In the spotlight
A chatbot pulled me out of a ‘really dark place’
Alexa Jett found a therapy app useful. Alexa Jett has suffered some heavy blows in recent years. Now 28, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2016. Although she was given the all-clear, in August 2019 another crisis hit when her best friend and former boyfriend died of cancer at the age of 33.
Rise of #MeTooBots: scientists develop AI to detect harassment in emails
Artificial intelligence programmers are developing bots that can identify digital bullying and sexual harassment. Known as “#MeTooBots” after the high-profile movement that arose after allegations against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, the bots can monitor and flag communications between colleagues and are being introduced by companies around the world.
Cannabis a cure for cancer, insomnia, claim Twitter bots without evidence
The next most common posts involved legality of the drug or posts about where to buy or sell cannabis.Social media bots are promoting cannabis as a remedy for everything from cancer to insomnia and foot pain, according to an analysis of posts on Twitter.
How bots are stealing artwork from artists on Twitter
A popular piece by one of the artists whose art was stolen by automated systems. Artists have told the BBC how their artwork is being stolen from social media and sold for profit online.
Agriculture & Environment
Australia’s leaders unmoved on climate action after devastating bushfires
Australia’s government is sticking firmly to a position that there is no direct link between climate change and the country’s devastating bushfires, despite public anger, the anguish of victims and warnings from scientists. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his emissions reduction minister, Angus Taylor, say Australia does not need to cut carbon emissions more aggressively to limit global warming, even after a three-year drought and unprecedented bushfires.
Should fossil fuels pay for Australia’s new bushfire reality?
It is week nine of the current bushfire crisis; almost 20 people are dead, over 1,000 homes have been lost, half a billion animals have been killed and a land area twice the size of Belgium has been burned. Countless lives have been affected and we know there is more to come.
Transport & Energy
Toyota to build ‘city of the future’ at the base of Mount Fuji
Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it plans to build a prototype “city of the future” at the base of Mount Fuji, powered by hydrogen fuel cells and functioning as a laboratory for autonomous cars, smart homes, artificial intelligence and other technologies. Toyota unveiled the plan at CES, the big technology industry show.
Greenhouse gas emissions drop in Spain as power plants ditch coal
Spain has taken just one year to reach a goal that was expected to require a decade. The government had predicted that by 2030 coal would no longer be used in power plants to generate electricity , yet this objective was all but achieved last year. The country has dramatically reduced its reliance….
Changing priorities threatens viability of EastMed gas pipeline
With Europe no longer needing gas supply diversification and its sharpened green focus, is the pipeline more of a pipedream? By Charles Ellinas. After a year of on and off announcements, Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed the inter-governmental agreement for the EastMed gas pipeline on January 2 in Athens.
Samsung’s Neon ‘artificial humans’ look like super-realistic video chatbots
Samsung’s STAR Labs research group announced a new “artificial human” called Neon early Tuesday morning at CES 2020. Neon isn’t a robot or a voice assistant like Siri or Alexa. Instead, it’s a simulated human assistant that appears on a screen and learns about people to help it give seemingly intelligent and life-like responses – think of it like an animated chatbot.
CES 2020: Samsung rolls out ‘Ballie’ the robot to demo its vision for human-centered tech
Ballie is “more than just a cute robot,” Kim said as the device — a cross between a tennis ball and R2-D2 — followed him around on stage. The robot he said, is “a vision of technology as an all around personal life companion.” The robot represents the next evolution of the Internet of Things (IOT), Samsung’s leaders explained in the CES keynote.
The two myths of the Internet
On January 21, 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed a crowd at the Newseum in Washington, DC. She was there to proclaim the power and importance of “ internet freedom .” In the previous few years, she said, online tools had enabled people all around the world to organize blood drives, plan demonstrations, and even mobilize in mass demonstrations for democracy.
Food & Health
CES 2020 digital health: what to expect from 2019’s most impactful health tech trends
From blockchain to mixed realities, which digital health trends have dominated in 2019, and what can the healthcare industry expect in the coming year? Digital Health Summit at CES2020 is entering its 11th year, with digital health tech providers and healthcare experts convening to discuss and showcase the latest innovations, updates, and advances in Digital Health.
Online triage tool may help patients decide if they need immediate care
An online tool that analyzes symptoms may help people decide whether to seek immediate care in the emergency room or to adopt a wait-and-see strategy, a new study suggests.
Caffeine may cancel health risks of diets high in fat, sugar
Caffeine may offset some of the negative effects of a potential obesity-causing diet high in fat and sugar, according to a study conducted in mice.
Science policy & Communication
Coincidence that fake news law applied to politicians, Singapore minister says
Singapore’s communications minister said on Monday it was a coincidence that the first few cases brought under a new fake news law were against political figures and parties.
To fight disinformation, we need to weaponise the truth
Computational warfare and disinformation campaigns will, in 2020, become a more serious threat than physical war, and we will have to rethink the weapons we deploy to fight them.
Data privacy still a fantasy?
In 1949, George Orwell’s novel 1984 imagined a fictional future society focused on mind-control and subduing individuality. Little did Orwell know that 71 years later, in 2020, fiction would turn into fact. In 2020, it is not unbelievable to envisage that whenever you step out of your house, your “citizen score” follows you wherever you go.
Critics slam study claiming YouTube’s algorithm doesn’t lead to radicalization
A recent study said that YouTube’s algorithm favors left-leaning and politically neutral channels, and steers people away from radicalizing influences, in contrast to some media reports. Online radicalization and technology experts criticized several shortcomings of the study, which has not been peer-reviewed.
Online hate speech could be contained like a computer virus, say Cambridge researchers
The spread of hate speech via social media could be tackled using the same “quarantine” approach deployed to combat malicious software, according to University of Cambridge researchers.
20 e-commerce predictions for 2020: Club Factory
The New Year will see not only the maturing of online shopping but also the addition of millions of new shoppers as companies try and improve online shopping experiences in various ways. The coming New Year will mark nearly a quarter-century of the internet and the many disruptions it has brought about.
Gym class without the gym? With technology, it’s catching on
Grace Brown’s schedule at West Potomac High School in northern Virginia is filled with all the usual academics, and she’s packed in Latin, chorus and piano as extras. What she can’t cram into the 8:10 a.m. – 2:55 p.m. school day is gym class. So she’s taking that one minus the gym, and on her own time. For students whose tests and textbooks have migrated to screens, technology as gym equipment may have been only a matter of time.
Make it last: 15 tips for building stable social media connections
Whether you’re looking to hire, gain new clients or just meet like-minded business leaders, social media is a highly effective way to find new connections. While it can seem intimidating or impersonal to reach out online, social media often gives you access to rich, relevant information about a person’s professional background that can help you forge a strong relationship.