Cloud Hosting is The Architecture of Cloud Computing Techniques

Cloud Hosting Technique

Cloud Hosting is The Architecture of Cloud Computing Techniques

Cloud Hosting is The Architecture of Cloud Computing Techniques

provides the hosting services in the form of a single virtual machine and is implemented through the use of cloud computing and cloud architecture. It dynamically distributes data and processes across the small servers of the system for processing. The cloud hosting system is divided into many virtual machines. The services offered by a loud hosting service provider are located at its premises and these can be accessed by using client software.

The cloud hosting allows the users to get their applications up and running much faster and enables the quick readjustment of virtual resources to meet the dynamic demands like increased data rate, traffic size and storage requirements. The users can assess the cloud using different client devices like desktops, laptops, tablets and phones. Some of the user devices require real time cloud computing for running their applications, while others can interact with a cloud application via web browsers. Some cloud applications only support specific client software dedicated for these applications. Some legacy applications are also supported through screen sharing technology. The internet giants such as Google and Amazon are using this state of art hosting technology successfully for their servers.

Cloud hosting can be offered in three different modes i.e. infrastructure as a service(IaaS) , platform as a service(PaaS) and software as a service(SaaS). The basic mode IaaS , offers the services in the form of physical or virtual machines ( computers & other processing devices), raw/block storage , firewalls , load balancing mechanism and networks .The IaaS mode services provider supply these resources from a large deployed pool of resources in data centers andthis also include provisioning of local area networks and  IP addresses. The PaaS mode cloud hosting services provider offers a cloud computing platform  that include an operating system, programming execution environment, database and server. The PaaS application software can be developed and run on a cloud platform and does not involve cost and complexity of buying and managing the hardware and software layers. The (SaaS) mode cloud hosting services provider  install and operate application software in the cloud and cloud users access the software from cloud clients and the cloud platform in this case is not managed by the clients. Clouds hosting can be physically deployed in the form of public cloud, personal cloud, hybrid cloud and community cloud.

Cloud hosting has greatly reduced the website operational cost. In older versions of servers, the clients used to pay for a specific bandwidth irrespective of the traffic on that server. The cloud hosting has tackled this problem through the skillful use of variable costing method, where the cost will increase with the traffic and as the load/traffic reduces the cost will be automatically decreases.

The cloud hosting has a great advantage in terms of its security, as it operates in isolated environment and only the host has the access to it. One of the biggest advantages of cloud hosting is that the cloud platform manageability, maintenance and upgrades can be easily and remotely accomplished, as it does not require any physical/hardware maintenance repair and replacement.

IBM’s Jeopardy-Winning AI Is Now Ready to Debate You

As long as there have been personal computers, there have been people yelling at them. And before that, angry couch potatoes argued with their TV sets.

Now artificial intelligence technology that IBM has been developing over the past six years can give the machines a chance to argue back. The company took the wraps off an AI system Monday that it calls Project Debater, staging a couple of debates between it and experienced human debaters that show how far its capabilities have come.

IBM, which has been staging in-house debates between humans and Project Debater for a few years, said the demonstration represented the first such public debate. While Debater scored points on marshaling ample evidence for its arguments in a short period of time, the answers sometimes rambled and the delivery at times fell flat. Still, the technology, which remains in its early stages, represents a step forward in conversational AI.

Debater is designed to digest a single debate question, then scan billions of sentences from documents ranging from Wikipedia to magazine and news articles to craft its arguments, rebuttals, and closing summaries. Debater spells out its arguments in the placid monotone that is familiar to users of Siri and Alexa.

The demonstration in San Francisco involved two debates against professional debaters who have been working with the project. The two topics at hand on this day: Whether to subsidize space exploration and whether to increase the use of telemedicine.

Both topics were chosen from a larger list of potential questions, and aside from a brief introduction, none of Debater’s arguments were pre-arranged, IBM said.

Debater and its human opponents each had four minutes to state their arguments, another four minutes for rebuttals, and two minutes for their closing statements. In contrast to a warm body standing behind a dais, Debater was represented by a black obelisk the height of a human with three dots that indicated when it was listening or preparing an argument.

The program hewed tightly to the debate format, outlining arguments and responding directly to points its human opponents made with facts drawn from scientific research and world events. At one point, Debater accused an opponent—with some accuracy, it appears—of getting his facts wrong. While such a move is common in political debates, it carried a certain extra weight coming from an AI system.

Such moves, along with the attempts at humor, were part of Debater’s design to approximate the dynamics human debates. It was also able to anticipate potential counterarguments and rebut them ahead of time, a classic debate strategy.

For nearly 70 years, AI systems have developed in part by learning to play games such as checkers and chess. In 2011, IBM’s Watson won Jeopardy A few years later, Google’s Alpha Go defeated the top-ranked champion of the board game Go.

After Watson’s Jeopardy!win, IBM researchers took stock of its AI technology to determine what its next challenge would be. Noam Slonim, a researcher in IBM’s Haifa lab in Israel suggested an AI system that could debate a human being. The challenges of such a project were daunting.

“The challenge was a departure from the tradition of games where, even as complex as they may be, in the end you have a self-contained universe. There’s a set of rules,” Dario Gil, vice president of AI at IBM, told Fortune. “The thought of bringing AI into an area where, by its very definition, the problem is unbound was really intriguing. The question was, is it even possible?”

