Alibaba opens AI ‘future hotel’

admin   •   December 26, 2018   •   22495

Interior of Alibaba’s AI ‘future hotel’ and a robot | REUTERS

Chinese internet giant Alibaba has opened a hotel loaded with artificial intelligence (AI) and robots, automating a series of procedures like check-in, lights control and room service.

FlyZoo Hotel, opened in Hangzhou, capital of east China’s Zhejiang Province, where Alibaba is headquartered, is known as the company’s first “future hotel”.

Customers can check into the hotel by simply scanning their faces. The facial recognition system installed in the hotel also enables customers to use their faces as key cards to open doors and access other hotel services.

Users can also control the lights, television and curtains in the room via Alibaba’s voice-activated digital assistant, while robots are deployed to serve dishes, cocktails and coffee.

Hotel bookings and check-out can also be done with a few clicks on mobile through an app. The hotel is the latest example of Chinese techcompanies’ foray into traditional industries such as the hospitality sector.

“We don’t have to waste our time on registering and waiting in lines. Many services like check in can be done with a smartphone. Secondly, I feel more safe with the help of this technology and these smart facilities,” said Sam Wang, a customer.

Some people may concern that these robots may put the human hotel staff out of a job.

“I’m not worried about being replaced by robots, because machines and robots can only do some simple works at this hotel. It is the human employees that can provide better services. The robots can save us a lot of time so that we can better serve our customers,” said Sun Xiaoting, an employee of FlyZoo Hotel.

Many customers said technology is making hotels more convenient and upgrading their services. But others said information safety and privacy are major concerns.

Many hotels across the world are now teaming with tech companies to upgrade their facilities with AI and Internet of Things technologies. FlyZoo Hotel’s CEO Wang Qun said safety and service will always be their top priority.

“So we are already concerning about this kind of issue. First of all, we will completely comply with the local government policies and local laws. Secondly with our system capabilities, because you know all our systems are cloud based, we have more and more strong capabilities to protect those data and privacies from our individual guests,” said Wang.

Wang said the FlyZoo Hotel is 1.5 times more efficient than its competitors. — Reuters

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Duterte to insist arbitral ruling to China: ‘Whether you like it or not’

Marje Pelayo   •   August 22, 2019

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte, Pag-asa Island and Chinese President Xi Jinping

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that he will raise the arbitral ruling that favors the Philippines in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea when he visits China next week.

Duterte is scheduled to fly to China for a working visit from August 28 to September 3.

He will meet Chinese president Xi Jinping and talk about the Hague ruling, the code of conduct, as well as the proposed joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

“So whether you like it or not, would it make you happy or not, angry or otherwise. Sorry, but we have to talk the arbitral ruling, then what we get, if there is a start of the exploration and extraction of whatever there is in the bowels of the earth,” the President said during the inauguration of the 7.5 megawatt peak solar power project in the municipality of Odiongan, Tablas Island in Romblon on Wednesday (August 21).

“The proposal of 60-40 in our favor, would be a good start. I hope it would graduate to something like towards how do we solve the arbitral ruling peacefully,” he added.

The event was the President’s first public engagement after being out of the public eye for more than a week. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to decide on banning online gambling in PH amid China’s call – Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   August 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Wednesday (August 21) said it is up to President Rodrigo Duterte to decide on the operations of online gambling in the country.

“We have to ask the President on this policy or issue,” Panelo told reporters.

“Hindi natin alam kung may possibility or wala. We have to ask the President,” he added.

On Tuesday (August 20), Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang has called on the Philippine government to ban all forms of online gambling.

“We have also taken note of the Philippine government’s announcement and appreciate it,” he said in a press conference in Beijing.

“We hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling,” he added.

Defense officials expressed concern over proximity of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) near military camps arguing the possibility of Chinese workers becoming spies for Beijing.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), meanwhile, has already stopped accepting applications for POGO licenses in the country unless underlying issues are settled.

But Panelo noted that online gambling remains legal under Philippine law.

China detains employee of British consulate in Hong Kong

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang confirming detention of Chinese national working at Britain’s Hong Kong consulate, Simon Cheng | Courtesy: Reuters

A Chinese national working at Britain’s Hong Kong consulate has been detained in China’s border city of Shenzhen for violating the law, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday (August 21), likely worsening already strained ties between Beijing and London.

Simon Cheng did not return to work on Aug. 9 after visiting the neighbouring mainland city of Shenzhen the previous day, Hong Kong news website HK01 reported.

Cheng’s family confirmed his disappearance in a Facebook post on Tuesday (August 20) night, saying he travelled from Hong Kong to Shenzhen on the morning of Aug. 8 for a business trip.

Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Cheng had been detained for 15 days by Shenzhen police for violating public security management regulations, though he gave no details.

“He is not a UK citizen. In other words that means he’s Chinese, so it’s entirely an internal matter for China,” Geng said.

“We’ve made stern representations to Britain for the series of comments and actions they’ve made on Hong Kong,” he added.

Britain has said it is “extremely concerned” by reports that the staff member at the consulate in its former colony had been detained.

Hong Kong has been gripped by anti-government protests in recent weeks, with Beijing accusing Britain and other Western countries of meddling in its affairs. (Reuters)

(Production: Martin Pollard)

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