The Chinese e-commerce giant has announced DT PAI, a platform designed to comb through a client’s data and analyze it for useful information.
The service could help companies find key trends within their customer data, or even recommend goods to users, according to Alibaba. For example, online shoppers could take a picture of an item they like, upload the image and then receive the e-commerce listing about where they can buy the product.
Alibaba had been experimenting with this concept back in 2011 through its own e-commerce search engine.
Alibaba’s DT PAI platform now aims to streamline AI development for the enterprise market, reducing the time and expertise needed. Interested customers can simply “drag-and-drop” what functions they want, before proceeding to application development, the company said.
“What used to take days can be completed in minutes,” said Xiao Wei, senior product expert with Alibaba’s cloud business, in a press release.
Alibaba isn’t exactly known for AI development, but there are other factors to consider. In China, the company dominates as the country’s leading e-commerce player, and its initial public offering in the U.S. was the world’s largest at US$25 billion.
In addition, the company has a fast-growing cloud computing business, which is expanding globally. It has already opened a data center in Silicon Valley, and more are slated for other markets such as Europe and Japan.
In expanding, however, Alibaba will have to contend with better-known cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, according to analysts.
In addition to the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft hinted at last month, Aerosense on Monday exhibited a quadcopter that makes use of Sony’s lens-type camera, the QX30.
Designed for use in urban areas such as construction zones, the AS-MC01-P quadcopter weighs about 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) and can fly for about 15 to 20 minutes on a battery charge.
It can operate autonomously, flying within a preset zone, and is equipped with GPS, Wi-Fi and an inertial navigation system. It also has a high-speed data transfer module that uses Sony’s TransferJet technology.
In a presentation in Tokyo, Aerosense showed how photography from the camera can be turned into 3D imagery, showing, for instance, the volumes of piles of gravel at a construction site.
The venture’s other craft, the AS-DT01-E winged VTOL drone, has a rotor system that allows it to fly like a helicopter or a plane. The advantage of the winged format is that it can fly at much higher speeds than most non-military drones — up to 170 kilometers per hour (106 miles/hour) compared to high-speed quadcopters that fly at 75 kph (47 mph).
Weighing 7kg (15 pounds), it can carry a 3kg payload (6.6 pounds) and operate for at least two hours on a battery charge.
Aerosense will target enterprise customers when it begins to offer drones for monitoring, surveying and inspection next year.
Volkswagen (VW) has watched as a security vulnerability in a key system on a range of vehicles has been released from the garage and put on the news road.
VW was first notified about the problem two years ago, but has worked to keep it under the bonnet. Well, not all of it, just a single line – not a yellow line – has been contentious. The line is still controversial, and has been redacted from the full, now released, report.
VW secured an injunction in the UK high court two years ago. The firm argued at the time that the information would make it easy to steal vehicles that come from its factories and forecourts. That might be true, but that is often the case with vulnerabilities.
The news that VW has suppressed the report for this amount of time is interesting, but it does remind us that not everyone in the industry appreciates third-party information about weaknesses.
VW has a lot of cars under its hood and, according to the report, a lot of different vehicles are affected. These run from Alfa Romeo through to Volvo, and take in midlife crisis mobility vehicles like the Maserati and Porsche.
The report is entitled Dismantling Megamos Crypto: Wirelessly Lockpicking a Vehicle Immobilizer (PDF), and is authored by Roel Verdult from Radbound university in the Netherlands and Flavio Garcia from the University of Birmingham in the UK.
Megamos Crypto sounds like a sci-fi bad guy, maybe a rogue Transformer, but it is actually designed to be a good thing. The security paper said that it is a widely deployed “electronic vehicle immobiliser” that prevents a car starting without the close association of its key and included RFID tag.
The researchers described how they were able to reverse engineer the system and carry out three attacks on systems wirelessly. They mention several weaknesses in the design of the cipher and in the key-update mechanisms. Attacks, they said, can take as little as 30 minutes to carry out, and recovering a 96-bit encryption key is a relatively simple process.
This could be considered bad news if you are a car driver. It may even be worse news for pedestrians. Concerned car owners should find their keys (try down the back of the sofa cushion) and assess whether they have keyless ignition. The researchers said that they told VW about the findings in 2012, and that they understand that measures have been taken to prevent attacks.
We have asked VW for an official statement on the news, but so far it isn’t coughing. Ready to talk, though, is the security industry, and it is giving the revelation the sort of disapproving look that people give cats when they forget what that sand tray is for.
