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Samsung scores big with Chelsea

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A global initiative to give young boys a chance to be coached at Chelsea Football Club showed how sponsorship can go beyond return on investment, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

On the neon signs that flash day and night above Picadilly Circus in London, tourists have become accustomed to two brands that have dominated the iconic advertising space for this entire century so far: Coca-Cola and Samsung. This year, the Korean ‚”newcomers‚” for the first time overtook the American beverage maker as the world’s biggest advertiser.

One would think, then, that the electronics giant’s tactics are all about making a bigger and bigger impact, dominating high-profile spaces like Piccadilly Circus and Times Square.

But this week, at a training ground just outside London, Samsung was making a different kind of impact: on the lives of a small group of children from around the world.

It was the culmination of the Dream the Blues campaign, launched in January this year across seven countries by Samsung Electronics and the Chelsea Youth Academy. 1400 children took part in initial youth training camps, from which the two most passionate from each country were chosen to fly to London and spend a week being trained by Chelsea’s own youth coaches.

The children, from Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, China and Thailand, spent much of each day being coached and melded into a team at the club’s Cobham Training Centre, culminating in a match against a local team.

Yesterday, they got to watch the Blues in action against Everton, in their final league match of the season. But that experience almost paled against another event last week: a personal training session on Friday with four players appointed ‚”Chelsea Ambassadors‚”: Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, Oscar and Victor Moses. For two young South African players, 12-year-old Goitsemang Lengene and 10-year-old Mvelo Mvuleni from South Africa, it was more than a dream come true. It was an impossible dream unfolding before their eyes.

The Cobham Training Centre is a high security venue, with access by invitation only. Even those granted access are prohibited from taking photos or even asking players for autographs. That restriction didn’t apply to the young trainees: they had full access to the four stars.

The timing of the training camp could not have been better. When it started last Wednesday morning, Chelsea had yet to win a trophy this season. That night, Torres scored the crucial opening goal in the team’s Europa Cup Final 2-1 triumph over Benfica.

The next evening, Mata was named Chelsea Player of the Year for the second year in a row, as well as Player’s Player of the Year. Completing a hat-trick for the Ambassadors, Oscar took the prize for Chelsea’s Goal of the Season, scored against Juventus. Then, at the Everton match, Mata opened the scoring and Torres scored the winning goal.

If it had been a movie, no one would have believed those plot twists. But, as a motivational script, it could not have been better written.

‚”Samsung believes in supporting and motivating the youth of South Africa to discover and expand possibilities and opportunities to benefit themselves,‚” says Michelle Potgieter, head of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Samsung South Africa. ‚”We are sure that this camp in London will be a meaningful step in doing so, as well as a great opportunity for the participants to get closer to their dreams.‚”

The ‚”Dream the Blues‚” campaign is an expansion of the Samsung-Chelsea FC Youth Football Camp program that the two have been collaborating on since 2007. Originally a grassroots programme initiated by Chelsea in the United Kingdom, it has since brought more than 6000 youth from around the world to Cobham.

Chelsea officially qualified for the European Champions League yesterday, further cementing the value the side brings to the brand that emblazons the front of its players’ shirts. Samsung estimates that, in the 2009/10 season, when Chelsea won the league and FA Cup double, it generated more than $100-million in marketing value.

Will that sell more smartphones, TV sets and other electronics? Consider this: in its first year as Chelsea sponsor, in 2005, Samsung’s sales doubled in Europe over the previous year.

Bringing 14 children to Cobham is hardly going to make anything like that kind of impact. But it shows that the relationship between a sports team and its sponsor does not only have to be about a return on investment.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee

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Prepare for deepfake impact

Is the world as we know it ready for the real impact of deepfake? CAREY VAN VLAANDEREN, CEO at ESET SA, digs deeper

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Deepfake technology is rapidly becoming easier and quicker to create and it’s opening a door into a new form of cybercrime. Although it’s still mostly seen as relatively harmful or even humorous, this craze could take a more sinister turn in the future and be at the heart of political scandals, cybercrime, or even unimaginable concepts involving fake videos. And it won’t be just public figures that bear the brunt. 

deepfake is the technique of human-image synthesis based on artificial intelligence to create fake content either from scratch or using existing video designed to replicate the look and sound of a real human. Such videos can look incredibly real and currently many of these videos involve celebrities or public figures saying something outrageous or untrue.

New research shows a huge increase in the creation of deepfake videos, with the number online almost doubling in the last nine months alone. Deepfakes are increasing in quality at a swift rate, too. This video showing Bill Hader morphing effortlessly between Tom Cruise and Seth Rogan is just one example of how authentic these videos are looking, as well as sounding. If you search YouTube for the term ‘deepfake’ it will make you realise we are viewing the tip of the iceberg as to what is to come.

