Hashtag Trending – Bill Gates sits down with Bloomberg; Alexa bug draws concerns; Sidewalk Labs and Toronto’s proposed smart city in retrospect

Bill Gates sits down for a one-on-one with Bloomberg, it turns out Alexa’s web services had bugs that a hacker could have exploited to grab a target’s entire voice history, and a story looking back at the rise and fall of Sidewalk Labs’ proposed smart city project in Toronto goes viral.

It’s all the tech news that’s popular right now. Welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Friday, August 14, and I’m your host Alex Coop.

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Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, has become, for better and worse, a central character in the story of Covid-19. Gates sat down with Bloomberg, covering a number of topics, including how he’s been vilified by anti-vaxxers and other conspiracy theorists who claim he seeded the virus for his own nefarious purposes. The interview also touched on The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the work its doing to come up with a vaccine. Gates says he’s hopeful for a working vaccine by 2021, and that all the conspiracy theory stories about him are an oddity, but if they “stop people from taking a vaccine or looking at the latest data about wearing a mask, then it’s a big problem.”

An Alexa Bug Could Have Exposed Your Voice History to Hackers from technology

Findings published on Thursday by the security firm Check Point reveal that Alexa’s web services had bugs that a hacker could have exploited to grab someone’s entire voice history. That means all of their recorded audio interactions with Alexa. Amazon has patched the flaws, but according to Wired, the vulnerability could have also yielded profile information, including home address, as well as all of the “skills,” or apps, the user had added for Alexa. An attacker could have even deleted an existing skill and installed a malicious one to grab more data after the initial attack.

And lastly, OneZero’s lengthy piece about the rise and fall of Sidewalk Labs’ proposed smart city project in Toronto is catching fire on Twitter. The story goes on to describe how Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, aimed to transform what had previously been a desolate area east of downtown Toronto into a living laboratory, with technology embedded in “every nook and cranny.” The project had inspired a groundswell of resistance, first among civil liberties activists, and eventually, among the ranks of Canada’s most prominent businesspeople, local civic leaders, and Toronto residents.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing or your Google Home daily briefing.I’m Baneet Braich, thanks for listening.

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