James Vincent
James Vincent
I mostly cover machines with brains for The Verge, despite being a human without one.Source
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Fantastical’s new widgets look like the perfect use-case for the iOS 14 update

Fantastical’s new widgets look like the perfect use-case for the iOS 14 update

Filed under:12 customizable widgets for your calendar, events, and moreMac and iOS calendar app Fantastical has with 12 new customizable widgets. They look like the perfect use-case for iOS 14’s , giving users access to their calendar, events, and weather forecasts straight from the home screen.These aren’t the sort of widgets you’d use to , of course: these are practical and straightforward designs for people whose live in their schedules. The widgets look as well-designed as you’d expect from Fantastical, and we particularly like the option to jump into meetings directly. No more...

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James Vincent
3d ago
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YouTube brings back more human moderators after AI systems over-censor

YouTube brings back more human moderators after AI systems over-censor

Filed under:Increased use of automated filters led to double incorrect takedownsYouTube says it’s bringing back human moderators who were “put offline” after the company’s AI filters failed to match their accuracy.Back in March, YouTube it would rely more on machine learning systems to flag and remove content that violated its policies on things like hate speech and misinformation. But YouTube this week that the greater use of AI moderation had led to a significant increase in video removals and incorrect takedowns.Around 11 million videos were removed from YouTube between April and June,...

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James Vincent
6d ago
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Apple accuses Epic of ‘starting a fire and pouring gasoline on it’ in new Fortnite filing

Apple accuses Epic of ‘starting a fire and pouring gasoline on it’ in new Fortnite filing

Filed under:Apple lays out its case for keeping Fortnite off the App StoreApple has responded to Epic’s demands that the iPhone-maker in new legal filings, arguing that the company’s injuries are “entirely self-inflicted” and that Fortnite can return to iOS at any time — just as soon as Epic removes the custom in-app payment system that triggered the game’s removal in the first place.“Epic started a fire, and poured gasoline on it, and now asks this Court for emergency assistance in putting it out,” writes Apple in the 37-page . “[E]ven though Epic can do so itself in an instant by simply...

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James Vincent
Sep 16
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I learned to make a lip-syncing deepfake in just a few hours (and you can, too)

I learned to make a lip-syncing deepfake in just a few hours (and you can, too)

Filed under:Zero coding experience requiredHow easy is it to make a deepfake, really? Over the past few years, there’s been a steady stream of new methods and algorithms that deliver AI-generated fakes. You can even now do basic face-swaps in a . But what does it take to turn random code you found online into a genuine deepfake? I can now say from personal experience, you really need just two things: time and patience.Despite writing about deepfakes for years, I’ve only ever made them using prepackaged apps that did the work for me. But when I saw an apparently straightforward method for...

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James Vincent
Sep 9
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Reddit reports 18 percent reduction in hateful content after banning nearly 7,000 subreddits

Reddit reports 18 percent reduction in hateful content after banning nearly 7,000 subreddits

In June this year, Reddit began a huge campaign to remove hateful content from its site, blocking communities that engaged in hate speech and harassment. In an update on its progress today, the company says it’s banned nearly 7,000 subreddits (including repeat offenders) resulting in an 18 percent drop in users posting hateful content. “While I would love that number to be 100 percent, I’m encouraged by the progress,” writes Reddit user u/worstnerd, a member of the company’s Safety team. “WHILE I WOULD LOVE THAT NUMBER TO BE 100 PERCENT, I’M ENCOURAGED BY THE PROGRESS.” The progress is...

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James Vincent
Aug 20
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Instagram kept deleted photos and messages on its servers for more than a year

Instagram kept deleted photos and messages on its servers for more than a year

Filed under:The files were retained due to a now-fixed bug, says InstagramWhen you delete something from Instagram you expect it to be gone for good. But when security researcher Saugat Pokharel requested a copy of photos and direct messages from the photo-sharing app, he was sent data he’d deleted more than a year ago, showing that the information had never been entirely removed from Instagram’s servers.Instagram says this was due to a bug in its system that it’s now fixed, and Pokharel has been rewarded a $6,000 bug bounty for highlighting the problem. As , Pokharel discovered the bug in...

