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Archivos mensuales:octubre 2019

At an Outback Steakhouse Franchise, Surveillance Blooms

Fried onion meets 1984.
Source: Wired

14 Great Weekend Deals: Sony, LG, Razer, and More

It’s time to stock up on scary games, big TVs, and a gaming mouse deal so good you’ll scream.
Source: Wired

Pixel 4 vs. Galaxy Note 10: Biggest letdowns and best killer features so far – CNET

The Galaxy Note is one of the best phones you can buy right now. Is it time to switch allegiance?
Source: CNET

What's the deal with radar on a phone anyway? – CNET

The radar-powered sensor on Google’s Pixel 4 phone is the first to appear on a phone, ever. Here’s what that really means.
Source: CNET

20 photos taken with the Pixel 4's camera: You be the judge – CNET

We take the Pixel 4’s camera out for a spin and test Portrait Mode, selfies, close-ups and more on Google’s newest flagship phone.
Source: CNET

Apple might launch AirPods Pro before the end of the month, report says – CNET

New AirPods may be coming just in time for the holidays.
Source: CNET

Pixel 4 and 4 XL specs vs. Pixel 3, 3 XL and 3a: What's new and different – CNET

We compare Google’s new Pixel phones with the ones from 2018 to see what’s changed, spec by spec.
Source: CNET

Apple’s China stance makes for strange political alliances, as AOC and Ted Cruz slam the company

In a rare instance of bipartisanship overcoming the rancorous discord that’s been the hallmark of the U.S. Congress, senators and sepresentatives issued a scathing rebuke to Apple for its decision to take down an app at the request of the Chinese government.

Signed by Senators Ron Wyden, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Congressional Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mike Gallagher and Tom Malinowski, the letter was written to “express… strong concern about Apple’s censorship of apps, including a prominent app used by protestors in Hong Kong, at the request of the Chinese government.”

In 2019, it seems the only things that can unite America’s clashing political factions are the decisions made by companies in one of its most powerful industries.

At the heart of the dispute is Apple’s decision to take down an app called HKMaps that was being used by citizens of the island territory to track police activity.

For several months protestors have been clashing with police in the tiny territory over what they see as the undue influence being exerted by China’s government in Beijing over the governance of Hong Kong. Citizens of the former British protectorate have enjoyed special privileges and rights not afforded to mainland Chinese citizens since the United Kingdom returned sovereignty over the region to China on July 1, 1997.

“Apple’s decision last week to accommodate the Chinese government by taking down HKMaps is deeply concerning,” the authors of the letter wrote. “We urge you in the strongest terms to reverse course, to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong.”

Apple has long positioned itself as a defender of human rights (including privacy and free speech)… in the United States. Abroad, the company’s record is not quite as spotless, especially when it comes to pressure from China, which is one of the company’s largest markets outside of the U.S.

Back in 2017, Apple capitulated to a request from the Chinese government that it remove all virtual private networking apps from the App Store. Those applications allowed Chinese users to circumvent the “Great Firewall” of China, which limits access to information to only that which is approved by the Chinese government and its censors.

Over 1,100 applications have been taken down by Apple at the request of the Chinese government, according to the organization GreatFire (whose data was cited in the Congressional letter). They include VPNs, and applications made for oppressed communities inside China’s borders (like Uighurs and Tibetans).

Apple isn’t the only company that’s come under fire from the Chinese government as part of their overall response to the unrest in Hong Kong. The National Basketball Association and the gaming company Blizzard have had their own run-ins resulting in self-censorship as a result of various public positions from employees or individuals affiliated with the sports franchises or gaming communities these companies represent.

However, Apple is the largest of these companies, and therefore the biggest target. The company’s stance indicates a willingness to accede to pressure in markets that it considers strategically important no matter how it positions itself at home.

The question is what will happen should regulators in the U.S. stop writing letters and start making legislative demands of their own.


Source: TechCrunch

AI is helping scholars restore ancient Greek texts on stone tablets

Machine learning and AI may be deployed on such grand tasks as finding exoplanets and creating photorealistic people, but the same techniques also have some surprising applications in academia: DeepMind has created an AI system that helps scholars understand and recreate fragmentary ancient Greek texts on broken stone tablets.

These clay, stone or metal tablets, inscribed as much as 2,700 years ago, are invaluable primary sources for history, literature and anthropology. They’re covered in letters, naturally, but often the millennia have not been kind and there are not just cracks and chips but entire missing pieces that may comprise many symbols.

Such gaps, or lacunae, are sometimes easy to complete: If I wrote “the sp_der caught the fl_,” anyone can tell you that it’s actually “the spider caught the fly.” But what if it were missing many more letters, and in a dead language, to boot? Not so easy to fill in the gaps.

Doing so is a science (and art) called epigraphy, and it involves both intuitive understanding of these texts and others to add context; one can make an educated guess at what was once written based on what has survived elsewhere. But it’s painstaking and difficult work — which is why we give it to grad students, the poor things.

Coming to their rescue is a new system created by DeepMind researchers that they call Pythia, after the oracle at Delphi who translated the divine word of Apollo for the benefit of mortals.

The team first created a “nontrivial” pipeline to convert the world’s largest digital collection of ancient Greek inscriptions into text that a machine learning system could understand. From there it was just a matter of creating an algorithm that accurately guesses sequences of letters — just like you did for the spider and the fly.

PhD students and Pythia were both given ground-truth texts with artificially excised portions. The students got the text right about 57% of the time — which isn’t bad, as restoration of texts is a long and iterative process. Pythia got it right… well, 30% of the time.

But! The correct answer was in its top 20 answers 73% of the time. Admittedly that might not sound so impressive, but you try it and see if you can get it in 20.

greek process

The truth is the system isn’t good enough to do this work on its own, but it doesn’t need to. It’s based on the efforts of humans (how else could it be trained on what’s in those gaps?) and it will augment them, not replace them.

Pythia’s suggestions may not be perfectly right on the first try very often, but it could easily help someone struggling with a tricky lacuna by giving them some options to work from. Taking a bit of the cognitive load off these folks may lead to increases in speed and accuracy in taking on remaining unrestored texts.

The paper describing Pythia is available to read here, and some of the software they developed to create it is in this GitHub repository.


Source: TechCrunch

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood reportedly won't be recut for China – CNET

China put the release of the film on hold a week before it was set to launch.
Source: CNET