Finalists Revealed for Consumer Products Category at 2017 BC Export Awards

SYSPRO, a global provider of industry-built ERP software, today announced their customer, Prepac Manufacturing Ltd., was named a finalist for the 2017 BC Export Awards in the Consumer Products category, recognizing their achievement delivering innovative consumer products to meet market demand. For over a decade Prepac has transformed itself from a traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ furniture manufacturer serving regional customers into a leading international supplier to most major North American online retailers. SYSPRO Canada is proud to be a premier sponsor once again at this year’s awards.

The BC Export Awards are the province’s most prestigious awards paying tribute to the success, achievements, and innovative approaches of BC’s top exporting companies. Created in 1982, the program was initiated by the Ministry of Economic Development to raise the awareness and recognize the contribution that the manufacturing and service sectors were making to the economy of British Columbia. Since that time, the number and categories of the awards have changed and varied to reflect the changes that have taken place in the economy of the province. Business in Vancouver currently organizes the annual event.

“The success of this program, which has recognized over 300 companies since its inception, has reflected the growth and diversity of BC’s economy over the past 30 years. With substantial markets now in every region of the world, BC’s exporting companies have become truly international in their scope as well as their vision,” according to Sue Belisle, President & Publisher, Business in Vancouver Media Group.

“It is an honor to be recognized as a finalist for the 2017 British Columbia Export Awards,” says Michelle MacKinnon, VP, Finance & IT, Prepac Manufacturing. “As a BC company that has grown organically to become one of North America’s largest Ready-to-Assemble furniture manufacturers and e-commerce direct to consumer specialists, we are proud to be recognized amongst the best of BC’s exporting elite.”

“This year’s finalists exemplify the strength and depth of the BC export community,” according to James Weir, Vice President of Sales for SYSPRO Canada. “Regardless of the sector they serve, this year’s finalists have all raised the bar of excellence for their companies and the local BC economy. We congratulate the team at Prepac on this outstanding recognition and laud their achievement through the innovation their team continues to forge.”

Winners will be announced at the BC Export Awards Luncheon on Friday, November 24th, 2017 from 12:00 – 2:30 p.m. PT, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

About Prepac Manufacturing Ltd.

Prepac Manufacturing Ltd. is a privately owned first generation start-up company that was incorporated in Vancouver BC in 1979. Since that time it has grown organically to become one of North America’s largest RTA (Ready-to-Assemble) furniture manufacturers and e-commerce “drop ship” (direct to consumer) specialists.  Its product categories include Bedroom, Entertainment, Entryway, Home Office, Living/Dining Room and Utility Storage Furniture.

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AI is the next phase of human evolution

I think we’re missing the bigger picture when it comes to AI.

Once again humanity tricked itself into thinking that this time, it’s the end. That the looming technological revolution will take over our jobs and wipe us off the face of the earth. It’s not surprising, though.

Technophobia is not a new phenomenon. It was a distinctive feature of about every technological shift that we went through in the modern era. People have always feared to be replaced by machines. Yet, the dystopias born out of this overblown collective fear have never turned out to be true.

In fact, every single technological revolution has lead to growth in prosperity, living standards, social equality, and other positive impactsIs this revolution going to be any different? Oh yeah! But in a different way.

AI will not render humans a “useless class”, nor will it cause social chaos as some futurists suggest. It will revolutionize what has never been revolutionized before — the human itself.

Technology drives everything: economics, politics, demographics. It shapes wars, culture, jobs, history and is an integral part of our society and who we are as a species. However, one part of humankind that technology hasn’t yet significantly affected is our cognition.

Until now, our evolution was physiological. We’ve developed additional layers of the brain, upright posture, and other physical attributes to adapt to our ever-changing lifestyle. However, we’ve reached a point in time where our physiological evolution can’t keep up with the pace of change.

Look how far humanity has come. What an elaborate and complex world we have built. A world, in fact, that’s far more complex than our brains can handle.

In the modern society, we still operate using the reptile brain that dates back hundreds of thousands of years ago. Our false cognition driven by this outdated brain can’t help but misinterpret about every possible stimulus in our daily lives. That may be the single biggest cause of widespread depression in the modern society.

This is where AI comes in.

The upcoming paradigm shift is not just a technological revolution. It’s an evolutional revolution. It’s the biggest shift in human evolution since the dawn of time that will change who we are as a species for good.

