Collaborating Authors


How to Get Started With AI to Boost Your Small Business


A short time ago getting started with AI (Artificial Intelligence) was unmanageable for startups and small businesses. It required a highly skilled data scientist and machine learning experts experimenting with algorithms. But in a very short amount of time things have changed. AI that can recognize objects in images, understand documents and texts, and make high accuracy predictions on your user data can now be done in a few hours and without coding. The same thing that happened to making websites. Back in the day you always needed a developer when you needed a website.

Netflix's 'Sir' is essential Indian cinema


In the first month of coronavirus lockdowns in the United States, when everyone began constantly screaming "WHAT SHOULD I WATCH" -- and Mashable began our exhaustive and ongoing streaming guides -- someone asked for Bollywood movie recommendations in one of my group chats. "Objective" was a tough enough requirement -- as someone whose job it is to recommend entertainment to people, I know that it makes no difference how critically acclaimed or carefully crafted something is if it doesn't ultimately fit someone's personal preferences. But "wow" absolutely stumped me, so much that I couldn't endorse the rest of the chat's ample suggestions. I never caught the Bahubali hype, I thought Kapoor & Sons was good but not great, and Dangal's climax was too melodramatic. The only suggestion I gave was 2018's Raazi, about a woman undercover during war between India and Pakistan -- a film that stayed with me long after I left the theater.

What's coming for the channel in 2021


For the channel, 2020 was a tale of two cities. On one hand, customers and governments recognized partners as an essential service and central to their ability to rapidly respond to a worsening pandemic. On the other, customer demand shifted to automation, cloud acceleration, customer/employee experience, and e-commerce/marketplaces, where many technology channel parts were left in the cold. The industry experienced a "K-shaped" recovery where partners who had skills, resources, and prebuilt practices around the business needs of their customers excelled with double- (and sometime triple-) digit growth. Yet many smaller VARs and MSPs were down by double digits, relying on government, vendor, and distributor funding to survive.

5G, fintech and mega-projects: What 2021 will mean for tech in the Middle East


The MENA region is in the middle of a digital transformation, which 2020 and COVID-19 has only accelerated. I asked five experts to share the tech trends they see influencing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) this year, with digital payments, greater investment in AI and mobile, coupled with the need for greater focus on cybersecurity, all getting a mention. Among the things to look out for on the Middle East tech scene in 2021 is the Expo 2020 event, which is due to take place in Dubai in the UAE for six months starting from October says Matthew Reed, practice leader, Middle East and Africa & Asia Pacific, at Omdia. "The event, which was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will still be known as Expo 2020, is expected to showcase advanced technologies and applications including autonomous vehicles, smart city services, and space exploration, with the latter based on the UAE's launch of an unmanned spacecraft to Mars in July 2020. "Saudi Arabia also has futuristic plans and in early January it unveiled the outlines of a major new city project, The Line, a 170-kilometre urban development that will be entirely powered by renewable energy and will be "hyper-connected though a digital framework incorporating artificial intelligence and robotics, according to the launch website. "The Saudi authorities are also increasingly keen to encourage investment and growth in the country's non-oil business sector, and that is likely to accelerate efforts to upgrade connectivity and technology services for enterprises over the year ahead." The fintech landscape in MENA is rapidly evolving from a focus on digital payments to expanding access to finance, both consumer and SME lending, says Ayman Ismail, Jameel chair of entrepreneurship, The American University in Cairo. "The past three years were mostly about establishing infrastructure for digital payments.

How to Fix the Vaccine Rollout - Issue 95: Escape


At a moment when vaccines promise to end the coronavirus pandemic, emerging new variants threaten to accelerate it. The astonishingly fast development of safe and effective vaccines is being stymied by the glacial pace of actual vaccinations while 3,000 Americans die each day. Minimizing death and suffering from COVID-19 requires vaccinating the most vulnerable Americans first and fast, but the vaccine rollout has been slow and inequitable. Prioritization algorithms have led to the most privileged being prioritized over the most exposed, and strict adherence to priority pyramids has been disastrously slow. Yet without prioritization, vaccines go to those with greatest resources rather than to those at greatest risk.

