Our buildings are talking, it’s about time we listened.

You know how people often say “If only these walls could talk..”? Well, their prayers just got answered, sort of. We’re talking about looking at buildings around you as living, breathing organisms. Walls, ceilings, doorknobs that can observe, and learn from, everything that’s happening around them. IBM’s Watson has been doing all kinds of awesome stuff around the Internet of Things (IoT), and their latest development speaks of buildings that can think for themselves.

Watson IoT for buildings

Watson IoT for buildings is a complete solution for smart buildings that allows you to capture data from sensors and devices and consolidate that information on a single cloud platform. Using cognitive computing, Watson generates recommendations for you that can be operationalized by your asset and facilities management software.

What is a cognitive building?

The people and assets in your building create an enormous amount of unstructured data. The challenge is using that information to make informed decisions about how to optimize the experience of building occupants, staff and management. Watson IoT can help you tap new sources of data and apply cognitive capabilities to help you flexibly adapt your space to changing needs.

What can IoT do for your building?

Your building would essentially have a brain of its own. Instead of nerves, there are myriad sensors deployed in walls, lights, heating and cooling equipment, even the faucet in a sink. Creating a structure’s consciousness is software that ties it all together. But these brains, like any brain really, don’t just blink on and immediately understand how to function in the world. Like any growing person, the “brains” in our roads, office buildings, homes and factories will need to be taught how to think, how to problem solve, how to arrive at smart decisions.

Digital Twinning

Some buildings today are built from the ground up with nearly one IoT-enabled sensor per square foot—monitoring temperature, humidity, how many people are in a room, etc. Managers can then “see” the building on a computer, in what’s known as a “digital twin.” This digital twin will then build a model of the world it inhabits. With a full picture of what’s going on inside their properties, owners don’t rely on guesswork and history to make decisions, but real, actionable data.

“Buildings will know the context of how space is being used and predict the kind of load that will be required—is it a Friday when many people work from home, does tomorrow’s weather mean there will be extra heating or cooling required?” says IBM Research’s Dr. Joern Ploennigs. With all the data collected, sensors could alert the building manager when something’s going to break before it goes – imagine the wonderful convenience!

  • A business might have a conference room with an occupancy rate of 95% during working hours. With usage that high, it’s very likely that people are being turned away when they need a room to meet. The conference room may hold 12 people, but the sensors say the average meeting has just three. Cognitive analytics will suggest installing a wall so that the room can serve more employees more efficiently.
  • Deloitte’s Edge building in Holland analyzes an employee’s calendar and reserves the needed desks accordingly. Someone may start with a collaboration space in the morning to work through the latest client presentation; then have the board room reserved for that big lunch all-hands; and then shift to a quiet reading space to catch up on the new report for a second client. With so much of our work documentation stored digitally, Eva Fors – CEO of sensor maker Yanzi, says the idea of an assigned, personal desk will soon be a thing of the past: “You take a seat based on what you’re actually going to do.”

Watch this video to learn about how IoT will transform the way we live, work and connect.

Find out more about IBM’s plans for the future of buildings here.


Anisha Sawant

 

IT Help Desk Trends

With the revolution of technology, IT firms have grown on a global scale over the last 10 years. It is safe to say that the IT industry has been the most influential industry worldwide. Although there may be many firms that would disagree with this statement. We have already seen the growth of IT help desk worldwide with the birth of Cloud and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).

Here is a list of five important help desk trends of 2016 predicted by Richard R. Shapiro, Gregory Ciotti, Gregory Ciotti and Jeanne Bliss, all experts in the field.

1. Constant rise in the Multi –Channel Servicing

With the development of internet technology, companies now have to keep track and respond to emails, chats, texts, apps and the list goes on. All companies are looking for efficiency and consumers nowadays are very demanding. The bright side is that IT help desk and other technology are developed to organize data, increase efficiency and be responsiveness.

