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REPORT: 1 in 4 people have fantasised about Alexa, Siri, and other AI assistants

Her

The blockbuster sci-fi movie “Her” might not be as farfetched as some people thought.

A study of more than a thousand voice technology users found that 26% of them have had a sexual fantasy about a voice assistant, which include the likes of Alexa, Siri, and Cortana. What those sexual fantasies were isn’t clear, but it’s an alarming number of people all the same.

The “Speak Easy” study — based on the responses of over 1,000 UK smartphone owners aged 18+ and 100 Amazon Echo owners — was published on Wednesday by advertising agencies JWT and Mindshare. It’s not clear what percentage of respondents were men and what percentage were women.

The study also found that 37% of voice technology users “love their voice assistant so much that they wish it were a real person.” Clearly some humans are finding themselves very attached to their voice assistants.

The relationship between humans and voice assistants that are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to become even stronger in the coming years as Silicon Valley tech giants like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft spend hundreds of millions making their voice assistants as human-like as possible.

Zooey Deschanel Siri iPhoneTech companies have a tendency to focus on female voices and names in their personal assistants, possibly in a bid to make them more appealing to young, geeky men.

Voice assistants are expected to start taking on a more prominent role in people’s lives. From managing their diaries to filling their fridges, they’re quickly going to turn into “digital butlers,” according to the JWT and Mindshare study. Almost a third of the survey’s respondents said they are excited by a future where their voice assistants anticipate what they need and takes action or makes suggestions.

Elizabeth Cherian, UK director at JWT’s Innovation Group, said in a statement: “We are on the cusp of a new era in technology where voice is set to become mainstream. Our research shows that 88% of UK smartphone users have used voice technology or would consider doing so in the future.

“To successfully integrate voice into their offerings, brands need to understand how the technology can simplify everyday tasks by adding value and removing friction from their experience. This is not about tech for tech’s sake. Thoughtful and helpful interactions which genuinely enhance the experience will drive engagement and deeper relationships between consumers and brands.”

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NOW WATCH: 6 things the Samsung Galaxy S8 can do that the iPhone can’t

Microsoft Office 2010
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H-1B employers face stricter rules

The federal government is doing something it has never done before: It’s encouraging people to file H-1B abuse complaints.

This week the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Labor each posted information about how to file a complaint against suspected H-1B abuse. It’s a clear signal that government scrutiny of H-1B use will intensify and that the U.S. may challenge employers.

But it creates a dilemma aptly summed up by Norm Matloff, a professor of computer science at the University of California at Davis, in a blog post titled, “American Victims of H-1B Get Their Chance—Will They Take It?”

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Microsoft Office 2010
Fatal error: Call to a member function xpath() on a non-object in /home1/mylifeco/public_html/pricecutterstore.com/admin/models/api/affiliate_window.class.php on line 129

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US says laptop ban may expand to more airports

The U.S. might add other airports to its ban restricting passengers from bringing laptops and other electronics into the cabin for certain flights from the Middle East.

“We may take measures in the not too distant future to expand the number of airports,” said Homeland Security secretary John Kelly on Wednesday during a congressional hearing.

Last month, the U.S. announced the ban, which affects ten airports, all of which are in Muslim-majority countries. Passengers flying to the U.S. are barred from bringing any electronic devices larger than a smartphone into a plane’s cabin, and must instead check them in as baggage.    

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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Oracle’s Java-on-Java experiment picks up steam

Oracle is moving forward with its Java-on-Java intentions, in which Java would be implemented on itself via the experimental Project Metropolis.

With Metropolis, the company proceeds on building a JIT (just-in-time) compiler written in Java, said Georges Saab, Oracle vice president of development for the Java platform. The project was described in a recent presentation as an experimental clone of JDK (Java Development Kit) 10, hosting work on ahead-of-time compilation and the Graal compiler. Metropolis also would provide for translation of discrete HotSpot modules in System Java.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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Amazon's delivery drone tests reportedly involve a 'simulated dog' (AMZN)

test dog 4

Amazon is using a “simulated dog” to test its delivery drones, according to IBTimes.

The e-commerce giant wants to use drones to deliver parcels to customers in less than 30 minutes but it clearly has some concerns about how dogs might interfere.

At least one simulated dog is being used to “help Amazon see how UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] would respond to a canine trying to protect its territory,” according to IBTimes.

