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AI will be hot in 2017

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be a central theme for 2017, according to the sixth edition of  Ericsson Consumer Lab’s annual trend report, The 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2017 and beyond.

Consumers see AI playing a much more prominent role than before – both in society and at work. In fact, 35 percent of advanced Internet users want an AI advisor at work, and one in four would like an AI as their manager.

These are the 10 trends for 2017 and beyond, according to the new report:

1.    AI Everywhere: 35 percent of advanced internet users want an AI advisor at work, and one in four would like an AI as their manager. At the same time, almost half are concerned that AI robots will soon make a lot of people lose their jobs.

2.    Setting the Pace for Internet of Things: Consumers are increasingly using automated applications, encouraging IoT adoption. Two in five believe smartphones will learn their habits and perform activities on their behalf automatically.

3.    Pedestrians Drive Autonomous Cars: Car drivers may not exist in the future. One in four pedestrians would feel safer crossing a street if all cars were autonomous, and 65 percent of them would prefer to have an autonomous car.

4.    Merged Reality: Almost four out of five virtual reality users believe VR will be indistinguishable from reality in only three years. Half of respondents are already interested in gloves or shoes that allow you to interact with virtual objects.

5.    Bodies Out of Sync: As autonomous cars become reality, car sickness issues will increase, and three in ten foresee needing sickness pills. One in three also want motion sickness pills for use with virtual and augmented reality technology.

6.    The Smart Device Safety Paradox: More than half already use emergency alarms, tracking or notifications on their smartphones. Of those who say their smartphone makes them feel safer, three in five say they take more risks because they rely on their phone.

7.    Social Silos: Today, people willingly turn their social networks into silos. One in three says social networks are their main source of news. And more than one in four value their contacts’ opinions more than politicians’ viewpoints.

8.    Augmented Personal Reality: Over half of people would like to use augmented reality glasses to illuminate dark surroundings and highlight dangers. More than one in three would also like to edit out disturbing elements around them.

9.    The Privacy Divide: Two in five advanced internet users want to use only encrypted services, but people are divided. Almost half would like to have just reasonably good privacy across all services, and more than one out of three believes privacy no longer exists.

10.  Big Tech for All: More than two out of five advanced internet users would like to get all their products from the biggest five IT companies. Of those, three in four believe this will happen only five years from now.

Reflecting on the rise of virtual reality, Michael Björn, Head of Research, Ericsson ConsumerLab, says: “Beyond real time, I believe we should be talking about reality time. In fact, what we call reality becomes ever more personal and subjective. Consumers not only surround themselves with the like-minded on social networks, but also are also starting to customize the way they experience the world with augmented and virtual reality technologies.

“Consumers also want the future to remain fully mobile, implying that demand for battery-friendly, instant and fast connectivity is set to grow rapidly. In that sense, reality time means it is time for 5G networks.”

The insights in the 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2017 report are based on Ericsson ConsumerLab’s global research activities over more than 20 years, as well as data points from an online survey of advanced internet users in 14 major cities across the world, performed in October 2016. Although the study only represents 27 million citizens, their early adopter profile makes them important to understand when exploring future trends.

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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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