Reuters: Technology News
last updated: Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:56:16 -0400

Bitcoin soars to record high above $6,000
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bitcoin surged to a record high of more than $6,000 on Friday, pushing its market capitalization to $100 billion at one point, as investors continued to bet on an asset that has a limited supply and has paved the way for a whole slew of crypto-currencies.

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BBC News - Technology
last updated: Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:31:09 GMT

Tech firms to remove extremist posts within hours
Firms such as Facebook and Twitter have agreed to do more to remove extremist content within hours of it being posted.

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Geek.com
last updated: Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:00:47 +0000

The Best Avengers Funko Pops!

One of the most popular comic and movie franchises of all time, The Avengers, is home to some fantastic characters. But over the years, Marvel has had a rotating cast apart of the super […]

The post The Best Avengers Funko Pops! appeared first on Geek.com.

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PC World - News RSS feed
last updated: Thu, 04 May 2017 03:28:00 +1000

Sneaky Gmail phishing attack fools with fake Google Docs app
Google Docs was pulled into a sneaky email phishing attack on Tuesday that was designed to trick users into giving up access to their Gmail accounts.

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Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
last updated: Sat, 09 Sep 2017 08:32:49 -0400

Twitter tests longer character limit

Twitter tests longer character limitYou may soon get to say a lot more on Twitter. The social media giant announced it is testing a longer character limit. The change will extend the current 140 characters to 280 for all languages except Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Users won’t see this change right away, though. Only a small percentage will be testing it at first, and according to the company, it is just a test and there is no guarantee this change will be available to everyone. Via Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider. ...


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Mac OS High Sierra makes the Mac a teeny, tiny bit better — for free

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Pogue's Basics: Access YouTube's free music and sound effects

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MIZUHO: Here's why Facebook has 'a realistic opportunity' to enter China in 2018

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Apple's wireless charger may not ship with the new iPhones at launch

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The top 8 features we expect from Apple's next iPhone

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The best alternatives to Apple's new iPhone

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review: A big phone with bigger expectations

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Pogue's Basics: Link to a Facebook post

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Why you might not want a laptop with a 4K display

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The most important iPhone features ever

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Fall games guide 2017: Your free time is history

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'Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle' review: An insane mix of strategy and absurdity

'Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle' review: An insane mix of strategy and absurdity"Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle" offers a ridiculous strategy experience with surprising depth and a pinch of toilet humor.


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Hate and violence around the globe? There’s an app for that.

Hate and violence around the globe? There’s an app for that.The plague of “fake news” may be news to Facebook (FB), but it’s a familiar foe to a small non-profit in Washington that’s trying to use mobile apps, big data and social media to promote peace and accountability in places like Iraq, Kenya and Mexico where those technologies have often been abused to spread lies and hate. The PeaceTech Lab aims to develop “technology that can be applied to tackle the triggers of violence,” president and CEO Sheldon Himelfarb said in an interview at the lab’s Washington headquarters at the U.S. Institute of Peace.


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Samsung challenges Apple Watch with its new Gear Sport smartwatch

Samsung challenges Apple Watch with its new Gear Sport smartwatchSamsung's new Gear Sport is a fitness-centric smartwatch aimed squarely at the Apple Watch.


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The 5 best new features of this week's YouTube redesign

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Microsoft's mixed reality headsets could save VR

Microsoft's mixed reality headsets could save VRMicrosoft is bringing VR to the masses with its low-cost headsets.


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Facebook says it will ban businesses from advertising if they share fake news

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Fitbit's Ionic smartwatch is here to take on the Apple Watch

Fitbit's Ionic smartwatch is here to take on the Apple WatchFitbit’s all-new smartwatch is designed to do battle with the Apple Watch.It’s no secret that Fitbit (FIT) has been working on a smartwatch — Co-founder and CEO James Park said as much during the company’s Q2 2017 earnings call earlier this month. This is the Fitbit Ionic, the company’s first “true” smartwatch.


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Meet Uber's pick for its next CEO

Meet Uber's pick for its next CEOExpedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is expected to take on the role of Uber CEO.


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Pogue's Basics: YouTube transcripts

Pogue's Basics: YouTube transcriptsBelieve it or not, YouTube creates a written transcript for every single video. Just click More and Transcript and boom!