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James Vincent
Aug 14
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Pinterest improves and expands its skin tone search feature

Pinterest improves and expands its skin tone search feature

Filed under:Users can filter by skin tone to get more relevant resultsPinterest is upgrading its skin tone search feature, which uses machine vision to sort pins in the site’s beauty category by skin tone. The feature launched in the US and is now available in the UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand as well.The feature is designed to make it easier for users to find content relevant to them, says Pinterest. It’s a common problem in the search world that certain queries default to show white faces. By giving users the option to refine their searches based on skin tones, Pinterest...

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James Vincent
Aug 11
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Scientists rename human genes to stop Microsoft Excel from misreading them as dates

Scientists rename human genes to stop Microsoft Excel from misreading them as dates

Filed under:Sometimes it’s easier to rewrite genetics than update ExcelThere are tens of thousands of genes in the human genome: minuscule twists of DNA and RNA that combine to express all of the traits and characteristics that make each of us unique. Each gene is given a name and alphanumeric code, known as a symbol, which scientists use to coordinate research. But over the past year or so, some 27 human genes have been renamed, all because Microsoft Excel kept misreading their symbols as dates.The problem isn’t as unexpected as it first sounds. Excel is a behemoth in the spreadsheet world...

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James Vincent
Aug 6
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Cloak your photos with this AI privacy tool to fool facial recognition

Cloak your photos with this AI privacy tool to fool facial recognition

Filed under:Privacy tool Fawkes makes your selfies less like yourselfUbiquitous facial recognition is a serious threat to privacy. The idea that the photos we share are being collected by companies to train algorithms that are sold commercially is worrying. Anyone can buy these tools, snap a photo of a stranger, and find out who they are in seconds. But researchers have come up with a clever way to help combat this problem.The solution is a tool named , and was created by scientists at the University of Chicago’s Sand Lab. Named after the Guy Fawkes masks donned by revolutionaries in the V...

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James Vincent
Aug 4
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EU launches full investigation into Google’s Fitbit acquisition over health data fears

EU launches full investigation into Google’s Fitbit acquisition over health data fears

Filed under:The EU doesn’t trust Google’s promises about dataThe European Commission is launching a into Google’s acquisition of Fitbit. EU regulators are worried that the deal will entrench Google’s position as a market leader in online advertising by giving the search giant access to data collected from Fitbit’s health tracking hardware that can be used for personalized advertisements.“The data collected via wrist-worn wearable devices appears ... to be an important advantage in the online advertising markets,” wrote the commission in a . “By increasing the data advantage of Google in the...

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James Vincent
Aug 4
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TikTok is opening up its algorithm and challenging competitors to do the same

TikTok is opening up its algorithm and challenging competitors to do the same

Filed under:The company needs to counter claims about Chinese influenceTikTok wants to be transparent. The company has announced that it’s taking new measures to give outsiders access to the algorithms it uses to sort and share users’ videos, and it will be letting experts “observe our moderation policies in real-time.”In a published Wednesday, TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer said the changes put it “a step ahead of the industry” and challenged rivals to follow suit. “[W]e believe our entire industry should be held to an exceptionally high standard,” writes Mayer. “That’s why we believe all...

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James Vincent
Jul 29
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Face masks are breaking facial recognition algorithms, says new government study

Face masks are breaking facial recognition algorithms, says new government study

Filed under:Stopping the spread of disease and mass surveillanceFace masks are one of the against the spread of COVID-19, but their growing adoption is having a second, unintended effect: breaking facial recognition algorithms.Wearing face masks that adequately cover the mouth and nose causes the error rate of some of the most widely used facial recognition algorithms to spike to between 5 percent and 50 percent, a by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has found. Black masks were more likely to cause errors than blue masks, and the more of the nose covered by the...

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James Vincent
Jul 28
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US Army pauses video game streams after accusations of violating free speech

US Army pauses video game streams after accusations of violating free speech

Filed under:Users were banned for asking about US war crimesThe US Army has paused streaming video games on Twitch as an outreach and recruitment tool after facing criticism for banning viewers who asked its streamers about US war crimes.The pause was first by esports consultant Rod “Slasher” Breslau who said the Army team was stopping streaming, social activity, and participation in the upcoming Twitch Rivals competition. Breslau said there was “no official time frame for a return” and that Twitch had not cancelled its official partnerships with US Army and Navy esports teams.“The team has...

