The Hen na hotel problems haven’t been caused by “robots”

With a misleading title, the magazine Digital Trends claims that A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs because

it seems that — as great as robots can be — they’re simply not suitable for every role just yet. With the rise of robot bartenders, robot-staffed restaurants and the like, it will be interesting to see how many similar concepts fall apart in the coming years. After all, once the novelty of a robot dinosaur on reception wears off, you’re just faced with a receptionist who can’t properly understand you and lacks a sufficient number of fingers on each hand to properly photocopy your passport.

By coincidence, I have been at Tokyo’s Hen na hotel last year and I’ve experienced in first person the issues the article is talking about.

Problem is that there are no robot involved in running the hotel.

The dinosaurs, the fish, the personal assistant… they can hardly be defined as such, actually being just exoskeletons for a computer.

So, the difficulties experienced by the guests – and the criticism of the article – should be addressed to the poor quality of the OCR and voice recognition software, rather than to the “failure” of a “robot”. Or, in other words, to the humans who designed it.

So long “Ghost in the Shell”!

A contribution to the analysis of the legal status of cryptocurrencies

Andrea Monti, A contribution to the analysis of the legal status of cryptocurrencies, in “Ragion pratica, Rivista semestrale” 2/2018, pp. 361-378, doi: 10.1415/91544

This paper advocates that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum don’t challenge the current legal system, since they fit comfortably enough into the immaterial asset legal definition. As such, while a blockchain-based cryptocurrency can’t be considered as legal tender or electronic money, it can be exchanged on a contractual basis as it happens with every other kind of good. As per the alleged crime-supporting role of cryptocurrencies by way of the anonymity of the blockchain transactions, this article demonstrates that the anonymity granted herein is not absolute. Therefore it is not correct to claim that this technology has been built, by design, to foster illegal behaviour. This is an important finding because, in the opposite case, there would have been room to affirm the impossibility to use a cryptocurrency as part of an agreement because of its intrinsic illegal nature.
Keywords: Legal Tender; Private Money; Electronic Money; Asymmetric Encryption; Blockchain Forensic; Cryptocurrencies.

Apple and the (unrequired) Safety by Design

An individual is ultimately  responsible for the use of a technology. This is, in a few words, the conclusion of a  decision issued by the 6th Appelate District of the California Court of Appeal.

The merit of the controversy was a legal action taken by the victims of a car accident against Apple accused – said the plaintiff – of infringing a duty of care in the designing FaceTime so that it didn’t stop working when users drive a car, thus distracting the driver a causing the accident.

In rejecting the claim, the Court  found that not preventing the use of FaceTime while driving neither is matter of duty of care does nor constitute a proximate cause of injuries suffered in a car crash. Continue reading “Apple and the (unrequired) Safety by Design”

An Australian Bill makes mandatory for IT companies to crack users’ encrypted messages

The Australian Parliament recently passed the  Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 that might have a disruptive effect on the whole IT business, by forcing companies into designing unsecure hardware and software and weakening users’ confidence. Continue reading “An Australian Bill makes mandatory for IT companies to crack users’ encrypted messages”