The future of robotics research: Is there room for debate?


As the field of robotics matures, our community must grapple with the multifaceted impact of our research; in this article, we describe two previous workshops hosting robotics debates and advocate for formal debates to become an integral, standalone part of major international conferences, whether as a plenary session or as a parallel conference track. As roboticists build increasingly complex systems for applications spanning manufacturing, personal assistive technologies, transportation and others, we face not only technical challenges, but also the need to critically assess how our work can advance societal good. Our rapidly growing and uniquely multidisciplinary field naturally cultivates diverse perspectives, and informal dialogues about our impact, ethical responsibilities, and technologies. Indeed, such discussions have become a cornerstone of the conference experience, but there has been relatively little formal programming in this direction at major technical conferences like the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) and Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) Conference. To fill this void, we organized two workshops entitled "Debates on the Future of Robotics Research" at ICRA 2019 and 2020, inspired by a similar workshop at the 2018 International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML).

Webinar on "Macro dynamics predictions in COVID-19 crisis, explained by micro intentions"


On 3 June 2020, the VUB AI Experience Centre published a webinar on the topic of the role of AI in the COVID-19 crisis, focused on macro dynamics predictions in the COVID-19 crisis, explained by micro intentions. This webinar focused on AI reinforcement learning techniques and predictive modelling, decision making in defining prevention, and exit strategies. It was led by Prof. dr. Ann Nowé from the Artificial Intelligence Lab together with Prof. dr Kurt Barbé, member of the Digital Mathematics research group and the cross-faculty Artificial Intelligence Lab, and Prof. dr Tom Lenaerts who is a member of the VUB Artificial Intelligence Lab and the Machine Learning Group of the ULB. The AI Experience Centre is a joint project of 4 VUB research groups: the Artificial Intelligence Lab, Brubotics, SMIT and ETRO, and is located on the VUB campus Etterbeek.

Maryland Gov. Hogan pushes to reopen schools for hybrid learning

FOX News

A panel of parents give there take on the president's move to reopen schools on'Fox & amp; Friends.' Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is going all in on a push to reopen schools in the state for hybrid learning by the beginning of March. Hogan said during a news conference at St. John's College in Annapolis on Thursday that there is a growing consensus in the state and in the country that there is "no public health reason for county school boards to keep students out of schools" due to COVID-19. He argued that continuing down a path of virtual learning could lead to significant setbacks for students, especially among students of color and those from low-income families. "I understand that in earlier stages of the pandemic, that this was a very difficult decision for county school boards to make," Hogan added.

