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Can machine learning solve IoT data challenge?

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A new report from Forrester advises CIOs to leverage machine learning to turn the tsunami of data obtained in Internet of Things (IoT) deployments into actionable insights.

Successful companies in the industrial sector that are doing this are not only predicting problems and opportunities before they occur, but are also developing new revenue streams during their digital transformation.

Large volumes of data are required to train and then exploit machine learning algorithms, and fortunately that data is now easily accessible, especially as IoT gains traction in industries. According to Forrester’s Paul Miller, senior analyst serving CIO professionals and lead author of the report, “Put Data to Work in the Industrial Internet of Things,” machine learning is becoming a powerful tool in efforts to win, serve, and retain customers.

“It’s easy to focus on automating or augmenting existing processes with IoT, and this can deliver real cost savings and efficiency gains. But the bigger opportunity is using IoT and machine learning to drive entirely new business models, with far-reaching implications for the way in which your products are built, sold, used, and maintained,” explains Miller in the report.

Some organisations are already seeing good results by combining machine learning with IoT:

  • Ocado, one of the UK’s online-only grocers, has augmented its human packers with robots that swarm and cooperate. Average picking times have dropped significantly from two hours to just 15 minutes.
  • HUK-Coburg, a German car insurer, has partnered with IoT and telematics company Robert Bosch to develop a usage-based insurance and rescue solution which monitors driving patterns and rewards safe driving habits. Good drivers have seen premiums drop by as much as 30 percent.
  • Siemens’ claimed that shortly after giving control of the turbines to a set of machine learning algorithms at a gas-fired power station, emissions of nitrogen oxides reduced by almost 20 percent beyond the best engineers could achieve.

Miller also points out that Forrester currently identifies three core scenarios driving IoT adoption: designing connected products and experiences; operating connected business processes; and consuming connected insights. He also says that Forrester is now observing three broad classes of adoption for IoT.

Asset monitoring and control 

Although basic asset monitoring and control is rarely exciting, the report points out that this is often the first experience of IoT within the industrial sectors. Moreover, Miller writes that when the experience is done right, its return on investment could free up the resources to pay for future developments.

Some examples of these uses include smart meters to monitor energy usage; keeping track of movable assets in the transport sector; and managing temperatures in smart buildings.

Prediction and action 

The report acknowledges that the migration from asset monitoring and basic control to prediction and action is a big step, particularly for manufacturing firms that have typically focused on the physical aspects. Forrester advises that in order to succeed, companies must gather data from their own systems and from the environment in which those systems operate. They should extract insights from that data, (perhaps using the digital twin concepts that most IoT platforms support), and then interpret those insights and take action.

According to Miller, data and the insights extracted from it, are key to digital ecosystems that so many organisations now try to control.  IoT devices are an important source of data, but it’s vital that organisations understand and use the data in a timely and effective manner. Forrester believes that this is an important juncture where machine learning begins to play a real part in an organisation’s use of IoT.

Some examples where this next step in the IoT / machine learning can benefit companies include: Smart buildings which monitor weather and adjust temperatures in anticipation; transport companies anticipating failure as a means to better manage moveable assets; and building supply chains which are able to adapt to allow for customisable production, but still retain efficiencies and optimisation of resources.

Powering new business models

While the progressive use of IoT and machine learning is helping drive efficiencies as described above, Forrester believes the truly digitally minded CIO can make use of IoT and machine learning to imagine and implement entirely new business models.

Some examples of these new businesses models include: train-as-a-service offerings where the manufacturer owns and maintains the trains and simply sells their services to the rail companies; and compressor manufacturers selling compressed air by the litre to buildings. In both these instances, the manufacturer can monitor equipment, predict failures and ensure less downtime, while the customer gets exactly the service they need at a more competitive rate, without carrying the asset on their books.

Finally, Forrester cautions that while companies make the transition from physical to digital organisation, CIOs will need to ensure that they facilitate the transition and avoid putting a chokehold on the evolution – which could, ultimately, damn the organisation to irrelevance.

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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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