Friday, 1 June 2018

Interesting Reads – 2018-06-01

Beyond The Big Data Buzz: How Data Is Disrupting Every Business In Every Industry In The World

This eBook looks at the practical impact Big Data is having on business and organisations in: Healthcare; Retail; Manufacturing; Financial Services, Banking and Insurance; Education; Transport and Logistics; Agriculture and Farming; Energy; Government and Public Sector; Hospitalities, Hotels and Restaurants; Professional Services; Sports; and Businesses built on data. This eBook is a must read for anyone who would like a complete overview of what big data really means, industry by industry.

Blockchain: Unpacking the disruptive potential of blockchain technology for human development

Technologies old and new are propelling the current wave of innovation around the world. Artifcial intelligence, robotics and machine learning are all gaining new ground and being deployed in a wide variety of contexts globally. One of the more cryptic but oft-hyped technologies is blockchain, an emergent technology developed as part of Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency invented in 2008. Whereas Artifcial Intelligence and robotics innovations seem to have a dark side, many perceive blockchain technology as a platform for positive and even radical change.

Yet for developing countries, the high sophistication and complex infrastructure requirements (bandwidth, connectivity and high operating costs) of this technology might prove challenging if countries intend to be active players and not just end users or consumers. Exploring the relevance of new technologies to address existing socio-economic gaps and support internationally agreed development targets including the globally-recognized Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is critical for countries in the global South. The question for developing countries is not only how this could be workable but also who could be involved in harnessing blockchain technologies to close development gaps, foster social inclusion and promote democratic governance.

This white paper explores the potential blockchain technology could have in fostering human development in developing countries. The frst part (after the executive summary) provides a non-technical overview of blockchain.  It then moves to illustrate the range of applications in development areas and sectors from a public/private goods perspective. The third section examines the actual relevance of blockchains in developing countries. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations for additional research and potential development programming using blockchain technologies.  The annexes lay out the information and communications technology for development (ICTD) framework and a more technical presentation of blockchain technologies.

This paper centers on blockchain applications that go beyond cryptocurrencies. The core focus is thus on the use of blockchain technology as a generic 5 application platform in developing countries.

Full paper at

This device lets you talk to your computer - without saying a word

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that can transcribe words that the user concentrates on verbalizing but does not actually speak aloud.

The system consists of a wearable device and an associated computing system. Electrodes in the device pick up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalizations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye. The signals are fed to a machine-learning system that has been trained to correlate particular signals with particular words.

The device also includes a pair of bone-conduction headphones, which transmit vibrations through the bones of the face to the inner ear. Because they don’t obstruct the ear canal, the headphones enable the system to convey information to the user without interrupting conversation or otherwise interfering with the user’s auditory experience.

The device is thus part of a complete silent-computing system that lets the user undetectably pose and receive answers to difficult computational problems. In one of the researchers’ experiments, for instance, subjects used the system to silently report opponents’ moves in a chess game and just as silently receive computer-recommended responses.

Click G For Media Monopoly

With many teeth in the information dissemination pie, Google has popped up as the new Big Media—without really creating any ‘content’

Google Games

  • Google decides the advertising rates for different publications by its own metrics.
  • The company, a mass aggregator, does not pay publishers directly for content created.
  • Google, without a ‘permanent ­establishment’ in India, is still ­battling tax authorities.
  • Publishers have complained about the Chrome ad-filter, which will block advertisements it deems intrusive from February.
  • Concerns over search manipulation have led to the European Union cracking down on the web giant.

“Currently, the predominant business model for ­commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of the advertising business model do not always ­correspond to providing quality search to users.”

Some Changes in Information Technology Affecting Marketing in the Year 2000

Text of a presentation made by Mr. Paul Baran (an Internet pioneer, who had invented packet switching techniques that can be credited with playing a key role in the development of the Internet. Baran received many accolades in his life including the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal, National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.)  to the American Marketing Association, in July 1968, predicting changes in communications media by the year 2000 and their effects on marketing. Cost considerations in marketing distribution will encourage major innovations through the use of computer systems. Large-screen, colour, person-to-person TV communication will be available well before the year 2000. Coupled to a huge automated information storage and processing base, and equipped with push buttons, the screen and computer will restructure merchandising concepts. Shopping will be done at home via TV display. Consumers will be able to select items and compare advertising claims more rationally than today. The "serendipity" or "impulse buying" effect can be maintained by an extra TV selector that will provide randomness in selection to any degree desired, duplicating the behavior of individual buyers in conventional shopping.