My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Jamaica Computer Society and Ministry of S.E.T. fears AI will eliminate Call Center Jobs in 2021

“AI does not flourish without the help of the programmer and architects behind the scene,”

Technology Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley speaking at the symposium organised by the Jamaica Computer Society held on Friday June 9th 2017

The symposium organized by the Jamaica Computer Society at the regional headquarters of the University of the West Indies may have some people working in the BPO Industry on edge!!

This as it was revealed at the symposium organised by the Jamaica Computer Society held on Friday June 9th 2017 that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is a threat to those people employed in the BPO sector as argued in “Artificial Intelligence Posing A Threat To BPO Jobs – Wheatley”, published Friday June 23, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Google Logo

So important was this event that the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology @MSETGovJM tweeted the event as it happened:

Technology Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley admitted as much, as AI systems such as the IVR (Interactive Voice Response), or “Ivy” as employees at FLOW's Call Center fondly refer to their Voice activated system that assist with customer queries.  

Already FLOW Customer Care handle 911 and other Emergency queries as predicted in my blog article entitled “How OUR can fund FLOW Jamaica Emergency operator service using Stay Alert App, Mobile Money and Advertising”.

This system isn't artificially intelligent, but rather is a knowledge database that takes input from your phone keypad and provides the appropriate output either in voice or via a text to the customer with the information requested. Potentially AI, the modern day version of Automation, can potentially take away 50% of all jobs in Jamaica, starting with Customer Service Representatives!

But what if in the future it could be made to respond to voice conversations, even answering the customer in a unique voice?

AI and BPO - 200,000 jobs at risk in 2021

 In Jamaica the  BPO sector employs some 22,000 people, with the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) aiming to reach 200,000 by 2021.

The BPO sector has the highest potential for generating job opportunities for those high school leavers. Call Centers are also a reality for University Graduates why are unemployed, albeit you have an advantage if you speak another language such as Spanish as noted in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “PM Andrew Holness says Spanish is Jamaica’s Second Language as UWI makes it compulsory”. 

In other countries, AI-based systems are becoming an attractive option to replace humans in repetitive, boring or sometimes even dangerous jobs. There are AI systems that can answer calls and solve certain problem-solving functions, but they are yet human enough in their interactions to replace a human CSA's.

So what is the solution?

Dr Wheatley and Computer Programmers - train Jamaican people as programmers and software developers

These AI systems are getting better as Dr Wheatley, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology admitted at the symposium organised by the Jamaica Computer Society. still  he did stick to being passive and optimistic in his approach as noted in “Gov’t Set Sights on Artificial Intelligence”, published June 23, 2017 By Douglas McIntosh, The Jamaica Information Service.

Google Logo

He pointed out that presented an opportunity to train Jamaican people as programmers and software developers as I've long suggested in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “Why Coding in HTML and CSS3 and speaking Spanish needed in Jamaica”. 

I'd even go as far as to suggest Land and attractive housing to talented programmers as West Rural St Andrew Member of Parliament Paul Buchanan had suggested in June 2015 as noted in my blog article entitled “Computer Programming the Future of Jamaica – How Paul Buchanan plans to jump start the ICT Revolution”.
The demand for coders is especially strong in:

1.      Germany
2.      Japan
3.      China
4.      United Kingdom

More reason to learn a foreign language in the future as most of the coding jobs are in non-English speaking countries as I've pointed out in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “How Jamaicans can make money from Coding and Foreign Languages”.

Minister Wheatley is correct; Jamaica needs to become producers of solutions rather than being consumers. Learning a foreign language at Grade 9 is a start as I've pointed out in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “Ministry of Education to make Foreign Languages compulsory up to Grade 9 by 2017”.

As such, Dr. Wheatley plans to re-tool computer science graduates for high level BPO jobs involving programming and software developement, quote: “We must, therefore, look to increase the number of computer science graduates from our tertiary institutions, so that we can take advantage of the clear opportunities that will come from the new demand for highly skilled programmers”.

