Google has launched a service to step in and write your emails for you since it knows what you’re writing about anyway and can do a better job at it.
“Having us write your emails is just another way for you to spend more time doing what you like to do and are good at and leaving to us the drudgery of spelling out words and connecting them in sentences in ways that make sense,” says Janna Learner, head of the new service, called Google Ghost Writer, or Google Ghost for short.
The service uses the same algorithm the company uses to match ads to the subject matter in your emails. “We’re already tailoring ads to what you’re writing about, so this is just the next logical evolution in that mutually beneficial relationship,” says Learner. “If you’re writing an email about, say, a job you’d like to apply for, imagine how much help our service can be in making sure you say the right things.”
Learner says it’s not just about writing skills; it’s about having specific content to insert into your email. For example, if you’re seeking a job with a company you don’t know that much about, you’re likely to fill your email with generalities rather than specifics. With Google Ghost, Learner says, your email will be stuffed with specifics that even the company CEO won’t know about. “Because there’s really nothing Google doesn’t know about,’ says Learner.
In another example Lerner provided, if you’re trying to ask a person out on a first date, Google Ghost can automatically populate your email with information relevant to the person’s life, enabling you to get very specific. “If the person you’re asking out already has a boyfriend or is even engaged to get married, you can automatically get that addressed in your email, because with Google Ghost, you can get personal data populated into the email that the person might not be aware of. For example, say the person the woman is engaged to is having an affair, Google will know that and populate that information into the email for you. That will greatly help your chances of getting the date, because of course she’ll want to have an affair, too.”
To help Google’s 425 million users of Gmail take advantage of Google Ghost, the service is enacted by default, which means it will automatically take over your email once you start composing. Gmail users who don’t want to use the service simply click on their Google+ account, go to settings, click on “Don’t use Google Ghost Writer,” and then return to Gmail and go back to your email. “You just do that every time you write an email and don’t want Google Ghost help,” says Learner. “We get that not everyone wants to use the service every time.”
Analysts say Google Ghost fits in well with Google’s efforts in other areas of automation, including its push into driverless cars. “Google wants to drive your cars for you, it wants to write your emails for you—it’s a strategic integration of the different aspects of your life,” says Andy Canton, an analyst with Lehman Bros.
Privacy advocates are concerned, though. “Writing your emails for you is just one step closer to thinking your thoughts for you,” says Peter Grimes of Privacy Protection International. “Sure, Google says you can opt out of the application each time you don’t want to use it, but does opting out actually turn it off? Just because Google isn’t writing your email doesn’t mean it’s not tracking what you say, because it continues to match up sponsor content based on your topic.”
But Google says privacy advocates have nothing to worry about. “We’re just offering a friendly service that can be really useful to people’s lives,” says Learner. “We’re not going to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ for you—unless you want us to.”
Facebook says it’s rolling out a self-writing application, too.
This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Image: tnn.
America’s foremost car enthusiast magazine, Car and Driver, is now called Car, the publisher announced. “The world is rapidly moving toward a driverless future, and Car is leading the trend as it always has when it was Car and Driver,” says Addie Elterman, the magazine’s editor. Elterman says the magazine will have the same exciting content only the focus will be on things that don’t have anything to do with driving a car. “Are your seats comfortable? Is there plenty of onboard entertainment? We want to make sure our readers are prepared for the driverless future and remain the trendsetters,” Elterman says. More.
Traditional taxicab companies are trying to persuade riders to leave Uber and Lyft and return to good old-fashioned cab companies because people can use them without having to reveal their location and destination to companies that sell that data on the web. “When you take a cab, no one has to know where you were when you got picked up and where you were when you got dropped off,” said Sayed Abdullah, a driver with Yellow Cab in Washington, D.C. “You get in the cab, you tell the driver to go to a club on M Street, and who’s going to know?” Vladimir Kovakovich, an independent cab driver in Chicago, said people are flocking to his cab because they know they can go anywhere in the city without a single bit of personal data getting out on the dark web. “I can tell you that, if you’re doing something you don’t want others to know, you can’t beat hailing a cab and putting cash in the driver’s hand,” he said. “Plus, we offer TV in the backseat. More.
Tech Companies Looking to Replace More Simple, Effective Tools with Complicated, Expensive Smart Technology That Never Works
HouzSecure, a Silicon Valley start-up that made a splash last year with release of its smart door opener, says it’s launching other products that never work, are hard to program, and increase the chances people’s account numbers will be sold to criminal enterprises around the world. “Our smart door opener showed people, while they’re at work or on vacation, the freedom of having their home security system hacked by someone in Poland and their data sold to someone in Russia,” HouzSecure CEO Hunter Duncan said. “What we want to do now is take other overly simplistic and reliable household devices, like doorstops, and replace them with smart technology that no one will know how to use a week after it’s installed and unintentionally acts like a beacon to hackers around the world to come in and make a grab for your personal information.” More.
