Weekly Tech Round-up | #10

Here is all the UK tech news from the past week, sign up for our newsletter to receive this in your inbox every week. We also do a South West tech news update every other week.

The dark side of China’s emotion-recognition tech

Emotion-recognition technologies – in which facial expressions of anger, sadness, happiness and boredom, as well as other biometric data are tracked – are supposedly able to infer a person’s feelings based on traits such as facial muscle movements, vocal tone, body movements and other biometric signals. It goes beyond facial-recognition technologies, which simply compare faces to determine a match.

But similar to facial recognition, it involves the mass collection of sensitive personal data to track, monitor and profile people and uses machine learning to analyse expressions and other clues.

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Microsoft shows off its vision for future meetings

Microsoft on Tuesday announced Mesh, a service to build apps for people to collaborate in augmented reality. Augmented reality (AR) shows computer-generated images superimposed over the real world, and nearly all the major tech players are working on the technology as they strive to create the next computing platform that will replace the smartphone. With Mesh, Microsoft wants to ensure that people who don’t have AR systems can participate in virtual gatherings with those who do. The goal is to enable people to join Mesh-enabled meetings on any device, such as a PC, a tablet or a smartphone.

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Do technology businesses still require a physical office space?

Will businesses require a physical office space in 20, or even 10 years’ time? This was a common debate long before the pandemic struck. However, COVID-19 has brought the question into sharper focus and, in many instances, fast-tracked the shift towards remote working for many organisations. Some commentators have claimed that the pandemic has sounded the death knell for commercial real estate, with the “new normal” sending more employees to work from their homes. Others, though, have been quick to stress that a physical workplace will remain essential for most businesses in the long-term

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Couriers say Uber’s racist’ facial identification tech got them fired

Uber Eats couriers say they have been fired because the company’s “racist” facial identification software is incapable of recognising their faces. The system, which Uber describes as a “photo comparison” tool, prompts couriers and drivers to take a photograph of themselves and compares it to a photograph in the company’s database. Fourteen Uber Eats couriers have shared evidence with WIRED that shows how the technology failed to recognise their faces. They were threatened with termination, had accounts frozen or were permanently fired after selfies they took failed the company’s “Real Time ID Check”. 

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