Tag: Technology

European Union To Fine Google, Meta, Tech Giants For Negligence On Deepfakes



Photo 205708445 © Cerrophotography | Dreamstime.com

 

The European Union will go after Google, Meta, Twitter, Microsoft, and TikTok for deepfakes if no action is taken against them. These new anti-disinformation initiatives are also set to tackle fake accounts impersonating or spreading false information. Hefty fines will be imposed upon companies that do not comply with the new regulations.  

 

A code of conduct on disinformation is being rolled out by the EU that requires companies to disclose information on how harmful practices are being deleted.

 

Deepfakes, which are fraudulent imitations of people that place them in situations and make them do things they never did in videos, have caused concern among the public for their growing realism. In the wrong hands, these could bring detrimental effects.

 

The new act, known as Digital Services Act (DSA), was agreed upon by the 27 EU countries earlier this year. Companies will have to offer up transparency of information sources and will have to ban advertising containing disinformation and provide honest sources on political advertising.  

 

Misleading and false information differs from country to country, and each will have to provide reports so that governments can better understand what they are dealing with. The battling of deceptive news and advertising comes after Russian propaganda that sprung up amid the war in Ukraine

 

 

 

[via Reuters and CNET, Photo 205708445 © Cerrophotography | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/419086/European-Union-To-Fine-Google-Meta-Tech-Giants-For-Negligence-On-Deepfakes/

Jack Dorsey & Jay-Z Debut Financial Literacy School For Underserved Communities



Images via The Bitcoin Academy, cellanr on Flickr / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0), Joella Marano on Flickr / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Former Twitter chief Jack Dorsey and media mogul Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) have teamed up for a new financial literacy program, The Bitcoin Academy, which aims to provide in-person and online classes to underserved communities.

The initiative will begin with the Marcy Houses project in Brooklyn, New York, where the rapper hails from, with the duo possibly planning to expand it to other neighborhoods in the region. 

Residents attending the lessons will be provided with MiFi devices, smartphones, nominal amounts of Bitcoin, and data plans—which they will be allowed to keep even after the program ends—to help further their digital know-how. 

These classes will take place from June 22 to September 7, 2022, with topics ranging from ‘What is Money?’ to ‘What is Blockchain?’ and ‘How to Keep Yourself Safe from Scammers’. During these sessions, which will be conducted by staff from Dorsey’s Block and Jay-Z’s charity, participants will also have dinner.

Children living within the vicinity of the projects can sign up for a Crypto Kids Camp, which will be held on the weekends as an introduction to the burgeoning cryptocurrency market.

“The Shawn Carter Foundation has always been about providing educational access and opening doors of opportunity to underserved communities. No one should be left out or behind,” said Gloria Carter, Jay-Z’s mother.

“Everyone should be empowered to make informed financial decisions in order to take care of themselves and their families,” she added.

As cryptocurrency goes further mainstream, many who are lacking knowledge and opportunity in this area may feel left behind in the process. It’s certainly heartwarming to see two of the biggest names in technology and entertainment come together to champion an equal playing field for everyone, everywhere.

 

 

 

[via Rolling Stone, Decrypt, and ROC NATION, cover image via various sources]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418998/Jack-Dorsey-Jay-Z-Debut-Financial-Literacy-School-For-Underserved-Communities/

New Drone Tech Helps It Brave Any Weather Autonomously

[Click here to view the video in this article]



Image via California Institute of Technology

 

Drone usage is an avenue of transport and delivery that is underutilized, mainly because of how weather can greatly affect a drone in flight. During storms and heavy winds, drones are not equipped to fly through them to get to their destination. However, engineers at the California Institute of Technology are currently working on ways to train a drone to navigate its way through a storm.  

 

A software calledNeural-Fly’ is being developed as a deep-learning system within the drones to learn in real-time how to fly through everchanging weather conditions, utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to help drones change flying patterns when caught in adverse weather conditions.  

 

 

Scientists captured data in various weather conditions, using six distinct wind speeds to build a model. ‘Neural-Fly’ was then installed into the drones so that they could learn how to pilot their way through heavy winds.

 

The drones were put through a wind tunnel for testing and development. Speeds of up to 27mph were forced onto the drones to see how well they did in those conditions. The results showed that not only were strong gusts of winds tolerable, but the drone could also adapt to changing wind patterns.  

 

Drones are already a boon to society, aiding us in deliveries, emergency rescues, wildlife conservation, remote exploration, and even helping us understand outer space. With this advancement in technology, there could be a whole host of other duties drones can soon perform. 

 

 

 

[via Auto Evolution and CNN, cover image via California Institute of Technology]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418913/New-Drone-Tech-Helps-It-Brave-Any-Weather-Autonomously/

The Last Public Payphone In NYC Is Gone, Spelling The End Of An Era

Image via LinkNYC

It’s hello, the future, and talk to you soon, payphones. On Monday, officials removed the very last public payphone in New York City, putting the act of fiddling for coins to make calls in the past.