In 2012, Slonim and other researchers began working on Debater with an early prototype working by October of the next year. To succeed, Debater needed to accomplish three basic tasks, each of which marked new ground in AI: identifying key concepts and claims in spoken language; digesting a massive amounts of documentation and extract a clear argument; and modeling human dilemmas and controversies to create principled arguments.

For example, Gil said, if Debater is preparing a debate in favor of vegetarianism, it may extract an argument from something not explicitly related to that topic, such as a scientific study that suggests animals can feel fear and other emotions. The AI system would also need to eliminate redundant words and present its argument in a manner that could be persuasive to humans.

One IBM’s chief goals with Debater was to help an AI system master human languages. Speech dictation programs like Dragon passively transcribe language between text and speech without analysis. Voice-powered AI assistants like Alexa, meanwhile, engage in limited interactions that typically last a few seconds at time. But Debater was built to comprehend an argument that can last for several minutes, and then respond with its own.

In time, IBM plans to commercialize Debater, Gil said. The technology could have applications in a variety of fields, from education to law, and from government to businesses. Sales teams and trial attorneys could sharpen their arguments through an AI system capable of debating, while researchers and decision-makers could benefit from the pro and con arguments that Debater could generate.

Another potential application may be addressing fake news by examining how much, if any, evidence supports bogus claims and disclosing how much credibility they carry, Slonim said. “There’s no doubt the underlying tech we are developing will be valuable against fake news,” he said.

Beyond that, IBM hopes to keep developing the AI system powering Project Debater to tackle even more ambitious achievements.

“If you look at the horizon, you’re going beyond just information retrieval to a paradigm where you’re entering true reasoning – composing language that could give answers that we’ve never seen before” Gil said. “For AI to manifest itself and truly realize its potential, it’s going to have to live in the messy world where humans live.”

Rare Japanese unicorn Mercari closes up 77 percent in market debut

TOKYO (Reuters) – Flea market app operator Mercari Inc’s shares surged 77 percent in their Tokyo stock market debut on Tuesday, underscoring strong investor appetite for a rare Japanese unicorn bent on U.S. expansion.

FILE PHOTO: Novelty goods are displayed at Mercari’s Tokyo headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Shares rose as high as 6,000 yen in early afternoon trade, hitting their daily limit high and valuing the company at as much as $7.4 billion. The listing makes Mercari the most valuable firm on the Tokyo bourse’s Mothers market for startups, ahead of games and social network company Mixi Inc and robotics firm Cyberdyne Inc.

A popular smartphone app that allows people to trade used items online, Mercari has been downloaded 71 million times in Japan where it has 10.5 million active users. It makes money by charging sellers commission, and expects sales to jump 62 percent to 35.8 billion yen ($325.93 million) this financial year.

Mercari shares already look expensive, said Masayuki Otani, chief market analyst at Securities Japan. While the app is well known in Japan and still growing, it is likely to face more competition at home, he said, with companies such as Rakuten Inc and Start Today Co Ltd offering used-goods services.

Mercari shares opened at 5,000 yen versus their initial public offering price of 3,000 yen. They closed up at 5,300 yen, compared with a 1.8 percent decline in the benchmark Nikkei 225 index.

The IPO, the biggest in Japan this year, raised $1.2 billion through the sale of around a third of Mercari’s shares, with the majority bought by overseas investors.

The company is profitable at home but is losing money in the United States, where its expansion plans are being headed by former Facebook Inc executive John Lagerling.

Its U.S. expansion dragged it to a net loss of 4.2 billion yen in the last financial year through June 2017, with a further loss of 3.4 billion in the nine months to March as the company committed funds to improving its brand recognition through advertising.

“We can’t be successful globally without success in the U.S.,” Chief Executive and founder Shintaro Yamada told Reuters in April.

In a country that has many successful giant corporations but lacks a vibrant startup culture, Mercari gained attention as one of Japan’s two unicorns – startups with valuations above $1 billion – according to data provider CB Insights. The other is information technology startup Preferred Networks Inc.

Mercari’s growing popularity as Japanese shoppers shed their inhibitions about buying and selling used goods has seen it join the ranks of companies such as Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing Co Ltd that have grown by appealing to consumers’ economizing instincts.

The app has outperformed rivals with its focus on mobile, its ease of use – with users able to trade goods with just a few taps – and by offering anonymity to its privacy conscious Japanese audience.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Christopher Cushing

How This Keynote Speakers Bureau Hit The Inc 5000 And Nearly Doubled Its Revenue In Just Four Years

Executive Speakers Bureau is one of the most successful speakers bureaus in the U.S. and one of the only speakers bureaus to ever hit the Inc. 5000. Founded by Angela Schelp in Memphis in 1993 (husband and partner Richard Schelp joined as president and co-owner in 2001), Executive Speakers Bureaus offers and books hundreds of keynote speakers nationally and internationally and continues to grow at a pace rarely approached in this competitive industry, nearly doubling its overall revenue and number of bookings in just the last four years, while maintaining a reputation for customer service and community involvement that is widely viewed as second to none.

Micah Solomon, Inc.com: You’ve spoken in passing about the importance of your vision of success.  Can you explain what this means specifically as it relates to commercial success?

