Friday Five: AI restores centuries-old masterpiece

Zone’s Martha Green handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. AI restores centuries-old masterpiece

Artificial intelligence (AI) has come to the rescue after it was used to restore the edges of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Originally painted in 1642, it was trimmed in 1715 to fit between two doors at Amsterdam’s city hall, leaving 60cm from the left, 22cm from the top, 12cm from the bottom and 7cm from the right missing.

Luckily, the AI didn’t have to guess what the masterpiece looked like more than 350 years ago, as a copy was created by Gerrit Lundens before it got the chop in the 18th century. Using this and a scanned version of the original, the machine learning software was able to recreate the painting pixel by pixel. The fully restored version now lives at the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands and can be viewed online here.

2. The underground is going mobile

The world’s oldest subway system is getting a mobile upgrade. Londoners will no longer have to wait until they hit Zone 5 to make a call on the tube, thanks to Sadiq Khan’s pledge to provide full 4G coverage on the underground network by 2024.

The rollout is being overseen by BAI Communications and will also bring fibre broadband with gigabit-capable speeds to the capital. Busier tube stations such as Oxford Circus could have the technology installed as early as the end of next year. Although to put things in perspective, the long-awaited upgrade isn’t entirely revolutionary: New York’s subway has had mobile coverage since 2017!

3. LG sets its sights on electric vehicles

Earlier this year LG announced it was closing its worldwide mobile business for good. But when one phone call ends, another begins, as the lesser-used saying goes, and the South Korean company will immediately turn its attention to the world of electric vehicles (EVs).

Hoping that the global shift towards electrification will help recoup its losses, LG has partnered with Manga International, one of the world’s leading auto parts suppliers, to manufacture thrillingly named components such as e-motors, inverters and onboard chargers. Let’s hope the company’s EV tech fares better than its mobiles!

4. Draft Online Safety Bill stirs up controversy

The Online Safety Bill recently proposed by the government will be “catastrophic for free speech”, according to its detractors. The ‘Legal to Say. Legal to Type’ campaign claims that, should the bill become law, it would effectively hand the policing of the internet over to large US tech firms.

While campaigners agree with the general aim of the bill to remove harmful images and terrorist material, they have deep concerns about the potential for censorship. They also fear that Ofcom will become a free speech “super regulator”, with the power to block access to certain sites and dish out fines to companies of up to £18m.

5. Roaming fees set to return for some

In a dramatic U-turn, mobile operator EE has announced it will join O2 in the reintroduction of roaming fees across 47 European destinations. The new charges affect those who join the network from 7 July and will cost customers £2 a day to access to their full data, minutes and text allowance.

At the beginning of the year, O2, EE, Three and Vodafone all said they wouldn’t be reintroducing roaming fees, despite Brexit giving them the right to do so. The change of heart has led to fierce criticism and paved the way for other networks to follow suit. It’s not all bad news, though. Roaming charges won’t apply in the Republic of Ireland!

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