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NEW TECHNOLOGY: DESTROYER OR CREATOR OF JOBS?

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Workers across the world are increasingly aware of what many consider an existential threat to a wide array of jobs. Safe and efficient autonomous vehicles, for example, may make truck drivers obsolete in the not too distant future. At the same time, advocates of technology argue, people around the planet are finding new and often better opportunities thanks to continuing industrial innovation. The world of work is changing, from Silicon Valley to the Nile Valley, where Spotlight visited to discover how developments in agri-technology are revolutionising crop cultivation.

Once part of the desert, a camomile field near Faiyum southwest of Cairo, now provides a seasonal income opportunity for local women. Faiyum is one of Egypt’s poorest provinces, with particularly high female unemployment. Hundreds of women are employed here, and business is growing, thanks to new technologies.

“These women come from nearby villages,” says Om Said, a local entrepreneur. “There are always people there in need of work. For them, it’s means for living. With new technologies, we can deliver more product in shorter time. The drying process now only takes two days. This greatly speeds up the production.”

At harvest time, around 200 workers process up to 300 tons of camomile. The plants are dried in a fast and hygienic way using a solar heat collector. The technology was developed by local researchers a few years ago and since greatly enhanced, spinning off a business creating high- and low-level jobs across Egypt, according to Prof. Wael Abdelmoez, and environment and energy expert and founder of R&D Tech.

“High level, which covers the engineers and PhD holders who are already working on the design and supervision of the manufacturing of solar driers; the labourers, who are working running the facility itself; and the females, who are working in the field itself, whose numbers have increased dramatically”.

The Future is Green

Green jobs are on the rise in a region that long relied on cheap fossil fuels. Amid climate change and shrinking oil subsidies, greener alternatives appear to stimulate local economies.“It means more traction: we can export more, so we can buy more from the locals, we employ more people to do this post-harvesting processing, sieving and packaging, so it’s a lot of economic activity going on,” says Heba Labib, whose company Nile’s Gift exports medicinal herbs and spices.

Experts say Egypt’s move to a greener economy will create jobs, generate technologies and draw greater investment.

But what of concerns that advances in technology will have the opposite effect on jobs? Nothing to worry about, according to Boston start-up Harvest Automation. At its site a little robot scurries around, using a set of sensors to move potted plants, arranging them in a pattern that optimises growth. Until now, this was always done by humans.

“This job of moving the plants around on the ground is the worst job on the whole farm,” says Harvest Automation CEO, Charlie Grinnell. Dozens of his clients of have passed this task on to robots: “Nobody was losing their jobs in this industry when the robots came along.”

The manufacturers say their robots aren’t killing jobs. Quite the opposite: they help growers hire more workers who want to do something more valuable than just moving plants around.

“Everyone would rather do other jobs, whether it’s tending to the plants as they are growing, or driving a tractor, or other things,” maintains Grinnell. “My customers have a challenge just finding workers to do this kind of work.”

Artificial Intelligence

Developers expect artificial intelligence to quickly move beyond moving pots around. Another Boston company, Neurala, is developing software that memorises and then recognises visual objects – almost like a living brain does. The software can teach a machine what bottles look like, allowing it to identify them.“We realised that what people actually wanted were brains inside these devices, so that these robots could have capabilities similar to animals or humans,” says Massimiliano Versace, Neurala CEO.

Learning machines can excel in tasks like finding a lost child, tracking endangered animals, or detecting rust on a pipeline. But what about the people who do these jobs now? Versace sees the eventual replacement of humans as a liberation: “Handing tickets out on a highway should not be a human job. Looking in a security camera should not be a human job. This should be done by machines. So I think AI is a liberating technology. And the opposite – not having AI – would be slavery.”

The UN’s International Labour Organization has formed a Global Commission on the Future of Work tasked with an in-depth examination of current trends. Experts like these at Harvard University will help the Commission in their analysis of issues like the proliferation of AI technologies in business.

“Enterprises leveraging artificial intelligence will allow them to just have a much better outcome, says Sophie Vandebroek, Chief Operating Officer, IBM Research. It will allow physicians to personalise health care for individual patients. It will allow security officials to much more quickly react to a vulnerability in the IT network and ultimately not being hacked. You can go across industries.”

Harvard researchers and innovators are tackling tomorrow’s big questions – such as who will profit from all the wealth generated by machines?

“We, the people of the world, have got to own this new technology, so that the profits and rewards come broadly to people, rather than go to a few billionaires. Because the owners are going be the winners,” says Richard Freeman, a Harvard economics professor.

