A Happy New Year to all of you TechAways readers! Hope you all enjoyed ringing in the new decade, which promises to be busy from the start! 


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CES highlights – or at least the most entertaining ones [DigitalTrends] 

CES, the largest annual technology fair, has been making the usual headlines this week with new products being showcased and new business deals being signed. The products are usually very cool and innovating but sometimes can also be hilarious and entertaining. This year’s winners in that category? How about a raclette robot that scrapes cheese for you on those cold winter days or the Charmin robot that brings you toilet paper? Yes, they do exist, along with circular phones and luggage your kids can ride through the airport.  

AI for the silver screen [The Verge] 

 Warner Bros just signed a deal with Cinelytic that could reduce the number of Hollywood flops thanks to the use of AI. The LA startup uses machine learning to predict film success. Film makers can pick and choose certain elements (genre, actors, etc.) with the algorithm predicting which combination will be the most successful in the box office. Critics warn that the AI can only produce limited predictive gains, but Cinelytic points out that when bidding wars occur at film festivals and studios only have hours to decide how much a film might be worth, the tool can provide analysis much faster than humans. So we’ll see, maybe you should renew that movie pass subscription after all this year to go see all the blockbusters coming up! 

(Fake) diversity sells [Washington Post] 

Firms that want to diversify the ethnicities they feature in the visuals they use (website, brochures, etc.) can now purchase computer-generated faces from AI startups like Icons8. If a face is not enough for you, one startup is set to put full human bodies on offer. Who needs real diversity when you can fake it? Industry experts are already pointing out that these AI images cannot be easily traced, making them ideal for disinformation. Rosebud AI is safeguarding against bad actors by curating which companies are permitted access to their AI photos. Their waiting list is only 2000 clients long. Interested? Better start getting in line. 

Facebook, AI-driven deepfakes, and current problems [WIRED] 

In recent years Facebook has garnered considerable attention for reacting to problems when it is simply too late. The new ban on deepfake videos is thus surprising for many, with the company taking a strong position before the AI technology becomes sophisticated enough to truly tell fact from fiction. However, the social media platform will still allow more simple forms of misleading videos, “shallow fake” or “cheap fake” videos which are selectively edited but can be just as deceptive as a total fake. So, although the social media giant has taken a commendable step in the right direction, we must still wait and see how it will sort out current problems. 

In case you haven’t had enough… 

McDonald set up group to ensure customers like its new tech (Bloomberg) 

Major TikTok security flaws found (The New York Times) 

L’Oréal’s latest gadget mixes lipstick based on what your favorite influencers wear (The Verge) 

Homeland Security warns businesses to brace for Iranian cyberattacks (TechCrunch) 

Waze for work? Navigation apps come to mazelike offices (The Wall Street Journal)