Designing for accessibility is not that hard – UX Collective

We are trying to put accessibility at the core of everything we do, and it's hard – often people see "designing for accessibility" as expensive or time consuming. But it doesn't have to be. For a start, it's much cheaper to implement from the beginning than to try to retrofit, and accessible applications are easier for everyone to use, not just those with disabilities or impairments. Most of the pointers in this article are so obvious they shouldn't have to be stated – but unfortunately many people aren't even aware of the need to think about them, let alone possessed of the skill to design for accessibility.
https://rob.al/2KyTO2k
Seven easy-to-implement guidelines to design a more accessible web ❤️

Alibaba Debuts ‘AI Copywriter’ | Alizila.com

Chinese Tech Titan Alibaba has introduced a new feature to help sellers write compelling and useful copy for adverts with a few clicks of the neural network. Producing millions of suggestions each day, the "AI Copywriter" aims to reduce the "repetitive, low-value work" activities associated with creating multiple formats of an advert for different media. Claiming that the system "allows people to devote more energy to richly creative work", this will clearly put lower priced (although not necessarily lower skilled) copywriters in a difficult spot, and would concentrate spend on a smaller number of more "elite" copywriters.
https://rob.al/2lOKvwi
The technology has passed the Turing test and is capable of producing 20,000 lines of copy in a second, said digital marketing arm Alimama.

Self-driving cars are headed toward an AI roadblock

Self driving cars always seem to be "tomorrow's promise". One major reason is the way that machine learning struggles with "generalising" from more specific data. A child doesn't need to be shown every possible type of chair to learn what a chair is – but throw a few pixels out and your CNN is likely to miscategorise that wolf as a bear (https://rob.al/2u3owoW), which could have catastrophic consequences, especially if the knowledge is used maliciously. The Verge is asking whether this limit on capability is leading to a dead end – without significant progress in generalisation driving may be simply too unpredictable to be achieveable
https://rob.al/2z7dswK
Skeptics say full autonomy could be farther away than the industry admits

Luxury goods makers confront rise of the robot

This discussion about automation in the luxury goods market (https://rob.al/2lthZQF) reminded me of the chapters in The Man In the High Castle (https://rob.al/2lvvKOx) where it's suggested that some hand crafted items are so beautiful that they possess a factor, wu, that makes them desirable, and one of the character's acquaintances wishes to clone them as "most of the masses still believe in magic". But cloning the items removes what is intrinsically valuable. To me, automation manufacture of luxury goods seems to follow the same path – removing the skill and artisan nature of their creation threatens the very soul of the items they produce.
https://rob.al/2lthZQF
Response by European groups to robot revolution is as varied as their runway styles

Facebook’s new AI research is a real eye-opener

As AI becomes closer than ever to creating digital artifacts which are indistinguishable from those generated in real life, I'm left wondering how we manage the risks to our understanding of law and justice – think perhaps of a generated "CCTV recording" of a political opponent committing a crime being submitted as evidence in court, and no person nor machine can definitively prove whether it's fake or genuine.
https://rob.al/2ltTi6K
There are plenty of ways to manipulate photos to make you look better, remove red eye or lens flare, and so on. But so far the blink has proven a tenacious opponent of good snapshots. That may chan…

Amazon launches Alexa for Hospitality to bring voice-enabled services to hotel guests

We make a lot of use of our Alexa at home, and i'm interested to see how it can help in hotels. Being able to order important but not time-critical services ("alexa, have someone pick up my laundry"), or get information ("alexa, what floor is the gym on") come to mind. But is it going to be more than a gimmick? I still occasionally visit hotels with those massive Bose speakers with an iPhone 30 pin connector on them. Even when that was the right connector, who ever used them?? I know i just unplugged them to plug my laptop in instead.
https://rob.al/2IgfY38
Amazon has announced a new program designed to help hotels deploy Alexa’s voice-enabled smarts across their properties. Though Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo speakers are growing in popula…

This company tames killer robots

Humans are good at tasks which require dexterity and manipulation of flexible materials (like thin tubes or fabric), but often these detailed tasks are associated with big, heavy "chunks" of other things (such as wiring up a heavy car dashboard before dropping it in to place). Typically, people and industrial robots are kept separate to avoid catastrophic injuries, but a new class of robot which is "aware" of its working environment and can react accordingly (e.g. slow down when a human moves closer) promises to make robots even more useful, taking control of the heavy lifting and allowing humans to focus on the complex, fiddly work.
https://rob.al/2yye9Pu
Artificial intelligence can turn the most dangerous industrial robots into helpful coworkers, and that could transform manufacturing.

Rise of contactless payment means cash is no longer king

The move to a cashless society is making steady progress across most of the world. In the UK, for example, more than 50% of transactions were completed cashlessly last year (https://rob.al/2yzozhH), while in China, UnionPay's rapid push in to new markets (as diverse as Malaysia, DRC, and Kazakhstan https://rob.al/2Kd4sdL) demonstrates the sheer scale of the opportunity, with the pace of change hardly altered by the introduction of a new competitor (NetsUnion https://rob.al/2IhFMvN). But there's rightly growing concern about those being left behind (https://rob.al/2KcwHti) and the solutions for that problem are yet to be discovered.
https://rob.al/2yzozhH
UK spending on debit cards overtook hard currency for the first time in 2017

The productivity paradox

Recognising AI as a "general-purpose machine", rather than a distinct and immediately implementable tool or technique, can help explain why the anticipated gains are not yet being seen. With the introduction of other general-purpose machines, like the electric motor, the computer, the steam engine, it took decades for companies and industries to identify how they needed to change – simply automating an existing business process is unlikely to give massive benefits. Rethinking how an organisation achieves outcomes independent of the existing process or tooling is – but it'll take many more years to materialize.
https://rob.al/2MN0rvh
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