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The 2 AI trends no one
talks about

AI will create jobs, but purpose-built is a bad move, writes VIAN CHINNER, CEO of Xineoh

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Two artificial intelligence (AI) trends that will become a reality in 2019 – the rapid broadening of AI and its ability to create thousands of jobs – are not being widely spoken about.

Purpose-built algorithms will become obsolete

There is a lot of talk about when AI will be smarter than human beings. The reality is, when it comes to certain singular tasks, AI has been smarter than humans for a long time.

Consider the humble calculator, which delivers flawlessly time after time. The best human brains are only capable of completing large calculations accurately about 80% of the time, and they take considerably longer to do so.

Tasks of increasing complexity, such as banking transactions, can be concluded significantly faster by an automated teller machine (ATM) than a human teller. The ATM is also more accurate and doesn’t become tired.

At a task as complex as chess, AI had already beaten the best human player in 1997.

What most people refer to when discussing the prospect of AI becoming smarter than human beings is the broadening of AI. Broadening refers to a broad algorithm that can teach itself to master many tasks, such as Google’s one algorithm to rule them all. By the end of 2017, this algorithm started beating purpose-built algorithms in several fields.

Given that AI’s strength doubles every six months, broad algorithms are highly likely to outperform a huge number of purpose-built algorithms by the end of 2019.

Why are people not talking about this?

Given that things move linearly in our evolutionary environment, human brains are not wired for exponential equations. For example, if algae doubles every day and takes 40 days to cover an entire lake, how much time did it take to cover 25% of the lake? The answer is: 38 days, the other 75% came in just 2 days.

AI is a bit like the algae. It doubles every six months. By 2016, we had been working on generalised AI for several years and hadn’t made much progress. By 2017, we started to get some results and by 2018 it began to beat some of our purpose-built results. This is why it is extremely likely that generalised AI will surpass a plethora of purpose-built algorithms this year and we will have no use for them anymore.

AI will create more jobs than it destroys

The narrative around AI is often pessimistic, with self-proclaimed pundits predicting countless job losses and other equally woeful outcomes. The fact is that AI has the potential to create many more jobs than it destroys. Many multiples more.

With the unemployment rate hovering around the 27%-mark, South Africa is desperate to find ways to help the unemployed become more economically active. A poor education system and a large pool of people without qualifications or skills means that even if jobs are available, many of these people cannot be considered for them.

Reducing unemployment would be the single greatest contributor to a better South Africa. Getting everybody into a job would massively reduce crime, increase productivity and change citizens’ outlook on voting.

Economically speaking, the only sustainable way to get someone to earn a higher wage is to increase their skills and productivity. Consider a domestic worker, who is expected to complete various cleaning chores. For her to move up the skills value chain where she is managing the household, buying groceries and cooking, would require training and experience.

This is where AI can play a significant role and have a huge impact on society. For someone to be employed, the marginal value they add for the next person needs to be more than the marginal cost of employing that person. AI can dramatically skill people up, making them more valuable. In fact, the lower people are on the labour rung, the larger the effect AI can have on their productivity.

So, if the domestic worker, who only has basic cooking skills, harnesses AI to access various programmes or apps that help her create gourmet meals, she instantly moves up the skills value chain. Similarly, a gardener can become an Uber driver and go from making R150 per day to potentially earning R150 per hour.

The reason we don’t currently have an app to show someone how to create food step-by step is because creating a bespoke AI algorithm has been prohibitively expensive. The broadening of AI, however, will change this and result in apps that will help increase the marginal value of people and significantly reduce unemployment in South Africa.

Uber is an excellent example of the power of AI to reduce unemployment. Prior to Uber, South Africa had tiny meter taxi industry. The advent of Uber has seen a massive expansion of the pay-for-ride industry, creating thousands of jobs.

The possibilities are endless. Imagine a gardener becoming a landscape expert, a driver gaining motor mechanic skills, a domestic worker becoming a culinary expert or a super nanny. AI can do this. It’s already doing it. And, if left to its own devices, it will happen organically.

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Gaming gets rad at Rand Show

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With the opening of the 125th Rand Show at Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, today, gamers and cosplayers have a new destination to strut their stuff.

A new addition to the show, the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion, is offering anything from gaming and cosplay to dance-offs and  science displays.

The organisers provided the following information (although several million exclamation marks and exaggerations have been removed!):

Fortnite Tournament

There was a time when Gaming was a considered a solitary pastime, confined to single player consoles; but that truly is a thing of the past with a fully immersive Fortnite Tournament open to all Fortnite afficionados and even those just starting out. Players can battle it out over both show weekends, including a final on each weekend. Family fan clubs can also get in on the action with live broadcasts of the game as it happens across screens – a full-on Fortnite family affair. Sponsored by PlayStation, gamers are truly going to be spoiled and should get in on the action as fast as they can because R 100 000 in cash prizes is up for grabs.

Smart Technology Centre will deliver a super-fast FibreMAX 500Mbps fibre link, wholly dedicated to the gaming pavilion to ensure that absolutely nothing ruins the thrill of the National Fortnite Tournament. 

