In the spotlight
Internet bots are getting better at imitating humans
Bots are becoming a bigger threat as they get smarter, a new report says. A whopping 73.6 percent of bad bots are so-called Advanced Persistent Bots, which use anonymous proxies, change their identities and mimic human behavior, according to the 2019 Bad Bot Report from Distil Networks, which provides web content protection services.
What you need to know about chatbots
“Due to advancements in AI technology, natural language processing and speech recognition, the cost of developing chatbots has come down drastically, which is fueling the explosive growth of this market,” said Jeri John Deva George. Yet it’s customer service that chatbots will….
Adding human touch to unchatty chatbots may lead to bigger letdown
Sorry, Siri, but just giving a chatbot a human name or adding humanlike features to its avatar might not be enough to win over a user if the device fails to maintain a conversational back-and-forth with that person, according to researchers. In fact, those humanlike features might create a backlash against less responsive humanlike chatbots.
IBM using artificial intelligence to create customised, emphatic chatbots
The tech giant’s IBM Watson Assistant can be trained to represent a company’s specific brand voice and values using that firm’s customer and business data. Chatbots may have become ubiquitous in recent times, assisting businesses in everything from bill payments to customer services, but these….
Agriculture & Environment
How the disaster of plastic pollution is also an opportunity
The first plastic bag was manufactured in 1950, just a few years after the first plastic bottles became commercially available. Since then, about 8,300-million tons of plastic have been manufactured, half of which has been produced since 2005. Only one quarter of this is still in use — and, given….
Fighting climate change by tackling food waste
It’s raining cats and dogs as Jonas Korn rescues baked goods from being thrown away. It is midday on a Saturday and the Falland bakery in the south of Leipzig is getting ready to close. Five baking trays with cakes, donuts and fruit pastries are lined up on a long counter in the entrance area.
One million species at risk of extinction due to human actions, UN report says
The accelerating loss of clean air, drinkable water, CO2-absorbing forests, pollinating insects, protein-rich fish and storm-blocking mangroves — to name but a few of the dwindling services rendered by Nature — poses no less of a threat than climate change, says the report, set to be unveiled May 6.
Major meeting in Paris to review first global biodiversity assessment since 2005
News Major meeting in Paris to review first global biodiversity assessment since 2005. The first global biodiversity assessment in 14 years is to be discussed next week. “The loss of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity is already a global and generational threat to human well-being,” scientists say.
This scientist thinks she has the key to curb climate change: super plants
She is now working to design plants capable of storing even more carbon dioxide in their roots. Her Ideal Plant project uses gene editing – via traditional horticulture and Crispr – to do so. On a large scale, this could suck enough carbon out of the atmosphere to slow down climate change.
Transport & Energy
Flying car technologies being developed by leading aerospace & automotive OEMS
There is understandable scepticism around the entire concept of flying cars and their widespread deployment. Nonetheless, the technology is at an embryonic stage and major industry players such as Airbus, Boeing and Uber are taking it seriously and directing significant research & development (R&D)….
Technology ethics campaigners offer plan to fight ‘human downgrading’
Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin are the co-founders of the nonprofit Center for Humane Technology and the ones who prompted Apple and Google to nudge phone users toward reducing their screen time. Now they want companies and regulators to focus on reversing what they called “human downgrading,” which….
Why fintech should embrace the fourth industrial revolution
A recent report from the World Economic Forum highlighted why financial services should welcome what has been dubbed the “fourth industrial revolution” after the impact it has had on a range of sectors such as healthcare, retail and agriculture. With the development of digital technology,….
Dutch national weather service adopts cloud to expand service offerings
The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) is driving a cloud-based infrastructure refresh as the foundation of a modernisation programme aimed at creating opportunities for weather data applications. In addition to being a weather forecasting and monitoring service, the KNMI is a….
Facebook urged to ditch ‘like’ feature in UK online child safety drive
and other social media firms should alert children if their parent or carer is monitoring their online activity, under proposed guidelines to improve child internet safety in the UK. Turning off the “like” function, and limiting data collection and geolocation tools on popular platforms, such as….
Food & Health
Malawi pilots groundbreaking malaria vaccine
After more than three decades in development and almost $1 billion in investment, the most advanced vaccine yet has been rolled out in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, before it is extended to Kenya and Ghana in coming weeks. It aims to immunise 360,000 children aged two years and under in the three….
Researchers of the University of Malaga relate DNA methylation levels to obesity
DNA methylation is a mechanism that regulates whether genes are “on” or “off”, and is influenced by hereditary and environmental factors, as well as lifestyle and nutritional habits. This research evidences that methylation levels in the gene involved in lipid metabolism -Lipoprotein lipase (LPL)-….
Science policy & Communication
Today’s disinformation research could learn much from last century’s propaganda research
Foreign influence campaigns, rampant “fake news” and false rumors fanned by adversarial nation-states, thrown elections, a polarized nation living in filter bubbles, a deluge of hate speech spinning into violence, citizens overwhelmed and retreating from a deluge of questionable information filled….
Sri Lanka’s social-media shutdown illustrates global discontent with Silicon Valley
The Sri Lankan Government’s decision to suspend access to social-media sites after the deadly bombings may mark a turning point in how countries around the world perceive Silicon Valley – and their willingness act to stop the spread of falsehoods online.
We CAN’T let spies secretly filming us in supermarkets go unpunished, says Information Commissioner
We’re all aware of some of the methods big shops employ to encourage us to part with more of our money. Whether it’s three-for-two offers encouraging us to put an extra pizza in our trolleys, or the temptation of a chocolate bar as we queue up to pay, stores have a good idea of when to encourage those impulse buys.
Code of practice against disinformation: Commission welcomes the commitment of online platforms ahead of the European elections
Today, the European Commission published the latest reports by Facebook, Google and Twitter covering the progress made in March 2019 to fight disinformation. The three online platforms are signatories to the Code of Practice against disinformation and have committed to report monthly on their….
New #EUConsumerProtectionRules to tackle misleading and unfair practices
to improve ranking transparency in online marketplaces and to tackle dual quality of products. MEPs want to strengthen consumer protection by introducing collective redress and imposing more dissuasive penalties on non-compliant companies. The legislation also covers new scenarios where no EU law….
B-A-N-A-N-A-S Inside the quest to save the banana from extinction
Panama disease, an infection that ravages banana plants, has been sweeping across Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and Africa. The impact has been devastating. In the Philippines alone, losses have totaled $400 million. And the disease threatens not only the livelihoods of everyone in this $44 billion industry but also the 400 million people in developing countries who depend on bananas for a substantial proportion of their calorie intake.
Psychologist reveals the nine feeding faces all parents need to know
‘Believe it or not, they’re actually much more intuitive when it comes to eating than the average adult – which is why learning to read their expressions is such a valuable part of the process. She continued: ‘Naturally most parents hate seeing their child distressed so there is a tendency to give….