Category Archives: Science

Updates from ITU

Advocacy Target 4: Digital Skills & Literacy
ITU – Effective education systems are essential for meeting future challenges and delivering on the SDGs. Although rapid technological change has taken place over the last thirty years, education systems in many countries have remained largely unchanged over the last century. Education is about much more than merely providing people with the skills and knowledge to work, and must create a framework through which people can lead diverse and fulfilling lives. People of all ages should have opportunities to learn about their own cultures, in their own languages.

There is broad agreement that education needs to ensure that people gain four main skills: creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. Alongside skills such as literacy and numeracy, people should now also gain basic digital skills. They need to have a comprehensive understanding of the rapidly changing world in which they live, as well as their roles and responsibilities within it. ITU’s Global ICT Development Index (IDI) includes a measure of digital skills and capabilities.

There is considerable debate as to what proficiency in digital skills and an ‘adequate’ level really mean. Digital skills have been broken down into three categories:

  1. the basic digital literacy needed for all workers, consumers and citizens in a digital society;
  2. the advanced ICT skills (coding, computer science and engineering) which are needed to develop innovative ICT products and services; and
  3. e-business skills or the specific know-how needed for digital entrepreneurshipn. Figure 15 shows how global averages for digital skills vary from 5.2% (using a programming language) to 43.7% (transferring files).

more>

Updates from Ciena

The Future of the Internet Is Fiber Deep
By Elias Cagiannos – Netflix is the poster child for over-the-top (OTT) content and has no doubt played a large role in shifting the status quo when it comes to our entertainment and viewing habits. The company can be credited with reimagining content distribution — investing in homegrown content and a content delivery network to feed our binge-viewing habits.

However, these habits are primarily supported on MSO networks, which have one of the best internet service products on the market. These companies are focused on the future, making investments in the people, processes and infrastructure necessary to help them match their capabilities to a new generation of users.

Consumer demand for improved viewing options has created an environment where MSOs can’t tolerate service disruptions or quality issues. However, aging coaxial plants, analog repeaters and limited spectrum make meeting customer demand for fast and reliable service a challenge. MSOs recognize this and are already moving in the right direction, but they will advance even faster with fiber deep — the concept by which operators push fiber closer to the end user, which helps improve service. more>

Related>

Updates from Autodesk

AI is coming for industrial design
By Mark Wilson – MIT researchers have debuted a tool that automatically generates products–and analyzes them in detail–on your behalf.

Take these two task lamps. They each have three heads, bent and placed in very different ways. So which has the better stability? It’s a trick question. They’re equally stable–and that was discovered by an algorithm, which designed them both.

MIT researchers have debuted a tool that automatically generates products–and analyzes them in detail–on your behalf.

Take these two task lamps. They each have three heads, bent and placed in very different ways. So which has the better stability? It’s a trick question. They’re equally stable–and that was discovered by an algorithm, which designed them both.

MIT researchers, in conjunction with Columbia University, have unveiled a new tool for designers who work with computer-aided drafting software. Building on previous work over the past year, their technique can optimize a design for any object, like a lamp or boat or wrench, for all sorts of metrics like mass, drag, and stress tolerance. And then it can create dozens of designs of that object, each tuned to different optimal efficiencies.

In other words, it removes iteration from the design process–and it could be applied to the design and engineering of consumer goods and industrial parts, replacing some of the human guesswork of product design and augmenting the intuition of designers themselves. more>

Related>

Updates from Adobe

How Digital Textile Designers Make Wearable Art
Adobe – Thanks to digital design tools, textile design is experiencing something of a renaissance. The field attracts graphic designers and illustrators because it employs many techniques they are already familiar with, but it enables visual thinkers to expand beyond the page and the screen. Fabric offers new opportunities and challenges with designs that move, flutter, and twirl along with their wearers.

In addition, some creatives see designing textiles as a way to make the switch from corporate design to crafting objects that are more personal. Clothes have the power to be more abstract and intimate than many client-based assignments.

For her part, Kaylan K. turned to drawing at the age of six to cope with “a very traumatic childhood” in Montreal.

“Art was my way of escaping all of this trauma around me and putting my energy into something that makes me feel alive,” she explains. more>

Related>

Updates from Ciena

FlexE: 3 reasons network providers are interested
By Helen Xenos – FlexEthernet, or FlexE, is a client interface standard being defined by the OIF that allows for a variety of Ethernet MAC rates (10GbE, 40GbE, nx25GbE) that are decoupled from Ethernet PHY (physical interface) rates.

Wait, what?

