MTN steals Cell C contract from Vodacom

By Loni Prinsloo, Bloomberg/Fin24 

MTN will replace its cross-town rival Vodacom in a network-sharing deal with Cell C, South Africa’s third-largest mobile phone operator.

Cell C, which has roamed on Johannesburg-based Vodacom’s network since 2001, will switch to MTN from next month, Cell C chief executive officer Jose dos Santos said in an email.

The bulk of services will be transferred within two months and will allow the operator to offer 3G and 4G connectivity in areas where Cell C has decided not to build networks, he said.

For MTN, the deal will help fund “our ongoing network expansion,” MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa said in a statement.

Cell C will roam on MTN’s network in smaller cities and rural areas, where the company has additional capacity. Vodacom couldn’t immediately comment.

South Africa is MTN’s largest market after Nigeria and the company has invested almost R30bn during the past three years to expand its network and catch up with Vodacom’s coverage in the country.

Uber Eats buys local start-up

By Zeenat Vallie for IOL

Uber Eats has today announced that it acquired South African restaurant technology company owned by venture capital firm Knife Capital, orderTalk.

This acquisition is a major step for Uber Eats which will be able to streamline workflows by directly integrating with leading point of sale (POS) systems.

Knife Capital which leads a business model that sells off companies has sold orderTalk in order to secure significant returns.

“An exit is part of the standard business model for any VC. We invest with the intention to secure significant returns for our entrepreneurs and investors and trade sales are the most common way to generate such returns. The time was right and so was the offer by Uber. It therefore made sense to exit,” says Knife Capital.

orderTalk which is the original provider of online ordering systems for restaurants worldwide, utilises proprietary remote ordering software including mobile and social media applications.

The start-up, which was founded by Hilton Keats in 1998 was backed by an online ordering software development partnership with a United States restaurant chain.

In 2004, lawyer Patrick Eldon joined the group and opened its Cape Town office a year later.

orderTalk then received a R9 million investment in 2008 from Knife Capital which is owned by internet billionaire, Mark Shuttleworth to scale the business internationally.

“Raising capital by way of the investment made by HBD provided enormous value, not only in tangible but also intangible terms. The strategic support, mentoring, advice and hands-on assistance received from HBD and Knife Capital
over the years of the investment have been invaluable”, said CEO of orderTalk, Patrick Eldon.

Although Knife Capital said that they would love to disclose the sale of the acquisition, for strategic reasons from Uber’s side: ‘Terms of the deal were not disclosed’.

“Since they are the main player in this acquisition and not to compromise orderTalk’s new path/ partnership, we respect that and choose not to disclose anything that is not in the public domain”, said Knife Capital.

Meanwhile, the Uber Eats business which works with over 100 000 restaurants in 200 cities in 35 countries said that POS integration on a large scale is challenging. This is the reason they acquired orderTalk.

According to Uber Eats head of business development, Liz Meyerdirk, this acquisition will give rise to greater efficiency and essentially less errors that arise with manual labour and to streamline workflow.

“With orderTalk’s engineering talent and the group of people that we’re acquiring, we’ll be able to supercharge our own point of sale integration strategy,” said Meyerdirk.

By Scott Duke Kominers for Bloomberg 

How much is your privacy on Facebook worth?

This question has seen renewed attention following the revelation that political analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, hired by the Trump election campaign, gained access to the private information of more than 50 million users. One of the possible responses that’s generated some discussion is the creation of a paid tier that’s free of ads and data sharing. 1 Such an option would likely be socially beneficial and have considerable public appeal. But my guess is that it would be pretty expensive, too.

Let’s start with some rough calculations. Facebook’s annual ad revenue was about $40 billion in 2017, with 2.13 billion monthly active users. That means the average user is worth roughly $20 in ads to Facebook a year. That’s probably already a lot more than many users would pay for privacy on the social network.

But the price also depends on who would choose to pay for greater privacy. And it’s likely that many of the users who would opt for more protection could be worth more than $20 each to the company.

Why’s that? First, the value of keeping your data private increases with the amount of data you provide on the platform; by the same token, the more data you give Facebook, the better it can advertise to you. Similarly, you might find privacy especially valuable if there’s something unusual or unique about you that makes you especially easy to target.

