OUR HIGH-TECH FUTURE: 5 technologies that will shape our tomorrow

Have you ever wondered what kind of technologies will become established in our world in the next 20, 30 or 50 years? Super-thin mobile phones with holographic screens, robot servants, perhaps those flying cars from the Back to the Future films we are still waiting on?. Well I do not keep a crystal ball in my bedroom, but in August 2017, Spanish-language online magazine TecNovedosos played soothsayer and predicted what technologies we might be using and experiencing in our daily lives in the future, perhaps as early as the next decade.

Technology has made leaps and bounds in the past few years. Just remember that only ten years ago, smartphones were just getting on the market, and you can realise the rapid strides we have made in innovation. Here are the five technological developments that could be coming to a house, high street or hospital (maybe) near you.

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and clones

In 1996, the world witnessed the birth of the world’s first cloned animal, Dolly the sheep. Today we have robo-lawyers that can help fill out asylum applications, virtual holographic assistant on the London ‘Tube’ and every other website seems to have a chatbot. Virtual assistants like Siri and Google Assistant are now a standard feature on many phones. In the future, these ‘e-ssistants’ could become more human-like, perhaps crossing into physical technology as cyborgs, which could talk like us and be almost indistinguishable from flesh-and-blood humans.

Super processors

British scientists are said to be working on a ‘quantum computer’ the size of a sports stadium. This super-comp will have processing power far greater than any current system we have in place currently. It is hoped that this massive hunk of circuitry may unlock cures for diseases that now cannot be treated, solve complex scientific problems and even the enigmas of life.

Smart objects

The ‘internet of things’ is a interconnected setup where electronics like your refrigerator, microwave and heating systems, for example, are linked up via the internet to enable you to run your house and life better. For example, your fridge could tip you off if your milk is about to go off, or if you need to stock up on carrots. An IoT fridge could even place the shopping order for you based on what it detects inside it. In the future, advances in nanotechnology could see microscopic computing systems incorporated into everyday objects such as clothing and hygiene devices, that could even be controlled by your voice. Imagine telling your mop to jump out and start cleaning your kitchen.

Surgical nano-robots

We already have robots that can perform surgery and tiny endoscope cameras that can be swallowed as a pill. Future developments in nano-technology could point the way for microscopic robots that can be delivered into the bloodstream via a simple injection and identify or even obliterate harmful viruses or cells, such as that found with cancer.

A longer life

Some scientists think that within the next century, humans will not find it strange if they make it past their 150th birthday. Researchers in the US working with genetics have found ways to switch off the genes associated with ageing in human bodies. By deactivating them, they could extend the lifespans of certain cells. By 2030, it is hoped that doctors will be able to make their patients live longer just by doing a bit of genetic tinkering, without harming the patient’s health.

What other technological developments do you think will revolutionise our future in the next ten years? Please leave your ideas in the comments section below this post.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Alexander Ochoa, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/AlexanderOchoaQ

“Las 5 tecnologías que cambiarán el mundo en los próximos años” – ANews via TecNovedosos (14 August 2017) https://www.tecnovedosos.com/tecnologias-cambiaran-mundo/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Future Connected City: 2086” – JCT 600, Flickr (12 August 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/143789194@N03/28650310590

 

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WANNACRY ATTACK: NHS, major organisations left reeling by co-ordinated hack

 

Winnipeg – VIJAY SHAH via Winnipeg Free Press and ReportCA.net

Several of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service trusts, as well as numerous large companies across the globe are still recovering from a large-scale ‘unprecedented’ ransomware cyber attack which occurred this weekend, ReportCA.net wrote yesterday.

The ‘cyberextortion’ attack, which involved hackers accessing computers via phishing emails, and locking systems and encrypting company data, also affected numerous firms engaged in the manufacturing, finance and transport sectors. Government agencies were also caught up in the debacle. Technicians at the NHS, which offers subsidised healthcare in the U.K., scrambled to limit the spread of the ransomware, which caused problems with accessing patient data and hospital appointments, among other things. Many companies ordered their employees to disconnect their workstations from the Internet and to avoid opening emails from unfamiliar sources.

