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Technology | The Guardian



Latest Technology news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice



Published: Wed, 13 Dec 2017 14:48:35 GMT2017-12-13T14:48:35Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
 



Billions of video site visitors unwittingly mine cryptocurrency as they watch

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:20:13 GMT2017-12-13T11:20:13Z

Popular sites Openload, Streamango, Rapidvideo and OnlineVideoConverter allegedly force users to mine Monero cryptocurrency, report says

Each month almost one billion visitors to four popular video sites are being unwittingly forced to mine cryptocurrency, according to a report on the practice of so called cryptojacking.

The video sites Openload, Streamango, Rapidvideo and OnlineVideoConverter are allegedly loading mining software on to visitors’ computers, making them generate tokens for the bitcoin-like cryptocurrency Monero, according to security firm Adguard.

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Former Facebook executive: social media is ripping society apart

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:58:38 GMT2017-12-12T18:58:38Z

Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president of user growth, expressed regret for his part in building tools that destroy ‘the social fabric of how society works’

A former Facebook executive has said he feels “tremendous guilt” over his work on “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”, joining a growing chorus of critics of the social media giant.

Chamath Palihapitiya, who was vice-president for user growth at Facebook before he left the company in 2011, said: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.”

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Facebook to stop routing ad revenue via Ireland amid pressure over taxes

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:00:37 GMT2017-12-12T18:00:37Z

Company says it will book advertising revenue in countries where it is earned instead of through Dublin headquarters

Facebook has said it will start booking advertising revenue in countries where it is earned instead of re-routing it via Ireland, although the move is unlikely to result in it paying much more tax.

Corporate taxation has become a controversial topic in the wake of revelations of tax avoidance schemes by multinationals which have led to calls for companies to pay more tax, while the European Union has begun exploring options for taxing digital giants.

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Hey Alexa, is it true you’re a lefty feminist?

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 12:54:44 GMT2017-12-12T12:54:44Z

Amazon’s virtual assistant is winding up the US far-right with her answers to questions on feminism and the Black Lives Matter movement

Name: Alexa.

Age: Three.

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Bitcoin buyer beware: US SEC warns 'extreme caution' over cryptocurrency investments

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 11:25:23 GMT2017-12-12T11:25:23Z

Head of US financial regulator concerned by lack of protections saying there are ‘substantial risks of theft or loss, including from hacking’

The head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission has warned bitcoin and other cryptocurrency investors to beware of scams and criminal activity in the sector.

In the financial regulator’s strongest statement yet, SEC chair Jay Clayton said: “If a promoter guarantees returns, if an opportunity sounds too good to be true, or if you are pressured to act quickly, please exercise extreme caution and be aware of the risk that your investment may be lost.”

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Microsoft Surface Book 2 review: a powerful yet pricey laptop-tablet combo

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 07:00:27 GMT2017-12-12T07:00:27Z

With prices starting at £1,500, this isn’t a casual purchase – but with its detachable screen, this could be the best Windows 10 power-user laptop going

The first generation Surface Book was a feat of engineering that took Microsoft’s Surface tablet PC and turned it on its head, making it a laptop first and a tablet second. The Surface Book 2 refines a few things, adds much more power and finally adopts USB-C.

If you’re primarily a laptop user, who occasionally wants to take just the screen with you and needs some brawn for your processing duties, the Surface Book 2 is the machine for you. But getting your head around what the machine can do is the first challenge.

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Game that tune: Apple snaps up Shazam for reported $400m

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:42:26 GMT2017-12-11T19:42:26Z

Price tag would be less than half the $1bn music identifying app was last valued at when it tapped investors in 2015

Apple has bought Shazam, a London-based app that allows smartphone users to identify music, for a reported $400m (£300m).

The US company, which revolutionised music with the introduction of the the iPod and iPhone, said Shazam was a natural fit for its Apple Music streaming service.

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Bitcoin bubble warnings issued as futures trading opens in Chicago

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 18:37:42 GMT2017-12-11T18:37:42Z

First contract on a regulated exchange is seen as step towards legitimacy for the cryptocurrency but volume traded is tiny

Bitcoin has taken a step toward legitimacy with the launch of a product on a Chicago exchange that allows investors to take bets on its price in the future.

