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Apple rewrote Siri to ‘deflect’ questions about feminism | Technology

An internal project to rewrite how Apple’s Siri voice assistant handles “sensitive topics” such as feminism and the #MeToo movement advised developers to respond in one of three ways: “don’t engage”, “deflect” and finally “inform”. The project saw Siri’s responses explicitly rewritten to ensure that the service would say it was in favour of “equality”, […]

A ‘deep fake’ app will make us film stars – but will we regret our narcissism? | Technology

‘You oughta be in pictures,” goes the 1934 Rudy Vallée song. And, as of last week, pretty much anyone can be. The entry requirements for being a star fell dramatically thanks to the launch, in China, of a face-swapping app that can decant users into film and TV clips. Zao, which has quickly become China’s […]

Douglas Adams was right – knowledge without understanding is meaningless | John Naughton | Opinion

Fans of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy treasure the bit where a group of hyper-dimensional beings demand that a supercomputer tells them the secret to life, the universe and everything. The machine, which has been constructed specifically for this purpose, takes 7.5m years to compute the answer, which famously comes out as 42. […]

The Guardian view on AI-enhanced noses: something smells off | Editorial | Opinion

We have long enhanced our frail senses with prostheses. But while human vision has been improved with lenses, touch with prosthetic limbs, and hearing with microphones, taste and smell have proved trickier to upgrade. But not impossible. News that an artificial tongue developed at the University of Glasgow could be used to detect poisons or […]

Robot, heal thyself: scientists develop self-repairing machines | Technology

From picking fruit to carrying out minor surgery, soft robotic hands made from jelly-like plastic are thought by scientists to be the future solution to many human needs. But being gentle and soft enough to avoid damaging fruit or flesh has made the robots prone to damage and left them largely impractical for use in […]

Facial recognition… coming to a supermarket near you | Technology

Paul Wilks runs a Budgens supermarket in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Like most retail owners, he’d had problems with shoplifting – largely carried out by a relatively small number of repeat offenders. Then a year or so ago, exasperated, he installed something called Facewatch. It’s a facial-recognition system that watches people coming into the store; it has […]

Apple halts practice of contractors listening in to users on Siri | Technology

Apple has suspended its practice of having human contractors listen to users’ Siri recordings to “grade” them, following a Guardian report revealing the practice. The company said it would not restart the programme until it had conducted a thorough review of the practice. It has also committed to adding the ability for users to opt […]

Future imperfect: the robots and mind-reading apps remaking our world | Alex Hern | Opinion

Technology changes so fast that our lives are radically different from even a decade ago, yet slowly enough that sometimes we don’t even notice the changes. We live in the future, in other words, and sometimes it takes a moment to realise what an odd, and perhaps unsettling, future it is. So I’m going to […]

Hey Siri! Stop recording and sharing my private conversations | Roisin Kiberd | Opinion

A news story in the Guardian last week confirmed what many Apple users likely already suspected: Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, has the power to record private conversations, and these audio clips aren’t always just stored on a server – a number of samples are passed along to third-party, human contractors who are paid to listen […]

What is facial recognition – and how sinister is it? | Technology

What is facial recognition? Facial recognition technology has spread prodigiously. It’s there on Facebook, tagging photos from the class reunion, your cousin’s wedding and the office summer party. Google, Microsoft, Apple and others have built it into apps to compile albums of people who hang out together. It verifies who you are at airports and […]