Nicko Van Someren, CTO at Good Technology, suggested that this is another example of what happens when you go from first gear to fourth while going up a hill (this is our analogy). He described it in terms of the Internet of Things (IoT), and in respect of extending systems before they are ready to be extended.
“This is a great example of what happens when you take an interface that was designed for local access and connect it to the wider internet,” he said.
“Increasingly, in the rush to connect ‘things’ for the IoT, we find devices that were designed with the expectation of physical access control being connected to the internet, the cloud and beyond. If the security of that connection fails, the knock-on effects can be dire and potentially even fatal.”
The increase is the largest ever seen between reporting periods by Twitter, wrote Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s senior manager for global legal policy, in a blog post Tuesday.
The Transparency Report from the company indicated that government requests for account information in the first half rose by 52% and affected 78% more account holders than in the second half of last year.
The scope of the report has been expanded to include information on notices of alleged trademark violations and a section where users can check how different email providers handle the privacy and encryption of email messages from Twitter.
The total number of government requests for account information worldwide was 4,363 in the first half and referred to 12,711 accounts across Twitter, Vine and Periscope. Twitter received 2,436 requests from the U.S. that specified 6,324 accounts, which came largely in the form of subpoenas, which are usually orders to testify or provide information. In the second half of last year, the U.S. had made 1,622 information requests affecting 3,299 accounts.
Content removal requests were also on the upswing at 26% higher in the first half of this year in comparison to the second half of last year, and came primarily from Turkey and Russia. The number of accounts impacted also went up by 11%.
The increase in content removal requests reflect growing sensitivity in some countries over the use of social media for propaganda and communications by terror groups and political extremists.
Qualcomm has announced its Snapdragon 620, a successor to the reasonably successful Snapdragon 615.
The new chip is Qualcomm’s first to feature a brand new quad core cluster of four Cortex A72 1.8 GHz cores and four more A53 based 1.2GHz cores.
The new Qualcomm chip supports dual channel LPDDR3 memory at 933MHz and the as yet unidentified next generation of Adreno graphics which will probably be branded as 5xx series. Qualcomm promises to support the latest graphics APIs, hardware tessellation and geometry shading.
The new SoC, which targets the mainstream phones, comes with support for Cat 7 speeds of up to 300 Mbps down/100 Mbps up via 2×20 MHz carrier aggregation in the downlink and uplink on LTE FDD and LTE TDD. The SoC supports LTE Broadcast, LTE multimode dual SIM and VoLTE with HD Voice and SRVCC and comes with Qualcomm VIVE 1-stream 802.11ac, Qualcomm IZat location services, USB 2.0 and Bluetooth Smart 4.1.
The chip supports Quad HD 2560×1600 screen, and Miracast for up to 1080p wireless displays, 4K@30fps capture, 1080p@120fps capture with Hardware HEVC (H.265) encode and decode. Those with dual ISPs can support up to 21MP ZSL @ 24fps and 930MP/sec throughput, local tone mapping and enhanced AF.
The higher end Snapdragon 820 comes with four Hydra based cores and 14nm manufacturing node. We are not sure what function the mainstream Snapdragon 620 processor will have for Qualcomm.
If you look more carefully at Snapdragon 620 you will notice that this chip is a declocked version of Snapdragon 810, but it comes with Cortex A72 instead of Cortex A57. This promises to bring the performance close to Snapdragon 810 to the mainstream market phones in early 2016.
Snapdragon 820 is expected to be the performance leader in Qualcomm land and we expect to learn a bit more about the chip this week.
Twenty-six-year-old Kuniako Saito and his team at Cocoa Motors recently unveiled the lithium battery-powered “WalkCar” transporter, which is the size of a laptop and resembles a skateboard more than a car.
The slender WalkCar is made from aluminum and weighs between two and three kilograms (4.4 to 6.6 pounds), depending on whether it is an indoor or outdoor version.
Saito expects to see many other uses for his transporter, as he says it has enough power to help people push wheelchairs with ease. The lightweight aluminum board is stronger than it looks, and can take loads of up to 120kg (265 pounds).
It reaches top speeds of 10 kilometers per hour (6.2 miles per hour), for distances of up to 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) after three hours of charging.
Its developer says it’s also extremely simple to ride. Once the rider stands on it the WalkCar starts automatically, while simply stepping off stops the vehicle. To change direction, the user just shifts their weight.
Best of all, there is no need to find a parking space, because it fits into a small bag when not in use.
Saito said his studies in electric car motor control systems sparked the idea for the new kind of ride.
