Hundreds of millions of Facebook users are likely to have had their private information harvested by companies that exploited the same terms as the firm that collected data and passed it on to Cambridge Analytica, according to a new whistleblower. Sandy Parakilas, the platform operations manager at Facebook responsible for policing data breaches by third-party software developers between 2011 and 2012, told the Guardian he warned senior executives at the company that its lax approach to data protection risked a major breach. "My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data," he said. Parakilas said Facebook had terms of service and settings that "people didn't read or understand" and the company did not use its enforcement mechanisms, including audits of external developers, to ensure data was not being misused. Parakilas, whose job it was to investigate data breaches by developers similar to the one later suspected of Global Science Research, which harvested tens of millions of Facebook profiles and provided the data to Cambridge Analytica, said the slew of recent disclosures had left him disappointed with his superiors for not heeding his warnings.
An autonomous Uber car killed a woman in the street in Arizona, police said, in what appears to be the first reported fatal crash involving a self-driving vehicle and a pedestrian in the US. Tempe police said the self-driving car was in autonomous mode at the time of the crash and that the vehicle hit a woman, who was walking outside of the crosswalk and later died at a hospital. There was a vehicle operator inside the car at the time of the crash. Uber said in a statement on Twitter: "Our hearts go out to the victim's family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident."
Downing Street expressed its concern for the Facebook data breach that affected tens of millions of people involving the analytics company that worked with Donald Trump's campaign team. No 10 weighed in on the row as almost $20bn (£14bn) was wiped off the social network company's market cap in the first few minutes of trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange, where Facebook opened down more than 3%. After less than two hours trading, the company's losses had multiplied to almost $30bn. Theresa May's spokesman said she backed an investigation by the information commissioner, which was prompted by a whistleblower who told the Observer how Cambridge Analytica harvested millions of Facebook profiles to influence voters through "psychographic" targeting. The European parliament president, Antonio Tajani, also said on Monday that the institution would "investigate fully".
Having once been an early adopter of tech, I was an unlikely early rejector. But it has now been over a year since I have phoned my family or friends, logged on to antisocial media, sent a text message, checked email, browsed online, took a photograph or listened to electronic music. Living and working on a smallholding without electricity, fossil fuels or running water, the last year has taught me much about the natural world, society, the state of our shared culture, and what it means to be human in a time when the boundaries between man and machine are blurring. My reasons for unplugging, during that time, haven't so much changed as shifted in importance. My primary motives were – and still are – ecological.
I found Moya Sarner's article on digital addiction and her story of Lady Geek's reverse ferret from digital guru to prophet of doom absorbing, timely, and somehow familiar (Is it time to fight the digital dictators?, 15 March). She also quotes Professor Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University as having invented the term "technological addiction" in 1995. In 1971 I started a degree in maths, electronics and physics at Chelsea College, University of London which involved a certain amount of programming on the college's Elliott 803 mainframe. I remember clearly our lecturer warning us very sternly about the dangers of getting over-involved in programming, quoting the case of an earlier student who had spent so many nights in the computer room, addicted to getting his programs just-so, that he neglected all his other studies and eventually failed to make progress in anything. Remember that this was back in the days when our programs were written in Fortran on decks of hand-punched 80-column cards.
Spotify is experimenting with a voice-control interface, looking to free itself from reliance on Siri and Alexa and pave the way for the company's forthcoming smart speaker. Users of the service have spotted the new feature hiding in the search bar of Spotify's iOS app. After tapping the magnifying glass to search for a track or playlist, testers see a microphone icon inside a white bubble, according to the Verge. After users tap on the icon, Spotify suggests a number of typical requests for a voice-controlled music system: "Show Calvin Harris", "Play my Discover Weekly" and "Play some upbeat pop", for instance. The move comes as Spotify ramps up its efforts to build a smart speaker to challenge Apple, Amazon and Google in the hardware field, all of which have their own music services.
A US startup is promising to upload customers' brains to the cloud using a pioneering technique it has trialled on rabbits. The process is "100% fatal". Nectome, founded in 2016 by a pair of MIT AI researchers, hopes to offer a commercial application of a novel process for preserving brains, called "aldehyde-stabilised cryopreservation". Influential startup accelerator Y Combinator has taken Nectome in, with the organisation's chief executive, Sam Altman, becoming one of the 25 people to pay a $10,000 deposit to join its waiting list. "I assume my brain will be uploaded to the cloud," Altman told MIT Technology Review.
Autonomous flying taxis just took one big step forward to leaping off the pages of science fiction and into the real world, thanks to Google co-founder Larry Page's Kitty Hawk. The billionaire-backed firm has announced that it will begin the regulatory approval process required for launching its autonomous passenger-drone system in New Zealand, after conducting secret testing under the cover of another company called Zephyr Airworks. The firm's two-person craft, called Cora, is a 12-rotor plane-drone hybrid that can take off vertically like a drone, but then uses a propeller at the back to fly at up to 110 miles an hour for around 62 miles at a time. The all-electric Cora flies autonomously up to 914 metres (3,000ft) above ground, has a wingspan of 11 metres, and has been eight years in the making. "Designing an air taxi for everyday life means bringing the airport to you.
"If there's a third world war we want to make sure there's enough of a seed of human civilisation somewhere else to bring it back and shorten the length of the dark ages," Musk said, responding to questions from his friend Jonah Nolan, co-creator of TV show Westworld. But building a colony would require "tremendous entrepreneurial resources", Musk said. He also countered the suggestion that Mars might be "some escape hatch for rich people" by highlighting the risks of the mission: "It will be like Shackleton's ad for Antarctic explorers: 'Difficult, dangerous, a good chance you'll die, excitement for those who survive.' I love dad jokes, I'm a dad!" The BFR will fly for the first time in the first half of 2019, Musk said, acknowledging that his "timelines historically have been optimistic".
The next version of Windows 10 looks set to shake things up in the way people switch between devices, and now, reportedly, has a name: Spring Creators Update. With Windows 10 being the "final" version of Windows, updates like this are essentially the new versions, with the recent Creators Update, and then the Fall (autumn) Creators Update each bringing big new features and revisions. So what does the next version of Windows 10 have in store? Known in testing as "Redstone 4", the next version of Windows 10 will probably be called Spring Creators Update, a name which has appeared briefly in blogposts and tools, but recently turned up in another tool that more or less cements it as the name. As the name might imply, "spring" is the target for the next version of Windows.