This edition of Click looks at ad-blocking software and how it can affect content creation. Plus dancing robots and the best of the week's tech news.
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You are up to date on the headlines. It is time now for Click.
3D projected people come to life, and the web goes ad free.
All that after these important messages.
This is East London, painfully trendy and somewhere I
Down Shoreditch way is the famous Brick Lane, an area famous for its
colourful street art that you will find lurking around every corner.
It is a real work of art, which we can all enjoy at no cost.
The creator of this really didn't expect to get paid.
That is rarely the case with other kinds of content, online news, video
content, as we know, the creators of those are in it for money.
Money that often comes from advertisers' pockets.
The problem is, our love affair with doing this is spilling online.
The way to skip these ads on the web is to install a browser
These are known as ad blockers, stopping annoying things popping up
Not everything that pops up on your screen is annoying, case in point.
You have been testing some of these ad blockers, haven't you?
While some people might not mind random interruptions,
for others advertisements are a real nuisance, particularly on mobile
devices because people don't want to use their data or battery power
I guess it is good news for us, definitely bad news
for the advertisers by the sound of it.
Absolutely, and although ad blocking is nothing new, people are
learning more about it and there are more ways of blocking adverts.
It seems it will only become a bigger business.
Adblocker Plus is leading the way with 100 million users,
and once you install it, you should be free of advertisements.
Not quite, it creates a white list, a list of sites that adheres to what
Acceptable ads is a set of criteria, and those are criteria we developed
If advertisers or publishers have certain ads that meet those criteria
they can be white listed, and then the top 10% of those advertisers are
also charged a licensing fee for the work you put into doing it.
It is not just about bursting their bubble, the issue is
the general dislike of adverts, only about 10% of the company's
They don't like distractions or the idea of companies tracking
their data and habits, something ad blockers also aim to reduce.
Some content providers are going as far as blocking user access
if they detect that ad blocking software is in use.
Now, Opera has an ad blocker built into its latest browser, Apple
recently allowed them to function on its mobile operators, and others are
It is not all doom and gloom, at least not yet.
We haven't all downloaded ad blockers.
There does seem to be a growing trend.
Some try to shield themselves by going behind pay walls, and if
things don't get better we may start seeing subscription models where you
sign up for access to multiple publications in one place, or even
using cash trails, where you pay nominal amount each
Either of those would put an end to the freely available
I have come to one of the biggest online news publishers in the UK,
where the issue of whether the news should be free has been
The Guardian is one of the most read online news services, which is free
to access and a significant portion of income comes from advertisers.
I sat down with the man in charge of the digital site to see how much
It is a significant issue that we take very seriously.
In Germany, for example, 80% of millennial males, people aged 18-34,
That gives us a sense of where this could go.
Readers enjoy the content and probably don't think very much about
the fact that it is advertising that is paying for the creation
of amazing investigative journalism like the Panama Papers or WikiLeaks.
Then there is the idea of the ad blocker blocker, which is
something that broadcasters or publishers can install to stop the
John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary, referred to
the ad blocking business model as a modern-day protection racket, and
that is because ad blockers will charge publishers and other media
owners to be able to punch through the ad blocker
and still deliver ads to the user who has chosen to block them.
They are offering the opportunity to be on a white list.
Even crazier, there are further services to the user to block
Going down an arms race doesn't seem to be a viable route, it will just
continue to escalate and we don't want to circumvent users' choice to
not see ads, we would much rather engage in the conversation with the
user which says hopefully the content are
reading has some value to you, and if you value it we would like
you to contribute to that, either by seeing advertising or by paying us.
At least one company is attempting to unite it all and change
PageFair is one of those ad blocker blockers, one of several out there,
giving back to those who are stung by the rise of ad blockers.
The company says there philosophy is more about bridging the gap
What users will start seeing is far fewer ads, respectful ads that
aren't snooping on their data, that aren't jumping around the page, that
aren't interrupting the traffic by taking so long to download, and also
ads that behave in such a simple way that they can't expose the machine
Companies need to use advertising because it pays the bills,
but they need to reduce the number of ads such that the ones that are
The way beyond that blocking, where you get to decide what ads to show
on this now uncluttered space where people have blocked out all the
other ads, once you can decide what ads you want to show beyond that
blocking, the answer is to limit the quantity
What that will do is I think it will cure what is
Whether ad blockers or the ad blocker blockers win,
it seems we are the ones who will come out glorious, with a less
It was the week the US Navy tested firing drone swarms up into the sky.
