Walmart uses AI technology to detect shoplifters at self-checkout, and a group of store associates are concerned that it is putting their health at risk.
A group of Walmart employees say they were “past their breaking point” with Everseen, a small artificial intelligence firm based in Ireland, whose technology Walmart began using in 2017. Walmart uses Everseen in thousands of stores to prevent shoplifting at registers and self-checkout kiosks. But the workers claimed it misidentified innocuous behavior as theft and often failed to stop actual instances of stealing.
The group of employees has chosen to stay anonymous since they are not authorized to speak to the press.
They told the press that they are dismayed that their employer—one of the largest retailers in the world—is relying on AI they believe to be flawed. One worker said that the technology was sometimes even referred to internally as “NeverSeen” because of its frequent mistakes.
The workers said they had been upset about Walmart’s use of Everseen for years and claimed colleagues had raised concerns about the technology to managers but were rebuked. They decided to speak to the press, they said, after a June 2019 Business Insider article reported Walmart’s partnership with Everseen publicly for the first time. The story described how Everseen uses AI to analyze footage from surveillance cameras installed in the ceiling and can detect issues in real time, such as when a customer places an item in their bag without scanning it. When the system spots something, it automatically alerts store associates.
The concerned associates produced a video to prove their concerns were valid. It begins with a person using self-checkout to buy two jumbo packages of Reese’s White Peanut Butter Cups. Because the packages are stacked on top of each other, only one is scanned, but both are successfully placed in the bagging area without issue.
The same person then grabs two gallons of milk by their handles and moves them across the scanner with one hand. Only one is rung up, but both are put in the bagging area. They then put their own cell phone on top of the machine, and an alert pops up saying they need to wait for assistance—a false positive.
The filmmaker repeats the same process at two more stores, where they fail to scan a heart-shaped Valentine’s Day chocolate box with a puppy on the front and a Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush. The video concludes that Everseen failed to stop more than $100 of would-be theft.
The employees believe that the tech frequently misinterprets innocent behavior as potential shoplifting, which frustrates customers and store associates, and leads to longer lines. One worker described it as “a noisy tech, a fake AI that just pretends to safeguard.”
The coronavirus pandemic has given their concerns more urgency. One associate said they worry false positives could be causing Walmart workers to break social-distancing guidelines unnecessarily. When Everseen flags an issue, a store associate needs to intervene and determine whether shoplifting or another problem is taking place. A corporate Walmart manager even expressed strong concern that workers were being put at risk by the additional contact necessitated by false positives and asked whether the Everseen system should be turned off to protect customers and workers.
This of course comes at a time when self-checkout may become even more important for stores, as customers look for low-risk ways to shop.
Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash
Sony has delayed hosting a showcase event for its next games console.
Sony did not directly mention the civil unrest in the US, but alluded to it saying "we do not feel that right now is a time for celebration", adding it wanted "more important voices to be heard".
The firm had been set to unveil some of the games in development for its forthcoming PlayStation 5 on Thursday.
Hours later, Activision delayed the release of new Call of Duty content.
The firm said "now is not the time" to launch new seasons for Modern Warfare: Warzone or Call of Duty: Mobile.
It had been expected that both free-to-play products would launch this week, presenting the firm a fresh opportunity to sell character outfits and other in-game items.
Other technology firms have also cancelled planned launch events.
Games publisher Electronic Arts postponed its reveal event for its latest sports title, Madden NFL 21, and Google had earlier delayed an online event for the next version of Android.
Sony's move avoids the risks inherent in trying to promote games likely to involve violent combat at a time when stand-offs and clashes are occurring across the US.
Other games companies that are planning launches over the coming days may now come under pressure to reconsider their plans as well.
Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash
Single-board computer fans, especially those who love the Raspberry Pi, are ecstatic at the surprise release of the new Raspberry Pi 4 with a whopping 8GB RAM.
Yes, 8 GB. That’s double the max memory that had, until now, been available.
The Raspberry Pi 4 launched just under a year ago and is a very powerful little SBC. But two things about it were really lacking: No eMMC storage capabilities, and a maximum of 4 GB RAM, though 4 GB is still quite impressive for a little SBC. While eMMC is still not available on the Raspberry Pi, it boasts double the previous maximum amount of memory.
That said, gone are the days of the Raspberry Pi being the $25 SBC. The price is now $75 US, and up here in Canada it cost us $110 to order one, plus shipping. This makes it the most expensive Raspberry Pi ever released.
So why the surprise? When the Raspberry Pi 4 was released, an 8 GB DDR4 package wasn't available. But Micron stepped things up earlier this year, providing the necessary component for the upgrade.
Unlike its predecessors whose SOC can support no more than 4 GB RAM, the processor used in the Raspberry Pi 4 can technically support up to 16GB of memory in total, so while 8GB is incredible in this space, it’s not the absolute max.
Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash
Microsoft has finally released Windows 10, version 2004, also known as the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, and promptly warned users not to install it.
The update adds new security features and fixes for previous cumulative updates to Windows 10. But it also includes a plethora of bugs and issues.
This time around, even Microsoft has warned users not to install the update as it is causing severe problems like the blue screen of death, or your system might also fail to restart after installing the update.
After installing the update, Windows 10 devices may be unable to connect to more than one Bluetooth device. Another bug causes mouse input to stop functioning, and another makes it so Variable Refresh Rate no longer works in most games, especially those using DirectX 9.
"Always On" devices, such as your network adapter, might cause the computer to restart randomly, and other issues may result in a blue screen of death.
Needless to say, this is a bad situation for Microsoft, and could be catastrophic for those who are stuck working from home right now, without access to an IT department to fix a botched update.
Microsoft has already started working on the problems and we expect a new update to the update by mid-June. In order to safeguard your PC, you should avoid installing this update. However, if you already installed it you can uninstall it to enjoy a more stable version of Windows 10.
If you're sick of the nonsense, head on over to linuxmint.com for a free, permanent fix.
Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash
Researchers in Australia claim they have recorded the fastest ever internet data speed.
A team from Monash, Swinburne and RMIT universities logged a data speed of 44.2 terabits per second.
At that speed, you could download more than 1,000 high-definition movies, or all 13 seasons of Category5 Technology TV in under one second, and we'd upgrade our livestream to 16k just because we can.
The average UK broadband speed is currently around 64 megabits per second. So this would be roughly 700,000 times faster than what most people in the UK experience day-to-day.
Australia lies in the middle of global rankings for internet speeds, and slow connections are a regular source of complaints from users.
Researchers said they achieved the new record speed by using a device that replaces around 80 lasers found in some existing telecoms hardware, with a single piece of equipment known as a 'micro-comb'.
The micro-comb was planted into and tested - outside the laboratory - using existing infrastructure, similar to that used by Australia's National Broadband Network.
The result was the highest amount of data ever produced by a single optical chip, which are used in modern fibre-optic broadband systems around the world.
The Australian team hope their findings offer a glimpse into how internet connections could look in the future.
While the data speed far outstrips any reasonable consumer need in today's world, Bill Corcoran, lecturer in electrical and computer systems at Monash University, said it could ultimately help transform a wide variety of industries - as modern life continues to put increasing pressure on bandwidth infrastructure.
Mr Corcoran says, "What our research demonstrates is the ability for fibres that we already have in the ground... to be the backbone of communications networks now and in the future."
He goes on to say, "it's not just Netflix we're talking about here. This data can be used for self-driving cars and future transportation, and it can help the medicine, education, finance, and e-commerce industries - as well as enable us to read with our grandchildren from kilometres away."
Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson