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Tech News

How to survive a Twitter storm
Posted on Sunday September 22, 2019

Tanya Gold published a piece about a plus-size mannequin one Sunday. By Monday morning the internet had gone mad and was out for her blood

It was my fault. Sometimes I write glibly. I make an argument for myself and forget that people read it. It still surprises me, after 20 years of writing, to think that I have readers: that my internal monologue is out and about in the world. I do not think about them. If I did, I couldn’t write anything.

In June, I wrote a piece about Nike’s obese mannequin, which was displayed at the London flagship shop to publicise Nike’s new willingness to sell clothes to overweight women. It makes me laugh now to think I insulted a mannequin – how, on that day in 2019, we came to discuss human rights for mannequins. I said it was a cynical doll from a cynical company that is no friend to women. I said that the normalisation of obesity frightens me, because I can see the outcome of addiction to sugar in myself. I said that the “fat acceptance” movement is an abyss of denial. I said the mannequin was “gargantuan” and “heaving with fat”. I said it might get diabetes – if it had flesh. I said that if it ran, it would ruin its inhuman knees.

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The Guardian view on machine learning: a computer cleverer than you? | Editorial
Posted on Sunday September 22, 2019

There are dangers of teaching computers to learn the things humans do best – not least because makers of such machines cannot explain the knowledge their creations have acquired

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, last week told the Guardian that tech companies should stop behaving as though everything that is not illegal is acceptable. Mr Smith made a good argument that technology may be considered morally neutral but technologists can’t be. He is correct that software engineers ought to take much more seriously the moral consequences of their work.

This argument operates on two levels: conscious and unconscious. It is easy to see the ethical issue in Microsoft’s sale of facial recognition technology to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement while the Trump administration was separating children from parents at the US’s southern border. The moral stance of more than 3,000 Google employees who protested about its Maven contract – where machine learning was to be used for military purposes, starting with drone imaging – with the US Department of Defense should be applauded. Google let the contract lapse. But people with different ethical viewpoints can take different views. In the case of the Maven contract, a rival with fewer qualms picked up the work. Much is contingent on public attitudes. Opinion polls show that Americans are not in favour of developing artificial intelligence technology for warfare, but this changes as soon as the country’s adversaries start to develop them. There is an economic aspect to be considered too. Shoshana Zuboff’s insight, that the exploitation of behavioural predictions covertly derived from the surveillance of users is capitalism’s latest stage, is key. What is our moral state when AI researchers are paid $1m a year but the people who label and classify the input data are paid $1.47 an hour.

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Fraudsters hijack eBay parcels in a postcode lottery
Posted on Sunday September 22, 2019

Refunds to buyers rely on Royal Mail tracking using postcodes rather than signatures, and it’s helping thieves

Anastasios Siampos was suspicious after selling an iPhone for £275 on eBay. The buyer claimed it was defective and, though Siampos contested this, eBay instructed the buyer to return it using Royal Mail’s 48-hour tracked delivery service. Two days later eBay refunded the buyer, insisting that Royal Mail’s tracker showed the parcel had been successfully returned. Siampos, however, had received nothing. When he contacted Royal Mail he found the parcel had indeed been delivered, but not to his address. Extraordinarily, the tracking update only confirms an item has been delivered to the postcode without specifying the property. There are 53 properties in Siampos’s postcode.

Online selling platforms, such as eBay, rely on tracker information as proof an item has been returned and the sender can be refunded. Nowhere on Royal Mail’s website does it clarify that items are only tracked to the postcode – a loophole that has been exploited by fraudsters to steal goods.

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For too long Lyft and Uber have abused drivers like me. Not any more | Edan Alva
Posted on Sunday September 22, 2019

A new California law will finally give thousands of misclassified workers the rights and protections that everyone deserves

Have you ever taken a ride using the Lyft app? There’s a chance I drove you.

I’ve worked in the gig economy for over four years, mostly as a Lyft driver. I started driving to make money during my hour-long commute to work. When I lost my full-time job, Lyft became my primary source of income.

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Facebook suspends thousands of apps over privacy issues
Posted on Friday September 20, 2019

Removals are part of inquiry into how developers use data, which the company started after the Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook has suspended tens of thousands of apps from the platform for privacy reasons, it announced in a blogpost on Friday.

The removals come as part of an ongoing investigation into how developers use data, which the company started after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in March 2018. The news also reveals that the platform is home to more problematic apps than previously thought.

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Google signs up to $2bn wind and solar investment
Posted on Friday September 20, 2019

Tech giant’s push for greener energy prompts biggest renewable energy deal in corporate history

Google’s chief executive has revealed plans for the biggest renewable energy deal in corporate history.

Sundar Pichai said the clean energy deal will include 18 separate agreements to supply Google with electricity from wind and solar projects across the world.