The people who can afford a paid tier are on average wealthier; that too makes them more valuable to advertisers. And some of them already have browser ad blockers, so it’s hard to reach them via other channels.

To make up for those sorts of customers opting out of data sharing, Facebook would have to charge a lot more than the average of $20 just to break even. A back-of-the-envelope estimate based on the Pareto principle — 80 percent of the ad revenue coming from 20 percent of users — suggests that if mostly high-value users purchase privacy, then Facebook would need to charge closer to $80 a year.

That’s much more than even high estimates of the value most people attach to having access to Facebook. And it’s still a substantial underestimate of the likely price. According to Facebook’s annual report, the company’s 239 million North American users are responsible for a bit less than half of ad revenue; applying the Pareto principle to them would suggest annual privacy prices in the range of $325 a person.

If price alone were the question, Facebook might indeed want to charge huge amounts for enhanced privacy. The users who buy out won’t all be the most valuable users, and it would be pretty lucrative if the company could sustainably charge some customers much more for privacy than the annual ad revenue they generate. But that’s unlikely to work out in the long run.

Putting a high price on privacy would make it clear just how much Facebook’s user data is worth. We’d probably see increased calls to share that value by giving users a portion of revenues. The consumer-led drive for increased privacy would likely accelerate, too, prompting a growing number of users to leave the platform (assuming they can’t afford or are unwilling to pay for greater privacy).

A user exodus plus enhanced scrutiny of data practices would quickly eat away at the profits from offering the paid tier, making the whole thing a losing proposition.

Facebook must have run the numbers on this already, using much better information than we have here. The idea of a paid tier isn’t new; if Facebook hasn’t offered such an option, the company probably thinks it would be a money-loser. So if we want Facebook users to have control over how their data is shared, we may need outside pressure. The company isn’t likely to provide the option on its own.

It’s also worth noting that advertising and data sharing don’t have to be completely coupled. Facebook could enhance privacy directly by adopting data protection strategies based on privacy science, as Apple, Google, and the Census have in some of their applications.

Robots, AI and other office tech problems

Workplaces the world over are changing rapidly, thanks to the way we prefer to work, social changes and technological advances.

According to Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, seldom has so much change come at once to the workplace as it has this year. These are the more significant trends that will continue to dominate the conversation around work in 2018.

Unequal pay
South Africa is ranked 19 in a global index report on gender inequality released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) late last year. The report finds that while South Africa has improved its share of women legislators, senior officials and managers, the gender wage gap in the country has increased. In recent years, women have made significant progress towards equality in a number of areas such as education and health, with the Nordic countries leading the way.

But the global trend now seems to have made a U-turn, especially in workplaces, where full gender equality is not expected to materialise until 2234 according to WEF.

“This is a hot topic the world over,” says Andrews. “And until there is fairness, wage gaps will continue to be scrutinised. Closing the wage gap could add millions to the economy and uplift so many people’s lives.”

Andrews noted that he expects more countries around the world to follow in the steps the UK took last year in making it a legal requirement for companies with more than 250 employees to declare the gender wage gap.

Workplace harassment
Last year there was a lot of news of workers coming forward to tell their stories of discrimination and harassment at the hands of those in power.
In light of these developments, employees expect their leaders to rest their values and workplace policies.
“We need to ask what can we do about it?
“It starts by taking a more responsible approach to leadership and continues with a concerted effort to change the way organisations monitor employee interaction throughout the company.”
Andrews noted that leaders need to “move beyond check-the-box engagement metrics to dig in and do deeper work developing transparent cultures. In short, ‘see something, say something’.”

Generation inclusion
“Generation Z’s university graduates are entering the workforce full-time, changing the fabric of the workforce,” says Andrews.
“Gen Z came of age during the 2008 economic crisis, and many within the generation are more interested in job stability than their millennial peers, who have gained a job-hopper reputation.Employers should be thinking about fostering growth opportunities rather than simply looking to pay them more to keep them loyal.”

Mixed generational management will be at the top and throughout organisations, with Gen X and millennials leading, while boomers and traditionalists migrate to project and consultative contractor roles, Andrews noted.

