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Banks roll out robots as pandemic shakes up IT plans


LONDON (Reuters) - When banks were flooded with loan requests from businesses struggling with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, hastily built robots helped several lenders cope with the deluge. The bots were one of many quick technology changes deployed across the industry during the crisis, a contrast to the slow progress it's made in the past two decades to improve technology in the face of increasing competition from fintech rivals. Now the jolt from the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the process even though banks globally are having to cut IT spending this year for the first time since 2009, based on data from research company IDC. "Bots allowed us to process a much higher volume of applications than we would have been able to do before. It meant the timelines didn't get longer with the massive volume," said Simon McNamara, chief administrative officer at Britain's NatWest, which has granted more than 13 billion pounds ($16.90 billion) of state-backed loans.

Making sense of machine learning


When Nick Kyrgios met Rafael Nadal in a packed centre court at Wimbledon 2019, it was always going to be a tempestuous affair. The fiery Australian went into the match with his trademark, but possibly misplaced, swagger given he had been at a local pub until 11pm the previous night. In typical Kyrgios fashion, there were spats with the chair umpire, cheeky underhand serves and some sublime tennis, including a nail biting 23 shot rally in the second set that ended with a blistering down-the-line forehand winner that Nadal could only gaze at from the wrong side of the court. Given the celebrity and combustibility of the players in question, the point was a shoo-in for the highlights reel. Meanwhile, down on sparsely populated court 12, Elise Mertens pulled off a dazzling combination of base-line drives, lunging half-volleys, a smash and a final volley drop shot to take an early break point against Barbora Strycova. The rally also made the highlights reel, not because of some keen eyed television producer but because of an artificial intelligence algorithm.

Scientists combat anti-Semitism with artificial intelligence – IAM Network


BERLIN (AP) -- An international team of scientists have joined forces to combat the spread of anti-Semitism online with the help of artificial intelligence. The Alfred Landecker Foundation, which supports the team, said Monday that the project named Decoding Anti-Semitism includes discourse analysts, computational linguists and historians. They will develop a "highly complex, AI-driven approach to identifying online anti-Semitism." The team includes researchers from Berlin's Technical University, King's College in London and other scientific institutions in Europe and Israel. Computers will run through vast amounts of data and images that humans wouldn't be able to assess because of their sheer quantity.

Artificial Intelligence and Sports - StarTalk Sports Edition


Has it changed sports already? On this episode of StarTalk Sports Edition, Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Gary O'Reilly and Chuck Nice investigate the rise of AI in sports. To kick things off, Noah Syken, Vice President of Sports and Entertainment Partnerships at IBM, joins the show to take us inside the lab at IBM. You'll learn about IBM's long history in sports. We discuss their current projects partnering with Wimbledon and the US Open. You'll hear how IBM is taking classic tennis matches and updating them to current broadcast standards using artificial intelligence.

Heathrow Airport brings in robots to fight coronavirus

BBC News

Previously used to tackle hospital acquired infections, the machines move through the airport terminals disinfecting high risk touch points like bathrooms and lifts.

Wimbledon 2020 turns back the clock with intriguing new virtual format


The All England Tennis Club (AELTC) took the decision to cancel Wimbledon 2020 on April 1, to the dismay of sports fans around the world, who were looking forward to a fortnight of world class tennis, celebrity spotting, and strawberries and cream. However, since the cancellation, the AELTC has been working hard behind the scenes in partnership with IBM to deliver tennis fans a Wimbledon experience that could go some way to filling the void left behind by the event. The pair today unveiled'The Greatest Championships', a digital recreation of the famed tournament to take place over the course of two weeks, starting Monday June 29 (the original start date for Wimbledon 2020). Using IBM technology, the AELTC has remastered a selection of the greatest matches to play out at Wimbledon, which will be released round-by-round to replicate the tournament format. "It's not going to be a substitute for the real thing but it's going to be our way of providing something for our fans and recreating Wimbledon in the best way we can," said Alex Willis, Head of Communications, Content & Digital at AELTC.

IBM uses AI to enhance old Wimbledon tennis footage for the digital era


Along with just about every other major sporting event, the Wimbledon grand slam tennis tournament was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 crisis. However, organizers at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC) have tapped long-time partner IBM to create a virtual two-week event consisting of classic matches dating back more than 40 years. To go beyond just bringing old matches to modern digital platforms, IBM and AELTC have leveraged AI techniques to revitalize old footage and appeal to modern viewers. With matches stretching as far back as 1977, a wide range of video quality is to be expected, and older recordings tend to have an issue with visual "noise." "To the naked eye, this noise is like static in the image, with color pixels dancing," IBM executive Sam Seddon told VentureBeat.

Covid-19 news: UK begins using dexamethasone to treat patients

New Scientist

Covid-19 patients in the UK are being treated with dexamethasone today after a UK trial of the drug found it could save lives. "The treatment is immediately available and already in use on the NHS," said health minister Matt Hancock. "It is not by any means a cure but it is the best news we have had," Hancock told parliament today. The UK's chief medical officers say it should be used immediately, according to the BBC. A preliminary study found that the steroid, which is already widely prescribed for treating allergies and asthma, reduces the risk of dying from covid-19 by a third for patients on ventilators, and by a fifth for those receiving oxygen. Dexamethasone should only be taken if prescribed by a doctor. Officials in Beijing, China confirmed 31 new coronavirus cases today, bringing the total to 137 in the last six days. The city is again restricting all non-essential travel. Schools, swimming pools and gyms are all closed from today.

IBM is canceling its facial recognition programs


London (CNN Business)IBM is canceling its facial recognition programs and calling for an urgent public debate on whether the technology should be used in law enforcement. In a letter to Congress on Monday, IBM (IBM) CEO Arvind Krishna said the company wants to work with lawmakers to advance justice and racial equity through police reform, educational opportunities and the responsible use of technology. "We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies," he said, noting that the company no longer offers general purpose facial recognition or analysis software. "IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values," he added. Krishna is of Indian origin and IBM's first CEO of color.

Covid-19 news: Boris Johnson admits UK was unprepared for pandemic

New Scientist

"We didn't learn the lesson on SARS and MERS," UK prime minister Boris Johnson said today as he faced questions from the House of Commons Liaison Committee, referencing the government's pandemic planning and a lack of capacity at Public Health England to detect outbreaks of coronavirus around the country. He also said that there would not be an official inquiry to investigate whether his senior aide Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules. More than 40 Conservative party MPs have now called for Cummings' resignation. During the meeting, Johnson announced that England's test and trace system will be launched tomorrow. Under the new system, contact tracers will ask people who test positive for coronavirus to self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of symptoms, and to provide details of any recent close contacts. The secretary of state will have the power to "mandate" people to isolate if they do not isolate voluntarily. The government announced earlier today that localised lockdowns, ...