Google is trying its hardest to keep Alexa from ‘winning’ CES for the second year in a row

You can’t miss Google’s presence in Vegas this year.

Amazon’s Alexa assistant was crowned “winner” of CES, the Computer Electronics Show, last year.

While Amazon didn’t have a splashy presence at the show — though there was a bizarrely large Echo speaker in one hallway — the fact that so many gadget makers were pledging to bake Alexa into their products became the dominant story of CES.

This year, Google, which has a rival assistant product called Google Assistant, is making sure no one leaves CES without thinking — often — about it.

Hey Google billboard at CES Recode / Dan Frommer
Part of Google’s big CES ad buy.

Google has bought out major video billboards on the Strip, playing “Hey Google” ads for Assistant on loop. It has sponsored the Las Vegas Monorail, wrapping the cars in “Hey Google,” as well. And it has built a giant booth outside the Las Vegas Convention Center, complete with a very Googly slide.

Companies have announced some Google Assistant integrations, too, even as the Alexa integrations roll on.

There are smart locks, kitchen TVs, non-kitchen TVs, in-car entertainment systems, a bunch of speakers and headphones, etc.

Some of them may prove to be popular. Many won’t matter, or even ship. That’s CES for you.

The bigger picture is the narrative, and that’s why Google is smart to make noise here. (You can read Dieter Bohn make a similar argument at The Verge.)

The perception has been that Amazon, an online shopping company, is running away with the future of voice-based computing and search — perhaps the next great operating system. If true, over the long run, this could range from mildly bad to very bad for Google, the world’s biggest search and online advertising company.

What happens here this week probably won’t make much of a difference. Integrating voice assistants into every random gizmo might help — we’ll see — but it’s just part of the puzzle.

To really change things, Amazon and Google (and Apple, with Siri) must build actual, enduring value for their assistant services beyond music streaming and kitchen timers, and marketing won’t solve that problem. This seems like an advantage Google would have, as the company whose mission is to “organize the world’s information” and builder of many great internet services. Yet Amazon has overachieved so far, and still seems the fan favorite.

It will be a good race to watch, and one that really won’t be decided by shallow things like “winning CES.” But Google does need to pick up its narrative. Perhaps this burst of media attention — both organic and paid — will help.


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Mobiles or Laptops – Where Do Cyberattacks Hit Hardest?

In today’s high-tech society, cyberattacks are a large and still-growing issue. The public and businesses alike are embroiled in a constant but rarely-felt battle to keep infrastructure online and to prevent important data from falling into the wrong hands. This battle encompasses all devices from tablets to vending machines, but the devices you’re probably the most versed with are both laptops and computers. Which of these two portable devices are more susceptible to cyberattacks? And what are the attacks to look out for?

Laptops and Computers.

Laptops are generally more potent than phones. They feature larger internal storage, more powerful operating systems and as such can operate more sophisticated or specialised software. But for all this bang, a great deal is lost with regards to simplicity, portability and battery life. The primary issue with computers is that they are part of an open and less standardised environment.

Statista reports that in 2015-16 88% of all UK households contain a computer, yet according to Netmarketshare, 7% of these computers are still running Windows XP, an operating system released in 2001 – for which Microsoft support stopped in 2014. Close to 50% of computers are also still running Windows 7. These older operating systems are more vulnerable to cyber threats, as Microsoft are now focusing on maintaining and updating Windows 10 instead of their previous systems.

Mobile Phones.

Smartphones are a portable, versatile device that opens far more doors for workers on the go. They are incredibly popular, with roughly 48 million smartphones in use in the UK, and with that number set to rise to 54 million by 2022.  With advancements in cloud based storage, and through program ecosystems like Office 365, phones can now access all the important documents you once needed a computer for. The issue is that with smartphones, very little emphasis has been placed on cybersecurity awareness and so there is very little knowledge on the subject.

Cyber-attacks can indeed affect smartphones; mobile devices encounter potential threats each month. While mobile phone software is standardised, many updates sent out to prevent new and emerging cyber-attacks are delayed by users from being installed. If you have ever delayed an update you’ve put that device at risk. A good practice for businesses is to make these updates mandatory and immediate.

