Scandals involving the leakage of information and restrictions on access to it, high-tech trade wars and accusations of espionage, concerns about “digital prosperity” and mass immersion in an artificial reality games, bursting bubbles, unmet expectations and boring gadgets. About what you might think in the Internet industry and high technology in the final material News.Hi-tech.

Artificial intelligence

The most hyped professional technology 2018 was the “artificial intelligence”. The term began to be used to place and out of place, describing them almost any working computer algorithms. The smartphone can distinguish night from the day’s scene or portrait from landscape? Artificial intelligence! It is necessary to create a new beer or spirits? Without computer mind couldn’t cope!

But you can’t deny that modern technologies of machine vision and AI are really impressive and are now ready to change the world. As for the worse — sozdavalsya fake videos from politicians and celebrities or causing economic instability and to accurately diagnose diseases or help the visually impaired.

In 2018, the neural network learned to master on champion level different games (without prompts) to generate real-time urban landscapes, to more effectively identify doctors with breast cancer, to improve the quality of the photos and draw. Moreover, created using algorithms for painting was sold at Christie’s auction for 432 $ 500 — several tens of times more expensive than initially estimated.

Smartphone slavery and antipasto

The problem of “smartpassiveincome” — often unconscious over-use of mobile devices and its consequences — in 2018 were discussed as widely as possible. Came out of research that demonstrated the link (that what actually affects to say harder) between adolescent depression/suicide and prolonged regular use of smartphones, especially social networking. Even Facebook has acknowledged that social networks can harm people, who have qualified unhealthy video game addiction as a disease.

The subject attended to the biggest IT companies: Google and Apple have implemented in iOS and Android 12 9 tools to monitor the usage time of smartphones. The owners of vehicles with the latest OSes can see how many hours and minutes, and what apps they are spending daily, and to limit total “screen time” or time of use of separate programs for smartphones and tablets of their children. To monitor screen time minor tools was really useful, but if they are effective in combating the desire skim through for the tenth time in a day tape Instagram is the big question.

In 2018, all the more serious competitor, not only social networks, but traditional pillar of the entertainment industry — the cinema — became a computer game. The number of registered users with the most iconic online game, Fortnite, has increased over the year five times by November, exceeding 200 million people. And the number of simultaneous players reached 8.3 million people — the population of a large metropolis. Manufacturers not only laptops, but also smartphones actively promoted management model wishing to gain an artificial sense of life in virtuality becomes more and more.

The next stage — the transfer of all popular games on smartphones, as well as the release of new generation consoles like the traditional (waiting for the PlayStation 5 in 2020) and “streaming”. Latest powerful hardware is not necessary, the main thing that the Internet was fast and with the minimum of delay, allowing you to stream generated on servers in the cloud picture. On such consoles, rumored to have been working for Microsoft and Google.

Uninteresting gadgets

The smartphone market in 2018 year trends in the design of devices is again dictated by Apple. After the release of “brovastom” iPhone X Chinese producers laughed together over the “freak”, then so amicably rushed to copy the cutout in the top of the screen and vertical design dual camera. By the end of the year, however, started to gain momentum a new trend — smartphones with a hole for the front camera placed in the corner of the screen. Huawei has equipped this way the apparatus Nova 4 and Honor V20, and Samsung, according to leaks, uses “leaky” displays in flagship smartphones 2019, the year — Galaxy S10.

From a practical point of view, has improved markedly in smartphones last year only one camera in the devices of the middle and upper price level. It happened at the expense of larger sensors and improved SOFTWARE. The flagship Xiaomi and Huawei, and even significantly cheaper device approached, and in some subject even surpassed in quality the flagships of Apple and Samsung.

Despite this, smartphone sales in 2018 continued to decline. For example, in the third quarter, it sold 6 percent fewer vehicles than a year earlier; decline is already the fourth consecutive quarter. To save income, manufacturers are trying different: the flagship Apple and Samsung become more expensive, do not hesitate to cross the bar of $ 1,000, and Chinese firms are fighting fiercely in the middle price segment, shamelessly copying each other’s good ideas.