The necessity for employers to offer their staff a palette of places, presence and postures, thereby giving complete choice and control over where and how they work, has never been greater than it is now.

“Older millennials are entering the C-Suite, and they will be asking boomers to help them as advisers, coaches, or mentors,” he adds.

Flexible, remote and freelance work
Globally, the importance of flexible work for both the already-employed and for job seekers can’t be understated.
“In addition, telecommuting and working from home is on the rise too,” says Andrews. “Not only will more companies invest in remote workers, but those who require workers on site will do everything possible to make work feel like home. Developers will adapt with mixed-use developments that bring workers closer to the office.”

Andrews noted that Inspiration Office has changed its furniture offering in the past few years along with these trends to meet the demand for more comfortable, less formal office spaces at rates that don’t break the bank.

There is also a rapid rise in the freelance workforce in South Africa and around the world. In the US for instance, the freelance is growing more than three times faster than the U.S. workforce overall. The number of U.S. freelancers now stands at 57.3 million, representing an 8.1% jump over the last three years.

Robots and AI
A recent report on the future of work from McKinsey noted that as many as 375m workers around the world may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills, because in about 60% of jobs, at least one-third of the work can be automated.

“It isn’t cause for alarm just yet,” Andrews noted. “Only 5% of jobs can be completely eliminated by automation. But it does mean that workers need to be prepared to make a change by learning new skills and constantly adapting.”

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes part of even more technologies from Amazon’s Alexa to smart home devices and cloud computing platforms, demand for workers skilled in artificial intelligence will rise.

More women in tech can grow the economy

Despite decades of progress towards achieving equality in the workplace, women remain significantly under-represented in emerging tech. The imbalance between men and women in the technology sector is unlikely to be remedied unless organisations, schools and universities work together to change entrenched perceptions about the tech industry, and also educate young people about the dynamics and range of careers in the technology world. This is according to a report issued by PwC’s Economics team.

The report, 16 nudges for more #WomenInTech, analyses the behavioural measures that bring gender equality to emerging tech.

Women currently hold 19% of tech-related jobs at the top 10 global tech companies, relative to men who hold 81%. In leadership positions at these global tech giants, women make up 28%, with men representing 72%.
In South Africa, the proportion of females to males who graduate with STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees is out of kilter. Women are underrepresented in maths and statistics (4:5), ICT and technology (2:5), as well as engineering, manufacturing and construction (3:10), according to WEF statistics. As a result, there is a significantly smaller pool of female STEM talent, restricting the potential of South Africa’s technology sector.

Lullu Krugel, Chief Economist for PwC Africa, says: “The technology sector is an exciting, fast-moving sector, but disappointingly many women prefer to steer clear of careers in technology. Part of the reason is the low number of girls pursuing STEM subjects at school and in higher education. Our research shows that unless we change various cultural and behavioural drivers within organisations, the matter is unlikely to be resolved any time soon.”

Economic benefits of advancing female workforce equality
Overall, the lack of female representation in the workforce and especially in leadership positions is a barrier to gender equality. Our economists estimate that if we close the gender gap in both representation and pay gap by just 10%, South Africa could achieve higher economic growth. Our calculations suggest economic spin-offs of an additional 3.2% in GDP growth and a 6.5% reduction in the number of unemployed job seekers. Closing the gender gap also helps to alleviate poverty: low-income households will receive an estimated 2.9% more income than previously. “Enormous economic opportunity lies in promoting gender workforce equality,” Krugel adds.

Although some strides have been made to advance women in tech, more needs to be done. To change the way talent is developed and deployed in today’s world requires the undoing and relearning of age-old thought processes and the formation of new norms and values – especially in the education system and labour market. Maura Feddersen, PwC Economist adds: “Biases are ingrained in our cognitive processes and undoing them is difficult.

“Behavioural measures, or ‘nudges’, are one instrument in our collective toolbox to correct for gender imbalances in education and at work. Nudges change the context in which we make decisions to help us achieve our goals. They can offer low-hanging fruit to promote female representation in emerging tech and establish new foundations for inclusive economic growth.”

