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Tech Thursday: Episode 23

Moon robots, fake news bots, 5G internet, and Starbucks via smartphone

Each Thursday, The World of Chinese takes the most ground-breaking, impressive, or just plain weird technological advancements related to the Middle Kingdom and serves them in bite-sized chunks to keep you up-to-date on the latest news in the world of Chinese technology.

High-tech Starbucks

Starbucks is opening a massive “roastery” store in Shanghai. Designed to work with your smartphone, the giant coffee shop essentially registers your phone as you walk through the door and helps you install the Taobao app, if you haven’t already. Naturally, the menu then becomes available via smartphone, but you can also scan various sites around the roastery to get information on the coffee-making process. The store is the second of its kind, with one already built in Seattle.

Fake news bots compete

Technode has a lengthy piece on how user-generated news/social media app Toutiao is combating fake news—essentially by building on bot to create fake news, and another one to spot it, then having the two bots battle it out as they learn from their experiences and adapt. When you throw in the extensive database of users, the bots have plenty of material to study.

Facial recognition nabs unlicensed drivers

Drivers without licenses who took to the streets in Shanghai over the past year were unwittingly going up against an AI cop, which helped police spot the wayward drivers. Xinhua said that 835 drivers had been caught as part of a campaign over the past year, though the report didn’t specify what proportion of those offenders were caught directly due to the facial recognition scanning technology.

5G pilot zones in operation

Lanzhou, and now Xiong’an, are among a number of Chinese localities rolling out experimental 5G coverage. At this point, it’s still in the testing phase so there is limited public access, but the goal for certain cities is to have full coverage sometime in 2020.

Moon robots planned

Chinese scientists have been considering the logistics of establishing a moon base over the last month, with the latest indication of progress being comments from a Peking University space science professor, who said that robots were the key to making it feasible. By 2030, China plans to launch a rocket with a 100-ton payload.


Cover image from China Daily


David Dawson is the former deputy editor of The World of Chinese.

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