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Daily Mail - Science & tech


Harry Potter 'open world' video game 'due next year'

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Details of the hotly-anticipated Harry Potter video game based on JK Rowling's hugely popular series of books have been leaked. The'high-end' role-playing game will let'muggles' become witches and wizards, cast spells and attend classes at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Controlling a virtual avatar, gamers will be able to roam a vast, open-world re-creation of Hogwarts and its surrounding areas, according to developers quoted by Bloomberg. The game is in development at a Warner Bros-owned studio, Avalanche Software, which has a history of developing games based on films, including Toy Story and Cars. It's reportedly due for release late in 2021 for Sony's new PlayStation 5 console, which will be released in late 2020, and Microsoft's Xbox Series X consoles.


Security firm Ring works with US police with 'deadly histories'

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Amazon may have banned police from using its facial recognition technology, but a new report shows the tech giant is providing thousands of departments with video and audio footage from Ring. Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that defends civil liberties, found over 1,400 agencies are working with the Amazon-owned company and hundreds of them have'deadly histories.' Data from sources reveals half of the agencies had at least one fatal encounter in the last five years and altogether are responsible for a third of fatal encounters nationwide. These departments are also involved with the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Alton Sterling, Botham Jean, Antonio Valenzuela, Michael Ramos and Sean Monterrosa. Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that defends civil liberties, found over 1,400 agencies are working with Amazon-owned Ring and hundreds of them have'deadly histories' DailyMail.com


MIT pulls 'racist and misogynistic' dataset offline

Daily Mail - Science & tech

MIT has had to take offline a giant dataset that taught AI systems to assign'racist and misogynistic labels' to people in images. The database, known as '80 Million Tiny Images', is a massive collection of photos with descriptive labels, used to teach machine learning models to identify images. But the system, developed at the US university, labelled women as'whores' and'bitches' and used other abhorrent terms against ethnic minorities. It also contained close-up pictures of female genitalia labelled with the C-word and other images with the labels'rape suspect' and'molester'. Images labelled with the slur'whore' ranged from a woman in a bikini to a photo of'a mother holding her baby with Santa', tech website the Register reported.


Researchers compile list of 1,000 words that accidentally trigger Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Researchers in Germany have compiled a list of more than 1,000 words that will inadvertently cause virtual assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri to become activated. Once activated, these virtual assistants create sound recordings that are later transmitted to platform holders, where they may be transcribed for quality assurance purposes or other analysis. According to the team, from Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the Max Planck Institute for Cyber Security and Privacy in Germany, this has'alarming' implications for user privacy and likely means short recordings of personal conversations could periodically end up in the hands of Amazon, Apple, Google, or Microsoft workers. Researchers in Germany tested virtual assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, and Microsoft's Cortana, and found more than 1,000 words or phrases that would inadvertently activate each device The group tested Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, as well as three virtual assistants exclusive to the Chinese market, from Xiaomi, Baidu, and Tencent, according to a report from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum news blog. They left each virtual assistant alone in a room with a television that played dozens of hours of episodes from Game of Thrones, Modern Family, and House of Cards, with English, German, and Chinese audio tracks for each.


Language is just as important as expressions when reading someone's emotions, study shows

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Language is as important as expressions when reading emotion, a study has found -- meaning that being told someone looks'grumpy' can makes them seem grumpier. Researchers from Australia and the US asked volunteers to rate the emotions of people in either photographs or videos. The team found that when the participants were told that the subjects were feeling a specific emotion, this biased how they interpreted the expressions on show. The effect was most pronounced when dealing with angry, sad or scared faces -- as opposed to happy, disgusted, embarrassed, proud or surprised -- the team found. Language is as important as expressions when reading emotion, a study has found -- meaning that being told someone looks'grumpy' can makes them seem grumpier (stock image) 'The current studies demonstrate that language context alters the dimensional affective foundations that underlie our judgements of others' expressions,' the researchers wrote in their paper.


Robot uses UV light to kill coronavirus by rupturing its DNA

Daily Mail - Science & tech

It has long been known that UV light has a sterilising effect because the radiation damages the genetic material of viruses and their ability to replicate. Most viruses - such as SARS-CoV-2 - are covered with a thin membrane that is easily broken apart by UV rays. Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at University of East Anglia said: 'That UV light inactivates SARS-CoV-2 is not surprising. Indeed UV disinfection is widely used for disinfection of drinking water. 'Given the nature of coronaviruses we would expect them to be especially sensitive to disinfection by either hypochlorite (bleach) or UV light.'


Disney demonstrates deepfake technology that can swap people's faces in high-resolution

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Disney wants deepfakes to hit the big screen. In a recently published paper, Disney Research Studios described a facial-swapping technology that uses an AI algorithm to realistically alter one's facial features in high-resolution. While the technology isn't by any means novel, the algorithm is unique in that its capable of producing images that are high-resolution and as a result, photorealistic. 'To the best of our knowledge, this is the first method capable of rendering photo-realistic and temporally coherent results at megapixel resolution,' the researchers write in their paper. While other algorithms focus on smooth facial transitions, Disney's algorithm focuses on increasing megapixels, allowing it to produce videos with a resolution of 1024 x 1024.


Hackers hijack more than 1,200 accounts in Roblox and flood it with Trump 2020 propaganda

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Hackers have taken over more than 1,200 Roblox accounts, flooding the popular children's video game with Trump 2020 campaign propaganda. Initially, a handful of players reported that they were receiving strange messages in game supporting Donald Trump's reelection campaign, and later other players began noticing avatars wearing Trump-inspired apparel. This included donning red pants, a white shirt with an American flag and bald eagle graphic, and a red baseball cap with white lettering. In the'About' field of each hacked player's main profile page, the message'Ask your parents to vote for Trump this year!#MAGA2020' has replaced the original biographical information. 'Why is my avatar this?' one hacked player posted, according to a report from BBC'I'm not even American.'


Dating app Badoo uses AI to blur unwanted intimate photos

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Dating app Badoo has launched a new safety feature that uses AI to detect unsolicited nudes that get sent through the app. Badoo, which has been described as'like Facebook but for sex', says its'private detector' has a 98 per cent accuracy rate when covering up intimate photos. The feature's AI identifies potentially offending photos, automatically blurs them and gives users a warning that they could contain'inappropriate content'. Users are then given the choice to open and view the content or block the explicit image and report it to the app's moderation team. The feature was introduced to the'feminist dating app' Bumble last year, which is owned by the same holding company as Badoo.


Researchers create a 'smart' mask for COVID-19 with a speaker and translation software

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A Japanese technology company has developed a new Bluetooth-powered smart mask that uses a speaker to amplify a person's voice. Called'c-mask,' the device can also covert a person's speech into text and then translate it into eight different languages through a smartphone app. The mask was developed by Donut Robotics, which initially raised seven million yen, or around $260,000, to fund its development through the Japanese crowdfunding site Fundinno. Donut Robotics has developed a new smart mask to protect against COVID-19 transmission, which also contains a built-in speaker to amplify a person's voice and connects to a smartphone app that can translate speech into eight languages According to Donut, around 5,000 masks are currently planned to be produced and distributed in Japan this September, where they'll retail for 3,980 yen, or around $37. The company will also charge an additional monthly subscription fee to access translation services, according to a report in Japan Today - though the exact pricing hasn't been announced.