Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week.
Don’t let the bedbugs bite
Bedbugs are bad for the hotel business; they can leave a trail of poor ratings and even lawsuits in their wake. Despite this, in 2016, 80% of US hotels had suffered an infestation – much of it caused by travellers bringing the tiny insects in with them on their clothes. The costs and losses amounted to around £5,000 per infestation.
Thankfully, UK-based business, Spotta, has used new technology to provide a more effective solution. It has invented a clever device called a Spotta Pod which uses pheromones to lure and capture pests soon after arrival. What’s unique about this form of trap, however, is its use of technology. Once the bugs have entered the trap, its in-built sensors use an algorithm to identify the precise species. This information, together with an image taken by the device’s camera, is immediately emailed to the hotel where the pod can be sealed and the offending critters sent to Spotta for elimination. In this way, infestations are prevented rather than remedied.
AI gets street cred
AI is hitting the streets of London to help the city become more environmentally friendly. An army of IoT street cameras are being fixed to lamp posts all across the capital; using AI and machine learning technologies, they will count how many and what type of vehicles are in use and the number of passengers on board.
What’s the aim? Congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions are all problems that London is keen to eradicate. By 2041 the city wants four out of five journeys to be made by cycling, walking or public transport. To help with this, the data the cameras are producing will help developers to improve street design, create better transport networks and spend money where it will have the most beneficial impact. With an astonishing 98% accuracy, the new cameras can do the counting far more effectively than humans with clickers and do so 24/7. They are also considerably less expensive.
AI am a DJ
The list of human jobs that can be replaced by artificial intelligence is getting longer. Now even the radio disk jockey seems set to disappear into the annals of history. Well, it is doing at one of the USA’s biggest networks. Indeed, iHeartRadio is set to replace hundreds of its staff with AI, including employees in sales and marketing, programming and customer support. As for the swarm of DJs under contract across its many local radio stations, their job of collating and mixing tracks will be done by an intelligent machine. That friendly voice coming out of the speaker will still be human for the time being – but as a single host can deliver a show played across a multitude of local stations, not so many will be needed in future. Looks like Max Headroom is heading for a comeback – watch out Chris Evans.
Google Maps – not so artificially intelligent
Google Maps looks like one of the greatest technological achievements of the modern age. Almost instantaneously, it can tell us where we are and work out the best route to where we want to go. Not only can it do that for various types of transport; it can tell us all sorts of other information at the same time, like the nearest café or petrol station. It seems like a very clever tool. But don’t be fooled.
When it comes to telling us where a traffic jam is, it does so by tracking users with slow-moving mobile phones along a route. If enough of them are seemingly slow or at a standstill, it predicts that there is some kind of traffic hold up. This makes it fairly easy to pull the wool over Google’s eyes, as one German performance artist with a sense of humour recently did. Carting 99 mobile phones, all logged into Google Maps, Simon Weckert proceeded to traipse slowly around the streets of Berlin. Everywhere he went, Google Maps indicated that there was a traffic problem.
Twitter and Facebook get egg on their faces
You would think companies like Twitter and Facebook that employ some of the world’s leading anti-hack experts and spend untold millions on security would be impervious to hacking themselves. Well, not so. On Friday last week, Facebook’s Twitter account got hacked and taken over by a group calling itself Our Mine. It even went as far as posting on the account to let the world know about its own security services.
Of course, it also managed to have a laugh at Facebook’s expense, but perhaps the biggest laugh was at Twitter – after all, it was Facebook’s Twitter account that was hacked. Embarrassingly for both companies, the message read, ‘Well, even Facebook is hackable but at least their security is better than Twitter.’ Of course, it’s a lesson for us all – if the big guns are vulnerable, everyone is. Time to beef up your own social media security.
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