Tech News for the Month of November 2016

  1. Microsoft has reached human parity for speech recognition.  Speech recognition has been around since the 1970’s but this is the first time speech recognition has been on par with that of humans.  This does not mean that the recognition is perfect but it is a monumental step.  Microsoft says their next step in this development will be to pursue speech understanding.  Microsoft already uses the somewhat creepy “Cortana” as  their robot listening device.  Their goal is to develop Cortana into a more effective assistant, and likely a better robot at understanding what your advertisements should look like.
  2. Edward Snowden is growing increasingly concerned about the number of people who rely solely on facebook for news.  The main concern isn’t the plethora of fake news which consumes facebook, but rather, the limited alternative sources people are seeking.  Many people are beginning to exist in an echo chamber politically, it is easy to tailer your google searches and article titles to suit your political views with no regards for facts.  Snowden’s greatest concern seems to be the monopoly companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter have on providing people with new, especially news which contains misleading headlines.  People were inundated with politcal content leading up to the election, lots of which was untrue or mis represented at the least “To have one company that has enough power to reshape the way we think, I don’t think I need to describe how dangerous that is,” Snowden said.
  3. Elon Musk unveiled the new Tesla Solar Roofs this month.  This complete’s the 3 step plan to generate (solar roof) store, (powerwall) and transport (motors).  As per usual, Elon Musk’s company has present an obvious solution to a very apparent problem.  There is no doubt Elon is one of the greatest minds of our generation, but this is not a terribly complicated problem.  The obvious question is why hasn’t this been done for decades.  There have been a number of examples of electric cars being squashed by big oil companies, for example, those features in “who killed the electric car”
  4. Finland could become the first country to ban coal use for energy.  Finland is looking to put forth a ban on all coal usage for energy.  The country has been working towards this goal for years now and it seems it is finally taking shape.  In addition, France has said they are planning to go coal free by 2023.  Canada has said it will aim to be coal free by 2030. The chips are starting to fall with regards to archaic, polluting fossil fuels but is it too little too late.  The earth has crossed 400 parts per million for CO2 recently, Toby from the office seems to think it’s already hopeless.