Hashtag Trending Nov.28- Files disappear from Google Drive; Meta’s spokesperson on Russia’s wanted list; Japanese tech startups woo employees back into the office with cash bonuses

Files vanishing off Google Drive, Russia adds Meta’s spokesperson to its wanted list, self-driving cars and their struggle for public acceptance, and Japanese startups test cash bonuses to woo employees back into the office.

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These and more top tech stories on Hashtag Trending.

I’m your host James Roy.

Google Drive users took it to support forums after they found months of their work mysteriously vanished off the service.

One user claimed that their storage reverted to how it was in May 2023 and attempts to recover files remained unsuccessful.

Other users reported that synchronization had simply stopped working, so the cloud storage was out of date. Others claimed that they could get some of their information back by fiddling with cached files.

However, a message purporting to be from Google warned users to leave things alone until engineers come up with a solution.

That issue is still rumbling, although here’s yet another stark reminder that your files are not necessarily safe just because they’re stored in the cloud.

OVH suffered a disastrous fire in 2021, leaving customers scrambling for backups, and Google also has had its fair share of odd outages over the years.

Bleeping Computer advises its readers to backup important files locally or use a different cloud service until the problem is resolved.

Source: The Register; Bleeping Computer

Last year, Russia added Meta to its list of “terrorists and extremists” and has now decided to put the company’s spokesperson, Andy Stone, on its ‘wanted’ list.

The row between Russia and Meta started when Meta announced it was limiting the reach of Russian state-sponsored media on its platforms, when Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine.

When Russia’s invasion began, Stone announced temporary changes to Meta’s hate speech policy to allow for “forms of political expression that would normally violate (its) rules, like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders’”.

But Stone also maintained that “credible calls for violence against Russian civilians” would remain banned.

Anyway, this led to Russia blocking access to Meta’s Instagram and Facebook, and other Western platforms. The sites are only now available in Russia via VPNs.

Russia also formally barred Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg from entering the country.

Source: Axios

Robotaxis has had a bad rap over the last few months, and quite deservingly so, whether it be for jamming up the road or hurting pedestrians.

General Motors-owned Cruise had to pull its entire U.S. fleet of 950 driverless cars off the road after a series of such fiascos.

And paradoxically, the big promise of self-driving cars remains safety and making transportation accessible to everyone.

But how do you actually get people to trust self-driving cars, especially after a series of fiascos.

John Krafcik, former CEO of Google’s self-driving car project, Waymo, tells Axios that there are no shortcuts when it comes to the rollout of safe autonomous vehicles.

He said, “With technology as important as this one, we’ve always thought we need to make sure we launch with care and consideration so that it gains traction, that the technology endures, and that it delivers its full potential to the world.”

Advocates president Cathy Chase added that the way you build trust is to be transparent. 

Both Waymo and Cruise have published studies claiming their driverless vehicles are safer than human drivers, but safety experts flag the lack of evidence and limited data in their studies.

Chase says that AV companies should be candid: “‘These are the limitations of the vehicle. These are our concerns. This is what we’re trying to overcome, but she says, “We don’t see that.”

Source: Axios 

The UK’s National Cyber Security Agency (or NCSC) and US’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (or CISA) have published an official guidance for securing AI applications.

Lindy Cameron, CEO at the NCSC said the guidelines seek to “ensure that security is not a postscript to development but a core requirement throughout.”

The guidelines adopt a secure-by-design approach, ideally helping AI developers make the most cyber-secure decisions at all stages of the development process. They’ll apply to applications built from the ground up and to those built on top of existing resources.

The guidelines would also look at the secure deployment of an AI system, like protecting the infrastructure, including access controls for APIs, models, and data.

And the final section of the guidelines covers how to secure AI systems after they’ve been deployed, encompassing maintenance and operations.

The guidance document is being endorsed by 17 countries, including Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and more.

Source: The Register 

California’s Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) is also preparing to put guardrails on AI.

The agency published draft regulations which would include opt-out rights, pre-use notice requirements, and access rights, which would enable state residents to obtain meaningful information on how their data is being used for automation and AI tech.

AI-based profiling could even fall within the scope of the planned rules. So, there could be big implications for U.S ad tech giants like Meta which has a business model that hinges on tracking and profiling users to target them with ads.

And that’s assuming the draft regulations survive the usual consultation process. 

Source: Tech Crunch

Tech companies, from the likes of Amazon, IBM, Meta, TikTok and even remote work poster child Zoom, have been determined to get their employees to come back to the office.

Japanese startups, meanwhile, are taking it back to the basics: with small bonuses for in-person working.

Osaka-based Agileware says it is offering employees ¥2,000 or roughly $13 for every day they show up to the workplace, while privacy tech firm Acompany has decided to award developers and those who “handle other tasks” about  ¥1,000 or about $6 for showing up after lunch for a half day of in-office work.

Agileware is also offering employees an extra $3 to go out to lunch with their colleagues, though both bonuses are reportedly limited to 10 days a month and require four hours to be spent in the office. That’s still $168 if employees take full advantage of the monthly deal. It might pay for meals, give employees a bit of face time together and, perhaps, a mental health boost.

Meanwhile in the West, Amazon, Meta, IBM and others have threatened to stifle employees’ career advancement if they do not come back to the office.

Wonder which approach works best…

Source: The Register 

And that’s the top tech news for today.

Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show we call “the Weekend Edition.”

You can get us anywhere you get audio podcasts and there is a copy of the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts 

And while we cover cybersecurity stories that we think are of general interest, you can keep really up to date on cybersecurity with our podcast featuring security journalist Howard Solomon. It’s called CybersecurityToday.  It’s rated as one of North America’s top 10 tech podcasts.

I’m your host James Roy.  Have a Terrific Tuesday!

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