Science, Technology and Innovation

Howard govt feared slow Y2K bug preparations, cabinet documents reveal

Predictions of a chaotic IT collapse brought on by the Y2K bug had the Howard government fearing Australia was unready for the worst, previously classified documents reveal. Doug Dingwall Brisbane Times As the year 2000 approached, the federal government in 1997 took seriously the warnings that the new millennium’s arrival could play havoc with electricity, hospitals and traffic lights. The “millennium bug”, cast by some as a looming apocalypse, brought on hundreds of billions in estimated spending worldwide to avoid catastrophe. ... Read More »

Organ donor ‘opt-out only’ policy could mean fewer transplants

A proposal to automatically make people organ donors could reduce the number of available organs, the authority in charge of the system says. ABC Sunshine Coast – By Alex Easton and Sheridan Stewart ABC The idea of forcing people who do not want to donate their organs to opt out of the organ donor register is one of several aimed at combating an illegal international black-market trade that has some organs selling for hundreds of thousands of… The idea was raised in the recommendations of a report to ... Read More »

‘For 30 years I’ve been obsessed by why children get leukaemia. Now we have an answer’

Newly knighted cancer scientist Mel Greaves explains why a cocktail of microbes could give protection against disease Robin McKie The Guardian Mel Greaves has a simple goal in life. He is trying to create a yoghurt-like drink that would stop children from developing leukaemia. The idea might seem eccentric; cancers are not usually defeated so simply. However, Professor Greaves is confident and, given his experience in the field, his ideas are being taken seriously by… Based at the Institute of Cancer ... Read More »

Apple reveals scale of government requests for users’ data

National governments demanded access to 163,823 Apple devices in the first half of 2018, according to figures released by the company. Laurence Dodds & Olivia Feld The Sydney Morning Herald The Telegraph, London, with the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age The latest Apple transparency report showed that it received 32,342 requests to access the contents of iPhones, iPads and other gadgets, a 9 per cent increase from the second half of 2017. The tech giant, which granted 80 per cent of requests ... Read More »

‘No more Huawei’: Vodafone CEO expects telcos to dump Chinese suppliers

Vodafone Hutchison Australia chief executive Iñaki Berroeta believes the government’s decision to ban Chinese telecommunications equipment providers from Australia’s high-speed 5G rollout means Huawei will be phased out from all local mobile networks. Jennifer Duke WAtoday Vodafone uses equipment from Swedish supplier Ericsson in the core its 3G and 4G mobile networks where sensitive information processing takes place, and Finland’s Nokia and China’s Huawei for non-core parts. The Australian government banned Huawei on security grounds in August, making it the first country ... Read More »

Earthrise, a photo that changed the world

December 24 is the 50th anniversary of Earthrise, arguably one of the most profound images in the history of human culture. Authors: The Conversation When astronaut William Anders photographed a fragile blue sphere set in dark space peeking over the Moon, it changed our perception of our place in space and fuelled environmental awareness around the world. The photo let us see our planet from a great distance for the first time. The living Earth, surrounded by the darkness of ... Read More »

What’s wrong with Huawei, and why are countries banning the Chinese telecommunications firm?

The Chinese telecommunications company Huawei is under scrutiny around the globe over concerns that its close ties with the Chinese government present national security threats to the U.S., Europe and… Authors: The Conversation Huawei, which denies all the allegations against it, is “the world’s biggest supplier of telecoms gear” and has plans to “dominate the market” for the next generation of wireless communications, called 5G. But its hopes are threatened by governments around the world, which are restricting the company’s ... Read More »

Using AI and Video to Learn How the World Works

Simple actions like waving hello to a friend, objects falling to the ground and other visual movements are easily understood by humans but would confound machines. Knowledge@Wharton Twenty Billion Neurons (TwentyBN), a startup based in Toronto and Berlin, is developing the artificial intelligence capability of imbuing an understanding of the visual world in robots by using videos and deep learning, according to Roland Memisevic, its CEO and chief scientist, who spoke at the recent AI Frontiers conference in… Recently, TwentyBN launched Millie, an AI-powered context-aware ... Read More »

Climate action must now focus on the global rich and their corporations

The latest UN climate talks, known as COP24, have just concluded. Nicholas Beuret The Conversation The supposed story this time was one of a grinding victory by the EU and developing nations over recalcitrant petro-states – Russia, the US, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. These four, condemned as “climate villains” over the past week, worked to block the adoption of a critical IPCC report that detailed how woefully inadequate current international action was for limiting future climate change to 1.5C. Building ... Read More »

Climate change: The massive CO2 emitter you may not know about

Concrete is the most widely used man-made material in existence. It is second only to water as the most-consumed resource on the planet. Lucy Rodgers BBC But, while cement – the key ingredient in concrete – has shaped much of our built environment, it also has a massive carbon footprint. Cement is the source of about 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions,according to think tank Chatham House. If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third ... Read More »

What can Philosophy teach Machine Learning?

A Journey from Socrates to AI via Cognitive Science From Socrates to Cognitive Science Federico Castellano Towards Data Science Since Socrates asked Thrasymachus for a definition of the concept of justice, philosophy posed for the very first time one of the most challenging philosophical questions: what is a concept? For many hundred years, inquiries concerning the nature and structure of concepts caught the attention of the world’s finest minds; yet it wasn’t until the sixteenth and… Empiricists argued that concepts are ... Read More »

Move to call abortion and assisted suicide ‘human rights’ is ‘evil’, says Princeton professor

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has been accused of elevating individual freedom above moral considerations after recently including abortion and assisted suicide among the… Christian Today The committee’s ‘General Comment’ on the right to life, issued at the end of October, argued for the decriminalisation of abortion and the removal of restrictions that could subject women or… It also put the rights of women and girls seeking an abortion before the rights of medical practitioners with conscientious objections to performing ... Read More »

Assisted dying ‘only option for many with terminal illness’

The introduction of assisted dying in Scotland is coming and is the only way to “relieve the suffering” for many with terminal conditions, MSPs have been told. By SCOTT MACNAB The Scotsman Medical leaders from Canada were in the Scottish Parliament last week to set out how the medical assistance in dying (MAID) system has worked there since being introduced two years ago and how splits in the profession were overcome. Dr Sandy Buchman, president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), ... Read More »

Obamacare: Texas court rules key health law is unconstitutional

A federal judge in the US state of Texas has ruled that a key part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional. BBC Twenty states argued the whole law was invalidated by a change in tax rules last year which eliminated a penalty for not having health insurance. President Donald Trump said the ruling was great news for America. The law’s provisions will, however, remain in place until an appeal is heard at the US ... Read More »

What the US could learn from Thailand about health care coverage

The open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) draws to a close on Dec. 15. Joseph Harris The Conversation Yet, recent assaults on the ACA by the Trump administration stand in marked contrast to efforts to expand access to health care and medicine in the rest of the world. In fact, on Dec. 12, the world observed Universal Coverage Day, a day celebrated by the United Nations to commemorate passage of a… While the U.N. measure was nonbinding ... Read More »

Nature is a rich source of medicine – if we can protect it

The Pacific yew tree is a fairly small and slow growing conifer native to the Pacific Northwest. The Gila monster is a lizard with striking orange and black markings from the drylands of the Southwestern US and Mexico. Authors: The Conversation Two very different organisms, but with a fascinating connection. They’ve both given us drugs that have saved and improved the lives of millions of people. Paclitaxel, originally isolated in 1971 from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree, is ... Read More »