Like many parents in the United States, Rob Glaser has been thinking a lot lately about how to keep his kids from getting shot in school. Specifically, he's been thinking of what he can do that doesn't involve getting into a nasty and endless battle over what he calls "the g-word." It's not that Glaser opposes gun control. A steady Democratic donor, Glaser founded the online streaming giant RealNetworks back in the 1990s as a vehicle for broadcasting left-leaning political views. It's just that any conversation about curbing gun rights in America tends to lead more to gridlock and finger-pointing than it does to action.
Facial recognition tech is becoming more sophisticated, with some firms claiming it can even read our emotions and detect suspicious behaviour. But what implications does this have for privacy and civil liberties? Facial recognition tech has been around for decades, but it has been progressing in leaps and bounds in recent years due to advances in computing vision and artificial intelligence (AI), tech experts say. It is now being used to identify people at borders, unlock smart phones, spot criminals, and authenticate banking transactions. But some tech firms are claiming it can also assess our emotional state.
The tech giants are racing to get digital assistants into our homes - the Amazon Echo Dot currently has a 40% discount during Amazon Prime Day - but debate rages over whether they are suitable for children. There have certainly been teething problems. Toy giant Mattel abandoned its "AI babysitter", Aristotle, last year following privacy concerns. And music streaming service Spotify is currently testing a way of filtering out songs with explicit lyrics following complaints from parents that family-friendly versions of tracks did not play by default when requested on smart speakers. Amazon Echo meanwhile added a feature to encourage children to be more polite to it following concerns that the abrupt way in which people talk to it was teaching children to be rude.
Imagine, for a moment, the simple act of picking up a playing card from a table. You have a couple of options: Maybe you jam your fingernail under it for leverage, or drag it over the edge of the table. Now imagine a robot trying to do the same thing. Tricky: Most robots don't have fingernails, or friction-facilitating fingerpads that perfectly mimic ours. So many of these delicate manipulations continue to escape robotic control.
Daimler and Bosch say they'll test a self-driving car in a ride-hailing service in California in 2019. The two German companies didn't say which model Mercedes car or SUV they'll use, only that the first self-driving taxis will put safety drivers behind the wheel, just in case, and will incorporate Pegasus, Nvidia's self-driving hardware and software package. According to Automotive News, later iterations of the car will use a Bosch system based on Nvidia hardware. There's a lot the companies didn't say. For one, they haven't selected the city in California where the program is to roll out.
Robert Louis Stevenson's 1881 classic Treasure Island tells of Jim Hawkins's adventures on board the Hispaniola, as he and his crew – along with double-crossing pirate Long John Silver – set out to find Captain Flint's missing treasure on Skeleton Island. Now, more than a century later, children can try and find it themselves, with the bays and mountains of Stevenson's fictional island given a blocky remodelling in Minecraft, as part of a new project aimed at bringing reluctant readers to literary classics. From Spyglass Hill to Ben Gunn's cave, children can explore every nook and cranny of Skeleton Island as part of Litcraft, a new partnership between Lancaster University and Microsoft, which bought the game for $2.5bn (£1.9bn) in 2015 and which is now played by 74 million people each month. The Litcraft platform uses Minecraft to create accurate scale models of fictional islands: Treasure Island is the first, with Michael Morpurgo's Kensuke's Kingdom just completed and many others planned. While regular Minecraft is rife with literary creations – the whole of George RR Martin's sprawling setting for Game of Thrones, Westeros, has been created in its entirety, as have several different Hogwarts – Litcraft is not all fun and games, being peppered with educational tasks that aim to re-engage reluctant readers with the book it is based on.
A computer running artificial intelligence software defeated two teams of human doctors in accurately recognizing maladies in magnetic resonance images on Saturday, in a contest that was billed as the world's first competition in neuroimaging between AI and human experts. Good versus evil is a daily battle on a variety of levels but perhaps none more so than that those tracking developments within the realm of Artificial Intelligence. The question on the minds of many business leaders is will the technology create more efficiency within industries or will machines end up usurping their very users. Many in the workforce simply want to know whether there will be massive impending job loss as a result of AI or whether such tech advancements will help them to be more productive. There are wild myths about this new area of tech and even wilder predictions amidst few, if any, regulations and standards.
The complaints add to the barrage of criticism facing the Silicon Valley giant over its handling of users' personal details. Several American government agencies are currently investigating Facebook's response to the harvesting of its users' data by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm. Facebook's push to spread facial recognition also puts the company at the center of a broader and intensifying debate about how the powerful technology should be handled. The technology can be used to remotely identify people by name without their knowledge or consent. While proponents view it as a high-tech tool to catch criminals, civil liberties experts warn it could enable a mass surveillance system.