Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII Multiplayer Beta takes place in August

So much to shoot.

Today, Activision revealed the launch dates for the Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII Multiplayer and “Blockout” Betas. The Multiplayer Beta kicks off August 3, 2018 on PlayStation 4, followed shortly thereafter by Xbox One and PC on August 10. In September, the Blackout battle royale experience comes to life, in a first-ever hands-on. It’s unclear what date in September the Blackout Beta will start.

ACLU calls for a moratorium on government use of facial recognition technologies

Technology executives are pleading with the government to give them guidance on how to use facial recognition technologies, and now the American Civil Liberties Union is weighing in.
On the heels of a Microsoft statement asking for the federal government to weigh in on the technology, the ACLU has called for a moratorium on the use of the technology by government agencies.
“Congress should take immediate action to put the brakes on this technology with a moratorium on its use, given that it has not been fully debated and its use has never been explicitly authorized,” said Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU legislative counsel, in a statement. “And companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and others should be heeding the calls from the public, employees, and shareholders to stop selling face surveillance technology to governments.”
In May the ACLU released a report on Amazon’s sale of facial recognition technology to different law enforcement agencies. And in June the civil liberties group pressed the company to stop selling the technology. One contract, with the Orlando Police Department, was suspended and then renewed after the uproar.
Meanwhile, Google employees revolted over their company’s work with the government on facial recognition tech… and Microsoft had problems of its own after reports surfaced of the work that the company was doing with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement service.
Some organizations are already working to regulate how facial recognition technologies are used. At MIT, Joy Buolamwini has created the Algorithmic Justice League, which is pushing a pledge that companies working with the technology can agree to as they work on the tech.
That pledge includes commitments to value human life and dignity, including the refusal to help develop lethal autonomous vehicles or equipping law enforcement with facial analysis products.

ACLU calls for a moratorium on government use of facial recognition technologies

10 questions we had for Warhammer: Vermintide 2 producer Robert Bäckström

After taking the PC gaming community by storm for the last several months, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 has brought its cooperative hack-and-slash violence to the Xbox One. Featuring native 4K textures if you own an Xbox One X, the game is sure to please.

We got a chance to interview producer for the title, Robert Bäckström, about a myriad of topics. Here are 10 questions that we got answered.

New We Happy Few trailer teaches you the hallucinogenic secret behind happiness

We Happy Few looks better than ever!

Today, Compulsion Games showed off a new We Happy Few trailer. According to the studio, the game is the tale of a plucky bunch of moderately-terrible people trying to escape from a lifetime of cheerful denial in the city of Wellington Wells. In this alternate England, conformity is key. You have to fight or blend in with the drug-using inhabitants to survive.

HDHomeRun Connect vs. Prime vs. Extend vs. Quatro: Which digital tuner is best for you?

So you’re thinking of getting an HDHomeRun for your home. Which one should you buy?

There are three great products from SiliconDust that can help you make more of your home TV experience. Not just when it comes to ditching cable, but even embracing it and making it suit your own home setup rather than being limited to the box the cable company provides.

Depending on your situation, there might be a very straightforward answer to the question. Let’s look at each and explain why you might want to buy them.

Microsoft urges government to regulate facial recognition tech

Microsoft President Brad Smith has urged Congress to consider the darker side of facial recognition technology.

In a blog post released today, Microsoft President Brad Smith called on Congress to regulate facial recognition technology, citing its potential for abuse among the private and public sectors alike.

In his post, Smith calls attention to the positive aspects of facial recognition tech, such as cataloging photos and helping to reunite families. But he also cautions that the positives come with potential threats to privacy and human rights. From Smith:

Facial recognition technology raises issues that go to the heart of fundamental human rights protections like privacy and freedom of expression. These issues heighten responsibility for tech companies that create these products. In our view, they also call for thoughtful government regulation and for the development of norms around acceptable uses. In a democratic republic, there is no substitute for decision making by our elected representatives regarding the issues that require the balancing of public safety with the essence of our democratic freedoms. Facial recognition will require the public and private sectors alike to step up – and to act.

