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Online Casino USA Friendly Online Casinos for 2017

Posted: February 22, 2017 at 4:44 am

Play with confidence by exploring our 2017 list of the best online casinos before you place a bet. Our ratings take the work out of deciding where to play by providing current information about our recommended online casinos. Read our reviews and ratings about each casino to make an informed decision. We help you learn about each casinos software safety, available welcome bonuses, incentives, payout percent, banking options, game selection, customer service and other details.

* The Casinos listed here accept new customers from United States, USA & other countries.

Playing your favorite games online can be more cost-efficient, less hassle and provide a better atmosphere for winning than gambling in a traditional casino. Even if you have a casino nearby, you will put wear and tear on your car, pay for gas, and may need to spring for meals or a hotel room. Before you know it, you may spend several hundred dollars that you would have preferred to use playing games.

Additionally, your personal comfort can impact your concentration and gambling decisions. Imagine the noise at a traditional casino or interacting with a disgruntled player at your table. If you do not smoke, you may find the odor of smoke disturbing. When you have money on the line, you do not need distractions. You want to make decisions that maximize your winnings.

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Most online casinos offer odds or incentives that surpass those of traditional casinos. Unlike brick and mortar casinos, online gaming establishments have minimal operating expenses. They do not need janitorial services to clean ashes and debris from the casinos. There are no heat, electric and water bills. In essence, there are few employees needed to maintain an online casino or monitor the games. Therefore, online casinos are in the unique position to entice players with more giveaways and incentives than standard casinos.

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Why Our Rating System is Beneficial

We carefully investigate online casinos to provide players with accessible information. Each casino offers its own benefits. Your style of play, game choice, your reason for playing, and other personal factors may make some online casinos a better fit for you. For example, if you are not a seasoned player, you may want an online casino that offers plenty of free or practice games that you can intersperse with betting games. You can become comfortable betting and playing without investing a large sum of money. Some players may place a priority on customer service or online casinos that have little or no software glitches. Enjoying hours of uninterrupted play or convenient customer service that may help minimize distractions and keep you focused. Only you can decide which perks make a particular online casino the right choice for your playing pleasure. Some players like to join new online casinos to take advantage of perks and bonuses for new registrants. Others like to frequent their favorite casinos and enjoy loyalty programs. Our organized ratings and information make it effortless to identify your favorite casino.

Choosing an online casino can be tricky because there are many casinos competing for your business. Our picks for 2015 are Silver Oak, Cool Cat, Palace of Chance, SlotoCash & a couple of others. All of our reviewed casinos welcome players from America and other countries. The minimum rating is 99.1, but most of our top choices have a rating of more than 99.5.

Our user-friendly material is a breeze to access. Our format allows you to compare bonus offerings and ratings without leaving our website. The basic information appears in a list without the need to read reviews or visit the online casinos.

Access our review to find information pertaining to play options, software, loyalty programs and advice about accessing bonuses. Our reviews let you know whether a particular online casino keeps their games fresh by adding new options and games. We also highlight details that make some online casinos more preferable than others depending on your concerns. Our reviews identify which casinos excel at offering exciting graphics, excellent safety, convenient banking choices, 24-hour customer support, VIP programs, practice games, no wager gaming and other benefits that may be appealing.

While our ratings share the advantages of each online gaming establishment, they also alert players to problems. Reading our reviews can help inform you about difficulties withdrawing money or customer service issues. Nevertheless, readers should be aware that online casinos try to improve, and any complaints may not be indicative of your experience.

Our list would be incomplete without providing our viewers with access to the casinos we rate. Investigate each casino to decide whether it meets your needs and has your favorite games. Read about their offerings and policies.

We offer information to enhance your playing pleasure and hope that you have a positive experience. In addition to online casino recommendations, read our information about specific games to learn helpful gaming strategies. Whether you choose to practice games to perfect your skills or play for cash immediately, online casinos can enable you to have instant fun without traveling. Try the games on this site to get started.

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Online Casino USA Friendly Online Casinos for 2017

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Betting turf war is torpedoing efforts to help problem gamblers – The Guardian

Posted: at 4:44 am

Bookies earned about 1.7bn from fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) last year. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Problem gambling experts have criticised rival factions of the betting industry for waging a selfish war of words to protect their own interests amid the threat of tighter regulation.

The UKs leading gambling charity also warned that a narrow focus on controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), potentially ignoring online betting and fruit machines in pubs, amusement arcades and casinos, risks undermining efforts to help addicts.

The government is conducting a review of gaming machines that industry figures fear will lead to tighter curbs on betting machines and reduced profits.

The review has seen amusement arcades and casinos go on the offensive against bookmakers by highlighting the addictive nature of FOBTs, which make up more than half of bookies revenues at about 1.7bn last year.

The machines have been publicly reviled as the crack cocaine of gambling, a phrase thought to have been coined by President Donald Trump when he was running casinos to draw attention to video game bingo, which posed a threat to his business.

GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches said that while attention should be paid to FOBTs, which allow punters to stake 100 every 20 seconds, ignoring other types of gambling was a disservice to problem gamblers.

