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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making a lot of headlines lately as leading technology companies inch closer to creating truly artificial intelligence.


At the recent CES-2018 Expo (Consumer Electronics Show), AI was the key topic of discussion in everything from our cars to fridges, and obvisouly our computers and digital lifestyles. One of the leaders of Googles AI research development team stated that "the dawn of AI could have almost the same impact as when humans began using fire".


What will this mean for governance? AI will need to be addressed on many fronts at all levels of governance as it will be such a fundamental change in our lives. I have discussed some of the key points for now but more will arise as this technology develops;


Preventing SkyNet

One of the biggest concerns with AI has come from sci-fi movies such as "The Terminator" where our own creation outsmarts us and attempts to destroy humanity. With AI on the horizon those fears start to become real. Tech genius, Elon Musk has grave concerns saying that "[AI] is the biggest risk we face as a civilisation". Other intellectual heavy weights such as Stephen Hawking have supported Musk in his concerns and in particular want them banned globally from any control of military assets. Both Musk (participant) and Hawkins have endorsed the "Asimolar AI Principles" which can be viewed here: . Hopefully the worlds governments heed these warnings and put limits on AI to ensure these fears are not realised.


Recognition of citizenship for AI

Related image

"Data" the android from Star Trek Next Generation.

Recently the AI Robot, Sohpia was given citizenship in Saudi Arabia. "She" became the first AI to be recognised as a citizen in any country in the world. Whilst this was likely more of a publicity-driven decision, if our own creations do start to become self-aware and sentient then their rights may need to be addressed. We have seen this moral dilemma played out many times in Sci-Fi shows and in the not too distant future, governments may need to consider if an AI can be considered an 'individual' and what rights they may be entitled to. If we also develop the ability to transfer a dying persons consciousnesses into artificial bodies.....well....


Could AI aid in governance and leadership

I believe that initially AI could be used in some small part to assist governments in effective leadership. It will likely start with improved communication, perhaps better analysis and reporting, but could AI one day take a role in society where it actually helps map out our futures and has direct control in leadership? At first it can be an alarming concept, but many people might consider this a viable alternative when you consider the idea of removing personal prejudice, greed and ambition from decisions affecting many people. An AI is likely to make decisions without the consideration of personal gain and from a purely un-emotional standpoint. Of course, a completely dispassionate approach to leadership also has its drawbacks. I recently read an article where a person claimed to have been thrown 6,000 years into the future, and he claimed that AI was running all world governance, according to him things were going quite well! I do not believe that we will surrender key decision making to the first generation of AI's but this is definitely an area to keep an eye on as it may provide new and invaluable support to our leaders at all levels of government.


What are your thoughts on AI becoming a tool or a part of governance? We would love to hear from you. email us at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or leave a comment below.







Cape Town to run out of water in less than 100 days

Wednesday, 31 January 2018 10:49 Published in Environment

The city of Cape Town, South Africa is set to be the first major city in the world to run out of water. Usually fed fresh water from heavy rainfalls in the nearby Table Mountain, Cape Town is now in its third year of drought and is expected to reach 'day zero' in April 2018. 'Day zero' will occur when their dams drop to below 13.5% of capacity.


If this happens then all non-emergency water supplies will be cut and residents will be required to source their water from collection stations with armed guards in position. Each resident will be allowed 25 litres per day. Currently, there is a limit 87 litres per person per day in place and the government has made a live water monitoring map of properties so as to promote a peer-based 'encouragement' of good water habits. This was a controversial move but the government maintains that the benefits of the system outway any privacy-related concerns.


Whilst the government has begun construction on 3 desalinisation plants which they hope will be operational by March 2018, the embattled Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille has taken the surprising action of shutting down the Drought Crisis Team which was created last year. She now holds daily 'water talks' in which she chairs. The Mayor is also facing allegations of irregular spending on an unrelated matter, and residents are said to be in disbelief that the water crisis has come to this point.


Cape Town has been able to reduce its daily water usage by 60 million litres per day, and being seen in public with un-washed hair is now seen as a symbol of being a responsible citizen. The water crisis will no doubt affect Cape Towns tourism trade which is a significant part of its economy. There is also serious concerns about the increase in disease in the area as sanitation becomes a secondary consideration to having enough water to drink.


cape water crisis

A major dam near Cape Town. Photo credit: Adam Spies, courtesy .


