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Google contributes large sums to climate change denying organisations

Google contributes large sums to climate change denying organizations

As per the online documents released by The Guardian, internet giant Google has made large donations to some of the most influential and powerful groups which are connected to the denial of climate change. A transparency document from Google reveals that the tech giant has contributed to several organizations, think tanks, lobby groups that deny climate change and campaign against laws to stop climate change. However, the exact figure donated to these organizations was not revealed. 

Competitive Enterprise Institute(CEI) is one of the organizations to receive donations from Google. It is a libertarian think tank that questions the alarmism surrounding global warming. It has played a role in many campaigns which doubt the consensus of the scientific community around global warming, downplaying climate change. Besides this, they have also been instrumental in convincing the American President Donald Trump to cancel the Paris agreement. 

Google has also contributed to the Cato Institute, a think tank opposing legislation related to climate change and American Conservative Union, a conservative think tank having several climate change deniers on the board. 

Google has always promoted itself as an environment-friendly company that takes climate change and global warming very seriously. Since 2007, the company has been carbon-neutral and supports several initiatives related to climate change. It has also recently made the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in history. 

Along with some other organizations, Google has also pledged to support the Paris Agreement abiding by the goals of the climate pact, irrespective of the decision taken by President Trump to cancel the support of the United States from the agreement. 

Responding to the accusations, a spokesperson from Google said that they are not the only major company that contributes to the organisations although disagreeing with them on their policies related to climate change. It has also made clear that collaboration or sponsoring a third-party organization does not mean in any way that it supports their entire agenda, events nor does it advocate the views of its leadership or members. Google sponsors several organizations across the entire spectrum which advocates for better policies related to technology. 

Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic Senator criticized Google’s action as he mentioned that corporate America should not support any trade organization or lobby group that interferes with climate. 

CEI has not answered any questions related to Google as it respects the privacy of donors. A spokesperson of the organization said that the core value of the organization is to make energy accessible to the most vulnerable sections of the society. 

Reference: The Guardian

Google reveals security flaws in iOS resulted hacking of users personal data

“Security flaws in ios lead to hacking of users personal data”, says Google

Google security researchers said that they have detected several malicious websites which when visited would hack into the iPhone of the visitor without any alert. This is possible by the exploitation of a number of security flaws in the software which were previously not disclosed. 

Google’s Project Zero said that these harmful websites were visited several thousands of times per week by visitors who had no idea of what was going on. Ian Beer, Project Zero’s security researcher said that for the device to be exploited it was enough to visit the malicious website which would then install a monitoring implant if it was successful. The hacking of the iPhones continued for a minimum period of two years.  

Five unique exploit chains were detected that involved a total of twelve separate security flaws. Seven of these flaws involved Safari which is the default browser on iPhones. An attacker managed to get root access( the highest access level) to the iPhone with the help of the other five exploit chains. As a result, all the features could be accessed by the attackers including those which were not accessed even by the users. This helped them in installing applications or other malware in their devices with no knowledge of the users. 

According to an analysis of Google, the personal photos, messages of the users along with their live location could be stolen due to these vulnerabilities. It would also provide access to the saved passwords in the devices. iOS versions 10 to 12 were affected by these vulnerabilities.

They were privately disclosed by Google to Apple in the month of February where it was provided only a week for fixing the flaws and roll out the updates to the users. Since the security flaws were of such a severe nature, very less time period was provided to the developers. After six days, Apple rolled out security patches for iOS 12.1.4 for iPhone 5s, iPad Air and other later models. 

Beer said that it might be possible there are other hacking campaigns which are currently operating. Apple has a good reputation in handling security-related issues. It also increased the bug bounty payment to a maximum of a million dollars if security researchers can detect the flaws which allow the intruders to get root-level access to the device without any interaction from the user side. Under Apple’s new bounty rules — set to go into effect later this year — Google would’ve been eligible for several million dollars in bounties. 

US PlayStation HQ

Gaming companies launch streaming platforms indicating a change in the industry

The immersive battles in the world of video games will now be heading to the cloud as the gaming industry is now switching to streaming services. The Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles will be hosting blockbuster gaming titles but the more important question is how will users play these super rich games.

The gaming sector generated last year 135 billion US dollars out of which 43.4 billion was in United States. As per Entertainment Software Association, 164 million people play video games in the United States, and there is a video game player in three out of four households in America.

Major internet giant Google will be launching a video game streaming service named Stadia in 14 nations in the coming November. It will be selling a “founders edition bundle”, a hardware combo pack for 129 US dollars along with a monthly subscription fee of 9.99 US dollars. The price in Europe will be 129 euros and 9.99 euros per month respectively. The subscribers can play free games as well as buy titles. Shooter game Destiny 2 will be the first freely available title for download from developer Bungie. Hit games such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Ghost Recon Breakpoint from Ubisoft will also be available for purchase. Google CEO Sundar Pichai commented that the main motive of Stadia is to provide a gaming platform for everyone.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has started testing its game streaming technology, Project xCloud through its employees. Microsoft has set the vision for letting people play Xbox games with their desired people on the devices users are most comfortable in. It has also updated several of its Azure datacentres in Asia, Europe and North America for synchronizing with xCloud. As per Microsoft, there are nearly 1900 games that are currently in development for its Xbox One, all of which can also run in its upcoming Project xCloud.