Global temperatures in 2020 tied record highs


Housebound by a pandemic, humanity slowed its emissions of greenhouse gases in 2020. But Earth paid little heed: Temperatures last year tied the modern record, climate scientists reported last week. Overall, the planet was about 1.25°C warmer than in preindustrial times, a trend that puts climate targets in jeopardy, according to jointly reported assessments from NASA, Berkeley Earth, the U.K. Met Office, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The annual update of global surface temperatures—an average of readings from thousands of weather stations and ocean probes—shows 2020 essentially tied records set in 2016. But the years were nothing alike. Temperatures in 2016 were boosted by a strong El Niño, a weather pattern that warms the globe by blocking the rise of cold deep waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Last year, however, the Pacific entered La Niña, which has a cooling effect. That La Niña didn't provide more relief is an unwelcome surprise, says Nerilie Abram, a climate scientist at Australian National University. “It makes me worried about how quickly the global warming trend is growing.” The past 6 years are the six warmest on record, but the warming of the atmosphere is unsteady because of its chaotic nature. The ocean, which absorbs more than 90% of the heat from global warming, displays a steadier trend, and here, too, 2020 was a record year. The upper levels of the ocean contained 20 zettajoules (1021 joules) more heat than in 2019, and the rise was double the typical annual increase, scientists reported last week in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences . The subtropical Atlantic Ocean was particularly hot, fueling a record outbreak of hurricanes, says Lijing Cheng, a climate scientist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences's Institute of Atmospheric Physics who led the work. This heat, monitored down to 2000 meters by a fleet of 4000 robotic probes, is spreading deeper into the ocean while also migrating toward the poles. An extreme heat wave struck the northern Pacific, killing marine life. For the first time, warm Atlantic waters were seen penetrating into the Arctic Ocean, melting sea ice from below and reducing its extent nearly to a record low ( Science , 28 August 2020, p. [1043][1]). The warming ocean and melting ice sheets are raising sea levels by 4.8 millimeters per year, and the rate is accelerating ( Science , 20 November 2020, p. [901][2]). On land, 2020 was even more relentless, with temperatures rising 1.96°C above preindustrial levels, a clear record, Berkeley Earth reported. It was the warmest year ever in Asia and Europe and tied for the warmest in South America. Russia was particularly hot, breaking its previous record by 1.2°C, while swaths of Siberia were 7°C warmer than in preindustrial times, leading to large-scale fires and thawing permafrost that caused buildings to founder and set off oil spills ( Science , 7 August 2020, p. [612][3]). “Siberia was crazy,” says Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at the Breakthrough Institute and co-author of the Berkeley Earth analysis. “That heat would effectively be impossible without the warming we've seen.” In Australia, record-setting heat and drought fueled catastrophic bushfires at the start of 2020. Fires torched nearly one-quarter of southeastern Australia's forests and destroyed 3000 homes. Climate change was to blame for the country's “Black Summer,” Abram and co-authors concluded in a study published this month in Communications Earth & Environment . Meanwhile, in the United States, unprecedented heat came to the desert Southwest, which is already warming faster than the rest of the country. Phoenix wilted under its hottest summer ever, averaging 36°C. Arizona's Maricopa county, home to Phoenix, is a leader in addressing heat exposure, yet its heat deaths have hit a new record each year since 2016. In 2020, the number approached 300, a jump of some 50% over the previous year, says David Hondula, a climatologist who studies heat mortality at Arizona State University, Tempe. “It was just off the charts in terms of heat.” ![Figure][4] Turning up the heatCREDITS: (GRAPHIC) N. DESAI/ SCIENCE ; (DATA) MET OFFICE; NASA; BERKELEY EARTH; NOAA Although the global economic slowdown of the COVID-19 pandemic cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by some 7%, atmospheric CO2 is long-lived, and warming from previous emissions is preordained. In any case, the drop in emissions is unlikely to last. Later this year, in May, before photosynthesis in the Northern Hemisphere draws down CO2, the U.K. Met Office predicts that levels of atmospheric CO2 will pass 417 parts per million for several weeks, 50% higher than preindustrial levels. Only dramatic action by the world's countries, far beyond existing efforts, can begin to halt this build up, Cheng says. Should the current rate of warming continue, the world will breach the targets set in the Paris climate agreement—limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C—by 2035 and 2065, respectively. But Hausfather says it's quite possible that warming, which has largely held steady for the past few decades at 0.19°C per decade, will actually speed up. The rate of warming over the past 14 years is well above the long-term trend. The debate now, he says, is whether that is an omen of an even darker future. [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: pending:yes

Transforming the energy industry with AI

MIT Technology Review

However, most companies don't have the resources to implement sophisticated AI programs to stay secure and advance digital capabilities on their own. Irrespective of size, available budget, and in-house personnel, all energy companies must manage operations and security fundamentals to ensure they have visibility and monitoring across powerful digital tools to remain resilient and competitive. The achievement of that goal is much more likely in partnership with the right experts. MIT Technology Review Insights, in association with Siemens Energy, spoke to more than a dozen information technology (IT) and cybersecurity executives at oil and gas companies worldwide to gain insight about how AI is affecting their digital transformation and cybersecurity strategies in oil and gas operating environments. Energy sector organizations are presented with a major opportunity to deploy AI and build out a data strategy that optimizes production and uncovers new business models, as well as secure operational technology. Oil and gas companies are faced with unprecedented uncertainty--depressed oil and gas prices due to the coronavirus pandemic, a multiyear glut in the market, and the drive to go green--and many are making a rapid transition to digitalization as a matter of survival.