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Technology is stalking me, and I can’t escape it

Lately I’ve had this hunted feeling, that digital forces increasingly want things from us that we are unwilling to give. I used to be blithe about it and gave myself up to pestering technology, but now I’m suspicious.

I have an HP printer and for a decade bought the most precious and overpriced material on the planet, printer ink, worth more than lithium, coltan and cobalt. At one point, HP mysteriously began to thank me for buying its ink and rewarded me with free video games I did not play.

It was worried because customers had a new option: buy cut-price no-name ink for HP printers that were sold cheaply in order to make a fortune on HP ink. You thought your printer was a first date; you had married an extortionist.

Take journalist Charlie Warzel who bought an HP printer and had inattentively subscribed to Instant Ink, its auto-refill program. When his credit card expires, he writes, it stops paying for the mandated ink, so HP shuts down his printer remotely. He says his debt to Instant Ink grew.

In other words, HP still owns the printer he bought. He was effectively becoming an indentured servant of HP. My printer is old; when it breaks and I buy a new one, must I enter servitude as well? If I use homemade ink, will it refuse to print?

As Warzel pointed out, Tesla does this too with updates altering the car you bought. Is Tesla owner Elon Musk a benevolent? Are hyenas reasonable? Are vultures picky eaters? Musk can stop that car cold, as he wishes.

Jeff Bezos was born on Amazon by selling books, not because they were worthy but because they were easily stocked, packaged and shipped. Actual bookstores disappeared.

Sadly, Bezos discovered pleasure late in life. He has just built a $681-million yacht (it has sails!) to carry Lauren Sanchez and the weight of her engagement ring, while a smaller yacht (it has engines!) trails behind with toys like helicopters, ATVs, and even smaller boats. He’s a happy man.

Andy Jassy now runs Amazon. Not a detail man like Bezos, I note. He has stopped selling most books and has just closed the Book Depository with its massive warehouses of older stock.

Amazon changed its deal. Books were my heroin; I’m getting dopesick. We buy digital books, but the truth is we never truly own them. They

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Technology challenges parenting |

Graham Hookey.

When I was growing up, my parents thought record players, and later Sony Walkman, were a waste of time, not to mention the fact that they fundamentally disagreed with the music I listened to.

When my children were growing up I thought television and video games were a waste of time and I dramatically limited their exposure to either. I fundamentally disagreed with the quality of television programming at the time and the emphasis on destructive objectives in video games.

Now, here we are, in an age where many parents think social media is a waste of time and where they fundamentally disagree with the invasion of their children’s privacy and the access that social media grants others to their children’s time and attention.

It seems that each generation of parents must constantly deal with the impact of new technology on their children. No doubt some cave parents, a million years ago or so, objected to his lazy kids using a wheel to lighten the load!

The problem is always the same. The young generation easily gravitates to new technologies and understands and utilizes them much faster than their parents. Whatever parents are using often seems adequate to them because it’s what they use in their already relatively well-established routines. But young people don’t share those routines and are constantly looking for something new to “disrupt” the way things are being done.

I have recently spent more time reading about artificial intelligence (AI) and the developing metaverse. Being two generations out of the newest technology, I have to admit that learning a little about these topics is like learning a foreign language — not everything is making sense and it’s taking more time than I’d like to see the whole picture. Still, the bits and pieces I can understand are enough to make me wonder what the next generation of parents is going to have to deal with. After all, technology has been evolving extremely rapidly under human guidance; how fast will it evolve when AI takes over?

Even those who have been involved in the development of AI are raising alarms about the risks, and are suggesting that governments and regulatory agencies need to develop policies sooner rather than later to control and manage the utilization of these new technologies. But if there is one thing we’ve learned over the millennia, it’s that trying to dampen young people’s enthusiasm

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Here’s how technology can help fight, prevent wildfires

When wildfires hit Alberta earlier this month, leaving more than 10,000 square kilometers of land scorched so far this year, Joao Lopes was worried about how much more devastation could be on its way.

“Unfortunately, the statistics are showing that maybe next year will be worse than this year,” said the entrepreneur, who is founded in crop monitoring and fire risk assessment technology company SensaioTech.

Wildfires flaring up around Halifax in recent days is yet another reminder of the increasing risks that many are warning of.

A United Nations report from 2022 found wildfires are becoming “more intense and more frequent” and said with temperatures rising as global warming worsens, “the need to reduce wildfire risk is more critical than ever.”

Canada alone sees about 7,500 wildfires burning more than 2.5 million hectares of forest — about half the size of Nova Scotia — every year and that amount is projected to double by 2050, the Canadian Space Agency has said.

We need to do something to help them,” said Lopes, whose company is split between Toronto and Brazil, where wildfires have threatened the Amazon rainforest and sugar cane fields.

Help could come in the form of technology aimed at making wildfire prevention, containment and fighting easier, more accurate and less costly, he and others believe.

