Thursday, April 19, 2018

Asia is the next frontier for AI development

Xuedong Huang, technical fellow in charge of Microsoft’s speech, natural language and machine translation efforts. (Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

In a few short years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been thrust into the limelight – elevating itself from a far-fetched, science-fiction topic to one that is currently dominating many conversations between customers, partners and industry leaders across Asia. The convergence of big data, ubiquitous and powerful cloud computing, along with breakthroughs in software algorithms and machine learning, have made exciting new scenarios in AI deployment a possibility.

Today, AI is at the center of the digital transformation of organizations and even nations. By 2019, IDC predicts that 40% of digital transformation initiatives in the region will be supported by AI.

(Read here about how digital transformation will contribute more than US$1 trillion to Asia Pacific GDP by 2021, where AI is a primary catalyst for further growth)

With imagination and plenty of data, AI can create vast benefits at scale. In Japan for example, where Miko, an AI-power chatbot and the star of new mobile travel app Japan Trip Navigatoris helping tourists in Japan navigate its streets. Created by Microsoft in partnership with travel agency JTB Corp and navigation firm NAVITIME Co, Miko provides travelers in Japan with real-time information from official sources as well as insights from other users of the apps. Miko can also help with hotel and other bookings on the app.

What’s more, one of the more advanced and interesting capabilities of Miko is that it is imbued with image recognition functions using Microsoft’s Cognitive Services AI platform, enabling her to provide information to users through the photos that they have taken.

Asia will be key to AI development globally

There are three reasons why Asia is uniquely placed to play a leading role in the development of AI at scale.

1. AI needs data: AI is dependent on data to perform; the more data that is fed into an AI system, the better it gets. Not only does Asia have the world’s largest population, it continues to be a region that is more digitally-connected than other parts of the globe and hence can provide the massive amounts of data that AI systems need to grow.

2. AI needs talent: Whilst we anticipate the mass adoption of AI this year, there is still a long way to go for more powerful and sophisticated AI programs to be developed. To do that will require a large and strong pool of science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) talents that technology companies and research bodies can tap into to advance AI capabilities. And this talent is increasingly likely to originate from Asia. According to UBS, by 2025 the combined AI talent pool of China and India alone will exceed that of the US.

3. AI needs adoption: As stated, the more data that is fed into an AI system, the better it gets. One of the unique aspects of Asia is its large youth population, that have been born into a digital world. The UN estimates that 60% of the world’s youth population is in Asia Pacific. These “digital natives” are more receptive to digital technologies enhancing their lives. Not only that, but many Asian countries are, historically, late adopters of legacy technology, enabling them to leapfrog other nations dependent on old infrastructure and embrace new ways of living and working.
Microsoft’s AI investment in Asia

With the immense growth potential of AI in Asia, Microsoft has identified four key building blocks to ensure people and organizations are able to harness AI optimally.

  1. Developing AI capabilities: The AI revolution will not happen without world-class STEM talents driving R&D, and creation of programs and applications. Collaboration among governments, industry bodies and organizations to develop AI capabilities in this region will need to be a focus. A good example of this is Microsoft’s investment of US$33 million in partnership with the Taiwanese Government to create a AI R&D Hub in Taiwan to help transform the island’s technology and industrial sector.

  1. Developing partner ecosystem: Microsoft is focused on transforming IT partner ecosystem across Asia to enable them to bring AI capabilities to the markets. In fact, they are committing $500m over the next two years to offer joint sales engagements with startups, along with access to our technology, and new community spaces that promote collaboration across local and global ecosystems.

  1. Creating the AI platform: Microsoft continues to strengthen its hyper-scale cloud platform – Microsoft Azure – and its ability to deliver AI programs at scale securely across the world. Today, Azure is available to customers in 140 countries worldwide via 50 Azure regions across the world, more than any other cloud provider, which includes 15 here in Asia. This offers customers and partners the platform needed to deliver

  1. Re-skilling Asia’s workforce: Microsoft is committed to working with public and private organizations to help re-skill existing workforce to thrive in a new AI-driven digital world. For example, the recently launched National Skills Program in South Australia provides digital skills to automotive supply chain workers whose roles were displaced by the closure of the Holden manufacturing plant in Elizabeth in late 2017.

Industry experts believe this to be Asia’s century. And AI offers the region an unprecedented opportunity for growth, productivity and innovation, as well as the potential to solve some of the region’s most important societal challenges.
It will certainly be an interesting ride; so strap in – the revolution is about to begin!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Experience huge savings, better internet with Converge ICT




For residential customers, now is the time to rejoice! Your endless worries about slow and expensive internet connectivity are definitely over.

The FiberX plans from Converge ICT Solutions, Inc., the pioneering company that introduced Filipinos to pure-fiber Internet connectivity, allow customers from residential areas to realize savings by as much as a whopping P8,000 on their budget. Get to experience fast Internet connectivity minus the delays, buffering, disconnections and other disruptions commonly associated with traditional—and slowly getting outdated—Internet connection options.

