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Digital gives us time to think

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Just as mechanical muscle lowered the demand for physical labour, today’s technology is reducing the demand for human intervention, and opening up more opportunities for people to think, writes LENORE KERRIGAN, Country Manager, OpenText Africa.

The pace of technological change today is being called the “fourth industrial revolution.” New solutions powered by artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and machine learning are enabling machines to handle processes that once required human decision-making.  Just as mechanical muscle lowered the demand for physical labour in the first industrial revolution, today cutting-edge technology is reducing the demand for human intervention.

The “migration” of tasks from humans to software and machines has been evident for quite some time. From ATMs to automated check-in at airports, technology has been replacing humans across multiple, relatively simple and repetitive tasks. Today, this transformation is allowing much more complex and nuanced tasks to move from human speed to machine speed, and taking place across industries that, historically, have remained largely untouched by machine intervention.

Most recently, we are seeing AI and cognitive systems used in legal discovery, insurance applications, underwriting and claims processing, and the delivery of financial investment advice. In healthcare, telemedicine can allow diagnosis and monitoring without the need to physically see a clinician, and even enable a surgeon to operate from another hospital or country. And while human involvement is not entirely removed, it is clear that some jobs that we have long understood as “human” are being displaced by technology.

The automation option

New opportunities for automation will continue to appear, as we see more and more mechanization, automation, AI, and robotics move in to replace human workers. But it’s not all doom and gloom. As technology develops to enable a whole raft of “traditional” roles to be replaced, new jobs will be created in the transition. Jobs that play to the heart of what make us human—creativity, innovation and strategic thought.

A key benefit of digital transformation is that it releases humans from the confines of mundane work and opens up more opportunity for people to spend time thinking—to conceive of technology that can add more value to everyday life. The time gained through automation can be used to innovate, germinate ideas, and conceive new processes fueled by the kind of thinking that only happens when our minds have time to wander.

The beginning of a sweeping societal change?

The World Economic Forum, as well as economists, analysts, and labour organizations predict a wave of job losses coming from the surge in AI, robotics, and other technologies. Though timing is not certain, one projection says we could expect a net loss of 7.1 million jobs over the next five years in 15 leading countries—the countries that make up approximately 65 percent of the world’s total workforce. Two million of the jobs lost will be offset by the creation of new positions. These will be the roles that support and foster the new wave of innovation beyond what we see as credible or possible today.

The endurance of creative and leadership roles  

As digital technologies take hold, there will be a greater need for individuals who can build, develop and make sense of these changes. Developers, programmers, scientists, and technologists will—more than ever—be required to drive forward the accelerating pace of change. This disruption requires deep, creative thinking by economists, lawyers, and policy makers who can interpret how governance, intellectual property, and society at large will have to adapt.

Going forward, there will be more roles for people who are creative, those who have really honed their ability to think and consider a complete landscape of facts to come up with the right path. Today’s biggest ideas are not just the result of organizing data or understanding a spreadsheet; it’s the culmination of someone’s life experience: what they hear, what they read, who they converse with, and how they process that information within their very human brain to come up with the next big thing.

While algorithms may automate decision-making, it won’t be easy to replace leaders who can navigate fast-paced, intense change.

At the end of the day, you may wonder if a machine could do your job. And the answer is that it could probably do some of it. And that’s okay, because automation will free us up to do more of the thinking required to come up with what’s next, perhaps with the help of a new robot friend or two.

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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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