The new contract on the Chicago Board Options Exchange came as the digital currency jumped another 10%, sparking fresh warnings of a speculative bubble after last week’s 40% climb in price.

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Poppy is a disturbing internet meme seen by millions. Can she become a pop sensation?

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 16:03:07 GMT2017-12-11T16:03:07Z

The character played by 22-year-old Moriah Pereira is a childlike, robotic-sounding woman with friends who include a basil plant. Now she’s trying to become the first pop megastar to be born on YouTube

I’m Poppy,” says Poppy, often. In one of her hundreds of videos on YouTube, she repeats those two words in her childlike monotone for 10 minutes. This has been viewed more than 12.6m times.

Poppy has about 300 videos on her channel, which have received a combined 235m views, increasing by 250,000 a day; YouTube says her subscribers have grown 260% in the past year. Her videos are the sort you stumble upon while following links blindly down an online rabbit hole: portals to a pastel-washed parallel universe populated by platinum-blond Poppy and her fellow characters – a basil plant and a mannequin called Charlotte.

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Missed the bitcoin boom? Five more baffling cryptocurrencies to blow your savings on

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:25:33 GMT2017-12-11T15:25:33Z

Regretting not spending a few hundred quid on bitcoin five years ago? Get ahead of the speculators by spending thousands of dollars on a imaginary cat or the Paris Hilton-backed LydianCoin

If you are worried you’ve missed out on making millions by betting on bitcoin, don’t worry: there will be plenty more bizarre, borderline-incomprehensible digital bubbles in the future, and their value is only going to go up (until it all comes crashing down, that is). Here are five assets each competing to be the next bitcoin.

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Credit ratings agency wrote to me about a hack, but how did it get my details?

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:00:12 GMT2017-12-13T07:00:12Z

I have never dealt with Equifax and don’t have a mortgage, credit card or loan

I recently received a letter from Equifax, the credit ratings agency, telling me that my personal details had been hacked in May. I do not have a direct relationship with Equifax and do not have a mortgage, do not use a credit card and have no loans. Equifax couldn’t tell me any more. What can I do to protect myself. I have already taken out Cifas fraud protection. NP, London

The most likely outcome is that Equifax carried out a credit check when you took on a mobile phone contract.

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CNN forced to climb down over Trump-WikiLeaks email report

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 17:18:47 GMT2017-12-08T17:18:47Z

Network said Trump had received email that offered hacked WikiLeaks files – but CNN got date wrong and later admitted material was already in public sphere

CNN was forced to climb down from a report Friday that an encryption key allowing access to hacked content had been emailed to Donald Trump and aides two months before the presidential election.

Such a key had been emailed, the cable network said in a corrected report, but the material it gave access to was already in the public sphere, and not previously unseen as an initial CNN report suggested.

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Apple fixes HomeKit bug that allowed remote unlocking of users' doors

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 10:41:44 GMT2017-12-08T10:41:44Z

Security flaw in latest iPhone and iPad iOS 11.2 software meant hackers could potentially gain remote control of lights, cameras and locks in smart homes

Apple has been forced to fix a security hole within its HomeKit smart home system that could have allowed hackers to unlock users’ smart locks or other devices.

The bug within iOS 11.2 permitted unauthorised remote control of HomeKit-enabled devices. Such devices include smart lights, plugs and other gadgets, but also includes smart locks and garage door openers.

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Bitcoin: $64m in cryptocurrency stolen in 'sophisticated' hack, exchange says

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 10:38:55 GMT2017-12-07T10:38:55Z

Mining marketplace NiceHash suspends operations while it co-operates with authorities over ‘professional attack’, urging users to change passwords

Nearly $64m in bitcoin has been stolen by hackers who broke into Slovenian-based bitcoin mining marketplace NiceHash.

The marketplace suspended operations on Thursday while it investigated the breach, saying it was working with law enforcement as “a matter of urgency” while urging users to change their passwords.

