• The energy used in our digital consumption is set to have a bigger impact on global warming than the entire aviation industryIt was just another moment in this long, increasingly strange summer. I was on a train home from Paddington station, and the carriage’s air-conditioning was just about fighting off the heat outside. Most people seemed to be staring at their phones – in many cases, they were trying to stream a World Cup match, as the 4G signal came and went, and Great Western Railway’s onboard wifi proved to be maddeningly erratic. The trebly chatter of headphone leakage was constant

  • US tech giant admits audit of Foxconn factory in Hengyang found irregularitiesAmazon has admitted that thousands of agency workers who make its Echo smart speakers and Kindles in China were hired and paid illegally.The US giant issued a statement regretting “issues of concern” following an investigation by the Observer and the US-based China Labor Watch into the “unethical and illegal” working conditions at its supplier factory in Hengyang. Related: Underpaid and exhausted: the human cost of your Kindle Continue reading

  • Smart home appliances send data to manufacturers and third parties, Which? warnsBritish homes are vulnerable to “a staggering level of corporate surveillance” through common internet-enabled devices, an investigation has found.Researchers found that a range of connected appliances – increasingly popular features of the so-called smart home – send data to their manufacturers and third-party companies, in some cases failing to keep the information secure. One Samsung smart TV connected to more than 700 distinct internet addresses in 15 minutes. Continue reading

  • Smart speakers influence debate about switching off analogue signal in UKThe popularity of Amazon’s Echo smart speakers has helped push the audience for digital radio past that of FM and AM in the UK for the first time. The milestone, which was reached in the first quarter of this year, could prompt the government to launch a review to evaluate whether it should switch off the FM signal.Digital, which covers listening via digital audio broadcasting (DAB) sets in homes and cars, televisions and through services such as Echo, hit a record share of 50.9% of all radio listening in the three months to March

  • Can a robot fold towels? Could your toaster turn against you? And will Amazon know when you’re hungry and drone-deliver a Chinese takeaway directly to your mouth? Find out as we step into the home of the futureIf the invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck, as the French philosopher Paul Virilio suggested, then what does that make the invention of the Nest learning thermostat? As our homes fill up with more connected devices, funnelling every aspect of our lives into the great cloud of big data, the answer could be something much more alarming than just a few more faulty appliances cluttering up our cupboards.This is one of the unsettling questions at the heart of

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