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Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent

Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

Welcome to dot.Rory - these are my thoughts about how technology is changing the world and shaping our lives

Instant translation – no longer sci-fi

The idea that you could speak into a device in one language and it would emerge in another has long been a sci-fi fantasy. But this week that kind of automated translation came a step closer to reality when Skype launched the beta version of its Translator service.

For now it's an invitation-only trial and the only languages that it can handle are English and Spanish. I tried it out, talking to Maria Romero Garcia, a Spanish professor in Seville, who works with Skype.

What I found is that you have to use a good quality microphone and speak clearly in full sentences without pauses - otherwise the machine translation will kick in and interrupt you.

But the results were not bad at all. I asked Maria what she had been up to that morning. She replied in Spanish: "Esta manana ha estado trabajando un poco poco y concertando citas para ver a mis amigos esta tarde."

That came out in English as this: "This morning has been working a little bit and arranging appointments to see my friends this afternoon."

Read full article Instant translation – no longer sci-fi

As schools grapple with coding revolution many may get left out

School children computing

This morning the Prime Minister puts his weight behind a new drive to give children in schools across England a better set of technology skills.

He is announcing the formation of a National College for Digital Skills, a new GCSE in Computer Science and an investment in the recruitment of 2,500 new maths and physics teachers along with the retraining of 15,000 existing teachers. As he makes these announcements, he'll join 50 schoolchildren in an Hour of Code event being held in Downing Street.

Read full article As schools grapple with coding revolution many may get left out

Does AI really threaten the future of the human race?

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2

The end of the human race - that is what is in sight if we develop full artificial intelligence, according to Stephen Hawking in an interview with the BBC. But how imminent is the danger and if it is remote, do we still need to worry about the implications of ever smarter machines?

My question to Professor Hawking about artificial intelligence comes in the context of the work done by machine learning experts at the British firm Swiftkey, who have helped upgrade his communications system. So I talk to Swiftkey's co-founder and chief technical officer, Ben Medlock, a computer scientist with a Cambridge doctorate which focuses on how software can understand nuance in language.

Read full article Does AI really threaten the future of the human race?

Can internet companies monitor terrorists?

Man using Facebook

Big American tech firms, and in particular Facebook, are under pressure to become more active in the battle against terrorism. But what are their current arrangements?

Facebook is saying little apart from the fact that "we do not allow terrorist content on the site and take steps to prevent people from using our service for these purposes".

Read full article Can internet companies monitor terrorists?

Universal Credit - an IT experiment

Department for Work and Pensions

It's an ambitious scheme to transform the benefits system but Universal Credit has begun to look like a classic example of how big IT projects go wrong.

A year ago the National Audit Office described the project and in particular its technology as beset by "weak management, ineffective control and poor governance".

Read full article Universal Credit - an IT experiment

Regin, new computer spyware, discovered by Symantec

A leading computer security company says it has discovered one of the most sophisticated pieces of malicious software ever seen.

Symantec says the bug, named Regin, was probably created by a government and has been used for six years against a range of targets around the world.

Read full article Regin, new computer spyware, discovered by Symantec

Nokia's brand name merry-go-round

Nokia N1
The Nokia N1 is a new venture into the tablet market

This week one of the best known names in technology launched a new product, the N1 Tablet.

It comes from Nokia, the Finnish company that once had 40% of the mobile phone market.

Read full article Nokia's brand name merry-go-round

eBay and an email scam

computer keyboard showing the words "scam"

What's the biggest problem holding back the development of online commerce? Surely it is the fact that fraud continues to undermine confidence.

Online fraud, often conducted via phishing emails, seems to be on the rise - and in the last month or so I've had personal experience of how sophisticated the fraudsters can be.

Read full article eBay and an email scam

Will YouTube Music Key make Spotify sing the blues?

YouTube's subscription service is just the latest entry in what is now a very crowded market.

For music fans these are the best of times, with a wide choice of free advertising-supported services and now an increasing number of paid options.

Read full article Will YouTube Music Key make Spotify sing the blues?

Tech Tent pitches up at Ireland's Web Summit

Paddy Cosgrave at Web Summit
Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave

Ireland has been the hottest place in the tech world this week.

In Dublin the three-day Web Summit attracted huge crowds, and today in Cork a collection of top tech entrepreneurs have arrived via steam train for a conference called F.ounders. We are broadcasting our weekly radio programme Tech Tent from a whisky distillery in Cork, where we hope to have some sober reflections on the state of the technology world from some of the pioneers.

Read full article Tech Tent pitches up at Ireland's Web Summit

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About Rory

Rory has been watching the technology scene like a hawk for the last 15 years.

From the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s to the rise of Google and Facebook, from the Psion organiser to the iPad, he's covered all the big gadget and business stories, and interviewed just about everyone who's played a part in the story of the web.

Dot.Rory, his previous blog, was named among the Top 100 blogs by the Sunday Times.

He aims to look at the impact of the internet and digital technology on our lives and businesses. Rory has been described as "the non-geek's geek", and freely admits that he came late to technology - but he aims to explain its significance to anyone with an interest in the subject.

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