How will societies cope with a future of work that seems drastically different from what we’re used to? 

Vivek Wadhwa, Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellow University takes an optimistic view: “If we have everything we need – and we do not have to work to subsist, to survive, work becomes a luxury. That may actually be a good thing. Why do we have to work? Why do we have to work 50 hours a week, why can’t we work 10 hours of week? Why can’t we now have time for the arts, for recreation, for enlightenment and knowledge?”

The Global Commission on the Future of Work will present its independent report in 2019. Its work raises a multitude of questions for employers, employees and society as a whole. Spotlight’s Denis Loctier discussed some of these with Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the International Labour Organization.Spotlight: We have just seen couple of examples of how technology can make businesses more efficient. But do we comprehend the whole scope and scale of this? To put it bluntly, are machines about to take all of our jobs?”

Guy Ryder: “No, I don’t think they are about to take all of our jobs, but as your report showed very graphically, very well I think, the application of new technologies has the capacity to both create jobs, but also to replace human beings. These are both realities that we’re going to have to face, as we embark upon what people call the 4th industrial revolution. And if you try to learn from history, look at those first three industrial revolutions, we know that after a period of turbulence and adjustment we actually came out better off than we started – more jobs, better quality jobs, higher standards of living.

“We’ve seen reports saying that up to a half, or even sometimes more than a half of the existing jobs in industrial countries could potentially be replaced by robots etc. They could be – doesn’t mean they will be. Because there are very many limiting factors on this replacement effect. One is the availability of technology and capital, the other is the pure economics.

“I think we ought all believe that technology should be applied in such manner as to help us reach social objectives; our social objectives should not be adjusted by technological applications.”

Spotlight: “It’s not just the developed countries – work is evolving around the planet. What is driving these changes?”

Guy Ryder “Yes, indeed, we should not think that there’s one future waiting for all of us. If you go to a country like – let me take the example of Japan. There we’re seeing rapidly ageing populations, and workforce is shrinking. It looks a bit different in the developing world, where – if I think of Africa, if I think of South Asia – you have rapidly growing populations, very big demand for youth employment. There, of course, the issue of technological replacement of labour looks a bit different. And perhaps one other aspect, if I might bring in, is the whole question of the green economy. The developing world has a very very strong potential to benefit from the move to a greener and greener, environmentally sustainable economy.”

 

 

 

Source:  http://www.euronews.com/2018/01/16/new-technology-destroyer-or-creator-of-jobs

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Former Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime announces new game company

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Two years after stepping down as CEO at Blizzard, the game company he co-founded in 1991, Mike Morhaime is back with his next venture. It’s called Dreamhaven, and it’s a combination of a publisher and developer, with “a common goal to empower creators, help bring their ideas to life, and create original gaming experiences that foster meaningful connections between players.”

As part of the announcement, Dreamhaven also revealed its first two internal studios: Moonshot Games and Secret Door. Moonshot is headed by a trio of Blizzard veterans, including former Hearthstone lead Jason Chayes, StarCraft II director Dustin Browder, and Hearthstone creative director Ben Thompson. “Though it’s very early days, when we think about Moonshot, we imagine a studio that celebrates curiosity and courage,” Chayes said in a statement. “We aspire to be bold in our approach, and we think the best way to do that is to create a culture centered around trust.”

Secret Door, meanwhile, is similarly led by a team of former Blizzard developers, including Chris Sigaty (executive producer on Hearthstone), Alan Dabiri (technical director on Warcraft III and StarCraft II), and Eric Dodds (designer on World of Warcraft and Starcraft). No projects have been announced for either studio.

Morhaime stepped down as CEO of Blizzard in 2018, though he stayed on in a consultancy role until last year. In an interview with The Washington Post, he said that one of the goals of the new company was to build an environment focused on creators — something that was likely a challenge under Activision, which became Blizzard’s parent company in 2008.

“We’ve learned a ton about what goes into creating an environment that allows creators to do their best work, and we were very successful doing that for many years at Blizzard,” Morhaime told the Post. “We reached a crossroads where we reassessed what we want to do with the rest of our lives.”

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/23/21452256/former-blizzard-ceo-new-game-company-dreamhaven-morhaime

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Apple Loop: Shock iPhone 12 Details, Massive iOS 14 Problems, Macbook Pro Delay

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Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes surprising iPhone 12 benchmarks, big problems with iOS 14, two new iPads, Apple ignores MacOS, the “good/better/best” of the Apple Watch, the controversy around Apple One, and the Macs’ never changing system System Preferences.