Attacks on mobiles are almost identical to attacks on computers. Generally, a website, email or another kind of lure will prompt a mobile user to download a file, or to provide information which can then be used to access other information. This can lead to dangerous infections like ransomware being installed on your phone, which locks and encrypts data on a device before demanding a payment to unlock the data.

But are either laptops or mobiles more susceptible to threats? It’s a complicated question. With both computer and phone operating systems, if programs and operating systems are kept up to date, the threat of successful attack and infection is small, but this chance is affected greatly by user knowledge. According to data released by Crowd Research Partners, ninety percent of organisations are vulnerable to insider threats – and this is because again, knowledge of mobile data security is sparse and not discussed. If individuals never used their devices malware would never be installed, and it’s the knowledge of how to safely use those devices that prevents these cyberattacks from becoming widespread.

The post Mobiles or Laptops – Where Do Cyberattacks Hit Hardest? appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.


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India hikes import tax on cellphones, liable to hit Apple’s iPhone hardest

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The Indian government is raising import taxes on cellphones from 10 to 15 percent, which could put pressure on Apple to accelerate local iPhone manufacturing.
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The latest ‘South Park’ game is hardest if you choose a black character

South Park writers Matt Parker and Trey Stone haven't ever really shied away from social commentary (president Donald Trump notwithstanding) and that doesn't look like it's changing with the upcoming South Park: The Fractured but Whole. When creating…
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New Study Says This Region of the U.S. Will Be Hit Hardest by Climate Change

Enhanced Regional Inequalities

A new study from the Climate Impact Lab, a consortium of 25 economists and policy experts from across the country, shows that the American South will be more affected by climate change than any other region in the United States. The analysis also shows that the effects of climate change will transfer wealth from poor counties in the Midwest and Southeast to wealthier counties on the coasts and in the Northeast. This will aggravate the trend of economic inequality in the U.S. that already exists.

States that are already warm or hot such as Florida, Arizona, Texas, and the states of the Deep South will therefore lose income potential when jobs and other benefits migrate to cooler areas. Counties in states that border the Gulf of Mexico in particular are likely to experience the equivalent of a 20 percent, county-level income tax solely attributable to climate change. This “tax” will come in the form of skyrocketing summer energy costs, struggling harvests, rising seas that engulf real estate, and heatwaves that trigger public health crises and inflate mortality rates.

The U.S. GDP will decrease by around 1.2 percent for every additional degree Celsius of warming. Although the Paris Agreement terms would allow a rise of four degrees Celsius by the end of this century, but even if we didn’t surpass that limit, the GDP of our country will still contract by 1.6 to 5.6 percent. If the Paris terms are not met, the damage will be more severe. (To put this into perspective, the biggest drop in GDP during the Great Recession was 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. It took years to recover from the drop, and the ramifications were felt all over the world.)

The study is an exhaustive, detailed effort, which models every single day of weather in each county in the U.S. during the 21st century in order to simulate the economic costs of climate change. It is by far the most in-depth economic assessment of human-caused climate change to date. It is also highly significant because it takes a bottom-up approach, building on multiple microeconomic studies with regional economic data to provide a more detailed picture of the future of the U.S.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Actual Risks May Be Worse

As detailed as the study is, the team omitted many serious risks of climate change because they lacked sufficiently detailed data to include them. For example, although the researchers could agree that biodiversity and other “non-market goods” are important, without a concrete way to assess the costs of those losses they didn’t feel they could include them in the study. They also omitted increased chance of “tail risks,” which are unlikely yet catastrophic events like mass migration, violent civil or military conflicts, massive droughts, or major polar ice collapses.

The study’s economic projections also end in 2099. While certain regions in the Northern regions of the U.S. might initially benefit from the pain the Southern states are feeling thanks to climate change, that won’t last. The authors of the study point out that the North will also experience more severe economic damages should climate change continue unchecked into the next century.

The post New Study Says This Region of the U.S. Will Be Hit Hardest by Climate Change appeared first on Futurism.

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