The Guardian


The usefulness of useless robots: Chips with Everything podcast

The Guardian

Simone Giertz is a self-professed maker of crummy robots. She's made a drone that cuts hair, a robot that applies her lipstick and the Wake-Up machine, a DIY wall-mounted robot alarm clock with a rubber arm, that slaps her awake in the morning. While she admits that none of her robots are meant to do their job well, Simone's fascination for technology and electronics have made her a role model for young robot makers worldwide. So what does this queen of bad robots make of our increasingly robotics-reliant society? And does she recognise the possible pitfalls of human-robot interactions in her day-to-day work?


Amazon creates 600 technology jobs in Manchester

The Guardian

Amazon has said the UK will be "taking a leading role in global innovation" as it announced plans to hire 1,000 more technology, research and other skilled workers by next year. The US online retailer is to open its first office in Manchester, with room for 600 new jobs in the Hanover Building in the city's Northern Quarter – once the headquarters of the Co-operative Group. Doug Gurr, the UK manager for Amazon, said the UK was "taking a leading role in our global innovation". "These are Silicon Valley jobs in Britain, and further cement our long-term commitment to the UK," he said. Amazon said the new Manchester team would work on research and development, including software development and machine learning.


Chinese search firm Baidu joins global AI ethics body

The Guardian

The AI ethics body formed by five of the largest US corporations has expanded to include its first Chinese member, the search firm Baidu. The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society – known as the Partnership on AI (PAI) – was formed in 2016 by Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft to act as an umbrella organisation for the five companies to conduct research, recommend best practices and publish briefings on areas including ethics, privacy and trustworthiness of AI.


Pepper the robot answers MPs' questions – video

The Guardian

Middlesex University's resident robot, Pepper, has become the first robot to appear before a parliamentary select committee.


Huawei Mate 20 Pro launches with in-screen fingerprint sensor

The Guardian

Huawei's new Mate 20 Pro has a massive screen, three cameras on the back and a fingerprint scanner embedded in the display. The new top-end phone from the Chinese firm aims to secure its place at the top of the market alongside Samsung, having recently beaten Apple to become the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in August. The Mate 20 Pro follows Huawei's tried and trusted format for its Mate series: a huge 6.39in QHD OLED screen, big 4,200mAh battery and powerful new Huawei Kirin 980 processor – Huawei's first to be produced at 7 nanometres, matching Apple's latest A12 chip in the 2018 iPhones. New for this year is an infrared 3D facial recognition system, similar to that used by Apple for its Face ID in the iPhone XS, and one of the first fingerprint scanners embedded in the screen that is widely available in the UK, removing the need for a fingerprint scanner on the back or a notch on the front. The Mate 20 Pro is water resistant to IP68 standards and has a sleek new design reminiscent of Samsung's S-series phones, with curved glass on the front and back.


Neon and corporate dystopias: why does cyberpunk refuse to move on?

The Guardian

The future has looked the same for almost four decades. A skyline of densely packed skyscrapers, corporate logos lighting the night sky, proclaiming ownership over the city below. At street level, a haze of neon shines down from the cluster of signs above and shimmers at your feet in the rain that runs down the filthy streets. Here, the have-nots, excluded from the safe, luxurious enclaves enjoyed by the super-rich, are preyed upon by hustlers dealing in illegal tech and street gangs composed of green-haired, leather-clad technopunks, decked out with cyborg enhancements and high on synthetic drugs. You've seen it a million times since it was first constructed in the 80s by the pioneers of cyberpunk, most notably William Gibson in Neuromancer and Ridley Scott in Blade Runner.


Don't believe the World Bank – robots will steal our wages

The Guardian

The World Bank has a reassuring message for those fearful of being made obsolete by automation. The robot age is nothing to be worried about. Just like all previous waves of technological advance, the fourth industrial revolution will create rather than destroy jobs, so fears of mass unemployment are largely unfounded. Nor should we be concerned that the arrival of the new machine age is going to widen the gap between rich and poor, because the idea that the world is becoming a less equal place is more perception than reality. Automation, according to the bank's World Development Report, is an opportunity not a threat.


Facebook says 14m accounts had personal data stolen in recent breach

The Guardian

Facebook has revealed 30m accounts were affected in a data breach last month. The company said hackers were able to access personal information for nearly half of those accounts. That information included name, relationship status, religion, birthdate, workplaces, search activity, and recent location check-ins. The company had initially said 50m accounts were affected. According to Facebook VP of Product Management Guy Rosen, attackers were able to access name and contact information for half of the hacked accounts.


Assassin's Creed Odyssey review – an epic journey through ancient Greece

The Guardian

Assassin's Creed Odyssey is aptly named. It is an enormous, meandering journey through ancient Greece at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war as the struggle between Sparta and Athens begins to reshape the Greek world. It will shock you with its breadth and depth: the sea hides sunken ruins, the detail of temple paintings is impeccable, authentically clothed characters wander enormous cities whilst chatting in Greek, soldiers clash on roads as citizens scatter. You play a mercenary, choosing between the equally statuesque and self-assured Kassandra or Alexios. There is an element of family drama that propels the story forward in counterpart to the overarching historical drama of the setting.


Weaponised AI is coming. Are algorithmic forever wars our future? Ben Tarnoff

The Guardian

Last month marked the 17th anniversary of 9/11. With it came a new milestone: we've been in Afghanistan for so long that someone born after the attacks is now old enough to go fight there. They can also serve in the six other places where we're officially at war, not to mention the 133 countries where special operations forces have conducted missions in just the first half of 2018. The wars of 9/11 continue, with no end in sight. Now, the Pentagon is investing heavily in technologies that will intensify them.