Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

PrintWhile digital technology on the whole has improved people’s lives by making communication easier across the globe, throughout the years we’ve found that it also has the potential to separate and polarize people like no other technology before it.

People are more interconnected than ever with the help of social media accounts and employment profiles, and while this opens the door for friendships that would have otherwise never happened, it also creates an entirely new platform for bullying. This bullying also makes it possible for bullies to remain anonymous and thus free from the consequences of their actions, a set of circumstances which has allowed cyberbullying to grow into a full-fledged epidemic.

Why is this issue so pressing? Many see the conflict as one that deserves a healthy amount of skepticism, believing that bullying is somewhat inevitable and that children are responsible for their ability to learn how to cope with bullying. However, the connection between bullying and suicide has become more proven than ever before due to a recent report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

cyberbullying2Suicide and Suicide Attempts in Adolescents, a study published last month in Pediatrics, identified suicide as the number 2 cause of teen deaths. In a study carried out by the AAP almost a decade prior, teen suicide was found to be the third cause of teen death. The first cause of teen deaths in both reports remained unintentional injury.

The report also found that girls were twice as likely to attempt suicide as boys, though boys were three times more likely to succeed. Perhaps the most frightening statistic of all, four out of five teens who do commit suicide successfully don’t show any clear warning signs prior to the act. These warnings are so difficult to pick up on that the AAP has moved forward to ask pediatricians to be aware of heavy Internet usage and bullying when screening an adolescent for suicide risk.

Unfortunately, bullying remains an elusive problem to fix; there are time-tested mitigation tools that can be accessed and taught through education, professional insights, research studies and self-help books, but stamping out bullying all together is a tricky feat.

cyberbullying3Dorothy A. Miraglia, contributor to the upcoming book The Use of the Creative Therapies with Bullying and Aggression, has found that bullying can be combated by informing teens about the damage that it can do. She emphasizes especially that in our world of digital forums, teens need to remember to think before they post:

“Some teens may not understand words hurt, or exactly what cyberbullying is,” Miraglia told TechNewsWorld. “Teens should be taught what is appropriate to post and not post.”

In order to ameliorate the effects of bullying, it’s also important for victims to have access to guidance regarding how to deal with the abuse. Naomi Katz, author of Beautiful: Being an Empowered Young Woman, shared the following:

“Guide young people to cultivate a sense of confidence that can help support them when facing challenging situations. Encourage young people to remember that social media is only a small part of our social lives. Help them develop meaningful friendships that support positive growth.”

julian assangeJulian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, recently suggested his intention to release more sensitive data stolen from the server of the Democratic National Committee. During an interview with CNN, Assange stated that this website has “a lot more material” and may or may not release it, though he declined to identify the hacker who provided the huge amounts of hacked DNC emails published on his website last week.

“What we try and do as a source protection agency, we like to create maximum ambiguity as to who our sources are,” he said in the interview. “Perhaps one day the source or sources will step forward, and it might be an interesting moment. Some people will have egg on their faces.”

“Obviously, to exclude certain actors is to make it easier to find out who our sources are,” he added. “So we never do it.”

assangeWhile the US has revealed widely shared suspicions that Russians were behind the leak, the Kremlin has denied any Russian involvement in the hack that revealed a bias among DNC staff members, who openly mocked and plotted against Bernie Sanders. The revelations of the leaked emails have led to the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook as accused Russian of being responsible for the data breach in an attempt to better Donald Trump’s chances of winning the election. Trump denied any involvement outright and Russian officials scoffed at the allegation.

“What the experts said when this breach initially happened at the DNC was that they believed that it was Russian state actors who took these emails,” Mook had said. “Russian state actors were feeding the emails to hackers for the purpose of helping Donald Trump,” he concluded.

Assange may have actually teased the DNC leak a month before it happened during an interview with Britain’s ITV that occurred in mid-June. Assange brought up “emails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication,” but the comments were assumed to be a reference to additional emails potentially hacked off of her private server as opposed to DNC emails.

assange2In the same interview, Assange had more criticism to share regarding Clinton than Trump, saying she’s a “war hawk” and that her attempts to prosecute Wikileaks are “a bit of a problem for freedom of press more than generally.” Assange has shared personal objections to Clinton, saying she tried to indict him for releasing a huge trove of diplomatic cables that caused “personal embarrassment” for the Obama administration while she was the secretary of state.