Overall really interesting, giving users new features devices 2018 we are not pleased. Smartphones have become a little better than their predecessors last year, Huawei has successfully copied the MacBook Pro, and Apple has finally released updated MacBook Air, Mac mini and iPad Pro with Face ID and without a Home button. The Russians own gadgets offered “Yandex”: column “Yandex. Station”, and shown at the end of the year “Yandex. Phone” designed specifically for voice assistant “Alice”. However, signs of rapid commercial success of these products have not yet seen.

The collapse of bitcoin

Those who have seriously invested in a mining farm or just bought virtual money “on everything” I really wanted to believe: bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies don’t just hold out on the reached in late 2017 — early 2018 highs and continue to rise. But further confirmed the predictions of skeptics: the $ 20,000 for the “coin” bitcoin fell back to 6-7000, and by the end of the year fell below 4000.

Video card with mining farms sell with a good discount to gamers and large financial institutions, a year ago seriously kept an eye to the cryptocurrency as the future of the banking industry, put their projects on hold. Much less news was about blockchain technology in General. While it seems that the cryptocurrency boom, the big winner (apart from graphics card manufacturers), Pavel Durov, has successfully sold to investors in late 2017 — early 2018, the share of so still not earned a project blockchain network TON (Telegram Open Network) and cryptocurrencies Gram. The total amount raised during this ICO funds amounted to $ 1.7 billion.

Proprietary Internet

Telegram was (at least for Russians) in the center, and other notable global trend: Internet regulation by governments, and (under pressure from the media and seething “for everything good and against everything bad” of public opinion) by online platforms. In late April, a Russian court supported the request of Roskomnadzor about blocking messenger, for refusing to give intelligence agencies access to accounts of suspected terrorists. However, as it turned out, really effective tools to limit access of Russians to the service authorities yet: everyone who really wanted to use the Telegram, found a way to continue to do so: from cryptoanalysts and drug officials and Pro-government journalists.

In addition, the Agency Alexander Zharov was not ashamed to hint the largest network platforms on the possibility of blocking in the case of non-compliance with the Russian legislation. However, the example of LinkedIn, it seems, are not afraid of Facebook, which continues to store data of Russian citizens contrary to the law on foreign servers. Was not afraid, and Google, which imposed a fine of 500,000 rubles for display in the search results is prohibited in Russia content and nepodkljuchenija to the appropriate registry. The search engine just announced that the fine will pay the amount for the company is ridiculous.

Noted the Russian authorities and innovative lawmaking: the messengers and mobile operators were obliged to de-anonymize the users, and the establishment of a register the IMEI (a unique identifier for smartphones and other terminals of cellular communication) to combat theft and gray import, it seems, will become law in 2019.

Outside Russia, the trend manifested itself differently. The largest user of the Internet platform: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other spent 2018-th year in the not always successful struggle with the distributors of fake news and authors, earning the popular (and often money from advertising) on the promotion of racism, misogyny and other “Haight speech”. Went and pornography: the decision to ban explicit content made the Tumblr previously practiced against porn the most liberal approach. To do this I had after uninstalling blogging service from Apple AppStore — someone found the erotic content with minors. And Facebook have adopted new rules prohibiting virtually any publication with the allusions to sex.

Corporations are evil

None of the major IT companies have not escaped in 2018, awkward moments and hard-hitting coverage of their activities in the media, but most went to Facebook. World’s largest social network, which also owns the services WhatsApp and Instagram, became involved in several journalistic investigations that painted a picture of a very cynical corporations, neglecting the protection of user data (but not actively and quite openly collect them), to twist arms to potential competitors, and ignoring the actions of “foreign agents” to manipulate public opinion.

Did not escape the scandals and Google: it was accused of collecting location data of users even when this feature is turned off in the settings. The company needs this information to better target ads and get more money from advertisers. No less attention was drawn to the leak about Google developing a special, censored search engine for China — the Dragonfly project had to stop, including because of the protests of company employees. Similarly, the activists have prevented Google to continue cooperation with the Pentagon in the Maven project where the technology of the search engine in the field of machine learning has been used to analyze video from military drones.