Little is known about the simulated dog that Amazon is using and Amazon did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. It’s also not clear if Amazon created the dog itself or whether it turned to a supplier. The exact number of simulated dogs that Amazon has in its possession is also unknown.

Dogs being dogs, they’re subject to chewing things to pieces. A drone landing in an excitable or protective pooch’s garden may provoke the animal to attack and damage the drone and the goods it’s carrying. Arguably more importantly, the drone could also injure the dog in the process.

Amazon is testing its drones at a rural site identified by Business Insider in Babraham, Cambridgeshire, and at several other secret sites around the world.

amazon droneWhen we visited the Cambridgeshire test site, it appeared to have astroturfed “launchpads” at two ends of a large field but there was no sign of a simulated dog.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos revealed plans for Amazon drone deliveries, or Amazon Prime Air, in an interview on “60 Minutes” in December 2013. The conceptual drone-based delivery system is currently in development and a number of drone designs have been released.

The Seattle-based company claims the drones will be greener, cheaper, and safer than the vans that are currently used to deliver Amazon packages.

Last July Amazon Prime Air cofounder Daniel Buchmueller told journalists in London that the battery-powered vehicles can rise vertically like a helicopter up to 400 feet before flying up to 15 miles at speeds of 50mph. He said the company is creating 25kg drones that are highly automated and able to carry packages up to 2kg in weight, adding that there were more than a dozen prototypes already made.

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NOW WATCH: A mathematician gave us the easiest explanation of pi and why it’s so important

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AT&T just completed a first-of-its kind test … and Cisco should be terrified (CSCO, JNPR)

scared screaming haunted house

A week ago, AT&T did something with network technology that’s never been done before and companies like Cisco and Juniper Network should be terrified.

AT&T ran a test using data from its customers that proved it can build a super-fast, reliable network with inexpensive no-name computer switches, some open source software and software from a startup.

In industry speak: that no-name hardware devices AT&T used are  known as “white box” switches.

But that’s not all. AT&T’s successful test, conducted last Tuesday, sent data from one white box switch in Washington built with one kind of computer chip to another one located in San Francisco from a different vendor using a different computer chip. 

That proves that companies really don’t need to buy all their networking gear from one vendor in order to have everything work well together.

AT&T used this network gear with its own homegrown network management software, called ECOMP, that makes sure that all the data gets to where it’s supposed to go.

And AT&T has given ECOMP away to the Linux Foundation, meaning anyone can take that software, use it and contribute to it. That includes other telecom network providers, some of whom are trying it out now, and would also likely be interested in the low-cost hardware AT&T just tested.

Software eats the network

AT&T has basically proved Facebook’s vision of how data networks should be built. Even when it comes to an enormous, powerful network like AT&T.

Mark ZuckerbergTo clarify: Facebook has been pushing forward a new way to build networks, an approach generally referred to as software-defined networking (SDN).

Instead of baking all features into expensive, high end networking gear (aka Cisco’s model), an SDN network uses cheaper hardware. All the powerful features are built into software, which can be purchased from another company.   

SDN promises to make networks more affordable and easier to manage.

Facebook didn’t invent SDN but it has been proving the concept works in its own large-scale data centers.

More importantly, it’s been inventing all kinds of brand new networking technology based on the SDN vision. It gives its software and hardware designs away  for free, too. 

Several years ago Facebook launched an organization called the Open Compute Project to develop the vision of giving away hardware designs, known as open source hardware. OCP encompasses more than just networking but networking has been such a big focus hat Facebook launched an similar project for service provider networks, called the Telecom Infra Project.

SnapRoute Jason ForresterOCP has taken off beyond Facebook’s wildest dreams. AT&T joined last summer, looking for help with its own internal project to revamp itself in the SDN image.

While AT&T created its own hardware for this project (it didn’t use standard OCP products), a bunch of OCP players were the ones that helped AT&T. They include:

  • SnapRoute, a startup created by the former Apple networking team in direct response to the heartburn they experienced when building Apple’s networks running everything from the App Store to Siri. SnapRoute makes software called a network operating system, that can be loaded onto lots of different hardware. 
  • Barefoot Networks, a network hardware startup by famed network pioneer and Stanford professor Nick McKeown. Barefoot Networks is building a new breed of chip for network equipment that can be changed and programmed. While that may not sound revolutionary, it is. Most networks today are built on fixed-function chips.
  • Broadcom, the chip maker that makes industry standard chips. AT&T used some of its cutting edge network chips. Broadcom has been a big player helping Facebook build OCP network switches.
  • Delta and Edgecore, two of the manufacturers that also make network switches based on Facebook/OCP designs.

