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Smartwatch Sales In 2016 Experienced Signficant Decline

July 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The global smartwatch market experienced a decline by 32% in the second quarter of 2016, with Apple Watch shipments down by 55% when compared to a year earlier, according to research firm IDC.

The decline — the first since the market started in 2013 — is expected to reverse next year after Apple and Google launch important operating system updates this fall, IDC said. Also, more watches will launch with cellular connections to LTE wireless without the need to connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone.

Apple was the only smartwatch maker in the top five to see a decline in the second quarter, although the Apple Watch remained the top smartwatch by far, with 1.6 million devices shipped and 47% of the market, IDC said.

Samsung smartwatches placed second, with 600,000 shipped and 16% of the market. Lenovo, LG Electronics and Garmin rounded out the next three positions, each with less than 300,000 smartwatches shipped.

In all, 3.5 million smartwatches shipped in the second quarter, down from 5.1 million in the second quarter of 2015, for a 32% decline.

For all of 2016, smartwatch shipments are forecast to reach 19.2 million, just slightly below the 19.3 million units in 2015. The big rebound will come in 2017, when shipments reach 28 million, IDC said.

“There’s definitely optimism down the road, but not so much in 2016,” said IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani, in an interview. IDC’s smartwatch category doesn’t include most fitness bands, which don’t run third-party applications, as smartwatches do.

The second-quarter decline for the Apple Watch came even as the device’sstarting price was dropped to $299, down from $349. Apple is expected to launch its next-generation Apple Watch and WatchOS 3 as early as September. The new device is expected to support LTE independent of a Bluetooth connection to an iPhone.

In the next two years, more traditional watch makers will enter the smartwatch market. So far, Casio, Fossil and Tag Heuer have launched their own smartwatch models. As more traditional watch brands start selling the devices, the market will grow, IDC said.

New applications and games will also help smartwatch growth, Ubrani said. Some users might want to play Pokemon Go on a smartwatch, Ubrani said. However, a Pokemon Go Plus wearable has already been announced that can be worn on the wrist with a polyester wristband to connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone running the game. It will sell for $35.

 

 

 

 

Mytaxi, Hailo Merge To Take On Rival Uber

July 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Daimler’s mytaxi said it will merge with British competitor Hailo in an all-share deal, creating Europe’s largest smartphone-based taxi-hailing business.

Unlike U.S.-based ride hailing start-up Uber, which established itself to compete against taxi companies, the new company will operate using taxi firms.

It is the latest push by traditional carmakers to enter the taxi ride hailing services market dominated by Uber and other technology companies.

The companies declined to disclose financial terms.

“It’s a paper deal. Daimler will own 60 percent of the new entity and the stakeholders in Halio will own 40 percent,” said Halio CEO Andrew Pinnington, who will be chief executive of the combined company.

The merged entity, which will operate under the mytaxi brand, will have 70 million passengers and 100,000 registered taxi drivers in over 50 cities across nine countries in Europe, the companies said.

In similar deals this year, Volkswagen took a $300 million stake in Gett and General Motors invested $500 million in Lyft.

Hailo, which operates in Britain, Ireland and Spain, will combine with myTaxi, which is available in Austria, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

The combined company will be headquartered in Hamburg, Germany.

MyTaxi founder Niclaus Mewes will take a seat on the supervisory board and in addition he will become managing director of Daimler Mobility Services GmbH.

 

NFC For ATM Transactions Catching On

July 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Several of the nation’s biggest banks in the U.S. now support the use of a smartphone to withdraw cash from an ATM — many by way of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology — instead of requiring customers to use a bank card.

One of the early adopters, Bank of America, said this week it currently supports cardless technology at 2,800 of its ATMs. That number will reach 8,000 ATMs by year’s end that rely on NFC and other technology. Bank of America, which has about 15,000 ATMs nationwide, created a video to show how a smartphone loaded with the bank’s mobile app can now withdraw cash from some ATMs.

Wells Fargo said it has a “handful” of ATMs that are NFC-ready and working to deliver cash and other transactions and is planning to reach 5,000 by the end of 2016. A total of 12,000 ATMs will be enabled in 2017.

JPMorgan Chase said it also will have many cardless ATMs available this year, but didn’t specify how many or when. Initially at Chase, customers will show up at an ATM and type in a numerical code they acquired wirelessly through use of the Chase smartphone app to get their cash. That numerical code verification process will be an early step in rolling out cardless technology at the bank’s nearly 15,000 ATMs.