Richard Schelp, President and Co-Owner, Executive Speakers Bureau: In order to succeed in a competitive marketplace, you need a true plan or strategy.  Our ability to anticipate some of the challenges we have had to face in the industry and our understanding of how to address those challenges has kept us ahead of our competitors and driven our success in revenue and profitability.

Solomon: I’ve heard you and Angela speak about the power of your company’s culture and the pride you take in your employees.  Can you speak a bit about this? 

Schelp: From the beginning the culture of Executive Speakers Bureau has been built around respect for each other, a true sense of team, and the fact that both what we do within our business and in our community affects many people’s lives.  Very few work environments can promise its employees this kind of value.  

Our employees are some of the best you will see in any industry, and certainly in ours.  It is not just a job to them.  They are proud of where they work, and they truly feel responsible for the success of Executive Speakers Bureau.  This is the reason why they want to stay.  They want to see this thing through to the end.  

Solomon: What in your and Angela’s prior background led you to be able to take this approach and succeed with the culture of your company and your relationship to your employees?

Schelp: Both Angela and I have a wealth of corporate experience (IBM, AT&T, and other big firms) in which we have both managed and worked for a number of people.  When you have seen a lot of examples of great and terrible management, you start to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.  All of the previous managers that I respected established environments in which I felt comfortable going to them, and they were the primary reason for me enjoying my job

 Solomon: Your bureau has grown quite quickly. How is life different now that you are an agency of significant size and pull?

Schelp: Life at Executive Speakers Bureau is definitely a little bit different now that we are much bigger.  With that does come a level of responsibility and respect.  Because of our increased size, we now have a larger role within our industry association.  As a matter of fact, I will become the president of the association next Spring. 

Also, in the early years of our bureau we used to base our decisions about processes, documents, fee recommendations, etc. on what the larger bureaus were doing.  Now we don’t check with others.  We make our decisions based on what we know and what we think makes the most sense.  Surprisingly many bureaus are following our lead, and they are calling us to ask how we do things. 

Solomon: Many of my readers are entrepreneurs and business leaders themselves. It’s very helpful and enjoyable (!) for them to hear about mistakes you’ve made or tricky situations you’ve endured in the past, what went sideways and how you either dealt with it or learned from it.

Schelp: A few years ago I faced an extremely tricky situation that taught me so many lessons as a business owner in our industry. A high-profile sports figure was supposed to speak for me at a large convention in New York.  He decided to fly in on his private plane the morning of the event.  However, there was a terrible electrical storm that morning, and his plane was grounded, leaving me without a speaker.  I received the call at 6:30AM and the speaker’s presentation was at 10:30AM.  I had four hours to find a replacement for a great speaker and get him to the event on time.  Immediately I went to work by calling all of the speakers and agents who were high quality and could get there-and, ultimately, I was fortunate enough to find a speaker who my client absolutely loved.

The lessons from this incident were numerous, but most importantly I realized just how crucial it is to have access to many resources, so that an emergency situation becomes doable, otherwise it is impossible.  Also, I learned that as long as you are determined and efficient any task can be accomplished.

 

UNTUCKit, Cuyana, ThredUp Are Driving Retail's Digital Transformation

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Last week I attended WWD’s Retail 20/20 event in New York City. Karla Gallardo, co-founder and CEO of Cuyana said something that really resonated with me, “Retail isn’t dying; our imagination is.” This struck a chord with me because it perfectly tees up the challenge many retailers and brands are facing today. While the imagination of these organizations may be dying, the imagination of the consumer is not. Retailers and brands need to find a way to catch-up, and emerging technologies are a big piece of the equation.

However, when you think of AI, predictive analytics and Big Data, most of the time you’re not thinking about small retailers and brands. But as many of the big retailers struggle to digitally transform their businesses, small and midsize (SMB) retailers are finding their moxie, particularly because they live in a world where avoiding even one misstep can have significant upside for their business.

According to a recently study by Oxford Economics, SMB retailers and brands are investing heavily in mobile and Big Data and adopting emerging technologies—such as machine learning, AI, augmented reality, blockchain and more. Sixty-two percent of SMB retailers surveyed said digital transformation is important or critically important to the company’s survival, particularly as they work to meet consumer demands for personalized experiences, predict consumer preferences and streamline the supply chain.  

AI in particular is growing in retail and is projected to reach $27.2 billion by 2025 — a 38-fold increase from 2016 according to a recent report by market research firm The Insight Partners.

While all retailers can benefit from new data-driven technologies, SMB retailers and brands have a distinct size advantage that makes them more agile and able to adapt faster. Since their executives are closer to the product, they are more directly connected to the value of technology investments. Further, SMBs encounter less bureaucracy at the management level which means that change can happen quickly and more easily. 

UNTUCKit is one example, as the company recently announced its plans to collect data on merchandise that is being tried on in-store to optimize its merchandising mix based on what people try on versus what they buy. This will enable the company to adjust inventory levels in real time based on shopper behavior, reducing inventory cost and allowing the retailer to redirect its investments toward more popular SKUs and new offerings.

Similarly, Everlane is taking actions to capture customer data and gain insight into browsing behavior and buying patterns. Even ThredUp, which has a much different model of selling one-of-a-kind second-hand clothing, is implementing data-driven solutions that point buyers to similar items to those that may not be available.  

The Race To $1 Trillion, But What About $2 Trillion?

