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Google’s new hardware strategy hitches its wagon to artificial intelligence

If you missed Google’s big announcements yesterday morning, well … you missed Google making some big moves. If there was a theme that encompassed all of the hardware and software news coming from the event, it was: control. The question is: Is Google giving you more control, or is that posturing just a guise for Google controlling you? Before we get to that, let’s back up a second and recap the goodies Google showed.

None of the hardware came as much of a surprise; we got the Pixel phones we expected — with some serious specs and a convincing camera – the new $70 4K  Chromecast Ultra streaming dongle — with a hard-line Ethernet connection (thanks Google) – Google Home — which is very clearly a swipe at Amazon’s Alexa-armed speakers – and Daydream, a super-comfy evolution of Google’s cardboard VR headset.

What came as more of a surprise, however, was that all of the devices are integrated, tied together with Google’s software, cloud services and, most notably, artificial intelligence. Yes, it’s AI that really makes all of Google’s new devices intriguing. The Google Home speaker, for instance, can answer all kinds of questions Amazon’s Alexa can’t. Plus, it will let you control Chromecast devices throughout your home.

And given that Google is known for keeping its architecture open, and developers are used to using it, you can bet it will be able to control your smart thermostats, door locks, and other connected home devices very soon. More important is the idea that there’s such a thing as your Google. The more you use Google to help you get places, schedule appointments, set reminders, and fetch information, the more Google can proactively assist you and just you.

If you’re thinking this all sounds a little more scary than it does exciting, you’re not alone. DT’s Andy Boxall has some interesting observations and prognostications to share in this pointed Op-Ed.

Scandal at Yahoo abounds

Speaking of scary tech: Business Insider says Yahoo may be denying it is spying on its users’ emails now, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t in the recent past. The report substantiates a haunting picture of Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer letting the government in without the knowledge of Yahoo’s chief security officer.

Pursuant to admitting to a massive hack, details are emerging about how Alex Stamos, Yahoo’s Chief Information Security Officer in 2015, discovered spy code when analyzing Yahoo’s systems for vulnerabilities. At first, they thought it came from hackers, but eventually, it was clear it was Yahoo’s own software engineers that had planted it, and at the direction of Mayer, who, it appears, was running a culture of secrecy, and keeping the security team in the dark.

It’s the stuff movies are made of. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see a flick inspired by these very events sometime in the near future. But, if we’re going to try to walk with a positive takeaway here, perhaps it’s that it is time to close your Yahoo account once and for all. Who knows what will happen to Yahoo at this point.

If Verizon is still thinking acquisition, well, then it clearly plans to nuke the whole operation, but that doesn’t mean things will be better for account holders in the future. This is definitely one of these better safe than sorry moments.