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Article Credit: The Next Web

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How Google is powering the world’s AI

After helping to define the modern internet era with Search and Android, Google is already at the forefront of the next wave in computing research and development: AI. Many consider artificial intelligence and neural network computers to be the next step in computing, enabling new use cases and faster computation to solve currently unsolvable problems. The search giant, which now calls itself an “AI first” company, has been leading the adoption of these new technologies in a number of ways.

Neural networking algorithms and machine learning are already at the heart of many of Google’s services. They filter out spam in Gmail, optimize targeted advertising, and analyze your voice when you talk to Google Assistant or your Home speaker. Inside smartphones, ideas like Google Lens and Samsung’s Bixby are showing the power of “AI” vision processing. Even companies like Spotify and Netflix are using Google’s Cloud servers to tailor content to their users.

Google’s Cloud Platform is at the centre of its efforts (and those of third parties) to utilize this increasingly popular area of computing. However, this new field requires new kinds of hardware to run efficiently, and Google has invested heavily in its own processing hardware, which it calls a cloud tensor processing unit (Cloud TPU). This custom hardware is packed into Google’s servers and already powers the current and expanding AI ecosystem. But how does it work?

TPUs vs CPUs – searching for better efficiency

Google unveiled its second-generation TPU at Google I/O earlier this year, offering increased performance and better scaling for larger clusters. The TPU is an application specific integrated circuit. It’s custom silicon designed very specifically for a particular use case, rather than a general processing unit like a CPU. The unit is designed to handle common machine learning and neural networking calculations for training and inference; specifically, matrix multiply, dot product, and quantization transforms, which are usually just 8 bits inaccuracy.

While these kinds of calculations can be done on a CPU and sometimes even more efficiently on a GPU, these architectures are limited in terms of performance and energy efficiency when scaling across operation types. For example, IEEE 754 8-bit integer multiplication optimized designs can be up to 5.5X more energy and 6X more area efficient than 16-bit floating-point optimized designs. They’re also 18.5X more efficient in terms of energy and 27X smaller in terms of area than 32-bit FP multiply. IEEE 754 is the technical standard for floating point computations used in all modern CPUs.

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Article Credit: Android Authority

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AI is highly likely to destroy humans, Elon Musk warns

Elon Musk believes it’s highly likely that artificial intelligence (AI) will be a threat to people.

The Tesla founder is concerned that a handful of major companies will end up in control of AI systems with “extreme” levels of power.

In Mr Musk’s opinion, there’s a very small chance that humans will be safe from such systems.

“Maybe there’s a five to 10 percent chance of success [of making AI safe],” he told Neuralink staff after showing them a documentary on AI, reports Rolling Stone.

He also told them that he invested in DeepMind in order to keep an eye on Google’s development of AI.

Mr Musk has called for the companies working on AI to slow down to ensure they don’t unintentionally build something unsafe.

“Between Facebook, Google and Amazon – and arguably Apple, but they seem to care about privacy – they have more information about you than you can remember,” he told Rolling Stone.

“There’s a lot of risk in the concentration of power. So if AGI [artificial general intelligence] represents an extreme level of power, should that be controlled by a few people at Google with no oversight?”

Though he didn’t expand on what sort of threat it could pose, he’s previously said that AI is “a fundamental risk” to the existence of human civilisation.

He believes its development needs to be regulated “proactively”.

“I have exposure to the most cutting-edge AI and I think people should be really concerned about it,” he said in July.

“I keep sounding the alarm bell but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal.”

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Article Credit: Independent

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8 Ways AI Will Transform Our Cities by 2030

How will AI shape the average North American city by 2030? A panel of experts assembled as part of a century-long study into the impact of AI thinks its effects will be profound.

The One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence is the brainchild of Eric Horvitz, technical fellow and a managing director at Microsoft Research.

Every five years a panel of experts will assess the current state of AI and its future directions. The first panel, comprised of experts in AI, law, political science, policy, and economics, was launched last fall and decided to frame their report around the impact AI will have on the average American city. Here’s how they think it will affect eight key domains of city life in the next fifteen years.

1. Transportation

The speed of the transition to AI-guided transport may catch the public by surprise. Self-driving vehicles will be widely adopted by 2020, and it won’t just be cars — driverless delivery trucks, autonomous delivery drones, and personal robots will also be commonplace.

Uber-style “cars as a service” are likely to replace car ownership, which may displace public transport or see it transition towards similar on-demand approaches. Commutes will become a time to relax or work productively, encouraging people to live further from home, which could combine with reduced need for parking to drastically change the face of modern cities.

