Tech

Microsoft Is Making a Tool to Track Down Biased AI, But That’s Just Half The Problem

Microsoft is the latest tech company to try and tackle algorithmic bias — that is, artificial intelligence that was fed subpar data and came to mirror society’s own prejudices or unfair perspectives.   The company wants to create a tool that will detect and alert people to AI algorithms that may be treating them based on their race or gender, …


Tech

This 3D Printer Can Help Grow Organs With Scaffolding Made Out of Sugar

Sugar, that amazingly sweet treat some of us just can’t get enough of, has long been the fascination of children (and those with a child-like sweet tooth). Its ability to be melted down into a glass-like substance enables confectionery artists to create tasty displays worthy of museums, or being served as a 3D printed dessert.   In fact, the same …


This Is What Happens When Your Camera Gets Too Close to a Space Launch

If you’re shooting photos of a space rocket launch, the risk to damage equipment is all too real, as one NASA photographer demonstrated this week. Exhibit A is the melted Canon 5DS DSLR camera you can see in the picture above, by Bill Ingalls. The device, which was set up remotely, was scorched beyond repair at this week’s SpaceX Falcon …

The Tiny House Trend Has Officially Peaked. Meet The World’s Smallest House

You may think you’ve seen tiny buildings before, but this microhouse constructed by nanoengineers is the craziest one yet. From front to back it measures less than 20 micrometres, which means you could squeeze a village of 50 of them on a pinhead.   The sides of the structure are just 1.2 micrometres thick – a little over a millionth of …

Elon Musk Thinks Flying Cars Could ‘Guillotine’ People on The Ground

While he’s founded companies that are trying to define the future of transportation with electric vehicles, space exploration, and tunnels that would house high-speed transit systems, Elon Musk doesn’t like flying cars.   During an event for his tunnel-digging company, The Boring Company, on Thursday, Musk explained why flying cars could be more trouble than they’re worth. Musk said his …

Fake Facebook Accounts And Online Lies Multiply in Hours After Santa Fe School Shooting

In the first hours after the Texas school shooting that left at least 10 dead Friday, online hoaxers moved quickly to spread a viral lie, creating fake Facebook accounts with the suspected shooter’s name and a doctored photo showing him wearing a “Hillary 2016” hat.   Several were swiftly flagged by users and deleted by the social network. But others …

Anne Frank’s censored diary pages have been revealed, and they’re not what we expected

Hidden pages from the diary of Holocaust refugee Anne Frank have been analysed for the first time, revealing a few words of wisdom on sex, menstruation, and a handful of dirty jokes.   Non-invasive imaging technology has finally allowed curators of the Anne Frank Museum to see what lay behind sheets of brown paper that had been glued over pages in …

Here’s why Google’s new ‘smartphone addiction’ features aren’t based on science

Google wants you to stop using the term FOMO. Instead of complaining about your fear of missing out, the search engine giant would like you to celebrate – “JOMO,” the joy of missing out. And it hopes a bunch of new features geared at preventing you from feeling addicted to your devices will help.   It’s all part of an …

This Boston Dynamics robot gets more fresh air and exercise than most of us

Everybody needs to get some fresh air every once in a while. Even, uh, robots. Boston Dynamics just uploaded a video of its upright, bipedal robot called Atlas going for a jog. No tethers, no awkward stiffness, just a robot, a green field, and plenty of fresh air.   No stress holding it down, Atlas effortlessly crosses different types of …

California just made history with a ruling on compulsory solar panels

California just became the first state in the US to require all new homes to be built with rooftop solar panels. The California Energy Commission hearing room was packed full on Wednesday as the commission voted unanimously in favor of the proposed rule.   Starting on 1 January, 2020 any new home that’s three stories tall or shorter, be it …

Google’s latest AI booked a hair appointment over the phone, and people are freaked out

Google’s Assistant AI is getting better every year. It can tell you the weather, or perhaps crack a terrible joke if that’s more your speed. Give it another year or two, and it’ll be able to pre-order your lunch before you even had your morning coffee.   But more immediately, it might be able to make calls and book your …

Uber’s self-driving car detected pedestrian before fatal crash, but “decided” not to stop

When a self-driving car is involved in a fatal accident, who is at fault? Is it the “safety-driver,” the company behind the car, or the lawmakers that allowed the self-driving car to hit the road in the first place?   When Uber’s autonomous car fatally struck 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg in Arizona on March 18th, this previously-abstract question rapidly came into …