Which company is going to reach the notorious $1 trillion market cap first? Apple (AAPL) will but Amazon (AMZN) will whiz by to be the first to $2 billion. Let’s take a look at the numbers…

By the Numbers

Company

Share Price

Market Cap

% Increase to $1 Trillion

Apple

$192.64

$941 billion

5.6%

Amazon

$1,711

$822 billion

20.65%

Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL)

$1,151.78

$788 billion

26.06%

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

$101.65

$781 billion

28.04%

Company

Share Price at $1 Billion

Apple

$203.42

Amazon

$2,063.18

Alphabet

$1,451.79

Microsoft

$129.47

Only the top 4 companies by market cap were included because Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) was fifth and the market cap was around $555 billion at $192 per share. So it basically needs to double before Apple has to go up 5.6%. Possible but not plausible.

So you can see by the numbers Apple looks to be the winner. Especially since the company only trades for 18x earnings, pretty much in line with the S&P 500 (SPX). Even intuitively, Apple reaching $203 before Amazon reaching $2,063 just seems way more possible.

If the question was posed, which company will reach $2 trillion first, a lot of people would have bet on Amazon. Granted, Apple was undervalued a couple of years ago, especially when it bottomed around $90/share and Buffett, or more appropriately Combs and Weschler, backed up the truck. But Amazon’s rate of innovation and the growth of AWS led me to believe Amazon would win the foot race.

Also, Apple has bought back stock aggressively, spending over $275 billion over the past 6 or so years on buybacks and dividends. So it only makes sense that Apple is here, about to cross the finish line first.

The Race To $2 Trillion

But what about $2 Trillion? Which company is going to reach that historic landmark first? Honestly, it would not be extremely surprising if a company not even public right now managed to reach $2 trillion first, but from this vantage point, the easy answer is Amazon. The other three companies here don’t stand a chance. And for one reason: fear of failure. Amazon is not afraid to fail and that has given them a huge sustainable advantage in the form of the culture.

In other words, the company’s mindset is completely different from Apple or Microsoft. The people aren’t smarter, everyone at these companies is a genius. It’s about how those geniuses function in the context of the business. In this department, Amazon will win every time. It has proven itself time and time again. Reading a quarterly press release from Amazon is pure silliness; the highlights section goes on and on and on. There seems to be so much innovation, even the press release can’t handle it.

How Amazon Will Get There

There won’t be a comprehensive model of Amazon’s revenue, split into the three operating segments: AWS, North America and International because well, Amazon is so unpredictable. Instead, just retail and AWS will be considered. This is mostly because the quarterly numbers for the past four years and the financials do not lend themselves to pattern recognition. The only real trends are that cash flow has been strong and revenue has accelerated in the past year, due in part to the Whole Foods acquisition, which is absolutely incredible at this scale.

A slight acceleration might give the company around $240 billion in net sales at the end of this year. Nearly a quarter trillion! About 10% of that will most likely be AWS revenue, which accounts for more than 100% of operating income. Yes, you read that right, more than 100%.

It would be surprised if the company reaches $2 trillion before 2021 honestly. However, in just three years, there will probably be so many innovations investors never even saw coming.

But just some quick, back-of-the-napkin math perhaps.

Year

Total Sales at 25% Growth

AWS Sales at 40% Growth

Retail Value (2x sales)

AWS Value (40x EBIT at 30% opm)

2018

$235 billion

$24 billion

2019

$294 billion

$34 billion

2020

$367 billion

$47 billion

2021

$459 billion

$66 billion

$902 billion

$800 billion

2022

$574 billion

$92 billion

$964 billion

$1,104 billion

This is very rough math but it just goes to show that even for Amazon, it will not be easy to reach $2 trillion. Let’s break down some of the math.

  • The retail value was derived from taking the net sales and subtracting AWS sales (574-92) = 482 and giving it a 2x sales multiple = 964 billion.

To break down the growth in the retail segment, Amazon’s revenue has actually been accelerating in the last couple of years. In 2015, sales grew by 20%, in 2016, growth was 27% and this past year’s numbers shot to 30%.

The pay-offs for years of innovation are just rolling in. In the past quarter, revenue re-accelerated to 43%. An impressive feat for a company of Amazon’s scale. Over the next three or so years, 25% as a revenue growth estimate might be a little aggressive but you cannot deny the technological advancements. For example, apparently almost 30 million Alexas have been sold. Some reports peg this voice-enabled technology market at $55 billion.

And the company is, of course, attacking many other industries. According to some reports, Prime Video has over 26 million watchers and in 2017, Amazon sent nearly $5 billion on original content. And some reports estimate the online streaming industry to reach $82 billion by 2023.

Even more, the Whole Foods acquisition has certainly accelerated the grocery delivery business, a market expected to reach $100 billion by 2025. But the Amazon juggernaut will be a serious player in logistics in the far but not too distant future. Last year, the company unveiled a $1.5 billion hub for its cargo planes. For just its planes! As it funds more the purchasing of more assets through current business operations, it continues to cement its competitive advantage.

For instance, buying more trucks for delivery gives Amazon more control over delivery times, meaning more customers will sign up for Prime, meaning it can fund more trucks. It’s really a beautiful cycle, one that JD.com (NASDAQ:JD) has taken very seriously. The size of this global market is immense. Some estimates have it in the trillions, which Amazon could take a small bite of.

