MetaCert’s Cryptonite can catch phishing links in your email

MetaCert, founded by Paul Walsh, originally began as a way to watch chat rooms for fake Ethereum scams. Walsh, who was an early experimenter in cryptocurrencies, grew frustrated when he saw hackers dumping fake links into chat rooms, resulting in users regularly losing cash to scammers.

Now Walsh has expanded his software to email. A new product built for email will show little green or red shields next to links, confirming that a link is what it appears to be. A fake link would appear red while a real PayPal link, say, would appear green. The plugin works with Apple’s Mail app on the iPhone and is called Cryptonite. “The system utilizes the MetaCert Protocol infrastructure/registry,” said Walsh. “It contains 10 billion classified URLs. This is at the core of all of MetaCert’s products and services. It’s a single API that’s used to protect over 1 million crypto people
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DeepMind hands off role as health app provider to parent Google

DeepMind’s recent foray into providing software as a service to U.K. hospitals has reached the end of its run.

The Google -owned AI division has just announced it will be stepping back from providing a clinical alerts and task management healthcare app to focus on research — handing off the team doing the day to day delivery of the Streams to its parent, Google. 

Announcing the move in a blog post entitled “Scaling Streams with Google,” DeepMind’s co-founders write: “Our vision is for Streams to now become an AI-powered assistant for nurses and doctors everywhere — combining the best algorithms with intuitive design, all backed

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Cognigo raises $8.5M for its AI-driven data protection platform

Cognigo, a startup that aims to use AI and machine learning to help enterprises protect their data and stay in compliance with regulations like GDPR, today announced that it has raised an $8.5 million Series A round. The round was led by Israel-based crowdfunding platform OurCrowd, with participation from privacy company Prosegur and State of Mind Ventures.

The company promises that it can help businesses protect their critical data assets and prevent personally identifiable information from leaking outside of the company’s network. And it says it can do so without the kind of hands-on management that’s often required in setting these kinds of systems up and managing them over time. Indeed, Cognigo says that it can help businesses achieve GDPR compliance in days instead of months. To do this, the company tells me, it’s using pre-trained language models for data classification. That model has been trained to detect
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Pandora brings its Genome technology to podcast recommendations

Earlier this year, Pandora challenged Spotify’s personalization capabilities by using its Music Genome technology to create dozens of customized playlists for its users. Today, it will begin leveraging similar technology to do the same for podcasts. The Podcast Genome Project, as it’s called, is now powering a new recommendation system that will be combined with human editorial oversight to offer content suggestions for Pandora users.

Like the Music Genome – the music information database capable of classifying songs across 450 different attributes – the Podcast Genome Project is also a cataloging system designed to evaluate content. But in this case, its focus is on audio programs. Says Pandora, the Podcast Genome Project can currently evaluate content across over 1,500 attributes like MPAA ratings, production style, content type, host profile and more, as well as listener signals, like thumbs, skips, replays, and more. It uses machine learning algorithms, natural language processing
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11/11 shows biometrics are the norm for payments in China

Chinese consumers were quick to adopt digital payments, and a recent shopping binge showed they are ready for another leap: biometric payments.

On November 11, Alibaba wrapped up Singles’ Day – the world’s largest shopping event – and hauled in $30.8 billion in total transactions, a staggering amount bigger than Cyber Monday and Black Friday combined. Instead of frantically inputting payment passwords to grab deals, Chinese users jumped on new technologies to shop in the blink of an eye. This year, 60.3 percent of Singles’ Day customers paid either by scanning their fingerprint or taking a selfie. That’s according to Alipay as it collected the data for the first time. The Alibaba affiliate digital wallet handles online and offline transactions for 870 million users around the world and its close rival WeChat Pay, the payment method that runs on Tencent’s popular chat app, is on a par at
alipay alibaba face recognition
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These antique phones are precious, private Alexa vessels

Amazon’s Alexa may be in ten thousand different devices now, but they all have one other thing in common: they’re new. So for those of us that prefer old things but still want to be able to set timers and do metric-imperial conversions without pulling out our phones, Grain Design is retrofitting these fabulous old telephones to provide Alexa access with no other hints of modernity. There’s even a privacy angle!

The phones themselves (spotted by a BoingBoing tipster) are genuine antiques, and not even the mass-produced Bell sets you see so often. I personally love the copper-plated model, though I certainly wouldn’t say no to the candlestick. Dick Whitney, who runs the company, modifies the hardware to make room for an Echo Dot inside. Pick up the phone and speak, and Alexa answers, just like the operators of yore! Except you can ask Alexa anything and it won’t
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Alibaba made a smart screen to help blind people shop and it costs next to nothing

Just a few years ago, Li Mengqi could not have imagined shopping on her own. Someone needed to always keep her company to say aloud what was in front of her, who’s been blind since birth.

