World Economic Forum Says Tech Firms Must Do More to Tackle Extremism

If tech firms don’t act, governments may impose regulations limiting free speech.

U.S. tech firms such as Facebook fb and Twitter twtr should be more aggressive in tackling extremism and political misinformation if they want to avoid government action, a report from the World Economic Forum said on Monday.

The study from the Swiss nonprofit organization adds to a chorus of calls for Silicon Valley to stem the spread of violent material from Islamic State militants and the use of their services by alleged Russian propagandists.

Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google goog will go under the microscope of U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday and Wednesday when their general counsels will testify before three U.S. congressional committees on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

For more on Facebook and the spread of fake news, watch Fortune’s video:

The report from the World Economic Forum‘s human rights council warns that tech companies risk government regulation that would limit freedom of speech unless they “assume a more active self-governance role.”

It recommends that the companies conduct more thorough internal reviews of how their services can be misused and that they put in place more human oversight of content.

The German parliament in June approved a plan to fine social media networks up to 50 million euros if they fail to remove hateful postings promptly, a law that Monday’s study said could potentially lead to the takedown of massive amounts of content.

Tech

5 Fun Weekend Tech Deals For Gamers, Spotlight Enthusiasts

If time got away from you this week, these weekend tech deals can help you reclaim a little savings. With a little help from our pals at TechBargains, we have five fun tech items to liven up your home.

Mpow FM Projection Alarm Clock – $ 30

This alarm clock has the usual AM/FM features, but packs a few surprises, like a projector that paints a big digital display of the time right on the ceiling. It also has a built-in USB port to charge your phone and the display will dim if it’s too bright and blue for you. Amazon has the Mpow FM Projection Alarm Clock for $ 30 (Discount Code: HQKGWOGC, List Price: $ 40).

Dell XPS 8910 desktop PC – $ 620

If your desktop PC is getting sluggish we’ve got a solid upgrade. This Dell XPS Tower isn’t quite VR ready, but it should run many 3D games with ease for nearly $ 600 with a discount code. It has a 4GHz 6th Generation Intel Core i7, Windows 10 Pro, a 1TB hard drive, Nvidia’s 2GB GeForce GT 730 graphics card, and 16GB DDR4 RAM. Dell’s store has the Dell XPS 8910 Tower Chassis for $ 620 (Discount Code: XPS669, List Price: $ 900).

Holan 2-in-1 LED Solar Spotlights – $ 26

If your yard could use a few highlights in the dark, this pack of four solar-powered 200-lumen spotlights may do the trick. Because they’re weatherproof (IP65), they’re great for backyards, front yards, and can be wall mounted. They can charge up in about a day if there’s decent sunlight and hold a pretty good charge. You can learn more and buy them on Amazon. The 4-Pack of Holan Solar Spotlights are on sale for $ 25.79 (Discount Code: U3AUGD9J, List Price: $ 60).

Vizio E50-E1 50-Inch 4K TV – $ 470

Finding a decent 4K TV for under $ 500 is still a challenge, but you can’t go wrong with a Vizio, which often hits a perfect balance between great prices and excellent picture quality. On top of the sub-$ 500 price, Dell will give you a $ 100 gift card to its store, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding something else you like with the money. The Vizio E50-E1 50-Inch 4K TV is $ 470 (List Price: $ 500).

Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming Laptop (with Core i7) – $ 650

Gamers, this 15.6-inch laptop has a 6th Generation Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor, 8GB RAM (you can spec up to 16GB), a 1TB hybrid hard drive, 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M, Windows 10 Home, and a 6-cell battery. It should work with a VR setup if you’ve got it, though it’s a little under Oculus’s recommended VR specs. But for 2D gaming, it should do you fine. You can buy the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 gaming laptop for $ 470 (Discount Code: 50OFF699, List Price: $ 900)

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.

Tech

MIT Wizards Invent Tech That Sees Around Corners

Robots can pull off a lot of righteous tricks. Hopping on one leg with ease, for instance. Or teaching themselves to play children’s games. Or even rolling through one of San Francisco’s most chaotic neighborhoods to deliver you falafel. One thing they definitely can’t do, though: see around corners.

But they just might soon. Because engineers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed a clever and surprisingly simple way to see around corners. And it’s all thanks to the hidden wonders of light.

Let’s pretend you’re standing in an L-shaped hallway, looking where the inside corner of the hallway meets the floor. You can’t see what’s around the corner, but you can see light emitting from the other side, splashed onto the floor at that right angle. So long as what’s over there isn’t a single light source, like a flashlight, you won’t see one hard line of shadow. You’ll see a sort of gradient of not-quite-shadow—kind of a blurry shadow. This is known as the penumbra. (If you have a corner with suitable light, go take a look. It’ll be there.)

Your eyes can’t see it, but there’s a lot going on in this penumbra: It’s a reflection—a real-time, low-res view of the scene around the corner. This happens outdoors, too, thanks to light from the sun. Train a camera on this spot and magnify the color, and you can start to pick out different-colored pixels that correspond to objects otherwise obscured by the wall.

