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Queensland government deploying digital meters to reduce spread of banana disease


The Queensland government has announced it is deploying Ergon Energy internet-connected meters in the state's northern region as a "significant" step towards helping local farmers minimise the spread of Panama disease, a fungus that affects the tissues of the banana plant. Up to 600 meters will be installed in the Tully and Innisfail areas, where a majority of Australia's bananas are produced. Due to Panama TR4 biosecurity concerns and strict quarantine measures, Ergon -- a subsidiary of government-owned power company Energy Queensland Limited -- made the decision to stop all entry of their contract meter readers onto farms and install digital meters that could be read remotely, Energy Minister Mark Bailey has said. "Digital meters will avoid the need for meter readers to enter properties and therefore prevent the spread of the disease," the minister said in a statement. There will be no cost to banana farmers for switching to digital meters; however, all affected farmers will be required to accommodate the switchover in the upcoming months.

Lifeguards with drones keep humans and sharks safe


A teenager in New South Wales recently died after a fatal shark bite, adding to four other unprovoked shark-related deaths this year. These tragic events send shockwaves through the community and re-ignite our fear of sharks. They also fuel the debate around the best way to keep people safe in the water while minimising impacts on marine wildlife. This was the aim of a five-year trial of shark-mitigation technology--the Shark Management Strategy – which finished recently. The NSW government created this initiative in response to an unprecedented spike in shark bites in 2015, particularly on the north coast of NSW.

Australia could see driverless cars on the road within five years


South Australia may have gotten a head start with trials in 2015, but New South Wales (NSW) is also committing to a driverless car future. Automated cars without drivers could be on NSW roads within five years, the state's minister for transport, Andrew Constance, predicted at a summit on the future of transport in Sydney Monday. "We're going to have driverless cars on our streets, in our suburbs," he told reporters. In his opinion, the South Australian government may have "jumped the gun a little bit" with its initial road tests last year. To support its own rollout of driverless cars, the NSW State Government announced the creation of a Smart Innovation Centre in western Sydney.

Artificial intelligence impact on society


Three friends were having morning tea on a farm in the Northern Rivers region in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, when they noticed a drilling rig setting up in a neighbor's property on the opposite side of the valley. They had never heard of the coal seam gas (CSG) industry, nor had they previously considered activism. That drilling rig, however, was enough to push them into action. The group soon became instrumental in establishing the anti-CSG movement, a movement whose activism resulted in the NSW government suspending gas exploration licenses in the area in 2014.2 By 2015, the government had bought back a petroleum exploration license covering 500,000 hectares across the region.3 Mining companies, like companies in many industries, have been struggling with the difference between having a legal license to operate and a moral4 one. The colloquial version of this is the distinction between what one could do and what one should do--just because something is technically possible and economically feasible doesn't mean that the people it affects will find it morally acceptable. Without the acceptance of the community, firms find themselves dealing with "never-ending demands" from "local troublemakers" hearing that "the company has done nothing for us"--all resulting in costs, financial and nonfinancial,5 that weigh projects down. A company can have the best intentions, investing in (what it thought were) all the right things, and still experience opposition from within the community. It may work to understand local mores and invest in the community's social infrastructure--improving access to health care and education, upgrading roads and electricity services, and fostering economic activity in the region resulting in bustling local businesses and a healthy employment market--to no avail. Without the community's acceptance, without a moral license, the mining companies in NSW found themselves struggling. This moral license is commonly called a social license, a phrase coined in the '90s, and represents the ongoing acceptance and approval of a mining development by a local community. Since then, it has become increasingly recognized within the mining industry that firms must work with local communities to obtain, and then maintain, a social license to operate (SLO).6 The concept of a social license to operate has developed over time and been adopted by a range of industries that affect the physical environment they operate in, such as logging or pulp and paper mills. What has any of this to do with artificial intelligence (AI)?

Elon Musk delays self-driving truck to focus on Model 3, Puerto Rico power

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Tesla founder Elon Musk believes he can rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid. Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during a news conference at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, Australia on July 7, 2017. Tesla will partner with French renewable energy developer Neoen to build the world's biggest Lithium IIon Battery, a 100MW battery that will be built in James Town, the South Australian government announced on the day. SAN FRANCISCO -- Elon Musk has so many irons in the fire, you can't see the fire. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted Friday that he is delaying the unveiling of a self-driving truck in order to focus his attention on smoothing out Model 3 production issues and helping devastated Puerto Rico switch over to solar power.