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Science fiction is full of stories about androids and robots who help enable space travel for humans. The first step has just been taken to make this a reality, with the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled astronaut assistant making its debut aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

With the festive season around the corner, there has already been a marked increase in both online and physical scams designed to rob people of their money. The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) has warned people to exercise increased caution this holiday season due to the prevalence of scams and crime, including ATM fraud, phishing, and various social engineering attacks.

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South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind boasts some of the oldest hominid fossils found in the world, as does east Africa, leading scientists to believe that Africa was the original wellspring of humanity. Research conducted by Quentin Atkinson, a cultural anthropologist at Auckland University in New Zealand, also promotes this theory, finding that the world’s 6000 modern languages can be traced back to a single “mother tongue”, an ancestral language spoken in Africa 50 000 to 70 000 years ago.

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These days, we cannot imagine our lives without our smartphones. Research shows that 93% of South Africans now have access to smartphones, joining The Netherlands, Norway, Ireland and Luxembourg on the short list of countries that have surpassed the 90% threshold.

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Since the discovery of penicillin, medicine has used the latest technologies available at the time to help cure diseases and ailments. Today, stem cell research promises to fundamentally change how treatments are designed and administered, but we are still years away from stem cell therapies becoming common.

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The world has slowly become aware of the dangers of plastics to the environment, with recycling initiatives becoming more prevalent over the last decade. While we have all seen the pictures of clogged landfills and birds choking on plastic, human beings have been unaware of the detrimental effect these polymers have been having on us.

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China is set to launch an artificial moon into space in 2020 with the aim to replace street lights. Wu Chunfeng, chairman of space contractor Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co (CASC) has told media that the country is two years away from sending a lighting satellite to space, and that the satellite will complement the light of the moon at night.

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South Africa has been in the international news a great deal lately, with even President Donald Trump publicly weighing in on the land redistribution question. One woman has put the country back in the limelight across the globe for a completely different – and much brighter – reason.

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The South African government has launched the world’s first citizen engagement platform that makes use of popular messaging application WhatsApp. The theory is that, for the first time in South Africa’s history, citizens will be able to access over 10 000 public representatives supporting over 30 000 public facilities and services in communities nationwide.