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Fake news and botnets: how Russia weaponised the web

Sat, 02 Dec 2017 18:00:19 GMT2017-12-02T18:00:19Z

The digital attack that brought Estonia to a standstill 10 years ago was the first shot in a cyberwar that has been raging between Moscow and the west ever since

It began at exactly 10pm on 26 April, 2007, when a Russian-speaking mob began rioting in the streets of Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, killing one person and wounding dozens of others. That incident resonates powerfully in some of the recent conflicts in the US. In 2007, the Estonian government had announced that a bronze statue of a heroic second world war Soviet soldier was to be removed from a central city square. For ethnic Estonians, the statue had less to do with the war than with the Soviet occupation that followed it, which lasted until independence in 1991. For the country’s Russian-speaking minority – 25% of Estonia’s 1.3 million people – the removal of the memorial was another sign of ethnic discrimination. Russia’s government warned that the statue’s removal would be “disastrous” for Estonia.

That evening, Jaan Priisalu – a former risk manager for Estonia’s largest bank, Hansabank, who was working closely with the government on its cybersecurity infrastructure – was at home in Tallinn with his girlfriend when his phone rang. On the line was Hillar Aarelaid, the chief of Estonia’s cybercrime police.

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Lauri Love would be at high risk of killing himself in US, court told

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 13:16:56 GMT2017-11-29T13:16:56Z

Lawyers for British student accused of hacking US government sites tell high court he should be tried in UK, not extradited

Lauri Love, the British student accused of hacking into US government websites, would be at high risk of killing himself if extradited to the US, the high court has heard.

Love, who lives in Suffolk and has Asperger’s syndrome and severe depression, should be tried in Britain for his alleged offences, his counsel, Edward Fitzgerald QC, told the court.

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EU anti-propaganda unit gets €1m a year to counter Russian fake news

Sat, 25 Nov 2017 05:00:14 GMT2017-11-25T05:00:14Z

East Stratcom taskforce will be funded from EU budget for first time after summit highlights threat from ‘cyber-attacks and fake news’

The EU is stepping up its campaign to counter disinformation and fake news from Russia by spending more than €1m a year on its specialist anti-propaganda unit.

For the first time since the team was set up in 2015, the East Stratcom taskforce will have money from the EU budget, rather than relying on contributions from EU member states or squeezing other budget lines. The unit has been granted €1.1m (£980,000) a year from the EU budget for 2018-20, according to a source familiar with the team’s work.

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Uber faces slew of investigations in wake of 'outrageous' data hack cover-up

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 21:40:55 GMT2017-11-22T21:40:55Z

  • US, UK, Australia and Philippines to investigate hack that affected 57m people
  • Global nature of breach exposes Uber to potential liability in many regions

Uber is facing government scrutiny around the world in the wake of its admission it concealed a massive data breach affecting 57 million drivers and passengers.

The $68bn ride-hailing company acknowledged Tuesday that hackers had stolen the personal information in October 2016, and that Uber had paid them $100,000 to destroy the information and keep the breach quiet.

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Net neutrality: why are Americans so worried about it being scrapped?

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 14:09:22 GMT2017-11-22T14:09:22Z

Most of the world won’t be affected by the changes, so are they a problem? No, if you are a tech monopoly – but yes if you don’t want a two-tier internet

Ajit Pai, head of the US telecoms regulator, revealed sweeping changes on Tuesday to overturn rules designed to protect an open internet.

The regulations, put in place by the Obama administration in 2015, enshrined the principle of “net neutrality” in US law. Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers should not interfere in the information they transmit to consumers, but should instead simply act as “dumb pipes” that treat all uses, from streaming video to sending tweets, interchangeably.

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Falling for the joke: the risk of using Twitter as a news source

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 16:00:03 GMT2017-11-15T16:00:03Z

The BBC was left red-faced after quoting a parody account in its Zimbabwe coverage, exposing the danger of journalists relying on social media

The trouble that the BBC got itself into on Wednesday morning, when both online and on air it referred to tweets from a parody Zanu PF account, illustrate the complexities of using social media as a reporting resource. This can be especially true in fast-moving news situations, where news organisations may have few reporters directly on the ground.

While many parody accounts on social media are used simply for humour, they can frequently be utilised for deliberate mischief.

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How Malcolm Turnbull, GetUp and Adani are using Facebook ads to push their agenda

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 17:00:44 GMT2017-10-24T17:00:44Z

The nature of Facebook ads makes it difficult to see when political ads go out, which groups are campaigning for which cause and fact-check what they’re saying

If you’re over 25, live in Australia and have a family then you might have seen Malcolm Turnbull pop up in your Facebook feed last week, with a video spruiking the new energy policy.

