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Free e-learning platform reaches 200k in SA

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South Africans are taking to the Internet in greater numbers than ever before to gain workplace skills, according to new figures released by Alison.

The Irish organisation, which is one of South Africa’s largest free e-learning providers, has announced that the site has passed the 200 000 registered user milestone in South Africa. It also revealed that 57% of its users in 2016 were female, and that the site is most popular in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Mike Feerick, Founder and CEO of Alison, said: “South Africa has been quick to take up online learning, which is seen in almost 600 000 visits to our site in 2016. The feedback we’re getting from learners here suggests that they value the flexibility and breadth of subjects we can offer. It’s not a surprise to us that the majority of our South African learners are women; this reflects a pattern we have seen in other parts of the world.”

According to newly released figures for 2016, the most popular courses including Touch Typing TrainingDiploma in Project ManagementHuman Resources and Business Management & Entrepreneurship.  Other top courses South African learners took included Web Design, Workplace Health and Safety, Psychology and Customer Service.

Eric Corbett, Course Publishing Manager at Alison, said: “Increasingly, we’re seeing learners turn to us for skills that are vital to the workplace but don’t tend to receive much focus in schools – South Africa is no different. The range of free courses we’re offering is set to grow dramatically over the next 12 months, and we expect to grow our learner-base in South Africa in tandem with this.

“We would encourage students, jobseekers and workers who want to upskill to consider how a course might help them achieve their goals.”

Alison will celebrate its 10th birthday next month. The site currently boasts almost 10 million individual learners globally studying hundreds of courses. Alison is a for-profit social enterprise with a goal to drive the cost of all education and skills training to zero, headquartered in Galway, Ireland.

What They Say

What our South African learners say about Alison:

“There are so many great options that I am excited about. I’ve just completed the Microsoft Access 2010 course and I am enrolled for the ABC IT Suite course and for the Diploma in E-Commerce.” – Nadia du Plessis, Cape Town.

“It is so empowering… I apply Alison to pretty much every aspect of my life due to all the great courses and diplomas offered on the platform. Accounting is teaching to me look at my business in a different language, the language of numbers. HR has taught me about recruiting the best of the best that are aligned with my vision.” – J. J. Oosthuizen, Pretoria

“I learnt a lot about IT on Alison. I am so confident now that I have knowledge that I did not have a few years back, which I can now share with my kids or friends and family.” – Andreas Shabalala

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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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