Along with local climate trends, global warming has been attributed to the cause of the Cape Town drought with hotter weather being recorded in many parts of the world. With increasing temperatures in Australia, the CSIRO's model predicts that even a 1-2 degree increase in Australia average temperatures could reduce flow in the Murray River by 12-25% and reduce Melbournes water supply 7-35%. Fortunately, most drought-prone states have invested in desalinisation plants, but they do produce salt waste and are energy intensive. Hopefully, as our technology improves, so will our ability to provide clean water for our population and agriculture in the future.


Content sourced from;,,, and, CSIRO,



Mega battery in SA makes $1M Profit in just a few days

Tuesday, 30 January 2018 22:36 Published in Environment

In a previous article, we reported how entrepreneur and visionary Elon Musk came to the aid of South Australia and its highly problematic power supply.

The series of events began when SA experienced a statewide blackout in September 2016. Shortly after this event Musk tweeted that he would be willing to work with the government and promised to solve this problem. Taunted by a fellow high profile tweeter he then made the promise that if he could not deliver the worlds largest lithium battery to the state within 100 days, then they could have it for free.

True to his word, the Telsa owner delivered the battery system in November 2017 well within the 100 days he imposed on himself. Almost immediately the battery was called upon to save the day. When SA's major coal planted tripped on December 14, the massive battery cut in within milliseconds to maintain power to the affected South Australian homes. It is rumored that the battery stepped in so fast that operators at the coal plant did not even realise they had a problem initially.

Tesla teamed up with French renewable energy company, Neon, to provide an adjacent wind farm which is connected to the Tesla Lithium Battery system and this provides the power to the batteries. Out of the systems 100MW/129MWhr capacity 70MW/39MWhr is reserved for the South Australian Government and 30MW/90MWhr is under NEON control and can be sold on the wholesale market. Figures provided to Renew Economy show it was able to sell that power at around $14,000/MWhr on January 18 & 19 with hardly any cost associated to its generation.

While the system had its detractors when it was announced, it seems that it has already proven useful and will allow SA to load balance during summer months, avoiding the rolling blackouts that South Australians have had to endure during peak demand.

If you're interested in the ups and downs of Elon Musk then here is a link to an interesting infographic on his life



Sections of this story sourced from View their article here:








Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that the government will establish a $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund which aims to “support emerging technologies make the leap from demonstration to commercial deployment”. The fund will make $100 million available each year for the next 10 years.

The $1 billion fund will be jointly managed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) which the government says will provide both debt and equity for clean energy projects. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott had previously expressed a desire to close the CEFC and ARENA during his tenure. However the current government stated in a media release that they would “retain and reinvigorate the CEFC and ARENA”.

Retaining the CEFC and ARENA was a “welcome development” according to Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council. However Mr Thornton has also expressed scepticism over the Clean Energy Fund saying that it would essentially be removing funds from ARENA and limiting their ability to provide grants in the future. The Clean Energy Fund has been met with further scepticism from The Australian Solar Council who claim that it will “strip $1.3 billion in renewable energy budget funding” and reallocate it from with the CEFC.

One project that could potentially benefit from the $1 billion fund is the proposed Port Augusta solar-thermal power station. Lobby group Repower Port Augusta sees the solar-thermal plant as a means of driving the local economy forward following the imminent closure of the coal-fired power station. Daniel Spencer, of Repower Port Augusta, says that the solar-thermal plant could cost $100 million to build but would create up to 1,000 jobs in construction and 50 ongoing jobs once operational.



A hydrogen-powered car has recently set the record for the world’s longest continuous journey after it travelled 9,810km on a London motorway. The trial took place on London’s M25 motorway which circles the city and was completed by Hyundai’s hydrogen-powered car, the ix35. The record breaking journey took six days to complete with four different drivers. The journey only required some short stops at various hydrogen refuelling stations to top-up on fuel. During the trip another record was set as the ix35 travelled 643km on one tank of hydrogen which was the furthest recorded by any fuel cell electric vehicle.

The trial was backed by the London Hydrogen Network Expansion Project (LHNE) which also receives government backing. The LHNE aims to promote hydrogen-powered transportation and its benefits including efficiency, low noise levels and no harmful emissions. The sole by-product of the hydrogen fuel production cycle is water meaning there are no greenhouse gas emissions. Water is also used to produce hydrogen.

The Hyundai ix35 has been available to consumers since 2014 and there are other options on the market such as the Toyota Mirai FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle) which was released last year. Other manufacturers such as Honda, Mercedes, BMW, VW and Audi are all developing FCEV’s for future sales. Hydrogen-powered buses are also available and London has a fleet of eight servicing a popular route in the busy city.