Such was the scale of this weekend’s mass attack, Microsoft was moved into changing its cybersecurity policy, making free of charge updates and patches for computers running older packages such as Windows XP, which many small and medium enterprises still rely on, due to the expense of system upgrades or lack of technical knowledge and ICT skills.

 

 

 

Apart from the NHS, Spain’s Telefonica and Iberdrola also reported computers being targeted. The German national railway Deutsche Ban was another victim. ReportCA.net published a photo taken by an eyewitness at Chemnitz rail station, showing a display board for train times. The screen was partly obscured by a red and white pop-up with a padlock logo, a sight reported by other victims of the attack. The hackers locked out users and demanded payment in bitcoin currency to release encrypted data. Other victims included the Russian Interior Ministry, the country’s mobile phone operators MTS and MegaFon, French car maker Renault, and football clubs in Europe. One long-established club, IF Odd, said Saturday that its online ticketing service was crippled by the ransomware.

The British home secretary Amber Rudd said that one in five of her country’s 248 NHS trusts, which manage hospitals and patient services above general practitioner level, had been hit. Thousands of patient appointments and operations, including for serious conditions, were cancelled, as medical staff were frozen out of their databases and systems. According to Rudd, 48 trusts were affected, but quick reaction times by their ICT departments meant that as of yesterday, only six were still reporting issues. The National Cyber Security Centre also stepped in to mitigate the impact of the attack.

Cybersecurity officials urged both individuals and companies to ensure they regularly update their anti-virus and security systems, enact security updates if they are Windows users and to back-up data on a separate server or in the cloud.

The source of the attack is as yet unknown, although Russian and Chinese hackers have targeted companies and governmental agencies in the West in past years. Two cybersecurity firms, Avast and Kaspersky Lab, have said that the ransomware attacked PCs in 70 countries, with Russia the most affected. There have been reports that the hackers used the WannaCry ransomware program, said to have been based on spying technology utilised by America’s NSA (National Security Agency). More than 36,000 infections were detected by yesterday. It is reported that the hackers behind ‘WannaCry’ stole the hacking tools from the NSA, which created the tool to exploit a loophole in Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

Ori Eisen, founder of Trusona cybersecurity firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, warned that the WannaCry attack is just the beginning and another more advanced attack could have serious and potentially lethal implications. Speaking with the Associated Press news agency, Eisen said: This is child”s play, what happened. This is not the serious stuff yet. What if the same thing happened to 10 nuclear power plants, and they would shut down all the electricity to the grid? What if the same exact thing happened to a water dam or to a bridge?” he asked.

“Today, it happened to 10,000 computers,” Eisen said. “There”s no barrier to do it tomorrow to 100 million computers.”

Intranational policing agency Europol described the attack as at “an unprecedented level and will require a complex international investigation to identify the culprits.”

The onslaught of WannaCry was successfully halted after a 22-year-old British cybersecurity researcher, known only by his or her tag ‘MalwareTech’ accidently stumbled across a ‘kill switch’ that disabled the ransomware. By entering a nonsensical domain name, MalwareTech was able to stop the malware spreading further. He or she purchased the domain name for around £9, yet this quick thinking decision saved companies millions in potential damage control. The kill switch only worked for those not affected however, and many organisations who were already hit were forced to pay the ransom demand or call up emergency data stocks.