The uprooting of the phone box, which stood at 745 Seventh Ave, marks the end of an eight-year project to phase out payphones in favor of modern technology.

 

END OF AN ERA.

NYC’s last free-standing pay phones removed this a.m. in Times Sq. (7th Ave & 50th St.).

No more fishing in your pocket for quarters.pic.twitter.com/ZtRhzWPp4G

— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) May 23, 2022

 

Replacing them are the LinkNYC monoliths developed by CityBridge, which not only allow locals to make free phone calls but also inform them of commute times and weather conditions. Evidently, they present a myriad more functions than traditional telephones—which, in a mobile-first era, no longer serve their purpose.

To date, there are about 2,000 of the high-speed Wi-Fi kiosks peppered in all five boroughs, helping New Yorkers get around the city more efficiently.

Matthew Fraser, Commissioner of the Office of Technology and Innovation, described the teardown as a bittersweet moment, but emphasized that the city’s infrastructure must evolve to meet people’s rapidly-changing needs.

If you’d like to have some closure, you can rest easy. The payphone will be moved to the Museum of the City of New York, where it will stand as an exhibit among other pre-digital relics at the new Analog City: NYC BC (Before Computers) show.

It was kismet, really. City officials had caught the museum’s curators at the right time, as the exhibition only opened last Friday. Although unplanned, the installation of the public telephone fits the theme to a T.

 

 

 

[via CNBC and Gothamist, cover image via LinkNYC]

 

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418795/The-Last-Public-Payphone-In-NYC-Is-Gone-Spelling-The-End-Of-An-Era/

Apple, Google, And Microsoft Join Forces To Rid The World Of Clunky Passwords



Image ID 211076492 via © Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com

 

Last year, Microsoft announced it would be doing away with passwords, allowing users to opt for alternative methods of authentication rather than remembering confusing passwords that may not particularly be secure.

Now, Apple and Google are joining the charge, with the three companies announcing plans to work on a standard log-in function with the World Wide Web Consortium and FIDO Alliance, an organization that popped up in 2013 with the aim of reducing our reliance on the usual passwords. 

In a new statement, the firms point out that keeping track of all passwords has become too cumbersome of a task, especially as different sites have different requirements, such as special characters or capitalized letters. You may have experienced the surge of panic when you realize you’ve forgotten your login details, and are running out of attempts to guess your way in.

Hence, the need for a new capability that will allow all of the internet’s sites and apps to offer “consistent, secure, and easy passwordless sign-ins to consumers across devices and platforms.” 

“This milestone is a testament to the collaborative work being done across the industry to increase protection and eliminate outdated password-based authentication,” remarks Mark Risher, Senior Director of Product Management at Google.

The team reveals that the new function would make use of the same actions users already take multiple times a day, such as fingerprint or face identification, or a device-specific PIN, which it feels will be “radically more secure” than the usual passwords or one-time codes sent via messages. 

“Working with the industry to establish new, more secure sign-in methods that offer better protection and eliminate the vulnerabilities of passwords is central to our commitment to building products that offer maximum security and a transparent user experience,” says Kurt Knight, Apple’s Senior Director of Platform Product Marketing. 

Alex Simons, Corporate Vice President of Identity Program Management at Microsoft, concurs, saying: “The complete shift to a passwordless world will begin with consumers making it a natural part of their lives. Any viable solution must be safer, easier, and faster than the passwords and legacy multi-factor authentication methods used today.”

 

It won’t be long before users say goodbye to the password-filled sticky notes cluttering up their desks, it seems.

 

 

 

[via Input and Apple, cover image via Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418629/Apple-Google-And-Microsoft-Join-Forces-To-Rid-The-World-Of-Clunky-Passwords/

Starlink’s Internet Is Keeping 150,000 Ukrainians In War-Torn Areas Connected

Two men handling Starlink internet equipment boxes in Ukraine. Photo 244608331 © Oleksii Kononenko | Dreamstime.com

 

In the flurry of tech affairs, Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet network, run by his SpaceX company, has done some good in maintaining the peace between Ukrainians amid the war with Russia.

 

Parts of Ukraine—the Southern and Eastern regions, in particular—were quickly struck by connectivity issues when Russia invaded the country. In an urgent call for help, Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov sent out a tweet to Musk in February, urging for assistance “while you try to colonize Mars” and “Russia [tries] to occupy Ukraine.”

 

“We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand,” Fedorov continued.

 

In response, Starlink sent over some terminals, reportedly subsidized by the US government. Its technology is powered by a constellation of satellites in low orbit, which enable high-speed broadband service in out-of-reach zones.

 

The Ukrainian minister was pleased to report on Twitter that Starlink’s internet network has brought connectivity to some 150,000 daily users.

 

He added that the terminals have been imperative in maintaining the country’s infrastructure and rebuilding damaged territories.