Theres a particular focus on machines in bookmakers but Ive observed the industry for the best part of two decades and in my experience its always been the same, he said.

When the National Lottery was introduced, elements of the industry didnt care for that.

When there was discussion of expanding casinos, there were businesses within the industry that campaigned against it. Such is the case around machines in bookmakers.

He added that it was problematic that a cross-party group of MPs, which has recommended slashing the maximum FOBT stake to 2, is backed by firms that profit from rival forms of gambling.

Groups that fund the MPs efforts include amusement arcade body Bacta, pub chain JD Wetherspoon, which operates fruit machines, and Hippodrome casinos.

The Association of British Bookmakers recently fought back against criticism of FOBTs, latching on to research published by industry regulator the Gambling Commission.

Using data compiled from real betting sessions, the commission found there was no consistent evidence that particular gambling activities are predictive of problem gambling.

The ABB also pointed to figures suggesting that on average gamblers lost more money and spent more time on amusement arcade-style games.

ABB chief executive Malcolm George warned of the danger that adult gaming centres and other forms of gambling escape proper scrutiny.

The arcade industry and elements within the casino industry, which are commercial competitors of the bookmakers, have unfairly used FOBTs as the whipping boy for far too long when it comes to problem gambling.

In particular arcades, with vastly more machines, need to wake up to their responsibility to help problem gamblers, in the same way as the bookmaking industry has.

Bacta accuses the ABB of cherry-picking data that suits its own argument, focusing on averages rather than the extreme losses that can affect higher-stakes FOBT players.

The two sides have also drawn opposing conclusions about whether studies suggest that reducing the maximum stake on FOBTs would stem players losses.

Etches said the back-and-forth between competing firms in the same industry suggested that they were losing sight of the need to address problem gambling.

The industry needs to think more carefully about that bigger reputational issue and recognise that those who are thoughtful can see through some of this selfish behaviour, he said.

There are a lot of people who have a problem so we need to have a better discourse. A narrow focus that gets very shouty between campaign groups puts people off having a more grown-up more mature discussion.

The row over the role that FOBTs play in addiction reflects the limited amount of hard evidence on problem gambling.

One of the most comprehensive studies, by research group NatCen, looked at whether people who hold loyalty cards with bookmakers changed their behaviour over time, in an attempt to show whether FOBTs coincide with a slide into addiction.

It found a correlation between the use of machines in bookmakers and a descent into problem gambling, with the unemployed and ethnic minority groups worst affected.

But NatCen associate research director Heather Wardle, who sits on the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, is wary of drawing too many conclusions from this.

It shows an association, we just dont know whats driving that association. In all likelihood there are some people for whom the machines are causing them difficulties.

Others have immense problems with all types of gambling and happen to play machines.

She points out that similar research has not been done into amusement arcades, fruit machines or online betting, so it is difficult to compare the risk of addiction.

This raises the possibility that while FOBTs do pose a risk, a blinkered focus on them could allow other forms of betting whether its amusement arcades or online poker to escape scrutiny.

Like Etches, Wardle is concerned by the tendency of the warring factions to highlight data that suits their cause.

There is a lot of energy expended on different interest groups trying to make a case that one activity versus another is the most harmful thing, she said.

You end up with a polarised debate that misses the complexity of whats causing people harm and what you do about it.

I can perfectly understand why different stakeholders do that but its not particularly helpful. Id like to see people combine their energies into really thinking about how we help people and stop the horrendous problems they experience.

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Betting turf war is torpedoing efforts to help problem gamblers – The Guardian

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Tough Approach on Tax Arrears Pays Off For Bahamas Government – Caribbean360.com (subscription)

Posted: at 4:34 am

NASSAU, The Bahamas, Monday February 20, 2017 A brute force approach in The Bahamas by the Perry Christie administration to rake in millions of dollars owed from outstanding tax revenue is paying off $15 million every month to be exact, says Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Simon Wilson.

But he says that is just the tip of the iceberg, as the Government goes after delinquent taxpayers to recover arrears in excess of $600 million.

On average, this effort has yielded $15 million a month. Our target is $400 millionin two yearsin incremental revenue without adjusting [tax] rates. We believe thats quite achievable, Wilson said.

Weve listened to our advisers who suggested taking a more aggressive stance. Their target is two times that. And that $15 million is only on New Providence, he continued, adding that the crackdown would soon extend to businesses in Abaco, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera.

The initiative launched last November pressures businesses to pay up arrears in four key areas Value Added Tax (VAT), Business Licence fees, Real Property Tax and Customs duties.

Wilson told the recent State of the Economy 2017 forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce that theDepartment of Inland Revenuehadzeroed in on 800 entities importing/selling more than $30,000 worth of goods per year without businesses licenses.

He pointed to 24,000 properties in New Providence whose owners had not placed them on the roll for Real Property Tax increases.

In addition, the Government has also netted a significant number of shippers allowing goods to come in without proper business licences and names.

Acknowledging there was some resistance from some quarters, Wilson said the crackdown was the best approach to avert new or increased taxes as the Government attempts to boost its annual revenues by around four to five percentage points of gross domestic product (GDP).

