Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence.

Australia's AI music

An Australian team has won a competition to write a hit Eurovision song using artificial intelligence. It grew into an international effort after this year’s contest was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The winning song, Beautiful the World, was inspired by nature’s recovery from the bushfires earlier this year.

A total of 13 teams took part, from the Netherlands, Australia, Sweden, Belgium, the UK, France, Germany and Switzerland.

The Australian team, called Uncanny Valley in a nod to how humans and robots may one day merge, was made up of maths, computer-science and social-anthropology students, as well as music producers.

The melody and lyrics were written by an AI system, trained with audio samples of koalas, kookaburras and tasmanian devils.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: May 13th, 2020



  1. Is it ethical for AI to write music?
  2. Why would we want AI to write music instead of human composers?

Posted by & filed under COVID-19, Robotics.

A robot dog is patrolling one of Singapore’s parks as part of coronavirus-related trial.

The machine – made by US-based Boston Dynamics – is fitted with a camera to monitor how busy Bishan-Ang Moh Kio Park becomes.

It also carries a loudspeaker to broadcast social-distancing messages.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: May 11th, 2020

Link to video (with 1 minute advert in front):


  1. Are there any issues, such as ethical, with using robot dogs to perform rule enforcement?
  2. In what other ways could you use robot dogs?

Posted by & filed under Big Data, Data Analytics, Databases.

As Canadian authorities are thinking about using geolocalized data from cell phones to track the spread of the coronavirus, Radio-Canada got access to the data from 7.9 million cell phones across the country. Our analysis shows how Quebecers multiplied their movements at the worst possible moment: during spring break and at a time when health authorities were still underestimating the presence of COVID-19 in the province.

In mid-March, Quebec Premier François Legault announced that the province would be put “on pause.” Many companies were left with little to do. This included Drako Media, a company that specializes in mobile marketing. “Our activities came grinding to a halt,” explained the company’s co-founder, Laurent Elkaim. “So we asked ourselves if we could share our data to better understand what is going on.” This included sharing 6.7 billion location points from 7.9 million cell phone users in Canada.

The data was provided for free. It had been anonymized and aggregated before being shared with us, out of respect for each individual’s privacy. The precise locations and the phone identification numbers were never shared with us. From this data, we created models to observe the movements across provinces, regions in Quebec and boroughs in Montreal. We conducted our analysis independently.

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Date: May 7th, 2020

Link to article and interactive map:


  1. How might you use data just like this to solve other social issues?
  2. What sorts of services could you build off a database of data like this?

Posted by & filed under Self-driving vehicles.

WeRide’s robotaxi in Guangzhou

The rise of self-driving taxis in China comes at a time when people are nervous about taking public transport.

Robotaxi providers plan to ramp up the number of driverless cars they are putting on the roads to cater to the increased demand.

One of the leading players AutoX is rolling out 100 autonomous vehicles in Shanghai by June.

The start-up is one of several Chinese companies quickly moving to offer self-driving taxi services to the public.

“The pandemic has made our society realise that we need self-driving cars for situations like this,” said a spokesman for AutoX, which is backed by Chinese internet giant Alibaba. “RoboTaxi with its self-disinfecting capabilities and driverless logistics could save lots of lives.”

Source: BBC Business News

Date: May 7th, 2020



  1. “The pandemic has made our society realize that we need self-driving cars for situations like this.” Is this true?
  2. What other situations would bring about a “need” for self-driving cars?

Posted by & filed under App Economy, COVID-19, Privacy.

Woman using smartphone by graffiti of two eyes

Countries around the world are developing Covid-19 smartphone apps to limit the spread of coronavirus and relax lockdown restrictions.

It’s hoped the information they gather can be used to alert people whether they pose a risk of spreading the contagion, and need to isolate. But, over recent weeks, a split has emerged between two different types of app – the so-called centralised and decentralised versions.

Both types use Bluetooth signals to log when smartphone owners are close to each other – so if someone develops Covid-19 symptoms, an alert can be sent to other users they may have infected.

Under the centralised model, the anonymised data gathered is uploaded to a remote server where matches are made with other contacts, should a person start to develop Covid-19 symptoms.

By contrast, the decentralised model gives users more control over their information by keeping it on the phone. It is there that matches are made with people who may have contracted the virus. This is the model promoted by Google, Apple and an international consortium.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: May 7th, 2020



  1. Centralized tracking versus decentralized tracking. ” Backers of the centralised model say it can give the authorities more insight into the spread of the virus and how well the app is performing. Supporters of the decentralised approach say it offers users a higher degree of privacy, protecting them from hackers or the state itself revealing their social contacts. ” Who is correct, and why?
  2. It is important that around 60% of the population download a contact-tracking app for it to be effective. How does this impact your answer?