In addition to using NFC or a numerical code to authenticate a transaction, some bank ATMs are expected to rely on scanning a QR code displayed on a phone.

The number of ATMs supporting cardless cash remains a small portion of the estimated 500,000 ATMs in the U.S. Crone Consulting, which monitors the mobile payment industry, recently said it expects about 95,000 ATMs in the U.S. to support cardless cash by year’s end.

 

 

 

Is The Apple Watch Dragging The Smartwatch Industry Down?

July 27, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

After dragging up the smart watch industry thanks to its legions of fanboys who will buy any old rubbish provided it has an Apply logo, Jobs’ Mob is causing it all to crash again.

For those who came in late, after Apple invented the smartwatch two years later than its rivals, it was supposed to sell millions of them. To be fair it did reasonably well considering its product was out-of-date and pretty much useless. It sold about six million of them to the loyal fanboys base who would buy a dog turd if it had an Apple logo. Smartwatches were a small market and six million was rather a lot.

But this figure was well below the 40 million that some analysts claimed it would sell. The smartwatch got bad reviews and lacked most of the functionality that its rivals had. It was also expensive.

Apple appears to have lost interest in the devices It fails to mention them in polite company and rumours of “innovations” of the tech are few and far between. This has resulted in the smartwatch industry which was propped by Apple’s interest taking a battering.

Vendors shipped a total of 3.5 million smartwatches worldwide last quarter. This Q2 2016 figure is down 32 percent from the 5.1 million units shipped in Q2 2016, marking the first decline on record.

The figures don’t count basic bands sold by companies like Fitbit so Apple is the undisputed leader. The latest quarterly figures come from IDC, which said that Apple’s market share decreased 25 percentage points (from 72 percent to 47 percent) and it shipped less than half the smartwatches (1.6 million). But the company still holds almost half the market, with every other vendor shipping fewer than a million units.

Samsung gained 9 percentage points (from 7 percent to 16 percent), thanks to shipping 200,000 more units compared to the same quarter last year. IDC attributes the gain to solid distribution though American carriers. The Gear S2 lineup is Samsung’s biggest success and doesn’t appear to depend on the company’s smartphones.

Lenovo gained 6 percentage points (from 3 percent to 9 percent), shipping 100,000 more units and jumping into third place. IDC believes this is thanks to the company’s Motorola brand moving quickly into smartwatches and becoming the de facto Android Wear choice for round form factors.

LG gained 4 percentage points (from 4 percent to 8 percent), also shipping 100,000 more units but slipping to fourth place.

Garmin gained 2 percentage points (from 2 percent to 4 percent), despite flat shipments. Its Connect IQ-enabled devices remain niche, as they mainly only target athletes.

Of course the Tame Apple press claims all that will change when Apple releases its refresh of the watch which has all the features that were missing when the Smart Watch launched before. However even if it does happen this time, the technology is still two years too late and fanboys are going to find it hard justifying an upgrade to their parents. They might have to take on another paper rounded to pay for it.

All this indicates that after a period of Apple bloat, some sanity is being restored to the smartwatch industry which is, and will always be, niche.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Tech Firms Form OTrP To Support IoT Security

July 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A bunch of tech firms including ARM and Symantec have joined forces to create a security protocol designed to protect Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The group, which also includes Intercede and Solacia, has created The Open Trust Protocol (OTrP) that is now available for download for prototyping and testing from the IETF website.

The OTrP is designed to bring system-level root trust to devices, using secure architecture and trusted code management, akin to how apps on smartphones and tablets that contain sensitive information are kept separate from the main OS.

This will allow IoT manufacturers to incorporate the technology into devices, ensuring that they are protected without having to give full access to a device OS.

Marc Canel, vice president of security systems at ARM, explained that the OTrP will put security and trust at the core of the IoT.

“In an internet-connected world it is imperative to establish trust between all devices and service providers,” he said.

“Operators need to trust devices their systems interact with and OTrP achieves this in a simple way. It brings e-commerce trust architectures together with a high-level protocol that can be easily integrated with any existing platform.”