Otherwise AI will come to Jamaica by 2021....and take away all of those jobs.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

How University of Bath CSCT biodegradable cellulose microbeads can replace plastic microbeads

“Microbeads used in the cosmetics industry are often made of polyethylene or polypropylene, which are cheap and easy to make. However these polymers are derived from oil and they take hundreds of years to break down in the environment. We've developed a way of making microbeads from cellulose, which is not only from a renewable source, but also biodegrades into harmless sugars. We hope in the future these could be used as a direct replacement for plastic microbeads”

Dr Janet Scott, Reader in the Department of Chemistry and part of the CSCT, commenting on the idea of using cellulose to replace microbeads

Want to get that clean refreshing scrub but without the guilt of polluting the environment?
Scientists and engineers from the University of Bath CSCT (Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies) may have the answer; biodegradable cellulose microbeads as detailed in the article “Scientists make biodegradable microbeads from cellulose”, published June 7, 2017, Physorg.
Google Logo

They have published their results in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering that details how the microbeads replacements are made from cellulose, the same material found in wood and plants.

Biodegradable cellulose microbeads from a sustainable source could replace harmful plastic ones that have been banned by the US of A in 2017 as noted in my blog article entitled “How US microbeads ban by 2017 means NEPA ban coming to protect Coral Reefs”. 

So how did the scientists make the cellulose into a microbeads replacement?

Microbeads in the Environment - Biodegradable cellulose microbeads

Microbeads are little spheres of plastic less than 0.5 mm in size.

They are added to personal care and cleaning products including cosmetics, sunscreens and fillers to:

1.      Give them a smooth texture
2.      Help remove dead skin by their scrubbing action

A single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean, or eight million tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year. They present an environmental problem as they are too small to be filtered by sewage filtration systems. The plastic particle can absorb pesticides and toxins and upon being consumed by fish in the aquatic food chain.  Ultimately, we humans may end up eating microplastic in our fish, with deadly results.

Google Logo

The process involves recovering cellulose from various sources such as from the paper making industry. The cellulose is then mechanical milled and made into a fine powder with the same level of granularity as corn meal. The solution of cellulose is forced through tiny holes in a tubular membrane. This creates spherical droplets of the solution which are washed using biodegradable vegetable oil. The beads are then collected, set and separated from the oil ready for use in a variety of products.

The CSCT has largely achieved their goal of a replacement for microbeads that manufacturers can use, to quote Professor of Chemical Engineering and part of the CSCT, Davide Mattia: “Our goal was to develop a continuous process that could be scaled for manufacturing. We achieved this by working together from the start, integrating process design and chemistry optimisation, showing the strength of the multi-disciplinary approach we have in the CSCT”

Already plans are the works to develope biodegradable cellulose microbeads for use in:

1.      Cosmetics and personal care products
2.      Slow release fertilizers

Physical techniques can be used to make the biodegradable cellulose microbeads harder or softer. With the help of £1 million by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, a team, led by Dr Scott and including Professor Davide Mattia (Chemical Engineering) and Professor Karen Edler (Chemistry) plan to make porous beads, capsules and microsponges.

It also presents some interesting applications for other chemical researchers in Jamaica, as biodegradable cellulose microbeads can be used in cleaning products, both for home cleaning as well as personal hygiene e.g. toothpaste and body washes and soaps.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Jamaican Hackers attack JDF, JCF as Science, Energy and Technology Ministry predicts more Ransomware

“Yes, the country security entities, the JDF and the JCF, were affected by a malware threat earlier last week. Luckily we were monitoring our systems, as is usually done, but now with much more vigilance since the recent worldwide ransomware attacks which affected over 100 countries and which crippled so many important systems”

Ministry of National Security statement on reports of hacking of the JDF (Jamaica Defense Force) and the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force)

Hackers are now attacking JDF (Jamaica Defense Force) and the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force).

