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Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the Education Sector


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already ubiquitous in our day-to-day lives. From maps that find the optimal route, to Amazon, Netflix and Facebook who curate content and make recommendations tailored specifically to us. Your smartphone even understands voice commands and can perform tasks prompted by you. The technology is pervasive and is increasingly being applied in the education sector. Globally in the education sector, AI is being applied in tools that help develop learner skills, allow self-paced tailored learning, streamline assessment systems, and automate administrative activities.

Toxic man-made mercury pollution is discovered in the deepest part of the ocean

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Toxic man-made mercury pollution has been discovered in the deepest part of the ocean, in the Marianas Trench -- more than six miles below the surface. Researchers from China and the US used submarine robots to identify mercury in the fish and crustaceans living in the deepest part of the western Pacific Ocean. Mercury enters the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels, mining and manufacturing. It can then be transported into the oceans via rainfall. The liquid metal -- which was once used in thermometers before being banned -- is highly toxic and can be ingested via polluted seafood.

Boston Dynamics 'Spot' Robot Dogs deployed to New Zealand. -- NEWZEALAND.AI


What could your company achieve with the worlds most advanced robot dog working for you? One of New Zealand's leading Artificial Intelligence development companies, AwareGroup has secured a partnership deal with the operations arm of Boston Dynamics. Rocos Robotics Platform and AwareGroup will work together to provide five New Zealand companies with the opportunity to develop and deploy SPOT robots for any number of practical use-cases. Inspect progress on construction sites, create digital twins, and identify hazards. Remotely inspect and identify supporting awareness and operations.

New Digital Studio Lets Brands Build Realistic AI Avatars


The San Francisco-based company debuted a digital brand studio this week that lets clients customize their own digital person by choosing from a set of realistic CGI avatars and uploading conversational trees with natural language processing systems from Google or IBM. Founded by Academy Award-winning visual effects engineer Mark Sagar and entrepreneur Greg Cross at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Soul Machines is part of a small but growing scene of startups exploring how life-like human avatars can be put to use in business contexts, whether as virtual influencers, extensions of celebrity personalities or for interpersonal interaction practice. "The objective here is not to replace people, it's to really focus on things that are very, very difficult for organizations to deliver, like infinitely scalable customer interactions or infinitely scalable customer support at a completely different level of economics," Cross said. The company has raised $47.5 million to date from investors including Hong Kong-based Horizon Ventures and Salesforce's venture capital arm. It has already worked with a select set of clients on customer support avatars, including a digital customer service rep for Air New Zealand named Sophie, a car salesperson named Sarah for Mercedes-Benz and a virtual financial advisor named Jamie for Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

Meet 'Tala' the articial intelligence agent that speaks Samoan


An artificial intelligence agent named Tala may open the door on a new way of gathering feedback from New Zealand's Samoan community. The Talanoa Project is a pilot project that uses IBM's artificial intelligence virtual agent solution, Watson, to interact in real time in Samoan for public consultation and community engagement. Developed and designed by Beca, business director Matthew Ensor said it was about consulting with'the silent majority' in the public on projects and community facilities. "We don't hear so much from the people where language is a barrier, where culturally there's no tradition of responding to public consultation. "We then created a conversational agent, it's like a chat-bot and what it does is it mimics the kind of conversation that you would have with a consultation expert," Mr Ensor said. "It will ask open questions about your thoughts on different things and really lets the person lead the conversation rather than a survey form where the questions are completely scripted." Steve O'Donnell from IBM New Zealand's Managing Partner for Global Business Services said this was the first time IBM Watson Assistant had been used for public consultation in New Zealand in a language other than English. "What we are seeing now is AI being able to scale down, and drive value in many industries," he said. "IBM Watson has already transformed the world of customer service, due largely to its ability to understand human sentiment and interact naturally with people and Tala is a promising first step towards that." The Talanoa Project, part funded by Callaghan Innovation, tested Tala among a few dozen Samoan speakers, asking them for their thoughts on their local community facilities. The focus group of Samoans ranged from 19-years of age to 77 being the oldest and included Samoan elders, law students, psychologists and sociologists. "It was overwhelmingly positive the response we got back from the Samoan community," Mr Ensor said. "We had a few people share that it was great to hear technology using their native language.

