It’s hard not to wear a tinfoil hat about voice assistants like Siri and Alexa. As recently as this May, an Alexa user reported a private conversation was sent to a random contact. Amazon insists they aren’t always recording, and this was simply a series of whoopsie-doopsies.
However, back in 2014, Amazon filed a patent to record even without hearing the “wake word,” in order to target advertising. While this is still in application status, it certainly doesn’t assuage privacy concerns about the future of voice assistants.
Amazon also recently announced the launch of Alexa for Hospitality, a voice control system for hotels. Voice assistants are expanding their scope, becoming more integrated into our daily lives and consistently raising questions about privacy.
French startup, Snips offers a solution to data privacy and security issue with their decentralized software. Founded in 2013 by three PhDs, Snips now operates out of Paris and New York City offering a meaningful AI platform (not the physical smart speaker).
Snips creates white-label voice assistant technology for enterprise device manufacturers. Their software is completely independent from the cloud, and runs fully on-device. Now they’re branching out to consumer business.
Co-Founder and CEO, Dr. Rand Hindi noted, “consumers are increasingly aware of the privacy concerns with voice assistants that rely on cloud storage — and that these concerns will actually impact their usage.”
In a consumer study conducted by Snips, 90 percent of respondents said they would sacrifice convenience for more control over how corporations use their data. Snips plans to use blockchain to “create safer and fairer alternatives for voice assistants.”
Instead of using consumer data, Snips will issue a cryptographic token via an ICO. Their goal is to create a platform that can be improved over time using decentralized machine learning and cyrptography.
Snips hopes that issuing a cyrptographic token will incentivize developers to work on the platform. Crytographic tokens are essentially a way to level the playing field in an organization.
Traditional top-down management involves many layers of coordination and levels of approval. This is where we see a standard CEO-to-management to non-management relationships most often reflected in companies.
With decentralized organizations, there is no centralized legal entity or employment contracts. Everyone is connected and decisions are made by autonomous stakeholders. Hindi says there are already 14,000 developers on board.
So far, Snips has raised over $24M in funding from investors, including BPI France, Eniac Ventures, Korelya Capital, and MAIR Avenir.
Wow! This synthetic cornea gave a legally blind man his vision back!
(TECH NEWS) Another instance of “technology is amazing:” this minimally invasive eye implant has opened new doors for sight restoration surgeries for the legally blind.
After being the first patient to receive a cutting-edge cornea implant, a legally blind 78-year-old man can see again. Directly after his surgery, the patient was able to recognize his family members and read an eye chart. The KPro implant comes from the company CorNeat.
KPro is the first implant that can be directly integrated into the eye wall, replacing damaged or deformed corneas with no donor tissue. The clear layer that protects the front portion of the eye is called the corona. The corona is susceptible to degeneration or scarring, as well as a number of diseases such as keratopathy, keratoconus and pseudophakia bullous.
While artificial cornea implants already exist, the surgeries are complex and typically only used as a last resort when transplants or cornea ring implants don’t work. That is perhaps what makes the CorNeat transplants so remarkable – it’s a simple procedure that’s minimally invasive.
Additionally, KPro uses a biomimetic material that “stimulates cellular proliferation, leading to progressive tissue integration”. Not only can these implants give you your sight back instantly, but they also can help the natural tissue in your eyes to grow back and integrate. Now, THIS is cool stuff.
CorNeat said that ten more patients in Israel are approved for trials, as well as two in Canada. Six others are in the approval process in France, U.S., and the Netherlands. Professor Irit Bahar of CorNeat stated that he believes this project will ultimately impact millions of people’s lives. Only time will tell.
This advancement in biotech comes at a time where many Americans are uninsured and at a higher risk for health ailments due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent effects. At its best, CorNeat’s KPro offers some hope – while COVID has brought many industries to their knees, advancements in medical technology seem to persist.
If the results of the implants continue to stay as promising as they are now, who knows – maybe we’ll all be receiving cornea implants as a normal part of health upkeep in the not-so-distant future. I know I’ll be first in line.
The top 10 languages you can know as a programmer
(TECH NEWS) Considering a career as a developer or programmer? You’re not alone. Here’s top 10 programming languages to enhance or start your career.