What's interesting here is that these hackers are Jamaicans or at least reside in Jamaica as noted in the article “Attack on police, army”, published Sunday, May 28, 2017 by Karl Angell, The Jamaica Observer.

Google Logo

Luckily Jamaica's IT Task force was able to spot the hacking attempts as noted by the Ministry of National Security in their statement, quote: “As a result of this vigilance and our usual checks, we were able to minimise the effects of our malware attack. At this point, I can fairly accurately reveal that our systems, which come with many different and varied software protection, especially firewalls, held up well. Plus, we were able to quickly take action, which assisted greatly in countering the offending malware. Further, I can say that the systems at the Ministry of National Security were not affected by this attack”.

We're also lucky; apparently those local Jamaican hackers were just playing around and aren't into the business of extortion, quote:  “We did think about that aspect when we became aware of the malware attack on our security systems, so we made exhaustive checks, and right now the answer to the question is no, we have not received any ransom requests, but we are still in the process of checking; so right now, the answer is no, no ransom request.”

So is this something Jamaica should worry about?

Ransomware and Jamaica - Expect more in the Summer of 2017

It definitely is as it could have been much worse.

Jamaica's Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley gave an accurate description of ransomeware, quote: “Ransomware is a type of malicious software that carries out an extortion attack on computer files by blocking access to data until a 'ransom' is paid. If users do not pay in time they are threatened with the deletion of their files. The ransomware is usually spread through various means, including e-mail attachments or malicious links within an e-mail”.

Google Logo

According to Computer Incident Response Team Dr Moniphia Hewling during a presentation to the NSC (National Security Council) on Friday May 26th 2017, Jamaica has lost some US$100 million to cyber-criminal activity. The incidence of cybercrime has been on the rise in Jamaica, prompting chair of the NSC, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, to raise this issue to the level of Cabinet.

His aim is to allocate resources to increase Jamaica's ability to deal with the rising tide of cybercrime. Worse, there are now free Wi-fi hotspots spreading across Jamaica as part of our smart City initiative as noted in my blog article entitled “How Free Wi-Fi and Smart City upgrade coming to New Kingston in Q3 2017”.

Google Logo

Perhaps a rethink of security measures needs to be put in place. Dr Andrew Wheatley has warned Jamaicans to secure their computer systems. He's predicting more ransomware WannaCry-esque attacks in a few weeks time.

So my fellow Jamaicans, be prepared as a storm is brewing on the internet this summer of 2017!!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

How Juno, NASA’s Jupiter satellite, show Poles have turbulent Ammonia and Water Storms

“What we’re finding is anything but that is the truth. It’s very different, very complex,”
Juno’s chief scientist Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute

Juno, NASA’s Jupiter orbiting satellite, has returned some very stunning images of the planet.

They show storms at the poles of the planet that are just a turbulent a those around the equatorial regions as reported in the article “Amazing pictures show cyclones swirling above Jupiter’s poles Jupiter”, published 26 May 2017 By Timothy Revell, New Scientist

Google Logo

You can check out the latest on the NASA Juno mission on their Twitter page @NASAJuno.  Also check out NASA Tumblr blog on the Juno Mission entitled “Incoming! We’ve Got Science from Jupiter!

Scientists now have to rethink Jupiter, as the poles were seen as being too calm to have cyclones, being as they are not pointed at the Sun. Thus they should be cooler and have no weather activity similar to other planets and out Earth.

Juno has spotted white ice caps on Jupiter made of ammonia and water and a surprisingly strong magnetic field. Not a nice place to light a match, as the resulting explosion would not go upwards but would smoulder and spread in a blast wave ripple across the surface.

Google Logo

Already some forty new papers have been published using the analysis of these images which reveal that the Gas giant is far from boring and uniform.

Juno - A mission four years in the making

Juno reached Jupiter on 4th July 2016.

It orbits the Jupiter once every 53 days, taking 2 hours to complete a pass from North to South Pole and back again. 33 planned pole-to-pole circuits in all in a spacecraft built with 1/2 inch thick titanium vault to withstand the high radiation levels expected from the planet.

