As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.
'Digital legacy' letter plea issued
People need to consider their “digital legacy” and whether they want relatives to access their online accounts after they die, a funeral company has said.
The card aiming to end Nigerian fraud
How Nigeria is tackling identity fraud
Net of things starter kit unveiled
New “starter kit” that promises to let start-ups make their inventions internet capable within minutes is unveiled by ARM and IBM.
AAPL: Analysts revise estimates as North American sales increase
A number of analysts revised their expectations for Apple’s stock last week — only to watch those year-end estimates melt in the face of the stock’s current performance, which ended trading on Monday at yet another all-time high of $133 per share. The combination of much better-than-expected sales in the holiday quarter and the increasing interest in Apple’s other initiatives — ranging from Apple Pay to forthcoming products like the Apple Watch and a possible-but-far-off car design — has sent the stock skyrocketing.
VIDEO: The smart bandage treating wounds
Dan Simmons looks at the medical devices of the future.
We Need a Manhattan Project for Cyber Security
By Marc Goodman
Of the 6,494 words President Obama uttered in his January 2015 State of the Union Address, only 108 of them were dedicated to the topic of our growing technological insecurity. Sure, the leader of the free world has a lot on his plate, but the President’s legislative proposal to “enhance information sharing” and “mandate national data breach reporting” are likely to have a minuscule impact on a serious and growing problem.
Indeed, suggesting these measly offerings would make any meaningful difference in our global cyber security is akin to applying sunscreen and claiming it protects us from a nuclear meltdown – wholly inadequate to the scale and severity of the problem. It is time for a stone-cold, somber rethinking of our current state of affairs. It’s time for a Manhattan Project for cyber security.
The major hacking incidents over the past few months, whether it was the Sony Pictures attack allegedly carried out by North Korea or the hundreds of millions of accounts penetrated at Target, Home Depot and JPMorganChase purportedly by Russian organized crime, make it clear that all our online data – whether financial, personal or intellectual – is at risk.
But we have a bigger problem: Computers run the world. They run our airports, our airplanes, our cars, our hospitals, our stock markets and our power grids–and these computers too are shockingly vulnerable to attack. Though we’re racing forward at breakneck speed to connect all the objects in our physical world – the tools we need to run our society – to the Internet, we still fundamentally do not have the trustworthy computing required to make it so. We’ve wired the world, but failed to secure it.
Indeed, it has become plainly clear that we can no longer neglect the security, public policy, legal, ethical, and social implications of the rapidly emerging technological tools we are developing. We are morally responsible for our inventions and though our technological advances are proceeding at an exponential pace, our institutions of governance remain decidedly linear. There is a fundamental mismatch between the world we are building and our ability to protect it. Though we have yet to suffer the sort of game-changing, calamitous cyber attack of which many have warned, why wait until then to prepare?
There are good examples in history where we as a society have brought together expertise in anticipation of catastrophic risk before it occurred. When it was discovered in 1939 that German physicists had learned to split the uranium atom, fears quickly spread throughout the American scientific community that the Nazis would soon have the ability to create a bomb capable of unimaginable destruction. Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi agreed that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had to be apprised of the situation.
Shortly thereafter, the Manhattan Project was launched, an epic secret effort of the Allies during World War II to build a nuclear weapon. Facilities were set up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Robert Oppenheimer was appointed to oversee the project. From 1942 to 1946, the Manhattan Project clandestinely employed over 120,000 Americans toiling around the clock and across the country at a cost of $2 billion. Those working on the Manhattan Project were dead serious about the threat before them. We are not.
While no sane person would equate the risks from the catastrophic impact of nuclear war with those involving 100 million stolen credit cards, we must surely recognize that the underpinnings of our modern technological society, embodied in our global critical information infrastructures, are weak and subject to come tumbling down either through their aging and decaying architectures, overwhelming system complexities or via direct attack by malicious actors. It’s high time for a Manhattan Project for cyber security.
I’m not the first to suggest such an undertaking; many others have done so before, most notably in the wake of the September 11 attacks. At the time, a coalition of preeminent scientists wrote President George W. Bush a letter in which they warned, “The critical infrastructure of the United States, including electrical power, finance, telecommunications, health care, transportation, water, defense and the Internet, is highly vulnerable to cyber attack. Fast and resolute mitigating action is needed to avoid national disaster.”