2. Voice recognition is on the rise

Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa rely on voice commands. The days where you had to type your query in to a search engine, may be a distant memory in times to come. Clarifying doubts through spoken word is going to be the standard. This trend, coupled with the increasing sophistication of artificial intelligence, will make companies want to invest more in these technologies.

smart-watch-821559_1280

3. Wearable technology, no longer a fashionable item

This will enable businesses to provide a level of specific services to customers individually. However there are concerns raised about privacy, but Capterra.com believes that eventually consumers will overlook this and just like the smartphone. Wearable technology will turn into a must have. In addition emotions can be detected through biochemical feedback. How a company responds using the data will determine if there is a positive impact on the relationship between the customer and the brand.

4. The personal and predictive technology

This is with regard to customer satisfaction. Like tracking your orders and avoiding the hassles and numerous procedures (that would have been required) to locate the package. Technology saves time and enhances the experience. Employing it to make the customer experience easier and faster will become the new norm.

5. Apps for everyone

Customisable apps for businesses will soon be a trend, as these apps will enable companies to track consumer activities and channel activity with ease. This will also help create awareness among the consumers about the company’s latest offers and incentives. However this adds to the list of tasks for companies which will have to keep the information up-to-date and fresh, incorporating innovative and engaging features to keep savvy customers interested.

Change is inevitable

To conclude this site atlassian.com has taken opinions of the general public in USA, Europe and Asia. The results show that people all over the world are adapting to new technology. Change is inevitable, and many agree that IT help desks are becoming the new norm as they provide convenience,they are timely and cost effective.

Source: Capterra.com

Experience Whacky Thursdays @ Kodework

What do you do if you’re a leading software company and you are about to have a power shutdown? PANIC!!! On second thoughts, grab a towel and head to the beach? Well we are based in Goa after all (among other global locations)! Here is what we did instead..

Whacky Thursdays

Actually it is the perfect time to organize a Team Building event. As the strength of the organization grows by the week, socialization of the new recruits is paramount in order to imbibe the unique culture of our company. The Whacky Thursdays experience served as the perfect ice-breaker.

Want to know more about who ended up with egg on their face? Or who took a step closer to promotion? Read on.

Your mission should you choose to accept it!

  1. Navigate 4 eggs to safety from a 20 metre drop, by creating a parachute!
  2. Use state of the art aeronautical technology to construct and pilot a paper airplane that can fly further and stay in the air much longer than the others!

List of Ingredients:

 

Slack for iOS Upload

*Oh yeah, and you couldn’t use your favourite friend – Google!

To add to the whackiness of the day, the group was assembled into 4 teams which were named, Beard Bots, Alco Androids, Space Cake and Hot Shorts. This only intensified the camaraderie amongst the coolest geeks in town.

To stay cool under the pressure and prevent participants from biting off their own fingers, tasty nachos and ice cold Cola’s done the trick.

2 hours later!!!

Amongst all the sweat and tears, emerged the winners. If you want to know who ended up with egg on their face, well it was the pavement outside. Actually out of all the groups only 2 eggs broke, which is further testament to the strength of the group. To know who will be promoted, you will just have to watch this space.

Kodework is a leading offshore software company. If you think you have the skills to pay the bills, get in touch. (Warning- Only superstar programmers apply!)

Check out more pics & videos on our facebook page!

ARA you ready for the future of smartphones?

For a while now, the world has waited and wondered when Google would take the plunge and build its own Android phone for consumers, and directly take on the iPhone — there have been hints and leaks, but nothing concrete.

On Friday, at its I/O conference, Google announced that it’s moving the ambitious Project Ara modular smartphone team out of the ATAP research lab and into its own proper unit within Google, under new hardware chief (and former Motorola president) Rick Osterloh. Developer kits will be shipped this fall. And a consumer Ara phone is coming in 2017 as well (yaay!), marking the first time Google has ever built its own phone hardware — Nexus phones have been built by partners like Huawei, LG, and HTC.

What is Project Ara?