The creepiest robot ever with whiskers was unveiled.
And The European Commission proposed that a fifth of the shows offered
by services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video,
should be made locally and given good visibility on the platform.
And, after giving Nokia the heave-ho last week,
Microsoft announced a cut of over 1800 jobs as part of its retreat
This comes just two years after it paid ?5 billion for the once
This also brought us a most unlikely internet star, in
She popped to the shops to buy yoga pants, came
out with a Chewbacca mask, and an amazing 140 million views later had
If you think your touchscreen is playing up, MIT has unveiled its
newest shape shifting interface, which has been programmed to mimic
It can bend and flex, giving users what research is called
In last week's show we talked to leading academics
about what our lives might be like in the future, when automation
Now, here is their view on the ethical
and moral questions we may face as robots become part of our society.
In many years to come, if we build human level AI,
would it have consciousness or would it be just a tool?
We know how to make little electronic neurons.
If we put together hundreds of thousands of these, just the same as
the way the brain of a small animal is organised, then it seems to me if
they are governed by the same laws of physics, that they should behave
in the same way as the animal behaves. There is no reason why we
shouldn't be able to replicate all the abilities of a human being.
There may be some aspects of human cognition that are not computable.
If I slap myself across the cheek, I know what it feels like to be
It is not obvious to me how the execution of any computer programme
on no matter how powerful hardware, will be sufficient to bring forth
What every person has is this amazing complexity inside of them,
We have subjectivity, agency, thoughts and feelings.
It is actually impossible to have the kind
of relationship with a machine as you might another person, because
there is a profound distinction between a person in a thing.
I know there are lots of people that make claims that if you get machines
to imitate behaviours and humans recognise that and start relating to
it in a particular kind of way, that shows some relationship.
But the only reason why a human being is able to appreciate
those, is because first and foremost they are human beings.
I think we could build things that are capable of suffering,
We also could build things that are very sophisticated and capable,
but that don't actually experience emotions of their own,
We don't have a moral duty towards that thing so
You could say, that is fine, people want to beat up robots
Provided they pay for them that is not a worry.
I consider the extreme case, where people are commissioning
robots that look exactly like their ex-girlfriend or their boss,
It is incredibly easy to make a robot that can pretend to suffer.
If a robot pretends to cry, then 98% of people can't help
That is a massive opportunity for manufacturers
We really need to discuss this before we are all
If you couldn't get people who are lonely or disaffected with a
relationship, you can actually build robots to meet that need, then you
If you can keep create new needs and desires,
The elderly argument is one that is often in the background for a lot
If you say to people, "would you like to be cared for by a
If, instead, you say, "Would you like us to develop
sophisticated artificial intelligence technology which will
enable you to remain independent in your own home for longer?"
Now, in many ways, those suggest different ways of describing the
same thing but I think it is really important that we use the latter
description because, with today's technology, the robots don't really
care, they simply do a job that resembles caring. Twitter
has been facing some tough questions of late, questions like,
Are you even relevant anymore in this rapidly expanding universe
Last year its boss, Jack Dorsey, left the company
only to come back saying he was the man who could save it.
Dave Lee gave him more than a sentence or two to explain
Jack, you're making changes to Twitter, what exactly is going to
What are users going to notice is different?
It's going to be a whole lot simpler.
It's going to be a lot simpler to use.
So we're focus a lot of our energy on making sure that
And we've noticed how people have been tweeting over ten years and one
of the things that we noticed is that there's this little, hidden
rule where if you put and app name to start your tweet,
it's actually only seen by that person you are referencing
and people that follow the both of you.
It doesn't make sense to anyone and people have had to work around it.
Put a dot before the app and then the name and that also
We're remopving that, making it a whole lot simpler.
The other thing that was happening, people are tweeting out images, or
videos, polls, gifts and what was happening is they add an image and
then the character count goes down and it doesn't really make sense
because they don't see a URL or any other text, they see an image.
So we removed counting against any time you add an image,
or media or poll to make it a whole lot more visible and intuitive.
