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Morgan Freeman voices Mark Zuckerberg's AI assistant

Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman has provided the voice for an AI assistant created by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

Mr Zuckerberg said he asked the actor, who was selected by the public, after an awards ceremony earlier this month.

The Facebook co-founder coded the AI assistant - called Jarvis, after the butler in Iron Man - for his home.

If he decides to release it to the public, people would relate differently to a famous voice than more robotic sounding assistants, tech experts said.

Mr Zuckerberg asked his Facebook followers to pick the voice after building artificial intelligence to help him around the house. He told tech news site Fast Company that he called Mr Freeman after the actor presented the Breakthrough Awards, a science prize co-founded by Mr Zuckerberg.

"I said, 'Hey, I posted this thing, and... thousands of people want you to be the voice. Will you do it?'"

Mr Freeman's answer was "yeah, sure", he added.

Robert Downey Jr, who plays Iron Man, had offered to voice Jarvis, while Arnold Schwarzenegger features as an alternative, disciplinarian voice in jokey videos released by Mr Zuckerberg this week.

Experts in human-computer interaction said Morgan Freeman, whose roles have included God in Evan Almighty and the narrator in March of the Penguins, would distinguish Jarvis from existing AI assistants.

Celebrity voices add to the "novelty effect" and might make it more enjoyable to interact with an AI assistant, said Dr Simone Stumpf, a senior lecturer at City University in London.

"If a user is more engaged, then they might also be forgiving of mistakes, interact more - and thus provide more training data for the AI to get it right - and are less likely to abandon it," she told the BBC.

Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa and Google Home are bringing smart assistants into the mainstream.

Morgan Freeman would be a different offering because he is more of a "grandfather figure" than a friend, said Dr Bernie Hogan of the Oxford Internet Institute.

"We do know people project emotions on to their computers," he said. "We've been anthropomorphizing these things for years."

Research indicates it is often the attitude of AI, rather than the voice, which annoys people, said Yorick Wilks, professor of Artificial Intelligence at Sheffield University.

"It may just be the user needs to choose voice, as they can now with Sat-nav, and also the personality of assistant or change it at different times," he said.

AI companies have also faced criticism for favouring female voices for the assistants.

"The 'gender' of AI assistants has had its recent controversies, with some accusations of sexism aimed at companies who have chosen female voices, particularly where perceptions of their subservience or even sexual undertones may exist," said Dr Rich Picking of Glyndwr University.

Still, it could be a while before users are interacting with the dulcet tones of Mr Freeman in their homes.

Mr Zuckerberg said he thought about opening up the Jarvis code, but decided "it's currently too tightly tied to [his] own home".


Source: BBC News

Amazon makes first drone delivery

Retail giant Amazon has made its first commercial delivery using a drone, in the UK. The package arrived safely at its destination in Cambridge, 13 minutes after being ordered. A video showing the process details how the order was completed using an electrically powered drone flying at up to 400ft (122m).

A Question of Privacy: Uber accused of letting staff spy on customers

First, it was the FBI and the CIA accused of wiretapping as part of a robust national security measure now the lines have stretched beyond the boundaries of government or its institutions to private enterprise. Mails in sync with about every related detail about individuals anywhere on the internet: one could easily pass the word 'privacy' for fantasy. As if these were mere illusions, following a BuzzFeed news story in 2014 that alleged one of its reporter's rides had been tracked via "God View" without her permission, Uber has defended itself following accusations that a lack of internal security allowed employees to spy on rides in real-time.

Apple tackles calendar spam with 'report junk' button

Source: BBC News

Apple is tackling an outbreak of spam on iPhone calendars by introducing a button that lets users report the junk appointments.

The messages appear as invitations to events but are sent by spammers not the brands they feature.

The "report junk" button has been added to Apple's site and is expected to be included in an iOS update soon.

The calendar bug was heavily exploited this year around Black Friday.

Clearing out the bogus messages was frustrating because deleting the invitation sent an acknowledgement to the spammer it came from, revealing that an account was live.


Some people reported that declining an invitation led to them receiving more spam from the same source.

The spam invitations appear to come mainly from Chinese email addresses.

The reporting button removes the junk invitations from a person's calendar and lets Apple know about the message.

The button automatically appears on invitations sent by people not in someone's contacts list.

Until iOS is updated, anyone wishing to tackle the spam on their calendar must visit and click to report the faked messages.

The invitation will then disappear from all synched calendars.

Late last month, Apple apologized for the sudden influx of calendar spam and said it was working on ways to fix it.

Before the introduction of the reporting system, many people fixed the problem by creating a second calendar only for spam.

They moved all the junk invitations into that calendar and then deleted it.

LinkedIn is now officially blocked in Russia

Amid a tense stand-off and attempt at negotiations, Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor has started to enforce a proposed block of LinkedIn in the country, after the social network failed to transfer Russian user data to servers located in the country, violating a law instituted in Russia requiring all online sites to store personal data on national servers.