A new patent shows how Samsung’s long-awaited Galaxy X foldable smartphone might work

There’s long been talk about a foldable smartphone from Samsung, but now there’s something tangible that brings a foldable smartphone closer to reality. On May 2, Samsung was granted multiple patents for its foldable smartphone design and the way it will work.   Samsung’s latest patents show that the company is experimenting with a smartphone that can fold into thirds – not just …

Alan Turing wrote just one paper on biology. Now it’s inspired a totally new type of water filter

The maths behind a landmark paper by the British mathematician Alan Turing have been used to create a new nanoscale structure for desalinating water, and its creators claim it does the job far better than filters currently on the market.   Material scientists from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, successfully created a nanoscale tangle of tubes out of a nylon-like …

4chan tried to stop these high school students from winning a NASA competition

Washington, DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s administration announced Thursday that it would award US$4,000 to help three DC high school students who faced a torrent of racist comments when they used social media to encourage people to vote for them in a NASA competition.   The three black Banneker High students – whose method to purify lead-contaminated water in school …

Cambridge Analytica is shutting down, but they’ve already started another company

Cambridge Analytica, the data firm used by the 2016 Trump campaign at the center of a scandal involving the misuse of Facebook customer data, is shutting down its operations and declaring bankruptcy, the firm announced on Wednesday.   According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the closure, Cambridge Analytica was losing clients in the wake of the Facebook …

Finally, a contact lens that actually beams lasers from your eyes

Scientists have created an ultrathin, flexible film that can emit laser light – and successfully tested it on a contact lens, demonstrating the possibility of laser eye-beams. Before you rush out and buy a Cyclops-style visor, it’s not even close to powerful enough to cause damage. Instead, the researchers say, the technology has potential for use as wearable security tags, …

Mark Zuckerberg is launching a Facebook dating service. Here’s what you need to know

Mark Zuckerberg just announced that Facebook is joining the dating game, trying to help its users build perhaps “the most meaningful relationship of all.” Zuckerberg made the announcement on Tuesday during his keynote speech at F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference, where the executive team unveils what the company has been working on for the past year.   And it turns out …

Disney just invented this crazy VR Jacket to give you hugs, or punches, or even wrap you in snakes

A big, green snake slithers up your body, squeezing your rib cage, but you’re not afraid. It’s strangely exhilarating. In this virtual-reality simulation, the snake isn’t real, but the feeling in your chest is.   In addition to seeing the snake through a virtual-reality headset strapped to your face, you’re wearing a jacket filled with airbags that mimics the pressure …

There’s an important reason you’ve been hit by a whirlwind of privacy notifications and updates

Users of Facebook, Google and other popular technology platforms are likely to benefit from stricter privacy regulations that, beginning next month, will require new disclosures, new forms of consent and new power to limit how personal data is stored and utilized.   The changes are being announced in emails, blog posts and new on-screen messages that many consumers are already …

Thousands of vanished children in India have been identified by a new technology

They had been lost – presumed dead, or even worse – for unimaginable lifetimes, be it weeks, months, or years. But for thousands of children who vanished in the streets, alleyways, and slums of India, it only took days to identify the missing, in a new experimental trial of facial recognition technology by New Delhi police.   Using a photographic …

Japanese engineers have built a working, real-life Transformer

Drop everything. The fantasy car / robot / pal you’ve dreamed about since childhood is real, and it’s sitting under lock-down in a Japanese warehouse. J-deite RIDE is a working, transforming robot that can change between a humanoid form and a functional car. Basically, it’s the closest thing you’ll find to a functional, real-life Transformer anywhere this side of Cybertron. …

Tesla owner caught relaxing in the passenger seat on a busy freeway

Sometimes you really just need to sit back, relax, and watch the world go by. Those times should never be when you’re the only person travelling in an automobile cruising down the freeway in heavy traffic, along what is one of the UK’s biggest and busiest roads.   But that’s exactly what 39-year-old Nottingham resident Bhavesh Patel did one Sunday …

A Physicist Has Calculated The Best Place to Put Your Router

Forget the trial and error – mathematics has proved where the best spot to place your router is. Physicist Jason Cole has figured out a formula that can work out the best place to position your wireless router, and it ultimately depends on your house’s floor plan.   Cole started investigating the science behind router placement in an attempt to optimise …

