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Digital amnesia strikes

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A new study has revealed that the ease with which we can search for a person’s personal details online has led to many users not being able to recall vital information such as their home telephone number.

The ‘Google Effect’, the impact on our memory of being able to find information online has extended to include important personal information and mobile devices, a new study by Kaspersky Lab has found. The study reveals that the majority of connected consumers across Europe can’t recall critical phone numbers from memory, including those of their children (53%), children’s schools (90%) and place of work (51%). Around a third could not remember their partner’s number – yet just four in ten have forgotten their home phone numbers when aged 10 and 15.

Kaspersky Lab surveyed 6,000 consumers aged 16 and older in six European countries. The findings suggest that our inability to retain important information is due to the fact that we are handing over responsibility for remembering it to digital devices such as smartphones. Just under half (43%) of the youngest consumers surveyed (16 to 24 year-olds) say that their smartphone holds almost everything they need to know or recall.

Kaspersky Lab has termed this phenomenon Digital Amnesia: the experience of forgetting information that you trust a digital device to store and remember for you.

The study found evidence of Digital Amnesia across all age groups and equally among both men and women.

Not surprisingly, the study also found that the loss or compromise of data stored on digital devices, and smartphones in particular, would leave many users devastated. Four in ten women and the same number of 16 to 24 year-olds would be overwhelmed by sadness since they have memories stored on their devices that they believe they might never get back. One in four of both women and younger respondents would be totally frantic: their devices are the only place they store images and contact information.

So it is worrying that despite this growing reliance on digital devices as the guardian of our memories, and the profound emotional impact of losing those memories – the study found that consumers across Europe are failing to adequately protect these devices with IT security. Smartphones and tablets are particularly poorly protected: just one in three (36%) installs extra IT security on their smartphone and only a quarter (23%) adds any to their tablet. One in five (21%) don’t protect any of their devices with additional security.

Connected devices enrich our lives but they have also given rise to Digital Amnesia. We need to understand the long term implications of this for how we remember and how we protect those memories. The phone numbers of those who matter most to us are now just a click away – so we no longer bother to memorise the details.

Further, an overwhelming 86% of those surveyed say that in our increasingly hyper-connected world people simply have too many numbers, addresses, handles etc. for them to remember even if they wanted to. We discovered that the loss or compromise of this precious information would not just be an inconvenience; it would leave many people deeply distressed. Kaspersky Lab is committed to helping people understand the risks their data could be exposed to, and empowering them to tackle those risks, for example, by installing security software that would keep their devices and data protected.” said David Emm, Principal Security Researcher, Kaspersky Lab.

An in-depth report, entitled ‘The rise and impact of Digital Amnesia: Why we need to protect what we no longer remember’ can be found at the following link.

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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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