Does education hold the key?
The answer is complex and education is one in a multifaceted interplay of drivers that will bring more women into skilled jobs, especially in STEM fields. Cultivating an interest in STEM fields must start as early as possible, at school and in higher education, for example. From an early age, behavioural design can help through de-biasing classrooms, changing how our children are taught, as well as through celebrating counter-stereotypical role models.

Why do we need more women in emerging technology?
Emerging tech is a critical field for women to help shape, as everyday our dependence on the speed and efficiency of new technologies grows. It is notable that in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), a linchpin of emerging tech, women only hold one fifth of executive positions. If only half of the population designs technology, users are missing out on the insights, innovations and solutions of the other half.
Feddersen adds: “Fostering inclusivity, and bringing more women into emerging tech and the workforce in general, will help introduce new viewpoints and ideas to emerging tech.”

16 nudges to advance #WomenInTech
The report outlines some biases and countervailing nudges to assist organisations in the endeavour to correct gender imbalances, with a lifecycle view from school and higher education to hiring, career development and progression.

1. Work and school environments must be designed to moderate risk, as gender differences in risk seeking can bias outcomes. Provide frequent feedback on how well we are doing compared to others. Feedback can encourage the most capable people to participate in competitions and frequent feedback has been shown to encourage women to compete.
2. Furthermore, clues that trigger performance-limiting stereotypes should be done away with. For example, relocate the tick boxes where candidates are asked to select their gender and ethnicity from the beginning to the end of a test.
3. The tech industry boasts many exceptional female leaders. It is crucial to celebrate these role models and bring attention them, especially for girls at a young age. Initiatives in which female maths teachers or engineers, as well as male nurses and primary school teachers speak to schoolchildren can be powerful in the formative years for both boys and girls.
4. Further increase the fraction of counter-stereotypical people in positions of leadership, through quotas or other means, such as targets. While quotas or targets in themselves are no nudge, they can change men’s and women’s beliefs about what an effective leader looks like and address many of the biases that hinder gender equality.
“It is particularly hard for young girls to aspire to what they cannot see – seeing is believing. People need to see counter-stereotypical models for beliefs to change,” Feddersen adds.
5. Students’ attitudes can also be affected by subtle and simple changes. Organisations should consider diversifying the portraits on their walls.
In hiring
6. In the job market, many companies do not harness the full talent pool available. Prevailing gender biases limit both men and women, albeit in different industries. Gendered language in job ads and other organisational communications can ‘sort’ applicants before they have applied. It makes sense to purge gendered language from job ads and other company communications. This is especially important since women consider more factors than men when screening jobs – in particular, cultural fit, values and managerial style.
7. First impressions also matter in recruitment sessions. The importance of relatability extends across various platforms of recruitment activities, from job ads to recruitment events.
8. Furthermore, to unveil real talent, organisations can discover talent using ‘The Voice’ approach. This means circumventing gender and other biases and anonymising the hiring process as far as possible. Various tools in the market, including GapJumpers and Talent Sonar, have shown that blinded applications help companies successfully discover untapped talent.
9. Organisations should use predictive tests and structured interviews to evaluate candidates. Score answers to questions and score immediately after the interview. Furthermore, evaluate candidates in batches. By using comparators, the evaluators’ attention focuses on skills and experience, rather than stereotypes.
10. Ultimately, it is about changing norms. We should apply smarter messaging that celebrates successes in increasing gender diversity. Instead of describing the small fraction of female representation, focus messaging on the large fraction of companies with gender diverse leadership. This idea is rooted in ‘herding’. Descriptive norms, what many are already doing, turn into prescriptive norms, just by virtue of telling people about them. People are more likely to adopt a new behaviour if they know that many others are already doing it.
11. Panel interviews should be discarded: the ideal is independent, uncorrelated assessments, not influenced by what other interviewers think.
12. Gender differences in self-confidence are not only a concern in school and higher education, but also in performance appraisals. Self-assessments should be done away with wherever possible.
13. Research suggests that women are less likely than men to negotiate on matters such as compensation. Given the negotiation dilemma women face, external legitimisation helps them overcome the hurdle to negotiate compensation. Organisations should consider inviting team members to speak up and explicitly invite negotiations.
14. Legitimise negotiations through enabling people to negotiate on behalf of others.
15. The relative numbers of socially and culturally different people in a team can be critical in shaping a team’s dynamics. In teams dominated by one social group, members of the minority group can be tokens among peers. As a result, they may be unable to contribute their full potential. Organisations should include a critical mass of women in teams to avoid tokenism. Both ability and diversity are required to maximise collective intelligence.
16. Same-sex networks are also particularly important for women due to the relative scarcity of female role models.