Whether Assange is releasing these documents as retribution for Clinton’s hawkish actions or in support of Russian hackers or in support of Donald Trump remains unknown; we will have to see what additional leaks do occur and what those leaked documents reveal about the state of the United States Democratic National Committee. For now, Assange and the hacker who stole the data have definitely succeeded in causing chaos at the DNC, during which Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign and booed off-stage, an embarrassing event that was caught on video.

knuedgeDan Goldin worked as an administrator for NASA for many years before he spent about a decade working on a secret start-up that he just introduced to the public. Backed by US$100 million in private funding, his company KnuEdge is moving towards developing the technology behind voice biometrics and neural computing.

In its emergence from stealth mode, KnuEdge launched two new products that promise to make waves across multiple industries. Both are essentially military-grade voice recognition and authentication technology that can function in the noisy environments where they’re often used in the real world.

“We are not about incremental technology,” Goldin said of his company. “Our mission is fundamental transformation.”

“We were swinging for the fences from the very beginning,” he continued, “with the intent to create technologies that will in essence alter how humans interact with machines, and enable next-generation computing capabilities ranging from signal processing to machine learning.”

knupathKnupath’s neurocomputing technology is largely based on the LambdaFabric processor, which allows for scaling up to 512,000 devices in even the most demanding computing environments possible.

KnuEdge’s technology can be used in a variety of settings, from corporate environments including customer service and secure banking transactions to home automation.

The popularity of vocal assistants like Siri, Cortana and Alexa have hastened and exemplified the vocal recognition technology revolution; the industry has seen explosive development in the past few years. KnuEdge plans to take this development to the next level by developing voice authentication technology that can work not only in perfectly silent environments with articulate speakers, but in harsh, high-volume environments like airports and restaurants.

The company has already started to generate revenue since its outing from stealth mode, and its attracting significant interest from commercial firms in the entertainment, banking and healthcare industries.

securityAccording to the company, the LambdaFabric processor technology developed while KnuEdge was working on its neural voice recognition and authentication technology:

“The team realized it could not achieve the performance it would need with traditional CPUs and GPUs and created a new team to build an application-specific integrated unit,” explained KnuEdge in a statement.

Goldin worked as an administrator for NASA for nine years and was employee for the company since 1962. KnuEdge’s CEO apparently experienced a somewhat controversial tenure during his time at the agency and developed a reputation as a leader with a difficult and overly-harsh temperament.

“The report is mixed,” explained Haym Benaroya, a professor at Rutgers University. “He was criticized for implementing too much change in such a short time,” Benaroya continued, describing Goldin’s time overseeing various major products for NASA, during which he slashed the agency’s budget by 33 percent.

“Dan is known for his leadership and innovation, plus his ability to get things done,” KnuEdge stated of its leader. “His record of success at NASA speaks for itself and he has brought this attention to successful execution to KnuEdge.”

Boston University may have less positive things to say about Goldin, whose appointment to president was rescinded after rumors spread regarding his plans to remove several top school administrators.

isis data leakTo the relief and excitement of peace-lovers around the world, ISIS has sprung a data leak that has jeopardized the secret identities of thousands of its members.

An ISIS defector purportedly passed along about a USB drive’s worth of secret ISIS data, which included the personal information of over 22,000 ISIS fighters. That data included everything from the fighter’s names, phone numbers and hometowns to their blood types. This information is apparently filled out in forms during the process of joining the violent terrorist organization.

Public news sources have obtained some or all of the information already; a Syrian opposition newspaper states that it has access to a proportion of the data, as does the British television network Sky News and some German intelligence officials. One German law enforcement official spoke to CNN and disclosed that the information appeared to be real.

isis dlHow much of ISIS has been exposed? 22,000 ISIS fighters likely makes up a decent chunk of the group’s membership, but the total number of people who have sworn allegiance to the terrorist group remains unclear. Reports have varied widely and the same researchers will adjust their guesses as time goes on. The leak did apparently include the information of known ISIS recruits, some of which are already dead.

