Tech Drama

  • Chinese ambassador: UK ban on Huawei would damage trust
    by Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor on July 6, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Liu Xiaoming also defends Beijing’s stance on Hong Kong, warning UK not to interfere in China’s affairsChina’s ambassador to the UK has said a ban on the Chinese tech company Huawei from playing a role in developing the UK’s 5G network would damage Chinese trust in the UK and its belief that the UK can run a foreign policy independent of the US.Speaking at a virtual press briefing in London, Liu Xiaoming warned Boris Johnson “you cannot have a golden era if you treat China as an enemy”. Continue reading…

  • Extend US Facebook boycott to Europe, campaigners urge
    by Alex Hern UK technology editor on July 6, 2020 at 10:25 am

    Calls follow Mark Zuckerberg’s dismissal of anti-hate-speech campaign in meeting with staffCampaigners are calling for an advertising boycott of Facebook in the US to be extended to Europe, after its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, dismissed the effects of the campaign in a meeting with staff.A growing number of companies have halted advertising on Facebook after criticism that the platform was not doing enough to counter hate speech on its sites. Continue reading…

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake’s creators on updating one of the world’s most-loved games
    by Steve Boxer on July 6, 2020 at 8:00 am

    Producer Yoshinori Kitase and co-director Naoki Hamaguchi describe the responsibilities and opportunities of recreating a stone-cold classicSquare Enix’s modern transformation of the 1997 classic Final Fantasy VII had players marvelling earlier this year. In addition to the graphical glow-up and modern-feeling changes to the game’s systems, Final Fantasy VII Remake added substance and emotional depth to much-loved characters such as Cloud, Tifa and Aerith, and left fans puzzling over the meanings of protagonist Cloud’s cryptic visions and the game’s thoroughly baffling ending. Related: Final Fantasy VII Remake review – a classic game reaches new heights Continue reading…

  • TikTok may be ‘data collection service disguised as social media’, Liberal senator says
    by Paul Karp on July 6, 2020 at 7:28 am

    Jim Molan’s warning to Australian users comes after Nationals MP said app ‘used and abused’ by China’s Communist partyPopular video messaging app TikTok may be “a data collection service disguised as social media” that requires greater scrutiny by Australian users, the deputy chair of the Foreign Interference through Social Media inquiry has said.Liberal senator Jim Molan made the comments to Guardian Australia after Nationals MP George Christensen accused TikTok of being “used and abused” by the Chinese Communist party and called for it to be banned. The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has also urged caution on people handing over their data to the app. Continue reading…

  • The Guardian view on Facebook and democracy: real and present danger | Editorial
    by Editorial on July 5, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    Political advertising is banned from being broadcast on television or radio. Unless Facebook changes, it may be time to extend this prohibition to social mediaIn every political debate since Facebook began to dominate democracy, the company has placed itself on the wrong side of history. The social media firm cannot be reformed from within because its business model profits from hosting bomb-throwing circuses of hate, humbug and hogwash. The platform harvests users’ personal data to algorithmically recommend content but can’t seem to help steering people towards vilifying one another while keeping their attention. It is not good for society, but it is good for Facebook.That apparently is fine for the company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who is worth $85bn. Consider the latest ugly episode in the firm’s life. After some of the world’s biggest brands boycotted Facebook over its refusal to ban racist and violent content, the company reached for the usual bromide of reassurance that the matter was being taken seriously. Internally it was a very different story. The boycotters, Mr Zuckerberg said, would be back and his company was “not going to change our policies … because of a threat to a small percent of our revenue”. Continue reading…

  • Boris Johnson now has ‘sound reasons’ to keep Huawei out of UK 5G
    by Andrew Sparrow on July 5, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    Former MI6 chief said US sanctions on Huawei meant Chinese telecoms firm now posed security risks to UKBoris Johnson now has “sound technical reasons” to reverse his decision to allow the Chinese firm Huawei to play a role in building the UK’s 5G infrastructure, a former head of MI6 said on Sunday.Sir John Sawers said new US sanctions imposed on the company meant that allowing Huawei to expand its grip on the UK telecoms market posed security risks that did not apply when the government announced a compromise solution in January giving it up to 35% of the market. Continue reading…

  • Jim Steyer: the man who took on Mark Zuckerberg
    by Andrew Anthony on July 5, 2020 at 7:00 am

    With 800 firms now joining the Facebook advertising boycott, the man whose idea it was explains how the company could easily clean up its act With more than two billion users Facebook is bigger than Christianity,” says Stanford law professor Jim Steyer. “Their ability to amplify hate speech or white supremacy or racist messages is so extraordinary because of the scale of the platform.”It’s a typically bold statement from the man who set up the Stop Hate for Profit (SHFP) campaign calling on advertisers to withdraw from Facebook for the month of July. More than 500 firms have joined the temporary boycott, including Coca-Cola, Adidas and Unilever. Continue reading…

  • Facebook is out of control. If it were a country it would be North Korea
    by Carole Cadwalladr on July 5, 2020 at 7:00 am

