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Alexa wishlist: Six features we'd like to see added to Alexa's core capabilities


It started with just one. Soon, there was a second in the bedroom. Within a year, they multiplied. We had six standing guard and listening. Five years later, we have a total of 10 Alexas listening to us: One in each of two bedrooms; one in each of two offices; one each in the kitchen, workshop, living room, and back porch.

Drone deliveries are making their case in a crisis


It feels like drones were built for this moment. The coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to spend the majority of their time indoors and, where possible, maintain a healthy distance from anyone that doesn't live in the same building. Companies have introduced numerous measures to minimize the threat and spread of infection. Countless stores have acrylic screens, for instance, and many delivery drivers leave orders at your doorstep. But a robot -- or specifically, a drone -- offers a potentially safer and quicker method of exchanging goods and services. It's no wonder, then, that so many commercial UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) operators are flourishing at the moment.

Sky internet down: Broadband outage hits customers across UK

The Independent - Tech

Sky internet appears to have been hit by network problems, causing issues for people trying visit websites and use other online services. Hundreds of reports were registered by Down Detector, while users also complained of problems on social media. "Can someone stick 50p in the meter or reconnect the wires?" one customer wrote on Twitter. "Sky internet is down again!" Similar outage reports spread online last month, after network issues in Cornwall left people unable to connect to the internet.

California Activists Ramp Up Fight Against Facial-Recognition Technology WSJD - Technology

"This is a bill being sold as a privacy bill, but it's a wolf in sheep's clothing," Matt Cagle, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, said in an interview. The ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation and other civil liberties groups held a virtual rally Thursday night to rail against the bill, calling it vaguely worded and potentially dangerous for low-income communities hit hard by the coronavirus. Their remarks were the latest shots fired from a campaign to halt the legislation. The bill's fate in California--which has pushed for more aggressive privacy protections in recent years--could foreshadow how a potentially huge market for facial recognition technology is regulated by other states. The bill calls for companies and agencies that use facial recognition tools in areas accessible to the public to "provide a conspicuous and contextually appropriate notice" that faces may get scanned.

Identifying light sources using machine learning


The identification of light sources is very important for the development of photonic technologies such as light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and microscopy. Typically, a large number of measurements are needed to classify light sources such as sunlight, laser radiation, and molecule fluorescence. The identification has required collection of photon statistics or quantum state tomography. In recently published work, researchers have used a neural network to dramatically reduce the number of measurements required to discriminate thermal light from coherent light at the single-photon level. In their paper, authors from Louisiana State University, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Max-Born-Institut describe their experimental and theoretical techniques.

Working from home amid coronavirus crisis welcome new normal in Massachusetts: survey

Boston Herald

This working from home routine is growing on people. The Pioneer Institute surveyed 700 people -- most in Greater Boston -- during the coronavirus pandemic and nearly 63% said they want to stick at home at least one day a week permanently. That, says the think tank, will be a major factor on how companies invest in commercial real estate and how the state should deliver public transportation where -- and when -- it's needed. "The survey results suggest that the pandemic may lead to significant shifts in attitudes toward commuting, with potentially large impacts on the demand for commercial real estate in major job centers, internet connectivity, and transit and transportation planning and budgeting," said Andrew Mikula, who authored the analysis. The survey hits just weeks after the MBTA announced it will likely need to use about a quarter of the $827 million emergency federal funding it received to close a major pandemic-caused revenue gap in this year's budget.

2020 Supply Chain Technology Trends: Where Do Young Technologies Fit On A Maturity Curve?


There are a number of young technologies that are getting a lot of buzz. But how mature are these technologies? Which of these technologies offer solid ROI, which are worth piloting, and which should be ignored? There are technologies that are proven and widely adopted. In supply chain management, examples would be transportation management, warehouse management, and other well-known supply chain applications.

Google: The Next Big Fintech Vendor


A sign of Google is seen at Google's stand during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum ... [ ] (WEF) in Davos, on January 21, 2020. In an article titled Amazon's Impending Invasion Of Banking, I wrote: "Amazon has no incentive to cut banks out of the lending or deposit business. Amazon can make more money by providing technology services to help financial institutions underwrite, process, and service loans. Banks will gladly pay for this, because Amazon will do it for a lower cost that what banks incur to do it today." My argument then, as it is now, is that Amazon is poised to be a vendor--not a competitor--to financial institutions.

What's on TV this week: HBO Max, 'Space Force' and 'Uncut Gems'


This week HBO makes its assault on streaming with the new HBO Max service. At launch it will include tons of archival content like the back catalog of Friends, Rick & Morty and 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as a fleet of new original shows, movies and specials hoping to get your attention on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to the new Looney Tunes Cartoons, as well as the comedy/drama series Love Life with Anna Kendrick, but there's a lot more to choose from. Of course, Netflix is the current giant in streaming and it's not laying down for the newcomer. This week it already added Uncut Gems for viewers in the US, and later this week it will premiere a Jeffrey Epstein documentary series and the new show Space Force starring Steve Carell.

How to reverse-engineer a rainforest


But 2019 was the year the earth burned. In Australia, the world watched in horror as bushfires destroyed 10.3 million hectares, marking the continent's most intense and destructive fire season in over 40 years. Earlier that fall, California saw more than 101,000 hectares destroyed, with damages upward of $80 billion. Alaska saw nearly a million. Record-breaking fires also hit Indonesia, Russia, Lebanon -- but nowhere saw the sheer mass of media coverage as the fires that tore through the Amazon nearly all last summer. By year's end, thousands of global media outlets had reported that Brazil's largest rainforest played host to more than 80,000 individual forest fires in 2019, resulting in an estimated 906,000 square hectares of environmental destruction. At the time, Brazil's National Institute for Space Research reported it was the fastest rate of burning since record keeping began in 2013. But amid the charred ruins of one of the largest oxygen-producing environments on the planet, a secret lies buried beneath the soil.