July 18, 2024

Innovation & Tech Today


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Photo of Chinses Spy Balloon over the Midwest United States take from high altitude U-2 plane. Credit DoD.

Tech News to Know This Week: April 4 – 10

Every day we wake up, drink some coffee, get ready for work and check on the latest tech. So here’s a handful of stories from around the tech world condensed to fit into that first cup. These are things you need to know before you step foot out of your door (or in front of a webcam) and into the real world this morning.

Chinese Spy Balloon Gathered Intel on Nuclear Weapons Sites

Photo of Chinses Spy Balloon over the Midwest United States take from high altitude U-2 plane.

The Chinese Spy balloon that floated across the continental US earlier this year gathered intelligence from several military sites connected to nuclear weapons and command. Contrary to the Biden administration’s assurances that minimal damage would be done by allowing the overflights, the balloon was able to transmit nuclear intelligence back to Beijing in real time. 

The high-altitude balloon, being piloted from Beijing, made multiple, figure eight, passes over the sites before it was shot down off the South Carolina coast. NBC News broke the story, citing two current senior US officials and one former senior administration official. 

“The intelligence China collected was mostly from electronic signals, which can be picked up from weapons systems and include communications from base personnel, rather than images,” NBC cited the officials as saying.

China denied that the balloon was spying for its government, claiming it was a private weather balloon that was blown off course. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and China’s Embassy in Washington failed to respond to multiple requests for comment from news organizations. 

Google Will Guarantee Flight Price and Pay the Difference If They’re Wrong

Google announced a new update to its search engine designed to make travel less of a headache.  The update allows users to more easily compare flight prices, browse hotels and find new adventures to embark on. 

A major improvement is Google’s new guaranteed price badge. If a price badge appears on a flight, Google will guarantee the price will not go down before the scheduled departure. And if it does, Google will reimburse you the difference via Google Pay! The feature is only available for flights purchased using Book on Google and departing the US.

Google’s solution for finding the best hotel at the best price is a new swipeable story format that allows all price and location details to be viewed in one tap without opening multiple tabs. 

And now when you search a destinations attractions on Google Maps or Search, their prices and a link to the booking site will appear next to the listing. If your looking for multiple activities, Google will suggest nearby attractions and experiences. 

AI Could Displace 300M Jobs: Report

A new report from Goldman Sachs predicts that AI, like generative chatbots and image creators will replace 25% of all jobs in the coming years. In certain sectors that number is much higher, including 46% in administrative jobs, 44% of legal jobs and 37% of architecture and engineering jobs. 

The jobs under least threat from AI are in construction, installation and repair, and maintenance – coming in at 6, 4 and 1 percent respectively. 

While the report predicts that 18% of all jobs worldwide could be automated with AI, that number is much higher in the developed countries like the US, UK, Japan and Hong Kong. In those markets, 28% of the workforce is predicted to be automated. 

Just last week thousands of leaders in science, technology, labor, education and human rights, signed a letter calling for an immediate pause on the rapid advancements in AI to allow humans to adapt. The letter cites fears that AI could topple human civilization as currently organized. 

Australia Joins Other Western Nations, Bans TikTok on Government Devices

Today Australia joined a growing list of western countries banning TikTok from official devices. Attorney General Mark Dreyfus announced the decision and said the ban will take effect immediately and be implemented “as soon as practicable,” saying the decision was taken “after receiving advice from intelligence and security agencies.”

Australia also made several changes to its Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF), noting that TikTok poses a grave security threat due to its massive data collection practices. 

“The TikTok application poses significant security and privacy risks to non-corporate Commonwealth entities arising from an extensive collection of user data and exposure to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflicts with Australian law,” the directive said.

The move puts Australia in line with its neighbor to the south, New Zealand, as well as the other so-called Five Eyes nations; the US, the UK and Canada, all who banned TikTok. 

TikTok expressed disappointment they would no longer be able to collect data from government devices, saying: 

“We are extremely disappointed by this decision, which, in our view, is driven by politics, not by fact. We are also disappointed that TikTok, and the millions of Australians who use it, were left to learn of this decision through the media, despite our repeated offers to engage with government constructively about this policy.”

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By I&T Today

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