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Ordinary heroes honoured

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Alongside the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft announced its Upgrade Your World initiative, a program where the company highlights and rewards educators for their work done in shaping the lives of South Africa’s future leaders.

Microsoft South Africa recently launched Windows 10 at a fan event held in Newtown, Johannesburg. Together with the launch of Windows 10, the company also encouraged those in attendance to support the year-long initiative, Upgrade Your World, a global initiative which celebrates people and organisations of action who are making a difference around the world.

The Upgrade Your World programme celebrates those who inspire and empower others, led by Microsoft’s vision to help people achieve more through technology and in celebration of the Windows 10 launch.

Microsoft is partnering with ten global NGOs including Keep a Child Alive and Special Olympics, as well as 100 national non-profits from around the world, as part of this year-long initiative to help them upgrade the world, with a total $10 million (around R125 million) cash investment being made in support of their missions and to promote awareness of their causes.

Highlighting the work done by committed teachers

In conjunction with the global initiative, Microsoft South Africa, Pinnacle Africa and Torque IT are joining forces to honour the work done by committed educators charged with the tremendous responsibility to prepare the next generation of business and political leaders, inventors and innovators.

“As Pinnacle Africa’s local brand, Proline is proud to be associated with Microsoft’s education initiatives in South Africa and our core values of ‘People, Product, Passion’ are reflected in the Windows 10 products we are demonstrating at the event,” said Rodger Green, Proline Brand Executive at Pinnacle Africa. “By being the first local vendor offering devices pre-installed with the Windows 10 operating system, Proline intends to continue empowering people to achieve more through technology and reach their potential,” Green added.

On 1 August 2015, Microsoft SA will launch a competition on the Microsoft SA Facebook page which aims to acknowledge and celebrate innovative teachers, who are integrating technology into the classroom to make the learning process more collaborative and memorable for learners. Schools and students are encouraged to nominate their teachers on the Microsoft SA Facebook page by commenting in 30 words what makes their teacher a potential Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. Ten teachers stand a chance to win some awesome prizes from Microsoft, Pinnacle Africa and Torque IT to keep them innovating in the classroom.

These include Windows 10 computer training courses from Torque IT, an Intel Classmate device sponsored by Pinnacle Africa, Lumia 430 smartphone from Microsoft SA, as well as admission to the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIE) Programme, which was created to identify and assist global educator visionaries who are using technology to pave the way for their peers in terms of innovative teaching methods and the use of 21st Century skills. The competition closes on 21 August 2015 and winners will be announced on 10 September 2015.

“Our educators of today are responsible for developing the leaders of tomorrow, it is key that they are provided with the correct tools as well as shown how best to use them. The launch of Windows 10 and the Upgrade Your World campaign not only says thank you for their continuous efforts, but provides them with a Windows 10 device plus the skills to use the device, which will aid them greatly with their day-to-day tasks in their respective schools,” says Morne Hugo, Microsoft Business Unit Manager at TorqueIT.

How innovating educators are leading the way for peers

Microsoft’s Innovative Educator Expert programme enables teachers to become innovation thought leaders, who build educator capacity in their community through training and coaching their colleagues as well as speaking at conferences. Local MIE, Phuti Ragophala, who is the principal of Pula Madibogo Primary School in Limpopo has attended two Microsoft in Education Global Forums for instance, with the first of these occurring in Barcelona during 2014 and the second in Dubai this year.

MIE Experts also have the opportunity to try out new Microsoft products as these are released to see how best to integrate these into their lesson plans and collaborate with innovative educators across the globe, using Skype in the Classroom. Local MIE Karen Stadler, is an ICT integration teacher from Elkanah House in Cape Town, and she uses technology to make learners in over 100 classes across 55 countries aware of the plight of rhinos in South Africa. Through her ‘Save our rhinos’ project, Stadler aims to raise awareness of rhino extinction and to unite the voices of children around the world in support of rhino conservation.

“There are hundreds of committed teachers in South Africa doing their best for their students every single day,” says Anthony Doherty, Windows business group lead at Microsoft South Africa. “Thanks to the Upgrade Your World initiative and the launch of Windows 10, you have the chance to show your appreciation by upgrading their world.”

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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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