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News Roundup: Tech vs Trump, GDPR fines, and RoboBlart

A roundup of the week’s tech news including Smart Slough, space code, and internet cars.

Tech vs Trump

He might be using Pokemon Go, but Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has a lot of work to do if he wants to woo the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley it seems. In an open letter signed by over 140 technology alumni including Twitter founder Evan Williams, internet pioneers Vint Cerf, Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and many more, the group lambast Trump and his policies:

“We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline. We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy — and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.”

Cars

Tesla continues to be under the microscope in the wake of the recent fatal crash involving its Autopilot feature. There have been two other incidents since then, one in Montana and one in Pennsylvania, although no one was hurt in either. Tesla admits that Autopilot was involved in the Montana crash, but suggests the driver was not using the system correctly. Musk has said that Autopilot was not engaged in the Pennsylvania event and wouldn’t have happened if it was.

In the same week Jaguar announced plans to have 100 of them on the road by 2020, the UK Government is pushing its driverless car credentials further. The Department for Transport has announced a new consultation looking at how the UK laws can be changed to better accommodate autonomous vehicles. The consultation will look at insurance, the Highway Code, and will launch a new £30 million research fund.

And finally, Chinese internet giant Alibaba is getting in on the connected car game. Jack Ma’s company this week announced the OS’Car RX5, a new “internet car” packed to the gills with internet services. The car, made in partnership with major local manufacturer SAIC Motor Corp and due to ship next month at a price of $22,300, will have Alibaba’s own eCommerce platform and Alipay built in, allowing it to book and pay for parking spaces, gas stations, and coffee shops. The company said it will use consumer data to tailor features to each individual drive, including recommendations for music, air temperature or nearby restaurants based on past trips.

M&A

Google has acquired Kifi, AWS has snapped up Cloud9, eBay and bought Salespredict, Atlassian now owns StatusPage, and Infor has purchased Starmount.

GDPR

Data breaches are an expensive habit that companies can’t get rid of. This addiction to getting hacked cost UK organizations over £34 billion [$45 billion] in 2015 alone. A new study from Capgemini, however, warns that the fines from the incoming General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) could reach $756 billion globally, with the UK being one of the worst affected. Even in the event of a Brexit, the UK would most likely adopt GDPR or something every similar in order to keep access to Europe, so there’s no excuse for not being ready.

In other Brexit news, TechUK’s latest poll of 1,200 UK startups has some mixed messages about the future. Around a quarter expect to scale back operations, while a third expect to reduce hiring (and half believe hiring the right talent will be harder). Another third said it was “business as usual”, but three-quarters expect the business environment to get worse. The majority also want clarification on the future status of EU citizens and to remain in the single market.

Smart Slough

One city that won’t be fearing a Brexit though, is Slough. The Berkshire town is due to become the “World’s First Fully Functional Wireless Gigabit and Smart City”. The move, being driven by Angie Networks, will see Slough gain large scale next-generation fibre-fed wireless Gigabit networks along with a host of smart city solutions to provide real-time traffic, environmental, energy, and infrastructure information.  

“Slough is strategically placed as a leading business hub here in the UK,” said Angie CEO Bob Snowden. “The Smart solutions will soon become a must-have service that residents and businesses will love to use and share, making life easier and fun, and their work or professional life more efficient and productive."

NSA

-          The FBI has created a database of over 400,000 iris scans.

-          The malware the FBI makes isn’t malware because malware is bad and the FBI is good.

-          MIT has created a new alternative to Tor.

-          ISIS is getting less airtime on Twitter. ISIS also like porn, apparently.

-          Microsoft has won a ruling stating the US government agencies can’t get at data stored in overseas servers.

-          China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam were amongst those who voted against making internet a Human Right at the UN.

Diversity

Facebook this week released the latest edition of its diversity numbers. Although it admits it “still has a long way to go” and claims its hiring of women and non-whites have gone up, the company overall is largely unchanged; white (52%, down 3%), and male (67%, down 1%). In the last year, the world’s largest social network has increased its proportion of Asian workers by 2% and “Other” by 1%, while black and Hispanic representation remains unchanged.

Microdone

It’s no real surprise, but Microsoft has officially killed off any remnants of Nokia from its DNA. The Redmond giant has announced it will close its mobile phone unit in Finland, taking another 1,300 jobs with it. $7.2 billion spent, 25,000 employees (mostly all gone now), and just a 1% marketshare to show for it. Ouch. Perhaps it was a ploy all along to try and bring Finland to its knees economically.

Space Code

We might be entering the age of privatised space travel, but back in the 60s and 70s, engineers were basically writing the code for going into space as they went along. If you’d like to see how far we’ve come, the original source code for the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer (AGC) has been uploaded to GitHub. Quartz has provided a bit more insight into the quaint nature of the NASA engineers’ coding habits.

RoboBlart

It’s quickly becoming accepted that most jobs will become automated in the future. The latest predictions in the US are that 83% of jobs paying less than $20 an hour will be automated. But it seems we’re still a little while off robots taking over just yet.

In what could easily be a scene in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, a roving K-5 security patrol robot knocked down and ran over a small child in a Palo Alto shopping center this month. The 5ft tall, 300 pound machine reportedly didn’t sense 16-month-old Harwin Cheng, leaving him with bruises.

"The robot hit my son's head and he fell down facing down on the floor and the robot did not stop and it kept moving forward," Harwin's mom Tiffany Teng said.

T&Cs

York University has made a shocking discovery; people don’t read the Terms and Conditions of the websites they use. The study, where 500 students signed up to a new social network called “NameDrop”, found that only a quarter of people read the T&Cs, and even then, only for around a minute. The 8,000 word Privacy Policy and 4,000 word Terms of Service should have taken around a combined 40-45 minutes to read altogether. Joke “gotchya clauses” included data sharing with the NSA and employers, and about providing a first-born child as payment for SNS access.

12,000 words is about the length of Facebook’s T&Cs. The terms for Apple’s iTunes is almost 20,000 words long; longer than Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

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Dan Swinhoe

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

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