The Rise of IoT Botnets (And How to Protect Your Smart Devices)

rise-botnet-iot

Connecting all of your gadgets to the internet isn’t always a great idea. While the Internet of Things allows you to perform tasks remotely and monitor your devices from anywhere in the world, it also provides a way in for malicious hackers who want to use your devices for their own good. In this article, we explore how the Internet of Things and smart home devices are being used to form a “digital army” that obeys the whims of hackers with malintent. What Is a Botnet? The concept of computers and devices being conscripted against a user’s will is nothing…

Read the full article: The Rise of IoT Botnets (And How to Protect Your Smart Devices)

Connecting all of your gadgets to the internet isn’t always a great idea. While the Internet of Things allows you to perform tasks remotely and monitor your devices from anywhere in the world, it also provides a way in for malicious hackers who want to use your devices for their own good.

In this article, we explore how the Internet of Things and smart home devices are being used to form a “digital army” that obeys the whims of hackers with malintent.

What Is a Botnet?

The concept of computers and devices being conscripted against a user’s will is nothing new. The technical term for it is a “botnet“, and the name explains it all. It’s a network of compromised devices that receive commands from a central server. When a command is sent out, the hacked devices carry it out without question and in unison—much like a swarm of robots.

The owner of a botnet wants to compromise as many devices as possible. More devices mean more processing power under their control, which makes the botnet stronger. Once enough devices have been gathered under a botnet, the owner has the power to perform website-crippling attacks or worse.

How Botnets Affect the Internet of Things

Due to the autonomous nature of a botnet, it’s not very picky about what devices it brings into its web. If a device has a consistent internet connection, a processor, and the ability to have malware installed on it, it can be used in a botnet.

Previously, this was limited to computers and mobile devices, as they were the only things that matched the criteria. With the spread of the Internet of Things, more and more devices are entering the pool of potential candidates for a botnet.

Even worse, with the Internet of Things still in its teething phase, security hasn’t been fully fleshed out yet. A good example of this is when a benevolent hacker gained access someone’s Nest home security system and talked to them through their own security cameras.

With IoT security being this lax, it’s no wonder that botnet developers are keen to capitalize on this new trend.

How Much Damage Can an IoT Botnet Do?

The Mirai Botnet

While IoT botnets are a new concept, the tech world has already witnessed some devastating attacks from them. We saw one such attack during late 2017, when the Mirai botnet rose in power. It scanned the internet for IoT devices, then tried 60 default usernames and passwords to gain access.

Once successful, the attack infected the compromised device with the Mirai botnet malware.

With its rapidly-forming army, Mirai began to attack sites around the internet. It did this by using its army to perform Direct Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, swarming websites with connections from the devices on the botnet. The Krebs on Security site suffered a 620Gb/s attack, and Ars Technica came under siege from a 1Tb/s swarm.

Mirai is open source, which allowed eager botnet owners to make their own copycat variants of the malware.

The Torii Botnet

In late 2018, we saw a new contender; Torii. Unlike the other IoT botnets that used Mirai’s code, this one was its own strain. It used highly advanced code, able to infect a large majority of internet-connected devices. Torii hasn’t attacked anything just yet, but it may simply be amassing an army for a huge attack.

MadIoT

A study by Princeton demonstrated that IoT botnets may hold the power to take out power grids. The report describes a method of attack called “Manipulation of demand via IoT” (MadIoT), which acts similar to a DDoS attack but targets the power grid instead. Hackers could install botnets on high-power IoT devices, then enable them all at the same time to trigger a blackout.

What Other Threats Do Botnets Pose?

While collective processor power is very useful for performing DDoS attacks, it’s not the only thing botnets are capable of. Botnets specialize in any task that requires a lot of processing power. What those tasks consist of is decided by the person controlling the botnet.

If someone wants to run a spam email campaign, they can use the processing power of the botnet to send out millions of messages at once. They could direct all the bots to a website or advertisement to generate false traffic and earn some extra income. They could even command their botnet to install malware on itself, such as ransomware.

Some botnet owners may not even want to use what they create. Instead, they’ll aim to make a large and impressive network to sell on the dark net for a tidy profit. Some even rent out their botnets under a subscription service that’s not too different from renting a server!

Why It’s Difficult to Detect a Breach

The main issue with the IoT botnet is how silently it works. This isn’t a kind of malware that makes a drastic difference on how the compromised device works. It quietly installs itself and stays dormant until it’s called by the command server to perform an action.