Signatories to the letter included those from academia, think tanks, technology companies, and government agencies. These serious thinkers, not prone to hyperbole or exaggeration, warned that the grave risk of cyber attack was a real and present danger and called for the president to act immediately in creating a cyber-defense project modeled on the Manhattan Project. That call to action was in 2002.
Sadly, precious little has changed since then with regard to the state of the world’s cyber insecurity; if anything, the situation has grown worse. Sure, there have been nominal efforts, but precious little substantive progress. What is America’s overarching strategy to protect ourselves from the rapidly emerging technological threats we face? We simply do not have one – a serious problem we may live to regret.
A real Manhattan Project for cyber security would draw together some of the greatest minds of our time, from government, academia, the private sector, and civil society. Serving as convener and funder, the government would bring together the best and brightest of computer scientists, entrepreneurs, hackers, big-data authorities, scientific researchers, venture capitalists, lawyers, public policy experts, law enforcement officers, and public health officials, as well as military and intelligence personnel. Their goal would be to create a true national cyber-defense capability, one that could detect and respond to threats against our national critical infrastructures in real time.
This Manhattan Project would help generate the associated tools we need to protect ourselves, including more robust, secure, and privacy-enhanced operating systems. Through its research, it would also design and produce software and hardware that were self-healing and vastly more resistant to attack and resilient to failure than anything available today. Such a project of national and even global importance would have the vision, scope, resources, budgetary support, and perhaps most importantly, a real sense of urgency required in order to make it a success.
By bringing together those at the forefront of their respective fields, this Manhattan Project would also be able to forecast the troubling waters ahead. Though today’s technologies have been a boon for illicit actors, they will pale in comparison to the breadth and scope of technological change that will rapidly unfold before us in the coming years. Soon a plethora of exponential technologies now just in their infancy, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, 3-D manufacturing, and synthetic biology, will be upon us, and with them will come concomitantly profound, perhaps even life-altering, opportunities for good–but also for harm. In this exponentially accelerating world the ability of a single person to affect many – for good or evil – is now scaling exponentially, with implications for our common security.
Despite this, we plod forward, adopting newer, brighter technologies, each promising to solve a new problem or deliver a particular convenience. The problem is not that technology is bad; in fact, science and technology hold the promise of profound benefit to humanity. The problem, as we have seen, is that those with technological know-how, be they criminals, terrorists, or rogue governments, can use their knowledge to exploit an exponentially growing portion of the general public to its detriment.
Last month, President Obama acknowledged “no foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets or invade the privacy of American families.” But encouraging Congress to pass legislation on identity theft and data breach notifications is not nearly enough. There is a gathering storm before us. The technological bedrock on which we are building the future of humanity is deeply unstable and like a house of cards can come crashing down at any moment. It’s time to build greater resiliency into our global information grid in order to avoid a colossal system crash. If we are to survive the progress offered by our technologies and enjoy their abundant bounty, we must first develop adaptive mechanisms of security that can match or exceed the exponential pace of the threats before us. There’s no time to lose.
Adapted for XPRIZE from the book Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman, available in bookstores and online Feb. 24.
Marc Goodman has spent a career in law enforcement and technology. He has served as a street police officer, senior adviser to Interpol and futurist-in-residence with the FBI. As the founder of the Future Crimes Institute and the Chair for Policy, Law, and Ethics at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, he continues to investigate the intriguing and often terrifying intersection of science and security, uncovering nascent threats and combating the darker sides of technology. Follow him on Twitter @FutureCrimes.
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It's Official: Apple Is Finally Getting Diverse Emoji
Who says Santa Claus has to be white? Until now, your iPhone’s emoji keyboard did.
A new beta release of iOS 8.3, currently available only to software developers, fixes that. It includes the option to change an emoji’s skin color, meaning you can finally choose something beyond the pale pink hands and white boys and girls currently available. The human-looking emoji — including the one for Kris Kringle — will now have six different skin tones to pick from.
A spokeswoman for Apple confirmed the update to The Huffington Post via email, though an official release date has yet to be announced.
Here’s what they’ll look like.