How much will this data aid anti-ISIS efforts? Mathhew Levitt, a counterterrorism analyst with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, stated that the leak will likely be an unexpected and much appreciated gift for security agencies all around the world. The leak included questionaires, which themselves possessed a list of all countries visited by the ISIS applicants. That information alone could help security agencies to map out the routes of foreign fighters looking to join the movement.

It can also be expected that prosecutors and law enforcement agencies will study the data for clues regarding potential recruitment contacts based in the United States or Europe.

FILE - This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now called the Islamic State group, marching in Raqqa, Syria.  U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 ordered the United States into a broad military campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” militants in two volatile Middle East nations, authorizing airstrikes inside Syria for the first time, as well as an expansion of strikes in Iraq. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)

“From a macro intelligence perspective, this type of information is a treasure trove for intelligence analysts,” stated Levitt.

As for a more detailed take on the data, investigators will likely need time to look through the data before they find any real clues or make any major discoveries.

“There may be someone’s phone number that’s come up some place else that could be put together with this to create a holistic picture of things that we didn’t know were important at the time,” explained Levitt.

Levitt claims that the leak could become a rare and valuable intelligence coup to be used against a terrorist group that has proven to be a difficult target for Western physical and digital surveillance:

“ISIS operates largely in denied physical space, and penetrating its virtual space has been very difficult, too… When someone provides you this kind of information, it’s very exciting.”

Hopefully this will only be the first of the many leaks to come from ISIS defectors who have seen the light; data is one of the most powerful weapons to be wielded against the covert terrorist group that operates largely in surprise attacks.

Today the line is blurred from knowing when a product is a product in itself and when it is a tech product. Today there seems to be less and less of a difference and tomorrow we can rest dadvassured that this trend will only continue to where everything is in someway internet enabled. Ford Motor company is all to familiar with this reality and is planing in a big way to set them apart from the competition. To the tune of a 10 year plan to transform their headquarters into a high tech campus. As self driving cars and ride sharing services that are enabled by your device continue to go on the rise and effectively transform own transportation infrastructure, Ford has been making the effort and the pledge to recast itself as a tech company first and foremost that just so happens to exclusively make cars. The company has announced that it has plans in the works to transform its 7.5 million square foot headquarters in dear born, Michigan, into a high tech campus that is on par with anything you would find in the silicon valley.

The renovated campus will house over 30,000 employees who currently worktec 70 different buildings around the surrounding areas, so this move alone will help streamline the whole process of design to build they are going to make a big difference in terms of making the impossible or even the pretty hard most definitely possible and achievable. This has been the focus of Ford for the better part of 3 years, and they are only now beginning to put the peddle to the medal. This is the first major renovation the company has had in over 60 years and the one before this pales in comparison to the sure scale of the changes being proposed.

One of the key designers of the project has noted that  “Just with the age of the facilities alone we knew we would have to invest a lot in the infrastructure to keep them viable,” Inch says. “But they also don’t have the connectivity and collaborative environment that we wanted, so we decided to take a very holistic view.”

There are going to be 2 main campuses in the new super campus that will work in close

Dearborn Campus Transformation: The current Ford Research and Engineering Center Campus – dedicated by U.S. President Eisenhower in May 1953 – currently houses 12,000 employees. It is being transformed into a contemporary, innovative work environment to accommodate 24,000 employees in 4.5 million square feet of upgraded work space.

conjunction with each other both in terms of their proximity as well as their duties and responsibility. The head quarters is going to take up a huge 1.3 million square ft of space and will also house the Ford Credit subsidiary. This is going to help Ford better achieve what they have been trying to do with their attempts at voice sync as early as 10 years ago. Ford is stepping into new grounds with their partnership with lyft in their attempts to make every car driver less before the decades end. Whether or not that is going to be feasible considering the state of the legislation is another story, but at the very least they are hoping to make the largest fleet of driverless cars in the world.  This is going to be a new frontier.

