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As Canadians prepare for a possible interest rate hike from the Bank of Canada this week, a new study is warning that the country's indebted consumers are increasingly struggling to keep up with their expenses. One-third of Canadians say they are no longer able to cover their monthly bills and debt payments, according to a survey carried out by Ipsos for insolvency consultancy MNP, up from 25 per cent in a survey three months earlier. "With interest rates on the rise, Canadians are more stretched financially than they have ever been before," MNP President Grant Bazian said in a statement.
An artificial intelligence algorithm has outperformed humans at a reading comprehension test for the first time, potentially putting millions of customer service jobs at risk of automation. The AI algorithm, developed by Chinese retail giant Alibaba, outscored humans in the Stanford Question Answering Dataset (SQuAD)—a global reading test consisting of more than 100,000 questions. Using natural-language processing, the machine-learning model developed by Alibaba’s Institute of Data Science of Technologies beat rival humans with a score of 82.44 compared to 82.305, the company said.
NASA’s Hubble Telescope has captured a picture of the young SPT0615-JD galaxy, which existed more than 13 billion years ago. While astronomers have observed some galaxies at this distance, they have only appeared as tiny red pin pricks. A strange phenomenon called gravitational lensing has allowed astronomers to see this ancient galaxy bigger and brighter than any others from this distance.
Chinese scientists have an audacious proposal to clean up Earth’s cluttered orbit using giant lasers to obliterate old satellites and other space junk. A paper, titled Impacts of orbital elements of space-based laser station on small scale space debris removal, by researchers at the Air Force Engineering University in China describes how space debris could be zapped into smaller, less-harmful pieces using space-based lasers. Space junk is an issue that has been occupying international space agencies for years, with NASA considering a variety of options to track, detect and remove man-made debris.
Scientists on Monday announced the discovery of a crow-sized, bird-like dinosaur with colorful feathers from northeastern China that lived 161 million years ago during the Jurassic Period. Microscopic structures in the exquisitely preserved, nearly complete fossil unearthed in Hebei Province indicated that it boasted iridescent feathers, particularly on its head, neck and chest, with colors that shimmered and shifted in the light, like those of hummingbirds. The discovery "suggests a more colorful Jurassic World than we previously imagined," said evolutionary biologist Chad Eliason of the Field Museum in Chicago, one of the researchers in the study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Noise and misinformation, especially on climate, has long been a problem on social media. To counter this, Australian not-for-profit the Climate Council has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to inform people about climate science. SEE ALSO: Facebook announces a big News Feed change — and just wants you to be happy Launched on its Facebook page last week, it's an effort to connect with younger people who are interested in issues like climate change, but aren't the most engaged with the organisation — largely due to broader information overload. "Young people are saturated on social media because they're the most active on it, we know that they care and that they've got the thirst for information," Nelli Huié, digital manager at the Climate Council, explained. "But because they've got the highest use of social media, they've got the most voices clamouring to reach them through the News Feed. It can be a real challenge for us to cut through that noise." The Climate Council's chatbot in action.Image: The climate councilThe Climate Council started working with digital agency AKQA on the chatbot project last year. They aim to distill the organisation's high-level science into the more colloquial way people speak on Messenger. "It's really important to us that information on climate science is available to everyone ... making sure we distill that information in a way that anyone can understand it, and anyone can access it," Huié added. The chatbot's first iteration is simple, featuring a script that encourages users to take action on climate and assist in lowering emissions. It starts by giving an update on how countries like Australia are tracking to meet the Paris Agreement and leads into more personal responsibility. Eventually, the goal is for the chatbot to become like a "choose your own adventure" book. "People can [choose] the subject they want more information on, say if it's coal or Great Barrier Reef bleaching, and they can follow along and get information right down to the nitty gritty," Huié said. In an age where misinformation can swirl around social media unfettered, even by certain world leaders, the chatbot could be a handy tool to bust myths on say, the recent polar vortex in the U.S. "With this chatbot, once people are engaged with it, we are actually able to send them a message and say, 'Hey here's some facts on the polar vortex, and what's really happening.' I think that's a really cool development," Huié remarked. WATCH: This VR gym makes you work out by playing games
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