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Africa Tech Riot coming

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From 19 August to 3 September the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival is back in Johannesburg to explore and celebrate technology and creativity by Africans for Africa. |From 19 August to 3 September the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival is back in Johannesburg to explore and celebrate technology and creativity by Africans for Africa. 

The 2016 festival has cast its central theme as ‘Afro Tech Riot’ as community, femininity, notions of the spiritual, and exploring African knowledge systems in the creative, innovative and technological space come to life in an unmissable calendar of events.

The Tshimologong Precinct, previously Inc nightclub, is located at 47 Juta Street in Braamfontein and extends half the city block along Juta Street and between Station and Henri Streets. It will be transformed into an energetic techno-sphere for two weeks of playing, making, shifting, and sharing through seminars, talks, exhibitions, game arcades, workshops, performances, innovation riots, installations, tech demos, pitches, parties and future sounds. All events are open for public particpation and are aimed at all levels of experience, from ‘just interested’ to professional developers. Keep your eye out for the full program on www.fakugesi.co.za by the end of July.

Now in its third successful year, Fak’ugesi was originally founded by Prof Christo Doherty and Tegan Bristow from Wits Digital Arts, together with Prof Barry Dwolatzky from the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE). From the isiZulu term meaning “add power” or “put on the electricity”, Fak’ugesi acts as a platform that brings together diverse digital and technology sectors to collaborate and share skills in digital media and technology innovation.

In the spirit of celebrating African technology and innovation through creativity, and supporting the festival in its project to develop Johannesburg’s ICT capacity, the primary sponsor for Fak’ugesi 2016 is the City of Johannesburg. The festival’s annual partners also include the JCSE, Wits University, the British Council’s ConnectZA and InnovationZA and the Goethe Institut, together with new partners Pro Helvetia Johannesburg and the Innovation Hub.

2016 Festival Director, Tegan Bristow, says that The Tshimologong Precinct, which has been under construction for the last year and a half, will officially launch with this year’s Fak’ugesi Festival with what promises to an outstanding line up geared towards bringing tech innovation to people in a fun, accessible and playful way.

In 2016, annual favourites return to the festival, including:

Fak’ugesi Digital Africa Residency, in which artists and creative technologists work together to better understand and explore contemporary technology from a creative perspective. In 2016 the Fak’ugesi Digital Africa Residency is supported by and is being produced in collaboration with Pro Helvetia Johannesburg. Visitors can attend exhibitions and workshops with artists.

Agile Africa Conference, the software developer’s conference organised by the JCSE. Developers, testers, project managers and line managers participate in three days of sessions focused on the challenges of software development in Africa. The conference will run from 22 to 24 August.

Members of the South African Maker Collective together with the ConnectZA lead Market Hack, to present playful activities around electronics, digital making and general Saturday fun on the 27 August alongside the weekly Neigbourgoods Market in Braamfontein.

A MAZE Johannesburg, a festival in its own right focusing on both local and international indie gaming and playful media will take place from 31 August to 3 September. Visitors can look forward to talks and workshops, as well as playing in the A MAZE Arcade.

Soweto Pop Up, started in 2015 in collaboration between A MAZE Johannesburg and Maker Library Network (ConnectZA), this is a day-long festival pop–up that aims to bring digital making and playful media to locations outside of Braamfontein.

In addition to annual favourites, the following will be key events in this year’s brand new and exciting program:

ALIGHT, led by Between10and5 and Create Africa in partnership with the French Insitut and ConnectZA this street event is a spectacular showing of light art, light sculpture, architectural light installation and light based interactive games.

Future Sounds, in this project Berlin based artists and technologists, The Constitute, (hosted by Goethe Insitut Johannesburg) will collaborate with Johannesburg based Create Africa in a project that will bring together SA’s hip-hop and electronic music artists, local filmmakers lead by Lebo Rasethaba and technologists. The outcome of the collaboration will be performed live at the festivals ALIGHT party.

Smart City Day, a day focusing specifically on Johannesburg and the city’s drive towards better ICT and will feature the 2016 Hack Jozi finalists, the School Project in collaboration with Wits Digital Arts and much more.

Geekulcha Maker Library Pop Up, is the ConnectZA Maker Library grant recipient for 2016 and will be ‘occupying’ the festival for its full length to bring a series of fun, interesting and playful tech related workshops and events. Their full programme will include everything from learning about 3D to making holograms and even space walking.

Fak’ugesi Festival Talks, a fun and informative talk series featuring the Fak’ugesi Residents and projects, with nights curated by special guests such as Bubblegum Club and more. The series is designed to speak directly to the 2016 festival themes; community, the feminine, and spirituality in technology in Africa.

Along with these key events, the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival will be packed with smaller events, workshops and engagements aimed at people, young and old, and at all levels of expertise.  The festival invites everyone to claim their territory in the digital innovation movement, and bring together creativity and technology by Africans for Africa.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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