Building the workforce of the future
Nudges are powerful weapons in an organisation’s armoury to advance female representation and achieve workforce equality. Feddersen adds: “Organisations can embrace insights from behavioural design through fostering a culture of data collection. Armed with data, organisations can measure which initiatives work and which do not.
“If we believe the future lies in STEM, we must train ourselves, and our daughters, in the relevant skills. Whatever our profession, let us rethink the way we apply our capabilities in light of the future of work.”

By Billlie Scwab Dunn for Daily Mail Australia

We live in an ever-changing world and now a futurist claims that everyday things we know and love will soon become extinct.

Michael McQueen, from Sydney, believes that time is running out for credit cards, iTunes, car parks, call centres and service stations.

‘This is just the beginning of the changes ahead which will impact how we live, as well as disrupt a large number of industries,’ he said.

McQueen takes a closer look at these five everyday things about to become extinct and why.

1. Car parks

McQueen explained that the think tank RethinkX believe that the self-driving age will see the end of car parks.

‘They predict that by 2027, 90 per cent of passenger miles in the US each year will be travelled in autonomous vehicles and that many of those vehicles will not be owned by the ‘driver’,’ he said.

‘Instead, this 90 percent of travel will be done in driverless Uber-style vehicles, which will make up 60 percent of the vehicles on the road.’

This means once you arrive at your destination there will be no need to park the car as your vehicle may drop you at your destination and then head off to a designated wait area or perhaps even drive home and pick you up later.

Although this research looks at America, if it does will there is a high chance it would trickle down to other countries, such as Australia.

2. Credit cards

McQueen explained that there are a variety of new technologies appearing on the market that will soon make credit cards useless.

One such company who has done this is the financial services Square, who have developed and released technology that will identify you upon entry to a store.

‘Their Pay By Name system detects when a known mobile phone is in range, identifies the buyer, and displays his or her face on a screen so that the person behind the register can simply tap the picture to complete the transaction,’ Mr McQueen said

‘Chinese payment giant Alipay even unveiled technology called ‘Smile to Pay’ in September 2017 which allows customers to verify their identity and ‘pay’ for a meal via facial recognition.’

McQueen explained that there are a variety of new technologies appearing on the market that will make credit cards useless +6
McQueen explained that there are a variety of new technologies appearing on the market that will make credit cards useless

3. iTunes

iTunes burst on the scene in 2001 and it was a service that no one had seen before and has remained relevant for the last 17 years.

This is why people may find it shocking that Mr McQueen believes soon the platform will no longer be in existence.

‘It was recently announced that Apple Music has 38 million paying subscribers, adding nearly 2 million subscribers a month, with more than 6 million trialing the service for free. That’s a lot of people who aren’t downloading music anymore,’ he said.

‘According to both Nielsen Music and BuzzAngle, music downloads suffered double-digit drops last year. And they’ve been sinking for years.’

iTunes burst on the scene in 2001 and it was a service that no one had seen before and has remained relevant for the last 17 years +6
iTunes burst on the scene in 2001 and it was a service that no one had seen before and has remained relevant for the last 17 years

4. Call centres

Using advanced technology to replace humans in certain jobs will most likely save companies money, which is why companies are rushing to implement automated service technology.

Unfortunately for many who rely on it for their income, this includes call centres,

‘By 2020, technology research leader Gartner estimates that AI-powered chatbots will be responsible for a full 85 percent of customer service interactions,’ Mr McQueen said.

‘As Artificial Intelligence advances, reducing reliance on human representatives undoubtedly spells job losses.’

