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Category Archives: Technology

Technology & Education

With fast advancements happening in the area of technology everyday, we a as a society to think about how to use this underutilized tool for education. When it comes to our children, we want to know that they are getting a great education, but how can we do this if we are not looking for something better than what we had. There is a ton of information everywhere online, but finding the right sources to teach your children can be quite difficult. If you’re looking for ways that you should use technology as an educational tool for your children, below are a few simple tips.

            You should first evaluate your child’s abilities and needs. This will determine what route to take when looking for how technology can best suit your child. Because all humans are different and our brains are wired differently, many people learn much differently than others. The best thing about technology is that you can adapt the tools that you use to get the right kind of education for your child. People of every age can benefit from learning through technology, and with the rising demand of technology minded individuals, it’s something that can drastically improve your or your child’s future. This is something that should be closely monitored, however, because certain seemingly kid friendly educational videos and more may not be what your child demands or needs.

            The next thing you should consider is all the different ways that you can utilize technology to breed education, and to keep it up to where it produces a measurable effect. The way that you approach and monitor learning will have a lot of impact on this, but choosing when to step up the education and finding alternative ways, other than apps, sources on the internet, and videos, can really step up the learning. There are tons of these things to choose from, but make sure that you’re keeping an eye on what your children are doing and watching at all times because this can easily get out of hand and become entertainment if not monitored.

            Lastly, you should think of alternatives to using the internet when it comes to letting children learn about technology. Right now, there are many STEM toys out there that are designed to give children hands-on experience in technology related careers, and more. This is important to developing your children, and gives them an alternative view of technology, especially if they are not as much of a listening learner, as they are a hands-on learner. You may also want to consider taking your children to history vacations and more, so that you can give them real world experience and understanding when it comes to their education. Visit Best of Orlando for huge savings on awesome trips.

Technological Advancements That Will Shape The Future

And all this is possible with a device that can fit in your pocket. Below are 5 technological advancements that will dominate the future. Read on to find out more.

1. IoT

You may have heard about the Internet-of-Things or IoT. This technology makes it possible to have connected homes. But why is it that we don’t see connected homes in the here and now? Well, the basic problem is that there is a lot of competition, but not enough collaboration. In other words, you can find a lot of apps and appliances on the market, but very few solutions to connect these things together for seamless user experience. Hopefully, we will witness big advancements in the near future.

2. VR and AR

As far as VR and AR are concerned, you have already seen some great steps. After the release of Oculus Rift, tons of VR games and apps were launched. One big game is Pokemon Go, which is a big name on the list of VR games. It was downloaded for more than 100 million times. As a matter of fact, the market is all set for the VR and AR stuff. Hopefully, things will take off in the next few years.

3. Machine Learning

Machine learning has also become advanced. As a matter of fact, it has helped enhance the search engine algorithm of Google. But only a few apps have taken advantage of this technology. However, the technology is expected to spread across the board and it will dominate all consumer applications. For instance, it will offer better products in the search results so you can find the right one.

4. Automation

Today, marketers will be happy to know that the automation will make it easier for them to improve their production processes. Now, the automation will allow them to get those tasks done that were only done by humans previously. In the next few years, robots will get advanced and they will perform complex tasks.

Automation will make some jobs disappear while creating new ones. When machine learning is combined with automation, you will see things getting better before long.

5. Big Data

For the past couple of years, big data has been a topic of debate. The idea is that the huge amount of data that we can use today can help you plan more powerful marketing campaigns and medical treatments. But the biggest strength of the big data is that it’s also a big weakness

Crazy transport systems that didn’t go the distance

Aérotrain

All the comfort and speed of a magnetic levitation train, but without the technical complexity and expense – that was the aim of Aérotrain, a hovertrain developed in France from 1965. Five prototypes were built. This stylish Aérotrain 02 engine carried a crew of two and was powered by turbojets. A later version, the I-80 HV, established the world speed record for air cushion vehicles on land when it reached 430.4 kilometres per hour in March 1974. American company Rohr Industries was so impressed that it licensed some of the technology in the hopes of making one of its own.