    If the combined might of brands like Unilever and Coca-Cola don’t scare Mark Zuckerberg, who can hold the social media platform to account?There is no power on this earth that is capable of holding Facebook to account. No legislature, no law enforcement agency, no regulator. Congress has failed. The EU has failed. When the Federal Trade Commission fined it a record $5bn for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, its stock price actually went up.Which is what makes this moment so interesting and, possibly, epochal. If the boycott of Facebook by some of the world’s biggest brands – Unilever, Coca-Cola, Starbucks – succeeds, it will be because it has targeted the only thing that Facebook understands: its bottom line. And if it fails, that will be another sort of landmark. Continue reading…

  • Through the Darkest of Times review – join the anti-Nazi resistance
    by Simon Parkin on July 4, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    (Paintbucket Games/HandyGames; PC, Mac, iOS, Android)This captivating game, in which you coordinate a group of anti-Nazi activists in 1930s Berlin, is an essential reminder of how fascism takes root and growsThe full and final exposure of atrocities perpetrated by the Nazi regime during the second world war inoculated Europeans against fascism’s treacherous appeal. “Lest we forget” became a pledge to not only remember the dead, but to also remain fiercely vigilant for the creeping circumstances that led to those deaths. Four score years on and, with fascism rising across Europe and totalitarian-adjacent behaviour from western leaders (the undermining of the free press; the villainising of immigrants; a government rich on spin, poor on meaningful accountability), it seems the vaccine is weakening. Through the Darkest of Times, a strategy game from a Berlin-based indie studio, seeks to provide a top-up dose.The game opens in Berlin in 1933, a socially, politically and culturally progressive city laid low by the Great Depression, now the seat of Hitler’s power. You gather a small group of concerned citizens from different economic and political backgrounds, united by their disgust. The game advances in weekly “turns”, in which you must allocate team members to a range of activities – recruiting supporters, gathering funds, buying illicit supplies from sympathetic shop owners or daubing anti-government slogans on the city walls – according to their skills. You then watch as each action plays out. Success will increase your clandestine group’s power and influence, but if you’ve chosen poorly there’s a good chance your members could be spotted, followed and killed. Continue reading…

  • Struggling for shut-eye in lockdown? Sleep-tracking devices may help
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on July 4, 2020 at 8:00 am

    The lowdown on free apps, sensors you wear and a mat you slip under your mattressMonths in covd-19-induced lockdown have for many of us taken a toll on our sleep. From the late-night scrolling through news to the bizarre dreams and midnight wake-ups worrying, the stress of the coronavirus pandemic has been wreaking havoc on our collective sleeping habits.A recent survey found two in five people in the UK have experienced sleep disturbance. And with a good night’s rest considered an important part of overall health and wellbeing, you may have decided to start tracking yours. But where do you start? Here, with a quick list of good sleepmonitors from free apps to dedicated sleep sensors. Continue reading…

  • What should I do with old electronic devices?
    on July 4, 2020 at 6:00 am

    I found laptops and cameras in a lockdown clearout and am wondering if they can be put to good useEvery week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.During my lockdown clearout, I found lots of old electronics such as laptops and cameras. Is the tip the best option for them or can they be put to good use somehow? Continue reading…

  • Banking apps: what do they offer – and how is your cash protected?
    by Rupert Jones on July 4, 2020 at 6:00 am

    A string of online services provide products similar to banks, but they may not be regulated in the same wayWhen the Financial Conduct Authority ordered the UK arm of payments firm Wirecard to freeze customer funds, hundreds of thousands of people who had probably never even heard of the company suddenly found they could not access their cash. Customers of several UK banking and payment services, including FairFX, Pockit, U Account and Anna Money, were told that their money was caught up in the regulator’s action against the firm, leaving some unable to buy food or pay bills. Continue reading…

  • ‘The pinnacle of storytelling’: reader reviews of The Last of Us Part II
    by Katherine Purvis and Guardian readers on July 3, 2020 at 10:30 am

    ‘A phenomenal follow-up’ or ‘a boring slog’? Guardian readers have their say about the hit video games sequelWarning: spoilers aheadBeyond being one of the most visually and technically stunning games, the story forces the player to face the consequences of choices made in the first game and refuses to shy away from the pain of those choices. The main character and the player come to the realisation that a cycle of perpetual violence is the result of vengeance and only forgiveness can help us heal. While focusing on issues like transgender rights and homophobia, PTSD, loyalty, and survival, the game also gives representation to a multitude of different women, with varying personalities, motives, and dimensions. A phenomenal follow-up to its iconic original. Erin McDonagh, 26, student and retail associate, Toronto Continue reading…

  • Mark Zuckerberg: advertisers’ boycott of Facebook will end ‘soon enough’
    by Dominic Rushe and agencies on July 2, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    We will not change our policies or approach, says ZuckerbergMore than 500 companies are protesting against hate speechMark Zuckerberg has dismissed the threat of a punishing boycott from major advertisers pressing Facebook to take a stronger stand on hate speech and said they will be back “soon enough”.According to a report by tech news site the Information, the Facebook founder and CEO sees the boycott from big brands including Starbucks and Coca-Cola as a PR issue rather than a serious threat and is not planning a major response. “We’re not gonna change our policies or approach on anything because of a threat to a small percent of our revenue, or to any percent of our revenue,” he said, according to the Information. Continue reading…