SOURCES:

HEM Newsbreakers, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-newsbreakers

Report 24 Canada, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Report24CA

“Unprecedented global “ransomware” attack seeks cash for data” – Winnipeg Free Press via ReportCA.net (13 May 2017) https://reportca.net/2017/05/unprecedented-global-ransomware-attack-seeks-cash-for-data/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Wana Decrypt0r screenshot.png” – WannaCry via SecureList, Wikimedia Commons (12 May 2017) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wana_Decrypt0r_screenshot.png

 

EHI LIVE 2015: Data Standards and Governance Conference

As part of the its conference series being held at the NEC arena in Birmingham this November, e-health events organisation EHI is showcasing a special meeting on the subjects of data standards and governance in the British National Health Service, the company reported recently.

The Data Standards and Governance Conference, which is being scheduled for the 3rd November 2015 at Birmingham’s NEC Hall 1, will examine the issues of developing guidelines and standards for information exchange within the NHS and other health providers. The NHS holds millions of patient records, research information, study results and other significant quantities of medical data on different websites, databases and cloud services, and there are both legal and corporate protocols to be adhered to in ensuring the safety and integrity of that data.

As the NHS aims to become more environmentally friendly and carbon neutral, there is an increasing trend towards making the health service’s data more paperless. Alongside that, there is a greater emphasis on interoperability between the 15 NHS trusts, 3 foundation trusts, 16 social enterprises and over 8,000 GP practices that compose the NHS, according to figures from the NHS Confederation. The conference aims to address these issues in order for healthcare providers to adopt clear  and governance initiatives to enable the safe, efficient exchange of patient data.

The conference will help attendees explore the challenges in developing standards for information exchange in the NHS as well as a look at the steps being taken to build patient trust for a patient centric health service. This is even more essential as the NHS experiences wave after wave of government cutbacks and internal reorganisation.

(c) US FDA/Wikimedia Commons

Likely conference topics will include the building of trust, patient and staff confidence through the system of information governance; creation of a patient-friendly data strategy, and the utilisation of open-source software in data governance to help reduce computing costs.

The event, which will last from 10:00 am to 4:15 pm on the first day of the EHI 2015 stream of conferences, will begin with a case study on the future of electronic patient information. This will be followed by topics on the ‘Code for Health’, working with Care.data pathfinder CCGs and the economics of open-source programs, along with a special presentation by key NHS ICT supplier Microsoft.

Guest expert speakers will include Malcolm Senior (director of informatics, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust), Shane Tickell (chief executive officer, IMS Maxims in Milton Keynes), Peter Coates (open source program head, NHS England) and Eve Roodhouse (programme director for Care.data, HSCIC) among others.

The Data Standards and Governance conference is one of several specialised events to be taking place at EHI 2015. Other planned events include the CCIO Annual Conference, the Health CIO Annual Conference and the HANDI Health Apps Conference, along with many other events focussing on diverse NHS technology discussions around 3D printing, big data and genomic medicine, health and social care, imaging informatics, NHS social media, cloud software and digital primary care services.

DISCLAIMER: The writer is an employee of Informa plc. which is the holding company of EHI Health, the organisers of the EHI 2015 conferences.
SOURCES:
Informa Accounts, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/informa-accounts
Life Sciences Events, Informa Life Sciences, Informa plc., Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/ls_informa
“DATA STANDARDS AND GOVERNANCE” – EHI Live 2015, Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions/Informa PLC http://www.ehilive.co.uk/conference-streams/conferences/data-standards-and-governance/
IMAGE CREDIT:
CC Search, Creative Commons http://search.creativecommons.org/
“File:Desktop Computer – The Future for Medicine (FDA 095) (8249708093).jpg” – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Wikimedia Commons (6 December 2012) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Desktop_Computer_-_The_Future_for_Medicine_(FDA_095)_(8249708093).jpg

INTERNET EXCHANGE POINT: Mauritian government aims to bring in faster nationwide internet

The Mauritian government plans to unveil a new internet exchange point in the island’s premier technology hub to help bring faster web-surfing and e-commerce infrastructure to the public and businesses, it was reported today in the French-language newspaper L’Express.

The Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tassarajen Pillay-Chedumbrum announced that Mauritian ISPs (internet service providers) such as Orange Mauritius/Mauritius Telecom and Bharat Telecom, will possibly be able to connect a local exchange point into their service networks to bring about faster speeds and download times for their Mauritian customers. A current point exists, but the newer version will be a faster and more developed service being offered to all the country’s internet providers on a mutual shared basis.

(c) austinevan/Flickr/Compfight

A information technology complex in Ebene’s CyberCity.

The exchange point will be a piece of switchboard-based IT infrastructure that connects the networks of different operators in a technologically mutual effort to rapidly increase broadband speeds on the island. The point will also be a cost-saving exercise that will benefit ISPs, as they will be able to exchange traffic to relieve their networks, thereby slashing the average amount of expenses incurred for each provider. It will also lessen the country’s dependence on costly international satellite and fibre-optic networks. The point will give equal priority to all Mauritius-based ISPs with a lack of traffic hegemony or filtering rules to hinder that objective.

The current exchange point technology is a ‘layer-two Internet exchange’ operating over Ethernet, which means that participants exchange traffic via an Ethernet switch without any settlements, according to the government ministry in charge of the original internet exchange point. It has not yet been publicly announced what the new point’s exact hardware and operational specifics will be.

In order to begin building up an internet exchange point (IXP) especially for Mauritius, the ministry will organise a workshop in partnership with the African Union Commission. This was announced yesterday (Monday 25 August) by ministry representatives at the Cyber Tower in Ebène, the heart of Mauritius’ steadily growing IT industry. The workshop hopes to train up a new generation of Mauritian IT technicians with the requisite skills to lay the foundation of the improved island-wide IXP.

If we can have a local Internet exchange point, this will allow us to minimise the cost. We will not have to pay international fees. In addition, the Internet will be faster, “said Pillay-Chedumbrum.

The exchange point, known officially as MIXP, has already had a web presence established as the groundwork starts up. The MIXP website describes the service as “the professional, neutral Internet exchange that leads the way in global peering services enabling the savings of precious International bandwidth in Mauritius“. A previous incarnation has been in existence since June 2006, but with fewer capabilities.

Telecommunications have had a long history in Mauritius. The first telephone line was installed in 1883, only seven years after the original device was said to have been invented by Scot Alexander Graham Bell. ICT services also took off early on the island, with the establishment of a governmental National Computer Board (NCB) in 1988 to advise the island’s parliament on the formulation of national policies for the development of the IT sector and promotion of technology culture in Mauritius. The following year, the Central Informatics Bureau (CIB) was organised to encourage increased computerisation of civil service records. Since then, Mauritius has become an important centre for IT-related activities in the Indian Ocean and the African continent, with numerous national and international ICT firms setting up shop in the CyberCity park in the town of Ebène, which is south of the Mauritian capital Port Louis.

The new MIXP forms part of the Mauritian government’s ambition to continually raise the standard of corporate and public ICT services on the island. Ministers are aiming to make the ICT sector the ‘fifth pillar’ of the Mauritian economy, after tourism, agriculture and finance, and envisioned transforming Mauritius into a ‘cyber island’.

SOURCES:
Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind
l’express, Twitter https://twitter.com/wwwlexpressmu
“TIC: un point d’échange Internet local pour réduire les coûts de connexion” – lexp Société/lexpress.mu/L’Express (26 August 2014) http://www.lexpress.mu/article/251452/tic-un-point-dechange-internet-local-pour-reduire-couts-connexion
“Home” – MIXP – Mauritius Internet Exchange Point http://www.gov.mu/portal/sites/mixp/index.htm
“About MIXP” – MIXP – Mauritius Internet Exchange Point http://www.gov.mu/portal/sites/mixp/index.htm
“Telecommunications in Mauritius” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommunications_in_Mauritius
IMAGE CREDIT:
‘austinevan’, Flickr via Compfight http://compfight.com/search/cybercity-ebene/1-3-1-1