The IoT is a criminal cryptojacker’s delight; new patents suggest Walmart may have an eye on virtual reality in its future; MIT Technology Review has a few technologies worth thinking about in 2018; and more …
If you haven’t seen Sundar Pichai’s presentation on Google Duplex, watch it. The technology is fascinating.
Google is developing software that can assist users in completing specific tasks such as making reservations by telephone. The software uses anonymized phone conversations as the basis for its neural network and in conjunction with automated speech recognition and text-to-speech software can have independent phone conversations with other people. Incredibly, the software requires no human interaction—at least by the user requesting the service—to complete its task. The result is that you can task the software to setup a haircut appointment for you, or book a table at a restaurant where it is difficult to get reservations, with no further input needed. It can also work with different scheduling options if your preferred time is not available. And importantly, the conversations seem natural—it is very difficult to tell that one of the participants in the conversation is a computer.
In a time where “fake news” is common parlance and tensions rise in response to the smallest media slight, is it time for algorithms to take the place of humans in moderating news? This New York Times article seems to think so. What role, and to what extent, should algorithms be used in regulating and implementing everyday business ventures, government agency routine processes, health care management, etc.? Who should take responsibility in the event of a problem or negative consequence, if it is all verified by an algorithm? And, importantly, what will enhanced monitoring of algorithms do to the progress and profitability of companies whose bottom line depends on the very algorithms that can cause unforeseen, sometimes very harmful, problems?
On Saturday, July 23, Facebook acknowledged its anti-spam systems had briefly and accidentally blocked links to WikiLeaks files containing internal Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. WikiLeaks had released 19,000 leaked documents from the DNC containing communication between Democratic Party officials on Friday, July 22. The following day, people tweeted screenshots of an error message they received when attempting to post links to the leaked documents: “The content you’re trying to share includes a link that our security systems detected to be unsafe.”