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AI goes job-hunting

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Artificial intelligence has evolved to the extent that companies will be using bits of it to streamline job functions, representing an opportunity for employees in the digital world, writes FRANK RIZZO, Technology sector leader at KPMG, South Africa.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can no longer be considered the stuff of science fiction. In fact, it has evolved to such an extent that many companies will soon be using elements of it to streamline job functions – and this represents a significant opportunity for employees in the digital world.

AI brings with it substantial potential for the business to take previously laborious tasks and automate them. And while automation is nothing new, the fact that we are entering a phase where AI targets highly skilled knowledge workers is not something that business have had to address before. So, should South African employees be concerned that they will lose their jobs to AI and automation? There is no denying the fact that there will be an impact, but it is not in the way many think.

Knowledge workers are under increasing pressure to do more given the influx of data inside the organisation. Taking both structured and unstructured forms, employees must continuously learn to innovate and use the data at their disposal to deliver value for the business. All of this is happening in an environment where time is still taken up by numerous day-to-day tasks.

For example, responding to customer queries, performing administrative functions, conducting research, managing aspects of financial and legal services, and so on require people to rely on their intelligence and situational analysis to make decisions and take action.

However, advances in AI and automation means that methodologies will likely come to the fore, where technology can be used to take care of many of these standard activities. The benefit this provides both the organisation and the knowledge worker is that time can now be used more effectively to perform more mission-critical functions.

In many respects, AI is still in its early days, especially when it comes to a mass roll-out across businesses, irrespective of industries. Even though the potential exists, developers and organisations still need to find the most efficient ways of introducing these components into existing processes. In South Africa, where there is a significant rate of unemployment, some might feel threatened by this potential.

And yet, this does not have to be the case.

By using AI to automate certain job functions, the organisation can focus on empowering the employee with additional skills and knowledge required to benefit from the digital economy. By reducing the number of menial tasks, the organisation will be able to create new job functions (for example data scientist) that are designed to harness the potential of a connected society.

Of course, this will not happen overnight. As with any revolution, the fourth industrial revolution currently being experienced will incrementally change the way we work and live.

Industry 4.0 is predominantly focused on automation and data exchanges in manufacturing technologies. Today, focus will be given to reinvention and using technologies in new and different ways to be more efficient and cost-conscious. In reality, we can do very little to stop how technology evolves and how AI will become even more intelligent and intuitive. However, it is not going to be a case of ‘us versus them’. Instead, companies the world over will find ways in which employees will work in collaboration with AI and automation to capitalise on all available resources.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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