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It goes without saying that the spontaneous combustion of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 was a big deal, but rarely do we get an opportunity to see the impact of tech gaffes on public sentiment quantified. A new Harris Poll ranking the "reputation quotient" of the 100 most recognizable brands in the United States provides just that, and the picture isn't good one for Samsung. In fact, it's pretty dire.
In last year's reputation ratings, Samsung landed in the seventh position out of 100 companies, beaten only by Amazon, Apple, and Google on the tech side of things. Fast forward to today, and Samsung has found itself barely squeezing into the top half of the chart with the number 49 spot on the rankings.
As big of a drop in the charts as it has taken, it's interesting to note that Samsung's actual reputation rating only actually dropped from 80.44 to 75.17. Harris considers a rating of 80+ to be "Excellent," and groups ratings of 75 to 79 into the "Very Good" category. Additionally, both Apple and Google took hits in their ratings as well, though not nearly as drastic — Apple fell from 83.03 to 82.07 and Google dipped from 82.97 to 82.00.
The study is conducted via interviews with US adults, each of which are asked to rate companies that they are familiar with. According to the methodology of the research, each company received a rating from approximately 300 respondents. The timing of the study wasn't particularly favorable to Samsung, having been conducted from late November to mid December of 2016, which was precisely when Samsung was in the midst devising a way to remotely kill off the Note 7s that were still in the hands of owners.
The world's first race on a professional track involving self-driving cars ended, not surprisingly, with a crash. As part of the Roborace competition held in Buenos Aires over the weekend, one of the two self-driving Devbot vehicles involved in the race slammed into a wall after miscalculating a particularly sharp turn.
While the Devbot vehicles weren't going all out, they weren't exactly driving at a leisurely pace either. At their best, both cars were driving in excess of 100 MPH, with one reaching a top speed of 115 MPH at one point.
In addition to racing around the track at high speeds, it's worth noting that each car can communicate with the other as to prevent them from crashing into each other. Unfortunately, the racetrack wall proved to be an insurmountable foe.
As for the software malfunction that caused the crash, Roborace's Justin Cooke explained what happened in an interview with the BBC:
One of the cars was trying to perform a manoeuvre, and it went really full-throttle and took the corner quite sharply and caught the edge of the barrier.
It's actually fantastic for us because the more we see these moments the more we are able to learn and understand what was the thinking behind the computer and its data.
Indeed, for as far along as self-driving software and hardware has progressed, it's clear that there's still a lot of work to be done before self-driving cars can replace human drivers completely across all driving environments.
While the DevBot vehicles are designed such that they "can be driven by a human or a computer", the versions used in the race over the weekend did not have any humans inside. Photos of the crash can be seen here.
Nigeria on Monday urged the African Union to step in to stop what it said were "xenophobic attacks" on its citizens and other Africans in South Africa. "This is unacceptable to the people and government of Nigeria," a senior presidential aide on foreign affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said in an emailed statement. There was no independent verification of the claimed number of deaths, which may have been the result of wider criminal activities rather than anti-immigrant sentiment.
One of the nearly 50 suspects in an alleged plot to assassinate Turkey's president admitted involvement in the botched July 15 putsch bid as the mass trial opened Monday. Forty-four suspects, mainly soldiers, are under arrest over the alleged plot to kill Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while three others still on the run are being tried in absentia at the court in the southern city of Mugla. Onlookers heckled the accused as they stepped out of the buses that took them from prison, shouting "we want the death penalty!" and "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Greatest").
Gambian police said they arrested 51 people in a former stronghold of ex-president Yahya Jammeh for harassing followers of new leader Adama Barrow, amid lingering tensions following Jammeh's flight into exile. Jammeh narrowly lost a Dec. 1 election to Barrow after 22 years of authoritarian rule. Jammeh initially refused to step down but fled to Equatorial Guinea last month as international military forces descended on the capital Banjul to uphold the election result.
Amid rumors that the iPhone 8 will incorporate advanced facial recognition features, the Hebrew-language website Calcalist (via Times of Israel) is reporting that Apple recently acquired Realface, an up-and-coming Israeli startup with impressive real-time facial recognition software.
