• Hannah

The Five Zero Round-Up: five stories from the week

From revolutionary AI-powered eye scanning technology to new plans for a censored Google search engine in China, the week has not been short of interesting news:

1. Google employees outraged by plans for a censored search engine

Leaked news of Google’s plans to launch a censored search engine in China has caused alarm amongst its employees, with around 10000 staff members reportedly signing a petition which argues for greater transparency from the tech firm. Employees were upset to find news of a secret project to create a Chinese search engine owing to the “ethical and moral issues” involved. Google previously operated a search engine in the country which it closed in 2010 amidst concerns around the Chinese government’s strict freedom of speech policies.

2. Are robots too influential on children?

This was the subject of a new study by the University of Plymouth intended to see how far modern technology, such as virtual voice assistants, adversely affects children’s decision making. Participants aged between seven and nine were given the Asch paradigm test which asks them to match up lines of the same length. The test typically finds that participants respond best by themselves, while in the presence of others people will often put the same answers and get worse results. This study saw that children performed worse in the presence of robots, copying their answers even when they were wrong. The children’s scores dropped from 87% to 75%.

3. Marks and Spencer switching to Artificial Intelligence in call centres

The British retailer announced its plans to substitute human call centre staff for Artificial Intelligence software across its 13 UK call centres, as well as rolling out the technology in its bricks-and-mortar stores. Marks and Spencer further stated that this will not result in any redundancies and that staff members will be reassigned to roles in stores. The retail group hopes to improve its efficiency and overall customer experience with the change.

4. Apple hit by 16-year old fan hacker

A 16-year-old Australian boy who managed to hack into Apple’s secure network and customer records over last year is now facing criminal prosecution. The hacker, who was able to download around 90GB of Apple’s data, already has an established a reputation in the cyber community. In response to why he committed the cyber-attack, the teenager claimed to be a great fan of the global tech giant.

5. AI technology detects eye diseases as accurately as clinicians

Experts at UCL, DeepMind Health and Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have developed a ground-breaking AI software capable of reading eye scans and making precise patient diagnoses, as accurately as leading ophthalmologists. The technology was tested on thousands of eye scans which taught the machine how to respond to the images and make the correct referrals. Healthcare professionals hope that this will help identify the most pressing cases quickly, enabling faster patient treatment.

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