The Conversation, Author at Stuff

The Conversation

Who’s to blame when driverless cars have an accident?

The news that an Uber self-driving vehicle has killed a pedestrian in the US has made headlines around the world. It’s a reminder that the era of self-driving cars is fast approaching. Decades of research into advanced sensors, mapping, navigation and control methods have now come to fruition and autonomous cars are starting to hit the roads in pilot trials. But partial or full autonomy raises the...[Read More]

Explainer: what is differential privacy and how can it protect your data?

It’s no secret that big tech companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are increasingly infiltrating our personal and social interactions to collect vast amounts of data on us every day. At the same time, privacy violations in cyberspace regularly make front page news. So how should privacy be protected in a world where data is gathered and shared with increasing speed and ingenuity? Diffe...[Read More]

Web’s inventor warns about concentration of power that “control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared”

Online power being consolidated by a few large players has enabled them “to weaponise the web at scale” according to the man who invented it, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Sir Tim, who is founder of the Web Foundation, was marking his creation’s 29th anniversary. “This year marks a milestone in the web’s history: for the first time, we will cross the tipping point when more than half of the world’s populat...[Read More]

How we recreated a lost African city with laser technology

There are lost cities all over the world. Some, like the remains of Mayan cities hidden beneath a thick canopy of rainforest in Mesoamerica, are found with the help of laser lights. Now the same technology which located those Mayan cities has been used to rediscover a southern African city that was occupied from the 15th century until about 200 years ago. This technology, called LiDAR, was used to...[Read More]

Electric vehicles are changing the world. And they’re only just getting started

Global interest in climate change – its effects on the environment and society more broadly – is probably at an all time high. Countries around the world, with the glaring exception of the US under President Donald Trump, are increasingly acknowledging the shift that’s needed from a fossil fuel-driven economy to one that is sustainable, green and attempts to mitigate climate change. One area where...[Read More]

Looking for truth in the Facebook age? Seek out views you aren’t going to ‘like’

“Post-truth” was the Oxford English Dictionary “word of the year” for 2016. As we move into 2018, let’s hope the hype surrounding this term gives way to more measured assessments. The term has all the uses and disadvantages of the hyperbole it represents. On one hand, it draws attention to the profound challenges facing today’s news media and liberal democracies. On the other, it makes it seem lik...[Read More]

Seven myths of the social media age

The internet was expected to renew democracy, tackle the hegemony of the monopoly news providers and draw us all into a global community. Over the past six months, that idea has been undermined by a new myth which suggests that democracy is, in fact, being overturned by the spawn of the internet: Russian bots and fake news – and that news organisations are losing their power to keep people informe...[Read More]

Using blockchain to secure the internet of things

The world is full of connected devices – and more are coming. In 2017, there were an estimated 8.4 billion internet-enabled thermostats, cameras, streetlights and other electronics. By 2020 that number could exceed 20 billion, and by 2030 there could be 500 billion or more. Because they’ll all be online all the time, each of those devices – whether a voice-recognition personal assistant or a pay-b...[Read More]

Why social media are more like chocolate than cigarettes

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took to the social platform last week to announce a call-out for ideas about how to measure the health of online conversations. The initiative follows recent demands for government to regulate the negative consequences of social media. Discussing the possibility of such regulations in January, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff compared social media with the tobacco industry, sayi...[Read More]

Philip K Dick’s androids looked like humans – but real world robots may soon feel empathy, too

The premise of Philip K Dick’s famous novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, first published in March 1968, is that empathy defines our humanness. The novel and the movie directly inspired by it – Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner – describe androids that are indistinguishable from humans and can be exposed only through the Voight-Kampff empathy test, a kind of lie detector. In the novel – which is...[Read More]

How to solve virtual reality’s human perception problem

Virtual reality isn’t confined to the entertainment world. There has also been an uptake of VR in more practical fields – it’s been used to piece together parts of a car engine, or to allow people to “try on” the latest fashion trends from the comfort of their home. But the technology is still struggling to tackle a human perception problem. It’s clear that VR has some pretty cool applications. At...[Read More]

Mobile World Congress 2018: 3D selfies, super slo mo video and 4G for the moon

The biggest mobile showcase of the year – the Mobile World Congress (MWC) – wrapped up in Barcelona yesterday, where some 2,300 exhibitors revealed their latest products and technologies. Hardware manufacturers, such as Samsung and Google, showcased new smartphones, apps and features. While the conference arm of MWC brought experts together to discuss how enterprise solutions in networking, messag...[Read More]

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