  • Signs of the Sojourner review – playing cards in faraway places
    by Jay Castello on July 2, 2020 at 8:30 am

    PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch; Echodog GamesNavigating a world of wonder, an intrepid trader encounters a succession of strangers in this engaging narrative card gameCard games typically pit players against each other. Signs of the Sojourner is more like matching dominoes, asking players to lay out their cards to map conversations with those they meet along the road. The game follows a travelling trader who follows their mother’s routes after her death, crisscrossing the continent to bring goods home to their village shop. Every stop is a chance to meet new people, take in the sights, and help others out.The place descriptions are the game’s high point, evoking that traveller’s high of feeling out of place and full of wonder. This world is tough, ravaged by climate change, but its inhabitants are compassionate and resourceful. Events happen according to a calendar schedule, whether you’re there to witness them or not. You can’t do everything, but locals will chat about what you missed – and the game lasts only a few hours, so you are welcome to explore again in a fresh save. Continue reading…

  • Dear Australia: livestreamed theatrical dispatches from a world overdue for a reckoning
    by Jinghua Qian on July 2, 2020 at 2:40 am

    Playwriting Australia’s three-night monologue marathon is an exploration of identity and brutal history in a time of concurrent apocalypsesPlaywriting Australia promoted its new suite of 50 monologues, livestreamed over three nights this July, as “a striking moment of national celebration and reflection”. But the stories are also suffused with grief and desperation, with anxiety and impatience. Addressed as “postcards” to the nation, the monologues serve as dispatches from the pandemic, reflecting on this peculiar moment while also evincing the digitised intimacy that has become one of its signatures.Thursday night’s program of 18 works includes some monologues that take the brief quite literally and others with a more oblique approach. Many monologues refer directly to lockdowns, and there are two in which the actor personifies the virus itself. Each playwright comes at their chosen topic in very different ways, but colonisation, racism and solidarity are recurring themes, along with a more general sense that the world is overdue for a reckoning. Continue reading…

  • New rightwing free speech site Parler gets in a tangle over … free speech
    by Poppy Noor on July 1, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    The social network bills itself as a ‘no censorship’ bastion – but it’s already had to remind users what is and isn’t allowedIn recent weeks, Donald Trump has started having his tweets factchecked and published with disclaimers when they contain misleading information. Katie Hopkins, the woman who once compared migrants to cockroaches and called for a “final solution” in relation to Muslims, has been banned from Twitter. And a subreddit called r/The_Donald has been banned after Reddit updated its hate speech guidelines – Reddit said in a statement that “mocking people with physical disabilities” and “describing a racial minority as sub-human and inferior to the racial majority” will not be allowed. Related: Twitter closes Graham Linehan account after trans comment Continue reading…

  • Sex Robots & Vegan Meat by Jenny Kleeman review – the future of food, birth and death?
    by Fiona Sturges on July 1, 2020 at 6:30 am

    A pleasingly sceptical investigation into the innovations that could change the way we eat, have sex and dieIn a plain factory building in the San Marcos hills, north of San Diego in California, a technological revolution is under way. There, a team of AI experts are developing a new brand of woman that can smile, flutter her eyelids, make small-talk and remember the names of your siblings. Harmony – for that is her name – is a cut above your average sex doll. More than merely a masturbatory aid, she is a friend, lover and potential life partner.In Sex Robots & Vegan Meat, Jenny Kleeman examines the innovations that promise to change the way we love, eat, reproduce and die in the future. “What you are about to read is not science fiction,” she warns in her preface. “We are on the brink of an age when technology will redefine … the fundamental elements of our existence.” First on her list of apocalyptic developments is the production of AI-enabled, animatronic sexbots, which, depending on your viewpoint, provide warmth and comfort to socially isolated men or allow misogynist incels to live out their rape fantasies. Her research takes her to Abyss Creations, the throbbing heart of the industry where hyperrealistic dolls are created complete with custom-made hair, nipples and vaginal inserts. Continue reading…

  • Pokémon Go creator joins Punchdrunk theatre for interactive venture
    by Keza MacDonald on June 30, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Immersive theatre company and augmented-reality game developer Niantic team up to explore ideas that fuse ‘physical and digital worlds’Immersive theatre company Punchdrunk, best known for its Macbeth production Sleep No More, and augmented-reality game developer Niantic, creator of augmented-reality smartphone games Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, are teaming up to create “interactive experiences”, the companies announced today.They are not working on extensions to existing games and productions – so don’t expect an interactive stage production of Pokémon Go, or a new video game adaptation of The Drowned Man. Instead the companies will be working on new projects, with aims to “reinvent storytelling for a 21st-century audience and further expand the horizon of interactive entertainment”. Continue reading…

