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Facebook developing ‘perfect’ chatbot

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New York, April 15: Facebook is quietly developing the most useful virtual assistant ever that may outshine Jarvis — the artificial intelligence (AI) assistant its CEO Mark Zuckerberg developed in 2016.

The company’s experimental assistant — called Facebook M — is offered inside the company’s Messenger app and shows the value of having a true digital butler in your pocket.

Instead of just retrieving simple pieces of information from databases, M can understand complex orders and take actions like booking theatre tickets or contacting companies for information, a report in MIT Technology Review said.

M works like Apple’s AI assistant Siri. So when you fire a message to M, algorithms try to figure out what you want. But what makes M better than Siri is its ability return a meaningful answer.

When Siri cannot answer a question, it replies: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.”

In the case of M, a human being invisibly takes over and responds to your request and it seems that the chatbot is answering your question.

Since this project was too expensive to scale to the 1.2 billion people who use Facebook Messenger, the company offered M to a few thousand users in 2015.

The human-algorithm move was intended to provide data that would let the algorithms learn to take over the work of their human “trainers”.

“Everybody in this field is dreaming of creating the assistant that will finally be very, very, very smart,” said Alex Lebrun, who started the project.

According to the company, the research project can be called successful, though M is still far from the point where it could be offered to the other 99.9 per cent of Messenger users.

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Never shared Indian users’ data with third parties: Paytm

A report was doing rounds on the social media that Paytm is sharing its users’s data with third parties.

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New Delhi, May 26: Digital wallet payment company Paytm on Saturday refuted media reports that it has shared user data to third parties, saying that the data of its 300 million registered users is safe in India.

“There is a video going around on social media and it falsely claims that we shared some data with 3rd parties. Nothing can be further from the truth,” the company wrote in a blog post.

“We never share your data with anyone: any company/ any government or any country. At Paytm, your data is yours. Not ours, or of a third party, or of the government.”

Paytm reiterated that their policy allows only legally compliant data requests from the “law of the land” to get access to data for necessary investigations.

“You can be sure that no data is shared with anyone whom you would not have given us permission to share it with. This is the holy grail of trust between us.

“Any person claiming otherwise is not aware of the policy and is not authorised to speak on behalf of the company,” the company said.

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GDPR impact: Google, Facebook face over $9 bn in fines

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San Francisco, May 26: Withing hours of the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect on Friday, technology giants Google and Facebook have been hit with privacy complaints that could carry fines of up to $9.3 billion in total, a media report said.

With regard to privacy, Google, Facebook and Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram are forcing people to adopt a “take it or leave it” approach which essentially amounts to demanding that users submit to intrusive terms of service, according to the the Austrian privacy-advocacy group Noyb.eu, CNET reported on Friday.

“Tonnes of ‘consent boxes’ popped up online or in applications, often combined with a threat, that the service can no longer be used if user (s) do not consent,” the group was quoted as saying in a statement.

The group is asking regulators in France, Belgium, Germany and Austria to fine the companies up to the maximum four per cent of their annual revenue that the GDPR legislation allows.

This could potentially add up to a $4.88 billion fine for Google parent company Alphabet and $1.63 billion for each of Facebook, and its Instagram and WhatsApp services, if European regulators agree with Noyb.eu and decide to fine the companies the full amount, the CNET report said.

GDPR, designed to designed to give individuals in the European Union (EU) more rights to control their personal information, came into effect on Friday.

Seen as a measure to by European leaders to control the powers of technology companies, GDPR violations can cost companies either 20 million Euros or four per cent of annual turnover.

As a result of the regulation, several US news outlets blocked Europeans on Friday, the report said.

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Apple received 30,000 device information requests from governments

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San Francisco, May 26: The governments around the world sent requests for device information on 29,718 Apple devices, with India asking for 27 device requests in the July-December 2017 period, the iPhone maker has revealed.

Overall, the data was provided in 79 per cent of cases, Apple said in its bi-annual transparency report made available on Friday.

In case of India, the data was provided in 14 out of 27 requests (52 per cent).

The governments and private parties around the world also requested information on 3,358 Apple accounts and data was provided in 82 per cent of cases.

“Examples of such requests are where law enforcement agencies are working on behalf of customers who have requested assistance locating lost or stolen devices.

“Additionally, Apple regularly receives multi-device requests related to fraud investigations. Device-based requests generally seek details of customers associated with devices or device connections to Apple services,” the Cupertino-based company said.

Private party request circumstances generally relate to instances where private litigants are involved in either civil or criminal proceedings.

The tech giant said that starting with the period July 1-December 31, 2018, it will “report on government requests to take down Apps from the App Store in instances related to alleged violations of legal and/or policy provisions”.

Apple requires government and private entities to follow applicable laws and statutes when requesting customer information and data.

“We contractually require our service providers to abide by the same standard for any government information requests for Apple data. Our legal team reviews requests received to ensure that the requests have a valid legal basis,a the company said.

“When we receive an account request seeking our customers’ personal information, we notify the customer that we have received a request concerning their personal data except where we are explicitly prohibited by the legal process, by a court order Apple receives, or by applicable law,” it added.

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