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The Conversation, on Robot Communication

The Conversation, on Robot Communication

An army of sewer robots could keep our pipes clean, but they’ll need to learn to communicate Pipebots will inspect the walls for cracks. Human Studio, Author provided Viktor Doychinov, University of Leeds Hidden from sight, under the UK’s roads, buildings and parks, lies about one million kilometres of pipes. Maintaining and repairing these pipes require about 1.5 million road excavations a year, which causes either full or partial road closures. These works are noisy, dirty and cause a lot

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The Conversation, on Artificial Intelligence and Space Exploration

Five ways artificial intelligence can help space exploration Various types of astronaut assistant are in development. Michal Bednarek/shutterstock.com Deep Bandivadekar, University of Strathclyde and Audrey Berquand, University of Strathclyde Artificial intelligence has been making waves in recent years, enabling us to solve problems faster than traditional computing could ever allow. Recently, for example, Google’s artificial intelligence subsidiary DeepMind developed AlphaFold2, a program which solved the protein-folding problem. This is a problem which has had baffled scientists for 50 years. Advances

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The Conversation, on Fearing Robots

Robots were dreamt up 100 years ago – why haven’t our fears about them changed since? Pavel Chagochkin/Shutterstock.com Michael Szollosy, University of Sheffield This is a story you will have heard before. A genius but completely mad scientist – with the backing of a ruthlessly greedy corporation – creates a sentient robot. The scientist’s intentions for the robot are noble: to help us work, to save us from mundane tasks, to serve its human masters. But the scientist is over-confident,

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The Conversation, on Electricity use and Sustainability

Britain’s electricity use is at its lowest for decades – but will never be this low again Lukasz Pajor / shutterstock Grant Wilson, University of Birmingham; Joseph Day, University of Birmingham, and Noah Godfrey, University of Birmingham In 2020, Britain’s electrical use was the lowest it had been since 1983. This wasn’t entirely due to COVID – demand for electricity had been falling for more than a decade anyway, thanks to savings from energy-efficient appliances, moving industry offshore and consumers

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The Conversation, on Digital Currencies using BlockChain

Ethereum: what is it and why has the price gone parabolic? Welcome to web 3.0. Inked Pixels Paul J Ennis, University College Dublin and Donncha Kavanagh, University College Dublin The price of the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, ether, hit a new all-time high of US$1,440 (£1,050) on January 19. This breached a previous high set three years ago and gave ether a total value (market capitalisation) of US$160 billion, although it has since fallen back to around US$140 billion. Ether,

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The Conversation, on Managing Screen Time

Five ways to manage your screen time in a lockdown, according to tech experts shutterstock John McAlaney, Bournemouth University; Deniz Cemiloglu, Bournemouth University, and Raian Ali, Hamad Bin Khalifa University The average daily time spent online by adults increased by nearly an hour during the UK’s spring lockdown when compared to the previous year, according to communications regulator Ofcom. With numerous countries back under severe pandemic restrictions, many of us once again find ourselves questioning whether our heavy reliance on

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The Conversation, on Digital Hoarders

Digital hoarders: we’ve identified four types – which are you? rawf8/Shutterstock Nick Neave, Northumbria University, Newcastle How many emails are in your inbox? If the answer is thousands, or if you often struggle to find a file on your computer among its cluttered hard drive, then you might be classed as a digital hoarder. In the physical world, hoarding disorder has been recognised as a distinct psychiatric condition among people who accumulate excessive amounts of objects to the point that

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The Conversation, on electricity generated from microbes

Four ways microbial fuel cells might revolutionise electricity production in the future Jackie Niam/Shutterstock Godfrey Kyazze, University of Westminster The world population is estimated to reach 9.5 billion by 2050. Given that most of our current energy is generated from fossil fuels, this creates significant challenges when it comes to providing enough sustainable electricity while mitigating climate change. One idea that has gained traction over recent years is generating electricity using bacteria in devices called microbial fuel cells (MFCs). These

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The Conversation, on manufacturing quieter drones

Make drones sound less annoying by factoring in humans at the design stage Shutterstock/DmitryKalinovsky Antonio J Torija Martinez, University of Salford These days almost everyone has either flown a drone or listened to the nasty whining sound they produce. Although small drones (up to 20kg) are about 40 decibels quieter than conventional civil aircraft, they produce a high pitched noise – which people tend to find very annoying. One Nasa study found that drone sounds were more annoying than those

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New Year? New Infrastructure – 2021

Adieu 2020! The year 2021 is only a few weeks away now and many organisations large and small are still looking to consider further digital transformation plans for next year. Old technology will still affect your performance as a business with or without Covid-19 How can you consistently and reliably transform across a distributed workforce though? Planning. Not a sexy answer, but incredibly effective. If you want to, for example, take advantage of Dell’s Financial Services offering to allow you

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