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Tech Team

Is France turning on Big Tech? [Wired]

France’s movement towards “digital sovereignty” is picking up speed. What’s that? It’s a country’s push to regain control over their own and their citizens’ data. The French National Assembly set up a cybersecurity and digital sovereignty task force back in April, and chair Florian Bachelier recently said, “Security and digital sovereignty are at stake here, which is anything but an issue only for geeks.” Where is this ire focused? Generally, towards US or Chinese tech. Last month, both the National Assembly and the Army Ministry declared that their digital devices would stop using Google as their default search engine. Where will they turn instead? Qwant, a French and German search engine known for not tracking its users. Striking a balance between digital sovereignty and a fragmented internet won’t come easy.

Robots will soon talk on your behalf [New York Times]

It can be rude when someone finishes your sentence for you, but AI will soon be able to do just that. And as usual, the question with AI is “why?” According to scientists working on this technology, each time engineers find new ways of bringing machine intelligence closer to a human level, it makes it possible to automate or augment human labour. Using speaking robots in the medical or the legal sectors could make life easier. The risks include fostering the spread of fake news or inappropriate content on social media, as it would be much more difficult to identify robots designed to fool real human beings.

Annie AI for refugees [Financial Times]

An AI programme called Annie (named for the first person processed through Ellis Island in 1982) is taking the difficult task of appropriately resettling refugees. How? By helping resettlement organisations process and analyse data criteria like jobs, language abilities, medical needs and education through software to find the best location for refugees to build their lives. Initially some organisations were hesitant to use AI, worrying it would take away most of their daily tasks, but the designers argue that 80% of resettlement cases are straight forward enough for the AI – allowing workers to spend more time on the most difficult cases. With the AI programme boosting employment rates for refugees by over 30% compared to resettlements made without the software, it’s easy to see the benefits.

Thanks mobile, it’s Black Friday [TechCrunch]

You cannot have missed it: today is “Black Friday”, regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and the busiest shopping day of the year in the US. According to Adobe, e-commerce sales today will total a record $3.5 billion, versus $2.9 billion a year ago. And this month’s share of revenue by device shows that smartphones should account for around half of all retail site visits and 30% of sales. So yes, more than a billion dollar should be spent today from smartphones. Thanks who?

In case you haven’t had enough

Congress’s new intake use their online influence with voters [Financial Times]

Google lays outs narrow “EU election advertiser” policy ahead of 2019 vote [TechCrunch]

Machine learning can create fake ‘master key’ fingerprints [Wired]

Google has a responsibility to protect DeepMind data [Financial Times]

Facebook increasingly reliant on AI to predict suicide risk [NPR]