The obvious way to get there is increasing tax rates or finding new taxes, he said. Weve taken a new approach because the system is sufficient to achieve this by being more aggressive on tax compliance.

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Offshore drilling opponents re-gear for new round of battles | News … – Charleston Post Courier

Posted: at 4:34 am

A little more than a month after seismic blast testing for oil and natural gas was stopped offshore of South Carolina, exploration companies are gearing up for a new try.

Conservation groups are gearing up to fight again. This time, the battle will focus on jobs and the economy, they say.

A dozen anti-drilling advocates met Tuesday in Charleston to discuss expanding the opposition. They may look inland for more support in the vein of the massive coastal protest that in 2016 helped derail plans for testing and drilling.

Frank Knapp, founder of the anti-drilling Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast, said he has heard the exploration industry is planning to approach the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management about reversing a testing permit denial adopted during the last days of the Obama administration.

Asked about that, the pro-drilling exploration National Ocean Industries Association president Randall Luthi said, “Industry continues to have interest in updating grossly outdated offshore resource estimates so that future decisions are based on sound science rather than political hyperbole.”

In seismic testing, powerfully loud air guns are fired underwater every 16 seconds to read echoes from the bottom geology. Conservationists oppose them because of the potential to disorient and injure marine animals. Business groups have joined the conservationists out of concern for the industry’s impact on multi-million dollar coastal tourism revenue.

Luthi and other industry representatives say advances in drilling technology have made the operations safer, and that seismic surveys have taken place for a half-century with no direct evidence it harms sea animals, commercial fishing or tourism. They tout the economic benefit and potential job creation of the work.

Drill or don’t drill cuts to the heart of coastal life, where interests are divided between exploring for potential economic benefit or restricting exploration to protect marine life and a billion-dollar tourism economy. Residents widely oppose both testing and drilling as a quality-of-life issue.

The conservation groups that met Tuesday came from Florida to New Jersey, and included local groups such as Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic. They reflected an opposition that grew to include thousands of residents and nine of every 10 coastal municipalities in those states 23 in South Carolina alone.

Knapp’s group represents more than 35,000 businesses and 500,000 commercial fishing families from Maine to Florida.

Former Gov. Nikki Haley was part of a coalition of governors who worked largely behind the scenes with industry lobbyists to urge federal officials to open the Southeast coast to oil and gas exploration. Gov. Henry McMaster has said he opposes it. State governors are given a say in BOEM decision-making.

The battle could be the first of any number the conservation groups expect as administration and congressional efforts are made to rescind laws and restrictions set by the Obama administration battles they expect will come down to legal challenges.

The groups “are more fired up than they were a year ago,” said Samantha Siegel of Oceana.

“I think the business voice becomes even more important” in the current political environment in Washington, D.C., said Knapp, who did not take part in the Tuesday meeting but said the effort is valuable. “This is not something that you can say, ‘We’ll fight them next time.’ There will be no ‘next time.’ ”

Reach Bo Petersen Reporter at Facebook, @bopete on Twitter or 1-843-937-5744.

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Offshore drilling opponents re-gear for new round of battles | News … – Charleston Post Courier

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Space Startups Are Booming | Fortune.com – Fortune

Posted: at 4:25 am



Inside a series of nondescript buildings in the driest desert in North America, an entrepreneurial enclave is chasing the next frontier of commerce. Explosions are routine. The science is complex. Brain power and ambition are high, as is danger. This cluster of 17 young companies at the Mojave Air and Space Port, 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles, is shooting for the moonand beyond.

The startups there are building the components, engines, materials, and rockets that are dispatching a new generation of cell-phone-size satellites and more into space. These so-called NewSpace companies have sprung up around a former military base in the California desert. The remoteness of Mojave and the permissive attitude toward, say, detonation and flamesthe airports slogan: We eat explosions for breakfastmake it the ideal location for companies aiming to reach the heavens.

Mojave is the Silicon Valley of space exploration, says Mark Bnger, who follows the sector at Lux Research. Mojave isnt alone, as galactic entrepreneurship is also burgeoning in Seattle, Tucson, and Silicon Valley itself. Says Sunil Nagaraj of Bessemer Ventures: 2017 will be the year that NewSpace startups will hit their stride.

It used to be that space projects were so daunting and expensive that only governments and their massive corporate partners could take them on. Then, in the past decade or so, a cadre of billionairesthink Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Bransonentered the arena with what first seemed like eccentric pet projects. Today, in the wake of their successes, theres a third generation: minnows that service those private companies and leverage the growing economies of scale such that a startup without extraordinary resources can now contemplate a voyage to another planet.

Plenty of factors are making space missions cheaper and more feasible: the miniaturization of electronics, the development of stronger and lighter materials, better engineering, and new standards that make it easier to build mini-satellites and send them up as hitchhikers on a larger launch. A traditional low-earth-orbit satellite, for instance, weighs three tons, stands two-stories tall, and costs tens of millions of dollars to build. Today there are microsatellites between 22 and 220 pounds and even nanosatellites under 22 pounds. A so-called cubesat, for example, weighs around two pounds, is about the size of a fist, and costs less than $100,000 to build. Some 60 companies now sell them, allowing small governments and companies to put a tiny probe into orbit for precision agriculture, oil spill monitoring, or security systems.

