Technology 

How Are Drones Benefiting the World of Business?

When we think of drones, we often assume they’re something we would see on a Christmas list. However, there is much more to the world of drones, and they’re making a bigger impact than just flying around the local park.

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying some drone time in leisurely manner, it’s worth considering how beneficial the right type of drone can be for a business.

Surveillance Drones

There’s no denying that the technology associated with security and surveillance has progressed in leaps and bounds, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its limits. While many security systems are ideal for many businesses, there are some who don’t get the coverage they’re looking for when it comes to the security of their business, and many choose to employ the use of surveillance drones.

Of course, not every drone is fit for purpose, so you will need to ensure that you purchase the best surveillance drones for the job in hand. That said, the right drone can have you checking out hotspots that weren’t even visible in your initial security setup. What’s more, a surveillance drone can record any misdemeanours, making a conviction more likely, while helping you find a better deal in relation to business insurance.

There’s also the fact that surveillance drones are visible, and act as a great deterrent against would-be thieves.

Although surveillance drones are a hot topic in the security industry, this doesn’t mean that other businesses aren’t able to make use of drones.

Drones for Deliveries

Although there are many regulations in place, this hasn’t stopped businesses making use of drones. Amazon is a company that probably everyone has used at some point in their life, and the company has gathered traction thanks to its quick deliveries and slew of products.

With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that Amazon is looking to offer a drone delivery service, and its vision comes in the guise of Amazon Prime Air. While Amazon is still contending with the legality surrounding delivery drones with regulators and policymakers around the world, it is a vision that seems to be gaining traction, with new FFA rules in the US looking to allow the use of autonomous drones for deliveries.

Google is also looking to offer a similar service via Project Wing, operated under Alphabet X. A set of nationwide tests have already taken place under the watchful eye of the FAA and NASA, with its tests also focusing on the software being used for its unmanned drones.

Google has also been involved with drones in the past, albeit in a different context. Following the acquisition of Titan Aerospace in 2014, Google looked to launch an initiative that focused on rural areas that struggled to receive an Internet connection.

The Loon project looked to launch solar-powered drones that flew at great altitudes that would connect with satellites to offer Internet access to those who struggle otherwise. Unfortunately, the project ran out of money and the initiative won’t be progressed any further, that is unless another company decides to take the reigns.

Despite its unfortunate demise, the Loon project did showcase just what is possible with the use of drones, and how we can help progress a person’s lifestyle.

The Future of Law Enforcement?

Drones almost seem like science fiction, and certainly have certainly had their limelight on the silver screen. They were heavily used in the Robocop remake in 2014, but are drones actually useful when it comes to law enforcement.

The security aspect has already been touched upon, and compiling footage of a crime being committed is always useful for the authorities, but what about law enforcement itself? Is it keen to adopt technology that has many people sitting on the fence as to how intrusive they area?

While every country will have its own legal system in place, drones do seem to finding their place in the world of law enforcement. Although the drones used aren’t as sinister as those seen in science-fiction movies, they still serve a purpose.

In the UK, Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police announced a trial that would see drones used in a bid to protect residents, and capture footage should it arise. This could be anything from a crime to a road collision. The footage is captured is governed in the same way as video captured via CCTV and body-worn video.

The US is following a similar program, although different states do have different rules in place. In many states, the use of a drone is permitted once a warrant has been issued, or in the event of an emergency. Of course, the rules change frequently, but it’s still interesting to note how much of an effect the humble drone has had in relation to law enforcement.

Other Industries

You would be forgiven for assuming that the use of drones can be limited to a few business types, but it can fit in with many different business models. For example, some airlines have deployed drones to carry out safety inspections of their aircraft. National Rail in the UK is another company that hopes to make use of drones by helping them garner a better overview of its infrastructure. Currently, the company uses aerial cameras for this purpose.

As you can see, whether businesses are deploying drones for deliveries, or investing in surveillance drones, there are benefits to using drones, and if you’re able to think outside the box, you could give your business a whole new dimension.

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Technology 

Chatbots – the good, the bad and the ugly

What do you think to chatbots?

Chances are, if you’ve encountered one and had a poor experience it wasn’t a very good one, more of an ‘automated FAQ machine’ rather than an intelligent system that adapts to what you’re saying.

That said, there is of course the chance that you’ve talked to one and had no idea it’s a chatbot.