If Aérotrain had so much going for it, what went wrong? First, there was the death of its lead engineer Jean Bertin. Lack of funding was another problem. And the final nail in the coffin came when the French government decided to adopt the TGV for its high-speed rail network. Aérotrain was abandoned in 1977.

Transit elevated bus

China’s “straddling bus” is the latest in a long and glorious line of failed mass transport. Conceived in 2000, and roatested last year, the Transit Elevated Bus came to the end of the line this July amid allegations of financial shenanigans. Not surprisingly, this bizarre prototype attracted considerable attention when it made its maiden voyage in Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province. China badly needs green transport solutions, and a huge, electric powered, traffic-jam-skipping bus has obvious appeal.

  Ithacus

It seemed like a good idea back in 1966 when the cold war was hot. To reduce the need for overseas US army bases, why not build an intercontinental rocket capable of carrying a battalion of 1200 soldiers? Ithacus Senior was conceived as a 6400-tonne behemoth, standing 64 metres tall and powered by eight hydrogen drop tanks. Aeroengineer Phillip Bono saw it as a practical application for his orbital launch vehicle ROMBUS (Reusable Orbital Module, Booster, and Utility Shuttle). Its rocket-powered vertical take-off and landing would provide a rapid-strike capability for “rocket commandos”. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for a start, flying Ithacus home would be impossible without a custom-built launch pad. A convoluted solution was dreamed up. It entailed flying the rocket in short, low-powered hops to the coast, transporting it onto a barge and sailing it back to the US

Gyro monorail

On 10 November 1909, Irish inventor Louis Brennan gave the first public demonstration of his gyro monorail in the grounds of his house in Gillingham, Kent, UK. The track was designed to show off the cornering ability of a vehicle balanced by two vertical gyroscopes mounted side-by-side and spinning in opposite directions. Although he had filed his first monorail patent in 1903, Brennan was rushed into this unveiling when German philanthropist August Scheri announced he would soon be showing off his rival gyro monorail at the Berlin Zoological Gardens.

Brennan’s proper public debut came the following year at the Japan-British Exhibition in London. There, a monorail car carrying 50 people at a time traversed a circular track at over 30 kilometres per hour. Winston Churchill was among the passengers and expressed his enthusiasm.

Moving sidewalk

The first moving walkway was unveiled at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1890. Invented by engineer Max Schmidt, it consisted of three concentric rings, the first stationary, the second moving at 4 kilometres per hour and the third at 8 km/h, allowing walkers to adjust to the slower speed before moving to the faster one. It proved a huge success at subsequent expositions in Berlin and Paris, where in 1900 the trottoir roulant (pictured) circled the fair in a 3-kilometre loop. Nearly 7 million visitors hopped on. A few even brought folding chairs.

Persuaded by this success, officials in New York proposed several high-profile moving walkway schemes for the city including one over Brooklyn Bridge and another running down Broadway. None materialised, perhaps because they were scuppered by established transport providers. It would be half a century before moving walkways started to appear in sprawling airports and railway stations.

The entertainment giant vowed to bring “Star Wars”

Last month, Disney said that it would build two Netflix-style services to address structural challenges to its vast television businesses — namely that more consumers, particularly younger ones, are foregoing pricey cable subscriptions. At the time, Disney said one streaming service would focus on sports programming from ESPN and the other would offer movies and television shows, but did not divulge much beyond that.

On Thursday, Mr. Iger said that the company’s Hollywood-oriented service would be introduced in “late 2019” and would include all new-release movies made by Walt Disney Studios, which includes Disney’s core film factory as well as Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. That means the “Star Wars” and Marvel movies will eventually leave Netflix, which has been paying Disney handsomely for streaming rights.

Also available on Disney’s entertainment service will be older films from its vaunted library, which includes more than 400 titles.

 Mr. Iger said Disney is also working on five original, live-action, Disney-branded movies that will be delivered exclusively through the service. Additionally, it will offer a handful of original Disney-branded shows, several original TV movies, recent seasons of Disney Channel hits and 7,000 episodes of older shows.