People using the device may report that it’s “sluggish” or “acting slow”, but nothing will alert them that their smart camera is being used to stage a cyberattack!

As such, it’s totally normal for people to continue their daily lives without knowing their devices are part of a botnet. This makes it very hard to take down a botnet, as the people who own the devices don’t realize they’re a part of it.

Even worse, some botnets will install malware that persists through resets, so a power cycle won’t get rid of it.

How to Protect Your Smart Devices

If you’re a big fan of the Internet of Things, don’t fret too much! While this attack sounds scary, you can do your part to ensure your own devices aren’t added to a botnet.

Remember how the Mirai botnet gained access to devices by using 60 usernames and passwords? The only reason it could achieve this was due to people not setting up their devices correctly. If the username and password for your IoT devices is both “admin”, it will be compromised very quickly.

Be sure to log onto any devices with an account system and set up a unique, strong password.

Be sure to install security software on any device that allows it. This acts as an additional layer of defense that should catch the malware when it tries to spread onto your system. Can’t decide which antivirus software to use? Read our list of the top security and antivirus tools for inspiration.

Botnets can also spread via vulnerabilities in the device’s firmware. To stop this, always ensure your IoT gadgets have the latest version of their firmware installed. Also, only purchase brand new devices made by reputable and respected companies. That way, you know the device has gone through all the proper security checks before it enters your home.

More Ways to Keep Your Devices Safe

As more of our devices connect to the internet, botnet developers are keen to capitalize on this increase of targets. With Mirai and Torii demonstrating what IoT botnets can do, device security is very important. By buying reputable hardware and ensuring it’s set up correctly, your devices won’t be added to a digital army.

If you’d like to secure your smart home, be sure to read our tips for securing your devices.

Read the full article: The Rise of IoT Botnets (And How to Protect Your Smart Devices)

Fitbit’s newest fitness tracker is just for employees and health insurance members

Fitbit has a new fitness tracker, but it’s one that you can’t buy in stores. The company quietly uncorked the Inspire on Friday, releasing its first product that is available only to corporate employees and health insurance members. The idea is to offer a fully subsidized wearable that helps the company dig deeper into the […]

Fitbit has a new fitness tracker, but it’s one that you can’t buy in stores.

The company quietly uncorked the Inspire on Friday, releasing its first product that is available only to corporate employees and health insurance members. The idea is to offer a fully subsidized wearable that helps the company dig deeper into the corporate and business worlds.

The new devices are available as a wristband with the option of a clip. The basic tracker’s features are pretty standard and include activity and sleep tracking, calory burn and alerts from a connected phone. A higher specced model includes heart rate tracking, GPS for fitness tracking and deeper analytics on sleep. No prices are displayed on the website, but eligible customers won’t need to pay.

In an interview with CNBC, CEO James Park said the company has 6.8 million users on wellness programs include Fitbit devices via employers, health plans or hospital programs. In offering the Inspire — which is Fitbit’s cheapest device yet — the goal is to grow that number further still. Indeed, Park said Fitbit is a named covered fitness benefit in 42 Medicare Advantage plans across 27 U.S. states while it is working with insurance firms like UnitedHealth.

It makes sense that Fitbit is moving into that space because the consumer market is a tough one. Wearables are no longer an early novelty and competition is fierce. Apple dominates at the high end with the Apple Watch — which has doubled down on health features — while, at the cheaper end, companies like Xiaomi and its partner Huami offer basic trackers from as little as $30.

Fitbit went public in 2015. While its share price rallied to $6.48 on Friday on this news, it is still down massively from its list price of $20 and first-day trading close of $29.68. Today the company’s market cap stands at around $1.6 billion.

NYC launches partnership network, “The Grid”, to help grow urban tech ecosystem

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and CIV:LAB – a nonprofit dedicated to connecting urban tech leaders – have announced the launch of The Grid, a member-based partnership network for New York’s urban tech community. The goal of the network is to link organizations, academia and local tech leaders, in order to promote collaboration […]

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and CIV:LAB – a nonprofit dedicated to connecting urban tech leaders – have announced the launch of The Grid, a member-based partnership network for New York’s urban tech community. The goal of the network is to link organizations, academia and local tech leaders, in order to promote collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and resources.

In addition to connecting member companies and talent, The Grid will host various events, educational programs, and co-innovation projects, while hopefully improving access to investors as well as pilot program opportunities. The Grid is launching with over 70 member organizations – approved through an application and screening process – across various stages and sectors.

