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Updated 2019-01-20 11:16
China accuses US of suppressing its high-tech companies
US said to be in advanced stages of inquiry over alleged Huawei theft of trade secretsChina has accused the US of trying to suppress its tech companies, as US prosecutors reportedly investigate allegations that Huawei stole trade secrets from US businesses.Adding to pressure on the Chinese telecoms firm, US lawmakers have proposed a ban on selling US chips or components to the company. Continue reading...
Shantay, you play: the drag queens of gaming
Video games and drag offer potent opportunities to play with identity. Four artists explore personas, avatars and cosplay, taking down trolls on Twitch and the power of Princess Peach
Poland arrests Huawei worker on allegations of spying for China
Polish national is also being held, risking further tension between China and the westPoland has arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei and a Polish national involved in cyber-business on allegations of spying, Polish state media has reported, deepening the controversy over western criticism of the Chinese telecoms company.However, a spokesman for the Polish security services told Reuters the allegations related to individual actions, and were not linked directly to Huawei. Continue reading...
Political change vital to democratise AI | Letter
Technical solutions focused on privacy or bias will get us nowhere, says Miranda HallStephen Cave is right to highlight the ethical issues with artificial intelligence (To save us from a Kafkaesque future, we must democratise AI, 4 January) but we should be wary of focusing on “diversity and inclusion”. He argues that including the voices of more women or black people will ensure a more ethical (and efficient) future for AI. But as software developer and activist Nabil Hassein points out: “The liberation of oppressed people can never be achieved by inclusion in systems controlled by a capitalist elite which benefits from the perpetuation of oppressions.” Let’s not kid ourselves that having female or black CEOs at Facebook would stop its abuses of power.To democratise AI, we need to take back control of digital infrastructures and build alternatives that serve collective interests. Refugee women in Hamburg and cab drivers in Texas are running cooperative platforms for finding work. Cities such as Barcelona are building identity management systems that give citizens control of their data. Tech and gig economy workers are unionising to demand better rights and hold their bosses politically accountable. These strategies recognise that AI systems relate to wider agendas such as privatisation and deregulation. To alter them we need political change, not just technical fixes focussed on privacy or bias. Continue reading...
Seven ways technology will change in 2019
App stores, Facebook, smartphone photography, even USB cables – they are all facing disruption this yearAt the beginning of 2019, as at the start of 2018, Margrethe Vestager remains the most powerful woman in tech. The EU competition commissioner has the world’s biggest companies walking on tiptoe, afraid of her habit of enforcing competition law where the US authorities have refused to do so. Continue reading...
Google shifted $23bn to tax haven Bermuda in 2017, filing shows
Firm used Dutch shell company in move known as ‘double Irish, Dutch sandwich’ that cuts its foreign tax billGoogle moved €19.9bn ($22.7bn) through a Dutch shell company to Bermuda in 2017, as part of an arrangement that allows it to reduce its foreign tax bill, according to documents filed at the Dutch chamber of commerce.The amount channelled through Google Netherlands Holdings BV was about €4bn more than in 2016, the documents, filed on 21 December, showed. Continue reading...
UK invests millions in micro-robots able to work in dangerous sites
Devices could be deployed in underground pipe networks, reducing need for roadworksThe UK government is investing millions in the development of micro-robots designed to work in underground pipe networks and dangerous sites such as decommissioned nuclear facilities.The ambition is for the robots, developed in British universities, to mark the end of disruptive and expensive roadworks by carrying out repairs without the need to dig up the roads. Continue reading...
Keep on running with this smart sport tech
Five of the best aids for athletes, from sophisticated monitors and tracking apps to shoes that promise to boost your performanceWhether it be a training plan from an app such as TrainAsOne or Zombies, Run!, or comparing results with fellow runners via a platform such as Runkeeper or Strava, technology has helped lots of runners off the start line, coached their performance and led them to become obsessed with their digital trails. Most start off tracking their runs with their smartphone strapped to their arm, but other devices can capture metrics beyond just pace and distance. Continue reading...