Of the 115 space-related companies started in the past decade and backed by investors, 84 focus on satellites, according to the Tauri Group, which tracks space investments. Just last year, those companies launched 100 microsatellites, up from 25 in 2011. Tauri projects that 2,400 nano- and microsatellites will launch between 2017 and 2023.

Investment is starting to take off. Venture capitalists have put $8.2 billion into space companies over the past five years, according to Tauri, most of it into rockets and satellites.

Mojave has become an oasis of billionaires, scientists, vendors, and service providers. Bransons Virgin Galactic has 500 people there building and testing propulsion systems and a suborbital spaceship, according to CEO George Whitesides. Paul Allens Vulcan Aerospace is nearing completion of its massive Stratolaunch airplane. NASA officials scout Mojave for technology and commercial space partners, and rockets are launched by small companies like XCOR and Masten Space Systems, which are assembling light, reusable launch vehicles to drastically reduce the cost of spaceflight. All that activity has drawn even smaller operations, including a school for test pilots and tiny vendors that provide everything from industrial coatings to ancillary offerings like financial services and a gym.

The biggest driver has been the deep pockets and confidence of Musk, Bezos, and others, including dotcom entrepreneur Naveen Jain and hotel mogul Robert Bigelow, who have been funding startups through venture investments and contests like the Google XPrize. Musks SpaceX slashed tens of millions of dollars from rocket prices, helping land the company a $1.6 billion deal with NASA to fly 12 cargo missions to the International Space Station. Musk and Bezos are now, separately, planning missions to Mars. They were the primer to the pump for this new resurgence, says Jay Gibson, CEO of XCOR.

Moon Express, funded by Jain, plans its maiden voyage to the moon later this year, vying for the Google Lunar XPrize, a $20 million award to the first company to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon and accomplish several technical challenges. Once there, Moon Express plans to extract iron ore, water, minerals, and precious metals, as well as nitrogen, hydrogen, and more. Ultimately, Jain thinks, the moon could become a fuel depot where spacecraft can stop before continuing longer journeys. Entrepreneurs have the potential to change the trajectory of how humanity lives, he says, where the moon becomes the eighth continent and a great place to live.

Needless to say, the challenges remain immense. I sound like a curmudgeon, but people always say this will be the year, says Gary Hudson, an industry veteran and the president of the Space Studies Institute. Everything costs more and takes longer than you think, and people die if you screw up.

The difficulty hasnt curbed enthusiasm at Interorbital Systems, a 12-person operation in Mojave. Cofounders Roderick and Randa Milliron started their business two decades ago with a goal of eventually living on the moon. Interorbital sells satellite kits and says it will launch 137 satellites in 2017 and 2018 with its modular rocket, whose size can be adjusted depending on the mission. The revenue from satellite and launch sales, space-testing missions, and more should help it reach its goal of using its rocket to get to the moon this year, as part of a team competing for the Lunar XPrize.

Perhaps the ultimate evidence that space technology is catching on is that it is even filtering down to hobbyists. A hacker space called Mojave Makers allows individuals to, say, build their own 3D-printed rocket motors. Says Bessemers Nagaraj: You now have people tinkering with space just as the previous generation tinkered with computers.

A version of this article appears in the March 1, 2017 issue of Fortune with the headline “Rocket Boom in the Desert.”

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Israel and Indiana: Why You’re Getting an Invitation to the Holy Land … – 93.1 WIBC Indianapolis

Posted: at 4:20 am

INDIANAPOLIS–You may not realize it, but your state has its own relationship with Israel. Consul General Aviv Ezra was in Indiana Tuesday to help build that relationship further. He’s the highest-ranking Israeli official in the Midwest, and met with Gov. Holcomb, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and members of the Indiana congressional delegation.

“We are the Israeli embassy to the Midwest,” said Ezra. “Part of our goal is to reach out and bring Israel’s priorities here to the Midwest.” Ezra’s office is in Chicago and he covers nine states.

Not Just Business

He said the relationship is based on both business needs and shared values. Ezra said his meting with Holcomb was about both.

“Superb meeting. The governor is one of Israel’s best friends, supportive of the enhancement of the relationship. In terms of shared values we are very honored to have the support of the State of Indiana, with this governor and with his predecessors. The values are synced 100 percent,” said Ezra.

But, he believes that both Indiana and Israel can work together to make business happen for both.

“We feel there’s a lot of things that can be done and one of my jobs is to brand Israel here, but also to brand Indiana in Israel.”

Ezra said there are already 30 Israeli companies in Indiana. He said they are always looking for ways to increase the relationship. He said there have been much development in his country and he believes Indiana has much in common with Israel, with its technology-based business environment.

Not Just Conflicts

“Israel today, unfortunately, is always defined by the prism of the conflict. But, today Israel is totally not just about the conflict. It’s about high-tech, bio-tech, telecommunications, cybertechnology and neurotechnology, neuroscience and nanotechnology and for us, this is something that we want to find the right combination with our friends here in the United States, specifically on the level of the states, to create that win-win environment,” said Ezra.

