Energy & Green Tech

Wildfires in the American West: Can Technology Help Save Lives?

Wildfire image via Shutterstock

In the wake of the June 3oth Granite Mountain tragedy, in which 19 of 20 members of an elite Hotshots team died fighting a huge wildfire outside Yarnell, Arizona—the greatest loss of firefighters in a single day since the 9-11 attacks—there is a shift in focus toward the “new normal.” Prevention and preparedness clearly are not enough; by all accounts, the Hotshots were experienced, well-prepared experts, an elite force combat-trained to handle even the toughest wilderness fires. This fire, said their local fire chief, was “just too dangerous.”   More

Business E-Commerce Global Tech

Tencent, eBay in Potent Partnership

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After its first attempt to develop the China e-commerce market failed miserably nearly a decade ago, US Internet giant eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) is making some smarter moves this time around by choosing better partners and also by building up its business more gradually. In the company’s latest China development, media are reporting eBay has formed a new joint venture with Chinese Internet giant Tencent (HKEx: 700). At the same time, separate reports are saying that eBay may fail in its bid to become the first foreign licensee to offer electronic payment services in China.   More

Media & Marketing

With Fan Fiction, Amazon Continues Remaking The Book Business

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As an author who is also a digital innovation strategist, and, perhaps most importantly, an avid fan fiction reader, I was intrigued when Amazon announced Kindle Worlds two weeks ago. If you missed the May 22 announcement, Amazon struck a licensing deal with Alloy Entertainment, a subdivision of Warner Brothers that co-produces some of the CW Network’s most popular television shows. Kindle Worlds will let writers create stories about certain shows with the same characters, setting, plot points, and story universe, producing original derivative works of fiction. Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici cleverly calls it, “an API for IP.”   More

Business Jobs

Motor City Is Building Apps … But Will Developers Come?

Detroit skyline picture via Shutterstock

Calling all app developers: Looking for the next great career opportunity? The chance to get creative on a completely different platform? There’s just one catch: You’ll need to relocate to (drumbeat, please) Detroit. “Detroit is suddenly hungry for . . . software developers and information technology specialists who can create applications for the next generation of connected vehicles,” writes Jaclyn Trop in the New York Times, noting the Michigan’s Department of Labor projection that app developer jobs will grow 36.9 percent from 2010 levels.   More

Energy & Green Tech Global Tech

Power Outages and Military Roadblocks? In Lebanon, There’s an App for That

Moustafa Baalbaki, creator of Beirut Electricity, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in 2012

The hassles of day-to-day life in Beirut, Lebanon, where tech entrepreneurship is growing, have led to some innovative apps. Daily electricity cuts are standard in the capital. Some families have backup generators. Moustafa Baalbaki’s does not. That led him to his breakthrough local app, Beirut Electricity, which tracks the rolling three-hour outages and predicts when the power will be on days, weeks, months, or even years in advance. “My dad used to have a manual [power-outage tracker] on the refrigerator made from paper. I thought, ‘I can do better. I am a software engineer,’” says Baalbaki, who works for KnowledgeView, a UK cross-platform publishing company.   More

Learning Opinion

Every Classroom Needs a Camera, and Here’s Why

Image via Shutterstock

Let’s imagine every classroom installed a camera (and software) that could record, store, and manage the lecture and materials so they were available to students anytime and anywhere on any device. What improvements would that bring? The universities and colleges that have done just that using Echo360’s edutech software (in which my firm, Revolution Growth, is an investor) have improved student outcomes and instructor efficiency. More students pass the class, and with higher grades. Fewer teachers are required for entry-level classes, and valuable time is spent on more personalized instruction.   More

Learning

How Computerized “Gut Instincts” May Improve NBA Coaching

DeMarcus Cousins, star center for the Sacramento Kings, warming up before a 2012 game. Image via Wikimedia Commons

As Vivek Ranadivé, CEO of TIBCO Software, and his tech industry partners take over the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, they’ve made some comments about applying advanced technology to basketball. But they haven’t really elaborated. Well, I can provide some clues to the way Ranadivé will likely think about this, and it goes well beyond using Moneyball-style data analysis to find players who are overlooked gems. In Ranadivé’s predictive-technology vision, the team’s computers will use that data to learn—to gain experience—about not just the Kings, but also their opponents. Then it could start making predictions during games about what is likely to happen.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

eBay’s Paypal: China Payment License in Sight

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China’s regulators have never been known for moving fast on anything, and that case seems to apply even more when it comes to allowing foreign players into emerging markets like third-party payment services. More than two years after China began awarding licenses for its domestic companies to offer such, foreign companies are still waiting for equal rights in the lucrative domestic market. But now US e-commerce giant eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) is saying it could soon become the first foreign licensee to enter the market, providing both a big opportunity, but also a major challenge, as it seeks to catch up to Chinese rivals with more than a two-year head-start.   More

Business Media & Marketing

How BuzzFeed Gives Business News Millennial Appeal

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A scant month into the launch of BuzzFeed's business section and its editor Peter Lauria is stoked. The news establishment from whence he hails has already taken notice. Out of the gate, The New York Times, the Financial Times, and CNBC, among others, have followed scoops by Lauria and his young team. For example, after news surfaced that Bloomberg reporters were using the financial services giant's terminals to report on clients, BuzzFeed uncovered that higher-ups at the company knew about the unsavory practice for more than a year.   More

Cities

Techonomy and Jack Dorsey Return to Detroit

Techonomy Media proudly announces it is bringing its one-day public conference, Techonomy Detroit, back for a second straight year. A diverse group of business, tech, government, and policy leaders will join in a spirited discussion of how technology is changing everything for the United States and its cities. National and local leaders will converge at Wayne State University on September 17, 2013 for a series of conversations and workshops to focus on the challenges and opportunities posed by headlong tech-driven change.   More