Posted by & filed under COVID-19, Wearable Technology.

ome of the largest outbreaks in Canada have taken place in these types of workplaces, such as the hundreds of confirmed cases linked to meat-processing facilities as well as infections in several provinces traced back to a single Alberta oilsands work camp. But in many industrial workplaces, smartphones aren’t permitted due to safety concerns. That’s why Blackline developed its technology using a wearable device, which according to the company is already used by 60,000 workers in Canada and around the world.

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Date: April 30th, 2020



  1. ” Blackline developed its technology using a wearable device… sees potential use for the technology in many sectors, such as utilities, food processing plants and chemical facilities, among others .” In what ways could this wearable technology be used post-pandemic?
  2. The Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating the use of technology in many fields. What are you doing to become more tech-savvy?

Posted by & filed under Career, Internet Advertising, Netflix.

To understand netflix, forget the mullet-haired Joe Exotic and his antics in “Tiger King”. Think instead of the bearded El Profesor and the other rogues who populate “Money Heist”, the streaming firm’s exhilarating Spanish-language crime drama about stealing €2.4bn ($2.6bn) from the national mint in Madrid. Like the hijackers, Netflix is taking advantage of the lockdown in many countries to print money. Like El Profesor, the company’s goateed boss, Reed Hastings, is usually a step ahead of everyone. And like the heist’s perpetrators, it has always had one golden rule: stick to the plan. So far it has pulled it off. As one analyst puts it, Netflix is as much a household essential in the covid-19 age as Clorox. Its market value, at more than $190bn, has for the time being risen above Disney’s.

Source: The Economist

Date: April 30th, 2020

Link (five free articles a month):


  1. Note how important “cash burn” is to Netflix. What exactly is “cash burn”?
  2. This entire article is built around the flow of money. Without proper financing and cash flow, no technology company (or indeed any company) can survive. What steps are you taking to make sure that your finance knowledge is adequate?
  3. Netflix gets its money from subscribers. Apple from sales of iPhones (mostly). Facebook from advertising. Why does it matter a LOT how a technology firm makes money?

Posted by & filed under App Economy, COVID-19.

Governments around the world are proposing contact tracing as a way of limiting the spread of coronavirus after lockdown.

Nations are recruiting thousands of people to do the task manually, but smartphones apps that can automate the process will also have a role to play.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: April 27th, 2020

Link to 3 minute 28 second video:


  1. There are a lot of privacy issues around contact tracing. How could you overcome some of these and STILL trace contacts?
  2. Should apps like this have a time-limit before they expire and are deleted from your phone?

Posted by & filed under Agile Development, COVID-19.

A team from the University of Toronto has created a new way for health-care workers to monitor COVID-19 patients — without having to set foot in their hospital rooms. 

It all began about two weeks ago when a call came from Mount Sinai Hospital asking the university’s engineering department to figure out a way to monitor vital signs both continuously and remotely. 

“The solution is quite simple,” said Professor Willy Wong, who led the project. “When we heard about this opportunity, we were very happy to jump into this.”

Source: Canadian Broadcasting News

Date: April 24th, 2020



  1. Combining a $20 Raspberry Pi micro-computer with an available pulse monitor seems completely obvious. Why does it take a pandemic to have obvious innovation like this?
  2. What other existing monitors could be attached to a Raspberry Pi to add value or provide a service?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence, Bots, Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

Cloudminds robot in Wuhan hospital

Since February, California-based manufacturer CloudMinds has shipped more than 100 robots to China.

Many of those have gone to hospitals, where the XR-1 provides information to patients and helps guide visitors to the right department.

The artificial intelligence (AI) incorporated into the machines means they can operate on their own. They also are connected to the latest 5G mobile phone networks, which means they can react very quickly.

“The fast speeds and wide reach of 5G networks make them ideal for XR-1, which interacts by talking, gesturing, dancing and physically guiding people,” says CloudMinds president Karl Zhao.

According to Wuhan Wuchang Field Hospital dean Wan Jun, they have been helpful. “CloudMinds robots’ contactless operation and reliability supported the field hospital through a difficult time,” he says.

Source: BBC Technology of Business

Date: April 24th, 2020



  1. “Dr Will Venters, assistant professor of information systems at the London School of Economics” says “Bots need careful management”. What does he mean by this?
  2. “They [bots] work so quickly that the problems they cause can rapidly scale out of control.” This is a perspective you rarely hear about. How could you stop a bot causing more problems than it solves?