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first_imgWhile the debate between preferences over hard cover books and ebooks may go on forever, one cannot deny that in today’s digital age ebooks are a cheaper and easily accessible mode of education that hard cover books. Keeping this in mind, United States President Obama has announced that major publishers should provide free books worth 250 million dollar to students from underprivileged background. He is now seeking commitments from local governments and schools nationwide to provide library cards to all students. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The older generation has been complaining for years now as to how the ebook culture has ruined the beauty of reading books. How kindle and ipads cannot replace the ruffling of pages, but let’s be honest, Obama is right. In times when the world’s literacy rate is still 84% and major countries are still struggling to provide basic education to their children, this sort of haughtiness when it comes to books have to go. For instance in India the literacy rate is still 74% and that is just on paper. We have seen the condition of public schools and teachers. In a situation like this technology can be an excellent teacher. The Indian Government took a step in this direction by providing Akash Tablets to students, which by far has been quite unsuccessful. Different political parties have talked about free laptops to students but that too has turned out to be election campaigning gimmicks. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixOf course, the American module cannot be applied to India. We need children to learn to access ebooks even if we provide it to them. They need to be e-literate and for this we need to once again, train teachers. But, the point in focus here is that the judgemental tone towards ebooks has to go. Online shopping portals have realized the potential of ebooks. They are a better and easier option to learn and get entertained. But, we need to include more and more text books and competition books to the list. Let’s drop the whole issue of making our children read in the way we learnt to read ages back, and rather focus on making them read!last_img read more

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NSWs best businesses recognised

first_imgNSW Tourism Awards name top tourism operators. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T The 23rd annual NSW Tourism Awards revealed the state’s best tourism operators, selected from hundreds of entries and spanning more than 30 categories.Tourism accounts for almost 5 percent of employment in NSW, contributing $20.2 billion to the NSW economy each year.“The NSW Tourism Awards is an important opportunity to recognise the achievements of the industry and those who strive for success and the shared common goal of ensuring NSW is the number one visitor destination in Australia,” Minister for tourism and major events George Souris said.Port Macquarie Hastings Council won the inaugural Local Government Award for Tourism.The Young Achiever in Tourism Award went to Spicers Vineyards Estate managing director Belinda Stapleton.All NSW Tourism Award winners automatically become finalists in the National Tourism Awards.Full List of Winners:Blue Mountains National Park                       Cape Byron State Conservation Area2012 Tamworth Country Music Festival               Deni Ute MusterJenolan Caves – Ancient Underworld                   Jenolan Caves – Written In StoneMutawintji Eco Tours                                         Business Events SydneyMoree Visitor Information Centre                        Mercure Kooindah Waters Central CoastMoonshadow Cruises                                        Tri State SafarisAdventure Underground                                     Jenolan CavesBrand Hunter Valley                                           Travel 21fiftythree  Margan Restaurant                                            Wyndham Estate WineryBIG4 Deniliquin Holiday Park                             Sydney Harbour YHAMollymook Beach Waterfront                             Somewhere Unique                                Scone Motor Inn                                                The Observatory Port MacquarieSheraton on the Park                                         Madame Tussauds Sydney        The Observatory Port Macquarie                        Philip Hele Jenny-Lee Stefas                                              Belinda Stapleton Gol Gol Hotel                                                    Port Macquarie Hastings Council last_img read more

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GSE Reform Finding the Right Path to Sustainability

first_img Fannie Mae FHFA Freddie Mac GSE Housing Reform 2019-04-08 Seth Welborn April 8, 2019 1,139 Views GSE Reform: Finding the Right Path to Sustainability in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News, Secondary Marketcenter_img Recently, President Donald J. Trump signed a memorandum tasking the Treasury Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with preparing a reform plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The White House memo directed that this plan be delivered “as soon as possible.” In an opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal, American Enterprise Institute fellows Peter J. Wallison and Edward J. Pinto discussed the feasibility of the Presidential memo and its proposed reforms.According to Wallison and Pinto, the memo’s direction to the Treasury will lead to government housing-finance system that roughly replicates what existed before 2008, notably “government backing for the obligations of the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac , and affordable-housing mandates requiring the GSEs to encourage and engage in risky mortgage lending.”“These elements will be retained, but the problems they caused in 2008 are supposed to be mitigated by better regulation, more capital for the GSEs, and compensation to taxpayers for the risks they’ll assume when the government guarantees the GSEs’ obligations,” Pinto and Wallison’s op-ed states. “The housing lobby misled the public before on the efficacy of these protections.”According to Wallison and Pinto, the FHFA should shrink their footprint as conservator of Fannie and Freddie over a period of five to 10 years. They suggest reducing the size and types of the mortgages that GSEs could buy and opening larger portions of the housing-finance market to the private sector, improving competition.“Most of the U.S. economy is open to the innovation and competition of the private sector,” said Wallison and Pinto. “Yet for no discernible reason, the housing market—one-sixth of the U.S. economy—is and has been controlled by the government to a far greater extent than in any other developed country.”The Presidential memo states that “in the decade since the financial crisis, there has been no comprehensive reform of the housing finance system despite the need for it, leaving taxpayers exposed to future bailouts.” The memo went on to claim that “the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) housing programs are exposed to high levels of risk and rely on outdated business processes and systems.”You can read the full memo here. You can also read more about proposed GSE and housing finance reforms in our April DS News cover story, available online. Sharelast_img read more