Lending credence to rumors that the iPhone 8 may forgo the use of Touch ID in favor of facial recognition, Realface's software is said to be sophisticated enough such that it can reliably be used as a foundation for mobile-based biometric authentication.
As is often the case when Apple acquires a company, Realface's web presence has already been wiped from the web. Still, thanks to the magic of Google, we were able to poke around and dig up some intriguing nuggets of information about the company's promising technology.
Realface boasts that it's AI software rests upon deep learning methods and is so reliable and quick that the end-result is an absolutely seamless user experience.
"Our technology provides our customers and end-users with the highest level of authentication and security available on all platforms," says Realface. "We have proprietary IP in the field of frictionless face recognition and effective learnings from facial features." Incidentally, Realface's technology is also capable of filtering out photos of faces and advanced sculptures designed to trick the software into thinking that a device's camera is honed in on an actual human face.
Further, Realface claims that its software can recognize faces with a 99.67% success rate, an impressive figure that is even higher than the average 97.5% success rate exhibited by humans. To this point, a profile on Realface from last year relays that the company's technology is so advanced that it can even distinguish between identical twins with alarming and impressive accuracy.
Below is a quick and dirty demo of the software in action.
What's particularly interesting is that Realface's technology is not only capable of discerning individual faces, but can also analyze specific facial expressions as a means to determine a user's mood. If this sounds somewhat familiar, Apple last year acquired Emotient, a company with similar AI technology of its own.
Now as for what Apple is planning to do with its growing portfolio of AI-based facial recognition software, well, that's the million dollar question. While initial speculation centered on Apple rolling out augmented reality features, perhaps similar to what the beloved MSQRD app does, more recent rumblings suggest that Apple wants to position facial recognition as a means to identify users and securely authorize sensitive transactions. Again, there are even reports that facial recognition might ultimately serve as a replacement for Touch ID.
While this seems far-fetched, Ming Chi-Kuo -- an analyst with the best track record regarding Apple rumors -- seems to think otherwise. In a recently issued research note, Kuo claims that the iPhone 8's rumored edgeless design cannot, for whatever reason, coexist peacefully with Touch ID. Consequently, Kuo relays that Apple wants to eventually replace Touch ID with a facial recognition solution.
When it comes to Apple, the old adage that when there's smoke, there's fire is generally true. That being the case, it stands to reason that facial recognition will be a huge and incredibly exciting component of the iPhone 8 user experience.
Finding out that the fiver in your wallet is worth thousands of pounds is a dream-come-true for some — but not everyone. A Northern Irish woman who discovered a rare £5 note worth £50,000 ($62,317) has given the note to charity because she says she has no use for the money. SEE ALSO: Some lucky duck got a £5 note 'worth £50,000' in a Christmas card The note is one of just four ultra-rare notes worth £50,000 in circulation in the UK. The note — which is engraved with a special Jane Austen inscription — is the third one to be snapped up, leaving just one left. The woman who discovered the note contacted the gallery founded by Graham Short — the artist who engraved the notes — stating her wish to donate the note to charity. "£5 note enclosed, I don't need it at my time of life. Please use it to help young people," reads the letter sent to the gallery by the donor, who prefers to remain anonymous. Image: graham short "The lady who found the note has surprised us all by sending it to the gallery and asking that it be used to help young people," reads a blog post on Short's website. According to the post, the proceeds from the note will be donated to children's charity Children in Need. "Currently contacting outlets connected to Children in Need to try and give this to a good cause so we honour the request of the lucky woman who originally discovered the note," the post continues. BONUS: This keychain can take away that annoying jingle your keys make
By Pavel Polityuk AVDIYIVKA, Ukraine (Reuters) - Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists appeared to be respecting a new ceasefire attempt on Monday after international powers called for shelling to stop and for the withdrawal of banned heavy weapons. In recent weeks, the area around the government-held town of Avdiyivka has seen some of the heaviest artillery fire of the past two years, refocusing global attention on a simmering conflict that has strained relations between Russia and the West. Violence has since lessened, but the close proximity of the opposing sides and continued use of heavy weapons prompted the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine to call on Sunday for renewed efforts to implement the terms of the much-violated Minsk peace agreement of 2015.