“A very, very rich treasure trove” is how Mr. Iger described the offerings. He declined to say how much subscriptions would cost.

The ESPN service will arrive sooner — “sometime this spring,” Mr. Iger said — and include, as previously disclosed, thousands of events not currently shown on ESPN, including hockey, baseball, tennis, college sports. But Mr. Iger said that Disney is hoping to provide a different buying model, at least eventually. Rather than charging one price for subscriptions, Disney’s sports service may allow users granular control over what they pay to watch — “a season, a league, maybe a conference,” Mr. Iger said.

“Think about iTunes,” he hinted.

Disney also used the investor conference to set earnings expectations for its 2017 fiscal year, which will conclude in a few weeks. Mr. Iger said that earnings per share would be “roughly in line” with results for 2016, when it had per-share profit of $5.72. Higher costs related to a new N.B.A. programming deal and the lack of a major “Star Wars” movie will contribute to Disney’s flat 2017 results. Mr. Iger also said that Disney will feel some financial effects from Hurricane Irma, which has disrupted Disney Cruise itineraries.

Maker of Angry Birds Game

Rovio, the Finnish gaming company behind the popular Angry Birds franchise, said on Friday that its chief executive, Mikael Hed, would step down by the end of the year as the company struggles financially.

Rovio has struggled recently after quickly rising to prominence in 2009 when Angry Birds became a global phenomenon. The company has failed to respond to more recent trends in gaming, and the announcement highlighted once again the precarious situation of many mobile gaming companies, whose fortunes often rely on a single franchise or technology.

Gaming companies are often dependent on a sole blockbuster franchise like Clash of Clans, a game produced by the Finnish company Supercell. Others, including Zynga, also have faced difficulties in reducing their reliance on social networks like Facebook, which were instrumental in promoting the games when they were first introduced.

But people’s online habits change quickly — and franchises like Angry Birds can lose their popularity as quickly as they gained it. Analysts question whether Rovio and its rivals have the staying power to meet people’s fast-changing interests. And creating a second big hit has often proved elusive.

“Most of these companies have been unable to replicate their past successes,” said Paul Jackson, a gaming analyst at the research technology company Ovum in London. “Mobile games are very transient. There’s no guarantee that people will play new games when they’re released.”

Mr. Hed co-founded Rovio with his cousin Niklas Hed in 2003. The company is majority-owned by Mikael Hed’s father, Kaj Hed, who remains chairman of the company, which is private.

Mr. Hed will be replaced as Rovio chief executive by Pekka Rantala, who is not a member of the family. Mr. Rantala, the company’s chief commercial officer, previously spent 14 years working at the Finnish telecommunications giant Nokia.

Mr. Hed has been nominated to the company’s board, and will also become chairman of the company’s animation and movie business, which the company has expanded into in the last few years.

“It has been an amazing ride,” said Mr. Hed, who has typically worn a bright red Angry Birds hoodie during his public appearances. “In the coming months, I will be very happy to pass the hoodie to Pekka Rantala, who will take Rovio to the next level.”

Angry Birds was one of the first games made for smartphones and tablets to take off in a major way, as millions of people paid $1 to download onto their mobile devices. The various versions of the game and its characters — including plump colorful birds that knock over structures — became a cultural symbol from San Francisco to Shanghai.

But while Angry Birds expanded into all sorts of merchandise and other entertainment forms, including apparel and movies, other game makers started to find financial riches in a different way.

Companies like King Digital Entertainment, the maker of the Candy Crush franchise, discovered millions of players and financial success with so-called freemium games, which let users play free but require the purchase of upgrades to gain access to premium content.

Rovio is a relative newcomer to freemium, introducing its first freemium game last year. The company said this year that its net profit for 2013 fell by more than 50 percent, to $37 million, compared with the previous year

The company introduced its freemium game, Angry Birds Go, last year, but has diversified into movies, animation and theme parks to reduce its reliance on online gaming.

And in contrast to rivals, which typically charge players less than $3 for in-game purchases, Angry Bird’s first freemium offering included upgrades that cost as much as $60 each to allow online characters to get to later stages of the game.