Smartphones have gotten lighter, faster, cooler, sleeker, smarter. But their average lifetime is still about 2 years, give or take. We’re forced to trade them in every time a single, seemingly important, part gives out. Or when there’s a phone with fancier features out on the market and we don’t wanna be left behind.

But imagine if we could only replace/enhance the modules we wanted? The kind of freedom this would give the consumer is nothing short of revolutionary. And Google, being the visionary we know and love, wants to give us exactly that. They want to revolutionize the smartphone industry by building a fully customizable modular smartphone of the future.

Google showed off a working prototype version of Ara, which lets you live-swap hardware modules like cameras and speakers onto a base frame which contains the core phone components. To add to the awesomeness, you could even say something like, “Okay, Google, eject the camera” to release modules. It has six modular slots — each one is generic, so you can put any module in any slot, and they’re all linked up through new open standard called Unipro that can push 11.9 gigabits of data in both directions. (For more on this, you could check out this piece from WIRED.)

This video is just a taste of something truly groundbreaking that’s on the horizon. And after all this time, it seems like Project Ara is actually coming together. And it could very well be the last phone you ever have to buy. Are you excited yet?


Anisha Sawant

 

Is AI getting ready to outperform humans? Zuckerberg sure thinks so!

Technology is advancing at a tremendous rate. Everything seems to be getting smarter – homes, cars, shoes.. you name it! A lot of attention is being focused on AI – with tech giants now investing heavily in incorporating bots into their services. But are we really looking at a not-so-distant future where AI will surpass humans in doing things that, well, make us human?

Recently, Facebook Founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg was asked about the future of the machine learning technology that powers its Messenger bots. Here’s what he said..

“So the biggest thing that we’re focused on with artificial intelligence is building computer services that have better perception than people… So the basic human senses like seeing, hearing, language, core things that we do. I think it’s possible to get to the point in the next five to 10 years where we have computer systems that are better than people at each of those things.”

Source: The Verge

 

Bit scary, isn’t it? The thought of computer systems with abilities that make us biologically human – senses and skills we rely on to interact with our world. Makes it seem rather inevitable that a wide variety of jobs currently done by people will no longer require expensive human labor, because artificial intelligence will be far superior.

However, Zuckerberg goes on to say..

“That doesn’t mean that the computers will be thinking or be generally better…”

That isn’t really a great amount of praise for the species he belongs to, but we’ll take whatever little we can get. Thinking here means something more complex than understanding how to carry on a conversation or tell a cat from a dog. It’s about being able to do several different things well, and learning on your own in an unpredictable and unsupervised environment. Generally better is being used in the sense that we are generalists, capable of handling a wide universe of tasks.

Source: The Verge

Human and animal learning is mostly unsupervised. We know how to program machines to do certain tasks, to follow a routine, to understand data and extract meaningful information from it. But we cannot train a machine to master unknown skills on their own. Until unsupervised learning cant be “taught” to machines, humans, as natural beings, will still have the upper hand. There cannot be true AI without unsupervised learning.

Zuckerberg sees bots stepping in for customer service reps and personal assistants.

“One way that I think you’re going to see bots work, between people who are actually driving the businesses directly will need to in some way train or answer questions for people, but we can build artificial intelligence that can learn from people how to automate a lot of that and make that experience a lot faster for people who want to interact with businesses and public figures.”

How should we prepare for this new reality? One possibility is universal basic income (more on this another time). The other is to redesign our educational system with a focus on new skills that will equip our future generations to find meaningful jobs in a world of advanced AI.

But when you look at the less-than-impressive launch of recent smart bots from Microsoft and Facebook  — they turned out to be slow (Messenger bots that don’t respond for several minutes), racist (Tay’s mean tweets) and in general, not the smartest — you can’t help but wonder if this is just another one of those AI hype rounds that will soon lose traction. What are your thoughts on this? Will machines ever really be better than humans, at being human? Leave us a comment below!