In recent years, the tech and startup scene in New York has notably ballooned – evolving from the Valley’s obscure younger sibling to one of the top cities for talent, entrepreneurship, and venture capital investment. And while the city has seen countless startups, VCs, accelerators, and other entrepreneurial resources set up shop within its borders, getting the right tools in place is only part of the battle.

New York wants to prove its initiatives are more than just “show-and-tell” projects and city officials believe that building a truly sustainable innovation economy is dependent on all its local resources working in conjunction, allowing entrepreneurship to permeate every arm of commerce. With an institutionalized network like The Grid, New York hopes it can further fuse its pockets of innovation into to one well-oiled machine, consistently producing transformative ideas.

“The Grid represents a promising new way for NYCEDC to work across sectors to strengthen collaboration and innovation, first in New York City and hopefully soon in many more cities across the country and around the world,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett in a statement. “It signals that New York City is leading with  a new approach to technology and startup culture, with a real focus on diversity, inclusion, equity, and community.”

As one of the largest and most industrially diverse cities in the world, New York has naturally placed a heightened focus on the growing sector of “urban tech” – which has been broadly categorized as innovation focused on improving city functionality, equality or ease of living. According to NYCEDC, the urban tech space has seen nearly $80 billion in VC investment since 2016, with nearly 10% going to New York-based beneficiaries.

The launch of The Grid is part of an expansion of NYCEDC’s larger UrbanTech NYC program, which has already helped establish the New York innovation hubs New LabUrban Future Lab, and Company. Alongside the membership network and a new site for UrbanTech NYC, NYCEDC is also launching The Grid Academy, an adjacent academic group with the mission of creating applied R&D partnerships between local academic institutions and corporate sponsors. The expansion of UrbanTech NYC represents the latest of several initiatives NYCEDC is pursuing to develop the broader ecosystem, coming just months after the EDC announced the launch of Cyber NYC, a $30 million investment initiative focused on growing New York’s cybersecurity presence and infrastructure.

The group will be led by a steering committee that will guide decisions related to strategic priorities, funding, events, and communications. Members of the committee include some of The Grid’s largest government and corporate members including the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Civic Hall, Company, New Lab, Urban Future Lab, Dreamit UrbanTech, URBAN-X, Urban.Us, Accenture, Samsung NEXT, Rentlogic, Smarter Grid Solutions, Civic Consulting USA, and the World Economic Forum.

“Since its early days, innovation has been part of the DNA that is New York City,” said Jeff Merritt, Head of IoT + Smart Cities at World Economic Forum. “Nowhere else in the world can you find an ecosystem that combines as many industries and nationalities. New York’s thriving urban technology community is a natural byproduct of what happens when you allow diversity, entrepreneurship and ambition to collide in one of the greatest cities in the world.” 

The Grid’s first meeting will be held on February 19th at Samsung NEXT’s New York HQ. Membership applications for The Grid are accepted on a rolling basis and can be found here on the UrbanTech NYC website.

NYC launches partnership network, “The Grid”, to help grow urban tech ecosystem

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and CIV:LAB – a nonprofit dedicated to connecting urban tech leaders – have announced the launch of The Grid, a member-based partnership network for New York’s urban tech community. The goal of the network is to link organizations, academia and local tech leaders, in order to promote collaboration […]

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and CIV:LAB – a nonprofit dedicated to connecting urban tech leaders – have announced the launch of The Grid, a member-based partnership network for New York’s urban tech community. The goal of the network is to link organizations, academia and local tech leaders, in order to promote collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and resources.

In addition to connecting member companies and talent, The Grid will host various events, educational programs, and co-innovation projects, while hopefully improving access to investors as well as pilot program opportunities. The Grid is launching with over 70 member organizations – approved through an application and screening process – across various stages and sectors.

In recent years, the tech and startup scene in New York has notably ballooned – evolving from the Valley’s obscure younger sibling to one of the top cities for talent, entrepreneurship, and venture capital investment. And while the city has seen countless startups, VCs, accelerators, and other entrepreneurial resources set up shop within its borders, getting the right tools in place is only part of the battle.

New York wants to prove its initiatives are more than just “show-and-tell” projects and city officials believe that building a truly sustainable innovation economy is dependent on all its local resources working in conjunction, allowing entrepreneurship to permeate every arm of commerce. With an institutionalized network like The Grid, New York hopes it can further fuse its pockets of innovation into to one well-oiled machine, consistently producing transformative ideas.