If a person walks through wearing a bright red shirt, they reflect red light into the penumbra. “But more often, they block light from sunlight, so you’ll get this dark path because they’re blocking the bright light,” says imaging engineer Katie Bouman, lead author of a study detailing the tech.

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You cannot see these movements with the naked eye, because the changes Bouman is tracking are taking place in just .1 percent of the light that’s reflected. But what her recordings capture are the movements of people out of view. She’s seeing around corners.

It’s so simple, you can capture the image with a cheap webcam. “Because of this, it’s very computationally inexpensive, since you’re basically just doing a derivative,” Bouman says. “You’re just doing pixel differences, and so it works in real time.”

The downside being: The camera has to be stationary to catch these subtle changes in light. But the technology’s promise, and what Bouman and her colleagues are doing now, is getting the system to work in motion.

That could make self-driving cars even more powerful, for one. The lasers they use are great at building detailed maps of the world, but not so hot at seeing around obstacles. Autonomous wheelchairs, too, could benefit from seeing around corners in office buildings and on city sidewalks. Same with health care robots, which are already roaming the halls of hospitals. The power to see around corners could mean everything from fewer auto accidents to fewer crushed toes.

Most importantly, though, it could help get you that falafel without incident. Doesn’t hurt to dream.

Tech

This Tech IPO Is the Latest to Limit Rights of Small Investors

Super voting rights are a concern.

When data center operator Switch goes public on Friday it will be the latest tech firm using special shares to limit the rights of minority investors, making it ineligible for inclusion in the S&P 500 under new rules meant to deter such practices.

The Las Vegas company, run by enigmatic founder and CEO Rob Roy, plans to sell 31.3 million shares in an initial public offer late on Thursday for between $ 14 and $ 16 a piece, which would raise nearly $ 500 million and make it the largest technology listing this year after Snap.

Underwriters closed their order book late on Wednesday and the deal was oversubscribed, according to a source close to the IPO.

Roy, who describes himself as an “inventrepreneur” and “tech futurist,” will have 68% of voting power following the IPO, thanks to a special share class providing 10 votes per share.

That will keep Switch out of the S&P 500 and other related indexes under new rules instituted by S&P Dow Jones in July after Snap sold shares without any voting rights in its $ 3.4 billion IPO earlier this year.

Rule changes enacted last month for FTSE Russell indexes, also in reaction to Snap, require new constituents of its indexes to have at least 5% of their voting rights in the hands of public shareholders.

The shares being sold in Switch’s IPO will include 4.9% of the company’s voting rights, or 5.6% if underwriters exercise an option to buy additional shares.

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In its IPO filing and a profile of Roy on the company website, Switch gives no details about what he did before founding the company in 2000 or his academic qualifications. The profile describes him as “a recognized expert in advanced end-to-end solutions for mission-critical facilities.”

A company spokesman declined to provide additional information about Roy, and he does not appear in a 38-minute video marketing the IPO.

The IPO could value Switch, which operates three data centers in Michigan and Nevada, at almost $ 4 billion.

Snap co-founder Evan Spiegel was well known to Wall Street ahead of the Snapchat-owner’s February share offer, with many investors essentially betting on his talent. With Roy less known, investors may be taking a greater risk on a company in which they will have little say.

“Investors do look at voting control as well as the price you pay. If you put so much stock in the CEO, normally he’s going to part of the sales pitch for the company,” said Ken Bertsch, Executive Director of the Council of Institutional Investors, which represents top U.S. pension funds.

As many of 15% of U.S. IPOs in recent years have used dual share classes meant to give insiders outsized voting rights, according to the Council of Institutional Investors.

Inclusion in a stock index can be an important milestone for young companies, bringing their shares into many passive funds and others that closely follow indexes like the S&P 500, a guide for trillions of dollars of capital worldwide.

Other companies excluded from major indexes under their new rules include video-streaming company Roku Inc, whose IPO last week kept 97% of voting power with insiders. Software seller Mulesoft’s IPO in February included a share class with 10 votes per share, as did Blue Apron in its June debut.

Suggesting that the tide may be turning toward sharing power with minority investors, privately-held ride-hailing company Uber on Tuesday said it would abandon a dual share class system that favored insiders including former CEO Travis Kalanick.

Responding to a shareholder lawsuit, Facebook Inc in September gave up plans for a new class of stock that was meant to be a way for Mark Zuckerberg to retain control over the company he founded while fulfilling a pledge to give away his wealth.

Tech

Microsoft’s DNA storage tech may fit in an enterprise

Microsoft has apparently firmed up its plans for a DNA-based storage device that it expects to be commercially available within about three years.

The software giant originally unveiled its research into DNA as an archival storage medium last year; it described the technology being able to store the amount of data in “a big data center compressed into a few sugar cubes. Or all the publicly accessible data on the Internet slipped into a shoebox.

“That is the promise of DNA storage — once scientists are able to scale the technology and overcome a series of technical hurdles,” the company said in a 2016 blog post.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Network World Cloud

IDG Contributor Network: When does tech make you money and when does it cost you?

