Surge Snippets – Stuff you might have missed

We’re taking a moment to tell you that the selection of items in this week’s Surge Snippets was done by a 100% human editor. No, no, we haven’t been hitting the bottle at lunch time. Just keep reading and you’ll know what we’re talking about…

B&O ties up with XBox

The PlayStation 5 reveal might be the gaming headline of the week, but there was some good news for the XBox crowd as well: Danish audio legends Bang & Olufsen have entered into partnership with Xbox. While details on the partnership are scant as of now, B&O has hinted at “…a new audio proposition to cater for the high-end segment within gaming by leveraging on Bang & Olufsen’s core capabilities of sound, design and craft. This will include ‘Designed for Xbox’ functionalities, which will ensure seamless connectivity and an enhanced user experience.”

MSN starts replacing human editors with AI

Reports in The Guardian and The Verge reveal that Microsoft is now in the process of replacing editorial staff  with AI systems. That’s right. As part of a company-wide push to AI, MSN and Microsoft News are using bots to curate stories, as well as to suggest images that can be used alongside. Unfortunately, it seems Microsoft’s AI could do with some more training: In one story, it mixed up two members of the pop group Little Mix, with The Guardian reporting that MSN’s human staff had also been asked to watch out for the AI publishing critical reports about itself. We’d smile at

Tech industry to go slow on facial recognition

With protests against police brutality rising in the US, several tech giants have issued statements that they will not be selling face recognition technology to police forces. Amazon has said it’ll be imposing a one-year moratorium on law enforcement usage of its facial recognition products. While organisations working to rescue human trafficking victims and help locate missing children will still get access, Amazon has called for the government to introduce regulations governing the use of this technology.

Microsoft has also issued a statement along similar lines, with President Brad Smith telling the Washington Post “We will not sell facial-recognition technology to police departments in the United States until we have a national law in place, grounded in human rights, that will govern this technology”.

But it was IBM which started off this movement, after CEO Arvind Krishna calling for a “national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.” He also stated that IBM would be exiting the facial recognition business altogether.

Android TV dongle to have low-latency mode for Stadia support

Rumours of a new Android TV dongle from Google (possibly as a replacement for the Chromecast) have been floating around for a while – it’s expected to be not dissimilar to the Amazon Fire TV in functionality, with a proper UI and remote. Now, XDA-Developers says it’s uncovered hints that Google’s streaming dongle (which might get Nest branding) might come with a special low-latency HDMI mode that cuts out post-processing, perhaps for use with Stadia.

OpenAI to sell its AI text generation tool

Remember OpenAI? The AI research group first hit the headlines with its GPT-2 synthetic text generator, which it feared could be so effective at powering misinformation, spam, and fake news, it held off on releasing it for a long time. Now, it’s perfected an even better model (called GPT-3, of course), which will now be licensed (via API access) to customers. According to OpenAI, it’s going the API way instead of releasing the entire model for two reasons: Commercialising access will provide funds for future research; and it believes that it’ll be able to tackle any misuse better by ending API access “for use-cases that cause physical or mental harm to people, including but not limited to harassment, intentional deception, radicalization, astroturfing, or spam.”

About The Author