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1. Difference Engine: Game over for virtual reality?Пт., 01 дек. 2017[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Fly Title: Difference Engine Location: LOS ANGELES Main image: 20171202_stp501.jpg LIKE the rest of the consumer-electronics industry, video-game makers would be lost without the traditional binge buying that happens between mid-November and the late December. This year’s gift-giving season will be as much a treat for makers of video-gaming gadgets as for their happy recipients. Prices of the headsets, sensors and controllers that let game-players explore the artificial world of virtual reality (VR) have been slashed to levels most families can now afford. Stockings could be bulging with VR headsets from Samsung, Dell, Sony, HTC, Oculus (a division of Facebook) and others. For those willing to wait until early 2018, costs could fall still further—as a new, even cheaper generation of VR headsets hits the market. Despite the merry ho, ho, ho, however, there is a distinct whiff of urgency in the air. Virtual reality has failed to live up to its hype, and mainstream consumers never really bought into the ...

2. Sound and software: Tech giants will probably dominate speakers and headphonesЧт., 30 нояб. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Speakers and headphones may also come to be dominated by technology giants Print Headline: Sound and software Print Fly Title: The audio industry UK Only Article: standard article Issue: How—and why—to end the war in Yemen Fly Title: Sound and software Location: PARIS Main image: 20171202_WBD001_0.jpg MUSIC lovers do not typically go to the opera to buy a speaker. But at the Palais Garnier in Paris they now can: Devialet, a local maker of high-end speakers, on November 29th opened a store in the 19th-century music venue to sell its most sophisticated product, called Phantom. Looking like a dinosaur egg, this supercomputer for sound (priced at $3,000) is considered one of the best wireless speakers available. It also comes with a dedicated streaming service for ...

3. The Economist explains: How financial firms help catch crooksСр., 29 нояб. 2017[−]
Main image: THE estimate is loose but noteworthy nonetheless. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reckons that every year crooks launder between $800bn and $2trn that they have made from trafficking, prostitution, corruption and other misdeeds. Governments keen to crack down on money-laundering are increasingly slapping financial firms with dizzying fines for failing to spot suspicious transactions or for overlooking anti-money-laundering (AML) regulations. These rules are multiplying. In June, for example, the European Union’s fourth AML directive introduced a book’s worth of fresh regulations, and the next batch is already being drafted. To avoid falling foul of these new directions, financial firms are spending heavily on software that can detect transactions that should be blocked or flagged for human investigation.The software looks for attributes that have historically been linked to laundering, such as unusual transactional patterns. Cash deposits to an account via distant branches are suspect. So are jumps in transaction size or frequency. Round sums are more dubious than exact ones, which are more likely to reflect legal commercial transactions. Unusually regular payments between individuals are also deemed suspicious, since debts between criminals are typically paid off in that ...

4. Octopussy: Does Hong Kong’s Octopus card have too many tentacles?Чт., 23 нояб. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: A ubiquitous payment card gets some unfair flak Print Headline: Octopussy Print Fly Title: Payment cards in Hong Kong UK Only Article: standard article Issue: A hated tax but a fair one Fly Title: Octopussy Location: HONG KONG Main image: Your extensible friend Your extensible friend IN 1997, two months after Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty, it acquired a cutting-edge payment technology. People could rush through turnstiles with a wave of their colourful Octopus cards—stored-value cards pre-loaded with cash. Its latest advance, however, is risibly low-tech. On October 30th Octopus launched an extensible pole with a plastic hand to help drivers pay at toll booths. Critics of Hong Kong’s cautious approach to fintech snorted in derision. Meanwhile, a ...

5. Bish bash Bosch: A German hardware giant tries to become an ultra-secure tech platformЧт., 09 нояб. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: A conservative German hardware giant tries to turn itself into a new kind of ultra-secure technology platform Print Headline: Bish bash Bosch Print Fly Title: The internet of things UK Only Article: standard article Issue: America’s global influence has dwindled under Donald Trump Fly Title: Bish bash Bosch Location: GERLINGEN Main image: Bosch mobilises Bosch mobilises BOSCH is everywhere. It has 440 subsidiaries and employs 400,000 people in 60 countries. Its technology opens London’s Tower Bridge and closes packets of crisps and biscuits in factories from India to Mexico. Analysts call it a car-parts maker: it is the world’s largest, making everything from fuel-injection pumps to windscreen wipers. Consumers know it for white goods and power tools synonymous ...