Business Manufacturing

New Technology Clouds the IP Landscape

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The tech trifecta of Internet, cloud computing, and 3D printing tantalizes investors and consumers with the promises of lower distribution costs, increased productivity, reduced prices, and the free movement of information. But, as RISD President and Techonomy 2013 participant John Maeda argues in a recent LinkedIn post, contradictions abound for those in the business of creating goods and information.   More

Internet of Things

Samsung Aims at a Networked Home

Samsung appears to be gearing up for an Internet of Everything economy. Already a leading producer of smartphones and LED televisions, the consumer electronics giant is preparing to expand its reach into home appliances. Samsung's CEO of Consumer Electronics Boo-Keun Yoon told Steven Bertoni of Forbes that his company is ready to push into a market worth $280 billion globally. With U.S. the housing market reaching solid ground, and China still building at a feverish pace, Samsung wants to equip the wave of new homes with dishwashers and ranges.   More

Global Tech Government Security & Privacy

NSA Surveillance a Setback for U.S. Cloud Services Overseas

image: bagsgroove via flickr

Long before the National Security Agency's PRISM program was exposed, technology industry executives had warned Congress that the Patriot Act and other laws that "give U.S. government authorities unfettered access to data stored with U.S. companies" are hampering global sales for American cloud services providers.   More

Learning

Text-to-Speech Reads to the Blind, But What More Can Tech Do?

The author's father using the Stereotoner to read.

Back in the 1970s, before a personal computer was on every desk or lap and a smartphone in every pocket, blind people read printed material—books, newspapers, bills—with reading machines. Harvey Lauer at the Blind Rehabilitation Center in Hines, Ill., was a pioneer in developing reading machines for the blind, and my father, Richard Bennett, a researcher at the Veterans Administration in Palo Alto, was one of his colleagues. “Blindness,” Lauer once said, “is something more than a nuisance, but a lot less than a major catastrophe.” The phrase aptly sums up the challenge of reading for blind people: It takes effort, but it’s not an insurmountable problem.   More

Business

Video: Kirkpatrick on Facebook Shareholder Unrest

Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick appeared yesterday on Bloomberg TV to comment on Mark Zuckerberg's reaction to angry investors at Facebook's first shareholder meeting. Kirkpatrick asserts that Facebook's formidable reach will ultimately bolster its long-term outlook, citing the use of Facebook by organizers of protests in Turkey as an example of the social network's pervasiveness. Zuckerberg's involvement in the FWD.us campaign for immigration reform, says Kirkpatrick, reinforces how Facebook "has put itself at the center of global developments." But can the company turn around its Wall Street fortunes by figuring out a way to monetize mobile ads?   More

Bio & Life Sciences Business

Genes Can’t Be Patented, Supreme Court Tells Myriad

"A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated," the Supreme Court has ruled today unanimously. The 20-page decision written by Justice Thomas added that synthetic DNA, also known as complementary DNA or cDNA, "is patent eligible because it is not naturally occurring."   More

Security & Privacy Startup Culture

How Startups Helped the NSA Build PRISM

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In 2004, while working for USA Today, then based in part of an Arlington, Va., office tower, I wanted to do a story about the CIA’s then-experimental venture capital unit called In-Q-Tel. I got the OK from In-Q-Tel to visit its office. But the CIA was so concerned about secrecy and terrorism, I had to agree to not reveal where the office was located. So I met a man on the ground floor of an office tower that had once housed USA Today, and he promptly took me back up the elevator. In-Q-Tel’s office was in the same building. I may be one of the only journalists to go there. In-Q-Tel has since moved down the street. You can find its address on the Web—though not on its own web site. And now that the National Security Agency’s PRISM data-collection system has been outed, In-Q-Tel is more visible than it's ever been.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

What Would You Do If Hackers Downloaded Your DNA?

Micah's DNA: micahb37 via flickr

Hacked customer accounts are a bane of modern existence. LivingSocial might have been the latest major hack victim, but by now, most people with any kind of online life know what to do when notified by a vendor, bank, or e-commerce site that "unauthorized access to some customer data" has occurred: reset your passwords, check your bank accounts, monitor your credit report, perhaps freeze your credit or cancel your credit cards. But what if hackers access your DNA? There's no resetting that code.   More

Security & Privacy

Could We Lose Control of Drones?

Drone image via Shutterstock

Is any technology inherently “good” or “evil”? The deciding factor would be how it's used (or misused), right? Consider drones. Drones—unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or aircrafts without human pilots on board—have been around since the early 1900s, and the U.S. Air Force was developing them in earnest as early as 1959. Today, the use of drones has grown dramatically. National Geographic reported this past March that at least 50 countries now use drones, and several—Iran, Israel, and China, for example—make their own.   More

Internet of Things Security & Privacy

Reputation.com’s Fertik: Put Humans Back at the Center of the Internet

Alongside Techonomy's recent mini-conference on the Internet of Everything in Menlo Park in May, we interviewed Michael Fertik, CEO of Reputation.com. Fertik is one of the world's most successful innovators focusing on a topic of great concern globally—privacy on the Internet. Reputation.com can sanitize and improve the way one is viewed in Google searches and other online contexts, and Fertik has given more thought than most to what we are doing as the Net evolves and more and more info about us is exposed in disparate contexts. In this video interview he talks about his hopes and fears, and waxes surprisingly philosophical about the relative importance and value of being human, and being a machine.   More