Latest news features and opinion on technology, covering everything from AI innovation to smartphone makers and apps. 

Coronavirus fears have claimed the world’s biggest phone show
The world’s biggest mobile phone showcase will not happen this year. The organizer of MWC Barcelona, the largest showcase for mobile technology, has canceled the event less than two weeks before its scheduled opening after major exhibitors pulled out over concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. The cancelation highlights the global ramifications of the spread of the virus as well as governments’ responses to it, including imposing restrictions on travelers from mainland China. John Hoffman, chief executive of GSM Association (GSMA), which organizes the annual event, said Wednesday it has canceled the tech conference “because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel conc
Coronavirus fears have claimed the world’s biggest phone show
These tiny robot worms may be able to connect to the brain
In southern China, there is an ancient form of black magic known as Gu. According to folklore, a small poisonous creature similar to a worm could be grown in a pot and used to control a person’s mind. Now a team of researchers in Shenzhen have created a robot worm that could enter the human body, move along blood vessels and hook up to neurons. “In a way it is similar to Gu,” said Xu Tiantian, a lead scientist for the project at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. “But our purpose is not developing a biological weapon. It’s the opposite,” she added. In recent years, science labs around the world have produced many micro-bots. So far, they have mostly
These tiny robot worms may be able to connect to the brain
2019 was the year Chinese artificial intelligence clashed with US
In 2017, China told the world it planned to become a world leader in artificial intelligence (AI). Two years later, that promise came to dominate the Chinese, if not the global, conversation about technology. At a conference this past May, John Kerry, the former US secretary of state, said Chinese President Xi Jinping’s announcement was not the “wisest” move. “It would have probably been smart to go try to do it and not announce [the plan], because the announcement was heard in Washington and elsewhere,” he said. His words foreboded a storm approaching Chinese AI firms. Reports days later indicated Washington was considering placing several Chinese surveillance companies on the US Entity Li
2019 was the year Chinese artificial intelligence clashed with US
TikTok boss hopes DC visit can ease censorship and privacy concerns
The Chinese-owned social media app TikTok is wildly popular in the US, especially among teenagers who spend hours posting videos about the latest dance trends, their love-life complaints and personal unique talents.  As it grows into one of the world’s most used social media platforms, TikTok has found itself under increased scrutiny in the US, its third-largest market.  In an attempt to assuage concerns over censorship and user privacy, the head of the short video platform, Alex Zhu, is embarking on a goodwill tour to Capitol Hill.  The meetings with American lawmakers, scheduled for this week, come as the video app’s Beijing-based owner ByteDance is under increasing scrutiny to address cen
 TikTok boss hopes DC visit can ease censorship and privacy concerns
From farming to coding for Google, her story lights up China’s internet
To get where she is today, Sun Ling has beaten long odds. Born in a rural hamlet in central China’s Hunan province, Sun shot to Chinese social media stardom for her rags-to-relative-comfort career trajectory. Her story begins in a household of such modest means that her mother had to sell blood to make ends meet and a primary school education interrupted by the need for her hands in the family’s fields. She has no fancy college degree, having gone to work on the assembly line at a Shenzhen factory directly from high school. Yet today, the 29-year-old works as a contract software engineer at Google in New York, coding on workdays and playing frisbee on weekends, with an annual salary of about
From farming to coding for Google, her story lights up China’s internet
China makes AI news anchors – but we’re still in the uncanny valley
There’s something strange about this news anchor.   He’s not human. Instead, this is the latest technological achievement touted by China: a digital news anchor, powered by artificial intelligence. Developed based on the faces, voices, lip movements and expressions of human anchors, its inventors say the AI anchors will be able to deliver news 24 hours a day, seven days a week – as long as they’re given a script. The AI anchors, developed by state news agency Xinhua and Beijing-based search engine operator Sogou, were launched during the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen on Wednesday.   Xinhua said that the move was not just a “breakthrough” in AI technology, but also the first example of
China makes AI news anchors – but we’re still in the uncanny valley
The world’s biggest telescope is ready. The problem: staffing it
When China built the world’s largest telescope, officials said it would make the country the global leader in radio astronomy. It could detect radio waves from across the universe – perhaps even signs of extraterrestrial life. There’s just one problem: they can’t find enough people to run it. Officials are struggling to find researchers to analyze the signals the $180 million FAST radio telescope is expected to detect when it officially launches in the first half of 2019. The plan had been to hire another two dozen researchers after the launch, according to job postings late last year on the website of the instrument’s owner, National Astronomical Observatories. But Zhang Shuxin, director of
The world’s biggest telescope is ready. The problem: staffing it
This firm is building an army of robots in China — to make more robots
If androids could dream, this is what would get their circuits sparking. A colony of robots, greased and served by humans, doing nothing all day but reproducing themselves. In essence that’s Swiss engineering firm ABB’s plan to build what it’s called “the world’s most advanced” robotics factory, in Shanghai. The company announced Saturday a new $150 million investment in the eastern Chinese city, home to many advanced manufacturing plants and a future Tesla car factory. The new plant, where “robots make robots,” will begin operating by the end of 2020, the company said. Success in building an efficient, low-maintenance robot-making factory will help the company produce more and cheaper robo
This firm is building an army of robots in China — to make more robots
How this female CEO is changing the game for China’s women
Jane Sun may be the head of a Nasdaq-listed Chinese tech company valued at $23 billion, but she’s not always treated like it. While attending a recent CEO conference in Silicon Valley, “people assumed I was there to accompany my husband,” said the 49-year-old head of Shanghai-based Ctrip, Asia’s biggest online travel platform. On a separate skiing trip to Canada, fellow skiers asked Sun’s husband what line of work he was in, but not her. “It’s not discrimination, but subconsciously you are someone’s wife,” Sun said in a recent interview with the South China Morning Post at Ctrip’s Zaha Hadid Architects-designed headquarters. Such experiences have only strengthened Sun’s resolve to introduce
How this female CEO is changing the game for China’s women
This android wants to build the future (but not steal your job)
Say hello to Sophia, an android designed in Hong Kong by Hanson Robotics. While she isn’t fully sentient, Sophia uses elements of artificial intelligence and speech recognition, to allow people to have rudimentary conversations with her. She’s excited for the future of innovation… and she insists that she’s not going to steal your job.
This android wants to build the future (but not steal your job)