This Week In Tech And Telco: Morals Or Money?

Welcome back to Radial Path's weekly tech and telco round-up. What have you missed this week?

Huawei has announced HarmonyOS, its Android replacement

Huawei has officially announced HarmonyOS, the company's highly-anticipated operating system it was rumored to be developing to replace its dependence on Android following US sanctions.

HarmonyOS can be used for everything including smartphones, speakers, and IoT devices. It will also be known as HongmengOS in China.

But will Huawei actually implement the software? The US seems like it's willing to ease up on restrictions, which could allow the Chinese company to keep using Google's software, but decisions are yet to be made.

How hyperscale is helping data centers be more eco friendly

While AI is said to be damning to the environment, thanks to the significant computing power needed for large programs, the emerging hyperscale business model may hold the key.

In the absence of significant innovation in materials, chip manufacturing and design, data centers’ AI workloads could account for a tenth of the world’s electricity usage by 2025, according to Gary Dickerson, CEO of Applied Materials.

Today, data centers around the world use up a little less than 2%, which is an all-encompassing statistic.

However, the hyperscale business model uses an array of basic servers tailored for specific tasks, making the machines more energy-efficient than legacy equipment that juggle different functions.

Google is already using AI developed by DeepMind, which has helped cut its cooling bill by 40% by making recommendations to workers.

Telco data centers must find a new model to help the climate
Can hyperscale help data centers be eco friendly? Photographer: Taylor Vick | Source: Unsplash

Contractors are listening to Skype calls and Cortana commands

Microsoft contractors are listening to personal conversations conducted over Skype through its translation service.

Internal documents, screenshots, and audio recordings reveal conversations about personal issues like weight loss and relationship problems.

The company’s website does state that content may be analyzed for improving the service’s performance, it does not say by humans.

According to the documents obtained by Vice’s Motherboard, Microsoft contractors are also listening to voice commands that users speak to voice assistant Cortana.

Both Google and Apple recently suspended their use of human transcribers for the Assistant and Siri, following backlash over privacy concerns and lack of consent.

Getting ready
Microsoft is the latest tech company to be caught up with privacy issues. Photographer: Johny vino

Are flying cars here? Japanese test gets one off the ground

A flying car, made by MEC Corp., got three meters off the ground and into the air for around one minute during a prototype demo.

While the vehicle was caged, the demonstration highlights Japan’s goal to become a leader in flying cars – after missing out on the electric car race.

The vehicle is pretty much a giant – though not quite the size of a helicopter – drone, it has four propellers, and is capable of carrying people. During the demonstration, however, it had no passengers.

‘Flying car’ may also be seen as misleading as the vehicle cannot go from driving on roads to flying.

'Flying car 'prototype video | Daily Mail

Cloudflare cuts off 8chan - are we all becoming more moral?

Following Saturday's mass shooting in El Paso, where 20 people were killed, it emerged that the shooter had posted a white supremacist manifesto on fringe imageboard 8chan. It is the third time this year that a mass shooting has been linked to site, resulting in Cloudflare, the site's network operator, pulling its service.

8chan has since jumped to other providers, which have also cut off the image board. As it continues its effort to resurface, those in the telecoms infrastructure and digital economy must consider what is more important: morality or money?

8chan owner summoned to Congress

What else we’re reading:

  • HTC phones have been pulled from sale in the UK due to an intellectual property dispute. In the UK, HTC must find a workaround for a wireless radio technology that was ruled to infringe that of German firm Ipcom. But Ipcom tests earlier this year revealed no change. Until an alternative is found, HTC smartphones will appear out of stock. (BBC)
  • In 2020, Google will offer a choice of search providers to Android users in Europe when setting up a new phone or tablet, following the record-breaking fine against Google for antitrust violations in the EU. (The Verge)
  • A self-driving shuttle service has launched in New York City. Run by MIT spinoff Optimus Ride, half a dozen electrical six-seaters are restricted to a 1.1 mile route. (Engadget)
  • Inventor Franky Zapata has crossed the English Channel on a hoverboard, reaching speeds of up to 110mph did the 35km journey in 22 minutes. (Guardian)
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