Science, Technology and Innovation

Children mining cobalt in slave-like conditions as global demand for battery material surges

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If you have not spared a thought for cobalt since high school science, then it might be time. It is having a boom, and the modern world is increasingly reliant on it — using it to stabilise batteries in phones, computers and electric cars; in fact, it is probably in the device you are using right now. The Signal – By Angela Lavoipierre, Stephen Smiley and Lin Evlin ABC But there is a catch. Cobalt is mined in a string of ... Read More »

How an ex-Barcelona player’s legal liver transplant is focusing attention on the human organ trade

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In surely one of the most bizarre stories of recent weeks, former FC Barcelona president, Sandro Rosell, was forced to deny claims that he illegally purchased a human liver for ex-Barcelona defender Eric Abidal in 2012, after a report in Spanish newspaper El Confidencial claimed police had… Greg Moorlock The Conversation A statement by FC Barcelona flatly denied the allegations, and pointed out that a Catalan court had shelved an investigation into the matter in 2017. Further form denials were ... Read More »

We’re racist towards robots, too, study finds

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Have you ever wondered why you rarely see a brown or black robot? A couple of researchers at Monash University in Melbourne and Canterbury University in New Zealand were having trouble finding any — why were all the robots white? RN Drive – By Barbara Heggen and Mariella Attard – ABC It led them to investigate whether people ascribe race to robots, and if this changed their behaviour towards them. What they discovered was that humans carry their racial biases over to ... Read More »

Nearly half of Australian companies hit by cyber crime, PwC global survey reveals

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Australian companies are being ripped off more than ever by customers, suppliers and cyber-hackers using the dark web backed by organised crime. By senior business correspondent Peter Ryan ABC Advisory firm PwC revealed that customer fraud was now the number one economic crime in Australia, with 45 per cent of companies surveyed attacked during the past two years. PwC’s global economic crime survey, out today, warned businesses that organised crime syndicates using the dark web were becoming more sophisticated and ... Read More »

Germany’s falling behind on tech, and Merkel knows it

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Party politics and cultural inertia bedevil efforts to shift into high gear on artificial intelligence. Janosch Delcker Politico One of the first things Angela Merkel told a group of experts in artificial intelligence during a closed-door meeting in late May was that they should be frank with her. “I’m used to bad news,” Merkel said, according to a participant’s recollection. The German chancellor had just returned from China, where she spent a day in the Shenzhen tech hub visiting companies like ICarbonX, ... Read More »

Why Vietnam is quitting Facebook

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Activists, dissidents and writers are gravitating to other social media platforms as Facebook appears to acquiesce to government censorship demands David Hutt Asia Times When logging onto Minds, an open-source social media platform, it is hard to miss the huge number of posts written in Vietnamese. Of the platform’s over one million users, about 10% hail from Vietnam, according to recent media reports. What’s more, roughly 100,000 of those Vietnamese users signed up in the period of just one week, ... Read More »

The world is about to witness the longest lunar eclipse of the century

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July has already been a real treat for stargazers, with five planets to see in the evening sky, Mars looking the best we’ve seen in 15 years, and now, in the early hours of Saturday morning July 28, there will be an extraordinary total lunar eclipse. Tanya Hill The Age * We are currently in the midst of a five-planet season due to Jupiter and Saturn being on the same side of the Sun. Look to the sky after sunset, ... Read More »

Call for doctors to help looming asylum seeker mental health crisis

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These days, the inner-city suburb of Brunswick is not often associated with grinding poverty or desperation. Miki Perkins The Canberra Times Uni students riffle through upmarket op shops, a multitude of cafes churn out bespoke coffee and new, expensive apartment buildings thrust upwards along the spine of Sydney Road. But if you step off Sydney Road and walk into the calm waiting room of the Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub, an undercurrent of distress is palpable. The hub ... Read More »

Facebook investigates data firm Crimson Hexagon

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Facebook has suspended a US-based analytics firm while it investigates concerns about the collection and sharing of user data. Dave Lee BBC Crimson Hexagon, based in Boston, describes itself as offering “consumer insights” and has contracts with government agencies around the world. Facebook said it was looking into whether some of these deals were in violation of its policies on surveillance. The network said it had not found any evidence so far that data had been improperly… According to the ... Read More »

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg clarifies Holocaust comments after outcry

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Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, recently defended the company’s decision to keep on its platform the site Infowars, a prominent right-wing outlet known for spreading conspiracy theories and… Hamza Shaban Brisbane Times / The Washington Post Zuckerberg said in an interview published by Recode on Wednesday that Facebook has a responsibility to curb the viral spread of hoaxes and blatant misinformation. But he maintained Facebook should not ban publishers for spreading false claims, a position he described as “too extreme.” “The ... Read More »

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight: the science of beautiful sunsets

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“A red sky at night is a shepherd’s delight! A red sky in the morning is a shepherd’s warning.” Perhaps this saying came to mind if you caught a spectacular sunrise or sunset recently. Adam Morgan The Conversation Since biblical times and probably before, proverbs and folklore such as this developed as a way for societies to understand and foretell prevailing weather conditions. The “red sky” proverb has endured across cultures for centuries, and modern science can explain why this ... Read More »

How innovation is upending family law

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As legal professionals begin to pivot around new technologies and business models, family lawyers are starting to see a rise in innovative methods of service delivery, according to a family practitioner. Jerome Doraisamy Lawyers Weekly Speaking at the recent Janders Dean #JDHorizons Conference in Sydney, Faigenbaum Family Lawyers principal Talya Faigenbaum said the uptake of interactive online platforms has been particularly… “The more adventurous firms are offering ‘unbundled legal services’ while others are enhancing their legal teams by bringing in ... Read More »

Why the case of Jahi McMath is important for understanding the role of race for black patients

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California teenager Jahi McMath, who suffered catastrophic brain injury as a result of a routine tonsil surgery, died on June 22, 2018. Yolonda Wilson The Conversation Her death came after four years of her family fighting in court to continue her care in California. Eventually, they moved her to a facility in New Jersey, a state that accommodates religious views that don’t recognize brain death. Much of the popular discussion in the case centered on the family’s refusal to accept ... Read More »

Game changing game changes

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‘Stochastic games’ can resolve Tragedy of the Commons Harvard University All it took for rewriting the rules of understanding evolution of cooperation was a series of chance encounters between Martin Nowak, Krishnendu Chatterjee and Christian Hilbe. Chatterjee, a computer science professor at IST Austria, mentioned the idea of stochastic games – games which can change based on players’ actions – during his first visit to Harvard in 2008, and the idea sent Nowak down a… “People who study evolution of ... Read More »

The Australian doctor playing a key role in Thai cave rescue

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An Australian doctor is at the centre of the desperate attempt to rescue 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave in Chiang Rai. Josh Dye The Age Richard Harris, an anaesthetist from Adelaide, has been revealed as one of the international dive experts seconded to assist with the difficult and dangerous rescue mission. On Saturday, Dr Harris undertook the dangerous dive through to the 12 Thai boys and their coach. He gave the final approval on the boys’ ... Read More »

What’s the real price of getting rid of plastic packaging?

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The Economics of Change Crunching the numbers of how much switching might cost us How much would it cost to switch to plastic alternatives? Richard Gray crunches the numbers. By Richard Gray BBC Walking along a short section of stony beach, Claire Waluda stoops briefly to pick up something from between the rocks. It is a brightly coloured plastic bottle top – just one of hundreds of bits of plastic that she finds washed ashore on the remote, windswept island ... Read More »