Mountains of data from increasing numbers of sensors will allow administrators to model individuals’ movements, preferences, and goals, which could have a major impact on the design city infrastructure.

Humans won’t be out of the loop, though. Algorithms that allow machines to learn from human input and coordinate with them will be crucial to ensuring autonomous transport operates smoothly. Getting this right will be key as this will be the public’s first experience with physically embodied AI systems and will strongly influence public perception.

2. Home and Service Robots

Robots that do things like deliver packages and clean offices will become much more common in the next 15 years. Mobile chipmakers are already squeezing the power of last century’s supercomputers into systems-on-a-chip, drastically boosting robots’ onboard computing capacity.

Cloud-connected robots will be able to share data to accelerate learning. Low-cost 3D sensors like Microsoft’s Kinect will speed the development of perceptual technology, while advances in speech comprehension will enhance robots’ interactions with humans. Robot arms in research labs today are likely to evolve into consumer devices around 2025.

But the cost and complexity of reliable hardware and the difficulty of implementing perceptual algorithms in the real world mean general-purpose robots are still some way off. Robots are likely to remain constrained to narrow commercial applications for the foreseeable future.

3. Healthcare

AI’s impact on healthcare in the next 15 years will depend more on regulation than technology. The most transformative possibilities of AI in healthcare require access to data, but the FDA has failed to find solutions to the difficult problem of balancing privacy and access to data. Implementation of electronic health records has also been poor.

If these hurdles can be cleared, AI could automate the legwork of diagnostics by mining patient records and the scientific literature. This kind of digital assistant could allow doctors to focus on the human dimensions of care while using their intuition and experience to guide the process.

At the population level, data from patient records, wearables, mobile apps, and personal genome sequencing will make personalized medicine a reality. While fully automated radiology is unlikely, access to huge datasets of medical imaging will enable training of machine learning algorithms that can “triage” or check scans, reducing the workload of doctors.

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Article Credit: Singularity Hub

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Netmagic scales up services with multi-cloud offerings

Data centre services provider Netmagic is expanding its service portfolio with a range of cloud offerings to position itself as a one-stop cloud solution provider.


Noticing a long period of transition where customers want hybrid IT solutions having a combination of bare metal-based DCs, hosted private clouds, and multiple public clouds; Netmagic is positioning itself as a Multi-cloud provider.


“Clients want a range of cloud services for different products. Some may go for AWS or Azure, some projects require dedicated hosting while others may require captive data centres depending on workload. Instead of approaching different vendors we want them to see us as a one-stop solution,” said Sunil Gupta, Executive director and president, Netmagic.


The boom in finance and e-commerce services has spiked demand for cloud and data centre hosting services, said Gupta. Netmagic seized this opportunity to offer clients more than just their traditional managed offerings. The company’s revenue growth has remained stable at 34 percent CAGR since over four years.


According to Gartner’s latest report, Indian IT services will spend up to $3181 million next year on data centre systems alone. Netmagic along with Singapore based ST Telemedia and NxtraData are among the top players in the data centre category in India according to a report by IT research firm 451 Research.


“Every customer is running Hybrid IT services with parts of their service running on different platforms. We integrate the entire range of solutions to the customer and we help to manage the infrastructure with a cloud management platform developed by our R&D team,” he said. This application also helps manage different cloud applications through a single online dashboard.


While managed and cloud services comprised almost 75 to 80 percent of their revenues earlier, co-location service (third-party data centre) has pushed its way up to occupy almost 40 per-cent of the business lately, he added.

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Come home to IoT

There is an old saying: Home is where the heart is. In today’s digital world, it has been revised to: “Home is where the innovation is!” The rapid technological innovation in IoT has had the biggest impact on our homes. Not only are they more connected than ever, they are also presenting unique opportunities in the delivery space without compromising the security. The home is seeing tech revamp in almost all aspects — food, temperature, lighting, lock security, control and more. Here are some IoT examples that have taken the average home to the next level.

Stay Connected

IoT devices have been around for quite some time now and while you may have smart lights, a smart microwave and a smart fridge, can you control all of them centrally? Well, for now, so many remotes lying around take such an effort to control them seamlessly. Control Any’s BEAK is a product that lets you operate all your smart devices with the help of an easy app. It is third-party friendly and supports all major brands. It also has the capability to learn and execute “schedules” daily consisting of combinations of these devices. For example, it will switch on the AC in the evening and even change to mood lighting.