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Galaxy Note 8 preview: Samsung's big bet

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Your next smartphone's camera could get a huge improvement

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Google drops neo-Nazi site out of ‘immediate concern of inciting violence’

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NFL player lives on $60,000 a year thanks to what he learned from this book

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How the iPhone 8 and iOS 11 could make you a better photographer

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The best back-to-school tech deals at Amazon, Apple, Best Buy and Target

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Building a Lego robot can help you understand coding basics

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A massive EU privacy rule could bring an unexpected benefit for US consumers

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Pogue's Basics: The secret Start menu in Windows 10

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'Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle' might be the next big hit for Nintendo's Switch

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Here’s what you need to watch for in Apple’s Q3 2017 earnings

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Apple's decision to drop privacy apps in China might not be the last of its kind

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How Microsoft wants to bring broadband to rural Americans

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The biggest problems with putting microchips in employees

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Amazon launches a social network for spending money

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Microsoft Surface Laptop review: A great notebook with one small flaw

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Amazon's Echo and other smart speakers do much more than you realize

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Galaxies collide in stunning picture
A NEW image captured by NASA Hubble space telescope shows ‘doomed duo’ galaxies colliding and then trying to destroy one another.

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CNET News
last updated: Fri, 20 Oct 2017 20:04:36 +0000

'Golden Compass' author Philip Pullman touts 'darker' prequel - CNET
It's been 17 years since Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy wrapped up, and a decade since "Compass" hit the big screen. The wait for a follow-up is over.

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BuzzFeed - Geeky
last updated: Mon, 15 May 2017 16:16:04 -0400

Here's What "Pokkén Tournament DX" Taught Me About Fighting Games

"The most important thing is to have fun," adviser Nia reminds you at least once during every Pokkén Tournament DX battle. She is your tour guide, tutorial master, and cheer captain throughout the game — and, for me personally, a ubiquitous reminder of how much fun I'm not having (but could be).

Don't get me wrong — there is a lot to love in Pokkén: The graphics are great. The gameplay feels smooth. The sampling of playable Pokémon is a nice reminder of just how large the franchise has become. But at its core, it's a fighting game, not a Pokémon game, and while I love the latter, I've always despised the former.

Maybe if I were any good at fighters, I'd feel differently, but, to me, they've always felt repetitive, frustrating, and silly. I gave Pokkén a shot only because it takes place in a universe I love (and tbh I just couldn't pass up the chance to play as a realistic-looking, ass-kicking Empoleon).

Don't mess.

Nintendo

"Once you start really digging into [fighters], they're basically a high-speed version of chess."

As I journeyed through Pokkén, I leaned on my Street Fighter–obsessed friend Mike Andronico, who's also a senior editor at Tom's Guide, for helpful tips and advice. "On a basic level, fighting games are video games at their purest," he told me. (Nerd.) "You and your friend beat each other up until one of you is knocked out. What's more straightforward and fun than that? But once you start really digging into them, they're basically a high-speed version of chess. You and your opponent are constantly trying to outsmart each other on a second-by-second basis, and when you make that smart guess or land that crazy combo, it provides a rush that you just can't get from other types of games."

As I continued playing, I tried to actualize this mindset and devoted time to the tutorial, learning combos, and thinking of the game strategically. So for others who are similarly inexperienced and/or skeptical of the fighting game genre, here are some basic tenets of Pokkén I took away:

1. The breadth of customization options is silly, hilarious, and really fun.

1. The breadth of customization options is silly, hilarious, and really fun.

Nintendo

I was not expecting the level of customization Pokkén offers because why would you expect much of *any* customization in a fighting game? (At least I've never seen customization like this in a fighter.) But the plethora of possibilities, while largely (if not completely) unimportant to the main gameplay, brought me nothing but joy. There's no reason I should have been able to deck my trainer out in items that reflect my upcoming Hawaiian vacation, and yet there he is in a lei among sunflowers wearing his finest hipster flannel. OK, Nia, NOW I'm having fun.

And speaking of Nia...yes, you can even customize HER outfits.

And speaking of Nia...yes, you can even customize HER outfits.

Santa Nia because why not.

Nintendo

It makes absolutely no sense and, when it comes to the mechanics of actually playing the game, doesn't matter in the slightest, but I can't wait to keep playing to see if I'll unlock more. Aside from my innate desire to just not suck at fighting games, customization is my main motivation for advancing.

