Monday tech roundupAfter all the doom and gloom and Matrix scenarios of AI taking over the world, finally someone came up with a different, less dystopic, view of the future. We’re talking about the Woz, who last week said that humanity’s future under the robots might not be as bad as we thought. Also this week, June innovations keep rolling in and a new Magna Carta for the Internet is launched.

The Woz wants to be robot’s pet

The tech and scientific intelligentsia are becoming increasingly concerned about artificial intelligence and the rise of the robots. Not the Woz. In a recent speech, Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, said that someday robots will rule the world and we’ll be their pets.

The Woz has been in the limelight quite a bit lately. He made a stir appearing on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in America, and gives regular speeches. Often he makes provocative comments, but always says things the earnest Woz really believes in.

In the case of robots, Wozniak doesn’t see them taking command for hundreds of years. The idea isn’t so scary, because after all, pet dogs tend to be treated pretty well – even pampered.

“It’s actually going to turn out really good for humans. And it will be hundreds of years down the stream before [artificially intelligent beings would] even have the ability,” the Woz opined. “They’ll be so smart by then that they’ll know they have to keep nature, and humans are part of nature. So I got over my fear that we’d be replaced by computers.”

One reason not to worry is that we are the ‘original gods’ of the robots, and by then we’ll “want to be the family pet and be taken care of all the time.” In a sense, we’ll let robots be our masters.

Others aren’t as hopeful as Woz. Elon Musk of Tesla fame, frets that robots, perhaps built by Google, will take over and it won’t be good. Famed physicist Stephen Hawking too worries that artificial intelligence will do much the same thing.

Musk used the same pet analogy as the Woz, but in his view, being a robot’s “pet Labrador” won’t be so swell.

New Magna Carta for ’Net seeks knowledge, equality

800 years ago the Magna Carta was signed by King John to keep the peace with British barons.

Marking that anniversary, the British Library is seeking a new Magna Carta for the Internet, and used a democratic vote to decide on what it should include. In fact, it was based upon submissions by some 3,000 young folks – so it is doubly democratic.

Here is what they came up with:

My-Digital-rights-top ten-FINAL

These 10 precepts are already largely followed, with the exception of number 10 (our information is bought and sold on a near-constant basis). Unfortunately we live in a world where countries are still ruled by people who trample all over basic human rights and this also has a negative effect on the freedom on the Internet. There is not just censorship, but serious punishment for those that say or access the wrong things.

Google’s feel good watch

Google is developing a wristwatch that can track – and even treat your health, reports Bloomberg.

Google has built a new wristwatch that can be used to track basic and highly specific health information. Like some smart watches, the Google wristband can handle pulse, skin temperature and noise levels. But this wristband can also be useful for clinical trials or to track specific conditions, and can be programmed to monitor and report on all manner of physical elements.

The watch builds on the progress made by the companies that built the Android health monitoring watch aimed at consumers. This isn’t Google’s first foray into medical monitoring. It has a prototype contact lens that tracks blood sugar levels. This way the blood sugar meter could talk directly to an insulin pump to keep diabetics in better control.

Microsoft Research works with top academic researchers around the world on health and environmental projects. Google has much the same plan – looking to connect with academics to test the watch’s efficacy. Oh, and Microsoft already has the Microsoft Band, a (US) $200 health monitor.

Microsoft dives deeper into Windows devices – what will OEMs do?

Microsoft made billions by having thousands of OEMs sell devices that run Windows. Now it seems Microsoft wants more of this goodness for itself.

That might be the reason why in a recent reorganization, the devices group is now part of Windows engineering, also called the Operating Systems Group.

There are two theories. Mine is that Microsoft wants to mimic Apple and own the hardware that runs its software; that is the whole reason Microsoft bought Nokia and built Surface.

Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley thinks it may have a bit to do with consolidating Microsoft’s hardware line. “Some think the move is a precursor to Microsoft getting rid of some, and maybe ultimately, all, of its first-party devices, which include Surface, HoloLens, Lumia, Surface Hub, Band and Xbox. At the very least, the move MUST be signaling that Microsoft plans to exit the Windows Phone hardware business, some argue, given that business is just limping along,” Foley wrote.

On the other hand, she seems to agree at least a smidge with my view of Redmond’s hardware ambitions. “I am doubtful that Microsoft is gearing up to exit making first-party hardware, given how many resources it’s putting into HoloLens and Surface. Plus, with all the work Microsoft is doing around Windows 10 Mobile, the operating system for Windows Phones and small tablets,” she wrote. “Instead, my take is Nadella is making good on what he said a year ago: That hardware at Microsoft, these days, has a supporting role. Microsoft is using its hardware to showcase its software and services.”

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