Month: Jan 2018

What artificial intelligence means for humans

Davos – The fast-growing development of artificial intelligence should be used to augment – not replace – human capability and opportunity.

This was the view of experts at an interactive session on artificial intelligence at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on Tuesday.

With the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the accompanying technological innovations and advancement, especially in the field of AI, it was stressed that AI development should be guided by the overarching principle that technology should not replace human capability, but rather support it. 


Experts further agreed that technology and access to technology should be democratised and said it was essential to provide people with the relevant knowledge and skills to lay the groundwork for a more egalitarian and sustainable era of cognitive computing.

Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO at IBM Corporation in the US, which has taken the lead in cognitive computing within the information technology industry and has developed the advanced AI platform Watson, said transparency was imperative to develop trust in cognitive computing.


Soon, everyone will be working with AI technologies and people will want to know how they were designed, by which experts and using which data. "Humans need to remain in control of it," Rometty said, adding that it was imperative that technology be created for, by and with the people. 


Panellists agreed that ethical and legal concerns must be factored in at the start of the design process, underlining the importance for customers, lawyers, ethicists, scientists and technology developers to work together.


Highlighting the need to democratise technology design, Joichi Ito, Director, Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said it was worrying that the demographic in Silicon Valley consisted of mostly white men. He gave the example of a face-recognition technology that failed to recognise dark faces, reflecting a lack of diversity among the engineers who designed it.


"AI is still a bespoke art; the customer cannot imagine the tool yet," he said, suggesting that stakeholders, including the customer, the lawyer and the ethicist, have a say in technology creation.


Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft Corporation in the US, said his organisation was focusing on how to make technology broadly accessible. He cited the success of Microsoft’s Skype Translator, the speech-to-speech translation application available for free download. Speaking of the challenges that lay ahead, Nadella said many questions remained to be answered, such as how to fix responsibility for decisions made by algorithms that humans had not written, and whether the AI surplus that would be created would be shared equitably.

"Overall world GDP growth is not stellar," Nadella said. "We actually need AI."


To ensure that AI and the Fourth Industrial Revolution helped solve the pressing problems of today, such as climate change, education and drug discovery, and to ensure inclusive growth, it was important to help train people for the jobs of the future, he said. He added that in a world with a surfeit of AI, human values such as common sense and empathy would be scarce and that these were the values that the citizens of tomorrow would need most to make humanity the very best it could be.

Ron Gutman, Founder and CEO of HealthTap, an online application that brings patients and doctors together, said AI would create new jobs that did not exist today. For instance, sensors and wearables provided so much data that it would become possible to move from reactive to proactive medicine, creating a new ecosystem of jobs.

Rometty highlighted her idea of "new collar" jobs, which pivoted on the belief that the skills needed for tomorrow’s jobs were not just the high-end, high-technology skills that could only be acquired through a traditional college degree. Many jobs, such as those of cloud computing technicians and service delivery specialists, would need skills often obtained through vocational training or in non-traditional ways.


She emphasised, though, that at the same time everybody would need retraining. Ito agreed, noting that everyone would have to acquire an understanding of AI, and education systems would have to be made more dynamic as technology would change rapidly.


African News Agency


Here is a list of 5 tech trends set to take over in 2018!

;widows: 2;-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px;text-decoration-style: initial;text-decoration-color: initial;word-spacing:0px’>In 2017, we saw these tech trends dominate, such as Chatbots or autonomous interfaces, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT). 

Here is a list of 5 tech trends set to take over in 2018: 

1. 5G preparation

This year, developers and engineers are getting ready to make a new generation of internet possible. By the end of 2019, 5G networks and phones with 5G will be available. 

5G internet has the potential to be almost 10 times faster than 4G, making it even better than most home internet services.

Read more: 5G Technology will hit SA thanks to Nokia and Vodacom

2. AI permeation

Artificial intelligence (AI), made possible through machine learning algorithms, will be incorporated in a larger variety of applications. 

AI is set to feature in almost every new platform, app, or device, and that trend is only going to accelerate further that what we’ve seen since 2017. 

3. White collar automation

Everyone seems to assume that one day their job will be replaced by a robot. AI has become advanced enough to replace at least some white collar jobs for years. Such as algorithms used to write basic news articles, given sufficient inputs of data. 2018 may be the year that we see more radical job transformations and companies making big technology changes. 

Also read: Security trends for 2018

4. Digital centralisation

As the years have gone by, we’ve seen many different types of devices and have become dependent on these smart devices in our daily lives. However, studies have shown that consumers seek ways to manage everything from as few devices and central locations as possible. Will 2018 be the year that we see more devices will multiple functions? 

5. Data overload

In 2018, data collection is going to become an even higher priority as companies have seen the advantage of collecting consumer data. With consumers talking to smart speakers throughout their day, and relying on digital devices for most of their daily tasks, companies will soon have access to big amounts of personal data.



Instagram to test text-only stories.

;widows: 2;-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px;text-decoration-style: initial;text-decoration-color: initial;word-spacing:0px’>Instagram’s primary use is for users to share photos and videos by posting them for their followers to view and like. 



Stories by users can be posted and are highlighted in their profiles for 24 hours. 

However, WhatsApp third-party blog WABetaInfo revealed new features were being tested for Instagram, which along with WhatsApp is owned by Facebook.

The website said that it had discovered the new feature in Instagram, very similar to one implemented in WhatsApp. 

“Instagram is currently internally working to a new format for stories, that will allow the user to write text statuses, offering him some customised options. You will find a new option called Type, swiping right in your Instagram feed to open the Camera. Selecting this option, Instagram will ask you to TAP TO TYPE,” WABetaInfo said. 

