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AI freight train is arriving

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Smart businesses will move quickly to harness artificial intelligence, as they have done with most other disruptive technologies in the past says DR DONALD BROWN, Founder and CEO, Interactive Intelligence.

The once-futuristic predictions about how artificial intelligence (AI) will impact the world are becoming reality. Legendary futurist Ray Kurzweil has imagined advanced technology delivering everything from computerised brain chips to near-total automation of industries, and we already see the signs that AI will ultimately change the way we live and work.

AI, where computers behave like humans, is no longer the stuff of science fiction. In many respects, AI is like a freight train racing down the tracks. Steady advances in hardware and software are sparking immense progress in how machines help interact with customers.

Google’s voice recognition technology, for instance, improved to 98% in 2014 from 84% just two years earlier. Facebook’s DeepFace technology now recognizes faces with 97% accuracy.

As for IBM’s Watson, its technology is 2,400% smarter today than when it achieved its Jeopardy victory in 2011. Voice recognition systems themselves now perform tens of millions of online searches every month.

As machines get smarter, companies across the globe are beginning to explore ways to leverage AI to work more efficiently, safely, accurately and cost-effectively, and improve consumer engagement and customer experience at the same time. AI will be used to replace simple human tasks and augment more complex ones in the foreseeable future.

In fact, we are already seeing humans being replaced by AI in mundane customer service roles – for example, through chat bots. Cognitive technologies are making possible faster actions and decisions that satisfy today’s consumers who seek speedy responses. It’s enabling improved efficiency of operations and employees, reduced labour costs, and greater scale by performing major tasks that are impractical to perform manually.

We can expect AI to impact critical fields like medicine, where it will be harnessed for more accurate diagnostics, treatment, and possibly even consultative roles. In the long term, it’s been predicted that AI will extend our brains to predominantly non-biological thinking.

Exactly how AI will be adopted and change the world isn’t easy to predict, but there is no doubt that smart businesses will use AI, as they have with every other technology at their disposal in the past, to disrupt themselves in order to succeed.

Much of this move to AI will be driven by a business need to anticipate customer needs in ways that surpass expectations, while increasing operational efficiencies.

The increasing dependence on AI, and its impact on the way people live and work, will feel disruptive to some and quite natural to others. For younger people, the so-called ‘digital natives’, moving from engagements with chat bots to counselling from AI therapists will feel like a natural progression. And for business, the benefits realised by the early adoption of AI technologies are likely to drive faster uptake.

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AppDate: DStv taps Xbox, Hisense

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DStv Now for Xbox and Hisense

Usage of DStv Now, the online DStv service available free to DStv customers, is increasing rapidly with more than two million plays of live and Catch Up content per week. In addition to using DStv Now to watch TV on tablets and smartphones, an increasing number of DStv customers are also opting to use it as their primary method of getting DStv on additional TVs in the house. This is set to increase with the release of two new big-screen TV apps, one for Xbox gaming consoles (Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X) and another for Hisense smart TVs (2018 and newer models).

Expect to pay: A free download.

Platform: Any of the Xbox One range of gaming consoles and 2018 or later Hisense smart TVs.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your Xbox console or HiSense smart TV.

Santam Safety Ideas

Start-up businesses that have a FinTech or InsurTech business venture brewing are called to enter the third annual Santam Safety Ideas competition. Safety solutions or InsurTech ventures that are ready for piloting could win up to  R150 000 worth of incubation support and R200 000 in seed funding. 

The Safety Ideas competition was launched two years ago in partnership with LaunchLab,  Stellenbosch University’s startup incubator that facilitates valuable connections for corporates and startups sourced from the startup ecosystem and partner universities in South Africa. The previous winners are Herman Bester and Anton Swanevelder, co-founders of MyLifeLine – a wearable panic device that won the competition last year; and Ntsako Mgiba and Ntandoyenkosi Shezi, co-founders of Jonga – a cost-effective security system for low income families, which won the competition in 2017.

Entries close on 28 February 2019. For more information on how to enter, visit: www.santam.co.za/safetyideas/

Click here to read about the FNB Snapchat lens, Spotify Free with data saver, and 00:37.

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Fortnite fixes hackers’ hole

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Epic Games has repaired a vulnerability that exposed Fortnite, the world’s most popular game of the moment, to hackers. The hole, which was left in Epic’s web infrastructure,  allowed hackers to target players with email that appeared to come from Epic Games, but would have led them to a phishing site, where their log-in details would have been stolen.

Researchers at cyber security solutions provider Check Point Software alerted Epic to vulnerabilities that could have affected any player of the hugely popular online battle game.

Fortnite has nearly 80 million players worldwide. The game is popular on all gaming platforms, including Android, iOS, PC via Microsoft Windows and consoles such as Xbox One and PlayStation 4.  In addition to casual players, Fortnite is used by professional gamers who stream their sessions online, and is popular with e-sports enthusiasts.

If exploited, the vulnerability would have given an attacker full access to a user’s account and their personal information as well as enabling them to purchase virtual in-game currency using the victim’s payment card details. The vulnerability would also have allowed for a massive invasion of privacy, as an attacker could listen to in-game chatter as well as surrounding sounds and conversations within the victim’s home or other location of play. 

While Fortnite players had previously been targeted by scams that deceived them into logging into fake websites that promised to generate Fortnite’s ‘V-Buck’ in-game currency, these new vulnerabilities could have been exploited without the player handing over any login details.

Click here to read how the Fortnite hack would have worked.

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