It is much different than an asset-light model but it gives the company a huge structural advantage, enabling a better customer experience. This is all to say that the company’s retail segment can grow and grow and grow. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

And if Amazon reached $574 billion in revenues, the company would still have less than 10% of just North America’s retail market. Plus, with forays into the pharmaceutical industry, Amazon just keeps expanding its markets. Now we have covered grocery delivery, video streaming, logistics, voice-enabled devices, and now drugs. For instance, McKesson (MCK), does over $200 billion in sales for distributing drugs every year. It is possible for Amazon to get a small piece of that.

So all in all, the company has a lot of optionality in terms of the industries it can attack and has decided to attack. The crazy part is that this doesn’t even include international expansion.

To add it all up by the year 2022 (author’s estimates based on reports):

– Voice-enabled tech: $55 billion

– Online streaming: $75 billion

– Grocery delivery: $80 billion

– Logistics: realistically $5 trillion

– Pharmaceutical distribution: $200 billion

– Retail: $5 trillion

Total TAM: $10.4 trillion

Of course, Amazon’s respective market shares of each of these markets varies widely. In logistics and pharmaceuticals, it is practically nothing right now. But it has more than two-thirds of the market in voice-enabled technology. The retail category will naturally move more towards Amazon. Estimates have the e-commerce market at $5 trillion in 2022, up from $2.8 trillion this year. It is likely that the company will capture a sizable piece of that growth.

If the incremental growth in only e-commerce is $2.3 trillion, it is likely that Amazon can add over $300 billion in revenues in the next four years, adding in all the other industries it is involved in as well. Capturing just 10% of that incremental $2.3 billion, leaves the company with revenues of $230 billion. It is likely that Amazon can capture an additional $70 billion from the combination of industries discussed above.

  • The AWS value came from a 30% operating margin on the 2021 number ~20 billion with a 40x EBIT multiple = 800 billion.

One could go on and on about AWS, but it really is a powerhouse. On the last earnings call, Bezos noted that he and his team got a seven-year head-start. In something that moves as quickly as computing, seven years is a huge gap to make up. Only now is Microsoft catching up a little bit with Azure. Even Buffett had to comment.

The fact is that AWS is a gorilla and it will continue to be. By 2022, the cloud computing market is pegged at $210 billion. Currently, the company commands 47% market share so the estimate of $92 billion in four years is not far-fetched at all. In fact, it actually factors in a bit of market share deterioration to 44%.

So all in all, we get over $2 trillion for a market cap, more than a double from today’s levels, or about 26% annual returns after 4 years. That seems like a tall order but then again, it’s Amazon.

Guessing – Why Not?

To guess, Amazon will surpass the $2 trillion mark in the third quarter of 2022. There you have it. Will that be wrong? Almost guaranteed, but based on some quick numbers and knowledge of Amazon’s intensity and innovation, that estimate is plausible.

Apple will reach $203 per share pretty soon. But Amazon will likely be the first company to reach $2 trillion, a crazy number to believe, more than 10% of the US’s current GDP.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

William Shatner Promotes Solar-Powered Cryptocoin Mining

Ever the showman and pitchman, William Shatner isn’t shy when he’s passionate about something. So onlookers may have expected something more from Star Trek’s original Capt. Kirk when he announced that Solar Alliance Energy, a company for which he’s the spokesperson, had purchased a 165,000 square foot warehouse in Murphysboro, Ill. as the first of many solar-powered facilities it plans to lease to cryptocurrency miners. Maybe a full-voiced, head-titled-back, “COOOOOOINNNNNNNNN!” as a camera pulled up and away? Alas, no, not today.

Instead Shatner made anodyne statements about the future of currencies that existed solely as bits. “I am proud to be a part of the group that is powering the digital currency revolution,” he said in a statement. “Blockchain technologies, and cryptocurrencies specifically, are at the cutting edge of a new distributed technology infrastructure.”

Shatner’s connection to tech is tenuous — and always has been, from Priceline to LottoGopher — but it highlights a significant and rapidly increasing problem associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies: they require vast amounts of electrical power. The distributed worldwide Bitcoin network employs specialized server hardware that performs over 80 million trillion operations a second worldwide to find a mathematical needle in a haystack that allows them to collect a hefty reward and add transactions to a global ledger, called a blockchain. By comparison, the world’s fastest supercomputer performs 200,000 trillion operations a second.

The need for that much calculation comes with accompanying needs for power. A recent peer-reviewed paper that performed a rigorous analysis of the likely energy consumed by Bitcoin alone said the currency consumes nearly as much energy as all of Ireland, with a current annualized rate of 22.3 trillion watts of power (TWh) a year at minimum, compared to Ireland’s consumption of 25 TWh. Bitcoin’s electrical use could power roughly 2 billion average American homes. The paper’s author believes this could triple by the end of 2018.

Solar Alliance Energy’s Murphysboro facility will get a 3-megawatt solar panel array, which at a theoretical peak capacity could generate about one-tenth of 1% of power consumed by Bitcoin globally. But because solar only works during daylight hours and only at peak efficiency for part of the day, actual production will likely be far less.

While cryptocurrency advocates have promoted the idea of green power stoking the Bitcoin furnaces—especially off-the-grid sources devoted exclusively to mining—the scale and location of large-scale mining operations make any dramatic shift to solar unlikely.

