Bytes: What’s new in tech
Your fine-art doppelgänger
“If you’ve ever wondered if there’s a museum portrait somewhere that looks like you,” there’s an app for that, said Steve Dent in Engadget.com. Google’s Arts & Culture app, which features virtual art tours from hundreds of the world’s museums, has been around for more than a year, but a recent update that searches famous portraits for users’ “art dopplegängers” helped it go viral, with the free app shooting to the No. 1 spot in the App Store. Users simply take a selfie and are presented with a “fine art twin,” as well as the option to share the comparison shots on social media. “In many cases, the old-timey people in the paintings resemble users uncannily.” Some people expressed concern that Google was using the app to collect information about their faces, but the company assured users it won’t use the photos for any other purpose.
Intel scrambles to patch processors
Intel has “fumbled” the rollout of fixes to major security flaws that affect nearly all of its computer chips, said Robert McMillan in The Wall Street Journal. The company is “quietly advising” customers “to hold off” from installing the patches to the Meltdown and Spectre flaws, which were disclosed this month and “give hackers a way to steal secrets such as passwords or other sensitive information from many of the world’s computer systems.” The reason? “It turns out the patches had bugs of their own.” Several large cloud providers have reported that the updates are slowing down or crashing older computer systems, and in some cases causing systems to repeatedly reboot.
AI dominates Vegas tech show
Artificial intelligence was “the clear darling” of this year’s CES electronics show in Las Vegas, the annual gathering where companies showcase cutting-edge gadgets and technology, said Whitney Richardson and Brian Chen in The New York Times. More than 4,000 exhibitors showcased goods such as robot pets and a television “that can be rolled up like a yoga mat.” But artificial intelligence was front and center, with coffee makers, vacuums, “and even the cat litter box” all receiving AI upgrades like voice control. Mercedes-Benz showed off connected car technology built around voice commands, and Samsung unveiled a smart refrigerator that “allows consumers to control other home devices with their voice.” One surreal moment: an hour-long power outage, with attendees mocking “the irony of a giant electronics show lacking electricity.” ■