Nine things that happened this week that may shape your life

There is no boring day in the tech world. The NSA has been hacking our phones while we're on airplanes, a global cybercrime ring was taken down, and AI is inching closer to stealing our jobs. Also, Audi cars will save you from red lights.

Photo by: Getty Images
Photo by: Getty Images

Farewell Cashiers!

Updated Mar 3, 2017

1. Say goodbye to diesel cars

A romantic foggy day in Paris. Actually, it's air pollution. (Reuters)

Fed up with the air pollution in their cities, the mayors of Mexico City, Paris, Madrid, and Athens decided to take diesel cars and vans off the roads by 2025. The scope of the ban is still unclear, but it’s a good step toward cleaner air given the harmful gas diesel engines produce.

2. Global fraud ring taken down after 4 years of investigation

Investigators from the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom brought down one of the largest botnets ever after four years of investigation. The cybercrime infrastructure called ‘Avalanche’ spanned 180 countries, with 600 servers to host 800,000 web domains. On any given day, Avalanche had at least 500,000 computers under its control to conduct criminal activities.

3. No Cashier, No Cry: Amazon Go

Amazon Go just made grocery shopping feel like shoplifting. With its new kind of store, you can simply walk in, take whatever you want from the shelf, and walk out. Employing technologies like computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning, it tracks what you take and charges you after you leave the store. It’s currently open only for Amazon employees, but it will be open to Amazon Prime members too in early 2017.

4. Deepmind AI will learn like we do

Deepmind is open-sourcing its artificial intelligence (AI) lab. The lab is a 3D game platform similar to Quake 3 Arena’s game engine. The AI agent will only see what is on the screen from a first-person perspective and bring its own solutions to various problems in the game. It will also get different AI agents to co-operate with each other. Not to be outdone, Elon Musk’s OpenAI will be releasing the code for its AI lab called Universe in April.

The training will begin shortly. (Courtesy of DeepMind)

5. Uber announces its own AI lab

Uber is heavily investing in artificial intelligence as well. Recently, the company acquired Geometric Intelligence, a start-up co-founded by academic researchers specialised in AI. Its team will be the centrepiece of the new lab Uber is creating for AI research in San Francisco. Only a couple of years ago, Uber made its interest in artificial intelligence public by poaching 40 researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Science Department.

They will steal our jobs. (Getty)

6. 1.7 Million truckers will lose their jobs because of AI

With recent improvements in self-driving cars, it’s becoming increasingly likely that 1.7 million truck driving jobs might be gone for good in the near future. Major automakers and ride-sharing companies are tirelessly working on their self-driving cars, and the impact of this technology will be widely felt among drivers. The fact that trucking was the most common job in 28 states in 2014 will only make things worse for drivers. Taxi, bus and delivery vehicle drivers’ jobs are also under threat.

They will soon all be driverless. (Getty)

7. IoT botnet knocks out a million routers in Germany

The danger that botnets will invade internet-connected appliances, also known as the "Internet of Things," is becoming higher with every passing week. It has been only two months since an IoT botnet attack took down Dyn, but this week another IoT botnet has taken down 900,000 routers in Germany. Although this cyber attack wasn’t particularly dangerous in a physical sense, the trend is worrying.

8. NSA and GCHQ targeted in-flight mobile phone use

Newly leaked documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the National Security Agency (NSA) and its British web surveillance counterpart, the General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has been tracking in-flight mobile phones since 2005. The agency specifically targeted Air France passengers, but other airline companies were also picked up in the process. Those companies include British Airways (which only enabled data and SMS functions), Hong Kong Airways, Aeroflot, Etihad, Emirates, Singapore Airways, Turkish Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa. The documents also reveal NSA analysts thinking: “What’s next, trains? We’ll have to keep watching,” one writes.

You're being watched. (Getty)

9. Audi cars can save you from red lights

Audi cars in Las Vegas will be telling their drivers when traffic lights will turn green. The technology would help drivers to accelerate at just the right speed to catch any green lights on their route. The system will be available for Audi A4 and Q7 owners and it will communicate with the Las Vegas traffic management system to pull the timing data to the heads-up display via 4G LTE. This kind of traffic management system has the potential to reduce travel time by 25 percent.

Can't see the traffic light? Audi can. (Reuters)

Author: M. Furkan Akyurek