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Robots will be our partners

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Even though some view the latest developments in AI a little daunting, ANTON VAN HEERDEN, Managing Director and Executive Vice-President, Africa & Middle East at Sage, believes we need to see bots and advanced AI as an opportunity to be more efficient.

South African developers and enterprises are showcasing some of the ways they’re putting the newest artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to work, this week at BotCon in Cape Town. Some of the latest developments are a little scary, especially for those who have grown up with rogue AIs and robots in science-fiction or have read the headlines about how we’ll lose millions of jobs worldwide to automation by 2020.

What does this mean for the average business builder or entrepreneur in South Africa? My view is that they should see bots and advanced AI as an opportunity to be more efficient, and make room for more meaningful work for their human employees. Of course, we’ll all need to upskill and reskill ourselves—as millions of people have needed to do in other technology revolutions throughout history— but the good thing is that AI and robotics can help us become more productive and do more ‘human’ work and less of the mundane stuff.

Humans + AI = a great team for small business

AI and bots could change the way small businesses work as much as mobile phones and the Internet have. But rather than replacing human employees, it will help people working for and managing Small & Medium Businesses to achieve more with their time. Used correctly, humans and AI can achieve more together than either can on its own.

Even though many bots today offer fairly basic functionality and features, the pace of innovation in AI and machine learning is accelerating. Advances in areas such as natural language processing (NLP) and speech recognition enable us to interact with machines in ways that feel more natural to us. Just think, for example, of asking Siri a question using your voice compared to fiddling with the onscreen keyboard of your iPhone.

More time to innovate and make happy customers

Letting a ‘bot’ file your expense claims, seek quotes for a caterer for your product launch or respond to basic online customer chat requests could save human capacity for innovation and customer service. Sage, for example recently announced that the first accounting chat bot Pegg now has over 20,000 users in 110 countries.

This is important for small businesses since our research consistently shows that finding time for innovation and creativity is a huge bugbear for time-strapped business builders around the world. It’s little wonder, then, that our recent research also illustrates that South African entrepreneurs are enthusiastic about AI rather than fearful (Forum for Business Builders – South Africa data).

South African entrepreneurs love technology and have traditionally been eager to embrace tools that help them get more things done every day. The research also shows that 43% of respondents are ready Hi Arthurfor AI and bots to help them organise their professional life for them. Nearly half (47%) agreed that they would feel comfortable with AI and Bots organising their personal life for them.

Around 61% of respondents chose AI as the most important technology trend for 2017, with only 18% choosing the blockchain. And some 71% said that they would welcome an admin-free world – the sort of world that AI, blockchain and the next wave of disruptive digital technologies will help us to create.

In the final analysis, technology is there to free us from drudge tasks, so that we can focus on the exciting, creative work that humans still do best.

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Smash hits the Nintendo Switch

Super Smash Bros. delivers what the fans wanted in the latest “Ultimate” instalment, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the latest addition to the popular Nintendo Smash series, has landed on the Nintendo Switch with a bang, selling 5-million copies in the first week of its release. The game has been long-anticipated since the console’s release, as many fans consider iy to be a Nintendo staple. And the wait was well worth it.

It features 74 playable fighters, 108 stages, almost 1300 Spirit characters to collect while playing, and a single-player Adventure mode that took about three days (or 28 hours) of gameplay to complete. The game offers far more gameplay than its predecessors, making it the Smash game that gives its players the best bang for their buck.

For those new to the game, the goal is to fight opponents and build up their damage score (draining their health) to knock them off the stage eventually. This makes the game seem chaotic, as many players jump around the platforms as if they were on quicksand, in order to avoid being hit by the other players.

It also services two kinds of players: the competitive and the casual.

Competitive players can be matched on the online service by skill ranking to enjoy playing with similarly high-skilled opponents. This is especially important in e-sports training for the game, and for players wanting to master combos against other human players. The casual gamer is also catered for, with eight-player chaos and button-mashing to see who comes out luckiest. This segment is also important for those wanting to learn how to play.

Training mode is also a place to go for those learning to play. It offers “CPU” players that are graded by intensity to train as a single player to learn a character’s moves, combos and general fighting style. More challenging CPU players can also be used by competitive players to train when there isn’t a Wi-Fi connection available.

Direct Play features in this game, allowing two players with two Switch consoles to play against each other over a direct connection – no Wi-Fi needed. This is especially useful to those who want to have a social gaming element on the go, similar to that of the cable connector of the Gameboy.

Click here to read Bryan Turner review of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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Win Funko Fortnite in Vinyl

Gadget and Gammatek have nine Funko Fortnite figurines to give away.

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A Funko Pop figurine based on a character set is indicative of reaching the heights of pop culture. It is no surprise, then, that the world’s biggest online game, Fortnite, has its own line of Funko Pop figurines. The Funkos are modeled on the characters in game, including Drift, Ragnarok, Dark Vanguard, Volar, Tracera Ops, and Sparkle Specialist.

Now, local Funko distributor Gammatek has released the Fortnite figurines in South Africa. To celebrate, Gadget and Gammatek are giving away a set of three Funko Fortnite figurines to each of three readers (9 figurines in total). To enter, first click on your favourite Funko Pop on the next page and post the Tweet that appears. Then, follow Gadget on Twitter.

You can put the tweet in your own words, but entries must have the competition’s hashtag (#FunkoFortnite) and mention @GadgetZA to be considered valid.

Click here to select the Funko Fortnite character you want to tweet.

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