Popular encrypted email standards are unsafe: researchers

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – European researchers have found that the popular PGP and S/MIME email encryption standards are vulnerable to being hacked and they urge users to disable and uninstall them immediately.

FILE PHOTO: WhatsApp and Facebook messenger icons are seen on an iPhone in Manchester , Britain March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble -/File Photo

University researchers from Muenster and Bochum in Germany, and Leuven in Belgium, discovered the flaws in the encryption methods that can be used with popular email applications such as Microsoft Outlook and Apple Mail.

“There are currently no reliable fixes for the vulnerability,” lead researcher Sebastian Schinzel, professor of applied cryptography at the Muenster University of Applied Sciences, said on Monday.

“If you use PGP/GPG or S/MIME for very sensitive communication, you should disable it in your email client for now.”

The team had been due to publish its full findings on Tuesday but rushed them out after the news made waves among the community of encrypted email users that includes activists, whistleblowers and journalists working in hostile environments.

Titling the exploit ‘Efail’, they wrote that they had found two ways in which hackers could effectively coerce an email client into sending the full plaintext of messages to the attacker.

There’s no immediate suggestion that spy agencies or state-sponsored hackers have already used the technique to burrow into people’s emails.

The researchers have informed email providers of their findings, under so-called responsible disclosure, and it now falls to others to establish whether the exploits can be replicated.


In the first exploit, hackers can ‘exfiltrate’ emails in plaintext by exploiting a weakness inherent in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which is used in web design and in formatting emails.

Apple Mail, iOS Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird are all vulnerable to direct exfiltration, they said.

A second attack takes advantage of flaws in OpenPGP and S/MIME to inject malicious text that in turn makes it possible to steal the plaintext of encrypted emails.

The vulnerabilities in PGP and S/MIME standards pose an immediate risk to email communication including the potential exposure of the contents of past messages, said the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a U.S. digital rights group.

In a blog post, the EFF recommended that PGP users uninstall or disable their PGP email plug-ins while the research community evaluates the seriousness of the flaws reported by the European research team.

It also said that users should switch for the time being to non-email-based secure messaging apps such as Signal for sensitive communications.

Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) said in a statement there were risks that attackers could secure access to emails in plaintext once the recipient had decrypted them.

It added, however, that it considered the encryption standards themselves to be safe if correctly implemented and configured.

“Securely encrypted email remains an important and suitable means of increasing information security,” it said in a statement, adding that the flaws which have been discovered can be remedied through patches and proper use.

PGP – short for Pretty Good Privacy – was invented back in 1991 by Phil Zimmermann and has long been viewed as a secure form of end-to-end encryption impossible for outsiders to access. Zimmermann is co-founder and chief scientist of Silent Circle, an encrypted communications firm.

PGP has in the past been endorsed, among others, by Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on pervasive electronic surveillance at the U.S. National Security Agency before fleeing to Russia.

PGP works using an algorithm to generate a ‘hash’, or mathematical summary, of a user’s name and other information. This is then encrypted with the sender’s private ‘key’ and decrypted by the receiver using a separate public key.

To exploit the weakness, a hacker would need to have access to an email server or the mailbox of a recipient. In addition the mails would need to be in HTML format and have active links to external content to be vulnerable, the BSI said.

It advised users to disable the use of active content, such as HTML code and outside links, and to secure their email servers against external access.

Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

Electrified roads: Swedish project could slash cost of electric vehicles

OSLO (Reuters) – An electrified road in Sweden that is the first in the world to charge vehicles as they drive along is showing promise and could potentially help cut the high cost of electric cars, project backers Vattenfall [VATN.UL] and Elways told Reuters.

The state-funded project, named eRoadArlanda and costing about 50 million crowns ($5.82 million), uses a modified electric truck that moves cargo from Stockholm’s Arlanda airport to Postnord’s nearby logistics hub to test the technology.

A electrified rail embedded in the tarmac of the 2-km-long (1.24 miles) road charges the truck automatically as it travels above it. A movable arm attached to the truck detects the rail’s location in the road, and charging stops when the vehicle is overtaking or coming to a halt.

The system also calculates the vehicle’s energy consumption, which enables electricity costs to be debited per vehicle and user.

Elways’ chief executive Gunnar Asplund said the charging while driving would mean electric cars no longer need big batteries — which can be half the cost of an electric car — to ensure they have enough power to travel a useful distance.