“The Grid represents a promising new way for NYCEDC to work across sectors to strengthen collaboration and innovation, first in New York City and hopefully soon in many more cities across the country and around the world,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett in a statement. “It signals that New York City is leading with  a new approach to technology and startup culture, with a real focus on diversity, inclusion, equity, and community.”

As one of the largest and most industrially diverse cities in the world, New York has naturally placed a heightened focus on the growing sector of “urban tech” – which has been broadly categorized as innovation focused on improving city functionality, equality or ease of living. According to NYCEDC, the urban tech space has seen nearly $80 billion in VC investment since 2016, with nearly 10% going to New York-based beneficiaries.

The launch of The Grid is part of an expansion of NYCEDC’s larger UrbanTech NYC program, which has already helped establish the New York innovation hubs New LabUrban Future Lab, and Company. Alongside the membership network and a new site for UrbanTech NYC, NYCEDC is also launching The Grid Academy, an adjacent academic group with the mission of creating applied R&D partnerships between local academic institutions and corporate sponsors. The expansion of UrbanTech NYC represents the latest of several initiatives NYCEDC is pursuing to develop the broader ecosystem, coming just months after the EDC announced the launch of Cyber NYC, a $30 million investment initiative focused on growing New York’s cybersecurity presence and infrastructure.

The group will be led by a steering committee that will guide decisions related to strategic priorities, funding, events, and communications. Members of the committee include some of The Grid’s largest government and corporate members including the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Civic Hall, Company, New Lab, Urban Future Lab, Dreamit UrbanTech, URBAN-X, Urban.Us, Accenture, Samsung NEXT, Rentlogic, Smarter Grid Solutions, Civic Consulting USA, and the World Economic Forum.

“Since its early days, innovation has been part of the DNA that is New York City,” said Jeff Merritt, Head of IoT + Smart Cities at World Economic Forum. “Nowhere else in the world can you find an ecosystem that combines as many industries and nationalities. New York’s thriving urban technology community is a natural byproduct of what happens when you allow diversity, entrepreneurship and ambition to collide in one of the greatest cities in the world.” 

The Grid’s first meeting will be held on February 19th at Samsung NEXT’s New York HQ. Membership applications for The Grid are accepted on a rolling basis and can be found here on the UrbanTech NYC website.

Vinli raises $13.5m Series B to expand its vehicle data intelligence platform

Connected car service provider Vinli today announced it closed a $13.5 million Series B financing round. The company says this infusion of capital allows it broaden its mobility services and integrations as it attempts to connect cars around the world. The funding came from new and existing investors and brings the total amount the company […]

Connected car service provider Vinli today announced it closed a $13.5 million Series B financing round. The company says this infusion of capital allows it broaden its mobility services and integrations as it attempts to connect cars around the world.

The funding came from new and existing investors and brings the total amount the company raised to over $20 million.

Based in Dallas, TX, Vinli launched in 2014 in TechCrunch Startup Battlefield as a direct consumer company that allowed owners to add cloud services to automobiles. It was a clever concept, and when it launched four years ago, it was ahead of the curve. Now, in 2019, the focus of the business is different as the company seeks to provide deep data intelligence to auto makers and transportation providers.

“The investment validates our place in the industry. In the last five years, we have seen the industry unfold and evolve into an industry driven by digital services,” said Mark Haidar, CEO of Vinli, in a press release released to TechCrunch. “Companies today need viable data solutions — not only to support the growing number of data sources but to deliver on the multiple service offerings to their end customers. We’re focused on making it easier for large fleets and automakers to access smarter data intelligence. It’s in helping those partners scale and be successful is what we look forward to most at Vinli.”

Now, with the latest round of investment, Vinli is looking to integrate its platform with electric vehicles and turned to an energy company, E.ON, to examine the market. Vinli says it will expand its offerings for electric mobility and fleets of electric vehicles.

Vinli’s approaching a largely untapped market. As vehicles become more connected, there are countless data points that can be examined and expanded. With Vinli’s deep background in vehicle intelligence, it’s well suited to continue to grow and provide rich data sets of vehicle information.