It's complicated: Facebook's terrible 2018
Privacy scandals, congressional hearings, and PR disasters: a timeline of a long and difficult year for Mark Zuckerberg Continue reading...
Range Rover Evoque preview: ‘The little SUV has grown up’ | Martin Love
The second-generation of the bestselling compact Range Rover is a lot smarter and a lot less ugly than the one that went beforeRange Rover Evoque
Self-driving car drove me from California to New York, claims ex-Uber engineer
Trip by Anthony Levandowski, controversial engineer involved in Uber-Waymo lawsuit, would be longest without human taking overAnthony Levandowski, the controversial engineer at the heart of a lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, claims to have built an automated car that drove from San Francisco to New York without any human intervention.The 3,099-mile journey started on 26 October on the Golden Gate Bridge, and finished nearly four days later on the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan. Continue reading...
Robot-fried chicken – a whole new meaning to battery hens
The Shinagawa district of Tokyo is host to an automated fried chicken service – but don’t try getting any late at nightName: Robot-fried chicken.Flavours: Original, red and hokkaido cheese. Continue reading...
Facebook's privacy problems: a roundup
The social media giant’s troubles have led to lawsuits, House of Commons hearings and several apologiesFacebook disclosed on Friday that a bug may have affected up to 6.8 million users, allowing app developers to see photos that users had uploaded but never posted – but this was hardly the first mea culpa the social media giant has had to send out regarding data and security as of late.Related: Facebook admits bug allowed apps to see hidden photos Continue reading...
Microsoft Surface Headphones review: close but no cigar
Pricey Bluetooth headphones have excellent controls but only good, not great sound quality, noise cancelling and battery lifeSurface Headphones are Microsoft’s high-price, premium noise-cancelling cans aimed squarely at toppling the current kings, Bose and Sony.Headphones seem like an odd choice for the Xbox, Office and Windows maker, but the are being produced by Microsoft’s burgeoning consumer electronics arm responsible for its line of Surface computers and accessories. Continue reading...
Super Smash Bros Ultimate review – the fighting game with everything
Nintendo Switch; Sora/Bandai Namco/Nintendo
GCHQ boosts powers to launch mass data hacking
Expanded intelligence gathering is ‘a grave threat’ warn rights groupsThe UK’s intelligence agencies are to significantly increase their use of large-scale data hacking after claiming that more targeted operations are being rendered obsolete by technology.The move, which has alarmed civil liberty groups, will see an expansion in what is known as the “bulk equipment interference (EI) regime” – the process by which GCHQ can target entire communication networks overseas in a bid to identify individuals who pose a threat to national security. Continue reading...
Broadband users overpaying up to £220 a year by not haggling
Most firms don’t reward loyalty with older people overpaying the most, says Which?Broadband customers who fail to shop around at the end of their initial contract or haggle for a better deal from their supplier are overpaying by up to £220 a year.Analysis by Which? found BT’s broadband customers were paying the biggest loyalty premium. Only one firm, Utility Warehouse, offered loyal customers the best deals, it said. Continue reading...
BT removing Huawei equipment from parts of 4G network
Head of MI6 had questioned Chinese firm’s involvement in UK telecoms infrastructureBT has confirmed it is removing Huawei equipment from key areas of its 4G network as concerns are raised about the Chinese firm’s presence in critical telecoms infrastructure.The company said the removals were merely the continuation of a policy which began when it purchased the mobile phone carrier EE in 2015, to ensure that both parts of the combined network ran on the same technology. Many peripheral parts of BT and EE’s systems still run on Huawei equipment, and there were no plans to alter that. Continue reading...
Brooklyn rapper sues makers of Fortnite over claims video game stole his moves
'Good for the world'? Facebook emails reveal what really drives the site
Analysis: documents show internal discussions focused on exploiting developers’ hunger for user data to increase revenueThe central mythos of Facebook is that what’s good for Facebook is good for the world. More sharing, more friends and more connection will “make the world more open and connected” and “bring the world closer together”, Mark Zuckerberg has argued, even as his company has been engulfed by scandal.But confidential emails, released Wednesday by the British Parliament, reveal the hardheaded business calculations that lurked beneath the feel-good image projected by Zuckerberg and Facebook. Continue reading...