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first_imgShareTweet He was released from hospital after three months but has undergone 30 operations over two years including amputations to his legs, hand, fingers, part of his nose and right ear.The former North of Ireland javelin thrower had only been in a relationship with his wife Kirsty for seven weeks before falling ill.He said: “I was active, I liked to keep fit, I had pride in how I looked, I’d met a girl I really liked and all of a sudden I had to cope with losing my legs, hand and bits of my face.“I’d lost my dignity and self-worth. Kirsty left her teaching job to care for me.“It was a very dark period and I felt as though life wasn’t worth living.”The couple are expecting their first child in February after IVF treatment, something Mr Smahon said he never dreamed they would be able to do.Lawyers helped him to get an interim payment in 2015 to buy better prosthetics, an adapted car and rent a bungalow.His legal team is now trying to secure him an award for damages.Dean Smahon married his wife Kirsty three years ago and walked down the aisle in his prostheticsDERRY AMPUTEE DEAN SMAHON TO BE A FATHER AFTER SEPTICAEMIA ORDEAL was last modified: September 1st, 2016 by John2John2 Tags: He was placed in an induced coma at Leeds General Infirmary after his flu-like symptoms.The pain worsened and his body fell into septic shock.Septicaemia or sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs.Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has since admitted its staff missed opportunities to treat Mr Smahon’s infection and has apologised. Dean Smahon contracted septicaemia and lost both legs and eight fingersA man from Derry who lost both his legs, eight fingers and part of his nose after contracting septicaemia is to become a father for the first time.Dean Smahon, 54, had a 10 per cent chance of survival when he fell ill six years ago and hospital staff missed opportunities to treat his sepsis in time.The former police officer was living in Leeds, England when it happened in 2010. DEAN SMAHONDERRY AMPUTEE DEAN SMAHON TO BE A FATHER AFTER SEPTICAEMIA ORDEALFORMER POLICE OFFICERLEEDS INFIRMARYWIFE KIRSTYlast_img read more

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Three of the most influential scientific organizat