Vinli raises $13.5m Series B to expand its vehicle data intelligence platform

Connected car service provider Vinli today announced it closed a $13.5 million Series B financing round. The company says this infusion of capital allows it broaden its mobility services and integrations as it attempts to connect cars around the world. The funding came from new and existing investors and brings the total amount the company […]

Connected car service provider Vinli today announced it closed a $13.5 million Series B financing round. The company says this infusion of capital allows it broaden its mobility services and integrations as it attempts to connect cars around the world.

The funding came from new and existing investors and brings the total amount the company raised to over $20 million.

Based in Dallas, TX, Vinli launched in 2014 in TechCrunch Startup Battlefield as a direct consumer company that allowed owners to add cloud services to automobiles. It was a clever concept, and when it launched four years ago, it was ahead of the curve. Now, in 2019, the focus of the business is different as the company seeks to provide deep data intelligence to auto makers and transportation providers.

“The investment validates our place in the industry. In the last five years, we have seen the industry unfold and evolve into an industry driven by digital services,” said Mark Haidar, CEO of Vinli, in a press release released to TechCrunch. “Companies today need viable data solutions — not only to support the growing number of data sources but to deliver on the multiple service offerings to their end customers. We’re focused on making it easier for large fleets and automakers to access smarter data intelligence. It’s in helping those partners scale and be successful is what we look forward to most at Vinli.”

Now, with the latest round of investment, Vinli is looking to integrate its platform with electric vehicles and turned to an energy company, E.ON, to examine the market. Vinli says it will expand its offerings for electric mobility and fleets of electric vehicles.

Vinli’s approaching a largely untapped market. As vehicles become more connected, there are countless data points that can be examined and expanded. With Vinli’s deep background in vehicle intelligence, it’s well suited to continue to grow and provide rich data sets of vehicle information.

Vinli raises $13.5m Series B to expand its vehicle data intelligence platform

Connected car service provider Vinli today announced it closed a $13.5 million Series B financing round. The company says this infusion of capital allows it broaden its mobility services and integrations as it attempts to connect cars around the world. The funding came from new and existing investors and brings the total amount the company […]

Connected car service provider Vinli today announced it closed a $13.5 million Series B financing round. The company says this infusion of capital allows it broaden its mobility services and integrations as it attempts to connect cars around the world.

The funding came from new and existing investors and brings the total amount the company raised to over $20 million.

Based in Dallas, TX, Vinli launched in 2014 in TechCrunch Startup Battlefield as a direct consumer company that allowed owners to add cloud services to automobiles. It was a clever concept, and when it launched four years ago, it was ahead of the curve. Now, in 2019, the focus of the business is different as the company seeks to provide deep data intelligence to auto makers and transportation providers.

“The investment validates our place in the industry. In the last five years, we have seen the industry unfold and evolve into an industry driven by digital services,” said Mark Haidar, CEO of Vinli, in a press release released to TechCrunch. “Companies today need viable data solutions — not only to support the growing number of data sources but to deliver on the multiple service offerings to their end customers. We’re focused on making it easier for large fleets and automakers to access smarter data intelligence. It’s in helping those partners scale and be successful is what we look forward to most at Vinli.”

Now, with the latest round of investment, Vinli is looking to integrate its platform with electric vehicles and turned to an energy company, E.ON, to examine the market. Vinli says it will expand its offerings for electric mobility and fleets of electric vehicles.

Vinli’s approaching a largely untapped market. As vehicles become more connected, there are countless data points that can be examined and expanded. With Vinli’s deep background in vehicle intelligence, it’s well suited to continue to grow and provide rich data sets of vehicle information.

Japan’s “Society 5.0” initiative is a roadmap for today’s entrepreneurs

Mark Minevich Contributor Share on Twitter Mark Minevich is a digital fellow at IPSoft. Japan, still suffering the consequences of its ‘Lost Decade’ of economic stagnation, is eyeing a transformation more radical than any the industrialized world has ever seen. Boldly identified as “Society 5.0” Japan describes its initiative as a purposeful effort to create […]

Japan, still suffering the consequences of its ‘Lost Decade’ of economic stagnation, is eyeing a transformation more radical than any the industrialized world has ever seen.

Boldly identified as “Society 5.0” Japan describes its initiative as a purposeful effort to create a new social contract and economic model by fully incorporating the technological innovations of the fourth industrial revolution. It envisions embedding these innovations into every corner of its ageing society. Underpinning this effort is a mandate for sustainability, bound tightly to the new United Nations global goals, the SDG’s. Japan wants to create, in its own words, a ‘super-smart’ society, and one that will serve as a roadmap for the rest of the world.

