NPR Technology


Face Recognition Lets Palestinians Cross Israeli Checkposts Fast, But Raises Concerns

NPR Technology

A Palestinian man uses a biometric gate as he crosses into Israel at the Qalandia crossing in Jerusalem in July. Israel's military has invested tens of millions of dollars to upgrade West Bank crossings and ease entry for Palestinian workers. But critics slam the military's use of facial recognition technology as problematic. A Palestinian man uses a biometric gate as he crosses into Israel at the Qalandia crossing in Jerusalem in July. Israel's military has invested tens of millions of dollars to upgrade West Bank crossings and ease entry for Palestinian workers.


How A Tip -- And Facial Recognition Technology -- Helped The FBI Catch A Killer

NPR Technology

An FBI agent displays seized firearms from a gang investigation. Digital facial recognition helped the bureau track down an MS-13 member wanted in connection with murder. An FBI agent displays seized firearms from a gang investigation. Digital facial recognition helped the bureau track down an MS-13 member wanted in connection with murder. Walter Yovany-Gomez evaded authorities for years before the FBI put him on its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.


These Experimental Shorts Are An 'Exosuit' That Boosts Endurance On The Trail

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A Harvard research team's prototype of a portable exosuit is made of cloth components worn at the waist and thighs. A computer that's built into the shorts uses an algorithm that can sense when the user shifts between a walking gait and a and running gait. A Harvard research team's prototype of a portable exosuit is made of cloth components worn at the waist and thighs. A computer that's built into the shorts uses an algorithm that can sense when the user shifts between a walking gait and a and running gait. Say the word "exosuit" and superheroes come to mind -- somebody like Tony Stark from Marvel Comics, whose fancy suit enables him become Iron Man.


Users Can Sue Facebook Over Facial Recognition Software, Court Rules

NPR Technology

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Thursday that Facebook users in Illinois can sue the company over its use of facial recognition technology. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Thursday that Facebook users in Illinois can sue the company over its use of facial recognition technology. A U.S. court has ruled that Facebook users in Illinois can sue the company over face recognition technology, meaning a class action can move forward. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued its ruling on Thursday. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, it's the first decision by a U.S. appellate court to directly address privacy concerns posed by facial recognition technology.


How Tech Companies Track Your Every Move And Put Your Data Up For Sale

NPR Technology

If you ever get the creepy feeling you're being monitored when you use your computer, smartphone or smart speaker, our guest Geoffrey Fowler is here to tell you you are. Fowler writes a consumer-oriented technology column for The Washington Post. He's been investigating the ways our browsers and phone apps harvest personal information about us even while we're sleeping. And he discovered that Amazon had kept four years' worth of recorded audio from his home, captured by his Alexa smart speaker, including family conversations about medications and a friend doing a business transaction. Geoffrey Fowler joined the Post in 2017 after 16 years with the Wall Street Journal, writing about consumer technology, Silicon Valley, national affairs and China. He writes his technology column from San Francisco. He spoke with FRESH AIR's Dave Davies. You have a recent column. The headline is "I Found Your Data. It's For Sale." What kind of personal data did you find available for sale on the Internet? GEOFFREY FOWLER: I found all kinds of things that normal people would consider secrets and that corporations spend a lot of money - millions and millions of dollars - to try to keep out of the hands of their competitors and criminals. I found people's flight records. I found people's records from their doctors prescribing them medications. I found people's tax documents that they were - thought they were only sharing with their tax preparer. And they were available with one click. I could have opened them up and downloaded them. And where did this data come from?


Towards New Musics: What The Future Holds For Sound Creativity

NPR Technology

In his brilliant, provocative 1966 essay, The Prospects of Recording, Glenn Gould proposed elevating – pardon the pun – elevator music from pernicious drone to enriching ear training. In his view, the ubiquitous presence of background sound could subversively train listeners to be sensitive to the building blocks, structural forms and hidden meanings of music, turning the art form into the universal language of the emotions that it was destined to be. In a not-unrelated development, Gould had somewhat recently traded the concert hall for the recording studio, an act echoed by The Beatles' release in 1967 of Sgt. Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club Band, an album conceived and produced in a multi-track recording studio and never meant to be played in concert. And while Gould's dream of a transformative elevator music never quite panned out, it is clear that from the 1940s through the '60s -- from Les Paul and Mary Ford's pioneering use of overdubs in How High the Moon, to the birth of rock and roll with Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" in 1955, and on to Schaeffer, Stockhausen, Gould, The Beatles and many more -- a totally new art form, enabled by magnetic tape recording and processing, was born.


Hello, Brave New World!

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It can't be overstated how fundamentally different this paradigm for music curation is from what you're used to. To compare it to another example from around your time, Spotify's Daily Drive playlist wove audio snippets from news talk shows with personalized music recommendations. I recall the feature was heralded as innovative for combining multiple audio formats into a single interface, but it was still fundamentally limited in how it relied on metadata around past listening activity. In contrast, the music information retrieval (MIR) techniques used in YouNite draw on real-time and forward-looking predictions around both present physiological states and desired future emotional outcomes. Hope this all makes sense?


Improved Prosthetic Hand Has A Lighter Touch And Easy Grip

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University of Utah doctoral student Jacob George, left, and associate professor Greg Clark examine the LUKE arm that they use for their experiments. A man who lost his lower arm in an electrical accident was able to experience some sense of touch and fine motor control with his grip while using the experimental device. University of Utah doctoral student Jacob George, left, and associate professor Greg Clark examine the LUKE arm that they use for their experiments. A man who lost his lower arm in an electrical accident was able to experience some sense of touch and fine motor control with his grip while using the experimental device. Keven Walgamott, a real estate agent who lost his left hand and part of his arm in an electrical accident in 2002, got emotional when he was able to clasp his hands together and "feel" the space between his thumb and his index finger using a 3D-printed prosthetic hand in 2016.


An Imagined Future Speaks In 'Talking To Robots'

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Your purchase helps support NPR programming. We've been talking to robots for a while now. In the decade or so since Siri and her compatriots first appeared, we've all gotten pretty used to having conversations with computers in various forms. While your Alexa doesn't look much like a Cylon (the scary metal kind or hotty flesh kind) now, it seems like it's just a matter of time of time before we'll be talking with all kinds of robots -- including those that look just like us. Time, robots and conversations are at the heart of David Ewing Duncan's new book Talking to Robots: Tales from Our Human-Robot Futures.


VIDEO: Move Objects With Your Mind? We're Getting There, With The Help Of An Armband

NPR Technology

In the latest episode of Future You, check out an armband that lets you control tech devices with your mind. This is not a brain implant or even a headset. It's an armband that reads neuron activity to let you move objects in digital space. Then it goes further, giving you mental control of physical robots too. Think "the Force" from Star Wars.