 

Rough data on Starlink’s usage: around 150K active users per day. This is crucial support for Ukraine’s infrastructure and restoring the destroyed territories. Ukraine will stay connected no matter what. pic.twitter.com/XWjyxPQJyX

— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) May 2, 2022

 

 

 

[via CNET and CNBC, images via various sources]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418598/Starlink-s-Internet-Is-Keeping-150-000-Ukrainians-In-War-Torn-Areas-Connected/

Intel Explores Putting Neurochip Resembling Human Brain Into PCs

Image via Intel

 

The human brain is the inspiration for a chip that Intel has been working on and improving since 2017. ‘Loihi’, as the technology is coined, has pin-like structures that resemble a brain’s neurons. The company has previously envisioned its use in a prosthetic leg and even a foosball table, but it’s now zeroing in on the displays on people’s desks.

 

As per The Register (via TechRadar), Intel Labs lead Rich Uhlig recently gathered journalists at a roundtable to share how Loihi would potentially be incorporated into a commercial product.

Uhlig suggested that the neuromorphic chip could be inserted into CPUs for intensive, high-performance tasks, all while crunching energy consumption.

 

Intel in 2017 announced that the chip would only consume electricity when data is transmitted, as opposed to the usual computer chips that use up energy regardless. This makes Loihi a much more environmentally-friendly alternative for processors.

 

At the same time, the chip can accelerate the processing of workloads by up to “1,000 times faster” and handle them “10,000 times more efficiently” than traditional processors, Intel touted back in March 2020.

 

In the context of PCs, Loihi would have the capacity to efficiently power speech or gesture recognition in computers, among other tasks.

 

Besides hardware, though, Uhlig noted that the neuromorphic chip could instead be introduced as a cloud service.

 

The Intel Labs lead did not elaborate further as the team is still ironing out the best way to utilize the chip in commercial products, though he mentioned, “We think we’re onto something.”

 

 

 

[via TechRadar and The Register, cover image via Intel]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418443/Intel-Explores-Putting-Neurochip-Resembling-Human-Brain-Into-PCs/

FedEx To Trial Autonomous Drone Cargo Deliveries Starting Next Year



Image via FedEx

 

Beginning next year, FedEx will be trialing autonomous cargo drone deliveries in collaboration with Elroy Air, a startup that creates hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing planes (eVTOLs). 

As eVTOLs do not require runways for takeoff and landing like normal aircraft do, they’re a convenient way to transport deliveries via the air without additions to infrastructure such as airports. 

 

According to the company, the drone will be able to pick up 300 to 500 pounds of cargo all on its own, and can travel up to 300 miles on a single trip.

Unfortunately, if you were looking forward to receiving your package from an autonomous drone instead of having to deal with delivery personnel, it seems the aircraft won’t be making door-to-door drop-offs just yet. 

The firm said it will be using the aircraft for middle-mile logistics, most likely tasking it with moving shipments between sorting locations at the firm’s facility in the Bay Area. 

“FedEx was built on innovation and we are always looking toward new technologies to help enhance the logistics industry through improved safety, efficiency, and customer service,” said Joe Stephens, Senior Vice President of Global Planning, Engineering, and Technology. 

“We look forward to continued testing and learning throughout our collaboration with Elroy Air,” he added. 

 

 

 

[via Mashable and FedEx, cover image via FedEx]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418261/FedEx-To-Trial-Autonomous-Drone-Cargo-Deliveries-Starting-Next-Year/

Apple, LinkedIn Among ‘World’s Most Ethical’ Tech Companies In 2022



Image ID 160780715 © via Max421 | Dreamstime.com and DANIEL CONSTANTE / Shutterstock.com

 

The annual honoree list for the “world’s most ethical companies,” put together by the Ethisphere Institute, hopes to guide consumers into making better choices in where to buy the latest devices.

This year, all seven nominees in the technology sector were US-based companies, with Apple—an industry behemoth—receiving recognition for the first time. Microsoft received its 12th honor, along with Dell who appeared on the list for the 10th time since its inception in 2006.

Following the two most-awarded firms was LinkedIn with its seventh nomination, Hewlett Packard and Western Digital with their fourth appearance, and HP with its third award. 

TechRepublic noted that Apple hadn’t been among the honorees before due to its ties with Suyin Electronics, a company that was found to have used child labor in its manufacturing plants. It’s been reported that the company took over three years to completely cut ties with its supplier despite knowing it had contravened ethical rules. 

Ethisphere said it uses a 12-person advisory committee to select each year’s winners, looking at over 200 data points across five main categories, including an organization’s ethics and compliance program (35%), its culture of ethics (20%), environmental and societal impact (20%), governance (15%), and leadership and reputation (10%). 

“The EQ framework features more than 200 multiple-choice and text questions that capture a company’s performance in an objective, consistent, and standardized way,” it explained on its site

In total, 136 businesses were recognized for their “unwavering commitment to business integrity,” with the firms situated across 22 countries and 45 different industries.

