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News & Views

Weekly Tech Roundup: November 3

The AI of science fiction just took one step closer

CAPTCHA, of the “Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart,” has become a commonly used method of verifying that a website user is a human being, and not a bot. However, researchers at AI firm Vicarious have just trained an AI to beat the CAPTCHA with a 67 per cent success rate. Humans currently only have an 87 per cent success rate with the exact same technology!

Apple is about to show it doesn’t need new iPhone to bring in cash

Tech giant Apple’s stock has soared in the last quarter, with its iPhone, iPad and MacBook businesses each now the size of a Fortune 500 company. And while the iPhone has previously accounted for the majority of Apple revenues (making up half of all Apple sales for the last four years), the company’s services businesses, including AppleCare and Apple Music, are expected to pick up the slack during Q4, which is traditionally slow on iPhone sales.

Audible is using machine learning to “skip to the good parts”

Audiobook subscription service Audible is using data mining and machine learning to figure out exactly what individual customers want. This experimentation is currently limited to Audible Romance, a data-rich category; as Audible’s chief content officer explains, “many romance fans will consume four, five, six books a week.”

Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status hit 300 million users

Facebook-owned ephemeral posting platforms Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status both now have 300 million active daily users — almost twice as many as Snapchat, the app which originated ephemeral messaging and whose features have been cloned on WhatsApp and Instagram.

Facebook has a big Russia problem, but its stock is going to be just fine

Facebook’s Q3 earnings call this week has been overshadowed by coverage of the company’s testimony in Washington, D.C., on the subject of the platform’s complicity in spreading misinformation during the run up to 2016’s presidential election. However, Facebook’s business doesn’t seem to be suffering for it.

Data hoarders fined by UK watchdog

Verso Group, a company which encourages consumers to take part in surveys and then uses the results to target respondents with unsolicited telemarketing, has been fined £80,000. This marks the first penalty of its kind against the “data broking” industry by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

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