The Conversation

The way we walk can be used to power and secure our devices

When we walk or move, we create kinetic energy in a way that is unique to each of us. Our latest research shows that it’s so unique, it can be used to authenticate who we are. Not only that, but this kinetic energy can also be used to power our personal devices. Power and security from the energy we create by walking is ideally suited to wearable technologies. Wearables and mobile devices have bec...[Read More]

After the ‘Facebook Files’, the social media giant must be more transparent

Most people on Facebook have probably seen something they wish they hadn’t, whether it be violent pictures or racist comments. How the social media giant decides what is and isn’t acceptable is often a mystery. Internal content guidelines, recently published in The Guardian, offer new insight into the mechanics of Facebook content moderation. The slides show the rules can be arbitrary, but that sh...[Read More]

There’s a technology that could stop Facebook Live being used to stream murders – but it has a cost

It took 24 hours before the video of a man murdering his baby daughter was removed from Facebook Live. On April 24, 2017, the father from Thailand had streamed the killing of his 11-month-old baby girl using the social network’s Live video service before killing himself. The two resulting video clips were streamed hundreds of thousands of times before they were finally removed. This was the not th...[Read More]

How WannaCry caused global panic but failed to turn much of a profit

The recent WannaCry cyber-attack led to panic across the globe, showing just how important it is for organisations to have secure operating systems. This was not even the most sophisticated malware around. Numerous networks could easily cope with it and it largely hit legacy operating systems such as Windows XP. In most corporate infrastructures, there would be no sign of Windows XP – and it seems...[Read More]

Here’s how the ransomware attack was stopped – and why it could soon start again

The ransomware cyber attack that has so far affected around 300,000 computers in 150 countries could have been much worse. In fact, it still could be. The spread of the malicious software (malware), nicknamed WannaCry or WannaCrypt, has been halted several times by researchers who have identified flaws in the program known as kill switches. But cybercriminals are already fighting back by altering ...[Read More]

Why using AI to sentence criminals is a dangerous idea

Artificial intelligence is already helping determine your future – whether it’s your Netflix viewing preferences, your suitability for a mortgage or your compatibility with a prospective employer. But can we agree, at least for now, that having an AI determine your guilt or innocence in a court of law is a step too far? Worryingly, it seems this may already be happening. When American Chief Justic...[Read More]

Why installing software updates makes us WannaCry

The global ransomware attack called “WannaCry,” which began last week and continues today, could have been avoided, or at least made much less serious, if people (and companies) kept their computer software up to date. The attack’s spread demonstrates how hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries are running outdated software that leaves them vulnerable. The victims include Bri...[Read More]

Five amazing ultrasound inventions set to change the world (and not a pregnancy scan in sight)

Ultrasound can do a whole lot more than create images of unborn babies. Since it first became a near-indispensable medical tool in the 1930s, technology that produces sound waves so high-pitched that humans can’t hear them has found use in almost every branch of industry. The vibrations it creates can kill bacteria, weld plastics and even help to mature brandies in a matter of days rather than yea...[Read More]

Computers to humans: Shall we play a game?

Way back in the 1980s, a schoolteacher challenged me to write a computer program that played tic-tac-toe. I failed miserably. But just a couple of weeks ago, I explained to one of my computer science graduate students how to solve tic-tac-toe using the so-called “Minimax algorithm,” and it took us about an hour to write a program to do it. Certainly my coding skills have improved over the years, b...[Read More]

Could a doodle replace your password?

Nearly 80 percent of Americans own a smartphone, and a growing proportion of them use smartphones for internet access, not just when they’re on the go. This leads to people storing considerable amounts of personal and private data on their mobile devices. Often, there is just one layer of security protecting all that data – emails and text messages, social media profiles, bank accounts and credit ...[Read More]

Facebook’s anti-fake news strategy is not going to work – but something else might

Have you seen some “tips to spot fake news” on your Facebook newsfeed recently? Over the past year, the social media company has been scrutinized for influencing the US presidential election by spreading fake news (propaganda). Obviously, the ability to spread completely made-up stories about politicians trafficking child sex slaves and imaginary terrorist attacks with impunity is bad for democrac...[Read More]

Start-ups can help Africa meet its energy needs. But they need to be encouraged

Energy access remains a huge problem for most people living on the African continent. More than 600 million out of a population of about 1.3 billion people in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have reliable electricity access. Although sub-Saharan Africa has about 13% of the world’s population, about 48% are without energy access. Only seven countries in the sub-region – Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gha...[Read More]

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