The technology news you need to keep an eye on this week

Tech news - Facebook hits roadblock with Libra, AT&T Outage

This week’s technology news items to watch (so far…)

No matter what business you work in, I’m sure you’ll have noticed how quickly technology changes and adapts nowadays. More and more creative startups are emerging with disruption on their mind, and global enterprises are working on groundbreaking technology on an almost daily basis. This can make it intriguing to watch, but can also make it a little hard to keep up with. How can you stay aware of the latest developments and tech news in your industry if it’s moving this quickly?

That’s where we come in. More specifically, that’s where this blog series comes in. Here at InnovationScouts, we’re big believers in the importance of staying up to date with relevant industry news. Each week, we take the most fascinating tech news stories and compile them in a blog, to keep you on top of the latest developments. Staying up to date on your industry is vital if you want to present yourself as a thought leader and be able to speak with authority to your peers. Of course, this article won’t be able to cover every single story, so we’d love to know what story fascinated you the most this week. Feel free to get in touch on social media and let us know what story you think that we need to be covering.

Tourism and spyware galore

It’s come out recently that Chinese border agents have been installing spyware on the phone of travelling tourists. Tourists going through the Xinjiang region have had their phones taken off them and scrutinised heavily. This area of China is notorious for being heavily monitored and surveyed, and the media coverage of this news has not been positive.

In terms of how spyware and surveillance are actually being used, it’s reported that iPhones are plugged into a computer which scans the entirety of the phone’s content. Android phones appear to be under more threat, as an app is actually installed onto the phone by border agents. This app is named BXAQ, and also does a full scan of the phone. Additionally, it looks for 73,000 unique files on the phone- ranging from ISIS publications to music from a particular Japanese metal band.

The app, presumably, is normally deleted from the tourist’s phone- but it appears that the border agents in question failed to do this, hence the news story. When asked, Chinese authorities did not comment on the matter.

Libra and the law

House Democrat lawmakers in America have officially requested Facebook to pause their new cryptocurrency project Libra, and the accompanying project Calibra. If you haven’t heard, Facebook is releasing a cryptocurrency called Libra, which will be available to the public in 2020.

The reason that lawmakers are asking Facebook to pause Libra is that they need to investigate the potential risks that it might pose to the global financial system as a whole. There are fears from industry professionals that Libra could possibly have a hugely negative impact, especially if proper regulations are not put in place. It will certainly be interesting to see Facebook’s response to this matter. If you’re new to this blog series, this is a story that we’ve been following for a while now with great interest.

AT&T’s emergency service outage

Shockingly, another emergency service outage has occurred recently. AT&T experienced an outage in America, which resulted in immense numbers of people being unable to contact the emergency services. As you may have seen, this has not been the first emergency outage recently- KPN experienced an immense outage in the Netherlands, recently.

Thankfully, the issue has been confirmed as being resolved by the AT&T team. Additionally, it’s great to have seen how the emergency services dealt with this issue. They utilised social media effectively, with each affected state’s emergency services putting out the right information and advice for concerned users. It’s always reassuring to see that the emergency services are equipped to deal with major issues like this.

Demonising deep fakes

Deep fakes are one of the most notorious subjects in AI right now. If you’re unfamiliar with deep fakes, this term refers to a synthetic image created by AI, where a person’s face is superimposed onto somebody else’s. Put simply, it’s face-swap technology (similar to Snapchat’s filters) on a much larger scale. This technology is undeniably breathtaking, as it can create very believable imagery. However, this technology can – and is – being used for a number of malicious things; including hoaxes, fake celebrity pornography and inflammatory political material.

One of the main areas of concern the potential for so-called ‘revenge’ pornography, otherwise known as nonconsensual pornography. Deep fakes have been used to create nonconsensual videos and images of people in numerous cases, but thankfully, lawmakers are putting an end to this quickly. Virginia is one of the latest American states to make deep fake pornography fall under their revenge pornography laws.

This is a fantastic move to protect victims of this form of abuse, and push the development of this technology towards more positive, healthy endeavours. I’m personally keeping an eye on this story to see which states and countries follow suit here.

The galactic dragonfly on Saturn

It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, and quite frankly, it is. NASA has selected Saturn’s moon Titan as the next destination for an exploration project. It’s sending a drone-style lander, in order to explore the surfaces of this moon. It’s an incredibly exciting project, and has been well received by the media so far.

The project (named Project Dragonfly) has been backed by NASA’s ‘New Frontiers’ funding program. This is simply an exploration mission, and will follow in the footsteps of exploration on Mars. The intriguing thing about exploring Titan is that the planet appears to be in the same early stages of chemistry that Earth was, before life came about. I am intrigued by this story, and can’t wait to see how the mission goes. The project is set to start in 2026, and the drone isn’t set to arrive until 2034.

Other intriguing tech news stories

Of course, it would take up half your day to read about every single piece of tech news and development in your industry ingrate detail. That’s why we like to finish up this series by selecting a number of other key stories, often about lighter points and subject matters. Here’s the other stories that I think you need to know about during your week;

The portfolio-sharing website Dribble’s CEO is being accused of suspending an artist for simply disagreeing with changes to the platform online. This has sparked a lot of debate and anger amongst the creative community.
Instagram is filling the platform with even more adverts, with adverts now being added to the explore page.
The world’s first ‘under the screen‘ camera for smartphones has been unveiled, created by the company Oppo. It’s supposed to be coming to commercial phones in the near future.
A multitude of high profile sites, like Coin Desk and Down Detector, faced internet issues as Cloudflare suffered a huge glitch recently.
>Apple has purchased the self-driving startup ‘Drive.ai’ as it was on the verge of collapsing entirely.
Vodafone has switched on their 5G network in 7 cities across the UK.
An AI-based app has been released that can erase people entirely from photographs.

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Scott Stonham

Scott is Chief Technology & Innovation Officer at InnovationScouts.tech. He has been at the forefront of many technologies we take for granted today, including mobile internet and smartphone navigation. Today he helps clients navigate innovative emerging technologies and is available for speaking opportunities.

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