The Conversation Archives - Stuff

The Conversation

Your smartphone apps are tracking your every move – 4 essential reads

If you have a smartphone, it probably is a significant part of your life, storing appointments and destinations as well as being central to your communications with friends, loved ones and co-workers. Research and investigative reporting continue to reveal the degree to which your smartphone is aware of what you’re up to and where you are – and how much of that information is shared with companies...[Read More]

The quiet threat inside internet of things devices

As people increasingly buy and install smart devices in their homes, all those cheap interconnected devices create new security problems for individuals and society as a whole. The problem is compounded by businesses radically expanding the number of sensors and remote monitors it uses to manage overhead lights in corporate offices and detailed manufacturing processes in factories. Governments, to...[Read More]

Will talking to AI voice assistants re-engineer our human conversations?

When you’re lost, Siri can be your best friend. But if she can’t retrieve the right address from your contacts, she can drive you crazy. And so it is with the legion of virtual personal assistants that are entering our lives. From Amazon’s Alexa to Google’s Home, people are busy talking to intelligent machines as never before. It’s estimated that more than 60% of internet traffic is now generated ...[Read More]

Amazon, Facebook and Google don’t need to spy on your conversations to know what you’re talking about

If you’ve ever wondered if your phone is spying on you, you’re not alone. One of the most hotly debated topics in technology today is the amount of data that firms surreptitiously gather about us online. You may well have shared the increasingly common experience of feeling creeped out by ads for something you recently discussed in a real life conversation or an online interaction. This kind of ex...[Read More]

Change your phone settings so Apple, Google can’t track your movements

Technology companies have been pummeled by revelations about how poorly they protect their customers’ personal information, including an in-depth New York Times report detailing the ability of smartphone apps to track users’ locations. Some companies, most notably Apple, have begun promoting the fact that they sell products and services that safeguard consumer privacy. Smartphone users are never a...[Read More]

WhatsApp wants researchers to tackle its fake news problem – here’s an idea

Last February, Cadbury Chocolate fell victim to a hoax. The image below went viral in an Indonesian WhatsApp group called “Viral Media Johor”, and later in a Nigerian group. But the problem that this story and others like it pose is real. Rumours, hoaxes and misinformation find fertile breeding ground on social media. But as Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms increasingly c...[Read More]

Space subjects that will get the world’s attention in 2019 – and beyond

The first few days of 2019 brought remarkable news from outer space. On January 1 NASA’s New Horizons space probe made the most distant planetary flyby ever, and captured images of a small object 4 billion miles away from earth. The following day, China landed its Chang’e 4 rover, named Jade Rabbit 2, on the far side of the moon – another first. This suggests that 2019 will be a big year for...[Read More]

Those pop-up ‘I agree’ boxes aren’t just annoying – they’re potentially dangerous

Have you noticed the increasing number of pop-ups asking you to consent or “agree” when you visit a website? Do you find these annoying and tend to just click accept without reading the policies? So do most people, and here’s why that’s a problem. By “agreeing” to any of these particular policies, you are effectively allowing a website or app to collect various types of data on you that could viol...[Read More]

Holographic teachers were supposed to be part of our future. What happened?

Cast your mind back to the turn of last century. Experts predicted that by now classrooms would no longer feature human teachers, and holographic virtual entities would deliver lessons instead. This certainly hasn’t happened. The closest we have come is group video chat via apps like FaceTime, Zoom or Google Hangouts. But this doesn’t mean holograms aren’t part of our lives – they’re just marketed...[Read More]

How to take better smartphone photos, thanks to computational photography

Each time you snap a photo with your smartphone – depending on the make and model – it may perform more than a trillion operations for just that single image. Yes, you expect it to do the usual auto-focus/auto-exposure functions that are the hallmark of point-and-shoot photography. But your phone may also capture and stack multiple frames (sometimes before you even press the button), capture the b...[Read More]

Message sent, received but no instant reply: how does that make you feel?

Your phone chimes, it’s a message from your partner. You reply instantly because that’s what you always do. Then you decide to add another message: “By the way, I love you ☺” You see the “read” status appear under the message, and you wait for her reply. An hour later you are still waiting, still checking. Has this ever happened to you? For most of us, there is an unwritten social contract that un...[Read More]

Clean up your cyber-hygiene – 6 changes to make in the new year

Data breaches, widespread malware attacks and microtargeted personalized advertising were lowlights of digital life in 2018. As technologies change, so does the advice security experts give for how to best stay safe. As 2019 begins, I’ve pulled together a short list of suggestions for keeping your digital life secure and free of manipulative disinformation. 1. Set your boundaries and stick to them...[Read More]

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