Los Angeles has topped the INRIX Global Congestion Ranking to be named the most gridlocked city in the world. Los Angeles took the number one spot after the results revealed that in 2016 drivers in the city spent 104 hours in congestion during peak time periods, followed by Moscow (91 hours), New York (89 hours), San Francisco (83 hours) and Bogota (80 hours). The US was also named the most congested developed country in the world, with the country accounting for 11 of the top 25 cities worldwide with the worst traffic congestion and with drivers on average spending 42 hours a year in traffic during peak times.
By Cod Satrusayang and Aukkaraporn Niyomyat BANGKOK (Reuters) - Monks and police scuffled on Monday at a Buddhist temple in Thailand where security forces are trying to arrest an influential former abbot on money-laundering charges. The standoff at the scandal-hit Dhammakaya Temple represents one of the biggest challenges to the authority of Thailand's junta since it took power in 2014. Police said they would try to avoid violence while threatening arrest for followers of the sprawling temple who have defied orders to leave and instead flocked there, hampering the search for 72-year-old Phra Dhammachayo.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A retired Philippine police officer said Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte, when he was a mayor, ordered and paid him and other members of a so-called liquidation squad to kill criminals and opponents, including a kidnapping suspect, his family and a critical radio commentator.
Shanghai stocks closed more than one percent higher on Monday, with traders buoyed by reports that China's official pension funds may start investing, as markets across Asia saw modest gains. Tokyo stocks overcame early losses to end modestly higher as yen weakness prompted late bargain-hunting. Shanghai gained 1.18 percent after a Chinese media report that a first tranche of investment into China stocks by official pension funds was expected as early as this week.
By Denis Dumo JUBA (Reuters) - Parts of war-ravaged South Sudan have been hit by famine, a government official said on Monday, saying nearly half the country's population would lack reliable access to affordable food by July. Oil-rich South Sudan has been mired in civil war since 2013, when President Salva Kii fired his deputy. Since then the fighting has increasingly split the country along ethnic lines, leading the United Nations to warn of a potential genocide.
Indonesian Islamist groups on Monday called on the government to suspend the Christian governor of the capital and for the courts to convict him of blasphemy, demands they will make again at a rally outside parliament on Tuesday. Islamist groups have held two big rallies since November against the governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is on trial for insulting the Koran, and in the midst of an election in which he hopes to win a second term. "Our demands to parliament are that they urge the government to suspend Purnama ... and urge the Supreme Court and judges to detain him and impose the maximum sentence," said Muhammad al Khaththath of the Islamic People's Forum.
Mongolia has reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a $5.5 billion bailout package, officials announced, as the debt-wracked country tries to stabilise its economy. The landlocked north Asian nation has been hit hard by a more than 50 percent fall over the past five years in the price of copper, its main export. Billions of dollars' worth of natural resources lie buried beneath Mongolia's sprawling steppes, but development has been delayed for years and slowing growth in its biggest customer China has hobbled the economy.
In a blog post published Sunday, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler Riggetti details her experiences working for the company. Sadly, given she's a female engineer working at a thrusting, big-name Silicon Valley startup, the experiences are exactly what you'd expect.
In the post, Riggetti details numerous instances of overt sexist behaviour. She reportedly sent evidence, including email and chat logs to HR, but ran into a brick wall multiple times. In the end, she says that her attempts to quietly report sexist behaviour were turned against her:
I forwarded this absurd chain of emails to HR, and they requested to meet with me shortly after. I don't know what I expected after all of my earlier encounters with them, but this one was more ridiculous than I could have ever imagined. The HR rep began the meeting by asking me if I had noticed that *I* was the common theme in all of the reports I had been making, and that if I had ever considered that I might be the problem. I pointed out that everything I had reported came with extensive documentation and I clearly wasn't the instigator (or even a main character) in the majority of them - she countered by saying that there was absolutely no record in HR of any of the incidents I was claiming I had reported (which, of course, was a lie, and I reminded her I had email and chat records to prove it was a lie). She then asked me if women engineers at Uber were friends and talked a lot, and then asked me how often we communicated, what we talked about, what email addresses we used to communicate, which chat rooms we frequented, etc. - an absurd and insulting request that I refused to comply with. When I pointed out how few women were in SRE, she recounted with a story about how sometimes certain people of certain genders and ethnic backgrounds were better suited for some jobs than others, so I shouldn't be surprised by the gender ratios in engineering. Our meeting ended with her berating me about keeping email records of things, and told me it was unprofessional to report things via email to HR.
