2017/07/18

Visa offers $500K for eateries to stop accepting cash - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Visa is challenging small restaurants, cafes and food trucks to stop accepting cash. The credit card company announced in a news release this week it is offering $500,000 to 50 eligible U.S.-based eateries to go 100 percent cashless. Restaurants signing up can get a $10,000 gift from Visa to help pay for technology upgrades, the San Francisco-based company said.

Comment: Visa is trying to get merchants in the U.S. to stop accepting cash, good luck with that. Meanwhile, in Britain, they are investing in trendy new banknotes with extra security features. I guess they didn't get the Visa offer.

2017/07/12

AP - Face scans for US citizens flying abroad stir privacy issues
The AP reports: "If the Trump administration gets its way, U.S. citizens boarding international flights will have to submit to a face scan, a plan privacy advocates call a step toward a surveillance state. The Department of Homeland Security says it’s the only way to successfully expand a program that tracks nonimmigrant foreigners. They have been required by law since 2004 to submit to biometric identity scans — but to date have only had their fingerprints and photos collected prior to entry. Now, DHS says it’s finally ready to implement face scans on departure — aimed mainly at better tracking visa overstays but also at tightening security. But, the agency says, U.S. citizens must also be scanned for the program to work. Privacy advocates say that oversteps Congress’ mandate."

Comment: It's been a while since we had a MOTB update. I'm not sure this really rises to the level of a good update. As you can see from the report, it's very tentative, part of me thinks "ok, let me know if they actually do require face scans" but the reality is that they probably will. Consumers have already demonstrated a willingness to surrender their privacy and their dignity in the name of travel safety, this is simply one more step. I suppose we should not be too alarmed, no doubt the biometric ID database will be well secured from hackers, right?  Finally, the usual caveat, I'm not saying that this or any other biometric tech is the MOTB, this is simply a tech trend worth keeping an eye on. 

2017/05/11

India is building a biometric database for 1.3 billion people — and enrollment is mandatory - LA Times
The LA Times reports: "Nearly 9 out of 10 Indians have registered, each assigned a unique 12-digit number that serves as a digital identity that can be verified with the scan of a thumb or an eye. [...] Designed as a showcase of India’s technological prowess — offering identity proof to the poor and reducing waste in welfare programs — Aadhaar’s grand promises have been muddied by controversy as the government makes enrollment mandatory for a growing number of essential services. [...] Soon, as more private companies use the database, it could become difficult to open a bank account, get a new cellphone number or buy plane or train tickets without being enrolled."

Comment: This sounds like a privacy nightmare but it's certainly an interesting experiment in government mandated identity verification.  If India can make it work it will become an attractive option for many other countries.

2017/04/17

Japan convenience stores to cut out workers, scan entire baskets - UPI.com
UPI reports: "By 2025 the country's major retailers, including Seven-Eleven Japan and other chain operators, will allow customers to use self-checkout computer kiosks to scan an entire basket of items without requiring individual scans, The Nikkei reported Tuesday, local time. [...] Chips, or radio frequency identification tags, that can compute all items simultaneously are to be used at Seven-Eleven, FamilyMart and Ministop stores, where they will be in active use in major cities by 2018, according to the report."

Comment: I think the cost of upgrading hardware would be prohibitive in a large country like the U.S., still, it's an interesting development, it shows how advanced RFID tech has become. 

2017/04/04

Swedish company Epicenter implants microchips in employees - UPI.com
UPI reports: "About 150 employees the Swedish technology firm Epicenter agreed to have a microchip inserted in their hands, the company said. The RFID, or radio frequency identification chip, is about the size of a grain of rice and will allow workers at the company to open doors automatically and use electronic devices more efficiently. The chip is implanted in an employee's hand."

Comment: The Mark of the Beast prophecy found in Rev 13:16-18 is one of the most specific prophecies in the Bible and also one of the most enigmatic.  I'm not dogmatic on the subject and enjoy speculating on what it could be, alternating between a high-tech solution like an implanted chip to something as basic as a tattoo. Lately it seems like the high-tech answer is gaining ground, with remarkable innovations coming in the fields of mobile commerce, identity verification and biometrics. I don't claim to have the answer, but I am dedicated to watching the trends. In this latest news, some Swedish workers are having chips implanted into their hands. It sounds like this is a small-scale experiment with a technology that has wider commercial applications. It will be interesting to see how it goes. If your company offered this service, would you get chipped? 

