2016 has been an eventful year, with political disruption in the name of Brexit and Trump, and huge technical advancements such as CRISPR (Nobel prize next year?). Security has been a big and recurring subject, and is sure to stay so as we move in to 2017. When will the first big bank hack take place?
Below are 12 of the most interesting feeds from the past year, starting with a new one from this past week.
UBER, decacorn going unicorn?
UBER, also frequently mentioned in the feed, is losing money. A LOT of money.
In the third quarter Uber lost more than $800 million, not including its Chinese operation (which it recently exited), on a net revenue not higher than 1.7 billion. We know growth can be expensive, but almost 50% is definitely over the top. Even in the home market US, UBER is losing hundreds of millions this year! How long will investors hold on? A valuation of $66 billion seems just a bit off at this point…
Week 48 directly from SLUSH
Modern utilities and transport
Utilities and transport were two common themes at Slush, with everything from large energy companies like Fortum to app developers like Waze. Some interesting stats we caught:
The estimated cumulative cost of traffic congestion by 2030 in the US is $2.8 trillion – the same amount Americans collectively paid in taxes last year.
Global data center today use more electricity than all of the United Kingdom.
Los Angeles parking covers about 14% of the incorporated L.A. County land.
In 2050 there will be one billion people aged above 60 years old.
90% of the US population will live in cities by 2030.
Since 2009, protected bike lanes in US have doubled every 2 years.
41% of the worlds energy production is Coal based.
There is a whole lot of things that will have to happen in this area as urbanization continuous to be the greatest megatrend of our lifetime simultaneously as the world’s energy consumption also continues to increase. At the same time, a study by Bain & Company has shown that more and more people in large US cities are moving away from the city centers and often move to the end of the suburbs. As we don’t have to physically be at work, meet the doctor or go to the bank it is becoming more attractive to live in the outer parts of a city.
Surrounding this space we have advancements in electric and autonomous vehicles (including trucks and buses), drones, solar energy, energy storage, car-sharing etc. which will be key in solving some of these problems. It will be extremely important to follow developments in these areas to best adapt your business development. Where and how will new technology be used? For example, will the first large fleets of delivery drones operate in the middle of London? Probably not.
Is someone learning to take down the internet?
A few weeks ago one of the most prominent bloggers on internet security, Brian Krebs, warned of large so called distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), after his website was hit by one. DDoS attacks isn’t something new but the way this one was setup and the size of it was pretty much unheard of and very alarming. This last week, a chunk of the internet went down. Basically because someone did the same type of attack, causing outages and slow services for Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify, Reddit among others. By using of millions of hacked IoT devices (mostly connected webcams) from companies that don’t have decent security the hackers can send HUGE amounts of data towards servers ultimately crackle under the pressure. “A network designed to withstand nuclear attack, brought down by toasters.” Most interesting here though is, who is doing this and why?
We’re going to Mars!
Yesterday Elon Musk was live from SpaceX, in a presentation called Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species. Now we wrote about these plans a few months ago after the great posts from Tim Urban on waitbutwhy (still highly recommended!), but now they are official! “The dream is real”, as Elon put it. Funding is still a possible issue but the basis for technology is there, now all that’s needed is further research and time. If/when this happens it will be the biggest moment in human history, period. And according to the plans unveiled by Elon yesterday SpaceX plan to send spaceships of some sort to Mars every two years, and the flights (potentially with humans) start in the year 2022!!
Gene/DNA editing not so abstract anymore
Gene editing has recently been making huge advancements with something called CRISPR, a technology that is powerful enough to cure humanity’s worst diseases, yet simple enough to be used by amateur biologists. CRISPR as for instance “immunized” tomatoes against the yellow leaf curl virus, and thus shows HUGE potential for anything in agriculture. CRISPR allows editing of DNA in a living cell, meaning it can be used to help living organisms and yes, humans. Theoretically it will allow doctors to cure any human disease or defect before a person is even born or perhaps ensure someone is tall when they grow up… Scary stuff but truly has potential to be the single greatest advancement for healthcare of the 21st century!
Larry Page, co/founder of Google, has been secretly funding a company working on a small, all-electric plane that could take off and land vertically—a flying car. Personally spending over $100 million Page really wants the flying-car future, and he wants it now. So badly that he is actually funding a second company with the same goal, Kitty Hawk! Fact is, several prototypes are being built around the globe and the referred article from Bloomberg gives great insight to current advancements.
Quotes like the ones below definitely sound promising! BUT, how does someone like VW, GM or Tesla tackle this?
“What appears in the next 5 to 10 years will be incredible”
“We’re changing personal aviation.”
“The goal is to build a product that impacts the lives of lots of people, not just folks that are amateur pilots or wealthy, but everyone.”
We are moving towards a battery powered world!
Tesla has pushed the electrification of power supply forward both for our cars and for our homes. Elon, founder of Tesla, also has a hand in the push for electric trains with Hyperloop and an important milestone was met in Sweden last week as a new world record was set for rail energy consumption by a team from University of Dalarna. The team accomplished 0.84 Wh per person per kilometer—equivalent of using about 0.84 milliliters of fuel to move one person 10 kilometers!
Even the “load and roaring” Harley Davidson is planning an electric bike within the next 5 years. But, electric motors are quiet…?!!
Additionally, in our neighboring (oil) country Norway, politicians are moving closer to a complete ban on selling gas-powered cars, effectively by 2025!
Legacy IT, waiting to be disrupted? (or hacked?!)
The US government recently released a report on its IT spending ($89 billion). The summary, legacy is expensive! The share of the IT spend that goes to development and modernization has decreased the last seven years, because of maintenance and problems with legacy systems. Several systems are over 50 years old, meaning modern hackers surely can find a way in.
The same situation goes for many banks, many banks are plagued by computer systems that have been built up over several and today form a costly and complex patchwork of systems. Large IT upgrades or updates often fail because banks are afraid that if one systems fails, the whole thing might crash. All this means high risk of outages but perhaps more importantly, slow IT. That leaves many doors open for new entrants coming to disrupt the industry!
More from Elon!
Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully demonstrated that their Falcon 9 rocket really is capable of landing on a drone ship. This time, the rocket gracefully touched down on the ship after ferrying a Dragon capsule with supplies for the ISS. Next step is now to actually reuse the rocket, and SpaceX have announced that they are planning a launch with reuse in May. History unfolding before us!
Watson starts to sense feelings!
Artificial intelligence won’t be truly convincing until it can understand emotions. IBM just gave Watson an upgrade that includes a much-improved Tone Analyzer. The AI now detects a wide range of emotions in your writing, including joy or sadness. Tweek that for voice recognition and add the already strong image recognition engine and it’s clear that Watson is becoming a full-fledged intelligent agent, not just a business tool or clever chef!!
Google’s self-driving cars are now considered legal drivers
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the federal agency that sets road rules in the USA. In a letter, NHTSA recently announced that they from now on supports Google’s driverless system as legal drivers. Until this day, humans only have been considered as legal drivers. A true milestone for Google and the development of autonomous cars!
Google makes big AI advancement
The ancient Chinese game of Go is extremely complex, the called “search space” (basically possible plays) numbers in Go are so big that they are larger than the amount of atoms in the universe! So you can imagine that the task of building a program that can master the game is quite hard, and to date computers have only been able to beat amateurs. Now, a Google AI team has been able to master the game and beat professional players, a feat most expert thought would take another 10 years.