Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week.
US Boffins attempt to resurrect physiognomy using AI
Physiognomy, the practice of using someone’s facial features in an attempt to understand their character, is a pseudo-science that has been in and out of favour since the ancient Greeks. Now debunked as nonsense, it last came to prominence in the 19th Century following the invention of photography when it was used predominantly to study police mugshots to see if criminals could be identified from their facial features.
Recently, however, scientists at Harrisburg University in the USA have begun using a combination of artificial intelligence, facial recognition, data analytics and cognitive science to investigate the faces of criminals once again. In their paper, the team say that their algorithm can identify criminals using facial expressions with 80% accuracy.
This has caused an outcry in academia and on Twitter, and with many leading academics opposed to the study, the scientific journal, Springer Nature, has cancelled the paper’s publication.
China rules the skies
Following the launch of a 35th satellite, China now has the largest and most advanced GPS network on the planet. The Beidou network, as it is known, not only has more GPS satellites than the US, Europe and Russia, it is also capable of serving data to more countries, especially over south-east Asia.
It is now seen as a major competitor for the US GPS network, whose global dominance is beginning to decline. The Chinese network has already signed up Pakistan and Taiwan as customers and is planning to sign up around a hundred more, eventually providing services for half the world’s countries. Russia and Europe, meanwhile, are a long way behind in the development of their own GPS networks.
Intel’s new bag of chips
Intel has unveiled its new 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors. Nicknamed ‘Cooper Lake’, they are designed for deep learning, mission-critical apps, virtual machine density, in-memory database and analytics-intensive workloads.
They enable faster development and speed up AI and analytics processes run in datacentres, networks and edge environments. They also enable AI to be deployed more widely on standard CPUs, making it easier for more customers to deploy recommendation engine, language modelling, image classification and speech recognition apps.
According to the company, the processor performs common workloads at almost twice the speed as the average 5-year-old chip found in datacentres and even faster on virtual machines.
China building robo-taxis
Didi Chuxing might not be a name you are familiar with, but the Apple backed, Chinese Uber equivalent says that by 2030, it will be operating over a million self-driving taxis. Its intention is to provide ride-hailing services to customers living in areas where getting a human-driven taxi is not so easy.
With a billion-dollar investment from Apple and half a billion from Softbank, the company has been working alongside Chinese vehicle manufacturer BAIC Group to develop a customised self-driving taxi that can help it fulfil its big ambitions. These are already at the road testing stage and have been tested on both US and Chinese public roads. While perfecting one robo-taxi is a challenge in itself, building a million of them in ten years is quite another.
Apple, meanwhile, already has an interest in driverless vehicles and has developed and road-tested its own model in California.
Microsoft 365 boosts document security
Microsoft has added a new security feature to Microsoft 365. Called Safe Documents, it’s designed to check untrusted files for malware and automatically scans any downloaded files when they are opened in Protected View. To do this, the file is uploaded to the Microsoft Defender ATP which searches for threats using a database of billions of live data points.
One of the major concerns with downloaded files is that many employees automatically click on ‘enable editing’ before viewing the document or scanning it using built-in antivirus. To overcome this, Safe Documents now carries out the scanning on your behalf. To ensure users don’t take the document out of Protected View too early, ‘enable editing’ is disabled until the scan is finished and the file is verified as safe to open.
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