Murphysboro has just 8,000 residents, which is typical of cities in which cryptocurrency mining operations locate. Small towns with cheap hydroelectric or other forms of power around the United States have increasingly wrestled with miners who come into town and start asking for tens of megawatts of power, the equivalent of large-scale industrial operations. Some public utility districts have imposed advance payment requirements for infrastructure upgrades, frozen new mining operations, or created new tiers of service to charge miners more.

Shatner was once a cryptocoin skeptic, but told the Chicago Tribune he’s now a convert. While he lives in California, he has a home in Kentucky, and expects he might visit the facility, which Solar Alliance Energy plans to start leasing out to mining clients by the end of 2018.

Senators Demand Answers From Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos About Alexa Mishap

Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have sent Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a number of privacy-related questions about Amazon’s Echo voice-controlled speaker, reflecting the growing concern about how the device records and retains users’ conversations, according to Wired.

The senators, who serve as chair and ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, specifically referenced a widely reported incident last month in which a Portland couple had their conversation recorded by the Alexa voice-recognition software used in the Echo. The device then sent the recording as an attachment to one of their contacts without them requesting it.

Amazon confirmed that the event occurred, and explained that it was caused by a series of unlikely triggers. In their letter to Bezos, the senators demanded action that would prevent the same thing from happening again, said Wired, which obtained a copy of the still unreleased correspondence.

Wired reported that the letter contained almost 30 questions, including about some of the nitty-gritty of Alexa’s data management like when Alexa sends data to Amazon’s servers, how often it does so, how long that captured data is stored, and what period of time after someone says “Alexa” (which cues the technology to perk up) does an Echo record a conversation. The senators also asked whether consumers can delete recordings.

All voice-recognition devices—whether those from Apple, Amazon, Google, or startups—must listen continuously in order to know when its trigger is hit. (On smartphones, a user may opt to use a different trigger.) While Amazon and Google have characterized their respective systems’ privacy components relatively thoroughly, with Apple erring on the side of sending relatively little voice data off of devices, Amazon’s particulars are less well known.

Sen. Coons tweeted a link to the Wired story about their letter shortly after it appeared, and both senators are quoted in the article.

NASA’s Mars ‘Opportunity’ Rover May Be Lost in Massive Dust Storm

It outlasted its 90-day initial mission by over 14 years, but a massive Martian dust storm could put an end to the solar-powered Opportunity rover’s travels. The storm has blanketed 14 million square miles of Mars, or about a quarter of the planet, which is currently inhabited only by active and inactive robots.

Opportunity began its lonely sojourn Jan. 25, 2004, and helped Earth-bound scientists examine meteorites on the Meridiani Plains, and discovered traces of ancient acidic lakes.

NASA says the solar-powered craft stopped responding on June 12, but all hope isn’t lost. The agency expects Opportunity shifted into a “low power fault mode,” which disables all systems except the mission clock, reducing power usage from scarce energy stored in its batteries.

The clock will regularly wake an onboard computer to check power levels. If power ever returns to an operational level, the rover will slowly bring itself back into service—or at least start communicating.

While the craft derives its energy from the sun, it’s critical for it to charge its batteries fully enough to run heaters that keep components from failing in the cold, ironically including the batteries. Mars’ average temperature—its average!—is -81°F.

Scott Maxwell, a former Mars rover driver who led the team driving Opportunity and its twin Spirit for the first several years, says via email to Fortune, “I refuse to believe that anything can kill Opportunity—I half think she’ll still be roving Mars when humans are forgotten!”

Maxwell, who left NASA in 2013 for Google, notes in the spirit of anthropomorphizing common to those involved with rovers, “She did more than anyone expected from her or ever could have expected from her, and if we can all say that at the end of our lives, then we’ll be as lucky as she is.”

NASA’s Curiosity rover is elsewhere on the planet, on the edge of the current dust storm, but it also doesn’t need sunlight. It relies on radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTGs): plutonium-powered devices that convert the heat of radioactive decay into electricity.

This isn’t Opportunity’s first dust rodeo. In 2007, just a few years into its extended mission, a planetary dust storm blocked the sun for two weeks, during which time the craft stopped responding as well. However, the current storm is twice as opaque as the 2007 one, providing even less marginal sunlight.

Opportunity landed with a twin craft, Spirit, which stopped communicating in 2010. Spirit is believed to have given up the ghost due to a failed wheel and being mired in soft sand, which led to a bad position relative to the sun for charging. Without enough power, Spirit likely froze too deeply to revive itself.

The agency has plenty of eyes on Mars that may help it discover Opportunity’s fate if it doesn’t wake from slumber. Besides Curiosity and Opportunity on the surface, a whopping six orbiters circle the red planet, gathering data for NASA, the European Space Agency, Russia’s Roscosmos, and the Indian Space Research Organization.

More help is on the way, too. NASA recently launched towards Mars the Insight lander—and two tiny CubeSats, satellites that are 14.4 by 9.5 by 4.6 inches when packed tight. Unfurled, they contain full propulsion systems. The CubeSats, named Mars Cube One and Two, won’t collect science data or land, but they’re tests for future small-scale deployments.

NASA says it will be several days after the storm abates before Opportunity’s fate becomes clear.

