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AfricaCom launches 20th edition

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At the Cape Town Convention Centre, AfricaCom will be kicking off for the 20th year from the 7 to 9 November.

Africa’s technology journey into the future will be showcased at the 20th edition of the AfricaCom show to be held in Cape Town from 7 to 9 November.

“2017 is a landmark for AfricaCom.  Over the past two decades, we have grown from being a purely telecommunications-focused event, to a broad digital communications show now hosting the foremost group of influencers involved in every aspect of the African digital ecosystem,” says Tom Cuthell, Portfolio Director of KNect365, organiser of the show.

“As the digi-sphere continues to expand and impact every aspect of our personal and professional lives, AfricaCom has grown in scope to create a broad platform for everybody involved in powering the digital economy in Africa. I am delighted to share some of the fresh developments that will continue to accelerate Africa’s digital transformation anchoring it for the future of the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

Some of the new areas include:

·         The Technology Arena – located in the CTICC’s new extension – an exhibition hall dedicated to mapping Africa’s journey through the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will host:

o    AfricaCom 20/20  – the centrepiece and base of the 20th anniversary celebrations.  A vibrant, interactive, buzzing place to see digital solutions from top innovators; interact with next generation technologies in specially designed demo pods; and listen to thought provoking dialogue around ‘providing clarity of vision on future tech trends’.

o    The new Innovation Stage – that will showcase ICT solutions affecting the converging TMT industries in Africa. Lively debate and discussion on topics such as eHealth and ICT4D, with quickfire presentations, and product pitches will be the order of the day.

o    The Technology Arena will also be the new home for the AHUB – AfricaCom’s matchmaking centre for start-ups and investors; and TV Connect Africa – the confluence of broadcast, telecoms, content and new media experts in Africa, intent on developing commercial models for ITC across digital Africa.

Three days of networking, thought provoking content and tech, will also showcase new opportunities in Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, FinTech, Blockchain, digital skills and more.

As always, the calibre of speakers – 400 of them – addressing attending delegates, is a major drawcard (as too the over 400 exhibitors).  Conference tracks such as Visions for Africa Keynotes, SDN and NFV, Mobile Finance and eCommerce in Africa, Enterprise ICT, and Connecting Africa, as well as LTE Africa, will deliver the latest advances in their respective areas.  Some of the luminaries to present their insights are; Herman Singh, Group Chief Digital Officer, MTN; John Momoh (OON), Chairman & CEO, Channels Media Group; Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, Director General, National Broadcasting Commission; Joseph Hundah, CEO, Econet Media.

The annual AfricaCom Awards will once again highlight leaders in their respective fields and Cuthell reminded guests, that entries for these industry heavyweight acknowledgments were also now open.

Launched in 2016, AFEST returns to Shimmy Beach Club for a night of high-energy entertainment, echoing the vibrancy of AfricaCom 2017.  Featuring a line-up of local and international artists, partygoers have the chance to network, and celebrate African technology.

Cuthell said he recognised the many challenges that still needed  to be understood, before solutions could be developed and implemented to ensure that all Africans are included in the digital economy.

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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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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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