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

Just How Fast Is Your Next iPhone?

We might not have seen the iPhone 12 family as part of Apple’s virtual September launch event this week, but we have seen the benchmarks pop up on the AnTuTu website. That gives us a raw comparison of the numbers from last year’s iPhone to this year’s. Philip Michaels reports some pretty shocking numbers:

“Leaked benchmarks from Antutu, purportedly showing off an iPhone 12 Pro Max’s performance, may help fill in some of the blanks. MySmartPrice spotted the leaked numbers, which claim to show off a device with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage running iOS 14.1.

“According to the leaks, the iPhone 12 Pro Max tallied a score of 572,333 on Antutu’s test, which is a 9% gain over the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s 524,436 result on the same test. MySmartPrice says the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s reported tally would be the highest score ever posted by an iPhone, which you’d hope given that it’s a new model.

More at Tom’s Guide.

The Big Problem With iOS 14

Apple may not have announced a release date for the iPhone, but it did announce the release date of iOS 14. And that has caused problems. Normally Apple will provide a week’s worth of ‘heads up’ time to Developers so they can ensure their apps are ready for the jump up to the next major version of iOS. Not this year… developers had less than a days notice, and they are not happy. Matt Binder reports:

““Gone are the hopes of being on the store by the time users install the new iOS 14 and are looking for new apps. Gone is the chance to get some last-minute fixes into your existing apps to make sure they don’t stop working outright by the time users get to upgrade their OS,” explained Steve [Troughton-Smith from High Caffeine Content.”

““There are some developers who have spent all summer working on something new, using the latest technologies, hoping to be there on day one and participate in the excitement (and press coverage) of the new iOS,” he continued. “For many of them, they’ll be incredibly upset to have it end like this instead of a triumphant launch, and it can dramatically decrease the amount of coverage or sales they receive.””

More at Mashable.

Take Two Tablets And Call Your iPhone In The Morning

Taking the flagship spot away from the ‘missing presumed having a good time’ iPhone 12 was Apple’s new iPad Air. Beating the smartphone as the first device with Apple’s new A14 ARM-based processor. Samuel Axon and Jim Salter report for Ars Technica:

“The iPad Air gets the new A14 Bionic CPU, built on 5nm process technology. It’s a six-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four lower-power, more efficient cores for simpler background tasks. The A14 Bionic offers a 30 percent GPU performance boost compared to previous generations, and Apple says it puts up double the graphics performance of typical laptops.”

As well as the increased power, 2020’s iPad Air has a new design; USB-C has been added, the bezels have been trimmed away, the home button has been removed, and TouchID has been integrated into the power button. It;s not the only new iPad, as the entry-level iPad moves up rom the A10 to the A12 Bionic processor. Benjamin Mayo reports:

“The jump from A10 to A12 means Apple’s cheapest iPad will feature the Neural Engine for the first time. Apple says the A12 chip offers more than twice the performance of the top selling Windows laptop, 6x faster than the top-selling Android tablet and 6x faster than the best-selling Chromebook.

“The 8th-generation iPad keeps the same price as the 7th-gen: that’s $329 for general sale and $299 for education.”

More at 9to5Mac.

Will Mac Owners Be Satisfied With Safari After macOS Delay?

If you were waiting for MmcOS Big Sur to drop for your Mac or MacBook, then you are out of luck. Apple’s event saw updates to iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS… but macOS has been delayed. The ‘Big Sur’ release is still in the future, but a small crumb (perhaps from a cookie) has been handed to Mac fans in the form of Safari 14, presumably to offer cross-OS support with other devices. Juli Clover reports:

“Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab previews so you can see what you have open at a glance. Today’s update also removes Adobe Flash.”

More at MacRumors.

The Apple Watch Strikes Three 

Two new Apple Watch models were launched, and as the Apple Watch Series 3 remains, there is now a low-, a mid-, and a high-level smartwatch in the classic triplet that Apple was once famous for. Todd Haselton looks over the Series 6 Apple Watch for CNBC, including the headline ‘wellness’ features:

“The Series 6 also has Apple’s most advanced sensors. You can run the ECG app for an electrocardiogram, for example, a feature that’s not on the Apple Watch SE or Series 3. It’s also the only model with the new blood-oxygen app. I tried that and it told me my blood oxygen was 96%, which seems good.