 

 

 

[via TechRepublic and Ethisphere Institute, cover image via Max421 | Dreamstime.com and DANIEL CONSTANTE / Shutterstock.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418205/Apple-LinkedIn-Among-World-s-Most-Ethical-Tech-Companies-In-2022/

GIF Inventor Stephen Wilhite Passes Away At Age 74

[Click here to view the video in this article]

Stephen Wilhite at the 2013 Webby Awards. Video screenshot via The Webby Awards

Stephen Wilhite, the American computer scientist who created the Graphics Interchange Format, has passed on at the age of 74, as confirmed by his wife Kathaleen.

Wilhite died of COVID-19 on March 14, a little over a week after his 74th birthday on March 3.

He had his head-start at Compuserve, the first major commercial online service provider in the US and the oldest of the “Big Three information services” back in the day. He spent decades working there, and a fateful project saw him lead the team behind the iconic GIF format.

 

At the inception of the GIF in 1987, engineers had intended to create a format for color images that users could easily download using slow dial-up modem speeds.

 

In 2013, Wilhite split opinions when he declared at the Webby Awards, where he’d been given the lifetime achievement award, that GIF was pronounced as “Jif,” like the peanut butter brand.

 

 

He is survived by his wife, son, four stepchildren, 11 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

 

 

 

[via Kotaku and NBC News, cover image via Webby Awards]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418186/GIF-Inventor-Stephen-Wilhite-Passes-Away-At-Age-74/

Russians Rush To Download The Whole Of Wikipedia In Fear It May Soon Get Banned



Image ID 103282057 © via Casimirokt | Dreamstime.com

 

As the invasion of Ukraine trudges on, Russian citizens have found themselves increasingly isolated from the rest of the online world. 

Not only has a major broadband service provider cut off the backbone internet network in the country, platforms including Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Facebook, and Instagram have either terminated access or been banned by local authorities. 

Now, sensing the crackdown could continue to further restrict residents’ access to information, Russians have been downloading the entire archive of the local-language Wikipedia for safekeeping.

Mashable reported that earlier this month, Roskomnadzor, the nation’s censors, had threatened to block Wikipedia following the site’s publication of an entry titled ‘Russian Invasion of Ukraine (2022)’.

While downloading the entirety of the world’s foremost online encyclopedia could seem daunting, non-profit organization Kiwix has compiled all of the 1.8 million Russian-language articles into a torrent for downloaders. 

The 29GB file has been downloaded 150,100 times just this month so far—a striking 4,000% spike as compared to January 2022. According to Slate, Russians now make up 42% of all traffic on the site.

“We had something similar back in 2017 when Turkey blocked Wikipedia, but this one is just another dimension,” said Stephane Coillet-Matillon, leader of Kiwix.

 

 

 

[via Mashable and Slate, cover image via Casimirokt | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418169/Russians-Rush-To-Download-The-Whole-Of-Wikipedia-In-Fear-It-May-Soon-Get-Banned/

Russians Rush To Download The Whole Of Wikipedia In Fear It Will Soon Get Banned



Image ID 103282057 © via Casimirokt | Dreamstime.com

 

As the invasion of Ukraine trudges on, Russian citizens have found themselves increasingly isolated from the rest of the online world. 

Not only has a major broadband service provider cut off the backbone internet network in the country, platforms including Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Facebook, and Instagram have either terminated access or been banned by local authorities. 

Now, sensing the crackdown could continue to further restrict residents’ access to information, Russians have been downloading the entire archive of the local-language Wikipedia for safekeeping.

Mashable reported that earlier this month, Roskomnadzor, the nation’s censors, had threatened to block Wikipedia following the site’s publication of an entry titled ‘Russian Invasion of Ukraine (2022)’.

While downloading the entirety of the world’s foremost online encyclopedia could seem daunting, non-profit organization Kiwix has compiled all of the 1.8 million Russian-language articles into a torrent for downloaders. 

The 29GB file has been downloaded 150,100 times just this month so far—a striking 4,000% spike as compared to January 2022. According to Slate, Russians now make up 42% of all traffic on the site.

“We had something similar back in 2017 when Turkey blocked Wikipedia, but this one is just another dimension,” said Stephane Coillet-Matillon, leader of Kiwix.

 

 

 

[via Mashable and Slate, cover image via Casimirokt | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418169/Russians-Rush-To-Download-The-Whole-Of-Wikipedia-In-Fear-It-Will-Soon-Get-Banned/

Ukraine Merges With European Power Grid, Ending Ties With Russia



Image ID 8465067 © via Harperdrewart | Dreamstime.com

 

Ukraine has now officially been added to an electricity grid powering much of Europe, allowing the country to finally delink its power system from Russia. 

According to ENTSO-E, a Belgium-based firm representing a larger group of operators throughout Europe, reported that the electricity grids of Ukraine and its neighboring country, Moldova, have been successfully synchronized with its Continental European Power System in a “significant milestone.”