There has been somewhat of a slow build up for hydrogen-powered cars when compared to electric cars. Part of the reason could be the reliance hydrogen vehicles have on hydrogen fuel stations, more so the limited availability of these stations. There are currently six stations in the UK with plans to add another six in the next twelve months. Having hydrogen fuel stations more readily available to the public may encourage consumers to make the switch the hydrogen vehicles in the future.

See the video below for more information on the Hyundai ix35.



A company in the United States has found a way to recycle a product that for some time was thought to be unrecyclable, cigarette butts. TerraCycle, based in New Jersey, is able to recycle millions of cigarette butts and turn them into useful products such as railway sleepers and shipping pallets.

TerraCycle was launched in the early 2000’s with the aim of taking products that are not normally recycled and figuring out a way to do so. Today they have more than 7,000 cigarette recycling bins in 9 countries including Australia. TerraCycle also has a facility for people to send in their cigarette butts for recycling free of charge. You can even earn TerraCycle points whilst doing so which can be redeemed for gifts or donations.

Cigarette butts are an environmental hazard. According to US National Health (NIH) out of the 6 trillion cigarettes smoked every year, 4.5 trillion (75 per cent) end up as litter in the environment. As a result, many butts end up in waterways where they can be very damaging to the surrounding environment due to the toxins they contain.

The tightly compacted combination of organic and inorganic materials in a cigarette butt are what makes it difficult to recycle. In order to do so, TerraCycle breaks them down into their individual parts. From here, the organic material can be combined with other food scraps and made into compost for use on non-agricultural land. The filters, made of cellulose acetate, need to be sterilised, shredded and then blended with other recycled materials. They are then melted down into industrial plastic, also known as ‘plastic lumber’. This can be used to build railway sleepers and shipping pallets. Other products such as ashtrays, Frisbees and even playground equipment can be made from the recycled materials.

Unfortunately the recycling process is not cheap and actually costs more than the plastic products can be sold for. This could be why there are no larger recycling plants adopting the process. To get around this, TerraCycle accepts funding from other corporations, including cigarette companies, to sponsor their bins and recycling programs. This allows them to maintain a no-charge recycling program for people who wish to send in their cigarette butts.

TerraCycle is now exploring other household waste which has not been recycled in the past such as chocolate wrappers, pens and mobile phones with the overall aim of reducing the amount of waste ending up in landfill.

Nationwide wide ban on hoverboards, for now

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 10:55 Published in GOVERNMENT NEWS

hoverboard ban


As of March 19th hoverboards, or self-balancing scooters, are banned across Australia for 60 days until further action can be decided. The ban has come as a response to safety concerns over the devices and the potential fire hazard they present. This follows a number of house fires in Australia which are linked to battery explosions caused by charging faulty hoverboard units.

Concerns over safety had previously prompted Victoria’s consumer affairs minister Jane Garrett to write a letter to Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer outlining the dangers of hoverboards and requesting that they be banned nationwide (click here for more).

The ban in Australia comes only two days after the United States also banned the devices due to patent claims by Segway over other overseas suppliers. The Australian ban applies to hoverboards with batteries and battery control systems which don’t meet safety requirements.

Kelly O’Dwyer had this to say on the ban, “The ACCC has advised of four house fires in Australia directly linked to hoverboards resulting in the destruction of two houses. Specifically, the ACCC’s investigation found there are fire safety risks from defective charging devices, electrical circuitry and substandard lithium-ion batteries in hoverboards. The interim ban sets out the safety requirements for batteries and battery control systems that hoverboards must meet in order to be sold in Australia.”

The ban applies to manufacturer and suppliers and is not a product recall as of now. The ACC is expected to consult with hoverboard suppliers and other experts so that products sold following the ban will meet safety standards. Current owners of hoverboards are advised not to charge or use the devices without supplier confirmation that safety standards have been met.

For more information about hoverboard safety standards click the link.



We've put a lot into the new sixth generation Transporter, because we know how much you put in to your work.

The same care that you put into your work, we've put into the new range of Volkswagen Transporters. In fact, when it comes to finding the right commercial vehicle for your fleet, our wide range of Transporter vans represents the cutting edge in safety, efficiency and innovation.

The Transporter range offers a variety of body styles: from regular Van and Crewvan in short or long wheelbase, to cab chassis versions with either Single Cab or Dual Cab. As well, Volkswagen's 4MOTION technology is also available on selected models.