You may have heard about FlexE and even read about operators trialing FlexE in their networks, but unless you are intimately involved with standards activities or Ethernet protocol implementation, translating FlexE to its resulting networking value may not be obvious. For most of us, it is only once you start to look at the drivers behind the development and dig into which of today’s challenges it solves, that you can determine whether FlexE is something that makes sense for your network. more>

Related>

Updates from Siemens

Solutions for Semiconductor Equipment Product Lifecycle Management
Siemens – To be successful in the marketplace, semiconductor equipment companies must provide innovative semiconductor process solutions to chip makers at low cost and with leading-edge features, superior quality and reliability. The architectural elements of these process solutions are mechanical functions, electrical controls and software-driven electronics.

To keep up with the increasing complexity of these elements, diverse customer needs, and strong competition amid rapid technological change, semiconductor equipment makers must consistently and successfully invest in product and process research and development (R&D), and maximize the R&D productivity.

To increase R&D productivity and avoid wasteful investments, equipment makers must effectively collaborate with semiconductor ecosystem partners, such as foundries and chip makers. The equipment makers must reduce cost through smart sourcing or outsourcing in a global electronics supply chain. To tackle the product complexities, they must implement a modularized product development strategy based upon a common platform with a well-defined technology roadmap and interfaces. more>

Related>

Updates from Georgia Tech

Neuroscientists Team with Engineers to Explore how the Brain Controls Movement
By Carol Clark – Scientists have made remarkable advances into recording the electrical activity that the nervous system uses to control complex skills, leading to insights into how the nervous system directs an animal’s behavior.

“We can record the electrical activity of a single neuron, and large groups of neurons, as animals learn and perform skilled behaviors,” says Samuel Sober, an associate professor of biology at Emory University who studies the brain and nervous system. “What’s missing,” he adds, “is the technology to precisely record the electrical signals of the muscles that ultimately control that movement.”

The Sober lab is now developing that technology through a collaboration with the lab of Muhannad Bakir, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The technology will be used to help understand the neural control of many different skilled behaviors to potentially gain insights into neurological disorders that affect motor control.

“By combining expertise in the life sciences at Emory with the engineering expertise of Georgia Tech, we are able to enter new scientific territory,” Bakir says. “The ultimate goal is to make discoveries that improve the quality of life of people.” more>

Related>

Updates from Ciena

New Cignal AI report looks at past, present and future of coherent technology
By Kacie Levy – Cignal AI has published a new report, “Tracking the Deployment of Third Generation Coherent.”

Today’s third generation coherent has already arrived in the form of single-wavelength 400G-capable technology designed to keep pace with the tremendous pace of data growth. As one example, Equinix has forecast that by 2020, interconnect bandwidth will grow up to 5,000 Tb/s, with double-digit growth rates.

This Cignal AI report shows that the transition to third generation coherent technology is underway, and its effects are being felt throughout the optical market. more>

Related>

Investing in People to Build Human Capital

World Bank – Scientific and technological advances are transforming lives: they are even helping poorer countries close the gap with rich countries in life expectancy. But, poorer countries still face tremendous challenges, as almost a quarter of children under five are malnourished, and 60 percent of primary school students are failing to achieve even a rudimentary education.

In fact, more than 260 million children and youth in poorer countries are receiving no education at all.

“Human capital” – the potential of individuals – is going to be the most important long-term investment any country can make for its people’s future prosperity and quality of life.

In many countries, the workforce is unprepared for the future that is fast unfolding.

This is a key insight from the World Bank’s forthcoming World Development Report 2019: The Changing Nature of Work. The frontier for skills is moving faster than ever before. Countries need to gear up now to prepare their workforces for the tremendous challenges and opportunities that are being driven by technological change. more>

How evil happens

BOOK REVIEW

Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours, Author: Noga Arikha.
Eichmann in Jerusalem, Author: Hannah Arendt.
The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty, Author: Simon Baron-Cohen.
Home Fire, Author: Kamila Shamsie.

By Noga Arikha – The ‘sapiens’ in Homo sapiens does not fully describe our species: we are as violent as we are smart.

This might be why we are the only Homo genus left over in the first place, and why we have been so destructively successful at dominating our planet. But still the question nags away: how are ordinary people capable of such obscene acts of violence?

Today, biology is a powerful explanatory force for much human behavior, though it alone cannot account for horror. Much as the neurosciences are an exciting new tool for human self-understanding, they will not explain away our brutishness. Causal accounts of the destruction that humans inflict on each other are best provided by political history – not science, nor metaphysics. The past century alone is heavy with atrocities of unfathomable scale, albeit fathomable political genesis.

The social neuroscientist Tania Singer at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig in Germany defines empathy as the ability to ‘resonate’ with the feelings of the other. It develops from babyhood on – as imitation at first, then joint attention – into the ability to adopt the point of view of another, along with a shift in spatial perception from self to other, as if one were literally stepping into another’s shoes.

This requires an ability to distinguish between self and other in the first place, an aspect of the so-called ‘theory of mind’ that one acquires over the first five years of life.

But while empathy ensures the cohesion of a group or a society, it is also biased and parochial. Revenge thrives on it. more>

Related>