Friday roundup: A week in tech | News

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The Innovation and Technology Network

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Friday roundup: A week in tech

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced millions of us to work from home, away from our comfy offices and cheerful workmates; leaving us bereft of human contact, conversations about what was on TV last night, and fridges full of long-forgotten, half-eaten, decomposing lunches of unknown ownership.

But for many of us the cold feeling of being alone in the kitchen all day could be coming to an end, thanks to some nifty tech-enabled spying.

According to the Guardian, an outfit called Teleperformance, which employs around 380,000 people worldwide, is readying the deployment of specialist webcams that will sniff out the “infractions” of disobedient staff.

What sort of “infractions”? Embezzlement? Espionage? Treason? Possibly in the long run, but initially at least snoop-o-vision will look out for workers who leave their dining room tables to fetch a drink WITHOUT CLICKING ‘BREAK MODE’ on a special conformity app.

And staff who fancy a biscuit outside permitted breaks can expect a reprimand, too. According to Teleperformance: “If the system detects no keyboard stroke and mouse click, it will show you as idle for that particular duration, and it will be reported to your supervisor. So please avoid hampering your productivity.”

Some of the French firm’s 10,000 UK staff have been told to expect arrival of an AI-based scanning system that’ll be set to seek and destroy infractions 24/7. Or will it?

When pressed by the Guardian, Teleperformance explained that everything’s cool – the cameras are only for meetings and training and innocent things like that. Furthermore, after the paper stuck its nose in, the company told staff that it was “extremely disappointing” that someone had grassed to the media.

Anyway, sounds like there’s lots of exciting new tech to look forward to. Please excuse me while I grab something ENTER: HUMMUS AND CRACKER MODE

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Looking forward to drinking your many, many problems away in the presence of similarly doom-haunted humans on Monday? I certainly am, but we should all be aware of some changes to the government's famously successful Test and Trace app.

Back in the good old days in the gap between lockdowns one and two, only one member of your entourage had to scan, in the vain hope that the authorities would do something useful with the information. Henceforth, every soul in a group of revellers will have to scan a QR code when they enter an establishment for food (perhaps) and/or drink (likely).

Furthermore, those who’ve been to an outlet on the same day as others who subsequently test positive for the hateful virus will receive an alert to go get a test sharpish – or they might, I wouldn’t count on it.

And if a drinker, sorry, patron tests positive, they will be required to share their history of places stumbled into, perhaps allowing others to be alerted to the danger, but perhaps not.

Apparently, this venue alert feature has been there for some time but was rarely used. Sky News reported that thousands of people weren’t warned that they were at risk from infection, in yet another tale of unspeakable ineptness.

Still, what’s £22bn between friends?

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Bitcoin ‘mining’ in China will soon eclipse the total annual carbon emissions of Italy, people who know about such things have warned.

By 2024, computers working on the cryptocurrency in the country will use 297 terawatt-hours of power, merrily churning about 130m tonnes of CO2 into the poor old atmosphere, if there’s any atmosphere left.

In other news, one of the men who set up PayPal reckons China is using bitcoin as a “financial weapon” to undermine America’s real paper money. Trump fan and owner of a New Zealand hideaway lair, Peter Thiel, likes the internet-based currency but is worried China is having too much of a good thing with it. Concern noted.

And there’s even more bad bitcoin news!

A disgruntled Italian man has been put under house arrest for allegedly trying to pay a hitman in bitcoin to seriously injure his ex-girlfriend.

The 40-year-old IT expert was caught out by the EU’s crime agency after reportedly paying a goon £8,700 in purest bitcoin to do the job. Clearly not much of an IT ‘expert’, the offender’s messages were intercepted by police outside Italy, and his ex was thankfully unharmed.

Adding these disparate tales up, let’s quickly extrapolate and formulate an emotive question: Is it time to ban bitcoin? I think we all know the answer to that.