When smartphones with text-to-speech machines for the visually impaired arrived, she immediately bought an iPhone. “Though it was expensive,” Li, a 23-year-old who grew up in a rural village in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, told me. Cheaper smartphone options in China often don’t have good accessibility features. Screen readers opened a plethora of new opportunity for those with visual impairments. “I felt liberated, no longer having to rely on others,” said Li, who can now shop online, WeChat her friends, and go out alone by following her iPhone compass. Reading out everything on the screen is helpful, but it can also be overwhelming. Digital readers don’t decipher human thoughts, so when Li gets on
Alibaba blind smartphone feature
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Children are being “datafied” before we’ve understood the risks, report warns

A report by England’s children’s commissioner has raised concerns about how kids’ data is being collected and shared across the board, in both the private and public sectors.

In the report, entitled Who knows what about me?, Anne Longfield urges society to “stop and think” about what big data means for children’s lives. Big data practices could result in a data-disadvantaged generation whose life chances are shaped by their childhood data footprint, her report warns. The long term impacts of profiling minors when these children become adults is simply not known, she writes. “Children are being “datafied” – not just via social media, but in many aspects of their lives,” says Longfield. “For children growing up today, and the generations that follow them, the impact of profiling will be even greater – simply because there is more data available about them.” By the time a child is 13
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Walmart is building an AI lab inside one of its store

Walmart has just announced its plans to launch what it’s calling an Intelligent Retail Lab inside one of its stores in Levittown, New York.

The idea is to test both associate and customer experiences. For example, Walmart wants to use artificial intelligence to better identify when items are running low on stock so that it can proactively replenish the stock. Lead by an internal team called Kepler, Walmart also envisions using the technology to identify spills, better understand when shopping carts are running low near the entrance and identify when items are on the wrong shelf. Tech publications, including this one, had previously reported that Project Kepler would entail cashierlesss stores. Instead, Walmart says Kepler is the name of the team building the AI lab inside the working Walmart store in Levittown. Walmart has not yet launched the IRL, but it’s already begun installing hardware, software and the other necessary
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Google Cloud wants to make it easier for data scientists to share models

Today, Google Cloud announced Kubeflow pipelines and AI Hub, two tools designed to help data scientists put the models they create to work across their organizations.

Rajen Sheth, director of product management for Google Cloud’s AI and ML products says that the company recognized that data scientists too often build models that never get used. He says that if machine learning is really a team sport, as Google believes, models must get passed from data scientists to data engineers and developers who can build applications based on them. To help fix that, Google is announcing Kubeflow pipelines, which are an extension of Kubeflow, an open source framework built on top of Kubernetes designed specifically for machine learning. Pipelines are essentially containerized building blocks that people in the machine learning ecosystem can string together to build and manage machine learning workflows. By placing the model in a container, data scientists can
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Facebook is facing an EU data probe over fake ads

The UK’s privacy watchdog has asked Facebook’s lead EU regulator to look into ongoing data protection concerns about its ad platform — including how its platform is being used to target and spread fake adverts to try to manipulate voters.

Facebook’s international HQ is in Ireland so the regulator in play here is the Irish Data Protection Commission. The ICO noted the action in a 113-page report to parliament yesterday giving an update on its long-running investigation into the use of data analytics in political campaigns — writing:
We have referred our ongoing concerns about Facebook’s targeting functions and techniques that are used to monitor individuals’ browsing habits, interactions and behaviour across the internet and different devices to the to the IDPC. Under the GDPR, the IDPC is the lead authority for Facebook in the EU. We will work with both the Irish regulator and other national data protection authorities
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Where’s the accountability Facebook?

Facebook has yet again declined an invitation for its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer international politicians’ questions about how disinformation spreads on his platform and undermines democratic processes.

But policymakers aren’t giving up — and have upped the ante by issuing a fresh invitation signed by representatives from another three national parliaments. So the call for global accountability is getting louder. Now representatives from a full five parliaments have signed up to an international grand committee calling for answers from Zuckerberg, with Argentina, Australia and Ireland joining the UK and Canada to try to pile political pressure on Facebook. The UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee has been asking for Facebook’s CEO to attend its multi-month enquiry for the best part of this year, without success…

In its

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Alibaba rival JD.com plays the long-game on technology investment

China’s JD.com  has made it clear recently that it’s venturing into artificial intelligence and automation. Every few months over the past year, the online retailer – China’s second-largest by transactions after Alibaba – has unveiled new products based on cutting-edge technology: for example drone delivery, self-driving trucks, fully automated warehouses, to name a few.

Most of these technologies are still in their testing phase and JD’s ever expanding technology investment is already eating into its profitability. In the second quarter, the retail titan’s technology expenses were up over 70 percent year-over-year for the third consecutive quarter, costing the company 2.8 billion yuan, or $400 million. Net income slipped more than 50 percent to 478 million yuan, versus 977 million yuan last year. By comparison, marketing and fulfilment, which traditionally make up the bulk of JD’s overall operating expenses, grew at less than 30 percent over the same period.
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Three ways to avoid bias in machine learning

At this moment in history it’s impossible not to see the problems that arise from human bias. Now magnify that by compute and you start to get a sense for just how dangerous human bias via machine learning can be. The damage can be twofold:

  • Influence. If the AI said so it must be true… people trust outputs of AI, so if human bias is missed in the training it could compound the problem by infecting more people;
  • Automation. Sometimes AI models are plugged into a programmatic function, which could lead to the automation of bias. 
But there is potentially a silver machine-learned lining. Because AI can help expose truth inside messy data sets, it’s possible
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The ultimate guide to gifting STEM toys: tons of ideas for little builders

The holiday season is here again, touting all sorts of kids’ toys that pledge to pack ‘STEM smarts’ in the box, not just the usual battery-based fun.

