What’s new in tech
Humans still out-argue machines
Can a computer out-argue a top-ranked human debater? asked Stephen Shankland in CNET.com. The answer, for this week at least, was no. In front of an audience of hundreds, Harish Natarajan, the grand finalist of the 2016 World Debating Championship, battled IBM’s Debater program over whether the government should subsidize preschool. It turned out that humans “can still prevail when it comes to the subtleties of knowledge, persuasion, and argument.” Each side was given 15 minutes—enough time for the computer to analyze a database of 10 billion sentences—to prepare arguments. The winner was determined by who could get more members of the audience to change their minds. Natarajan, arguing against subsidies, won handily, though the moderator called IBM Debater “surprisingly charming and human-sounding.”
Mars One goes bankrupt
News emerged this week that Mars One Ventures—“the company that claimed it was going to send hundreds of people to live (and ultimately die) on the Red Planet”—had gone bankrupt, said Loren Grush in TheVerge.com. The company’s liquidation, which took place in January, was disclosed by Swiss authorities. Mars One hoped to launch a series of missions, supported by robots that would set up hardware and supplies. The company had asked for applications for Mars colonizers from around the world and chose 100 candidates—who applied despite warnings from Mars One that “it would send them to the Red Planet to start the first human settlement, but that it would not return them to Earth as it lacked the technology to get them off the planet.”
Sprint sues AT&T over 5G claims
Sprint filed a lawsuit last week against rival AT&T, charging it with promoting a “fake 5G” network, when consumers are simply using an upgraded version of 4G LTE, said Brian Fung in The Washington Post. AT&T has been racing with Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint to be the company to field the nation’s first true 5G wireless network, which will have download speeds 100 times faster than the current wireless standard. But AT&T had been replacing the LTE symbol at the top of some smartphones with a new icon that says “5G E.” The company says it is meant to indicate that AT&T is on a path toward the “Evolution” of a new network. Sprint says that its competitor is trying to gain an unfair advantage.