20th June 2018
IBM’s machine argues, pretty convincingly, with humans
On a stage in San Francisco, IBM’s Project Debater spoke, listened and rebutted a human’s arguments in what was described as a groundbreaking display of artificial intelligence. The machine drew from a library of “hundreds of millions” of documents – mostly newspaper articles and academic journals – to form its responses to a topic it was not prepared for beforehand. Its performance was not without slip-ups, but those in attendance made clear their thoughts when voting on who did best. While the humans had better delivery, the group agreed, the machine offered greater substance in its arguments. That, IBM said, spoke to the heart of its goal: augmenting human beings to make decisions quickly and with more data than ever before. “I think it says actually very optimistic things about how humans respond to facts and figures,” said Noa Ovadia, one of the human debaters at the event. “I think they are important, but they’re not everything when we make up our argumentation.” Ms Ovadia was Israel’s national debating champion in 2016, and began working with IBM a few months ago as an opponent to its machine. She told the BBC: “I think eventually when it can do what we do but better, that’ll be great thing for the human race – for informed decision-making, for informed voting, for informed everything.”
. 4th Feb 2018
Windows 10’s antivirus will start removing PC ‘optimizer’ scareware next month
Microsoft’s built-in antivirus software for Windows 10, Windows Defender, is getting an important new feature next month. Microsoft has announced that Windows Defender will start removing software that has “coercive messages” or “misleading content to pressure you into paying for additional services or performing superfluous actions.” This type of software is commonly known as scareware, and is typically found in cleaner apps that will supposedly optimize your registry on a Windows PC or promise to otherwise speed a machine up. “There has been an increase in free versions of programs that purport to scan computers for various errors, and then use alarming, coercive messages to scare customers into buying a premium version of the same program,” says Barak Shein, from Microsoft’s Windows Defender team. “The paid version of these programs, usually called cleaner or optimizer applications, purportedly fixes the problems discovered by the free version.” Microsoft finds these apps “problematic” for regular Windows users, so Windows Defender will now classify these apps as “unwanted software” and remove them from PCs. These types of cleaner apps and crapware have been available for years, but it’s good to see Microsoft act to remove them. Microsoft will start removing the apps on March 1st, and developers can test their apps over at the company’s Windows Defender portal.
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