins, rejoice, for are you are kind of rich again.

Trump’s websites

In our troll-filled world, it makes sense to buy web domains about yourself you wouldn’t want other people to have. President Trump, however, has taken this personal domain squatting to new levels. According to CNN, the POTUS owns 3,643 websites, including DonaldTrumpSucks.com, IHateTrumpVodka.com, TrumpRussia.com, TrumpFraud.org, Trumpscam.com, TrumpNetworkPyramidScheme.com

"Unfortunately cyber-squatting, publishing false content and the use of 'negative' domain names is a serious issue facing all large companies around the world," a company spokesperson told CNN. "We take the protection of our corporate identity and our intellectual property very seriously... this includes trademarking both positive and negative domain names and taking firm legal action when necessary to protect our name and intellectual property."

IoT mousetraps

Everything is connected to the internet these days. Many of these items probably don’t need to be. I would generally say mousetraps should be included on the “probably doesn’t need connectivity” list. Sadly no one told Rentokil and the pest control company has debuted a $1,600 connected mousetrap, which informs the company when its killed a rodent, so somebody knows to come and collect the corpse. The company claims the product – known as the ResiConnect – “brings mouse control into the 21st century.”

Cars of Doom

You know what connected cars don’t need? A copy of Doom, controlled by the steering wheel, horn, and accelerator, to be programmed into the dashboard screen.

In other cars news, a new bill in the UK is seeking to ensure greater provisions around insuring driverless cars. The Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill (VTAB) would require insurers to cover cars both while being driven by humans and algorithms.

Drones with flamethrowers

Drones with guns are a bad idea. Drones with flamethrowers sounds like an even worse concept. Admittedly it’s to clear rubbish from power lines, but still. Sounds dangerous. Looks it too.

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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