But more importantly, the FiberX plans provide customers with unlimited data allowance or absolutely “NO DATA CAP.” Converge ICT has put this as a standard feature across all FiberX plans and is not a promotional plan offered for a limited time only.

For new subscribers to FiberX Plan 1500, for example, you only pay as low as P1,500 up front (for security deposit while Installation fee  is staggered over 6 months), and you get internet connectivity of up to 25Mbps. This speed is perfect for home users with school-age kids who love to surf the Net for study or even play. 

However, despite the total cash outlay during installation while others offer Zero Cash Out, subscribers will still realize the P8,000 total cost savings in the long run or after the 24-month lock in period, and they get to enjoy speeds of up to 25Mbps compared to the current up to 20 Mbps offering in the market today.

Overall, the FiberX Plan 1500 comes out 47% more affordable per Mbps compared to the other Internet service providers.

For heavy Internet users out there—the content makers who develop and upload content (designers, YouTube-rs) and the emerging community of video bloggers (vloggers)—Converge ICT offers its FiberX Plan 2500 with 50Mbps speed and FiberX Plan 3500, which carries a 100Mbps connection. Both also come with no data cap. Even the Philippine e-sports gaming community will surely enjoy the pure, end-to-end fiber optic-fast Internet connection that Converge ICT offers through FiberX. Converge ICT FiberX plans are best known for highly symmetrical upload and download speeds and superbly low latency performance. This means no more delays in your Internet connection whether downloading movies, uploading big files like photos and videos, or even making calls to loved ones abroad using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) connections such as Viber, Skype or Facebook Messenger.

With FiberX, you can now stream your favorite music or movies, upload and download files quickly, or play your much-loved games with your friends and family as much as you like.  In fact, the world’s leading internet television network Netflix, in its January 2018 ISP Leaderboard results, has ranked Converge ICT as consistent number 1 ISP (Internet Service Provider) among all major ISPs in the Philippines. This means users will consistently enjoy Netflix’s original series, movies and documentaries with no interruption or lags, and no compromise in video quality since there is no data cap, for that totally awesome Internet watching experience.

So be the envy of neighbors in your community as you get to enjoy blazing-fast, 21st Century Internet connectivity any time and any day. Get the FiberX Plan 1500, the FiberX Plan 2500 at up to 50Mbps speed and the FiberX Plan 3500 with 100Mbps speed that suits your specific needs. These plans come with pure end-to-end fiber technology that’s light years better than the traditional—and much slower—Digital Subscriber Line (DSL). Now, get an enhanced online experience with better speed, larger bandwidth and consistent performance for either work or play that only Converge ICT can deliver.

For more updates about Converge ICT Solutions, Inc., visit their Official Facebook page @ConvergeICTOfficial, or visit  www.convergeict.com,


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Mr. Katalyst at Bitcoin and Blockchain Forum 2018 in the Philippines



Bitcoin & Blockchain technologies are fuelling one of the fastest growing industries in the world. The cryptocurrency community in the Philippines experienced a first of its kind event with the “Bitcoin and Blockchain Forum 2018” last February 24, 2018 at the Ortigas Foundation Library, F Building, Ortigas Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. The forum brought together the Philippines’ top specialists in the cryptocurrency market and blockchain technologies -- shared their experience and knowledge in integrating blockchain across the government, banking, trading, healthcare areas among some.

One of the featured speakers in the forum was Joe Maristela III of Katalyst, he talked about the potential of financial technology in the Philippines particularly about the use of blockchain technology in healthcare.  Joe is a serial entrepreneur and prominent independent investor who has, since 2015, lobbied the government to become more proactive and inclusive about “disruptive” technologies such as Bitcoin, the Blockchain and other cryptocurrencies. He has personally invested millions of dollars in startup companies that aim to revolutionize finance for SMEs and outsourcing offices here in the Philippines.

In this event Joe shared his insights about the potential of blockchain in healthcare and the value of supporting and investing in Filipino homegrown businesses. 




Maristela has established several businesses engaged in markets ranging from healthcare business process outsourcing to financial services. Some of these businesses are:

PediaHealth Medical Group
PediaHealth is a clinic-network, with medical and healthcare operations on the West Coast (USA). PediaHealth is known for being an early adopter of technology, and deploying technologies in healthcare in medicine in new and creative ways. PediaHealth served as a beta testing facility, which tested various communications technologies from Google, including Hangouts and Google's enterprise class video conferencing software. 


Qwikwire
Qwikwire is a fintech startup which is making huge strides in streamlining overseas payments and remittances for offices of the likes of Ayala, Century, and others.


Satoshi Citadel Industries
Satoshi Citadel Industries or SCI which Joe seeded with $200k and whose flagship services and Blockchain technology platforms, Rebit.ph and BuyBitcoin.ph, has pegged the Philippines as a major innovator in the international financial technologies industry. 

Acudeen
Acudeen aims to revolutionize SME financing by providing a platform and ecosystem for so called investors to buy and sell invoices and purchase orders.


The Bitcoin and Blockchain Forum 2018 aims to open the discussion on potential-application areas and use cases for blockchain technology by exploring real-world implementations.