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Google opens Artificial Intelligence research lab in Ghana



On Wednesday morning at the Marriott Hotel, Google had a press briefing with the members of the press to officially open its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Centre. The briefing also included discussions about its overall AI initiatives and they also share some information about their CSquared Fibre project.

Google recently made headlines when they initially announced that they would be opening their first AI centre in Africa and it would be based in Accra, Ghana. The press briefing was to shed more light and information of the centre as well as give the press a personal tour of the center.

Moustapha Cisse, the head of the AI Research centre in Ghana, gave a brief introduction of the centre and its mission before officially introducing the Google Ghana AI research team which is made up of a group of diverse individuals from different backgrounds and countries.

There was a panel discussion where the panelists talked about Machine Learning where they tried to demystify the concept. The panel included members from the AI Team including Jorg Doku (Software Engineer), Sara Hooker (Google Brain Researcher) and Mohammed Nassar (Software Engineer).

There was a second panel about the real world applications of Machine Learning and included panelists from the Google team including Andrea Frome (Software Engineer), Yann Dauphin (Research Scientist) and Nyallen Moorosi(Software Engineer).

Estelle Akofio-Sowah, West Africa Regional Manager at CSquared gave a presentation about their Fibre Project which was formally Google Link. The Fibre project was created in 2011 with the aim of laying fibre infrastructure across different African cities. It was later rebranded in 2013 as Csquared with Google, Convergence Partners, International Finance Corporation (IFC), and Mitsui & Co., Ltd all having investments in the company.

Csquared’s current mission is to be a wholesale provider for ISPs and MNOs in Africa. They currently operate in Ghana, Uganda, and Liberia

Google established it’s AI Research Centre in Accra to meet the increasing interest in machine learning research across Africa.

The AI Centre will collaborate with local universities, research organisations and policy makers in Ghana and across Africa to deploy AI in solving challenges in the healthcare sector, agriculture, education, and other sectors.

Regarding the AI Centre’s mission, Moustapha Cisse had this to say, “We’ll work and collaborate with institutions across the continent; the team itself is very international; it’s already about 10 people coming from more than 12 different countries; Africans and non-Africans as well so we’re looking forward to collaborating with African Institutions. Our goal is to advance the frontiers of this science so we expect to have a scientific impact but also we expect to through collaborations with different institutions working on local challenges, have an impact to be on our field by applying the technology to agriculture to health and to other areas.”

With the official establishment of the AI Centre in Accra (Google’s first in Africa), Ghana’s capital city will join the likes of Paris, Zurich, Tokyo, Beijing, Montreal, Toronto, Seattle, Cambridge/Boston, Tel Aviv/Haifa, New YorkandSan Franciso as having research centres purely dedicated to AI research.

source: TechNova

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Instagram is helping its users go broke with new feature




Social media heavyweight Instagram is pulling out all the stops this year with its new shopping feature in which users are now able to shop and check out within the app –– you never have to leave again.

According to Digiday, the company is testing the program with more than twenty beauty and fashion brands that will include direct-to-consumer companies and popular companies. As it stands, users can swipe a product on Instagram and are brought to the vendor’s website to place an order. This will make shopping on Instagram easier.

During the trial, users that click on the “View the Product” button will see a “Checkout on Instagram” choice instead of being brought to the vendor’s website. Payment information entered on Instagram can be saved and orders can be managed from the app. The ability to shop in the app will roll out during the coming weeks for U.S.-based mobile users.

Adidas, Anastasia Beverly Hills, ColourPop, Huda Beauty, KKW Beauty, Kylie Cosmetics, Nike and Ouai Hair were among several companies listed on the report that users can purchase from.

Digiday pointed out that the brands that are taking part in the pilot are among the most popular ones on Instagram. Paige Cohen, a spokeswoman for Instagram, told Digiday the brands were chosen based on shopping performance on the social media platform. The company also aimed at offering users a wide variety of products and price points when choosing the brands to beta test the feature with.

Instagram plans to charge what Cohen said in the report in a “small fee” to the businesses that sell their products on Instagram. That will go to make checkout possible, including processing credit card payments and transaction-related expenses. The report noted this isn’t the only shopping feature the company plans to roll out this year, although it’s not clear what it has planned.

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TEDxAtlanta: Sarah Botto discovers children care about their reputation from the age of two



If you thought a child’s awareness of society’s social expectations is slim to none, think again.

New research studies reveal beginning at the age of two years old children pay attention to what others think of them and will adjust their behavior accordingly with the interest of their reputation in mind.

Still, don’t believe us?

Ph.D. candidate in the Cognition and Development program at Emory University, Sara Botto is here to answer your questions and debunk your myths.

The doctoral student has been diligently dissecting this psychological study for quite some time and is ready to share her findings with the world.

On March 15, Botto is slated to give her first ever TED Talk during the TEDxAtlanta Conference. The anticipated event is already sold but will be available via livestream.

Check out the full interview below.

What sparked this study or this question?
In the literature, a lot of people had researched when children begin to develop a reputation which is around four to five years of age. We didn’t know a lot about when that would emerge or the type of factors that might contribute, and I thought this was important because the extent that we care about what people think of us really influences our behavior. I thought this was important phenomena to understand from its origins so that’s why I want to investigate when exactly that would emerge in development.