Vehicles with 4MOTION are equipped with the latest generation all-wheel-drive coupling, which improves handling and dynamics. Plus, if your job requires it, mechanical rear differential lock and suspension upgrades are also available.

Under the hood choose from three diesel engines, with manual or direct shift gearbox (DSG). The 2.0 TDI turbo-diesel engine delivers an impressive maximum torque of up to 400Nm.

But, performance isn't everything. Every sixth generation Transporter is fitted with BlueMotion Technology, which helps reduce fuel consumption and emissions. This is achieved thanks to the engine start/stop system and regenerative braking technology.

Safety is paramount. That's why each model is fitted with a host of industry-leading safety features, such as: Fatigue Detection, Multi-collision braking system, and an airbag package that includes front and side/head airbags as standard.

The Fatigue Detection system monitors driving behaviour and, if fatigue is detected, uses visual and acoustic signals to warn tired drivers to pull over and take a break. In the event of an accident, the Multi-collision braking system prevents secondary collisions by triggering your brakes after initial impact.

Long days on the road mean driver comfort and connectivity are essential. That's why a colour touch-screen audio system, with USB, AUX input and Bluetooth audio streaming, comes installed in every Transporter. Plus, you can upgrade to Volkswagen's App-Connect system and in-built satellite navigation.

The Transporter van's ability to take on any challenge is sure to turn heads. The two wheelbases and three roof heights allow a load compartment volume ranging from 5.8m3 to 9.3m3. The payload can be up to 1.2 t, while an optional second sliding door simplifies loading and unloading. And, talking about turning, despite its large capacity, each model still enjoys a remarkably compact parking footprint and turning-circle.

These days a commercial vehicle isn't just for carrying products and equipment. It's a mobile office. That's why there's a spate of factory options for you to choose from to customise your van based on your needs.

However you choose to set up your Transporter, rest assured it's the right vehicle at the right price with the right support for your fleet. For more information on the new Transporter range, go online to

fast train


A plan to link Melbourne and Sydney with a new high-speed train line would see the 824km journey slashed from 11 hours to just 3 hours with trains able to travel up to 350km/h. Melbourne based company Consolidated Land and Rail Australia will pitch the idea in a meeting with the Prime Minister on March 17th.

A high-speed rail line would give commuters another viable option to travel between the two major cities and potentially spark some competition between air and rail travel. As it stands, the rail line is not an option for those wanting to travel between Melbourne and Sydney quickly. However the air route between the cities is the 5th busiest in the world. The high-speed line could provide a comparable alternative to air travel in speed and cost for commuters.

In 2012 a federally funded investigation into a high-speed rail line identified five stops between Melbourne and Sydney to be ideal. These were Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Canberra and Mittagong. Those areas could see an increase in tourism and business with a connection to a high-speed rail line.


fast rail


MP for Bennelong John Alexander said that there are “three separate groups who are looking at similar ideas” including Consolidated Land and Rail Australia. "There are a number of groups that are looking at securing their own land at the current price, funding the infrastructure and then paying for it in the uplift of the properties," Mr Alexander said.

This idea is not the first of its kind in Australia, various groups have been proposing high-speed rail lines since the 1990’s. The Howard government was the last to look at such a proposal back in 2000 involving a link between Sydney and Canberra. However the proposal was denied due to the $4.5 billion cost.

caddy vw


Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has launched the fourth generation of the hugely popular Caddy in Australia. The Caddy model range includes short and long wheelbase vans, a long wheelbase 5-seat crewvan, plus people movers with up to seven seats.

A 1.4 litre 92kW TSI petrol engine is available for all models, paired with either a 7-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG) or 6-speed manual transmission. Volkswagen’s BlueMotion Technology stop/start system is standard, helping to reduce fuel consumption.

The Caddy Van has a large number of assistance systems, which are largely unmatched in the urban delivery van segment. Front and front/side airbags are standard, as is an all-new fatigue detection system and a multi-collision braking system. Optionally available is the ‘Front Assist’ surround monitoring system – which helps shorten stopping distances – and City Emergency Braking, which provides braking assistance at low speeds of under 30km/h.

All Caddy models have a colour touch screen audio system and Bluetooth phone capability with audio streaming. The redesigned interior boasts comfortable seats and an ergonomic layout of all controls and storage compartments.

The Caddy Van is available now and starts from just $23,990 driveaway for the 1.2 litre 62kW TSI petrol ‘Runner’ model with 5-speed manual transmission.


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