OpenAI’s new multitalented AI writes, translates, and slanders

The Verge reports on efforts by OpenAI to create a language modelling program that could emulate the writing style of a real human. This quote caught my eye: “The writing it produces is usually easily identifiable as non-human. Although its grammar and spelling are generally correct, it tends to stray off topic, and the text […]

Beauty spot or landscape blot? Computer trained to judge scenery

  Wordsworth found it in a host of daffodils; Nan Shepherd in the nooks of the Cairngorms. For Monet it popped up all over the place, from the windmills and canals of Amsterdam, to the sailing boats of Argenteuil. What lends a scene beauty has long been left to the poets and painters to define, […]

Nutella employed an algorithm to design its packaging

Nutella’s manufacturer Ferrero partnered with its advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather Italia to devise a plan to get people to buy more Nutella. Their idea? Have an algorithm design the packaging. The company provided the software with a database of patterns and colors that Ferrero felt fit with the hazelnut spread brand. It then created […]

How do I tell my daughter that her online ‘truth’ is a conspiracy theory?

This confusion about the truth usually begins to disappear as children grow up and see that there are not only observable facts, but also collectively observable knowledge that is difficult to verify but must nevertheless be taken on trust. The idea that the Earth is (roughly) a sphere and orbits the sun is pretty much […]

Planet Earth II’s 360-degree videos are a great escape

Not a lot of people know this but the BBC is one of the leading researchers in areas related to broadcasting and other technology. They invented Nicam stereo, teletext and much more besides. The microphones they developed in the 1930s are still the basis of many of those we use today. One area they’ve been […]

Emoji diversity: how ‘silly little faces’ can make a big difference

When Emojipedia founder Jeremy Burge sent his fiancee to the wrong side of London for dinner, he sent an apologetic text message. He received an emoji-less reply: “It’s fine.” “We all know that’s not what it means at all. That means ‘it’s not fine’,” he said, pointing out that emoji have infiltrated language so deeply […]

After the success of Pokémon Go!, what is the future for augmented reality?

  In Baum’s The Master Key, which was subtitled with a phrase that offers a rather delicious description of Silicon Valley – An Electrical Fairy Tale, Founded Upon the Mysteries of Electricity and the Optimism of Its Devotees – the protagonist is given the magical spectacles by a demon. After a fortnight’s adventuring, he concludes […]

Machine logic: our lives are ruled by big tech’s ‘decisions by data’

  Crawford says there are very practical reasons why tech companies have become so powerful. “We’re trying to put so much responsibility on to individuals to step away from the ‘evil platforms’, whereas in reality, there are so many reasons why people can’t. The opportunity costs to employment, to their friends, to their families, are […]

Virtual reality for the masses is here. But do the masses want VR?

  Both the PSVR and the new lower-minimum Oculus do offer that magic – the moment when the view on-screen and your actions in the real world merge so perfectly that you feel transported into the virtual reality presented to you. That said, they still have their flaws. The dreaded VR nausea is there too […]