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Friday, November 24, 2017

Samsung to build new lab for machine learning research | Digital Journal - Technology

Photo: James Walker
"Samsung's announced a new research centre to focus on developing artificial intelligence and machine learning. The company's current AI capabilities are perceived to be behind its rivals, a weakness Samsung is working hard to address" inform James Walker, Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Technology news. 


Samsung made the announcement in a Korean press release this week. The company told Reuters it will be operating the research lab as a joint venture between two of its businesses. Samsung's mobile and consumer electronics arms will both use the facility to help develop new technologies.

Samsung's use of AI was fairly limited until earlier this year. The launch of the company's Bixby digital assistant marked Samsung's intentions to gain a position in consumer AI, an increasingly competitive segment of the technology market. Although Bixby hasn't surpassed rivals such as Siri and Google Assistant, Samsung's set a rapid development pace and is already talking about its ambitions for the platform. 

The new AI research centre will help Samsung to gain expertise in AI as it expands Bixby and its other products. AI's becoming an important component of smartphones that's used to power apps, improve security and boost performance. Some recent handsets have begun to include dedicated AI co-processor chips, a trend Samsung could jump on with next year's Galaxy S9. 

The company's already acknowledged rumours that AI will be a major selling point of its next-generation mobile products. The Galaxy S9 is currently shaping up to be an iterative enhancement of this year's S8, with much of Samsung's development concentrated on a new software experience. Proactive assistance and AI-powered convenience features will account for several of the new capabilities, requiring research that may be undertaken at the lab. 

Source: Digital Journal

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Budget 2017 debrief: what Philip Hammond’s speech means for higher education | Times Higher Education (THE)

Photo: Diana Beech
Diana Beech, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Higher Education Policy Institute, on an HE-light Budget that nonetheless has some implications for university staff and students.

Photo: Times Higher Education

Never has a recent Budget been more anticipated by those in the UK higher education sector than yesterday’s Autumn Budget 2017. After a summer of uncertainty surrounding tuition fees, the sustainability of student loans and the future of UK research funding, it is fair to say that the sector had been looking to chancellor Philip Hammond to provide some clarity on the state of play for UK universities.

Yet, the chancellor failed to deliver. Despite much speculation that we might finally learn the scope and aims of the higher education review promised by prime minister Theresa May at the Conservative Party Conference in October, the Autumn Budget gave only slight nods to our universities and their students.

Mr Hammond began by acknowledging universities and research institutes as being “at the forefront of a technological revolution”. However, the excitement was short-lived. In his speech, he ultimately failed to deliver any “big bang” announcements on future funding for UK research – presumably since the government is making us wait for further developments on its industrial strategy, due to be released over the coming weeks.

The Budget’s accompanying “Red Book” at least contains more information on the government’s long-term support for science and innovation, both in terms of finance and talent. As well as confirming additional spending on research and development over the coming years, taking the total direct spending to £12.5 billion per year by 2021-22, it also provides clarity on the future status of so-called international talent in the UK.

Specifically, the government has pledged to change immigration rules to make it easier for highly skilled international students to apply for work in the UK after completing their degrees and to reduce the red tape in hiring international researchers. This approach would allow the UK’s research councils and other sector bodies to sponsor individual scientists and researchers during the immigration process.

Most notably, the chancellor made no mention of tuition fees or changes to the current student finance system in his Budget speech – something that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn subsequently seized on as being an “injustice”. For now, at least, students will have to make do with the current tuition fee freezes and the higher student loan repayment threshold, both announced in October.

The only beneficiaries of the Budget are those who have already graduated. The chancellor promised young people up to the age of 30 the opportunity to purchase “millennial” railcards and he offered assurances that they would not risk overpaying their student loans. However, the railcard is of use only for off-peak travel, while the latter probably seems like a distant dream to most students. 
Read more... 

Source: Times Higher Education (THE) (blog)

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For Digital Success, Look Beyond STEM Skills, Computer Scientists Urge | Forbes

Photo: Joe McKendrick
"We want products and solutions and technologies that appeal to the dancer and the linguist, not just the engineer. So we have to bring them in" argues Joe McKendrick, author, independent researcher and speaker exploring innovation, information technology trends and markets.  
It takes many minds to run a digital business.
Photo: Joe McKendrick

Organizations seeking to get ahead in the digital game and fend off disruption will need to be creative with technology – and this is going to require a diversity of skills and viewpoints beyond traditional science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) expertise. Even some leading computer engineers state that it's going to take more than technology skills to move things forward.

