SoftBank CEO sees massive data, AI as key to future advances
Dynamics Chief Executive Marc Raibert, right, gestures beside his
four-legged robot SpotMini as SoftBank Group Corp. Chief Executive
Officer Masayoshi Son, left, watches him on stage during a SoftBank
World presentation at a hotel in Tokyo, Thursday, July 20, 2017. (AP
Tokyo (AP) - Masayoshi Son,
chief executive of SoftBank Group Corp., says artificial intelligence
combined with data gathered by billions of sensors will bring on an
“information revolution,” that will benefit people more than the 19th
Century Industrial Revolution.
Son, Japan’s richest person, told
Softbank customers and partners gathered at a Tokyo hotel on Thursday
that he believes massive data will help treat cancer, deliver
accident-free driving and grow safer food.
SoftBank, the first carrier to
offer the Apple iPhone in Japan, has bought leading British
semiconductor company ARM, and its acquisition of U.S. robotics pioneer
Boston Dynamics, announced last month, is undergoing regulatory
approval. Its investments have included Chinese e-commerce company
Alibaba and Yahoo Japan.
Son set up a private fund last year
for global investments in the technology sector, called Vision Fund,
with the potential to grow to as much as $100 billion. He has won praise
from President Donald Trump for promising to invest $50 billion in U.S.
startups to create 50,000 jobs.
This week Softbank announced it
will invest in Encored, a U.S. company specializing in IoT technology in
the energy sector.
During a nearly three hour
presentation, Son introduced some of the ventures he is partnering,
including OneWeb, whose founder and chairman Greg Wyler wants to offer
affordable internet access for everyone using satellites instead of
Son also brought on stage Spot, a
four-legged robot that can climb steps and dance. Other robots will be
able to carry heavy loads, said Marc Raibert, Boston Dynamics chief
“Marc, we are going to change the
world together,” Son said on stage.
SoftBank already offers one of the
most sophisticated companion robots on the market, the chatty, childlike
Pepper. Son seemed a bit protective of his flagship robot, saying those
who have criticized it as “not too smart” haven’t seen what he has
Another of Son’s partner ventures,
Guardant Health, offers blood biopsies, which are safer and quicker than
tissue biopsies, to detect cancers in their early stages.
Son noted the prevalence of ARM’s
chips in nearly all smartphones and wearables. Sensor technology can
enhance a doctor’s surgical skills or help train doctors in an emergency
room with virtual reality, said ARM Chief Executive Simon Segars.
Data gathered from such omnipresent
sensors will be far greater than what can be gotten from mobile phones
or computers, Son said, opening up all kinds of possibilities for
delivering better human life.
“Those who rule chips will rule the
entire world. Those who rule data will rule the entire world.” Son said.
“That’s what people of the future will say.”
China announces goal of
AI leadership by 2030
Oct. 21, 2016 photo, an autonomous vehicle is put through its paces at
the World Robot Conference in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Beijing (AP) - China’s
government has announced a goal of becoming a global leader in
artificial intelligence in just over a decade, putting political muscle
behind growing investment by Chinese companies in developing
self-driving cars and other advances.
Communist leaders see AI as key to
making China an “economic power,” said a Cabinet statement on Thursday,
July 20. It calls for developing skills and research and educational
resources to achieve “major breakthroughs” by 2025 and make China a
world leader by 2030.
Artificial intelligence is one of
the emerging fields along with renewable energy, robotics and electric
cars where communist leaders hope to take an early lead and help
transform China from a nation of factory workers and farmers into a
They have issued a series of
development plans over the past decade, some of which have prompted
complaints Beijing improperly subsidizes its technology developers and
shields them from competition in violation of its free-trade
Already, Chinese companies
including Tencent Ltd., Baidu Inc. and Alibaba Group are spending
heavily to develop artificial intelligence for consumer finance,
e-commerce, self-driving cars and other applications.
Manufacturers also are installing
robots and other automation to cope with rising labor costs and improve
Thursday’s statement gives no
details of financial commitments or legal changes. But previous
initiatives to develop Chinese capabilities in solar power and other
technologies have included research grants and regulations to encourage
sales and exports.
“By 2030, our country will reach a
world leading level in artificial intelligence theory, technology and
application and become a principal world center for artificial
intelligence innovation,” the statement said.
That will help to make China “in
the forefront of innovative countries and an economic power,” it said.
The announcement follows a sweeping
plan issued in 2015, dubbed “Made in China 2025,” that calls for this
country to supply its own high-tech components and materials in 10
industries from information technology and aerospace to pharmaceuticals.