6. Someone to watch over them: Electronic surveillance may save the rhinoЧт., 09 нояб. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Electronic surveillance may save the rhino Print Headline: Someone to watch over them Print Fly Title: Conservation UK Only Article: standard article Issue: The leapfrog model Fly Title: Someone to watch over them Main image: Collared Collared FOR EACH OF the past three years South Africa has lost more than 1,000 rhinos to poachers, despite intensive efforts to protect them using armed rangers, drones and specially trained tracker dogs. Guarding rhinos is particularly difficult because they roam across vast areas of veld where poachers can hide easily. But two novel approaches using artificial intelligence may help rangers catch their hunters. The first was developed by a group of computer scientists who had previously used artificial intelligence to detect roadside bombers in Iraq and insurgents in Afghanistan. In South Africa ...

7. Washing whiter: Increasingly, hunting money-launderers is automatedЧт., 02 нояб. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Software is patrolling the financial system, looking for crooks Print Headline: Washing whiter Print Fly Title: Anti-money-laundering technology UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Do social media threaten democracy? Fly Title: Washing whiter Main image: 20171104_FND002_0.jpg KEEN, no doubt, to stay alive, drug traffickers tend to be prompter payers than most. For software firms, this is just one of many clues that may hint at the laundering of ill-gotten money. Anti-money-laundering (AML) software, as it is called, monitors financial transactions and produces lists of the people most likely to be transferring the proceeds of crime. Spending on this software is soaring. Celent, a research company, estimates that financial firms have spent roughly $825m on it so far this year, up from $675m last year. Technavio, another ...

8. The founding of Maple Valley: How Canada’s unique research culture has aided artificial intelligenceЧт., 02 нояб. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: How Canada’s unique research culture has aided artificial intelligence Print Headline: The founding of Maple Valley Print Fly Title: Innovation in Canada UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Do social media threaten democracy? Fly Title: The founding of Maple Valley Location: TORONTO Main image: AI’s nerve centre AI’s nerve centre ROBOTS controlled by remote supercomputers. Self-driving cars on narrow, winding streets. Board-game players of unimaginable skill. These successes of artificial intelligence (AI) rely on neural networks: algorithms that churn through data using a structure loosely based on the human brain, and calculate functions too complex for humans to write. The use of such networks is a signature of firms in Silicon Valley. But they were ...

9. Artificial intelligence: A better way to search through scientific papersЧт., 19 окт. 2017[−]
Print section UK Only Article: standard article Fly Title: Artificial intelligence Main image: 20171021_stp505.jpg ARTIFICIAL intelligence (AI) is not just for playing games. It also has important practical uses. One such is in Semantic Scholar, a system developed by researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, in Seattle, for the purpose of ferreting out the scientific papers most relevant to a particular problem. This week Marie Hagman, the project’s leader, and her colleagues have launched an updated version of the system. They have added 26m biomedical-research papers to the 12m previously contained in its database, and upgraded the way that the database’s contents can be searched and correlated. Instead of relying on citations in other papers, or the frequency of recurring phrases to rank the relevance of papers, as it once did and rivals such as Google Scholar still do, the new version of Semantic Scholar applies AI to try to understand the context of those phrases, and thus achieve better results. Like most AI systems, the new Semantic Scholar relies on a neural network—a computer architecture ...

10. Letters: Letters to the editorЧт., 19 окт. 2017[−]
Print section Print Fly Title: On Italy, the “right to repair”, China, racism, the comma, Hugh Hefner UK Only Article: standard article Issue: The right way to help declining places Fly Title: Letters Italy’s role in foreign wars You put forward a couple of reasonable explanations for why Italy has not yet been struck by a serious terrorist attack (“Safe so far”, September 30th). But one unmentioned factor is Italy’s low profile during the recent wars in the Middle East. We never bombed the Syrians the way France did. The terrorist blowback, the number of Italian foreign jihadists and the resentment against Italy in the Middle East are, therefore, much more limited. Moreover, you aired the view that the Mafia may have deterred the jihadists. There is no evidence to support this. Today’s Mafia lacks both the strength and the will to care about terrorism, because it is too busy searching for ways to survive in a largely hostile environment. What is true is that the instruments we used to defeat Cosa Nostra turned out to be very effective in tracing and ...

