Big Tech &
Google admits partners leaked more than 1,000 private conversations with Google Assistant (2 minute read)
Google has admitted that a partner has leaked over 1,000 sound recordings of customer conversations to a Belgian news site, VRT. The recordings were supposed to be used to improve the quality of responses from smart devices. While the sound files were anonymized, VRT reported that the recordings contained enough private information to directly identify some of the people talking in them. Google says that this is a direct violation of its data security policies and that it is actively investigating the issue. It is possible to easily delete your Google Assistant voice history.
Microsoft Teams overtakes Slack with 13 million daily users (3 minute read)
Microsoft has revealed the number of users it has on its Slack competitor, Microsoft Teams. More than 13 million people are using Microsoft Teams daily, and there are more than 19 million weekly users. Slack recently revealed that it had 10 million daily users. Microsoft bundles Teams with its Office 365 subscription and Slack is a separate paid service, so Microsoft has an advantage for certain types of businesses. New Teams features will soon be released including priority notifications, cross-channel posting, channel moderation, and announcements.
An ‘EpiPen’ for spinal cord injuries (3 minute read)
Scientists at the University of Michigan have developed nanoparticles that stop the immune system from overreacting to trauma. This could stop spinal injuries from resulting in paralysis. When the body is injured, the body’s immune response targets the injured area to remove debris and begin healing. However, when the central nervous system is damaged, the immune system creates too much inflammation for the neural tissues, which causes them to die. The nanoparticles are designed to redirect immune cells from the damaged area, resulting in less chance of damage to the spinal cord. Using nanoparticles to redirect the immune system is also useful for the treatment of other conditions.
The Pentagon’s New Laser-Based Tool Uses Your Heartbeat to Track You (5 minute read)
A new laser-based tool developed by the Pentagon can detect a heartbeat signature from up to 200 meters away. The laser uses a technique similar to common infrared heart rate monitors, and can positively identify a target as long as the target remains still. Biometric security may be convenient for smartphones, but the information that is used to keep your phone secure is the same information that can identify a person for surveillance reasons. Facial recognition is already being used to survey populations around the world, even when the technology isn’t perfect. Cardiac biometrics are significantly better at identifying individuals, with a 98 percent accuracy rate. Other biometrics such as voice are being researched to increase their ability to identify individuals accurately. Even ‘brain prints’ could eventually be used for our security and surveillance.
Programming, Design & Data Science
inlets (GitHub Repo)
inlets combines a reverse proxy and websocket tunnels in order to expose your internal endpoints to the internet via an exit-node. It is open-source and can dynamically bind and discover local services to DNS entries and a public IP address over its websocket tunnel using automated TLS certificates. A video demo is available on the repository.
Sherlock (GitHub Repo)
Sherlock is a program written in Python that is able to search for usernames across social networks. It will find all accounts with the same names and output the details into a text file.
France passes tax on tech giants despite US threats (4 minute read)
France has approved a three percent digital services tax for any digital company that generates more than €750m of revenue if €25m of the revenue is generated in France. The law will be retroactively applied from early 2019 and will generate an estimated €400m this year. While the US has threatened to impose tariffs in retaliation, France argues that these companies have a large presence in their country and benefit by not paying little or no tax, as most profits are claimed in the home country. The EU has previously proposed a similar tax but there were objections to the law. France will rescind the new laws if an international agreement is made in regards to taxing digital services, and hopes that the US will be incentivized to participate in talks.