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Carla’s best bits — an overview of last month’s most interesting tech news

Posted by Carla Gutierrez on 3rd July 2017

When I joined Wildfire two months ago, I knew I wanted to get involved in some of the company’s internal teams. I am a firm believer in hands-on approaches, and I think that agency life can be amazing if you are prepared to embrace it fully. That means going beyond your account work and finding something you can make ‘your thing’ within the agency.

Coincidence or fate, the Wildfire marketing team were working on ramping up their activities and efforts on all fronts, and were happy to let me tag along to their meetings and start sharing some suggestions and ideas. This blog is one of them.

Every tech PR agency spends a lot of time reading ALL the tech news every single day to share internally, so the marketing team felt that there was an opportunity to do something else there. So, we decided to put together an ‘industry news round-up’ blog every once in a while. And, because I believe in walking the talk, I’ve made it my mission to make it happen. This is the blog of what I hope will be many looking at the top tech news of the month, according to me.

What happened in the tech industry in June?

Amazon wants to rule (buy) the world

When we heard rumours that giant Amazon was considering buying corporate messaging start-up Slack, I thought it was a curious thing for them to be looking at a chat app, but didn’t really think about it again until two days later when news broke that Amazon had bought Whole Foods. Well, I thought, the internet titan seems to be interested in buying everyone.

I am a fan of both, Amazon and Whole Foods, and can see why this acquisition made sense for both — even if calling it ‘love at first sight’ is taking it a step too far. However, Amazon is starting to remind me a little of the great Roman Empire. Everything would have been fine had they left some land for other people to rule. Just saying!

Little robot will risk its ‘life’ to help clean up Fukushima

Six years ago, an earthquake with the name Tōhoku caused a tsunami that hit the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima, damaging a nuclear plant and causing the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Radiation in the area has been an issue since then, and clean-up works are still ongoing. This month, the BBC reported that a ‘little sunfish’ robot will swim in to Fukushima reactor to help.

I am a big fan of tech for good. We humans have an amazing capacity for innovation and creation, and it makes me happy when I see this potential used to make a difference. This little robot will swim into flooded parts of the reactor and collect essential data that will allow scientists to remove radioactive waste. It is a dangerous journey, and all previous robots sent into the reactor have been unable to make it back, but hope is this one will. Go, little sunfish! I’m cheering for you.

Baylor University in Texas researched something a bit obvious; if you’re rude to people, they won’t like it

This one is in my top five simply because I am amazed that people are still surprised that if you ignore someone mid-conversation to check your phone, they’ll be upset. The ‘phenomenon’, called phubbing, is apparently on the rise. According to research by Baylor University in Texas, 46% of people have been ‘phubbed’ by their partner. The study goes on to warn people that if you pay more attention to your phone than to your partner, it could appear you are losing interest.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but if someone ‘phubbed’ me during a date, I’d simply not go on another one with them. Don’t get me wrong, it is one thing to be two-screening if you’re watching TV together at home in the evening and having a bit of down time. But if you are having a conversation with someone, or someone is having a conversation with you, don’t check your phone. Just don’t do it. It is not phubbing, it is plain rude.

Self-flying planes may be a thing soon. Not sure how I feel about it.

I can get behind the idea of a driverless car. I am not sure I’d feel too comfortable in one, but I do see their use, especially in urban areas with strict speed limits. I am also a big supporter of any technology designed to make travelling more comfortable. As someone who makes 3- to 5-hour journeys by plane at an average of 15 times per year, I am all for comfort in the sky. However, when I read that Boeing is working on autonomous aircrafts, I got a little worried.

What is wrong with pilots? Perhaps I’m being conservative, but I feel safer knowing there’s at least two people making sure that the plane I’m on makes it to its destination safely. Machines are great, smart and efficient, but they can’t improvise. They aren’t creative, imaginative and, most importantly, they don’t fear for their lives. When I am thousands of feet above ground, I like to know that it is in the pilot’s best interest to do everything in their power to save the plane should something go wrong. Desperation and survival instincts are a powerful thing. Maybe I’m being a bit over-dramatic, but I can’t help thinking we’re trying to remove humans from everything, sometimes forgetting that being human can, in some situations, make all the difference.

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