2017/03/21

IBM, Visa Want Smart Devices, IoT Gadgets to Replace Themselves | Digital Trends
Digital Trends reports: "As technology grows, so do the options for making purchases. Already millions of people are able to buy things using PayPal or Apple Pay, but IBM and Visa want to expand that even further. Together, they want all connected devices to act as mobile payment systems. By collaborating with Visa, IBM will use its own Watson Internet of Things (IoT) platform to allow businesses to quickly add secure payment options to any device connected to the internet. These days, that means anything from a car, to a ring, or even a shoe."

Comment: That sounds great, but I would be concerned about privacy and security. They will really need to reassure consumers that these payment systems are safe before mass adoption.

2016/08/12

MIT created a temporary tattoo that can control your connected devices - TNW
The Next Web reports: "In the future, your tattoos could be as functional as they are expressive. MIT, in partnership with Microsoft, created a new touch interface, DuoSkin, that allows temporary tattoos to interact with smartphones or computers, display output based on body temperature changes and even transmit data using NFC."

Comment: It's been a while since I've come across an interesting Mark-related news report. This high tech tattoo looks like a way of combining the cool factor of tattoos (so popular these days) with the functionality of a tech interface. A word of caution, I'm not saying this is the MOTB, it's just some interesting tech to keep an eye on.  I always like to emphasize that because I'm aware that past generations went a bit nuts in tagging emerging tech as the MOTB. I think all we can really do is watch tech trends and see where things are going.

2016/06/22

People are using chip implants to open doors, control phones - CNET
CNET reports: "Minnesota software engineer Tim Shank uses a chip implanted in his finger to unlock the smart lock to his home. He also has an NFC chip with contact information stored in it, which lets him easily tap and send the info to an Android phone. [...] Shank is just one of a growing movement of biohackers who are implanting devices and chips in their bodies to perform different technological tasks."

Comment: It's been a while since we had a good MOTB update and this is an interesting if unsurprising story about how the biohacking community is taking to chip implants.  I mean, you would kind of expect that, right? At any rate, I no longer envision implanted chips to be the MOTB (our technology has moved so far beyond mere hardware) it's fun to check in once in a while and see if there have been any new developments. I should also note that this news site will attempt to start playing a video, so very annoying when you don't even have you earbuds in.  

2016/05/21

CNN - Fake in China: 488 million social media posts a year
CNN reports: "The Chinese government cranks out 488 million fake social media posts a year in an effort to divert attention away from sensitive issues, a new study estimates. The researchers describe a 'massive secretive operation' carried out by government employees, highlighting just how far China is willing to go to control news and information."

Comment: Social media seems to take on a life of its own  with the narrative sometimes diverging wildly from the original topic. Celebrities, governments and corporations have all have their social media fails as well-intended  tweets are either misinterpreted or mocked online. But, what if you could guide the flow of the narrative? If social media is a storm would it be possible to manufacture countervailing winds to steer the storm in the desired direction? It seems that China is currently conducting just such an experiment using millions of fake social media posts. It's a fascinating and yet scary development.

2016/04/29

U.S. high court approves rule change to expand FBI hacking power | Reuters
Reuters reports: "The Supreme Court on Thursday approved a rule change that would let U.S. judges issue search warrants for access to computers located in any jurisdiction despite opposition from civil liberties groups who say it will greatly expand the FBI's hacking authority. U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts transmitted the rules to Congress, which will have until Dec. 1 to reject or modify the changes to the federal rules of criminal procedure. If Congress does not act, the rules would take effect automatically. Magistrate judges normally can order searches only within the jurisdiction of their court, which is typically limited to a few counties."

U.S. spy court rejected zero surveillance orders in 2015: memo | Reuters
Reuters reports: "The secretive U.S. Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court did not deny a single government request in 2015 for electronic surveillance orders granted for foreign intelligence purposes, continuing a longstanding trend, a Justice Department document showed. The court received 1,457 requests last year on behalf of the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for authority to intercept communications, including email and phone calls, according to a Justice Department memo sent to leaders of relevant congressional committees on Friday and seen by Reuters. The court did not reject any of the applications in whole or in part, the memo showed. "