Some are great, some are next to useless – and some are downright damaging. We recently had a chance to sit down with the team and Think Zap who have shared some insights on companies that are implementing chatbots well – and the ones who are missing the mark slightly…

The Good

  • Cleverbot

Cleverbot is an innovative chatbot that, unlike many less-sophisticated bots does not have any pre-programmed responses. Instead, it returns responses that relate to keywords or phrases in the communication from the user – then, it references previous conversations that it’s had to see which is the most appropriate response.

And it’s good.

So good that it came exceptionally close to passing the ‘Turing test’ – the benchmark criteria that decides whether or not a machine is indistinguishable from a human in conversational interactions.

Part of what makes Cleverbot so good is the huge amount of ‘learned’ information that it pulls on to reference its answers – currently around 300 million interactions. You can chat with Cleverbot at cleverbot.com and even tackle the 20 questions challenge to see whether you can tell you’re not talking to a human…

  • The Endurance bot

Endurance is the name of the company who are currently creating this as-yet unnamed bot – but it needs a place amongst the best chatbots because of the intention behind its development.

The chatbot powers an app for people with dementia – a condition that can make interaction with others extremely difficult and often distressing for both parties. Dementia can be such a challenge as people who are diagnosed with the condition often retain their ability to physically communicate – but experience intense emotions and confusion that can make daily living and human interaction very difficult.

Where dementia can make communicating with people very difficult – especially owing to intense bouts of short-term memory loss, the aim of the chatbot is to identify, through in-depth analysis of conversational themes, where the conversation is ‘going wrong’ and adapt its own communication to reflect that.

The app’s data is stored on cloud based servers – meaning it’s possible for professionals involved with the person’s care can access it and consider further steps for treatment.

  • U-Report (by UNICEF)

UNICEF’s step into the world of chatbots is somewhat different to a lot of the ‘chatbots for convenience or novelty’ trends that lead the field. Instead, they’re using prepared polls and responses to interactions that help marginalized communities have their voices heard.

And the good news is – it works.

U-report was a instigating factor in uncovering widespread child-abuse in Liberia’s education system – the findings of which were presented to the government by UNICEF and brought to an end by the department for education in the country.

This is a clear instance of how chatbot technology can be used to communicate with people for whom standard communication just doesn’t work – and as a result, how the most important issues in their lives can be highlighted and acted upon.

U-Report isn’t as sophisticated as some of the natural language processing bots work – but in time, it shows that chatbots could be the answer to breaking down barriers when masses of data is required to get a picture of how a community in need could be supported.

The Bad

If you’re expecting a shaming list here you’re going to be a little upset – because even though there are useless chatbots out there – the nature of their uselessness makes them somewhat un-noteworthy.

The bad chatbots are exactly as we’ve described – useless. You want to know what the weather’s going to be doing tomorrow but that chatbot is fixated on telling you what the weather will be like on the other side of the planet – or you’re looking for a particular style of clothing to buy and the bot is returning something totally different.

The big problem with these hopeless experiences is the impact it has on customers. The kind of frustrating interactions that chatbots produce can put people off using your company or site for life – time is precious for your site visitors – and a confused chatbot is likely to eat away at it more, with no solution presented. In fact, nearly 75% of customers asked say that they’d never use a company again after a bad chatbot experience.

That problem is often compounded by the fact that organisations can sometimes seem to hide their use of chatbots – so, your instant chat window pops up and you’re greeted by a line of text usually saying “Hi, you’re speaking to [insert human name], how can I help?”. When it becomes apparent that it’s not Karen, Mark, Jake or any other human on the other end of that chat, another 75% of users say the experience becomes ‘disturbing’ – and puts them off continuing the interaction.

The lesson is this – bad chatbots can damage your business. If you’re using a chatbot of any kind, be clear about it – and make it an option rather than the only option for customer interaction…

The Ugly

  • Tay

When chatbots go wrong, it seems they really go wrong.

‘Tay’ was a chatbot developed by Microsoft and rolled out on Twitter – and part of the quickly unfolding problem lay in the fact that it was powered, seemingly, by content-neutral algorithms – meaning it wasn’t calibrated to reflect or understand the opinions of the masses.