Biggest Surprises (and Missed Opportunities) of the E3 Press Conferences

It’s Tuesday, which means the E3 show floor is now open. It also means we’re finally at the end of a four-day slog of press conferences from some of the gaming world’s largest publishers. While Activision Blizzard still doesn’t do its own pre-E3 event, just about everyone else does, which means these 96 hours have been a deluge of announcements and reveals that we did our best to get our arms around. We didn’t even cover them all: the Square Enix press conference was basically devoid of new information, and the PC Gaming Show, while compelling, was mostly a long list of indie game announcements—some of which we’ll be getting to later this week.

So, for now, here’s everything you need to know about every press conference you need to know about. Get through this, and you’ll be ready for all the other E3 news that starts….well, now.

Electronic Arts

E3 kicked things off on Saturday (yes, Saturday) with a quiet, largely uneventful press conference from Electronic Arts, broadcasted from their annual EA Play event at the Hollywood Palladium. The presser opened with Battlefield V, set during World War II, which will have heavily destructible environments and a Battle Royale Mode a la Fortnite. Respawn Entertainment gave up some details about their in-progress Star Wars game—more on that shortly—and a bit of an update on the ongoing service for Star Wars: Battlefront II.

In new games, EA revealed Unravel 2, a follow-up to its game about a precocious, cuddly little yarn man (this time, he has a friend!) and Sea of Solitude, a compellingly brooding small game introduced by a compellingly earnest German developer. The publisher also took the wraps announced a mobile Command & Conquer game and gave a lengthy demo of Anthem, BioWare’s upcoming shared-world mech game that seems to be aiming to be a Destiny killer. Even better, Anthem now has a date: February, 22, 2019. (Also FIFA was there, because FIFA is always there.)

Biggest Surprise: We got a name for Respawn’s new Star Wars game: Jedi: Fallen Order. Respawn has made great first-person shooters with the Titanfall series, so it’ll be interesting to see what they can do with the Star Wars license.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Jedi: Fallen Order was announced sans logo or even concept trailer, which felt like a letdown. It’s hard to get excited about a name, even when it’s a good name.

Microsoft

Microsoft’s last couple of Xbox press conferences haven’t exactly succeeded at articulating the future of the Xbox—even if that future is unexpectedly bright. This year, then, was a pleasant surprise: Microsoft brought a lot of material, and a lot of surprises.

First, the publisher has quietly been getting very acquisition-happy, and is hoping to bolster its first-party games with a slew of studios that they now own. These include Ninja Theory, who made last year’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Undead Labs (State of Decay), Playground Games (Forza Horizon), and Compulsion Games (We Happy Few). It’s hard to say whether or not acquisitions like this are good for studios; creators get a payday, but history is riddled with instances of big publishers buying small studios and slowly running them into the ground. Time will tell whether or not this is good for gaming, but it’s certainly a good move for Microsoft.

Then, there were games. A lot of games. There’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a game about ninjas from the developers of Dark Souls, coming in 2019. Forza Horizon 4, a new installment that takes the racing franchise to Britain. The Division 2, which brings the shared world shooter to Washington, DC. Devil May Cry 5, with the franchise’s original creator back at the helm. Dying Light 2, a sequel to my favorite zombie parkour game. Gears of War 5, a Gears of War tactics game, and a Gears of War themed, uh, Funko Pop game. And Halo: Infinite, a new installment in the Halo franchise that we know just about nothing about. Also, fans got a new trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3, which is officially coming out January 25, 2019.

Biggest Surprise: Halo: Infinite could be a big deal, as could the expanded effort into Microsoft Game Pass, a subscription service that gives subscribers the Netflix-like ability to download and play a swath of the Xbox library for a flat monthly fee. But after Microsoft made so much noise about the PC at last year’s press conference, this year’s relative silence spoke volumes.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Offering just about no details on a new Halo title made the announcement fall pretty flat.

Bethesda

The Bethesda E3 Showcase was huge this year. We got a closer look at Rage 2, a massive open-world shooter co-developed by id Software and Avalanche Studios, complete (?) with an on-stage appearance by Andrew WK. A short trailer played for Doom Eternal a sequel to the excellent Doom 2016 reboot; just like the old-school Doom 2, Eternal is apparently set on Earth. QuakeCon in August should provide many more details in that realm.

There will also be a new Wolfenstein game next year, set in an alternate-universe 1980s and starring the twin daughters of Nazi-murder-machine BJ Blaskowicz. And then there’s the big stuff: a lengthy look at Fallout 76, an impressive-looking, fully online, open-world Fallout game coming November 14; Elder Scrolls Blades, a mobile phone game that strives to be a fully featured, complete Elder Scrolls experience; and two projects much farther out on the development pipeline, sci-fi title Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI. Both are unlikely to show up on the current generation of consoles.

Biggest Surprise: Any glimpse at Elder Scrolls VI is a bit of a surprise, actually. As was the jokey-but-maybe-real Announcement of Skyrim: Very Special Edition for the Alexa.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Andrew WK, whose presence seemed to confuse and even tranquilize the crowd. (To be fair, this is mostly a missed opportunity for Andrew WK.)

Ubisoft

Ubisoft’s presser opted for meatiness, giving fans a long look at Beyond Good and Evil 2, which looks to be a huge earthy space opera, though detail are scarce about gameplay or release. As Microsoft also revealed, The Division 2 will be set in Washington, DC, and will feature raids and free DLC as it tries its hardest to become the Tom Clancy-verse Destiny-killer it aspires to be.