That prompted complaints Beijing
might block access to promising industries to support its fledgling
suppliers. The Chinese industry minister defended the plan in March,
saying all competitors would be treated equally. He rejected complaints
that foreign companies might be required to hand over technology in
exchange for market access.
China has had mixed success with
previous strategic plans to develop technology industries including
renewable energy and electric cars.
Beijing announced plans in 2009 to
become a leader in electric cars with annual sales of 5 million by 2020.
With the help of generous subsidies, China passed the United States last
year as the biggest market, but sales totaled just over 300,000.
What drug-dealing ‘darknet’ sites have in common with eBay
screen grab provided by the U.S. Department of Justice shows a hidden
website that has been seized as part of a law enforcement operation by
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration
and European law enforcement agencies acting through Europol. (U.S.
Department of Justice via AP)
New York (AP) -
AlphaBay, the now-shuttered online marketplace that authorities say
traded in illegal drugs, firearms and counterfeit goods, wasn’t all that
different from any other e-commerce site, court documents show.
Not only did it
work hard to match buyers and sellers and to stamp out fraud, it offered
dispute-resolution services when things went awry and kept a
public-relations manager to promote the site to new users.
Of course, AlphaBay
was no eBay. It went to great lengths to hide the identities of its
vendors and customers, and it promoted money-laundering services to mask
the flow of bitcoin and other digital currencies from prying eyes.
sites operate in an anonymity-friendly internet netherworld that’s
inaccessible to ordinary browsers. If you’ve ever found yourself
wondering just how they really work, a U.S. criminal case unveiled
Thursday offers an eye-opening look.
What is AlphaBay?
General Jeff Sessions calls it the largest darknet marketplace shut down
in a sting. Darknet refers to the use of various technologies to mask
the site’s operators and users, allowing buyers and sellers to connect
anonymously - to each other and to law enforcement.
Authorities say the
site trafficked drugs such as heroin and cocaine, fake and stolen IDs,
computer hacking tools, firearms and counterfeit goods. The site also
facilitated services such as money laundering and swatting - the
practice of making bomb threats and other false reports to law
enforcement, usually to harass perceived enemies.
AlphaBay went so
far as to hire scam watchers to monitor and quash scams on the site. It
had a public-relations manager responsible for outreach to users and the
broader illicit-trade community. The site also employed moderators to
resolve disputes and refund payments when necessary.
AlphaBay hid its
tracks with Tor, a network of thousands of computers run by volunteers.
With Tor, traffic gets relayed through several computers. At each stop,
identifying information is stripped, so that no single computer knows
the full chain. It would be like one person passing on a message to the
next, and so on. The 10th person would have no clue who the first eight
Tor has a number of
legitimate uses. Human rights advocates, for instance, can use it to
communicate inside authoritarian countries. But Tor is also popular for
trading goods that eBay and other legitimate marketplaces won’t touch.
To further promote
secrecy, AlphaBay accepted only digital currencies such as bitcoin and
monero. In doing so, participants skirted reporting requirement that
come when moving $10,000 or more in a single transaction. While bitcoin
can be traced when converted back to regular currencies, AlphaBay
offered “mixing and tumbling services” to shuffle bitcoin through
several accounts before the conversion.
Vendors were also
required to use encryption for all communications to keep them safe from
Buyers funded their
accounts with digital currencies, similar to loading an Amazon gift card
with money. When making a purchase, buyers moved money from their
accounts to an escrow. The payment was released to sellers once buyers
confirmed receipt of the goods.
AlphaBay took a 2
percent to 4 percent commission, and that added up. The suspect behind
the site, Alexandre Cazes, had amassed a fortune of $23 million. As part
of the case, authorities sought the forfeiture of properties in
Thailand, bank accounts and four vehicles, including a Lamborghini and a
bans use of proxy
Internet services, VPNs
Moscow (AP) -
Russia’s parliament has outlawed the use of virtual private networks, or
VPNs, and other Internet proxy services, citing concerns about the spread of
The State Duma on
Friday unanimously passed a bill that would oblige Internet providers to
block websites that offer VPN services. Many Russians use VPNs to access
blocked content by routing connections through servers outside the country.
The lawmakers behind
the bill argued that the move could help to enforce Russia’s ban on
disseminating extremist content online.
The bill has to be
approved at the upper chamber of parliament and signed by the president
before it comes into effect.
have been cracking down on Internet freedoms in recent years. Among other
things they want Internet companies to store privacy data on Russian servers.