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How to prepare for the future of work

With the fast changing 21st Century we now live in, it becomes a concerning factor to think about how developed and fast-paced the world will be in the near future. Professor ALWYN LOUW; President and Academic President; Monash South Africa, takes a look into what we can expect in the year 2028, taking into consideration factors like the fourth industrial revolution and robots.

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For most people, the year 2028 seems like the very distant future. But when you consider that 18 years have already passed since the prospect of a new millennium had the world in a panic over what would happen to their computers and data, the next 10 years is sure to fly by at a similarly eye-watering pace.

Interestingly, while the number of days per year is never going to change, the pace at which the world changes every day is guaranteed to keep accelerating. And while it’s possible that predictions of driverless cars, wearable cellphones, and voice controlled appliances will have become our lifestyle realities in 2028, the one area in which complete transformation is guaranteed is the world of work.

Thanks to a combination of elements, not least of which are rapid technological evolution, massive urbanisation, and fast-diminishing energy, water and food resources, the relationship between industry and broader society is set to quickly and radically change. This is the true impact of the so-called fourth industrial revolution. Not just that the role of technology is growing; but that this increasing technological impact demands a completely new way of thinking about the work we do, and the impact we have on society through it.

Of course, it’s very difficult to contemplate this future when we can’t really define it. For example, it’s been posited by numerous trend analysts that the hottest, most sought-after jobs in 2028 don’t yet even exist. Then there are the other transformative forces that will shape the way we work in a decade’s time, the most notable of which are almost certain to be the prioritisation of innovation over function; the massive growth of large corporations, but the shrinking of physical work spaces as remote and contract employment arrangements reduce on-site staff counts; and the rising importance of social and environmental sustainability commitments as the essential cornerstones of employee, employer, customer and investor value propositions.

Most analysts broadly agree that these workplace changes are inevitable, but the one area in which futurists appear unable to reach consensus is whether or not the stellar advances in artificial intelligence and automation will mean that, in 10 years’ time, robots are performing the majority of functions currently done by humans in the workplace. While this is understandably a source of worry for those who feel their roles could be done by robots, the fear of robotics advances is typically tempered by the argument that the rise of technology and artificial intelligence will, in fact, create untold new work opportunities. These will, however, be very different in shape, form and function from the jobs most people currently hold.

All of this begs the question: How can the learners and students of today ensure that they are prepared for future work roles that can’t yet even be clearly defined? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. There’s also no denying that universities, governments and employers have a vital role to play in helping today’s students become tomorrow’s thriving employees, managers and leaders.

The first, and arguably most important step towards delivering on that responsibility is to focus less on leveraging technology and automation as merely a means to greater profitability, and more on how the workforce of the future might engage with technology for the mutual benefit of corporations and society.

Ultimately, it matters little what the world looks like in 10, or 20 or even 100 years’ time. What’s really important is that the people who live and work in that world have been equipped to stay firmly in touch with their human-ness. So, while robots may be doing a lot of the work, and the concept of full-time employment for life will probably have become somewhat archaic, the focus of the workplace should, and will, always be on people. More specifically, that focus will need to be on how to best equip and enable employees to engage with technology to achieve the types and levels of outputs that we probably cannot even contemplate today.

This means that preparing today’s young people to be productive employees tomorrow requires a shift in education focus, and employment criteria, from purely academic-based learning outcomes to the demonstrable ability to access and leverage knowledge, acquire, adapt and grow skills sets, and engage meaningfully with others and the world at large. Because, while competition, capitalism and commoditisation may well be at all-time highs by 2028, an agile and innovative human workforce, with a sincere commitment to ethics, sustainability, fairness and the greater good, will ultimately always differentiate the successful future organisation from the failed one.

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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser

Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, which features a built-in virtual private network service.

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Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.

A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.

The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.

“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.

When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.

The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.

“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.

The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.

“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”

Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.

The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.

Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.

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Future of the car is here

Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.

The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.

Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.

Jaguar i-Pace

The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.

Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.

And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.

The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.

Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
  • 0-100km/h in 4.8s
  • 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
  • Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
  • Two-year/34 000km service intervals

Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.

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