In fact, we have already seen deepfake technology used for fraud, where a deepfaked voice was reportedly used to scam a CEO out of a large sum of cash. It is believed the CEO of an unnamed UK firm thought he was on the phone to his boss and followed the orders to immediately transfer €220,000 (roughly US$244,000) to a Hungarian supplier’s bank account. If it was this easy to influence someone by just asking them to do it over the phone, then surely we will need better security in place to mitigate this threat.

Fooling the naked eye

We have also seen apps making DeepNudes where apps were able to turn any clothed person into a topless photo in seconds. Although, luckily, this particular app has now been taken offline, what if this comes back in another form with a vengeance and is able to create convincingly authentic-looking video?

There is also evidence that the production of these videos is becoming a lucrative business especially in the pornography industry. The BBC says “96% of these videos are of female celebrities having their likenesses swapped into sexually explicit videos – without their knowledge or consent”.

recent Californian bill has taken a leap of faith and made it illegal to create a pornographic deepfake of someone without their consent with a penalty of up to $150,000. But chances are that no legislation will be enough to deter some people from fabricating the videos.

To be sure, an article from The Economist discusses that in order to make a convincing enough deepfake you would need a serious amount of video footage and/or voice recordings in order to make even a short deepfake clip.

Having said that, In the not-too-distant future, it may be entirely possible to take just a few short Instagram stories to create a deepfake that is believed by the majority of their followers online or by anyone else who knows them. We may see some unimaginable videos appearing of people closer to home – the boss, our colleagues, our peers, our family. Additionally, deepfakes may also be used for bullying in schools, the office or even further afield.

Furthermore, cybercriminals will definitely use such technology to spearphish victims. Deepfakes keep getting cheaper to create and become near-impossible to detect with the human eye alone. As a result, alt that fakery could very easily muddy the water between fact and fiction, which in turn could force us to not trust anything – even when presented with what our senses are telling us to believe.

Heading off the very real threat

So, what can be done to prepare us for this threat? First, we need to better educate people that deepfakes exist, how they work and the potential damage they can cause. We will all need to learn to treat even the most realistic videos we see that they could be a total fabrication.

Secondly, technology desperately needs to develop better detection of deepfakes. There is already research going into it, but it’s nowhere near where it should be yet. Although machine learning is at the heart of creating them in the first place, there needs to be something in place that acts as the antidote being able to detect them without relying on human eyes alone.

Finally, social media platforms need to realize there is a huge potential threat with the impact of deepfakes because when you mix a shocking video with social media, the outcome tends to spread very rapidly and potentially could have a detrimental impact on society.

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A career in data science – or your money back

The Explore Data Science Academy is offering high demand skills courses – and guarantees employment for trainees

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The Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) has announced several new courses in 2020 that it says will radically change the shape of data science education in South Africa. 

Comprising Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analytics and Machine Learning, each six-month course provides vital digital skills that are in high demand in the market place.  The full time, fully immersive courses each cost R60 000 including VAT. 

The courses are differentiated from any other available by the fact that EDSA has introduced a money back promise if it cannot place the candidate in a job within six months of graduation and at a minimum annual starting salary of R240 000.

“For South Africans with drive and aptitude, this is the perfect opportunity to launch a career in what has been called the sexiest career of the 21stcentury,” says Explore founder Shaun Dippnall.

Dippnall and his team are betting on the explosive demand for data science skills locally and globally.

 “There is a massive supply-demand gap in the area of data science and our universities and colleges are struggling to keep up with the rapid growth and changing nature of specific digital skills being demanded by companies.  

“We are offering specifically a work ready opportunity in a highly skills deficient sector, and one which guarantees employment thereafter.”

The latter is particularly pertinent to young South Africans – a segment which currently faces a 30 percent unemployment rate. 

“If you have skills in either Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analytics or Machine Learning, you will find work locally, even globally. We’re confident of that,” says Dippnall.

EDSA is part of the larger Explore organisation and has for the past two years offered young people an opportunity to be trained as data scientists and embark on careers in a fast-growing sector of the economy.  

In its first year of operation, EDSA trained 100 learners as data scientists in a fully sponsored, full-time 12-month course.  In year two, this number increased to 400.  

“Because we are connected with hundreds of employers and have an excellent understanding of the skills they need, our current placement rate is over 90 percent of the students we’ve taught,” Dippnall says. “These learners can earn an average of R360 000 annually, hence our offer of your money back if there is no employment at a minimum annual salary of R240k within six months.

“With one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world – recently announced as a national emergency by the President – it is important that institutions teach skills that are in demand and where learners can earn a healthy living afterwards.”

There are qualifying criteria, however. Candidates need to live in close proximity (within one hour commuting distance), or be prepared to live, in either Johannesburg or Cape Town, and need to be between the ages of 18 and 55. 

“Our application process is very tough. We’ll test for aptitude and attitude using the qualifying framework we’ve built over the years. If you’re smart enough, you’ll be accepted,” says Dippnall.

To find out more, visit  http://www.explore-datascience.net.

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