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Distorted Videos of Nancy Pelosi Spread on Facebook and Twitter, Helped by Trump

Manipulated videos of Speaker Nancy Pelosi that made it seem as if she were stumbling over and slurring her words continued to spread across social media on Friday, fueled by President Trump’s feud with the Democratic leader.One of the videos, which showed Ms. Pelosi speaking at a conference this week, appeared to be slowed down to make her speech sound continually garbled.The video has been viewed millions of times on Facebook and was amplified by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who shared the video Thursday night on Twitter. “What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi?” Mr. Giuliani said in a tweet that has since been deleted.…

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Tech Fix: Google’s Duplex Uses A.I. to Mimic Humans (Sometimes)

ALBANY, Calif. — On a recent afternoon at the Lao Thai Kitchen restaurant, the telephone rang and the caller ID read “Google Assistant.” Jimmy Tran, a waiter, answered the phone. The caller was a man with an Irish accent hoping to book a dinner reservation for two on the weekend.This was no ordinary booking. It came through Google Duplex, a free service that uses artificial intelligence to call restaurants and — mimicking a human voice — speak on our behalf to book a table. The feature, which had a limited release about a year ago, recently became available to a larger number of Android devices and iPhones.The…

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Siri and Alexa Fuel Sexism, U.N. Finds

Why do most virtual assistants that are powered by artificial intelligence — like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa system — by default have female names, female voices and often a submissive or even flirtatious style?The problem, according to a new report released this week by Unesco, stems from a lack of diversity within the industry that is reinforcing problematic gender stereotypes.“Obedient and obliging machines that pretend to be women are entering our homes, cars and offices,” Saniye Gulser Corat, Unesco’s director for gender equality, said in a statement. “The world needs to pay much closer attention to how, when and whether A.I. technologies are gendered and, crucially,…

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A.I. Took a Test to Detect Lung Cancer. It Got an A.

Computers were as good or better than doctors at detecting tiny lung cancers on CT scans, in a study by researchers from Google and several medical centers. The technology is a work in progress, not ready for widespread use, but the new report, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, offers a glimpse of the future of artificial intelligence in medicine.One of the most promising areas is recognizing patterns and interpreting images — the same skills that humans use to read microscope slides, X-rays, M.R.I.s and other medical scans.By feeding huge amounts of data from medical imaging into systems called artificial neural networks, researchers can train computers…

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Facebook’s A.I. Whiz Now Faces the Task of Cleaning It Up. Sometimes That Brings Him to Tears.

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, was tearing up.For half an hour, we had been sitting in a conference room at Facebook’s headquarters, surrounded by whiteboards covered in blue and red marker, discussing the technical difficulties of removing toxic content from the social network. Then we brought up an episode where the challenges had proved insurmountable: the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.In March, a gunman had killed 51 people in two mosques there and live streamed it on Facebook. It took the company roughly an hour to remove the video from its site. By then, the bloody footage had spread across social media.Mr.…

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Bits: The Week in Tech: Putting an A.I. Genie Back in Its Bottle

Each week, we review the week’s news, offering analysis about the most important developments in the tech industry. Want this newsletter in your inbox? Sign up here.Hi, I’m Jamie Condliffe. Greetings from London. Here’s a look at the week’s tech news:“The facial recognition genie, so to speak, is just emerging from the bottle,” Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, wrote in December, when he called for regulation of the technology.San Francisco just put it back in.On Tuesday, the city’s Board of Supervisors banned the use of facial recognition software by the police and other city agencies in an 8-to-1 vote. Supporters said its use by government was an invasion…

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Facial Recognition’s Many Controversies, From Stadium Surveillance to Racist Software

The long-raging debate around facial recognition software, with all the privacy worries it brings with it, has taken on new urgency as the technology has improved and spread by leaps and bounds.On Tuesday, San Francisco became the first major American city to block police and other law enforcement agencies from using the software.Here is a look back at some of the many controversies over facial recognition and its use.The 2001 Super BowlIn January 2001, the city of Tampa, Fla., used a facial recognition surveillance system as it hosted Super Bowl XXXV.It was an early real-world example of how the technology could be used and prompted a backlash…

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Facebook Restricts Live Streaming After New Zealand Shooting

SAN FRANCISCO — When 51 people were killed in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March, the suspect, an Australian man, broadcast the attack live on Facebook. The video spread across the internet.On Tuesday night, in its strongest response yet to the violent scenes that were live-streamed over its social network, Facebook announced that it would place more restrictions on the use of its live video service.The company said that starting Tuesday, anyone who breaks certain rules in broadcasting content on Facebook Live will be temporarily barred from using the service, with the possibility of a 30-day ban on a first offense. Previously, it did not typically bar users…

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The Shift: Instagram Is Trying to Curb Bullying. First, It Needs to Define Bullying.

If you were to rank all the ways humans can inflict harm on one another, ranked by severity, it might be a few pages before you got to “intentional inducement of FOMO.”Purposefully giving someone else FOMO — fear of missing out — is not a crime, or even a misdemeanor. But it is a big problem on Instagram, where millions of teenagers go every day to check on their peers. And it is one of the subtle slights that Instagram is focused on classifying as part of its new anti-bullying initiative, which will use a combination of artificial intelligence and human reviewers to try to protect its…

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Amazon Flunks Children’s Privacy, Advocacy Groups Charge

Amazon barreled into the children’s smart-speaker market last year with a brightly colored device called Echo Dot Kids Edition. The tech giant played up the device as a simple way for youngsters to converse with Alexa, the company’s voice-activated virtual assistant, and obtain age-appropriate apps.But recent research commissioned by two prominent advocacy groups found that the device also enabled children to easily divulge their names, home addresses, Social Security numbers and other intimate information to Alexa. In addition, the researchers reported that Amazon made it cumbersome for parents to delete their child’s personal details from the system.On Thursday, the two groups — the Campaign for a Commercial-Free…

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