Finance

Cyberthreats to Bank Accounts on the Rise

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On the same day that news broke that 40 million customer account records were stolen from retail giant Target, the regulator of the nation’s largest financial institutions warned that customers’ financial information is increasingly under assault in their banks as well. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Thursday, in its Semiannual Risk Perspective, warned that “Cyberthreats continue to increase in sophistication and frequency.” The agency noted, “Known impacts include … identity theft, fraud, and theft of intellectual property.”   More

Cities E-Commerce

Brookings’s Bradley: A Sharing Economy That Serves All

We know the sharing economy as an efficient and convenient resource, and launchpad for trendy startups like Uber, Airbnb, and TaskRabbit. But the sharing economy could help address needs for a much wider swath of society, instead of just enabling better options for the already-privileged. At Techonomy 2013, Brookings Institution fellow Jennifer Bradley discussed the sharing economy's opportunity for inclusion, such as creating an Uber-like system to help low-income people get to work, and enabling the sharing of essential "means of production" like 3D printers and power tools.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Business Internet of Things Security & Privacy

People, Companies, and Trends: Techonomy’s 2013 Top Ten

Eri Gentry at Techonomy 2013. (Photo: Asa Mathat)

As 2013 winds down, Techonomy takes a moment to look back on highlights from the year, especially those that portend—we think—the future. Our Top Ten list recognizes the people, companies, and ideas that embodied how technology is catalyzing change in business and society. Some of the individuals and organizations here were represented at our 2013 conferences, labs, and dinners, where we convene leaders to explore the biggest tech-driven challenges and opportunities. Some were featured in our expanding online editorial content.   More

Learning

Foreign-Language Software Goes to the Library

Mango co-founders and brothers Jason (l) and Mike Teshuba.

Technology has done much to build bridges globally, but it could do a lot more. Helping us speak other languages is one promising arena, expanding global business through cultural awareness. Mango Languages aims to teach the grammar, culture, and intuitiveness of languages in a fun, interesting, and engaging way. The company’s conversation-based learning products employ a technique it calls intuitive language construction. More than 2,700 libraries across the U.S. offer Mango Languages to expose learners to new languages, cultures, and opportunities. And corporate and government adopters are showing how bilingual training is good for business.   More

Learning Partner Insights

Lawmakers: Colleges Need Free Digital Textbooks

Undergrads on average spend more than $1,200 annually on books and supplies. (Photo credit: Lightpoet)

Lawmakers in Washington are considering a proposal that would help colleges produce and share free digital textbooks, a move proponents say would help make college more affordable. The Affordable College Textbook Act would create a grant program for colleges interested in establishing pilot programs that use “open educational resources” to reduce textbook costs. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a supporter of the legislation, has defined these resources as free, online academic materials that everyone can use, adapt, and share.   More

Energy & Green Tech Startup Culture

Microsoft’s Craig Mundie on Why He’s a Techno-Optimist

Take a monolithic problem like climate change and consider its solutions. Many would say the only answer is to get all of us to alter our lifestyles so we can cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. But a "techno-optimist" like Microsoft's Craig Mundie would urge us to approach the problem from a different, more novel angle: Instead of hinging Earth's health on changing all of society, what about engineering a method of reflecting heat out of the atmosphere? At our Techonomy 2013 conference in November, Mundie spoke with us about how creative traits like "risk tolerance" and "novelty seeking" will help us confront big challenges like climate change. "If you give us a big problem, we'll invent a big answer," he says. "We're [not] bound to live within the constraints of the capabilities we only know today."   More

Partner Insights

Your Car Will Take Your Blood Pressure

Heart Rate Monitoring Seat

Customer research and societal trends suggest that there’s a strong business case for automakers to explore opportunities in health and wellness. Here’s what we at Ford have learned: While chronic illnesses are on the rise, the number of healthcare providers has remained relatively flat, which effectively limits patient access. For this reason and others, people of all ages and from all income groups are taking a more hands-on approach to their own health and wellness. More people now visit online health sites than go to the doctor’s office. Paralleling the increasing interest in health websites is an explosion of interest in mobile health solutions. These trends create a natural role for the automobile in the emerging digital health and wellness field.   More

Global Tech

Chinese Moguls Place Actual Bets on New Economy

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And now for a lighter look at an emerging trend in the China corporate world, which has seen some of the nation’s biggest tech personalities make high-profile bets with their equally successful peers from more traditional sectors. The latest in these high-tech wagers has seen Lei Jun, the charismatic founder of fast-growing smartphone maker Xiaomi, make a bet with Dong Mingzhu, often considered China’s most successful businesswoman as the chairman of appliance giant Gree. These bets are mostly for entertainment and publicity on the one hand; but they do also represent the very real challenge that traditional industries are feeling from e-commerce and other emerging high-tech business models.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Techonomy Events

Aetna CEO Embraces Alternative Healthcare

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini surprised many Techonomists at our conference in Tucson last month with his frank talk about alternative therapies and the need for the current health system to be “creatively destroyed.” Who would have thought the top man at one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies would be an advocate for craniosacral therapy and meditative chanting? Bertolini’s onstage interview with David Kirkpatrick focused mostly on his innovative approaches to apps and technology at the company. But in a later on-camera conversation, Bertolini described how his progressive personal health practices jibe with his company’s mission.   More

