What is QUANTech? An easy-to-digest selection of what’s hot in tech and the impact on society to help you keep ahead in this rapidly changing digital world.
This past week, digital agency We Are Social and Hootsuite released an update of their digital snapshot. A few interesting figures were to be highlighted. First off, we are now over 4 billion (+7%/276 million year-on-year) people online and growing. China’s digital Swiss knife WeChat hit the 1-billion mark of active users and there are now more active users on Weibo (Chinese equivalent of Twitter) and Reddit than on Twitter itself.
Interestingly, Engadget reported (via the Wall Street Journal/WSJ) that « Facebook users, for the most part, haven’t changed their privacy settings despite the uproar against Facebook » in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook VP of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson stated: « We have not seen wild changes in behavior with people saying I’m not going to share any data with Facebook anymore ». And this is backed by the latest figures below which show that in the US alone, the social network gained 4% of active users (quarter-on-quarter). This fact is questioning how informed users are about data protection and privacy online.
You can find the complete report with all up-to-date figures here.
Another news specifically caught my attention over the past week: the launch of EarthNow. This project aims at « creating the means for you to instantly see almost anywhere on Earth in “true real-time,” giving you a live and unfiltered view of your planet » through continuous real-time video.
EarthNow is backed by heavyweights, namely Bill Gates, Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of SoftBank Group and head of the SoftBank Vision Fund, a $100-billion fund —this is more than all other funds dedicated to technology combined, and about half of it comes from Saudi Arabia which seeks to push its Vision 2030 forward— to advance technological development, Greg Wyler, founder of OneWeb whose goal is to beam Internet all across the world to offer affordable access online through a constellation of 900 satellites and Airbus known for being « a global market leader in the provision of satellite imagery and value-added services » as stated in the EarthNow FAQ of the project website.
Two Google novelties were announced, too. The first was presented during this year’s TED conference in Vancouver which is Talk to Books, a new search approach through book content which is worth trying. Such innovation reminds me of Watson’s search feature through TED talks. Next step: in-speech search of specific words and/or quotes on YouTube? It would be undeniably useful.
The Internet giant also published a new article on the Google Research Blog to show advancements in automatic speech separation in videos, a promising tech for captions, focus and sound quality overall. Watch for yourselves:
Google aside, the past week had its new batch of bounces with Facebook offering clarity about how it tracks users and non-users alike through cookies and the Facebook Pixel out of facebook.com. Later in the week, Reuters reported that Facebook had moved 1.5 billion of its members from the Facebook Ireland jurisdiction to avoid GDPR constraints. The 28 countries of the EU and both the United States and Canada will remain linked to the social network’s Irish headquarters. All others are moving. With no surprise, this shows Facebook keeps seeing its ad-based business model as sustainable for future growth. Nevertheless, Facebook announced new measures to comply with countries involved in GDPR, starting to offer messages to request approval to turn on face recognition technology on users.
On the Cambridge Analytica matter, a second whisteblower shared a letter to explain how big the so-called breach is, way above 87 million people.
• Microsoft’s first Linux-based product is here.
• SpaceX will build its massive BFR in Los Angeles.
• Facebook as well as Alibaba are reportedly developing their own chips.
• Alibaba is developing its own driverless cars.
• Amazon now has 100 million Prime members.
• Amazon launches a ‘lite’ Android web browser app in India.
• Intel kills off its smart glasses project.
• GoPro surges on report that Xiaomi has considered an offer.
• Open letter to the European Commission about AI and robotics.
• How quantum computing could wreak havoc on cryptocurrency.
• It’s only a matter of time before machines will be able to read our emotions.
Three videos published this week are worth sharing to finish off this QUANTech review.
Context: BuzzFeed went viral with a 3+ million views (and growing) video published to raise awareness about increasingly efficient fake video creation technology and the requirement for critical thinking.
Context: this algorithm-based robot can identify the parts and positions of an IKEA chair and figure out how to best assemble it, which is another example of how task automation may affect the market.
Context: the porn industry is historically known as a player at the forefront of mass adoption of new technology. Virtual reality is expected to be one thing. Cryptocurrency another.