11. Mind the app: Crafty app developers are ripping off big-name brandsЧт., 12 окт. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Crafty app developers are making money by ripping off big-name brands Print Headline: Mind the app Print Fly Title: Smartphone security UK Only Article: standard article Issue: China’s Xi Jinping has more clout than Donald Trump. The world should be wary Fly Title: Mind the app Main image: 20171014_WBD001_1.jpg THE new app for an upmarket British department store certainly looks the part. Released on Google Play, a shop for Android software, on September 5th, it has the right logo, the correct vibrant colour and offers fashionable clothes and accessories. But the app is not authorised by the brand, is littered with pop-up ads and is painfully slow (furious users gave it one-star ratings). Its developer, Style Apps, has also launched apps for other clothing brands that are household names in America. Such fake apps are designed ...

12. In the eye of the storm: Why McKinsey is under attack in South AfricaЧт., 12 окт. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: The consulting giant is in trouble for working with a firm tied to the Guptas Print Headline: In the eye of the storm Print Fly Title: McKinsey in South Africa UK Only Article: standard article Issue: China’s Xi Jinping has more clout than Donald Trump. The world should be wary Fly Title: In the eye of the storm Location: JOHANNESBURG Main image: An unfamiliar sight for McKinseyites An unfamiliar sight for McKinseyites MCKINSEY, a global management consultancy known for its discreet profile and rarefied air, is unused to the sort of tub-thumping popular revolt it is experiencing in South Africa. Such is public outrage over the Guptas, an Indian-born business dynasty accused of growing rich off their relationship with President Jacob Zuma, that a few ...

13. Take back control: How digital devices challenge the nature of ownershipЧт., 28 сент. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Digital devices are challenging the nature of ownership. It’s time to fight back Print Headline: Take back control Print Fly Title: Property in the digital age UK Only Article: standard article Issue: The spotlight shifts from Germany to France Fly Title: Take back control Main image: 20170930_ldd010.jpg OWNERSHIP used to be about as straightforward as writing a cheque. If you bought something, you owned it. If it broke, you fixed it. If you no longer wanted it, you sold it or chucked it away. Some firms found tricks to muscle in on the aftermarket, using warranties, authorised repair shops, and strategies such as selling cheap printers and expensive ink. But these ways of squeezing out more profit did not challenge the nature of what it means to be an owner. In the digital age ownership has become more slippery. Just ask Tesla ...

14. Once more into the breach: The big data breach suffered by Equifax has alarming implicationsЧт., 14 сент. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: The personal information of millions of Americans has been compromised Print Headline: Once more… Print Fly Title: The Equifax data breach UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Closing in on cancer Fly Title: Once more into the breach UNTIL something goes wrong, few people give much thought to the surveillance they undergo by credit-reporting agencies (CRAs). Yet these agencies’ business is deeply intrusive: quantifying character. They assign individuals credit scores based on how they previously managed debt. The scores are then sold to lenders. In America, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the “Big Three” CRAs, have gathered credit histories and identifying information for nearly every adult. On September 7th Equifax admitted that something had indeed gone very wrong: hackers had gained access to personal information on about 143m people, mostly Americans. It reported that, from mid-May to ...

15. Johnson: Why companies don’t want you to take their brand names in vainЧт., 07 сент. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Companies don’t want you to take their brand names in vain. But they can’t do much to stop you Print Headline: Google a photoshopped hoover Print Fly Title: Johnson UK Only Article: standard article Issue: What machines can tell from your face Fly Title: Johnson Main image: 20170909_BKD001_0.jpg WHAT else could you call a photocopier? If you answer “a Xerox machine”, you are one of the many people for whom the brand name and the generic item are one and the same. Like many brands that have gone generic, xerox is often lower-case and used as a verb. There are many more of these than people realise: aspirin was once Aspirin, a trademark of Bayer, which was forced to give it up as part of Germany’s reparations after the first world war. Most “universalised” brand names are really only regional. Visitors to the American South are ...

