Category Archives: Technology

Why Is the US Losing the AI Race?

By Chris Wiltz – AI is rapidly becoming a globally valued commodity. And nations that lead in AI will likely be the ones that guide the global economy in the near future.

“As AI technology continues to advance, its progress has the potential to dramatically reshape the nation’s economic growth and welfare. It is critical the federal government build upon, and increase, its capacity to understand, develop, and manage the risks associated with this technology’s increased use,” the report stated.

While the US has traditionally led the world in developing and applying AI technologies, the new report finds it’s no longer a given that the nation will be number 1 when it comes to AI. Witnesses interviewed by the House Subcommittee said that federal funding levels for AI research are not keeping pace with the rest of the industrialized world, with one witness stating: “[W]hile other governments are aggressively raising their research funding, US government research has been relatively flat.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, China is the biggest competitor to the US in the AI space. “Notably, China’s commitment to funding R&D has been growing sharply, up 200 percent from 2000 to 2015,” the report said.

AI’s potential threat to national security was cited as a key reason to ramp up R&D efforts. While there has yet to be a major hack or data breach involving AI, many security experts believe it is only a matter of time.

Cybersecurity companies are already leveraging AI to assist in tasks such as monitoring network traffic for suspicious activity and even for simulating cyberattacks on systems. It would be foolish to assume that malicious parties aren’t looking to take advantage of AI for their own gain as well. more>

Updates from Adobe

Bringing the Quirk to Corporate Work
By Charles Purdy – Michael Lomon is a motion graphics designer, comic book artist, and illustrator—he’s also clearly a time-management wizard: in addition to holding down a full-time job creating motion graphics for QVC UK, he takes on freelance commissions, develops personal projects, and co-parents two young children.

Currently based in London, Lomon grew up in Manchester, England, where he discovered animation during his studies at art school. Earlier on, he’d come to drawing through a love of comics—he cites Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series as an early influence. “That was quite a big deal for me,” he says. “Growing up, I was passionate about sport, but I wasn’t good in any way. The Sandman, and then the whole world of alternative ’80s comics—Transmetropolitan, Hellblazer…getting into those is what really got me drawing. And I have carried on ever since.”

By the time he was 17, he knew he’d be making a life as an artist, and a stop-motion experiment at university got him interested in animation. At first he was just using Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro for editing, but after a friend got a job doing motion graphics, he was motivated to dive deeper. more>

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Click Here For The Brave New World Of Work

By Steve Coulter – Technology is transforming the world of work, but social democrats and others appear unsure how to respond. Progressives embrace change but want technology to benefit the many and not just the few who develop, own or exploit it. Trade unions, moreover, must confront the impact of IT and automation on work as it’s the jobs and conditions of their members that are on the line.

What, then, is a ‘progressive’ approach to the ‘new’ economy?

Research into the labor market impact of ‘digitalization’ falls into three categories. The first tries to assess its impact on total employment by quantifying the number and type of jobs at risk. It has contributed to a surfeit of scare stories in the media about ‘robots taking your job’. The fear animating this is that automation and smart computers will eliminate millions of jobs, condemning people to drudgery or idleness.

There is ample evidence of accelerating shifts in employment patterns due to the replacement of formerly well-paying factory and service jobs by robots and algorithms and the emergence of new forms of economic organization mediating the worker-employer relationship. We are seeing a ‘hollowing out’ of the labor market whereby high and low skilled work is increasing at the expense of medium skilled work, particularly where this involves performance of routine tasks. more>

Why Inequality Matters

By Thorvaldur Gylfason – Since the early 1970s, the share of national income paid to workers in advanced economies has fallen from 55 to 40 percent. A declining labor share goes along with increased inequality in the distribution of income and wealth as well as health. Medical researchers report that the wealthiest one percent of American men live 15 years longer than the poorest one percent and that the wealthiest one percent of American women can expect to live ten years longer than their poorer counterparts. The gap is widening.

Concerns about inequality have recently been thrust to the forefront of political discourse around the world. An important part of the explanation for the surprise victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election is that he did well among those voters who felt they had been left behind with stagnant real wages for decades while CEO compensation rose from 20 times the typical worker’s compensation in 1965 to 270 in 2008.

What could workers do?

As film maker Michael Moore puts it, they could throw Molotov cocktails at the powers that be. Trump was their Molotov. Similarly, in the 2016 referendum in the UK, those who felt left behind tended to vote for Brexit. more>

Air Gaps Key to Next-Gen Nanochips

By Kenny Walter – A new type of transistor—which uses air gaps to eliminate the need for semiconductors—could help scientists produce more efficient nanochips.

RMIT University researchers have engineered a new type of transistor that send electrons through narrow air gaps where they can travel unimpeded, rather than sending electrical currents through silicon.

“Every computer and phone has millions to billions of electronic transistors made from silicon, but this technology is reaching its physical limits where the silicon atoms get in the way of the current flow, limiting speed and causing heat,” lead author and PhD candidate in RMIT’s Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group Shruti Nirantar said in a statement.

“Our air channel transistor technology has the current flowing through air, so there are no collisions to slow it down and no resistance in the material to produce heat.”

While the power of computer chips has doubled about every two years for decades, recently the progress has stalled as engineers struggle to make smaller transistor parts.

