Natural Language: AI-Alerts


The technology behind OpenAI's fiction-writing, fake-news-spewing AI, explained

MIT Technology Review

So convincing, in fact, that the researchers have refrained from open-sourcing the code, in hopes of stalling its potential weaponization as a means of mass-producing fake news. An OpenAI employee printed out this AI-written sample and posted it by the recycling bin: https://t.co/PT8CMSU2AR While the impressive results are a remarkable leap beyond what existing language models have achieved, the technique involved isn't exactly new. Instead, the breakthrough was driven primarily by feeding the algorithm ever more training data--a trick that has also been responsible for most of the other recent advancements in teaching AI to read and write. "It's kind of surprising people in terms of what you can do with [...] more data and bigger models," says Percy Liang, a computer science professor at Stanford.


Feared or celebrated, Amazon's Alexa is star of Super Bowl ads

The Japan Times

An android child struggles to control his emotions. Robots threaten to take away human jobs. These dark themes were explored by this year's Super Bowl commercials, with brands such as TurboTax, Olay and Sprint capitalizing on fears that technology is encroaching on our lives. Inc.'s Alexa, an increasingly ubiquitous digital assistant sold by one of the world's most powerful companies. Amazon had its own commercial, where it poked fun at Alexa.


China Appears To Block Microsoft's Bing Search Engine

NPR

This is a visualization of global internet attacks, seen during the 4th China Internet Security Conference in Beijing. Microsoft's Bing search engine is no longer accessible in China, the company reports. This is a visualization of global internet attacks, seen during the 4th China Internet Security Conference in Beijing. Microsoft's Bing search engine is no longer accessible in China, the company reports. The Microsoft search engine, Bing, appears to have been blocked in China since Wednesday.


Your Voice Assistant May Be Getting Smarter, But It's Still Awkward

WIRED

In September of this year, Amazon hosted a press event in the steamy Spheres at its Seattle headquarters, announcing a dizzying array of new hardware products designed to work with the voice assistant Alexa. But at the event, Amazon also debuted some new capabilities for Alexa that showcased the ways in which the company has been trying to give its voice assistant what is essentially a better memory. At one point during the presentation, Amazon executive Dave Limp whispered a command to Alexa to play a lullaby. But this year, the companies making voice-controlled products tried to turn them into sentient gadgets. Alexa can have the computer version of a "hunch" and predict human behavior; Google Assistant can carry on a conversation without requiring you to repeatedly say the wake word.


Alexa, Google Home and Fitbit ring in strong holidays according to post-Christmas app charts

USATODAY

The day after Christmas is always a good day to see which products and apps people were most excited about this holiday season. According to Wednesday's top free apps charts on Android's Google Play and iOS' iPhone, plenty of people received Google Home, Alexa-enabled speakers and Fitbits this holiday season. Amazon's Alexa app took the top spot on both app stores' lists of the top free apps midday Wednesday while Fitbit was in the No. 5 slot. Google Home took the No. 3 spot on the Android Play Store and came in seventh on iPhone. Since all three apps are needed to set up their respective devices, it's likely that many people received Amazon Echo or Google Home speakers, Chromecast streaming sticks and Fitbit trackers.


Alexa, Is Santa Claus Real?

Slate

The internet is full of misinformation, and the internet of things is no exception. Smart speakers like Amazon's Alexa have been known to lie to children, with kid-friendly modes designed to shield them from life's harsher truths, from the reality of where babies come from to the career path of Stormy Daniels. But no question could be of greater significance for kids at this time of year than the one about the existence of the man who knows whether they've been bad or good. Google, Amazon, and Apple are not about to get themselves put on parent's naughty list--or worse, get unplugged--by telling kids there is no Santa. All three tech companies have special Christmas-themed answers in place this festive season, from whether Santa is real to whether you've been naughty or nice.


Google fixes Translate tool to correct gendered pronouns

The Independent

Google is working to reduce gender bias in its Google Translate tool after it was accused of sexism for automatically translating sentences to include masculine pronouns. Translations from English into French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish will also now provide a feminine alternative as well as a masculine one for gendered words such as "strong" or "beautiful." In the past, Google's algorithm had to choose between masculine or feminine when translating a word - automatically defaulting to masculine in many instances. Additionally, the tool will offer gender-specific translations for phrases and sentences from Turkish to English. The update comes after two Stanford University professors pointed out that the artificial intelligence used by Google Translate was converting news articles written in Spanish to English by changing phrases referring to women into "he said" or "he wrote."


Turn Off Siri on Your Lock Screen for Better iOS Security

WIRED

Here's an easy thing you can do right now to improve your digital security hygiene. Pull out your iPhone, open Settings, go into the Siri settings, and turn off Access When Locked. Do it on your iPad while you're at it. Go ahead and do it for your family and friends, too, at holiday functions when you need to deflect personal questions. In the battle of the smart assistants, every tech giant hopes to hook you on its voice-activated helper.


I live with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. Here's which you should pick.

Washington Post

Sure, you could choose a smart speaker based on sound or price. The go-to gadget gift of the season is available from Amazon, Apple and Google with better acoustics, new touch screens and deep holiday discounts. Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant also want to adjust the thermostat, fill your picture frame or even microwave your popcorn. Each artificial intelligence assistant has its own ways of running a home. You're choosing which tribe is yours.


Technology for the Deaf

Communications of the ACM

A nurse asks a patient to describe her symptoms. A fast-food worker greets a customer and asks for his order. A tourist asks a police officer for directions to a local point of interest. For those with all of their physical faculties intact, each of these scenarios can be viewed as a routine occurrence of everyday life, as they are able to easily and efficiently interact without any assistance. However, each of these interactions are significantly more difficult when a person is deaf, and must rely on the use of sign language to communicate.