Friday roundup: A week in tech

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The US of A has unveiled the world’s most powerful computer, the big show-offs.

‘Summit’ is at the peak of current computing power, capable of knocking out 200,000 trillion calculations a second, which should be ample for running Windows 10.

The swift machine thrashes the world’s previously most powerful computer, China’s Sunway TaihuLight system – so, bully for the US and hard cheese for China, who must clearly try harder.

Summit’s tremendous electric mind will soon be set to tasks concerning astrophysics and systems biology.

Dr Thomas Zacharia, director of Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) where the binary marvel lives, boasted that Summit was working on comparative genomics code while it was actually being constructed.

Speaking about things that I strongly suspect he has zero comprehension of, Rick Perry, the US Secretary of Energy, said: ‘We know we’re in a competition and it matters who gets there first. The ability to show the rest of the world that America is back in the game and we’re back in the game in a big way is really important.’

***

Following last week’s news that it decided not to renew an artificial intelligence (AI) contract with the Pentagon, Google has taken another step toward pacifism.

The gargantuan conglomerate has pledged not to use AI for weapons, outlining its peaceful credentials in a blog by CEO Sundar Pichai. Henceforth, the firm will not design AI for tech that is: likely to cause harm; used to gather info for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms; in contravention of widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.

Furthermore, according to Google, AI should be: socially beneficial; built and tested safely; accountable; made available for use.

Wow. Some good, nice news for once.

In another blog post, Mr Pichai wrote: ‘It is important that we support the societies in which we thrive, so with immediate effect we will be paying the full amount of tax we rightly owe in all of the territories we operate in.’ I’m only joking! There’s a limit to goodness and decency, you know.

***

Apple has decided to alter the default settings on its popular electric telephones, to the chagrin of the police.

The firm says the changes will make it harder for hackers to unlock iPhones without legal authorisation.

However, the move will affect the world’s police forces’ ability to conduct criminal investigations – or so the police say.

In a statement, Apple said: ‘We’re constantly strengthening the security protections in every Apple product to help customers defend against hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data.’

Anticipating a negative reaction from the police after kyboshing their iPhone crackery, the firm added: ‘We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs.’

So, who’s right: Apple or the police? Let’s get this sorted with some good old-fashioned squabbling in the comments section.

 

Picture by Andrew Morffew

Friday roundup: A week in tech

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