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Tweeting for good

A campaign by a bank reveals the positive power of Twitter when it is roped in for a good cause, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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A trailer parked in a plaza at Melrose Arch over a recent weekend was the unlikely scene of a triumph for Twitter. The social network has had a bad rap for the flood of vile, threatening and demeaning tweets that have stained its name in recent years. What with presidents using it to settle scores and Twitter often appearing incapable of dealing with hate speech, it would have been easy to write it off as a lost cause.

But causes are exactly what thrive on Twitter, and these fan be tremendously positive  causes.

Standard Bank used it to launch a unique social campaign to show that “inspiring and positive tweets can be turned into tangible educational tools with the help of 3D printing and laser cutters”.

The concept was that, anyone posting a tweet with the hashtag, #GoodFollowsGood, would trigger a chain of events that would deliver instructions to a 3D printer to produce a school stationery space case, and to a laser cutter to produce a maths set to go into the case.

“For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction,” said Katlego Mahleka, Senior Manager, Brand at Standard Bank Group. “Some call it the concept of cause and effect. Others would term it reaping what you sow. At Standard Bank we like to say that #GoodFollowsGood.

“Everything we do in life sets in motion a chain of events. Our actions today have a ripple effect that influences our individual and collective futures. This is why we choose to use our business decisions to promote positive change on our continent, and indeed the world.”

To demonstrate the impact of the philosophy, he said, the bank launched its Tweet Machine campaign to show that positive actions and words can be transformed into tangible outcomes that have a lasting impact on people’s lives.

Travelling the country from August to October, the Tweet Machine is a mobile industrial container that acts as a factory. The global reach of social media, linked to 3D printers and laser cutters, will produce at least 1000 set square and ruler kits for grade 6 learners.

Standard Bank says it is the first installation in the world to turn tweets into educational tools. 

“The idea will be to kick-start a positive impact initiative on social media by encouraging South Africans to tweet about something positive using the #GoodFollowsGood hashtag. Standard Bank will then facilitate the forward payment of this positivity by transforming these tweets into stationery sets for learners that are part of the Standard Bank Tutuwa-BRIDGE School Programme.”

“The five-year partnership with Tutuwa-BRIDGE seeks to support schools in improving learner outcomes. Both learners and school performance will be monitored to ensure that the impact is effective and long-lasting.”

It seems simple, but the technology powering it took several months to put together.

Continue reading to find out how the Tweet Machine works.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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