We open #TechAways today with a teaser, we want you to know something big is coming.
Keep an eye on your inboxes early next week.
Sex, bikes and the Internet [Financial Times]
You wouldn’t automatically see bikes and the Internet as natural bedfellows. But this intriguing piece by John Thornhill draws unexpected parallels between the way bicycles and the Internet have facilitated sex between strangers and disrupted our gene pool. He cites the impact that surging bicycle sales in France in the early 20thcentury had in boosting longer-distance liaisons by enabling young things to court beyond their immediate village. And he points to a recently published academic paper that predicts online dating will help boost the number of inter-racial marriages and lower the divorce rate due to more compatible unions. But while algorithmic matchmakers such as Tinder are reshaping society in unexpected ways, will they ever replace blind love?
Re-writing the Bollywood script [Quartz]
IBM India’s research division has launched a project to collect data to analyse the genders and relationships of characters, intrigues, posters and trailers of 4,000 Bollywood movies. The aim: to use the data to examine gender bias in films and understand how men and women are portrayed in the Bollywood film industry. Once a clear picture emerges, they hope to create more “unbiased plausible stories”. It’s exciting that the power of data enables us to understand negative biases and how we might change those trends.
AI that learns on its own? [The Guardian]
With no human help, Google’s AI team, DeepMind, has unveiled a major AI breakthrough. Game-playing software AlphaGo Zero took just three days to master an ancient Chinese board game by playing itself millions of times. AI will revolutionise entire industries and make all sorts of businesses more efficient and productive. With AI systems learning from themselves, they may over the next decade discover new drugs and materials or crack mysteries in particle physics. People seem to be on board. Respondents to a European Parliament public consultation on AI and robotics took a positive attitude towards advancements in the area.
You don’t own your digital self [The Next Web]
We’re all aware that we generate data when we use “free” online services. But do you know how much of that data you own? Usually not a byte. The concept of online ownership is complex but, in general terms, companies like Google that use and monetise our data are the true owners. According to Eric Ravenscraft, blockchain could change that. How? Companies that benefit from user data would have to pay for it, users who generate data would be rewarded and discussions about basic income could become pointless. If users were paid in cryptocurrency, it would ensure a secured and encrypted exchange. A whole new world…
Time to worry about security? KU Leuven’s Mathy Vanhoef has found that devices connected to wifi are at greater risk of hacking than previously thought. A flaw in WPA2’s cryptographic protocols could be exploited by hackers to take your passwords, intercept your financial data, or even steal your money. The best way to protect yourself is to update wifi-enabled devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops, as soon as updates are released. These findings were released just a few weeks before the first WiFi4EU calls for projects are released – leaving the European Commission no choice but to beef up their security and data protection dimension of the RFP.
In case you haven’t had enough:
Swedish pension fund takes on Mark Zuckerberg and wins [Financial Times]
Is Uber Helping or Hurting Mass Transit? [New York Times]
How Google’s Quantum Computer Could Change the World [Wall Street Journal]
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