AnonymousDonaldTrumpMany witnesses of this year’s presidential election season may have noticed the direction that events seem to be moving; the Republican party seems likely to split based on its own candidate (which seems more than likely to be Trump), practically ensuring that the Democratic Party’s candidate surges to victory.

This all seems to occur despite the outstanding statistics suggesting that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s front-running presidential hopeful, is actually an extremely weak and scandal-ridden candidate.

Then yet another factor entered a race where the unprecedented nature of the ages seemed to ensure that unprecedented factors surface to create mahem: Anonymous, the group of computer hacker vigilantes, set its cross-hairs on Donald Trump.

The anti-Trump initiative, called the “White Rose Revolt” and carried out by the “White Rose Society,” was launched in response to what Anonymous describes as fascist leanings by Trump and his supporters. These descriptions are by no means unique to Anonymous; scholars and pundits alike have disputed the overt xenophobia, racism and sexism of Trump’s comments and that in general Trump seems to stand for. Thus, Anonymous launched #OpWhiteRose.

anonymous2Without delay, Anonymous announced its release of Trump’s personal information online, including his cell phone number and his Social Security number. The Trump front immediately responded with vehement words and the announcement from the NSA and FBI that an investigation had begun.

Of course, and as planned, it then became clear that Anonymous had found and posted Trump’s information after finding it posted online, where anyone could see it, where it had been already posted for year.

Anonymous RedCult then released as second video explaining its ruse. The narrator of the video explained that the information “was online since 2013,” and that “The government and law enforcement authorities are seeking the arrest of the people responsible for attempting to illegally hack Mr. Trump’s accounts and telephone information.”

Anonymous’ intention all along was allegedly to demonstrate the fascist tendencies of the government and the Trump campaign, which was eager and willing to seek out the “assailants” of a non-crime, but not nearly as interested in whether or not a crime had occurred.

anony trump“Trump want[s] to turn America into a fascist dictatorship where anyone can be arrested just for posting old information online,” continued the narrator, citing a snippet of ABC News coverage in which the non-hack was reported as a serious crime.

“Thank you Trump and Trump campaign. Thank you police, FBI, and the Secret Service for being a part of our little experiment on how we should expect the so-called New America will be,” continued the narrator.

That said, if major news stations and the currently standing government was so quick to react in defense of Trump and without any real consideration of whether a law was broken, that “New America” may be closer to us than we think. Perhaps it’s not turning into fascists that we as a country need to worry about, but how exactly we will turn into something else, that lies in our future and at stake during this year’s political debate.

This Thursday Amazon declared that two of their existing products: Echo Dot and Amazon Tap, would enable the Alexa voice recognition software to manage the day to day tasks of their platform. The leap can be understood in a similar vein being Amazons answer to the Suri platform for Apple. However, Amazons doing so in a bit of a more ambitious way through offering the means for Alexa to be a more omnipresent feature of the users life and interface between several products. From the home to the Office Alexa will be seen as a kind of personal assistant to help streamline our navigation of the mundane to the extraordinary, this is going to be an extraordinary step forward for voice recognition software and computing in general.echoooo

What this means for the Echo Dot, Amazon’s mini, hands-free device is that it will use the same far-field voice-recognition capabilities as as the Amazon Echo. Essentially, this will enable it to connect to one’s in home speaker system via their Bluetooth capabilities, or alternatively this can be achieved via their voice commands. If this wasn’t impressive enough in itself, this also has the potential use the device to sync with other smart home devices, including the lights, door locks, bedroom alarm clock, smart dog collars, pool filters and heaters, bidet, stove, coffee maker, salad spinner, jewelry box, hot plate, patio retractable shade structures, car ignition and heater, to name just a few of the almost endless potential this will have in the future tomorrow, today.

