5 Must-Read Tech News Hits

Rounding up IT and advanced tech-related news in government and industry

Employees at Wisconsin-based Company Get ‘Micro-chipped’

About 50 employees from the company Three Square Market, which designs software for vending machines, agreed to be implanted with a radio frequency identification tag the size of a grain of rice. The chip, provided by the Swedish start-up Biohax, is implanted between the index finger and thumb by a body piercer. The microchips hold encrypted information and allow the wearer (or cyborgs) to do things like enter a building or make a payment with a swipe of the hand. (GovernmentCIO Magazine Editor-in-Chief Camille Tuutti has the same exact chip.)

As with most advanced technology, concerns remain around hacking and usage regulations. Some have even protested against the implanted chips, and states have already begun banning tagging without consent. The Washington Post

FirstNet is Expanding with Recent Opt-Ins

New Mexico is the eighth state and the U.S. Virgin Islands is the first territory to opt-in to the First Responder Network Authority, both announcing the decision to accept the FirstNet and AT&T plan on Aug. 1. The plan will deliver a wireless broadband network to the state and territory’s public safety community, ultimately bringing advanced technologies that will help first responders. AT&T will build, operate and maintain the secure wireless broadband communications network for the involved public safety communities at no cost for the next 25 years. FirstNet plans to create an entire system of modernized devices, apps and tools just for first responders.

So far, the other opt-in states include Wyoming, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and New Jersey. FirstNet.Gov

10 Vendors Awarded Next-Gen Telecom Contract

The General Services Administration chose 10 companies for its 15-year, $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Services contract. Those companies are AT&T, BT Federal, CenturyLink, Core Technologies, Granite Telecommunications, Harris Corp., Level 3 Communications, Manhattan Telecommunications, MicroTech and Verizon. EIS is the new contract vehicle offering telecom and IT solutions to meet the need for new and emerging services, replacing the Networx and Regional Local Telecommunications Services contracts as they expire.

EIS will provide voice, video and data transport services, hosting services, cloud services, call centers, labor services, cable and wiring, and network and security equipment. The contract aims to make it easier and more affordable for government agencies to acquire and improve telecom systems. The awards were posted Aug. 1. FedBizOpps

18F Announces ‘Project Boise’

18F, the innovation office within GSA, is starting an internal initiative to "reduce the burden (time, cost, and pain) and improve the effectiveness of the federal government’s software security compliance processes." Project Boise, which is the working title for the discovery phase of research building on 18F’s Compliance Toolkit, intends to evaluate and streamline the authority to operate process (used to ensure commercial software staged for use in the federal government are security compliant). According to 18F, the ATO process is a universally “painful” one for the public and private sector, a burden on agency software acquisition and a disruption to delivery.

In the first month or so, 18F will bring awareness to Boise by talking to both government and industry people dealing with ATOs, identify and map common compliance journeys, and map the areas of ATO work to better direct Boise parts of the ATO process that need more attention. GitHub

Facebook AI Bots Were Not Plotting a Takeover

Recent reports of Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Lab robots creating an unknown language to communicate left some readers thinking the AI machines were “plotting to take over the world.” However, what the bots were actually doing was breaking English words into new communications structure and syntax, based on the negotiation instructions developers had given. Facebook developers were able to “stop the runway language and put the communication back on English tracks.”

With these bots, Facebook developers are looking into using code to engage them in repeated interactions, keeping in mind common goals, and trading things like hats and balls. Yet, questions still remain around AI and language deviation. The Daily Beast