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IBM puts smart to work

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At the recent IBM Think conference in Las Vegas, it was outlined that the amount of data that gets generated everyday is not as important as the amount that is searchable and gets put to good use, writes TIANA CLINE.

The human race is generating more than 43 million terabytes of data every day. And in a world where there are more Internet of Things (IoT) objects than people, it’s more than simply making the technology smart: it’s about making online a secure space in order to build a smarter future for everyone.

“How much of the world’s data is searchable?” is the key question IBM CEO and chairman, Ginni Rometty, proposed at the inaugural IBM Think conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, last week.

IBM has revealed a number of new cloud technologies and capabilities, enhancements of its Watson big data platform, and delved deeper into the opportunities that artificial intelligence (AI) opens up for businesses seeking a competitive advantage.

Rometty highlighted the ability of IBM cloud for business to integrate artificial intelligence and blockchain. This, she said, was not necessarily a digitally intelligent platform, but a solution in a digital world, whether your cloud solution is private, public or on-premises.

IBM researchers are also developing blockchain crypto-anchors, tamper-proof digital fingerprints that can be embedded into products, or parts of products, and linked to a blockchain.

Rometty pointed out that a mere 20% of the world’s data is publicly searchable, while 80% belongs to individuals, making everyone “incumbent disrupters and AI is the competitive premise”.

IBM’s solution is to leverage digital platforms, embed learning in every process and empower people with digital intelligence. This then paves the way for AI.

“This is an era of man plus machine, not man versus machine,” saidd Rometty. “Outcomes are better when it is human and machine instead of humans alone or machines alone. One place to start is HR processes. We need to outlearn everybody else by putting smart to work.”

According to IBM, data is a competitive advantage and game changer, which means companies should only partner with trusted second parties, always be on the offense, and use AI to truly empower people.

“Only 4% of the world encrypts data, yet this is one of the most important things you can do. In this era, many companies can win and, if you ask why, it’s all about data. The people who show you that you can’t trust them should not have access to your data.”

At the conference, IBM released its new Power9 processor on the IBM Cloud, which is built for compute-intensive AI workloads, using Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs connected via a high-speed NVLink interface. This improves deep learning frameworks, helping data scientists to train more accurate AI models faster and, Rometty claims, can train AI faster than anything currently available on the market.

A new IBM Cloud Developer Console for Apple will provide tools like pre-configured starter kits, along with AI, data and mobile services for Swift. This will enable developers to link to IBM Cloud to build apps that are easy to code, fast to deploy and can be integrated with enterprise data.

“We’ve reinvented IBM for the era of data and it’s been about innovative technologies, industry expertise, and then always underpinned by trusted security. If all of us in the world could make smarter decisions, that’s worth $2 trillion. If you embrace a digital platform, embed it in a process, and empower people, that’s winning.”

* Tiana Cline is a freelance content writer, technology journalist and digital strategist. She likes cats, data science, long-form and violent video games. 

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Load-shedding leads
local searches

South Africans are searching in the dark, according to the latest Google Search trends.

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With more 1 million search queries generated in the space of 76 hours, load-shedding was by far the top trending search on Google South Africa this week.

Valentine’s Day came a distant second.

After news emerged last Sunday of the impending stage 3 load shedding, South Africans had generated more than 1-million load-shedding search queries by the time Tuesday came around:

  • “Loadshedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Eskom load shedding” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding Cape Town” – generated more than 50k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 400k on Monday
  • “Load shedding Johannesburg” – generated more than 20k searches on Monday
  • Load shedding schedule” generated more than 200k search queries on Tuesday

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, South Africans generated close to 300k search queries related to the romantic festival, including searches for quotes and gift ideas:

  • “Valentines Day” generated more than 100k search queries on Thursday
  • “Happy Valentines Day Images” and “Valentines Day Images” generated more than 10k search queries each on Thursday, with “Happy Valentines Day 2019” generating more than 20k search queries on Wednesday
  • “Valentines Day Specials 2019” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Love quotes” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Valentines Day quotes” generated more than 100k search queries and “Valentine messages” generated more than 50 000 search queries on Wednesday

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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Showmax invites
student films

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Thanks to the growing popularity of video-on-demand services, there’s a new opportunity to help kickstart the careers of local filmmakers.

Numerous Hollywood blockbusters (District 9Tomb Raider 2018, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) have featured substantial shoots in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While providing great opportunities for SA’s production talent, aspiring writers and directors don’t get the same benefit.

So where can local creatives showcase their work? Broadcast TV isn’t a natural home for unknown short films, and while self-publishing platforms are readily available hosting options, it’s tough to get noticed and get traffic when competing with videos from across the planet.

But with the emergence of video-on-demand services into the mainstream, there’s now a solution. The African film school AFDA has teamed up with the streaming service Showmax to give local talent a much larger platform than ever before. From 18 February, eighteen of the best recent short films made by AFDA students from their Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth campuses will be live on Showmax. Drama, documentary, fantasy, and animation are all represented, in pieces running from under eight minutes to almost half-an-hour long. The full list of movies is included below.

Teresa Passchier, CEO of AFDA, said: “AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform. It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike.”

Included in the short films coming to Showmax are the award winners Junior and O-PunchaJunior, directed by Bert Dijkstra, picked up the Audience Award in the Made in South Africa Competition at the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival Awards 2017. O-Puncha, directed by Adam Hansen, won two awards at the 5th annual Eldorado Film Festival: Best Student Made Short, and Best Editing – Alexander La Cock.

Another celebrated film is Sicela Amanzi directed by Mlu Godola, which talks to the subject of water shortage. The film’s heroine Zoleka is a mild-mannered young woman forced to go to extreme lengths when a small community’s only source of water unexpectedly collapses. The power of films like this is they shine a light on critical topical issues in new ways.

Speaking about working with the film school, Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for Showmax, said: “There’s immense depth of filmmaking talent in Africa and it’s a privilege to be able to give that talent a home and a platform. Showmax is becoming part of the fabric of film and TV production in Africa, and importantly we’re doing this as a partner rather than just as a consumer. This is a key competitive advantage of being local and something we aim to continue to work on.”

AFDA is an Academy Award-winning institution, founded in 1994, and the first and only African film school to win an Oscar – for the Best Foreign Student film in 2006, the postgraduate film Elalini, directed by Tristan Holmes.

The full list of AFDA short films coming to Showmax is as follows:

Film titleDirectorGenre
Lullaby from the CryptKeenan Lott & Raven DavidsAnimation
Ko Ga CherenyaneSibonokuhle MyatazaDocumentary
IzilwaneKyllian RouxDrama
MallemeuleJaco Van BoschDrama
Canal StreetBrodie MuirheadDrama
On the FenceWarrick BewsDrama
The Righteous FewLindo LangaDrama
Hlogoma PeakLuke AhrensDrama
Frozen FlameCameron HeathmanAnimation
WolfBrett van DortFantasy
The Walk HomeSisanda DyantyiDrama
BearWesley RoodtDrama
JuniorBert DijkstraDrama
O-PunchaAdam HansenDrama
UmngenoSiphosethu NdungeDrama
DoreenLuvuyo Equiano NyawoseDrama
ForeverLindo LangaMusical
Sicela AmanziMlu GodolaDrama

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