The COVID economy has thousands of Americans reconsidering their career paths – with so many jobs dissolving due to various reasons (i.e., automation, a decrease in full-time creative positions), it’s no wonder why scores of professionals are seeking to reskill ASAP.
If this sounds like you, look no further; have you ever considered the lucrative career of computer programming?
Programmers on average make a salary of $89,590 a year. And better yet, coding jobs might never become obsolete. The trick is to know exactly what you want to do – different coding languages best serve specific purposes. So, which one should you learn first?
Top ten languages for new developers:
- Python – Learn Python if you’re interested in data analysis, machine learning, scripting, web development and Internet of Things (it’s the future!). Python is also the easiest language to learn, so give it a go!
- The Go Programming Language – You can learn to build simple, reliable, and efficient software.
- Java – Want to work on computer programs, games, apps and web applications? What about Internet of Things and robots? Learn Java to tap into these fields. Keep in mind, Java is considered difficult for novice programmers.
- C# – C# is great for websites, web applications, games, and apps – especially Windows apps. It’s also perfect for Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
- PHP – Want to get your hands dirty doing back-end website programming? PHP is the language for you.
- C++ – For programming apps, games and web browsers, C++ is the language you’ll need to learn. Though it’s notoriously tough to grasp, knowing this language could be the competitive edge you need to set you apart from the pool of programmers.
- C – C will prepare you for operating systems, compilers and databases.
- R – The world is always in need of those who conduct data and statistical analyses – check out R to dive in.
- Swift – For apps and software for Apple devices, check out Swift.
My advice? Figure out exactly it is you want to do in your new career as a programmer. Set your goal. Then, after you’re sure what direction you want to go in, see which programming language best suits your needs.
Get proficient at one language to start and become top-notch at it. Then, you can expand your rolodex to include multiple languages and grow your abilities as a programmer.
The inventor of the internet wants to give back control of your data
(TECH NEWS) Using the internet has given us access to many things, but we’ve also lost control of our data. Can the father of the internet give it back?
Since it was first introduced in 1989, the internet has come a long way, both in good and bad ways. With several communication tools available online, connecting with friends and family on the other side of the world hasn’t been this easy. However, it has taken away something, too — the control over our data.
Our information is everywhere. Once it’s out there, there is very little, if anything, we can do to control how it’s being used or who’s using it. But, the father of the internet, Tim Berners-Lee, wants to reinvent how users take back control of their data.
“We’re on a mission to change the way the web works and the way to basically make the web a better place for all of us,” said Berners-Lee on The Telegraph Live.
In an attempt to “fix the web”, Berners-Lee launched a privacy-focused startup, Inrupt. Using the company’s data storage technology called Solid, the tech company changes how data is stored to give you more control.
“Solid is the new way to connect to people and data. It’s an open-source web-based protocol that re-architects the way data is stored and shared,” said Berners-Lee.
With Solid, you put your personal data together into a personal online data store called a “pod”. Any kind of information can be stored in a pod such as websites visited, travel plans, health records, or credit card purchases.
The pod can be hosted on any Pod Provider, or you can host it yourself. Pods hosted on a Solid Server are fully compartmentalized from other Pods. Each one has its own set of data and access rules, and you decide who to share your data with using Solid’s authentication and authorization systems. And, you can also remove access to anyone at any time.
Inrupt was introduced back in November 2020, and the Solid technology is already being used by some large companies like the BBC and the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain.
The company’s business model is based on charging licensing fees for its commercial software, which uses Solid open-source technology. According to The New York Times, Inrupt has raised about $20 million in venture funding.
Getting data back into a user’s hands is very good. But, is it something that will quickly be adopted by everyone, including the tech giants?
Well, users will finally gain control of how they share their data. According to Berners-Lee, Solid will provide a “generic back-end store that works with all apps without modification.” This means developers don’t have to worry about creating back-ends for different apps.
And companies, what will they get out of it? According to Inrupt CEO & Co-founder John Bruce, over the years, he found that a lot of companies were “spending a great deal of time and money collecting and protecting user data.” So, “by moving the point of control of data from the organization to the user everybody wants.” (i.e. money is saved)
“This is just the beginning of how we turn the red web right side up, restore some of its original values, like how we empower everyone to participate in and benefit from a web that serves us all,” said the internet inventor. “The future of the web is a lot bigger than its past.”
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