A Welcomed Disruption: A Face-Off of Smart Speakers between Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo

Human’s increasing dependency on technology is now well past an imminent threat to our natural social behavior: social media chats on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc. have replaced in an unimaginable measure physical conversations, family and friends visit times ….I mean one could just keep enumerating! It is common place now to visit 86 years old grandma and expect the meeting to be anything but a great learning experience from an old walking library: credits to granny’s friends on WhatsApp chatting away the valuable time she would have had for you!

Facebook quarterly profits surge 166% to $2.4bn

A surge in income from mobile advertising is responsible for a dramatic rise in earnings, the social media giant says.
Quarterly profits at Facebook have surged by 166% to $2.4bn (£1.95bn), the tech giant has announced.

The New Battle Ground: latest developments on cyber attacks

       It is perhaps one of the most important subjects for discussion today among policy makers around the world, at least those serious about their national security in the 21st Century. Its operation unconventional and impact, anything but to be underestimated. It requires no large sites for development plants like the missile launchers or nuclear bomb does nor its goal to destroy the physical human life. It runs covertly from behind personal computers or mobile devices from various locations on our planet and its aim, to distort the flow of the generation’s currency – information,  mislead the public and create a kind of war that might not be resolved by mediation efforts from some of the most skilled diplomats nor the damages mitigated by the most effective reconciliation commission ever organized. Whether one accepts it or not, the threat  or even reality of cyberattack is not just imminent ; it lives with us.

Re-Writing Its Own Rules: Aviation of the Future

   It has been a century and decade now since those genius siblings popularly referred to as the Wright Brothers launched the first manned flight when they made those four brief flights at Kitty Hawk with their first powered aircraft. It was an astonishing sight for all in America and around the world: mankind had once again achieved a milestone.

Mergers of Interest: the Tesla-Panasonic Experiment

Founded in 2003 by a group of engineers in Silicon Valley who wanted to prove that electric cars could be better than gasoline-powered cars and characterized by instant torque, incredible power, and zero emissions,

Victory for Academics: a puzzle for a watching world

Every year since 1895, when through Swedish inventor, Alfred Nobel, the Nobel Prize got established to celebrate outstanding achievements or strides in various spheres of society; leadership, economy, science, etc., we have continually witnessed growing credence to the works of this highly reputable foundation and to those who earn its converted awards.

Choices of the Century: America’s Adventure to Mars

On May 25, 1961 when America’s 35th President, John F. Kennedy, in a Joint Session of Congress, announced to his country and world the nation’s ‘overly ambitious’ plan to land a man on the moon before the end of 60s decade, it was deemed by many  around the globe as madness or insanity laced desire.

Facebook shuts down ads as a tribute for Thailand

Social media giants Facebook has done an  uncommon thing of shutting down ads for Thailand. According to the social network it has turning  off ads in Thailand has become necessary because of the demise  of the country’s deeply esteemed king. It’s the first time Facebook has imposed an ad blackout for a whole country.

The Samsung Twist

Currently South Korea's largest "chaebol," a type of family-run business group that plays a big role in the country's economy. Samsung is typical example of a postmodern times business success:  its transition from dealing only in regular consumer electronics to semiconductors and phone technology, is a testimony of the dynamism of the organization’s leadership in the last decade.

Facebook can’t access subscribers’ conversations anymore as its roll out 'Secret Conversations' feature.

Social media giant Facebook has rolled out a new feature "Secret Conversations" in it Messenger App which will ensure that only two people involve in a conversation can see the text.

Over 1 billion Messenger users now have access to the feature, the feature uses end-to-end encryption, compared to WhatsApp, Viber, Line .With the new Messenger App if you're chatting in secret mode on a specific smartphone, you will lose the right to see previous messages on your desktop. Also Facebook also gives people the option to let specific messages within Secret Conversations expire after five seconds or up to a day -- a feature not unlike what's offered on Snapchat.

To freely enjoy Messenger’s new feature, you'll need to make sure you install the latest version of the iOS and Android app to get it. Messages will only be kept secret if both users have the updated versions.
"We've heard from you that there are times when you want additional safeguards -- perhaps when discussing private information like an illness or a health issue with trusted friends and family, or sending financial information to an accountant," the company said earlier this year.

Even the government or Facebook itself won't have access to conversations in secret mode, according to the social network.

Cleaning up our planet: The Volkswagen example

Whether it is a comeback scheme or a sheer display of its assumed survival as a leading player in the automobile industry after the emission test evasion crisis that rocked the company and resulted in the recall of thousands of its products from the market, Volkswagen is up at its game again and this time on a more consolidated base as it announces the latest on its experimental series with electric cars: the I.D.

Setting its own rules: Amazon

It would not be unusual to find virtual storefronts or market places ignoring certain presumed excesses from its users, clients or customers (especially when they run into the millions and to a large extent rope in multi million dollars in revenue), talk less of insisting on their relational rule in what should be a free or open market place where companies can adopt the most effective marketing strategies or flaunt  mouth-watering incentives to potential buyers of its product or users of its services provided these are within the framework of legality within a free market (physical or virtual).