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James Vincent
Jul 23
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Amazon expands its robot delivery trials to more states

Amazon expands its robot delivery trials to more states

Filed under:A slow roll-out for a potentially game-changing technologyAmazon unveiled its six-wheel delivery robot, Scout, , but has only been slowly expanding its field tests. After launching in a single neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington and then adding a larger site in Irvine, California , Scout is now undergoing trials in Atlanta, Georgia and Franklin, Tennessee, Amazon .It’s unclear how many robots are on the road and how many customers Scout is serving. But it seems the bots are very much still prototypes, and are being treated with the caution appropriate for a company...

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James Vincent
Jul 21
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Microsoft updates its Android Launcher with dark mode, custom icons, and daily wallpapers

Microsoft updates its Android Launcher with dark mode, custom icons, and daily wallpapers

Filed under:A big visual refresh for Microsoft’s basecamp on AndroidMicrosoft has updated its to version 6, giving the software a big visual overhaul and a performance upgrade on top of its existing functionality.Version 6 of Launcher has a new app icon, dark mode, daily wallpaper feature (provided by Bing), customizable icons, and it now works in landscape orientation, too. There’s also a personalized news feed that updates throughout the day, and general performance improvements, including faster loading and reduced battery drain, thanks to a new codebase.The app is available to download...

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James Vincent
Jul 17
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Japanese app Tuna Scope uses AI to grade the quality of fish

Japanese app Tuna Scope uses AI to grade the quality of fish

Filed under:The app assesses characteristics like fat content and colorA Japanese chain of sushi restaurants is using an AI-powered app to assess the quality of tuna — a key step in the preparation of sushi that traditionally requires years of training from experienced human buyers. But can it really replace a human’s fish sense?The app, named , was developed by Japanese advertising firm Dentsu Inc. It uses machine learning algorithms trained on thousands of images of the cross-sections of tuna tails, a cut of the meat that can reveal much about a fish’s constitution.The app was trained on...

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James Vincent
Jul 9
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Spotify, Pinterest, Tinder, and other iOS apps were crashing again due to a Facebook issue

Spotify, Pinterest, Tinder, and other iOS apps were crashing again due to a Facebook issue

Filed under:The issue has now been resolved and apps are working once moreA number of popular apps and services including Spotify, Pinterest, and Tinder were inaccessible today on iOS devices due to a now-resolved issue involving Facebook log-ins.There were on social media of apps crashing whenever launched on iPhones and iPads, and corresponding outage spikes on .The cause of the outages seems to have been Facebook’s software development kit, or SDK, which many apps use to manage user logins. Users don’t have to be using Facebook to log into an app for this to affect their software (they...

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James Vincent
Jul 10
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South Korean drone display reminds watchers to wash hands and wear masks

South Korean drone display reminds watchers to wash hands and wear masks

Filed under:The light show ended with the message: ‘Cheer up, Republic of Korea’South Korea has done a remarkably of combating the COVID-19 pandemic. But as experts warn of a , the government has organized an unusual way to both thank its frontline medical staff for their hard work and remind citizens to abide by preventative measures: a drone light show over the Han River in the capital of Seoul.The 10-minute light show features 300 dronesAs reported by and , the show took place last Friday, July 6th, and featured 300 drones in a 10-minute show. The display was organized by the Ministry of...

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James Vincent
Jul 6
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Google’s $2.1 billion Fitbit acquisition is getting closer scrutiny from EU regulators

Google’s $2.1 billion Fitbit acquisition is getting closer scrutiny from EU regulators

Filed under:What will Google do with data about your fitness activity and sleep patterns?Antitrust regulators and consumer advocacy groups are increasing their scrutiny of Google’s planned acquisition of fitness tracker firm Fitbit.Google announced it was buying Fitbit last year and said it hoped to complete the deal some time in 2020. But it’s possible the acquisition will be delayed over fears about the search giant’s increased access to sensitive data from Fitbit’s hardware, including users’ heart rates, their fitness activity, and their sleep patterns.The EU has sent 60-page...