YouTube's highest earner: seven-year-old makes £17.3m in a year
US toy reviewer Ryan beats UK’s Daniel Middleton to the top spot for highest earningsA seven-year-old American boy who reviews toys has topped a list of the highest-earning YouTube stars after making £17.3m in a year.Ryan, from Ryan ToysReview, made the sum for his online reviews between June 2017 and June 2018. Since launching his main channel in 2015, Ryan has amassed more than 17 million followers and close to 26bn views. Continue reading...
PlayStation Classic review – Sony's nostalgia trip misses the magic
It looks nice, it’s easy to use and the games are fun to revisit, but the functionality is bare-bones – and all the swagger is goneThe original PlayStation represents a pivotal moment in the history of video games. It was there at the dawn of real-time 3D graphics processing, the moment we switched from the sprite-based visuals of the past to the texture-mapped polygons of the future. And, if those terms mean nothing to you and the sight of a polygonal Solid Snake or Cloud Strife doesn’t give you warm fuzzies, it may be better to give the PlayStation Classic a wide berth.This tiny console, which fits on the palm of your hand and weighs less than a modern games controller, was perhaps inevitable from the moment Nintendo made a killing with its own Mini NES and SNES delights. The PlayStation Classic fits the same business model almost entirely. The nicely accurate scale model of the console sports an HDMI connection, two USB ports for wired controllers and a USB power cable, just like Nintendo’s retro machines. It also boasts 20 built-in games, a range that can’t be expanded as it has no internet connection. Players are able to save their progress on virtual memory cards. Continue reading...
Whether you’re unaware or don’t care, counterfeit goods pose a serious threat
’Tis the season to be ripped off. We look at the problems with online shoppingIt is a fraud many people would scoff at the idea of falling for – buying a fake handbag or perfume online through what appears to be a genuine website. For others less worried about the legal, moral or quality implications, it is a way to buy a designer item without the price tag.The sale of fake goods online has blossomed, as have the problems that come with the illegal products – from perfumes made partially with urine to phone chargers that combust in the middle of the night and children’s toys with dangerous levels of lead. New figures show that British police have shut down 31,000 sites this year in an attempt to stop the spread of counterfeit goods as part of an international effort to make shopping on the internet safer. Continue reading...
Battlefield V review – join the war effort on a thrillingly grand scale
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC; EA/Dice
Google Pixel Slate review: a strong case for death of Android tablets
Great battery, browser and apps help a productivity powerhouse turn into an entertainment slateThe Pixel Slate is Google’s latest attempt to make a premium tablet, this time built around Chrome OS rather than Android, and it’s all the better for it.Google has made tablets before, with the most recent Pixel C being about as good as a Android productivity tablet gets, which is to say: nowhere near as good as a proper PC. Continue reading...
Five animals that can regenerate
Lost tails and broken hearts can be fixed – and one creature can even eat without a mouthResearchers in Mexico last week described how they are studying cave-dwelling tetra fish to better understand why some animals can regenerate tissue but others can’t. The scientists performed surgery to remove some of the heart of river fish and cave fish from the species Astyanax mexicanus, finding that while some river fish do regenerate tissue, the cave fish just grew scars over the damage. Continue reading...
Beyond the frontlines: how Battlefield V found fresh WWII battles to fight
Swedish games studio Dice on telling lesser-told – and sometimes controversial – stories of the second world warSince their beginnings in the early 00s, Battlefield games have been known for wild, unpredictable battles involving up to 64 players, on foot, in tanks or on planes. But the last two games, themed after the world wars, have introduced a new kind of single-player storytelling to complement their frenetic multiplayer warfare. Presented as an anthology of separate stories about individual people and places involved in the conflicts, War Stories debuted with 2016’s Battlefield 1, and focused on allied soldiers fighting the Germans in France, Turkey, the UK and Italy, and Ottomans in the Kingdom of Hejaz alongside Lawrence of Arabia.Battlefield V, out this week, uses the second world war as its backdrop, and tells four new war stories. This time the game’s Swedish creators at Dice went in search of lesser-told stories from that conflict, rather than the frontline soldiers that dominate cinematic portrayals. They chose a Norwegian resistance fighter, the Senegalese fighters of the Tirailleurs, a Brit in the Special Boat Service, and a veteran German tank commander in the final days of the war. Continue reading...
