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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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CES: Most useless gadgets of all

Choosing the best of show is a popular pastime, but the worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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