CBS News noted that the plan to move to the European grid had been in the works since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, though the recent invasion has understandably sped up the process.

In fact, as per UPI, what would usually take engineers a year and a half to achieve was completed in just three weeks.

“This step will give Ukraine the opportunity to receive electricity if [Russia] continues to destroy our power infrastructure, and thus to save our power system,” said Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, Chairman of Ukrenergo, the country’s main operator. 

“We are sincerely grateful to our European partners for their great support and assistance during these difficult times,” he added. 

 

 

 

[via CBS News and UPI, cover image via Harperdrewart | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418148/Ukraine-Merges-With-European-Power-Grid-Ending-Ties-With-Russia/

China Imposes Law To Free Users From Tech Companies’ Algorithms

Photo 183429446 © Shao-chun Wang | Dreamstime.com

 

A first-of-its-kind law to give people the choice to switch off algorithm recommendations took effect earlier this month in China. With the new regulation, users would be empowered to make decisions online without being swayed by brands and advertisers.

The new set of rules, entitled “Regulations on the Administration of Algorithm Recommendations for Internet Information Services,” comes as Chinese social networks have turned into hotbeds for misinformation and fake news, South China Morning Post reports. The goal is to “regulate algorithm-empowered recommendation activities on the internet” so consumers won’t be unknowingly influenced by AI suggestions, explained the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) when it presented the draft for the legislation last August.

 

Should tech companies utilize algorithms, they should be enforced for user wellbeing, details CambrianAI analyst Alberto Romero in an article published on OneZero. The direct translation for one of the clauses stresses that recommendation algorithms are to “actively disseminate positive energy, and promote the application of algorithms to be good.”

Businesses are also prohibited from using algorithms to generate or spread misinformation and disinformation. In addition, the rules discourage the creation of fake accounts or automation of fake comments or reactions, preventing bots from artificially augmenting traffic or writing fake reviews.

Under this legislation, users should be provided with the option to turn off content recommendations and the ability to select or remove tags, Romero elaborates. Companies that engage algorithmic recommendation services are to also be transparent about using them and inform users of the “mechanisms” of these tools, such as disclosing why a certain article is being displayed to them.

Other governmental departments involved in the making of the scheme are the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Public Security, and State Administration for Market Regulation. The regulation is applicable for most service providers who use algorithms, including e-commerce platforms, delivery services, and short-form video apps, SCMP reports.

Zuo Xiaodong, vice president of the China Information Security Research Institute, commented that algorithms “must be regulated” due to how easy it is “to abuse customized recommendations, thereby damaging our personal rights and interests, and even endangering national security in more serious cases.”

 

 

[via OneZero and South China Morning Post, cover photo 183429446 © Shao-chun Wang | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418073/China-Imposes-Law-To-Free-Users-From-Tech-Companies-Algorithms/

Major Broadband Service Provider Cuts Off Backbone Internet Network In Russia



Image ID 18041269 © via Dotshock | Dreamstime.com

 

Cognet Communications, a major broadband provider in Russia, has officially disconnected its service in the country in protest of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“In light of the unwarranted and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Cognet is terminating all of your services effective at 5 PM GMT on March 4, 2022,” the US-based company said in an email to customers, as per Kentik.

“The economic sanctions put in place as a result of the invasion and the increasingly uncertain security situation make it impossible for Cognet to continue to provide you with service,” it added. 

According to CNET, while the blackout does not mean Russia is left without internet access, the firm did cut the nation off from a major traffic conduit of over 100,000 miles of fiber optic links around the globe.

Though some have praised Cognet’s actions, ZDNet highlighted that the move could make it increasingly difficult for Russian citizens to access news sources online, especially after the Kremlin recently blocked Facebook and Twitter.

“Cutting Russians off from internet access cuts them off from the sources of independent news and the ability to organize anti-war protests,” said Twitter user @evacide.

Rebecca MacKinnon, Vice President of Global Advocacy at Wikimedia, pointed out: “This move by Cognet is misguided. Cutting the Russian people off from the global internet harms those who seek to obtain and share truth.” 

“As usual, civil society groups that disagree with the government and citizens seeking truth are the main victims here,” she added.

Last week, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) rejected a similar appeal to cut off .ru internet address from functioning, arguing that it had to remain neutral. 

“We take actions to ensure that the workings of the internet are not politicized, and we have no sanction-levying authority. Essentially, ICANN has been built to ensure that the internet works, not for its coordination role to be used to stop it from working,” explained CEO Göran Marby. 

 

 

 

[via CNET and ZDNet, cover image via Dotshock | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/418036/Major-Broadband-Service-Provider-Cuts-Off-Backbone-Internet-Network-In-Russia/

Fitbit Recalls A Million Ionic Smartwatches Over Burn Hazard Fears



Image via Fitbit

 

Fitbit has issued a recall for over a million of its Ionic smartwatches, after reports that the wearable could cause burns to users.