5. Service stations

Many people won’t be able to imagine a world without a service station as the first record of one was in 1913.

Mr McQueen believes that soon they will no longer be around and this will be because of the decrease in people using petrol.

‘The growth of electric vehicles will see demise of need for petrol,’ he said.

By Eric Limer for Popular Mechanics 

Twitter is suggesting all users change their passwords as a precaution after a reported glitch caused some passwords to be stored in plain text. If you’ve ever used your Twitter password for another service, you’d be wise to change it in both places.

Twitter says there is no evidence of a breach, but the error would have allowed any snoopers inside the system to scoop up unprotected passwords with ease. Typically, passwords are “hashed” before they are stored, a process which transforms them password into a unique series of numbers and letters that can’t be translated back into the actually sequence of numbers and letters you type in. This prevents hackers from snagging a phrase they can try on your other accounts.

Even with no evidence of an actual breach, this bug serves as a good reminder for some basic security hygiene. Use unique passwords for every service you use; a password manager can help you keep track of them all. Turn on two-factor authentication where available (it is available on Twitter). And while you’re at it, go look at the apps that have access to your account. These apps, if they’re insecure themselves, can offer hackers a limited way into your account without ever having to figure out your password.

Source: EWN 

Nearly 60 000 South African users have allegedly been impacted by the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data breach.

The breach which affects more than 87-million Facebook users came after some 270,000-people allowed use of their data by a researcher.

In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. Through the app, Kogan scraped the data of all their friends as well, a move allowed by Facebook until 2015.

The researcher then sold the data to Cambridge Analytica, which was against Facebook rules.

A Facebook spokesperson says 33 users in South Africa downloaded the quiz app and the 59,777 were friends of those who would have installed the app elsewhere in the world.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says there was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

“But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that.”

Zuckerberg says Facebook has a number of plans to prevent something like this happening again.

“First, we will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity. We will ban any developer from our platform that does not agree to a thorough audit. And if we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps. That includes people whose data Kogan misused here as well.”

The dark side of blue light

By Sam Upton for Two Sides

There’s a question that’s been asked since the early beginnings of digital communication over 30 years ago.

That question has been the focus of many debates, discussions, articles and research papers, as well as arguments between billions of parents and their children all over the world. It’s preoccupied governments, academics, companies, organisations and brands, and will continue to do so for a long time to come. The question is simple: Is digital harming our health?

The amount of digital information that’s being created, consumed and shared every day is staggering. In just one minute of an average day, Google receives over 4 000 000 search queries, YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video, Facebook users share 2 460 000 pieces of content, and Apple users download 48 000 apps. By the time you will have finished reading this article, those numbers will have increased further.

All this content consumption brings with it a host of potential health issues for the user. Anxiety, depression, addiction, isolation, narcissism, all are becoming more and more common, particularly amongst the young. And while the mental strain is certainly troubling, there are also physical issues linked to excessive computer use, such as vision impairment, neck strain, hearing loss and insomnia. While it’s undoubtedly a channel that solves a lot of modern-day problems, it also creates a few.

With the debate around the consumption of digital media getting louder, Two Sides commissioned a global survey in June 2017, which asked over 10,700 consumers in ten countries about their attitudes to digital and print media, and how worried they are about the amount of time they spend on digital devices. What they found was a clear concern about digital media and a desire to ‘switch off’ and enjoy print more.

When asked if they are concerned that the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health, 46% of UK consumers agreed, while 47% agreed that they spend too much time on digital devices. While these results are intriguing in that they go against the modern assumption that people prefer digital, it’s when we delve deeper into the demographics that things start to get really interesting.

Looking at the different age groups for each question, you’d expect the younger demographic to be more at ease with digital, relaxed with their exposure to online media. But 74% of 18-24 year-olds stated that they spend too much time on electronic devices, compared to 48% of 35-44 year-olds and 29% of those 55 and over. Meanwhile, when asked if they were concerned that the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health, 58% of 18-24 year-olds and 67% of 25-34 year-olds agreed.