“The technology offers infinite range — range anxiety disappears” he said. “Electrified roads will allow smaller batteries and can make electric cars even cheaper than fossil fuel ones.”

Asplund said the Swedish state, which is funding the project, was happy with the results so far, with the only issue — now resolved — having been dirt accumulating on the rail.

Elways has patented the electric rail technology and is part of a Swedish consortium backing the eRoadArlanda project that also includes infrastructure company NCC and utility Vattenfall, which provides power from the national grid to the rail.

“Such roads will allow (electric vehicles) to move long distances without big, costly and heavy batteries,” said Markus Fischer, a Vattenfall spokesman, adding that installing the arm in new cars would be cheaper than retrofitting current models.

Vattenfall said in a statement electrified roads could reduce carbon dioxide emissions from lorries, which account for about 25 percent of total road traffic emissions.

“The investment cost per kilometer is estimated to be less than that of using overhead lines, as is the impact on the landscape,” it added.

Testing at eRoadArlanda started in April and will last at least 12 months so that the electric truck can use it under different weather conditions.

Editing by Catherine Evans

In concession, Trump says will help China's ZTE 'get back into business'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that he has asked the Commerce Department to help Chinese technology company ZTE Corp “get back into business, fast,” a concession to Beijing ahead of high-stakes trade talks that will take place this week.

FILE PHOTO: A ZTE smart phone is pictured in this illustration taken April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Illustration/File Photo

ZTE, one of the world’s largest telecom equipment makers, suspended its main operations after the U.S. Commerce Department banned American supplies to its business for seven years.

Trump’s offer to help comes as Chinese and U.S. officials prepare for talks in Washington with China’s top trade official Liu He to resolve an escalating trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

In trade talks in Beijing earlier this month, China asked the United States to ease crushing sanctions on ZTE, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Trump’s reversal could have a significant impact on shares of American optical components makers such as Acacia Communications Inc and Oclaro Inc which saw their stock prices fall when U.S. companies were banned from exporting goods to ZTE.

ZTE paid over $2.3 billion to 211 U.S. exporters in 2017, a senior ZTE official said on Friday.

“Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!” Trump wrote on Twitter, saying he is working with Chinese President Xi Jinping on a solution.

The U.S. government launched an investigation into ZTE after Reuters reported in 2012 the company had signed contracts to ship millions of dollars’ worth of hardware and software from some of the best known U.S. technology companies to Iran. (Reuters report that exposed the practice: reut.rs/2GbpCmO)

ZTE pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions by illegally shipping U.S. goods and technology to Iran and entered into an agreement with the U.S. government. The ban is the result of ZTE’s failure to comply with that agreement, the Commerce Department said.

The ban came two months after two Republican senators introduced legislation to block the U.S. government from buying or leasing telecommunications equipment from ZTE or Huawei [HWT.UL], citing concern the companies would use their access to spy on U.S. officials.

ZTE relies on U.S. companies such as Qualcomm Inc and Intel Corp and American companies are estimated to provide 25 percent to 30 percent of the components used in ZTE’s equipment, which includes smartphones and gear to build telecommunications networks.

The Commerce Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

Republican Representative Robert Pittenger, a sponsor of legislation that would strengthen the U.S. national security review process for foreign investment, said after the Commerce ban was announced that the United States “must be vigilant against Chinese threats to both our economic security and national security.”

Experts said Trump’s policy reversal was unprecedented.

“This is a fascinating development in a highly unusual case that has gone from a sanctions and export control case to a geopolitical one,” said Washington lawyer Douglas Jacobson, who represents some of ZTE’s suppliers.

“There’s no legal mechanism for this. How this will play out remains to be seen. They are not simply going to be able to resume business as usual,” he said.

ZTE suppliers including Acacia, Oclaro, Lumentum Holdings Inc, Finisar Corp, Inphi Corp and Fabrinet, all fell sharply after the ban was announced.

Shares of Acacia, which got 30 percent of its total revenue in 2017 from ZTE, hit a record low after the ban was announced. Oclaro, which earned 18 percent of its fiscal 2017 revenue from ZTE, fell 17 percent.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, Karen Freifield and Chris Sanders; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Hidden Alexa Commands, Cell Phone Tracking, and More Security News This Week

This week, the United States officially backed out of the Iran nuclear deal. The geopolitical reverberations should continue to play out in a variety of fields, but make sure you count cybersecurity among them. Iran targeted the US frequently—particularly financial institutions before the deal went into place. Security experts warn that with the agreement no longer in place, the barrage could begin again. So, look out for that!

