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Scotland Government


Coronavirus: Airport testing and a royal lockdown

BBC News

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus outbreak this Wednesday evening. We'll have another update for you tomorrow morning. We've heard from Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who's said testing is not a "silver bullet" to stop the need for quarantine for people returning from Spain. Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye wants tests at airports, and again a few days later, as an alternative. While Conservative MP Crispin Blunt thinks a more targeted use of quarantine measures would get more public support than a blanket rule for the whole of Spain.


First Minister announces funding boost for Scottish AI firm

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The AI service will help Encompass customers to "quickly and accurately" find risk-relevant information on their own customers, organisations and investments. Sturgeon said: "Encompass is one of a number of international companies that has chosen to locate and steadily expand its operation, making Scotland an attractive place to grow its business. "From its Glasgow base, the company has access to markets, a supportive business environment and has been able to identify local talent from Scottish professionals in the engineering and software development sector. "Backed by almost £2 million of R&D investment from Scottish Enterprise, Encompass will be able to develop artificial intelligence software tools that will assist companies in the financial sector to reduce operational risks associated with meeting compliance and regulatory standards." Encompass's work in Glasgow has primarily been focused on its Know Your Customer product, where it uses data analytics to ensure clients do not unknowingly trade with organised crime or the proceeds of crime.


Nicola Sturgeon warns of risk of 'communities left behind' by new technology

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There is a "real risk" that the growth of automation and increased use of artificial intelligence will see communities across Scotland left behind, Nicola Sturgeon has warned. Speaking at the Wellbeing Economy Alliance conference, the first minister said the growth of new technology will bring new opportunities for Scotland, but that their introduction must be carefully managed to ensure that the benefits are shared. The Scottish Government has worked with the Scottish Trades Union Congress to examine the effects of new technologies on the economy and workforce, with a joint 2018 report finding "there is a plausible case that the technological change in the 21st century could pose new and serious challenges in sustaining a labour market that supports broadly based prosperity". Appearing in Edinburgh, Sturgeon said her government aimed to create an economy where "collective wellbeing" was as fundamental as GDP, but warned that the movement to a low-carbon economy and the growth of new technologies would also pose challenges for communities and workers. The SNP leader said: "As we moved to increased use of technology, such as artificial intelligence, there is again a big potential for real economic benefit, particularly for country like Scotland, and for a city like Edinburgh, where there is already a very strong, vibrant and growing tech sector. But there are also a range of ethical questions to confront. There is also a real risk that as we make that transition, individuals and communities are left behind, so we must work now to make sure that does not happen."


View Notice - Public Contracts Scotland

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Working in partnership with the Scottish Government (SG) and with the assistance of the broader public sector and innovation community, Scottish Enterprise (SE) wishes to procure R&D services to create new products and services that will help in the Government's efforts to address the Climate Emergency. In doing so, we are specifically looking for solutions that exploit Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to deliver these solutions. This builds upon the proposition that Scotland has excellent capabilities in the application of AI. Working in partnership with the Scottish Government (SG) and with the assistance of the broader public sector and innovation community, Scottish Enterprise (SE) wishes to procure R&D services to create new products and services that will help in the Government's efforts to address the Climate Emergency. In doing so, we are specifically looking for solutions that exploit Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to deliver these solutions.


Utilising AI techniques to tackle Scotland's, and the World's, climate emergency – The Data Lab

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Scottish Enterprise, in collaboration with the Scottish Government, calls on innovative organisations to help solve the Climate Emergency by harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The specific focus of this competition is in the use of AI to enable or significantly enhance products or processes that help to mitigate factors contributing to the climate emergency or to support adaptation to its impact. This 100% funded R&D SBRI project will provide up to 6 contracts of £28,000 over a 10 week period in phase 1 with up to £133,000 available for three successful phase 2 solutions over the following 12 months. They are seeking creative, cutting-edge proposals that can demonstrate the ability to support climate change mitigation and adaption. The competition seeks to encourage wide participation and with minimal prescription of the nature or focus of proposed ideas.


