Introducing Project Abacus
Passwords have long been the frontline protection against hacking and identity theft. They may not be perfect, they may be hackable, but they’re the best defense we have, right?
Until now. The tech whizzes at Google are cooking up a scheme to eliminate the password as a means of security, replacing it with a system called Project Abacus. And while some people are celebrating Project Abacus as the next evolution in security, others are skeptical, and frankly, a little sketched out.
Honestly, it’s really creepy
That’s because Project Abacus would rely on an accumulation of highly intimate data that Google would be – or already is – collecting about you. Devices and apps would gather information to create a cumulative “trust score,” combining facial recognition technology with information about where you go and when, your voice and speech patterns, how you walk, how you type, and more. In other words, your device would learn to recognize you, without you having to do anything at all.
These supposedly hack-proof technologies could revolutionize device security by leaving it up to the device, rather than the user, who is susceptible to error, or laziness. Users who choose weak passwords or decline to install virus protection would still be protected by Project Abacus. Regina Dugan, who demonstrated Project Abacus at Google’s I/O conference, said that Project Abacus “may prove to be ten-fold more secure than just a fingerprint sensor.”
Flaw in the assumption that humans are predictable
However, other experts are skeptical about the functionality of such a security system. Have you ever had your bank account frozen while you were traveling, because the bank assumed your identity was stolen? It can be inconvenient when computer system presumes to know more about your behavior than you do. Cisco engineer, Shawn Cooley, expressed concerns about Project Abacus when he tweeted, “very cool until I break my leg or hand & can’t auth to any services to get healthcare info since my behavior is diff.”
Even more information available to hackers
Besides being concerned that the computer might fail to recognize you should you display some unexpected behavior, other experts complain that Project Abacus relies on invasive data collection – the kind of data hackers are after in the first place. If someone is able to hack through your Abacus-protected phone, you’d still be in trouble, and perhaps hackers would be able to gather even more information from Abacus’ data pool itself.
A lack of security endangers device users – but so does exorbitant data collection.
Microsoft’s latest HUGE investment: Self-driving car technologies
(TECH NEWS) Microsoft invests in self-driving car technology by joining other investors in a combined equity investment of $2 billion.
Microsoft has put its money into self-driving car technology. The tech giant has partnered with General Motors and Cruise, GM’s majority-owned driverless car startup, to “accelerate the
commercialization of self-driving vehicles.”
“Our mission to bring safer, better, and more affordable transportation to everyone isn’t just a tech race – it’s also a trust race,” said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann in a press release. “Microsoft, as the gold standard in the trustworthy democratization of technology, will be a force multiplier for us as we commercialize our fleet of self-driving, all-electric, shared vehicles.”
Along with Honda and other institutional investors, the companies are investing a combined $2 billion into the autonomous car company. This new funding round brings Cruise to a post-money valuation of $30 billion.
The long-term strategic partnership between the companies will be a collaborative one and beneficial for both. To roll out its fleet of self-driving vehicles, Cruise will leverage Microsoft’s cloud and edge computing platform, Azure.
In turn, as GM’s and Cruise’s preferred cloud provider, Microsoft will use the car company’s “industry expertise to enhance its customer-driven product innovation and serve transportation companies across the globe through continued investment in Azure.”
Besides helping bring the self-driving technology out to the market quicker, the companies will also work together on other digitization initiatives. For instance, they will collaborate on artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. And, explore opportunities to streamline operations and increase productivity.
“Advances in digital technology are redefining every aspect of our work and life, including how we move people and goods,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “As Cruise and GM’s preferred
cloud, we will apply the power of Azure to help them scale and make autonomous transportation mainstream.”
“Microsoft is a great addition to the team as we drive toward a future world of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Microsoft will help us accelerate the commercialization of Cruise’s all-electric, self-driving vehicles and help GM realize even more benefits from cloud computing as we launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and create new businesses and services to drive growth.”
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.
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