Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence, Ethical issues.

Taryn Southern, a YouTube star and content creator, has just released a song she wrote with the help of artificial intelligence.  Called Break Free, it’s a brooding ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Hunger Games soundtrack. Southern wrote the lyrics and melody, but the backing track was built by her laptop, after she punched in a number of settings for the song’s mood, tempo and instrumentation. “My new collaborator is not human,” she grins. “It’s an AI algorithm”.

Source: BBC Music News

Date: November 23, 2018



1) Why does it matter (or not) that AI is creating music we might actually pay to buy?

2) What are the ethical issues here?

Posted by & filed under Bitcoin.


Bitcoin’s ongoing meteoric price rise has received the bulk of recent press attention with a lot of discussion around whether or not it’s a bubble waiting to burst.   However, most the coverage has missed out one of the more interesting and unintended consequences of this price increase. That is the surge in global electricity consumption used to “mine” more Bitcoins.  According to Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index Bitcoin’s current estimated annual electricity consumption stands at 29.05TWh.  If Bitcoin miners were a country they’d rank 61st in the world in terms of electricity consumption.

Source: PowerCompare

Date: November 23rd, 2018



1) Why does it matter that Bitcoin mining consumes so much energy?

2) The article shows that places like the Gaza Strip are some of the top places in the world for Bitcoin mining.  Is this a concern, or not?

Posted by & filed under Innovation.

This handout image supplied by the European Space Agency (ESA), shows a view of The Palms, Dubai as the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft psses below, in an image taken by ESA astronaut Tim Peake from the International Space Station on April 10, 2016. FCC has cleared SpaceX and three other companies to launch new internet-beaming satellites, which can help connect rural Americans.  (Photo by Tim Peake / ESA/NASA via Getty Images)

In a move that is expected to expand satellite Internet connectivity, the US Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted Thursday to allow SpaceX and three other companies to deploy new satellites systems.

The approval allows Elon Musk’s company to operate more than 7,000 “very-low-Earth orbit” satellites and the additional flexibility to provide “both diverse geographic coverage and the capacity to support a wide range of broadband communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental and professional users in the United States and globally.”

Source: Forbes Technology News

Date: November 15th, 2018



1) This could radically change the way we receive internet, as it allows completely new companies to compete without having to dig up roads and put cables in to homes to deliver internet services.  Why is this such a big deal?

2) Are there any services you could package around this sort of internet?

Posted by & filed under Amazon, Ethical issues.

Amazon’s search for a second headquarters was never just about finding a new home.

Throughout the process, Amazon skillfully obtained data from 238 cities and metro areas in North America for free, including proprietary information about real estate sites under development, details about their talent pool, local labor cost and what incentives cities and states were willing to cough up to bring the company to town.

“Amazon was not going through this exercise to pick a single HQ2,” said Richard Florida, a leading urbanist and professor at the University of Toronto. “It was part of a broader effort — a corporate relocation strategy — to crowdsource a wide variety of data.”

Source: CNN Technology News

Date: November 15th, 2018

1) Is this notion that Amazon “crowdsourced” its collection of data from 238 cities genius, or just plain unethical?
2) Amazon chose to open 2 new HQs, in New York and Washington.  On what dimensions does this make sense, and on what does it not?

Posted by & filed under crypto-currency.

A woman touches an ATM machine for digital currency Bitcoin in Hong Kong on December 18, 2017.

International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde said central banks around the world should consider issuing digital currency.

Speaking in Singapore, Ms Lagarde said this could make digital currency transactions safer.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: November 15th, 2018



1) How much do you know about how cryptocurrencies, of which Bitcoin is just one example?  Why is it important to know about this?

2) “The advantage is clear. Your payment would be immediate, safe, cheap and potentially semi-anonymous… And central banks would retain a sure footing in payments.”  Why is all this important?

Posted by & filed under App Economy, Emerging Technologies, Innovation.

Who is going to decide how we travel around our cities – Californian tech giants or local transport businesses?