“As the exclusive connectivity provider, we have gone all out to ensure an amazing experience for gamers,” says Dillynn Els of Smart Technology Centre (STC), an internet service provider (ISP) and IT technology partner. “When it comes to gaming and the best experience possible, it’s all about ensuring we provide a dedicated, uncapped, unshaped connection that makes every second count.”

Keen players can come along and enter on the day, but don’t delay because space is limited.

Fortnite Inspired Dance Off

Visitors can come along and be entertained by the finalists in the Fortnite inspired dance-off. There will be daily dances to enjoy for the entire duration of the show.

Come and play – Cosplay, to be exact.

The stage is set for a celebration of creativity and imagination that is going to be literally out of this world. Super hero heavy weights and masters of the mysterious will be letting their creative vision loose and take part in various Cosplay Tournaments and a visually stunning Cosplay Masquerade. Come see what all the fuss is about and get lost in this world costumes, colour and creative talent.

Games, Games and Science

For those wanting to get their gaming on, there will be three free play areas sponsored by Xbox with a host of games available to play. Xbox will be giving away 3 Xbox 1’s and an awesome Xbox 1X, but you truly have to be in it to win it, so make sure you don’t miss out.

The Kalahari Scientist will be onstage delighting visitors with his explosive displays that are guaranteed to up the ooh and aah factor with audiences young and old.

But wait, there’s more

Along with the larger-than-life gaming entertainment offering, visitors will also get to be the first gamers on SA soil to get a sneak peak of PlayStation’s brand new Mortal Kombat 11. Don’t miss your chance to experience the continuation of this epic saga through a new cinematic story that is more than 25 years in the making. The iconic showcasing brutal battles like never before, along with a host of customisable fighters with enhanced graphics and animations.

Other activities at the Pavilion include VR Experiences, a full-on NAG Nerf Arena, Gaming vendors with awesome gaming content, retailers selling gaming related products and software, and tutorials and workshops on how to improve your gaming skills, Celebrity Fortnite match off for charity.

With huge sponsors such as PlayStation, Xbox, MMS, NAG, SABC 2 and Smart Technology, the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion is geared up to become a hot zone of entertainment.

Win big

In case the entertainment offering just doesn’t get the heart beats racing fast enough, an all-expenses paid trip to TwitchCon USA, sponsored by PlayStation, in conjunction with 94.7 Highveld Stereo, is waiting for one lucky visitor to grab it. Every ticket purchased into the Entertainment Gaming Pavilion qualifies as an entry, so bring the whole family along for the ride.

Tickets to the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion can be purchased at the show for R 20 which gives the ticket holder access for  two hours.

The pavilion will be open from 14h00 to 19h00 weekdays and 10h00 to 19h00 on weekends from 19 to 28 April 2019.

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Riaad Moosa show debuts on Vodacom Video Play

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Riaad Moosa’s comedy special, Life Begins, will be the first major local title to be released on Vodacom’s video-on-demand service, Video Play.

As an award-winning comedian, actor, writer and presenter, Riaad Moosa is one of South Africa’s most renowned funny men. His one-man show is available for download on the platform from today, 26 April 2019. Life Begins is rated PG-16L

Vodacom’s says its affordable video-on-demand service, Video Play, has had an incredible uptake since its launch in August 2018, with over 2-million subscribers. 

“But with a proliferation of affordable video-on-demand platforms available to the South African market, what is it that gives Video Play the competitive edge?” it asked in a release this week. “Recognising the consumer’s need for flexibility and freedom of choice, Vodacom has ingeniously developed an adaptable subscription model that puts the power in consumers’ hands. Forget being tied down to a monthly subscription. Video Play gives consumers the liberty of choosing a daily, weekend or even monthly package. 

“Blockbuster movies can even be viewed for a once off cost, without subscription. Furthermore, these bundles can be purchased according to niche categories and genres, from Bollywood movies to gospel music.”

Consumers are able to pay for movies and series by using their airtime or adding it to their bill, eliminating the need for a credit card. Subscribers are also able to purchase video-specific data at a fraction of the regular price to consume constant content without overspending. Daily subscriptions start from R5 a day.

Zunaid Mahomed, Group Digital and Fixed Services Officer, says: “Video Play has enabled the company to provide a seamless and enjoyable customer experience. With the addition of Riaad Moosa’s Life Begins, we’re excited to offer consumers even more quality content and a wider variety of entertainment on demand than ever before. We’re putting quality entertainment, into the hands of anyone with a mobile device and an internet connection.”

Riaad Moosa describes his show as “very philosophical and existential”.

“It involves the normal issues of getting older while at the same time experiencing, at a maturity where I’m supposed to be wise, a world that is completely turned on its head.  It’s about how I negotiate all these things happening around me while trying to maintain a positive attitude. Through my comedic lens, I hope to put a different spin on that and hopefully I can enter my next 40 years with renewed vigour and excitement.”

To access Riaad Moosa’s Life Begins comedy special, register for Video via the Video Play website (www.videoplay.co.za).

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