Apple just showed off its new, diverse emoji for the first time http://t.co/0Y65NidRKs pic.twitter.com/fvYHhSFBMG
— Yahoo Tech (@YahooTech) February 23, 2015
Apple just showed off its new, diverse emoji for the first time http://t.co/miHzVWCU4D pic.twitter.com/SDsfmw2Bme
— Yahoo Tech (@YahooTech) February 23, 2015
The emoji change has been expected since at least November, when the Unicode Consortium released updated emoji standards that included a skin tone palette. The Consortium sets international rules for text and characters to insure consistency across platforms. Major companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM use Unicode, which is basically why you’re able to send an emoji from your iPhone to a friend’s Android device without it displaying as an unreadable character.
Here’s a screenshot of more of the new emoji options.
Some have lauded the move for pushing emoji beyond certain stereotypes, like the default image of a brown man in a turban.
However, there’s been some pushback over the yellowish skin tone option:
Don’t understand why Asians should be thrilled to use bright yellow emojis. What are we, the ‘Bert’ race? pic.twitter.com/9eDdSCJf60
— Tim Mak (@timkmak) February 23, 2015
Apart from the diverse emoji, there’s also a little something extra for Apple nerds. The company has reportedly replaced the old cell phone and wristwatch emoji with an iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, as seen here:
The new diverse emoji are also available in a “pre-release” of the latest Mac OS X version. But unless you’re a software developer, you’ll have to wait for the final versions to be released.
Actress Emma Watson Applauds Men in Miniskirts
Thousands of men across Turkey and Azerbaijan are posting pictures of themselves on social media wearing miniskirts. They are not only taking photos, they are also taking to the streets to express solidarity with those who have been protesting violence against women in Turkey for over a week now.
And their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Just yesterday British actress and UN Ambassador Emma Watson who has been in the news most recently trying to fend off reports that she is dating Prince Harry, took time to tweet her support.
The protests were spurred by the events surrounding the brutal killing of 20-year-old Ozgecan Aslan. The young psychology student went missing on February 11. She was last seen taking a bus home from college. Her body was found days later in a riverbed in her home town. Authorities subsequently arrested the bus driver, his father, and a friend. The driver is alleged to have taken Aslan to a remote area and attempted to rape her. She fought back using pepper-spray but was unable to overcome her assailant who beat and stabbed her to death. Then, with the assistance of his accomplices, he burned and dumped her corpse.
The alleged murder has prompted outrage across Turkey where protestors have taken to the streets to demand reform. They have also taken to social media. Shortly after Aslan’s slaying, Turkish women began sharing their stories of sexual assault using the hash tags #sendeanlat or “#tell your story”. In the last 30 days, over 742,000 tweets were posted under this hash tag. In that same period, the hashtag #ozgecanaslan has been used more than 3.7 million times, making it one of the most popular topics on twitter for several days in a row.
The latest trending hashtag being used now primarily by men is #ozgecanicinminietekgiy or “wear a miniskirt for Ozgecan”. The BBC reports that this movement originally started in Azerbaijan and has since spread into Turkey and beyond. Topsy reports that over the last 7 days (February 16-23) this hashtag has been used more than 9,500 times.
But the men are not stopping there, they are also going out on the streets in their miniskirts to join protestors in a show of camaraderie. Their efforts to increase support for the cause have also prompted the use of the hashtag #EteginiGiyTaksimeGel or “Come to Taksim wearing a skirt”.
Regardless of dress, what the protestors hope to do is draw attention to the problem of increasing violence against women in Turkey and to push for reform. Much of their frustration has been focused on the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP). In the more than decade since the AKP came to power violence against women has skyrocketed. Government reports suggest that between 2002 and 2009 violence against women rose 1400 percent. It is not clear what has happened since 2009 because the government has been unwilling to release new data for several years.
Moreover there is a growing sense that via both their words and inaction the AKP has allowed this type of violence to escalate. It wasn’t long ago, for instance, that ruling party parliamentarian Ayhan Sefer Ustun said “a rapist is more innocent than a rape victim who chooses to have an abortion.” Similarly, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been taken to task for making the case that it is impossible to speak about equality between the sexes. Both of these statements were made prior to Aslan’s killing.
It is yet unclear what the outcome of the current protests will be from a policy perspective. But there is no question that Aslan’s death has prompted women and men across Turkey, and in neighboring countries, to take to both the streets and social media to express their outrage.
