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In the fall of 2020, gig workers in Venezuela posted a series of images to online forums where they gathered to talk shop. The photos were mundane, if sometimes intimate, household scenes captured from low angles—including some you really wouldn’t want shared on the Internet.

In one particularly revealing shot, a young woman in a lavender T-shirt sits on the toilet, her shorts pulled down to mid-thigh.

The images were not taken by a person, but by development versions of iRobot’s Roomba J7 series robot vacuum. They were then sent to Scale AI, a startup that contracts workers around the world to label audio, photo, and video data used to train artificial intelligence.

They were the sorts of scenes that internet-connected devices regularly capture and send back to the cloud—though usually with stricter storage and access controls. Yet earlier this year, MIT Technology Review obtained 15 screenshots of these private photos, which had been posted to closed social media groups. 

The photos vary in type and in sensitivity. The most intimate image wesaw was the series of video stills featuring the young woman on the toilet, her face blocked in the lead image but unobscured in the grainy scroll of shots below. In another image, a boy who appears to be eight or nine years old, and whose face is clearly visible, is sprawled on his stomach across a hallway floor. A triangular flop of hair spills across his forehead as he stares, with apparent amusement, at the object recording him from just below eye level.

The other shots show rooms from homes around the world, some occupied by humans, one by a dog. Furniture, décor, and objects located high on the walls and ceilings are outlined by rectangular boxes and accompanied by labels like “tv,” “plant_or_flower,” and “ceiling light.”

iRobot—the world’s largest vendor of robotic vacuums, which Amazon recently acquired for $1.7 billion in a pending deal—confirmed that these images were captured by its Roombas in 2020. All of them came from “special development robots with hardware and software modifications that are not and never were present on iRobot consumer products for purchase,” the company said in a statement. They were given to “paid collectors and employees” who signed written agreements acknowledging that they were sending data streams, including video, back to the company for training purposes. According to iRobot, the devices were labeled with a bright green sticker that read “video recording in progress,” and it was up to those paid data collectors to “remove anything they deem sensitive from any space the robot operates in, including children.”

In other words, by iRobot’s estimation, anyone whose photos or video appeared in the streams had agreed to let their Roombas monitor them. iRobot declined to let MIT Technology Review view the consent agreements and did not make any of its paid collectors or employees available to discuss their understanding of the terms.

While the images shared with us did not come from iRobot customers, consumers regularly consent to having our data monitored to varying degrees on devices ranging from iPhones to washing machines. It’s a practice that has only grown more common over the past decade, as data-hungry artificial intelligence has been increasingly integrated into a whole new array of products and services. Much of this technology is based on machine learning, a technique that uses large troves of data—including our voices, faces, homes, and other personal information—to train algorithms to recognize patterns. The most useful data sets are the most realistic, making data sourced from real environments, like homes, especially valuable. Often, we opt in simply by using the product, as noted in privacy policies with vague language that gives companies broad discretion in how they disseminate and analyze consumer information.

Did you participate in iRobot’s data collection efforts? We’d love to hear from you. Please reach out at tips@technologyreview.com

The data collected by robot vacuums can be particularly invasive. They have “powerful hardware, powerful sensors,” says Dennis Giese, a PhD candidate at Northeastern University who studies the security vulnerabilities of Internet of Things devices, including robot vacuums. “And they can drive around in your home—and you have no way to control that.” This is especially true, he adds, of devices with advanced cameras and artificial intelligence—like iRobot’s Roomba J7 series.

This data is then used to build smarter robots whose purpose may one day go far beyond vacuuming. But to make these data sets useful for machine learning, individual humans must first view, categorize, label, and otherwise add context to each bit of data. This process is called data annotation.

There’s always a group of humans sitting somewhere—usually in a windowless room, just doing a

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By: Eileen Guo
Title: A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/12/19/1065306/roomba-irobot-robot-vacuums-artificial-intelligence-training-data-privacy/
Published Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2022 15:00:00 +0000

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Fashion

THE DENIM SHIRT; ONLY THE BEST WILL LEAD YOU INTO FASHION GLORY

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A stellar denim shirt is a must-have staple in any man’s wardrobe, but not all denim shirts are created equal; only the finest denim shirts for men will pave the way to sartorial greatness. As a versatile alternative to more formal shirts, the denim shirt is a valuable asset for layering; denim, renowned for its durability, breathability, and effortless style, has earned its place as one of the most beloved fabrics. While our wardrobes may already boast well-fitted jeans and classic denim jackets, denim’s versatility also extends to shirts.