Why Cisco and Juniper should be scared

While AT&T didn’t say it was ditching Cisco, it did say that this method of building networks was its future.

“With this trial, we went from using traditional switches the size of multiple refrigerators to a chip that can literally fit in the palm of your hand. We think white box will be a big part of the future of the wide area network,” Andre Fuetsch, CTO and president of AT&T Labs said in the press release. It’s actually been saying such things for years.

Chuck Robbins, chief executive officer of Cisco Systems in Laguna Beach, California October 20, 2015.      REUTERS/Mike Blake

And at least some people on Wall Street have noticed that the big networking vendors were not part of AT&T’s test.

Nomura analyst Jeffrey Kvaal put out a research note on Wednesday on the “implications” of AT&T’s test called “AT&T’s Gain . . . Vendors’ Pain.”

“Conspicuously absent from the trial were Cisco, Juniper, and Arista,” he wrote and  noted that AT&T is a big customer for Cisco and Juniper, as well as Arista but to a lesser extent.”AT&T’s network automation is already hurting vendors.”

While Cisco does offer a SDN product called Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), it is only available as a software option for its biggest, most powerful high end switch, the Nexus 9000. Cisco says ACI has been selling well, however  as we previously reported, while customers like the Nexus 9000 switch itself, ACI has a reputation in the industry for being difficult to install and use.

Plus, Cisco’s legendary top engineers team that built that product very publicly quit Cisco last summer.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Juniper and Arista have already begun to sell versions of their network software that could run on white box switches. 

Cisco is rumored to be working on a similar thing, internally called Lindt, according to a report by Kevin McLaughlin  in The Information, although Cisco wouldn’t publicly confirm that.

But selling the software without the high-end hardware could be a major decline in revenue for Cisco and, possibly, cannibalize its largest, most important product lines.

Put it this way: imagine being able to buy Apple’s iOS software, put it on a $99 phone and have it all work great.

That’s the quandary Cisco faces. And AT&T just made this problem very real, and very public.

SEE ALSO: How a 4-year-old startup got Cisco and HPE to invest while turning away $100 million

SEE ALSO: The alarming inside story of a failed Google acquisition, and an employee who was hospitalized

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NOW WATCH: Here’s what those white marks on your nails say about your health

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Scientists have found an exciting new clue about how 'super-agers' stay sharp as they age

older man elderly man jogging nature running exercise thinking outdoors

So much for not being able to teach an old dog new tricks.

Research has shown that some older people stay sharp into old age and retain the ability to recall personal experiences with just as much accuracy as their middle-aged peers. The brains of these so-called “super-agers” look distinct, too: Their gray-matter-rich outer layer, or cortex, is thicker.

For a new 18-month study, the results of which were published April 4 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers investigated whether these keen individuals simply start out with bigger brains or if, instead, they are somehow protected from time’s slow erosion of the brain’s gray matter

The researchers screened more than 1,000 people, less than 5% of whom qualified as bona-fide super-agers. They then compared the brains of those 24 men and women (all of whom were over 80 years old) to the brains of 12 similarly-aged “cognitively average” adults using MRI technology.

It turns out the super-ager brains may not initially be any bigger or more robust. Instead, the researchers discovered that the brains of the average study participants were atrophying at more than twice the rate of the super-agers’ brains over the 18-month study window. The new paper therefore suggests that these rare individuals are shielded from the normal age-related atrophy process that wears away the neuron-dense outer layer of our brains. 

This finding adds an important new piece to the puzzle of what makes a super-ager — and provides some insight into how age affects the brains of regular people, too.

How to protect an aging brain

As we age, our brain’s gray matter — the stuff we rely on for seeinghearing, processing emotions, exerting self-control, learning new information, and more — shrinks and degrades. So too does our brain’s white matter, which contains the complex web  of twisting fibers (wiring, essentially) that carries information across different parts of the brain.

Interestingly, a small 2014 study published in the journal Nature Communications suggested that in some older people, white matter may act as a sort of backup generator that can fire up when gray matter reserves run down.