Huge New Holes In Siberia Have Scientists Calling For Urgent Investigation Of The Mysterious Craters
Scientists were baffled last July when they discovered three giant holes in the ground in the Yamal Peninsula in northern Siberia.
Now, with the help of satellite imagery, researchers have located four additional craters–and they believe there may be dozens more in the region. That has them calling for an urgent investigation to protect residents living in the area.
“I am sure that there are more craters on Yamal, we just need to search for them… I suppose there could be 20 to 30 craters more,” Prof. Vasily Bogoyavlensky, a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and deputy director of the Moscow-based Oil and Gas Research Institute, told The Siberian Times. “It is important not to scare people, but to understand that it is a very serious problem and we must research this.”
Researchers ventured deep inside one of the holes last November, collecting data in an effort to learn why the holes formed. The leading theory is that the holes were created by gas explosions triggered by underground heat or by rising air temperatures associated with climate change, the Siberian Times reported last December.
Since scientists can’t predict when or where gas explosions will occur, it’s dangerous to study them, according to Bogoyavlensky. But he said his team is planning to launch a new expedition, and to put stations in the area to detect earthquakes that might strike when the craters open up.
“We need to answer now the basic questions: what areas and under what conditions are the most dangerous?” he told the Siberian Times. “These questions are important for safe operation of the northern cities and infrastructure of oil and gas complexes.”
Experts in the U.S. echoed that sentiment.
Dr. Carolyn Ruppel, a research geophysicist at the Woods Hole Field Center in Massachusetts and chief of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Gas Hydrates Project, told The Huffington Post in an email that she was not surprised that new holes had been found.
Ruppel, who is not involved in the Siberian research effort, called for more research on the holes.
“The processes that are causing them to form likely occur over a wide area of the continuous permafrost in this part of Siberia,” she said in the email. “Scientists should definitely conduct more research on these features to determine the processes that cause their formation, how they evolve with time, and whether it is possible to predict where new ones will occur.”
See below for photos from the November’s expedition into one of the craters.
Study shows smartphones can produce quantifiable microscope images
Researchers use Cellscope device to capture images for automated analysis
The post Study shows smartphones can produce quantifiable microscope images appeared first on iMedicalApps.
Edward Snowden Thought Neil Patrick Harris' 'Treason' Joke From The Oscars Was Pretty Funny
After “Citizenfour” — the film about Edward Snowden’s efforts to expose the National Security Agency’s surveillance tactics — won best documentary at the 2015 Academy Awards, Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris couldn’t help but crack a joke.
“Edward Snowden couldn’t be here for some treason,” Harris said.
Reporter Glenn Greenwald, who helped with the documentary “Citizenfour” and broke the NSA news in The Guardian in 2013, called the joke “pretty pitiful,” “stupid” and “irresponsible.” But Snowden had a different reaction.
“To be honest, I laughed at NPH,” Snowden said in a reddit AMA on Monday. “I don’t think it was meant as a political statement, but even if it was, that’s not so bad. My perspective is if you’re not willing to be called a few names to help out your country, you don’t care enough.”
Read more from the AMA with Snowden, Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras here.
Why the Public Loves Leaked Photos
Another week, another leak. Flux is the new norm, and surprise is the new expectation. The latest unveiling has been a double-dose of diva exposure back to back. Not only a Cindy Crawford unretouched magazine photo made it on the scene earlier this week, but just days later, a Beyonce unretouched L’oreal ad photo. Most people seem to think this is about standards of beauty or issues exclusively about women, but there is far more to it than that.
This phenomenon is part of a much larger trend. To assume that the leaks and the reaction to them is solely about beauty is like selecting the first slightly dented can on the shelf of your local grocer rather than reaching a bit farther to the back to get a more perfect one. In other words, easy and obvious. No, this is about something that plays into a much larger trend. While the convo around beauty and “authentic self” is a part of the cultural mindset, the real issue is a desire for transparency in all areas. This is a deepening cultural value that is growing in impact. This is about revealing the hidden, often times trying to embarrass those in enviable positions and trying to poke at them, bring them down, and making them and/or making a particular system more transparent. It’s about a democratization-of-sorts, or bottom-up stance somehow showing that the public is stating that the jig is up in terms of having unattainably perfected images, power, lifestyles, rules constantly promoted it. From celebrities to corporations, we continually see more disclosures of secrets (think: Sony Motion Pictures emails exposing racist thoughts), to hacking (think: Anonymous and crippling bank sites at which it is angered) and, yes, for better or worse, unflattering and/or nude (and soon in compromising positions) photos of notable figures (think: Anthony Weiner).