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The denim shirt strikes the perfect balance between relaxed and refined. Wear it as an overshirt layered over a hoodie or sweater for a laid-back vibe, or tuck it into your jeans or chinos for a polished look that’s effortlessly cool, as denim shirts are the unsung heroes of fall fashion for men, seamlessly complementing everything from tailored slacks to casual streetwear. The enduring appeal of denim-on-denim continues to be worn in far brighter places, weddings, offices, dates, and formal gatherings, where they can be worn with a tie and intelligent jacket, under a cashmere jumper, jeans and coat, and come summer, let loose with linen trousers. The denim shirt is a versatile alternative to traditional formal wear, perfect for layering and adding a rugged edge to any outfit. It’s no wonder denim is a favourite fabric among fashion enthusiasts—it’s durable, breathable, and effortlessly stylish.

Whether worn as an overshirt with a hoodie or sweater or tucked into your jeans, this denim shirt exudes effortless cool. The heavily washed denim, complete with printed stripes reminiscent of the ’90s, adds a timeless touch to any ensemble and with brands like A&F offering their take on the denim shirt, there’s no shortage of options to suit every style. With its classic silhouette and button-down collar, this rebooted version is perfect for adding texture and character to your office looks. Indeed sometimes, the shirts are crafted from heavily washed denim in a super-light shade that transports you straight back to the ’90s. Your favourite oxford shirt’s familiar silhouette and button-down collar are elevated in hardy-washed denim, adding texture and character to your office attire.

When it comes to denim shirts, there’s a style for every taste and occasion. Oversized, distressed, and light wash options exude casual charm, while structured silhouettes and dark washes lend themselves to more formal settings and evenings out. Opt for 100% cotton fabrics for breathability, but don’t shy away from a hint of spandex or elastane for added stretch and comfort. An oversized denim shirt may initially seem daunting, but with a few styling hacks, it can become a versatile staple in your transitional wardrobe, serving as both a shirt and a jacket. For a laid-back vibe, men and women can pair it with baggy contrasting denim jeans, adding a touch of runway-inspired flair. However, it’s best to steer clear of overly washed tones and contrast stitching for a more polished look.

Double denim has always been a trend, but mastering it requires a certain finesse; the key lies in the interplay of different shades of blue, determining the winning combination and brands, and have made the selection process easier by curating eye-catching ensembles that take the guesswork out of styling, pushing boundaries with the texture of denim shirts, offering a variety of options to experiment with. By playing with colour and texture, you can achieve the perfect balance for a standout look, whether pairing it with jeans, chinos, or shorts. Despite the abundance of flashy trends, there’s an undeniable charm in the versatility of an indigo-dyed shirt. It possesses a sartorial flexibility that sets it apart from other garments.

Fashion-forward individuals understand that a well-chosen denim shirt not only exudes rugged charm and confidence but also serves as a versatile solution to any wardrobe dilemma. We all know that when we first began wearing denim, well, for some of you back in the day, it was Levi’s. A brand synonymous with quality denim for over 160 years, they continue to reign supreme with their impeccable Western shirts that are crafted with the perfect fit for layering, meticulous attention to detail, and sustainably sourced fabric; Levi’s denim shirts stand as a testament

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By: MFM
Title: THE DENIM SHIRT; ONLY THE BEST WILL LEAD YOU INTO FASHION GLORY
Sourced From: www.mensfashionmagazine.com/the-denim-shirt-only-the-best-will-lead-you-into-fashion-glory?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-denim-shirt-only-the-best-will-lead-you-into-fashion-glory
Published Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2024 20:11:56 +0000

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Fashion

Valentine’s Day with Charles Tyrwhitt

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Elevate Valentine’s Day Style with Charles Tyrwhitt: A Celebration of Timeless Romance

As the season of love approaches, Charles Tyrwhitt, invites you to discover the art of timeless romance and sophistication this Valentine’s Day. According to a recent poll by Interflora, only 12% of men said that they had ever been given flowers – with dads receiving 99% less flowers on Father’s day than mums do on Mother’s day. Whilst men might not be as partial to a floral arrangement, Charles Tyrwhitt thinks it’s important to remind dads that they’re cherished and we suggest something a little more timeless than flowers….

With a legacy rooted in crafting exquisite attire, Charles Tyrwhitt embodies the very essence of sophistication, offering a curated selection of meticulously designed products that epitomise style making it the ideal choice for gentlemen seeking to express their love and appreciation.

This Valentine’s Day, explore Charles Tyrwhitt’s iconic pieces designed to make hearts flutter and capture the essence of enduring love. From impeccably tailored shirts that exude confidence to luxurious silk ties that add a touch of charm, these pieces are carefully curated to elevate any gentleman’s style.