And, what about you? Ezra said they’d like to have you as a guest.

“We want to bring as many people as possible from Israel here to learn and to map what the possibilities are. And on the other hand we want to have as many visits as possible from Indiana to Israel.”

Ezra said he extended an official invitation for the governor to visit Israel, with a business delegation.

PHOTO: Consul General Aviv Ezra by Chris Davis/Emmis

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Want Your Company To Stay Relevant? Start Learning How To Harness AI – Forbes

Posted: at 4:14 am

Want Your Company To Stay Relevant? Start Learning How To Harness AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the power to change how our workforce operates, and if you want your business to stay competitive, you need to get ahead of the AI revolution. Don't let yourself feel daunted by it as a buzzword. At my current company

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Want Your Company To Stay Relevant? Start Learning How To Harness AI – Forbes

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Artificial Intelligence Explained – Computer Business Review

Posted: at 4:14 am

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In five questions or less, an industry expert defines and explains a technology, term or trend with this installment seeing Heather Richards, CEO of Transversal, tackle Artificial Intelligence.

HR: AI is a broad term describing machines that operate with some degree of intelligence. It can refer to a machine that mimics human thought processes or to a machine that achieves a level of creative autonomy, for example by being able to learn things beyond its original programming. AI encompasses many methods and applications, including natural language processing, problem solving, playing games and even recognizing emotions. In our business, self-service knowledge management, it helps make user interactions more intuitive.

HR:Most AI applications are designed for specific tasks. At a basic level, the designer maps out how an intelligent entity might solve a problem, and breaks down that process into steps that can be expressed as computer calculations. AI often uses nonlinear processing techniques, such as neural networks, to approximate more closely how a living mind works. It requires significant processing power and sometimes large volumes of background data to enable the computer to form judgements. Thats why AI has leapt forward during the past decade alongside the upsurge in data storage capacity.

HR:Deep learning and cognitive computing are both divisions of AI. Deep learning is a technique that enables a machine to learn more like a person does, by using a neural network of multiple layers through which calculations pass in succession with a cumulatively sophisticated result. Cognitive computing describes AI that mimics human thought processes in order to facilitate interactions between a person and a computer. For example, a cognitive application might understand input in natural language, or deduce what a user wants by interpreting disparate clues.

HR:Luckily, robots are still some way from overthrowing humanity! The effects of more benign automation are going to vary between sectors. In our business, we want AI to help employees rather than replace them. If routine, repetitive requests are handled by automated knowledge management, users can solve problems faster and employees can give more time to issues that need personal attention. AI can thus reduce effort and make work more interesting, but the human factor is still very much required.

HR:Many AI functions are small things, invisibly embedded in larger applications, that people might not even notice much less find a threat. Regarding the news-worthy manifestations of AI, like robots and self-learning machines, there is of course concern about how such machines might behave were they to become more powerful than their builders. Industry thought leaders are already developing guidelines about the ethics of AI and how AI should be steered for the benefit of humanity. From our perspective, though, AI is simply a helper. It doesnt supplant anyone; it makes for a more effortless experience.

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Artificial Intelligence Explained – Computer Business Review

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Cloud, automation, sustainability and tools are trends driving IT – Economic Times

Posted: at 4:08 am

In a chat with ET Now, Anand Deshpande, MD & CEO, Persistent Systems, Kavi Arya, Pl, e-Yantra Project, IIT Bombay and Pari Natarajan, Co-founder &CEO, Zinnov, discuss the big picture in the IT Sector and how echnology trends are creating a disruption in the business model and the talent also have to keep up with it.

Edited excerpts

When someone says AI, I only have robots in my head. It is like a motion picture. What is AI all about? Deconstruct it for us because this is all jargon?

Traditionally when you looked at artificial intelligence, the idea was let us go figure out what the human being does and sees and if we can get a machine to replicate that. So there have been various techniques that people have used in the past to figure out how they would go about taking human intelligence and making it into a machine. People thought maybe we should create rules, we should figure out how people think and there was a lot of research going on.

In the last five to seven yearsm few things have changed; one change that happened was that technology became more freely available. The second thing is people are using data a lot more. It is not important for the machine to figure out exactly how the human thinks but it should enough answers. Let us say if you looked at cats and dogs and you wanted to separate the dogs from the cats, one can go about saying that here are the rules about dogs and here are the rules about cats and that is pretty hard to do.

You need dimensions?

Anand Deshpande: Dimensions, maybe colour, furs, whatever else, and how do you identify a dog from a cat? It is very hard to do. But what the new techniques allows is you just train the machine to see hundreds of cats and hundreds of dogs. These are the neural network algorithms that are available now. They are able to say if these are cats, then the next time when you ask it, is this is a cat, it can tell you with 90% probability that this is a cat.

You know its freaky. When you upload a picture on Facebook, Facebook knows who that friend is and asks you whether you want to tag this one? It is kind of freaky.