Temperature control

A thermostat that learns every single day, the Nest can set the right temperature at optimum capacity and save electricity in the process. It can be controlled via a mobile or smartwatch app, your laptop or even your desktop. It finds the ideal interior temperature for your home and even turns itself off when you are on vacation. It collates data from different seasons during the year and learns from it. Its sensors continuously learn your habits and preferences so that you can have it nice and cosy at night and warm and sunny in the morning.

Delivery inside your living room

Of the latest services to hit the IoT-home combo is Amazon Key. Available only in select cities in the USA for now, it enables on-time delivery of its products even when the customer isn’t home. With its Key-In-Home Kit consisting of a CCTV type camera connected to the cloud, it shows the customer live footage of delivery personnel entering the house and leaving the parcel inside your home. Its authorisation protocol can be used for a variety of services such as letting in family friends, the dog walker or even the house securely. Available for Prime customers, it sends notifications every time the door is unlocked.

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Article Credit: The Tribune

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10 Jaw-Dropping Facts About the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT), which connects various devices to each other and the cloud, is widely considered to be the next big growth market for tech companies. That’s why companies like Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) launched dedicated IoT units, and the market seems flooded with new wearables, smart home devices, and other connected gadgets.

To gain a better understanding of the IoT market, let’s take a look at 10 crucial facts and figures.

 1. A $1.4 trillion market by 2021

Research firm IDC expects worldwide spending on IoT hardware, software, and services to rise from about $800 billion this year to nearly $1.4 trillion by 2021. This year, the IoT areas that will attract the biggest investments include manufacturing operations, freight monitoring, production asset management, and smart grid technologies.

2. 24 billion devices by 2020

BI Intelligence estimates that 24 billion IoT devices will be installed by 2020. It expects that total to be split between three entities — businesses (11.2 billion devices), governments (7.7 billion devices), and consumers (5 billion devices).

That forecast is much lower than Cisco’s widely cited estimate of 50 billion devices by 2020, which is made in 2011. But it’s still more bullish than ABI Research’s target of 21 billion devices by 2022.

3. $60 trillion in Industrial IoT investments by 2030

In 2015, General Electric (NYSE: GE) claimed that investments in the Industrial IoT (IIoT) market, which includes all IoT devices used for industrial purposes, would hit $60 trillion over the next 15 years. GE is linking these connected devices to its Predix Cloud, a cloud platform that analyzes data to boost a company’s overall productivity.

4. 60% of manufacturers use data from connected devices

IDC estimates that 60% of global manufacturers are already using data accumulated from connected products and production chains to optimize their product portfolios. The firm believes that by next year, the proliferation of these analytics-driven solutions will improve manufacturers’ innovation delivery and supply chain performance by 15%.

5. Big businesses are adopting more IoT solutions

Last year, Forrester Research found that 23% of global enterprise respondents use IoT solutions, compared to just 14% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The reason is that large companies, like airlines and banks, can often streamline their businesses more effectively with IoT solutions than smaller businesses.

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Article Credit: Madison

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Public sector IT suppliers demand clarity over G-Cloud 10 launch date

G-Cloud listed IT suppliers are getting concerned that the next iteration of the framework agreement could be delayed by up to a year, and claim it could harm the public sector’s digital transformation efforts

Public sector IT suppliers want government procurement chiefs to confirm when the 10th version of the G-Cloud procurement framework will go live, as concerns mount that it could be delayed by up to a year.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Peter Middleton, chair of the Cloud Industry Forum’s G-Cloud-focused Special Interest Group, said any significant delay in the roll-out of G-Cloud 10 would go against the founding principles of the framework.

“It would be a fundamental betrayal of the whole G-Cloud principles to drive innovation, choice and value and it would be particularly bad for SMEs,” he said.

“It’s a case of doing that [delay] at your peril because it would be fundamentally breaking the trust model that underpins G-Cloud in the marketplace.”

The latest version, G-Cloud 9, went live in May 2017, and the supporting documentation for the 12-month framework confirms that the Crown Commercial Service reserves the right to extend it by up to a year if needed.

The CPS confirmed it is exercising this right for the Digital Outcomes and Specialists 2 Framework in October 2017, which means it will now run until January 2019, and suppliers fear a similar fate could befall G-Cloud.

There is an expectation within the G-Cloud supplier community that details of the next framework release should start to circulate about six months after the previous version has gone live, but – at the time of writing – no information on this front has been forthcoming.

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Article Credit: Computer weekly

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