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Game

‘GoldenEye 007’ fans are creating a full game mod based on ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’

There’s a mod in the works for Nintendo 64 classic GoldenEye 007 that turns another James Bond film into a full game. Fans are building a playable version of The Spy Who Loved Me, Roger Moore’s third, and some would argue best, Bond movie.

As spotted by , YouTuber Graslu00 posted a playthrough video showing 11 levels of The Spy Who Loved Me 64. The mod depicts the key events and locations of the film, taking Bond from the Alps to the pyramids of Egypt and a supertanker in the Atlantic Ocean. It includes Moore’s likeness, as well as characters such as Anya Amasova (aka Agent XXX) and villain Karl Stromberg. It’s possible to run the mod on an emulator in 4K at 60 frames per second, though you can also play it on an N64 console.

It’s a work in progress, as Graslu00 notes. The build of The Spy Who Loved Me 64 that’s available is a demo of the first three levels with a peek at a planned four-player multiplayer mode. It looks like there’s quite a way for the fans working on the game to go, though. The stage select screen shows 20 levels including, curiously, Bond’s childhood home of Skyfall — that seems to be one of the multiplayer maps.

Meanwhile, there’s an official James Bond title in the works. It emerged in late 2020 that Hitman studio IO Interactive is developing a game that delves into the superspy’s origins. It’s expected to be the first official Bond game since 2012’s 007 Legends.

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Game

Fortnite Crew Pack for August 2021 includes skin based on fan concept

Epic Games has revealed its Fortnite Crew Pack subscription bundle for August 2021 and it includes a skin based on a fan concept design. The bundle will, as expected, be made available to Fortnite Crew Pack subscribers starting on August 1, offering them the skin and related gear, V-Bucks, and more.

During Fortinte Chapter 2 – Season 2, Epic introduced a skin called Skye as one of its higher-tier Battle Pass rewards. The new Fortnite Crew Pack will offer a variant of the Skye skin that is based on a concept by game fan and artist NolloBandz. The concept is a unique, more modern take on the fantasy character, one that retains its iconic glowing sword.

The new Skye skin is described as having a “casual persona,” one that includes a fun summer outfit, a modern tattoo, and just hints of the character’s fantasy origins, including a small pouch strapped to her belt. The character is joined by the Cursed Eagleshield Back Bling, Epic Sword of Might Pickaxe, plus the Pspspsps! Wrap featuring Meowscles, the Cattitude Wrap, and the Afternoon Quest Loading Screen.

That’s quite a few rewards with next month’s bundle, which predictably revolves around the summer season. This includes a stormy version of the outfit called Stormy Skye Style, which will match the Cattitude Wrap. This character can also wear the original Skye skin’s hat.

As expected, the next Crew Pack will include 1,000 V-Bucks. The subscription is priced at $11.99/month; players can cancel it whenever they’d like, though canceling will obviously result in not getting the next month’s bundle.

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Game

Monopoly gets Animal Crossing makeover based on hit New Horizons game

Hasbro’s classic and exceedingly frustrating board game Monopoly is getting another special edition based on a hit game: Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The new Monopoly edition features the imagery from New Horizons, as well as villager tokens, bells, and Animal Crossing-themed cards. The product is now available for preorder.

Monopoly, the game that can drag on seemingly forever, has managed to stay relevant largely by launching different editions with unique features or imagery. There’s the version that features cards and a digital card scanner instead of cash money, for example, as well as versions based on popular games like Nintendo’s Super Mario.

The latest Monopoly edition based on a Nintendo hit is this New Horizons product, one that features a custom game board, gameplay, and world-building aspects. The video game’s “bells” currency is included in the new Monopoly edition, plus there’s special die unique to this product. The Nook’s Cranny die, for example, tells players the kinds of resources they’re able to sell.

Among other things, players will be able to pick up a Skill card after taking their first trek around the board. With this, the player is given an ability that remains available to them for the rest of the game. Players must complete island tasks, plus they can meet other characters and collect items like fruit in the place of buying properties.

This variety of Monopoly is won based on Nook Miles; players acquire decorations that are each worth the miles, with the person who has the most miles at the end of the game declared winner. Hasbro has launched Monopoly Animal Crossing Edition for preorder at $24.99 USD.

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AI

Amazon’s Alexa will now guess what skills you want to use based on your questions

Finding new ways to use Amazon’s Alexa has always been a bit of a pain. Amazon boasts that its AI assistant has more than 100,000 skills, but most are garbage and the useful ones are far from easy to discover. Today, though, Amazon announced it’s launched a new way to surface skills: by guessing what users are after when they talk to Alexa about other tasks.

The company refers to this process as “[inferring] customers’ latent goals.” By this, it means working out any questions that are implied by other queries. Amazon gives the example of a customer asking “How long does it take to steep tea?” to which Alexa will answer “five minutes” before asking the follow-up: ”Would you like me to set a timer for five minutes?”

