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Auto drivers want automation

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The Cisco Customer Experience report has revealed that from the car purchasing experience to service maintenance, respondents are using more advanced communication technologies to engage with manufacturers and car dealerships.

The Cisco Customer Experience Report, which focuses on automobile buying and driving experience examined consumer preferences of the technology used when buying and driving an automobile. Consumers also identified key influences, preference for car dealers/ manufacturers to provide a more personal driving experience, and their trust in future automotive innovation.

The report demonstrated how information and technology is crucial to the surveyed consumer. From the car purchasing experience to service maintenance, respondents are using more advanced communication technologies (e.g. mobile, text, telephone, websites, embedded communications devices, etc.) to engage with manufacturers and car dealerships. Results show roughly half (47%) of global consumers’ value the technology adoption reputation of a brand when selecting a vehicle.

The report indicates that consumers are eager to see more changes in customisation, safety, time, and cost savings of transportation. It also shows that there is more willingness to provide personal information on driving habits in exchange for cost and time efficiency, and more trust in driverless automobiles.

Cisco believes that the Internet of Cars is an excellent example of how The Internet of Everything will transform the way we drive and change the automotive business. The Internet of Everything brings together people, process, data and things and makes networked connections from vehicles to vehicles, vehicles to people, and vehicles to everything a growing necessity. Cisco recently released an Internet of Everything Economic analysis that identified a $350 billion value at stake when commercial vehicles are connected. While the main benefits come from time and money saved, it’s also an opportunity to realise the environmental gains from lower energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Key Highlights:

Prior to purchasing a vehicle, consumers prefer to begin their research online.

· Most respondents begin their car purchasing process online: 83% of surveyed consumers prefer to research a car online, versus only 17% that prefer to call or go to a dealership.

· Trust in manufacturer websites: 61% of respondents use manufacturing websites when researching a car. This is good news for the digital world as 78% of consumers trust their online research.

Consumers desire a more automated way to track car maintenance costs

· Fuel prices impact on customer experience: 52% of the consumers surveyed want to track gas prices from a vehicle. Gas tracking was the highest priority for tracking information compared to 46% of the consumers wanting to track insurance prices, 35% tracking roadside assistance availability, and 32% wanted to track recall information.

¬∑ Tracking car maintenance costs: Consumers’ demand for tracking operating costs of vehicles was shown with 62% of respondents stating they would purchase a device designed to keep them on track with their monthly budget for gas and auto maintenance.

Consumers are willing to trade data for value in customisation, security and savings

· Lower insurance/maintenance: 74% would allow their driving habits to be monitored in order to save on insurance, service maintenance or costs.

· More personal security: 60% would provide biometric information such as fingerprints and DNA samples in return for personalised or car security.

· Customised car: 65% would share personal information such as height/weight, driving habits, entertainment if this allowed a more customised vehicle and driving experience.

Customers Trust in Automated or Driverless Automobiles

· More than half of the consumers surveyed (57%) would be likely to ride in a car controlled entirely by technology and does not require a human driver.

¬∑ Kids on board: Consumers’ trust dropped to 46% when asked if they would let their kids ride in driverless automobiles.

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Prepare for deepfake impact

Is the world as we know it ready for the real impact of deepfake? CAREY VAN VLAANDEREN, CEO at ESET SA, digs deeper

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Deepfake technology is rapidly becoming easier and quicker to create and it’s opening a door into a new form of cybercrime. Although it’s still mostly seen as relatively harmful or even humorous, this craze could take a more sinister turn in the future and be at the heart of political scandals, cybercrime, or even unimaginable concepts involving fake videos. And it won’t be just public figures that bear the brunt. 

deepfake is the technique of human-image synthesis based on artificial intelligence to create fake content either from scratch or using existing video designed to replicate the look and sound of a real human. Such videos can look incredibly real and currently many of these videos involve celebrities or public figures saying something outrageous or untrue.

New research shows a huge increase in the creation of deepfake videos, with the number online almost doubling in the last nine months alone. Deepfakes are increasing in quality at a swift rate, too. This video showing Bill Hader morphing effortlessly between Tom Cruise and Seth Rogan is just one example of how authentic these videos are looking, as well as sounding. If you search YouTube for the term ‘deepfake’ it will make you realise we are viewing the tip of the iceberg as to what is to come.

In fact, we have already seen deepfake technology used for fraud, where a deepfaked voice was reportedly used to scam a CEO out of a large sum of cash. It is believed the CEO of an unnamed UK firm thought he was on the phone to his boss and followed the orders to immediately transfer €220,000 (roughly US$244,000) to a Hungarian supplier’s bank account. If it was this easy to influence someone by just asking them to do it over the phone, then surely we will need better security in place to mitigate this threat.

