By Colby Proffitt
1.) Top Huawei exec blasts US lawmakers as ‘closed-minded and ill-informed’ (June 28, 2018)
Summary: One of the top executives at Chinese tech company Huawei has launched a broadside against Senator Marco Rubio and another US lawmaker, calling them “closed-minded and ill-informed” and ignorant about innovation.
Why it matters: The Huawei Huawei story continues to unfold with remarks from Eric Xu, Huawei Deputy Chairman, calling U.S. Senators and lawmakers closed-minded and ill-informed. These comments were sparked by a request from the U.S. to Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary, to investigate the companies research activities with U.S. educational institutions. This all comes on the heels of a letter from U.S. lawmakers urging Google to end its partnership with the Chinese company. While Google hasn’t yet responded to the request from U.S. lawmakers, it’s not hard to imagine the strategic reasoning behind their current partnership, with Huawei now recognized as a legitimate rival to both Samsung and Apple.
2.) Facebook Files Patent For Tech That Can Take Advantage of Your Phone’s Mic (June 28, 2018)
Summary: Facebook has found itself in hot water for violating its users’ privacy again and again. Though the social media giant has sworn to turn over a new leaf, the company filed a patent earlier this month for some tech that might make people uncomfortable.
Why it matters: Regardless of the source you read on this topic, there’s a lot of focus on the patent as the enabler of the actual usage of the new capability. But, reality is, Facebook could very well be using the new capability right now – perhaps not on a global scale that would eventually be detected, but on a smaller pilot pool. While Facebook claims the goal of the tech is to gauge user reactions to ads – not Orwellian surveillance – many would agree it’s time for regulation of just how far companies can go to promote the sale of their products.
3.) Pentagon Intelligence Chief: Russia And China Will Have Weapons in Space ‘In the Near Future’ (June 27, 2018)
Summary: Russia and China are developing new space-based weapons and they’ll be ready “in the near future,” Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Tuesday at the Defense One Technology Summit in Washington, D.C.
Why it matters: In last week’s roundup, we highlighted President Trump’s recent direction to create a Space Force as the sixth branch of the military. While there’s debate concerning the actual need of such a force, comments from Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), at this week’s Defense one Tech Summit made it clear that the U.S. would be wise to invest in new space-tech capabilities. The bottom line is that U.S. adversaries aren’t limiting their cyber and tech investments to the face of the planet – and if we want to get ahead and proactively defend U.S. assets, we need to think about both the outer space domain and the subterranean domain.
4.) Portland, Maine Ready to Flip Switch on Smart Traffic Signals (June 28, 2018)
Summary: PORTLAND, Maine — City officials here will flip the switch next week on an innovative system designed to ease traffic flows through the most congested intersection in the Pine Tree State.
Why it matters: Yet another city is taking the IoT plunge in an effort to improve traffic flows and the overall user experience of its residents. Currently averaging $20K per intersection, it’s going to be interesting to see how those costs change in the coming years (we suspect they’ll decline as success is proven). What we can also expect is that Portland and other early adopters of this traffic tech will also be among the first cities to welcome autonomous vehicles. Automating and connecting roads and traffic signals may aid autonomous vehicle manufacturers in their design and production.
5.) Eyes Closed in Photos? Facebook AI Can ‘Open’ Them (June 20, 2018)
Summary: Say Cheese! Click! It’s a common problem with having your photo taken: Your grin is wide but your eyes are shut tight as soon as the flash goes off. A pair of Facebook engineers have developed a solution to this common annoyance, an artificial intelligence tool that can open closed eyes in photographs, Mashable reports.
Why it matters: Which came first – the use case, or the technology? This is yet another example of both the nearly limitless applications of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), as well as the controversies that come with the new tech. While this particular application seems harmless on the surface, it’s yet another open source project that makes the code publicly available to creative engineers and malicious actors alike.