If that doesn’t happen, however, people experience the typical effects of aging — fuzzier memory, a harder time paying attention, and difficulty learning new skills. 

Super-agers and people gifted with extra-flexible white matter are rare, but some research suggests there are things the average person can do to stay keen with age as well. These include getting regular exercise, maintaining strong bonds with friends or family, quitting or not starting smoking, and learning new things or being intellectually challenged. So if you’ve been meaning to meet up with some old friends or have been putting off joining that yoga studio, there’s no time like the present.

SEE ALSO: Betsy DeVos backs a technique claiming to cure ADHD without medication — but the science is questionable

DON’T MISS: This psychedelic drug seems to affect the brain in ways that are surprisingly similar to meditation

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A neuroscientist explains what happens to your brain when you get a ‘runner’s high’

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PwC: 'Fintech and Financial Services are competing less and coming together'

Competitors participate in the Tough Mudder challenge near Winchester in southern England October 25, 2014.

LONDON — PwC says the financial services establishment has moved from viewing fintech startups as an amusing aside to seeing them as crucial collaborators, with a huge proportion hoping to partner with new innovators in the future.

In its latest Global Fintech Report, published on Thursday, PwC says that 82% of incumbents it surveyed plan to increase collaboration with fintech companies over the next three to five years.

“Mainstream financial institutions are rapidly embracing the disruptive nature of fintech and forging partnerships in efforts to sharpen operational efficiency and respond to customer demands for more innovative services,” PwC says in its report.

The “Big four” consultant surveyed 1,308 financial services and fintech executives from around the world for its latest report. It concludes that: “The influence that fintech is having on the market is growing and the long-term potential is even greater.”

Business Insider highlighted the trend for established financial service businesses to partner with fintech businesses recently when HSBC announced a partnership with Tradeshift.

PwC succinctly sums up the rationale for deals like this, saying: “Fintech startups don’t just need capital, they need customers. At the same time, incumbents need new approaches to drive change and deliver innovation.”

Fintech startups are fast realising that it takes a huge amount of money and effort to attract a customer base that stretches beyond early adopters and the tech-savvy. Partnering with a large incumbent who will pitch them to their client base seems like a sensible growth hack.

Established finance companies, meanwhile, are struggling to innovate at the pace and to the standard demanded by clients. They are simply too big and cumbersome to deliver new digital products. Partnering with a nimble startup can fix this, allowing the incumbent to offer a slick service to clients with their brand on.

Steve Davies, PwC’s EMEA fintech leader, says partnerships also help large corporates transform their ways of working, helping set them up for a nimble future.

Davis says in an emailed statement: “Fintech collaboration, and innovation more widely, is not about jumping on the latest bandwagon — it’s about finding the best, most efficient way to deliver your business strategy and ultimately better serve your customers.

“Embracing fintech is as much about different ways of working and problem-solving as it is about deploying new technology.”

PwC’s survey also found:

  • 88% of incumbents are worried they’re are losing revenue to fintech startups;
  • 77% plan to increase internal innovation;
  • 30% are investing in artificial intelligence;
  • 77% expect to adopt blockchain technology in some form or another by 2020.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A financial planner explains why starting a new job is the best time to negotiate salary

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Updating your tooling for Windows 10 Creators Update

We’re extremely excited today that the Windows 10 Creators Update, build 15063, has been released. Kevin Gallo went into detail about some of the new features and APIs in Creators Update for developers. I’ll go into the details of getting your system updated and configured so you can submit your apps to the Windows Store. This includes the Windows 10 Creators Update SDK, Visual Studio 2017 UWP Tooling and Windows Store starting to accept applications that target Windows 10 Creators Update.

There are two primary steps you’ll need to take:

  1. Update your system to Windows 10 Creators Update, build 15063.
  2. Get Visual Studio 2017 with the updated tooling and Windows 10 Creators Update SDK.

For a more in-depth overview of the UWP Tooling updates in Visual Studio 2017, Daniel Jacobson did a fantastic write up on the Visual Studio Blog.

Update Your System

Our engineering team outlined how the roll out approach will happen with the Windows Update. When the update is ready for your computer, you’ll receive a notification. If you want to pull the update manually, go to the software download site and select “Update Now.” Once you run the executable, this will force update your system to Windows 10 Creators Update.