“I thought, “what if we could just carry our transportation in our bags, wouldn’t that mean we’d always have our transportation with us to ride on?” and my friend asked me to make one, since I was doing my masters in engineering specifically on electric car motor control systems,” he told Reuters.
Saito says he is confident that WalkCar goes beyond bulkier devices such as the Segway or Toyota’s Winglet.
Qualcomm is set to unveil its new Snapdragon 820 SoC on August 11 in LA and more details are being leaked than you would see at a Welsh leak recipe contest.
It appears that the new Snapdragon 820 will have the catchy title MSM8996 and it promises some significant performance improvements in key areas. We already know that it will not be catching fire, but it also has a 40 per cent GPU performance increase with its A530 GPU.
The device is also claimed to have a 30 per cent power improvement with 64b of shared virtual memory with the CPU.
Another big area of improvement is the Hydra CPU, which claims a 35 percent improvement compared to the Snapdragon 810.
The Snapdragon 820 will support 4k60 entertainment and high-speed data connectivity.
There are rumours that there will be a QFE3100 Envelope Tracking system this will not speed up mail in the criminally slow Italian Post Office, but should create a lower power and a thermal footprint. A dedicated low power sensor is integrated for always on use.
Another major upgrade compared to the older SoC is a switch from 20nm to 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. We are still expecting the Xiaomi Mi5 to be the first one to use it.
Sprint recorded 57.688 million customers and connections in its earnings report for the first quarter that ended June 30, just behind T-Mobile’s 58.9 million.
Sprint and analysts view the fourth-place ranking as irrelevant. They pointed to recent improvements in Sprint’s network connections and speeds, judged by various third parties, as a key factor in lowering the record low postpaid customer churn (loss) rate to just 1.56%.
CEO Marcelo Claure pointed to the low churn rate and net adds of 310,000 postpaid customers for the first time in two years as important signs that Sprint “is on the pathway to growth.”
“I agree with Sprint that consumers do not care who is fourth or third. Sprint’s network is finally improving, which is about time,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics.
Entner said Sprint is showing a record low churn at the same time that other carriers are showing lowered rates. “It looks like consumers are happier with the choices that they have made.”
One factor in lowering the churn rate could be that Sprint and other carriers are tightening requirements on the credit they extend to customers, analysts said, but Sprint didn’t confirm that tightening is happening.
Sprint’s network improvements and overall financial progress got a ringing endorsement from Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of Japan’s Softbank Group, which owns 78% of Sprint.
“I am extremely excited about the turnaround of Sprint,” Son said on the earnings call. He said he personally has worked nearly every night from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. in Japan with SoftBank and Sprint engineers to find the best way to implement better coverage using Sprint’s network holdings.
“I don’t want to sell the company,” Son added. “Sprint is going to be a very, very good company for which I’ll be very proud.”
A supercomputer developed by China’s National Defense University still is the fastest publically known computer in the world, while the U.S. is close to an historic low in the latest edition of the closely followed Top 500 supercomputer ranking, which was just published.
The Tianhe-2 computer, based at the National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou, has been on the top of the list for more than two years and its maximum achieved performance of 33,863 teraflops per second is almost double that of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Cray Titan supercomputer, which is at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
The IBM Sequoia computer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California is the third fastest machine, and fourth on the list is the Fujitsu K computer at Japan’s Advanced Institute for Computational Science. The only new machine to enter the top 10 is the Shaheen II computer of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, which is ranked seventh.
The Top 500 list, published twice a year to coincide with supercomputer conferences, is closely watched as an indicator of the status of development and investment in high-performance computing around the world. It also provides insights into what technologies are popular among organizations building these machines, but participation is voluntary. It’s quite possible a number of secret supercomputers exist that are not counted in the list.
With 231 machines in the Top 500 list, the U.S. remains the top country in terms of the number of supercomputers, but that’s close to the all-time low of 226 hit in mid-2002. That was right about the time that China began appearing on the list. It rose to claim 76 machines this time last year, but the latest count has China at 37 computers.
The Top 500 list is compiled by supercomputing experts at the University of Mannheim, Germany; the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Despite some pretty strong rumors to the contrary, Sony has said that it will keep making smartphones, despite not being able to make much dosh on them.
Hiroki Totoki, the CEO and President of Sony Mobile, has given the strongest indication yet that Sony will never leave the smartphone market.
The rumors were started in February by Apple’s favour news agency Reuters and it quoted Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai saying he would not “rule out considering an exit strategy” for the smartphone and struggling TV divisions.
