Tech Digest daily roundup: Mastercard pilots biometric payment system


The cost of groceries may be rising, but shoppers will have to grin and bear it at the checkouts. Under new plans unveiled by Mastercard, customers will soon be able to pay by smiling or waving at checkouts, meaning that the days of scrambling for a credit card or cursing a lost debit card could soon be over. The payments company plans to roll out its “biometric checkout programme” worldwide and make the technology available to both major and small retailers. Customers will be able to sign up for the programme by confirming their identity through a mobile app. Telegraph

Human-level artificial intelligence is close to finally being achieved, according to a lead researcher at Google’s DeepMind AI division. Dr Nando de Freitas said “the game is over” in the decades-long quest to realise artificial general intelligence (AGI) after DeepMind unveiled an AI system capable of completing a wide range of complex tasks, from stacking blocks to writing poetry. Described as a “generalist agent”, DeepMind’s new Gato AI needs to just be scaled up in order to create an AI capable of rivalling human intelligence, Dr de Freitas said. Independent

Netflix has laid off about 150 staff, just a month after the entertainment giant said it was losing subscribers for the first time in a decade. The redundancies, announced by the streaming service on Tuesday, will mainly affect its US office in California. They account for about 2% of its North American workforce. Netflix said the job losses were due to the slump in the company’s revenue. The streaming service is battling an exodus of viewers this year. BBC 

If you choose to leave a WhatsApp group that has become increasingly noisy or irrelevant, the app will post a notification that anybody can see in-chat. It’s probably not a big deal in most instances… unless it’s a group with relatives or friends who are inclined to ask why you’d left. According to WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is working on an upcoming feature that could prevent awkward confrontations by letting you exit groups without posting a notification everybody could see. To note, the app will still notify the group admins that you’re leaving when the feature becomes available, but everybody else wouldn’t know unless you tell them. Engadget

Vivo has announced its latest flagship phone, the X80 Pro, and its most prominent new hardware feature is a larger in-display fingerprint sensor. The active area is far bigger than the small sensors found on most Android phones these days, meaning it’s easier to unlock the phone without looking at the screen to align your thumb. The scanner has several advantages beyond just being physically larger. You can register each fingertip with a single press on the screen, instead of having to lift and press it several times as with conventional phones. The Verge

Back in April, Google delayed when G Suite legacy free-edition users had to start paying for Workspace. The company will now let you stay on a “Free Legacy Edition of G Suite for personal use” as the “no-cost” alternative in a rather notable policy change. This “no-cost” option is for people that aren’t interested in paying for Workspace but want to retain access to their data and not just export via Google Takeout. For the past few months, people have been waiting to join a waitlist for this alternative. 9to5Google

Chris Price
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