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To decarbonize we must decomputerize: why we need a Luddite revolution
Posted on Wednesday September 18, 2019

Big tech claims AI and digitization will bring a better future. But putting computers everywhere is bad for people and the planet

Our built environment is becoming one big computer. “Smartness” is coming to saturate our stores, workplaces, homes, cities. As we go about our daily lives, data is made, stored, analyzed and used to make algorithmic inferences about us that in turn structure our experience of the world. Computation encircles us as a layer, dense and interconnected. If our parents and our grandparents lived with computers, we live inside them.

A growing chorus of activists, journalists and scholars are calling attention to the dangers of digital enclosure. Employers are using algorithmic tools to surveil and control workers. Cops are using algorithmic tools to surveil and control communities of color. And there is no shortage of dystopian possibilities on the horizon: landlords evicting tenants with “smart locks”, health insurers charging higher premiums because your Fitbit says you don’t exercise enough.

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The viral selfie app ImageNet Roulette seemed fun – until it called me a racist slur
Posted on Wednesday September 18, 2019

During a strange week for Asian Americans, the app – which is part of an art project – achieved its aim by underscoring exactly what’s wrong with artificial intelligence

How are you supposed to react when a robot calls you a “gook”?

At first glance, ImageNet Roulette seems like just another viral selfie app – those irresistible 21st-century magic mirrors that offer a simulacrum of insight in exchange for a photograph of your face. Want to know what you will look like in 30 years? There’s an app for that. If you were a dog what breed would you be? That one went viral in 2016. What great work of art features your doppelganger? Google’s Arts & Culture app dominated social media feeds in 2018 when it gave us a chance to bemoan being more Picasso than Botticelli, or vice versa.

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iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro review roundup: buy the cheapest one
Posted on Tuesday September 17, 2019

Early reviews of Apple’s latest suggest colour, battery and lower price make the iPhone 11 a winner

The early reviews of Apple’s iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are in from publications with early access to the three models.

While the iPhone 11 Pro is the most impressive technically, with a new triple camera system catching up to the competition, it is the iPhone 11, the cheapest of the bunch, that is winning the majority of people over. Questions remain as to whether it’s worth upgrading at all, however, if your iPhone is less than five years old.

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Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review: less business, more modern design
Posted on Monday September 16, 2019

Same Bose magic now sleeker, with better controls, calling and adaptable noise cancelling

Bose’s new top-of-the range 700 noise-cancelling headphones attempt to be the new gold standard, with a new design, new technology and a shift in focus.

Launched to sit atop the long-standing kings of noise-cancelling cans, the £300 QuietComfort 35 II, the new £350 Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 look to shift Bose’s rather staid image toward something more modern and fashionable.

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Best smartphone 2019: iPhone, OnePlus, Samsung and Huawei compared and ranked
Posted on Tuesday July 23, 2019

Our updated list of the top iOS and Android mobile phones – at the best prices right now

Need a new smartphone but don’t know which one is the very best? Here’s a guide comparing the current top-end smartphones from Apple, Samsung, Huawei, OnePlus and others to help you pick the best handset for you.

There has never been a better time to buy a new flagship smartphone with many quality handsets available at a wider range of prices than ever before. Whether your priority is two-day battery life, fantastic camera performance or a spectacular screen, there’s plenty to choose from.

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Fairphone 3 review: the most ethical and repairable phone you can buy
Posted on Wednesday September 18, 2019

Dutch firm asks £200 above the norm for a smartphone that might help change the industry

What if you could buy a phone that will last five years, can be easily repaired and is made as ethically as possible? That’s the aim of the latest Fairphone 3 – and on many counts it succeeds.

Ethically creating a phone is a lot harder than it may sound, but you have to start somewhere. Amsterdam-based Fairphone turned from an awareness campaign about conflict minerals into a phone company in 2013, and aims to source as many materials as possible in both human and environmentally kind ways.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ review: bigger and now with a magic wand
Posted on Thursday September 12, 2019

New S-Pen Air gestures, enormous screen, triple camera, longer battery hope to convince Samsung super fans to upgrade

The king of Samsung smartphones has finally arrived, but is the Galaxy Note 10+ and its S-Pen stylus really still the super phone for super fans of the South Korean brand?

For a long time the Galaxy Note line was used to push the boundaries of what could be done with a smartphone, siring the big-screen “phablet” category in the process. I’m sad to report that’s no longer the case. The £999 Note 10+ might technically be the biggest screen on a Samsung flagship phone, but it’s really only by a smidgen.

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Samsung Galaxy S10 5G review: bigger, faster and lasts longer
Posted on Wednesday August 21, 2019

Company’s S-line king joins the handful of good 5G phones in the UK, but is only for big-phone lovers

The Galaxy S10 5G is the largest, most advanced and most expensive smartphone in Samsung’s current lineup, aimed not just at being “the 5G one” but also the best one.

