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Hey Walmart, are you listening?

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Walmart just won a patent for audio surveillance technology that measures workers’ performance, and could even listen to their conversations with customers at checkout.

A patent obtained by Walmart would allow to make use of sound sensors in its stores. The situation has aroused worldwide concern about an eventual breach of privacy.

A CNET report explained how the company has just obtained a license to capture a variety of sounds in stores “to determine the performance and effectiveness of employees at the time of payment.”

The system could be used to capture the beeps produced by a scanner and even the sound of the bags when paying. With all this information, they could find out the number of items in a transaction or even the number of bags used.

Obviously, these sensors would not only capture the ambient sound, but also conversations. The patent cited by the same means, mentions that the system could be used to listen to practically everything:

The sound sensors can capture the audio of the conversations between the guests and an employee (attending in the box or terminal). The system can process the audio of the conversation to determine if the employee at the terminal is greeting the guests.

Walmart said that the system is not yet being implemented in its stores and that there is no clarity whether or not it will be occupied:

This patent is a concept that would help us collect metrics and improve the payment process by listening to the sounds produced by bags, cars and cash registers and not intended for any other use (…) We present patents frequently, but that does not mean that the patents will actually be implemented.

A while ago it was also known that the firm wanted to use facial recognition technology to know if its clients “were sad”.

 

Patent 1 

Patent 2

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Vitamin Water will pay 100 thousand dollars to anyone who does not use a smartphone for a year

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Would you be willing? Me neither.

How many dollars do you need to stop using your cell phone for 365 days, without accessing anything? For me, I think there would not be enough dollars.

But that’s what Vitamin Water (from Coca-Cola Company) wants to find out, which will select a “lucky” one, who must spend a year with a flip phone that only receives and makes calls. Note: not text messages either.

 

The challenge #NoPhoneForAYear already has several trying to be selected for it.  Some claim that it is very little money, others say it would be very easy, but what would it be like for you? Note that this also means not using a tablet. Maybe you can “get the urge” to check your social media with a computer, but not much more.

Do you want to try to be selected? You have to upload a photo with the corresponding hashtags that will surprise the VitaminWater team enough to really think you need a break from your mobile.

 

You have until January 8.

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Hey Facebook, are you listening? Woman claims she has PROOF her phone is spying on conversations

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It is not the first time that this topic is put on the table. Many people in fact, are sure that Facebook listens to the conversations they have live with their friends or relatives, all in order to direct publicity towards them.

And it is that for coincidence, it is too much. The reality is clear: to many it has happened that we chatted with someone about such product or place (without doing Google searches or anything similar, all in person), and when you open Facebook you start to see advertising that has everything to do with the talk that you just had Scary.

Adelaide Bracey is originally from Australia. She was chatting with a friend of his in person about going some day to relax in a sauna. Then he opened his profile and of course he did: advertising about saunas in his area. So random everything. What are the possibilities?

I did not search it on Google, and then it appears as an ad on my Facebook. It’s really creepy, the girl commented to The Australian.

Facebook itself has repeatedly denied it uses microphone recordings to target ads.

“Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed,” a company spokesperson said.

“Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true.

“We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information – not what you’re talking out loud about.

“We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio.

“This might include recording a video or using an optional feature we introduced two years ago to include music or other audio in your status updates.”

Do you think your phone is spying on you? To believe them or not to believe them?

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Goodbye Uncanny Valley: NVIDIA creates an AI that designs exact faces to the real ones

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Tonight’s nightmare will be courtesy of the guys from NVIDIA. Our readers do not need an explanation of  what the Uncanny Valley consists of. So when you watch this video you will realize that it will soon be a thing of the past. And obviously it had to start with the software.

It turns out that the company has just published the results of its most recent research project. Under the title of A Style-Based Generator Architecture for Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN).

Where, in collaboration with specialist engineers have created the maximum GAN. Able to assemble a generator of fake faces based on blends of styles.

Where the Artificial Intelligence neural network takes different facial features of other people to combine them and create photo-realistic faces:

Each and every one of the images that we see up there do not exist. They were generated by the Artificial Intelligence of NVIDIA.

At first glance, anyone could think that it is a photograph of a real person. And that frankly is disturbing.

In the end, this project may represent the first seed for a new era in the robotics and artificial intelligence industry.

Do not miss the video where it explains in detail how this AI works.

Top three theories

First, the uncanny valley might occur at the boundary where something moves from one category to another, in this case, between non-human and human. Christine Looser and Thalia Wheatley looked at mannequin faces that were morphed into human faces and found a valley at the point where the inanimate face started to look alive.

Second, the presence of a valley may hinge on whether we’re able to believe that near-human entities possess a mind like we do. A study by Kurt Gray and Daniel Wegner found that robots were only unnerving when people thought that they had the ability to sense and experience things, and robots that did not seem to posses a mind were not frightening.

A final compelling area for future research is that the uncanny valley occurs because of mismatches between aspects of the robot’s appearance and/or behaviour. Angela Tinwell’s work has looked at many types of mismatch, including speech synchronisation, speech speed and facial expressions. In one 2013 study, near-human agents that reacted to a startling noise by showing surprise in the lower part of their face (not the upper part) were found to be particularly eerie. This study suggested that this may be even be reminiscent of the pattern of expressive behavior exhibited by humans with psychopathic traits.

Source: http://theconversation.com/uncanny-valley-why-we-find-human-like-robots-and-dolls-so-creepy-50268

Source: https://arxiv.org/abs/1812.04948

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