News In Context

Dancing Delicacies That Combine Food And Computing

A new project at Australia’s Monash University programs food to ‘dance’ across platters, providing interactive culinary experiences for diners and chefs.

Food interaction design researcher and lead author of the research Jialin Deng, from Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology (IT), designed a system encompassing a plate fitted with electrodes that can be programmed to move different food elements like sauces and condiments around on their own, creating new combinations or elements for the diner in a “playful manner.”

Deng said the project was about exploring the integration of food’s material properties and ‘computational’ capabilities, with the aim of achieving different dining journeys.“For example, a chef can predefine the locations where they want to put the food droplets and ingredients, and they can program the dish frame by frame, like you do in animation,” Deng was quoted as saying in a university press release.“We can put solid items and watery items together, we can merge two different flavours, we can transport various things towards the plate, we can play with chemical or physical reactions like in molecular gastronomy.”

Interaction, game and play design expert from the Faculty of IT’s Creative Technologies discipline group and co-author of the research, Professor Florian Mueller, says the research is a glimpse into the future of food and computing.“The integration of food and computing will transform how we understand both computing and food as not two very different things, but a new frontier that combines the best of both,” Mueller was quoted as saying in the press release.“This will not only change the hospitality industry, which can create much more engaging experiences by being able to tell new and different stories through interactive food, but also computer science education, where students learn about computing by eating food.”To learn more about the project click here:



U.S., UK, UN, and Tech Giants Separately Announce AI  Initiatives

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is expected to unveil its long-awaited artificial intelligence executive order on October 30, according to media reports.The Washington Post, citing several people familiar with the matter,  said the order would require “advanced AI models to undergo assessments before they can be used by federal workers.” It would also help ease barriers for highly skilled workers seeking to immigrate to the United States, in order to boost the country’s technological competitiveness.

Key highlights of the order are expected to include:
– Emphasis on government’s role in AI tech procurement✅
– Mandate for cloud computing companies to oversee users crafting powerful AI systems☁️👀
– Initiatives to foster both domestic AI training and global AI talent acquisition🌏🎓

While specifics remain under wraps, several organizations emphasize the order’s significance in safeguarding public interests, rights, and well-being against AI-associated risks. There’s also a collective call for a binding AI Bill of Rights, ensuring responsible AI use across federal domains.

The Financial Times reports UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he would not “rush to regulate” artificial intelligence as he announced the creation of an AI safety body in the UK to evaluate and test new technologies. Speaking ahead of hosting the AI Safety Summit next week, the prime minister said the UK would “push hard” for a “first ever” joint statement by global leaders about the nature of the risks it poses. But that did not mean there should be a “rush to regulate” the sector, he said.

Sunak said the new institute would “advance the world’s knowledge of AI safety . . . so that we understand what each new model is capable of, exploring all the risks from social harms like bias and misinformation through to the most extreme risks”. He said its work would be available to everyone. He would also propose the creation of a global panel of experts, nominated by the countries and organzsations in attendance at the summit, to publish a report on the “state of AI”, modelled on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. To coincide with Sunak’s speech the government released a series of papers outlining potential risks posed by the rapid rollout of AI.

Also this week the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, announced the creation of his Advisory Body on AI.

Here’s what Advisory Body on AI will focus on:

🌟 A globally inclusive approach, leveraging the UN’s unparalleled convening power.

🌟 Collaboration with experts from diverse fields – government, private sector, research, civil society, and academia, ensuring a balanced and interdisciplinary perspective.

🌟 Immediate tasks include forming a scientific consensus on AI risks, harnessing AI for the Sustainable Development Goals, and bolstering international AI governance cooperation.

🌟 Bridging gaps with other AI governance initiatives and releasing preliminary recommendations by end-2023. Final recommendations are set for summer 2024, leading up to the Summit of the Future.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that Microsoft, OpenAI, Google and Anthropic- the founding members of the Frontier Model Forum- have stepped up a united push towards safety standards for artificial intelligence and appointed a director as their alliance seeks to fill “a gap” in global regulation. The four tech giants on October 25 picked Chris Meserole from the Brookings Institution to be executive director of the group. The forum also divulged plans to commit $10 million to an AI safety fund.

The $10 million pot includes investment from former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt and will go towards supporting academic research in AI. The group plans to use existing labs and teams from companies to research “red teaming” techniques — methods that researchers use to test systems for flaws or dangers — and develop standards for technical risk assessments and evaluations of the technologies.

Critics worry that private AI companies are exerting too much influence on AI policy and that empowering them with red teaming without oversight would equate to asking students to grade their own homework.


Cruise’s Stop and Go Week

General Motors’ driverless car unit Cruise said October 26 it will suspend all operations nationwide after California regulators this week ordered the robotaxi operator to remove its driverless cars from state roads.Meanwhile, Honda , which said in 2018 it would invest $2 billion in Cruise over 12 years,  said on October 26 that it aims to set up a joint venture with General Motors  and Cruise to begin a driverless ride service in Japan in early 2026.The three companies aim to establish the joint venture in first half of 2024 pending regulatory approval, the Japanese company said in a statement.


Deutsche Bank and Standard Chartered Pilot Network For Stablecoins and CBDCS

Deutsche Bank and Standard Chartered have carried out the first digital currency transfer and swap on the new Universal Digital Payments Network (UDPN), reports Finextra. Unveiled earlier this year, the UDPN is a digital ledger technology-underpinned messaging backbone that promises to provide interoperability between stablecoins and CBDCs to enable connectivity between any business IT system and regulated digital currencies. The network – set up by GFT Group and Red Date Technology – describes itself as a “gateway for businesses and financial institutions to use regulated digital currencies in cross-border transactions”.  The network can be seen as a competitor to bank-to-bank messaging network Swift, which has been conducting its own research into blockchain interoperability.


Three People Were Gene-Edited In An Effort To Cure Their HIV

MIT Technology Review reported that scientists are using the gene-editing technology CRISPR to try to permanently cure people of HIV.  A biotechnology company called Excision BioTherapeutics says it added the gene-editing tool to the bodies of three people living with HIV and commanded it to cut, and destroy, the virus wherever it is hiding. The early-stage study is a step toward the company’s eventual goal of curing HIV infection with a single intravenous dose of a gene-editing drug. However, because the doctors withheld early data about the treatment’s effects, outside experts say they can’t determine whether it worked.


AWS To Launch European Sovereign Cloud Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) said October 25 that  it will launch a sovereign cloud in Europe for government and customers in highly regulated industries. Reuters reported that the sovereign cloud will store data on servers located in the European Union, and only EU-resident AWS employees will have control of the operations and provide support, the cloud-computing division of Amazon said in a statement.The European Union has been at the forefront of privacy and security legislation and its privacy watchdog launched a probe last year into the public sector’s use of cloud-based services to check if they comply with its privacy safeguards.

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About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.