Google’s virtual assistant can now make phone calls on your behalf to schedule appointments, make reservations in restaurants and get holiday hours. The robotic assistant uses a very natural speech pattern that includes hesitations and affirmations such as “er” and “mmm-hmm” so that it is extremely difficult to distinguish from an actual human phone call. The unsettling feature, which will be available to the public later this year, is enabled by a technology called Google Duplex, which can carry out “real world” tasks on the phone, without the other person realising they are talking to a machine. The assistant refers to the person’s calendar to find a suitable time slot and then notifies the user when an appointment is scheduled. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, demonstrated the capability on stage at the Shoreline Amphitheater during the company’s annual developer conference, I/O. He played a recording of Google Assistant … [Read more...] about Google’s robot assistant now makes eerily lifelike phone calls for you
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Google says 145 apps on its app store were loaded with malicious files designed to attack your computer. The apps – some of which were downloaded hundreds of times – have now been removed from the Play Store, but could still lurk on the gadgets of unsuspecting users. The malicious software, also known as malware, does not affect Android devices but could farm your private data if an infected gadget is plugged into a Windows PC. Once inside a computer, the virus can track keystrokes, revealing credit card numbers, account passwords and even social security numbers. Scroll down for video Some of the infected apps include 'Learn to Draw Clothing', an app teaching people how to draw and design clothing; 'Modification Trail', an app showing images of trail bike modification ideas; 'Gymnastics Training Tutorial', an app letting people find ideas for gymnastic moves Palo Alto Networks discovered the malicious apps and went on to notify Google of the flaw. The apps are … [Read more...] about Delete these Android apps NOW! Google says 150 Play Store downloads have hidden malware designed to infect your computer when you plug in your smartphone
There are few success stories in gaming quite like that of Halo, a title that has become a phenomenon and one of the few that has entered mass, popular consciousness. The franchise has sold 60 million games and with the latest, Halo 5: Guardians, due out later this year, will doubtless sell millions more. Yet when it all began in 2001, such success was far from guaranteed. Although it may be hard to imagine, now that the console gaming landscape and in particular the first-person shooter has been shaped by what Halo achieved, at the time it was a risky venture. Microsoft had been looking for a launch title to accompany its new Xbox console, the firm’s first foray not only into gaming but into consumer entertainment. In 2000 it went after the shooter that Bungie was developing for the Mac. Frank O’Connor is the franchise development director for Halo and the longest-serving member of the team. He joined the game’s original developer, Bungie, in 2003 and before that had … [Read more...] about All hail Halo – Xbox’s master game
One of the things that really annoys AI researchers is how supposedly “intelligent” machines are judged by much higher standards than are humans. Take self-driving cars, they say. So far they’ve driven millions of miles with very few accidents, a tiny number of them fatal. Yet whenever an autonomous vehicle kills someone there’s a huge hoo-ha, while every year in the US nearly 40,000 people die in crashes involving conventional vehicles. Likewise, the AI evangelists complain, everybody and his dog (this columnist included) is up in arms about algorithmic bias: the way in which automated decision-making systems embody the racial, gender and other prejudices implicit in the data sets on which they were trained. And yet society is apparently content to endure the astonishing irrationality and capriciousness of much human decision-making. If you are a prisoner applying for parole in some jurisdictions, for example, you had better hope that the (human) judge has just … [Read more...] about To err is human – is that why we fear machines that can be made to err less?
A Chinese architecture firm has revealed designs for a tiny shelter that could one day house astronauts on Mars. Called the MARS Case, the designs show a minimalist structure that takes after the shape of a light bulb, with a square base and a 'living bubble' that's inflatable. While purely conceptual renderings, the designs could serve as a helpful foundation should humans ever colonize the red planet. Scroll down for video A Chinese architecture firm has revealed designs for a tiny shelter that could one day house astronauts on Mars. Called the MARS Case, it's a minimalist structure with a 'living bubble' WHAT IS THE MARS CASE? It's a compact, self-sustaining living space, measuring just 7.8ft long, 7.8ft wide and 6.5ft tall.A 'living bubble' attached to the base can be inflated, collapsed, and folded into itself 'like the packing and unpacking of a suitcase.'Inside, there is a main living area, what appears to be a bathroom, a desk, some chairs and a storage … [Read more...] about The tiny house made for MARS: Chinese ‘living bubble’ could shelter astronauts on the red planet