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Tech.co’s Top Stories of 2018

December 28, 2018

4:00 am

With Christmas in the rear view mirror and 2019 right around the corner, we take a look back at the biggest stories in tech from 2018. Sure, online scams ravaged your inbox and tech companies lost all your personal information, but that doesn’t mean 2018 didn’t bring upon some exciting changes to the tech world.

From the new generation of consumer tech products to the innovative advancements of artificial intelligence, technology always provides an exciting look at what the future might hold in the new year. And that’s what we’ve tried to show at Tech.co from the beginning.

In case you missed it, we’ve published a wide range of articles all year on topics ranging from self-driving cars to social media addiction. Take a look at some of our best below and get ready for even more tech news in 2019.

Special Report: Is Huawei a Genuine Security Threat?

Chinese brand Huawei has produced some stunning phones this year, but a number of major western governments are cautioning against the company’s technology – the US has effectively blocked its phones from sale.

In September, we investigated whether Huawei is a Security Threat. In our exclusive report, we explored whether the China-based smartphone producer is a safe bet when it comes to your own device, plus looked into the history of the company itself and its close ties to the Chinese state.

Nothing Is Unhackable

When security breaches and phishing scams are making headline news on a weekly basis, you have to know that the term “unhackable” is reserved for heist movies and that’s about it. VPNs and password managers can help, but if we’ve learned anything this year, it’s to be skeptical of anything that claims to be unhackable.

In our article “5 ‘Unhackable’ Claims That Fell Apart,” we revisited a few of the most embarrassing security guarantees from your favorite companies. From McAfee’s hacked crypto-wallet to the Blackphone becoming the Hackphone, 2018 showed the world that you can hack pretty much anything.

It’s Time for an Honest Look at Working Conditions in Tech

We all want our tech to cost less and ship faster. And someone has to lose out for the sake of this convenience.

From the high-pressure working environment of Amazon warehouses, to Samsung supply chains that may actually be making workers sick, we investigate the working conditions of some of the biggest tech companies in the world, and attempts by workers to push for better standards.

Regulating Tech Is Hard

2018 brought us a lot of news stories, but few provided more entertainment than tech CEOs appearing in front of Congress to answer for their complicated, confusing, and sometimes controversial platforms and services. From Facebook to Google, these companies were forced to answer questions posed by politicians in the US.

The problem? Politicians don’t really know anything about technology. In the article “Politicians Are Too Out of Touch to Make Laws About Tech,” we explored the tumultuous relationship between tech and politics, focusing mainly on the knowledge gap between the two.

Living Online Has Made Us Mean

With Facebook arguments and Twitter feuds becoming part of everyday life, you’ve likely suspected that the internet is having a negative effect on the world. Well, in a Tech.co exclusive, we did a little research and found that we do, indeed, treat each other poorly online.

The study, titled “Flirt, Fake, Make Them Wait – The Truth About How We Treat Each Other Online” surveyed 2,000 respondents, finding a wide range of unsettling statistics that prove the internet might be making things worse as far as human interaction is concerned.

The Gender Gap Has Taken a Gap Year

The gender gap is a well-known problem in the tech world, with dozens of high profile examples of discrimination and overrepresentation across the industry. Unfortunately, this problem isn’t just limited to the US, as the problem persists abroad as well.

In our article titled, “The Digital Bromad: How Toxic Masculinity Thrives Abroad,” we demonstrate the problems arising from the remote working male that “makes others feel uncomfortable or unwelcome with their lack of respect for women and local cultures.” You may want to watch out for these “digital bromads”, as one estimate predicts 40% of people will be working remotely by 2020.

How and Why Do Tech Leaks Happen?

2018 has been the year of the Big Tech Leak. Everyone from Google to Apple has had the specs of their newest devices shown to the world months before they were officially announced, which made for notably less exciting reveals. So how and why is this happening?

How and Why Do Tech Leaks Happen?” explored this phenomenon and found that there are four types of leaks: accidental, intentional, supply chain-based, and broken embargos. Learn more about them in our article from earlier this year.

Is Social Media Actually Addictive?

It’s been a horrible year for Facebook and Twitter, with numerous reports pointing towards their impact on users’ happiness and wellbeing.

Intervention Time: Is Social Media Actually Addictive?” examined everything from scientific research to expert opinion to get to the bottom of the question, and all the signs point to our serious emotional and chemical dependence on social media.

