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August's WiFi smart lock hits all-time low of $183 at Amazon

Engadget

August's 4th-generation WiFi smart lock is one of its best yet, and now you can get it at a more affordable price. Amazon has discounted the silver model to $183.49, down from its usual $250 price. The black version is also on sale, but is only $14.67 off. We've seen the August lock drop as low as $199 in the past, but more frequently it's been discounted to $210, making this one of the best opportunities to buy it to date. Buy August smart lock at Amazon - $183.49


Robots: Jellyfish-inspired swimming machine could explore coral reefs and archaeological sites

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A swimming robot that mimics the super-effective way that jellyfish move about underwater could soon be used to explore coral reefs and archaeological sites. Experts use a measure called the'cost of transport' to compare the movement efficiency of different species from across the animal kingdom. Such studies have show that nature's more efficient mover -- easily beating out running and flying animals and bony fish -- is the moon jellyfish, Aurelia aurita. These soft-bodied creatures move by squeezing their bodies in order to expel a jet of water that propels them forward. Inspired by this, engineers from Southampton and Edinburgh built a jet-driven robot that is around 10–50 times more efficient that its propeller-driven peers.


Watch a robot squid propel itself through water with rhythm

New Scientist

Robot squid that move to a rhythm can match the power efficiency of the real animals, a trick that could be useful for designing next-generation submarines. Real squid have small fins that they use for careful manoeuvring, but when a big burst of speed is required they suck in and expel water to propel themselves. Researchers have tried to build robots that mimic this jet-like behaviour, but now a team led by Gabriel Weymouth at the University of Southampton, UK, has discovered a way to boost their efficiency. Weymouth and his colleagues created an umbrella-like robot with eight 3D-printed plastic ribs covered by a rubber skirt. It flexes outwards to suck in water and contracts to expel it, providing thrust.


Are you being overcharged by clever AI? Watchdog looks at whether algorithms hurt competition

ZDNet

To stop algorithms from charging unfair prices when we shop online, the UK's competition watchdog is launching a new investigation into the ways that AI systems might harm consumers – an issue that has so far lacked in-depth research and analysis, says the organization, and yet affects most of us in our everyday lives. While a lot of attention has focused on algorithmic harms in general, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) suggested that little work has been done in the specific area of consumer and competition harms, and reported that almost no research on the topic exists in the UK. There is particularly little insight into the ways that automated systems tailor costs, shopping options or rankings to each individual's online behavior, often leading to consumers paying higher prices than they should. For this reason, the CMA has asked academics and industry to submit evidence about the potential misdeeds caused by the misuse of algorithms, and is launching a program called "Analyzing Algorithms", which could even help identify specific firms that are violating consumers' rights, so that cases can be taken forward if needed. Kate Brand, director of data science at CMA, said: "We want to receive as much information as possible from stakeholders in academia, the competition community, firms, civil society and third sector organizations in order to understand where the harm is occurring and what the most effective regulatory approach is to protect consumers in the future."


2021 technology trend review, part two: AI, knowledge graphs, and the COVID-19 effect

ZDNet

Last year, we identified blockchain, cloud, open-source, artificial intelligence, and knowledge graphs as the five key technological drivers for the 2020s. Although we did not anticipate the kind of year that 2020 would turn out to be, it looks like our predictions may not have been entirely off track. Let's pick up from where we left off, retracing developments in key technologies for the 2020s: Artificial intelligence and knowledge graphs, plus an honorable mention to COVID-19-related technological developments. This TechRepublic Premium ebook compiles the latest on cancelled conferences, cybersecurity attacks, remote work tips, and the impact this pandemic is having on the tech industry. In our opener for the 2020s, we laid the groundwork to evaluate the array of technologies under the umbrella term "artificial intelligence."


The best presidents in video games

Washington Post - Technology News

Most presidents in real life and in games have stained their hands with the blood of innocents, and Sonic the Hedgehog's president is no different. In "Sonic Adventure 2," we learn that Mr. President requested Eggman's grandfather, Gerald Robotnik, to unlock the secrets of immortality. Robotnik was driven by his need to cure his fatally ill granddaughter, Maria Robotnik. Of course, these experiments led to the creation of the "ultimate lifeform" Shadow the Hedgehog, as well as a galaxy-level threat in some kind of biolizard thing that Sonic kills as Super Sonic. Anyway, the point is that there's a direct line of cause and effect from Mr. President's decisions and the creation of the Eggman Empire, which threatens the peace of the United Federations.


Start 2021 off right with a great gaming laptop — get a Dell G7 for $400 off

Mashable

SAVE $400: The Dell G7 4K gaming laptop is a great way to experience PC gaming without the bulk of a desktop -- it's $400 off at Best Buy as of Jan. 20. Before they all start coming out, you're going to want to prepare by getting the right gear, whether that's one of the elusive new consoles or a high-end PC. If you haven't had any luck snagging a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, you should definitely look at dipping your toes into the world of PC gaming. A gaming laptop is a good way to start, and the Dell G7 is $400 off at Best Buy as of Jan. 20. The Dell G7 gets you a high-quality pc gaming experience without the bulk of a desktop.


Facebook improves AI photo descriptions for the visually impaired

Engadget

Facebook has long been using AI to describe photos for the visually impaired, but it's stepping up its efforts in 2021. The social media giant has detailed a new version of automatic alternative text (AAT) that promises much more information. Instead of relying on heavily supervised AI learning, Facebook is now using weak supervision based on "billions" of Instagram photos and hashtags. The method lets Facebook expand beyond just 100 concept descriptions to include over 1,200, such as different kinds of food and national monuments. It's also more culturally inclusive -- it can recognize weddings that don't involve white wedding dresses, for example. A new object detection system can also recognize where people are in the frame as well as the number of people in the scene.


Japan to use AI for customs procedures, stop drug smuggling

The Japan Times

Japan's Finance Ministry is promoting a program to introduce artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technology to help customs agents crack down on increased smuggling of illegal drugs. The program aims to establish the world's most advanced inspection capabilities according to a plan announced by the ministry in June last year. As part of the program, AI-based analysis will be used to sort through huge amounts of data on past cases of unlawful import activity, looking for patterns of false descriptions on such matters as price, quantity and weight of goods on import declarations. The information will help pin down importers who should be watched more closely. To prevent the importing of illegal drugs, the ministry has already started testing a prototype nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR) device that uses AI to check X-rayed items and identify possible drug smuggling.


The Morning After: LG might get out of the smartphone business

Engadget

In the US, today is Inauguration Day, and as Joe Biden prepares to take the oath as our 46th president, it's worth taking a look back at the discussions four years ago. Back then, the "most tech-savvy" president exited as all eyes turned to Donald Trump trading in his Android Twitter machine for a secure device. We know how things went after that. Donald Trump isn't tweeting anymore (at least not from his main accounts), and the country is struggling through a pandemic. The outgoing president just saw his temporary YouTube ban extended and, in one of his last official acts, pardoned Anthony Levandowski for stealing self-driving car secrets from Google's subsidiary Waymo.