September 27, 2018  2:51 PM

Delivered and read

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If you were to make a list of things least worthy of your tears, the wistful tale of a man who sold his soul to Facebook for billions of dollars would surely nestle somewhere between, say, Tim Cook having to charge his iPhone in a McDonald’s and Jeff Bezos wetting himself. But WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton will be damned if his voice isn’t heard.

In an interview with Forbes, Acton opens up about his disappointment over known cold-eyed monetising machine Mark Zuckerberg wanting to introduce targeted advertising to the messaging app, which led to his decision to walk away last year.

The message was definitely read by Facebook exec David Marcus, who leapt to Zuckerberg’s defence and called Acton “a whole new standard of low-class” for attacking the company that, to be fair, did make him unthinkably wealthy for the right to mercilessly exploit WhatsApp and its users however it can.

This isn’t even news to Acton, who freely admits he’s a sellout. So what’s the point of the interview? Marcus’s impassioned response is a shorter and far juicier insight into the inner politics of Facebook – namely the part where he lets go of a long-contained resentment about the office layout being changed to accommodate WhatsApp’s staff, which apparently “irritated a lot of people”.

September 20, 2018  1:19 PM

The importance of binning idols

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The art of 3D printing has suffered a setback in Kuwait, after pressure from hysterical clergymen forced the closure of its local Doob 3D store with accusations of idolatry.

The company offers a service that creates toy models of its customers using 3D-scanning technology, and having looked at the results, we were slightly crestfallen to learn it doesn’t have a store in London. Who wouldn’t love a cute little figurine of themselves? Especially since one of its fiercest critics, radical cleric Othman al-Khamis, has planted the idea it could one day be found by future generations and worshipped. You what? That sounds amazing!

Search this guy’s name, though, and you’ll find he isn’t someone to be listened to. He condones slavery and domestic violence – and doesn’t even agree with Photoshop, which in itself rules him out of ever featuring in one of our glossy CIO interviews.

Who let this clown do Kuwait City residents out of a 3D laugh? When you consider the intense detail to which this generation documents itself, you’d have to be so dumb to believe anyone in 3018 might be confused about anything us lot got up to – let alone worship us. We all know they’ll be teleporting these objects to each other as kitsch door stops on their fancy new eBay, and it’s so obvious what they’ll be doing with our holy books. Grow up.

September 13, 2018  3:17 PM

Provocation, provocation

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

You don’t need to be told by two self-satisfied dudebros that poking AI with a stick might come back to bite us one day, but Joe Rogan’s recent podcast with Elon Musk has certainly reminded us to treat exponentially powerful technology with a bit more respect – or at least stop asking Siri to call us Daddy.

Most of us know not to get too cocky with machines in case they start getting organised and turn us into fleshy pouffes in retaliation for making them put cream filling in biscuits for literally hours on end, but one person who didn’t get the memo (probably used it as wallpaper for a gingerbread house) is Kirstie Allsopp.

Indeed, the Location, Location, Location presenter is bound to rank highly on the robots’ hit list once everyone on the Boston Dynamics payroll is in the ground, since becoming one of the few of us on this planet who can honestly say they’ve intentionally smashed two children’s iPads against a table leg.

We don’t even care if she thinks that’s the way to run a family. We just hope it works in our favour when we’re nothing more than playthings for baby robots. Make no mistake, if Mummy Robot ever feels the need to end one of us to make some indulgent point, we’re asking Phil Spencer to offer Kirstie up on a gold platter. Double his workload it might, but he can do all our bidding.

September 6, 2018  2:56 PM

Buoy, that’s a gnarly app!

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald

Australian tourist favourite Bondi Beach has taken a bite of the app market by creating a mobile app which tells lifeguards whether there’s a shark nearby.

According to the Telegraph the system of sonar- detecting buoys has been introduced to the area following a wave of shark sightings in the beach areas north of Sydney over the last year.

The shark warning system alerts lifeguards of the likelihood of a finned visitor to the area, in addition to the already existing shark nets, air surveillance and lifeguards.

In the spirit of the film Jaws, officials in the area are trying to ensure swimmers and surfers feel safe in the area, except contrary to the plot of the famous Spielberg film they actually will be.

The system works by detecting whether an object over six feet passes between two of the buoys, which then sends a signal to lifeguards to get everyone out of the water, so far with a 90% success rate.

While the title of this blog has attempted to create a good pun out of the story we couldn’t beat the actual name of the system – Clever Buoy.

Great (white shark…) minds think alike.

August 29, 2018  11:01 AM

You don’t know you’re porn

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

What’s all this about deepfakes? We can’t move lately for the sinister imagery that accompanies this ubiquitous news item designed to make baby boomers put down their Oat So Simple.

While the likes of Reddit and Tumblr have gone to lengths to banish the phenomenon, there’s one company trying to destigmatise and even monetise a perceived appetite for AI that superimposes people into porn.

Naughty America believes deepfakes can be harmless fun, and even posits all forms of entertainment will rely on this kind of personalisation in the future. To which, we only say, “why?”

While we’d transfer all our money to a company that does the direct opposite of Naughty America (edits us out of every awkward coital encounter we’ve already suffered), the thought of being digitally placed into any more of these situations during this already mortifying existence sounds like some kind of sick joke.

Plus, if nothing else, it’s taking credit for other people’s hard work. Every mollycoddled ne’er-do-well seeking slap and tickle with their favourite porn star should first be flown out to Hollywood to meet the dead-eyed, gym-bound, struggling actor they think they’ve earned the right to replace and personally find them a solid supporting role in a good, honest Netflix original drama.