Not to mention the absurd number of titles and "self-promotions" you can choose from.

Not to mention the absurd number of titles and "self-promotions" you can choose from.

Nintendo

"I love the woods" vs. "I always win, in spirit!" was my Sophie's Choice.

2. Sometimes you can run freely around the whole arena; sometimes, à la classic fighters, you just face each other.

2. Sometimes you can run freely around the whole arena; sometimes, à la classic fighters, you just face each other.

Nintendo

As the all-knowing Nia states above, the two phases are called Field Phase (aka running around freely) and Duel Phase (aka classic left and right movement only). You can make the battle shift between phases by successfully executing certain moves. Why? I have no idea, but, honestly, I really like it. It gives you more to accomplish than simply KOing your opponent, and I realized that I much prefer fighting games when I'm afforded more mobility. Field Phase reminds me a lot of an earlier Switch release, Arms, which I'm shockingly pretty good at (tyvm). Part of me wishes the whole game were like this.

"[Field Phase] gives you more to accomplish than simply KOing your opponent, and I realized that I much prefer fighting games when I'm afforded more mobility."

Unsurprisingly, fighting game elitist Mike disagreed. "The game just feels kinda loose and sloppy when you're floating around in 3D," he said. "Once you get into the 2D Duel Phase, the game starts to feel like a proper fighter" — (lol) — "in which things such as spacing and combos matter." But Mike sucks at Arms, so what does he know, amirite?

A key takeaway here? Training mode is your friend. Listen to Nia, despite her Navi-like tendencies. And, as Mike told me, "Don't worry about pulling off crazy combos right away. It's far more important knowing the range and properties of your character's basic attacks and how those might be useful in battle. Once you have those fundamentals in place, you can start learning flashier stuff."

3. The Attack Triangle is an easy-to-follow but hard-to-execute endless cycle of grabs and counters.

3. The Attack Triangle is an easy-to-follow but hard-to-execute endless cycle of grabs and counters.

Nintendo

The this-beats-this-beats-that system is a sensical and interesting element of Pokkén I found easy to understand but difficult to put into practice. Blame it on having a slower-than-normal reaction time if you must, but I was only really able to counter a counter with a grab attack by accident. Nonetheless, knowing about it really helped me enjoy the mechanics of the game more. I found myself trying to anticipate my opponents' moves and strategizing more than I normally would rather than simply button-mashing my way to non-victory. I'm not sure if this mechanic is unique to Pokkén, but it feels new and different to me.

Another key takeaway: Watch tons of matches. Mike is a firm believer that watching your favorite fighting game being played at a high level is just as integral as playing yourself. Once you have a decent understanding of your game of choice, you can learn a ton about how to optimally use the characters and mechanics when watching two really talented players go at it.
Pro tip: Focus on tournament footage on Twitch or YouTube.

3. Watching the Pokémon run around, punch, kick, and hurl magical blasts is pretty dope, albeit a little weird.

3. Watching the Pokémon run around, punch, kick, and hurl magical blasts is pretty dope, albeit a little weird.

I see you, Ponyta.

Nintendo

There's something a little disconcerting and awkward about having Pokémon we know and love as mostly inactive creatures run around on two legs in all their 3D glory, but ultimately you get used to it. And their specials are admittedly pretty badass.

4. Support Pokémon are cute but pretty much all the same.

4. Support Pokémon are cute but pretty much all the same.

Nintendo

Support Pokémon are a nice excuse to be able to feature more Pokémon in the game, and the feature is a fun twist on tagging in help, but despite their different "attack," "enhance," etc., abilities, they're not really all that different or helpful in the scheme of things. Maybe they're of much greater importance for a Pokkén master, but still, I think there's an option to choose a "random" set for a reason.

5. The game makes you feel pretty invincible...for a while.

5. The game makes you feel pretty invincible...for a while.

Nintendo

As you're well aware by now, I'm obviously pretty sh*tty at fighting games, but Pokkén does a good job of letting even the least skilled players feel powerful for a while, which gives you a lot of time to perfect your combos and strategy. Tbh, it's downright easy to coast through the various leagues, but because of the grading system that pops up after every battle — which includes a grade on your technique — you're always pushed to develop various aspects of your fighting style.