We also took a look at facial recognition technology. Law enforcement around the world uses it more than ever, but picking out a single face out of a crowd of 60,000 feels downright dystopian—as does wrongly identifying several thousand people as potential criminals. It’s off-putting at either extreme, which seems like a decent argument to slow down its deployment.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has introduced JavaScript to Excel, which makes security researchers as anxious as it delights hackers and phishers. Speaking of which, your Facebook and Twitter accounts are vulnerable. Here’s how to lock them down once and for all.

And this isn’t security, specifically, but if, hypothetically, Donald Trump had bought up so many properties in cash as part of an elaborate money laundering scheme? Here’s how that would work.

And there’s more! As always, we’ve rounded up all the news we didn’t break or cover in depth this week. Click on the headlines to read the full stories. And stay safe out there.

Researchers Send Secret Commands to Voice Assistants

You know how dogs can hear noises you can’t? Guess what! So can Alexa and Google Assistant and Siri. And while research along those lines has been fomenting for the last several years, a team from UC-Berkeley this month demonstrated that they can hide voice-assistant commands not just in white noise, but behind actual voices or music. It’s not a hack that appears to have hit the wild yet, but there’s every reason to expect that it will eventually. And given the amount that we offload to voice assistants—purchases, door locks, and more—that could have serious consequences.

Signal’s “Disappearing Messages” Don’t Always Disappear on Macs

Signal remains our pick for the best encrypted messaging service. But those who use its desktop client with the default settings may have inadvertently stored those messages indefinitely on their Mac’s notification bar, even if they had been set to self-destruct. Not ideal! On Thursday, Signal pushed an update that should fix the issue, but just to be safe, any desktop Signal users should do what they can to triple check that messages they thought were gone forever really are.

The Ring Video Doorbell Had a Major Security Oversight

On the one hand, a video doorbell helps you increase your personal security, keeping close tabs on who’s coming and who’s going. On the other hand, yikes! Popular model Ring, recently acquired by Amazon, until recently wouldn’t log users out of its app after the password changed. That meant that if you switched up your authentication to, say, deny access to an ex, they could still essentially spy on your front door. (In fact, that’s precisely what happened in an incident outlined by The Information.) Ring says it updated the app in January such that everyone has to log back in now after a password reset, but even now it doesn’t take effect for several hours.

A Service Can Track Nearly Any Cell Phone in the US

As if Facebook didn’t give you enough surveillance hassles lately, The New York Times takes a look at a company called Securus, which advertises the ability to track nearly any cell phone in the US within seconds. They’re able to do so because carriers regularly sell access to location services to third parties with no customer consent and little oversight. Meanwhile, not every state even requires a warrant to gather location data, which all ads up to a pretty nightmarish scenario of being snooped on without any knowledge—or any way to prevent it.

Uber's Flying Cars, Tesla's Troubles, and More Car News This Week

Transportation is a world full of visionaries: big ideas gone even bigger. It attracts world shakers (and breakers) like Grimes’ Boyfriend, Travis Kalanick, and Mark Moore, a 30-year NASA veteran who decamped last year for Uber’s new flying car project. There are lots of fanciful renderings and prototypes, lots of pulled-off covers and pointing of spotlights. But there’s a lot of busted dreams too. Plans that run out of money, petering out and puttering toward death. Collectors who come calling. Cars that crash and kill.

Which is all to say: It was a mixed bag of a week. Senior writer Jack Stewart covered the two-day bonanza that was Uber’s second-annual, and completely serious, flying car summit. Editor Alex Davies took a close look at startup Drive.ai’s upcoming self-driving shuttle launch in unlikely Frisco, Texas. Fun stuff! But ugly stuff too: Tesla’s investor insurrection, thanks (in part) to Grimes’ Boyfriend’s indelicate earnings call comments. A Waymo crash in Arizona that doesn’t appear to have anything to do with self-driving tech but had really unfortunate timing anyway. And a jump in pedestrian deaths—which we’ll need much more than autonomous vehicles to prevent.

