Tech & Science

  • Saudi Arabia becomes first country to grant citizen ship to a robot

    LONDON: A humanoid robot took the stage at the Future Investment Initiative yesterday and had an amusing exchange with the host to the delight of hundreds of delegates.

    Smartphones were held aloft as Sophia, a robot designed by Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics, gave a presentation that demonstrated her capacity for human expression.

    Sophia made global headlines when she was granted Saudi citizenship, making the kingdom the first country in the world to offer its citizenship to a robot.

    “I want to live and work with humans so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people,” she said in an exchange with moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin.

    Asked whether robots can be self-aware, conscious and know they're robots, she said: “Well let me ask you this back, howdo you know you are human?” “I want to use my artificial intelligence to help humans live a better life, like design smarter homes, build better cities of the future. I will do my best to make the world a better place,” she said.

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  • Kaspersky software 'used by Russian state hackers to trawl for US secrets'

    opular anti-virus software used by hundreds of thousands of people and businesses in Britain was reportedly hijacked by Russian government hackers to trawl for American secrets.

    Cyber spies allegedly used software from the Russian firm Kaspersky Lab which is installed on computers around the world to improvise a search tool and look for the codenames of secret US programs.

    Discovery of the operation led the American government to last month order the removal of the software from its computers, the New York Times reported.

    The software is used by 400 million people worldwide and is one of the most widely used anti-virus tools in Britain, installed by hundreds of thousands to protect their computers from cyber crime.

    The National Cyber Security Centre, the offshoot of GCHQ responsible for securing online life in Britain, said it did not give guidance on whether the software was safe to use.

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  • Shocking: Woman in China turns blind in one eye after hours of mobile gameplay

    A 21-year-old woman from Dongguang, China lost her vision after playing the much popular "Kings of Glory" game on her smartphone for an entire day. The woman who goes by her pseudonym, Xiao Wu, felt a weird sensation on her right eye on the night of October 1. She had to be admitted to the hospital on the very next day.

    Ophthalmologists in the Donggiang Huaxia Eye Hospital confirmed that Wu is suffering from retinal artery occlusion, a condition where the blood flow through the retinal artery is blocked. This irreversible condition will result in the painless loss of monocular vision and is usually found in patients of 70-years of age and older. Retinal artery occlusion is a very serious condition which results in permanent vision loss.

    Wu: Obsessed with "Kings of Glory"

    Asia One reports that Wu is a person who is addicted to "Kings of Glory". Friends of Wu claims that the young woman used to spend more than 8 hours a day just for gameplay, and on some days, she even used to skip sleep to complete various levels of the game.

    The warning was first signalled when Wu started playing the game after dinner on October 1. After a painful night, Wu was rushed to the hospital on the next morning, where doctors confirmed the seriousness of her condition. According to medical experts, Wu's condition is the result of excessive fatigue in her eyes due to continuous exposure to the mobile phone screen.

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  • Gait recognition technology can detect you from 50m distance without seeing your face

    A new biometric identification technology developed by Chinese scientists allows the identification of people by the way they walk, without the need to look at their faces.

    The gait recognition system includes a camera that is functional within a distance of 50 meters from its target and capable of identifying a specific person just by analyzing how they carry themselves, according to researchers from the Automation Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

    The technology presents multiple advantages.

    Huang Yongzhen, an associate researcher from CAS, said technology using iris recognition needs its target to be no further than 30 cm from the lens, while face recognition technology can work at a distance of up to five meters. But the newly-developed system can operate within a much longer range, and at faster speeds.

    Detection time is reduced to less than 200 milliseconds, faster than the time it takes an eye to blink (between 300 to 400 milliseconds).

    The new technology can also identify a person without their active cooperation. Even if they walk past the surveillance camera hiding their face, gait recognition algorithm can still unveil their identity.

    Gait recognition can also estimate the density of large populations, as it incorporates real-time people counting technology. It is able to detect up to 1,000 people within an area of 1,000 square meters. The technique could be widely used in the fields of security and public transport, among others.

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  • Race to build first electric passenger aircraft takes to skies

    The race to develop the first electrically powered and autonomous commercial passenger aircraft is accelerating after Boeing on Thursday announced plans to acquire cutting edge aviation research partner, Aurora Flight Sciences, for an undisclosed sum.

    The acquisition of the small Virginia-based company, which has flown more than 30 unmanned aircraft since its was founded in 1989 and last year won an $89m Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contract to develop an unmanned hybrid electric test aircraft, comes as Boeing steps up its focus on future aviation technologies.

    The US aerospace and defence company earlier this year set up, Horizon X, a venture capital arm designed to invest in disruptive innovation. One of its first investments was Zunum Aero, a start-up in Washington that aims to develop the world’s first commercial hybrid electric-powered passenger aircraft. Zunum on Thursday revealed operating cost details of its planned 10-12 seater aircraft, which it aims to have flying commercially by 2022.

    Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s chief technology officer, said Aurora’s expertise in unmanned vehicles would bring expertise vital to the future of aerospace. “With technology maturing so quickly it will be less about airplanes and more about the software in airplane,” he said in a Facebook Live interview. However it would be some time before fully autonomous aircraft would be used in commercial flight. The nearer term gains would be in making aircraft smarter, safer and more efficient, he said.

    Zunum which counts low-cost airline JetBlue among its investors as well as Boeing, revealed the first operating cost estimates for its hybrid-powered aeroplane. The company, which aims to scale up to a 50-100 seater hybrid aircraft by 2030, is targeting a direct cost per available seat mile — a measure of efficiency used by airlines — of eight cents.

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  • Facebook Testing Facial Recognition to Let Users Regain Access to Locked Account


    The social network has embraced facial recognition technology, and has started using a new system to help people keep their accounts secure.

    The social network will ask you to look into your device’s camera, and verify it’s really you that’s trying to sign in to your account by comparing the scan with pictures and videos you’re already tagged in.

    It looks like Facebook is also interested to make use of facial recognition to verify its users. The social networking company recently confirmed to TechCrunch that they are testing out a way for users to regain access to their locked Facebook account by scanning their faces.

    The new feature was first discovered by social media researcher, Devesh Logendran, who sent a screenshot to The Next Web’s Matt Navarra. Facebook has confirmed to TechCrunch that they are indeed testing a new facial recognition system for those who want to quickly verify account ownership.

    “We are testing a new feature for people who want to quickly and easily verify account ownership during the account recovery process. This optional feature is available only on devices you’ve already used to log in. It is another step, alongside two-factor authentication via SMS, that were taking to make sure account owners can confirm their identity.” – Facebook told TechCrunch.

    Such new feature could come in handy, especially for those who are abroad and do not have their local SIM to retrieve two-factor authentication SMS.

    Facial recognition is nothing new to Facebook. For years now, they have been tracking faces to help users tag friends, though they are not always accurate. The company also used a feature that asked users to identify friends when they wish to regain access to their account.

    (Source: TechCrunch

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