Some of these computer scientists shared their observations on the digital skills gap at a panel discussion at the recent CA World confab in Las Vegas. Otto Berkes, chief technology officer for CA Technologies and moderator, asked about the skills needed for today's and tomorrow's digital businesses. STEM skills development needs to be introduced and encouraged earlier in children's education, the panelists agreed. However, success in the digital economy requires more than ramping up STEM capabilities -- it requires participation from people with a variety of backgrounds, skillsets, and perspectives. (Note: the panel discussion portion starts at the 60-minute mark in the recording.)

"We over-rotate on finding and developing STEM only as the solution," said Debra Danielson, distinguished engineer and senior VP for CA Technologies. "I think as we evolve, we're going to be bringing in more people who don't need to have that deep analytical coding technologist-type capabilities. Because they're going to be focused on the no-code, low-code on driving AI to solve business problems. We want products and solutions and technologies that appeal to the dancer and the linguist, not just the engineer. So we have to bring them in." 

There's a strong business case to be made for diversity as well. “If you were to try and solve one of your top technical or business challenges you could stick some white middle-aged men with aerospace engineering degrees in a room, and we would definitely find an answer,” said Howard Abrams, distinguished engineer and senior VP of engineering at CA Technologies. “Not necessarily the right one, not necessarily the best one, but we will find an answer quickly.”

Rather than confine innovation the way it has always been, “what you really need to do is get people with diverse opinions in a room with diverse education and skills in a room to brainstorm, and figure out how to best solve the problem and be creative," said Abrams. "If you're gonna get diverse skills and interests and backgrounds that ultimately means diverse people need to be in that room. That's a key challenge.”

Diversity is a real business enabler -- "it's not a fashion statement it's how you get the best outcome,” Berker agreed. “We have to make sure that we're really developing you multidisciplinary cross-disciplinary problem solvers you know for next-generation challenges."

Source: Forbes 

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Smart to focus on ‘digital mindset’ | Khmer Times

"Smart Axiata, the leading mobile telecommunications company in Cambodia, joined forces with other companies of the Axiata Group across Asia, to launch Digital Jam, a programme whose core function is to further employees’ skills with the latest digital tools" writes Chea Vannak - Khmer Times.

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, speaks to employees during the Digital Jam event.
Photo: KT/Chor Sokunthea

The programme is comprised of activity days where all employees come together online to experiment with and experience new digital work tools, games and a variety of other digital learning experiences.

It aims to develop a “digital mindset” and new digital competencies, as well as getting staff familiriased with running new projects that will ultimately improve their ability to meet customers’ needs.

The Digital Jam programme marks a shift in the Group’s training focus, where digital technologies and business capabilities take on more important roles.

With digital competencies becoming a key pillar in its transformation strategy, Smart seeks to create a modern and agile work culture where the newer generations can fit right in.

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, said the new programme is part of the company’s strategy to prepare for a future where digital technologies are even more pervasive.

“The idea of Digital Jam across all Axiata markets is exactly to activate all employees to come together online, to experiment with and experience new digital work tools as well as obtain more digital learning experiences.

“As our customers become more digital, we need to digitally transform ourselves too and utilise the many cool digital technologies out there that can help us improve agility and efficiency.

“We are moving fast in creating our digital future as part of our vision to become Cambodia’s Digital Champion! We are future-proofing our organisation and creating a common language around digital,” Mr Hundt said during the event.
Read more... 

Source: Khmer Times

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Bangkok street food goes digital | Bangkok Post

"Thai vendors embrace QR" summarizes Gregory Morrissey, writer. 

Photo: Bangkok Post

Bangkok's famous street-food vendors have joined the digital revolution. They are embracing payment via Quick Response (QR) barcodes that can be read using smartphones.

Vendors in the capital are offering digital transactions after the Bank of Thailand (BoT) last week gave the green light for five banks, including Bangkok Bank and Siam Commercial Bank, to start using electronic payment systems with QR codes.

"The global trend is towards a 'cashless society.' It's convenient and there is proof of transaction. The QR code system is practical in Thailand because vendors don't have to invest too much," Somsak Khaosuwan, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, told Reuters.

At one Bangkok market, vendors said the QR codes were proving popular. However, some shoppers still prefer to use cash, particularly those who are less tech-savvy.

"I don't need to worry about finding change. But some customers, especially older people, find it a bit of a hassle," said Kitti Khoonphisitwong, 40, a dried-fruit vendor.

Shoppers in their 20s and 30s were more likely to use the system.
Read more... 