What kind of response have you received to your to your research/findings? It was very surprising that we found children modify their behavior strategically right before the age of two. Most people thought this wouldn’t emerge until after four years of age when children started school. Children are sensitive to the values other people are expressing and then they’re incorporating them into their behavior. The sensitivity is adapted in a sense that if we know what people are going to value we’re more likely to behave that way and be accepted in a group. These are all important things in development and for our self-esteem.

Why is this research important? What are the possible real-world applications? For cognitive a processes, if we, for example, find a certain ability to understand other people’s point of view and how it contributes to the extent of how we care about the evaluation of others then we might be able to create implement some kind of intervention for individuals with autism, which might allow them to incorporate into society a little better than they are. Now for typically developing the average person, basically understanding why you care so much about other people’s opinions can give you power. If were are able to understand why we think a certain way we’re able to reflect.

What do you want to achieve with your research?
We know very little about the type of factors –– social factors, cognitive factors that contribute to the extent that we come to care about what others think about us. I see our concern for others evaluation of the spectrum. One one hand, you have individuals with autism who aren’t really socially motivated and they don’t really care to illicit any approval from others. On the other side of the spectrum are those individuals with social anxiety who are extremely concerned with how others are going to evaluate them. If we’re able to understand the cognitive and social factors then we could explain some of the individual differences and better understand the clinical disorders but also what might contribute to our care for other people’s opinion –– that’s the end goal.

I recently reviewed a media report from Nerdy Creator on why people want to please each other. The article states people begin to please each other when they want something in return, are highly impressionable, or are hoping to feel worthy. Do you agree?
I absolutely agree that we begin to be sensitive to the evaluation of others. We want to please people because it’s beneficial for us. There’s a lot of actual debate about why we care about what other people think and whether we want to please people because we want to get something in return or are trying to find value in what others think about us.
It’s all about concept and what others think about me is going to get incorporated into what I think about myself. My personal opinion is that It changes from person to person and context to context. However, just like everything in life, something can be beneficial in moderation but if you have too much of it you can develop something like social anxiety.

Have you noticed any difference or similarities between demographics or gender? Excellent question! We have ongoing research right now asking those exact questions. That project is ongoing so I can’t definitively say whether those factors are influential or not. Hopefully in a couple months will know.

What the gist of your TED talk?
My talk specifically is really about how we are always communicating values to others. I think when parents understand that early on, your kids are picking up on the values you put down. They’re motivated to get approval from you. We’re also exploring the factors of how caregivers behave so that their children do not develop a lot of sensitivity. Parents can really adjust their behaviors or be mindful so their children do not develop a lot of sensitivity so that they don’t look for approval. We can be mindful of what things we’re praising and what things we’re emphasizing because that’s what’s going to shape the child’s behavior.

Why do you feel this research study could potentially change the world?
I think it’s two-fold: the first is how those people interact with young kids and how powerful our behavior and our words can be. I think sharing the fact that before they can even talk they are really paying attention to what you’re doing. It’s behavior that you’re not explicitly telling the child. They’re really watching what you’re doing in general and how you react to certain things. Understand that emerges early on, I think that really raises some awareness for caregivers and parents around kids, letting them know what you do matters very early on.

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Director of Instagram’s global partnerships talks the future of brands in Digital Media



Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 2019

On Day two of SCAD’s aTVFest, Allen Holmes, global creative partnerships at Instagram, Brian Tolleson executive officer at Bark Bark, and Mike Pollack, vice president of network program integration at Discovery Networks, kicked things off with a morning session geared around the advertising industry with an informative panel dubbed, The Future of Brand Storytelling panel

Whether you have the belief in the “content is key” movement, scouring the depths of the Internet as a discovery tool, or everything in between, this panel was a must-see for creatives. Amongst the platforms that advertisers are seeking, they are no longer interested in the holy trinity of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram alone. Granted, the combination of the social networks are geared up to the plate for creatives and massive offers.

More and more the industry is focusing on advertising engagement and loyalty amongst brands, rather than the verified blue check and the number of followers and influencers houses. Online engagement is rapidly shifting via the digital landscape. Facebook, despite their Cambridge Analytical hurdle, has managed to retract to the central idea of community and connection.

Facebook groups and communities are surfacing as places where brands are hanging out to observe trends, talk tracks, and listening in on real conversations by the audiences that they otherwise would know nothing about.

As for the SCAD hopefuls figuring out where fit in this space, the advice from the panelists pointed to observe and pay attention to where the trends are and where everyone is. An example of this changing space was 10 million people tuning in to watch Marshmellow’s virtual concert on Fortnite Feb. 2. Adding an additional layer of the digital content switch with the idea of audiences and how they are segmented correlates with every Netlfix original having 12 different trailers. With the trailers being curated differently, it also adjusts the route of product storytelling as it intends to go after different variations of members within the audience. As brands scramble to keep up in the digital space, keep the content focused on primary platforms and curate them flawlessly.

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