Google Logo

Juno’s aim of creating a comprehensive 3D map of the planet with the Great Red Spot, which is scheduled for July 2017.

I'm expecting more exciting thing from Juno by July stay tuned to my blog!!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

How to reset and change your FLOW Jamaica Arris Modem Wireless Network Name and Password

If you have cable service from FLOW Jamaica, chances are you have one of these modems.

Google Logo

However, you may eventually need to change the login and password, especially if you live in a neighborhood where everybody has FLOW as their Internet provider.

This is because during installation, the FLOW Contractors use the same exact SSID (Server Set Identifier) or default Network name and password, especially when they have a lot of them to install.

Good to note here the default login and password for a FLOW modem is as follows:

1.      Login: admin
2.      Password: password

Free Internet, man!!!

Armed with this knowledge, the kids in your neighborhoods will begin using your Wi-Fi. Thus you may be wondering why they would sit or stand in one spot for so long!!!! They’re using your free Wi-Fi Internet!

So you may need to change your default password and get the freeloaders who may be slowing down your FLOW...get it....FLOW?!

Why Reset your Arris Wireless modem Password - Lasco Ice Dream Ice Cream helps

Resetting the password back to the default is a very useful technique for accessing the modem to change the password to a more secure one, especially if you have forgotten the password in the first place....but the whole neighborhood of freeloading children remembers!!!

Before you do this procedure, I’d suggest that you make some Lasco Ice Dream Ice Cream  as described in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “How to make soft-serve Lasco Ice Dream Ice Cream in 15 minutes” while you do this procedure!!

How to reset the Arris modem to default password - Paper Clip required

The procedure is literally mindless really, requiring only a laptop, an ethernet cable and a paperclip:

On the back of the modem, there is a hole located near the left side

Google Logo

Press and hold the button for approximately 15 seconds using a paperclip or toothpick (who rally has a toothpick anyway?) to perform a factory reset of the Arris Wireless Modem.

Google Logo

You can then locate your modem by searching for a Wi-Fi router that has “C” followed by a string of numbers as it's SSID.

But you need to change the password, as “admin” as your login and “password” as your password is a little too easy to guess. So at this point some Cinnamon Excelsior Water Crackers may be required!!!

How to change the SSID and password - Wireless Arris Modem made almost unhackable

Changing the SSID Name to something no one could imagine is your Wireless Network Name and adding in an alphanumeric password is an excellent way to keep those pesky children from freeloading from your Wi-Fi

The procedure is fairly simple to master. First connect your Laptop directly to the Wireless Arris Modem via an Ethernet Cable.

Then enter the URL in the address bar.

Enter admin in the User Name field; Enter password in the Password field. Then click Apply to enter the console, which should look like as shown below:

Google Logo

Choose Basic Setup and enter the Wireless Network Name or SSID of your choice. If you see Wireless 2.4 GHz and Wireless  5 GHz frequencies, for each enter the SSID and passwords of your choice, preferably a very long 15 digit alphanumeric password i.e. letters and number!

Google Logo

Click Apply and then disconnect the modem and restart the modem by powering it off and powering it on again. Your laptop should now pick up the new SSID and your password should be unbreakable!!!

Sharing is caring so share this bit of information with as many of your FLOW Internet friends as possible.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia premature lambs research means Humans can be grown

“We’ve developed a system that, as closely as possible, reproduces the environment of the womb and replace the function of the placenta,”

Alan Flake, an Attending Pediatric and Fetal Surgeon in the Division of Pediatric General, Thoracic and Fetal Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Artificial wombs are around the corner!

Extremely premature lambs have been kept alive in a fluid-filled plastic bag as reported in the article “Artificial womb helps premature lamb fetuses grow for 4 weeks”, published 25 April 2017 By Jessica Hamzelou, New Scientist.

Google Logo

The researchers led by Dr Alan Flake, who published their research in the journal Nature Communications are now working with the US Food and Drug Administration to develope a version for extremely premature human infants at 24 weeks, providing support until they reach 28 weeks.   

