Week In Tech: Yanny debates, Royal Hats and Why I prefer Cats

Welcome to our weekly look at what’s happening in the world of tech. We’re glad you could make it. Your scheduled writer for this week is stuck up a mountain in Wales – which leaves you lot stuck with me instead!

This week, there is plenty of new news, some slightly old news and some news that isn’t really news at all. Read on dear reader.

This Week in online abuse

Facebook has had a rough couple of months with the breaking of the Cambridge Analytica story, every day bringing more revelations about the extent of malicious adverts in the US election and Brexit referendum, and society is finally beginning to seriously question whether social media is a contributor to our wellbeing. In response, Facebook is ramping up its fightback (motivated entirely by good intentions and not concerns for its stock price of course).

This week Facebook revealed the scale of abuse on its site, announced it has closed 583 million fake accounts in Q1 2018, and announced an alert for Instagram users to warn if they are spending too much time on the app. Twitter and Uber have also announced further changes to their inner workings to try tackle harassment, which we can all agree is generally a good thing. Somehow, it feels like the problem isn’t quite solved yet, so expect more on this.

The real division in tech this week

Society might seem pretty divided when you look at social media. But at least the biggest source of division online this week is a bit more light-hearted. Without doubt the most viral story of this week was the ‘Yanny or Laurel’ audio clip. It’s the audio equivalent of the polarizing ‘Blue and Black or White and Gold dress’ photo from 2015. People have spent the last few days vehemently claiming they hear Laurel when they clearly are lying and can hear Yanny, because it’s definitely Yanny right?? It’s tearing families apart.

Apparently, the real reason for the differing interpretations is down to your ability to hear higher frequencies. If you are able to hear high frequencies, you are more likely to hear Yanny.

The NY Times put together an interactive tool where you can finally hear both by adjusting the frequencies – You know you’re going to try it one more time, so click here to check that out.

Spot the dog replacement

What’s that boy? Automation coming for us all? Boston Dynamics have announced their headless canine automaton robot will be made available for sale in mid-2019. SpotMini has gained plenty of coverage for its incredible yet eerie movement and was last seen opening a door with an attachable arm to let a fellow robot through. The 30kg quadruped can operate up to 90 minutes between charges and is capable of being driven semi-autonomously, but also able to navigate fully autonomously using its series of cameras.

The move marks a step towards profitability for Boston Dynamics, which has so far struggled to commercialise any of its endeavours. For me, it looks like those demon dogs from Stranger Things, so maybe there’s a fruitful tie in there?

No word yet on how much SpotMini will cost. Human civilisation can only hope it doesn’t cost us ‘everything’.

Something Royal Wedding-y

I know that 100% of you out there are 100% excited for the Royal Wedding this weekend. It promises to be not only an extravagant royal occasion, but also the most recent. So how does Tech fit into this wonderful occasion in the news cycle? Well, Sky News will be using facial recognition technology to create a ‘Who’s Who’ app, which will offer onscreen captions and graphics to help you identify the attending minor royalty, bloggers, celebs, and stars of TV show Suits. No more foolishly failing to recognise James, Viscount Severn, for me!

That’s it for this week. See you next time!