Amazon pledges $700 million to teach its workers to code — from wired.com by Louise Matsakis

Excerpt:

Amazon announced Thursday that it will spend up to $700 million over the next six years retraining 100,000 of its US employees, mostly in technical skills like software engineering and IT support. Amazon is already one of the largest employers in the country, with almost 300,000 workers (and many more contractors) and it’s particularly hungry for more new talent. The company currently has more than 20,000 vacant US roles, over half of which are at its headquarters in Seattle. Meanwhile, the US economy is booming, and there are now more open jobs than there are unemployed people who can fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Against that backdrop, Amazon’s jobs skills efforts provide some reassurance that—in theory at least—you could be retrained into a new role when the robots arrive.

 

From the announcement:

Based on a review of its workforce and analysis of U.S. hiring, Amazon’s fastest growing highly skilled jobs over the last five years include data mapping specialist, data scientist, solutions architect and business analyst, as well as logistics coordinator, process improvement manager and transportation specialist within our customer fulfillment network.

 

Also see:

  • Amazon to Invest $700M to Retrain 100,000 Workers for New Jobs — from pcmag.com by Michael Kan Icon
    ‘There is a greater need for technical skills in the workplace than ever before. Amazon is no exception,’ the company said. The goal is to ‘upskill’ one third of Amazon’s total work force by 2025 through free retraining programs.
 

Penn State World Campus Taps Google Cloud to Build Virtual Advising Assistant — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Excerpt:

At the start of the spring 2020 semester this January, Penn State World Campus will have a new artificial intelligence tool for answering the most common requests from its undergraduate students. A virtual assistant will help academic advisers at the online institution screen student e-mails for certain keywords and phrases, and then automatically pull relevant information for the advisers to send to students. For instance, the AI will be trained to assist advisers when students inquire how to change their major, change their Penn State campus, re-enroll in the university or defer their semester enrollment date, according to a news announcement.

 

The World’s First Full in VR Semester Course Taught by Survios CTO — from medium.com by Rahel Demant

Excerpt:

VR First is excited to announce its strategic partnership with Axon Park?—?the world’s first educational campus in VR. To kick things off, they are running a full semester course taught in VR. Launching this fall, the course will teach expert-level Unreal Engine VR development, taught remotely by Survios CTO and Co-Founder Alex Silkin with support from the Unreal Engine team.

To enable Axon Park’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through immersive education, VR First has signed a strategic partnership with Axon Park, an organization which maintains the largest network of VR lab enabled universities and science parks internationally. Together, Axon Park and VR First are announcing a needs-based scholarship program that will provide students with low cost or free access to VR hardware and resources through their partner network of 850 universities. With their expertise in VR/AR workforce education and regional tech cluster facilities, VR First is the international distribution partner for Axon Park training solutions to universities, businesses and governments.

 

 

Also see:

Axon Park -- in fall 2019, delivering the world’s first full in VR semester course

 

 

From DSC:
I just ran across this recently…what do you think of it?!

 

 

From DSC:
For me, this is extremely disturbing. And if I were a betting man, I’d wager that numerous nations/governments around the world — most certainly that includes the U.S. — have been developing new weapons of warfare for years that are based on artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, etc.

The question is, now what do we do?

Some very hard questions that numerous engineers and programmers need to be asking themselves these days…

By the way, the background audio on the clip above should either be non-existent or far more ominous — this stuff is NOT a joke.

Also see this recent posting. >>

 

Addendum on 6/26/19:

 

Experts in machine learning and military technology say it would be technologically straightforward to build robots that make decisions about whom to target and kill without a “human in the loop” — that is, with no person involved at any point between identifying a target and killing them. And as facial recognition and decision-making algorithms become more powerful, it will only get easier.

 

 

Russian hackers behind ‘world’s most murderous malware’ probing U.S. power grid — from digitaltrends.com Georgina Torbet

 

U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid — from nytimes.com by David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth

 

 

 

 

 

9 amazing uses for VR and AR in college classrooms — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser
Immersive technologies can help students understand theoretical concepts more easily, prepare them for careers through simulated experiences and keep them engaged in learning.