With results such as these, it’s clear that people are becoming more and more concerned about the amount of digital content they consume. Social media, plus online video, news, shopping and reading take up a large amount of our day, an amount that’s increasing every year. The most recent IPA Touchpoints data shows that the average UK adult will spend almost eight hours a day consuming media – of that, 2.5 hours is spent on social media and a further 2.1 on the internet.

There are a number of reasons why people should be concerned about the amount of digital content they consume. The most obvious is that too much screen time at night disrupts sleep patterns. The blue light emitted by tablet, smartphone and e-reader screens suppresses the level of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making sleep more difficult, which can lead to more serious health issues such as obesity and diabetes.

Harvard University neuroscientist Anne-Marie Chang recently compared the effects of reading on a light-emitting device compared with a printed book, and found a marked difference in the sleep patterns of the two sets of people. “Participants who read on light-emitting devices took longer to fall asleep, had less REM sleep and had higher alertness before bedtime than those people who read printed books,” she explains. “We also found that after an eight-hour sleep episode, those who read on the light-emitting device were sleepier and took longer to wake up.”

On a more anthropological level, neurologists have discovered that too much time spent online can rewire the human brain to prioritise sensation over thought, stimulating the reward mechanism and the production of dopamine – basically encouraging us to behave like gamblers. This mindset means that people addicted to screens are hard-wired to seek sensations and avoid boredom to such an extent that, a 2014 study for Science magazine found, many people would rather give themselves electric shocks than be left alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes.

But all is not lost. The adverse health effects of too much digital content can be countered by the simple action of reading a print publication. Indeed, it appears that the respondents to the Two Sides survey already know this, with 69% agreeing that it’s important to ‘switch off’ and enjoy printed books and magazines, a figure that doesn’t vary significantly across the age groups.

So print, which is kinder on our eyes, brains and sleep patterns, could be an effective cure for those suffering from digital overload.

To download the global report, as well as the Key Findings from the UK survey, go to www.twosides.info/Survey2017

Taking back your digital identity

We’re bringing information and devices online at an unprecedented rate, raising one of the fundamental questions of our time: how do we represent ourselves in this digital world that we are creating? And more importantly, how do we secure our identity in a digital world?

We’ve heard about blockchain for currencies and smart contracts, a compelling and crucial application is in securing online identity.

For four billion years, the genetic code has been life’s data store- containing not only instructions for but also the lineage of all terrestrial life. Over the past few hundred thousand years, a new species has emerged, one that is rapidly and inexhaustibly producing huge volumes of data of their own: humans.

A brief history of humanity’s data affair
We have observed the world and made sense of it through language for as long as we’ve existed. Armed with the technologies we developed, we peered inside atoms and learned something about the behaviour of the fundamental particles including electrons and photons that we have found there. Developing capabilities to manipulate collections of these units of electricity and light has led to a series of technological revolutions that has had a fundamental impact on how we store, analyse and communicate information about our world.

The network of networks, the Internet, has evolved over time from a range of contributing developments by mathematicians, scientists and engineers. In each decade from the 1940s inventions included the transistor, the computer, computer networks, remote access to computing power, software and documents, and finally by the mid-1990s, commercial service providers ensured increasingly global connectivity. Near-instant text and audio-visual communication, and the emergence of social media and online services across industries, have vastly transformed our society in a remarkably short space of time.

The benefits of increased connectivity come with the associated risk around how the information that we create, communicate and store can be intercepted, sometimes with malicious intent. Cryptography is the ancient art of achieving confidentiality by transforming a message such that is only intelligible to someone in possession of a key. Since the emergence of the Internet, a multitude of algorithms for data security have been developed, and global standards for encryption protocols provide some level of communications security over our computer networks.
Just months after the financial crash of 2008, the first digital currency to employ cryptography to solve the problem of double-spending without the requirement for a central trusted third party was proposed. That currency was Bitcoin, now valued at over USD 100 billion, and one of over 1000 different crypto-currencies. The technology underlying this decentralised capability is a distributed ledger, or blockchain. Transactions are recorded in blocks that are linked and secured by cryptography, these records are verified and stored across a network making the ledger resistant to modification.

The really interesting part is that blockchain, this combination of capabilities in computing, connectivity and cryptography, has applications not only in the financial world, but in any transactional environment, including for a decentralised personal data management system that ensures users own and control their data.