If you are a Amazon Prime member the deals are only going to get sweeter. This is due to their promise that members will be able to order the device for the rock bottom no holds barred price of $89.00 United States of America Dollars. Not only can they buy it for this price, buy they will be able to do so within the confides of the Alexa system if they already have a device which enables them to do so. This said their is expected to be an  extremely high demand for this product, given that nature of new tech products where its not so much that you get it, but that you get it first Amazon expects these beauties to sell out quickly at this price. However, one should not fret, Amazon will make more because people will give them money to do so, and if you don’t get your hands on this round of product you can rest assured that they will unveil something that is almost qualitatively identical to it in a few months with minor and even negligible performance increases for an increased price. 200001_504

Amazon hopes that this will help them leap into 21st century technology bounds in front of the competition and stays there. it can be said that Amazon is not ready considering this be so far from their existing business model, primarily online com-meres. But even if this idea totally flops the stakes don’t seem very high. At the end of the day they are Amazon and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

electromagnetismYou may have heard someone state that electricity is just a form of magnetism or vice versa. Indeed, the two forces are deeply interrelated. Here’s a little information about that interrelation from someone who has no idea what they’re talking about:

To really understand the difference between magnetism and electricity, we may have to delve deeply into special relativity. More broadly, special relativity is the generally accepted theory regarding the relationship between space and time created by Einstein. His postulates are the following:

  1. that the laws of physics are invariant (i.e. identical) in all inertial systems (non-accelerating frames of reference) and
  2. that the speed of light in a vacuum is the same for all observers, regardless of the motion of the light source.

This relates to classical electromagnetism in that it begets formulas for how electromagnet objects, in particular the electric and magnetic fields, are altered under a Lorentz transformation from one inertial frame of reference to another.

The Lorentz transformation (or transformations) are coordinate transformations between two coordinate frames that move at constant velocity relative to each other. Frames of reference can be divided into two groups, inertial (i.e. relative motion with constant velocity) and non-inertial (accelerating in cursed paths, rotational motion with constant angular velocity, etc.). When you hear the term “Lorentz transformation”, think of transformations between inertial frames. Basically, Einstein’s theory of special relativity makes it possible to understand that the frame of reference ultimately determine if an observation follows electrostatic or magnetic laws.

Basically, if you look at a classical stationary electric charge, it creates a purely electrical field i.e. the Coulomb field. The Coulomb field is responsible for generating the phenomena of static electricity. However, if you then look at that electric charge from the standpoint of a reference frame which is moving with respect to it, the electric charge may now seem like it’s moving, i.e. it’s an electric current which in turn creates a magnetic field.

electromagnetism2So let’s bring it back to eye level: permanent magnets generate their magnetic field through two main mechanisms:

  1. the orbital motion of electrons around the nucleus. Electrons are negatively charged, making this equivalent to an electric current that creates a magnetic field.
  2. the spin off the electrons themselves. this again creates a magnetic field, so that the atoms behave like tiny magnets.

So now it’s time to talk about ferromagnetic materials. Ferromagnetic materials have subatomic properties that allow for the atoms that make them up to behave like the tiny magnets that they are and align their magnet’s directions together in local units called magnetic domains. This then creates a larger magnetic field.

It’s not enough to work as a battery, however. This is because the motion of the electric charge in the atoms is cyclical and the spin of the electron doesn’t move the charge from one place to another. For a battery, you’d need a movement of charge that results in separation of positive and negative charge, which then would be made available at the terminals. Permanent magnets can’t function as batteries because this isn’t how they work.


gov surveillanceGovernments around the world have been reacting to recurring terrorist attacks with a push to up the ante on government surveillance; chiefly, they want tech companies to be forced to create a backdoor with their encryption services that allows for government security agencies to monitor messages of potential terrorists. The push to do this has been particularly centered the United States and the United Kingdom, where government officials and tech higher-ups have had the most notable clashes.

As another episode to this long-standing debate, campaigners from over 40 countries have joined forces to defend encryption by releasing an open letter signed by 195 experts.

“Users should have the option to use- and companies the option to provide- the strongest encryption available, including end-to-end encryption, without fear that governments will compel access to the content, metadata, or encryption keys without due process and respect for human rights,” the letter states.

