While Silicon Valley is notoriously sexist for women, in Brussels we’re lucky to have plenty of tech-savvy female reporters. Those smarts are needed, because EU tech journalists have the tall order of covering a far-reaching, fast-changing sector and catering to a demanding audience. They face enormous pressure to cut through the complexity, the jargon and the lobbying to tell their stories better and faster than their many rivals.
At our next #BrusselsCalling media debate, we’ll be quizzing an all-female panel of journalists about the ins and outs of following EU decision-making on all things tech.
Join us for what surely #AintNoManel starring:
Natalia Drozdiak, Wall Street Journal
Julia Fioretti, Reuters
Laura Kayali, Contexte
Mehreen Khan, Financial Times
Joanna Plucinska, POLITICO Europe
Catherine Stupp, EurActiv
Moderated by Frances Robinson
You don’t want to miss this - register as soon as possible.
Tuesday 21 November, 9:00 - 10:00 am | Brussels Press Club, 95 rue Froissart, 1040 Brussels
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Privacy loomed large in Brussels at the macro level this week, so we’re diving into the micro level of privacy in the classroom. Danish Education Minister Merete Riisager has introduced legislation pushing students to give schools access to their personal laptops. The aim is less cheating in exams. But under the new rules schools can run background checks on students’ search history and social media activity. While schools won’t have the explicit right of access, students will be required to allow inspection to sit for any official exam. Needless to say, the minister isn't getting an automatic pass for this.
We all remember the Microsoft chatbot that turned into a misogynist Nazi sympathiser after a day of Twitter trolling. Knowing that big data reflects our online interactions, what we do online can influence what algorithms learn about a specific topic. We often forget that what we don’t say or programme has just as much influence. What will algorithms make of the current #metoo conversations where male voices seem entirely absent? It’s worth thinking about what we input into AI systems – and what gets left out.
The word robot makes most people think of clumsy machines. Aware of this problem, developers have taken on the task of creating a new breed of robots that can handle more delicate tasks. Think medical applications mimicking muscles, handling fruit or other delicate products. These “soft robots” came about through newly emerging fields in science called biomimetics and morphological computation, which look at mimicking some of the genius traits found in nature and biology. Don’t worry about your robot overlord, it might be soft and squishy!
AI’s influence is growing and people are ready to invest. A recent study shows that AI funding is increasing in Europe, especially in the UK, France and the Nordic countries. In total, 271 start-ups collected $774M to finance AI projects in 2016. Of course, some sectors like customer relations, marketing or e-commerce are sure to attract investments, but more “traditional” industries are now succumbing to the AI temptation. Health (new drugs and devices), agriculture (better harvests) as well as environment (recycling, protection of biodiversity) are jumping on board.
Our friends at Quartz have a great overview of the winners and losers in the race towards electric cars. They rank the countries and companies leading the way. Countries at the front of the field include the UK, France, Germany, India and Norway – all planning to go fully electric sooner rather than later. On the manufacturers’ side, Tesla leads the world with its fully electric line-up of vehicles, but Volkswagen, Volvo and GM will be going all-electric in the coming decades. This is all very promising, but anyone working on electric transport knows issues like charging infrastructure, battery prices and public readiness remain major hurdles.
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