Tech Tent: Has crypto-currency peaked?

Physical coins representing various digital currencies Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There are many crypto-currencies on offer these days - but how long will they be around?

If you believe crypto-currencies are the future this has not been a good week. The value of Ethereum, Bitcoin's main rival and "the future of crypto" not so long ago, has lurched ever lower and is now 80% below its peak.

Meanwhile, US regulators have acted against companies involved in crypto-currencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) - schemes to create new coins.

But hope springs eternal, and in recent days both a London art gallery and a Scottish hotel have contacted me about plans to allow their customers to pay with crypto-currencies.

So on this week's Tech Tent we debate this question: has crypto-currency peaked or do its best days lie ahead?

We invited David Gerard, author of Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain, a very sceptical take on the crypto landscape, to debate with Christopher Shake, the director of that London gallery, The House of Fine Art.

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EU network charges could revive roaming fees

A smartphone with the flag of the European Union on its screen Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The EU scrapped roaming charges in 2017

"Put back those roaming charges we've just scrapped? We wouldn't dream of it!" That's the public message coming from the UK mobile phone operators about the threat of higher costs for travellers from a "no deal" Brexit.

But off the record there is a subtler message - it all depends on what our continental colleagues do.

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Tech Tent: Google's empty chair

Sheryl Sandberg and Jack Dorsey Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Google did not send a senior executive to the Senate hearings

Twitter and Facebook made the trip to Capitol Hill this week for a grilling by US senators - but it was the company which stayed away which copped most of the flak. On this week's Tech Tent, we ask whether Google made a huge tactical error in refusing to send one of its leaders to Washington.

While Twitter sent its chief executive Jack Dorsey, and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg represented Facebook, Google only offered up its top lawyer. The senators wanted more star power in the form of company founder Larry Page or Google chief executive Sundar Pichai - and when they were unavoidably busy, the committee opted for an empty chair instead.

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Actor or algorithm: Can you spot Trump fakes?

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Media captionPLAY ALONG: Can you spot the Trump fakes?

Could you distinguish a computer-generated Donald Trump from the real thing - or a professional impersonator?

For a BBC conference on artificial intelligence, ASI Data Science created an algorithm that could take any text and read it in the voice of the US president.

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Tech Tent: Are you ready for an 8K telly?

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Media captionWATCH: Samsung and LG show off rival 8K TV tech

You may have just got used to HD, you might be thinking about upgrading to 4K while wondering if there will be anything to watch. But at the Ifa consumer tech show in Berlin this week, the new, new thing in TV is 8K, and on Tech Tent we ask whether we are ready for yet another way of watching television.

"Open your mind to innovation" was the order from the stage at the Samsung press conference in Berlin.

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Berlin tech start-ups flex their muscles

Dog
Image caption Dogs and fast growth are both welcome at the offices of Berlin-based banking app N26

I have just been on a tour of a couple of hot new tech companies. Each had motivational posters on the walls.

One had a bring your dog to work policy. The other had kitchens with free food on every floor. Both featured groups of young people from many countries all conversing in English.

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Tech Tent: Is AI more than just a buzzword?

Face with data attached Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Are we any closer to generalised intelligence than two decades ago?

Artificial Intelligence - a rapidly advancing technology promising to transform whole industries in the next five years with profound implications for how we live and work.

Or, as we hear on this week's Tech Tent, a massively overhyped buzzword for quite a mundane field of computer science which has not made any great leap forward in the last decade.

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Tech Tent: Should Twitter ban Infowars?

Alex Jones scratching his head - 2013 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Alex Jones is the conspiracy theorist host of Infowars

How long can Twitter hold out as the only major tech company still giving house room to Alex Jones and his conspiracy site Infowars?

On Tech Tent this week we explore how social media firms are agonising over how to police their own platforms, as they try to balance free speech with growing pressure to shut down extremist voices.

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Twitter in a tangle over InfoWars

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Image caption Alex Jones created InfoWars

Suddenly, Alex Jones and his conspiracy theory InfoWars brand have been wiped from just about every online platform.

It seemed that Facebook, YouTube and Spotify all hummed and hawed for days and then breathed a sigh of relief once Apple acted to remove the man who promoted the idea that the Sandy Hook school massacre had been a hoax.

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Millennium bug - was it a myth?

Millennium bug logo Image copyright Action 2000

Remember the millennium bug?

I certainly do - in the late 1990s, I interviewed a number of experts warning many computers would not cope when the date flicked over to 01/01/2000.

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