 


Anisha Sawant

 

The GoPro Developer Program is here!

GoPro cameras are heavily associated with adventure and extreme sports. And this is the reason they were developed in the first place, with Nick Woodman deciding to create a camera system able to capture footage of himself surfing.

But over the years we’ve seen some increasingly innovative uses for the GoPro – from a Dash Cam for recording rash driving to something that lets you see the world through your pet’s eyes – people (and animals) love their GoPro!

 

Fetch™ (Dog Harness)

 

Yesterday, in a hush-hush conference in San Francisco, California, GoPro formally unveiled the GoPro Developer Program. The company said it is doing this in an effort to support other companies wanting to develop a seamless user experience between their products and GoPro products. Quietly operating for more than a year, the GoPro Developer Program has been working closely with a broad spectrum of developers from large multi-national companies to smaller, innovative startups.

GP_Developer_Program_Horizontal_CMYK

The GoPro toolkits enable developers to set up communication control between their products and GoPro products in three primary ways:

Mobile Apps

Enables developers to create mobile apps that connect with GoPro cameras. Functionality includes – camera command and control, live video preview, and media management.

Devices

Enables developers to create devices that connect either physically to a GoPro camera via the HEROBus, or wirelessly via Bluetooth® technology or Wi-Fi. Also provides the ability to access numerous GoPro functions like camera command and control, video management, etc.

Mounts / Housings

Enables developers to create accurate and reliable physical mounting solutions for GoPro devices.

 


 

At yesterday’s launch event, 34 of the more than 100 participating companies showcased a wide variety of GoPro-compatible implementations, including:

BMW – M-Laptimer App

 

Source: GoPro.com

 

A track day data acquisition and analysis suite for the enthusiast driver. Records car telemetry data, speed, location and video from GoPro cameras to provide accurate and informative feedback, and playback of content.

FISHER-PRICE

 

Source: GoPro.com

 

Integration of GoPro-compatible, child-friendly camera housing and mounts into a suite of new products including Fisher-Price Jumperoo, Walker and Gym products to help parents celebrate the amazing milestones in their child’s early years from a unique perspective.

TELEFONICA – Xtreamr Mobile App

With the simplicity of sharing a link, Xtreamr enables live sharing of multi-dimensional video experiences, as they happen, with the people you care about the most. Make memories and share them live.

TIMECODE SYSTEMS – SyncBac PRO

Timecode synchronizes GoPro cameras for seamless integration into professional television and film workflows.

“We have been able to achieve so much with the SyncBac PRO due to the amazing sharing of technology offered through the GoPro Developer Program,” said Paul Scurrell, CEO of Timecode Systems Limited.

“To me, this is exactly what best-of-breed technology companies should be doing – taking the best of their own offerings and combining them to drive innovation and elegant solutions. The end result is a product combination that’s greater than the sum of two halves, providing the end user with the best possible solution available.”

Source: GoPro.com


 

Looks like GoPro is trying to extend it’s reach and up it’s falling sales – you see, people don’t buy a new action camera every year. But opening up to developers would mean tons of cool new apps and add-ons, and this could bring in new users.

 

There’s also a Works with GoPro badge now — letting companies show off their association with the brand that’s established itself as the favorite among personal video cameras. What’s more, official members of the newly launched GoPro Developer Program have access to toolkits straight from the folks at GoPro.

 

works with gopro

 

You can learn more about the GoPro Developer Program here.

 


Anisha Sawant

 

 

Check out Facebook’s latest gadget — it lets you shoot 3D video!

Yesterday, at F8 – Facebook’s annual global developer conference, Founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that they have successfully built a 360-degree camera called Surround360. The company has spent the past year working on a stereoscopic camera that will allow us to produce 3D video.

Zuckerberg’s adorable 4-month old daughter, Max, is reaching the age where she learns to walk; and when the time comes, this doting daddy wants to go all out. “When Max takes her first step, we’ll be able to capture that whole scene, not just write down the date or take a photo or take a little 2-D video,” he says. “The people we want to share this with…can go there. They can experience that moment.”