Beyond the reports to HR, Riggetti also details a company overrun with internal politics and management problems:
In the background, there was a game-of-thrones political war raging within the ranks of upper management in the infrastructure engineering organization. It seemed like every manager was fighting their peers and attempting to undermine their direct supervisor so that they could have their direct supervisor's job. No attempts were made by these managers to hide what they were doing: they boasted about it in meetings, told their direct reports about it, and the like.
Shortly after the blog post was published, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued a statement promising a (secret, internal) investigation into the matter, and reaffirmed Uber's committment to a equitable workplace where everyone isn't trying to stab each other in the back:
"I have just read Susan Fowler's blog. What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It's the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations. We seek to make Uber a just workplace and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber -- and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired."
This isn't the first time that Uber has run into human resources problems within its internal teams and management. In 2014, an Uber exec famously suggested digging up dirt on journalists to discredit them. That statement came in response to a journalist who had accused Uber of sexism once again.
More recently, #DeleteUber trended on Twitter after Uber removed surge pricing at JFK airport during a taxi strike -- a strike that was in protest of President Trump's Muslim travel ban. The same hashtag is trending again tonight following Riggetti's blog post.
Worldwide arms trade has risen to its highest level since the Cold War in the last five years, driven by a demand from the Middle East and Asia, a study said Monday. Between 2012-2016, arms imports in terms of volume by countries in Asia and Oceania accounted for 43 percent of global imports, a 7.7 rise compared to the previous 2007-2011 period, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). "Transfer of major weapons in 2012-16 reached their highest volume for any five-year period since the end of" the Cold War, the independent institute said in a statement.
One of the most intriguing robot kits at this year's show, UBTech's AstroBot kit can be built into one of three different characters and programmed using a simple mobile app. Available this spring for $199, AstroBot can be built as either a treaded robot that looks a bit like Walle, a humanoid-style robot or a wheeled vehicle. An infrared sensor keeps AstroBot from bumping into objects as it moves around.
FLORIDA, N.Y. (AP) — When Denise Krohn came home to find her goldendoodle Kirby bleeding on the kitchen floor, she at first thought it was a terrible accident. But she soon realized that her home had been ransacked, and that her other dog, Quigley, was lying dead on his favorite blanket in the living room.
Adolf Hitler's personal telephone, which the Fuehrer used to dictate many of his deadly World War II commands, sold at auction on Sunday for $243,000, the US house selling it announced. Originally a black Bakelite phone, later painted crimson and engraved with Hitler's name, the relic was found in the Nazi leader's Berlin bunker in 1945 following the regime's defeat. The auction house Alexander Historical Auctions, which did not reveal the winning bidder's identity, had estimated its worth between $200,000 and $300,000.
Under the new guidelines, outlined in a pair of memos, the agency plans to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand the pool of immigrants who are prioritized for removal, enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests, and speed up deportation hearings – directives that would replace nearly all guidelines put in place by previous administrations. Since taking office in January, President Trump has come under fire for what immigrant rights advocates have denounced as unprecedented action against undocumented people in the United States.
Ecuador voted Sunday in general elections that could see a pillar of the Latin American left swing to the right -- and potentially deprive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of his place of refuge in London. President Rafael Correa, who is not running, expressed confidence that his party's candidate, Lenin Moreno, would win in the first round. The polls clearly say the contrary," he said after casting his ballot at an elementary school in Quito.