However, the researchers believe the new device is a promising way to create nano electronics that respond to the limitations of silicon-based electronics. more>

How the Incas governed, thrived and fell without alphabetic writing

By Christopher Given-Wilson – Between the 1430s and the arrival of the Spanish in 1532, the Inkas conquered and ruled an empire stretching for 4,000 kilometers along the spine of the Andes, from Quito in modern Ecuador to Santiago in Chile. Known to its conquerors as Tahuantinsuyu – ‘the land of four parts’ – it contained around 11 million people from some 80 different ethnic groups, each with its own dialect, deities and traditions. The Inkas themselves, the ruling elite, comprised no more than about one per cent.

Almost every aspect of life in Tahuantinsuyu – work, marriage, commodity exchange, dress – was regulated, and around 30 per cent of all the empire’s inhabitants were forcibly relocated, some to work on state economic projects, some to break up centers of resistance. Despite the challenges presented by such a vertical landscape, an impressive network of roads and bridges was also maintained, ensuring the regular collection of tribute in the capacious storehouses built at intervals along the main highways. These resources were then redistributed as military, religious or political needs dictated.

All this suggests that the Sapa Inka (emperor) governed Tahuantinsuyu both efficiently and profitably. What’s more, he did so without alphabetic writing, for the Inkas never invented this. Had they been left to work out their own destiny, this state of affairs might well have continued for decades or even centuries, but their misfortune was to find themselves confronted by both superior weaponry and, crucially, a culture that was imbued with literacy. As a result, not only was their empire destroyed, but their culture and religion were submerged. more>

Updates from Ciena

VodafoneZiggo is revolutionizing the Netherlands’ digital infrastructure
By Leo-Geert van den Berg – Did you know the Netherlands is Europe’s leading country in internet access, broadband connectivity and internet usage on mobile phones?

A lot of tech companies use the Netherlands as a test bed for new solutions and according to recent reports, we are among the frontrunners in the EU in cloud adoption both for businesses and consumers. When it comes to our networks, we rely on their support on our road to success. Here in the Netherlands, we pride ourselves on being open to try new things.

As the largest fixed broadband provider and second largest mobile operator by subscribers in the Netherlands, VodafoneZiggo is looking to the future, with the goal of moving the Netherlands to a renewed network in 2020 – the ‘network of the future’ –  which supports Gigabit speeds of 1.000 Mbit/s. The goal of this network is to align our mobile and fixed connections even closer, so there is a seamless transition between fixed internet and Wi-Fi.

To make networks faster, scalable, and more reliable, they must be built with the intention of becoming fully virtualized. And, thanks to Ciena’s WaveLogic Ai 400G programmable solution, more>

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Updates from Siemens

Improved Design Collaboration with Solid Edge Portal: Use Case
By Keith Cain – Collaboration is an important consideration for designers and engineers. Whether you are a large firm or corporation or a small independently owned operation, chances are you work with multiple vendors. The Solid Edge Portal lets you share your designs easily with others, and they can even provide feedback or make changes as needed and send the files back to you.

Today’s post looks at a specific use case to show you how this necessary aspect of product development is facilitated with a tool like the Solid Edge Portal.

There are many ways to use the Solid Edge Portal for collaboration. In our manufacturing workflow, we use the Solid Edge Portal as the primary method for our purchasing department to procure quotes and share models to the vendor(s) selected for manufacturing the components.

In this use case, our engineering department provides the purchasing department two components that are needed to manufacture an assembly for the base of a hydraulic cylinder. more>

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Everyone wants to “teach a man to fish.” But skills training alone doesn’t help the world’s poor.

By Kelsey Piper – Skills training programs take a lot of forms, but there are generally two kinds: programs aimed at individuals, which try to teach them everything they’ll need to take higher-paying local jobs, and programs aimed at business owners and prospective business owners, which try to teach them skills to run a business more efficiently and expand their operations.

Their objectives are laudable, but there’s just one problem: They largely don’t work.

Participation rates in the programs aren’t very high. People who do participate often drop out, if the program lasts more than a few days, and unsurprisingly, it’s hard to teach important results in that time. For that matter, participants might be right to ignore the program or drop out, as research suggests that the programs don’t reliably increase income.

This isn’t to say every skills training program is ineffective. But even the programs that do show results often don’t stand up to cost-benefit analysis: The results they get are worse than if they just gave people the money that is spent on training them.

That said, recent research has found cost-effective results for programs that take a combined approach: training and mentoring, plus direct grants of assets. Those programs, more than just pure skill-training approaches, look to be worth further study and investment going forward. more>

Commercializing 5G: How to use standards and testing for success

By Kalyan Sundhar – The standards that dictate how 5G systems should work and interoperate were released earlier this year from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in an eagerly awaited update. The new telecommunications standards cleared the way for those planning to develop, build, or leverage 5G technology.

It is clear that a great deal of thought went into the development of the latest versions of the 5G standards to spur the growth of the 5G market and deliver new opportunities. Technology that follows these standards will ensure that the reliability of these networks is much more stable as it fills in the new market gaps.

This new version of the standards has opened the door for stand-alone (SA) 5G networks that do not rely on 4G for 5G signaling and kicking off a frantic rush to own the 5G market. While 4G networks are still available for added support, companies that do not have an existing 4G infrastructure can build their 5G deployments from scratch. This is due to a section of the standards that governs 4G handovers through interweaving 5G cells with existing 4G deployments.

The standards are only the foundation that will support the development of the 5G industry, but there is still plenty of work needed by companies to get it right. What that will look like is up to individual interpretation as there are gaps in the guidelines that make up the new standards. Interoperability will continue to be a challenge as organizations implement proprietary visions for 5G within those gaps. more>