What's the best sub-£200 laptop for a child?
Sue’s eight-year-old daughter wants a laptop for school projects. Will a new laptop costing £200 or an old MacBook do the job?My eight-year-old daughter uses a computer at school, and she has asked for one for Christmas so she can do her projects at home. I am a single parent on a real tight budget so I’d prefer something for £150 or maybe £200 at a push. I was looking at a Lenovo but was told there was not a lot of space on it, and it would soon fill up, especially if she played a few games as well.Is there something you could recommend?The key question is: what software does your daughter need in order to do projects at home? Can you get a copy? Some educational software only runs on one platform, and there is not much point in buying a laptop that doesn’t run it. Continue reading...
European lawmakers ask Amazon to stop selling Soviet-themed merchandise
Does Apple's sales slump mean the firm has finally peaked?
The company’s $1tn valuation has fallen 20% and fewer people are buying its iPhonesAt the start of October Apple was on top of the world. The company had hit a record-breaking valuation of $1tn (£770bn), just released its fastest – and most expensive – iPhone and its chief executive, Tim Cook, was hammering rival Facebook over yet another privacy scandal.Two months on and the shine appears to have worn off the largest company in the world. Its valuation has fallen by nearly 20%. This is partly because key suppliers have issued their own profit warnings, suggesting fewer people are buying the company’s phones than expected. Continue reading...
Gaming as a force for good: Chips with Everything podcast
Jordan Erica Webber meets the academics disproving the unsociable gamer stereotype and discovers how one game is helping scientists learn more about dementiaVideo games are one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world, but they also get a lot of hate. Violence, antisocial behaviour, loneliness – these are just some of the things that people blame on games.So what does the research say? Well, according to some academics, video games can be a force for good. Continue reading...
Amazon and high street chains kick off Black Friday early
Britons are expected to spend more than £10bn during November discount eventBlack Friday 2018: all the best UK deals and offersAmazon has fired the starting gun on Black Friday, the US tradition that has become a near-fortnight long £10bn shopping extravaganza in the UK.The web giant has been joined by other high street street names, including Argos and Currys PC World, in making an early start to the bargain shopping event on Friday 23 November. Continue reading...
Zuckerberg: I didn't know of Facebook ties to firm that attacked George Soros
CEO says he learned about relationship with PR company after it was reported in New York TimesMark Zuckerberg defended his leadership of Facebook on Thursday, claiming ignorance of the company’s relationship with a political consultancy that used an antisemitic narrative to undermine critics.“Look, I learned about this reading in the New York Times yesterday,” a defensive Zuckerberg said on a conference call with reporters that was ostensibly about Facebook’s content moderation practices. “As soon as I learned about this, I talked to our team and we’re no longer working with this firm.” Continue reading...
How Republican firm's plan to defend Facebook by attacking rivals backfired
Revelation that Definers had used George Soros as a target to defend Facebook unleashed an immediate storm of protestIt was a beguilingly simple idea. Take the tricks learned by political campaign managers on how to boost your candidate’s standing while ruthlessly undermining that of rivals, and apply it lucratively to the corporate world.That was the thinking that led two top Republican operatives – Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, and Joe Pounder, former senior adviser to Marco Rubio in the 2016 White House race – to set up a Virginia-based partnership called Definers Public Affairs. Continue reading...
New York City to Amazon: drop dead
In Queens, opponents of second HQ say building plans bypass elected officials, will rip off taxpayers and harm neighborhoodPoliticians and advocates gathered in Queens on Wednesday to denounce a multibillion-dollar plan to bring a new Amazon headquarters to New York. One city councilman called the move “an assault on our democracy”.Related: 'It's obscene and wrong': Amazon HQ2 gets typically warm New York welcome Continue reading...