 

FB surround360

 

This is all part of Zuckerberg’s effort to move the Internet beyond text and photos and video to a new mode of communication. The hope is, what begins with 360-degree video will extend to the kind of virtual reality offered by the company’s Oculus headset. “Over time, people get richer and richer tools to communicate and express what they care about,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with the folks over at WIRED. “What’s next? You’re clearly going to be able to experience whole scenes, whether that’s captured through some kind of 360-degree camera or it’s computer-generated, as games are.”

Companies like Nokia and Google share his vision. But what sets Facebook apart is they’re giving the designs away – yes, for free – they’ll be posted to Github this summer.

Zuckerberg sees this as another part of the company’s mission to Connect the World. His idea is to build Facebook around this mission and try all sorts of things to get closer to achieving it. “The real goal is to build the community. A lot of times, the best way to advance the technology is to work on it as a community.”

We love this thought. After all, the greatest technological breakthroughs have come from people around the world, working together, focused on a common goal. How do you feel about Facebook’s new strategy to bring the world together? Let us know in the comments!

 


Anisha Sawant

 

 

You’ve got a friend in… Siri – no, Cortana – or, is it Google Now?

Ever thought it would be kind of cool to have an assistant? Someone to help get all the little things done, while you focus your precious time on your work and relatively major life decisions. Someone to schedule a meeting or pick out a restaurant or order flowers. It would be really nice to have a little help everywhere you go. Unfortunately, hiring an actual assistant to follow you around can be a wee bit over-budget, for most people. So how bout someone willing to work for free? Well, sort of.

Tech giants are investing heavily in developing virtual digital assistants – think Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Now – all examples of AI trying to make your lives a tiny bit simpler. Let’s take a look at some of the things they can do…

How’s the weather?

Cortana wins this one for answering with a spoken weather report. Google and Siri show a screen image listing current conditions and a forecast.

 

 

I’m hungry!

When asked for help making a lunch reservation at a fancy new local restaurant, Siri and Cortana were stumped, but Google Now fired up an app installed on my phone, with the form already filled out to make a reservation.

What would you like to drink?

Siri’s response is “I have a thirst for knowledge”, whereas Cortana opts for a “very, very dry martini”. Google Now is a bit more impersonal, and returns a whole bunch of search results.

Tell me a joke…

 

 

Though Apple and Microsoft have focused on emulating a human personality in their virtual assistants, Google has decided to deliberately stay away from this area until it can have a better handle on human emotion.

Google Now does not really do jokes. However it is packed with hidden tricks that are good for a giggle. Try asking it to make you a sandwich!

Cortana’s humor is a bit geeky – “Don’t trust the atoms. They make up everything.”

When asked “What are you doing later?”, Siri says, “I’m working on some pickup lines” – sassiest of the lot, this one!

How much help are they, really?

The idea of a digital assistant is quite appealing, but do they get much done? The most popular assistants out there are really “enablers” rather than programs that help you. They give you information so you can do things, but don’t actually do much for you.

Also, in the process, you’re giving up a lot of information. They collect a lot of background data about your schedules, your habits, your favorite contacts and more (if you let them, of course!). That’s really about as much as you’d have to give to a human personal assistant — something that may make many of us rather uncomfortable.

There’s still work to be done…

It’s nice to be able to talk to your phone and all, but to be really useful, the assistants need to work well with third-party apps. One should be able to tell any of them to execute commands in other apps – “Siri, write Happy Birthday on Harry’s Facebook wall” – right?!

All three companies are working on expanding access to third-party apps. Google and Cortana already offer some. Apple has only recently allowed app developers to tap into Siri’s code. The future looks quite promising – after all, we as humans are constantly looking for new ways to communicate, and a machine that talks back in natural language is only going to get more popular in the days to come.

 


Anisha Sawant

 

Facebook just did something awesome for the visually impaired!