Many people's reluctance to be involved in Twitter is still this
sense that in many cases it's not a nice place to be on the internet.
More so than any other social networks you're seeing abuse,
People might look at the change today and say the length of the
There is something wrong with the fabric of Twitter, in that it kind
How much of a concern is about and what can you do about it?
I don't think the negativity and abuse and harassment is unique
I think it's an industry-wide, internet-wide issue that we all
need to solve and we did make it a priority for the company.
So we have five priorities this year.
One is refining and simplifying our product.
Two is around live video, three is around making sure that creators are
coming to Twitter and they have the best tools to express themselves.
Four is around safety and making sure that people feel
Give them very easy tools to mute, to block and to report.
So all these parts correspond to making Twitter better and making
Twitter a better place to express oneself
The amounts os tweets is by some measures going down,
the user growth is either small or even non-existent in some quarters.
What do you need to do to improve that beyond kind
What is it about Twitter as a social network,
the fabric of Twitter, what can you do to turn around what's happening
Well, a lot of these things may look small to
people but they are really dramatic in terms of how people use them.
A series of small things can end up being massive in terms
of their impact when taken into consideration in a full
So, you know, I do believe we are focused on the right things to make
Twitter successful and to help Twitter thrive.
I feel like every week I read a rumour or story about someone to
As the chief executive, are you open to Twitter being bought
We are focused on making Twitter amazing.
Making something that people want to use every single day.
We are an independant company and we are thriving and we want to
If Google came with a check book and said we are going to buy you
out, we are going to take you off the market so you do not have to
worry about that kind of pressure, would that be appealing to you?
We are focused on building our service.
We are all used to seeing a lot of CGI, computer generated imagery,
One thing that has become a lot more common in recent years is the idea
of the virtual actor - computer generated humans doing things that
It turns out that the Hollywood minds behind virtual actors are now
turning their attention behind something much more serious.
It is this technology that allowed Marc Cieslak to meet a virtual
The University of Southern California is home to the Institute
A place where cutting-edge technology and Hollywood meet.
The ICT has developed a holster kit used to create visual
For example, the light stage - this is used to capture an actor's face
This data can then be used to create virtual renders of the actor.
It's a pretty spectacular sight, I have to say.
But this kit has applications way beyond the multiplex.
A similar setup has been used as part of the process
of recording interviews with Holocaust survivors for
a project which could eventually end up in museums and even classrooms.
Do you remember any songs from your youth?
So, this is what we call the automultiscopic projector ray.
We have about 200 video projectors behind
You walk around the display at 130 degrees.
You can see a 3D image sitting in front of you.
This man was an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor.
He was in five concentration camps throughout the war.
The most dangerous thing that happened is being in the camps.
Because being in the camps, every minute, every second
of your existence, you were at the mercy of someone who could actually
take your life away, who could torture you, who could beat you, who
It took a week to film these interviews and over 20 hours
In order to record these interviews with Holocaust survivors,
30 cameras were arranged around the interviewees in a semicircle.
The images they captured are projected out of the projector ray,
It provides the illusion of three dimensions.
It really does feel like this man is in the room with you.
But what really brings these 3D images to life is the audience's
ability to interact with the interviewees, asking them questions
We have about just under 2,000 responses.
They cover all the top questions that people tend
to ask Holocaust survivors and also things specific to the story.
So when you ask a question, we use a natural language understanding
similar to how Siri or your phone may translate your speech into text.
The system then uses an algorithm to find the best video response
As you ask a question, we play the video response and then transition
back to the listening pose, so it feels like you are having an actual
You can read about the Holocaust in a book or see it on a movie or on TV
but until you actually interactive with someone who has lived through
The reality that this thing actually happened and how horrendous it was
They say if you ignore history you are doomed to repeat it and
as the survivors of the Holocaust age, interactive recordings like
this one have the ability to keep their stories alive long after they
From the beginning of the Nazis taking over Poland,
it was a nightmare from which you didn't wake up
That was Mark and that's it for this week, I'm afraid.
We'll give you a regular digests of tech news
and all the behind-the-scenes nonsense and pictures that you
Wednesday may have been the first of June, but it wasn't exactly
Take the eastern side of England, for an example.
The Lincolnshire coast, temperatures struggled to just 11 degrees.