The Conversation

Explainer: how the latest earphones translate languages

In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, Douglas Adams’s seminal 1978 BBC broadcast (then book, feature film and now cultural icon), one of the many technology predictions was the Babel Fish. This tiny yellow life-form, inserted into the human ear and fed by brain energy, was able to translate to and from any language. Web giant Google have now seemingly developed their own version of the Babel Fi...[Read More]

Oculus and our troubles with (virtual) reality

Last month, Facebook-owned virtual reality company, Oculus, announced its new device, Oculus Go. Go, the successor to Oculus Rift, is a cheaper standalone virtual reality (VR) headset and controller system set for release in 2018. The company boasts that the new system allows users to immerse themselves in over 1,000 games, social apps and 360˚ experiences, and step inside a personal portable thea...[Read More]

Somaliland’s voting technology shows how Africa can lead the world

Africa has become a testing ground for technological leapfrogging. This is a process that involves skipping stages and moving rapidly to the frontiers of innovation. Technological leapfrogging in Africa has, so far, focused on economic transformation and the improvement of basic services. Drones are a good example: they’re used in the continent’s health services and in agriculture. In South Africa...[Read More]

Jobs and robots: bracing for technological disruptions to come

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence and the rapid adoption of robots across diverse industries are stalking the fear of jobless growth. Responses to these developments have focused on what to do to ensure that robots don’t steal jobs. Bill Gates, for example, has called for the taxing of robots that take away jobs. This has elicited responses from leading economists, such as Larry Summers (f...[Read More]

Five myths about email at work and how to cope with communications overload

Email is integral to the way that many of us work. Yet there is no universally accepted standard for its use, which leaves many of us struggling to find strategies that will help us work effectively without also overstressing or causing email fatigue. There is no shortage of self-help books and time management gurus who argue that email zen is possible. But with so much research being conducted in...[Read More]

The challenge of authenticating real humans in a digital world

Proving identity is a routine part of modern daily life. Many people must show a driver’s license to buy alcohol at a store, flash an ID card to security guards at work, enter passwords and passcodes to retrieve email and other private information, and answer security validation questions when calling banks or credit card companies for customer service. Authentication is also getting easier for pe...[Read More]

Future robots won’t resemble humans – we’re too inefficient

Humanoid robots are a vanity project: an attempt to create artificial life in our own image – essentially trying to play God. The problem is, we’re not very good at it. Ask someone on the street to name a robot and you might hear “Terminator”, “the Cybermen” or “that gold one from Star Wars”. What you’re not going to be given are names like Tesla Model X, Cassini or DJI Inspire 2. These are all ro...[Read More]

Africa needs to start creating its own medical technology. Here’s how

Biomedical engineering can save lives. It draws on and integrates knowledge from disciplines like engineering, computer science, biomedical sciences, and public health as well as clinical practice. This knowledge is combined to improve health – often through the design of medical devices for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. Most of Africa’s medical equipment is imported. “Equipment graveya...[Read More]

How digital technology can help reinvent basic education in Africa

African countries have worked hard to improve children’s access to basic education, but there’s still significant work to be done. Today, 32,6 million children of primary-school age and 25,7 million adolescents are not going to school in sub-Saharan Africa. The quality of education also remains a significant issue, but there’s a possibility the technology could be part of the solution. The digital...[Read More]

Credit card fraud: what you need to know

If you are the owner of a credit or a debit card, there is a non-negligible chance that you may be subject to fraud, like millions of other people around the world. Starting in the 1980s, there has been an impressive increase in the use of credit, debit and pre-paid cards internationally. According to an October 2016 Nilson Report, in 2015 more than US$31 trillion were generated worldwide by these...[Read More]

What should governments be doing about the rise of Artificial Intelligence?

There is little doubt that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming almost every facet of human life. How far this transformation will go and what the full ramifications for society will be are still unknown but this hasn’t prevented people from making both optimistic and dire predictions. Elon Musk’s call for AI regulation has been matched by equal calls for governments not to. AI’s problem w...[Read More]

Will technology take your job? More of us are safer than we thought, but not all

We all want to know how many jobs will be threatened by the rise of robots and technology. You might feel vulnerable if your job is one that could be affected. But thanks to a new report, 27% of the 160 million people in the United States labour force can breathe easier knowing their jobs are safer than they thought. That’s 43 million living, breathing and working people in America. By extension, ...[Read More]

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