first_imgThree of the most influential scientific organizations in the world are calling for an urgent international effort to prevent scientists from creating any more gene-edited babies without proper approval and supervision. Global standards are needed quickly to ensure gene-editing of human embryos moves ahead safely and ethically, according to the presidents of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “To maintain the public’s trust that someday genome editing will be able to treat or prevent disease, the research community needs to take steps now to demonstrate that this new tool can be applied with competence, integrity, and benevolence,” the three presidents — Victor Dzau, Marcia McNutt, and Chunli Bai — wrote in an unusual editorial published Thursday in the journal Science. The editorial is headlined: “Wake-up call from Hong Kong.” It was prompted by the Chinese scientist who stunned the world by claiming that he had created twin girls from embryos whose DNA he had edited in his lab.He Jiankui, of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, claims he was trying to protect the girls from the AIDS virus. But his claim that he had created gene-edited babies using the technique known as CRISPR was widely condemned as dangerously premature and unethical.Some scientists welcomed the statement from the academies as another important step to rein in dangers posed by powerful new gene-editing techniques without hindering their potential to prevent suffering.But the statement drew harsh criticism from other scientists, as well as some bioethicists and activists, some of whom are calling for a moratorium on pregnancies using gene-edited human embryos. Critics charge the statement published Thursday is just the latest in a series of weak and misguided attempts by the scientific community to police itself. “I find the views expressed in this editorial perplexing, dismaying and highly problematic,” wrote J. Benjamin Hurlbut, a bioethicist at Arizona State University, in an email. “Why just because one person has crossed a line is it urgent to ‘reach international agreement’ on how that line should be crossed next time? Isn’t the right question whether it should be crossed?”Other critics worried it would encourage rogue scientists.”This commentary is a breathtakingly shameless effort to turn He Jiankui’s reckless experiment into a green light for forging ahead with human germline modification,” Marcy Darnovsky, who heads the Center for Genetics and Society, wrote in an email.”Rather than recognizing the need for extreme caution and widespread consultation about whether to alter the genes of future children and generations, the authors propose to put themselves and their colleagues in charge of deciding how to proceed,” Darnovsky wrote.But the editorial found support among some leading researchers. “I think it’s a thoughtful statement that highlights the importance of further deliberation,” wrote George Daley, dean of the Harvard Medical School, in an email. Daley helped organize the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, where He made his claims.The summit condemned He’s experiment, but rejected calls for a moratorium on research into gene-edited babies. Instead, the organizers called for developing a “pathway” for how scientists might someday safely and ethically create gene-edited babies to prevent devastating genetic diseases.Daley said the editorial “clarified” the summit’s position by stating “what is needed is further deliberation on the scientific hurdles to be surmounted before considering any clinical use, as well as broader societal debate to determine which diseases or conditions—if any—might be deemed permissible.”Daley wrote, “Unless and until such high standards are met, conducting germline gene editing would be premature and irresponsible.” The director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, said that he also welcomed the editorial. “As all of us continue to wrestle with effective international mechanisms to prevent future irresponsible uses of gene editing for the human germline, I welcome the joint statement from the leadership of the United States and Chinese Academies,” Collins wrote in a statement.Some scientists have questioned the need to pursue gene-editing techniques such as CRISPR when there are safer, far less drastic alternatives to prevent most diseases. “There is zero clinical rationale for embryo editing aimed at producing edited babies. The simplest path forward is to ban it,” wrote Fyodor Urnov of the Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences in Seattle in an email.Urnov noted that the U.S academies “did precisely what they are calling for here” three years ago. “How well did that work?” Others agree.”Mixed messages like from this year’s meeting, where some organizers are surprisingly gung-ho on the idea of CRISPR babies in the future, aren’t going to help or keep up with the reality on the ground,” wrote Paul Knoepfler of the University of California, Davis, in an email.David Liu of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., would also “go further and suggest a formal moratorium on initiating human pregnancies from genome-editing embryos until steps are implemented that would make extremely unlikely a repeat of the recent case,” he wrote in an email.Hank Greeley, a bioethicist at Stanford University, said a broad consensus is crucial before anyone tries to create more gene-edited babies. “Science must be, and is, subordinate to its societies,” Greeley wrote. “At a time when people are worried about whether science is out of control, it needs to say that, up front and loud.”Dzau, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine president, defended the editorial during an interview with NPR. “If we’re not careful, the science may have harmful effects. But I think most would agree the science is going to be enormously helpful to humanity. So an outright ban is not the way to do it,” Dzau says. “The problem with the outright ban is that it casts this huge dark cloud over the science.”The editorial calls “upon international academies to quickly convene international experts and stakeholders to produce an expedited report that will inform the development of those criteria and standards to which all genome editing in human embryos for reproductive purposes must conform.”That is crucial to “avoid the potential for researchers to rationalize the justification or seek out convenient locales for conducting dangerous and unethical experimentation,” they wrote.The editorial also calls for “an international mechanism that would enable scientists to raise concerns about cases of research that are not conforming to the accept principles or standards.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.last_img read more

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HUAWEI CLOUD Signs MoU with Multiple Companies at the Singapore Summit Joining