16. The facial-industrial complex: Ever better and cheaper, face-recognition technology is spreadingЧт., 07 сент. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Ever better and cheaper, face-recognition technology is spreading Print Headline: The facial-industrial complex Print Fly Title: Visual computing UK Only Article: standard article Issue: What machines can tell from your face Fly Title: The facial-industrial complex Location: BEIJING AND SAN FRANCISCO Main image: 20170909_WBP005_0.jpg TOURING the headquarters of Megvii in Beijing is like visiting Big Brother’s engine room. A video camera in the firm’s lobby recognises visitors in the blink of an eye. Other such devices are deployed around the office. Some of the images they capture are shown on a wall of video called “Skynet”, after the artificial-intelligence (AI) system in the “Terminator” films. One feed shows a group of employees waiting in front of an ...

17. Nowhere to hide: What machines can tell from your faceЧт., 07 сент. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Facial recognition is not just another technology. It will change society Print Headline: Nowhere to hide Print Fly Title: Facial recognition UK Only Article: standard article Issue: What machines can tell from your face Fly Title: Nowhere to hide Main image: 20170909_LDD001_1.jpg THE human face is a remarkable piece of work. The astonishing variety of facial features helps people recognise each other and is crucial to the formation of complex societies. So is the face’s ability to send emotional signals, whether through an involuntary blush or the artifice of a false smile. People spend much of their waking lives, in the office and the courtroom as well as the bar and the bedroom, reading faces, for signs of attraction, hostility, trust and deceit. They also spend plenty of time trying to dissimulate. Technology is rapidly ...

18. Facial technology: Advances in AI are used to spot signs of sexualityСр., 06 сент. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: In the first of two stories about faces and technology, artificial intelligence is used to spot signs of sexuality Print Headline: Keeping a straight face Print Fly Title: Facial technology (1) UK Only Article: standard article Issue: What machines can tell from your face Fly Title: Facial technology Main image: 20170909_STP006_0.jpg MODERN artificial intelligence is much feted. But its talents boil down to a superhuman ability to spot patterns in large volumes of data. Facebook has used this ability to produce maps of poor regions in unprecedented detail, with an AI system that has learned what human settlements look like from satellite pictures. Medical researchers have trained AI in smartphones to detect cancerous lesions; a Google system can make precise guesses about the year a photograph was taken, simply because it has ...

19. Play time: Computer-game tournaments go mainstreamЧт., 17 авг. 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Computer-game tournaments advance to the next level Print Headline: Play time Print Fly Title: E-sports UK Only Article: standard article Issue: How Trump has a feeble grasp of what it means to be president Fly Title: Play time Location: SEATTLE Main image: Neymar, watch out Neymar, watch out FIREWORKS detonated, smoke wafted over the stage and confetti began to fall. Seventeen thousand fans cheered the European players of Team Liquid, with monikers like “MinD_ContRoL” and “MATUMBAMAN”, who had just triumphed over a Chinese side to win The International, a tournament held in Seattle’s KeyArena on August 7th-12th. In the stands Max Martinez, a 25-year-old bartender from Phoenix, was in a state of nirvana. “This is like my Super Bowl,” he said. But the players ...

20. Letter from Alphabet: The e-mail Larry Page should have written to James DamoreВт., 15 авг. 2017[−]
Print section Print Headline: The e-mail Larry Page should have written to James Damore Print Fly Title: Letter from Alphabet UK Only Article: standard article Issue: How Trump has a feeble grasp of what it means to be president Fly Title: Letter from Alphabet Main image: 20170819_ird001.jpg Created on: 15 August 2017 at 15:15 (Delivered after 1 seconds)From: Larry Page <*********@google.com>To: James Damore <***********@hotmail.com>cc: <all-staff-worldwide@google.com> Subject: Re: “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” Dear James, You’re probably expecting me to start by claiming that there are no differences in the average abilities, aptitudes and interests of men and women. Or that the fact that four times as many of Google’s software engineers are men than are women is proof of discrimination. I’m not going to do either of those things. There is good evidence for dozens of such differences between the ...