Left 4 Dead-like 'Earthfall' out now on Xbox One and PC

Earthfall seems like Left 4 Dead with aliens.

Recently, developer Holospark surprised gamers by announcing Earthfall — an upcoming Left 4 Dead-like multiplayer co-op shooter — for Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4. In a surprising twist, Gearbox Publishing is distributing the game at physical boxed retail. Earthfall follows players who fend off an alien invasion of the American Pacific Northwest using squad tactics, portable heavy weaponry, instant walls, and more tools as they try to avoid swarms of horrific intergalactic invaders.

As facial recognition technology becomes pervasive, Microsoft (yes, Microsoft) issues a call for regulation

Technology companies have a privacy problem. They’re terribly good at invading ours and terribly negligent at protecting their own.
And with the push by technologists to map, identify and index our physical as well as virtual presence with biometrics like face and fingerprint scanning, the increasing digital surveillance of our physical world is causing some of the companies that stand to benefit the most to call out to government to provide some guidelines on how they can use the incredibly powerful tools they’ve created.
That’s what’s behind today’s call from Microsoft President Brad Smith for government to start thinking about how to oversee the facial recognition technology that’s now at the disposal of companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple and government security and surveillance services across the country and around the world.
In what companies have framed as a quest to create “better,” more efficient and more targeted services for consumers, they have tried to solve the problem of user access by moving to increasingly passive (for the user) and intrusive (by the company) forms of identification — culminating in features like Apple’s Face ID and the frivolous filters that Snap overlays over users’ selfies.
Those same technologies are also being used by security and police forces in ways that have gotten technology companies into trouble with consumers or their own staff. Amazon has been called to task for its work with law enforcement, Microsoft’s own technologies have been used to help identify immigrants at the border (indirectly aiding in the separation of families and the virtual and physical lockdown of America against most forms of immigration) and Google faced an internal company revolt over the facial recognition work it was doing for the Pentagon.
Smith posits this nightmare scenario:
Imagine a government tracking everywhere you walked over the past month without your permission or knowledge. Imagine a database of everyone who attended a political rally that constitutes the very essence of free speech. Imagine the stores of a shopping mall using facial recognition to share information with each other about each shelf that you browse and product you buy, without asking you first. This has long been the stuff of science fiction and popular movies – like “Minority Report,” “Enemy of the State” and even “1984” – but now it’s on the verge of becoming possible.
What’s impressive about this is the intimation that it isn’t already happening (and that Microsoft isn’t enabling it). Across the world, governments are deploying these tools right now as ways to control their populations (the ubiquitous surveillance state that China has assembled, and is investing billions of dollars to upgrade, is just the most obvious example).
In this moment when corporate innovation and state power are merging in ways that consumers are only just beginning to fathom, executives who have to answer to a buying public are now pleading for government to set up some rails. Late capitalism is weird.
But Smith’s advice is prescient. Companies do need to get ahead of the havoc their innovations can wreak on the world, and they can look good while doing nothing by hiding their own abdication of responsibility on the issue behind the government’s.

