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UJ raises identification bar

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A company established as a joint venture by the University of Johannesburg, has developed identification technology that simulates human cognition – and it works off a smart phone.

The company,  aiThenticate Computervision Labs, has developed a technology called aiDX to answer one of the most difficult, challenging and urgent questions of our time: “Who is someone… actually?

Says André Immelman, CEO of aiThenticate Computervisio Lads, “With identity theft now representing the foremost white collar crime in the world – fuelled largely by the exponential growth in mobile communications – the technology has been engineered as the next generation authentication technology.”

The failure of conventional authentication methods such as signature, identity artefacts, passwords, and PINs, to effectively arrest identity theft, has seen a rapid shift towards biometrics means of authenticating a person. These include fingerprints, faceprints, voiceprints, and irisprints.

“Last year, the global loss from identity theft was about $2-trillion, and it is doubling every year,” says Immelman. “In South Africa alone, R1-billion was lost in SIM card swaps last year. These figures go to show just how ineffective conventional biometrics are in the post-9/11 world, where someone sitting at his PC in one country is able to hack into a bank account in another country, even on a completely different continent.

“Conventional biometrics are based on simple geometry: connecting key features to form a pattern that is then associated with a particular individual. It’s a bit like a child’s game of ‘connect the dots’ to form a picture. However, while conventional biometrics may be sufficient for the purposes of unlocking a smart phone, the scarcity of key features that are generally visible in a latent fingerprint or a faceprint, for example, means that this system tends to fail rapidly with larger population groups.

“The simple mathematics that underscore conventional biometrics explains why misidentification is a very real problem with fingerprint, faceprint, voiceprint and irisprint solutions, rendering conventional biometrics inadequate as a real-world authentication solution.”

For that reason, aiThenticate Computervision Labs turned to “deep science” for an answer to the all-important “Who?” question. Using proprietary algorithms that simulate human cognition, aiThenticate computervision scientists – who analyse digital images – have successfully managed to develop the next generation of authentication technologies.

“The human brain simply operates at a much deeper, far more advanced level than what is possible with conventional authentication methods. Extensive field tests have shown that, as the next generation authentication technology, aiDX eclipses, and in fact, surpasses the overall performance of conventional authentication methods by a factor of some 20x on average*.”

Making the technology universally accessible, aiDX can be deployed on any device that’s equipped with a digital camera, including the one device we all carry with us all the time: a standard, off-the-shelf Android or iOS smartphone or tablet.

“aiDX makes it possible to do what conventional authentication methods are simply not able to do under the rigours of real-world conditions: answer the ‘who’ question accurately and conveniently,” says Immelman.

“We anticipate that it will have applications in a wide variety of industries and market sectors, including financial services, access control, identity management, e-commerce, authorisations, grants, law enforcement, and much more – in fact any situation where the ‘who’ question is fundamentally important.”

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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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