first_imgHUAWEI CLOUD Summit Singapore themed “+AI, Grow with Intelligence” was held on April 24-25. Together with more than 30 partners, Huawei showcased a series of advanced cloud and AI solutions and innovative products and practices in Cloud computing, AI, and Big data. During the summit, Huawei signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with multiple companies to deepen cooperation in Cloud computing and AI for Asia Pacific markets.During the summit, HUAWEI CLOUD signed individual agreements with Thai carrier CAT, Kingsoft Office, mobile advertising and analysis service platform provider Mobvista, enterprise data management service provider Veritas, AI-driven data technology company ADVANCE.AI, and 2D Fire (an informatization solution provider for the retail F&B industry) to adapt to the fast business development demands in the Asia Pacific market.HUAWEI CLOUD and Veritas are cooperating in data protection. Gary Sievers, Senior Director, Channels & Alliances, Asia Pacific and Japan, Veritas Technologies, said that HUAWEI CLOUD provides their customers with agility and security while reducing costs.Zhang Qiang, General Manager of ADVANCE.AI Guardian, commented: “We are looking forward to the strategic cooperation with HUAWEI CLOUD. The two sides will complement each other in terms of technology, industry resources, and brand market.” Leveraging powerful resource advantages and service capabilities of Huawei, ADVANCE.AI provides intelligent solutions for organizations of all types so customers can quickly graft intelligence into their digital profiles.Marketing Technology News: Broadvoice Receives 2019 INTERNET TELEPHONY Product of the Year AwardRoben Wang, President of HUAWEI CLOUD Asia Pacific, said: “The organizations signing with us today are all leaders and pioneers in their respective industries. HUAWEI CLOUD will continue to work with them to build solutions oriented to the Asia Pacific market, catering to vertical industries. With about 20 years of development in Asia Pacific, Huawei has excellent local service teams and ecosystem, which give HUAWEI CLOUD the advantage in technical support and SLA assurance.  Huawei’s cloud, AI, and 5G networking capabilities combine to help Singapore and other Asia-Pacific countries implement their smart country and digital strategies, building bridges between local and overseas enterprises, and safeguarding their business globalization.”Collaboration with Partners to Display Latest Cloud and AI SolutionsHUAWEI is showcasing the latest products and solutions. The cloud arm is presenting joint solutions and case practices in Smart City, Internet, pan-finance, campus management, logistics, and retail industries with such leading partners as 9F Group, Yonyou, Esri, YITU, F5, Veritas, Cloud Pick, Deepcam, and Zuolin. Together with partners, HUAWEI CLOUD provides industry-leading cloud computing and AI services.At the summit, Huawei showcased a full range of cutting-edge products, including chips, intelligent acceleration components, intelligent servers, ARM servers, AI computing platforms, and mobile data center (MDC). It also provided an onsite experience of its high-precision facial recognition system, intelligent server management software, and AI development platform. Showcased products include the full liquid cooling cabinet, FusionServer Pro intelligent servers, TaiShan ARM servers, Atlas AI computing platform (200/300/500), intelligent acceleration components (SSDs and iNICs), Huawei-developed high-performance AI chip Ascend 310, and high-performance ARM chip Kunpeng 920.HUAWEI CLOUD unveiled two leading OCR services at the venue. HUAWEI CLOUD Batch OCR service automatically scans files in batches, greatly improving the business efficiency in such scenarios as financial reimbursement and file data entry. The OCR service supports identification of certificates such as ID cards, driving licenses, and passports in multiple Southeast Asia languages. With a recognition accuracy of over 99% for Thai and Burmese characters, personal are able to save tremendous amounts of time, making the tooling a welcomed addition to the business profile.In the pan-finance field, HUAWEI CLOUD, together with 9F Group, Insurgrab, and F5 showcased such services as financial data products, risk control engines, and Internet insurance utilities. These innovations provide multi-dimensional solutions and leverage cloud computing and AI technologies to deliver the needed upgrades in the finance industry, redefining financial services with AI utility.Marketing Technology News: New Platform from Parabolt Helps Retailers Capture The “Magic Moment” of SalesIn the retail field, HUAWEI CLOUD and Deepcam, ZBJ, and Cloud Pick showcased retail-specific AI solutions. HUAWEI CLOUD and Cloud Pick demonstrated such solutions as unmanned store, cashier-less solution, and mobile payment. With the capabilities from AI and cloud technologies, retail enterprises can quickly build their consumer-experience-centric smart retail solutions while reducing costs and improving efficiency. The solutions also provide diversified choices and a smarter shopping experience for consumers. In the campus domain, HUAWEI CLOUD and YITU demonstrated the smart campus employee and visitor management solution. Huawei, together with Zuolin and Closeli showcased a home video surveillance solution.In the Internet field, HUAWEI CLOUD worked with Bamboo System Tech and ULearning Technology International to demonstrate the online blended learning, teaching & training cloud platform. In the field of urban management, HUAWEI CLOUD demonstrated its Traffic Intelligent Twins.At the Hands-on Lab area, developers experienced how quickly they can preprocess, label, train, build, and deploy data models on the HUAWEI CLOUD ModelArts one-stop AI development platform. Developers were blown away with how fast they can innovate with the impressive platforming. A self-driving vehicle trained by students from Shanghai Jiaotong University using the ModelArts platform is also demonstrated. After the adoption, the car was able to identify such things in the environment as traffic lights, obstacles, and lanes, and was able to follow specific targets. Developers can even use HUAWEI CLOUD to set up a cloud database application in a little as one minute.During the event, breakout sessions centering on Smart Finance, Internet innovations, and AI developments were held to facilitate sharing amongst Huawei, customers, and partners in the latest applications and project practices.Marketing Technology News: New Yotpo and Klaviyo Integration Propels Email Innovation and Revenues for D2C Brands AICloud computingHUAWEI CLOUDMarketing TechnologyMobile Data CenterMoUNews Previous ArticleNexJ Systems Revamps Industry Leading CRM with IBM Hybrid Cloud PlatformNext ArticleFanConnect a hit with MLB HUAWEI CLOUD Signs MoU with Multiple Companies at the Singapore Summit, Joining Hands with Partners to Unveil Cloud + AI Innovations PRNewswireApril 29, 2019, 8:33 pmApril 29, 2019 last_img read more