Let’s get you caught up.


Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week

  • Uber wants to play middleman in the flying car future, slinging app-ordered rides that take riders smoothly from A to B as the fools in ground-bound vehicles sit in traffic below. But that doesn’t mean it won’t have a hand in the flying car design. This week, the ride-hailing giant turned transportation-everything unveiled an all-electric VTOL concept, and reiterated its commitment to an ambitious timeline: commercial flights by 2022.

  • Last week’s Tesla fireworks continue, with an activist investor now pushing the electric carmaker’s shareholders to banish three of its nine board members in favor of folks with relevant manufacturing expertise. One way Grimes’ Boyfriend could kill the insurrection? By making more cars.

  • In more Tesla news: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration clarified that the carmaker, and not the federal agency, came up with a much-cited Autopilot safety statistic. Which meant it was a good time for me to ask: How much do we know about Autopilot’s safety record, anyway?

  • Late last week, a Waymo minivan being driven by a human got seriously banged up by an out-of-control Honda driver. Police in Chandler, Arizona, determined the Waymo vehicle wasn’t at fault, but the scary photos of the banged-up Chrysler Pacifica were spookily reminiscent of this spring’s fatal Uber crash.

  • Yeehaw! Alex explores Drive.ai’s plans to launch a self-driving shuttle service in the Lone Star State, and why geofenced and limited shuttle routes just might be lots of Americans’ first experiences with autonomous vehicles.

  • Heck naw! Contributor Nick Stockton tries to get to the bottom of why Nashville, Tennessee, voters soundly rejected an ambitious transit revamp meant to improve transportation in the traffic-choked city.

  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a disturbing study on pedestrian deaths, finding fatalities jumped by 46 percent between 2009 and 2016. Some say autonomous vehicles will solve all our road safety problems, but the tech has a ways to go. I explore another option: getting much smarter about road design. ADDLINK

  • Alex finds out everything (really, everything) you have ever wanted to know about engineering a luxury convertible roof.

  • You should read contributor Eric Adams’ spec analysis before plopping down $325,000 and spitting in the face of the proletariat to buy Rolls-Royce’s Cullinan SUV.

Glorious Chrome Extension of the Week

I love a good celebrity gossip-automotive crossover story, and we got one in spades when Tesla’s CEO showed up to the Met Gala with Canadian musician and artist Grimes. The meme-ers went wild, I went wild, and someone created a Chrome browser extension that replaces “Grimes’ Boyfriend” with “Grimes’ Boyfriend”. OK, maybe I’ve had it turned on all day.

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet

In the Rearview

Essential stories from WIRED’s canonRogue CEOs: good or bad? Once you’ve gotten your fill of Grimes’ Boyfriend, check out this 2012 WIRED meditation on the granddaddy of polarizing tech leaders, Steve Jobs.

Deciding Whether To Fear or Celebrate Google’s Mind-Blowing AI Demo

This article first appeared in Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top tech news. To get it delivered daily to your in-box, sign up here.

Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?

Good morning. Aaron in for Adam, contemplating computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing’s famous conjecture to test whether a machine could think.

The wow factor was quite high, maybe off the charts, this week when Google (googl) debuted recordings of its Duplex AI app making phone calls and conversing with regular people at restaurants and a nail salon. Duplex sounded amazingly human, smoothly navigating the minor inconveniences of booking appointments and even uttering the occasional “um” and “mmhm” to make sure the person on the other end knew it was still there. It sure seemed like Duplex had aced the “imitation game.”

But somewhere between the “um” and the “mhmm,” the creepiness factor started to rise and people began to imagine how this creation could be used for ill. Would robocallers, scam artists, and hackers start employing Duplex the better to dupe unwitting consumers? Would interactions with workers in the service industry be further dehumanized? Was the service just the latest “invasive” and “infantilizing” development from the clueless coders of Silicon Valley?

Most of the concerns revolved around how Duplex works and how it will be used. Most could also apply to virtually any AI app intended to interact with humans. Perhaps a deeper question, then, is how should society regulate the coming wave of artificial intelligence, if at all. Will we rely on self regulation by industry, as we have in so many other areas? Perhaps just a further evolution of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics is required? Or should laws be passed setting out acceptable and unacceptable AI practices?

