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Planning law overhaul for England takes next step

BBC News

Sweeping changes to England's planning system will "cut red tape, but not standards," Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said. Under draft new laws, first revealed on Sunday, developers will be granted "automatic" permission to build homes and schools on sites for "growth". It follows Boris Johnson's pledge to "build back better" after coronavirus. But critics warn it could lead to "bad-quality housing" and loss of local control over development. Mr Johnson promised to speed up investment into homes and infrastructure in June to help the UK recover from the economic impact of coronavirus.


Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) make selling your house easier? - Show Home Magazine

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Slam Ai Club is a new property website powered by artificial intelligence. Through custom-designed algorithms, Slam Ai Club can estimate the value of any property in the UK and offers a host of resources for property buyers, sellers and agents. Inspired by the information sharing social networks such as Wikipedia, Slam Ai Club aims to connect users by providing accurate and transparent real estate data which is accessible to everyone. "Our portal is designed to make the house buying process more straightforward by making real estate data available to everyone rather than a select few giant property website or agents. "We're using an algorithm which takes into account a wide range of factors to predict property prices including transaction data from Land Registry since 1995, geo-location data from Google and Royal Mail databases, financial markets data and records from the office of national statistics." "There is an element of competition in the name'Slam AI Club' – we want to show that artificial intelligence can compete with human ability to predict property prices.


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.


Smart speakers could be listening in on government secrets, UK civil servants warned

The Independent - Tech

Civil servants working from home during the coronavirus pandemic have been warned to disable their smart speakers. These devices constantly listen for their trigger word, such as "Alexa", "Hey Google", or "Hey Siri", before listening actively for commands. However, these devices have been found to occasionally activate without the wake word. Last year, an Alexa device even managed to record a private conversation and send it to another user without anyone's knowledge. At the time, Amazon said the reason was a series of statements its voice assistant mistook for commands.


'There's no way back after this': Inside the unexpected tech revolution at the NHS

ZDNet

Technology has been absolutely vital in helping the NHS manage the overwhelming pressure placed on its services since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything from video conferencing and remote appointments with GPs through to artificial intelligence systems designed to understand the demand for hospital beds, has been used to help keep healthcare services operating throughout the pandemic. In the early days of the coronavirus crisis, NHS Digital, which is responsible for a number of key digital services for health and social care in the UK, quickly found itself under strain as people began searching for information on COVID-19. In the first week of March alone, the organisation fielded an additional 120,000 calls to its NHS 111 hotline, forcing it to quickly increase capacity and set up an online system where people could check COVID-19 symptoms and get advice. Within a week, more than one million people had used the service; at its peak, NHS 111 online experienced 95 times its highest ever use, with over 818,000 accessing the service in a single day. "No CIO prepares for that," says Sarah Wilkinson, CEO of NHS Digital. The experience was testing for NHS Digital, which had to rapidly scale up services at a pace that, while necessary, Wilkinson admits felt "too fast for comfort" at times.


Prince William, Prince Harry are keeping Zoom chats formal due to security concerns, source claims

FOX News

Prince William and his younger brother Prince Harry are reconnecting after the "Megxit" bombshell that rocked Kensington Palace -- but the royal brothers may have one new obstacle to tackle. "The biggest problem now is security and not just outside security but within the boundaries of calls, Zooms and Skypes," U.K.-based royal correspondent Neil Sean told Fox News. "You have to think that while Harry and Meghan were here in the U.K. there were security measures in place to make sure that private chats over Zoom and so forth remained that -- private," a palace insider told Sean. "Harry is [now] living in [a new house] and exposed to all kinds of mishaps security-wise." The palace insider alleged conversations between William and Harry have been formal out of caution that private chats could be leaked to the press.


Machine Learning Can Help Detect Misinformation Online

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As social media is increasingly being used as people's primary source for news online, there is a rising threat from the spread of malign and false information. With an absence of human editors in news feeds and a growth of artificial online activity, it has become easier for various actors to manipulate the news that people consume. RAND Europe was commissioned by the UK Ministry of Defence's (MOD) Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) to develop a method for detecting the malign use of information online. The study was contracted as part of DASA's efforts to help the UK MOD develop its behavioural analytics capability. Our study found that online communities are increasingly being exposed to junk news, cyber bullying activity, terrorist propaganda, and political reputation boosting or smearing campaigns.


The impact of machine learning and AI on the UK economy

#artificialintelligence

A recent virtual event addressed another such issue: the potential impact machines, imbued with artificial intelligence, may have on the economy and the financial system. The event was organised by the Bank of England, in collaboration with CEPR and the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis at Imperial College. What follows is a summary of some of the recorded presentations. The full catalogue of videos are available on the Bank of England's website. In his presentation, Stuart Russell (University of California, Berkeley), author of the leading textbook on artificial intelligence (AI), gives a broad historical overview of the field since its emergence in the 1950s, followed by insight into more recent developments.


UK rolls out AI-based cancer detection for NHS patients

#artificialintelligence

Leader in AI-powered cancer diagnostics, Ibex Medical Analytics and provider of digital pathology services in the NHS, LDPath, have announced the UK's first rollout of clinical grade AI application for cancer detection in pathology. This platform will support pathologists in enhancing diagnostic accuracy and efficiency. Over the years, a global increase in cancer cases has coincided with a decline in the number of pathologists around the world. Traditional pathology involves manual processes that have remained the same for years. These processes involve slides to be analysed by pathologists using microscopes, and reporting is often carried out on pieces of paper.


UK regulators call Google, Apple search engine deal a 'barrier' to competition

ZDNet

UK regulators have criticized a browser deal between Apple and Google as a "significant" barrier to search engine competition. The CMA claims that current laws are not enough to properly manage and regulate large technology companies and their platforms, such as Apple, Google, or Facebook, and in particular, deals between different entities can become barriers to innovation and competition. Within the report, the agency highlights a deal made in 2019 between Google and Apple, in which the former paid roughly £1.2 billion ($1.5bn) to become the default search engine on a variety of mobile devices and systems in the United Kingdom alone. According to the regulators, the iPhone and iPad maker received the lion's share of this payment. "Rival search engines to Google that we spoke to highlighted these default payments as one of the most significant factors inhibiting competition in the search market," the CMA says.