Brian Witten, senior director of IoT security at Symantec, echoed this sentiment. “The IoT and smart mobile technologies are moving into a range of diverse applications and it is important to create an open protocol to ease and accelerate adoption of hardware-backed security that is designed to protect onboard encryption keys,” he said.

The next stage is for the OTrP to be further developed by a standards-defining organisation after feedback from the wider technology community, so that it can become a fully interoperable standard suitable for mass adoption.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

More Than Half The World Remains Off The Internet

July 25, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

About 3.9 billion people, or 53 percent of the population still remains offline at the end of this year, according to the International Telecommunication Union estimates. Even in Europe, the most connected region, 20.9 percent of all people aren’t online. In Africa, the least connected continent, 74.9 percent are offline.

Those figures are part of the annual statistical report from the agency, which is part of the United Nations. The report also showed there’s still a huge divide between rich and poor countries, and a growing gap between men and women, when it comes to internet access. It shows that efforts by companies like Google and Facebook to get all people connected could take a long time.

While more than four out of five people in developed countries use the internet, just over 40 percent of those in developing countries have access. In the ITU’s “least developed countries” — places like Haiti, Yemen, Myanmar and Ethiopia — just 15.2 percent of the people are online.

Also, fewer women than men are on the internet, and that difference is getting worse. The worldwide difference between internet user penetration for males and females is 12.2 percent, up from 11.0 percent in 2013, the ITU says. It’s shrunk significantly in developed countries, from 5.8 percent to just 2.8 percent, but grown in poorer places.

Cost makes it harder to get online in some countries. The ITU says entry-level internet access has become affordable in many developing countries since 2011 but remains unaffordable in most of the poorest countries. By the ITU’s definition, that means internet service costs more than 5 percent of average monthly income.

 

 

 

FCC Presses Phone Companies To Provide ‘Robocall’ Blocking Technology

July 25, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission urged major U.S. phone companies to take immediate steps to make technology that blocks unwanted automated calls available to consumers at no charge.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, in letters to CEOs of major phone companies, said so-called robocalls, automated pre-recorded telephone calls often from telemarketers or scam artists, continue “due in large part to industry inaction.”

Wheeler’s letters went to chief executives of companies including Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp, US Cellular Corp, Level 3 Communications Inc, Frontier Communications Corp, Bandwidth.com Inc, and T-Mobile US.

Wheeler said in a blog post on Friday that he wants answers from the companies “within 30 days with their concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues.”

The letters, reviewed by Reuters, noted that the FCC does not require phone providers to offer robocall blocking and filtering but the FCC has “strongly encouraged providers to offer these services” at no charge to consumers.

Tom Power, general counsel at CTIA, the wireless trade association, said on Friday that “unwanted calls and texts are a consumer issue the wireless industry works hard to address and we look forward to working with the FCC to help address this challenge together.”

The FCC gets hundreds of thousands of complaints annually about robocalls and unwanted text messages.

Wheeler’s letters also said providers can do more to ensure that incoming calls are not “spoofed,” when callers falsify the information transmitted to caller-ID displays to disguise their identity.

Scam artists often try to appear to call from a bank or a government phone to trick consumers into disclosing confidential financial or account information. Other scams pitch phony vacation or mortgage offers.

In the letters, the FCC said the phone industry should create a “Do Not Originate” list that would allow government agencies, banks and healthcare providers, among others, to register their phone numbers and would allow providers to block calls from outside the United States. Many phone scams based overseas target Americans.

The FCC said last year it agreed that phone companies should not block calls without customers permission. Wheeler noted that providers “have suggested that blocking should wait until new Caller ID authentication standards are in place, but that is not a valid excuse for delay.”

The FCC has brought 13 enforcement actions to combat robocalls since 2013. In 2015, the FCC fined a Florida company nearly $3 million for illegal calls promoting travel deals.

 

 

Will Nokia Succeed With Android Smartphones?

July 25, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia is reportedly getting ready to make a smartphone comeback with two high-end Android 7.0 Nougat devices.

We already know that Nokia is plotting a return to the mobile market. The company revealed in May that it has signed an exclusive agreement with HMD Global, a new company also based in Finland, to create Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets for the next 10 years.

Nokia’s comeback might happen in just a few months’ time, as NokiaPowerUser has heard that the firm is plotting the launch of two high-end Android 7.0 smartphones at the end of this year, or Q1 2017 if things don’t go exactly to plan.