  • As a kid I loved Pro Evolution Soccer 5 – now it’s won me a new comedy audience | Bilal Zafar
    by Bilal Zafar on June 30, 2020 at 5:00 am

    My standup career stalled when the pandemic arrived. But I get my kicks as a football manager on Twitch – and giving each player a storylineI began 2020 full of optimism, excited about returning to the Edinburgh fringe in August with a new show and feeling quite good about my standup. Then the pandemic arrived. As well as worrying about the health of family and friends, all my work disappeared overnight. The majority of my income is from performing standup in clubs around the country. On 1 April, it was announced that the Edinburgh fringe was cancelled. (Yes, they did it on April Fools’ Day.) Everything I had been carefully planning and working towards vanished.Lots of comedians perform live on social media. I’ve live-streamed on Facebook, which only reached my cousins and a bunch of strangers, and I tried Instagram Live, where people would join by accident and immediately leave. Since lockdown began, I’ve been asked to do a few online gigs. They’re quite nice but doing my standup material to complete silence is what happens in my anxiety dreams. Continue reading…

  • Telephone review – dial S for stranger in a night of unexpected connections
    by Miriam Gillinson on June 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    Available onlineConey’s entrancing combination of storytelling and shared conversation celebrates the history of telecommunicationsThe range of theatrical experiences emerging online is truly impressive. So far, I’ve tracked down a missing woman, been pulled into a whistleblower’s shady investigations and summoned up storms alongside a Shakespearean spirit. But Coney’s latest show, Telephone, is in a whole new genre: an entrancingly low-key combination of storytelling and shared conversation which explores – and marvels at – the history of telecommunications.Artistic director Tassos Stevens begins the show by inviting us to the Coney Bar, where we’re encouraged to do a bit of “chair dancing” as music tinkles in the background. After a few gentle smiles and wiggles, Stevens produces a washcloth and asks us to imagine the theatre curtain rising. From then, Stevens still sits at his desk chair yet the atmosphere feels different. The collective will of imagination – and shared effort of communication – is beginning to work its magic. Continue reading…

  • How hate speech campaigners found Facebook’s weak spot
    by Alex Hern on June 29, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    The social network’s crisis has been a long time in the making and shows no sign of going awayIt took less than two hours for Facebook to react and it did so for good reason.At 5pm on Friday, Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, with a portfolio of products that ranges from Marmite to Vaseline, suddenly announced it was pulling all adverts from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the US. Continue reading…

  • Down the rabbit hole: how QAnon conspiracies thrive on Facebook
    by Julia Carrie Wong on June 25, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Guardian investigation finds more than 3m aggregate followers and members support QAnon on Facebook, and their numbers are growingIn early May, QAnon braced for a purge. Facebook had removed a small subset – five pages, six groups and 20 profiles – of the community on the social network, and as word of the bans spread, followers of Q began preparing for a broader sweep.Some groups changed their names, substituting “17” for “Q” (the 17th letter of the alphabet); others shared links to back-up accounts on alternative social media platforms with looser rules. Continue reading…

  • Withings Sleep Analyzer review: advanced sleep tracking made easy
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on June 25, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Track sleep, heart rate, snoring and even sleep apnoea with a zero-maintenance mat you stick under your mattressSleep tracking has become an important piece of total wellness monitoring, but typically requires strapping devices to your wrist or head. Withings Sleep Analyzer records your sleep and heart rate, plus is one of the first devices to monitor sleep apnoea, all without you needing to attach anything to your person.Instead, the £120 Sleep Analyzer is a sensor-packed slim mat that you slide under your mattress. Once it’s there you simply go to sleep as normal. Continue reading…

  • Seasteading – a vanity project for the rich or the future of humanity?
    by Oliver Wainwright on June 24, 2020 at 11:32 am

    Beloved by Silicon Valley tycoons and tyranny-fearing libertarians, are cities atop the waves Earth’s next frontier?A white steel pole rises out of the sea off the Caribbean coast of Panama, poking above the waves like the funnel of a sunken steamship. Launched into the water last month, this is no shipwreck, but the base of what will soon become a floating home and, in the eyes of its makers, the first step towards building a brave new post-Covid-19 society, out on the open ocean.“Coronavirus is an opportunity to show the world that what we’re building is actually going to be very useful in the future,” says Chad Elwartowski, in a recent video post from his beachside base in Panama. The Michigan-born software engineer turned bitcoin trader is a leading figure in the seasteading movement, a libertarian group dedicated to building independent floating cities on the high seas. Along with the bunker builders and survivalist preppers, their long-held ambitions have been bolstered by the current global pandemic. “No matter if you’re scared of the virus or the reaction to the virus,” he adds, “living out on the ocean will be helpful for these situations.”It is not the first time Elwartowski has attempted to realise his dream of a floating future. In April last year, he and his Thai partner Supranee Thepdet (aka Nadia Summergirl), were forced to flee their first floating home off the coast of Thailand, just moments before it was raided by the Thai navy. They had constructed what they declared to be “the first seastead” 12 nautical miles from Phuket, but the authorities decided that the six metre-wide fibreglass cabin, perched on top of a floating pole, posed a threat to Thailand’s sovereignty. It was an offence punishable by life imprisonment or even the death penalty. “The couple announced on social media declaring their autonomy beyond the jurisdiction of any courts or law of any countries, including Thailand,” said Rear Admiral Vithanarat Kochaseni, adding that they had invited others to join them. “We see such action as deteriorating Thailand’s independence.” Continue reading…