Whatever choices are made, they should be made intentionally and with serious consideration. We are almost 20 years out from Harvard Professor Larry Lessig’s groundbreaking essay “Code Is Law,” and it still feels like one of the most important texts guiding us into the future.

Our choice is not between “regulation” and “no regulation.” The code regulates. It implements values, or not. It enables freedoms, or disables them. It protects privacy, or promotes monitoring. People choose how the code does these things. People write the code. Thus the choice is not whether people will decide how cyberspace regulates. People—coders—will. The only choice is whether we collectively will have a role in their choice—and thus in determining how these values regulate—or whether collectively we will allow the coders to select our values for us.

Let us know what you think of the debate.

Undetectable Commands for Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa Raise Serious Security Risks

Researchers in the U.S. and China have discovered ways to send hidden commands to digital assistants—including Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant—that could have massive security implications.

In laboratory settings, researchers have been able to activate and issue orders to the systems via means that are undetectable to the human ear, according to a new report in The New York Times. That could, conceivably, allow hackers to use the systems to unlock smart locks, access users’ bank accounts, or access all sorts of personal information.

A new paper out of the University of California, Berkeley said inaudible commands could be imbedded into music or spoken text. While at present this is strictly an academic exercise, researchers at the university say it’s foolish to assume hackers won’t discover the same methods as well.

“My assumption is that the malicious people already employ people to do what I do,” said Nicholas Carlini, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in computer security at U.C. Berkeley and one of the paper’s authors.

Last year, researchers at Princeton University and China’s Zhejiang University also found voice-activated devices could be issued orders using inaudible frequencies. Chinese researchers called the technique DolphinAttack.

Amazon told The New York Times it has taken steps to ensure its speaker is secure. Google said its platform has features that mitigate such commands. And Apple noted an iPhone or iPad must be unlocked before Siri will open an app.

Still, there are several examples of companies taking advantage of weaknesses in the devices, from Burger King’s Google Home commercial to South Park‘s stunt with Alexa.

And the number of devices in consumers’ homes is on the rise. Digital assistants have been among the hottest gifts of the past two holiday seasons. And Amazon, alone, is expected to sell $10 billion worth of the devices by 2020.

Walmart acquiring India's Flipkart, says SoftBank's Son

MUMBAI/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Walmart Inc (WMT.N) has agreed to pay $16 billion for a roughly 77 percent stake in Indian online shopping site Flipkart, the U.S. retailer’s biggest foreign investment as it battles rival Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) in one of the world’s biggest emerging markets.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of India’s e-commerce firm Flipkart is seen on the company’s office in Bengaluru, India April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa/File Photo

The deal, capping almost two years of talks, will help the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer fortify and boost market share against Amazon.com, which reportedly had tried to make a competing offer for a stake.

“India is one of the most attractive retail markets in the world, given its size and growth rate, and our investment is an opportunity to partner with the company that is leading transformation of e-commerce in the market,” Doug McMillon, Walmart’s Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Walmart logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Buying a stake in Flipkart, which sells everything from soaps to smartphones and from books to clothes, gives Walmart access to the fledgling Indian e-commerce market that could potentially be worth $200 billion in a decade, according to Morgan Stanley.

Walmart said it plans to fund the deal through a combination of newly-issued debt and cash on hand.

Walmart warned that it expects the deal to hit its fiscal 2019 earnings per share by 25 cents to 30 cents, if the deal closes as expected before the end of the second quarter.

The remainder of the business will be held by some of Flipkart’s existing shareholders, including Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal, China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK), Tiger Global Management LLC and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), the company said.

Earlier on Wednesday, SoftBank (9984.T) Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son unexpectedly spilled the beans on the deal by confirming on a conference call that Walmart had decided to purchase Flipkart, ahead of the highly-anticipated official announcement.

Son said his firm’s investment in the Indian online retailer had grown to $4 billion. SoftBank’s Vision Fund, the world’s biggest private equity fund, had invested $2.5 billion in Flipkart last August.

Sources have previously told Reuters that SoftBank would sell all its shares in Flipkart to Walmart.

Additional reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Patrick Graham, Bernard Orr

Cyber security firm Avast poised to list at 250 pence at bottom of price range

LONDON (Reuters) – Private equity-backed cyber security firm Avast [IPO-AVAS.L] is set to price its initial public offering at 250 pence a share, a bookrunner source on the deal said on Wednesday, at the bottom of a 250-270 pence price range set earlier.