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Lightweight robots harvest cucumbers

In Germany, cucumbers destined for pickle jars are harvested by hand with the aid of “cucumber flyers” – farm vehicles with wing-like attachments. Seasonal workers lie on their stomachs on the vehicle’s wings and pluck the ripe cucumbers. This labor-intensive and energy-sapping type of manual harvesting is increasingly becoming uneconomical. In addition, the per-unit costs of harvesting have risen since Germany introduced a minimum wage. Many of the country’s agricultural regions consequently face an uncertain future; cucumber farming has already begun relocating to Eastern Europe and India. There is thus an urgent need for improved harvesting technologies to maintain the economic viability of cucumber farming in Germany. Experts from Fraunhofer IPK in Berlin, along with other German and Spanish researchers, are studying the potential for automating cucumber harvests in the scope of the EU project CATCH, which stands for “Cucumber Gathering – Green Field Experiments.” Project partners are the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy in Germany and the CSIC-UPM Centre for Automation and Robotics (CAR) in Spain.CATCH researchers want to develop and test a dual-arm robot system consisting of inexpensive lightweight modules. The ultimate aim: this system could be used for automated cucumber farming and other agricultural applications. The robotic picker would have to be cost-effective, high-performance and dependable. Even in adverse weather, it would need to be capable of first identifying ripe cucumbers and then using its two gripper arms to gently pick and store them. To this end, cutting-edge control methods equip the robot with tactile perception and enable it to adapt to ambient conditions. These methods also make it possible for the dual-arm robot system to imitate human movements. Researchers namely want to make sure that the robot does not damage crops – or pull them and their roots out of the soil. But that is not all. The automated harvester must be at least as efficient as its experienced human counterpart, who can pick as many as 13 cucumbers per minute. High success rateIt is a considerable challenge to design autonomous systems capable of optical and tactile sensing, assessing and evaluating. The challenge is only compounded by cucumber harvesting: a robot must identify green objects camouflaged by green surroundings. In addition, cucumbers are randomly distributed throughout a field, and some are concealed by vegetation. Varying light conditions make the mission all the more difficult. It should be possible to use multispectral cameras and intelligent image processing to help locate cucumbers and guide the robot’s gripper arms to pluck them. This part of the CATCH project is overseen by CSIC-UPM, the Spanish project partner. A special camera system helps ensure that the robot detects and locates approximately 95 percent of cucumbers, an impressive success rate. The goal, of course, is to advance the technology so that the robot picks all the ripe cucumbers to foster growth of new ones. Fraunhofer IPK has developed robot arms with five degrees of freedom on the basis of hardware modules developed by igus GmbH in Cologne. Provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft In search of human inspirationThe IPK project experts are tasked with developing three gripper prototypes: a gripper based on vacuum technology, a set of bionic gripper jaws (Fin Ray) and a customized “cucumber hand” based on OpenBionics robot hands. They are relying on insights acquired during a previous European research project, in which they developed a dual-arm robot control system with efficient task-oriented programming for Workerbot I – a humanoid robot capable of industrial assembly. Project experts from IPK are enhancing this system so that it can plan, program and control the behavior of robots harvesting cucumbers. These preprogrammed behavioral patterns make bimanual searching possible, meaning the robot can look for cucumbers as a human would. Dr. Dragoljub Surdilovic, a scientist at Fraunhofer IPK, explains: “The robot can, for example, push leaves to the side using symmetrical or asymmetrical movements, or congruent and incongruent movements. As a result, it can automatically change directions on the fly to approach and then grasp a cucumber.” The researchers’ goal is to create an intelligent control system capable of making judgment calls: assigning a certain task to a certain gripper arm, monitoring cucumber picking and dealing with exceptions.In July 2017, the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy used various types of cucumbers to conduct initial field testing of the robot system at its test site. The institute also tested harvesting new types of cucumbers with distinguishing features that make them easier to pick. In short, the first round of testing validated basic functionality. Since fall 2017, project partners have been conducting additional tests in a Leibniz Institute greenhouse. Researchers are especially eager to scrutinize the extent to which interference or malfunctions affect the efficiency and robustness of the system. Once testing of the lightweight robot has been completed, project partners will strive to make it commercially viable. Companies, cucumber farmers and agricultural associations have expressed considerable interest in the dual-arm robot. In November 2017, the CATCH project was unveiled to the general public at Agritechnica, the world’s leading trade fair for agricultural technology. The German Agricultural Society (DLG e.V.) exhibited the robot at its Agritechnica booth, eliciting enthusiastic feedback from agricultural specialists and numerous companies. A prototype of the dual-arm robot system during the first field tests. Credit: Fraunhofer IPK This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further Image: Controlling robots at the Human Robot Interaction Laboratory Agricultural vehicles known as “cucumber flyers” enable as many as 50 seasonal workers to harvest crops. Credit: Fraunhofer IPK Citation: Lightweight robots harvest cucumbers (2018, February 1) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-02-lightweight-robots-harvest-cucumbers.html Automation-intensive sectors such as the automotive industry are not the only ones to rely on robots. In more and more agricultural settings, automation systems are superseding strenuous manual labor. As part of the EU’s CATCH project, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK is developing and testing a dual-arm robot for the automated harvesting of cucumbers. This lightweight solution has the potential to keep crop cultivation commercially viable in Germany. read more

