Goto

Collaborating Authors

The Guardian


From the invasion of Ukraine to weapons procurement: the war games seeking solutions to real-life conflicts

The Guardian

On the second floor of the stately King's College London building on the Strand, Vladimir Putin, Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz and Joe Biden are sitting around a table studying a map of Ukraine. They are here to negotiate the future of the country, but they all have ulterior objectives too. Germany wants to ensure the safe transit of refugees; the US wants Russia to cease its disinformation campaign; France wants trade; and Russia needs dozens of sanctions to be lifted. But nobody is giving anything away. It's tense as hell and the clock is ticking.


Dyson reveals its big bet … robots

The Guardian

Dyson has signalled it is placing a "big bet" on producing robots capable of household chores by 2030, as it looks to move beyond the vacuum cleaners, fans and dryers that made its founder one of the wealthiest British businessmen. The company, founded by billionaire Sir James Dyson, on Wednesday published photographs of robot arms being used in household settings, including cleaning furniture, a claw picking up plates, and a hand-like machine picking up a teddy bear. While those may not sound like major achievements, robots still struggle with many actions that represent simple tasks for humans, such as grasping fragile objects or dealing with unfamiliar obstacles. Solving those and other problems could create new markets for the company. Dyson wants to build the UK's largest robotics research centre at its Hullavington Airfield site, close to its design centre in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.


Pushing Buttons: Why linking real-world violence to video games is a dangerous distraction

The Guardian

Welcome to Pushing Buttons, the Guardian's gaming newsletter. If you'd like to receive it in your inbox every week, just pop your email in below – and check your inbox (and spam) for the confirmation email. Remember how, in the wake of yet more awful shootings in the US this month, Fox News decided to blame video games rather than, you know, the almost total absence of meaningful gun control? Remember how I said last week that the video-games-cause-violence "argument" was so mendacious and nakedly manipulative that I wasn't going to dignify it with a response? Well, here I am, responding, because the supposed link between video games and real-life violence is one of the most persistent myths that I've encountered over the course of my career, and it has an interesting (if also infuriating) history.


UK watchdog fines facial recognition firm £7.5m over image collection

The Guardian

The UK's data watchdog has fined a facial recognition company £7.5m for collecting images of people from social media platforms and the web to add to a global database. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) also ordered US-based Clearview AI to delete the data of UK residents from its systems. Clearview AI has collected more than 20bn images of people's faces from Facebook, other social media companies and from scouring the web. John Edwards, the UK information commissioner, said Clearview's business model was unacceptable. "Clearview AI Inc has collected multiple images of people all over the world, including in the UK, from a variety of websites and social media platforms, creating a database with more than 20bn images," he said. "The company not only enables identification of those people, but effectively monitors their behaviour and offers it as a commercial service.


What can we learn from a new documentary on Elon Musk?

The Guardian

You could be forgiven for believing that we've already achieved the era of autonomous vehicles. Tesla, the electric car manufacturer run by Elon Musk, refers to a version of its Autopilot software as "Full Self Driving". The company released a (misleadingly edited) video of an autonomous vehicle navigating city streets, its drivers' hands on their lap – a style replicated by enthusiasts. Musk has repeatedly assured in speeches and interviews that autonomous vehicles were one to two years away – or, as he put it in 2015, a "solved problem" because "we know what to do and we'll be there in a few years." But the existing Autopilot technology has not yet realized those promises and, as a new New York Times documentary illustrates, the gap in expectation and reality has led to several deadly crashes.


Data the dog: Twitter turns its privacy policy into an old-school video game

The Guardian

On Friday, Elon Musk announced he was pausing his $45bn purchase of Twitter because he had only just discovered some of the accounts on the site were fake. But that's not the strangest thing that has happened to the beleaguered social media platform this week. Because on Tuesday the current top brass, perhaps trying to demonstrate their vision for the site, released a Super Nintendo-style browser game that recaps Twitter's private policy. The platform unveiled Twitter Data Dash, which plays like a vintage side-scrolling platformer that's been draped with a healthy dose of disinformation anxiety. You take control of a blue-hued puppy named Data and are tasked with retrieving five bones hidden in each of the game's day-glo urban environments.


Sonos launches cheaper Ray soundbar and new voice control system

The Guardian

Sonos, the wireless home-audio specialist, is launching a lower-cost model of its popular TV soundbars alongside its own new voice control system for its smart speakers after its public bust-up with Google. The new Ray soundbar is a more compact version of Sonos's popular Arc and Beam models, designed to fit neatly in TV stands without affecting sound quality. It connects to a TV through an optical cable, has wifi for streaming music and can be controlled with the Sonos app or a TV remote. The Ray will cost £279 in the UK or $279 in the US from 7 June, sitting below the £449 Beam as the firm's most affordable model. It has two tweeters and two midwoofer speakers, along with the company's Trueplay smart tuning system, promising balanced sound with solid bass and crisp dialogue.


Trolley Problem, Inc review – a thrill ride into the world of ethical dilemmas

The Guardian

Should a hospital introduce a mandatory vaccination programme to stop a breakout of infant disease when one of five children will become ill from the vaccine? Should an AI company programme a self-driving car to save its passengers at any cost? Should a government torture a prisoner to extract information that is certain to save many lives? In Trolley Problem, Inc – a game named after the well-known philosophical dilemma by which an onlooker can choose to divert a runaway trolley to kill one person instead of five – you have 40 seconds to answer these and scores of other ethical quandaries. As the timer drains, a well-spoken, gently sarcastic female commentator articulates the counterargument to your intended choice.


Pushing Buttons: How Tomb Raider's Lara Croft was let down by generic games

The Guardian

Welcome to Pushing Buttons, the Guardian's gaming newsletter. If you'd like to receive it in your inbox every week, just pop your email in below – and check your inbox (and spam) for the confirmation email. There's been an interesting development in the games business this week: Square Enix, the Japanese company behind Final Fantasy, has sold off basically its entire North American business for $300m. Swedish entrepreneur collective Embracer Group, a relative newcomer in gaming, is now the proud owner of studios in Montreal the US, and properties like Deus Ex, Thief and, of course, Tomb Raider. Not too long ago, this would have felt like big news purely because of the money involved.


TechScape: This cutting edge AI creates art on demand – why is it so contentious?

The Guardian

AI progress comes in fits and starts. You hear nothing for months and then, suddenly, the limits of what seems possible are burst asunder. April was one of those months, with two major new releases in the field stunning onlookers. The first was Google's PaLM, a new language model (the same basic type of AI as the famous GPT series) that shows a pretty stunning ability to comprehend and parse complex statements – and explain what it's doing in the process. Take this simple comprehension question from the company's announcement: Prompt: Which of the following sentences makes more sense?