Japan hosts its first ever G20 summit in 2019 and this grand initiative will be on the agenda at the official B20 (Business 20) summit headed by the chairman of Hitachi .

Components of Society 5.0 and its implications for the US

Society 5.0 addresses a number of key pillars: infrastructure, finance tech, healthcare, logistics, and of course AI. The markets being grown in Japan are impressive. In robotics they predict $87 billion in investments and the IoT market is poised to hit $6 Billion in 2019

This means we are behind. We have not put enough focus on what AI can do not only for industry, but what it can do to move society forward and solve many of our most pervasive problems.

It isn’t just a problem of lack of investment by the United States government. Just this past September the Department of Defense announced a commitment of  $2 billion over the next five years toward new programs advancing artificial intelligence. This issue lies in the lack of a complete partnership between the United States Government and the private sector. But, why is Japan in the lead?

Full Fledged Embrace of AI and Cutting Edge Technology

Along with $1.44 billion from the government for AI funding, the Innovation Network Corp. of Japan is reorganizing to focus on AI and big data. They are projected to grow to $4 billion and operate to at least 2034. Much like in Britain and France, the government has made it a point to team with the private sector to move all of society forward.

Fresh Ideas to address Persistent Societal Problems

Along with the governmental and private partnership, Society 5.0 harnesses AI to address problems that continue to plague society. They are looking at how AI can help with the trappings of an aging population, pollution, and most importantly, how create such a sweeping initiate that is also agile enough to adjust to constant change of society everyday.

The goal of the work being done at Hitachi now on Society 5.0 is to create a Human-Centered Society. Technologies and innovations need to be leveraged to aid humans and our advancement, not to replace us in anyway.

How do American Technologists Close the Gap and partner with Japan?

First, in Silicon valley and beyond, American technologists and entrepreneurs must create a partnership between themselves and the U.S. government. Only when working together can we reach our full potential.

Take the British government as a model. This past April they announced a that it had put together “an AI deal worth more than £1 billion” that includes public and private funding.

France sees the opportunity and is betting on AI as well. This past spring President Emmanuel Macron announced an AI plan that includes $1.6 billion in funding, new research centers, data-sharing initiatives. The road has been clearly mapped for the U.S., just follow the path.

Next, American technologists and entrepreneurs must focus on certain industries and their ability to improve society in its entirety. There are 4 major industries technologists and entrepreneurs can focus on, and disrupt by modeling Japan’s Society 5.0 ideas and approach.

Healthcare

Japan’s society is more heavily weighted towards people over 60 than the rest of the world. In turn, more healthcare is needed to support people for a longer period of time as people live longer.

American technologists and entrepreneurs can capitalize by investing in and developing cognitive AI technologies that will greatly lessen the time needed to complete administrative tasks to allowing medical professionals to concentrate more on actually providing healthcare.

A UK  report suggests approximately 10% of NHS operational expenses could be saved through AI and automation. If this can be mirrored and then improved in the US the rising cost of healthcare, and declining public health can be tackled simultaneously.

Mobility

While the population in urban centers is growing, rural areas are being left with diminished access to everyday needs like, transportation, stores, hospitals, and community centers.
Continue to invest and develop autonomous vehicles, drones and single-driver cargo truck convoys. Access to basic everyday needs will not be a given for those residing far from urban centers. Here lies another dual opportunity for technologists and entrepreneurs, service those in need while simultaneously moving tech and society forward.

Infrastructure

28 percent of major U.S. roads are rated “poor” or in need of a complete rebuild. AI and other technologies such as robots, drones, sensors and IoT will help solve these problems. How? If only 10 percent of cars in the  U.S. became self-driving, those 26 million vehicles would generate 38.4 zettabytes of data annually.  In one year that would create over eight times the volume of the world’s current data.

Not only must we increase investment in autonomous vehicles, but we must make a concerted effort to leverage the data they will produce. Technologists and entrepreneurs will have an unprecedented advantage to leverage this data to predict everything from needs of infrastructure improvements to all bridges and roads being used by the autonomous vehicles. Companies like Hitachi are the ones you should look to work with. They’re doing amazing things in infrastructure today. How can this be translated to the U.S.? That is a question for you to ask and ultimately solve.

Mass transit is far ahead in Japan as well. Japan’s maglev train set a world record speed of 375 mph. With vast expanses of the United States landscape, and the ever growing challenges of flying, the rail transport industry is ripe for the picking. Plans for the midwest and the west coast have seem to come and go. What will be the plan that actually works?

