It’s going to be one of the spookiest Halloweens ever. In addition to the general weirdness in the air, watch out for digital ghosts, an arms race among our robot friends, the nightmare-inducing memory of a great white shark, and children with scary names. Don’t be afraid. We’re going to blast some sunshine onto the spine-chilling things that go bump in the night in this Halloween edition of our weekly roundup of technology tidbits to keep you safe –and up to date.  

  1. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, part of the US Department of Energy, offers some guidance on how energy providers and others can stay safe from the risks brought on by the Internet of Things in the era of 5G. And they get some help from (friendly) digital ghosts.
  2. Yes, there’s an “arms race” among robots, but no, it’s not aimed at world domination. Instead, the goal is to leverage AI to improve the abilities of robots in activities involving fine motor skills (such as assistive feeding) where precise manipulation of objects requires nuance and “shared autonomy” over the task at hand.
  3. Don't panic – the sky isn't falling. Look straight up 340 miles and you might catch a glimpse of some of SpaceX’s global Starlink network (with over 700 out of a planned 42,000 satellites deployed thus far). That’s enough for the company to ramp up for a public beta test with upwards of 5 million end users in North America. If successful, the nascent global network could shake up the competitive landscape for communications and could also create new options for connectivity in remote field locations.
  4. Remember that line from Jaws: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”?  Sometimes when you’re building machine learning models, you’re either gonna need more data or you’re gonna need a lot more math. Some new research from the University of Waterloo offers new approaches to the “more math, less data” scenario.
  5. Dressing up as your hero once a year can be fun. But being stuck in that costume year round? That's been known to backfire. Are we headed back to an era in which tech startups routinely inspire over-the-top acts of customer loyalty? Back in the day, there was the fanboy who got a tattoo of a Palm smartphone that he’d have to live with long after almost nobody remembers that there used to be a company called Palm that made smartphones. And don't forget the Microsoft supporter who might not have realized that, compared to the lifecycle of a PC operating system, houses are forever. And now a couple in Switzerland is trying to revive the trend, naming their daughter after their Internet provider, in exchange for 18 years of free WiFi. We’d love to hear about any children (or pets?) that you’ve named Zinier, although we’re not promising any rewards. (Pics or it didn’t happen.)

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