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EU court backs France ban of Uber service without notifying Brussels

The European Court of Justice ruled in favour of a French ban of the UberPop service that links amateur drivers with customers through a smartphone application, four months after taking a similar decision over a case in Spain.The Silicon Valley firm has been left with its UberX service, which uses licensed professionals, in France and Spain as well as most other European Union countries.In a conciliatory tone, Uber said it is “appropriate to regulate services such as Uber” and pledged to “continue the dialogue” with authorities in European cities where it has met fierce opposition from taxi drivers.The Brussels-based European Court of Justice rejected the firm’s contention that France should have notified the European Commission about legislation under which it faced criminal charges.”Member States may prohibit and punish, as a matter of criminal law, the illegal exercise of transport activities in the context of the UberPop service, without notifying the Commission in advance of the draft legislation,” the court ruled.The Commission, the 28-nation EU executive, sets broader policy on the burgeoning digital economy and on other issues.Uber France has argued that French authorities were required to notify Brussels about the criminal legislation under which a case was brought against it, claiming it was a technical regulation of an online service.But the Luxembourg-based court of justice said the French case resembled one in December when it ruled that Uber was an ordinary transport company instead of an app and should be regulated as such.”In the Court’s view, the UberPop service offered in France is essentially identical to the service provided in Spain,” the court of justice statement said.The Spanish case was brought by a taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona, where belief runs high that Uber is a taxi company that should be subject to rules governing such vehicles.Uber had fought criminal proceedings in several courts in France based on a 2014 French law before dropping in 2015 its UberPop service linking customers with non-professional drivers using their own vehicles.’Unjustfied measures’A court in the northern French city of Lille then sought the opinion of the court of justice to determine if the French government had acted in line with EU law.Uber, the biggest name in the growing gig economy, claims it is a mere service provider, connecting consumers with drivers in more than 600 cities. Uber has run into huge opposition from taxi companies and other competitors who say this allows it to dodge costly regulations such as training and licensing requirements for drivers and vehicles.Recent protests were staged in capitals Athens and Brussels.Uber appeared to take the ruling in its stride.”As our new CEO (Dara Khosrowshahi) has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber and so we will continue the dialogue with cities across Europe,” an Uber spokesperson told AFP.Services by non-professional Uber drivers only continue in Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania.In contrast, the Brussels-based Computer and Communications Industry Association called the ruling a blow to the EU’s efforts to promote innovation and build a cross-border digital economy. The association’s Jakob Kucharczyk regretted to see “the Commission’s effective oversight powers” being curtailed by the court. “The court has given member states more room to thwart the Digital Single Market through restrictive, disproportionate and unjustified measures at national level,” Kucharczyk said in a statement. Citation: EU court backs France ban of Uber service without notifying Brussels (2018, April 10) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-eu-court-france-uber-notifying.html Explore further Uber has run into huge opposition from taxi companies and other competitors who accuse it of dodging costly regulations Uber returns to Barcelona with licensed service © 2018 AFP The EU’s top court on Tuesday dealt another blow to US ridesharing giant Uber by backing the right of France and other member states to ban an illegal taxi service without notifying Brussels regulators. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

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Mechanized cane measures patients rehabilitation process