According to Fortune, all owners will be eligible for a US$299 refund.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned users to immediately stop the use of the devices, after over 100 reports surfacing in the United States, and 59 globally, of the smartwatch overheating. 

Worse still, there have been 78 instances of burn injuries suffered within the country, including two which resulted in third-degree burns and four with second-degree burns. 40 such incidents were reported internationally.

“Customer safety is always Fitbit’s top priority, and out of an abundance of caution, we are conducting a voluntary recall of Fitbit Ionic smartwatches,” the company said.

However, the firm made sure to note that the reported incidents were “very rare,” and that it made up “less than 0.01% of units sold,” as per Protocol.

Customers looking to replace the Ionic smartwatch with a different Fitbit device will be entitled to 40% off selected models, and can request for the refund here.

 

 

 

[via Fortune and Protocol, cover image via Fitbit]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417984/Fitbit-Recalls-A-Million-Ionic-Smartwatches-Over-Burn-Hazard-Fears/

Anonymous Collective Hacks Russian TV Channels, Fills Them With Ukrainian Music



Photo 49078692 © Neydtstock | Dreamstime.com

 

Anonymous, the decentralized hacking group, has claimed credit for bringing down several Russian television channels, replacing the feed with pro-Ukraine content, including songs and scenes from the ongoing invasion.

“JUST IN: #Russian state TV channels have been hacked by #Anonymous to broadcast the truth about what happens in #Ukraine,” the hacktivists tweeted along with a video of the affected streams.

According to The Guardian, Jamie Collier, a consultant at cybersecurity firm Mendicant, said that although it was difficult to directly tie these exploits to Anonymous, the “collective has a track record of conducting this sort of activity.” 

In addition to taking over television shows, Anonymous has taken responsibility for hacking and disabling several Kremlin government networks, such as the official website of kremlin.ru. 

“#Anonymous is at war with Russia. Stay tuned,” the hackers said.

Aside from the collective, iNews noted Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has called for volunteer hackers to take part in the “cyber war” after the country’s banks came under cyberattacks last week.

Major technology firms, including Meta and Google, have also been playing a part to stop Russian propaganda and misinformation from spreading on their platforms.

 

#Anonymous is at war with Russia. Stay tuned. #OpRussia #StopRussia #OpKremlin #FreeUkraine pic.twitter.com/uUOSfadPz9

— Anonymous (@YourAnonCentral) February 26, 2022

JUST IN: #Russian state TV channels have been hacked by #Anonymous to broadcast the truth about what happens in #Ukraine. #OpRussia #OpKremlin #FckPutin #StandWithUkriane pic.twitter.com/vBq8pQnjPc

— Anonymous TV 🇺🇦 (@YourAnonTV) February 26, 2022

 

 

 

[via The Guardian and iNews, cover photo 49078692 © Neydtstock | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417957/Anonymous-Collective-Hacks-Russian-TV-Channels-Fills-Them-With-Ukrainian-Music/

Elon Musk Sends Starlink Terminals To Ukraine To Re-Establish Internet Service



Image via Starlink

 

Billionaire Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX’s Starlink broadband service, has announced the successful deployment of satellite internet connection in Ukraine, with more terminals on the way.

“Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route,” Musk tweeted in response to a request from a government official.

The country’s Vice Prime Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, had specifically directed a tweet at Musk to take action, saying: “We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.”

According to Reuters, internet connection in Ukraine has been affected by the invasion, with Southern and Eastern parts of the country facing the most connectivity problems due to heavy fighting.

Starlink works by offering high-speed internet connection through its constellation of satellites, which allows it to provide broadband access to even the most remote parts of the planet, as per Space.com.

This isn’t the first time Musk has deployed Starlink to a country in need. Earlier this month, the firm sent 50 terminals to Tonga after it was cut off from the online world following a volcano eruption and devastating tsunami. 

 

Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022

 

 

 

[via Reuters and Space.com, cover image via Starlink]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417931/Elon-Musk-Sends-Starlink-Terminals-To-Ukraine-To-Re-Establish-Internet-Service/

Tonga Is Finally Back Online Following Five-Week Underwater Internet Blackout



Image ID 47423841 © via Michal Durinik | Dreamstime.com

 

Following a devastating volcanic eruption, Tonga’s only subsea fiber optic cable found itself destroyed, stranding residents in a state of internet outage for over five weeks.

Now, thankfully, the country is finally back online after Digicel, one of its two main telecommunications firms, has fixed the cable using a submarine repair vessel. 

According to the BBC, an 80-kilometer (50-mile) stretch of the 830-kilometer (516-mile) subsea connection sustained the main impact of the damage.

“We have learned some tough lessons and we know how important internet connection is to our people,” said Digicel Tonga CEO Anthony Seuseu. 

“The recent incident has also provided the opportunity to our team to look at increased investment and network optimization to plan and prepare better for a catastrophic event of such nature in the future,” he added.