Kinko Bot®, the Japanese company that’s hoping to mass market the first sex robot, says its product is the long-sought solution to the plague of sexual harassment. “With all the scandals coming to light, it’s never been more clear that we need something like our sex robot to fill the need of men to have sex with beautiful women without having to go through all the boring preliminaries like taking women out to dinner, buying them flowers, and promising to marry them,” said Daisuki Nakamura, CEO of Kinko Bot®. Nakamura said his company’s line of robots are programmed to accept whatever approach men take to get women into bed, even if that approach would be considered harassment by a non-robot woman. “Inappropriate touching? Lewd remarks? It doesn’t matter,” said Nakamura. “Whatever approach is comfortable to you as the owner of one of our sex bots will be acceptable, because she is programmed not to be judgmental or even have a preference for how she likes to have sex. Frankly, she doesn’t even care if you’re not attractive or don’t make a lot of money.” More.
A mjority of Americans say they have enough time to look at their phones and stuff for five or six hours a day but not for the seven or eight hours a day that they’d like, and driverless cars could solve that problem for them, a poll shows. “I have friends who make comments and stuff on Twitter that I don’t like to miss when I’m making a left turn or a right turn,” says April Barnett, a manicurist in Tucson, Ariz. She says she’d like to have her car do more driving so she can keep up with her friends when she’s behind the wheel. “Like last week, my friend Ashleigh posted a video of her eating cake with her boyfriend at a restaurant and it came to me, like, when I was parking or something. I could have liked it right away but I couldn’t because, you know, the car’s not going to park itself.” More.
Carmakers in Detroit, Japan, Germany, and elsewhere are competing fiercely to offer cars and trucks that have the most irritating, annoying, and distracting lights possible. “Thanks to new LED technology, we’re able to annoy and distract people in a way that we never could before, and that’s really a game-changer for this industry,” says Rolf Anthonssen, chairman of Volvo Personvagnar AB, the Swedish car making giant based in Gothenburg. Since about 2010, carmakers have been turning to LED technology for headlights and tail lights because of the technology’s versatility and efficiency. LED technology uses light emitting diodes that require little energy to power on and off. Because of that efficiency, automakers can make lights twice as bright as traditional incandescent bulbs, and at less cost. More.
Facebook annouced today that it has been the subject of a fake news story that it is banning fake news stories after it was accused of allowing fake news stories to tilt the presidential election to Donald Trump. “We are not banning fake news stories, despite what you might have read in a fake news story on Facebook, and we have no plans to ban fake news stories,” said Mark Zuckerberg, the chief of the popular social media site. Zuckerberg called it “questionable” that the widespread sharing of fake news on Facebook had any affect on the election outcome, and it’s for that reason there will be no policy change to ban fake news. “Does fake news get shared on facebook?” Zuckerman said. “Of course. It’s impossible to stop. But we do not believe that fake news on our site had anything to do with the election of Donald Trump.” More.
In a move that’s sure to make to make it harder for Donald Trump to get his election message out, Twitter has suspended the account of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for including banned hate speech in his tweets. “We take our responsibilities to foster respectful dialogue seriously,” Twitter Chief Enforcement Officer David Hearns says in a statement the company released this morning. “This was not a decision we made lightly, but we stand by our policy and did what we felt we had to under the circumstances.” Under the company’s hate-speech policy, accounts are suspended 60 days for tweets that . . . . More.
Manufacturers and technology companies have failed to blanket the living environment with blinking lights and bleeping noises even though they’ve had the capability to do so for many years, the world says. Until enough blinking lights and bleeping noises fill all living spaces at all times, there will be operations and processes that won’t be sufficiently signaled for people the world over to be sufficiently signaled about every process and operation. “As hard as it is to believe, it’s possible today to go from your home to your car without being signaled by a blinking light or a bleeping noise alerting you to an operation or process that has occurred and that could affect you,” says the world. “Has the newspaper arrived at your doorstep? Have your sprinklers been turned on to water your grass? These are the kinds of processes and operations today that remain un-signaled with a blinking light or bleeping noise. More.
When John and Lucy Wong had Angie three months ago, nothing was too good for her. Now their daughter is the first on her block to have a carriage with a built-in TV, so she can watch educational and other programming even when she’s out enjoying a stroll with mom or dad. “Why just have her watch TV when she’s in her crib?” says Lucy, 24, a marketing assistant with a financial services company in Atlanta. “Going outside for walks is the perfect time to have her watch TV, too.” Although pediatricians generally discourage screen time for children before they reach two years old, parents like the Wongs say such advice doesn’t apply to them. “That’s for people who just throw their child in front of the TV for babysitting,” says Wong. “We don’t do that. We’re always educating our daughter. More.