AI for good challenge: tackling the climate emergency - 100% funded R&D

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Scottish Enterprise, in collaboration with the Scottish Government, is looking for innovative organisations to help solve the climate emergency by harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. This 100% funded R&D SBRI project will provide up to 6 contracts of £28,000 over a 10-week period in phase 1. And up to £133,000 will be available for three successful phase 2 solutions over the following 12 months. Scottish Enterprise is seeking creative, cutting-edge proposals that can demonstrate the ability to support climate change mitigation and adaption. The deadline for submission is 6 January 2020 at 12 noon.


The Data Lab officially appointed to lead the development of a national AI strategy for Scotland - FutureScot

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The Data Lab has been officially appointed to lead on the development of a new national strategy for artificial intelligence in Scotland. As Scotland's innovation centre for data and AI, the organisation will spearhead the Scottish Government's ambition to use the technology to enhance wellbeing and unlock a potential £13bn in additional economic output. The strategy, which was publicly announced last month at a Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) conference in Edinburgh, will be created with'benefit to the citizen as its core guiding principle and will align with the Scottish Government's National Performance Framework's aims to improve citizen wellbeing and provide opportunities for all to thrive'. The stragety's development will be an open and transparent process, ensuring that as many people as possible are given the opportunity to contribute to its development. The process aims to ensure that AI is relatable to everyone and will consider its potential to improve the lives of people across Scotland by unlocking social and economic benefits.


Highlands businesses offered funding and support on AI and robotics

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New funding has been announced to help businesses in the Scottish Highlands and islands benefit from digital technology. Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) – a regional development agency of the Scottish Government – has launched a new £465,000 support programme for businesses in the Highlands and islands looking to develop their use of digital technology and innovation. It will provide specialist advice and events on topics such as data innovation, artificial intelligence, sensors and internet of things, as well as robotics and cyber resilience, with more than 2,500 businesses across the region are expected to benefit from the programme over the next three years. As well as businesses, the programme will also be accessible to established community groups and social enterprises. The programme was launched at a digital collaboration event at An Lochran in Inverness, attended by organisations including The Data Lab, Centre for Sensors and Imaging Systems (CENSIS), Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), DigitalBoost, ScotlandIS, EIT Digital, IoT Scotland and Interface.


Alexa or Alex? Under-35s find digitised female voices more compelling – those older prefer males, study says

The Independent - Tech

Younger people prefer assistance from female voices, neuroscience research has revealed. A major study of consumers' subconscious reactions to digitised voices has revealed there is a substantial bias towards female voices among people under the age of 35. The research, which used brain imaging technology to explore the neurological response to male and female voice assistants, discovered respondents of both genders within a younger age group found a female voice both more approachable and more compelling than its male equivalent. In contrast, while those over 35 also found the female voice more approachable, they found the male voice to be more compelling. Analysing the subconscious brain responses of 105 subjects aged between 18 and 65, the study discovered that subjects of all ages and genders found female voices more approachable, with the "approach" response 32 per cent higher for female voices.


Robot soldiers and 'enhanced' humans will fight future wars, defence experts say

The Independent - Tech

Future warfare will likely be conducted by armies of robots and humans enhanced by gene editing and drugs, according to a new Ministry of Defence report. As the world becomes more volatile due to increased threats from terrorism and climate change, "new areas of conflict" will also open up, including space and cyberspace, it is thought. In an analysis developed with experts from around the world, the potential challenges facing the UK are laid out. The document, entitled The Future Starts Today, also warns of an increasing risk from nuclear and chemical weapons as technology rapidly advances. 'Killer robots' ban blocked by US and Russia at UN meeting'Killer robots' ban blocked by US and Russia at UN meeting "This report makes clear that we are living in a world that is becoming rapidly more dangerous, with intensifying challenges from state aggressors who flout the rules, terrorists who want to harm our way of life and the technological race with our adversaries," said defence secretary Gavin Williamson.