News Roundup: Undersea datacenters, antidrone eagles and Homo Optimus

A roundup of the week’s tech news including 5 billion Facebookers, Amazon bookstores and moonshots.

AlphaGoogle - $3.6 billion Moonshots

This week we were finally given an insight into just how much Alphabet’s (née Google’s) “moonshots” were actually costing the company. The first dual structure earnings showed that Google the search engine, Android maker etc. posted revenue of $74.5 billion and healthy profit, while the other stuff – X, Verily, Nest etc. - generated revenues of $48 million and operating losses of $3.6 billion.

On the one hand, that loss equates to about three weeks’ worth of revenue while working on some of the most interesting/exciting stuff in technology, however some analysts are suggesting that the likes of Nest and Fiber are actually underperforming compared to expectations. 

20,000 Bytes under the sea

You’ll find datacenters in all kinds of unusual locations; in mountains, bunkers, even underneath churches these days. A new project from Microsoft has seen the company test the concept of an underwater datacenter. Codenamed Project Natick, the engineers created an 8ft long, self-contained datacenter and placed it 30ft under the Pacific Ocean just off the California coast. The trial lasted just over 100 days, and if properly rolled out, would last years under the sea and use the seawater as natural cooling.

Apple VR

Last week the Apple VR rumour mill went into overdrive after CEO Tim Cook admitted the technology was “pretty cool.” This week, the FT is reporting that not only does Apple have hundreds working on Virtual Reality, but has already built several prototype headsets.


Is Twitter for sale? Does Marc Andreessen want to buy it? Maybe, perhaps, who knows.

Sharp has chosen Foxconn over the Japanese state as its preferred acquirer of choice.

Microsoft has acquired AI keyboard app Swiftkey, IBM has made a double swoop for marketing agencies Aperto and, Cisco has purchased IoT platform Jasper, Leidos has bought Lockheed Martin’s recently spun-out IT business, Apple has done a one-two for both security company LegbaCore and VR startup Flyby Media, LinkedIn has snapped up recruitment startup Connectifier, FireEye has splashed out for incident response firm Invotas, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise has taken over Trilead.

Evernote has continued its trimming around the edges with the announcement the company is retiring its eCommerce Evernote Market unit.

Not so Jolla

Good news and bad news for the Jolla. The company behind the SailfishOS has announced they are discontinuing efforts to produce the Jolla tablet, and will refund those who donated to the $2.5 million IndieGoGo campaign.

However, in a piece of good news, Jolla’s Sailfish has found a new customer. The makers of the “unhackable” Turing Phone are ditching Android in favour of Sailfish as the phone’s OS of choice.

5 billion Facebookers

Today Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has some 1.5 billion people using its site, equivalent to about half the world’s online population. According to USA Today, he wants to have 5 billion users by 2030. Whether that means bringing internet to two billion more people and having 100% of the world’s Netizens or connecting four billion more and settling for a mere 5/7 of the world, he didn’t say.

New research from Facebook has blown up the six degrees of separation theory. According to the social network’s researchers, there’s just 3.57 degrees between people on the site, meaning that everybody is just three and a half Facebook friends away from any other user.


-          A new Harvard study suggests encryption doesn’t help terrorists or reduce surveillance 

-          Denmark may introduce data collection laws

-          GCHQ has a problem with the amount of spam it ends up collecting

-          The UK’s proposed “Snooper’s Charter” is facing resistance not only from the EFF but also the government’s own committees

Amazon bookstores

Amazon has been one of the key reasons high street sellers have been struggling over the last five to 10 years. But will the online giant rub salt into the wound by opening “300-400 physical bookstores” across the US? Despite a report in the WSJ, Techcrunch says the rumour is false. Although the company has opened one bricks-and-mortar store in the US, increasing that number four hundred-fold seems an extreme jump.


First there were drones with nets. Then there was the anti-drone laser rifle. Now the eagles are coming! Police in the Netherlands are training the majestic birds to take out drones. So impressed was one UK MP that he said police in Scotland should try and copy the idea.

The eagles, however may struggle to deal with DARPA’s latest idea for UAVs: swarms of micro-drones. The Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA) would be low-cost devices designed to be dropped in large numbers from a plane and survey an area en-masse.

Homo Optimus

Are you one of Zoltan Istvan transhumanist followers, the type of person who believes technology can eliminate human death? Futurologist Dr Ian Pearson believes that not only is this dream achievable in the next 35 years, that this new breed of cyber human will be the next step of human evolution and be called Homo Optimus


« Diapers as-a-service, engines-on-demand & a post-Madonna taxi crush


Quotes of the week: Driverless car deaths, an Android future, & Zika diagnosis »
Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

  • twt
  • twt
  • twt
  • Mail


Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?