Tech Digest daily round up: Microsoft President warns of AI threat on Panorama


Life as depicted in George Orwell’s 1984 “could come to pass in 2024” if lawmakers don’t protect the public against artificial intelligence, Microsoft’s president has warned. Speaking to BBC’s Panorama, Brad Smith said it will be “difficult to catch up” with the rapidly advancing technology. The programme explores China’s increasing use of AI to monitor its citizens. Critics fear the state’s dominance in the area could threaten democracy. “If we don’t enact the laws that will protect the public in the future, we are going to find the technology racing ahead, and it’s going to be very difficult to catch up,” Smith said. Watch Panorama’s Are you Scared Yet, Human? on BBC iPlayer (UK only)

Facebook is taking aim at individual user accounts in its latest attempt to stem the flow of misinformation shared across the social network. The tech giant has long focused much of its efforts on pages and groups when tackling the ever-present issue, which has become even more problematic with the spread of misleading claims about Covid-19 and vaccines. But now Facebook is taking the battle to individual accounts, effectively burying a user’s posts further down the News Feed if they have repeatedly post content that has been investigated by one of the firm’s fact-checkers. This goes beyond Facebook’s existing approach, which reduces a single post’s reach in the News Feed if it has been deemed false. Yahoo!

Nintendo’s long-awaited Switch upgrade is expected to be shown ahead of E3 2021, according to a report published by Bloomberg [paywall] today and Eurogamer’s own sources. I understand this is to ensure third-parties working on games which support the upgraded Switch are free to announce these projects at E3, and before Nintendo’s own digital showcase later in that week. A pre-E3 airing also allows Nintendo to focus its E3 reveals on its upcoming software line-up, where fans hope to hear updates on the long-awaited Breath of the Wild 2 and long, long-awaited Metroid Prime 4. Bloomberg’s report states the new Switch will be released in “September or October” and be sold alongside the cheaper Switch Lite, with the current Switch model phased out over time. Eurogamer

Uber said Wednesday it’s formally recognizing a major British trade union so it can represent drivers, a breakthrough for labor campaigners seeking fairer working conditions from the ride-hailing giant. The San Francisco-based company said it signed a collective bargaining agreement with the GMB trade union, one of the U.K.’s biggest. Under the agreement, the GMB will represent Uber’s 70,000 drivers across the U.K. The drivers will still be able to choose if, when and where they drive. Union membership won’t be automatic and drivers will have to sign up for it. “History has been made,” GMB National Official Mick Rix said in a statement issued by Uber. “This agreement shows gig economy companies don’t have to be a wild west on the untamed frontier of employment rights.” AP News

The race to become chairman of Ofcom will be rerun after Facebook and Google lobbied to stop the former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre getting the job, The Telegraph can reveal. The culture secretary Oliver Dowden on Wednesday wrote to Peter Riddell the Public Appointments commissioner, saying he wants the process to start “afresh” with a new selection panel for the £142,500-a-year role – one of the most influential in the British media industry. Mr Dowden is understood to have decided that the process has been deficient in some areas and civil servants have told him that there are grounds to rerun it. A major concern was “very heavy lobbying” against the candidature of Mr Dacre from major technology companies including the Facebook operation headed by the former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Nick Clegg.

Chris Price
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