Excerpt:

Immersive reality is bumping us into the deep end, virtually speaking. Colleges and universities large and small are launching new labs and centers dedicated to research on the topics of augmented reality, virtual reality and 360-degree imaging. The first academic conference held completely in virtual reality recently returned for its second year, hosted on Twitch by Lethbridge College in Alberta and Centennial College in Toronto. Majors in VR and AR have begun popping up in higher education across the United States, including programs at the Savannah School of Design (GA), Shenandoah University (VA) and Drexel University Westphal (PA). Educause experts have most recently positioned the timing for broad adoption of these technologies in education at the two-year to three-year horizon. And Gartner has predicted that by the year 2021, 60 percent of higher education institutions in the United States will “intentionally” be using VR to create simulations and put students into immersive environments.

If you haven’t already acquired your own headset or applied for a grant from your institution to test out AR or VR for instruction, it’s time. We’ve done a scan of some of the most interesting projects currently taking place in American classrooms to help you imagine the virtual possibilities.

 


 

 

8 industrial IoT trends of 2019 that cannot be ignored — from datafloq.com

Excerpt:

From manufacturing to the retail sector, the infinite applications of the industrial internet of things are disrupting business processes, thereby improving operational efficiency and business competitiveness. The trend of employing IoT-powered systems for supply chain management, smart monitoring, remote diagnosis, production integration, inventory management, and predictive maintenance is catching up as companies take bold steps to address a myriad of business problems.

No wonder, the global technology spend on IoT is expected to reach USD 1.2 trillion by 2022. The growth of this segment will be driven by firms deploying IIoT solutions and giant tech organizations who are developing these innovative solutions.

To help you stay ahead of the curve, we have enlisted a few trends that will dominate the industrial IoT sphere.

 

5. 5G Will Drive Real-Time IIoT Applications
5G deployments are digitizing the industrial domain and changing the way enterprises manage their business operations. Industries, namely transportation, manufacturing, healthcare, energy and utilities, agriculture, retail, media, and financial services will benefit from the low latency and high data transfer speed of 5G mobile networks.

 

Survey: Students Choosing Online Programs Closer to Home — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

 

Mentioned in that article:

 

Also see:

“It’s encouraging to see that a majority of students who are studying fully online are reporting great value and satisfaction with their online programs which are largely tied to ambitious career goals,” said Todd Zipper, president and CEO of Learning House, in a prepared statement. “With an increasing population of savvier consumers with high expectations, institutions need to do better at offering more quality, diverse programs that are sensitive to cost in order to keep up with the growing demands of online college students.”

 

From DSC:
If, in the year 2019, most students say online learning is as good or better than face-to-face, what will they say come 2025?  2035? 

Many people will still prefer to have F2F-based learning experiences no matter what year it is. That said, as the innovation continues to occur mainly in the digital/online/virtual realms, F2F will likely find it harder and harder to compete. My advice to current faculty members? Get experience teaching online — and do so as soon as you possibly can.

 

 

From DSC:
I’m wondering to what extent artificial intelligence will be used to write code in the future…and/or to review/tweak/correct code…? Along these lines, see: “Introducing AI-Assisted Development to Elevate Low-Code Platforms to the Next Level.”

Excerpt:

Mendix was founded on the belief that software development could only be significantly improved if we introduced a paradigm shift. And that’s what we did. We fundamentally changed how software is created. With the current generation of the Mendix Platform, business applications can be created 10 times faster in close collaboration or even owned by the business, with IT being in control. Today we announce the next innovation, the introduction of AI-assisted development, which gives everyone the equivalent of a world-class coach looking over their shoulder.

 

 

To attract talent, corporations turn to MOOCs — from edsurge.com by by Wade Tyler Millward

Excerpt:

When executives at tech giants Salesforce and Microsoft decided in fall 2017 to turn to an online education platform to help train potential users of products for their vendors, they turned to Pierre Dubuc and his team in fall 2017.

Two years later, Dubuc’s company, OpenClassrooms, has closed deals with both of them. Salesforce has worked with OpenClassrooms to create and offer a developer-training course to help people learn how to use the Salesforce platform. In a similar vein, Microsoft will use the OpenClassrooms platform for a six-month course in artificial intelligence. If students complete the AI program, they are guaranteed a job within six months or get their money back. They also earn masters-level diploma accredited in Europe.