Ups and downs: the risks of exponential data
As of this year, the digital world’s data content is estimated at billions of terabytes, or zettabytes, 90% of which has been created since 2016. Information is an increasingly valuable commodity, and its acquisition, analysis and trade plays an important role across industries. And with one quarter of the world’s population using Facebook every month in 2017, a lot of this data is personal.

The rise of social media has led to new conceptualisations and discussions around identity, as we build representations of ourselves online. On the other hand, information about ourselves that we did not intend to be shared or distributed is also contributing to our digital profiles. Any organisation with stores of personal data can be hacked, be negligent, or even sell this data to external parties for profit, resulting in outcomes that range from spam to identity theft.

In 2013 and 2014, three billion Yahoo! accounts were hacked in what was the highest-profile digital identity breach at the time. In South Africa, more than 30 million identity numbers and other associated financial information was leaked online only last year. Regulators have been swift in their response: personal data protection regulations such as the European GDPR or South African POPI Act carry severe penalties to companies who act recklessly or even negligently with personal data.

Stunning revelations surrounding Facebook’s sharing of up to 87 million members’ data to a third party in the service of the last US presidential election has caused shockwaves across the world, wiping $100-billion off its market capitalisation and leading some analysts to speculate around fines that could amount to $2-trillion – 100 times larger than the biggest corporate fine in history.

One definition of personal data is an economic asset generated by the identities and behaviours of individuals, and the monetisation potential of its (mis)use is astounding. Services like messaging, search and navigation may appear free to use, but they actually come at a cost: your personal data, or perhaps more aptly called your consumer data. Because as has been said, if you’re not paying, you’re not the customer; you’re the product. The question of how to verify, secure and manage identity and personal data online is more pertinent today than ever before.

The strongest link in the (block)chain
Identification provides a foundation for human rights. An estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide cannot officially prove their identity, and we simply don’t know how many of the world’s more than 200 million migrants, 21.3 million refugees, or 10 million stateless persons have some form of identification. The World Bank estimates that 78% of these unidentified people are from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
The recent Blockchain Africa Conference in Johannesburg brought together like-minded innovators. Global Consent, based in Cape Town, is one such local player doing exciting things in the identity space. Consent is developing a blockchain-based trust protocol to independently authenticate identity and selectively exchange personal information. Consent is also the first Sovrin steward in Africa. Sovrin is the world’s first publicly available distributed ledger dedicated to digital identity. The code base of Sovrin is part of the open source Hyperledger project, which is governed by the Linux Foundation and backed by corporates including SAP, IBM, NTT and Intel. The infrastructure for ensuring consensus, security and trust around identity transactions on the Sovrin network is provided by globally distributed stewards like Consent, who independently own and operate nodes on the network.

Blockchain has impressive applications in a transactional environment, in this context enabling individuals to own and control their identities online in a decentralised personal data management system where records are verified and stored across a network making the ledger resistant to modification. Like any network, the strength of a blockchain-enabled personal data management system depends in part on its size. And given the size of the problem of personal identification in Africa, both online and off, we can look forward to ongoing discussion and adoption of technologies like blockchain to meet this challenge going forward.

So … developments in computing, connectivity and cryptography, have resulted in blockchain, the technological confluence of the three, with exciting applications in identification and securing personal data online. However, we live in the physical world, and biometric data will need to support the initial registration of an individual on such a system. A candidate for advanced biometric identity verification is a naturally occurring structure, which could also be the future of data storage, with a remarkable 700 terabyte capacity per gram- the ultimate unique identifier.

This structure is the DNA molecule, and despite significant achievements like determining its structure and sequence, science continues to grapple with the computational complexity of understanding life. The role of large portions of determined sequences remain a complete mystery. Life, and in particular humanity, is arguably the most mysterious phenomenon we have ever encountered, and we have a long way to go in terms of fully understanding ourselves.

One thing we have arrived at is a solution to taking back ownership of our identities in the digital world we are creating, through the compelling application of blockchain in the digital identity space.

By Adriana Marais, Head of Innovation at SAP Africa

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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