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James Vincent
Jul 3
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Goldman Sachs releases new font you’re not allowed to criticize Goldman Sachs with

Goldman Sachs releases new font you’re not allowed to criticize Goldman Sachs with

Filed under:‘The User may not use the Licensed Font Software to disparage Goldman Sachs’Investment bank Goldman Sachs has released its very own typeface: an inoffensive set of sans-serif fonts dubbed . But in the spirit of bankers everywhere, these fonts come with a catch in the contract. As their license , you’re free to use Goldman Sans for just about anything you like so long as you don’t use it to criticize Goldman Sachs.Just by downloading the package of fonts, you agree to these terms and conditions. And although Goldman Sans is nominally a free font, Goldman Sachs retains complete...

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James Vincent
Jun 25
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‘Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over’ shortcut makes it easy to record police

‘Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over’ shortcut makes it easy to record police

Filed under:It’s free to download and takes just a few minutes to set upAs protests against racial police violence have spread across the US, we’ve seen how video can help identify misconduct by law enforcement. But such evidence isn’t just useful at a protest, but during all sorts of routine interactions with the police, including traffic stops. That’s why the “I’m getting pulled over” exists.The program dims your phone, pauses your music, and starts recordingOnce you load this (free) shortcut onto your iPhone, all you need to do is say “Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over” and it will...

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James Vincent
Jun 17
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Nvidia’s AI recreates Pac-Man from scratch just by watching it being played

Nvidia’s AI recreates Pac-Man from scratch just by watching it being played

Filed under:No coding requiredNvidia is best known for its graphics cards, but the company conducts some serious research into artificial intelligence, too. For its , Nvidia researchers taught an AI system to recreate the game of Pac-Man simply by watching it being played.There’s no coding involved, no pre-rendered images for the software to draw on. The AI model is simply fed visual data of the game in action along with the accompanying controller inputs and then recreates it frame by frame from this information. The resulting game is playable by humans, and Nvidia says it will be...

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James Vincent
May 22
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Amazon deploys AI ‘distance assistants’ to notify warehouse workers if they get too close

Amazon deploys AI ‘distance assistants’ to notify warehouse workers if they get too close

Filed under:TV screens give workers live feedback on social distancingAmazon, which is currently being for allegedly failing to protect workers from COVID-19, has unveiled a new AI tool it says will help employees follow social distancing rules.The company’s “” combines a TV screen, depth sensors, and AI-enabled camera to track employees’ movements and give them feedback in real time. When workers come closer than six feet to one another, circles around their feet flash red on the TV, indicating to employees that they should move to a safe distance apart. The devices are self-contained,...

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James Vincent
Jun 16
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Google, Facebook, and Twitter to produce regular reports on coronavirus disinformation for the EU

Google, Facebook, and Twitter to produce regular reports on coronavirus disinformation for the EU

Filed under:To beat the pandemic you need to tackle the infodemicThe EU is stepping up efforts to combat online disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, produce monthly reports containing “detailed data” on how they are combatting fake news about COVID-19 on their platforms.Google, Facebook, and Twitter are the prime targets of this campaign, and the three companies told The Verge they would be complying with the EU’s requests. Exactly what steps they will take, though, and when they might start producing reports is unknown.Tackling misinformation from the anti-vaccine movement will...

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James Vincent
Jun 11
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Reddit and Twitter join the fight against US demands for visa applicants’ online handles

Reddit and Twitter join the fight against US demands for visa applicants’ online handles

Filed under:The companies say their users have a right to anonymityReddit and Twitter have filed in a lawsuit against the US government, which challenges the requirement that nearly all visa applicants submit their social media handles for scrutiny.The companies argue that this requirement will “unquestionably chill a vast quantity of speech” and that it “violates the First Amendment rights to speak anonymously and associate privately.”The demand from the State Department will “unquestionably chill a vast quantity of speech”“Those guarantees are deeply rooted in this nation’s history, which...

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James Vincent
Jun 1
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