Collaborating Authors

AI in education: A toxic mix of buzzwords and unqualified expertise?


The UK government has developed a voracious appetite for artificial intelligence (AI), based on a promise of its apparently transformative power across myriad industries. From prime minister Boris Johnson's pledge to fund a £250m AI lab for the NHS, to the Department for Education's recently launched'AI horizon scanning group', AI is being lauded as a panacea to some of the most pressing issues society faces. Education is just one of the sectors that is meeting AI with open arms. As Matthew Jones at Perlego argued for this title, the opportunities being presented for AI to close educational accessibility gaps is exciting. In fact, educators, policymakers and investors are all being bombarded with messages related to AI's seemingly endless benefits in the classroom.

Role-playing video game seen helping ease depression for counselor-shy Japanese

The Japan Times

It's a role-playing video game that, like many of its kind, allows users to choose and customize their own avatar, including a hairstyle and clothing. Set in a medieval fantasy world, users build up their power as their character travels across "provinces," overcoming obstacles and challenges along the way. What's unique about SPARX -- which stands for smart, positive, active, realistic, X-factor thoughts -- is that it's designed specifically for people with mild to moderate depression. SPARX was developed in the late 2000s by researchers and clinicians at the University of Auckland in New Zealand who became alarmed by the high suicide rate among teenagers in the country. They decided to develop a way to reach out to young people who shy away from seeking face-to-face counseling.

Realtime Robotics raises $18 million Series A funding


Realtime Robotics, a provider of responsive motion planning for industrial robots and autonomous vehicles, says it has raised $11.7 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Sparx Asset Management, and included participation from Mitsubishi Electric, Hyundai, and Omron Ventures, alongside existing investors Toyota AI Ventures, Scrum Ventures, and the Duke Angel Network. The new capital will be used to accelerate the development of more commercial product releases and expand the team to support key customers and partners across the globe. The interest in the round reflects Realtime Robotics' first-mover advantage in the market for solutions that eliminate the obstacles to widespread adoption of advanced automation in industrial, agriculture, food service, construction, healthcare, and consumer settings. Despite the growing demand for automation, today's robots are not safe or smart enough to navigate in dynamic, unstructured environments, without costly safeguards and oversight.

Land ownership riddles in aging Japan come at a cost, stifle economy

The Japan Times

When Sparx Green Energy & Technology, a renewable energy firm, found an ideal plot of land on which to build a solar panel factory, there was a catch. The three people on public record as the owners of the land had died years earlier.

This Is How Toyota Plans to Spend $100 Million on AI


Toyota plans to spend a lot of money on cutting-edge technology in the near future. The auto giant debuted Tuesday a $100 million venture capital unit, Toyota AI Ventures, that will invest in startups specializing in artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, robotics, data analytics, and cloud computing technology. The VC arm will be a subsidiary of Toyota Research Institute, the auto giant's research center that opened in September 2015 and is led by former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program manager Gill Pratt. Get Data Sheet, Fortune's technology newsletter. At the time, Toyota said it would spend $50 million over a five-year period to help the center, which involves both Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, research ways to use AI to create self-driving automobiles.