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IBM’s machine argues with humans in a debate.

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The machine drew from a library of “hundreds of millions” of documents – mostly newspaper articles and academic journals – to form its responses to a topic it was not prepared for beforehand.

On a stage in San Francisco, IBM’s Project Debater spoke, listened and rebutted a human’s arguments in what was described as a groundbreaking display of artificial intelligence.

While the humans had better delivery, the group agreed, the machine offered greater substance in its arguments.

That, IBM said, spoke to the heart of its goal: augmenting human beings to make decisions quickly and with more data than ever before.

The machine took part in two debates. The first was on whether there should be more publicly funded space exploration. The second was on whether more should be invested in telemedicine technologies.

Each participant had four minutes to make an opening statement, then a four-minute of speaking against, and then a two minute-conclusion.

When Ms Ovadia argued money should be spent on more pressing needs than space travel, the machine offered this reply: “It is very easy to say that there are more important things to spend money on, and I do not dispute this. No one is claiming that this is the only item on our expense list. But that is beside the point.

The machine, like the human, was not given prior knowledge of what the debate topic would be. However, IBM had a list of topics – around 100 or so – it felt would draw a meaningful debate based on the data that was in Project Debater’s memory.

Prof Chris Reed, from the University of Dundee, described the demonstration as an “impressive piece of technology”.

CREDIT: Dave Lee (North America technology reporter)

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Telegram can now import your WhatsApp chat history on iOS

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Telegram has added the ability to import your chat history from WhatsApp, meaning you won’t loose past conversations if you want to switch messaging services. On iOS the feature arrived with version 7.4, released yesterday and spotted by 9to5Mac, but the update doesn’t appear to be live yet on Android. Alongside WhatsApp, chat histories from Line and KakaoTalk can also be imported, according to Telegram’s changelog. We’ve verified that you can import chats from WhatsApp into the latest version (7.4.1) of Telegram and continue the conversation, so long as each WhatsApp user has a Telegram account.

The addition of the feature comes as Telegram is reporting huge increases in user numbers, with the service now boasting over 500 million active users worldwide. The cause appears to be WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, which prompted privacy concerns about the Facebook-owned messaging app (WhatsApp later delayed the introduction of the new policy, and insists it won’t affect the security of consumer chats or profile data). For users jumping ship from WhatsApp to Telegram, being able to take their chat histories with them means one fewer barrier to switching.

The import process works on a chat-by-chat basis, but appears to work for both individual and group conversations, at least with WhatsApp. To import a chat from Facebook’s messaging service, open the relevant conversation, and tap the group or contact name from the top of the chat to open its info screen. From there, the “Export Chat” option opens the iOS Share Sheet, where you’ll see the option to select Telegram. Then, just pick a Telegram chat to import the messages into.

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A wristband that tells your boss if you are unhappy

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At first glance the silicone wristband could be mistaken for one that tracks your heart rate when you are doing exercise.

However, the wearable technology, called a Moodbeam, isn’t here to monitor your physical health. Instead it allows your employer to track your emotional state.

The gadget, which links to a mobile phone app and web interface, has two buttons, one yellow and one blue. The idea is that you press the yellow one if you are feeling happy, and the blue one if you are sad.

Aimed at companies who wish to monitor the wellbeing of staff who are working from home, the idea is that employees are encouraged to wear the wristband (they can say no), and press the relevant button as they see fit throughout the working week.

Managers can then view an online dashboard to see how workers are feeling and coping. With bosses no longer able to check in physically with their team, Moodbeam hopes to bridge the gap.

“Businesses are trying to get on top of staying connected with staff working from home. Here they can ask 500 members: ‘You ok?’ without picking up the phone,” says Moodbeam co-founder Christina Colmer McHugh.

She originally came up with the idea for the product after she discovered that her daughter was struggling at school, and she wanted a way for her child to let her know how she was feeling. The wristband was launched commercially in 2016.

With many children, especially teenagers, likely to balk at the idea of having to press a button on a wristband to let their parents know how they are doing, how probable is it that employees would be willing to do the same for their boss?

Ms Colmer McHugh, whose firm is based in Hull, says that many are indeed happy to do so. “We moved away from anonymous to identifiable data after trials found that people do want to be identified,” she says.

One organisation now using Moodbeam is UK charity Brave Mind.

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Signal messaging platform stops working as downloads surge

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Messaging platform Signal said on Friday it was experiencing “technical difficulties” as it worked to accommodate millions of new users.

Some users reported messages failing to send on both the mobile and desktop apps for several hours.

The company has seen a huge uptick in interest since its rival WhatsApp unveiled new privacy terms last week.

On Twitter, Signal said it had added servers “at a record pace” and was working to restore service.

“Millions upon millions of new users are sending a message that privacy matters,” it said in a tweet.

Both Signal and Telegram, another free-to-use encrypted messaging app, have benefited from discontent sparked by WhatsApp’s updated terms and conditions.

WhatsApp told its two billion users they must allow it to share data with its parent company Facebook if they wished to continue using it.

This does not apply to users in the UK and Europe – but the notification was sent to everyone.

Both Signal and Telegram, another free-to-use encrypted messaging app, have benefited from discontent sparked by WhatsApp’s updated terms and conditions.

WhatsApp told its two billion users they must allow it to share data with its parent company Facebook if they wished to continue using it.

This does not apply to users in the UK and Europe – but the notification was sent to everyone.

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