Top Stories

August 21, 2017

Artificial Intelligence

Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robots

Some of the world’s leading robotics and artificial intelligence pioneers are calling on the United Nations to ban the development and use of killer robots. Tesla’s Elon Musk and Google’s Mustafa Suleyman are leading a group of 116 specialists who together wrote an open letter warning that this arms race could usher a “third revolution in warfare” after gunpowder and nuclear arms. The letter was launched at the opening of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Melbourne, after the UN has been forced to delay a meeting to review the issue. The founders called for “morally wrong” lethal autonomous weapons systems to be added to the list of weapons banned under the UN’s Convention on Conventional Weapons brought into force in 1983. Ryan Gariepy, founder of Clearpath Robotics, said these systems “are on the cusp of development” as experts warned that their deployment has become feasible within years, rather than decades. (Guardian)


Uber in talks with local government to fill Sydney’s public transport gaps

Uber is in talks with the New South Wales (NWS) government to subsidise trips for Sydneysiders between their homes and public transport hubs. A NSW Transport spokeswoman said services such as Uber’s had a “potentially significant role to play” in delivering public transport solutions. Uber’s Global Head of Transport Policy and Research, Andrew Salzberg, said the company provided governments with a more cost-effective alternative to delivering and maintaining public transport services. Its proposal to the NSW commuter said 60% of trips in Australia using the company’s app began in “public transport deserts”. The company also suggested the government is considering integrating Uber services into Sydney’s Opal card payment platform. Salzberg said a Canadian town had begun a six-month pilot of subsidising Uber rides in May, rather than funding a public bus service. (Guardian)


Soft drink companies urged by Singapore government to cut sugar content

The Singapore government has asked soft drink producers to agree to reduce the amount of sugar in all their drinks sold in Singapore. Announced during the National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the invisible dangers of consuming too many soft drinks. One in nine Singaporeans have diabetes, a third of whom do not even know they have the disease. PM Lee added it is one of the major diseases causing ill health among seniors here while diabetes cases are on the rise among young people. The Government is still “scouting around for solutions”, he revealed. Nestle R&D Centre Singapore had declared its commitment to reduce sugar by 5%, and salt content by 10% in its products by 2020. The Ministry of Health said it will give more details in the coming week. (Today Online, The Straits Times)


100 UK firms promise electric fleets by 2020

Ovo Energy, Santander UK, Gatwick Airport, Swansea University and Microsoft UK are among the 100+ companies to have promised to integrate at least 5% electric cars into their corporate fleet by 2020, under the government-backed electric car campaign, Go Ultra Low. Many plan to go further than the target however, with for example Santander committing to 10% of its 1,400-strong fleet to go electric. The cheaper running costs are making electric vehicles (EVs) an increasingly popular choice for work-related driving. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) also showed companies accounted for 65% of new EV registrations in the first six months of 2017. In a statement, Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low, said that “forward-thinking organisations are well on the road to emission-free and low-cost motoring”. (Business Green)

Technology & Innovation

Motorola files patent for phone that can repair its own screen

Motorola‘s future phones could be equipped with a self-repair function, which would enable users to fix their damaged screens, as company has filed a new patent which details a “method and device for detecting fascia damage and repairing the same”. The reliance on touch-sensitive devices that can be easily damaged means that users often consider the device unusable as the primary use is compromised. To address the throwaway culture associated with them, Motorola said it is be “more advantageous” to have a device that fixes itself. The method proposed involves replacing a glass screen with a “shape memory polymer”, which would be able to reshape itself when exposed to heat, meaning that any cracks or scratches would be filled. The process would be triggered by a corresponding app, in charge of analysing the damage, and supported by a docking station that would power the device as the screen repair takes place. (Dezeen)


Image Source: Sugar blocks by Lauri Andler(Phantom) at Wikimedia. CC 3.0