“In a democratic republic, there is no substitute for decision making by our elected representatives regarding the issues that require the balancing of public safety with the essence of our democratic freedoms. Facial recognition will require the public and private sectors alike to step up – and to act,” Smith writes.
The fact is, something does, indeed, need to be done.
As Smith writes, “The more powerful the tool, the greater the benefit or damage it can cause. The last few months have brought this into stark relief when it comes to computer-assisted facial recognition – the ability of a computer to recognize people’s faces from a photo or through a camera. This technology can catalog your photos, help reunite families or potentially be misused and abused by private companies and public authorities alike.”
All of this takes on faith that the technology actually works as advertised. And the problem is, right now, it doesn’t.
In an op-ed earlier this month, Brian Brackeen, the chief executive of a startup working on facial recognition technologies, pulled back the curtains on the industry’s not-so-secret huge problem.
Facial recognition technologies, used in the identification of suspects, negatively affects people of color. To deny this fact would be a lie.
And clearly, facial recognition-powered government surveillance is an extraordinary invasion of the privacy of all citizens — and a slippery slope to losing control of our identities altogether.
There’s really no “nice” way to acknowledge these things.
Smith, himself admits that the technology has a long way to go before it’s perfect. But the implications of applying imperfect technologies are vast — and in the case of law enforcement, not academic. Designating an innocent bystander or civilian as a criminal suspect influences how police approach an individual.
Those instances, even if they amount to only a handful, would lead me to argue that these technologies have no business being deployed in security situations.

As Smith himself notes, “Even if biases are addressed and facial recognition systems operate in a manner deemed fair for all people, we will still face challenges with potential failures. Facial recognition, like many AI technologies, typically have some rate of error even when they operate in an unbiased way.”
While Smith lays out the problem effectively, he’s less clear on the solution. He’s called for a government “expert commission” to be empaneled as a first step on the road to eventual federal regulation.
That we’ve gotten here is an indication of how bad things actually are. It’s rare that a tech company has pleaded so nakedly for government intervention into an aspect of its business.
But here’s Smith writing, “We live in a nation of laws, and the government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology. As a general principle, it seems more sensible to ask an elected government to regulate companies than to ask unelected companies to regulate such a government.”
Given the current state of affairs in Washington, Smith may be asking too much. Which is why perhaps the most interesting — and admirable — call from Smith in his post is for technology companies to slow their roll.
“We recognize the importance of going more slowly when it comes to the deployment of the full range of facial recognition technology,” writes Smith. “Many information technologies, unlike something like pharmaceutical products, are distributed quickly and broadly to accelerate the pace of innovation and usage. ‘Move fast and break things’ became something of a mantra in Silicon Valley earlier this decade. But if we move too fast with facial recognition, we may find that people’s fundamental rights are being broken.”

As facial recognition technology becomes pervasive, Microsoft (yes, Microsoft) issues a call for regulation

Microsoft's HoloLens evolves in shadows as Apple's ARKit makes leaps in limelight

Augmented reality (AR) has been embraced as the next step in personal computing’s evolution. Leading tech companies are approaching this industry with vastly different strategies, however.

Augmented reality is the process where elements of the digital world are overlaid onto the physical world in a user’s field of view. This digital content can range from complex objects like a digital representation of a real person (telepresence) to simple text that provides more information about a physical object to which that text is “attached.”

Apple and Microsoft are just two companies (among others like Google, ODG and Magic Leap) that are attempting to establish a foothold in this nascent industry. Each of these companies CEOs, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Apple’s Tim Cook, see AR as the future of computing but are approaching its implementation from different angles.

Microsoft, like Magic Leap and ODG, is approaching from a position that represents where the tech is ultimately headed, a wearable AR headset that facilitates hands-free interaction with AR content in real space. It is complementing the hardware with a comprehensive software platform, Windows Mixed Reality, as part of Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP). Apple, like Google’s ARCore approach, is leveraging iOS via ARKit to bring AR experiences to millions of consumers and developers through the 2D displays of their iPhones and iPads.

Surface Go uses Intel over Qualcomm because it's the 'best of the least' (for now)

Microsoft is using Intel for Surface Go mostly because it has little choice.

Microsoft’s announcement of the new 10-inch Surface Go was not entirely surprising with the earlier leaks having spoiled the reveal, but the question of processor maybe was. Microsoft and Qualcomm have been working closely on new Windows 10 on ARM devices including the forthcoming Snapdragon 850 announced only weeks ago.

So, why is Microsoft using Intel over Qualcomm for its teeny mobile Surface? Here are a few reasons why it makes sense.