"'Online will continue to be a core part of every fighting game, but 'most of the good fighting games out there still do a great job catering to single-player folks.'"

What's not easy though? Playing online. After 30 consecutive wins playing against the league CPUs, I felt like I was ready to try other IRL players. But that confidence, I learned, was completely undeserved. I was destroyed countless times in a row. I could barely even get one hit in let alone a combo or counter and several times I was honestly *this close* to throwing my controller against the wall and swearing off the game for good.

According to Mike, although "online has become integral to just about every fighting game ... games such as Injustice 2, Tekken 7, and Pokkén are brimming with fun solo content, meaning you won't have a cheapened experience if you don't feel like getting destroyed online." He thinks online will continue to be a core part of every fighting game, but "most of the good fighting games out there still do a great job catering to single-player folks." Phew.

An important lesson: Patience is a virtue. I expected to pick up my controller and become a PokéMaster after just a few hours, and while at times the game made me feel like I was, it takes a lot more time than that "to be the next Evo champ," as Mike put it.

At the end of the day, I agree with Mike's assessment that "Pokkén is one of the best fighting games out there in terms of being easy to learn and hard to master." For beginners, it's great to play when you're bored and want to have some casual fun (but beware of online); for more experienced players, it must also be a lot of fun to play online and kick beginners' asses.

One last word of advice: Find a community or training partner. From weekly fighting game meet-ups in your area to friends who are also trying to get better, set aside time to practice with real people. It's way more fun that way! Online communities like Reddit and dedicated FG sites like Shoryuken and EventHubs are also filled with folks willing to help out.

And finally, as Nia says (quite often), have fun! Despite my initial misgivings, I really came around to Pokkén in the end and embraced its weirdness, uniqueness, and playability. Fighting games aren't as vapid or boring as I'd originally thought, and embracing the strategy and time required to master them made playing that much more rewarding in the end.

All images from Nintendo

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Tech – TIME
last updated:

Review: What It’s Like to Have Microsoft’s Virtual Butler in Your Living Room
The Invoke is a high-end speaker with Cortana

Microsoft is out to prove that Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant aren’t the only virtual concierges worth inviting into your home. After first teasing its Cortana-powered speaker last December, Harman Kardon’s Invoke will finally launch on October 22 for $199. With Microsoft’s Cortana butler built-in, the Invoke can recite the weather, control smart home devices and more, just like its Amazon and Google rivals.

Invoke’s arrival along with similar high-end devices also marks a turning point for intelligent speakers. Potential buyers no longer need choose between high quality audio and having a smart assistant they can summon by voice. Early Internet-connected speakers, such as the first generation Echo and Google Home, provided good enough sound for casual listening. But audiophiles still turned to premium dedicated speakers to get superior sound.

Harman Kardon’s Invoke and a slew of other recently announced high-tech audio devices — like the Alexa-enabled Sonos One, the Google Home Max, and Apple’s forthcoming HomePod — are evidence this is changing. The Invoke includes a sonically formidable three woofers, three tweeters and two passive radiators for boosting bass. Amazon’s new Echo likewise has a 2.5-inch woofer and a 0.6-inch tweeter, unlike the previous model. And the HomePod has a high-excursion woofer, a custom amplifier and seven beam-forming tweeters. That’s a lot of audio oomph.

Read more: The 15 Most Influential Websites of All Time

Those differences are evident immediately when listening to the Invoke alongside the Google Home. Music sounded much clearer and richer through the Invoke, while the Home sounded flatter and muffled by comparison. There was much more contrast between high-pitched notes, like soft piano jingles and lower tones when listening through the Invoke, compared to the Home. And you have a variety of ways to sample audio: the Invoke can stream music from Spotify, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

As a personal helper, Cortana is just about as useful as Alexa and the Google Assistant. When asking simple questions such as “How tall is the Empire State Building?’ or “Who is Millie Bobby Brown?” the Google Assistant, Cortana and Alexa all turned out the same results. That was also true when asking for information like the weather or driving directions.

But in my experience, Google was the best at understanding natural language, while Cortana placed second and Amazon came in third. When asking “What’s the best way to cook a steak?” for example, Cortana said she couldn’t help the first time I asked. She answered correctly the second time, and was able to answer on the first try when I asked for steak recipes instead. Whether I requested steak recipes or asked for the best way to cook a steak, Google understood and answered on the first try. Alexa was able to pull up recipes, but couldn’t recite cooking tips from websites, whereas Google and Cortana could.

Try asking these virtual assistants something like “What’s the best way to get red wine stains out of a carpet?” and the results will be similar. Alexa couldn’t help at all, while Cortana only understood when I started the question with “How do I…” rather than “What’s the best way…” Google by contrast understood when I asked the questions either way. It’s another sign that although computers have come a long way in understanding the way we speak, there’s much work to be done — it still feels like you have to speak a special language to get the desired answer.

The Invoke does have a neat little trick that I enjoyed playing with (and I suspect you will, too). The top of the device functions as a sort of mystery button: Tapping it will prompt Cortana to recite a random nugget of information. It’s a small perk, but one that’s amusing and well-executed.

For those who want to use the Invoke as a communication device, there’s also Skype support. That means you can place a call to anyone in your Skype or phone contacts list just by asking. This worked flawlessly in my testing: Cortana understood my request immediately, and both the recipient and I were able to hear each other clearly.

Read more: Google Wants to Give Your Computer a Personality

Devices like the Amazon Echo have become popular as smart home hubs, and the Harman Kardon Invoke is no different. Cortana is compatible with smart home gadgets like lights, switches, outlets and thermostats from companies including Samsung SmartThings, Philips Hue, Nest, Wink and Insteon. Integrations with gadgets from other appliance makers, like Honeywell, Ecobee, TP-Link, Johnson Controls, IFTT, iDevices, Geeni and Iris by Lowe’s are also in the works. That selection is currently smaller than those offered by the Google Home and Amazon Echo, which both already work with items from most of those brands and more.

Microsoft also has some catching up to do when it comes to voice app support. Amazon’s Echo now has more than 20,000 of its so-called “skills” (a way of interfacing with third-party apps), while the Harman Kardon Invoke will launch with just 100. Of course, the quality of those skills matters more than just the quantity. Right now, Cortana supports useful additions like Expedia, Fitbit, the Food Network and OpenTable, but there are also a handful of lesser-known games and seemingly useless apps like Cricket Sounds and Ghost Detector. And crucially, there currently aren’t any Uber or Lyft skills yet for Cortana, which may be a deal breaker for those who want the convenience of calling a cab without reaching for their phone. For Cortana to be successful, Microsoft will have to do a better job at courting developers than it did with mobile phones.

The Harman Kardon Invoke is a strong choice for anyone who wants a smart speaker with better sound than the standard Google Home or Echo offer. At $199, it’s much cheaper than other upcoming high-end speakers, like the $399 Google Home Max or $350 Apple HomePod. It’s much more in line with the $199 Sonos One, which includes Amazon’s Alexa and custom drivers for premium audio. But it also comes down to whether or not you’re excited by Microsoft versus Amazon’s ecosystems, and that’s going to depend on your priorities, as well as your prior experience with either, or current device commitments.

The Invoke represents Microsoft’s first major step into the smart home space, and like most first steps, it has upsides and shortcomings. Cortana fares well when it comes to speech recognition and intelligent responses, but still feels rudimentary in a race toward natural language savvy that’s just getting started. Given Microsoft’s presence in the enterprise, I was hoping to see more tools aimed at productivity. I’m looking forward to the day when the vision Microsoft showed onstage at its Build conference this year comes to fruition: Being able to post updates to your office’s chat room in the car and requesting time off at work just by asking Cortana from the convenience of your couch. The Invoke with Cortana isn’t that device, and it wasn’t meant to be. But its appearance in an increasingly crowded space only reinforces the fact that the race is on to create one.

3.5 out of 5

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DNA techniques could transform facial recognition technology

When police in London recently trialled a new facial recognition system, they made a worrying and embarrassing mistake. At the Notting Hill Carnival, the technology made roughly 35 false matches between known suspects and members of the crowd, with one person “erroneously” arrested. Camera-based visual surveillance systems were supposed to deliver a safer and more secure society. But despite decades of development, they are generally not able to handle real-life situations. During the 2011 London riots, for example, facial recognition software contributed to just one arrest out of the 4,962 that took place. The failure of this technology means visual…

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