Fintech

Blockchain is a  solution that will advance security, transparency and fraud prevention in society. Cognitive AI is producing results towards the goals of Society 5.0, ether it be a cashless society or a consumer focused one. Voice prompted AI assistants are currently providing consumer support by depositing money, performing trades, mastering trading platforms, networking, and onboarding of customers. This Omni-channel integration will result in finance and banking evolving to grow around customers needs. With this evolution we will see far less needs for cash and brick and mortar banks.

In the end, data alone is just code without meaning to its user. But, when technologists and entrepreneurs implement AI to its max potential a true difference will be seen. In Society 5.0, humanity and machines will solve the greatest issues society faces in the 21st century. We must embrace what Japan is creating with Society 5.0, or we will simply become a vestige of the technological past.

 

Japan’s “Society 5.0” initiative is a roadmap for today’s entrepreneurs

Mark Minevich Contributor Share on Twitter Mark Minevich is a digital fellow at IPSoft. Japan, still suffering the consequences of its ‘Lost Decade’ of economic stagnation, is eyeing a transformation more radical than any the industrialized world has ever seen. Boldly identified as “Society 5.0” Japan describes its initiative as a purposeful effort to create […]

Japan, still suffering the consequences of its ‘Lost Decade’ of economic stagnation, is eyeing a transformation more radical than any the industrialized world has ever seen.

Boldly identified as “Society 5.0” Japan describes its initiative as a purposeful effort to create a new social contract and economic model by fully incorporating the technological innovations of the fourth industrial revolution. It envisions embedding these innovations into every corner of its ageing society. Underpinning this effort is a mandate for sustainability, bound tightly to the new United Nations global goals, the SDG’s. Japan wants to create, in its own words, a ‘super-smart’ society, and one that will serve as a roadmap for the rest of the world.

Japan hosts its first ever G20 summit in 2019 and this grand initiative will be on the agenda at the official B20 (Business 20) summit headed by the chairman of Hitachi .

Components of Society 5.0 and its implications for the US

Society 5.0 addresses a number of key pillars: infrastructure, finance tech, healthcare, logistics, and of course AI. The markets being grown in Japan are impressive. In robotics they predict $87 billion in investments and the IoT market is poised to hit $6 Billion in 2019

This means we are behind. We have not put enough focus on what AI can do not only for industry, but what it can do to move society forward and solve many of our most pervasive problems.

It isn’t just a problem of lack of investment by the United States government. Just this past September the Department of Defense announced a commitment of  $2 billion over the next five years toward new programs advancing artificial intelligence. This issue lies in the lack of a complete partnership between the United States Government and the private sector. But, why is Japan in the lead?

Full Fledged Embrace of AI and Cutting Edge Technology

Along with $1.44 billion from the government for AI funding, the Innovation Network Corp. of Japan is reorganizing to focus on AI and big data. They are projected to grow to $4 billion and operate to at least 2034. Much like in Britain and France, the government has made it a point to team with the private sector to move all of society forward.

Fresh Ideas to address Persistent Societal Problems

Along with the governmental and private partnership, Society 5.0 harnesses AI to address problems that continue to plague society. They are looking at how AI can help with the trappings of an aging population, pollution, and most importantly, how create such a sweeping initiate that is also agile enough to adjust to constant change of society everyday.

The goal of the work being done at Hitachi now on Society 5.0 is to create a Human-Centered Society. Technologies and innovations need to be leveraged to aid humans and our advancement, not to replace us in anyway.

How do American Technologists Close the Gap and partner with Japan?

First, in Silicon valley and beyond, American technologists and entrepreneurs must create a partnership between themselves and the U.S. government. Only when working together can we reach our full potential.

Take the British government as a model. This past April they announced a that it had put together “an AI deal worth more than £1 billion” that includes public and private funding.

France sees the opportunity and is betting on AI as well. This past spring President Emmanuel Macron announced an AI plan that includes $1.6 billion in funding, new research centers, data-sharing initiatives. The road has been clearly mapped for the U.S., just follow the path.

Next, American technologists and entrepreneurs must focus on certain industries and their ability to improve society in its entirety. There are 4 major industries technologists and entrepreneurs can focus on, and disrupt by modeling Japan’s Society 5.0 ideas and approach.