Mark Zuckerberg’s mission with Facebook has been about connecting the world. Over a billion uses across the globe use the social network on a daily basis to keep in touch with their loved ones. Our News Feed is our daily source of everything that’s going on with our Friends. It contains pictures, videos, status updates – and we can like, share, comment on or react to these updates. When you think about it, almost every single post contains some visual information.

People who are blind or visually impaired use something called a Screen Reader to know more about the visual aspects of a website they’re on. A screen reader is a software application that attempts to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen. This interpretation is then re-presented to the user with text-to-speech, sound icons, or a Braille output device. Screen readers are a form of Assistive Technology potentially useful to people who are blind, visually impaired, illiterate or learning disabled, often in combination with other AT, such as screen magnifiers.

Source: Wikipedia

Screen readers essentially make use of something called alternative text – text associated with an image that serves the same purpose and conveys the same essential information as the image. In situations where the image is not available to the reader, perhaps because they have turned off images in their web browser or are using a screen reader due to a visual impairment, the alternative text ensures that no information or functionality is lost. Absent or unhelpful alternative text can be a source of frustration for visually impaired users of the Web.

Hence, for people who are blind or visually impaired, it has been difficult to access what has become the biggest platform connecting the world – until now. Thanks to Facebook’s accessibility team – whose sole purpose is to help people with disabilities have a seamless experience on the social network – another big leap has been made in Facebook’s journey of bringing people together.

“You just think about how much of your news feed is visual — and most of it probably is — and so often people will make a comment about a photo or they’ll say something about it when they post it, but they won’t really tell you what is in the photo,” said Matt King, Facebook’s first blind engineer, in an interview with TechCrunch. “So for somebody like myself, it can be really like, Ok, what’s going on here? What’s the discussion all about?

Until now, blind and visually impaired people who have access to screen readers could listen to what people are writing on Facebook, but they had no way to figure out what’s going on in the millions of photos shared on Facebook every day.

Yesterday, Facebook introduced Automated Alternative Text (AAT) that uses AI to identify the visual components that make up a photo, which can then be read out aloud. Before AAT, people using screen readers would only hear the name of the person who shared a photo, along with any accompanying text that the person wrote on Facebook. Now, someone could hear “image may contain two people, smiling, outdoors”, or “image may contain pizza, food”.

 

Image depicting Facebook's AAT at work

 

Zuckerberg made this announcement on his Facebook Page yesterday:

“We just launched a tool that uses artificial intelligence to help people who are blind experience photos on Facebook.

When blind or visually impaired people use the internet, they use something called a screen reader that turns text into spoken words. But until now, screen readers haven’t been able to describe what’s in a photo.

Using artificial intelligence, we’re able to understand what’s in a photo and describe that for someone using words. This is a great use of AI technology, and it’s an important step towards making sure everyone has equal access to information and is included in the conversation. Check out this video to see how it works.”

Facebook’s AAT is based on a neural network having billions of parameters, and one that is trained with millions of examples. Neural networks are a type of model for machine learning. For images,  a neural network can be though of as a pattern recognition system.

It recognizes images and words in transportation (“car”, “boat”, “motorcycle”), nature (“outdoor”, “mountain”, “wave”), sports (“tennis”,”swimming”), food (“ice cream”,”sushi”) and descriptive words for appearance (“baby”,”selfie”).

AAT is currently available for iOS screen readers set to English because that’s where Facebook sees the most use from blind and visually impaired people. It is coming soon to other platforms and languages.

How awesome do you think this new feature is? It is Facebook’s way of giving dignity to every person with a seeing disability in the world, and helping that connect with everyone else.

“Facebook’s mission is to connect the world. And that goes for everyone.”

 


Anisha Sawant

 

Whatsapp is bringing Encryption to the masses!

For the past couple of months, the biggest story from Silicon Valley has been about Apple vs The FBI. The company’s refusal to unlock an iPhone used by a mass shooter triggered off a major debate on civil liberty vs national security. But yesterday, three guys in California made the scope of that debate seem rather small.

