Bumper personal borrowing, children’s online safety and the AI race

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People borrowed more for home improvements than for car purchases last year in what was a bumper year for personal borrowing, according to new figures released on Thursday by the umbrella group representing the Irish banking sector. The data from the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) show that personal borrowing by Irish households jumped by 18.8 per cent in 2022 to €1.634 billion. Conor Pope has the details.

The internet has opened a Pandora’s box of concerns, particularly when it comes to how much access we should give younger users and how closely we should monitor their interactions. With all the tools at our disposal, online safety should be easy but it’s not. Parents and carers of children are faced with an increasingly complex online world, and as fast as you get to grips with one threat, another rears its head, writes Ciara O’Brien.

So what makes an AI an AI? At what point does some combination of algorithm, data input and analysis cross the line between plain old machine learning and (trumpet fanfare) artificial intelligence? Is the double-barrelled vowel pairing mostly a marketing ploy? Does it matter? Well, yes, it does, argues Karlin Lillington in her weekly column.


Paul Jackman is a fragrance connoisseur who has always liked trying out new scents. What he didn’t like was shopping for them in the high street where pushy salespeople tried to make him buy big bottles of products he wasn’t even sure he liked. He also found decanting scents into plastic bottles for travelling a nuisance while keeping a glass bottle in his gym bag was a recipe for disaster if the bag had a hard landing. Jackman reckoned these problems were universal and that the market was crying out for a solution that addressed all three. The result is Handsome Scent which specialises in travel-sized fragrances for men in the 18-30 age group. Olive Keogh reports

In case you missed it, Samsung’s new Galaxy smartphones are all about the cameras. The smartphone maker is betting that people want the best camera they can possibly get in a phone, and that they are willing to pay for it. Ciara O’Brien has a look.

Cantillon is a little concerned at the increasing pace of the AI race and counts the costs of our big hitters’ retreat from Moscow.

Barry Connolly, the man who brought Red Bull and Kopparberg Cider to Ireland was last week named Irish Times Business Person of the Year. After graduating from UCD with a degree in business, the Dubliner went on to work in advertising and sales at The Sunday Tribune, before moving into the world of entrepreneurship, working alongside a number of successful brands. “I never really wanted to work for anyone else,” he explains on the latest episode of the Inside Business Podcast. “Anytime I was working for anyone else, it was just a stepping stone to have my own business,” he continues.

If some team somewhere with access to the latest generation of quantum computers can actually break public key encryption systems, would we necessarily be told? Given the backdrop of rising Chinese-American political tensions, why did the Chinese authorities allow some leading academics to publish their results? Could it be a hint that the Chinese have in fact already scaled their approach, and want to place uncertainty in the minds of US military strategists? Chris Horn examines the encryption arms race.