The logo of Avast Software company is seen at its headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic, April 12, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny

The company aims to sell around 25 percent of its stock and raise up to $200 million in proceeds in what is expected to be one of Britain’s biggest ever technology IPOs.

Based on the latest price guidance, Avast would achieve a market capitalization of 2.5 billion pounds upon listing.

The market admission will take place on Thursday, one of the bookrunners said, adding that books for the offering have been covered multiple times.

Avast is 46 percent-owned by its founders, Czech entrepreneurs Pavel Baudis and Eduard Kucera. CVC Capital Partners [CVC.UL] has a 29 percent stake, with Summit Partners holding 7 percent.

The security software services provider had already planned a U.S. IPO in 2012 before backtracking citing market conditions.

The listing is expected to be the biggest by market capitalization in London since July when the flotation of Russian gold company Polyus gave it a 6.3 billion pound market value.

In 2017, Avast’s adjusted revenue was $780 million and adjusted cash earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was $451 million.

With net debt of around $1.35 billion, the enterprise value of the company could be up to $5.9 billion after the offering.

($1 = 0.7399 pounds)

Reporting by Clara Denina, editing by Sinead Cruise and Jane Merriman

Google I/O 2018: Watch Live Video of the Keynote Right Here

Late spring isn’t just for wildflowers and Star Wars ephemera. It’s also developer conference season! One of the biggest developer events of the year is Google I/O. The 2018 edition of Google’s conference kicks off Tuesday, May 8 with a live keynote address. The event takes place at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California, but you can watch the whole keynote here.

The Google I/O keynote begins at 10 am Pacific on Tuesday. We expect the live program to start around 9:30 am. Check back around that time—if you see the video player show up on this page, then the keynote is getting ready to begin.

Eye on AI

There’s a lot to look forward to at I/O. We’ll surely see talk of the next version of Android, an update on Google’s messaging strategy, and some stuff around IoT and connected devices. But the glue holding all of the announcements together will be artificial intelligence. Google has made voice control, computer vision, and machine learning its priorities of late, with the proliferation of Google Assistant, the ability to use a phone camera as a powerful search tool, and the company’s production of special chips to power cloud-based AI services. We’ll hear more about all that stuff at I/O this year, and probably several AI projects from within Google that we aren’t currently aware of.

Our own Lauren Goode has a list of everything we can expect from this year’s I/O. Also, Lauren will be providing live updates from the keynote along with WIRED’s machine intelligence reporter Tom Simonite and the rest of the the live coverage team. Follow all the news and our live analysis on our liveblog, which will run concurrent to the video stream. We’ll see you back here at 9:30 am Tuesday.

4,000 Business Professionals Told LinkedIn This 1 Skill Will Keep You Relevant

Robots don’t have a heart; humans do. The line sounds trite, but it’s the key to standing out and getting ahead at a time when automation and artificial intelligence threaten to eliminate millions of jobs. This is the conclusion of the recently released 2018 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report.

LinkedIn surveyed 4,000 professionals globally in four categories: talent developers, managers, employees, and executives. The survey found that developing soft skills is the number one priority for businesses that want to stay ahead of the curve. The most critical soft skills were leadership and communication.

Business professionals need to know the technical aspects of their jobs, of course, but the pace of change is happening so fast that they also need to be critical thinkers, communicators and collaborators to fuel growth. These skills apply equally to you as an entrepreneur on the path to leading your own brand and a career-minded professional on the path to a corner office.

I’ve spent two years working on a new book where I’ve interviewed billionaires and CEOs, entrepreneurs and scientists whose companies are in the leading edge of technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI). To a person they told me that great communicators stand out, get noticed and get ahead. Surprisingly, communication skills play a more important role in the most technical and scientific fields.

“Science left in a drawer doesn’t benefit anyone,” Anders Sahlman told me. Sahlman is the founder of a year-long pitch competition for Swedish scientists held at universities across the country. The finalists get four minutes to present their research to a panel of experts, journalists, and a general audience. They’re judged on vocal delivery, the structure and content of their message, and their overall performance.

Above all, they must tell the story behind their research and be clearly understood by scientists in other disciplines who know nothing about the subject. The winning ideas get funding and are soon implemented in the marketplace.