Brian Acton and Jan Koum, founders of Whatsapp – an online messaging service, now owned by Facebook, and used daily by over a billion people around the world to trade messages, make phone calls, send pictures and videos – along with Moxie Marlinspike – coder, cryptographer and founder of Open Whisper Systems, revealed that the company has added end-to-end encryption to all forms of communication on its service.

Users will also be able to verify their encrypted messages by scanning a QR code or reading a code aloud. This is to ensure messages are being sent and received by the correct users. Marlinspike’s technology is called the Signal Protocol.

 

 

This means that for any group of people that uses the latest version of Whatsapp – whether it’s 2 people or 10 – the service will encrypt all messages, phone calls, photos and videos shared among them. This will work on every phone that uses the app – from the latest iPhones and Android phones to old school Nokias.

What’s the big deal?

With end-to-end encryption in place, not even Whatsapp’s own employees can read the data sent across its network. In other words, WhatsApp has no way of complying with, say, a court order demanding access to the content of any message, phone call, photo, or video traveling through its service. Like Apple, WhatsApp is, essentially, blockading the government, but on a much larger scale – spanning roughly one billion devices worldwide.

Also, unlike Telegram – a messaging service built by a Russian entrepreneur – Whatsapp’s e2e encryption is on by default – and it cannot be turned off. This means data security is not optional – it has been a strong principle in the tech world which Whatsapp will now strictly follow.

Acton believes that building secure products actually makes for a safer world, though many people in law enforcement may not agree with him. With encryption, anyone can conduct business or talk to a doctor without worrying about eavesdroppers.

The Backdoor Brawl

The FBI and government agencies have called for companies like WhatsApp to allow for a backdoor in their encryption schemes, available only to law enforcement. There’s even been talk of a law that requires these backdoors. But slipping a backdoor into an encrypted service would defeat the purpose: you might as well not encrypt it at all. A backdoor would just open the service to abuse by both government and hackers. Besides, if you did add a backdoor, or remove encryption from WhatsApp entirely, malicious users would just go elsewhere. In the age of open source software, encryption tools are freely available to everyone.

In a blog post on Whatsapp’s website, the founding duo have said this:

“The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation…

…Encryption is one of the most important tools governments, companies, and individuals have to promote safety and security in the new digital age. Recently there has been a lot of discussion about encrypted services and the work of law enforcement. While we recognize the important work of law enforcement in keeping people safe, efforts to weaken encryption risk exposing people’s information to abuse from cybercriminals, hackers, and rogue states.”

Marlinspike shares their views about data security being akin to communication during simpler times – “In some ways, you can think of end-to-end encryption as honoring what the past looked like,” he says. “Now, more and more of our communication is done over networks rather than face-to-face or other traditionally private means. Even written correspondence wasn’t subject to mass surveillance the way that electronic communication is today.”

For Jan Koum, this move is a bit more personal – “The desire to protect people’s private communication is one of the core beliefs we have at WhatsApp, and for me, it’s personal. I grew up in the USSR during communist rule and the fact that people couldn’t speak freely is one of the reasons my family moved to the United States.”

When asked about reports that terrorists used WhatsApp to plan the attacks on Paris in November last year – reports that politicians have used to back calls for a backdoor – Koum doesn’t budge. “I think this is politicians, in some ways, using these terrible acts to advance their agendas,” he says.

Source: Wired US

WhatsApp, more than anyone so far, has taken encryption to the masses. And the company did this with a very tiny group of people. It took a team of only 15 engineers to bring encryption to the company’s one billion users – a tiny, technologically empowered group of individuals engaging in a new form of resistance to authority, standing up for free speech across the digital world.

Silicon Valley strongly stands for online privacy. World governments now have to worry about something much bigger than one locked iPhone. What are your thoughts on private digital communication across the globe?

 


Anisha Sawant