Unlike the OnePlus 7 Pro, which comes in either 4G or 5G versions that are identical in size, weight and features, the S10 5G is its own phone. It’s bigger, heavier, thicker and has more cameras and sensors on the back and front than the S10+.

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Honor 20 Pro review: it’s all about the camera
Posted on Friday August 16, 2019

The best camera in the mid-range market, backed by good performance and long battery life

The Honor 20 Pro is the new flagship phone for Huawei’s cheaper offshoot, offering some of what made the Chinese firm the camera master but at £550 it is a little overpriced.

The Honor 20 Pro is essentially the same phone as the £400 Honor 20 with a better camera on the back, a slightly larger battery and more storage. It was meant to be released alongside its cheaper sibling, but Donald Trump’s Huawei blockade caused it to be delayed.

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Libratone Track Air+ review: the noise-cancelling AirPods Apple won’t give you
Posted on Friday September 20, 2019

Great fit and sound, long battery, attractive design and pocketable case make for an excellent set of buds

Libratone has given us the better fitting AirPods that Apple wouldn’t, with great sound and noise cancelling.

The Danish audio firm’s Track Air+ are a set of true wireless earbuds, priced at £179, that follow the familiar design of earbud with stalk but no cable.

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Beats PowerBeats Pro review: Apple's fitness AirPods rock
Posted on Monday August 19, 2019

Bluetooth earbuds have long battery life, rock-solid connectivity and stay firmly planted on your ear

The PowerBeats Pro are Apple-owned Beats’ first true wireless Bluetooth earbuds that cut the cable and seek to be the ultimate running and gym earphones.

As with Apple’s original AirPods, which looked like a set of the firm’s standard EarPods with the cables cut off, the £220 PowerBeats Pro are basically the firm’s popular PowerBeats 3 neckband Bluetooth earbuds without the cables joining the pair.

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Sony WF-1000XM3 review: updated noise-cancelling earbuds sound great
Posted on Wednesday August 14, 2019

True wireless buds are Sony’s best yet, but where is the volume control?

Sony’s latest true wireless WF-1000XM3 earbuds offer both noise cancelling and top-end sound quality while undercutting premium rivals on price.

The replacement for the WF-1000X, which were some of the first noise cancelling true wireless earbuds available, the new “M3” portion of the model number denotes the company’s third generation of active noise cancelling technology and the QN1e chip, which is rivalled only by Bose.

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Ikea Symfonisk speaker review: Sonos on the cheap
Posted on Monday August 12, 2019

At £99, Ikea’s wifi speaker provides a cheaper way to experience Sonos and sounds good too

There’s a new, cheaper way to buy a Sonos wifi speaker and it’s from Ikea.

The Symfonisk bookshelf speaker is the second of two new products born of a partnership between the Swedish furniture manufacturer Ikea and the American premium multiroom audio specialists Sonos.

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What do I need to make YouTube videos?
Posted on Thursday September 19, 2019

Ed wonders if you need a computer to make YouTube videos, as he doesn’t own one

I’m a newbie. When people shoot YouTube videos, do they need a computer or laptop to do so? I don’t have either. Ed

People shoot videos with all kinds of equipment, from simple smartphones to professional movie cameras. Prices range from £50 to more than £40,000. As always, it depends on the job. Some people are taking selfies for Facebook while others are shooting blockbusters for cinemas.

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Danielle Cohn: Are teen influencers being exploited?
Posted on Monday September 23, 2019

Danielle Cohn posts provocative images and videos but her father insists she is only 13 years old.

Google seeks permission for staff to listen to Assistant recordings
Posted on Monday September 23, 2019

The company acknowledges it had not been clear enough that humans might listen to users' recordings.

YouTube U-turn after protests over verified status
Posted on Monday September 23, 2019

The video-sharing site apologised after proposing a change that drew criticism from prominent YouTubers.

Facebook suspends tens of thousands of apps
Posted on Friday September 20, 2019

The move comes as part of a review launched in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

What3words: 'Life-saving app' divides opinion
Posted on Friday September 20, 2019

First responders have been singing the praises of what3words but some have reservations about the tech.

Microsoft president: Don't move fast and break things
Posted on Friday September 20, 2019

Microsoft's president urges other tech firms to accept responsibility for the effects of their work.

Tech entrepreneurs call for more government regulation
Posted on Thursday September 19, 2019

Tech insiders say we cannot trust companies like Google and Facebook to regulate themselves.

Hackers get chance to target US satellite
Posted on Friday September 20, 2019

The US Air Force will allow selected hackers try and take over an orbiting satellite.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos promises climate-change action
Posted on Thursday September 19, 2019

The chief executive says Amazon will buy thousands of electric vehicles and become carbon neutral by 2040.

Fish waste-based alternative to plastic wins Dyson Award
Posted on Thursday September 19, 2019

MarinaTex is an alternative to the single-use plastics such as those used in sandwich packets.

 


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