  • The venture capitalist with a Silicon Valley solution for minority-owned businesses
    by Gene Marks on June 23, 2020 at 11:00 am

    A new kind of venture capital fund would use money from the US government to invest in companies that most need itOn first blush a Silicon Valley venture capitalist might not strike you as the first person to turn to when trying to address the racial wealth divide but these days we should take good ideas where we find them.Ash Shrivastav works for Buckhill Capital, a Silicon Valley-based private equity and venture capital firm that specializes in investing in early stage and growth companies and real estate such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, a customer-owned banking platform called Good Money as well as apartment communities from New York to Washington State. Continue reading…

  • Apple iOS 14: new features coming to iPad and iPhone
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on June 22, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    Firm announces latest innovations including for iPad and watch at US conferenceApple WWDC 2020 – as it happened Apple ditches Intel for ARM processors in Mac computers with Big SurApple has announced the latest features heading to user iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches this summer.At the firm’s first virtual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple showed off iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and watch OS 7, due to be released later this year as free updates. Continue reading…

  • Is spyware technology helping governments hack phones?
    by Presented by Anushka Asthana with Stephanie Kirchgaessner; produced by Courtney Yusuf and Nicholas Cox; executive producers Phil Maynard and Nicole Jackson on June 22, 2020 at 2:00 am

    WhatsApp has accused an Israeli spyware company of hacking 1,400 of its users, including journalists, human rights activists and diplomatic officials. As new allegations emerge, Guardian US investigations correspondent Stephanie Kirchgaessner discusses how she first discovered the story In October 2019, the encrypted messaging app WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against a little known Israeli technology company called NSO Group. It accused the group of being responsible for a series of highly sophisticated cyber-attacks on 1,400 of its users, many of them human rights activists, journalists and diplomatic officials. It was the latest twist in a saga that the Guardian’s Stephanie Kirchgaessner had been investigating for months.She tells Anushka Asthana that after working with researchers at the Canadian firm Citizen Lab, which tracks the use of spyware, she believes current and former clients of NSO Group include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. Continue reading…

  • Israeli spyware used to target Moroccan journalist, Amnesty claims
    by Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington on June 21, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    Amnesty alleges phone of Omar Radi in Morocco was infected by NSO’s Pegasus softwareAs NSO Group faced mounting criticism last year that its hacking software was being used illegally against journalists, dissidents and campaigners around the world, the Israeli spyware company unveiled a new policy that it said showed its commitment to human rights.Now an investigation has alleged that another journalist, Omar Radi in Morocco, was targeted with NSO’s Pegasus software and put under surveillance just days after the company made that promise. Continue reading…

  • The best keyboard and mouse for working from home
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on June 20, 2020 at 8:00 am

    From the cheap and cheerful through to the classic or luxury, there’s something for everyoneWith many of us still stuck working at home because of the coronavirus crisis and some employers saying it could be months before they reopen offices, it is time to start seriously thinking about your home set-up and whether it could be more comfortable and efficient. A decent keyboard and mouse could prove a good investment – ensuring your working day takes less of a long-term toll on your joints.With seemingly endless options to choose from, here’s a quick guide to some standouts, from the dirt cheap to the ergonomic. Continue reading…

  • Scott Morrison sends China a signal on cyber-attack – but then fear turns into farce
    by Daniel Hurst on June 20, 2020 at 12:00 am

    The PM’s reluctance to be drawn on details is understandable but the curious way he presented the threat invited questionsIt was a moment of farce just hours after a sombre-sounding Australian prime minister delivered the grim news that a wide range of the nation’s public and private sector organisations “are currently being targeted by a sophisticated state-based cyber actor”.What, journalists wanted to know, did Scott Morrison mean by “currently” experiencing these attacks? Continue reading…

  • Surface Earbuds review: Microsoft’s AirPods rivals
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on June 19, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Novel design blends open-ear but secure fit with good sound, great controls and long battery lifeMicrosoft has finally launched a competitor to Apple’s AirPods and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ with its Surface Earbuds – and they are just a little bit different from the rest.The Surface Earbuds cost £199.99 and only come in grey. Their distinctive design certainly stands out. Continue reading…

  • Cyber-attack Australia: sophisticated attacks from ‘state-based actor’, PM says
    by Daniel Hurst in Canberra on June 19, 2020 at 2:34 am