Merino V-Neck Jumper – Burgundy: £79.95

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The V-neck sweaters are meticulously crafted from pure, Woolmark-certified Merino wool. Renowned for being nature’s performance fabric, Merino offers unparalleled breathability and temperature regulation, boasting the softest touch in knitwear. The minimalist design allows the fine Merino fibers to shine, with traditional ribbing on cuffs and hem for a classic touch. Pair it effortlessly with a button-down shirt for a sophisticated look

Shirt of the Season Cutaway Collar Non-Iron Mayfair Weave Shirt – White£69.95

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Mid-weight and versatile, the Shirt of the Season suits every season. Natural stretch and a classic split back yoke ensure comfortable movement. The famous non-iron finish simplifies care. Smart mitred cuffs and a cutaway collar provide a contemporary edge. A perfect choice for a versatile shirt that transitions seamlessly from work to date night.

Wool Overcoat – Navy: £279.95

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Introducing the smart texture trousers, seamlessly bridging the gap between chinos and suit trousers. Cut on the same block as the iconic suits, they’re versatile for both work and weekend wear. The fabric’s

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By: MFM
Title: Valentine’s Day with Charles Tyrwhitt
Sourced From: www.mensfashionmagazine.com/valentines-day-with-charles-tyrwhitt?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=valentines-day-with-charles-tyrwhitt
Published Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2024 12:57:29 +0000

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Tech

Three frequently asked questions about EVs, answered

This article is from The Spark, MIT Technology Review’s weekly climate newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Wednesday, sign up here

For someone who does not own or drive a car, I sure do have a lot of thoughts about them.

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about transportation in general, since it’s one of the biggest areas we need to clean up to address climate change: it accounts for something like a quarter of global emissions. And the vehicles that we use to shuttle around to work, school, and the grocery store in many parts of the world are a huge piece of the problem.

Last week, MIT Technology Review hosted an event where my colleagues and I dug into a conversation about the future of batteries and the materials that go into them. We got so many great questions, and we answered quite a few of them (subscribers should check out the recording of the full event here).

But there were still a lot of questions, particularly about EVs, that we didn’t get to, so let’s take a look at a few. (I’ve edited these for length and clarity, but they came from subscribers, so thank you to everyone who submitted!)

Why is there not a bigger push for plug-in hybrids during the transition to full EVs? Could those play a role?

Hybrids are sometimes relegated to the fringes of the EV discussion, but I think they’re absolutely worth talking about.

Before we get into this, let’s get a couple of terms straight. All hybrid vehicles use both an internal-combustion engine that burns gasoline and a battery, but there are two key types to know about. Plug-in hybrids can be charged up using an EV charger and run for short distances on electricity. Conventional hybrids have a small battery to help recapture energy that would otherwise be wasted, which boosts gas mileage, but they always run on gasoline.

Any technology that helps reduce emissions immediately can help address climate change, and even a conventional hybrid will cut emissions by something like 20%.

Personally, I think plug-in hybrids in particular are a great option for people who can’t commit to an EV just yet. These vehicles often have a range of around 50 miles on electricity, so if you’re commuting short distances, nearly all your driving can be zero-emissions. 

Plug-ins aren’t the perfect solution, though. For one thing, the vehicles may have higher rates of problems than both EVs and gas-powered vehicles, and they need a bit more maintenance. And some studies have shown that plug-in hybrids don’t tend to get the full emissions benefits advertised, because people use the electric mode less than expected.

Ultimately, we need to stop burning fossil fuels, so we’ll need to get used to vehicles that run without gasoline at all. But in the meantime, dipping a toe into the world of electric vehicles could be a good option for many drivers.

Will current charging technology be able to support EVs? How practical is it to bring chargers to remote areas of the country?

These questions hit on one of the biggest potential barriers to EV adoption: charging availability.

In many parts of the world, there’s a massive need to build more chargers to support the EVs already on the road, not to mention all the new ones being built and sold each year. Some agencies have recommended that there should be one public charger for every 10 EVs on the road, though factors like density and rates of at-home charging mean different communities will have different needs. 

The US had about 24 EVs per charger as of the end of 2022, while the EU is at about 13, and China is among the leading nations with around eight. Improving that ratio is crucial to getting more drivers comfortable with EVs.

But building out the charging network is a big project, and one that looks different for different communities. In dense cities, many people live in apartments as opposed to single-family homes with garages, so even more public chargers will be needed to make up for the lack of at-home charging. For rural communities, or those that are less wealthy, getting any chargers built at all can be a challenge. 

These so-called charging deserts often suffer from a sort of chicken-and-egg problem: there’s a lack of demand for chargers because people aren’t driving EVs, and people aren’t driving EVs because there are no chargers.

Public funding will be key to filling in gaps left by private companies installing charging networks. In the US, some money is tied to making sure that disadvantaged communities will benefit.

The bottom line is that it’s possible to make chargers available and equitable, but it’s definitely going to take a while, and it’s going to be expensive. 

What about hydrogen—could that be an alternative to batteries?

I’ve been digging into this question, so stay

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By: Casey Crownhart
Title: Three frequently asked questions about EVs, answered
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/02/22/1088800/ev-faqs/
Published Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2024 09:00:00 +0000

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