New properties showed up as well. There was a lot of Skull & Bones, a gritty pirate adventure in a shared online world, and Starlink: Battle for Atlas, a sci-fi toys-to-life game (think Skylanders) bringing its dogfight-heavy combat to the Nintendo Switch—and featuring Fox from Star Fox. Finally, there was a big look at Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which takes place in Ancient Greece and lets the player choose between two characters. Also, you can talk to Socrates, so … there’s that. Odyssey comes out October 5.

Biggest Surprise: Unlike the past couple of years, Aisha Tyler didn’t host. Aisha! Where’d you go? (Probably one of your gazillion jobs.)

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Despite teasing it with recent DLC for Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Ubisoft did not announce a new entry in the Splinter Cell stealth game franchise. Color me disappointed.

Sony

Sony’s Monday-night press conference this year was a bit odd. It started in a small “church” set, which ended up being a recreation of a location from The Last of Us, Part II, which was also the first game shown of the night. The showcase focused on lengthy demos for a handful of major Sony titles: The Last of Us; Ghost of Tsushima, a samurai game developed by Sucker Punch, which looks like a Kurosawa fan’s dream game; Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima’s surrealist eco-pocalypse starring mo-capped digital versions of Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen along with what was, frankly, a weird number of babies; and Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man, which is looking like quite a romp.

Between each of these big showcases, we got canned commentary along with other announcements: A Resident Evil 2 full HD remake, coming next January 22; va sequel to the samurai Souls-like Nioh 2 developed by Team Ninja; and Control, a fascinating-looking game from Remedy Entertainment (Alan Wake) about the director of a supernatural agency. There was also another Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer, showcasing a Pirates of the Carribean world, which brought the week’s KH3 trailer total to three (so far).

Biggest Surprise: The footage of The Last of Us, Part II, along with being just as dizzyingly hyperviolent as its predecessor, featured what might be the first and only lesbian kiss ever featured on an E3 stage. The presentation of queerness in a game by a company like Sony isn’t without reproach by any means, but that’s honestly still pretty cool.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Fair warning: I’m not going to stop hollering about Bloodborne 2 until they release Bloodborne 2.

Nintendo

Nintendo’s press conference somehow felt both huge and underwhelming. First, we got some new announcements, in the form of Daemon x Machina, a neat-looking mech action game, coming in 2019; some DLC for Xenoblade Chronicles 2; a new snazzy-looking Fire Emblem; and Super Mario Party, which will include the novel feature of linking together two Switch consoles to make one big board-game simulation. Next: that game you like is coming back in style! Yes, it was the Nintendo Switch port montage, featuring a ton of games, like Dragon Ball FighterZ, Hollow Knight, Wasteland 2, and the JRPG classic The World Ends With You (which we’d heard about but was still nice to see).

The rest of the show was devoted to one title, and one title only: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which arrives for the Nintendo Switch December 7. They ran down the characters (all of them, from every Smash Bros game ever, are here), and went over a long list of very detailed changes that are sure to delight hardcore fans but might have been a bit dull to everyone else. And that was, uh, it.

Biggest Surprise: Ridley, the giant dragon alien baddie from Metroid, is coming to Smash Bros, which seems like a logistical nightmare for the developers.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Nintendo completely failed to mention Metroid Prime 4, which the company had announced last year, or their online service, which is supposedly still slated for this fall and yet is still a huge unknown.


More Great WIRED Stories

Deliveroo steps up Just Eat battle, letting restaurants use own riders

LONDON (Reuters) – Deliveroo will allow restaurants to use their own riders for orders placed through its takeaway food app, in a move which will boost the number of available outlets by 50 percent as it intensifies a battle with rival Just Eat.

FILE PHOTO: Deliveroo food delivery bags are seen in Nice, France, June 5, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

All orders currently placed on the platform in Britain are delivered by one of the firm’s 15,000 riders, well-known for their distinctive black and teal jackets and delivery boxes emblazoned with its kangaroo logo.

Just Eat, however, works with restaurants which mainly supply their own drivers in Britain, and in limited cases uses third-party couriers.

Deliveroo hopes the change, which is called Marketplace+ and comes into effect in July, will boost the number of available restaurants from 10,000 to 15,000 by the end of the year with thousands more riders likely to be taken on.

Restaurants will be able to accept orders and assign them to either their own drivers or those on Deliveroo’s platform.

“Traditionally we’ve been unable to work with those restaurants … because they already have their own delivery fleet and so they thought ‘well we don’t really need Deliveroo,’” co-founder and Chief Executive Will Shu told reporters.

“We’re changing the game. We’re enabling these restaurants to tap into our delivery fleet,” he added.

Just Eat said in March it would spend an extra 50 million pounds ($67 million) this year to battle competition from rivals such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo, in a fiercely competitive market which has burgeoned in recent years.

Since making its first delivery in London in 2013, Deliveroo has expanded into 11 other countries with new markets due soon, prompting questions about whether the firm will pursue an initial public offering (IPO) as it continues to grow.

“An IPO – I’m not saying it’s off the cards,” said Shu. “It’s definitely something that we’ll consider but just not now. We’re not in any rush, we’re heads-down on trying to really grow this business,” he said.

Editing by Stephen Addison