What will this mean? Certainly, different standards of privacy and new cyber security methods will be created but also personal decryption methods and more will begin to be introduced. We’ll all have to think a lot more about what images and info we have out there and where. In addition Matt Wallaert, Behavioral Scientist at Bing says, “People love secrets revealed; even for very young children, the surest way to make someone want something is to tell them they can’t have it. Even better when it is a celebrity, because it seems unusual, exotic. But as cliched as it may sound, celebrities are people too — despite our curiosity, these leaks cause real people real pain and it is important that we don’t become a culture in which becoming famous means giving up your basic rights.”
Watch for discussion to build around this unique intersection of rights, cultural change, and the introduction of additional emerging tech platforms. For sure, it will be a hot one!
6 Women Rocking Tech for Good
Folks, I figure it’s really important to highlight women who are really making positive changes across the tech sector. These people aren’t often given the recognition they deserve. If you’re able, please support ‘em and follow them on Twitter. They’re the real deal.
(Also, please note the five women to watch in 2015.)
1. Jessica Greenwalt, Co-founder and Lead Designer, CrowdMed
While in high school, she started a freelance design company which grew into an international design and Web development firm, then founded Pixelkeet, the world’s only “parakeet-run” graphic design and Web development firm.
More recently, Jessica co-founded CrowdMed, whose approach and healthcare innovation help people overcome obstacles and silos that exist within the medical establishment, empowering patients and assisting doctors who simply cannot know everything about every medical condition. CrowdMed helps diagnose medical issues faster and more accurately, not only improving outcomes but saving lives.
2. and 3. Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, Founders, Roominate
Alice grew up playing in her dad’s robotics lab and made her first toy when she was only eight years old. When she asked her dad for a Barbie, he gave her a saw instead. So she made her own doll out of wood and nails! As a young girl, Bettina loved Lego and built cities filled with spaceships with her older brother. More recently, Bettina has conducted research on bionic contact lenses and worked as an electrical design engineer at Discera and KLA-Tencor.
Alice and Bettina are changing the way girls play and learn through Roominate, their innovative line of wired building toys for girls. Roominate is designed to get girls ages 6-plus excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). With Roominate, girls practice hands-on problem solving and spatial-skill development and get an intuitive introduction to circuits. Roominate blends creativity, engineering, design, and fun.
4. Rose Broome, Founder and CEO, HandUp
Rose is passionate about using the power of technology to create social change. She came up with HandUp after passing a woman sleeping on the street in the winter of 2012 and wanting to see a new way to give. Rose loves organizing the community and has been active in groups like Science Hack Day and Food Not Bombs.
HandUp is a direct donation system for homeless people and neighbors in need that lets you donate to a specific person via their web profile and SMS. Funds can only be used on basics like food, medical care, and housing. HandUp is currently in a pilot with 100 homeless people in San Francisco, in partnership with Project Homeless Connect.
5. Grace Garey, Donor Ops, Watsi
Grace is obsessed with the idea that connecting people will change the world. Before she started working on Watsi, she studied post-conflict development in Ghana, lived in a hospital in India, did humanitarian advocacy in D.C., and launched a student outreach program at Kiva that generated over $5 million for entrepreneurs in its first year.
Watsi is a global crowdfunding platform that enables anyone to directly fund health care for people around the world. They’re made up of a team of developers, doctors, and marketers building Watsi because they believe that everyone deserves health care.
6. Pooja Sankar, CEO and Founder, Piazza
Pooja was one of three women in her undergraduate computer science class at IIT Kanpur (India). She had grown up in an all-girls high school, and her 50 male classmates had grown up mostly in all-boys high schools. She said, “We were too shy to interact with one another.”