The artificial uterus that was tested on extremely premature lambs for four weeks could potentially be used for premature babies within the next three years. the study was led by Dr. Alan Flake at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.
Being born extremely prematurely is the most common cause of death in infants born at 22 to 24 weeks. because they did not stay in the womb for the full 40 weeks, they have only a 10% chance of survival.

If they survive, they'll develope a host of birth defects and disorders such as  poor vision or hearing or cerebral palsy as pointed out by Dr. Blake quote: “They have very immature organs. They’re simply not ready to be born yet.”.

Fist lambs; next human babies born in-vitro free of birth defects thanks to CRISPR-Cas9 as predicted in my blog article entitled “Why Dr. Kathy Niakan of Francis Crick Institute Gene Editing means Automated Human Birth”  

So how does their system work?

Plastic Bag acts as artificial Womb - Humans in the future may be grown not born

The plastic bag provides protection from bacterial infection from the outside world. This is a huge improvement over incubators, which are prone to infection and the gas ventilation can leave preemies with lung damage.

Google Logo

The team fill their bags with fluid comprising water and salts to mimic the environment of the uterus. in place of placenta they used oxegenator device connected to the umbilical cords of the premature lambs. these lambs were 15 and 17 weeks into the full 21-week gestational period had been removed from their mother via Caesarean section.

Then then use a heart monitor device to detect the heartbeats of the extremely premature lambs to control the oxygenator devices to increase and decrease oxygen supply to the lambs. hey were kept in the bags for up to four weeks. After that period of time, some of them were killed and an autopsy done to determine their level of brain and organ development.

Some of them were allowed to be "born" and were bottle fed after they were born. All the animals, both the ones examined via autopsy as well as the one that were allowed to be "born" showed no abnormalities in the lambs’ brains and lungs, quote: “These animals are, by any parameter we’ve measured, normal”.

Humans being grown instead of being born the normal way is therefore not such a far-fetched idea after all!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Technical University of Madrid and the University of Florence drone fish to patrol the seas

Need to monitor the ocean waters? Try using a robotic drone shaped like a fish!

This certainly seems to be the thinking of the Technical University of Madrid and the University of Florence when they designed their robotic fish as noted in the article “This robotic fish patrols the ocean, gathering water quality info as it swims”, published May 16, 2017 By Luke Dormehl, Digitaltrends.

Google Logo
Their proposal, published in Science Direct Journal is entitled “Bio-inspired fish robot based on chemical sensors”. The polycarbonate and latex robotic drone is designed with special pH sensors allowing the drone to detect areas of acidity or pollutant concentration.

It can even be programmed to sniff out certain chemical pollutants and like a bloodhound stay on that trail and swim in to take a better sampling. It can potentially even be use in aquaculture to maintain living conditions in the fish farm at optimal levels.

But why a fish shape for their design?

Fish Design for the robotic drone - Future Fish Behavioural studies on the horizon

Giovanna Marrazza, an associate professor of Microbiology and Molecular Biology who worked on the project, gives the answer simply; evolution knows best. The fish shape is well designed from swimming under water.

It ability to swim and follow chemicals and pollutants is possible thanks to a built-in electrochemical multi-sensor platform, quote: “We designed a bio-inspired fish robot that is able to swim according to the directives sent in form of chemical messengers. The concentration of hydrogen ions in the environment is detected by an electrochemical multi-sensor platform. The acquired signal is then transformed into an electronic signal to be used in robot electronics control.”

It also looks like a fish, allowing it to easily blend in with other fish and potentially be used to study fish behaviors up-close, something that has rarely ever been done. Alas, this is just a POC (Proof of concept), as Giovanna Marrazza is on the hunt for an investor to fund her project, quote: “It is necessary to continue the research, and we are looking for a source of funding or an entrepreneur who wants to invest in this exciting project”.

A truly inspiring story of how drones can be put to good use.