This video and text post was “sponsored” – that is, someone from the prime minister’s office paid to promote the post as an advertisement.

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Google Pixel Buds: is Babel fish dream of in-ear translation now a reality?

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 11:40:09 GMT2017-10-05T11:40:09Z

AI-powered translation piped through wireless earbuds is another big step towards the removal of the language barrier

Alongside the new Pixel 2 smartphones Google unveiled on Wednesday night, the company also launched a set of Bluetooth earbuds called the Pixel Buds with one standout feature: instant translation between 40 different languages using a Pixel smartphone.

In a live demo on stage, the Pixel Buds were shown translating short phrases back and forth between English and Swedish using Google Translate running on a Pixel 2 smartphone.

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The top 10 video games of 2017

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:00:11 GMT2017-12-13T06:00:11Z

Mario ran amok in New Donk City, a cat dropped out of college, and Angel Carter haunted What Remains of Edith Finch. But it was the mighty Zelda who took video gaming – and cooking – to a new dimension

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Games reviews roundup: Dimension Drive; Xenoblade Chronicles 2; Oh My Godheads

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 07:00:15 GMT2017-12-11T07:00:15Z

A sophisticated space arcade experience, a Xenoblade instalment pushing the Switch to great things, and head-rolling fun in an unlikely multiplayer mashup

Switch, Linux, Mac, PC, 2Awesome Studio, cert: 7
★★★★

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Simon Parkin’s best video games of 2017

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 08:00:30 GMT2017-12-10T08:00:30Z

An immersive, interactive exploration of life on Earth and Nintendo’s resurgent flights of escapism were among the highlights of the gaming year

• Observer critics’ reviews of the year in full

As social media shrinks and quickens the world, and the threats we face seem to grow ever taller and closer, the relevance of entertainment (and, whisper it, art) appears to diminish. Surely the king’s ransom it takes to fund a blockbuster film would be more usefully and perhaps profitably applied to combating climate change, or Boris Johnson’s gaffes? What is a commissioned oil portrait if not the most extravagant of all selfies, taken in a world to whose indignities and injustices no one can claim to be blind? In this context, video games can seem like the hollowest endeavours of all. They cost ever larger sums to build, require ever greater numbers of talented minds to make, and distract ever more humans from the practical issues of reality.

And yet in video games we often perceive some of the mathematical building blocks of existence, often follow the logical chains of cause and effect that follow our actions and reactions, and occasionally catch ghostly, flitting shadows of how life works and maybe even what it means.

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What computer should I buy to run Minecraft?

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:10:03 GMT2017-12-07T13:10:03Z

Craig wants to buy his game-playing son a laptop for up to £500, while other readers want cheaper machines

Could you provide an update to your previous articles on the system requirements for Minecraft? I would love a recommendation on a laptop for my 10-year-old son. I have a £500 budget, and I would have no problem with a refurbished device. Craig

This is a frequently-asked question, and similar queries have come from Jo (seven-year-old son, £450 budget), Lauren (13-year-old son), Ronda (12-year-old daughter), and Natalie (11-year-old son, £200 to £250 budget). I answered much the same question in December last year (What’s the best cheap laptop for running Minecraft?), in December 2015 (What’s the best laptop for running Minecraft?) and earlier. The principles have not changed, so you may still find them useful. However, the products change, which is why the question keeps coming up.

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Uber had special team to obstruct legal cases and spy on rivals, court told

Tue, 28 Nov 2017 23:02:43 GMT2017-11-28T23:02:43Z

  • Ex-employee says unit worked to ‘impede, obstruct or influence’ investigations
  • Uber-Waymo trial delayed after revelations Uber withheld evidence

Uber had a team of employees dedicated to spying on rival companies and “impeding” legal investigations into the company, a former employee testified in federal court Tuesday.

Related: Uber faces slew of investigations in wake of 'outrageous' data hack cover-up

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'We could build something revolutionary': how tech set underground music free

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:50:16 GMT2017-11-22T09:50:16Z

YouTube, social media and even Bitcoin are allowing musicians to reject major labels and go it alone – but the industry is fighting back. Can artists use technology to stay truly independent?