In a sign of how much Rovio has changed since the original Angry Birds game was released, the company now generates nearly half its revenue from licensing the Angry Birds brand for consumer products like candy dispensers and lunchboxes, according to the company’s latest annual financial report.

Cracks also are starting to show in other mobile gaming companies, many of which have been valued at billions of dollars through lucrative initial public offerings. Investors worry that mobile gaming companies may not be built to sustain momentum once one of their games becomes a major hit because of the fleeting nature of the public’s preferences.

Some gamers and regulators also are starting to question whether companies are misleading customers by not adequately disclosing the cost of the extras, while other consumers are walking away from existing mobile games in search for new titles

Apps Your Children Are Using

Video-Messaging Apps

Video apps like Marco Polo, House Party and FireChat are the new chat rooms (which in turn were the new party lines, but never mind).

Marco Polo, which has been downloaded at least 10 million times on the Google Play Store, touts itself as a video “walkie-talkie.” You make a video and send it. In response your friend makes a video. All the videos live in a queue; you add a video when it’s convenient.

Marco Polo is a closed messaging platform, but friends can invite their friends. Which means, in theory, your kid can talk to strangers through the app’s messaging system. Another potential issue: The videos are easily deleted. So if your teenager was sexually harassed or bullied through Marco Polo, chances are the user will delete the video and you won’t have proof.

Anonymous Apps

Anonymous apps have been developed for people interested in a faceless and nameless documentation of their lives (as opposed to a selfie), drawing in children who learned from earlier generations about the consequences of an offensive online footprint. (For example, Harvard University withdrewadmission offers to 10 incoming freshmen in June because of obscene Facebook posts.)

There are a number of anonymous apps on the market — After School, Sarahah, SayAt.Me, Monkey and Ask.Fm are some of the most popular — all of them promising the same feature: Spill intimate feelings about yourself or, on the flip side, spread rumors and attack friends, without any trace of who said what.

SayAt.Me has been under scrutiny since the death of George Hessay, 15, from East Yorkshire, England, who committed suicide in May after reportedly receiving bullying messages on the app.

The company deletes abusive content if reported, Hanna Talving, its chief executive, wrote in an email. “We also protect our site users from negative content by flagging it to them before they see it.”

Ephemeral Apps

Many adults have heard of Snapchat and Instagram Stories, but what about Live.ly, a rising live-streaming app with a large teenage audience? All three work like a disappearing magic act. You send photos, texts and videos, and poof.

Chances are, your teenager is using Snapchat: 75 percent of teens use the app, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey in April. In late June, Snapchat introduced Snap Map, a mapping feature that will share your location with a charming “Actionmoji” every single time you open the app. (Set it to Ghost Mode to turn this function off.)

Instagram Impostor Accounts

In early May, Dawn Dunscombe, who lives in a small New Jersey suburb, learned that an Instagram account with the handle “I Have A Crush.1” was devised to impersonate her 10-year-old daughter.

Ms. Dunscombe’s daughter does not have an Instagram account. Yet the fake account was filled with posts, including claims that her daughter had a crush on a boy in her class. It wasn’t the outed crush that upset Ms. Dunscombe — the tormenting song that someone is “Sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g,” is playground standard — it was that the fake account was created in her daughter’s name so easily and with the purpose of damaging her young daughter’s reputation.

Profanities and rudeness littered the account, which is what gave it away. “A classmate told my daughter, ‘I knew it couldn’t be you because you don’t curse and you don’t talk rude like that to people,’” Ms. Dunscombe said.

By the time Ms. Dunscombe tracked down the account, it had been shut down. The school investigated. No one confessed. Ms. Dunscombe contacted Instagram multiple times and got a generic message. The situation was handled. Account closed.

Management Strategies

Getting rid of an app is like playing whack-a-mole — particularly because many young people maintain multiple accounts with varying levels of secrecy.

“This arena in social media that we’re working in changes so quickly,” said Robert Appleton, the New York State Internet Crimes Against Children task force commander. “The kids don’t want the parents to discover what they’re using, so every time a new app comes out, they’re switching.”