The website’s “trusted sources” explained that the two unnamed devices will have premium metal designs complete with IP68 certification, which means they’ll be as water resistant as the Galaxy S7.

The report also claimed that the devices will offer “the famous Nokia feel”, which we guess points to brightly coloured options.

Expect 5.2in and 5.5in QHD screens, according to the anonymous sources, along with fingerprint scanners and “innovations” in the camera department.

“We hear that sensors on these two smartphones may be the most sensitive ever and will be based on Nokia’s extensive research on wonder material graphene,” the report said.

The two smartphones also look set to run Google’s Android 7.0 Nougat software, providing features such as split-screen mode, enhanced notifications and improved gaming thanks to support for the Vulkan API.

Nougat will reportedly come topped with Nokia’s Z-Launcher software, as seen on the Nokia N1 tablet. Improvements to the skin could bring “elements of touch and hover interaction”, hinting that the devices could offer 3D Touch-like technology.

We don’t know much else yet, but Gizmodo China reported that the smartphones will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chip.

There’s no word on prices yet, but Gizmodo’s report claimed that the bigger, and presumably more expensive, model will cost around $500 SIM-free.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Qualcomm Appears To Be Back In The Black

July 22, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has had a better than expected results in its Q3 earnings, beating street and even its own estimates.

Qualcomm offered $5.2 billion to $6 billion revenue guidance and it managed to make $6 billion. Non-GAAP diluted EPS was projected at $0.90 – $1.00 and Qualcomm actually managed to make $1.16.

The MSM chip shipments were guided at 175 million to 195 million while the company actually sold 201 million of these chips.

Total reported device sales was expected to be between $52 billion and  $60 billion and in reality Qualcomm scored $62.6 billion. Qualcomm shipped between 321 million to  325 million 3G/4G devices and estimated reported 3G/4G device average selling price was at $191 – $197.

There are a few reasons for such good results, the first being Samsung. The company chose Snapdragon 820 for some markets with its flagship phones. The Snapdragon 820 ended up in 115 devices and it looks like one of the strongest high end phone chips in a while.

The introduction of the Snapdragon 821 will rekindle the fire and will make some additional sales for Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and a few other high end phones including some phones from LG and others. The 4G modem business is in good shape but one has to be careful as Qualcomm might lose some of the iPhone business to Intel. Everyone wants carrier aggregation capable modems these days, that is Cat 6 and up and Qualcomm offers this from Snapdragon 430 to the Snapdragon 820.

It is interesting to notice that while Apple iPhone sales were down, Qualcomm did better mainly as when Apple declines at   the high end, Qualcomm can make money from its high end Snapdragon chips.

We expect to see the announcement of Snapdragon 830 before the end of the year while devices shipping with the new chip in late Q1 2017 or early Q2 2017. As far as we know this might be the 10nm SoC but we will have to wait and see.

Qualcomm is investing heavily in improvements of 4G, current and future generations as well as a concentrated focus on 5G. From where we stand, Qualcomm still has the best chances to dominate the 5G market, especially due to the fact that 5G is an evolution of 4G with some new wave length and concepts added to it.

Last year’s loss of Samsung Galaxy S6 design win hurt a lot, and now the big customer is back, it seems that investing in a custom ARM Kryo core and dominating in Adreno graphics paid off.

Courtesy-Fud

 

ZTE Debuts Zmax Pro Smartphone For $99

July 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

ZTE’s $99 ZMax Pro includes some of the latest smartphone technologies, which is a pleasant surprise for a low-priced handset.

The smartphone has a 6-in. screen and is available only through MetroPCS in the U.S. It weighs about 175 grams and is 8.9 millimeters thick.

It has some top-line features found in the latest smartphones, like a USB Type-C port. It also runs on the latest Android OS 6.0 code-named Marshmallow.

The Gorilla Glass 3 screen shows images at a full HD resolution. The handset has 32GB of internal storage and a micro-SD card for expandable storage. That’s a lot of storage for a handset under $100.

The handset is comparable to the new fourth-generation Moto G handset, which is now available unlocked on Amazon.com for $199.99 for a 16GB model. The Zmax Pro has a 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera, along with an eight-core Snapdragon 617 processor, all of which are also packaged in the Moto G.