In the 20th century, the vast majority of music you heard and bought was controlled by a small number of companies: record labels, radio stations and other dominators of the media. Artists needed them to reach the public and the public’s choice was prescribed by what these gatekeepers believed could best turn a profit. You liked it or lumped it. Now, however, a networked world is giving artists and audiences the tools to reject those companies for ever.

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'I see things differently': James Damore on his autism and the Google memo

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:00:05 GMT2017-11-17T06:00:05Z

He was fired from Google for arguing that men may be more suited to working in tech than women. Now James Damore opens up about his regrets – and how autism may have shaped his experience of the world

James Damore conforms to the stereotype. He’s happy to admit he fits the mould of an awkward computer nerd and the moment we meet in a Silicon Valley coffee shop, he knocks a display stand of metal flasks that fall clattering to the floor. The commotion draws curious glances at the 6ft 3in software engineer, but Damore is used to strangers identifying him; he’s the guy who was fired by Google this summer after he argued that men are more psychologically suited to working in technology than women.

No one recognises the woman standing beside him. She is Damore’s girlfriend: a feminist and a data scientist who works in tech.

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Silicon Valley thinks it invented roommates. They call it 'co-living' | Arwa Mahdawi

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:16:55 GMT2017-11-16T13:16:55Z

The modus operandi for many tech entrepreneurs lacking ideas appears to be: just find an existing service, privatize it, and claim to have ‘reinvented it’

Have you heard of this cool new trend called co-living? It’s a bit like co-working, except instead of sharing an office with a bunch of randoms you share a home with a bunch of randoms. Oh, you might be thinking, is it like ye olde concept of “roommates”? Why, yes. Yes it is.

As a viral tweet pointed out earlier this week, “co-living”, which has inspired a spate of trend-pieces in recent months, is actually “called *roommates* … you invented ***roommates***.” The tweet got over 100,000 likes and almost 30,000 retweets, so one could say that it struck a chord.

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Overheard review – the sketch show reinvented with tiny, joyful snippets of comic tapas

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 17:14:35 GMT2017-12-07T17:14:35Z

In these gloriously skewed shorts, comedians Ben Ashenden and Alexander Owen film unsuspecting people, imagine their conversations and add hilarious voiceovers

What is it? A sketch comedy micro-series using secretly filmed footage of the public.

Why you’ll love it: These tiny, joyful, stupid snippets of comic tapas are made by comedians Ben Ashenden and Alexander Owen, known jointly as The Pin. After three series of their highly inventive and critically admired Radio 4 show, they have moved into a new medium. But the straightforward sketch show, trotting out and repeating the same characters and situations is not for them.

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Dawn of the New Everything by Jaron Lanier review – virtual reality patter

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 12:00:10 GMT2017-12-07T12:00:10Z

The techno-sage and Silicon Valley insider sees VR as emancipatory and liberating but what does ‘shared lucid dreaming’ actually mean?

I experienced virtual reality for the first time the other day, at a training workshop for university lecturers. When I donned the Oculus Rift – a sleek plastic headset with handheld controls – I was presented with a desk on which sat some cartoonishly rendered objects: a ball, a toy car, a ray gun. I picked up the gun and fired off a few shots. I rolled the ball off the table. Then the lenses in the goggles misted up and I grew bored.

I couldn’t see how virtual reality was supposed to help with the teaching of literature, but the techno-apparatchiks who were our guides for the day assured me that this was the future of pedagogy (a word they liked). “Just imagine,” they said, “one day your students won’t just be able to read books: they’ll experience what it’s like to be in them.”

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Google Pixelbook review: the king of Chromebooks is pricey but first rate

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 07:00:04 GMT2017-12-07T07:00:04Z

Google’s newest computer offering is an exquisite piece of hardware running a limited but improving operating system. Is that enough for £999?

With the Pixelbook, Google is asking whether a Chromebook with high-end laptop features, which runs Android apps and can become a tablet by folding in two, can really be worth £999.

The answer is complicated.

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Google Pixel Buds review: Bluetooth earbuds are a missed opportunity

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 07:00:03 GMT2017-12-04T07:00:03Z

Google enters the headphone market with interesting but flawed earbuds that don’t match Apple’s AirPods – and translation doesn’t live up to the hype

The Google Pixel Buds are a set of wireless neckband-style Bluetooth earbuds that have a few fancy tricks up their sleeve, including the ability to near real-time translation. But are they really that good?

