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Robots Teach In Chinese Kindergartens

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Robots Teach In Chinese Kindergartens

In China, robots are being developed to deliver groceries, provide companionship to the elderly, dispense legal advice and now they have joined the ranks of educators in kindergartens.

Just under 60 centimetres (two feet) high, the autonomous robot named Keeko has been a hit in several kindergartens, telling stories and challenging children with logic problems.

In one Chinese kindergarten, children giggled as they worked to solve puzzles assigned by their new teaching assistant: a roundish, short educator with a screen for a face.

White with a tubby body, the armless robot zips around on tiny wheels, its inbuilt cameras doubling up both as navigational sensors and a front-facing camera allowing users to record video journals.

At the Yiswind Institute of Multicultural Education on the outskirts of Beijing, the children have been tasked to help a prince find his way through a desert — by putting together square mats that represent a path taken by the robot — part storytelling and part problem-solving.

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Each time they get an answer right, the device reacts with delight, its face flashing heart-shaped eyes.

“Education today is no longer a one-way street, where the teacher teaches and students just learn,” said Candy Xiong, a teacher trained in early childhood education who now works with Keeko Robot Xiamen Technology as a trainer.

“When children see Keeko with its round head and body, it looks adorable and children love it. So when they see Keeko, they almost instantly take to it,” she added.

Keeko robots have entered more than 600 kindergartens across the country with its makers hoping to expand into Greater China and Southeast Asia.

Beijing has invested money and manpower in developing artificial intelligence as part of its “Made in China 2025” plan, with a Chinese firm last year unveiling the country’s first human-like robot that can hold simple conversations and make facial expressions.

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According to the International Federation of Robots, China has the world’s top industrial robot stock, with some 340,000 units in factories across the country engaged in manufacturing and the automotive industry.

The service robot market — which includes devices ranging from specialised medical equipment to automated vacuum cleaners –- is estimated to be worth $1.32 billion last year.

It is expected to grow to $4.9 billion by 2022, said market research firm Research In China.

Last week, Beijing hosted the World Robot Conference, featuring machines that can diagnose diseases, play badminton and wow audiences with their musical skills.

Last year, a group of monks in Beijing created a two-foot-high robot monk dispensing mantras and advice to attaining nirvana.

The iPal — a companion of sorts for children — is the latest humanoid robot to be marketed for family use, following in the footsteps of the diminutive, wisecracking “Pepper” companion released by Japan’s SoftBank in 2015.

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The Keeko robots cost about 10,000 yuan ($1,500) — roughly equivalent to the monthly salary of a Chinese kindergarten teacher

But Xie Yi, principal of the kindergarten where Keeko has been put on trial, believes that it will be a long while before robots can completely replace humans in the classroom.

“To teach you must be able to interact, have a human touch, eye contact and facial expressions. These are the things that make an education,” Xie said.

“It’s not just the language or the content, it’s everything.”

She said the Keeko robots, which cost about 10,000 yuan ($1,500), or about the monthly salary of a kindergarten teacher, may have some advantages over a flesh-and-blood educator.

“The best thing about robots? They’re more stable (than humans),” she said with a laugh.

NAN

African News

Huawei To Build Two Data Centers In South Africa

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Huawei To Build Two Data Centers In South Africa

China`s tech company, Huawei says it will build two data centers in South Africa from next month as part of plans to expand cloud services across Africa.

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It says, the company is working with South African partners for the construction of the data centers in Johannesburg initially and later cape town.

Its cloud service will be available to organizations in South Africa as well as neighboring countries.

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The Chinese firm, at the center of global security concerns, wants to challenge amazon, which is also expanding its presence in the emerging tech hub of cape town.

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Tech News

Facebook Removes Hundreds Of Accounts Engaged In “Inauthentic Behaviour”

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Facebooks Removes Hundreds Of Accounts Engaged In "Inauthentic Behaviour"

Facebook said it has removed hundreds of accounts linked to spreading fake news and hate speech in Indonesian.

In efforts by Facebook Inc to prevent social network being misused in the build up to elections, 207 Facebook Pages, 800 Facebook accounts and 546 Facebook Groups accounts were removed for “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

According to Reuters, Facebook’s head of Cybersecurity Policy, Nathaniel Gleicher said The accounts and pages were actively working to conceal what they were doing and were linked to the Saracen Group, “an online syndicate in Indonesia.”

“They have using deceptive messaging and… networks of concealed pages and accounts to drive often divisive narratives over key issues of public debates in Indonesia,” Gleicher said.

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African News

Volkswagen To Build Car Plant In Ethiopia

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Volkswagen To Build Car Plant In Ethiopia

German car-maker Volkswagen have announced their plan to assemble cars in Ethiopia. The car-maker said in a statement that they will build a car plant and a training centre in the country. Many Ethiopians have found owning a car too expensive because of import taxes of up to 200%.

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A 2014 Deloitte report, says Ethiopia has the world’s lowest rate of car ownership, with only two cars per a thousand inhabitants.

Volkswagen made the announcement in front of the German president as he visited the country.

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