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Coronavirus: Apple, Google to ban location tracking in joint contact tracing system – Global News

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Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google on Monday said they would ban the use of location tracking in apps that use a new contact tracing system the two are building to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Apple and Google, whose operating systems power 99% of smart phones, said last month they would work together to create a system for notifying people who have been near others who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The companies plan to allow only public health authorities to use the technology.

Both companies said privacy and preventing governments from using the system to compile data on citizens was a primary goal. The system uses Bluetooth signals from phones to detect encounters and does not use or store GPS location data.


READ MORE:
Consent for coronavirus tracing apps must be ‘meaningful’, Canada’s privacy watchdog says

But the developers of official coronavirus-related apps in several U.S. states told Reuters last month it was vital they be allowed to use GPS location data in conjunction with the new contact tracing system to track how outbreaks move and identify hotspots.

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The Apple-Google decision to not allow GPS data collection with their contact tracing system will require public health authorities that want to access GPS location to rely on what Apple and Google have described as unstable, battery-draining workarounds.

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Alternatives likely would miss some encounters because iPhones and Android devices turn off Bluetooth connections after some time for battery-saving and other reasons unless users remember to re-activate them.






6:53
Coronavirus outbreak: Privacy and public health protection can be achieved with the right contact tracing app: commissioner


Coronavirus outbreak: Privacy and public health protection can be achieved with the right contact tracing app: commissioner

But some apps said they planned to stick to their own approaches.

Software company Twenty, which developed the state of Utah’s Healthy Together contact tracing app with both GPS and Bluetooth, said on Monday the app “operates effectively” without the new Apple-Google tool.

“If their approach can be more effective than our current solution, we’ll eagerly incorporate their features into our existing application, provided it meets the specifications of current and prospective public health partners,” Twenty said.


READ MORE:
Alberta launches ABTraceTogether app to improve contact tracing, fight COVID-19 spread

Canada’s Alberta province, which does not collect GPS data, said it has no plans to adopt the Apple-Google system for its ABTraceTogether app.

Privacy experts have warned that any cache of location data related to health issues could make businesses and individuals vulnerable to being ostracized if the data is exposed.

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Apple and Google also said Monday they will allow only one app per country to use the contact system, to avoid fragmentation and encourage wider adoption. The companies said they would, however, support countries that opt for a state or regional approach, and that U.S. states will be allowed to use the system.






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Alberta launches ABTraceTogether app to improve COVID-19 contact tracing


Alberta launches ABTraceTogether app to improve COVID-19 contact tracing

Britain will start testing its own COVID-19 tracing app on the Isle of Wight on Tuesday.

It has taken a different approach from other European countries by processing data centrally rather than solely on the devices themselves, where a higher level of privacy can be guaranteed.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Paresh Dave in San Francisco. Editing by Tom Brown and Leslie Adler)

With files from Reuters’ Paul Sandle

© 2020 Reuters

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Microsoft reportedly turns to A.I. to optimize MSN news, replacing human workers – Digital Trends

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Microsoft will reportedly turn to artificial intelligence for optimizing news on MSN, replacing dozens of human workers in the process.

Microsoft will not renew the contracts for about 50 news production contractors, who were told that they would no longer be needed beyond June 30, multiple sources told the Seattle Times. The workers are tasked with identifying trending news stories from publishing partners, and optimizing content by rewriting headlines or improving accompanying images. The manual curation of articles allowed for clear and appropriate headlines, while avoiding unreliable sources and highlighting content from smaller outlets.

Full-time news producers who are performing the same functions will be retained, but all contracted news producer jobs were eliminated. Some of the contractors, who wish to remain anonymous, told the Seattle Times that A.I. will take over their responsibilities at MSN.

Several of the terminated employees, however, were skeptical that with fewer humans on board, MSN’s model of curating stories from partner websites and redistributing them will not work as well.

“It’s been semi-automated for a few months but now it’s full speed ahead,” said one of the contractors. “It’s demoralizing to think machines can replace us but there you go.’”

“I spend all my time reading about how automation and A.I. is going to take all our jobs, and here I am – A.I. has taken my job,” another contractor told The Guardian. He added that replacing humans with A.I. may be a “risky” move, as workers had to follow “very strict editorial guidelines” that made sure readers, especially younger ones, were not exposed to violent or inappropriate content.

The rise of A.I.

The artificial intelligence revolution has raised concerns that machines will displace humans from their jobs. In addition to journalists, other jobs that are at risk of losing out to A.I. include lawyers, drivers, customer service assistants, and musicians. However, there are ways for people in these professions to take advantage of A.I. instead of fearing it, including journalists using A.I. as their researchers, lawyers investing time to study computer science, and musicians harnessing A.I.-powered tools.

Meanwhile, the development of A.I. has also contributed to making life easier for humans, with functions ranging from finding brain tumors to filing for unemployment benefits, and even generating memes.

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Microsoft will replace journalists with robots – 112 International

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Microsoft is planning to replace contracted journalists with robots. This was reported to Seattle Times by sources in the company.

“Like all companies, we regularly evaluate our business. This can lead to increased investments in some places and, from time to time, to redistribution in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic,” the company said.

Related: Trump postpones G7 summit, seeks to invite Russia

Automated systems for selecting news will carry out the tasks of selecting headlines and photos for the MSN website, which are now handled by journalists from various organizations.

Microsoft, like some other technology companies, pays news organizations to use their content on their website.

But journalists decide which news to publish and how they will be presented.

In connection with the reorganization, about 50 news producers will lose their jobs at the end of June. However, a team of full-time journalists will remain.

Some journalists warn that artificial intelligence may not be fully familiar with strict editorial rules and may ultimately select inappropriate material.

As we reported, Berkshire Hathaway holding sold all its shares in the four largest US airlines. The head of the holding, Warren Buffett, said this at the annual meeting of shareholders

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Amazon removes racist messages after they appear on some product listings

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Amazon.com Inc said it was removing certain images after messages using extremely strong racist abuse appeared on some listings on its UK website when users searched for Apple’s AirPods and other similar products.

The message sparked outrage on Twitter, with the topic “AirPods” trending in the United Kingdom.

“We are removing the images in question and have taken action on the bad actor,” an Amazon spokeswoman told Reuters on Sunday. She did not elaborate more on the “bad actor.”

Screenshots and video grabs of the messages were trending on Twitter, with users sharing the images.

The listings with the abusive messages were no longer visible on the Amazon UK website and it was not clear how long they were there for.

In April, several of Amazon’s foreign websites, including the UK domain, were added to the U.S. trade regulator’s “notorious markets” report on marketplaces known for counterfeiting and piracy concerns.

Amazon strongly disagreed with the report at that time, describing it as a “purely political act.” (Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source:- Financial Post

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