First things first, the Google Pixel Buds are not entirely wireless, unlike Bluetooth earbuds such as the Bragi Dash Pro or Apple’s AirPods. Instead there’s a cable running between the two earbuds, which is a shame, as cables between earbuds are no longer needed, and it frequently gets tugged and caught by clothing, restricting the movement of your head.

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Amazon Echo, Google Home or Sonos One: which smart speaker should I buy?

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 11:38:15 GMT2017-12-01T11:38:15Z

Voice-control devices that can play music, answer questions and buy goods are one of the hottest gifts this Christmas. Here’s what they can do – and our pick of the best buys

Smart speakers are set to be the hottest Christmas gift this year. On Black Friday, Amazon dropped the price of its core Echo product to £79 (it is back up to £90 now), while Google slashed the cost of its Home device from £129 to £77.50 at most outlets (it is also back up now). Meanwhile, Apple is promising to launch its version, HomePod, although the price point is rumoured to be significantly higher.

With the pre-Christmas launch of the Echo Show, which ups Alexa’s game with a built-in screen, are they the next must-have device? A simple voice command can fill your room with music – and change tunes whenever you wish. They will answer questions on a vast range of topics, set alarms, tell you the weather and what your commute holds in store. Some can order almost any goods over the internet for delivery within hours or days. Hooked up with other devices, they turn lights on and off and control the heating. But they have also been accused of making fake purchases and snooping on your conversations.

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Amazon Kindle Oasis 2017 review: the Rolls-Royce of e-readers

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 07:00:36 GMT2017-12-01T07:00:36Z

The new top-end Kindle is an indulgent purchase, but with added water resistance and other refinements it’s still the one to beat

Amazon’s new top-end e-reader is now water resistant, but is the all aluminium Kindle Oasis still the luxury option to buy?

While the original Kindle Oasis was a big step forward in e-reader design, the 2017 Oasis is more of a refinement with fewer of the compromises made last year for fit and form.

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The Sex Robots Are Coming review – Who'd have thought they'd have a soft Scottish accent?

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 06:00:35 GMT2017-12-01T06:00:35Z

There are moments of hilarity in this fascinating and bleak documentary, which explored just how close humans and machines are going to get

If you’ve ever wondered what a life-sized mechanical sex toy called Harmony looks like reciting the lyrics to Thriller with all the passion of Alexa ordering the shopping, then The Sex Robots Are Coming (Channel 4) has got it covered. This fascinatingly bleak documentary explored the question of just how close humans and machines are going to get, and looks at the burgeoning sex robot industry, which one day hopes to create life-like rubber women who will talk and show pre-programmed emotions, but only if they are more obedient, passive and pliable than the irritatingly free-willed real thing.

This was by turns hilarious and upsetting, as perplexing as it was educational. The Californian RealDoll company is on a quest to make a realistic sex robot. It already sells RealDolls for people to have their wicked way with, and though it has an eye-watering male model, 80% of customers want a female doll. The company’s founder, Matt McMullan, explains that he initially conceived of the project as art. Mmmhmm. And the customers only want a life-sized doll with a realistic vagina, so they can put dresses on it and do its makeup.

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When man meets metal: rise of the transhumans

Sun, 29 Oct 2017 08:00:22 GMT2017-10-29T08:00:22Z

At the borderline of technology and biology, ‘bodyhacking’ pioneers are defying nature to redesign their own bodies. Is this really the future?

Earlier this year I went to an event in Austin, Texas, billed as a sneak preview of the evolution of our species. The #Bdyhax Conference, which took place in a downtown exhibition complex, promised a front-row insight into the coming “singularity” – that nirvana foretold by science fiction in which biology and technology would fuse and revolutionise human capability and experience.

The headline acts of the conference were mostly bodyhackers – DIY experimenters who, in their basements and garages, seek to enhance their own flesh and blood with biometric implants and cognitive enablers. These brave pioneers were extending their senses, overcoming physical limitation, Dan-Daring themselves and the rest of us into the future.

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‘Tsunami of data’ could consume one fifth of global electricity by 2025

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 13:27:13 GMT2017-12-11T13:27:13Z

Billions of internet-connected devices could produce 3.5% of global emissions within 10 years and 14% by 2040, according to new research, reports Climate Home News

The communications industry could use 20% of all the world’s electricity by 2025, hampering attempts to meet climate change targets and straining grids as demand by power-hungry server farms storing digital data from billions of smartphones, tablets and internet-connected devices grows exponentially.