Business

If You’re Reading This Article, Chances Are You’re Not Human

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The Internet is a sprawling and mysterious place, as anyone who’s spent two minutes on Google—and certainly anyone involved with Web publishing—can attest. It’s a thrumming hive filled with vast amounts of data, knowledge, commerce and media and an equally vast number of gloriously bizarre arguments, grumpy cats and adorable sloths. Also, bots. Lots and lots of bots. Bots are software applications built to perform automated tasks. A report released this week by Incapsula, a cloud-based web-security service, found that 61.5 percent of all website traffic now comes from these non-human visitors. If you’re reading this and you’re human, you’re apparently in the minority.   More

Business Techonomy Events

Business’s Biggest Trend: Convergence Around Tech

David Kirkpatrick interviews Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini at Techonomy 2013. (Photo by Asa Mathat)

At Techonomy, we've argued from the beginning that there is no real difference between a "tech" company and a "company." We held a session entitled "Every Company is a Software Company" at our 2011 conference, and aim to be a central meeting point for traditional companies and startups. This interesting piece from TechCrunch points to the stunning number of acquisitions being made by established, supposedly "non-tech" companies in a wide variety of industries. And the article's list is just the tip of the iceberg.   More

Learning

Rethinking Online Scholarship

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Are MOOCs all they’re cracked up to be? Over the past few years, the merits of massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been fiercely debated; some argue that they will radically expand and democratize higher education, while others say the hype is overrated. Unfortunately, early results have been disappointing, the New York Times reports. A study released this month by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education found that only about half of those who registered ever viewed a lecture, with only about 4 percent completing a course.   More

Manufacturing Startup Culture

Tesla’s Elon Musk to Would-Be Innovators: Just Try

Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick was in Texas this week to interview super-magnate Elon Musk, the entrepreneurial marvel behind Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Their wide-ranging conversation was part of the opening keynote at this year’s Dell World, held Dec. 11-13 at the Austin Convention Center. Kicked off by Dell Founder and CEO Michael Dell, Thursday’s keynote delved into Tesla’s rapid but sometimes rocky evolution, from the electric car company’s early struggles to get financing to its current market capitalization of over $18 billion.   More

E-Commerce

Gift Guide for a Techonomic Holiday

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Unless you manage somehow to live off the grid (in which case you probably don't read articles at Techonomy) you are no doubt getting inundated with holiday promotions, news about Black Friday, and reminders of your gift history from any website where you ever bought anything. All of these signs point to a central conclusion: it’s time for the second annual Techonomy holiday gift guide! Our wishlist should appeal to those in your life who value science and technology, sustainable living, or just cool stuff.   More

Learning

Google Isn’t The Only Way to Research

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The fast-growing Digital Public Library of America aims to make accessible the holdings of every library, historical society, and other repository of information. Not just text but photos and other resources flow through this aggregator of sites. The DPLA regularizes the metadata so anyone can search through vast troves of specialized material. Want to find where your great-grandmother lived in rural Minnesota? This is how you may do it.   More

Finance

Kirkpatrick: Bitcoin Matters Because It Is Transnational, Nongovernmental

Bitcoin is booming. Backed by Washington and such business and Wall Street heavyweights as Virgin founder Richard Branson and Bank of America strategist David Woo, the virtual currency has emerged as a financial phenomenon, trending in news from Argentina to Zimbabwe. Many buyers and banks, however, remain skeptical of Bitcoin’s viability and worriedly point to its extreme volatility and connection with illegal sales and money laundering. Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick, also a contributing editor at Bloomberg, appeared on Bloomberg Surveillance on Monday to talk Bitcoin with Bloomberg reporter Matt Miller.   More

Global Tech

What’s Behind Apple’s iPhone Deal with China Mobile?

The Apple store in Beijing. (Image via Shutterstock)

Last week will go down in the history books as the week when China finally entered the high-speed telecoms era with its granting of 4G licenses after years of waiting. But China still has the dubious distinction as one of the world’s few markets where Apple’s wildly popular iPhone isn’t available to more than half of the country’s 1 billion mobile subscribers. That looks set to finally change soon, with media reporting that China’s dominant carrier China Mobile has finally signed an iPhone deal with Apple.   More

Learning

A Holiday Gift That Helps You Navigate an Electronic World

SynthKitBoxandBits

Thirty-one-year-old Ayah Bdeir wants to inspire a new generation of innovators, and she has the building blocks to do it—literally. Bdeir is CEO and founder of littleBits, a company that sells an electronic toolkit that can teach complex engineering concepts to kids and adults in a fun and simple way. LittleBits users get access to an open-source library of small electronic modules resembling LEGO pieces that snap together with tiny magnets to create fully-functioning devices. Each “bit” has a specific function—it might create light or sound, have a sensor or house a motor—allowing users to create anything from a flashlight to a fully operational robot.   More

Finance

Bitcoin: Bubble? Maybe. The Wave of the Future? Definitely.

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Bitcoin. The world’s newest and hottest virtual currency. It has become the story du jour for a financial media hungry for stories, and its sudden surge in recent weeks, going from a price of less than $200 barely a month ago to $1,200 last week, certainly attracted attention. And of course, rarely do things gain so much so fast without a concomitant fall. A virtual currency only invented in 2009, with a limited number of units in circulation that sees its value quintuple in a matter of days to command a total market of more than $10 billion simply begs for the word “bubble.” But is it? Here’s where everyone has an opinion.   More

Business

What Will the Energy Landscape Look Like in 2030?

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In last week’s New York Times, Daniel Yergin gave readers three possible energy landscapes for 2030: a climate-friendly redesign, a renewable ideal, and a troubled, coal-reliant outlook. He admits that the rapidly changing energy industry makes it nearly impossible to predict our energy future. But scenarios “help to identify what seems to be predetermined,” he says, while also highlighting driving forces and big uncertainties. Which future would you like to see? And how do we harness the innovative thinking necessary to get there?   More