Pooja explained that she started Piazza so every student can have that opportunity to learn from her classmates, whether she’s too shy to ask, whether she’s working alone in her dorm room, or whether her few friends in her class don’t know the answer either. She wants Piazza to be a remedy for students who are not given the intellectual space, freedom, or support to fulfill their educational potential and desire for learning. Piazza is designed to connect students, TAs, and professors so every student can get help when she needs it — even at 2 a.m.
Who would you like to see added to this list? Add your suggestions to the comments, and my team and I will take note. Thanks!
Not Digital First, Not Mobile First, but People First!
Is there a difference between disruption and transformation?
Between shaking up a business sector (I’d say “business model,” but that is proving to be less and less true) and transforming society?
Between monetizing fabulous enablement and actually changing people’s lives for the good?
For example, we talk about Uber disrupting the “get a taxi” model, but I have yet to hear that Uber has transformed society. Au contraire, if you follow the exploits of some of their drivers….
On the other hand, I’d argue that Amazon did transform something, and that was the focus on stickiness that was killed by one-click shopping, while Google transformed the linear website experience with the ability to get right to the place you wanted.
But I’d continue my argument by saying that neither has transformed society. Certainly not like Gutenberg transformed the world by making information accessible to all. Since then all has been evolutionary.
Somehow we forget that technology is a mere enabler, and since fire and the wheel were discovered, invented and uncovered, technology has played its role as human need drove innovation.
Reed Hastings, of Netflix fame, said it best:
In fact, technology has been the story of human progress from as long back as we know. In 100 years people will look back on now and say, ‘That was the Internet Age.’ And computers will be seen as a mere ingredient to the Internet Age.
It is no surprise, then, that as our focus, in the developing world, is not on transformation but on disruption, if you will, the 10 largest VC-backed financing deals in mobile in the United States were around car sharing, content sharing, security management and mobile phone recycling.
All great deals for the investors, all great products and services for those like me who use them, but Snapchat, Uber or Flipboard, to name a few, will not help transform developing countries or begin to solve society’s problems.
Let me be clear: This is not a diatribe, as I said I use and love those and more (maybe not Snapchat); it is merely an observation after the time I spent in South Africa last week.
The issue is really that we have become enamored with what we consider to be technology (I refer you back to Reed Hastings) and really isn’t — and clearly enamored with crazy valuations and money to be made.
Add to that our digibabble predilections and frankly I think we are missing some amazing opportunities to actually transform the world and do some good, not to mention make money.
I refer of course to mobile — now that “digital first” has morphed into “mobile first.”
We are jaded. We think everyone in the world has a tablet or a smartphone. Worse, even though there are way more Androids out there than iPhones or iPads, the cool factor promoted by the people who create the images we see makes it look the other way around.
Actually, the top three mobile phone vendors, shipments and market share in 2013, according to IDC, shows Samsung first, then Nokia, and Apple at number three.
And there you have it: Apple wrongly seems to dominate, when in truth feature phones — plain old vanilla, semi-literate handsets – make up 45 percent of the world market, as so many inhabitants of developing countries – who don’t have access to reliable power sources, let alone WiFi, and who want clean water, access to better pricing at markets, and secure means of transferring and storing their wages — can only wonder what Candy Crush and Fruit Ninja are all about.
And while financial services are high on everyone’s list in the developed world, we want secure ease of use, not life transformation.
We struggle with e-wallet applications and complain about the digital services our banks offer, yet in parts of the world mobile money penetration far outstrips bank accounts — a disruption in our world but a transformation in theirs, as bank accounts were irrelevant and not equipped to cope with the kind of security and mini-payments that would really change lives.
And the implications are vast and important and, by the way, hugely profitable for all providers of goods and services — including the Cokes and P&Gs of the world — and that is a good thing, with transformational possibilities as well.
Bottom line: If you are serious about innovation, if you really want to make a difference and money, if you want to transform and not just disrupt, study what is happening in Africa and other developing countries and see if you can apply some of that learning and energy and sheer innovation to the rest of us.
My fear is that we too often forget that while digital is everything, not everything is digital, and that as we become more and more enamored with what we think is technology, we are sliding backwards socially and losing sight of what is really important. Listen to Aldous Huxley:
“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.”
And I am terrified as I watch ISIS and others embrace the wrong kind of progress.
So when I hear “digital first” or “mobile first,” I yell at the top of my lungs, “People first!“
Thank you, Africa, for reminding me.