Red Dead Redemption 2: calls to ban violence against women in games are too simplistic | Van Badham
How violence is punished or rewarded is part of the challenge of playing, and always has beenTen minutes into the game’s snow-whipped, western world of weary cowboys, disintegrating crime gangs and staggering audiovisual design, Red Dead Redemption 2 had me in its thrall.Rockstar’s latest blockbuster game is so captivating, and its powers of visual, narrative and interactive stimulation so habit-forming, that criticism of the potential the game allows for violence against women – an allowance being taken advantage of with glee by some users – has registered with sharpness proportional to its own extraordinary detail. Continue reading...
Facebook delays identity checks on UK political advertisers
Exclusive: social network says it is improving process to stop abuse of disclaimer systemFacebook is delaying its plans to require British political advertisers to verify their identity, the Guardian can reveal, after a spate of failures on the part of the company to vet disclosers in the UK and US.The social network will bring in the requirement “in the next month”, it says, pushing back the initial deadline of Wednesday 7 November. Continue reading...
Amazon to split second headquarters into two locations – report
Company will divide its workforce with 25,000 workers in each of two cities, Wall Street Journal saysAmazon is planning to split its second headquarters evenly between two locations rather than picking one city, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing a person familiar with the matter.The retailer previously announced a planned investment of $5bn and 50,000 jobs for the second headquarters. Continue reading...
Martin Amis on Space Invaders: how games criticism was born
Long since out of print, the novelist’s 1982 guide to the nascent gaming scene is a vivid snapshot of a long-lost world – and is about to be republishedFor decades, Martin Amis’s Invasion of the Space Invaders: An Addict’s Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores and the Best Machines – part anthropological survey of New York’s arcade scene in the early 80s, part video game tips book – has remained one of the great literary curios of the 20th century. First published in 1982, it has long been out of print; even frayed and spent copies command stratospheric prices on the second-hand market.Despite accusations to the contrary, Amis maintains that he has never disowned the book, which stands awkwardly apart from his novels, screenplays, memoirs and other non-fiction. Still, while preparing this week’s unexpected reissue, the publishers Jonathan Cape discovered that the original files of Invasion of the Space Invaders had been unlovingly lost; the book had to be scanned in and rebuilt, pixel-by-pixel. In doing so, a picture of a lost era emerges, along with a valuable snapshot of early critical thinking about video games. Continue reading...
Red Dead Redemption 2 was created by an industry in dire need of reform
Controversy surrounding the masterpiece has highlighted developers’ working conditions. The time for change has comeLast Friday, Rockstar Games released its turn-of-the-century American opus Red Dead Redemption 2, a stubbornly slow-paced and absurdly detailed triumph that has expanded the boundaries of what is possible in a virtual world. And yet many questioned whether people should buy it.In an interview with New York published ahead of the game’s release, Rockstar’s co-founder Dan Houser made an ill-judged comment: “We were working 100-hour weeks several times in 2018.” The games industry is infamous for its demanding work culture – developers often boast about their hours – and in another year Houser’s remark might have passed without comment. But 2018 has marked a turning point, because high-profile studio closures and a number of stories in the games press have shone a light on working conditions that prioritise long hours over employees’ welfare. The idea that games have a human cost has settled in the minds of players. We must hope this is the first significant step towards reform. Continue reading...
Get a grip: are smartphones ruining our hands?
A surgery professor says students are arriving at medical school without the hand strength and skill to perform basic medical tasksProf Roger Kneebone, a professor of surgical education at Imperial College London, has said students are arriving at medical school without the required manual dexterity to perform simple, necessary surgical tasks such as sewing up patients after operations.His comments, made as part of a campaign by the Edge Foundation to get more creativity into the UK school curriculum, are the latest to question whether modern lifestyles are affecting people’s ability to use their hands. Continue reading...
OnePlus 6T: cut-price flagship launches with in-screen fingerprint sensor
Updated Android smartphone shrinks screen notch, offering cutting-edge technology for lessOnePlus is putting a stake in the ground with its latest smartphone, saying cutting-edge technology doesn’t need to cost the best part of £1,000.The new OnePlus 6T, which starts at £499, has an all-screen design and large 6.41in FHD+ OLED display, but this time shrinks the notch at the top to a more bearable tiny teardrop shape, slims the chin at the bottom of the screen and fits a fingerprint scanner directly into the screen. Continue reading...