The ZTE phone also has a 3,400 milli-amp-hour battery, which provides about 25 hours of talk time and 400 hours of standby time. It also features a fingerprint reader, which isn’t commonly found in low-cost handsets.

However, the smartphone lacks some other features. It includes 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, not the latest 802.11ac, which offers a wider range and faster speeds.

The smartphone succeeds last year’s ZMax 2, which sold for $149. The handset may be available unlocked and through other carriers in the future, but the company wasn’t ready to share details.

 

 

Is Arm Really A Good Fit For Softbank?

July 20, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Softbank, the naysayers were mostly on ARM’s side. But it seems that Softbank is having trouble selling the idea to its own shareholders.

Shares in Japan’s Softbank have fallen 10 per cent after it agreed a controversial $30 billion deal to buy UK chip designer ARM.

Part of the reason that shareholders greeted the idea with horror was that it would dump a pile of debt on the company, but the other reason was the value of the company was expected to plummet after Brexit causes the UK economy to collapse.

It was for this reason that the UK Chancellor Philip Hammond welcomed the deal saying that despite the vote to leave the EU, Britain “has lost none of its allure to international investors”. Of course sending profits overseas is just the sort of thing that is good for the British economy under Hammond’s new glorious economic plan.

Common sense, as expressed by ARM co-founder Hermann Hauser, said it represented a “sad day” for the UK’s technology sector. ARM was a golden child which emerged from the days when the UK used to actually make computers.

Analysts had been hoping that Softbank, which has raised nearly 19 billion in cash through sales of some of its assets, was going to use some of that cash to reduce its debt or reward shareholders.

Instead it has secured a $10 billion bridge loan to finance part of its ARM purchase.

SoftBank has pledged to preserve ARM’s existing management team, maintain its headquarters in Cambridge, at least double the number of employees in the UK over the next five years and increase its overseas workforce.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is Google Really Working On Augmented Reality Devices?

July 20, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The rumor mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn claiming that Google has abandoned its VR projects and is secretly working on a an augmented reality-style headset.

Engadget reported that the Californian technology giant is building the head-mounted computer that will work independently of smartphones and desktop PCs.

It claims that this secret project, which is quietly in development, is a replacement for an Oculus Rift style project that has been axed.

Actually the project sounds more like a hybrid VR-AR setup: “While it does have a screen, it will offer features more in line with augmented reality systems than existing VR headsets.”

Google is not saying anything and it does have a habit of working on things and then giving up on them. But the rumours are indicative of just how important AR and VR is becoming for the industry’s major players:

It is widely viewed as the next major platform, with similar possibilities to the early days of mobile. Facebook has the Oculus Rift, Microsoft has its AR Hololens headset, and there are rumours about Apple’s intentions to get into virtual reality after everyone else has done the legwork and then it will arrive and claim it has invented it.

Google was into mobile-powered VR game early with its DIY Cardboard headset, and earlier this year it announced Daydream — a virtual reality platform that, like Cardboard (but much more sophisticated), uses a smartphone as its hardware base.

Engadget claims that employees working on the secretive alternative headset have been told that Daydream is “not the company’s long-term plan for virtual and augmented reality.”

Courtesy-Fud

 

U.S. National Science Foundation To Spend $400M On Wireless Research

July 19, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The U.S. National Science Foundation will shell out than $400 million over the next seven years to pay for next-generation wireless research in an effort to bring super-fast mobile service to the country.

U.S. officials hope the investments will speed up the county’s move to next-generation 5G mobile service, potentially offering speeds of 10Gbps, and allow for a rapid expansion of the internet of things.

The next-generation mobile services will enable self-driving cars, an “always on” IoT, smart cities, new virtual reality offerings and video to aid police, firefighters and emergency medical responders, said John Holdren assistant to President Barack Obama for science and technology.

“Time and again, history has shown us that when we make sustained federal investments in fundamental academic research and in public-private partnerships … we as a nation reap the benefits,” Holdren said at an NSF event in Washinton, D.C., Friday.

The NSF funding, part of a new White House Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, includes $50 million as part of a partnership with more than 20 mobile companies and trade groups to roll out advanced wireless testing sites in four U.S. cities. The testing will include deployment of small cells to boost signals of high-band, millimeter wave spectrum.

The announcement piggybacks on a Federal Communications Commission vote last Thursday to open up nearly 11 gigahertz of high-band spectrum to 5G and IoT services.