At the time it made sense. Sony was losing a lot of money in its smartphone department and Reuters was taken a little more seriously when it reported on Jobs’ Mob rivals.
However now Totoki is stating in no uncertain terms that Sony “will never ever sell or exit from the current mobile business”.
In an interview with ArabianBusiness.com, Totoki explained why Sony would never ditch mobile: “Smartphones are completely connected to other devices, also connected to people’s lives – deeply… We’re heading to the IoT [Internet of Things] era and have to produce a number of new categories of products in this world, otherwise we could lose out on a very important business domain”.
Amazon.com Inc will rollout its business loan program for small sellers later this year in eight new places including China, where credit is becoming a key factor in competing for new vendors and grabbing market share.
Until now, the e-retailer has offered the service only in the United States and Japan. Amazon Lending, founded in 2012, now plans to offer short-term working capital loans in other countries where it operates a third-party, seller-run marketplace business, the head of Amazon Marketplace, Peter Faricy, told Reuters.
The countries are Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The service is on an invite-only basis and is not open to all sellers on Amazon’s platform.
Other large retailers including eBay Inc’s PayPal and Alibaba Group Holdings, which run third-party marketplaces, are also turning to credit to boost their vendor base.
Some lending industry officials who help lenders assess credit risk say these retailers are taking on risky loans because they don’t know the shape of the credit market in which the sellers are operating.
Small businesses have high failure rates, especially in China and India, added William Black, a former U.S. banking regulator and professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri.
Amazon said it can safely offer loans based on internal data and because it takes loan payments out of the sales proceeds it pays sellers.
PayPal spokesman Josh Criscoe said eBay merchants who use PayPal are eligible for the working capital loans and credit is offered to only those customers that have a strong PayPal sales history. PayPal has provided more than $500 million in capital since September 2013, with an average loan disbursement of $2 million per day.
A spokeswoman for Alibaba’s financial services arm Ant Financial, which offers these loans, said credit is offered to Taobao, Tmall merchants and other small business owners who meet certain conditions. The company also offers such loans to customers in some countries like the United States and Britain.
Over the next two years, community solar in the U.S. is poised to see its market size increase seven-fold, and by 2020 it will be expanding by half a billion watts annually, according to a new report by GTM Research.
One of the benefits of a community solar farm is that it offers consumers who don’t even own a home (such as renters) the ability to go solar.
Community solar farms, like community gardens, share the photovoltaic energy among a group who purchase a share of the total energy produced by the site and receive the benefits of reduced costs on their electric bill.
According to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), there are at least 52 community farms the U.S. states. And, at least 10 states are encouraging their growth through policy and programs.
Twenty-four states have at least one community solar project in operation, with 12 states operating at least two community farms or more, GTM said. The leading states based on operating capacity are Arizona, Colorado, California and Massachusetts.
At least 10 states are considering active community solar legislation to promote shared resources.
California, for example, is preparing to implement two community solar programs, one for utility-led development and another for third-party development. The program calls for 600 megawatts (MW) by 2019, with 110.5MW required by 2016.
Clean Energy Collective (CEC) and SunShare are the market leaders in building community solar farms, with a 32% combined market share, according to GTM.
As with other solar collectives, CEC and SunShare typically partner with utilities to develop high-volume, one-off community solar projects. Additionally, GTM Research reported today that 55 billion watts (55 gigawatts or GW) will be installed globally in 2015, a 36% increase over 2014.
Solar will account for roughly half of new electricity capacity out to 2020, the new report stated.
The United States will be the third-ranked PV market this year, behind only China and Japan. GTM Research forecasts the United States to install 8GW, which constitutes 14% of the global PV market.
Banks, Stocker Brokerages and credit card firms are becoming more desirable to money-hungry cyber crooks whose fraudulent operations now account for 300 percent more attacks than any other industry.
That’s according to the latest Finance Industry Drill Down report by security firm Websense, which says that because of the value at stake in compromising hosts in the finance sector, criminals are spending “a tremendous amount of time” on the investigation and lure stages of attacks.
This is to make sure attempts are sophisticated enough to be successful against any defences a business might have in place.
Based on Websense’s telemetry data from the Websense ThreatSeeker Network and the Websense Advanced Classification Engine, the findings revealed the financial sector is one of the biggest targets of cyber-attacks and thus these attacks are increasing in volume and sophistication.