Another IT giant — Amazon — got for a ruthless cleansing from the competition entire sectors of the market and unscrupulous exploitation of employees of the warehouses. As it turned out, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos became the richest man in the world while up to 30% of the employees of the Corporation in one of the US States were forced to survive on food stamps for the poor. Amazon announced the increase of salaries in the lower positions, however, most low-paid workers this has brought no joy: now they may lose many social payments and benefits.

The remaining two IT-giants of the “gang of five” — Apple and Microsoft — this year’s big scandals passed. However, at first, apparently, all good sold “iPhones”, which shares by the end of December fell from a historic high (when firm was worth more than a trillion dollars) by almost a third. And the second showed serious problems in the process of developing Windows: the latest major update has caused users many problems. And to recall it had several times — replaced the old bugs came new. This, however, did not prevent Microsoft to circumvent Apple’s market capitalization.

Augmented reality is still virtual

Long-awaited breakthroughs in the field of augmented reality (AR) in 2018, has not happened. Mastered more than two billion dollars of venture capital investment Magic Leap have finally released their AR glasses (yet — in version for developers, which is worth more than 2 thousand dollars). However, the device has impressed the reviewers: a set of points, computer, washer and controller looks nice and generally comfortable, however, nothing revolutionary or magical about it (compared to, for example, HoloLens from Microsoft) was not found. The AR content appears to the user in the form of a small transparent rectangle hanging before my eyes.

The fail one, albeit costly, a startup does not mean that augmented reality technology is waiting for oblivion. And Google and Apple continue refining their mobile AR platform that makes it easy for developers to create applications with augmented reality and preparing them to appearance sometime in the future on a truly massive worn AR devices.

Apply it on face mask in Snapchat and other apps now look much more realistic than in the previous year, and programs (and even websites) that allows to observe the virtual three-dimensional objects, placing them on the floor or the table, becoming more and more. Apple has built their own AR app to measure distances and objects using the smartphone’s camera — “Roulette” — right in iOS.

Nevertheless, as long (read — with the current level of technology and current gadgets) augmented reality is still a fun toy, interesting but not able to qualify for massive popularity.

Cold the IT war

The rapid development of its own technology, Chinese companies and distribute their products worldwide in 2018, is not a joke alarmed the U.S. government and its allies. The year started with the fact that the us mobile operators abandoned plans to sell the Huawei smartphones — according to rumors, under pressure from Washington. By August use the services and components of some Chinese firms, including Huawei and ZTE, and banned the U.S. government. According to Reuters, the US plans in the new year to prohibit the U.S. company to buy any equipment to Chinese firms. Similar measures already announced in Australia, UK, New Zealand and Japan.

The opponents of Huawei in the U.S. did not stop — at the beginning of December in Vancouver at the request of US law enforcement arrested the financial Director of Huawei Meng Wanzhou, who also is the daughter of the company founder, Ren Jenvey. Later, a top Manager released on bail, and in early February the following year, the court will consider her results to Washington.

The US authorities claim that the man Wanzhou misled financial institutions, deception forcing them to violate the sanctions regime against Iran. The investigation related to the Hong Kong company Skycom Tech, a leading business in Iran and partly owned by Hauwei. Man some time occupied a seat on the Board of Directors Skycom.

Meanwhile, a Chinese company in many markets surpassed Apple in sales of mobile phones in the third quarter and, possibly, will be the second after Samsung smartphone vendor globally for the year. Only Huawei has shipped over the past year more than 200 million devices.

The end of 2018 it’s hard to call encouraging. “Theoptimist” — the belief that the development of technology brings to mankind is mostly good — is on the wane. It is replaced by the realization that technology, like any tool in the hands of man, serves the implementation of the will of those who controls it. And driven by many of these people, it seems, is not so much a desire to make the world better as a traditional pursuit of wealth and power.

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