It’s been a horrible week.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t round up the most joyous stories in tech. Here’s your lot (plenty of gems in this edition)…
Microsoft forced to Photoshop penis out of Bing homepage
This glorious story is reported by The Verge, with the final paragraph worthy of reproduction:
“Yeah, that’s definitely a penis. I’d like to thank Bing for giving us this image and perhaps intentionally putting a penis on its homepage. I’d also like to thank Andrew Lyle for his keen penis-spotting eye. And I’d like to thank the beachgoer who took the time to carve this enormous penis into the beautiful sand on Brač Island. You’re all great.”
I’m not going to embed the image here, The Verge deserves your click. Click here to view Bing homepage penis.
Headline of the week
We couldn’t give it to The Verge and its Bing penis story. A more recherché effort comes from the New Scientist: ‘Self-healing jelly bot regenerates when stabbed – just add heat’.
The video explains, and includes the most gleeful dancing robot.
“Old duds” with “cobwebby brains” should keep away from automated checkouts
The Guardian ran a nice piece on the automated checkout this week – technology which may soon do for a large number of jobs in the USA.
The most interesting part of the article by far is the description of Clarence Saunders’ automated grocery store which opened in 1939. The Tennessee store, named ‘The Keedoozle’ (presumably by Grandpa Simpson), required shoppers to insert “a key into a slot below their chosen items, producing a ticker tape list that, when fed into a machine, sent the goods traveling down a conveyer belt and into the hands of the customer.”
To get the word out, Saunders placed an ad in the Memphis Press-Scimitar warning “old duds” with “cobwebby brains” to keep away, and that only those “of spirit, of understanding” should dare enter.
Of course, the circuits failed and it closed in 1949.
A poor man’s Keedoozle
Quote of the week
“Basically, nothing goes wrong.”
— Shinichi Uno, a plant manager at Asahi Breweries, explains why Japanese workers revere, rather than fear, robots.
Kageyama gives us another quote, from Koichi Iwamoto, a senior fellow at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry, who says that “One factor in Japan’s different take on automation is the ‘lifetime employment’ system. Major Japanese companies generally retain workers, even if their abilities become outdated, and retrain them for other tasks.”
Though globalisation is starting to change this system, it’s one factor that helps to explain why the Japanese like robots and are happy for them to create efficiency, as long as humans can still work as overseers.
Arcade Fire fires fictional social media agency
The band tweeted as follows..
— Arcade Fire (@arcadefire) 10 August 2017
Arcade Fire have been posting weird fake news stories on their website recently to promote their new album Everything Now. The stories included the band’s intention to sell ‘removable jihadi beards’ and a $109 fidget spinner with inbuilt digital download of the new album.
Well, the arcane statements continue, with the band blaming all this nonsense on a fictional social media agency called Everything Now Group, which the band says it has now fired. A bit of mischief that pokes fun at marketing. I’m all for ‘meta’.
Cameras and AI to check… whether you washed your hands
Stanford and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have authored a paper about a pilot study using depth cameras and computer-vision alogrithms which track the usage of gel dispensers.
The success of the study, which could ultimately be more cost-effective than the current method of clipboard and pen, means three hospitals have been earmarked for a full year trialling the tech. Wash those mitts, Big Brother is watching (and you really need to help us stop the spread of viruses).
Monopoly India moves with the times, introduces digital banking
At the end of 2016, India underwent demonetisation – the removal of smaller notes from circulation – to prevent counterfeiting. The move has led to a surge in mobile payments.
This trend has been picked up by Hasbro which has introduced digital banking to India’s version of Monopoly, as you can see from the slightly manic video below.
IoT warning signs as smart locks jam
The internet of things has always made people nervous. What happens when all our internet-enabled front doors mysteriously open in the middle of the night thanks to a hack? While such a scenario is unlikely, Lockstate has been embarrassed as its new software broke a bunch of their IoT locks.
The LS6i smart locks are recommended by Airbnb, and The Verge reports that Lockstate has told them the “small subset” of customers affected may need to send ”their locks back for a reset”. Less than ideal.
Most liked tweet ever
To finish on a truly positive note, Obama has done it again and composed a tweet with the elegance and compassion that makes us all pine for his return to public life. The tweet below quickly became the most Liked ever.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) 13 August 2017