IBM researchers build AI-powered prototype to help small farmers test soil | ZDNet

IBM is testing a paper test strip which, when analysed with an app on a standard smartphone, could reduce the time and cost for farmers trying to work out how to prepare soil for planting, treat water, or maintain optimal growth of crops. The card is about the size of a business card, and changes colour in specific patterns to measure pH, nitrogen dioxide, aluminium and other chemicals necessary for (or best avoided) for healthy plant growth. The app allows immediate, precise diagnosis (the camera is more a accurate colour sensor than the human eye), and aggregated data can help governments monitor fertilizer/chemical use.
The IBM AgroPad is a paper testing strip that, when combined with a mobile app, relies on machine vision to measure the precise amounts of chemicals in samples of water and soil.

AI revolution ‘at risk of being stifled in UK by fear-driven backlash’

Prof Jim Al-Khalili, incoming president of the British Science Association, will say in his presidential address that without both increased transparency and public engagement, AI could become uncontrolled and unregulated, in the hands of the powerful for the benefit of the few, or being seen as sinister and scary by a public which doesn't understand what it is or how it works. More public engagement, he says, is necessary to ensure that leaders and governments properly design regulations to ensure the technology is used in ways which does not increase inequality in society.
Without greater transparency AI’s full potential may not be realised, warns British Science Association’s incoming president

Amazon: ‘Soon we won’t talk about the smart home but a world of smarts’

Daniel Rausch, Amazon's Vice President of Smart Home, reveals that it took 3 years to get to 4,000 Alexa-compatible devices on the market, but in the past 9 months that number has risen from 9,000 to 20,000, helped in no small part by Amazon's efforts to simplify OEM vendor adoption through SDKs, hardware development training, supply chain options and more. So where does Amazon see this ending up? “The sky’s the limit … you will also see that Alexa will just be embedded in more devices and customers will stop thinking about talking to a device per se. It will become more about speaking at large.”
Home isn’t just where the smart is Holiday Toy List: Top 100 Toys: Toys & Games

It's only September, and already people are thinking about Christmas shopping, or so Amazon would have us believe. In what's pitched as an example of data science at scale, but which a cynic might refer to as a solid marketing campaign, Amazon's published their "Top 100 toys" to put under the Christmas tree, apparently based on recent sales and product searches.
Online shopping for Holiday Toy List: Top 100 Toys from a great selection at Toys & Games Store.

Voyager 1 Fires Up Thrusters After 37 Years

Sometimes the code i write doesn't work 6 months later – so I was incredibly impressed to read about the NASA team who reprogrammed the Voyager 1 space probe some 37 YEARS after the code was last changed. I can't imagine what the 40 hour wait between sending the commands and receiving the response was like.
The Voyager team is able to use a set of four backup thrusters, dormant since 1980, for orienting the spacecraft.

It looks like tech-savvy drivers will have to lead connected car data purge

Although we're all used to resetting our smartphones before we sell them, I have to admit that i often forget to wipe the memory of the carplay-enabled hire cars I used over the summer before returning them to the hire company. The Register highlights growing concern among a range of stakeholders – but not car manufacturers – around the privacy and security implications of my forgetful behaviour.
Manufacturers seem reluctant to do anything about it

Developer Salaries in 2018: Updating the Stack Overflow Salary Calculator – Stack Overflow Blog

In their 2018 Salary Survey, Stack Overflow reveals a global increase in Software Engineer salaries, with some locations like London and San Francisco seeing rises in median salary of around 25%, with DevOps engineers commanding the highest pay. Check out how your salary compares here – – and read the explanatory blog here:
Today we launched the 2018 update to the Stack Overflow Salary Calculator, a tool that allows developers and employers to find typical salaries for the software industry based on experience level,…

What’s AI good for? Industrial or consumer tech? Meh. Airliners? AHA, says

In a push to increase collaboration between the UK and Canada on industrial uses of AI, the UK government has teamed up with Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier to offer a prize for ideas which solve an interesting problem – an optimal, self managing de-icing strategy for aircraft. De-icing causes extra fuel burn – either to carry the weight of ice-melting fluids, or to power  heating elements at key points on the plane. Also, deicing at the wrong time can lead to other risks – such as ice forming in places not protected by countermeasures. £100k is up for grabs.
Stop, collaborate and listen: Ice is back we need a brand new invention