Why Is Bitcoin Losing Value?

2018 was a rollercoaster year for cryptocurrency, particularly Bitcoin, which saw prices reach nearly $20,000, much to the delight of loyalists and investors alike. However, as the year went on, the entire cryptocurrency market has fallen well below those historic highs. So, what happened?

In our “Why Is Bitcoin Losing Value?” article, we explore why the infamous cryptocurrency dropped in value so dramatically and answer whether or not Bitcoin’s best days are behind it.

Elon Musk Tanking Tesla’s Stock Price

At this point, Elon Musk lives on the news. From his gigantic city-wide tunnels to his self-landing rockets, the eccentric entrepreneur has certainly made a name for himself in the tech industry. Unfortunately, not always for the best reasons.

Here’s Every Time Elon Musk Tanked Tesla’s Stock Price” did a bang-up job of exploring Tesla’s stock price in regards to Musk’s erratic behavior, from smoking a blunt on Joe Rogan’s podcast to his sale of flamethrowers through the Boring Company.

Every Autonomous Car Crash in California (So Far)

Self-driving cars have had a rough year of it, and not just because of Elon Musk. 2018 showcased the impressive technology, but also had quite a few crashes, which is not ideal for a new technology looking for global adoption.

We did a little research and, in our article “Mapping Every Autonomous Car Crash in California So Far,” we’ve cataloged every accident that has involved semi-sentient vehicles so far, in the western test ground.

The Rise of Nostalgia in Tech Products

From the Nintendo Classic to new Nokia phones, resurrected products have taken over the consumer tech sector, and business is booming. These devices have become huge successes and, apparently, you can thank nostalgia.

In “The Rise of Nostalgia in Tech Products,” we investigate exactly what has been driving the increase in nostalgia, how it’s affecting the tech world, and what you can expect from the future of this trend.

Door-Opening Robot Dogs Will Not Be the Downfall of Humanity

This year, you may have seen a viral video of a yellow robot dog from Boston Dynamics opening a door with its terrifying claw arm. Many believed that this spelled the end for humans, as doors were clearly the only thing holding robots back from taking over the world.

But rest assured, Door-Opening Robot Dogs Will Not Be the Downfall of Humanity. We explain why.

Artificial Intelligence Capabilities

As the technology has evolved, a lot of fear has been stoked in regards to artificial intelligence. From creepy iterations uttering unsettling threats to the overt fear of automation in terms of job creation, plenty of people are worried about AI’s future beyond 2018.

However, we argued in “Artificial Intelligence Will Never Replace the Human Brain” that, because of the human brain’s complicated nature, artificial intelligence poses no threat, immediate or otherwise, to competing with it.

Deepfake Videos Could Devastate Trust in Journalism

In November, the White House distributed digitally-manipulated footage purporting to show CNN reporter Jim Acosta assaulting a White House intern. Meanwhile, in China, a ‘deepfake’ news presenter was unveiled – an uncanny AI-powered recreation of a real-life news anchor, able to present the news with a human face but automated script.

We examine what the future holds in an age when journalists can be digitally manipulated.

Is AI Doomed to Reflect the Worst in Us?

While artificial intelligence may never quite hit the capabilities of the human brain, it still has the potential to emulate human attitudes. And that can, sadly, mean reflecting the very worst in us.

This year, Amazon’s AI-powered tool for scanning job-applicant CVs was found to be penalizing entries from female candidates. Why? Because it had learned all its behavior from human patterns in hiring practice.

We examine whether AI is destined to reflect our worst tendencies.

Where to Move If You Want to Live in the Future

Knowing that artificially intelligent machines pose no threat, you may be more open to living in a futuristic world. Being a first adopter can be exhausting though, not to mention expensive. Your city may not have caught up to all the latest innovations, and being around people that don’t wear smartwatches is hardly a life worth living. We’ve got your back.

Our guide on “Where to Move If You Want to Live in the Future” can help you find the most futuristic cities to live in, based on statistics like the number of robots in manufacturing positions, how many WiFi hotspots there are, and the percentage of the population with a smartphone.

All of us here at Tech.co would like to wish you a very happy new year and the utmost success in 2019. We’ll be here with all the news, reviews and advice you need to know, from Android to Zuckerberg, so stay tuned!

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Senior Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at conor@tech.co.