This all sounds well and good, but it’s not hard to imagine this feature (which is already available to Alexa customers in English in the United States) potentially becoming quite annoying. If Alexa infers a user’s intent incorrectly and suggests an unwanted skill, then that person is bound to feel irritated, as if they’re being advertised to by their digital butler.

Amazon gave The Verge a number of example scenarios of follow-up questions (below), and said that other skills that feed into the system include Bark Like a Dog, Earth Cam, Harry Potter Trivia, Historical Voices, Slow Speller, Xbox, and Zoo Keeper. Some of these scenarios will be useful for users, but others less so. It’s a bit of a mixed bag really.

CNBC

Customer: What’s the stock price of {X}?
Alexa: When the market closed on Monday, {X} traded at $201.15, down 1.99% since the previous close.
Alexa: Would you like to know the intraday high for {X} from the CNBC skill?

TED Talks

Customer: What happened today in history?
Alexa: On May 18, 1980…
Alexa: By the way, I can search for talks on history in the TED Talk skill. Want me to pull them up?

Ultimate History Quiz

Customer: When did the second world war end?
Alexa: The Second World War ended on September 2, 1945.
Alexa: Want to test your history knowledge with Ultimate History Quiz?

Whether this new function will be useful or irritating will depend on its implementation, but it’s part of Amazon’s long-term goal to make talking to Alexa more natural. Earlier this year, the company announced new abilities for the AI assistant including the ability to ask clarifying questions, changing the tone of its voice, and a new “conversation” mode in which Alexa engages with multiple participants.

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AI

Service that uses AI to identify gender based on names looks incredibly biased

Some tech companies make a splash when they launch, others seem to bellyflop.

Genderify, a new service that promised to identify someone’s gender by analyzing their name, email address, or username with the help AI, looks firmly to be in the latter camp. The company launched on Product Hunt last week, but picked up a lot of attention on social media as users discovered biases and inaccuracies in its algorithms.

Type the name “Meghan Smith” into Genderify, for example, and the service offers the assessment: “Male: 39.60%, Female: 60.40%.” Change that name to “Dr. Meghan Smith,” however, and the assessment changes to: “Male: 75.90%, Female: 24.10%.” Other names prefixed with “Dr” produce similar results while inputs seem to generally skew male. “Test@test.com” is said to be 96.90 percent male, for example, while “Mrs Joan smith” is 94.10 percent male.

The outcry against the service has been so great that Genderify tells The Verge it’s shutting down altogether. “If the community don’t want it, maybe it was fair,” said a representative via email. Genderify.com has been taken offline and its free API is no longer accessible.

Although these sorts of biases appear regularly in machine learning systems, the thoughtlessness of Genderify seems to have surprised many experts in the field. The response from Meredith Whittaker, co-founder of the AI Now Institute, which studies the impact of AI on society, was somewhat typical. “Are we being trolled?” she asked. “Is this a psyop meant to distract the tech+justice world? Is it cringey tech April fool’s day already?”

The problem is not that Genderify made assumptions about someone’s gender based on their name. People do this all the time, and sometimes make mistakes in the process. That’s why it’s polite to find out how people self-identify and how they want to be addressed. The problem with Genderify is that it automated these assumptions; applying them at scale while sorting individuals into a male/female binary (and so ignoring individuals who identify as non-binary) while reinforcing gender stereotypes in the process (such as: if you’re a doctor you’re probably a man).

The potential harm of this depends on how and where Genderify was applied. If the service was integrated into a medical chatbot, for example, its assumptions about users’ genders might have led to the chatbot issuing misleading medical advice.

Thankfully, Genderify didn’t seem to be aiming to automate this sort of system, but was primarily designed to be a marketing tool. As Genderify’s creator, Arevik Gasparyan, said on Product Hunt: “Genderify can obtain data that will help you with analytics, enhancing your customer data, segmenting your marketing database, demographic statistics, etc.”

In the same comment section, Gasparyan acknowledged the concerns of some users about bias and ignoring non-binary individuals, but didn’t offer any concrete answers.

One user asked: “Let’s say I choose to identify as neither Male or Female, how do you approach this? How do you avoid gender discrimination? How are you tackling gender bias?” To which Gasparyan replied that the service makes its decisions based on “already existing binary name/gender databases,” and that the company was “actively looking into ways of improving the experience for transgender and non-binary visitors” by “separating the concepts of name/username/email from gender identity.” It’s a confusing answer given that the entire premise of Genderify is that this data is a reliable proxy for gender identity.

The company told The Verge that the service was very similar to existing companies who use databases of names to guess an individual’s gender, though none of them use AI.

“We understand that our model will never provide ideal results, and the algorithm needs significant improvements, but our goal was to build a self-learning AI that will not be biased as any existing solutions,” said a representative via email. “And to make it work, we very much relied on the feedback of transgender and non-binary visitors to help us improve our gender detection algorithms as best as possible for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Update Wednesday July 29, 12:42PM ET: Story has been updated to confirm that Genderify has been shut down and to add additional comment from a representative of the firm.



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