SensaioTech’s offering is centered on artificial intelligence-equipped sensors that place in forests and farm environments. The sensors monitor 14 different variables including soil temperature, humidity, luminosity, salinity, PH levels, pests and diseases.

They take readings every minute, send them to a dashboard clients can review, and issue alerts to the customer’s electronic devices when any variables reach dangerous levels.

SensaioTech’s approach is a departure from the historical data and satellites Lopes said are frequently used to predict and thwart the spread of wildfires. While both can be helpful, he said sensor data tends to be more current and precise.

“When you have satellites, normally the images are collected three or four days ago, so basically, you cannot see the real time,” he said.

“Also, it doesn’t have the precision about these small areas or spots where the fire can start.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists has counted 971 satellites that can track smoke and other wildfire factors, up from 192 in 2014. However, few fly over northern latitudes such as Canada’s and many only capture times when fires aren’t burning at their peak.


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Nvidia and MediaTek partner on connected car technology

Open this photo in gallery:

Nvidia Corp CEO Jensen Huang speaks at the COMPUTEX forum in Taipei, Taiwan, on May 29.ANN WANG/Reuters

Nvidia Corp. NVDA-Q and MediaTek Inc. on Monday said they will collaborate on technology to power advanced vehicle infotainment systems that can stream video or games or interact with drivers using artificial intelligence.

Under the agreement, announced at the Computex technology trade show in Taipei, MediaTek will integrate an Nvidia graphics processing unit chiplet and Nvidia software into the system-on-chips it supplies to automakers for infotainment displays.

MediaTek systems using Nvidia software would be compatible with automated driving systems based on Nvidia technology, the companies said. Dashboard displays could show the environment around the vehicle, while cameras would monitor the driver.

“The automotive industry needs strong companies that can work with the industry for decades at a time,” Nvidia chief executive Jensen Huang told a news conference in Taipei, pointing to a long product cycle for carmakers.

“The quality, strength and position of our two companies could give the automotive industry partners that they can build their companies on,” he said, adding the partnership would provide chips that could power “every single segment of a car.”

In-vehicle displays and entertainment systems are becoming more complex as automakers add features such as gaming, artificial intelligence for voice-activated features, driver monitoring systems and displays related to automated driving.

Qualcomm, MediaTek’s chief rival in the smartphone market, has also been courting automakers. Qualcomm and SalesForce earlier this year announced a partnership to develop a new connected vehicle platform.

The partnership with MediaTek gives Nvidia wider access to the US$12-billion market for infotainment systems-on-chips, the companies say.

At the same event, MediaTek Chief Executive Officer Rick Tsai said the first products were planned for late 2025.

Nvidia has focused on premium automotive brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover. MediaTek, which has its base in the Android smartphone chip sector, sells its Dimensity Auto technology to lower-priced, mass market vehicle lines, and has strengths in mobile connectivity and Android systems.

“There are a lot of segments they are addressing that Nvidia has not addressed,” said Danny Shapiro, Nvidia’s vice-president, automotive.

The companies did not identify future automotive customers.

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TechScape: Will Apple’s new VR headset be the one to finally catch on? | Technology

Next Monday will see Apple’s worldwide developers conference kick off, and with it one of the company’s two most important annual press events.

Typically, the keynote at WWDC (or “dub dub”) is a software-focused affair, previewing the next versions of iOS, macOS and so on for an audience of developers who need to get to grips with the updates before their launch in the autumn. It’s balanced out by the hardware-focused events oriented around each year’s iPhone launch, since Apple still likes to play the game of announcing and shipping its top-tier products in short orders.

This year is shaping up to be different. Unless something changes at the last minute – which, given the WWDC keynotes have been prerecorded annually since 2020, is as I type this, unlikely – we will finally see Apple’s long-planned VR/AR/XR headset for the very first time. The chicken-and-egg problem of new software platforms always throws a spanner in the works for companies like Apple: do you sell a product with no apps, or do you give third-party developers the lead time to offer something on release day, and lose the element of surprise? In this case, Apple’s likely to pick the latter option, in part because the element of surprise is mostly lost already.

If even half of the detail we’ve heard about the forthcoming headset is true, it’s going to be a rare example of Apple releasing something that feels genuinely surprising, rather than a refined version of a product that is already on the market. Key points include:

  • A tethered battery pack, designed to sit in the user’s back pocket, to ease the tradeoff between power and performance in the one hand and weight and comfort in the other.

  • A screen on the front of the headset, designed solely to show the user’s expressions to the outside world, with the aim of making it more comfortable to interact with people wearing the device.

  • A focus on “passthrough” use, where a camera on the front of the screen shows the outside world to the wearer, with apps and features superimposed on top.

  • And, most importantly of all, a price tag of about $3,000.

That last point needs to come with a massive grain of salt, of course. Unlike hardware details, which can leak from the physical requirements of a massive international supply chain, a price can be changed up until the last

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