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How AI will fix noisy data

The potential impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has never been greater — but we’ll only be successful if AI can deliver smarter and more intuitive answers, writes DR. MICHAEL MAYBERRY.

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A key barrier to AI today is that natural data fed to a computer is largely unstructured and “noisy.”

It’s easy for humans to sort through natural data. For example: If you are driving a car on a residential street and see a ball roll in front of you, you would stop, assuming there is a small child not far behind that ball. Computers today don’t do this. They are built to assist humans with precise productivity tasks. Making computers efficient at dealing with probabilities at scale is central to our ability to transform current systems and applications from advanced computational aids into intelligent partners for understanding and decision-making.

This is why probabilistic computing is one key component to AI and central to addressing these challenges. Probabilistic computing will allow future systems to comprehend and compute with uncertainties inherent in natural data, which will enable us to build computers capable of understanding, predicting and decision-making.

Today at Intel, we are observing an unprecedented growth of applications that rely on analysis of noisy natural data – different and even conflicting information. Such applications aim to assist humans with a higher level of intelligence and awareness about the environments in which they operate. Cutting through this noisy minefield is central to our ability to transform computers into intelligent partners that can understand and act on information with human-like fidelity.

Research into probabilistic computing is not a new area of study, but the improvements in high-performance computing and deep learning algorithms may lead probabilistic computing into a new era. In the next few years, we expect that research in probabilistic computing will lead to significant improvements in the reliability, security, serviceability and performance of AI systems, including hardware designed specifically for probabilistic computing. These advancements are critical to deploying applications into the real world – from smart homes to smart cities.

To accelerate our work in probabilistic computing, Intel is increasing its research investment in probabilistic computing and we are working with partners to pursue this goal.

Establishing the Intel Strategic Research Alliance for Probabilistic Computing

Realizing the full potential of probabilistic computing involves holistic integration of multiple levels in computing technology. Today, Intel underscored its commitment to integrated and collaborative implementation of emerging computing architectures and a sound ecosystem enablement strategy by issuing a call to the academic and start-up communities to partner with us to advance probabilistic computing from the lab to reality across these vectors: benchmark applications, adversarial attack mitigations, probabilistic frameworks and software and hardware optimization.

An Eye on What’s Next

We are incredibly eager to see the proposals to advance probabilistic computing and to continue this research with the potential to raise the bar for what AI can help us achieve.

We began this journey with research into neuromorphic computing – focusing on our understanding of the human brain and its associated computational processes. The start of the neuromorphic research community announced on March 1 is also on track and we are planning to continue to scale up our Loihi on the cloud to allow researchers access to cutting-edge hardware. We see a path to reach 100 billion synapses on a single system in 2019.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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