And behavior, not apps that enable it, is the problem, said Elizabeth Englander a psychology professor at Bridgewater State University and director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center.

Technology In West Africa

What does the technology landscape looks like in West Africa? How is internet connectivity? Do people use Facebook and Google?

Internet connectivity has really soared in the last few years. I can get 3G in most major cities and 4G exists in a handful of places, or at least is advertised as existing.

Even just a few years ago, reporters needed to carry a BGAN, a portable satellite modem the size of a hardcover novel. I rarely take one. When I arrive in a new city, I always buy a SIM card with a data plan. But pretty much any cafe or restaurant will hand you a Wi-Fi password if you ask for it, and even small hotels in out-of-the-way places seem to manage to rig some kind of Wi-Fi system. One hotel in Maradi, Niger, about 400 miles outside the capital, had routers taped to the ceiling all over the hallways.

What kind of role does tech play in many of these developing African countries?

A lot of people in more-rural areas cannot afford TVs, and even if they can, in many areas electricity is highly unreliable, so mobile phones are a major source of news.

Phone credit is expensive and calls across providers cost extra. Some people have created an ingenious system called “flashing” — they call you and hang up so you dial them back and pick up the tab. I thought I was getting prank calls before I caught on.

WhatsApp groups are the new water cooler conversations where gossip and public announcements are shared via groups. West Africans move around a lot, so WhatsApp allows them a free way to stay in touch with family members living in other countries.

Mobile money — using a mobile phone to transfer payments — is also mainstream in many places and is a lifesaver for people who don’t have the option of bank transfers.

What tech is most important for you to do your job there?

Internet connectivity, by whatever means possible. Phone networks are often so bad that I make most of my calls using WhatsApp. People are really into it, so sources are more inclined to respond to messages on that platform than emails or regular phone calls. Business people and aid workers like Skype.

My iPhone saves me every day because I’m constantly moving around so I need an all-in-one device to access social networks, email, text, take photos, and use WhatsApp and my recording app. I recently dropped my phone in a toilet in Nigeria but managed to grab it quickly enough to salvage the hours of recordings I’d done with war victims before the device finally died. The nearest Apple store is thousands of miles away, and it was a company phone, so replacing it was stressful and involved stops in three continents.

How do you overcome connectivity issues?

Both cell and internet networks can be elusive, but they work well enough that when they don’t, I’m emotionally crushed or, more often, maddeningly annoyed.

I usually can’t stream video or download big files anywhere but in major cities, and even that is a challenge sometimes. The networks get really crowded, especially at night. WhatsApp and Skype calls are wonderful and clear but cut out a lot. Just dialing phone numbers sometimes takes five or six tries to get a clear line. It’s frustrating explaining to colleagues in New York that if they can’t reach me on the first try, just keep dialing and eventually they’ll get through.

Technology has really been pivotal in exposing abuse by authorities in West Africa in much the same way that it has in America. Videos of police abuse posted to YouTube and other social media in a number of nations have caused public outrage and, in some cases, led to firings of officers. In some countries, protesters and voters have used social media to organize during elections or social uprisings.

Governments have responded by cutting off internet access and shutting down mobile networks. In Cameroon earlier this year, people got around an internet blackout by typing up messages on phones and paying someone to haul them out of the blackout area and hit send.

Private financial data

Your only purpose as a corporation, the reason you were created and remain a going concern, is to collect and maintain people’s most private financial data.

Now you have fallen down on your only job — and spectacularly so. Hackers penetrated the spectral gauze of security surrounding your website, and over the course of nearly two months, they made away with the personal information of as many as 143 million Americans. It is the most important financial data available on any of us — our names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, home addresses and in some instances a lot more — and it was just sitting there on your site, all but wrapped up in a red bow.

So, Equifax, I have to ask: Now that you have failed at your one job, why should you be allowed to keep doing it?

If a bank lost everyone’s money, regulators might try to shut down the bank. If an accounting firm kept shoddy books, its licenses to practice accounting could be revoked. (See how Texas pulled Arthur Andersen’s license after the Enron debacle.)