Educational playthings are nothing new, of course. But, in recent years, long time toymakers and a flurry of new market entrants have piggybacked on the popularity of smartphones and apps, building connected toys for even very young kids that seek to tap into a wider ‘learn to code’ movement which itself feeds off worries about the future employability of those lacking techie skills. Whether the lofty educational claims being made for some of these STEM gizmos stands the test of time remains to be seen. Much of this sums to clever branding. Though there’s no doubt a lot of care and attention has gone into building this category out, you’ll also find equally eye-catching price-tags. Whatever STEM toy you buy there’s a high chance
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Facebook must change and policymakers must act on data, warns UK watchdog

The UK’s data watchdog has warned that Facebook must overhaul its privacy-hostile business model or risk burning user trust for good.

Comments she made today have also raised questions over the legality of so-called lookalike audiences to target political ads at users of its platform. Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham was giving evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee in the UK parliament this morning. She’s just published her latest report to parliament, on the ICO’s (still ongoing) investigation into the murky world of data use and misuse in political campaigns. Since May 2017 the watchdog has been pulling on myriad threads attached to the Cambridge Analytica Facebook data misuse scandal — to, in the regulator’s words, “follow the data” across an entire ecosystem of players; from social media firms to data brokers to political parties, and indeed beyond to other still unknown actors with an interest in also
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Study of political junk on Facebook raises fresh questions about its metrics

A midterms election study of political disinformation being fenced by Facebook’s platform supports the company’s assertion that a clutch of mostly right-leaning and politically fringe Pages it removed in October for sharing “inauthentic activity” were pulled for gaming its engagement metrics.

Though it remains unclear why it took Facebook so long to act against such prolific fakers — which the research suggests had been doping their metrics unchallenged on Facebook for up to five years. The three-month research project carried out by Jonathan Albright of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism has largely focused on domestic political disinformation. In a third and final blog detailing his findings he says some of the removed Pages had put up Facebook interaction numbers in the billions, and many of their videos consistently showed engagement in the tens of millions. “I found that at least three of the Pages — removed less than a month ago — reported near-astronomical
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Subterranean drone mapping startup Emesent raises $2.5M to autonomously delve the deep

Seemingly every industry is finding ways to use drones in some way or another, but deep underground it’s a different story. In the confines of a mine or pipeline, with no GPS and little or no light, off-the-shelf drones are helpless — but an Australian startup called Emesent is giving them the spatial awareness and intelligence to navigate and map those spaces autonomously.

Drones that work underground or in areas otherwise inaccessible by GPS and other common navigation techniques are being made possible by a confluence of technology and computing power, explained Emesent CEO and co-founder Stefan Hrabar. The work they would take over from people is the epitome of “dull, dirty, and dangerous” — the trifecta for automation. The mining industry is undoubtedly the most interested in this sort of thing; mining is necessarily a very systematic process and one that involves repeated measurements of areas being blasted, cleared,
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Subterranean drone mapping startup Emesent raises $2.5M to autonomously delve the deep

Seemingly every industry is finding ways to use drones in some way or another, but deep underground it’s a different story. In the confines of a mine or pipeline, with no GPS and little or no light, off-the-shelf drones are helpless — but an Australian startup called Emesent is giving them the spatial awareness and intelligence to navigate and map those spaces autonomously.

Drones that work underground or in areas otherwise inaccessible by GPS and other common navigation techniques are being made possible by a confluence of technology and computing power, explained Emesent CEO and co-founder Stefan Hrabar. The work they would take over from people is the epitome of “dull, dirty, and dangerous” — the trifecta for automation. The mining industry is undoubtedly the most interested in this sort of thing; mining is necessarily a very systematic process and one that involves repeated measurements of areas being blasted, cleared,
Continue reading "Subterranean drone mapping startup Emesent raises $2.5M to autonomously delve the deep"

Subterranean drone mapping startup Emesent raises $2.5M to autonomously delve the deep

Seemingly every industry is finding ways to use drones in some way or another, but deep underground it’s a different story. In the confines of a mine or pipeline, with no GPS and little or no light, off-the-shelf drones are helpless — but an Australian startup called Emesent is giving them the spatial awareness and intelligence to navigate and map those spaces autonomously.

Drones that work underground or in areas otherwise inaccessible by GPS and other common navigation techniques are being made possible by a confluence of technology and computing power, explained Emesent CEO and co-founder Stefan Hrabar. The work they would take over from people is the epitome of “dull, dirty, and dangerous” — the trifecta for automation. The mining industry is undoubtedly the most interested in this sort of thing; mining is necessarily a very systematic process and one that involves repeated measurements of areas being blasted, cleared,
Continue reading "Subterranean drone mapping startup Emesent raises $2.5M to autonomously delve the deep"