The letter was part of an initiative made by the digital-rights group Access Now and posted to It strongly denounces any government attempts to “ban or otherwise limit user access to encryption in any form or otherwise prohibit the implementation or use of encryption by grade or type.”

It further decries many government’s attempts to “mandate insecure encryption algorithms, standards, tools or technologies.”

Among the signories are the secure-messaging company Silent Circle, Human Rights Watch, former CIA official John Kiriakou, United Nations special rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye, and Guardian US columnist Trevor Timm.

Technology experts have pointed out that any security flaw built into their devices could be manipulated by hackers just as easily as the government. In fact, the weakening of consumer-available encryption will increase the already mounting risk of cybercrime and identity theft.

tim cook2“A backdoor is a backdoor for everyone,” argued Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The letter was released in a dozen countries where digital surveillance has hit an all-time high. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act passed through US Congress just last month after it was sandwiched into a must-pass spending bill. The manipulation of the bill’s passage and its general lack of press do not bode well for privacy rights for US citizens.

“Encryption and anonymity, and the security concepts behind them, provide the privacy and security necessary for the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age,” claimed David Kaye in a statement accompanying the letter’s release.

Amie Stepanovich is Access Now’s policy manager. According to her, Chine and the United Kingdom have been united in threatening encryption, warranting a more global response.

“Conversations about security and surveillance have taken place in the shadows for too long,” Stepanovich asserted. “From the secret negotiations of the so-called cybersecurity bill in order to push it through last December, to meetings just last week between top officials in government and the private sector- we need to start singing light not he ways our human rights are being threatened. draws clear lines in the sane- we won’t stand for laws of policies that threaten our security.”

Hopefully there will be more public displays of anti-surveillance techniques of this nature; unfortunately, cybersecurity has the strange ability to stay out of the news, and certainly out of the US primary debates.

computersComputing power is basically just your computer’s ability to perform an operation quickly. Everything it does can be broken down into mathematical processes; your computer’s processor just interprets commands that you execute as a series of math problems. The faster the processor, the more calculations per second it can handle. Fast processors are also better at dealing with really difficult mathematical equations.

You’ve likely heard of a CPU or Central Processing Unit. Your computer and any other personal computer you’ve come into contact with likely has a CPU. Within the CPU is an electronic clock, which generates a series of electrical pulses at regular intervals. This allows the computer to synchronize all its components and it determines the speed at which the computer retrieve data from its stored memory and undergo the calculations necessary for your commands to be performed.

This means that when you’re talking about processing power, what you’re really referring to is the clock speed, which in turn refers to the number of electrical pulses your CPU sends out each second. The more pulses it sends out, the more equations can be performed and the faster memory can be retrieved. When you see a processor that is rated at 3.2 gigahertz, you’re looking at a processor that sends out around 3.2 billion pulses each second. It’s even possible to overclock processors, or push them past their advertised speed, but each clock has its limit.

So how super can a computer be? The Tianhe-2 supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology was the wold’s fastest computer in 2014 with a processing power of 33.86 petaflops (quadrillions of calculations per second) on the Linpack benchmark. As 2015 draws to a close, we’re likely to have a new contender.

You may be asking, what the heck is a petaflop? Flop signifies floating-point operations per second. Most desktop computers have processors that can handle billions of flops per second, i.e. gigaflops. Computers with multiple processors are faster than single-processor machines because each processor core can handle a certain number of calculations per second. Multi-core processors are able to increase computing power while using less electricity, giving them yet another advantage.

3d illustration of cpu chip over white background

3d illustration of cpu chip over white background

Even the fastest computers can take years to complete certain tasks, especially if they’re being put to the task of de-encrypting information. A lot of times these tasks involve finding prime factors of a very large number, which is difficult because the computer must first determine the factors of the large number and then determine if each individual number is prime. If a number is incredible large, this kind of task can keep a computer busy for a long time.

Encryption has decryption has become a major facet of computing technology, as anything from internet currency like the bitcoin to national secrets are stored and kept safe by creating situations in which only intense processing power can act as a key. However, with quantum computing on the horizon, even this newly developed world is bound to change soon and yield bigger and better things for the tech industry and all the industries that surround it.