Weed-killing robots are threatening giant chemical companies’ business models

Using technology for good – in this case to reduce the amount of pesticide and the cost of seed-stock (you no longer need to buy the special seed which is only available, at a premium, from the manufacturer of the herbicide or pesticide you plan to use) – is what many of us enter the technology industry for. https://rob.al/2sapMWD
AI-powered weed hunters could soon reduce the need for herbicides and genetically modified crops.

Traffic lights and security alarms affected by BT switch-off

What happens when the network for your IOT or connected devices suddenly announces it's going to make a change which affects millions of devices at your end customers? How do you convince them to upgrade to a product which is essentially the same as the one they currently have without seeming like you're trying to scam them? An interesting parallel will happen in 2025 as BT Openreach switches off the UK's analogue phone network, and millions of alarms, traffic lights, and social care devices suddenly lose connection.
Plan to retire voice network in 2025 has far-reaching consequences

How uncertainty could help a machine hold a more eloquent conversation

Probabilistic models of natural language processing don’t seem that revolutionary – after all, humans implicitly work this way – but building a practical but generic framework has been a challenge for engineers and researchers for years (we only have to look at the Alexa Prize (https://rob.al/2rUsJLu) to see how hard this issue is). Gamalon’s new product claims to solve this issue. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.
AI startup Gamalon developed a clever new way for chatbots and virtual assistants to converse with us.

​KT launches NB-IoT-based child monitoring service | ZDNet

Technology can help or hinder. There's a growing evidence base indicating that overprotective parenting is leading to decreased ability for young adults to manage risk or respond to uncertainty in an inherently chaotic and increasingly fast paced world (and as a result, the pushback against protective playgrounds which sanitise  risk is also growing e.g. https://rob.al/2GxVYIF), so I'm interested when I see vendors offer technology which panders to what many consider to be moral panic; overall, I worry that applying technology in this way elevates fears, rather than reducing them.
South Korean telco KT has launched a child monitoring service that uses its national NB-IoT network.

Most smart speaker owners don’t use their devices to shop online, and more than half say it’s because of a lack of trust

I find my Amazon Echo devices useful in a range of situations – getting travel and weather information quickly while i'm trying to get the kids out the door, converting units or setting timers while i'm cooking, playing music while i get on with tasks, even controlling the lights and heating – but i've also never ordered anything from it. I'm not sure why – this report asserts that users "don't trust" the devices with payment info, but Amazon already has all that, so it must be something else. I guess it just feels unusual to order something without even seeing it?
When Amazon released the first smart speaker in 2014 and Google released its own two years later, we assumed it was to facilitate purchases through their…

Introducing Visual Studio IntelliCode

I've always found IntelliSense to be amazingly useful, and i miss it when i have to use an IDE or language which doesn't include it, so these AI-based improvements look like they'll only improve things.
The official source of product insight from the Visual Studio Engineering Team

Waymo Filings Give New Details on Its Driverless Taxis

Waymo (Google/Alphabet) is finally launching fully automated vehicles. 52 cars will be deployed around their Mountain View offices and will only be able to operate in and arouund that area. Of note however is a second applicant – China's JingChi which has requested a licence for a single car with a remote person overseeing the vehicle and able to stop or control it in case of emergency.  Waymo assert that their vehicles already operate at SAE-Level 4, which includes automatically stopping in case of system failure (https://rob.al/2KzoBaL), and so there's no way for staff remotely monitoring the car to take control of it.
California’s DMV has also received an application from the startup JingChi to test fully autonomous vehicles

Google AI to make phone calls for you

Recordings of calls between Google Duplex and a hairdresser and restaurant are amazing. The AI interacts just like a human – adding ums and hesitation, and even successfully recovering the conversation when the restaurant staff misunderstood the request. I think this is what most people think of when they imagine a virtual, digital assistant, and I'm certainly looking forward to trying it out.
The search giant unveils an experimental tool that can make appointments by calling businesses.

Uber Finds Deadly Accident Likely Caused By Software Set to Ignore Objects On Road

The most likely reason Uber’s self driving car killed a pedestrian is because of settings designed to increase passenger comfort. While I’m sure Uber would agree that in this case they went too far, it reminds us that autonomous vehicles (and robots in general) live only to the moral code we provide them. An interesting side note in this article highlights Dara Khosrowshahi’s vision that Uber is at the centre of the network of autonomous vehicles – rather than designing specific end nodes, Uber expects to work with others to be the one ring to binding them all together.
Uber has determined that the likely cause of a fatal collision involving one of its prototype self-driving cars in Arizona in March was a problem with the software that decides how the car should…

England has become one of the world’s biggest education laboratories

Over 10% of all randomised controlled trials in education ever, anywhere in the world, have been funded by the UK government. Following the evidence is hard, especially when it challenges the status quo, common practice, or established “knowledge”, so its good to see the UK government putting this money in to establishing a solid evidence base for effective educational practices.
A third of its schools have taken part in randomised controlled trials. The struggle is getting teachers to pay attention to the evidence