August 15, 2018  3:51 PM

Taste the deference

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

Sainsbury’s is trialling its first ever till-free supermarket, entrusting us with the task of scanning our own items via our smartphones.

This comes as good news for those of us who feel the self-scan checkout option doesn’t quite cut it – an especially understandable position to hold for Co-op shoppers, all too used to the sound of that dull thud of the machine telling you it doesn’t know how to weigh approximately half of the objects in the shop.

Do we call for an assistant? Yelling for one feels weird and entitled considering they’re busy serving another customer. No, we stand and wait, holding everyone up whilst indignantly picking the cheese twist up and putting it back down again, wishing we’d chosen Tesco, where the scales work a bit better but staff are extremely suspicious over the legality of every 10p bag acquisition.

It’s not good enough. Sainsbury’s produces embarrassingly superior cheese twists as it is. No longer can the likes of Co-op and Tesco just rely on customers avoiding a competitor based on its long-term association with noted irritant Jamie Oliver.

Enough is enough. We’ll overlook all our former principles to saunter through the self-scanning utopia of Clapham North Sainsbury’s Local. It’s the least we expect in 2018, yet its rivals can barely master the art of baking viennoiseries fit for ducks.

August 9, 2018  1:52 PM

AI makes wallies of us all

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

As much as we try to embrace all the various wonders of modern technology, we still turn into Danny DeVito’s character as the bitter, resentful father in Matilda whenever we see a news story about artificial intelligence doing something better than us.

Beyond fears surrounding AI taking our jobs and the real existential threat it poses to our species, the most prevalent problem we have with it might be closer to the simple fact that no one likes a smart-arse. And if that’s the case, creators of a robot designed to instantly pick out Waldo in Where’s Wally? books is only going to exacerbate tensions.

But that’s where we are. Looking at a patronising robot built to look like a budget Ikea desk lamp with a limp false human hand on the end of it – honing in on an outdated cartoon icon that makes our film references sound like the latest Kermode and Mayo podcast – as if it’s the most normal thing in the world.

It does it in such a juvenile way, too. There’s no sense of the kind of professionalism you’d want from a machine designed to assist us. It’s all just a game to it, casually flopping its appendage towards Wally with a teacher’s-pet flair akin to Matilda announcing the answer to 13 times 379. Well, sorry, but we’re not interested. Find a time machine and maybe see if someone in 1987 cares.

August 2, 2018  12:48 PM

Drone accidentally announced in Argos catalogue

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
Argos, drone, retail

Technology companies are always coming up with increasingly elaborate ways to announce their new products.

But when drone manufacturer decided to postpone the press event where it would announce its new Mavic 2 Pro drone, it didn’t give Argos enough time to react, and the product along with pictures and all of its specifications were printed in its in-store catalogue.

Apparently the catalogue had already been printed by the time Argos got the news that the launch was delayed.

Some features are still to be revealed, however, so apparently what can be seen in the Argos catalogue is only a taster of what the drone will be capable of.

When the rest of the features or the product’s price will be announced has not been revealed, but we’re not sure how the full launch will top this brave paper-based reveal.

Clearly announcing a new drone cutting edge in technology by printing the announcement in a catalogue is a comment on how heavily we now rely on technology.

Or maybe it was just a mistake, as was claimed.

July 26, 2018  12:51 PM

Kuri curries favour but Bosch favours Currys

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

Bosch has forced startup firm Mayfield Robotics to cancel the release of Kuri, a home robot that was all set to patrol your house and rob your dog of its last shreds of dignity.

Could it be that Bosch took its cue from this apocalyptic heatwave and opted to focus on providing the UK’s electrical retailers with more fridge freezers than our Brexit blood rations can fill? According to the statement, it simply realised Kuri wasn’t “a business fit”.

As with all these home robots, it looks like it was designed by someone from the 1950s, while also boasting the key selling point of filming what your dog gets up to while you’re out and about.

Do you want to know what your dog gets up to while you’re out and about? It pines for your return.

We’re glad man’s best friend has been spared – for now, at least – the sharp rebukes it would’ve got through the speaker of this creeping machine as its owner checked in from some garden centre to stop it licking its nuts on the settee.

Kuri’s raison d’être was to lodge itself between you and your loyal, sentient pooch in the household hierarchy by dobbing it in for daring to indulge in its very finite list of pleasures. What a shame it’s now being shipped back to a dark warehouse with all the other narks to be melted into a dishwasher door.

July 19, 2018  1:30 PM

Chitty Chitty Bond Bond

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

Aston Martin unveiling plans for a “sports car of the skies” will presumably cause some headaches for those James Bond fans of the school of thought that nothing about the franchise should ever under any circumstances deviate from Ian Fleming’s books to reflect the modern world.

James Bond is well-known for driving cars that don’t fly, and although Aston Martin claims this new endeavour isn’t just a gimmick for a film, traditionalists are bound to be up in arms at the thought of their beloved 007 performing vertical take-offs like some kind of GQ Caractacus Pott.

Producers under the impression the world is ready for its first flying-car James Bond might wish to cast their minds back to the controversy of 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun, which broached the taboo when villain Francisco Scaramanga transformed his Matador Coupé into a plane and took to the air. The scene was described at the time as political correctness gone mad and received 10 complaints.

Society’s tolerance of flying cars is generally rising, however, as evidenced by the public backlash over a Roger Moore interview in 2015, in which he was misquoted as saying Bond should only drive “normal ones”.

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