21. Code red: Why China’s AI push is worryingЧт., 27 июля 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: State-controlled corporations are developing powerful artificial intelligence. That is worrying Print Headline: Code red Print Fly Title: AI in China UK Only Article: standard article Issue: How to deal with Venezuela Fly Title: Code red Main image: 20170729_LDD002_0.jpg IMAGINE the perfect environment for developing artificial intelligence (AI). The ingredients would include masses of processing power, lots of computer-science boffins, a torrent of capital—and abundant data with which to train machines to recognise and respond to patterns. That environment might sound like a fair description of America, the current leader in the field. But in some respects it is truer still of China. The country is rapidly building up its cloud-computing capacity. For sheer volume of research on AI, if not quality, Chinese academics surpass ...

22. Education technology: Together, technology and teachers can revamp schoolsЧт., 20 июля 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Together, technology and teachers can revamp schools Print Headline: Brain gains Print Fly Title: Education technology UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Britain faces up to Brexit Fly Title: Education technology Main image: 20170722_LDD002_0.jpg IN 1953 B.F. Skinner visited his daughter’s maths class. The Harvard psychologist found every pupil learning the same topic in the same way at the same speed. A few days later he built his first “teaching machine”, which let children tackle questions at their own pace. By the mid-1960s similar gizmos were being flogged by door-to-door salesmen. Within a few years, though, enthusiasm for them had fizzled out. Since then education technology (edtech) has repeated the cycle of hype and flop, even as computers have reshaped almost every other part of life. One reason is the ...

23. Edtech: Technology is transforming what happens when a child goes to schoolЧт., 20 июля 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: Education technology is changing what happens when a child goes to school Print Headline: Machine learning Print Fly Title: Edtech UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Britain faces up to Brexit Fly Title: Edtech Location: BANGALORE AND THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Main image: 20170722_FBD001_0.jpg FOR a ten-year-old, Amartya is a thoughtful chap. One Monday morning at the Khan Lab School (KLS) in Mountain View, California, he explains that his maths is “pretty strong” but he needs to work on his writing. Not to worry, though; Amartya has a plan. He will practise grammar online, book a slot with an English teacher and consult his mentor. Later he will e-mail your correspondent to ask for help, too. This is the sort of pluck KLS produces. Its pupils do not ...

24. The algorithm kingdom: China may match or beat America in AIЧт., 13 июля 2017[−]
Print section Print Rubric: China’s deep pool of data means it has a chance to lead in artificial intelligence Print Headline: The algorithm kingdom Print Fly Title: Artificial intelligence UK Only Article: standard article Issue: Liu Xiaobo’s death holds a message for China Fly Title: The algorithm kingdom Location: BEIJING Main image: 20170715_WBP002_0.jpg AT THE start of this year, two straws in the wind caught the attention of those who follow the development of artificial intelligence (AI) globally. First, Qi Lu, one of the bosses of Microsoft, said in January that he would not return to the world’s largest software firm after recovering from a cycling accident, but instead would become chief operating officer at Baidu, China’s leading search engine. Later that month, the ...

25. The Economist explains: How “fake news” could get even worseПт., 07 июля 2017[−]
Main image: RICK ASTLEY is rightly famous. His 1987 single, “Never Gonna Give You Up”, has been played more than 330m times on YouTube. But in February last year Mr Astley (pictured) indulged in a rather odd experiment. The singer, looking remarkably similar to his late-’80s self, covered his own hit song, but sang the whole thing in order of pitch. The song, a video of which appears on YouTube, proceeds in a rather unconventional manner. Mr Astley stammers out different lines in a jumble, going from dulcet bass tones to shrill trebles over a tortuous three-and-a-half minutes. The only coherent thing about the apparent stunt is the progression from low to high notes—except then he goes back to low at the end. Did this actually happen?No. Mr Astley did not rework his song. An artist called Mario Klingemann did, using clever software. The video is a particularly obvious example of generated media, which uses quick and basic techniques. More sophisticated technology is on the verge of being able to generate credible video and audio of anyone saying anything. This is down to progress in an artificial intelligence (AI) technique called machine learning, which allows for the generation of imagery and audio. One particular set-up, known as a generative adversarial network (GAN), works by setting a ...


 
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