This Week in This Week in Tech - 12/18/15
IBM announced the opening of a Munich-based global headquarters for the Watson IoT Cloud this week, which brings a series of new offerings from the tech behemoth’s Jeopardy-playing AI platform to developers working on the Internet of Things. Watson’s PR team has already been hard at work explaining how the technology can transform healthcare, customer service, and ecommerce, and now its NLP powers will help connected devices better understand spoken commands and its analytics capabilities will make sense of all that data. IBM would like you to remain excited, please.
Donald Trump, the (gulp) frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, made headlines yet again this week when he announced in the primary debates that he doesn’t want ISIS “using our Internet.” As appalling as we find pretty much everything The Donald says, his idea isn’t entirely outside the bounds of the White House’s influence. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans retreated from their latest battle in the war against the Internet when they allowed the year-end spending bill to proceed without an anti-Net Neutrality rider. They did, however, attach the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) to the omnibus bill, meaning that even if President Obama wants to veto, he would have to do so at the risk of the entire Federal budget.
Speaking of Net Neutrality, the FCC is asking internet service providers to explain how they judge what usages are and aren’t subject to data caps, allegations were lodged that Comcast can’t actually tell how much data we’re all using accurately, and Netflix is taking it upon itself to decide how much bandwidth certain content deserves. But before you get outraged, remember how good you have it: new research shows that while the overall speed of data transfer has grown by 14% in just the third quarter of 2015, only 5% of users have access to broadband.
Speaking of how good you have it: earlier this week, a Brazilian judge ordered the shutdown of WhatsApp after the messaging company declined to turn over data to authorities conducting an investigation. This seemed to drive the entire country into a teen-angst meltdown and spurred the birth of the next messaging Unicorn when the 93% of the country’s internet-connected population who uses WhatsApp suddenly downloaded competitor messaging app Telegram in a desperate attempt to get their social fix. Literally 12 hours into the 48-hour blackout, another judge reversed the ruling, probably because the entire country had taken to the streets with forlorn looks like some kind of social zombie apocalypse.
Some other cool things happened this week, too:
- A lot of haters and a lot of hype around the release of the new Star Wars movie;
- Netflix, which is apparently one of the top-10 highest-grossing apps worldwide (take that, content haters) unleashed some love for Windows users;
- Spotify launched a new playlist feature, but nobody cares because Pandora was way more interesting;
- and Mystery Science Theater 3000 successfully closed out the largest video crowdfunding effort to date, which means we’ll be getting 14 new episodes sometime in the near future.