“After typing a text, you can customise the story, choosing a font and a nice background color. There will be 4 Instagram fonts available in the iOS app (these fonts are already available for some users only for stories, mainly in Japan) and the main one is called Modern,” the website went further to report. 

WABetaInfo also reported that when a user takes a screenshot of another user’s story, Instagram does not notify the user who posted it about this action, but it currently does when an user sends you an image in Direct.

“Soon this will change: Instagram will notify the user when you will take a screenshot of his story! Anyway don’t worry, when this feature will be available, Instagram won’t send the first screenshot notification, but it will inform you that the next time it will do,” WABetaInfo said.

In December 2017, Fin24 reported Instagram’s "Recommended for You" feature which shows posts from other users, even if a user is not following them. 

The feature suggests posts for users based on those that have been liked by other accounts a user follows. In the past only posts of people followed, appeared in the feed.

Follow @KyleVenktess


WhatsApp Business app to launch in SA soon!

The world’s biggest instant messaging app with over a billion users, WhatsApp, is expected to soon roll out its business app for Android to South Africa. 







WhatsApp Business is a free-to-download Android app for small businesses to allow for companies to connect with customers, and more convenient for the 1.3 billion WhatsApp users to chat with businesses.

The new app will allow for business profiles to be identified clearly, which will assist customers with useful information such as a business description, email or store addresses, and website.

Business owners who make use of WhatsApp Business will have access to smart messaging tools to provide quick replies to frequently asked questions, greeting messages that introduce customers to businesses, and "away messages" to let customers know when the company is busy.

·         READ: WhatsApp to stop working on some smartphones on New Year’s Eve

WhatsApp Business users will also be able to review simple metrics like the number of messages read to understand which messages will resonate with their audience.

The WhatsApp Business app, like the original app, will allow business owners to access the app on desktop. 

Over time WhatsApp said that some businesses will have Confirmed Accounts once it’s been confirmed that the account phone number matches the business phone number.

“People can continue using WhatsApp as usual – there’s no need to download anything new. And people will continue to have full control over the messages they receive, with the ability to block any number, including businesses, as well as report spam,” the company said in a blog post. 

The app is yet to be rolled out in South Africa, but is expected to be launched within the coming weeks, as will all new WhatsApp features and emojis. 

WhatsApp Business is available on Google Play in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK and the US.

Follow @KyleVenktess


New ’emotional’ robots aim to read human feelings

Las Vegas – The robot called Forpheus does more than play a mean game of table tennis. It can read body language to gauge its opponent’s ability, and offer advice and encouragement.

"It will try to understand your mood and your playing ability and predict a bit about your next shot," said Keith Kersten of Japan-based Omron Automation, which developed Forpheus to showcase its technology.



"We don’t sell ping pong robots but we are using Forpheus to show how technology works with people," said Kersten.

Forpheus is among several devices shown at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show which highlight how robots can become more humanlike by acquiring "emotional intelligence" and empathy.

Although this specialisation is still emerging, the notion of robotic empathy appeared to be a strong theme at the huge gathering of technology professionals in Las Vegas.

Honda, the Japanese auto giant, launched a new robotics program called Empower, Experience, Empathy including its new 3E-A18 robot which "shows compassion to humans with a variety of facial expressions", according to a statement.

Although empathy and emotional intelligence do not necessarily require a humanoid form, some robot makers have been working on form as well as function.

"We’re been working very hard to have an emotional robot," said Jean-Michel Mourier of French-based Blue Frog Robotics, which makes the companion and social robot called Buddy, set to be released later this year.

"He has a complex brain," Mourier said at a CES event. "It will ask for a caress or it will get mad if you poke him in the eye."

READ: This robot looks eerily human 

Other robots such as Qihan Technology’s Sanbot and SoftBank Robotics’ Pepper, are being "humansed" by teaching them to read and react to people’s emotional states.

Pepper is "capable of interpreting a smile, a frown, your tone of voice, as well as the lexical field you use and non-verbal language such as the angle of your head," according to SoftBank.

Robot in human shoes 

Developing emotional intelligence in robots is a difficult task, melding the use of computer "vision" to interpret objects and people and creating software that can respond accordingly.

"Empathy is the goal: the robot is putting itself in the shoes of the human, and that’s about as hard as it gets," said Patrick Moorhead, a technology analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy.

"It’s not just about technology, it’s about psychology and trust."

Moorhead said this technology is still in the early stages but holds promise in some areas, noting that there is strong interest in Japan amid a lack of caretakers for the elderly population.

READ: Robots show their ‘personality’ at big tech show

"In some ways it can be a bit creepy if you’re crying and the robot is trying to console you," he said.

"If you have no friends, the next best thing is a friend robot, and introverts might feel more comfortable talking to a robot."

‘Emotion chip’ 

One CES exhibitor offered a promise of going further than the current devices by developing an "emotion chip" which can allow robots to process emotions in a manner similar to humans.

"There has been a lot of research on detecting human emotions. We do the opposite. We synthesize emotions for the machine," said Patrick Levy-Rosenthal, founder of New York-based Emoshape, which is producing its chip for partners in gaming, virtual and augmented reality and other sectors.

It could be used to power a humanoid robot, or other devices. For example, an e-reader could better understand a text to infuse more emotion in storytelling.

As for Forpheus, Kersten said the robot’s ability to help people improve their table tennis skills could have numerous applications for sports, businesses and more.

"You could sense how people are feeling, if they are attentive or in a good state to drive," he said.

Another key application could be in health care, he said: "In an elderly patient facility, you can determine if someone is in distress and needs help."


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