Anand Deshpande: Yes, absolutely. What has happened in the last few years has changed this thing. There are two-three things. One, we are leveraging a lot of this artificial intelligence on the basis of past data. You are giving it sample results and saying okay, can you compare this with what you already have and that makes it very compelling and much more efficient.

Second, the compute power, cloud all these things have made it very possible.

And the third thing which is I think equally important is that all the major players have released their products in the market. Google is freely available and then there is Microsoft and IBMs Watson products. It is all accessible and that is changing the way we are looking at things right now. So, people are deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning into every single problem that you can get your hands on.

So data and algos — a combination of both?

Anand Deshpande : Yes.

What do you think impacts normal life and business the most? There are four or five key technology trends that are emerging. What is the top most to your mind?

Anand Deshpande: Clearly machine learning and machine intelligence is going to have an impact because it is changing how we can do automation. It can change a whole bunch of things in terms of how we respond to things. Definitely it is the key to getting this going in some sense but a lot of other technologies where large amounts of data are getting collected, Internet of Things is useful for trying to respond to activities and people are looking for actionable insights. So personal robots have started to emerge, personal information systems are starting to happen. A lot of different kinds of things like this are merging into each other.

There is so much of talk about 3-D printing, cloud, artificial intelligence, Block Chain. Technology is becoming a part of our daily life and if I look at the numbers, not only for Indian IT companies but for global IT companies also, they are struggling. A handful of Silicon Valley software companies are doing well. The start-up is where all the excitement is. The money also seems to be drying up because everyone is worried about profitability. So, technology will change our lives but are these new technology innovations really making money for investors and shareholders?

Anand Deshpande: They are playing a role in every industry right now. If you look at what is happening in the auto industry or the self-driven cars and Uber and all of the systems that you talk about, that would not have been possible without technology and without AI and some of the other techniques that we talk about. The whole view of IT industry as we look at it as Nasscoms top 10 companies needs to change, IT is sort of becoming prolific in every single industry and everything is IT now. Everyone wants to become a software driven business.

Is IT making money for companies?

Anand Deshpande: Absolutely. Those who are not becoming software driven businesses are going out of business. So essentially you have no choice. Software is driving business today and if you are going to make money it is going to be because you have the software.

I am not debating that the world around us is changing and the world around us will change. That is the natural migration of technology. I remember when in my school we had that big fat dot matrix printer and we had a floppy where we would put DOS and now in my i-phone I carry 50 GB Cloud which is virtual. We use technology but barring 10-15 start-ups which are in Silicon Valley and coming up with all the innovations, inventions and all the upgrades in technology, I do not see too many profitable ventures. Why is that? Suddenly everybody is talking technology, everybody is investing in technology but numbers are not there. Profit is what I am looking at. I am not looking at top line growth because the cloud business will grow, your technology, artificial intelligence will grow, real experience will grow but if I am an investor, whether it is a PE or minority shareholder ultimately I want profits and dividends?

Anand Deshpande: You have to look at profits not just for IT companies. IT company profits will improve for sure but all manufacturing companies are going to survive and have profits because of technology right now. Technology has become a more fundamental. It is like breathing air right now and you cannot avoid it. So you cannot just say profits are not going to depend only on technology but technology is going to play a big role in the profits.

What is that big game changing technology right now and the impact that it is having on businesses by and large?

Kavi Arya: I would say sum it up with an acronym that everybody seems to enjoy. I call it CAST. C is for cloud; A for automation; S for sustainability and T is for tools.

Cloud: Increasingly what is happening is that people are moving their computing services from a dabba on their table to somewhere in the cloud because the communication infrastructure has become so good. Many big companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google and so on are offering services where they are giving you this facility of storing your data and your enterprise data in the cloud but additionally they are also offering you data analytics and a service of actually being able to study your data to improve your competitiveness and I see more and more of this happening. In 2015, Alibabas revenue was almost one-fourth the GDP of India and now it sees itself not as an e-commerce company but as a company which is managing huge cloud, is doing data storage for you and is doing data analytics for you.

Automation: There will be more automation in whatever you do. All the low-end stuff is going to get done by automatic machines or robots, even software. A lot of the low end software work like testing and maintenance of large systems and things like that are going to get phased out and done by more and more intelligent software in the background.

Sustainability: It shows up in trends that you see nowadays like the Uberisation of the world where things that used to be a product in the past with a high maintenance and ownership cost, are being offered to you as a service. Cloud is also something that comes out of that. Instead of having a computer on your desk, you can hire as much space in cloud as you need. Instead of having a car parked in your garage, you can have as many taxies as you like. Sustainability is also smart. We are talking about smart cities, smart watches, smart consumables or what have you, everything is becoming smart. That is again a big consumer of a lot of IT infrastructure.

Tools: There are going to be more and more tools, high-end tools especially in software and so on which will make the lower end jobs more and more redundant and we will be having to move up skills ourselves in whatever we do. So that is if you like birds-eye view of what we see things as.

Everybody has heard about IoT. What is it doing to businesses?