And, since it was met with some extreme views when it got its very own Twitter account – it began echoing those views. Many of Tay’s responses are too inflammatory to even repeat for reference here – but suffice to say there was a significant amount of name calling, bad language, racism and support of genocide.

Shortly after Tay’s brief stint online was brought to an end by Microsoft, the company issued a statement, explaining how Tay was a learning project and that they were “making some adjustments”…

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Games Technology 

How important is the role of Artificial Intelligence to the Online Gambling Industry?

Artificial Intelligence has been a hot talking point over the past couple of years and the discourse around the subject hasn’t escaped any industry or social space. Talk of the future and the technological changes it could bring are thoughts that have perplexed humans since time began.

Many inventions come and go without praise or scrutiny, but nothing has gained such traction in recent years as Artificial Intelligence (AI). Perhaps this is because of how futuristic it seems, clinging onto the coattails of time travel and teleportation as one of those phenomenon’s that seems like the stuff straight from a science fiction novel.

Gambling and AI

The gambling industry is just one of the markets that have been capitalising on these technological advances and the redundancy of the human and/or the efficiency of the robot. Online gambling, like AI has seen a rapid acceleration of growth in recent years, with the online gambling industry in the UK reported to be worth a mega £4.5 billion.

Scott Manford, CEO of Wizard Slots said: “Working in the gambling industry is a fast-paced world and we’re constantly adapting to the technological and legal changes that can come our way. Of course, the protection and safety of our players is paramount but the influence that AI and Virtual Reality is having on our industry is very exciting and perplexing. It’s healthy to look at the influences from both sides of the coin.”

As with all industries with that much money involved they serve themselves up to be worthy destinations for both intense innovation and large scale crime. It will be a long time yet before the robots are teaching us how to live, similarly to the Will Smith movie, iRobot. But perhaps the changes that AI could bring to the gambling world could arrive sooner than we think.

But what do you mean when you say Artificial Intelligence?

Firstly, we must understand what AI is. What we class as intelligence as humans is usual ingrained in education, experience, the ability to solve problems, or the letters ahead of our name. The barometers of human intelligence often rest in particular academic fields such as Mathematics or Sciences.

Humans are temporary and if we look at ourselves scientifically we are against the odds and at the will of many variants that can affect our performance and progress. Ageing being one of them. Perhaps the human life is too short and peak human performance is too brief to crack the important and species changing things that AI could bring to humanity and civilisation.

Artificial Intelligence is a human construct, and based on human perceptions, but the complex coding involved creates a human brain capable of inhumane feats, mass calculation and perception, intense data analysis and many other things. AI is as basic as facial recognition and as complex as self-driving cars. We are now at the point where AI can be self-taught and teach itself new habits without the need for human input.

What impact can AI have on gambling?

But what does all this theory and existentiality mean for the gambling and gaming industries? Online slots websites are inherently run on the complex algorithms of AI, the numbers behind the slot games that create the difficulty and infinite amount of algorithms that prevent the player from out smarting the machine and winning all the money. These algorithms create the odds, human created algorithms that can be left to do the jobs that humans can’t.

In respect of this, the nuclear bomb should never fall into the wrong hands. And the notion resonates in a similar way with AI. For example, if AI can work on the side of the gambling industries, it can also work against it. Computer hackers are often portrayed as clandescent rockstars of the criminal world, their prison sentences are often swapped for desk work at the FBI. Before these rogue vigilantes do this though, who knows the impact they could have on the gambling world.

If someone can build some form of AI that can second guess the gambling algorithms, the PRNG (Pseudorandom Number Generator) as it’s known, then that could see the fall of online gambling. If the casinos can no longer protect themselves from loss, then how can they exist? It’s a battle of who has the smarter intelligence, in simpler terms mathematicians compete to solve and prove theories. Artificial Intelligence would compete against other artificial intelligence to solve infinite and mass data sets, to outthink and even develop its own brain.

To summarise, the challenges that casinos face with AI is nothing new to what has went in the past, there’s always someone or something trying to beat the system, and as technology advances both sides of the coin will try and outwit each other.

Regardless of the advances in technology, the positive effects on the industry should outweigh the bad. Who knows the unthinkable possibilities that AI could bring to the industry both on back end and front end developments.
What is for sure is that we won’t be having any iRobot moments just yet. Augmented reality could revolutionise the way we play and enjoy the age-old industry that is gambling.

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