first_img Explore further Robot-aided rehabilitation represents a step forward for patients with walking difficulties. However, its high price, together with some adaptation and transfer problems, limit its use at present. In this regard, the Embedded Systems Engineering Group of the University of Malaga, specializing in the design of physical devices to aid users, has developed a mechanized cane that can measure the rehabilitation process without impacts on the patient.The device is low-cost, adaptable to individual users and accessible to anyone—the researchers have made its designs, algorithms and electronic diagrams available under an open license.This cane monitors the user’s weight bearing while walking, providing individualized information on their progress, by means of two embedded pressure sensors placed at two different depths in the tip of a regular cane so that they don’t affect cane ergonomics. Likewise, so as to simplify its use, it includes a wireless charger, and data can be collected by a mobile phone via Bluetooth.”We seek minimal interaction with patients to avoid any cognitive load and prevent any impact on their daily routine,” explains Cristina Urdiales, Head of the Department of Electronic Technology. Citation: Mechanized cane measures patients’ rehabilitation process (2019, March 12) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-mechanized-cane-patients.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. This Mechanized cane monitors a person’s time of use and weight-bearing while walking, in a nonintrusive way for users and at low cost. Credit: The module is under an open license, available on the Internet to anyone interested in it A pioneering facial recognition cane for the blindcenter_img Mechanized cane measures patients’ rehabilitation process without noticing it. Credit: The module is under an open license, available on the Internet to anyone interested in it More information: Joaquin Ballesteros et al, Weight-Bearing Estimation for Cane Users by Using Onboard Sensors, Sensors (2019). DOI: 10.3390/s19030509 Provided by University of Malaga PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen Play Mechanized cane designed at the UMA measures patients’ rehabilitation process without noticing it.It monitors a person’s time of use and weight-bearing while walking, in a nonintrusive way for users and at low cost.The module is under an open license, available on the Internet to anyone interested in it. Credit: University of Malaga The research is published in the scientific journal Sensors. “We have managed to keep the cost of manufacturing the cane below €100,” says Joaquín Ballesteros, the designer. He says that thus far, it has been downloaded by more than 150 researchers, mainly from the U.S. and France.Experts explain that in contrast to smart bracelets or watches already on the market, which take metrics based on statistics for healthy users, this device developed at the UMA, in collaboration with ESS-H Profile at Mälardalens University (Sweden), adds real measurement of step parameters. But apart from its medical applications, which enable specialists to monitor each patient, the cane is also aimed at promoting active aging. In fact, it is already being tested in Active Participation Centers.The next stage of the project is adding a neuronal network capable of processing and interpreting data collected in the cane to predict more complex indicators, which represents a step forward in the functionality of walking aids.last_img read more

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Big Tech feels the heat as US moves to protect consumer data