“…Apple is careful to explain that this isn’t a medical device. You can use it if you’re curious about your blood oxygen when you’re hiking at high altitudes, but Apple isn’t making any promises about detecting low oxygen should you fall ill with coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, Apple has brought the ‘SE’ brand to the Apple Watch, again with the promise of a cheaper ‘mid-range’ slice of hardware that still delivers the core Apple experience. Chris Velazco has spent some time with the wearable to try and work out where it fits into the portfolio:

“For one, the SE uses the same S5 system-in-package (or SIP) that we got in last year’s Series 5, which in turn contains the same dual-core processor as the Series 4. Meanwhile, Apple has confirmed that the SE has the same compass and always-on altimeter as the Series 6, along with a very similar screen.

“From what I can tell, it’s the same bigger display we got in the Series 5, just without the always-on functionality enabled. And while the Series 4 was the first Apple Watch to come with heart-sensing ECG support, you simply don’t get that here. Ditto for the Series 6’s new blood oxygen measurement features.”

More at Engadget.

Bouquets and Brickbats For Apple One 

Also announced alongside Apple’s hardware, and perhaps an indication of where Apple wishes to focus on the future, were new options for the various subscription services offered by Cupertino. Apple One takes the popular options and bundles them together while offering a discount. Brian Heater reports:

“It’s not quite mix and match yet, but there are three pricing tiers. Individual offers Apple Music, TV+, Arcade and iCloud for $15 a month. The Family version will get you those four services for $20 a month. For the hardcore, there’s the $30 a month Premier tier, which bundles iCloud, Music, TV+, Arcade, News+ and [the new service] Fitness+.“

“For those who have been putting off a given Apple subscription, such a bundle could certainly sweeten the pot — and make it even harder for users to escape the pull of the Apple software ecosystem.”

More at TechCrunch. Given Apple’s market position, using one service to pptentiallybolster another through a bundle has drawn the eye of the competition. Spotify – which has already filed an anti-trust complaint with the European Commission against Apple – drew attention to the issue shortly ager the end of the event.

“Once again, Apple is using its dominant position and unfair practices to disadvantage competitors and deprive consumers by favoring its own services. We call on competition authorities to act urgently to restrict Apple’s anti-competitive behavior, which if left unchecked, will cause irreparable harm to the developer community and threaten our collective freedoms to listen, learn, create, and connect.”

More on the Spotify statement at Apple Insider.

And Finally…

The look of the MacOS user interface has evolved since OSX was announced in 2000. One area has stayed relatively contestant, but the small changes highlight the thinking behind the OS over the years.

“The interface started glassy and skeuomorphic, mimicking the materials used on Macs. Over the decades, it went through significant revisions. One thing that seems to have remained relatively unchanged over the years is the System Preferences screen.

“But, at a closer glance, we’ll see that this mundane part of the operating system has changed quite a bit and hides some fun easter eggs and surprises.”

Arun Venkatesan has taken a closer look on his blog.

Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2020/09/18/apple-news-headlines-iphone-12-benchmark-specs-launch-dates-ipad-air-apple-watch-se-ios-14-macos-macbook-pro/#2f5105752c07

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Apple reportedly acquires VR startup ‘Spaces’

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Apple has now acquired another startup, Spaces, which has a team specialized in virtual reality technologies (VR). The acquisition was announced today by a Protocol report citing its own sources.

Spaces was created in 2016 by DreamWorks Animation veterans, and the startup has been developing VR products since then, including a Zoom add-on that allowed users to hold virtual reality video conferencing using animated avatars.

The company discontinued all its services last week without further details. The official Spaces website just mentions that the startup is now “heading in a new direction.”

Thank you to our users and partners who participated in our awesome VR video conferencing product and the many people who enjoyed our VR location-based entertainment attractions found at theme parks, theaters, and more.

According to the Protocol report, both Apple and Spaces did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on the acquisition. The price paid by Apple on the Spaces startup is also unknown.

While it’s not certain that the team behind Spaces will join any VR related project at Apple, rumors suggest that Apple is working on AR and VR headsets for 2021 and 2022. Bloomberg says the headset will reportedly feature high-resolution displays and a “cinematic speaker system,” which should make it difficult for the user to notice the differences between real life and the virtual reality experiences the headset will provide.

As Apple continues to invest in its ARKit and new features such as the LiDAR scanner in the new 2020 iPad Pro, it’s plausible to expect that all of these technologies will be merged into a new product to offer advanced augmented and virtual reality capabilities.

Source: https://9to5mac.com/2020/08/24/apple-reportedly-acquires-vr-startup-spaces/

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