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Tech Team

How do you tell your kids their robot is dying? [The Verge]
If you think your parents had a rough time explaining to you why Mufasa died in The Lion King, imagine having to tell an eight-year old that their robot friend Jibo is dying and will shut off soon. Bring out the violins for this sad story showing how integral robots can become to family life and the impact they can have when they unexpectedly shut down. Jibo is similar to Alexa and Google Home but was designed to appeal to the emotions of its user, particularly appealing to the elderly and kids. But the company got bought and is closing down Jibo’s servers for good. Users were shocked when Jibo itself announced that he would be shutting down in the next few months. As with any mourning process, families are even thinking about burying Jibo or leaving him out for display – showing robots have become much more than ‘tools’ in our lives.

A new threat to the banking ecosystem [The Verge]

Will Zuckerberg succeed in monetizing his new cryptocurrency Libra? As the company makes most of their current revenu from advertising, Facebook claims that the data collected from the currency will never be used for their targeted ads. Calibra, the subsidiary company managing Libra, is the essential piece of Zuckerberg’s offensive in the world of cryptocurrencies with the purpose to diversify and increase Facebook’s revenue streams. And with the support of 26 other — non GAFA —companies (Uber, MasterCard, Spotify,…)  the potential of Libra being the next big thing for both the financial and tech sector is there! Is Facebook going to be the next Bank of America?

The ethical AI conundrum [Wall Street Journal]

As we know, AI can do some incredible things and, some pretty scary things. Just like the EU institutions, venture capitalists and startup accelerators have recognised this and are focusing on ensuring that the AI startups they support integrate ethics from the very beginning. Many of the accelerators and VCs came to think more seriously about integrating a framework to determine how ethical an AI was after encountering a pitch that made them feel uneasy – ranking shoppers’ value based on facial recognition. As more and more investments are made into companies that create algorithms, these investors will now ask for proof of ethical AI. The tool of AI is only as fair and ethical as the data we feed it, so if we don’t pro-actively watch the ethics, bias will keep on creeping into algorithms too.

Coding for all [Forbes]

We all hear about the shortage of skilled labour in tech in Europe, but meanwhile there are disadvantage people, including refugees, who are eager to learn but do not have the access to expensive coding schools. That’s why initiatives pop up like the NGO Code Your Future which offers free software development training for people who can’t afford it. Its eight-month part-time program is taught by professional developers who volunteer their time to train students. With schools in London, Glasgow, Manchester and Rome, the NGO has had over 50 graduates and is currently training around 70 students. At its somehow modest scale, the initiative shows great results: more than 70% of the graduates have started a career in tech within six months of graduating. Bravo!

The bright side of facial recognition [Wired]

Who said facial recognition is only a bad thing? A non-profit organisation created a tool that applies new technologies to fight against online abuse and child sex-trafficking. Called Spotlight, it uses text- and image-processing algorithms to identify faces and clues in online sex ads and matches them with other evidence. Eventually, it supports the police in rescuing underage children. But that’s not all! The project is also planning to use new technologies to enter the darknet and follow the supply chain of online child pornography to unravel the entire system, right down to the core. This is an example where facial recognition could save lives.

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In case you haven’t had enough…

Facebook’s Libra May Spark a Currency War [Bloomberg]

CMU researchers uses computer vision to see around corners [TechCrunch]

These Influencers Aren’t Flesh and Blood, Yet Millions Follow Them [New York Times]

French drugmaker Sanofi, Google to use data tech for innovations [Reuters]

Apple, Google, and Facebook Are Raiding Animal Research Labs [Bloomberg]

AI: not so benevolent after all [FT]