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A.I. as Talent Scout: Unorthodox Hires, and Maybe Lower Pay

One day this fall, Ashutosh Garg, the chief executive of a recruiting service called Eightfold.ai, turned up a résumé that piqued his interest.It belonged to a prospective data scientist, someone who unearths patterns in data to help businesses make decisions, like how to target ads. But curiously, the résumé featured the term “data science” nowhere.Instead, the résumé belonged to an analyst at Barclays who had done graduate work in physics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Though his profile on the social network LinkedIn indicated that he had never worked as a data scientist, Eightfold’s software flagged him as a good fit. He was similar in…

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Bits: The Week in Tech: Facebook’s Three Big Problems

Each week, technology reporters and columnists from The New York Times review the week’s news, offering analysis and maybe a joke or two about the most important developments in the tech industry. Want this newsletter in your inbox? Sign up here.Hello, old friends! It’s Kevin Roose, tech columnist and erstwhile newsletter writer.I wanted to write an entire newsletter about the only news that mattered this past week: Knickers, the extremely large Australian cow (who is actually, as my colleague Daniel Victor reported, an extremely large Australian steer). But I’ve been told by my editors that this is “a tech newsletter” and “not the place for your livestock…

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The New New World: How Cheap Labor Drives China’s A.I. Ambitions

Some of the most critical work in advancing China’s technology goals takes place in a former cement factory in the middle of the country’s heartland, far from the aspiring Silicon Valleys of Beijing and Shenzhen. An idled concrete mixer still stands in the middle of the courtyard. Boxes of melamine dinnerware are stacked in a warehouse next door.Inside, Hou Xiameng runs a company that helps artificial intelligence make sense of the world. Two dozen young people go through photos and videos, labeling just about everything they see. That’s a car. That’s a traffic light. That’s bread, that’s milk, that’s chocolate. That’s what it looks like when a…

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11 Things We’d Really Like to Know: How Will We Outsmart A.I. Liars?

During the summer before the 2016 presidential election, John Seymour and Philip Tully, two researchers with ZeroFOX, a security company in Baltimore, unveiled a new kind of Twitter bot. By analyzing patterns of activity on the social network, the bot learned to fool users into clicking on links in tweets that led to potentially hazardous sites.The bot, called SNAP_R, was an automated “phishing” system, capable of homing in on the whims of specific individuals and coaxing them toward that moment when they would inadvertently download spyware onto their machines. “Archaeologists believe they’ve found the tomb of Alexander the Great is in the U.S. for the first time:…

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Finally, a Machine That Can Finish Your Sentence

In August, researchers from the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a lab based in Seattle, unveiled an English test for computers. It examined whether machines could complete sentences like this one:On stage, a woman takes a seat at the piano. Shea) sits on a bench as her sister plays with the doll.b) smiles with someone as the music plays.c) is in the crowd, watching the dancers.d) nervously sets her fingers on the keys.For you, that would be an easy question. But for a computer, it was pretty hard. While humans answered more than 88 percent of the test questions correctly, the lab’s A.I. systems hovered around 60…

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At War: Are Killer Robots the Future of War? Parsing the Facts on Autonomous Weapons

It’s a freezing, snowy day on the border between Estonia and Russia. Soldiers from the two nations are on routine border patrol, each side accompanied by an autonomous weapon system, a tracked robot armed with a machine gun and an optical system that can identify threats, like people or vehicles. As the patrols converge on uneven ground, an Estonian soldier trips and accidentally discharges his assault rifle. The Russian robot records the gunshots and instantaneously determines the appropriate response to what it interprets as an attack. In less than a second, both the Estonian and Russian robots, commanded by algorithms, turn their weapons on the human targets…

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New York Is a Genuine Tech Hub (and That Was Before Amazon)

In 2003, Craig Nevill-Manning, a computer scientist at Google, wanted to set up an engineering outpost in New York. Google’s top leaders were skeptical, but they told him that he could go ahead if he could find 15 “Google-worthy” software developers in the city.“The attitude was that pretty much all the good software engineers were in Silicon Valley,” Mr. Nevill-Manning recalled. “It seems crazy in retrospect.”Mr. Nevill-Manning found his developers and opened the engineering office in New York. Today, Google employs 7,000 people in the city, and more than half are engineers and technical staff.The Google story mirrors the rise and evolution of New York as a…

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Tech C.E.O.s Are in Love With Their Principal Doomsayer

The futurist philosopher Yuval Noah Harari worries about a lot.He worries that Silicon Valley is undermining democracy and ushering in a dystopian hellscape in which voting is obsolete.He worries that by creating powerful influence machines to control billions of minds, the big tech companies are destroying the idea of a sovereign individual with free will.He worries that because the technological revolution’s work requires so few laborers, Silicon Valley is creating a tiny ruling class and a teeming, furious “useless class.”But lately, Mr. Harari is anxious about something much more personal. If this is his harrowing warning, then why do Silicon Valley C.E.O.s love him so?“One possibility is…

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Corner Office: Sundar Pichai of Google: ‘Technology Doesn’t Solve Humanity’s Problems’

[Subscribe to “With Interest.” It’s a Sunday newsletter with essential business insights that’ll prep you for the week ahead.]Google is facing more challenges today than at any time in its 20-year history. Employees are outraged over sexual harassment. Executives are under scrutiny for an effort to secretly make a censored version of its search product for China. Google will shut down its social network next year after a data breach was discovered. Political and social debates, including one over building military-grade artificial intelligence, are roiling the work force. Yet the man responsible for leading Google through this minefield is not one of the company’s founders — Larry…

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We Tried Facebook’s New Portal Device (So You Don’t Have To)

Facebook’s new gadgets, Portal and Portal Plus, are meant to bring people closer together.So we — Mike Isaac and Farhad Manjoo, two technology writers for The New York Times — took the $199 and $349 devices for a test run over the last week to see if they could make us feel more connected to each other. We both installed the Portal, which starts shipping on Thursday, in our homes (our bedrooms, to be exact). The devices are video-calling machines that people can use to talk through a screen to other Facebook users. They have a 12-megapixel camera with high-definition video and artificial intelligence software; the camera…

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