Elon Musk isn't the only person who wants to build a city on Mars. Now the United Arab Emirates has announced that it wants to establish a "mini-city" on the red planet by 2117. UAE prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum explained the monarchy's Mars plans in a series of tweets on Feb. 14. SEE ALSO: Dubai is bringing the world its first rotating skyscraper "The project, to be named 'Mars 2117,' integrates a vision to create a mini-city and community on Mars involving international cooperation," Sheikh Mohammed said. "Mars 2117" is a seed we are sowing today to reap the fruit of new generations led by a passion for science and advancing human knowledge. pic.twitter.com/IExtnpiO2B — HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 14, 2017 "Mars 2117 includes a major space sciences focus in our universities. We're building a space pioneering passion among our young people." It makes sense for officials to use this project to inspire young people: They're the ones who will probably do the vast majority of the work. If the UAE wants to have a fully-functioning city on Mars in 100 years, it will have to be a multi-generational effort that will span many decades, given the incipient state of the nation's space program and current global capabilities as well. The "Mars 2117" project will develop an Emirati and international team of scientists to push the human exploration of Mars in years to come. pic.twitter.com/5ujxvyC8As — HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 14, 2017 In the time between now and 2117, the UAE, with an international partnership of researchers, will start trying to find a faster mode of transportation to the red planet, and figure out what food and shelter should be on the cold, dry world. "'Mars 2117' is a seed we are sowing today to reap the fruit of new generations led by a passion for science and advancing human knowledge," Sheikh Mohammed said. The UAE has already put the world on notice that the oil-rich nation has aspirations beyond our home planet, having previously announced its plan to send a robotic mission to Mars in 2015. That uncrewed spacecraft, called Hope, would fly to the red planet in 2020 and make it into orbit there in 2021. The project, to be named "Mars 2117", integrates a vision to create a mini-city and community on Mars involving international cooperation. pic.twitter.com/v27jA3K3pS — HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 14, 2017 Musk's SpaceX is also working toward creating a city on Mars, though the commercial space company's timeline isn't exactly clear. Musk claims that SpaceX is working toward sending its first people to Mars by 2024, about a decade before NASA is expected to send their first crewed mission to the vicinity of Mars. That said, the company's plans are still a bit murky when it comes to the timeline for actually creating its city, aiming for sometime in the 2060s. Musk thinks there will be plenty of people who want to leave Earth behind. We aspire in the coming century to develop science, technology and our youth's passion for knowledge. This project is driven by that vision. pic.twitter.com/4QibJjtiM2 — HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 14, 2017 "Not everyone will want to go. In fact, I think a relatively small number of people from Earth would want to go, but enough would want to go and who could afford the trip that it would happen," Musk said during a speech in September 2016. Neither SpaceX nor the UAE can get to Mars alone, however. Both need to have international and private partners that will help make a city on Mars a reality within their timeframes. It's unclear if the monarchy and the private company will team up on their Mars ambitions, but Musk did say that he's open to public and private partnerships for the mission. BONUS: Obama plans to send humans to Mars by 2030s
Critics on both sides of the aisle are blasting President Trump’s assertion that the media is “the enemy of the American people” — and comparing his escalated attack on the press to that of a dictator. “That’s how dictators get started,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in an interview that aired on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. McCain stopped short of calling Trump one.
A car bomb blast at a marketplace Somalia’s capital has killed at least 20 people and injured 50 others, said a local Somali official. The blast by a car bomb parked near a restaurant went off at a busy time when shoppers and traders were gathered inside the market, said district commissioner Ahmed Abdulle. Mohamed Haji, a butcher who suffered shrapnel wounds, pointed at a clothes shop devastated by the blast.
Ukraine's Russian-backed insurgents on Friday accused a top official in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) of aiding Kiev's forces in the 34-month war. A separatist leader made the accusation at a joint news conference in the rebel-controlled city of Lugansk with Alexander Hug -- the principal deputy chief of the group's special monitoring mission to Ukraine --- who denied the claim. The OSCE is a Cold-war era body drawn up to ensure peace in Europe.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim that Washington was keen for a new start in relations between the two countries, sources in Yildirim's office said, after ties soured during the Obama administration. Pence and Yildirim met on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich, Germany, and discussed improving ties, boosting cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the need to work together to find a permanent solution in Syria. Yildirim told Pence that moves by the United States to meet Turkey's demands over Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric blamed by Ankara for masterminding and orchestrating a failed coup last July, would pave the way for a fresh start in relations.