Here’s one troubling reason: Because even after one of the gravest breaches in history, no one is really in a position to stop Equifax from continuing to do business as usual. And the problem is bigger than Equifax: We really have no good way, in public policy, to exact some existential punishment on companies that fail to safeguard our data. There will be hacks — and afterward, there will be more.

Experts said it was highly unlikely that any regulatory body would shut Equifax down over this breach. As one of the nation’s three major credit-reporting agencies, which store and analyze consumers’ financial history for credit decisions, it is likely to be considered too central to the American financial system; Equifax’s demise would both reduce competition in the industry and make each of the two survivors a bigger target. Raj Joshi, an analyst at Moody’s, said in a note to investors that Equifax was likely to be fine, as “the impact of the security breach will only modestly erode its solid credit metrics and liquidity.”

The two regulators that do have jurisdiction over Equifax, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, declined to comment on any potential punishments over the credit agency’s breach.

Consumers also have piddling rights over how Equifax may continue to use their credit data. “There’s nothing in any statute or anything else that allows you to ask Equifax to remove your data or have all your data disappear if you say you no longer trust it,” said John Ulzheimer, a consumer credit expert who worked at Equifax in the 1990s.

But wait, it gets worse. You also can’t prevent Equifax from getting any more of your data.

“You might be able to casually say to your bank that you don’t want them to give information to Equifax anymore, but I don’t know that’s going to have an effect on anything,” Mr. Ulzheimer said. “You don’t control the rules of engagement.”

This isn’t just about Equifax. We live in the age of Big Data. We have allowed, mostly passively, the emergence of huge and exquisitely detailed databases full of information about all of us. Financial companies, technology companies, medical organizations, advertisers, insurers, retailers and the government — thanks to technology, they can all now maintain massive warehouses of information on just about everyone alive.

Yet in many cases these data stores are only lightly regulated, and compared with the scale of the data compromised, the punishment for breaches is close to nonexistent. There is no federally sanctioned insurance or audit system for data storage, the way the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation provides insurance and a wind-down process for banks after losses. For many types of data, there are few licensure requirements on organizations seeking to house personally identifiable information.

In many cases, terms-of-service documents indemnify companies against legal consequences for breaches. In fact, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the credit-reporting service that Equifax is offering customers affected by this breach requires people to waive their legal rights to sign up.

“It is troubling that Equifax is forcing people to waive legal rights in order to receive fraud monitoring after the company’s breach put their personal information at risk,” Samuel Gilford, a bureau spokesman, said in a statement.

With all these ways of mitigating fallout from attacks, breaches keep happening — and in almost all cases, even when the data concerns tens or hundreds of millions of people, the companies that were hacked continue to operate anyway. See Yahoo, for instance, which hackers hit for 500 million accounts, and then again for one billion accounts — but which is still in business.

You might argue that not every data hack deserves a corporate death penalty. That’s reasonable. Neither Target nor Home Depot, for instance, is primarily in the business of storing your data. Both were hit in hacks for millions of people’s credit-card data, but after they offered some penance and promised to fix their systems, it’s not unreasonable that you would continue to shop at their stores.

Antivirus Software Government Computers

The concerns surrounding Kaspersky, whose software is sold throughout the United States, are longstanding. The F.B.I., aided by American spies, has for years been trying to determine whether Kaspersky’s senior executives are working with Russian military and intelligence, according to current and former American officials. The F.B.I. has also been investigating whether Kaspersky software, including its well-regarded antivirus programs, contain back doors that could allow Russian intelligence access into computers on which it is running. The company denies the allegations.

The officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiries are classified, would not provide details of the information they have collected on Kaspersky. But on Wednesday, Elaine C. Duke, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, ordered federal agencies to develop plans to remove Kaspersky software from government systems in the next 90 days.

Wednesday’s announcement is the latest instance of the apparent disconnect between the Trump White House, which has often downplayed the threat of Russian interference to the country’s infrastructure, and front-line American law enforcement and intelligence officials, who are engaged in a perpetual shadow war against Moscow-directed operatives.

