Colors: Purple Color

Media in the United Kingdom and the United States have reported that Microsoft is set to replace dozens of contract journalists on its MSN website and, instead, use automatic systems to select news stories.

The curating of stories from news organisations and selection of headlines and pictures from the MSN site is currently done by journalists.

Sources say that artificial intelligence will perform these new production tasks.

Microsoft has said that it was part of an evaluation of its business.

In a statement, the tech giant said: “Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, redeployment in others.

These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic”.

Microsoft, like some other tech companies, pays new organisations to use their content on its website.

But it employs journalists to decide which stories to display and how they are presented.

It was reported that around 50 contract news producers at the Seattle Times in the US, for instance, will lose their jobs at the end of June, but a team of full-time journalists will remain.

Some of the sacked journalists warned that artificial intelligence may not be fully familiar with strict editorial guidelines and could end up letting through inappropriate stories.

Microsoft is one of the many tech companies experimenting with forms of so-called robot journalists to cut costs.

Google is also investing in projects to understand how it might work

A test version of the NHS’s coronavirus contact-tracking app has been published to Apple and Google’s app stores.

Council staff and healthcare workers on the Isle of Wight were invited to install it, ahead of wider roll-out throughout the island.

Project chiefs have said that their so-called “centralised” approach gives them advantages over a rival scheme advocated by the US tech giants some privacy experts.

But fresh concerns have been raised.

The Information Commission’s Office has declared that “as a general rule, a decentralised approach” would better follow its principles that organisations should minimise the amount of personal data they collect.

The House of Commons’ Human Rights Select Committee also discussed fears about NHSX’s plan to extend the app to record location data.

Law professor, Orla Lynsky, cautioned: “There is an inherent risk that I you create a system that can be added to incrementally , you can do so in a way that is very privacy invasive”.

But NHSX has stressed: use of the app will be voluntary the only personal data stored by the app at the start will be the final part of the user’s postcode additional location data will only be recorded if users agree to a further opt-in request.

Following the success of the first virtual walking tour – ‘Central Squares’, this second tour moves to new parts of the city.

‘Centenary Square and canals’ looks at a key city square and how it has changed over the years. It then moves on through the International Convention Centre to the canals and Gas Street Basin.

The history, present day and future direction of travel of Birmingham are all considered during the tour.

Speaking of the new tour, author and publisher Jonathan Berg says: “The virtual tours are for everyone interested in exploring Birmingham.

“You can undertake them from the comfort of your own home anywhere in the world”.

The tours are also designed as self-guided tours taking you on a real walk round the city if you are in Birmingham and unable to join a ‘live’ tour at the present time. There are two versions of the tour available – a low resolution one for use on your phone and a HD version that plays well on a big screen!

The new tour is currently available free and can be ordered from the Visit Birmingham website.

At the end of the new tour are links to downloadable information especially useful for students studying Birmingham.  

Jonathan Berg says that: “This is the second virtual tour to be published with another two in development.

“The ‘box set’ of four will fully cover Geography GCSE requirements for studying a UK city, which schools who were intending to come to the city on field courses are already finding very useful”.

Facebook has launched a new dedicated gaming app ahead of its origin planned date in its latest attempt to grow its presence in the online gaming world.

They (Facebook) said that the accelerated launch was a direct response to the lockdown following the world coronavirus outbreak.

The dedicated Facebook Gaming app lets users follow high-profile games, watch live gaming streams and also be able to leave comments without interacting with the rest of Facebook.

It also lets gamers broadcast their own smartphone screen.

Facebook launched the gaming app – available on Android for now - aimed at challenging the dominance of Twitter and YouTube in the live game-streaming market and is designed for people engaged in the online gaming community.

It will, however, be available with casual games and access to the gaming community.

Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app, said: “Investing in gaming, in general, has become a priority for us. And, that is because we see gaming as a form of entertainment that really connects people”.

The app was apparently due to be released in July, but they had to bring it forward because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nearly a million businesses in the UK and around the world can now set up a single online store to sell products, with no fee, on Facebook and Instagram.

The initial phase of the Facebook Shops rollout has been brought forward and extended because of coronavirus.

The store will appear on business pages, Instagram profiles and through targeted ads.

The company has already used a no-fees approach in its Facebook Marketplace for persona; classifieds.

Facebook’s Layla Amjad said: “It’s bigger than usual just because we want to make sure we’re moving quickly to get these tools in the hands of as many businesses wherever they are, big or small, to help them survive during these times”.

Products Manager, George Lee said that it had been in the pipelines for at least half a year.

He said: “Obviously, given the current situation, we have accelerated a lot of our efforts.

“We are in a unique position to be able to contribute to the survival of a bunch of these businesses”.

The shopping feature will also eventually appear on WhatsApp and the company’s other messaging apps and integrate with live streams.

For the average Facebook user, “this will be a really seamless experience”, Miss Amjadi said.

“You can go much deeper now without leaving the app”.

Once a buyer decides they want to spend money, they will usually be diected to the company’s webpage to complete the transaction.

And if problems arise or a buyer wants to ask questions, they can do so through Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Instagram Direct messager, some of which are already used by companies for that purpose.

The rollout is part of a wider range of changes planned for shopping across Facebook’s products.

The UK’s mobile network has reported that a further 29 cases of phone masts being targeted in suspected arson attack over the Easter weekend.

One of the targeted masts serves the just opened Birmingham’s Nightingale Hospital.at the NEC Birmingham.

Trade group, Mobile UK, said that it had been notified over incidents in England, Wales and Scotland.

One of the targeted sites provides mobile connectivity to one of the hospitals in Birmingham, in the West Midlands.

The figures represent a lower incidence rate than had been the case in the previous period.

Attacks on 5G masts pre-date the coronavirus pandemic, but there are concerns that a surge in the amount of vandalism has been caused by conspiracy theories, which falsely claim the deployment of 5G networks has caused or helped to accelerate the spread of Covid-19.

A spokesperson for Mobile UK said: “Theories that are being spread about 5G are baseless and are not grounded.

“Continuous attacks on mobile infrastructure risks lives and, at these challenging times, the UK’s critical sectors must be able to focus all of their efforts on fighting this pandemic”.