Fooling the naked eye

We have also seen apps making DeepNudes where apps were able to turn any clothed person into a topless photo in seconds. Although, luckily, this particular app has now been taken offline, what if this comes back in another form with a vengeance and is able to create convincingly authentic-looking video?

There is also evidence that the production of these videos is becoming a lucrative business especially in the pornography industry. The BBC says “96% of these videos are of female celebrities having their likenesses swapped into sexually explicit videos – without their knowledge or consent”.

recent Californian bill has taken a leap of faith and made it illegal to create a pornographic deepfake of someone without their consent with a penalty of up to $150,000. But chances are that no legislation will be enough to deter some people from fabricating the videos.

To be sure, an article from The Economist discusses that in order to make a convincing enough deepfake you would need a serious amount of video footage and/or voice recordings in order to make even a short deepfake clip.

Having said that, In the not-too-distant future, it may be entirely possible to take just a few short Instagram stories to create a deepfake that is believed by the majority of their followers online or by anyone else who knows them. We may see some unimaginable videos appearing of people closer to home – the boss, our colleagues, our peers, our family. Additionally, deepfakes may also be used for bullying in schools, the office or even further afield.

Furthermore, cybercriminals will definitely use such technology to spearphish victims. Deepfakes keep getting cheaper to create and become near-impossible to detect with the human eye alone. As a result, alt that fakery could very easily muddy the water between fact and fiction, which in turn could force us to not trust anything – even when presented with what our senses are telling us to believe.

Heading off the very real threat

So, what can be done to prepare us for this threat? First, we need to better educate people that deepfakes exist, how they work and the potential damage they can cause. We will all need to learn to treat even the most realistic videos we see that they could be a total fabrication.

Secondly, technology desperately needs to develop better detection of deepfakes. There is already research going into it, but it’s nowhere near where it should be yet. Although machine learning is at the heart of creating them in the first place, there needs to be something in place that acts as the antidote being able to detect them without relying on human eyes alone.

Finally, social media platforms need to realize there is a huge potential threat with the impact of deepfakes because when you mix a shocking video with social media, the outcome tends to spread very rapidly and potentially could have a detrimental impact on society.

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A career in data science – or your money back

The Explore Data Science Academy is offering high demand skills courses – and guarantees employment for trainees

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The Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) has announced several new courses in 2020 that it says will radically change the shape of data science education in South Africa. 

Comprising Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analytics and Machine Learning, each six-month course provides vital digital skills that are in high demand in the market place.  The full time, fully immersive courses each cost R60 000 including VAT. 

The courses are differentiated from any other available by the fact that EDSA has introduced a money back promise if it cannot place the candidate in a job within six months of graduation and at a minimum annual starting salary of R240 000.

“For South Africans with drive and aptitude, this is the perfect opportunity to launch a career in what has been called the sexiest career of the 21stcentury,” says Explore founder Shaun Dippnall.

Dippnall and his team are betting on the explosive demand for data science skills locally and globally.

 “There is a massive supply-demand gap in the area of data science and our universities and colleges are struggling to keep up with the rapid growth and changing nature of specific digital skills being demanded by companies.  

“We are offering specifically a work ready opportunity in a highly skills deficient sector, and one which guarantees employment thereafter.”

The latter is particularly pertinent to young South Africans – a segment which currently faces a 30 percent unemployment rate. 

“If you have skills in either Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analytics or Machine Learning, you will find work locally, even globally. We’re confident of that,” says Dippnall.

EDSA is part of the larger Explore organisation and has for the past two years offered young people an opportunity to be trained as data scientists and embark on careers in a fast-growing sector of the economy.  

In its first year of operation, EDSA trained 100 learners as data scientists in a fully sponsored, full-time 12-month course.  In year two, this number increased to 400.  

“Because we are connected with hundreds of employers and have an excellent understanding of the skills they need, our current placement rate is over 90 percent of the students we’ve taught,” Dippnall says. “These learners can earn an average of R360 000 annually, hence our offer of your money back if there is no employment at a minimum annual salary of R240k within six months.

“With one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world – recently announced as a national emergency by the President – it is important that institutions teach skills that are in demand and where learners can earn a healthy living afterwards.”

There are qualifying criteria, however. Candidates need to live in close proximity (within one hour commuting distance), or be prepared to live, in either Johannesburg or Cape Town, and need to be between the ages of 18 and 55. 

“Our application process is very tough. We’ll test for aptitude and attitude using the qualifying framework we’ve built over the years. If you’re smart enough, you’ll be accepted,” says Dippnall.

To find out more, visit  http://www.explore-datascience.net.

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