Learning to survive in an AI world

Politicians want to deliver us from AI-magaddon. Facebook may deliver free Internet to poor America. Samsung stops delivering exploding phones. And one guy just can’t get a nice cup of tea. Read all about it in this week’s tech roundup.

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People need new skills to survive in an AI world, say experts. The White House released two reports on the future of artificial intelligence and how we can prepare for it, fretting that smart software could steal away low-wage jobs.

Across the pond, MPs in the U.K. Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee have called for a study on the ethical and social impacts of artificially intelligent systems. Given that two Carnegie Mellon students just trained AI software to kill human players in 3D shoot-em up Doom, maybe we should be listening to them.

Samsung: 0. Apple and Google: 1

Samsung finally pulled the plug on Note 7 sales, as more phones continue to explode. The firm recalled the one million original devices, and 900,000 replacements, after numerous phones — including some of those replacements — continued to catch fire. The company is now offering customers money to replace the device with another Samsung phone — or a competitor’s device. If you want to send it back, the firm will send you three boxes to put inside each other — and safety gloves.

All this is great news for mobile phone competitors Apple and Google, who recently released their own phones. Next on Samsung’s agenda? Winning the ongoing legal battle over how much it has to pay for infringing Apple’s patents, which just went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Then some brand rebuilding, presumably.

Man: 1. Kettle 0. Eventually

This may just be the best story of the week. U.K. tech enthusiast Mark Rittman was excited to have bought a Wi-Fi connected kettle — but spent 11 hours getting it to boil water. He documented his travails on Twitter, meandering through a sad tale of device calibration, scanning ports on his network to find the elusive water-boiling device, and fending off swarms of users who read about ‘kettlegate’ online and swamped the Hadoop cluster in his garage, which we’re guessing must have been logging Internet comments.

“Well the kettle is back online and responding to voice control, but now we’re eating dinner in dark while lights download a firmware update,” he finally tweeted. We love this guy, both for running Hadoop in his garage and tackling the problem with such deadpan determination. Read his own account of the journey through kettle hell here.

Facebook’s home-grown Internet coming to U.S.?

Facebook is exploring the delivery of what could be described as its own Internet to the U.S., according to reports. The social media giant may extend its Free Basics services to its home turf. The service gives users access to free online services curated by Facebook, but critics worry that it puts the firm in between users and content creators.

Facebook maintains it will let any third-party firm offer a low-bandwidth version of its content via Free Basics, passing on the content via free data services to low-income and rural Americans. More than 25 million people already use the service around the world, it says, but it was banned in India under net neutrality rules there.

Dingbat of the week

If you’re a social activist, then you’d better watch what you post, and where. Chicago-based analytics firm Geofeedia was accused of colluding with police to let them track protestors. The company, which analyzes social media posts and location data, slurped data feeds from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It then mined that data and marketed the results specifically to cops who could then track activities in protests including those in Ferguson, Oakland and Baltimore, said the American Civil Liberties Union.

All three social media networks have now pulled the plug on the company, said the BBC. The firm maintained that it was committed to the principles of personal privacy.

Image: iStock

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