Tag: Oxford

Google hires Oxford boffins to provide AI

oxford-robesGoogle is finding itself a little short on intelligence and has been seen snuffling around near the Oxford headquarters of TechEye.

When cornered, near one of the wheelie bins at the back of public house the Kite, a Google staffer explained that the search engine was expanding its artificial intelligence initiative. Apparently, they are hiring more than half a dozen leading academics and experts in the field and announcing a partnership with Oxford University to “accelerate” its efforts.

Apparently, Google will make a “substantial contribution” to establish a research partnership with Oxford’s computer science and engineering departments, and Oxford will return the favour by holding one of its famous dinners.

Google did not provide any financial details about the partnership, saying only in a post on its blog that it will include a program of student internships and a series of joint lectures and workshops “to share knowledge and expertise.”

Google is building up its artificial intelligence capabilities as it strives to maintain its dominance in the Internet search market and to develop new products such as robotics and self-driving cars. In January Google acquired artificial intelligence company Deep Mind for $400 million according to media reports.

The Oxford boffins will be joining Google’s Deep Mind team, including three artificial intelligence experts whose work has focused on improving computer visual recognition systems. Among that team is Oxford Professor Andrew Zisserman, a three-time winner of the Marr Prize for computer vision.

The four founders of Dark Blue Labs will also be joining Google where they will be will be leading efforts to help machines “better understand what users are saying to them.”

Google said that three of the professors will hold joint appointments at Oxford, continuing to work part time at the university.


Sony kills ebook reader

additional-oxford-dodo-bookSony has confirmed that it will not make any more eBook readers, not even in Japan where it can still sell them.

There will never be such a gizmo with the catchy title PRS-T4 and the Sony Reader PRS-T3 will be sold until it runs out. Since that was launched last autumn and only in the EU, Sony could not have have many left.

Sony pioneered the idea of an E-ink ereader in 2004 when it launched the Sony Librie in 2004.

The company worked with E-ink and Toppan Printing Co of Japan for several years to develop the first generation of the 6″ screen which was used in the Librie, and later the Sony Reader, Kindle, Nook, and other ereaders.

Sony released the first 6″ screen, it also followed it up with several cutting edge devices. It was also the first to adopt Epub, and to combine an E-ink screen with a touchscreen and a frontlight.

But Sony was largely aced by the Nook-Kindle price war in June 2010 and lost out in the price drop that followed.


Russia insists that data is kept at home

Clouds in Oxford: pic Mike MageeThe Russian government has enacted a law which means that all cloud data must be kept within the confines of the country.

The move will mean that if US cloud operators want to work in Mother Russia they cannot send the data to their main warehouses in the US or EU.

Bill number 553424-6  specifies that “when collecting personal data, including information and telecommunications network, the Internet, the operator must ensure that record, systematisation, accumulation, storage, updated, modified, removing the personal data of citizens of the Russian Federation, in databases, of information located in the territory of the Russian Federation.”

On the face of it, it looks like the Russians are protecting their citizens from being spied on by the evil US spooks, but it also makes it easier for the government to spy on its own citizens.

Russia Today said the law could provide businesses with some major headaches.  Airlines, for example, rely on hosted software and software-as-a-service providers are not going to be keen to have to build new data centres.

The law comes into force on September 1st, 2016, giving Russian companies plenty of time to set something up.  It could be a boom time for local hosting companies.

Free wi-fi in Taipei explained

Taipei free wi-fiThe public wi-fi system that is available throughout Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is a brilliant idea that should be emulated in the Smoke (London), in the City of Screaming Squires (Oxford), and, well, more or less anywhere. We’re here in Olde Taipei for Computex 2013.

It is a disgrace that wi-fi, which has really become a public utility, is still charged for in many a place – especially hotels in the UK at exorbitant rates.

We had a chance to sample Taipei wi-fi the other night, taking a snap and uploading it without any problem at all. It hasn’t worked since, so I set out to find out why.

Basically, the reason it hasn’t worked for me since is that I a Brit, and the wi-fi, which does work for aliens from different countries, requires a special protocol to be present, as you can see on this TPE Wi-Fi page.  Currently only 20 countries use the International mobile SMS authentication that the Taipei government accepts.

There is an alternative – you can go to one of six physical locations and get yourself registered – but of course you have to know where these places are, which might be tricky unless you know your way around the city.

One local told us that he used to use TPE Free all the time, but recently it asks that you log-in every time you connect which he finds a nuisance. That’s apparently been implemented because of security concerns.

Nevertheless, the existence of TPE Free has meant that here in Old Taipei, you’ll find many places which offer free wi-fi.  The swanky hotels that don’t really ought to be ashamed of themselves.

* For a great way to understand Taipei and Computex 2013, if you’re a first time visitor, we recommend We View Taiwan video log.