VW Touareg: ‘A heady mix of brains and brawn’ | Martin Love
Smooth and swanky, VW’s luxurious new Touareg is an old-school charmerVolkswagen Touareg
‘Would robot sex count as infidelity? Technically no…’
Kate Devlin, computer scientist and sex-tech expert, talks about teledildonics, the possible futures of human relationships and the intersection of AI and sexDr Kate Devlin is a computer scientist at Kings College London whose work includes delving into the overlap between sex, intimacy and technology as well as human-computer and human-robot interactions. She has organised two sex-tech hackathons, and has recently written a book about sex robots called Turned On.The idea of coupling up with a robot seems to have gathered pace in recent years, but sex toys have been around for a while. When did they first crop up? And did they spark the same concern and outrage as the idea of sex robots has unleashed?
Uber and other rideshare company drivers ripped off, assaulted and racially abused
Transport Workers Union survey finds one in 10 drivers physically assaulted on the job and 6% sexually assaultedDrivers for Uber and other rideshare companies are being ripped off, assaulted, threatened and racially abused, a new survey reveals.The survey of 1,100 drivers released on Wednesday says more than 60% reported earning below the average hourly $16 rate, before costs such as fuel, insurance and car maintenance. There were also 969 reports of harassment and assault. Continue reading...
Tony Turvey obituary
My father, Tony Turvey, who has died aged 76, was a textile technologist and for many years managed mills for the textiles company Courtaulds.In the late 1970s he set up his own business in textile wallcoverings, developing the “woolly wall”, a wallpaper with vertical pieces of twisted fleece stuck to it so that no paper showed. This was frequently spotted on TV backdrops for shows such as Parkinson and the Nine O’Clock News, as well as in swanky hotels. He designed and made the huge, complex machine for its production. Later he created a vandal-proof glass, using a resin he had developed, which he sold to many councils and companies for use in bus shelters. Continue reading...
Pict warriors and balloon-headed clowns: the 11 best games on Xbox One
From the thrills of Forza Horizon and cartoon antics of Cuphead to the horrors of Hellblade, here are the Xbox One games everyone should playExplore an astonishingly beautiful re-creation of Britain in an impressive roster of cars, taking in everything from rally racing in the Lake District to street races in a wintry Edinburgh. The ultimate driving game on Xbox One (or anywhere).
Can-Am Ryker: 'A hell of a lot of trike for your money'
Dirtch the denim and crystal tips, this is a trike that’s brilliant fun and is set to break the trend barrierCan-Am Ryker
Facebook removes hundreds of US political pages for 'inauthentic activity'
Some accounts were fake or ad farms pretending to be forums for political debate, company saysWith less than one month left before the midterm elections, Facebook has announced it has removed 559 politically oriented pages and 251 accounts, all of American origin, for consistently breaking its rules against “spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior”.The pages removed span the political spectrum. Continue reading...
Unmanned: a video game about the unseen horror of drone warfare
Most war games focus on dramatic on-the-ground heroics, but Unmanned illuminates the effects of drone warfare from a pilot’s perspectiveAccording to mainstream video games, modern warfare is all about cyborg arms, laser shields and jarheads blowing up baddies under the guidance of recognisable character actors. However, the frenetic antics of the Call of Duty series and its ilk are behind the times. The drone pilot protagonist of 2012’s free indie game Unmanned is a more accurate representation of a modern soldier: a man who plays video games with his son every weekend, and who has also killed countless foreigners from a grey-walled cubicle in Nevada.You play an American warrior, square of jaw and beefy of build, who works from an office out in the desert. A click of his mouse sends tons of missile plummeting from anonymous drone planes with an eerie blank space where you’d expect to see a cockpit. Beneath his grainy monitor’s crosshairs, the insurgents-planting-IED pixels are indistinguishable from the children-playing-catch pixels. He is death from above by day and suburban family man by night. Continue reading...
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