Gizmodo reported that while the main cable has been fixed, there’s still much work to be done to restore the island to its pre-eruption state.

In fact, domestic cables connecting Tonga’s main island to its surroundings could take six to nine months to repair, as revealed by Tonga Cable CEO James Panuve to Reuters.

“We don’t have enough cable,” he said.

Hopefully, the worst is behind the country, and its residents can connect with loved ones and friends again now the country’s back on the online webspace.

 

 

 

[via Gizmodo and Reuters, cover image via Michal Durinik | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417865/Tonga-Is-Finally-Back-Online-Following-Five-Week-Underwater-Internet-Blackout/

MoviePass To Make A Comeback With Ad System That Tracks Your Eyeballs

[Click here to view the video in this article]



Composite image via 49917741 © Lasse Behnke | Dreamstime.com, Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

 

In its former life, MoviePass ran on a business model that the public really liked. For a flat price of US$10 a month, subscribers would be able to catch unlimited films in theaters nationwide—a deal that was so attractive it drew millions of users in no time. Unfortunately, the company struggled to turn a profit with this scheme, and filed for bankruptcy before shuttering operations in 2019, three years after launching.

Now, MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes has confirmed that the platform will return under a new strategy. The ticketing service will have a tiered model and run as sort of a “co-op” where users will contribute in some way to keep the business afloat.

How’s that going to happen, you ask? Well, MoviePass 2.0 will now assign credits to movies, determined by their popularity and duration. You earn those credits by watching targeted advertisements via your smartphone.

 

And MoviePass makes sure you really watch them by tracking your eye movements.

 

The credit-earning system pauses when you put down your phone or look away. No honey (AKA your sweet, undivided attention), no money.

MoviePass says it was on to testers who walked away from their devices in an earlier version of the reboot.

 

The feature was made possible after Spikes raised US$56,000 from a Kickstarter campaign for ‘PreShow’, the name of the eye-tracking program.

Spikes, who made the announcement of MoviePass’ resurrection at New York City’s Lincoln Center last week, likens this addition to the moviegoing experience of watching commercials before films at theaters. Only this time, the advertisements will be personalized to your interests, and you watch them from a camera-enabled phone.

Spikes said ‘PreShow’ would allow subscribers to watch movies for free in exchange for their attention.

As of now, MoviePass has not disclosed pricing details for the reborn subscription program, which will launch in the summer.

 

 

 

[via CBS News and PopCulture.com, images via various sources]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417759/MoviePass-To-Make-A-Comeback-With-Ad-System-That-Tracks-Your-Eyeballs/

Sony’s Next VR Headset Could Follow Your Eyes To Optimize Objects You See



Image via Tobii

 

Tobii, a Swedish firm specializing in eye-tracking technology, made a brief announcement Monday that it is currently “in negotiation” with Sony Interactive Entertainment.

 

This could lead to Tobii being the provider of eye-tracking tech in the next-generation VR headset Sony is developing, the PlayStation VR2 (PS VR2).  

Not much is known about the headset yet, although Sony has previously revealed images of the controllers, innovatively shaped to encircle the player’s hands. The VR2’s predecessor, the PS VR, was released in October 2016, before the famed PlayStation 5 was even released. 

SlashGear notes that Sony has detailed the use of eye tracking in the VR2, alongside other features like haptic feedback and 3D audio. The headset, using cameras that follow the user’s line of sight, will reportedly be able to detect “the motion of your eyes.” 

Foveated rendering is incorporated to ensure that the areas of an image in direct view of the user are rendered at full quality, while the surrounding areas are displayed at a lower resolution to represent peripheral sight. 

 

 

 

[via SlashGear and Tobii, image via Tobii]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417660/Sony-s-Next-VR-Headset-Could-Follow-Your-Eyes-To-Optimize-Objects-You-See/

Fed Visualizes Digital Dollar That Can Make 1.7M Transactions Every Second



Image via the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

 

A new form of currency may be arriving soon. And like most innovations today, it’s going to be digital. 

This is known as a central bank digital currency (CBDC), and China has been prolifically developing its digital yuan, with the US Federal Reserve aiming to create something similar with the US dollar, per Forbes.

Project Hamilton, as named by the Boston Fed and MIT, has been showing promising results so far. A report dated Thursday indicates that a core processing engine for the hypothetical CBDC was capable of handling 1.7 million transactions per second in one of two tests to date, reaching settlement finality in less than two seconds.

The OpenCBDC software, as well as other software that will be used in the research, is said to be released publicly under the MIT open-source license. 

Protocol reports that the group has emphasized that—although time and effort has been put into this endeavor—it’s not to say that the US should, or will definitely implement, a digital dollar. It’s more of a statement to say that if the country wanted to, it theoretically could. 

Privacy and the potential for tracking every dollar is a concern with this new form of currency, as well as issues like money laundering.

