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IBM puts smart to work

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At the recent IBM Think conference in Las Vegas, it was outlined that the amount of data that gets generated everyday is not as important as the amount that is searchable and gets put to good use, writes TIANA CLINE.

The human race is generating more than 43 million terabytes of data every day. And in a world where there are more Internet of Things (IoT) objects than people, it’s more than simply making the technology smart: it’s about making online a secure space in order to build a smarter future for everyone.

“How much of the world’s data is searchable?” is the key question IBM CEO and chairman, Ginni Rometty, proposed at the inaugural IBM Think conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, last week.

IBM has revealed a number of new cloud technologies and capabilities, enhancements of its Watson big data platform, and delved deeper into the opportunities that artificial intelligence (AI) opens up for businesses seeking a competitive advantage.

Rometty highlighted the ability of IBM cloud for business to integrate artificial intelligence and blockchain. This, she said, was not necessarily a digitally intelligent platform, but a solution in a digital world, whether your cloud solution is private, public or on-premises.

IBM researchers are also developing blockchain crypto-anchors, tamper-proof digital fingerprints that can be embedded into products, or parts of products, and linked to a blockchain.

Rometty pointed out that a mere 20% of the world’s data is publicly searchable, while 80% belongs to individuals, making everyone “incumbent disrupters and AI is the competitive premise”.

IBM’s solution is to leverage digital platforms, embed learning in every process and empower people with digital intelligence. This then paves the way for AI.

“This is an era of man plus machine, not man versus machine,” saidd Rometty. “Outcomes are better when it is human and machine instead of humans alone or machines alone. One place to start is HR processes. We need to outlearn everybody else by putting smart to work.”

According to IBM, data is a competitive advantage and game changer, which means companies should only partner with trusted second parties, always be on the offense, and use AI to truly empower people.

“Only 4% of the world encrypts data, yet this is one of the most important things you can do. In this era, many companies can win and, if you ask why, it’s all about data. The people who show you that you can’t trust them should not have access to your data.”

At the conference, IBM released its new Power9 processor on the IBM Cloud, which is built for compute-intensive AI workloads, using Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs connected via a high-speed NVLink interface. This improves deep learning frameworks, helping data scientists to train more accurate AI models faster and, Rometty claims, can train AI faster than anything currently available on the market.

A new IBM Cloud Developer Console for Apple will provide tools like pre-configured starter kits, along with AI, data and mobile services for Swift. This will enable developers to link to IBM Cloud to build apps that are easy to code, fast to deploy and can be integrated with enterprise data.

“We’ve reinvented IBM for the era of data and it’s been about innovative technologies, industry expertise, and then always underpinned by trusted security. If all of us in the world could make smarter decisions, that’s worth $2 trillion. If you embrace a digital platform, embed it in a process, and empower people, that’s winning.”

* Tiana Cline is a freelance content writer, technology journalist and digital strategist. She likes cats, data science, long-form and violent video games. 

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The myths of microwaves

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We all know microwaves make cooking a breeze and it helps save those minutes, we rarely have enough of these days. However, some people do have those lingering doubts about whether microwaving food destroys nutrients or that it emits harmful radiation. However, the truth is a lot more comforting and positive.

“The microwave makes life so much easier,” says Tracy Gordon, Head of Product – Home Appliances at Samsung South Africa. “It’s human-centred technology at its most helpful. The Samsung Hotblast for example, has revolutionary functions, which are tailor-made to create fast, tasty and healthy meals in minutes.”

A recent article by Harvard Health Publishingclaims stated that “microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.” The article debunks two common myths about microwaving food.

Myth 1: Microwaving kills nutrients

Whether in a microwave or a regular oven, some nutrients, including vitamin C, do break down when exposed to heat. However, the fact is, cooking with a microwave might be better when it comes to preserving nutrients because it takes a shorter time to cook. Additionally, as far as vegetables go, cooking them in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients seep out into the cooking water,” states the report by Harvard Health Publishing. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe and has the same nutrient value, as food cooked in a conventional oven.

Myth 2: Microwaving food can give you cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that microwaves do not make food radioactive. Microwaves heat food but they do not change the chemical or molecular structure of it. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that microwaves pose a health risk to people when used appropriately, the organisation added.

With those myths well busted, it’s comforting to know one can make full use of the convenient kitchen appliance. And when the time comes to use a microwave to heat up a tasty meal in no time, one can trust the Samsung Hotblast to do the job. The HotBlast has multiple air holes blowing out powerful hot air, which reduces cooking time. Samsung claims the Slim Fry technology ensures that food is perfectly crisp on the outside and delicious and juicy on the inside. Additionally, this versatile microwave has a wider grill, making it easier to brown food fast and evenly. The turntable is wider, measuring 345mm, making it possible to prepare bigger portions of food. And with its Eco Mode power, it significantly reduces energy consumption with its low standby power. Its intelligent features and stylish design makes it very useful and as we now know – a safe, healthy way to enjoy a meal.

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New BMW 3-series ushers in autonomous future

The new BMW 3-series is not meant to be an autonomous car, but it is so close, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers.

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It was not meant to be a test-drive of an autonomous vehicle. But the Driving Assist button on the steering wheel of the new BMW 330i was just too tempting. And there I found myself, on Sir Lowry’s Pass near Cape Town, “driving” with my arms folded while the vehicle negotiated curves on its own.

Every 10 seconds or so, yellow or red lights flashed to alert me to put my hands back on the wheel. The yellow lights meant the car wanted me to put my hands on the wheel, just to show that I was in control. The red lights meant that I had to take over control from the artificial intelligence built into the vehicle.

With co-driver Ernest Page, we negotiated a major highway, the bends of Sir Lowry’s pass, and the passes of Hell’s Heights (Hel se Hoogte) above the Cape Winelands.

As the above video of the experience reveals, it can be nerve-racking for someone who hasn’t experienced autonomous driving, or hasn’t been dreaming of testing it for many years. For this driver, it was exhilarating. Not because the car performed so magnificently, but because it tells us just how close true autonomous driving really is.

There was one nervous moment when the autonomous – or rather, Driving Assist – mode disengaged on Hell’s Heights, but fear not. A powerful sense of responsibility prevailed, and my hands hovered over the steering wheel as it took the curve. Assist disengaged, and the car began to veer towards the other side of the road. I quickly took over, and also sobered up from the giddiness of thinking I was already in the future.

In reality, Driving Assist is part of level 2 of driving autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. A presentation on the evening of the test drive, by Edward Makwana, manager of group product communications at BMW Group in South Africa, summed up the five stages as the driver having Feet Off, Hands Off, Eyes Off, Mind off, and finally, only being a Passenger.

However, the extent to which the hands-off mode of Driving Assist mimics self-driving, and easily shows the way to eyes-off and mind-off, is astonishing.

Click here to read about the components that make the Driving Assist work.

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