As globalization brings in the world together and automation eliminates millions of jobs humans did by hand, ideas are more important than ever. But if you can’t sell your idea, it doesn’t matter.

This is the first time in human history when someone who is a little better at expressing an idea can see an enormous gain in wealth and/or influence that is unprecedented in civilization. So, here are three ways to sharpen your communication skills:

1. Add stories to the mix.

I recently wrote an article about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who replaces PowerPoint in meetings with memos in a “narrative-structure.” He likes to hear stories and anecdotes, because he believes that’s the best way to learn.

Science proves that he’s right. Researchers who look at the human brain say we are wired for story. We process our world in narrative, talk in story and, most importantly, want to consume our information in story. Even in a highly technical presentation, stories will bring the content to life.

2. Watch and learn.

You have an amazing tool that you can use to improve your speaking skills. And it’s free. It’s called TED Talks.

I know the folks at TED and have been behind the scenes. The speakers–especially on the main TED stage–prepare extensively with coaches. Just by watching them, you can learn about storytelling, delivery, conciseness and the visual display of ideas.

3. Read books on the subject

You can find several of my books in the public-speaking category of Amazon, but there are many others that you should read. Here is a very short list of some of my favorites:

  • Resonate by Nancy Duarte
  • If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda
  • Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards
  • Shortcut by John Pollack
  • Houston, We Have a Narrative by Randy Olson

These books will introduce to you a range of tools in the communicators toolkit. You’ll learn more about storytelling, communicating science, building great slides, and improving your body language.

The hard data shows that soft skills are in short supply. Build your communication skills to stand out.

Ping An Good Doctor's shares slide below IPO price on valuation worries

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Ping An Healthcare and Technology Co Ltd’s shares tumbled as much as 11 percent on their second day of trading on Monday as investors worried about the high valuations for the loss-making firm that saw Hong Kong’s largest new listing in 2018.

Ping An Good Doctor app, an online healthcare platform operated by Ping An Healthcare and Technology Co Ltd, is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken May 3, 2018. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

The operator of China’s biggest online healthcare platform had a tepid stock market debut on Friday, with its shares closing unchanged from their IPO price of HK$54.80. On Monday, they fell to a low of HK$48.90 before partially erasing the losses in the afternoon to trade at HK$50.90, down 7.0 percent.

The company, also known as Ping An Good Doctor, raised $1.12 billion in an IPO that priced at the top of its range. It had secured seven cornerstone investors including Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC [GIC.UL], Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and U.S. asset manager BlackRock.

“This is within expectation; the stock’s pricing was high and it trailed the disappointing performance of previous new economy companies,” said Kingston Lin, CEO of Ox Financial Securities.

Shares of some other technology-related companies that floated recently have been weak in Hong Kong. ZhongAn Online P & C Insurance Co recently dropped below its IPO price. China Literature, which soared on its debut last year, has been declining and is now close to its IPO price.

The stock market performance of Ping An Good Doctor, which is backed by China’s biggest insurer by market value, Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd, raises questions about investor appetite for potential flotations of other Ping An units.

These include Lufax, China’s biggest online wealth management platform, and Ping An Healthcare Management, a medical data collection and analysis business.

Ping An Good Doctor’s debut comes at a time when Hong Kong is implementing new rules to attract more tech and biotech IPOs to the city, away from other major centers like New York and the Chinese mainland.

Chinese smartphone and connected device maker Xiaomi [IPO-XMGP.HK] filed an IPO application in Hong Kong last week in which it could raise about $10 billion in the largest listing globally in almost four years.

Lin of Ox Financial said the market is holding a cautious view towards even the IPO of Xiaomi.

“The market has shifted focus from last year and it is not upbeat on tech companies anymore,” he said.

Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Why Warren Buffett Thinks Buying Microsoft Stock ‘Would Be a Mistake’

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have known each other 27 years, enjoy playing bridge together and rallying in ping pong at the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting.

But the billionaires’ friendship has its boundaries: Buffett will never buy Microsoft stock.

“It just would be a mistake for Berkshire to buy Microsoft,” the famous stock picker said at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting Saturday.

Buffett has been notoriously averse to tech stocks for most of his investing career, though in 2016 he stunned shareholders by buying Apple stock, which is now by far Berkshire Hathaway’s largest holding.