Project Hamilton, however, has attempted to alleviate these concerns by stating that OpenCBDC is “intended to be a rigorous privacy-preserving tool that does not leak unnecessary information to third parties.” 

So far, research has been in Phase One. Now, in Phase Two, the Boston Fed details that the two collaborators will be building upon the initial model of OpenCBDC to allow for more flexibility in design. 

This will reportedly take policymakers one step closer to implementing an actual CBDC, if it actually does happen.

 

 

 

[via Forbes and Protocol, image via the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417658/Fed-Visualizes-Digital-Dollar-That-Can-Make-1-7M-Transactions-Every-Second/

SpaceX Is Working To Bring Broadband Access To Tonga’s Disaster-Struck Area



Image via Starlink

 

Last month, the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano left the kingdom reeling from ashfall and a tsunami, with the disaster affecting over 80% of the nation’s residents. 

According to PCMag, the shockwave had severed Tonga’s broadband connection, making it even more difficult to assess the disaster zone while it was disconnected from the wider world. 

Now, in order to aid the country, SpaceX is planning on bringing emergency internet connection to the region using its satellite service, Starlink. 

Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum revealed that the technology firm would be setting up a gateway ground station on the archipelago, some 500 miles away from Tonga. 

This initiative will allow the country to access broadband services to boost disaster-relief measures while its only underwater communications cable undergoes repair, which, as per Reuters, could take over a month. 

While it’s not known how long it’ll take for SpaceX to set up the internet service, residents will certainly appreciate a faster connection than the temporary 2G speeds that have been set up on the main island.

Capacity Media reported that the current connection has been patchy at best, with services running at a snail’s pace. With Starlink’s satellite internet, more residents in Tonga will be able to connect with loved ones outside of the country in this time of need.

 

The Hunga Tonga volcano’s shockwave shattered Tonga’s internet connection, adding days of gut-wrenching uncertainty to disaster assessments. A @SpaceX team is now in Fiji establishing a Starlink Gateway station to reconnect Tonga to the world.

Great initiative, @elonmusk!

— Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (@FijiAG) February 7, 2022

 

 

 

[via PCMag and Capacity Media, cover image via Starlink]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417640/SpaceX-Is-Working-To-Bring-Broadband-Access-To-Tonga-s-Disaster-Struck-Area/

FCC Moves To Prevent Scammers From Leaving ‘Ringless Voicemails’



Image via Photo 151770917 © via Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com

 

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel submitted a new proposal to tackle ringless voicemail robocalls made by scammers. This comes as the agency steps up its efforts in the fight against spam calls, which show no signs of dwindling as the YouMail RoboCall Index reported 50 billion such calls in 2021. 

According to SlashGear, ringless voicemails are a specific type of robocall used by telemarketers and scammers to leave a recorded message directly in a recipient’s inbox without having their phone ring. 

This could potentially leave the recipient confused at having a missed call, or having their inboxes fill up with these unwanted spam messages instead of actual voicemails left by family and friends who need to get in contact. 

“Ringless voicemail can be annoying, invasive, and can lead to fraud like other robocalls—so it should face the same consumer protection rules,” explained Rosenworcel.

“No one wants to wade through voicemail spam, or miss important messages because their mailbox is full. This FCC action would continue to empower consumers to choose which parties they give permission to contact them,” she added.

As per Law Street Media, should the four-person Commission vote to accept the proposal, the regulations currently protecting consumers against robocalls will be expanded to include this subset of ringless voicemails too.

 

 

 

[via SlashGear and Law Street Media, cover image via Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417623/FCC-Moves-To-Prevent-Scammers-From-Leaving-Ringless-Voicemails/

Scammers Are Tricking Drivers Into Using Fake QR Codes At Parking Meters



Image via The City of Austin

 

Police in San Antonio and Austin in Texas have warned drivers about a new scam involving fake QR codes on parking meters. 

These QR codes direct unwitting drivers to a fraudulent site to make payment, duping them into giving away their money and card details.

 

In Austin alone, the Transpiration Department told KXAN it found such stickers on 29 of 900 public parking meters. 

“We don’t use QR codes at all for this very reason, because they are easy to fake or place on the devices,” Jason Redfern, Parking Division Manager for the department, told Insider.

According to Ars Technica, the fake QR codes led drivers to a “Quick Pay Parking” webpage with the domain passportlab.xyz, which has since been taken offline. At the moment, authorities don’t yet know how many people were tricked by the scam.

Austin authorities said in a press release that they’ll continue to inspect the city’s parking meters to ensure the stickers don’t return, though drivers should call 911 if they see anyone tampering with a pay station. 

“Any person who believes they were a victim of a credit card breach due to the recent parking meter payments should file a police report and notify their card issuer immediately,” officials cautioned. 

 

 

 

[via Insider and Ars Technica, cover image via The City of Austin]

http://www.designtaxi.com/news/417387/Scammers-Are-Tricking-Drivers-Into-Using-Fake-QR-Codes-At-Parking-Meters/