Some of these attacks can earn big bucks for those launching them. We spoke to Websense’s Principal Security Analyst, Carl Leonard, who told us that one of the most popular malware campaigns launched against the financial sector over the past year managed to steal a whopping £100,000.
Leonard added that these hackers are usually working in small groups, but the interesting thing is that they are less skilled than what they would have been traditionally due to the rise of “malware-as-a-service” (MASS).
MAAS refers to a coveted underground network of cybercrooks and hackers who are always on the outlook for new tools to exploit, and are exchanging source code for existing malware, then using basic skills to customise these, enabling even entry-level threat actors to successfully create and launch data theft attacks.
This wide-spread availability of exploit kits on sale on the undergroung cyber markets, comprising a combination of old techniques with newer ones, is resulting in attacks which are difficult to track back to the source. Old threats are thus being recycled into new ones and launched through email and web channels, “challenging even the most robust defensive postures”.
“The barriers to entry are reducing due to malware-as-a-service because you don’t need to have skills of previous years,” explained Leonard. “You can acquire the skills and malware kits that allow you to conduct tools as a malware author.
“These authors can subscribe to a service, which [constantly] provides them with very recent versions of malware.”
The most dangerous malware tools found by Webense to be wrecking havoc in the financial sector are:
Rerdom, an attack vector from the Asprox family of malware responsible for a huge amount of attacks against every industry. This attack group is often known as a spam generator, but it has vast functionality and is increasingly being used to target financial services customers in the form of sending malicious emails, click fraud, harvesting FTP, browser, and email credentials. It accounts for 30 percent of threats found in the financial services industry, Websense said.
Vawtrack, a malicious banking trojan, accounts for 13 percent of all threats in the sector and is being used in attempts to steal a wide range of victims’ credentials. Websense said it was created for gathering personal information and stealing it without leaving traces. The banking trojan can easily take over passwords, digital certificates, browser history and cookies. Its defense mechanism tries to detect any installed AV and disable it by using the Windows mechanism called Software Restriction Policies.
The third most popular malware threat seen in the financial sector is one called Geodo, which Websense said has been found in the sector 400 percent more than any other industry. The security firm describes it as an update of the Cridex attack, and has a separate email worm that looks to steal credentials and self-perpetuate, thereby initiating more lures.
SoftBank Robotics Corp., an international company based in Japan, put 1,000 personal robots, priced at $1,600, on sale last Saturday. Within one minute, they were sold out. Customers also must pay a $120 per month cloud connection fee and and monthly insurance of $80.
It was the first time that SoftBank had allowed people to put in orders for the robot, dubbed Pepper.
There has been high interest in the robot’s launch because its creators say Pepper not only can read and respond to human emotions but it will have its own emotions. According to SoftBank, the robot can autonomously generate emotions by processing information from its cameras and sensors.
SoftBank said more sales will be announced next month.
“With this emotion function, Pepper’s emotions are influenced by people’s facial expressions and words, as well as his surroundings, which in turn affects Pepper’s words and actions,” the company said in a statement. “For example, Pepper is at ease when he is around people he knows, happy when he is praised, and gets scared when the lights go down.”
The robot is designed to raise its voice or can sigh depending on its emotions at the moment. Pepper also will show its emotions – based on different colors and motions – on a chest display.
The robot also has an ecosystem of more than 200 apps.
Last week, SoftBank announced a deal to team deal to team with Foxconn Technology Group, an Apple manufacturer, and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group to build and sell robots for the home and enterprise worldwide.
SoftBank will retain 60% of its company but for an investment of $118 million U.S. each, both Foxconn and Alibaba will receive 20 percent stakes in the robotics maker.
Sony is denying that its PlayStation Vita is dead in the water, despite ignoring it during its E3 2015 presentation.
Slim PlayStation Vita went on sale in February and was greeted by a loud sounding yawn by the hand-held game community. Since then we have heard very little about it, and like most of the world, including Sony, did not really care.
PlayStation Europe boss Jim Ryan insisted to Gamespot that the system is still selling well and has “hundreds” of games in development.
“We’re still selling respectable quantities. We have a hundred games in development, and you might say, ‘Well yeah but they’re all indie games’, but many of these games review very highly. Also the PS4′s Remote Play feature is something that is valued a lot.”
Ryan also insists that the handheld market still exists, despite being gutted by tablets and smartphones.
He admitted that it was not as big as it used to be, but hell what these days is.
” A much smaller market than when the DS and PSP were in their glory days. But that market still does exist,” he added.
Despite his enthusiasm we don’t hold out much hope.