There’s an interesting Forbes article on the topic of turning a cost center into a profit center. In it, author Larry Myler talks about three ways to “become a hero” by:

  1. Killing overhead,
  2. Inventing revenue, and
  3. Supporting company strategy.

Having worked in cost centers within organizations myself, I was skeptical as to whether this can actually be done. If so, it would change the game for just about any company trying to reduce costs and increase revenues (and that would be almost every organization).

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

Google’s Espresso networking tech takes SD-WAN to internet scale

Google is working to accelerate the performance of its applications over the internet by building out a software-defined network at broad scale. On Tuesday, the company announced Espresso, a system that provides increased network performance to users of the company’s applications.

It works by applying software-defined networking to the edge of the tech titan’s network, where Google connects to the peer networks of other internet service providers. Rather than rely on individual routers to figure out the best way to direct internet traffic, Espresso hands off that responsibility to servers running in the data centers that Google operates at the edge of its network.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

Google’s Espresso networking tech takes SD-WAN to internet scale

Google is working to accelerate the performance of its applications over the internet by building out a software-defined network at broad scale. On Tuesday, the company announced Espresso, a system that provides increased network performance to users of the company’s applications.

It works by applying software-defined networking to the edge of the tech titan’s network, where Google connects to the peer networks of other internet service providers. Rather than rely on individual routers to figure out the best way to direct internet traffic, Espresso hands that responsibility off to servers running in the data centers Google operates at the edge of its network.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Network World Cloud Computing

HubSpot Inbound 2016: A tech conference disguised as a sales & marketing one

I had my reservations about hitting HubSpot’s annual Inbound conference in Boston this week. Yes, it would be easy enough to swing by from our suburban Boston headquarters, but Network World caters to enterprise IT professionals, not software maker HubSpot’s sales and marketing crowd.

Sure enough though, the 19,000 registered attendees at the flashy event full of funky seating arrangements and celebrity speakers (including President-elect Donald Trump, er, Alec Baldwin) were treated to a steady stream of tech talk, so I didn’t feel out of place at all. Neither did the target audience given that they are increasingly making the kinds of technology purchasing calls in this cloud-happy world of which IT staffs are well aware.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Network World Cloud Computing

5 tech trends that have Turing Award winners worried

Technology has considerable potential to make the world better, but those benefits are far from guaranteed. Plenty of downsides can pop up along the way, and some of them have Turing Award winners especially worried.

1. The internet echo chamber

“Technology by itself is not evil, but people can use it for bad things,” Barbara Liskov, an Institute Professor at MIT, told an audience of journalists Thursday at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany. “I do worry a lot about what’s going on.”

The ability to selectively filter out news and opinions that don’t agree with one’s own viewpoint is one of Liskov’s top concerns.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

InfoWorld Cloud Computing

5 tech trends that have Turing Award winners worried

Technology has considerable potential to make the world better, but those benefits are far from guaranteed. Plenty of downsides can pop up along the way, and some of them have Turing Award winners especially worried.

1. The internet echo chamber

“Technology by itself is not evil, but people can use it for bad things,” Barbara Liskov, an Institute Professor at MIT, told an audience of journalists Thursday at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany. “I do worry a lot about what’s going on.”

The ability to selectively filter out news and opinions that don’t agree with one’s own viewpoint is one of Liskov’s top concerns.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

5 tech trends that have Turing Award winners worried

Technology has considerable potential to make the world better, but those benefits are far from guaranteed. Plenty of downsides can pop up along the way, and some of them have Turing Award winners especially worried.

1. The internet echo chamber

“Technology by itself is not evil, but people can use it for bad things,” Barbara Liskov, an Institute Professor at MIT, told an audience of journalists Thursday at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany. “I do worry a lot about what’s going on.”

The ability to selectively filter out news and opinions that don’t agree with one’s own viewpoint is one of Liskov’s top concerns.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

Brexit: What it means for Tech (but don’t panic)

Computerworld Cloud Computing

Taking digital tech to the farm

david black cio chs LinkedIn

David Black, CIO of CHS

Ten years ago, a farmer may have found the information he needed to run his farm at the local coffee shop. He may have asked neighbors how their crops did that year, and then made planting and pricing decisions accordingly.  

Today, progressive farmers, armed with iPads, can see real-time information on the quality of crops over every inch of their farms. They can apply seed, nitrogen, and irrigation recommendations based on historical yield performance and future weather patterns. And they can do modeling, based on current market prices, to determine how to best hedge that grain. 

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

2015: The tech year in cartoons

January: We have met the enemy, and he is us
cw 2015 01 klossner humanerror onetimeuse rsz

Image by John Klossner, © Computerworld

It seems that security is always at or near the top of the list of things that keep IT leaders awake at night. But while headlines would lead us to believe that CIOs and CISOs are spending the wee hours in search of technological ways to prevent data breaches and keep systems up and running 99.999% of the time, the truth may be different. It’s more likely that they’re trying to figure out ways to change human behavior.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here