Consumer Groups Urge FCC to Investigate Zero-Rating

by Matt Klassen on June 30, 2016

zero ratingHaving recently won a landmark victory in upholding the Federal Communications Commission’s authority over establishing and enforcing Net Neutrality regulations, it really wouldn’t surprise me if FCC chairman Tom Wheeler was hesitant to continue pushing his luck, particularly when it comes to investigating the popular zero-rating trend.

But consumer groups continue to urge the Commission to bring the current regulations to bear on this controversial practice, given that it masks all of the evils Net Neutrality was designed to combat, but in an seemingly consumer-friendly package.

The argument is, of course, that despite the fact that zero-rating offers certain streaming video services at no data cost, that these sorts of practices offer broadband providers a great deal of power of subscribers’ online activity, allowing them to direct users towards certain favoured services, giving carriers leave to throttle or otherwise manage data streams, and ostensibly allowing them to block (or at least render completely irrelevant) services unwilling to participate. So will an investigation finally begin?

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When Morals Meet Machines: Should Self-Driving Cars Favour Passengers or Pedestrians in a Crash?

by Matt Klassen on June 29, 2016

robotcarsIn the 2004 dystopian action movie “I, Robot,” the main character (played by Will Smith) harboured a great deal of resentment towards advanced robotic assistants because of their inability to make complex moral decisions. In fact, as you find out through the course of the film, a robot had made a choice to save his life, rather than that of a young girl, based on the logical calculations of both their chances of survival during a catastrophic car accident. The point was simple, the decision making power of robots will always be flawed because they lack the emotional capacity to make nuanced moral choices.

While a decade ago considering moral theory as it relates to robotics might have seemed like some futuristic thought experiment, today it has become a reality, as the advent of self-driving cars is presenting unique moral challenges, particularly related to what decisions robotic cars should make in the event of a crash.

The fact of the matter is that while self-driving cars purport to deliver advantages related to more efficient traffic systems, reduced accidents and lower emissions, even robots will get into accidents, and autonomous vehicles will have to decide how to respond to those accidents and make decisions as to who might be injured in them: passengers or pedestrians.

It is a moral dilemma that is currently facing the autonomous vehicle industry, and one that will need to be programmed and resolved in forthcoming self-driving cars.

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Core Energy Infrastructure needs Critical Cybersecurity Upgrades (and fast)

by Matt Klassen on June 29, 2016

Over the last year we’ve discussed at length the inherent dangers posed by cyber-criminals in our increasingly connected world, from postulating the problems that could be created when your connected car is hacked and catastrophes that could occur when hackers take control of a network connected airplane, to the potential headaches (and mess) that could come from attacks on your connected refrigerator, or worse yet, toilet.

But there exists a far greater threat to our increased digitized way of life than any other single point attack we can likely conceive of, the hacking of our core utilities infrastructure, more specifically, the vulnerability of the critical energy systems that we depend on to provide us with the very power that allows us to do, well, everything.

In an article regarding the cybersecurity of our electrical grid in the October issue of The Electricity Journal, Carol Hawk and Akhlesh Kaushiv write, “In today’s highly connected world, with an increasingly sophisticated cyber-threat, it is unrealistic to assume energy delivery systems are isolated or immune from compromise.” Simply put, the more connected our infrastructure becomes the more vulnerable it becomes, and that could result in a world-altering disaster.

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Google plans on producing its own smartphone this year

by Matt Klassen on June 28, 2016

google-androidFor several years now Google has struggled with its role within the Android ecosystem, always tempted to wade into the waters with its own Google-branded hardware in an effort to compete directly with Apple, while equally always worried such efforts would upset the Android partners it depends on to actually make this crazy open source project financially viable.

Granted Google has unveiled its own Nexus line of devices, but over the years these projects have been done in partnership with a variety of Android vendors, almost like Google throwing a bone to the likes of HTC, Huawei, and LG.

But recent rumours indicate that Google may be poised for a significant switch in its Android strategy, as the company is reportedly planning to release its own non-Nexus, Google smartphone by the end of 2016, the Telegraph reported on Monday, citing “sources familiar with the discussions.” Add this to the recent speculation that Google is planning on creating a proprietary, closed version of Android, and we could be seeing a radical change in Google’s mobile strategy.

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Broadband Access still a Dream for Many

by Matt KlassenJune 24, 2016

In today’s world you might think that the last people to be reached by broadband service would be those in remote or rural locations, particularly given the fact that many of us in North American urban centres likely consider broadband access and affordability to an inexorable and ubiquitous part of our very existence. In fact, […]

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IoT Won’t Deliver Additional Revenues for the Telecom Industry

by Jeff WienerJune 24, 2016

For more than a year now telcos and vendors have been championing the Internet of Things (IoT) as the greatest new vertical revenue stream for operators, arguing that the development of 5G network technology will open up a brave new world for ubiquitous, sustained connectivity of our entire digital existence. The sustained connection of ever-proliferating […]

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Internet as a Public Utility: A Canadian Case Study

by Matt KlassenJune 23, 2016

Even as Canadians attempt to sort out their own Net Neutrality regulations, repairing the debacle left by previous federal administrations, there is one Canadian city that is hoping to pave the way forward towards establishing high speed broadband service as a public utility, even if federal regulatory bodies are unwilling to define it as such. […]

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Will Google Close the Android Ecosystem?

by Matt KlassenJune 22, 2016

Over the years the one thing that as set Google’s Android operating system apart from Apple’s own iOS is that Android has always been open-sourced (sort of), available to all to tinker and modify…if they’re willing to live by Google’s rules of course. By contrast, Apple has always controlled its proprietary platform, not allowing anyone […]

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Domino’s Abandons T-Mobile Promo Due to Huge Pizza Demand

by Matt KlassenJune 21, 2016

I’m still now sure how the general public feels about T-Mobile’s recent promotional campaign to give out shares in the company, but the carrier’s accompanying free giveaways are clearly a hit, evidenced by the fact that the Domino’s pizza chain, a partner for the first two weeks of T-Mobile’s promotion, has abandoned it’s participation in […]

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The Internet is a Public Utility. So has anything changed?

by Matt KlassenJune 20, 2016

As we reported last week, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s legal authority to implement and enforce Net Neutrality regulations, a landmark victory for the open Internet movement. With it the FCC has had its reclassification of broadband service as a public utility affirmed, and we now officially live in an […]

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