Amazon to soon allow users to type and chat with Alexa
Media|: Amazon is testing typing functionality for Alexa on iOS devices which will allow users to send messages to Alexa rather than using voice, especially in situations like being at a public place or in a meeting where voice command is awkward. The new feature, being rolled out as part of a public preview, was first spotted by The Ambient publication. The new feature is available for iOS users in the Alexa smart home app. Tap the keyboard icon that appears on the top left of the main menu of the app to access it. According to an Amazon spokesperson, 'Type with Alexa' will allow you to interact with Alexa without using voice, "meaning everything you can currently say to Alexa can now also be typed using your Alexa mobile app". "Type with Alexa is available to iOS customers in the US". The company, however, did not reveal when this feature will be rolled out globally, or on Android. Google Assistant already has this functionality. Amazon is also adding new capabilities in its Alexa virtual assistant that will speak to you in more languages. To date, Alexa was able to respond in two languages as it received the ability to automatically respond to English and other languages last year. Now, users can enable a few more languages in the Alexa app -- German, French, Canadian-French, Japanese, Spanish, US-Spanish, and Hindi -- all paired with English.
Building electric cars in Canada is key to reaching climate goals, recharging auto industry
News/Opinion: With transportation responsible for a quarter of emissions, it will be hard to meet the federal government's national pollution targets without addressing Canada's car conundrum, write Merran Smith and Sarah Petrevan.
Federal COVID Alert app wasn't working for some users for much of November
News/Technology & Science: The developers of Canada's COVID Alert app fixed a glitch last week that left some users without exposure notifications for much of November. It’s unclear how many people were affected, but those who haven't updated the app may still be in the dark.
Middle East's small businesses need be no strangers to AI
Analysis|Technology|: The mention of Artificial Intelligence (AI) often sparks images of big-scale government projects or exclusive cutting-edge applications that are the reserve of elite businesses. A science fiction image, propagated by Hollywood movies of robots and complex computer systems, further adds to the impression that AI is a technology only available in the distant future to a select few. However, AI is already here, and we are all frequently interacting with it. For example, the flow of traffic in inner cities is often assessed and re-directed based on data analysed and modelled with the help of AI. Similarly, AI is integrated in buildings and workplaces; for example, Bee’ah’s new Sharjah HQ is the first fully-integrated artificial intelligence powered office building in the Middle East. The smart building regulates everything, from the flow of people into the building to the efficient use of water and electricity through intelligent algorithms. Read More Tech skills are what's getting valued most in UAE job space Getting rid of any biases and lapses that show up in AI-led profiling Not spectators Crucially, AI is not only within reach for small businesses, it has the potential to have a significant impact on their profitability and save costs, by taking over mundane tasks and allowing workers to focus on more high value tasks. For example, the technology can power cybersecurity, customer relationship management (CRM), and customer services. Even a small and low-tech business may be exposed to digital threats through third-parties. AI security programmes look for unusual activity or irregularities in other systems - like inventory and accounting – and thus helping keep businesses of all sizes safe and secure. CRM software can help businesses learn about their customers: with each order, it can understand what they need and how they interact with the business. For example, a florist shop with a website can teach the site how to respond if a customer searches for “red flowers.” The software can be trained to show the customer roses, tulips or Gerbera daisies, or take into account the seasons and proactively suggest custom Christmas wreaths. Accessible everywhere AI is within reach for regular working areas including warehouses and factory floors, where it is helping customers prevent accidents by using computer vision to scan thousands of videos for potential risks, and then using that information to improve safety. In customer service centers, new tools from Dynamics 365 AI automatically provide helpful answers to customers’ most common questions, freeing up customer service agents to work on more complex issues. AI is even being utilised for one of the areas least known for technology: small- scale farming. Microsoft’s Azure FarmBeats enables data-driven farming to maximize agricultural output for small scale farms in India and Africa. With data visualization, machine learning and data analytics, automated recommendations are provided enabling growers to calibrate water usage and soil quality, contributing to more sustainable food production. Engage, empower Making AI accessible and affordable for all is part of Microsoft’s mission to enable all people and organizations to achieve more. Our roadmap to make this mission a reality focuses on four pillars. Firstly, AI is engaging customers, building tailored experiences by harnessing data representing a complete picture then delivering personalization at scale. Secondly, the technology is empowering employees, designing a workplace that harnesses digital intelligence to improve the working environment, while keeping organizations, people and information secure. Thirdly, the roadmap to digital transformation applies to AI by optimizing operations, modernizing portfolios, transforming processes and skills. This accelerates business responsiveness, improving service levels, and reducing costs. Fourth, AI is transforming products – innovating products and business models, delivering personalisation to customers and new business models services, products, and experiences. We believe that AI will be the defining technology of our time. Like the discovery of electricity or the development of the steam engine, we believe it will have the power to fundamentally change people’s lives, transforming industry and transforming society. In this manner, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be much like those that proceeded it, whereas the technology moves through society, becomes increasingly accessible and transformational for all, and eventually establishes itself as part of a regular business set up. - Ihsan Anabtawi, Chief Operating and Marketing Officer at Microsoft UAE.
Astronomers share most detailed map yet of the galaxy
News/World: New data from the European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft tracks the paths of thousands of stars over hundreds of millions of years from the present to the distant future, including waves of stars originating from an ancient galaxy collision.
Government quietly made 'back door' agreement with U.S. that could undermine treaty on plastic waste
News/Politics: The Trudeau government quietly signed a protocol with the U.S. on October 26 that will allow Canada to continue to ship plastic waste to American waste brokers — opening a 'back door' that will allow it to evade the plastic waste shipping restrictions the federal government committed to under the Basel Treaty plastic ban.
Massive telescope collapse caught on remote camera and drone in Puerto Rico
News/Technology & Science: The National Science Foundation has released new footage of the collapse of the Arecibo telescope platform, which collapsed Dec. 1 after sustaining irreparable damage earlier in 2020.
Satellite trackers help map journey of plastic waste to the ocean
News/Technology & Science: In this week's issue of our environment newsletter, we look at work being done to track plastic waste that ends up in rivers and oceans and a video game that explores the troubled history of water in cities.
Cyberattacks target COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort
News/World: IBM is sounding the alarm over hackers targeting companies critical to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, a sign that digital spies are turning their attention to the complex logistical work involved in inoculating the world's population against the novel coronavirus.
China moon probe preparing to return rock samples to Earth
BEIJING (AP) — China said Thursday its latest lunar probe has finished taking samples of the moon’s surface and sealed them within the spacecraft for return to Earth, the first time such a mission has been attempted by any country in more than 40 years.