Transparent blockchains could turn out to be amazing anti-censorship tools

Two days ago, an open letter to China’s Peking University was anonymously uploaded to the Ethereum blockchain, effectively sharing it with anyone who trades or tracks the cryptocurrency.   In it, student Yue Xin writes that the university coerced her to stop looking into a decades-old controversy surrounding Gao Yan, a Peking University student who committed suicide in 1998 after …

The “Golden State Killer” Suspect Was Tracked Down Using a Genealogy Website

The “Golden State Killer” was meticulous at his crime scenes over the course of a decade and in several cities, leaving scant evidence for police. There were no fingerprints. Few saw his face. And what he did leave – his DNA – was, at the time, not useful to police.   Four decades later, with far better DNA technology and …

AI writes poetry and the results are hilariously angsty

“the sun is a beautiful thing in silence is drawn between the trees only the beginning of light”  Was that poem written by an angsty middle schooler or an artificially intelligent algorithm? Is it easy to tell?   Yeah, it’s not easy for us, either. Or for poetry experts, for that matter. A team of researchers from Microsoft and Kyoto University developed a …

An artist used AI to generate nude portraits and the results are completely horrifying

A recent high school graduate has used AI to generate nude portraits, and the results are so disturbing. By combining a collection of nude portraits and a methodology called Progressive Growing of GANs, Robbie Barrat (aka @DrBeef_) attempted to train a neural network to generate its own nude portraits.   GANs, or Generative Adversarial Networks, are computer networks that learn …

This New AI Can Recreate Partially Erased Images, And It Has to Be Seen to Be Believed

Forget using healing brushes or copying and patching scraps of images with Adobe Photoshop – a revolutionary new AI program might soon let you seamlessly reconstruct entire missing sections of an image in a way that needs to be seen to be believed.   The US tech company Nvidia has come up with a novel method for editing complex images …

IKEA is the latest company to use this not at all creepy Russian recruitment robot

A Russian startup has created a new way to help companies connect with job-seekers and interview them. Her name is Vera, and she’s able to interview as many as 1,500 job candidates in a single work day, sorting through potential hires at a rate that would take most recruiters months to match.   She even sends customized follow-up emails. Perhaps …

This mind-bending quantum blockchain could be the future of secure transactions

Blockchain technology has taken the world by storm in recent years as a way to anonymously record transactions between individuals. As safe is it is currently, it’s only a matter of time before somebody finds a way to tap into those coded messages.   While quantum computing potentially opens the way to some serious safe-cracking power for hackers, the delicate …

Here’s how often you should clean your keyboard, according to science

Your computer keyboard is probably dirtier than a toilet seat. In fact, an Australian study found that the typical desk has 400 times the amount of bacteria found on a toilet seat.   Toilet seats actually harbour around 50 bacteria per square inch, making that a relatively un-germy zone. Not so with the computer, especially those shared by multiple people. One Chicago hospital found that …

Here’s everything Microsoft got right about today’s technology back in 1999

Today, Microsoft is trying to keep up with other tech giants, but sixteen years ago, the company was regarded as a leader in technology. In 1999, Microsoft released a video segment about the connected home of the future.   While the bulky 90s products, like a cell phone that looks more like a Game Boy, have since rendered themselves obsolete, the tech …

This robot just assembled an IKEA chair without throwing a fit

An unexpectedly heavy cardboard box, filled with flat-packed formations. Seemingly superfluous pieces of particle board. A madness-inducing number of screws, nails, and washers, plus the lingering fear that one might be left over.   Even if you like putting together IKEA furniture, you’ve gotta admit that it’s no walk in the park. It’s the ultimate test of a relationship. And, …

A viral video of Obama calling Trump a ‘dips—‘ highlights a disturbing trend called “deepfakes”

A realistic-looking video that seemed to show former President Barack Obama cussing and calling President Donald Trump a “total and complete dips—,” went viral on Tuesday, bringing attention to the dangers of a controversial video-editing technology that many have called “the future of fake news.”   About halfway through the video, originally published by BuzzFeed, it is revealed that Obama …

