Technology

AI, Modern Gov and the power of Networks

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Amid the recent bombing mayhem in Ankara, an ever escalating refugee crisis, a stagnated global economy and the EU-Turkey Summit of 17-18th, I picked up a few reads that you might find interesting or even intriguing and will probably take your mind off disturbing  headlines (at least for a while).
If you are in a hurry start from the links in BOLD.
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GoToVan, Science World, Flickr

Incredible Science: AI

The latest “Human vs. Machine” game has ended. Read what Google has to say about it, in their latest blog: What we learned in Seoul with AlphaGo by Demis Hassabis, CEO and Co-Founder of DeepMind (a google subsidiary focusing on AI).
  • If this AI thing is new to you, maybe a non technical video from DAVOS 2016 will enlighten you: Key people from academia and industry discuss “The state of Artificial Intelligence“.
  • Not everyone is partying with the prospect of more AI though. Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are not that thrilled. Read here why.

Looking for more?

Modern Government & data

In the era of Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data, ODI (the Open Data Institute, UK) is making a very important argument on Data Infrastructure. What is it and who owns it? This argument is even more important as UK government is thinking of privatising the Land Registry, as it recently announced in the 2016 Budget.

And if you wonder how local governments can benefit from digital technologies then Nesta  has a very comprehensive report for you: Connected Councils: A digital vision of local government in 2025. (Download the pdf here)

Nesta has also “5 ideas for renovating democracy“. May sound obvious but it’s governments we are talking about.

The power of Networks

Last but not least, a long but very concise presentation on Network effects (think Facebook, Airbnb, What’s App). What they are, why they are important, how they can help you in business. A highly suggested read.

I guess these are enough for the weekend!

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Time to study! Part 1: MOOCs & Certificates

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Stockholm Public Library
Photo of Stockholm Public Library by Samantha Marx

You have no excuse. Start learning now!

There was a time (before the Internet) when learning new things was actually not easy. The dominating educational institutions, the universities, demanded your physical presence and your adherence to structured courses leading to recognised diplomas and professional degrees. This educational system definitely served a purpose and is still relevant. But it is not the only choice.

Picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

Today you have no excuses. You have the Internet and broadband and the web and an endless list of sites where you can learn virtually everything (from wedding planning to salsa dancing). Seriously.

 Do you feel you want to refresh your knowledge on a forgotten subject? Do you feel overwhelmed by the unstructured and usually cluttered and “noisy” information you find in the web? Do you want to learn new stuff or even change your career? Take your pick.

For the last six months I’ve tried most of the services below and I have to admit that I’m quite impressed by some of them. I’ve tried to organise them more based on their purpose and what should be expected. The list is by no means exhaustive but I hope it is a good start. Feel free to add your comments.

Technology at Work, Glasgow Caledonian University
(Technology at Work, Glasgow Caledonian University) Photo from Jisc Infonet at Flickr

Take your pick:

You basically have 3 major choices. edX, Coursera and Udacity:

1. EdX is a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT and offers free courses (more than 400) and verified certificates (paid) from some of the best universities in the world including Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, Cornell, EPFL, KUL and many more. As it mentions at the site: “Topics include among others biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more.”

My experience is that it has a great User Interface at its web edition with clear information and top notch quality. Unfortunately not all courses are available in mobile.

2. Coursera is a similar service with an equally impressive list of university (Yale, Stanford, Brown among others) and non-university partners (like the World Bank and National Geographic Society) from all over the world. Apart from the Verified Certificates (paid) you can take a “Specialization Certificate” which brings together related courses and a “capstone project”. You can find some really interesting Specializations like “Data Science” from John Hopkins,  “Business Foundations” from The Warton School of the University of Pennsylvania and many more.

I have already completed a few courses and I have to say that it was a fantastic experience. Pay attention to the way the course is structured and of course who is offering it. Some are more interactive than others. Their mobile app is adequately good and you can download and watch the lectures offline.

3. Udacity is not free, but it is powered by some of the tech giants like Google, AT&T, Facebook, Salesforce, Cloudera, etc. They offer paid certification programs called “Nanodegrees” focused on technology. Web Developers, Data Analysts, Mobile Developers, etc. Our students acquire real skills through a series of online courses and hands-on projects. I found it quite expensive (approx. $200/month) but you can access the instructors videos for free and you can always try it for 14 days to see if it fits you.

These are some of the most complete and well known online courses portals. Whether you want to learn a new skill to enhance your CV or you just want to widen your horizons in a more structured and curated way, this is the place to start.

In future posts I’ll cover less formal learning offered. Stay tuned!

How Facebook and Twitter built the best employee training programs in Silicon Valley

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Training people is absolutely necessary, regardless of the size, sector, industry or the age of a company. Especially in the ICT world were 6 months seem like a lifetime we realise that without training we are just working with out producing or without reaching our full potential.
I don’t believe anyone disagrees on the above. The hard part is to built a program in a small company that will be sustainable, productive and create more than knowledge, a culture of learning and collaborating.

This is an excellent piece by Max Nisen  originally posted on Quartz.

Read the rest of this entry »

#Launch me up

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San Francisco - 106
Well you know what this is.

It’s been a couple of days since we were in San Francisco, participating in an event that was both inspiring and awakening. How else can you describe the speed and abundance of information you are called to absorb in just a few days ? The people that you want to meet in person (any single one of them)? The teams that want to share their passion with you, and most of them manage to do so quite successfully? Read the rest of this entry »