See Boston Dynamics' robodog herd sheep and explore in New Zealand


Spot, the robotic "dog" design from Boston Dynamics, has had a busy pandemic, between counseling patients and enforcing social distancing guidelines. Now, a new partnership with a New Zealand robotics firm is setting up the four-legged automaton for a new line of work: farming. Technically, the partnership is much bigger than that. Rocos specializes in the remote monitoring and operation of robot fleets. By working together, the capabilities of Boston Dynamics robots like Spot will expand thanks to human operators who can manage their performance from a great distance.

Robot sheep dog herds animals in New Zealand

The Independent - Tech

Farmers in New Zealand have used a four-legged robot to herd sheep, patrol fields and perform other agricultural tasks. The feats were carried out as part of a demonstration of Spot – a robotic dog developed by Massachusetts-based engineering firm Boston Dynamics. Equipped with software developed by robotics company Rocos, Spot was controlled remotely to shepherd sheep across a mountainside. "The age of autonomous robots is upon us," claimed Rocos chief executive David Inggs. "Our customers are augmenting their human workforces to automate physical processes that are often dull, dirty, or dangerous. Organisations can now design, schedule and manage inspection missions remotely."

Paw patrol! Footage shows Boston Dynamics' robot dog Spot herding sheep on a farm in New Zealand

Daily Mail - Science & tech

This is the moment a robotic dog tries its metal paws at herding unruly sheep on a farm in New Zealand. Spot gathered together the animals before pushing them through the field, with the help of two biological sheepdogs. Developed by Boston Dynamics, it can reach speeds of up to 3mph and costs less than a car, which average £30,000, to lease, according to reports. It has been heralded as the future of farming. The robot was seen helping the dogs to keep the sheep together.

Watch a Boston Dynamics robot herd sheep in New Zealand


To prove just how useful Spot, Boston Dynamics' four-legged robot dog, can be, the New Zealand-based robotics company Rocos shared a video of Spot herding sheep across grassy pastures. This is the kind of work Rocos hopes to do as part of a partnership, announced today, with Boston Dynamics. Rocos plans to develop a system that will remotely manage Spot and automate fleets so that they can function independently. In addition to herding sheep, Spot robots might also harvest crops, inspect yields or create real-time maps, Rocos says. These capabilities are all possible now that Spot is more nimble, can handle rugged terrain and can carry infrared and LiDAR cameras.

Coronavirus: Author Neil Gaiman's 11,000-mile lockdown trip to Scottish isle

BBC News

Author Neil Gaiman has admitted breaking Scotland's lockdown rules by travelling 11,000 miles from New Zealand to his holiday home on Skye. The Good Omens and American Gods writer left his wife and son in Auckland so he could "isolate" at his island retreat. He wrote on his online bog: "Hullo from Scotland, where I am in rural lockdown on my own." The science fiction and fantasy author has since been criticised for "endangering" local people". The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who is the MP for the island, told the Sunday Times the author's journey was unacceptable. He said: "What is it about people, when they know we are in the middle of lockdown that they think they can come here from the other side of the planet, in turn endangering local people from exposure to this infection that they could have picked up at any step of the way?" Mr Gaiman - whose main family home is in Woodstock in the USA - has owned the house on Skye for more than 10 years. The English-born author wrote on his blog that until two weeks ago he had been living in New Zealand with his wife, the singer Amanda Palmer, and their four-year-old son. He said the couple agreed "that we needed to give each other some space". The 59-year-old said he flew "masked and gloved, from empty Auckland airport" to Los Angeles. He then caught a British Airways flight to London before borrowing a friend's car and heading for Skye. "I drove north, on empty motorways and then on empty roads, and got in about midnight, and I've been here ever since," he said. "I needed to be somewhere I could talk to people in the UK while they and I were awake, not just before breakfast and after dinner.