28/05/2016 Click


28/05/2016

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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Transcript


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You are up to date on the headlines. It is time now for Click.

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3D projected people come to life, and the web goes ad free.

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All that after these important messages.

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This is East London, painfully trendy and somewhere I

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Down Shoreditch way is the famous Brick Lane, an area famous for its

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colourful street art that you will find lurking around every corner.

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It is a real work of art, which we can all enjoy at no cost.

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The creator of this really didn't expect to get paid.

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That is rarely the case with other kinds of content, online news, video

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content, as we know, the creators of those are in it for money.

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Money that often comes from advertisers' pockets.

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The problem is, our love affair with doing this is spilling online.

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The way to skip these ads on the web is to install a browser

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These are known as ad blockers, stopping annoying things popping up

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Not everything that pops up on your screen is annoying, case in point.

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You have been testing some of these ad blockers, haven't you?

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While some people might not mind random interruptions,

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for others advertisements are a real nuisance, particularly on mobile

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devices because people don't want to use their data or battery power

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I guess it is good news for us, definitely bad news

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for the advertisers by the sound of it.

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Absolutely, and although ad blocking is nothing new, people are

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learning more about it and there are more ways of blocking adverts.

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It seems it will only become a bigger business.

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Adblocker Plus is leading the way with 100 million users,

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and once you install it, you should be free of advertisements.

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Not quite, it creates a white list, a list of sites that adheres to what

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Acceptable ads is a set of criteria, and those are criteria we developed

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If advertisers or publishers have certain ads that meet those criteria

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they can be white listed, and then the top 10% of those advertisers are

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also charged a licensing fee for the work you put into doing it.

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It is not just about bursting their bubble, the issue is

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the general dislike of adverts, only about 10% of the company's

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They don't like distractions or the idea of companies tracking

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their data and habits, something ad blockers also aim to reduce.

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Some content providers are going as far as blocking user access

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if they detect that ad blocking software is in use.

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Now, Opera has an ad blocker built into its latest browser, Apple

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recently allowed them to function on its mobile operators, and others are

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It is not all doom and gloom, at least not yet.

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We haven't all downloaded ad blockers.

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There does seem to be a growing trend.

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Some try to shield themselves by going behind pay walls, and if

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things don't get better we may start seeing subscription models where you

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sign up for access to multiple publications in one place, or even

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using cash trails, where you pay nominal amount each

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Either of those would put an end to the freely available

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I have come to one of the biggest online news publishers in the UK,

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where the issue of whether the news should be free has been

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The Guardian is one of the most read online news services, which is free

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to access and a significant portion of income comes from advertisers.

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I sat down with the man in charge of the digital site to see how much

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It is a significant issue that we take very seriously.

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In Germany, for example, 80% of millennial males, people aged 18-34,

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That gives us a sense of where this could go.

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Readers enjoy the content and probably don't think very much about

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the fact that it is advertising that is paying for the creation

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of amazing investigative journalism like the Panama Papers or WikiLeaks.

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Then there is the idea of the ad blocker blocker, which is

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something that broadcasters or publishers can install to stop the

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John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary, referred to

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the ad blocking business model as a modern-day protection racket, and

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that is because ad blockers will charge publishers and other media

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owners to be able to punch through the ad blocker

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and still deliver ads to the user who has chosen to block them.

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They are offering the opportunity to be on a white list.

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Even crazier, there are further services to the user to block

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Going down an arms race doesn't seem to be a viable route, it will just

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continue to escalate and we don't want to circumvent users' choice to

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not see ads, we would much rather engage in the conversation with the

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user which says hopefully the content are

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reading has some value to you, and if you value it we would like

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you to contribute to that, either by seeing advertising or by paying us.

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At least one company is attempting to unite it all and change

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PageFair is one of those ad blocker blockers, one of several out there,

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giving back to those who are stung by the rise of ad blockers.

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The company says there philosophy is more about bridging the gap

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What users will start seeing is far fewer ads, respectful ads that

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aren't snooping on their data, that aren't jumping around the page, that

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aren't interrupting the traffic by taking so long to download, and also

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ads that behave in such a simple way that they can't expose the machine

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Companies need to use advertising because it pays the bills,

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but they need to reduce the number of ads such that the ones that are

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The way beyond that blocking, where you get to decide what ads to show

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on this now uncluttered space where people have blocked out all the

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other ads, once you can decide what ads you want to show beyond that

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blocking, the answer is to limit the quantity

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What that will do is I think it will cure what is

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Whether ad blockers or the ad blocker blockers win,

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it seems we are the ones who will come out glorious, with a less

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It was the week the US Navy tested firing drone swarms up into the sky.