    Security experts say China, Russia and North Korea are the only countries that fit Australian prime minister Scott Morrison’s description of culpritFollow coronavirus and Australian politics live updates hereA wide range of political and private-sector organisations in Australia have come under cyber-attack carried out by a “sophisticated state-based cyber-actor”, the Australian government has revealed.Scott Morrison, the prime minister, disclosed the far-reaching attacks at a media conference in Canberra on Friday, while the defence minister, Linda Reynolds, declared that malicious cyber-activity was “increasing in frequency, scale, in sophistication and in its impact”. Continue reading…

  • The Protest review – superb set of dramas for the Black Lives Matter movement
    by Arifa Akbar on June 17, 2020 at 11:49 am

    Available onlinePain, anger and everyday racism are examined in this powerful series of short films from the Bush theatreA week ago, the Bush theatre asked six writers for their dramatised responses to the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, the global protests that followed and the state society is in now. These protest plays, curated by Daniel Bailey, are the result of that quickfire commission. Combining political theatre with digital technology, they are available across the Bush’s social media platforms, including Twitter and Instagram, and on YouTube. They range in length from one to nine minutes and are honest, impactful pieces that turn life, as it is happening, into story – and sometimes song. Related: WeRNotVirus review – responses to a pandemic of racism Continue reading…

  • Not just nipples: how Facebook’s AI struggles to detect misinformation
    by Josh Taylor on June 16, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Automated moderation can be a blunt instrument – as users trying to post an image of Aboriginal men in chains discovered“It’s much easier to build an AI system that can detect a nipple than it is to determine what is linguistically hate speech.”The Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made that comment in 2018 when he was discussing how the company tackles content that is deemed inappropriate or, in Facebook terms, judged to be violating community standards. Continue reading…

  • Why the Women’s Engineering Society still has its work cut out after 100 years
    by Emily Rees Koerner on June 16, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Britain gave the world the first official group for female engineers, but still only 12% of the UK’s engineering workforce are womenIn June 1919, seven women came together in London to do something unprecedented: they founded the world’s first Women’s Engineering Society (WES), which survives to this day.The creation of WES was precipitated by the end of the first world war. Thousands of women had entered factories and gained practical engineering training, but the 1919 Restoration of Pre-War Practices Act forced women to hand over their jobs to men returninghome. The society’s founding aims were to protect job opportunities for women in engineering and to ensure training and educational prospects were available to make sure women could enter the field. Continue reading…

  • Why are Google and Apple dictating how European democracies fight coronavirus? | Ieva Ilves
    by Ieva Ilves on June 16, 2020 at 8:00 am

    In Latvia we wanted to harness smartphone technology for contact tracing. We ran into a Silicon Valley-built brick wallCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageThe Covid-19 pandemic has led to a rush by governments, private companies and digital startups to harness and develop the latest technologies in the fight against the spread of the virus.To best meet public health needs, digital technology should be able to trace the spread of the virus, identify dangerous Covid-19 clusters and limit further transmission. The essential goal is to register contacts between potential carriers and those who might be infected. This has led to tech solutions using smartphones to perform the otherwise arduous and labour-intensive task of “contact tracing” – determining who has come into contact with a disease carrier and what should be done when a person has had that contact. Continue reading…

  • PlayStation 5: the video games console is not dead yet
    by Keza MacDonald on June 12, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    As other video games companies move towards Netflix-style streaming and subscription services, Sony has doubled down on a new console. The company’s Simon Rutter explains what the PS5 brings to the tableLast night in a livestreamed broadcast, Sony showed its new video game console, the PlayStation 5, for the first time, along with 28 new games that will be out this year or next. It is a futuristic-looking thing, all white curves and black and blue-LED accents and a touch of mid-00s service robot about it. One version is digital-only, the other comes with a drive for people who prefer to buy games on disc.As cloud-based and Netflix-like subscription services have gained traction in the video game world, the “end of the console” has become a popular conversation point. Two years ago at E3, the yearly video games conference, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer told the Guardian that “we pivoted about three or four years ago to thinking about the gamer first, not the device first … Our focus is on bringing console quality games that you see on TV or PC to any device.” But Sony is doubling down not only on the idea of the games console, of generational technology shifts that make new kinds of games possible, and on the idea of selling a new box by funding games that can only be played on PlayStation 5. Continue reading…

  • Hack-for-hire group targeted climate activists behind #ExxonKnew campaign
    by Emily Holden in Washington on June 11, 2020 at 6:00 am

    The hackers, dubbed ‘Dark Basin’, went after thousands of individuals and hundreds of institutions, a report findsA global hack-for-hire group extensively targeted American activists campaigning against ExxonMobil for withholding information about the climate crisis, according to a new report. The hackers, dubbed “Dark Basin”, went after thousands of individuals and hundreds of institutions on six continents, including advocacy organizations, journalists, elected officials and businesses, said the Citizen Lab, a Toronto-based digital espionage research group.  Continue reading…