What do you think?
The Most Liked Instagram From The Oscars Will Surprise You
There were plenty of Instagram-worthy moments from Sunday night’s Oscars: Kate Upton photobombed Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann, J. Lo and Meryl Streep took a selfie. But we bet you probably couldn’t guess the one photo that garnered the most Likes of them all, with a whopping 719,000 people who double-tapped (and counting):
Ad tool is 'worse than Superfish'
A tool shipped with security products could pose a bigger security risk than Superfish – another controversial program, say experts.
Los Angeles Schools Can't Afford Tech Device For Every Student
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The chief of the Los Angeles Unified School District says there isn’t enough money to provide every student with an iPad or other computer device.
The remarks Friday by interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines are the latest blow to the district’s $1.3 billion technology initiative, which is under federal investigation.
The initiative was passed two years ago under former Superintendent John Deasy but only a small fraction of the district’s 650,000 students ever received tablets and the rollout was fraught with problems.
There also were questions about the bidding process and Deasy resigned under scrutiny.
How The Obama Administration Is Asking Tech Companies To Help Combat ISIS
WASHINGTON — In response to the Islamic State’s savvy use of social media to spread its messages and publicize its deeds, the Obama administration says it is ramping up engagement with the tech sector, approaching big-name Silicon Valley companies to ask about boosting anti-terrorism narratives from people outside of the government.
Over the last few months, the Islamic State — the militant group also known as ISIS or ISIL — has put the Obama administration in the unenviable position of playing digital catch-up. The group’s videos of executions of U.S. citizens are expertly produced and then widely disseminated on popular platforms like YouTube. By the time the U.S. government has verified the authenticity of a given video, it’s already gone viral. Tech companies are left playing whack-a-mole with the accounts spreading the videos.
The Obama administration acknowledged in The New York Times last week that the government is “getting beaten” by the sheer volume of social media outreach coming from Islamic State supporters. So the government is now hoping to round up every ally it can, no matter how unlikely — from Twitter representatives to ordinary social media users — to help it fight back.
“Our engagement with the tech sector is intensifying because of the nature of the threat,” said a State Department official with knowledge of the efforts.
Last week, representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter attended the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism. The event brought together senior officials from the United Nations, as well as private-sector and civil society representatives like Global Survivors Network and the Anti-Defamation League, to put together an agenda to counter extremism.
The Obama administration is also in talks with tech companies how those companies can help promote anti-terrorism narratives from non-governmental actors who are, as the official put it, “committed to taking on the ideological fight.”
The Obama administration has long battled the Islamic State with its own social-networking efforts, such as the “Think Again Turn Away” campaign launched by the State Department in 2013. But the effectiveness of its methods have been questioned. Think Again Turn Away has received criticism for giving jihadists a platform to spat with the U.S. government on Twitter on issues like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
Daniel Benjamin, a former State Department terrorism official, told the NYT last week that a small State agency called the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), established in 2011 to coordinate counter-messaging, “was never taken seriously” after the first year or two, and got little support from higher-ups.
The State Department hasn’t given up on this strategy, however. The CSCC is planning to coordinate more than 350 State Department Twitter accounts, along with accounts operated by the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security and foreign allies, in a move to combat Islamic State messaging online, The New York Times reports.
The State official acknowledged to The Huffington Post that “the United States government has limited credibility when it comes to messaging.” He pointed to religious leaders, entrepreneurs and people who have lost family members to violence as examples of non-government voices who can offer compelling anti-terrorism messages. Other possible allies, he said, include human rights activists, former extremists and even comedians.
“They need help telling the story and that’s where the tech sector can come in, helping them curate and distribute content [and] leverage their platforms,” the official said. He later added that it “would be great” if some of these campaigns were to go viral.
But that will require cooperation from tech companies that remain deeply skeptical of collaborating directly with the Obama administration in the wake of disclosures of government surveillance by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
It’s clear that tech companies are already using tools to counter hate speech. Twitter, which has come under fire for how it responds to abuse on its platform — particularly harassment of women — has partnered with a number of groups to work on various “counter-speech” campaigns. But it’s not clear to what extent the company will extend those efforts to assist the Obama administration in its goals.
