Week Ending: 19th November - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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It’s that time of the week again, so before you close your laptop take five to catch up on the headlines from the I.T. and tech world.

In this week’s round up we look at why gigabit broadband is one of the most important factors for homebuyers, Facebook coming under fire for misleading teenagers with its ads and whether you’ll be seeing robots in your local bar in the near future.

Let’s get you caught up with all the latest I.T. and Tech news from the week.

Gigabit broadband seen as top priority for homebuyers

According to a survey of 294 estate agents across the UK, a fast internet connection is one of the single most important factors for homebuyers. Speeds of more than 300Mbps are being sought after by 34% of buyers, and according to a third of estate agents surveyed, can add £5,000 to the sale price of a home.

Fibre broadband makes properties more appealing. In fact, the average UK speed is 50.4Mbps. However, 23% of individuals would prefer a speed of 1Gbps.

James Hummerstone-Pope from Purple Bricks said,

“In many cases, customers feel that good internet is a ‘must-have’. And poor wi-fi and a bad mobile signal can be a deal breaker…and people will sometimes walk away from a property if they feel the broadband and phone signals aren’t good enough”

Research from Ofcom suggests 18.2 million homes (62%) already have access to 300Mbps. Interestingly, the UK government has promised to “bring full-fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025”.

Discover more here.

Robots. The bartender of the future.

When you go out, the friendly and helpful staff adds to the experience, right? By contrast, imagine if those people weren’t there…instead you’d be faced with something far less human.

Enter Cecelia, a robotic bartender that would mix and serve cocktails using artificial intelligence – appearing on a large, upright video screen. You would be able to tell her what cocktail you want, or order it on a touchscreen, and pay for the drink via contactless or your phone. Your drink of choice is then mixed and made inside the machine and dispensed into a glass at the vending slot.

Elad Kobi, chief executive of the Israeli firm behind the technology, Cecelia.AI explained that “she can chat to customers and when selected, can make the specified cocktail, live”. Each unit can also be filled with 70 litres of different types of spirits – its capacity being up to 120 cocktails per hour…if the customer doesn’t stay for a chit chat, that is!

The firm released the robot on the 24th of February (World Bartender Day) this year and has since served at several corporate events held by the likes of Microsoft, KPMG, and Cisco. If you wanted Cecelia for an event of your own, it would set you back £34,000 or alternatively you could hire one for £2,000 per month.

It will be interesting to note if the typically change-resistant pub and bar sector will turn to such technology in a bid to ‘wow’ customers – especially given how tough the pandemic hit the hospitality sector. Mr Kobi added that “companies realise that they need to do different things than others to attract people there” and that “Technology and innovation can do that.”. Let’s see how the food and drinks industry will react.

So excited your future self simply can’t wait? You can learn more about Cecelia here.

Facebook accused of misleading teenagers with public ads

Meta, the recently rebranded tech giant formally known as Facebook, has landed in hot water yet again this week as they have been facing scrutiny as to its impact on teens.

It has been revealed that Facebook is still gathering data from children and teenagers despite making changes to how advertisers would no longer be able to target ads to individuals under the age of 18 based on their interests or online activities. These changes came into effect in response to concerns raised by youth advocates, meaning that advertisers are only allowed to target teens based on their age, gender, and location.

While Facebook has said that it will no longer allow advertisers to specifically target teens, it continues to do so, only now with the power of AI. Researchers describe it as an “extremely powerful algorithm that is able to predict advertising that each user may interact with”. Their report indicated that Facebook does still collect data from browser tabs and pages that children open, and information such as which buttons they pressed, terms they searched or products they purchased.

Meta spokesperson, Joe Osborne said that whilst they had not seen the report, the social network vehemently denies that they use any “data from our advertisers and partners websites and apps to personalise ads to people under 18.

“The reason this information shows up in our transparency tools is because teens visit sites or apps that use our business tools. We want to provide transparency into the data we receive, even if it’s not used for ad personalisation”.

Many advocacy groups are urging Facebook to be more transparent about the impact of its ad targeting changes. In addition to this, The Wall Street Journal published a series of stories based on internal research as to how Facebook were aware of the of the ‘toxic’ impact that was linked to Instagram and the worsened body image issues for some young people, particularly teen girls. However, Facebook largely dismissed the claims citing that ‘Instagram also connected teenagers with their friends and family’. This comes at an especially concerning time given that the AI used to track ad data for Facebook is also likely to serve a teenager suffering with an eating disorder or struggling with mental health issues advertisements for weight loss or diet pills.

Learn more here.

Those were some of this week’s biggest stories in I.T. and tech, but if you want more content, follow us across our four social media channels.