Anand Deshpande: What is happening right now is that because of the technology abilities to put software into all kinds of devices and censors, today we can measure and activate censors all across the world. At the same time, you really can make significant business model changes because of that. One of the best examples is say for example Tesla. It has the ability to upgrade your car on the fly and as even after you bought the car you can upgrade it and you can get better features on your car.

If you look at washing machine that you buy once for the next 20 years. What would happen if you could upgrade your washing machine every so often because you have a better version of the product? We have been actually working on a lot of these areas and we find that the ability to bring data and respond in real time and change your business models to create the software driven business that you are looking at is really what IoT is making happen. This is real. Actually you will see impact of IoT in the next three years and it is going to be very significant and practically everything is going to have census and technology, data collecting, being collected in the cloud and response to it so definitely something to be watching out for all across.

The other one of course is blockchain and we hear that it is revolutionary?

Anand Deshpande: Blockchain started out to this concept around Bitcoins. The basic thing around blockchain is that it is a distributed transparent, tempered resistant auditable shared ledger that does not depend on a central agency. Let me explain what this means. What happens today is that if we had smart contracts, say a rental contract and we want to make sure that contract has not been tempered with by anybody. So we have a record. Let us say you have a contract that for your land or your parcel or whatever you have now and you want to make sure that contract that is in some central repository in the government. is not tempered with by anybody. You assume it has not been tempered with.

Like an e-locker.

Yes, but see all these lockers are all very central. When you have parties that do not trust each other, if I do not trust the government to be able to keep the data safe, then blockchain allows you to use the cloud in some sense, distributing copies of contracts all over the place to ensure that it cannot be tempered with. The copies are with everyone and so if you want a copy you can get a copy.

Like the Google doc?

Anand Deshpande: Well Google doc is still in one central place, Google doc is not replicated and if you were to edit Google doc and we had shared thing we would not know that it has not been changed. So with smart contracts especially when agencies are not partnering with each othe,r this becomes very handy. Another example, if we are transacting money, my bank will keep a ledger of all the activities. Your bank will keep its own ledgers. These ledgers are copied all over the place. What if we did not have to keep those copies and it was all available in one place so that you can just go to the central repository and look for that data and look for whatever you are looking for.

So this kind of a distributed architecture where you are able to copy these data sets and contracts all over the place and where you do not have to depend on one version of truth as it is distributed in the network is really what blockchain allows you to do. This came in from Bitcoins clearly but people have found good use for this across smart contracts and distributed things and especially when you are looking at international things when agencies do not necessarily want to talk to each other this becomes a very handy way. I expect this to be a bigger technology starting 2018. In 2017 there are certain issues around security and other things that will get sorted out.

So now we have understood these technologies the impact on various facets is what we want to discuss may be you have a question for Professor Arya.

Anand Deshpande: So let us ask Kavi who is a Professor at IIT in Mumbai, you are teaching all these technologies I am sure to your students how do students who are looking for jobs and technology situations right now, should be thinking about this in the future?

Kavi Arya: This is an age where students should be prepared to change their career at least five times in their life. We are talking about technology which has a life span of about two, three, five years and things like that things keep on changing. So they should be willing to continue learning all their life.

Second is that they should try and get the maximum degree or the highest level skill as they can before they leave the university ideally. It is interesting that an ACM survey the Association of Computing Machinery survey almost 20 years ago valued a B-Tech in the US at about $1 to $3 million over the life time of a person, it valued an M-Tech at between $2 to $3 million and it valued a PhD at $3 to $5 million. This is important both for companies and individuals nowadays because of the immense change that is happening in the world.

As India becomes a more developed economy and technology begins to take much more hold of the economy we will find this need much much more. There is a project which I am running at IIT Mumbai which is a Robotics Outreach Project called e-yantra where we are trying to reach out to a large number of students across colleges to actually equip them with these kind of skills that they need. We have discovered that you can really teach students through the medium of a competition pretty effectively and it is amazing how much talent there is out there in the country. Only a very small fraction of it comes to IIT Mumbai as we all know or the IIT system. I think there is a lot of talent out there which is not being used or capitalised upon which is what our project is trying to actually do.

Pari, what according to you would be the future five years hence of technology companies which are operating out of India?

Pari Natarajan: I will give you a few key trends based on the customer interaction we had. One, the level of automation is going to dramatically increase especially in some of the lower-end worker or managed services, infrastructure management, test automation. Customers are looking for a 15% reduction in overall cost of delivering some of these services, so that is one big trend.

Second, cloud becomes a key for how people manage their infrastructure. The number of people required to manage cloud infrastructure is reducing from 10 to 1 but when there is a major issue which happens in the cloud infrastructure, the skill of the person to solve this issue is going to be much higher. So you need a lot higher skilled person but not a lot of people. This is another big trend.

Third, large global enterprises are now moving from using lot of customised solutions to solutions which they can potentially configure, like moving into SaaS based cloud solutions. So when you move into a cloud solutions, you do not need a lot of system integration help. But that is how a lot of the Indian large IT services companies have built their business in integrating and customising Oracle, FAP and so on. That business is going to dramatically reduce as companies move into SaaS based solutions. These are some of the key trends which is going to have a disruption the traditional IT services business which our industry has built over the last 20 years.