The NSF expects to spend $350 million over the next seven years on fundamental research and testing of next-generation wireless technologies, the agency said.

The FCC and other agencies want to focus on making spectrum available so that wireless companies can experiment with the best ways to deliver new services, said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Some countries have pushed to set 5G standards before moving forward, but not the U.S., he said.

 

 

 

SoftBank To Acquire ARM For $32 Billion

July 19, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Japan’s SoftBank will acquire UK chip design company ARM Holdings to take advantage of growing demand for processors and other technologies for the internet of things and mobile markets.

SoftBank is paying £24.3 billion ($32 billion) in cash for the chip company that licenses its designs to a large number of chip suppliers to smartphone makers and to the emerging IoT market.

The Japanese company will retain ARM’s headquarters in Cambridge and plans to double the number of employees in the U.K. over the next five years, when it will also increase the company’s headcount outside the U.K.

ARM, with 4,064 employees,  will be an independent business within SoftBank, which will pay for the acquisition from existing cash resources and a loan. SoftBank said it intends to retain the current ARM organization including the existing senior management team, brand, and partnership-based business model and culture.

SoftBank has invested in a number of media and technology companies, including Internet retailer Snapdeal in India and ride-hailing app company Didi Chuxing in China. It also acquired Sprint Nextel in 2013.

The acquisition of ARM would place the company in a market where it would be an upstream supplier to some of the biggest names in the tech industry as licensees of ARM’s designs like Qualcomm gear up to supply chips to the connected devices market.

“ARM will be an excellent strategic fit within the SoftBank group as we invest to capture the very significant opportunities provided by the ‘Internet of Things,’” said SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son in a statement Monday.

 

 

 

Was The Rise Of The Machines A.I. Contest A Success?

July 19, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The Winograd Schema Challenge is a competition intended to reward technologists who can build a system that understands the kind of ambiguous sentences humans come out with all the time, but which are simple for other humans, even stupid ones, to understand.

Get it right 90 per cent of the time and $25,000 is up for grabs. And with things like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant, the Winograd Schema Challenge must surely be as good as obsolete by now.

Right? Wrong.

The best two entrants at the event this week achieved correct scores only 48 per cent of the time, little better than randomly guessing the meaning of the sentences they were supposed to crack.

This is despite a decade of advances in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), which has barely shifted since the late 1950s, according to some.

The Challenge posed a series of ambiguously worded sentences to the entrants such as:

The trophy would not fit in the brown suitcase because it was too big (small). What was too big (small)?

The town councillors refused to give the demonstrators a permit because they feared (advocated) violence. Who feared (advocated) violence?

There is an ambiguity in the above examples, read literally, about what is too big (or small) and exactly who is fearing violence, although a semi-intelligent human should be able to work it out with ease.

The problem, according to Gary Marcus, a research psychologist at New York University, who acted as an advisor for the Challenge, is that computers lack common sense, and programming it into them is incredibly difficult.

Indeed, the MIT Technology Review said that most of the entrants in the Challenge used a combination of hand-coded grammatical understanding and a ‘knowledge base’ of facts. It still didn’t help much, though.

However, one of the two best-placed systems, led by Quan Liu, a researcher at the University of Science and Technology of China, together with researchers from York University in Montreal and the National Research Council of Canada, used neural network-based machine learning in a bid to train their computer to recognise the many different contexts in which words can be used.

Liu claimed that after fixing a problem in the AI, he was able to achieve a success rate closer to 60 per cent, which is still a long way from being able to go home with a cheque for $25,000.

The Challenge is deliberately designed to be different from the Turing Test, which tests only whether a human can be fooled into thinking that an AI program is human.

The trouble with this is that there are more than enough idiots who could be fooled into helping an AI system to pass that test. The language test, in contrast, provides a more objective test of genuine AI, argued Marcus.

The failure of the AI programs in the Challenge highlights how far chatbots and other supposedly revolutionary AI-based machines still have to go before humans can clock-off for the last time and leave running the planet to computers.

Some experts have claimed that its development will spark the next industrial revolution, while others, such as Apple co-founder and pontificator Steve Wozniak, suggest that we’ll be adopted as pets by robots.

Google, Microsoft and Facebook didn’t bother entering, perhaps because they feared outright humiliation.  Maybe next year.

Courtesy-TheInq