Trent Sanders says he had no idea the world was filled with other people like him until someone pointed it out after he had been driving around town with music blasting out of his car. “It was like a light went off in my head,” says Sanders, 25. “I was just driving around like I always do and while I was sitting at a stop light this guy pulled up next to me, rolled down his window, and yelled, ‘Other people live in this world, asshole! Not everyone wants to listen to your f**ing music!’ Then the light turned green and he peeled off. And I just sat there, stunned.” Sanders says he just automatically assumed he was the only person in the world, which is why he thought it was perfectly okay for him to blast his music while he drives around. “Did I know other people were driving around, too, some trying to listen to their own music? I confess, I did not.” More.
TORONTO—Not everyone at Orione Corp. knows what the guy with three monitors does, but there’s little doubt he’s a man of mystery. “I’ve got a five-year-old Dell computer and that’s it,” says Jeff Norton, one of the company’s purchasing associates. “No one walks by my cubicle and wonders what I do, but I can tell you people wonder what he does.” Based on the kinds of programs he uses, the guy with three monitors appears to do something requiring complex multimedia functionality because he’s always working with a high-res graphic interface, motion graphics and video, and audio. To add to the mystery, he keeps the lights out around his workstation to reduce glare on his screens. “It’s almost like a spaceship control module,” says one colleague, a hint of awe in his voice. More.
An unsuccessful applicant for an account executive opening at an Macro Surety Analysts, an insurance risk management firm, says the company’s failure to hire him constitutes discrimination against his headphones, which he refused to remove during his interview. “I wear headphones when I work, everyone I know wears headphones when they work, and I’ve been told that Macro Surety employees often wear headphones at work, so to be discriminated against in the hiring process because I wore headphones to the interview is a clear violation of federal equal opportunity rules and the national goal of equal opportunity in the workplace, says Joseph Bernard, 24, who’s put the issue of headphone discrimination on the front burner with his claim filed yesterday with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. More.
“OMG!” A Silicon Valley web start-up is shifting the micro-blogging movement into hyper gear with its launch this week of hhrmp.com, a “hyper-micro” blogging site that limits posts to just 5 characters. “At this point in the evolution of social media, the 140-character limit of Twitter is just too big,” says Jeremy Gliner, whose title is chief hhrmp’er at hhrmp! Media. “Today’s teenagers have grown up on Twitter, Snapchat, and other micro-blogging platforms and they want their own thing. And they don’t want to compose anything that resembles a sentence. Given the success of our beta site with this critical demographic, we feel we’re giving this up-and-coming generation of word-economizers what they want.” A quick check with a group of 19- and 20-year-olds outside Hillsdale College in College Park, Md., appears to bear out Gliner’s assessment. More.
Alarmed at a rash of high-profile data breaches at big U.S. retailers like Home Depot, a task force of scientists and engineers looking at computer safety and privacy have called on lawmakers to add 16 letters to the English alphabet. They’ve also called for the addition of three numbers to the number scale, but that recommendation was not included in the final report as task force members look at how that could be done, since the number scale is universally understood to be based on the 10-digit system and any change would be difficult to administer. More.
WASHINGTON—America’s super-secret National Security Agency (NSA) is responsible for the dreaded “Heartbleed” virus that has infected servers worldwide, according to documents leaked by former U.S. security contractor Edwin Snowden. The documents show that NSA developed Heartbleed as part of its massive MYSTIC anti-terrorism surveillance operation. The virus “enables security personnel to monitor Internet traffic flowing through half a million U.S. and European-based servers,” according to a highly classified briefing NSA officials made last summer to security experts at European intelligence agencies. The briefing was part of the large trove of classified documents on NSA surveillance passed along to news outlets last year by Snowden, who is living under asylum in Russia. More.
CENTER JUNCTION, Iowa—Calling it an example of how he’s helping “America become great again,” President Donald Trump praised the owner of a family-owned manufacturing company here for opening a paperclip factory in the United States instead of Mexico. “We’re going to make trenendous paperclips here,” Trump told a group of employees on the factory floor. “They’re going to be the best paper clips ever made, and they’re going to be made right here in Iowa, because no one knows how to make paperclips better than the fine people of Iowa.” More.
AKRON, Ohio—Touring a wire coat hanger factory in what was once a blighted industrial area here, President Barack Obama said the United States is returning to its roots as a manufacturing giant and he took a stab at critics who say the country risks losing more manufacturing jobs if a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is passed. “Like this wire coat hanger I have in my hand, the United States is strong,” Obama said, speaking before the 75 employees of the Ace Wire Company. “Anyone who needs evidence that the United States can compete with anyone in the world just needs to look at the factory floor that surrounds me. Every day, more than 10,000 coat hangers are made here and distributed to dry cleaners and hotels throughout the United States and throughout the world. America is back!” More.