Google's testimony to an Australian Senate committee on Friday threatening to withdraw its search services from Australia is chilling to anyone who cares about democracy. It marks the latest escalation in the globally significant effort to regulate the way the big tech platforms use news content to drive their advertising businesses and the catastrophic impact on the news media across the world. The news bargaining code, which would require Google and Facebook to negotiate a fair price for the use of news content, is the product of an 18-month process driven by the competition regulator. That legislation is currently before the Australian parliament, where a Senate committee is taking final submissions from interested parties. The Google bombshell makes explicit what has been a slowly escalating threat that a binding code would not be tenable.
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Recently, online exam supervision technologies have been thrust into the public spotlight due to the growing demand for online courses [Ginder et al., 2019] and lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic [Flaherty, 2020]. While educational institutions can supervise remote exam-takers simply by watching live online video (e.g. via Zoom), an evolving range of online proctoring (OP) software programs offer more sophisticated, scalable, and extensive monitoring functions, including both human-led and automated remote exam supervision. Such technologies have generated confusion and controversy, including vigorous student protests [White, 2020]. Some universities have dug in against criticism, while others have outright rejected the technologies or have retreated from their initial intentions to use them [White, 2020]. At the root of disagreement and debate between concerned students and universities are questions about the ethics of OP technologies.
Australia's artificial intelligence (AI) community has rallied to a call from Defence and the Office of National Intelligence (ONI) for solutions to key Defence and security challenges. The call was part of the'Artificial Intelligence for Decision Making' (AIDM) initiative, aimed at growing Australia's AI capability and fostering a national community focussed on developing innovative AI solutions for Defence and national security. More than 200 proposals were received. Dr Tim McKay of the Department of Defence said the response was overwhelming and demonstrated the depth and breadth of AI expertise across Australia. "The quality of the submissions was excellent; far above what we expected," he said.
Over the last six months, Australia Post has experienced a 20% decline in letters, but a boost in households shopping online. During that period, the postal service had 8.1 million households within its 12 million delivery points that ordered goods online. People were also buying bulkier and heavier items, such as gym gear, office supplies, and in true Australian form, alcohol, so Australia Post also had to change its mode of delivery. Australia Post executive general manager of transformation and enablement John Cox said this meant the organisation had to transition many of its bike delivery posties into van delivery roles. "The challenge with all of that is our most experienced drivers know their route, they work out exactly where to go and they optimise very quickly the pathway. The posties have a different way of delivering, they actually have a very safe route where they always turn left to avoid going into traffic and it's the same path pretty much every day," Cox said.
It's been called'the future of warfare'. Off-the-shelf unmanned aerial systems (UAS), carrying a'payload' of explosives or biological material, flown by terrorists or enemy armed forces into a crowded building or military base. Now the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Sydney ASX-listed defence tech company DroneShield have produced next-generation drone technology to better identify threats from these aggressive UAS. In a partnership funded by the NSW and Australian Governments, UTS and DroneShield – an Australian developer of counter-UAS solutions – have produced an optical system for detection, identification and tracking of fast-moving threats such as nefarious UAS, comprised of a camera and Convolutional Neural Network (CNN). UTS and DroneShield began working together in October 2019 – just a month after one of the most recent examples of aggressive use of drones when the oil facilities at Abqaiq–Khurais in Saudi Arabia were attacked by a swarm of UAS.
Australia Post is using machine learning to calculate the arrival time of parcels down to a two-hour window based on data from a new route planner that has just been rolled out to delivery drivers. Executive general manager for transformation and enablement John Cox on Tuesday said the new feature is currently being trialled to give customers a more accurate estimate on delivery times. "What we're trialling – and this is not out in the public yet – is what we call an estimated time of arrival," Cox told the Digital Transformation Agency's 2020 Digital Summit. "So based off when the postie scans the parcel in the morning to put in their van, we'll be able to notify the consumer that it will be delivered within that window of time." The estimate is calculated using the "single scanning platform" that all deliver drivers use to scan their parcels before their run, which also determines the "optimal" route for each delivery run.
As part of its focus on "human-centred design", the New South Wales government is looking at the development of an app to help parents through the birth of a child. "Anyone that has gone through starting a family will know that it's not a simple process, everyone from the butcher to your 100-year-old grandmother will give you advice, whether it's wanted or not," Service NSW executive director of digital and middle office Melissa Clemens said during her Gartner 2020 IT Symposium/Xpo presentation on Tuesday. When a child is born in NSW, NSW Citizens (Expecting and existing families), Family and Community Services, Fair Trading, Service NSW, Department of Premier and Cabinet, NSW Ministry of Health, and Births, Deaths and Marriages all need to be told. The idea behind "Bump" is to make this process more streamlined. "We got together with other agencies to deeply listen and empathise with existing and expecting families," Clemens said.
A new study shows that anthropogenic climate change made things worse. The New South Wales government has announced it will invest AU$192 million over five years in new firefighting equipment such as night-time aerial fleet and upgrades to the local emergency infrastructure to better support firefighters during bushfires. The funding is the state government's response to the independent NSW bushfire inquiry that underscored a need to equip firefighters with more advanced technology, such as drones, remote sensors, data science, and artificial intelligence, to help them better understand, model, and predict bushfire behaviour, and respond more quickly. A total of 76 recommendations were made and the state government have accepted them all. Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the AU$192 million will be allocated to protecting life, property, and supporting our emergency management personnel.