Kaspersky’s business in the United States now appears to be the latest casualty in those spy wars. Best Buy, the electronics giant, announced last week that it was pulling Kaspersky Lab’s cybersecurity products from its shelves and website, and the Senate is voting this week on a defense-spending bill that would ban Kaspersky Lab products from being used by American government agencies, effectively codifying Wednesday’s directive into law.

Kaspersky is considered one of the foremost cybersecurity research firms in the world, and has considerable expertise in designing antivirus software and tools to uncover spyware used by Western intelligence services. The company was founded by Eugene V. Kaspersky, who attended a high school that trained Russian spies, and later wrote software for the Soviet Army before going on to found Kaspersky Lab in 1997. He has insisted that neither he nor his company have active ties to the Russian military or intelligence services.

Yet despite its prominence in the cybersecurity world, its origins in Russia have for years fueled suspicions about its possible ties to Russia’s intelligence agencies. Federal officials have warned private companies to avoid Kaspersky software, and earlier this year the firm was removed from two lists of approved vendors used by government agencies to purchase technology.

At a Senate hearing in May, a number of senior American security officials, including the chiefs of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., were even more blunt when asked if they would be comfortable with Kaspersky software running on their agencies’ systems: “No,” they said.

Still, Kaspersky’s software is believed to be used in many federal agencies, especially its antivirus products, though there is no reliable estimate of its ubiquity — government computer systems tend be a jumbled-together collection of often-aging software and hardware, and no central authority keeps track of who uses what.

Kaspersky’s software is also widely used by state governments and ordinary Americans. The company says it has more than 400 million users around the world. It also has a robust business analyzing and investigating cyberthreats.

Androids Dream of Being Featured in Portrait Competitions

The portrait was taken by the Finnish artist Maija Tammi. Ms. Tammi often collaborates with scientists, and her photographs and sculptures feature themes of death, decay and regeneration. Her work has included a photo series contrasting pictures of a rotting rabbit with those of cancer cells, and images of semen and breast milk that, seen up close, look like starry universes.

In the shortlisted portrait, Erica looks decidedly lifelike. The photograph, titled “One of Them Is a Human #1,” is part of a wider series by Ms. Tammi featuring androids.“I was curious to see if the time was ready for an android portrait,” Ms. Tammi said. She hopes that the photograph will provoke thought and conversation about what makes us human.

“I know that some people believe very strongly that a portrait of someone shows the viewer a deep psychological insight of the person who isn’t in the camera,” Ms. Tammi said. “We make the story of what we see in the portrait.”

Erica is the creation of Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor at Osaka University’s Intelligent Robotics Laboratory in Japan. She was designed to have natural conversations with humans, integrating voice recognition and body language like blinking and head tilting. But for now, her conversational responses are limited and she is unable to move her arms or walk.

The decision to include an android’s portrait in the shortlist is controversial. The rules for the international competition, hosted by the National Portrait Gallery in London, say that the picture “must have been taken by the entrant from life and with a living sitter.” The rules define portraits as “photography concerned with portraying people with an emphasis on their identity as individuals.”

Laura McKechan, a senior communications manager at the National Portrait Gallery, said that the gallery had decided against barring the portrait from the competition, though it would consider whether the rules need to be changed in the future.

“It was felt that the subject of this portrait, while not human, is a representation of a human figure and makes a powerful statement as a work of art in its questioning of what it is to be alive or human and asks challenging questions about portraiture,” Ms. McKechan wrote in an email. “The ambiguity of this portrait makes it particularly compelling.”

The portrait’s inclusion in the shortlist is timely as the debate about how best to advance and regulate artificial intelligence intensifies. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, and Stephen Hawking, the celebrated physicist, have cautioned the public about the potential dangers of A.I. Recent science-fiction films like “Ex Machina,” “Her,” and the HBO TV series “Westworld” have also confronted the ethics and potential consequences of creating artificially sentient beings, whose motivations might not align with those of the humans who built them.