This Week In Tech And Telco: Tech In 2020

Happy New Year and welcome back to This Week In Tech And Telco. As always, I’m Tasmin and I’ll be delivering your roundup today, the first Friday of 2020! Things have been a little quiet over the festive period so I have some more long-form for you today.

Hacking will be Govt’s tool of choice for 2020

Hacking has been rife over the past few years, from the Olympics to Elections to the National Health Service. So-called bots have littered Twitter with propaganda. Russian hacking groups have brought hospitals, ports, giant corporations, and government agencies to their knees with just one piece of malware.

And they will continue to do so going into 2020. Countries across the globe are using hacking to bend geopolitics in their favor.

As with misinformation and its strength lies in the ability to cast doubt on the truth to such an extent that you no longer believe anything, hacking works in a similar way. Even if the hack is not successful, if malicious code is left over, it’s enough to know someone has tampered. This is particularly true in the US’ 2016 presidential election, where electronic voting systems were targeted, and will continue to be a threat in the 2020 election.

The power of hacking has been leveraged to win all sorts of battles, and this is not showing signs of slowing down. Almost no one has suffered consequences for their actions and until action is taken, we can expect to see more hacking and interference. Time to up your cybersecurity game.

Someone programming a website in HTML. But also a photo suitable for hackers. ;)
Photographer: Mika Baumeister | Source: Unsplash

How Ocado is gaining on Amazon

In May 2019, two analysts at investment bank Peel Hunt revealed Ocado, an online grocery company, has automation technology in its warehouses that is more advanced than Amazon.

Ocado robots, developed in-house, travel about three times faster than robots in Amazon’s warehouse, the analysts concluded after visiting both sites.

However, Paul Clarke, head of the Office of the CTO, wants to focus on automation projects that are different from groceries.

He told Sifted, “The tagline for Ocado was ‘Changing the way the world shops’. The tagline for my division is ‘Changing the way the world stores, sorts, assembles, moves and sells atoms’.”

Atoms, as we know, make up everything. Clarke hopes to use automation tech currently in Ocado’s warehouses and apply it to an urban setting.

“The stage we are at is building the consortium. Come back in a little while and you will hopefully see an exciting sandpit, playpen, living lab, whatever you want to call it, where those kinds of services will be used to deliver real services to people,” Clarke told Sifted.

While Ocado’s advance on Amazon is not necessarily ‘new’ news, the company, which turned 20 this year, is certainly one to watch going forward.

Danbo on a tree tech
Photographer: Daniel Eledut | Source: Unsplash

Mysterious “creepy” drones flying in the US at night

A number of unidentified drones flying at night and in groups have been reported in Colorado and Nebraska, the BBC reports.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating.

Drones are used across agriculture, oil and gas extraction and construction industries in American West and Great Plains, but their origin is not yet known.

Reports come after the FAA announced it wants drones to broadcast identifying and location information so authorities can spot rogue drones and keep tabs on the rest.

Drones have boomed in popularity over the years but have long been controversial, especially in regards to national security and privacy. For example, two unidentified drones brought Heathrow Airport to a halt last year.

Photographer: Diana Măceşanu | Source: Unsplash

TikTok reveals takedowns in first transparency report

TikTok released its first transparency report over the festive season, detailing countries that have submitted requests for content removal and access to user data.

According to the app, owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, China did not request a single takedown in the first half of 2019, which the report covers.

The report comes after a year of negative headlines for TikTok, which was accused of censoring content related to the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong which ultimately led to calls from US lawmakers for a national security probe.

India topped the list for total requests, with 143, followed by the US at 79. The UK made six requests.

Photographer: Hermes Rivera | Source: Unsplash

Other tech news we’re reading:

  • Chinese tech giant Baidu quietly dethroned Microsoft and Google in an ongoing competition in teaching AI the meaning of language. (MIT)
  • California and Vermont are facing litigation over attempts to introduce net neutrality regulations after the FCC repealed Obama's open-internet rules. (Governor)
  • As Twitter moves away from people and large followings, company execs have said it will put greater emphasis on topics and lists. (Fast Company)
  • Huawei is the world’s number one telecom supplier and number two phone manufacturer, but concerns over national security due to its ties with the Chinese Government over the past year may be taking its toll – Huawei’s chairman has predicted a difficult 2020. (EU Reporter)
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