State of the Cloud, July 2018
Hello, and welcome to the state of the cloud for July 2018, Cloudwards.net’s monthly recap of the biggest news regarding the cloud and privacy, with some other tech thrown in here and there. It’s informative and will give you a giggle here and there, so no wonder most of the world’s leaders subscribe to it (our lawyers would like to assert that we have not fact checked this).
It’s been a wild month and there’s been a lot of news coming from the world of tech, but most of it is the kind that makes you raise eyebrows in worry, rather than amazement. If you want to see where we left off, we suggest you check out our June edition. Otherwise, strap in for a wild ride.
Fun with Facebook (If Privacy Issues Were Fun)
As we have with pretty much every state of the cloud since their inception a few months ago, we’ll kick off with Facebook. Though anyone even remotely in the know has avoided the social media platform for years now because of its data-selling and ad-targeting ways, the Cambridge Analytica scandal pulled the lid off of a nasty cesspit. And that was only the start.
Take, for instance, the recent news that the company simply cannot stop leaking users’ information. In this particular case, Facebook let the makers of all kinds of devices (predominantly smartphones and tablets) access user data in a bid to optimize (a favorite buzzword of marketeers) the manufacturers’ service. Needless to say, users weren’t consulted on the matter.
It turns out, quite a few of these manufacturers are Chinese, meaning state-owned companies in one of the most repressive countries in the world, now have some of your personal information. Apparently, even when you’re not in the Middle Kingdom, you’ll need to use one of our best VPN for China picks.
Incidentally, the one time Facebook tried to do some good and follow the privacy laws as set out by the GDPR, it locked out several thousand business users, so there’s that.
Not that Facebook is the only company making deals with China. The news broke last month that Apple’s CEO is an unofficial diplomat to China, brokering deals on behalf of the U.S., which is a deeply worrying entanglement of corporate and governmental interests (unless you think Apple has the best interests of the American people at heart; we do not).
Be Evil: Google Learns from the Big Boys
Speaking of muddled motivations: the once-friendly corporation that had as its motto “don’t be evil” seems to have had a change of heart. It has, in cooperation with the U.S. military, been developing advanced drone AI, a scoop brought to you by The Intercept.
If creating killer robots wasn’t enough, the company was also handed a fine by the European Commission for abusing its dominant market position. The allegations were that Google was pre-installing its own software on Android phones, preventing other parties from vying for the attention of customers. After a two-year investigation, the EC agreed with the allegations, and Google is facing an 11 billion euro fine.
It seems a new, open-source Android may be a good idea, after all.
Musk Scents Trouble
Though not exactly evil, it seems like Elon Musk’s many companies-cum-hobby-horses are running into some nasty problems. His solar energy business is running on fumes. It closed nine facilities with sales down. That may be due to declining demand as oil prices have taken a tumble, or it could be that production was overestimated in the first place, much like it was with Tesla.
On the car-making front, the company finally hit its target in early July, but not before laying off a substantial number of workers, as well as firing one guy who claims he was sacked for trying to organize a union. Though it’s hardly surprising that someone as headstrong as Musk isn’t a fan of collective bargaining, it is a blow to his workforce.
It’s not all black clouds for Elon, though. Chicago gave the okay for his Boring Company (of flamethrower fame) to start work on the hyperloop project in the city. The idea is that pressurized tubes will run under the city, offering extremely fast and cheap public transport. However, not a day after the announcement, a writer for The Verge had his doubts about the financial math behind the project.
Cold War Is Back from a Warm Holiday
We’ll finish this roundup of June’s big stories with the cheery news that, according to one British ex-spook, Russia is fighting a cold war with the West. Note the tense of that sentence: they’re not preparing for one, they’re fighting one now.
Besides the wide-scale hacking of routers throughout the world on which we reported earlier, there are indications that visitors to this year’s World Cup in Russia are having their devices hacked, often remotely. Once the visitor to the sportsfest returns home, he is, effectively, a digital spy for Putin and his cronies, like it or not.
With that heartening news out of the way, let’s take a look at June’s smaller stories, the most cheerful of which is that the West is once again the leader in the supercomputer game, thanks to Summit, a new machine residing at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Summit can calculate up to 122 petaflops of data, as opposed to the 93 China’s Sunway TaihuLight is capable of.
A massive breach at MyHeritage exposed the email addresses of 92 million users, a new record. The company emphasizes that it was only email addresses that were laid bare. Its DNA database was unaffected, thankfully.
One researcher came to the conclusion that automation won’t threaten your job. The caveat (you knew there’d be one) is that the economy stay stable. Considering bankers are up to many of their pre-Recession tricks again, we recommend that our readers learn to either program or maintain AIs using a correspondence course or something.
Windows 98 celebrated its 20th birthday in June. In case you’re wondering why this is noteworthy, plenty of people, as well as institutions, are still using the practically ancient OS. The worst offenders are governments, which is no surprise, really, considering the city of London asked citizens to send their credit card details via email…
With that, we’ll wrap up for the month. In July, we expect there to be lots of clamor and fury concerning the new EU rules concerning uploading, as well as more Facebook revelations (a boon to bored journalists).
We hope to have you join us again in a few weeks. Till then, stay safe and, as always, thank you for reading.