On Tech Tent we hear from the UK firm helping local taxi operators take the fight to Uber and from an American scooter firm trying to change the law in Britain.

I took a trip to Manchester this week and leaving the station, I had a number of options to get to my destination in Cheadle, on the outskirts of the city.

I could have grabbed a cab from the station rank or used the ubiquitous Uber – but instead I downloaded an app called Streetcars.

This enabled me to order a minicab from the local firm of that name and it deposited me at the headquarters of Autocab – the company that built the app for Streetcars and about 500 other local taxi firms across the UK.

Source: BBC Tech Tent

Date: November 9th, 2018



1) “Tens of others had technology just as good as Uber that never went anywhere. The difference is Uber has been heavily financed by Wall Street and they’ve raised more than $13bn. We didn’t have the same access to capital.”  Is this really only about money?

2) “Uber with its early “move fast and break things” approach, which saw it clash with local regulators”  Why is it that regulations take time to catch up with technology innovation?

Posted by & filed under App Economy, Career.

Companies like Mendix ( and Salesforce are saying that this is the start of a “low-code revolution”, where business people can build applications without knowing much, if any, code at all.

Source: Salesforce

Date: November 9th, 2018



1) Why are we now at a point where low-code programming is an option?

2) How does a low-code environment change what business people need to understand?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence, IT Trends, Robotics.

The SWEEPER robot is the first sweet pepper harvesting robot in the world demonstrated in a commercial greenhouse. It is designed to operate in a single stem row cropping system, with a crop having non-clustered fruits and little leaf occlusion.

Source: YouTube

Date: November 9th, 2018



1) Who looses their job because of this robot, and who gains a job?

2) What other applications are very similar to this but in a different field (no pun intended)?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Ethical issues, Facebook.

Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, pledged to fix how it handles political and issue ads in the wake of Russian meddling in 2016. But just days before the midterm elections, a key part of Facebook’s effort is broken, and it’s unclear if the company is doing anything to fix it.

The company has touted new rules for political ad-buyers as a major component of its work to combat disinformation on its platform. In 2016 Russian trolls with links to the Kremlin bought ads targeting Americans in the run-up to the presidential election. They were able to do so without giving any information to Americans seeing those ads about who was paying for them.

Political ads on the platform are now supposed to say who paid for them, but Facebook allows buyers to fill in that information themselves. And if anyone or any system at the company is supposed to be ensuring that the information these ad-buyers submit is the truth, they appear to be asleep at the wheel.

Earlier this week, Vice News, posing as a political ad-buyer, got approval from Facebook to run ads in the name of every single one of the US’ 100 senators. Vice News did not end up buying the ads. This came after Vice News had previously received approval from Facebook to run ads “Paid for” by Islamic State and Vice President Mike Pence.

Source: CNN Technology News

Date: November 2nd. 2018



1) Why does it matter that Facebook is allowing fake adverts?

2) How might Facebook use automation to check the details people enter about who they are?

Posted by & filed under Automation, Career, Emerging Technologies, Ethical issues, IT and the law.

Shimizu demonstrating its construction robot, Robo-Buddy

Shinichi Sakamoto is 57, and works for Shimizu, one of Japan’s biggest construction companies. He is part of a greying, and dwindling, workforce.

“The thing is, statistics show a third of [Japanese construction] labourers are over 54 years old, and they are considering retiring so soon,” says Mr Sakamoto, who is deputy head of Shimizu’s production technology division.

And they’re not being replaced by younger builders. “The number of labourers under 30 is just above 10%,” he says.

In September, Mr Sakamoto’s firm gained a promising new co-worker – a robot.

Robo-Carrier is currently working on a high-rise development in Osaka, transports heavy gypsum board pallets nightly from the ground floor to where they’re needed.

Source: BBC Future

Date: November 2nd, 2018



1) What are some issues around having robots on a building site?

2) Are there any ethical or legal issues we need to consider here?