  • Instant Influencer: James Charles’s beauty vlogging competition is as absorbing as it is transparent
    by Jared Richards on June 9, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Finally, a reality show in which contestants don’t have to feign interest in finding love and can be honest about the end goalInstant Influencer, a new competition to find YouTube’s next viral make-up vlogger, might be 2020’s most transparent reality show. Even for those completely horrified by every second word in that sentence, it’s a fascinating insight into a billion-dollar industry – both a completely vapid and endlessly interesting watch, bingeable in a night. Forget MasterChef: who knew video editing to a time limit could be so suspenseful?For once, contestants don’t have to feign interest in finding love and can be honest about the end goal: selling #spon on social media. Again and again across its four episodes and without any hint of self-awareness, the six contestants say they need to prove their talents as an influencer and an artist, always in that order. It would be depressing if it wasn’t so absorbing. Continue reading…

  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review: four months with the folding phone
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on June 5, 2020 at 6:00 am

    After 70-plus folds a day for four months, the screen is pristine, the hinge is smooth, and it’s still the most interesting phone of the yearWhen Samsung released its Galaxy Z Flip, a phone with a screen that folds in half, the big question was whether the technology was really ready for use outside a lab. I spent the last four months with it to find out.Samsung’s second attempt at a smartphone with a folding screen, the Galaxy Z Flip promised one thing above all: a big, tall display that fits in a pocket. Continue reading…

  • Hackers targeting UK research labs amid vaccine race – GCHQ chief
    by Dan Sabbagh Defence and security editor on June 4, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    China among hostile states believed to be trying to steal secrets during pandemicCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageBritain’s intelligence agencies are working urgently to prevent hackers from hostile states, including China, trying to steal the secrets of a potential coronavirus vaccine, the head of GCHQ has said.Jeremy Fleming said hackers were targeting the UK’s health infrastructure and some of its world-leading research labs, often by using simple techniques. Continue reading…

  • Technique Critique: indulgently addictive web series dissects your favourite performances
    by Clem Bastow on June 2, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Is that accent dire? Is that disguise realistic? Could that car chase have really happened like that? This YouTube series brings in the expertsTo put on an accent is to invite criticism. We all remember those performances in which an actor has taken a flying leap at mimicking a linguistic form that is not their own and either nailed it, or sailed so far off the side of the balance beam they’ve landed on a broken ankle. In the former camp, in my books: Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker (it’s like she was born in Australia!) and Ben Schnetzer in Pride (he’s not from Northern Ireland?!). In the latter camp, well, you should hear my “Anthony Newley’s ‘Oirish’ accent in Doctor Dolittle” impression. That’s why when Wired teamed up with the dialect coach Eric Singer for Technique Critique, a 2016 video essay in which Singer assessed the performances of 32 actors doing accents, it was like Christmas for me.  Continue reading…

  • Apple 13in MacBook Pro review 2020: going out on a high?
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on June 1, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Apple perfects its current laptop design, with great power, battery life and now an excellent keyboardThe 2020 13in MacBook Pro is the last of Apple’s laptops to get its new and improved keyboard, banishing various issues to the rear view mirror and essentially perfecting this current design.Despite both sharing the same name, the 2020 13in MacBook Pro is split into two lines: a cheaper version starting at £1,299 with two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports and older eighth-generation Intel chips; and a more powerful version starting at £1,799 with four USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports and the latest 10th-generation Intel chips. Continue reading…

  • Twitter taking on Trump’s lies? About time too | John Naughton
    by John Naughton on May 30, 2020 at 3:00 pm

    The platform’s moves to counter the president’s disinformation may be too little, too late, but it’s somethingIn addition to washing your hands while singing the first two verses of The Internationale, it might be a good time also to clean out your Twitter feed. According to a recent report of a research study by Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems, about 45% of the false narratives about Covid-19 on Twitter are sent by bots.The study examined more than 100 false Covid narratives (including the 5G conspiracy theories) pushed in over 200m tweets since January. If you’re a reader of this newspaper, the likelihood is that you never saw any of these. But that’s because you are – like me – cheerfully encased in your own filter bubble. I write with feeling on this matter, because on the morning after the Brexit referendum I went through the list of about 800 people whom I follow on Twitter, and I could not locate a single one who seemed to have been in favour of Brexit in the run-up to the vote. The shock felt by them after the vote was palpable. But it was also a salutary reminder that anyone who uses social media lives in a digital echo chamber. Continue reading…

  • Why Twitter should ban Donald Trump | Julia Carrie Wong
    by Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco on May 28, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    Trump has used and abused the platform for long enough. And his latest executive order is just another distractionThe president’s executive order on social media will kick off a heated debate over free speech on the internet that will, in all likelihood, lead to nothing. This manufactured dispute is a distraction for the media, and it will almost certainly be an effective one. It would be in everyone’s interest – including its own – if Twitter pulled the plug on this specious debate, banned Trump for repeated and egregious violations of its rules, and helped us all focus on what’s more important.More than 100,000 people in the United States have died of Covid-19, more than any other nation in the world. The figure is probably an undercount.More than 1.7 million people in the US have had confirmed cases of Covid-19, more than any other nation in the world. The figure is almost certainly an undercount.The US federal government completely botched the rollout of testing for the coronavirus at the beginning of the pandemic, and continues to lag in providing adequate testing for its populace. Continue reading…