Acquiring Windows 10 Creators Update SDK and Visual Studio 2017

Now that your system is on Windows 10 Creators Update, let’s install Visual Studio and the SDK.  It really is straight forward.

  • Don’t have Visual Studio 2017:

    1. Head over to Windows Dev Center’s download area and select the edition of Visual Studio you want.
    2. Run the installer.
    3. Select “Universal Windows Platform development” under Workloads.
    4. Click “Install.”
  • Visual Studio 2017 is already installed:
    1. Run the Visual Studio Installer.
    2. Be sure that “Universal Windows Platform development” under Workloads is checked.
    3. Click “Update” / “Install.”

Additional useful items:

  • Want tools for C++ desktop or game development for UWP? Be sure one of these two are selected:

    • C++ Universal Windows Platform tools in the UWP Workload section
    • Desktop development with C++ Workload and the Windows SDK 10 (10.0.015063.0)
  • If you want the Universal Windows Platform tools:
    • Select the Universal Windows Platform tools workload.

Once you’ve updated your systems, recompiled and tested your app, submit your app to Dev Center!

Wrapping up

I would love to know what crazy things you’ve included with the update by tweeting @WindowsDev.

For feedback on Visual Studio, use Report a Problem. If you have Windows API feedback or developer related feature requests, head over to https://wpdev.uservoice.com.

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Windows 10 Creators Update and Creators Update SDK are Released

This is a big day! Today we opened access to download the Windows 10 Creators Update and, along with it, the Creators Update SDK. And today is a great day for all Windows developers to get the SDK and start building amazing apps that take advantage of new platform capabilities to deliver experiences that you and your users will love.

We are working hard to innovate in Windows and to bring the power of those innovations to Windows developers and users. We released Windows 10 Anniversary Update just eight months ago, and we’ve already seen that over 80% of Windows 10 PCs are running Anniversary Update (version 1607) or later.

With today’s release of Windows 10 Creators Update, we expect users to once again move rapidly to the latest and best version of Windows. For developers, this is the time to get ready for the next wave.

What’s New in the Creators Update

Here are just a few of the new and powerful capabilities in the Creators Update:

  • Enhancements to the visual layer (effects, animations and transitions) and elevation of many effects to the XAML layer with improved controls that make the enhancements easy to bring to apps
  • Improvements to ink, including ink analysis and improved recognition, and an ink toolbar with new effects (tilt pencil) and tools (protractor for drawing curves and circles)
  • More powerful and flexible APIs for the Surface Dial
  • Significant Bluetooth improvements with Bluetooth LE GATT Server, peripheral mode for easier discovery of Windows Devices, and support for loosely coupled Bluetooth devices (those low energy devices that do not have to be explicitly paired)
  • Better user engagement via notifications that can now be grouped by app, bind to data and contain in-line controls such as progress bars
  • Improvements to the Desktop Bridge to make it easier than ever to bring Win32 apps to Windows 10 and the Windows Store
  • The ability to have seamless cross-device experiences with Project Rome and the recently released Android SDK for Project Rome
  • More targeted and effective user acquisition via Facebook app install ads with the Windows SDK for Facebook
  • Background execution enhancements that enable tasks to do more with increased memory and time
  • Enhanced security for apps with the ability to integrate Windows Hello
  • Richer app analytics via an updated Dev Portal that enables management of multiple apps and enhanced reporting
  • Faster app downloads and updates with the ability to componentize app packages and do streaming installs
  • Increased efficiency and flexibility with the new ability in Visual Studio 2017 to run two different SDK versions side by side on the same machine
  • Significant improvements to the Windows Console and the Windows Subsystem for Linux enabling many of the most used Linux frameworks, tools and services
  • New and natural ways for users to connect and engage with apps using the Cortana Skills Kit
  • The ability for game developers to reach new audiences by publishing UWP games on the Xbox via the Xbox Live Creators Program
  • Amazing 3D experiences on HoloLens and new mixed reality headsets via the Windows Mixed Reality Platform

You can find a more complete list here along with the latest developer documentation.

We’ll be taking a close look at all of these (and a lot more) at Microsoft Build 2017, including some of the things we’ve got planned for the future.

I hope to see you there!

Get Started Now

To get started, please check out Clint Rutkas’ post for the details on how to get the latest version of Visual Studio and the SDK. And take a look at Daniel Jacobson’s blog post to see some of the improvements for UWP developers in Visual Studio 2017.

— Kevin

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