Weekend Roundup: Galaxy Fold Fails, Creepy Facebook, Facial Recognition

Hey, it’s ‘Galaxy Fold Fails Friday’! Or weekend. Look, we don’t know when you’re reading this. Unlike Facebook, we don’t track everything you do. But we’re sure you’re busy, so here are some of the things you may have missed in tech this week. And hey, let’s start with Facebook, because why not.

Facebook Is Making an A.I. Assistant For Oculus

No, we’re not kidding, why would you think that? Is there something about Facebook that makes you think: “Wow, A.I. is sorta creepy, building one doesn’t sound like Facebook at all?” Are you okay? Did you click all the links in this paragraph yet?

This isn’t necessarily new. Facebook once had an A.I. assistant in Messenger, named ‘M,’ which was text-based and leaned into bots that just plain sucked (along with flesh-and-blood customer service people who did the real work). Now, instead of typing ‘what’s the weather’ and having some crappy bot return questionable weather info, you will be able to ask an A.I. assistant in Oculus virtual reality environments and get some sort of answer.

This A.I. assistant is also poised to hit Portal, Facebook’s creepy-as-hell spyware camera you should 100 percent trust in your home and maybe even buy two for every room so Mark Zuckerberg you can make sure the nanny is doing their job while you’re away.

The Galaxy Fold Blew Up in Samsung’s Face

Yeah, that’s an exploding phone joke at Samsung’s expense. No, it doesn’t get old. Deal with it.

First, a touch of inside baseball. When a company like Samsung gives the tech press some review devices, especially something totally new to their product lineup, what the reviewer gets is hardware typically checked and re-checked several times by humans at the company issuing the device. They’re not snatched off a production line; they’re essentially hand-crafted gems.

So when you read that the Galaxy Fold, Samsung’s upcoming folding smartphone, was literally breaking on day one, you’ll understand better what a huge mess this is. At least five different reviewers had issue with Samsung’s foldable phone screen, and there was no root cause identified. A protective film not meant to be removed might have been to blame for some of the busted review devices, but not all reviewers removed the screen protection.

The screen is also easily scratched, dented, and showed signs of creasing from the jump. It also doesn’t fold into a svelte slate; it’s more of a triangle. Way to innovate, Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review units are already broken pic.twitter.com/Fz6vvisyQ1— Engadget (@engadget) April 18, 2019

Facial Recognition Will Be Almost Unavoidable

Within the next four years, the Department of Homeland Security says it plans to use facial recognition technology on 97 percent of departing passengers at airports nationwide.

The scheme goes like this: it’ll snap a photo of you at the gate, then cross-reference that image with a database of visa and passport photos as well as pictures taken by border patrol agents.

This system is already in place – it’s just not widely used. The program has helped track 7,000 people who overstayed their visas, but the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Protection agency says an estimated 600,000 are guilty of staying in the country too long.

Tracking those overstaying their welcome is not a bad thing, but facial recognition for everyone feels like a bit of an overreach.

Enjoy your weekend!