The industry has long argued that it can considerably reduce carbon emissions by increasing efficiency and reducing waste, but academics are challenging industry assumptions. A new paper, due to be published by US researchers later this month, will forecast that information and communications technology could create up to 3.5% of global emissions by 2020 – surpassing aviation and shipping – and up to 14% 2040, around the same proportion as the US today.

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Is it time to ban children from using smartphones? | Julian Baggini

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 12:36:32 GMT2017-12-13T12:36:32Z

Mounting evidence suggests smartphones cause disrupted sleep, depression and higher rates of attempted suicide. Action is surely required

Imagine the latest must-have item for kids was addictive and had a proven link with disrupted sleep, depression, low self-esteem and attempted suicide. You certainly wouldn’t buy one for your own offspring, but you might think banning it altogether was a step too far. That is, until your child comes home from school begging to have one, just like their friends.

Related: Enough with the moral panic over smartphones. The kids are all right | Catharine Lumby

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Better loving through technology: a day at the sex-toy hackathon

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:30:32 GMT2017-12-10T09:30:32Z

Sound-controlled vibrators, 3D-printed clitorises and ‘Michael Gove’ as a safe word: coders and inventors try to find the future of sex in south London

Twelve years of Catholic school prepares you for a lot of weird things, but walking into a church to find 50 people testing vibrators on each other’s noses, strapping each other into inflatable hug machines and flinging around bits of deconstructed sex toys under a huge stained-glass window that reads THOU ART THE KING OF GLORY O CHRIST is not one of them.

I am at Goldsmiths, University of London, in the church of what used to be St James Hatcham but was transformed, some years ago, into an arts “hub”. Hacksmiths, the student-run tech society at the university, runs “hackathons” – invention marathons – where over the course of three days, attendees of varying skills and backgrounds camp out on air beds and eat pizza while brainstorming and building machines. For this event, the theme was sex technology.

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The man who could doom net neutrality: Ajit Pai ignores outcry from all sides

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 12:00:10 GMT2017-12-07T12:00:10Z

Donald Trump’s pick to lead Federal Communications Commission accused of ‘dismissing democratic engagement’ amid plans to end Obama-era safeguards

Over the last few weeks, critics have attacked Ajit Pai online, protesters have covered his house in cardboard signs and he has publicly squabbled with celebrities including Alyssa Milano, Mark Ruffalo and Cher.

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Snapchat boss Evan Spiegel on the app that made him one of the world's youngest billionaires

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 13:20:49 GMT2017-12-05T13:20:49Z

With Facebook snapping at his heels, the Snap Inc founder needs to offer something more than selfies with a dog’s ears. He explains why his relaunched app could have the answer to fake news and filter bubbles

If you spend enough time in the tech industry, certain cultural touchstones become familiar. The sprawling virtual metaverse of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, for instance, which was required reading for new product managers at Facebook, or the voice-activated computers of Star Trek, now referenced in a hidden “Easter egg” feature in Amazon’s Echo smart speakers.

But Evan Spiegel is talking about art. As the 27-year-old founder and chief executive of Snap Inc – née Snapchat, after the company’s main product – references Damien Hirst’s latest exhibition in Venice, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, it becomes clear that Spiegel isn’t like other founders.

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Tech firms fail to stop abusive content – leaving the public to do the dirty work

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 08:01:10 GMT2017-12-05T08:01:10Z

As harmful material continues to appear on sites like YouTube and Facebook, companies rely on journalists and citizens to flag it – and the system is failing

The viral YouTube videos featured screaming children being tortured, conspiracy theorists taunting mass shooting victims and webcam footage of young girls in revealing clothing. The disturbing clips drew millions of views and, up until recently, were continuing to spread on the site.

Then, hours after reporters highlighted them to YouTube, asking for comment, the videos disappeared.

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How the Winklevoss twins became the world’s first bitcoin billionaires

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 15:39:41 GMT2017-12-04T15:39:41Z

The entrepreneurs sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg years ago, and they invested their (supposedly) meagre payouts wisely

Name: Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss.

Also known as: The Winklevii.

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