Another gaming giant Sony started its PlayStation Now service five years ago which allowed games to be streamed in its consoles or Windows-powered computers. It also allows users to download games to their PlayStation 4 devices. Sony along with its rival Microsoft will be using the Azure cloud platform for supporting gaming and digital content streaming. Chief Executive of Sony Kenichiro Yoshida said that their mission is to evolve the PlayStation platform into a platform through which players can experience top-notch gaming entertainment irrespective of time and place.

Apple will also be launching their own service Arcade where 100 titles will be available initially in the debut. It will allow smooth gaming experience across all Apple devices according to its website.

With all these companies launching game streaming platforms, it will be interesting which one catches the attention of the maximum number of users.

delivery drone

Google drone delivery gets approval in Australia

Drone company “Wing“—an offshoot of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has been trialling deliveries of coffee and local medication using drones for past 18 years and will now go full time ahead as it receives approval from Aviation Watchdogs on Tuesday.

The spokesman for CASA, Australian aviation authority – Peter Gibson, told the media that the safety of the drones, traffic management system, drone pilot training and operational plans have been verified as 3,000 deliveries have been made which allowed the regulators to judge the safety of the project. He also said that the project was approved with strict conditions which included daylight operating hours around 11-12 hours a day and that they should not be fully automated but need to be piloted, banning the drones from crossing over main roads and staying at a specified altitude.

There were two issues that the regulators did not judge or focus upon which included the invasion of privacy of the residents as they fear that the drone might hinder with it and also the noise created by the drone which disturbed the residents , above whom it flew, since, they claim that the noise could be heard from even a double- glazed glass window. On the other hand, Gibson claimed that CASA did consider the noise issues of the project when it had given the green signal.

The initial area from where the operation will commence covers only one hundred homes lying in the suburbs of Crace, Palmerston and Franklin in Canberra as of now. However, the number is said to expand quickly as per the demand from the public. It is claimed that it will soon expand to Harrison and Gungahlin also.

When a customer uses an app to order any product , it is loaded onto a drone. The drone then hovers over its destination and lowers down the goods on a winch-line cable delivering it directly to the customer before flying away.

In the United States of America, UPS launched the country’s first authorised use of unmanned drones for transporting packages to recipients last month.

The drone delivery is believed to add $30m to $40m of additional annual revenue for ACT(Australian Capital Territory) businesses as estimated by the company.

The project is trumpeting reductions in delivery cost and also in the carbon emissions and predicts that these drones could deliver more than one in four takeaway food orders. It is estimated that this project could deliver 4-6% of all purchases in the Australian Capital Territory(ACT) by 2030.

Google Stadia announcement at GDC

Google showcases its cloud based gaming platform Stadia

During the school days, we have always have played games on our play stations during the summer vacations or on holidays. As technology advances, now there are various other gaming boxes which are available in the market. But gaming boxes also have their own limitations. A technology has been showcased by Google called “Google Stadia”.

This new product was unveiled by Google at the Game Developers Conference (GDC). However not much is known about the product since it is still in the development stage.

There are certain details that are provided to us for example- The game is available on YouTube and Chrome. YouTube is one of the major platforms through which “Google Stadia” will get publicized. The various gaming experts can recommend their viewers to search for this new product and the viewers would be able to find the various games on YouTube. As YouTube and Chrome are to be used for gaming and streaming, it clearly indicates that this product has been developed for the YouTube generation.

Chrome as well plays a very important role in order to promote this new member of the Google family. “Stadia” would be available to play on Google Chrome, Chromecast and on all Android devices. Google has already demonstrated this service on their devices during the keynote. However, it is pretty unclear as to on how many browsers would this be available.

Google is using Linux as its operating system and the disadvantage that it provides is that game creators will have to upload new games on “Stadia” for Linux platform, and not any game that you own on different gaming portal. In the GDC, Google only showed certain games, it failed to answer certain questions like when it will be launched, will this be subscription based and many more.

The biggest question that Google has to answer is the internet connectivity that “Stadia” requires to play different games. Currently, Google is using its own compression technology to stream games in 1080p or 4K to devices. However, in order to access “Stadia” the most active and reliable internet connection would be required. According to Google, a connection of  “approximately 25 Mbps” for 1080p resolution at 60 fps will be required.

In an interview with Kotaku, Google Stadia boss Phil Harrison said, “We will be able to get to 4K, only if we raise the bandwidth to about 30 Mbps.” However, we don’t know the exact bitrates of Stadia just yet, but watching a regular HD Netflix stream uses around 3GB per hour, and this more than doubles for 4K streams.

Google Stadia Controller

Google Stadia Controller (Source: 9to5google.com)

The biggest advantage that Google has is due to its cloud infrastructure, but if you are not present in the area where the data center is located, then you’ll not get the most ideal experience. In order to play these games, Google is launching its own “Stadia Controller” which will be connected directly to the server you’re playing on over Wi-Fi, but it has no control over the thousands of ISPs and how they route this traffic to its data centers.

All of this makes Stadia look like an early beta for what will be a part of the future of gaming. Google has hired a lot of industry talents for this ambitious project. Phil Harrison, a former Sony and Microsoft executive, is leading the Stadia project, and Jade Raymond, who has previously worked at Sony, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft, is heading up the company’s first-party games. Xbox Live Arcade creator Greg Canessa is also working on Stadia, alongside former Xbox gaming partnerships lead Nate Ahearn. All of this experience should help Google in its cloud gaming fight.