Imagine you are working on your novel on your home computer. It’s nearly finished; you have already written approximately one million words. All of a sudden, the online word processing software tells you that you can no longer open the draft because it contains illegal information. Within an instant, all your words are lost.

This is what happened in June to a Chinese novelist writing under the alias Mitu. She had been working with WPS, a domestic version of cloud-based word processing software such as Google Docs or Microsoft Office 365. In the Chinese literature forum Lkong on June 25, Mitu accused WPS of “spying on and locking my draft,” citing the presence of illegal content. Several other novelists say they have had their drafts locked for unclear reasons in the past.

Mitu’s complaint triggered a social media discussion in China about censorship and tech platform responsibility. It has also highlighted the tension between Chinese users’ increasing awareness of privacy and tech companies’ obligation to censor on behalf of the government. Read the full story

—Zeyi Yang

This robot dog just taught itself to walk

The robot dog is waving its legs in the air like an exasperated beetle. After 10 minutes of struggling, it manages to roll over to its front. Half an hour in, the robot is taking its first clumsy steps, like a newborn calf. But after one hour, the robot is strutting around the lab with confidence. 

What makes this four-legged robot special is that it learned to do all this by itself, without being shown what to do in a computer simulation. 

Researchers used an AI technique called reinforcement learning, which trains algorithms by rewarding them for desired actions, to train the robot to walk from scratch in the real world



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