Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…
1. Google unsure on how cookies will crumble
Google’s “indecision” over what system it wants to replace cookies has been criticised by some in the ad industry. It comes as Google said an interest-based user-tracking system, Topics, would now replace its earlier proposal, Floc. One marketing executive said: “This constant indecision does not inspire confidence.”
Floc (Federated Learning of Cohorts) aimed to disguise users’ individual identities by assigning them to a group, or flock, with similar browsing histories. But the idea was unpopular with both privacy advocates and advertisers. Topics is a similar system but pinpoints users’ interests for just three weeks before deleting them.
2. Pepsi hypes half-time show with film and app
Each year, Super Bowl half-time show sponsor Pepsi ups its promotional game a bit more. And in the lead-up to Super Bowl LVI on 13 February, Pepsi has unveiled a short film trailer called The Call to highlight that it has five musical acts to promote this year (Dr Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J Blige and Kendrick Lamarr).
The film, titled The Call, tells the story about how each of the artists got the call to come and perform in LA (with subtle Pepsi references in the background, of course). It’s being widely distributed across Pepsi’s and each performer’s social media handles, while for the first time Pepsi is also launching a ‘Half-time Show’ app.
3. Government launches internal cyber strategy
The UK government has launched its first ever Cyber Security Strategy, a multi-million pound plan to help better protect vital public services from the growing risk of disruptive and destructive cyber attacks. The multi-pronged strategy is designed to protect both core systems and public services from malicious actors.
It will be backed by £37.8m for local authorities to boost their cyber capabilities and protect essential services and data such as housing benefits, social care provision, voter registration and electoral management, as well as school grants. Such services have been disrupted in a number of high-profile attacks in recent years.
4. BT to recruit 600 apprentices and graduates
BT is hiring more than 600 graduates and apprentices across all divisions as part of its intake this September. There are positions available in engineering, customer service, applied research and cybersecurity, and will help the telco develop its services for consumers and businesses, and expand its 5G network around the UK.
The company says it is one of the largest employers of apprentices in the private sector, recruiting more than 2,000 people to its schemes in the past three years. Where appropriate, the company will adopt ‘smart working’ practices, in which individuals choose how they spend their time between home and work.
5. Robot performs autonomous surgery on pig
A robot has successfully performed autonomous abdominal surgery on a pig for the first time. Researchers at John Hopkins University reported the breakthrough on Wednesday, having been programming its Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) for years (it completed a semi-autonomous laparoscopic surgery in 2018).
The benefit of STAR is not just its ability to adapt, but the precision and repeatability that comes with robotics. STAR is designed to not miss a suture or make a mistake. Researchers noted that the robot produced better results than humans performing the same procedure. The no-doubt relieved pig could not be reached for comment.