Like the rest of the Brussels bubble, we’re back in full force. Holidays are fast becoming a distant memory. The tech scene in Brussels is heating up as the copyright debate takes centre stage and cybersecurity news looms on the horizon. Before everything gets too serious and before autumn sets in, we wanted to bring you a summer-themed #TechAways.
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We’re entering the third month of out-of-office replies in Brussels. You can never be quite sure these days who is really offline and who is sporadically checking emails from the beach. In the US, nearly 50% of employees check their work email at least once daily while on holiday. This summer, Ariana Huffington took inspiration from German car company Daimler and created a tool that deleted all the emails of HuffPost employees while they were on leave. Will this trend towards really turning off take hold?
Summer BBQs are about to get easier. No more trudging to the kitchen or waiting for a commercial during your favourite sports game to grab a cold beer. Panasonic brings you the self-driving fridge. The company presented its prototype at this week's IFA conference in Berlin. The fridge is voice responsive and moves around the house without bumping into children or pets. Not only can the device provide you with food and drinks, but it also can clear away your dirty dishes. There is a catch though: the fridge won’t be in production for at least five years. Until then, alternative solutions exist.
You rely on online reviews to book restaurants and accommodation on your summer holidays? It may be time to worry. Researchers from the University of Chicago created a deep learning recurrent neural networks system that could fake restaurant reviews - believably. For the nefarious side of the AI sector, it sadly represents a huge economic opportunity. For the online tourism, food, and retail sectors? It could spell disaster. Will AI destroy the credibility of the online review?
Did your robot friend take your summer holiday snaps? In the heated EU copyright debate, it seems there’s another issue to solve – if AI creates art, who owns the work? AI already creates music, movie trailers and paintings. For example, an AI programme was designed to imitate the works of Rembrandt. It produces original pieces in the style of the Dutch master, trained by data input from hundreds of paintings. But who should own the work? Rembrandt, the person who gathered the data, or the AI programme itself?
AI powered robots taking our jobs? Leading commentator Ezra Klein has a brighter outlook. Robots are already better than humans at many jobs today and are continually improving but they are never as sociable as people. And while we enjoy online yoga classes, most of us still prefer an actual teacher. “Humans will find things other humans want them to do, and they’ll decide those things have value,” he argues In a debate dominated by data crunchers, the value of analytical intelligence has been overvalued while the skills, aptitudes and personalities that make people appreciate one other have been underrated. Summer beach volleyball just wouldn’t be same against robot friends.
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