Technology

Wed
20
Jun
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IBM Computer Beats Debating Champion

An IBM computer has out-argued a debating champion according to an audience vote. It did so despite not having an Internet connection to look up facts during the debate. The demonstration wasn't designed to test how much the computer "knew," but ... rather it's ability to form arguments, listen to an opponent's case, and then respond to it. The computer system, dubbed "Project Debater", took on Noa Ovadia, who was crowned national debating champion in Israel in 2016. The pair debated two topics: whether to have more publicly funded exploration of space and whether to put more money into ... (view more)

Tue
29
May
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Apple Watch Alerts Man to Serious Heart Condition

A man says his life may have been saved by his Apple watch. A heart rate alert revealed he was experiencing a serious problem. Kevin Pearson was, by coincidence, visiting his father in hospital when he got the alert. It came from his watch, which ... tracked his heart rate. Normally that's to reveal general patterns as well as tracking how quickly the rate returns to normal after exercise, an important fitness indicator. However, the watch alerted Pearson to the fact his heart rate was at 161 beats per minute even though he was sitting down reading a book. Given his age of 52, that's a rate that ... (view more)

Thu
17
May
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Exams Plagued By 'Cheater' Wristwatches

British students have been banned from wearing any form of wristwatch in exams. It follows concerns that 'smart watches' containing helpful information could be disguised as ordinary watches. The new rules will affect most national exams for school ... students aged 16 and 18, including those which determined whether students can get a particular place on a university course. The rules say normally students must take off their watch and leave it in a visible place on their desk, though in some cases supervisors are collecting the watches and keeping them outside. The changes follow on from ... (view more)

Wed
09
May
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Robocalls on the Rise; FCC rethinks Restrictions

Robocalls are on the rise according to one company which tries to fight them. Sneaky new tactics and a recent court ruling are both contributing factors. The rise has been reported by YouMail, which produces apps for smartphones designed to block ... automated robocalls that aren't made by a human and instead play a recorded message when the recipient picks up. Based on records collated from its apps, YouMail estimates 3.4 billion such calls were made in April, up from around 2.5 billion in the same period last year. While the nature of the estimate means the figures themselves shouldn't be taken ... (view more)

Tue
24
Apr
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Robot Puts Together Ikea Furniture

A robot in Singapore can successfully assemble a piece of IKEA furniture. But there's still a long way before it can match human abilities, let alone be a superior alternative. The robot is the work of Nanyang Technological University students and ... is made up of two robotic arms and a 3D camera. The furniture in question is the "Stefan chair." It's a very basic chair frame that in theory is extremely simple to construct, however, the main reason it is challenging to build is due to a few screws that need to burrow quite deep in to wood. It therefore takes a surprising number of ... (view more)

Wed
28
Mar
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Google Speech Synthesis Gets More Realistic

Google says it's made the most realistic computer speech simulation ever. It uses artificial intelligence to reproduce the way humans put words together. The idea of Google's "Cloud Text-to-Speech" is to go beyond the traditional approach when ... dealing with speech synthesis. That effectively boils down to recording a batch of sound files of different syllables, then patching them together to form words. That works well for some languages such as Japanese, where speech patterns are very regular, but not so well for language such as English that have more complexity with pronunciation. Full ... (view more)

Tue
20
Mar
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Uber Self-Driving Car Kills Pedestrian Crossing Street

A pedestrian has died after being hit by a self-driving vehicle in Tempa, Arizona. It's the first time an autonomous car has collided with a person on foot, resulting in a fatality. The car was part of a test program offered by taxi-alternative ... company Uber. It's now suspended its testing which was taking place on public streets in several states. The Washington Post says the crash took place at a busy intersection of public streets. Police said the vehicle was driving northbound and hit 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg, who was crossing the street. They added that she was not within ... (view more)

Thu
01
Mar
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Amazon Still Wants to Open Your Front Door

Amazon has bought a company that makes video doorbells. The purchase of "Ring" is likely to boost a service where Amazon couriers are able to get into customer homes to drop off parcels safely. The Amazon Key service was developed as a way to get ... round the twin problems of it being inconvenient to have to wait in for deliveries, but insecure to have couriers leave parcels on doorsteps. It works with 'smart' electronic door locks where householders can unlock their door with their smartphone, either by tapping the screen or simply having their phone in their pocket as they approach ... (view more)

Tue
06
Feb
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Former Execs to Battle 'Social Media Addiction'

Former Facebook and Google employees are campaigning to warn users of the dangers of tech addiction. The 'Center for Humane Technology' will work on lobbying officials and educating children and parents. Though the organization has been running ... since 2014, it's not achieved much publicity so far. That could change with a high-profile relaunch after receiving several forms of funding including cash from a "media watchdog" non-profit, plus the equivalent of $50 million in free advertising space from companies such as Comcast and DirecTV. Google 'Ethicist' In Charge The group is largely made up ... (view more)

Thu
25
Jan
John Lister's picture

New Cars Could Measure Tired and Stressed Drivers

Ford is working on a car that can sense the driver's mood. For now it's a marketing tool, but the company says it could make new safety features possible. The company is working with tech firm Sensum on what is something of a gimmick to promote ... sports cars, but could theoretically be used to tell when a driver is stressed or distracted. In the test versions at least, the driver needs to wear fitness trackers (similar to the watches or wristbands people use to track their daily steps and heart rate) and skin sensors, which can measure changes in breathing rate and even perspiration from stress ... (view more)

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