  • Donald Trump’s move against Twitter factchecking could backfire
    by Alex Hern on May 28, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    President’s planned weakening of social media law may not have effect he thinks it willDonald Trump’s apparent plans to punish Twitter for appending a factcheck to his claims that mail-in ballots would be “substantially fraudulent” could reshape the web – but not necessarily in the ways he or his supporters intend.Trump’s expected avenue of attack focuses on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That law underpins much of how the internet is regulated in the United States, by effectively creating the hybrid publisher/platform model that has become the norm for social media companies worldwide. Continue reading…

  • New vulnerability allows users to ‘jailbreak’ iPhones
    by Alex Hern on May 26, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Exploit is first to work on fully-updated devices for four years and could be used maliciouslyA newly discovered vulnerability in iPhones allows users to bypass Apple’s built-in limitations – known as “jailbreaking” – including, for the first time in four years, on new devices.The release of a functional jailbreak for iOS 13.5, the latest version of the iPhone operating system, represents a breakthrough for the small community of users who rely on jailbreaks for everything from serious security research to simply running games and software that Apple does not allow on iPhones. Continue reading…

  • Huge rise in hacking attacks on home workers during lockdown
    by Jasper Jolly on May 24, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    Cybercriminals are exploiting fears and chaos caused by coronavirus, says security firmCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageHackers have launched a wave of cyber-attacks trying to exploit British people working from home, as the coronavirus lockdown forces people to use often unfamiliar computer systems.The proportion of attacks targeting home workers increased from 12% of malicious email traffic before the UK’s lockdown began in March to more than 60% six weeks later, according to to data from cybersecurity company Darktrace provided to the Guardian. Continue reading…

  • Fraud, fine food and old tights | Brief letters
    by Letters on May 22, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    EasyJet hack | Johnson’s U-turn | Tights | Albino pheasants | Favourite restaurantsYour article (EasyJet hacking attack: are you affected and what should you do?, 19 May) on dealing with a suspicious phone call about fraudulent transactions suggests: “End the call and then phone the bank or card company back to check it was legitimate.” What is missing is the fact that fraudsters can “spoof” the dial tone, hold on to the line and pretend to be the bank. The correct procedure is firstly to phone a friend, who the fraudsters cannot imitate, to check the line is actually clear.Geoff ThomasMerthyr Tudful• Only the Guardian and one other paper put Johnson’s U-turn on the front page (Johnson forced to drop NHS surcharge for migrant health workers, 21 May). All those owned by Tory-funding billionaires published distraction. They couldn’t have avoided that this happened not from a change of heart but for political expediency.Tony VinicombeShoreham, West Sussex Continue reading…

  • Facebook expects half of employees to work remotely over next five to 10 years
    by Mario Koran and agencies on May 21, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    Mark Zuckerberg says company will embrace permanent remote work after lockdowns liftFacebook will permanently embrace remote work, even after coronavirus lockdowns ease, Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Thursday, accelerating the tech sector’s geographic diversification away from its home in Silicon Valley.The CEO said the world’s largest social network would start “aggressively opening up remote hiring”, expecting that about half its workforce would work remotely over the next five to 10 years. Continue reading…

  • Oliver Letwin, the unlikely merchant of technological doom
    by Rachel Cooke on February 23, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    After battling to stop a no-deal Brexit, the ex-MP has written a modern fable, Apocalypse How?, warning of the catastrophe our tech dependence could causeOliver Letwin’s strange and somewhat alarming new book begins at midnight on Thursday 31 December 2037. In Swindon – stay with me! – a man called Aameen Patel is working the graveyard shift at Highways England’s traffic HQ when his computer screen goes blank, and the room is plunged into darkness. He tries to report these things to his superiors, but can get no signal on his mobile. What’s going on? Looking at the motorway from the viewing window by his desk, he observes, not an orderly stream of traffic, but a dramatic pile-up of crashed cars and lorries – at which point he realises something is seriously amiss. In the Britain of 2037, everything, or almost everything, is controlled by 7G wireless technology, from the national grid to the traffic (not only are cars driverless; a vehicle cannot even join a motorway without logging into an “on-route guidance system”). There is, then, only one possible explanation: the entire 7G network must have gone down.It sounds like I’m describing a novel – and it’s true that Aameen Patel will soon be joined by another fictional creation in the form of Bill Donoghue, who works at the Bank of England, and whose job it will be to tell the prime minister that the country is about to pay a heavy price for its cashless economy, given that even essential purchases will not be possible until the network is back up (Bill’s mother-in-law is also one of thousands of vulnerable people whose carers will soon be unable to get to them, the batteries in their electric cars having gone flat). But Apocalypse How? is not a novel. It’s a peculiar hybrid: part fable, part fact. Aameen, Bill and all Letwin’s other characters exist only to illustrate aspects of his wider thesis, which is that our increasing reliance on integrated digital technology may be leading us, and ultimately every country in the world, in the direction of a catastrophe. I exaggerate a little, but think TV’s Survivors minus the mystery virus (though at the moment, we handily have one of those on our hands, too). Continue reading…

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