The White House warns that Russia is conducting a massive cyber attack

The US and British governments on Monday accused Russia of conducting a massive campaign to compromise computer routers and firewalls around the world – from home offices to Internet providers – for espionage and possibly sabotage purposes.   The unusual public warning from the White House, US agencies and Britain’s National Cyber Security Center follows a years-long effort to monitor the threat. …

This researcher thinks AI should be trained on things like ‘Dungeons and Dragons’

Everyone had died – not that you’d know it, from how they were laughing about their poor choices and bad rolls of the dice. As a social anthropologist, I study how people understand artificial intelligence (AI) and our efforts towards attaining it; I’m also a life-long fan of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), the inventive fantasy roleplaying game.   During a …

Satellite photos show what Syrian sites looked like before and after the US strikes

The United States, Britain, and France, conducted “precision strikes” on Syria on Friday, in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed dozens in the rebel-held town of Douma.   The Pentagon said the strikes hit three targets believed to have been involved in creating chemical weapons. The sites included the Barzah Research and Development Center near Damascus …

Facebook has data on you, even if you’re not on Facebook

Facebook’s founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg faced two days of grilling before US politicians this week, following concerns over how his company deals with people’s data.   But the data Facebook has on people who are not signed up to the social media giant also came under scrutiny. During Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony he claimed to be ignorant of what …

Drones will soon be able to decide who to kill

The US Army recently announced that it is developing the first drones that can spot and target vehicles and people using artificial intelligence (AI). This is a big step forward.   Whereas current military drones are still controlled by people, this new technology will decide who to kill with almost no human involvement. Once complete, these drones will represent the …

This New Kind of Memory Could Make RAM and ROM Obsolete

Like peanut butter and jelly, like salt and pepper, like that seemingly perfect couple you love (to hate), the two dominant types of computer memory truly complete one another.   Read-only memory (ROM) makes sure our computers and smartphones know how to boot up. Random access memory (RAM), lets us run programs on those computers. In the past, that’s all …

Zuckerberg has finally laid to rest the biggest conspiracy about Facebook’s ads

On Tuesday, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg took hours of questions from senators about his platform, in a hearing that was mostly about the Cambridge Analytica revelations, and the wider privacy concerns that have plunged the company into a major crisis of trust with the public.   Not all of the questions were on topic. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) was one of …

This simulation shows what would happen if Washington D.C. got nuked

To better understand how a nuclear blast would devastate major urban centres, researchers have created the ultimate equivalent of The Sims – a detailed computer model of Washington D.C. complete with its own personalised citizens.   We’ve all been there, creating digital cities that we joyfully smash apart. This one is less about entertaining our god-complexes, and more about testing …

Elon Musk just revealed a key part of the Big Falcon Rocket, and it’s freakishly huge

In September of 2016, Elon Musk announced the latest addition to the SpaceX rocket family. Known then as the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) – now know as the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) – this massive launch vehicle is central to Musk’s vision of sending astronauts and colonists to Mars someday.   Since that time, the space community has eagerly waited …

An entire country was taken offline last month and no one knows why

For years, countries have worried that a hostile foreign power might cut the undersea cables that supply the world with internet service. Late last month, we got a taste of what that might be like. An entire country, Mauritania, was taken offline for two days because an undersea cable was cut.   The 17,000-kilometer African Coast to Europe submarine cable, …

New “everything-proof” coating can save devices from all liquids, and also peanut butter

Sometimes our phones end up in the toilet bowl, or laptops end up covered in tea. It happens. But if they were coated with an ‘omniphobic’ material, like the one created by a team of University of Michigan researchers, your devices would be a lot more likely to come out unscathed.   “I have a 2-year-old at home, so for me, …

Is your computer slow? Here’s how to check if it’s being used by cryptominers

Good news – virtually all traditional types of malware declined in the last few months. Not so good – mainly because hackers are more interested in using your computer to help them mine cryptocurrencies.   It’s likely you, or your employer, aren’t even aware it’s happening. Malware miners latch onto your PC and add its processing power to their efforts …

Elon Musk is planning to break a Hyperloop record by reaching half the speed of sound

Between building electric cars and sending rockets into space, Elon Musk has plenty to keep him busy. But the tech mogul also wants to reinvent public transportation with the Loop and Hyperloop high-speed transit systems.   On Saturday, he said on Twitter that he plans to test a Tesla and SpaceX-branded Hyperloop pod at half the speed of sound “soon”. …