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Submission + - Google now wants to spy through microphones (ambient background-sound tech)? (infowars.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Infowars reports that search engine giant Google has filed a patent concerning, amongst other things, the use of ambient background noise (such as the sounds in the background when you are talking on your cellphone) to target advertising at users. Gmail may already read your email texts to target ads at you, but a computer system listening to background noises in your phone conversations (or noise picked up by small microphones in devices other than phones in your homes, such as Smart TVs, tablet computers or next-next-gen game consoles) is new, and possibly heralds the arrival of a new low-point in personal privacy as well. Infowars interprets this advertising-matched-to-recognized-ambient-sounds move as a convenient cover for Google to possibly secretly engage in wide-spread, fully-automated audio surveillance of millions of people who happen to be talking to someone or about something in close proximity to an internet-connected device with a microphone. How would Google & partners sell this intrusive service/potential spying to people? Possibly by offering an ad-supported service along the lines of "you can make free-of-charge phone calls to any number located in the U.S., if you listen to a few audio ads we play every now and then during the conversation". After all, plenty of people are OK with Google algorithms reading their emails... What's the harm in a handfull of new Google algorithms listening to noises picked up by your smartphone? The major catch in all this is, how can one be sure, with any degree of certainty, that Google's algorithms are only listening to "background noises"? What if those algorithms secretly transcribe to text — via voice-recognition — what you and the person on the other end of the line were saying to each other, and then let other algorithms sift through that text transcript looking for certain 'naughty' keywords like "protest", "organize", "rise-up", "show them" et cetera? What if companies other than Google — lets say your regular phone or cell phone company — start introducing similar "ambient sound recognition" algorithms into their service, and eventually this becomes such widespread industry practise, that you cannot opt out of this kind of algorithm-based-audio-spying at all anymore? The implications for everyday privacy, which is already under attack from all sides in the digital world we live in, are potentially chilling... What happened to "Do no evil", Google?

Submission + - Flying Dutchman flaps wings like a bird, takes off (humanbirdwings.net)

AlejoHausner writes: Dutch engineer Jarno Smeets built flapping power-assisted wearable wings, using videogame controllers and an Android phone. In his video, he manages a controlled flight of 100 meters. Some commenters think it's a fake, but http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/03/human-bird-wings/ says it looks real.

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