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Digital Learning Market Emerging Trends and Technology 2017-2022 | TechnoPOW

Photo: TechnoPOW
"Global Digital Learning Market Size, Status and Forecast 2022 provides a unique tool for evaluating the market, highlighting opportunities, and supporting strategic and tactical decision-making" reports technopow.

This report recognizes that in this rapidly-evolving and competitive environment, up-to-date marketing information is essential to monitor performance and make critical decisions for growth and profitability. It provides information on trends and developments, and focuses on markets and materials, capacities and technologies, and on the changing structure of the Digital Learning Market.

Leading Manufacturers Analysis in Global Digital Learning Market 2017: K12 Inc, Pearson, White Hat Managemen, Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH & Co. K, Bettermarks, Scoyo, Languagenut, Beness Holding, Inc, New Oriental Education & Technology, XUEDA.

The Global Digital Learning market consists of different international, regional, and local vendors. The market competition is foreseen to grow higher with the rise in technological innovation and M&A activities in the future. Moreover, many local and regional vendors are offering specific application products for varied end-users. The new vendor entrants in the market are finding it hard to compete with the international vendors based on quality, reliability, and innovations in technology.

At the same time, the report gives an overall review of its definition, classification, cost and manufacturing technology and upstream and downstream industry (main suppliers of raw materials and their prices, main equipments and customers).It also analyzes the marketing strategies, supply chain, marketing channel of Digital Learning. In the end, it summarizes the project feasibility and the analysis of the whole industry.
Read more... 

About MarketInsightsReports

MarketInsightsReports provides syndicated market research reports to industries, organizations or even individuals with an aim of helping them in their decision making process. These reports include in-depth market research studies i.e. market share analysis, industry analysis, information on products, countries, market size, trends, business research details and much more. MarketInsightsReports provides global and regional market intelligence coverage, a 360-degree market view which includes statistical forecasts, competitive landscape, detailed segmentation, key trends, and strategic recommendations. 

Source: TechnoPOW (blog)  

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Soon Your Computer Will Be Able to Tell if You’re Bored | Evolving Science - Intelligent Machines

Photo:  Emma Stenhouse
"Whilst many of us can probably remember drifting off at school during a particular lesson where the teacher failed to fully engage our attention, this could possibly become a thing of the past now that researchers have found a way to measure how engaged someone is with computer-based content." notes Emma Stenhouse, qualified teacher of biology and chemistry and worked as a teacher in the UK. 
Home Office Workstation Notebook.
Photo: Public Domain

As many more courses become available online, as well as educators employing a higher level of computer assistance during lessons, something called ‘affective-aware technology’ could potentially help increase the engagement of those people using these services. This would mean that the computer-aided lesson could recognize when a student’s interest is waning, and change either the content or delivery of the lesson to re-engage them.

Non-Instrumental Movements 
A study carried out at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School found that the level of interest shown by a person using a computer can be measured using tiny actions known as non-instrumental movements. These involuntary movements are exhibited by all of us, but tend to decrease when we’re fully engaged with what we’re doing.

A common example is a young child, who is normally full of energy and unlikely to sit still for very long. But, place the same child in front of a television showing their favourite show, and they will very often become completely still and fully engaged with the characters within the show.

Dr Harry Witchel, lead author of the study, calls this ‘rapt engagement.’ He suggests that what happens to that small child watching television happens when any of us are highly engaged with something that we’re doing: those tiny movements become supressed and it is this that can be measured by a computer.

Shaping future interactions 
The implications of being able to monitor and track these involuntary movements could certainly be broad-reaching across a variety of different sectors. Dr Witchel said of this discovery that: “Being able to ‘read’ a person’s interest in a computer program could bring real benefits to future digital learning, making it a much more two-way process.”
Read more... 

Source: Evolving Science

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Books In Science: How Genomics Keeps Rewriting Human History | Forbes

Photo: John Farrell
"Adam Rutherford's A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived paints in broad strokes, but provides a good survey of the science of genomics and how it's changing the story of human evolution" says John Farrell , Forbes contributor.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived:  
The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes

And it's happening at an ever accelerating rate, given the advances in the technology of genetic sequencing.

Scientists can now employ sequencers smaller than a deck of cards, according to Rutherford, "that will plug directly into your laptop via USB port, so they can be taken out into the field to sequence the genomes of animals and plants in the wild."

All these technologies are fueling the revolution in genetics for everyone (and every thing) alive.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived is divided into two parts: four chapters on how humans emerged as the lone survivors of what once were a seemingly cosmopolitan mix of many lineages. And Rutherford examines the descendants of the human migrations out of Africa into Europe, into Asia, and most recently in the last 13,000 years into the Americas.