Healthcare

Japan’s society is more heavily weighted towards people over 60 than the rest of the world. In turn, more healthcare is needed to support people for a longer period of time as people live longer.

American technologists and entrepreneurs can capitalize by investing in and developing cognitive AI technologies that will greatly lessen the time needed to complete administrative tasks to allowing medical professionals to concentrate more on actually providing healthcare.

A UK  report suggests approximately 10% of NHS operational expenses could be saved through AI and automation. If this can be mirrored and then improved in the US the rising cost of healthcare, and declining public health can be tackled simultaneously.

Mobility

While the population in urban centers is growing, rural areas are being left with diminished access to everyday needs like, transportation, stores, hospitals, and community centers.
Continue to invest and develop autonomous vehicles, drones and single-driver cargo truck convoys. Access to basic everyday needs will not be a given for those residing far from urban centers. Here lies another dual opportunity for technologists and entrepreneurs, service those in need while simultaneously moving tech and society forward.

Infrastructure

28 percent of major U.S. roads are rated “poor” or in need of a complete rebuild. AI and other technologies such as robots, drones, sensors and IoT will help solve these problems. How? If only 10 percent of cars in the  U.S. became self-driving, those 26 million vehicles would generate 38.4 zettabytes of data annually.  In one year that would create over eight times the volume of the world’s current data.

Not only must we increase investment in autonomous vehicles, but we must make a concerted effort to leverage the data they will produce. Technologists and entrepreneurs will have an unprecedented advantage to leverage this data to predict everything from needs of infrastructure improvements to all bridges and roads being used by the autonomous vehicles. Companies like Hitachi are the ones you should look to work with. They’re doing amazing things in infrastructure today. How can this be translated to the U.S.? That is a question for you to ask and ultimately solve.

Mass transit is far ahead in Japan as well. Japan’s maglev train set a world record speed of 375 mph. With vast expanses of the United States landscape, and the ever growing challenges of flying, the rail transport industry is ripe for the picking. Plans for the midwest and the west coast have seem to come and go. What will be the plan that actually works?

Fintech

Blockchain is a  solution that will advance security, transparency and fraud prevention in society. Cognitive AI is producing results towards the goals of Society 5.0, ether it be a cashless society or a consumer focused one. Voice prompted AI assistants are currently providing consumer support by depositing money, performing trades, mastering trading platforms, networking, and onboarding of customers. This Omni-channel integration will result in finance and banking evolving to grow around customers needs. With this evolution we will see far less needs for cash and brick and mortar banks.

In the end, data alone is just code without meaning to its user. But, when technologists and entrepreneurs implement AI to its max potential a true difference will be seen. In Society 5.0, humanity and machines will solve the greatest issues society faces in the 21st century. We must embrace what Japan is creating with Society 5.0, or we will simply become a vestige of the technological past.

 

Lowe’s is killing off and bricking its Iris smart home products at the end of March

If you’ve got any gear from Lowe’s Iris line of smart home products, it’s time to start looking for alternatives. Lowes has announced that the line is toast, with plans to flip the switch on “the platform and related services” at the end of March. In other words: much of this once smart connected gear […]

If you’ve got any gear from Lowe’s Iris line of smart home products, it’s time to start looking for alternatives.

Lowes has announced that the line is toast, with plans to flip the switch on “the platform and related services” at the end of March. In other words: much of this once smart connected gear is about to get bricked.

On the upside, Lowe’s is committing to refund customers for “eligible, connected Iris devices” — with the caveat that you’ve got to go through its redemption portal. “PLEASE DO NOT BRING YOUR CONNECTED IRIS DEVICES BACK TO A LOWE’S STORE”, they note repeatedly. They don’t want it either.

Refunds will be issued in the form of a prepaid Visa card. They also note that some — but definitely not all — Iris-compatible devices work with alternatives like Samsung’s SmartThings platform.

As of November of 2018, Lowes was attempting to find a buyer for the product line.

It might seem easier than ever to make any home a smart home — but for many, it’s still just a maze. Type “smart lightbulb” into your favorite mega online retail site — half of the results are probably from mystery brands that you’ve never heard of. Are they secure? If someone finds some nasty exploit that lets hackers tap that lightbulb to poke around your wider network, will it be patched? Will they even work in a year? For anyone who walked into a Lowe’s and figured they could count on the house brand to stick around, the answer to that last one, it seems, is a no.

This is why people worry about Internet of Things gadgets that can “betray you even after you toss them in the trash”: these things probably won’t last forever.