Yet Buffett’s resistance to Microsoft (msft) has nothing to do with its business model or industry. Rather, the problem lies with Gates, who joined the Berkshire Hathaway board in 2004, and retired as chairman of Microsoft in 2014.

“If something happened a week later, a month later, in terms of [Microsoft] having better earnings than expected or making an acquisition—anything—both Bill and I would, incorrectly, but would be a target of suggestions and accusations, perhaps even, that somehow he had told me something, or vice versa,” Buffett said at the Berkshire meeting in Omaha.

In other words, Buffett is concerned with avoiding even the slightest perception of insider trading—however false—or anything that could invite such suspicions.

“I try to stay away from a few things just totally because the inference would be drawn that we might have talked, I might have talked to somebody about something,” Buffett added. “There’d be a lot of people who wouldn’t believe us if something good immediately happened after we bought it.”

Of course, Buffett had plenty of opportunities to buy Microsoft stock without any remote appearance of insider trading. Microsoft went public in 1986—more than five years before Buffett even met Gates. So why didn’t the Oracle of Omaha invest back then?

“In the earlier years, it’s very clear—the answer is stupidity,” Buffett admitted.

Now, Microsoft is just one of “a few [companies] that are off the list” of what Berkshire Hathaway (brk-a) is willing to invest in because of ethical conflicts, Buffett said. (He did not name the others in this group.)

“But both that and my stupidity have cost us a lot of money,” he added.

At least it doesn’t seem to be getting in the way of his friendship with Gates.

1 Out of Every 6 Retirees in America Is a Millionaire–Here Are 8 Things You Can Do Today to Become One of Them

This is according to a report by online investing company United Income, which analyzed data from multiple sources, including the Federal Reserve Board and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, to find out how retirees are faring now compared to previous generations.

Average wealth for American retirees is $752,000 — which has more than doubled since 1989, the report found. Likewise, the rate of retired millionaires has more than doubled in the last 30 years. Fewer people are retiring in poverty and relying on minimum wage than ever before. The report says “the percentage of retirees living on the minimum wage or less dropped in half over the past 30 years.”

Still, the median wealth for retirees is just over $200,000 — and people are living longer and costs are increasing. Many retirees end up relying on their monthly Social Security retirement benefits, about $1,400 on average. The Social Security Administration says the benefits account for one-third of retirees’ income.

Retiring as a millionaire may seem like a difficult goal to accomplish. However, there are tricks that can help you get over the line so you can enjoy seven digit wealth when you stop working.

Matt Fellowes, the CEO of United Income shared his tips on how to retire a millionaire with Business Insider. Below are the eight best pieces of advice from Fellowes on how to be wealthy when you stop working.

10 Quotes From The 2 Best Entrepreneurial Minds Alive

Having spent the past 10 years relentlessly studying psychology, self-improvement, and entrepreneurship, there are many people who have inspired and influenced my thinking.

However, over the past 3 years, I’ve come across two thinkers who stick out. Not just in their thinking, but their overall approach to life and business.

Naturally, both of these entrepreneurs are highly aligned, synergistic, and yet very different.

These two entrepreneurs are Dan Sullivan and Joe Polish. Dan is the founder of Strategic Coach, which is considered by many to be the #1 entrepreneurial coaching program in the world. Joe is the founder of Genius Network, GeniusX, and Genius Recovery. Genius Network is considered the #1 entrepreneurial mastermind group in the world. 


“Always make your future bigger than your past.”―Dan Sullivan

“Who, not how.”―Dan Sullivan

“As an entrepreneur, you’ve removed yourself from the restrictions and limitations of other people’s systems. Still, it’s amazing how many of us strive to meet others’ expectations and demands – or set up rigid, impossible ideals for ourselves.”―Dan Sullivan

“Over scheduled entrepreneurs can’t transform.”―Dan Sullivan

“For a company to achieve 10x, it doesn’t need you managing – it needs self-managing.”―Dan Sullivan


“Life gives to the giver and takes from the taker.”―Joe Polish

“Wherever there is anxiety, there is opportunity. Transform bad news into good news, and leverage that with marketing.”―Joe Polish

“Any problem in the world can be solved with the right Genius Network.”―Joe Polish

“Opposite of addiction is connection.”―Joe Polish

“Be willing to destroy anything that isn’t excellent.”―Joe Polish