The second part of the book deals with how genomics is changing our (mostly mistaken) views about race, eugenics and determinism. (And for that matter how genomics is giving philosophers of science more headaches in their seemingly endless debates about how best to define the concept of species.)
Read more... 

Source: Forbes

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Rhode Island charter school stays true to blended learning model | EdScoop News

Photo: Corinne Lestch
"Village Green Virtual charter school uses an edtech tool called Edgenuity to provide virtual instruction for students" says Corinne Lestch, Education staff reporter - EdScoop, FedScoop and StateScoop.

Photo: Edgenuity's courseware.

Some high schools incorporate blended learning strategies into their schedules, but a Rhode Island virtual charter school is using the model as the basis for its entire curriculum.

Village Green Virtual, a charter school based in downtown Providence that opened in 2013, allows its 225 students to set their own educational goals and paths through a combination of e-courseware and in-person interactions. Because it's mostly virtual, the school is unusual in that it has to rely on online methods to ensure students' gains in performance. 

That's where Edgenuity — a tool that provides personalized virtual instruction — comes in. Village Green Virtual uses the product to create a library of courses that can be easily customized for students, whether they are there for remediation or acceleration. 

"Edgenuity allows us to pull lessons across content areas," said John D. Butler, co-founder and director of academic planning and logistics for Village Green. "If I'm a chemistry teacher, and I'm having problems with some of my students solving an equation, I can pull from a math course a unit or lessons that are relevant to that particular section of chemistry."

Butler added that the school uses Edgenuity to tailor courses to align with annual testing, especially as schools across the state ramp up efforts to prepare students for the Next Generation Science Standards, which were adopted in 2013 and are still being implemented.

"We've been able to build, from the ground up, science courses that will align with that assessment," Butler said. "We also have access to real-time student data, so we know exactly where the student is in the curriculum and how much time they spend on the task." 

Source: EdScoop News (press release) (blog)

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Four tips for adult digital learners | The Globe and Mail

Photo: Guy Dixon
"The title alone, Death 101, suggests something other than typical University of Toronto fare" summarizes Guy Dixon, feature writer for The Globe and Mail.

The design of online classes has evolved dramatically in the past five years.
Photo: University of Toronto/Johnny Guatto
But Death 101 is no horror show. It is an online course, now archived, on global health risks, death and disease, and their effect on policy, developed by the University of Toronto for EdX Inc. And that makes the course even less typical.

EdX is a third-party platform on the web (another popular service is Coursera Inc.) that is in the business of hosting MOOCs, or massive open online courses. Sometimes the courses have a prerequisite, such as prior knowledge of the topic. Sometimes they are part of professional certification programs.

MOOCs have become another option, along with the plethora of online courses already offered directly by postsecondary institutions, for busy adults looking to dip into online learning, whether for work or pleasure.

And as a result, this has led to rapid changes in adult learning. The design of online classes has evolved dramatically in the past five years. And what is required of students online has also changed dramatically.

Prospective students who choose to study online have a few key issues to consider.

Expect to be busy
Simply signing up, doing some reading and dabbling in a class anonymously are not enough. That is no more effective than sitting in a lecture and watching a professor speak for one, two or three hours, says Gregor Kiczales, executive director of the University of British Columbia's extended learning department and a professor of computer science.

Online courses are about concision. Each lecture tends to be short, about 10 minutes, accompanied by exercises sprinkled throughout the course. They aren't about daydreaming through long classes and weeks of plowing independently through vast texts.

"What's interesting is that the online courses, in a funny way, have a real advantage, because it's so easy for them to intermix presenting content with activity. It's so easy for them to say to the learner, 'Hey, you haven't solved a problem in a day. Why don't you do this now?' " Dr. Kiczales says. "It's so easy for them to encourage the kind of activities that we know promote learning."

Shop around for the right class
This isn't as obvious as it may sound. There are many different ways in which online classes are designed to engage students, from continual assignments to little nudges by an algorithm or directly from an instructor. Consider your preferences.

"Look for signs that the online course is well designed for learning, not that it's well designed to be efficient for the institution providing it. Does it have a clear sense of what's going to happen each week? Does it have real activities that are going to be interesting to engage in? Does it check back in with you to see how you're doing, and keep you up to date? When you post questions online, do they get answered quickly? All of those are quality indications," Dr. Kiczales says.

Source: The Globe and Mail

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