A Twitter spokesman said that the company has “plan[s] to participate in the State Department’s effort” but will do so by assisting third-party NGOs, including the Anti-Defamation League in the U.S. and the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism in France.
He confirmed that four members of Twitter attended the White House summit last week, including Colin Crowell, vice president of global public policy; Maryam Mujica, who manages Twitter’s public policy team; and Will Carty, a Twitter lobbyist.
Patricia Cartes, head of global trust and safety outreach at Twitter, told HuffPost that the company has expanded partnerships related to “counter-speech” over the last year. Twitter has helped NGOs do research and promoted some of their tweets, and has trained some volunteers and activists on reporting mechanisms and policies.
“You tend to have 10 percent of people on the extremes of any ideology, and those are nearly impossible to influence,” Cartes said. “However, you do have the 80 percent of people in the middle” who can be influenced through education, she added.
Jared Cohen, a former State Department policy planning staffer and the founder of the Google Ideas think tank, also attended the White House summit. A Google spokesperson told HuffPost that “exploring counter-narratives is something that Google Ideas has been working on for a long time.” Google declined to provide additional comment on potential discussions with the State Department.
In April 2012, Google Ideas launched Against Violent Extremism, an online network that aims to provide a platform for former violent extremists and victims to connect. Google’s YouTube has also hosted “Abdullah-x,” a cartoon that features a Muslim spreading anti-jihadi messages. This might seem insufficient to counter the wildfire-like spread of the Islamic State’s beheading videos, but counter-speech is only one part of Google’s anti-terrorism efforts.
Rachel Whetstone, senior vice president of communications and public policy at Google, said in a speech earlier this month to the Bavarian parliament in Munich that Google automatically terminates the account of any terror group and allows law enforcement to flag videos containing terrorist content.
“All of us have been horrified by ISIS and their use of the media to spread propaganda,” she said.
YouTube Kids Is a Parent's Best Friend
My wife and I were having dinner with some friends recently when I decided to show their four year-old twins a video from YouTube. I loaded up the app on my phone, searched for a video and played it but — all the while — I had a nagging fear that maybe I accidentally launched a video that’s not appropriate for that age group. YouTube, as one would expect, has a wide variety of content and even though they have rules prohibiting nudity and violence, there is plenty there that’s not suitable for four year-olds — and that’s as it should be. Still millions of children — and their parents — rely on YouTube for great content.
But the next time I visit our friends’ house, I won’t have to worry cause I’ll be able to use the new YouTube Kids app with content for kids and only for kids. Or, as Shimrit Ben-Yair, mother of two and YouTube Kids Group Product Manager, posted on the YouTube blog, “It’s the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind.”
Listen to Larry Magid’s CBS News 1-minute segment about YouTube Kids
Personally, I think it’s a brilliant idea and, after extensive testing of the product over the past few weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that — while nothing can replace parental involvement with their children’s media use — tools like YouTube Kids can be a parents’ best friend because it helps them do their job better when it comes to finding age appropriate content.
Leading children’s channels
The free app, which runs on Android and iOS, features content from leading children’s entertainment and education brands including DreamWorks TV, Jim Henson TV, Mother Goose Club, National Geographic Kids, Sesame Street and other shows from PBS Kids. There is also a music section where children can enjoy music videos and a separate “learning” icon that brings up content from PBS Kids, Ted Ed, Kahn Academy and other sources of kid-friendly learning resources.
Yes, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, so parents can set a timer to control how long their kids can watch (it defaults to 30 minutes but can be extended to 1:20). And parents can also turn off background music — something I recommend since you’re likely to find it annoying after awhile even if your kid loves it. Parents can also turn off the search feature so their kids can only select from featured content.
The app is advertiser-supported but the ads are, of course, age-appropriate and relatively unobtrusive.
Personally, I think it’s about time that Google released a kid-friendly app for its youngest users. And speaking of time, it’s also about time management. Kids should be encouraged to consume age-appropriate entertainment and educational video, but — like everything else in life — it should be part of a balanced activity diet that also includes reading, conversations, exercise and plain-old playing.
Disclosure: I am co-director of ConnectSafely.org, a non-profit Internet safety organization that receives financial support from Google. I was per-briefed on this product, tested early versions and provided feedback to Google on its features.
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