5 non-health tech stories you should care about this week

Plus, news from Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference and meet a fringe presidential candidate who wants to help people live forever.

Terminator 3

It’s Friday again, so it’s time to take a look at what you may have missed in the world of technology outside healthcare.

We’ve already reported on the biggest news in tech this week, Microsoft’s $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn, but here are five more interesting general technology stories from the past seven days that people in healthcare should pay attention to. One of them references the LinkedIn deal. All could have an impact on health tech in the future.

1. “Microsoft, Other Tech Giants Race to Develop Machine Intelligence” (The Wall Street Journal)

If Microsoft can deliver on that promise, LinkedIn data will feed Microsoft products such as SharePoint, the Office productivity suite, or Dynamics sales tools, to streamline projects and pinpoint prospects. Microsoft, as part of its presentation to analysts about the deal, described a scenario in which Cortana, its digital assistant, notified a user that a coming meeting included someone who attended the same college and shared a LinkedIn connection. Then, Cortana offered to link to the attendee’s profile and share the meeting presentation.

Other tech giants have their own versions of Microsoft’s Cortana strategy. Apple’s voice-activated assistant Siri is now smart enough to work with non-Apple apps to perform tasks like calling for car service or sending messages through text networks like WeChatFacebook is fine-tuning a concierge called M whose digital brain passes along to human attendants any requests that it isn’t sure it can fulfill. IBM’s Watson has been studying medical data in hope of helping doctors make faster, more accurate diagnoses.

2. “Google revs its AI engines with a new European research group” (PCWorld)

Based in Google Research offices in Zurich, Switzerland, the new group will focus on three key areas of artificial intelligence: machine intelligence, machine perception, and natural language processing and understanding, according to a blog post by Emmanuel Mogenet, head of Google Research for Europe.

3. “All the Announcements that Mattered at Apple’s WWDC” (Gear Patrol)

iOS 10 will unleash the true potential of 3D Touch. Announced last fall, 3D Touch is a feature unique to iPhones that allows users to activate special functions by pressing on the screen to varying degrees of pressure. It was mostly ignored. This fall, 3D Touch will evolve from a seldom-used party trick into an integral part of the new iOS 10.

4. “Samsung’s Joyent buy is a swipe at AWS and Microsoft Azure” (CIO)

“Samsung wants to compete with companies like Apple and Google by providing best-in-class cloud services and applications to complement its hardware,” MachNation analyst Dima Tokar said via email. Scaling up those operations will be a challenge as the number of devices grows, and Joyent will help give Samsung the muscle to do that, Tokar said.

Buyers of Samsung IoT devices are more likely to see cloud services from the company in gear they buy in the future.

5. “All aboard the Immortality Bus: the man who says tech will help us live forever” (The Guardian)

“I’ve been pegged as the antichrist, which I felt was a little unfair,” says Zoltan Istvan, the leader of the Transhumanist party and independent presidential candidate.

Istvan, a 43-year-old science fiction writer and futurist, has spent almost two years spreading his transhumanist agenda, which is to put science, health and technology at the forefront of America’s politics. Like all transhumanists, Istvan believes that through scientific advancement, humans will be able to reverse ageing and eventually death.

Photo: Facebook user Terminator3Movie

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