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How AI and IoT will help drive the future

Disruptive, fast-paced changes are all around us as fundamental shifts take place in business and society, turning the world we thought we knew on its head, writes DEON PRINSLOO, General Manager of Mobile, LG Mobile South Africa.

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These shifts should not be feared as change always brings opportunity and these trends, from population growth to rapid urbanisation to the explosion in big data, will present significant opportunities for all businesses. But to capitalise on these possibilities, business leaders may have to adjust their perspective. We will all need to open our minds to radical new ideas to succeed, part of which will shape the way IoT (Internet of Things) will have an impact on the future of work and how this will drive change in society.

Big businesses are starting to shift their business model and operations towards a more efficient and inclusive use of robotics that shape as well as reinvent the way products are designed, manufactured, used and recovered, encompassing growth from a reliance on increasingly scarce raw materials.

Take for instance, how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing a part in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Most companies across the globe have their sights set on leveraging AI, regardless of the industry. AI-enabled products and technologies are increasingly becoming an important point of competitive differentiation, with organisations using AI to obtain a foothold in the quantum leap to greater development.

LG Electronics recently announced a new AI development tool for business divisions, which ultimately is the proprietary deep learning-based artificial intelligence technology in line with its efforts to speed up the release of new products that are equipped with the latest technology. From mobile devices to home appliances – the technology will deliver a comprehensive user experience by linking a host of technologies and solutions to its state-of-the-art AI platform. AI functions such as voice, video and sensor recognition and space and human body detection, developed with data gleaned from usage habits of LG customers over the years. The development tool was developed tothe openness and diversification of variety of operating platforms such as Android, Linux and web OS in mind. The company will simultaneously speed up its release cycle for products equipped with this technology.

With innovative AI platforms such as ThinQ, the “live and learn” philosophy requires machines to educate themselves and become smarter over time. As machine learning becomes more advanced, products will understand their external environments as well as absorb their customers’ behavioural patterns. For example, an air conditioner will learn its inhabitants’ living patterns over time and adjust the room’s temperature to its occupants’ desired range, or cabin monitoring technology in a car can familiarise itself with the driver’s facial expressions and gestures and be able to recognise the moment a driver starts to feel drowsy.

DeepThinQ has already transformed the way certain products for the commercial and consumer sectors are designed. In Korea’s Incheon International Airport, Airport Guide Robots employ sophisticated ambient noise to improve voice recognition, enabling passengers to be better understood. The platform is an embodiment and extension of the company’s open philosophy – to provide the most powerful AI solutions to customers through a strategy of open platform, open partnership and open connectivity.

ThinQ will completely change the way consumers use products because ThinQ products will learn about people to provide intelligent services, not the other way around.

AI learning is disrupting the status quo in the ordinary ecosystem of IoT and we need to consider how emerging technologies, from AI to IoT can reinvent what you do and how you do it. For product or manufacturing businesses, 3D printing is a prime example. This technology is turning traditional production models and workflows on their head – replacing just-in-time supply chains with on-the-spot, on-demand production. By adopting this new technology, companies could turbocharge their R&D process. It could mean moving from design and prototypes to production in drastically shorter periods. Given the repercussions for product manufacturing, keeping track of mega trends shaping our society is vital.

There is no doubt that technology and the companies that spearhead innovation have grown from mere enablers into giant corporations that are redefining the way we live at a tremendous pace. We feel their impact throughout every aspect of our lives – in our home and personal appliances; through industries; across governments; in the media and of course, on social media. Technology is influencing our thoughts and shaping our opinions. The future is here.

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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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