Another thing the industry does not talk about quite is the talent issue. If you look at the talent pool which the industry hires from the industry over the last 10 years, the compensation has not really gone up for the IT industry. If you go to a university, most of the CEOs of large IT companies talk about how they do not need a lot of people to solve these issues going forward in IT. Now it creates a doubt in the students mind is this the right industry for me to get into because the salary has not increased and the CEOs talk about not needing a lot of people. Your picking order in universities is changing where university students could potentially prefer large Indian conglomerates and large Indian government institutions to join compared to the IT companies whereas IT companies were the key, the primary job creators.

So we have the technology trends are creating a disruption in the business model and also there is an issue they face around the talent which is coming in joining these companies.

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Cloud, automation, sustainability and tools are trends driving IT – Economic Times

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Automation and austerity: will robots make you redundant? – Information Age

Posted: at 4:08 am

Technology can aid rather then usurp public workers but for that to happen, public sector teams need solutions that give them autonomy and control

Public sector morale over job security is at an all-time low. More than a million jobs have been cut over the past six years in line with the governments austerity drive, with plans to axe still more from local authorities.

Added to this is concern that automation will see yet more public workers lose their jobs. Amelia, the AI employee deployed by Enfield Borough Council in the autumn of last year, is hailed as being 60% less expensive than her human counterpart, making AI an attractive option. But is the threat of robot replacements a real one?

According to recent research by Oxford University and Deloitte, 850,000 public sector jobs could be automated by 2030. It states that administrative roles are most at risk, while those interacting with the public are less so.

But theres a clear inference in the report that automation doesnt equate to unemployment. The authors suggest that automation has the potential to complement existing jobs by automating repetitive processes or even create new better-paid jobs.

>See also: Do you think a robot could replace your job?

Make no mistake, automation is already with us. The digitalisation of public sector services has already seen many of the processes previously carried out by human hand now scheduled by software.

Far from being met with resistance, this digitalisation has had an emancipating effect, freeing up staff from the daily grind to focus on other issues and the reduction in red tape has generated efficiency gains.

Alongside this, theres another story thats hitting the headlines when it comes to public sector employment: the woeful lack of digital skills. This drove the DWP to rollout digital academies in a bid to upskill staff, with 3,000 civil servants undergoing courses over the last two years.

As of September, those academies came under the remit of the GDS, which has pledged to double the number being trained annually. But the future of the academies now seems uncertain. Some sources even saying a lack of funding is the reason behind the current stonewalling over the Government Transformation Strategy.

So if we cant upskill public sector staff at the rate needed, could we outsource technical expertise? Finding (and keeping) skilled developers can be a challenge and the cost of employing the right people can be high. This is because digital skills are in short supply across the board.

According to the Digital Skills Crisis report published in June, the private sector is also struggling with 93% of tech companies reporting that the skills gap is affecting their business. Clearly theres a technical deficit as well as a fiscal one and to overcome that we will need automation.

Far from being made redundant by robots, technology could continue to empower staff, provided that solutions are built to cater for rather than replace human operators. Investing in this type of enhanced automation makes sense, not least because teams increasingly comprise a range of technical abilities. Technical competencies vary on digital design projects, for instance, and often include user experience designers, business analysts and developers.

Imagine, then, if that team could be united through the use of a technically agnostic solution. Even during the digital design process, theres no need, for instance, for staff to be proficient in code.

What they do need is the vision to design a service that fulfils user needs and thats easier to accomplish if you dont have to hand over your design to a third party, introducing delay, cost and inconvenience.

If solutions are intuitive to use they can empower these non-technical team members to be actively involved in digital service design and management.

Low-code services offer this level of control and flexibility with user-friendly dashboards and GUIs that feature drag-and-drop tools, the ability to reuse interfaces or integrate with third-party extensions and plug-in APIs.

The team doesnt need to be upskilled or supplanted by an expensive third-party contractor conversant in code. They simply need to have access to some initial support and self-help tutorials to quickly get up to speed to create, design and update digital interactive services independently.

The resulting digital services do themselves automate previously time-consuming laborious processes. For example, when it comes to case management, an automated digital solution can provide the applicant and case worker with access to documentation, monitor the progress of the application, and avoid problems such as duplication, incomplete or fraudulent claims.

>See also: Make way for the automated workforce

This type of case management is transforming how government departments work, from solicitors and plaintiffs associated with Legal Aid claims, to those seeking grants from public bodies such as Heritage Lottery Fund and the Creative and Cultural Skills agency, to charities seeking to file financial audit reports via the Charity Commission.

In the future, automation could free workers from other bureaucratic tasks. The police force, social workers and NHS staff all stand to benefit from a joined up system whereby records can be accessed across different government departments.

Automation can break down barriers by enabling staff to collaborate across different departments and across geographical areas. And it can level the playing field between highly technically skilled and the non-technical professionals.

Technology can, and should, aid rather then usurp public workers but for that to happen, public sector teams need solutions that give them autonomy and control.

Sourced from Jane Roberts, strategy director, Toplevel

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Automation and austerity: will robots make you redundant? – Information Age

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