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Gorillaz and Jaguar Land Rover nab a code-cracker

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Jaguar Land Rover has hired the first of the next generation of electronics and software engineering geniuses, following the recent code-breaking recruitment challenge within the Gorillaz app.

Daniel Dunkley, a 23-year-old from Gloucester, UK, is the first successful code-breaker to join Jaguar Land Rover. Daniel left school at 16 and was working as a controls engineer at a local quarry. His coding and software skills are completely self-taught from an early interest in playing computer games at home with his older brother. He starts work on 2 October as a software engineer at Jaguar Land Rover in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

Gorillaz and Jaguar Land Rover will continue the search for world-class talent at Jaguar Land Rover’s inaugural Tech Fest event (#JLRTechFest), from 8-10 September at London’s Central Saint Martins art, design and technology college.

While the search continues at #JLRTechFest, potential geniuses from around the world – including South Africa – can still complete the coding challenge on the Gorillaz app. The code-breaking puzzle tests real-world skills the new generation of software and engineering talent must have. The challenge remains open.

Noodle, the virtual band’s guitarist and a Jaguar Land Rover ambassador, said: “Think big and do better, my motto. Stop putting those filters on your food and download this app immediately. The first hire has happened, so get involved and win!”

Daniel Dunkley said:

“I’m overwhelmed by how much has happened in the last two months. I read about the coding challenge set by Jaguar Land Rover and Gorillaz on BBC News and decided to have a go. We did the interview by Google Chat then I was invited to Gaydon to talk about my new job. It completely blew me away that I didn’t have to fill out any application forms.

“I was thrilled when they offered me a job! My dad drives a Land Rover Defender so I have always been a fan. I can’t believe I may now get to work on the next generation Defender!”

So far, almost 400,000 people have downloaded the Gorillaz app. Of the 41,000 who have taken the challenge, almost 500 cracked the code.

Alex Heslop, Head of Electrical Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, said:

“Daniel is exactly the kind of person we need. Technology companies like Jaguar Land Rover provide an exciting opportunity for the brightest and best. We want to attract top-notch talent in software, cyber systems, app development and graphics.

“We don’t do ordinary and that means hiring extraordinary people. Jaguar Land Rover makes some of the world’s most exciting cars and it needs brilliant people to create them.”

In the spirit of collaborative innovation, Jaguar Land Rover has invited an array of speakers to take part in a series of debates and talks throughout Tech Fest, which will be attended by an audience of global influencers and journalists from four continents. Topics will include the future of diesel, electrification, women in industry and robotics, debated by a range of global industry and consumer experts from around the world. To learn more and see the full speaker line-up, visit www.jaguarlandrover.com

The search for young talent goes on. Interested applicants can download the Gorillaz app now at the iTunes App Store or Google Play.

To find out more about Jaguar Land Rover recruitment, click here: www.jaguarlandrovercareers.com. For specific roles in electrification see:  www.jaguarlandrovercareers.com/jlr-roles/product-creation/electrification/

Traditional application methods remain open and CVs will be accepted, but Jaguar Land Rover invites potential applicants to download the app, break the codes and solve the problems to fast-track their way into employment.

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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