 

 

With flip of a giant ceremonial switch, CMU starts effort to energize ‘learning engineering’ — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpt:

Pittsburgh, PA—For a moment this week, the provost of Carnegie Mellon University looked a bit like a game show host as he grabbed the lever of an oversized switch and called on an audience to join him in a countdown—“5, 4, 3, 2, 1.” Then, he toggled the cardboard lever and declared open a new website, one that gave away software that took more than $100 million in grant funding to develop.

It was an unusually theatrical moment for a gathering to announce the release of software tools to help professors improve their teaching. But the organizers were playfully acknowledging the size of their project’s ambition—which they hope will spark a more data-driven and experimental approach to teaching at colleges around the country. And the flair was fitting, since success will end up being based not so much on how well the software works, but on how well its creators can attract momentum to their cause—and change the culture of the academic profession to make teaching an area professors are excited to make discoveries around.

Plenty of others have tried in the past to bring the principles of engineering to college teaching, though with limited success. In fact, the effort at Carnegie Mellon is named for Herbert Simon, a longtime professor at Carnegie Mellon who won a Nobel Prize in economics and devoted his energy and academic capital to trying to spread his ideas about turning teaching from a solo sport to a team effort. But it didn’t catch on widely in his lifetime.

 

From DSC:

…and devoted his energy and academic capital to trying to spread his ideas about turning teaching from a solo sport to a team effort. But it didn’t catch on widely in his lifetime.

Why do you supposed getting faculty members to use a team-based approach is so difficult? We really need to look at that, especially if institutions of higher education are going to keep increasing how much it costs to take courses at their schools — and all the while placing the emphasis on research…not teaching.

Like using an indexing fund in investing — vs. a hand-picked set of stocks — a team-based approach will be more effective the majority of the time. How can it not? There are simply too many skillsets/interests needed, especially as teaching and learning continues to move more online.

 

“Learning by doing appears to have a 6x better [outcome] than learning by watching or reading,” Koedinger said. He and his colleagues published an academic paper with the finding called Learning is Not a Spectator Sport.

 

Also see:

 
 

Microsoft debuts Ideas in Word, a grammar and style suggestions tool powered by AI — from venturebeat.com by Kyle Wiggers; with thanks to Mr. Jack Du Mez for his posting on this over on LinkedIn

Excerpt:

The first day of Microsoft’s Build developer conference is typically chock-full of news, and this year was no exception. During a keynote headlined by CEO Satya Nadella, the Seattle company took the wraps off a slew of updates to Microsoft 365, its lineup of productivity-focused, cloud-hosted software and subscription services. Among the highlights were a new AI-powered grammar and style checker in Word Online, dubbed Ideas in Word, and dynamic email messages in Outlook Mobile.

Ideas in Word builds on Editor, an AI-powered proofreader for Office 365 that was announced in July 2016 and replaced the Spelling & Grammar pane in Office 2016 later that year. Ideas in Words similarly taps natural language processing and machine learning to deliver intelligent, contextually aware suggestions that could improve a document’s readability. For instance, it’ll recommend ways to make phrases more concise, clear, and inclusive, and when it comes across a particularly tricky snippet, it’ll put forward synonyms and alternative phrasings.

 

Also see:

 

 
 

Walmart unveils an AI-powered store of the future, now open to the public — from techcrunch.comby Sarah Perez

Excerpts:

Walmart this morning unveiled a new “store of the future” and test grounds for emerging technologies, including AI-enabled cameras and interactive displays. The store, a working concept called the Intelligent Retail Lab — or “IRL” for short — operates out of a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Levittown, N.Y.

Similar to Amazon Go’s convenience stores, the store has a suite of cameras mounted in the ceiling. But unlike Amazon Go, which is a grab-and-go store with smaller square footage, Walmart’s IRL spans 50,000 square feet of retail space and is staffed by more than 100 employees.

The cameras and other sensors in the store pump out 1.6 TB of data per second, or the equivalent of three years’ worth of music, which necessitates a big data center on site.

 

From DSC:
I was pleased to see that 100+ human beings were still employed/utilized in that store location.

 

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