first_img Citation: Big Tech feels the heat as US moves to protect consumer data (2019, April 8) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-big-tech-consumer.html A national law, the first of its kind in the U.S., could allow people to see or prohibit the use of their data. Companies would need permission to release such information. If it takes effect, a law would also likely shrink Big Tech’s profits from its lucrative business of making personal data available to advertisers so they can pinpoint specific consumers to target.Behind the drive for a law is rising concern over the compromise of private data held by Facebook, Google and other tech giants that have earned riches by aggregating consumer information. The industry traditionally has been lightly regulated and has resisted closer oversight as a threat to its culture of free-wheeling innovation.Support for a privacy law is part of a broader effort by regulators and lawmakers to lessen the domination of companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon. Some, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, have called for the tech giants to be split up.The Trump White House has said in the past that it could endorse a broad data privacy law.The big tech companies have been nervously eyeing a tough privacy law taking effect next year in California. That measure will allow Californians to see the personal data being collected on them and where it’s being distributed and to forbid the sale of it. With some exceptions, consumers could also request that their personal information be deleted entirely.Whatever federal privacy law eventually emerges is expected to be less stringent than the California measure and to supersede it. As a result, the tech industry is trying to help shape any national restrictions.”This is the first time ever that the industry wants legislation,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy advocacy group. “The industry is terrified.” In this April 10, 2018, file photo Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pages while testifying before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington. Momentum is gaining in Washington for a privacy law that would sharply reduce the ability of the largest technology companies to collect and distribute people’s personal data. Zuckerberg, published a column last month in the Washington Post calling for tighter regulations to protect consumer data, control harmful content and ensure election integrity and data portability. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Europe fines Google $1.7 billion in antitrust case (Update) Momentum is gaining in Washington for a privacy law that could sharply rein in the ability of the largest technology companies to collect and make money off people’s personal data. The entire debate cuts to the heart of Big Tech’s hugely profitable commerce in online users’ personal data. The companies gather vast data on what users read and like and leverage it to help advertisers target their messages to the individuals they want to reach. Facebook drew 99% of its revenue from advertising last year. For Google’s parent Alphabet, it was 85%, according to Scott Kessler of the research firm CFRA.Amazon, too, doesn’t just sell products online; it provides ad space, too. The company doesn’t say how much but has said that the “other” revenue in its financial reports is mainly from ads. Its “other” revenue topped $10 billion last year, more than double what it was in 2017.The tech giants’ problematic relationship with advertisers was spotlighted by action regulators took last month. The Department of Housing and Urban Development filed civil charges against Facebook, accusing it of allowing landlords and real estate brokers to exclude certain racial or ethnic groups from seeing ads for houses and apartments. Facebook could face penalties.The company has separately agreed to overhaul its ad targeting system and end some of the practices noted by HUD to prevent discrimination in housing listings as well as credit and employment ads. That move was part of a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union and other activists.Besides crafting a bipartisan data-privacy measure in Congress, lawmakers are considering restoring Obama-era rules that formerly barred internet providers—like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast—from discriminating against certain technologies and services.Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has proposed fines and jail time for executives of companies guilty of data breaches.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, representing CEOs of major companies, have presented their own proposals to curb privacy abuses. At the same time, President Donald Trump has echoed complaints from some conservative lawmakers and commentators that the big tech platforms are politically tilted against them.”Facebook, Twitter and Google are so biased toward the Dems it is ridiculous!” he has tweeted. And he told a rally crowd, “We’re not going to let them control what we can and cannot see, read and learn from.” Facebook, used by 2-billion-plus people including over 200 million in the U.S., has been a particular lightning rod for industry critics. Having had its reputation tarnished over data privacy lapses, a tide of hate speech and a spread of disinformation that allowed Russian agents to target propaganda campaigns, Facebook appears ready to embrace a national privacy law.Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, published a column last month in the Washington Post calling for tighter regulations to protect consumer data, control harmful content and ensure election integrity and data portability.”The internet,” Zuckerberg wrote, “needs new rules.”Amazon says it has built its business on protecting people’s information, “and we have been working with policymakers on how best to do that.””There is real momentum to develop baseline rules of the road for data protection,” Google’s chief privacy officer, Keith Enright, has said in a policy paper. “Google welcomes this and supports comprehensive, baseline privacy regulation.”A sweeping “privacy shield” law in the European Union, covering how tech companies handle personal data in the 28-country bloc, should be a model, Zuckerberg wrote. EU regulators recently fined Google $1.7 billion for freezing out rivals in the online ad business—their third penalty against the search giant in two years. The EU watchdogs have also ordered Apple and Amazon to pay back taxes and fined Facebook for providing misleading information in its acquisition of WhatsApp.On Monday, Britain unveiled plans to vastly increase government oversight of social media companies, with a watchdog that could fine executives or even ban companies that fail to block such content as terrorist propaganda and images of child abuse. In this Dec. 11, 2018, file photo Google CEO Sundar Pichai appears before the House Judiciary Committee to be questioned about the company’s privacy security and data collection, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Support for a privacy law is part of a broader effort by regulators and lawmakers to lessen the domination of companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon. Some, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, have called for the tech giants to be split up. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) On Tuesday, a House committee will press Google and Facebook executives about another urgent concern involving Big Tech: Whether they’re doing enough to curb the spread of hate crimes and white nationalism through online platforms. The Judiciary Committee hearing follows a series of violent incidents fueled in part by online communication. Explore further In this Sept. 5, 2018, file photo an empty chair reserved for Google’s parent Alphabet, which refused to send its top executive, is seen before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Momentum is gaining in Washington for a privacy law that would sharply reduce the ability of the largest technology companies to collect and distribute people’s personal data. Behind the drive for a law is rising concern over private data being compromised or distributed by Facebook, Google and other tech giants that have earned riches from marketing consumer information. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File) In this April 10, 2018, file photo Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington. Momentum is gaining in Washington for a privacy law that would sharply reduce the ability of the largest technology companies to collect and distribute people’s personal data. Zuckerberg, published a column last month in the Washington Post calling for tighter regulations to protect consumer data, control harmful content and ensure election integrity and data portability. (AP Photo, Alex Brandon, File) This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Tech executives and many Democrats have rejected those assertions as themselves politically biased. Still, Trump has threatened to push regulators to investigate whether Google has abused its role as an internet gateway to stifle competition. And referring to Amazon, Facebook and Google, Trump told Bloomberg News, “Many people think it is a very antitrust situation, the three of them.”Among the tech giants that are trying to shape any final restrictions is the chipmaker Intel, which has developed its own legislative proposal.”I think it’s likely we are going to pass a national privacy law by the end of 2020,” David Hoffman, Intel’s associate general counsel and global privacy officer, said in an interview.By then, the privacy measure emerging in California will have taken effect.”The California bill is responsible for 90% of the lobbying and political pressure to pass a national law,” said Robert Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, whose board includes tech executives.Four senators—Republicans Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Jerry Moran of Kansas and Democrats Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Brian Schatz of Hawaii—are working on a national measure. They say it would protect consumers from the abuse of their data and provide legal certainty to ensure that tech companies continue to hire and innovate.”It would be nice,” said Wicker, who leads the key Senate Commerce Committee, “to have it on the president’s desk this year.”last_img read more

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