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The creepiest robot ever with whiskers was unveiled.

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And The European Commission proposed that a fifth of the shows offered

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by services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video,

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should be made locally and given good visibility on the platform.

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And, after giving Nokia the heave-ho last week,

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Microsoft announced a cut of over 1800 jobs as part of its retreat

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This comes just two years after it paid ?5 billion for the once

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This also brought us a most unlikely internet star, in

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She popped to the shops to buy yoga pants, came

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out with a Chewbacca mask, and an amazing 140 million views later had

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If you think your touchscreen is playing up, MIT has unveiled its

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newest shape shifting interface, which has been programmed to mimic

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It can bend and flex, giving users what research is called

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In last week's show we talked to leading academics

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about what our lives might be like in the future, when automation

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Now, here is their view on the ethical

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and moral questions we may face as robots become part of our society.

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In many years to come, if we build human level AI,

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would it have consciousness or would it be just a tool?

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We know how to make little electronic neurons.

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If we put together hundreds of thousands of these, just the same as

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the way the brain of a small animal is organised, then it seems to me if

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they are governed by the same laws of physics, that they should behave

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in the same way as the animal behaves. There is no reason why we

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shouldn't be able to replicate all the abilities of a human being.

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There may be some aspects of human cognition that are not computable.

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If I slap myself across the cheek, I know what it feels like to be

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It is not obvious to me how the execution of any computer programme

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on no matter how powerful hardware, will be sufficient to bring forth

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What every person has is this amazing complexity inside of them,

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We have subjectivity, agency, thoughts and feelings.

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It is actually impossible to have the kind

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of relationship with a machine as you might another person, because

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there is a profound distinction between a person in a thing.

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I know there are lots of people that make claims that if you get machines

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to imitate behaviours and humans recognise that and start relating to

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it in a particular kind of way, that shows some relationship.

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But the only reason why a human being is able to appreciate

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those, is because first and foremost they are human beings.

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I think we could build things that are capable of suffering,

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We also could build things that are very sophisticated and capable,

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but that don't actually experience emotions of their own,

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We don't have a moral duty towards that thing so

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You could say, that is fine, people want to beat up robots

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Provided they pay for them that is not a worry.

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I consider the extreme case, where people are commissioning

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robots that look exactly like their ex-girlfriend or their boss,

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It is incredibly easy to make a robot that can pretend to suffer.

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If a robot pretends to cry, then 98% of people can't help

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That is a massive opportunity for manufacturers

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We really need to discuss this before we are all

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If you couldn't get people who are lonely or disaffected with a

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relationship, you can actually build robots to meet that need, then you

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If you can keep create new needs and desires,

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The elderly argument is one that is often in the background for a lot

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If you say to people, "would you like to be cared for by a

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If, instead, you say, "Would you like us to develop

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sophisticated artificial intelligence technology which will

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enable you to remain independent in your own home for longer?"

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Now, in many ways, those suggest different ways of describing the

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same thing but I think it is really important that we use the latter

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description because, with today's technology, the robots don't really

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care, they simply do a job that resembles caring. Twitter

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has been facing some tough questions of late, questions like,

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Are you even relevant anymore in this rapidly expanding universe

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Last year its boss, Jack Dorsey, left the company

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only to come back saying he was the man who could save it.

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Dave Lee gave him more than a sentence or two to explain

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Jack, you're making changes to Twitter, what exactly is going to

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What are users going to notice is different?

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It's going to be a whole lot simpler.

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It's going to be a lot simpler to use.

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So we're focus a lot of our energy on making sure that

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And we've noticed how people have been tweeting over ten years and one

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of the things that we noticed is that there's this little, hidden

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rule where if you put and app name to start your tweet,

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it's actually only seen by that person you are referencing

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and people that follow the both of you.

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It doesn't make sense to anyone and people have had to work around it.

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Put a dot before the app and then the name and that also

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We're remopving that, making it a whole lot simpler.

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The other thing that was happening, people are tweeting out images, or

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videos, polls, gifts and what was happening is they add an image and

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then the character count goes down and it doesn't really make sense

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because they don't see a URL or any other text, they see an image.

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So we removed counting against any time you add an image,

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or media or poll to make it a whole lot more visible and intuitive.

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Many people's reluctance to be involved in Twitter is still this

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sense that in many cases it's not a nice place to be on the internet.

