Imperica

iRobot's Roomba cleaner maps your home for commercial gain

In an near-perfect re-enactment of Milkshake Duck, the CEO of iRobot has announced that cute vacuuming robot Roomba has, in fact, been mapping your home.

A million squandered: The “Million Dollar Homepage” as a decaying digital artifact

In 2005, British student Alex Tew had a million-dollar idea. He launched www.MillionDollarHomepage.com, a website that presented initial visitors with nothing but a 1000×1000 canvas of blank pixels. At the cost of $1/pixel, visitors could permanently claim 10×10 blocks of pixels and populate them however they’d like. Pixel blocks could also be embedded with URLs and tooltip text of the buyer’s choosing.

The site took off, raising a total of $1,037,100 (the last 1,000 pixels were auctioned off for $38,100). Its customers and content demonstrate a massive range of variation, from individuals bragging about their disposable income to payday loan companies and media promoters. Some purchased minimal 10×10 blocks, while others strung together thousands of pixels to create detailed graphics. The biggest graphic on the page, a chain of pixel blocks purchased by a seemingly defunct domain called “pixellance.com”, contains $10,800 worth of pixels.

Read more (Law Innovation Lab)

Cup Conspiracy: Finding the ROI of Starbucks baristas spelling your name wrong

Everyone’s done it. Well, at least lots of people have, given 70 million customers visit Starbucks each week.

You’ve gone to Starbucks, given the barista your order and name, waited patiently for your drink and then received a surprise at the counter. “That’s not how you spell my name!”

The entitled monster inside you might be tempted to complain. You decide not to be that monster.

Instead, like thousands of others, you take your seat by the window, position your sunglasses so the sun glints magically just below the Ray Ban sticker and snap the obligatory Starbucks cup shot, captioning it “Lol why can’t @Starbucks ever spell my name right”. Cue a couple of consolatory likes. Then move on with your deadpan scroll through other people’s lives.

The Brandwatch React team, who are feeling a little existential before their morning coffee today, decided to take a look at this phenomenon.

How much free advertising has Starbucks got from the incorrect (and correct) spelling of their baristas?

Read more (Brandwatch)

The rise of Artificial Intelligence and the threat to our human rights

So far, artificial intelligence has not gone beyond the first level – ANI. This technology is embedded everywhere, from the navigation system on your smartphone, to the spam-filter on your email account.

Compared to previous inventions, ANI has evolved, and transformed our lives, at an unprecedented rate. In science speak, this is the law of accelerating returns. Progress made during a set duration of time (say 100 years) accelerates over time (from one century to the next). In everyday terms, it’s why printed maps now seem about as helpful as a telegram.

Despite this progress, the second level – AGI – has not yet emerged. It would require not only an increase in computing power, but also a boost in machines’ intelligence. In other words, machines would need to be able to learn.

Read more (Rightsinfo)

ASA doubles down on gender stereotypes in advertising

After conducting a major review into the subject, the UK's Advertising Standards Authortity has published a report on gender stereotypes in advertising, entitled Depictions, Perceptions and Harm.

How can we stop algorithms telling lies?

Lots of algorithms go bad unintentionally. Some of them, however, are made to be criminal. Algorithms are formal rules, usually written in computer code, that make predictions on future events based on historical patterns. To train an algorithm you need to provide historical data as well as a definition of success.

We’ve seen finance get taken over by algorithms in the past few decades. Trading algorithms use historical data to predict movements in the market. Success for that algorithm is a predictable market move, and the algorithm is vigilant for patterns that have historically happened just before that move. Financial risk models also use historical market changes to predict cataclysmic events in a more global sense, so not for an individual stock but rather for an entire market. The risk model for mortgage-backed securities was famously bad – intentionally so – and the trust in those models can be blamed for much of the scale and subsequent damage wrought by the 2008 financial crisis.

Read more (Guardian)

Two lads who shook the world

DOES Liverpool really need another work of art about the KLF? That's the question I'm asking myself, as I stand in front of Lime Street Station, on this impossibly blue-skied day, in the spiritual home of the most famous band in the world.

Of course, you don't need me to tell you the story. There's probably no one alive on Earth who doesn't know the basics. The prelude: two young lads, Bill and Jimmy, lynch-pins of the 1980s Liverpool scene. Hanging around at Eric's, managing bands, becoming the JAMS, making northern hip-hop, stealing stolen samples. Then the story itself. Turning into the KLF: the stadium house, the screaming crowds, the drugs, the robes, the American Tour. The Manual, the Timelords, the hysteria, the hype. Then the breakdown, the Brits, the machine guns, the Turner Prize, and the big pay-off, the show-stopper, the special effects budget: burning one million pounds. The greatest pop story ever told.

You know this. Everyone knows. The music of the KLF isn't something you like or dislike. It's just part of life. Played on the car stereo on family holidays. Whistled by the postman every morning. It's like Christmas, or Sunday lunch, or the moon. It's just there. It just is.

And, though they were only met here, didn’t even record anything here, and left for London once the going got good, this city has claimed Bill and Jimmy as its own. Liverpool offers you KLF taxi tours, and KLF Experiences. It has statues, and gift shops, and shopping centres named in Bill and Jimmy's honour. It has Justified and Ancient Ice Cream vans. There's even Liverpool KLF airport, with its pithy slogan, 'All Bound For Mu Mu Land', and a pencil drawing of Bill Drummond's face as part of the logo. But I'm not here to see any of this. I've been summoned to see something new, one more piece of art about the band.

Read more (Confidentials)

Welcome to Imperica's new editor

The warmest of welcomes to the new editor of Imperica, Gemma Milne.

Over 22,000 public wifi users sign up to degrading tasks

We have all seen funny quips in T&Cs, either of the "If you have got this far, you're obviously bored" or the "You consent to have your soul owned by Satan"  variety. Public wifi provider Purple has taken it one step further; it buried degrading tasks in its terms, which over 22,000 people subsequently agreed to.

Panama Papers probe: Daughter Maryam's use of Calibri font could bring down Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan govt

The Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's daughter Maryam of presenting fake documents on two 2006 declarations to the probe team using the "Calibri" font which was not commercially available till 30 January, 2007.

The JIT, which is probing allegations of money laundering against Sharif and his family, said Maryam Nawaz, her brothers Hussain and Hassan Nawaz as well as her husband Captain Mohammad Safdar (retd), had signed false documents to mislead the Supreme Court.

The team that probed offshore assets of Sharif family said in its report that Maryam Nawaz claimed herself to be "trustee not the owner" of Avenfield properties in London, which linked her to Minerva Services and Samba Financial, Geo News reported.

Read more (First Post)

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