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More so than any other social networks you're seeing abuse,

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People might look at the change today and say the length of the

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There is something wrong with the fabric of Twitter, in that it kind

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How much of a concern is about and what can you do about it?

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I don't think the negativity and abuse and harassment is unique

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I think it's an industry-wide, internet-wide issue that we all

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need to solve and we did make it a priority for the company.

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So we have five priorities this year.

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One is refining and simplifying our product.

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Two is around live video, three is around making sure that creators are

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coming to Twitter and they have the best tools to express themselves.

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Four is around safety and making sure that people feel

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Give them very easy tools to mute, to block and to report.

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So all these parts correspond to making Twitter better and making

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Twitter a better place to express oneself

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The amounts os tweets is by some measures going down,

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the user growth is either small or even non-existent in some quarters.

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What do you need to do to improve that beyond kind

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What is it about Twitter as a social network,

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the fabric of Twitter, what can you do to turn around what's happening

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Well, a lot of these things may look small to

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people but they are really dramatic in terms of how people use them.

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A series of small things can end up being massive in terms

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of their impact when taken into consideration in a full

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So, you know, I do believe we are focused on the right things to make

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Twitter successful and to help Twitter thrive.

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I feel like every week I read a rumour or story about someone to

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As the chief executive, are you open to Twitter being bought

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We are focused on making Twitter amazing.

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Making something that people want to use every single day.

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We are an independant company and we are thriving and we want to

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If Google came with a check book and said we are going to buy you

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out, we are going to take you off the market so you do not have to

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worry about that kind of pressure, would that be appealing to you?

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We are focused on building our service.

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We are all used to seeing a lot of CGI, computer generated imagery,

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One thing that has become a lot more common in recent years is the idea

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of the virtual actor - computer generated humans doing things that

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It turns out that the Hollywood minds behind virtual actors are now

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turning their attention behind something much more serious.

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It is this technology that allowed Marc Cieslak to meet a virtual

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The University of Southern California is home to the Institute

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A place where cutting-edge technology and Hollywood meet.

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The ICT has developed a holster kit used to create visual

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For example, the light stage - this is used to capture an actor's face

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This data can then be used to create virtual renders of the actor.

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It's a pretty spectacular sight, I have to say.

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But this kit has applications way beyond the multiplex.

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A similar setup has been used as part of the process

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of recording interviews with Holocaust survivors for

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a project which could eventually end up in museums and even classrooms.

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Do you remember any songs from your youth?

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So, this is what we call the automultiscopic projector ray.

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We have about 200 video projectors behind

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You walk around the display at 130 degrees.

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You can see a 3D image sitting in front of you.

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This man was an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor.

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He was in five concentration camps throughout the war.

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The most dangerous thing that happened is being in the camps.

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Because being in the camps, every minute, every second

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of your existence, you were at the mercy of someone who could actually

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take your life away, who could torture you, who could beat you, who

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It took a week to film these interviews and over 20 hours

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In order to record these interviews with Holocaust survivors,

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30 cameras were arranged around the interviewees in a semicircle.

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The images they captured are projected out of the projector ray,

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It provides the illusion of three dimensions.

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It really does feel like this man is in the room with you.

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But what really brings these 3D images to life is the audience's

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ability to interact with the interviewees, asking them questions

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We have about just under 2,000 responses.

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They cover all the top questions that people tend

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to ask Holocaust survivors and also things specific to the story.

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So when you ask a question, we use a natural language understanding

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similar to how Siri or your phone may translate your speech into text.

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The system then uses an algorithm to find the best video response

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As you ask a question, we play the video response and then transition

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back to the listening pose, so it feels like you are having an actual

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You can read about the Holocaust in a book or see it on a movie or on TV

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but until you actually interactive with someone who has lived through

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The reality that this thing actually happened and how horrendous it was

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They say if you ignore history you are doomed to repeat it and

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as the survivors of the Holocaust age, interactive recordings like

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this one have the ability to keep their stories alive long after they

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From the beginning of the Nazis taking over Poland,

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it was a nightmare from which you didn't wake up

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That was Mark and that's it for this week, I'm afraid.

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We'll give you a regular digests of tech news

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and all the behind-the-scenes nonsense and pictures that you

:23:54.:24:16.

Wednesday may have been the first of June, but it wasn't exactly

:24:17.:24:20.

Take the eastern side of England, for an example.

:24:21.:24:23.

The Lincolnshire coast, temperatures struggled to just 11 degrees.

:24:24.:24:26.

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