Tech Savvy Talks member
During the month Les Rodgers recommended watching a YouTube video called ‘Simulating an Epidemic’
“You may need to watch it a couple of times to fully appreciate it, but hey, what else have we got to do?’ A class member replied to Les ‘Should send a copy to Trump’!
Tech Savvy Talks member
On Wednesday 11th March Tech Savvy Talks members watched a comprehensive survey on approximately 20 Electric Vehicles of various makes spread across America, Europe and China. Electric Vehicles are starting to insert themselves into the motoring culture in these three continents and the vehicles were loaned to people who belonged to the socio-economic strata of society that would be likely to purchase Electric Vehicles. The purpose of the survey was to assess the suitability of Electric Vehicles by people who would use them.
The broad outcome of the survey was that while the cars were extremely comfortable to drive there was a certain anxiety regarding the range of each vehicle. The range of all vehicles was under 200 miles and not all countries as yet have satisfactory facilities for recharging etc. This proved a definite minus to most people. Also, in the USA in winter heating the car draws on power and lessens the range. Some people had to spend longer that what was convenient recharging their car. Some had trouble finding recharge facilities. All these issues led most people in the USA say they would stay with Petrol Cars for the time being. People in China and Europe fared much better as facilities are much better in these countries.
Because of the vast distances involved in travel in Australia a certain amount of infrastructure will have to be installed before Electric Vehicles are suitable for Australia.
We also viewed how a Hydrogen powered car works. A Hydrogen Car is powered by hydrogen panels producing electric current that drives an electric motor. This is quite a complicated system but there has been a lot of development and Hydrogen Cars are something for the future. There is no pollution as only water comes out the exhaust pipe. The cost of Hydrogen is competitive with Petroleum and there is no problem with range.
As a total change of subject in the second hour we viewed the building of a new Quantum Computer and listened to the explanation of how the properties of Quantum Theory are made use of.
The PowerPoint presentation developed by Les Rodgers on Battery Electric Vehicles is available here as a scrollable slide show in a downloadable pdf file.
The first four slides are from a report from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) Electricity Statement of Opportunities and the next two figures are from the Australian Energy Market Commission Issues Paper 2020: Retail Energy Competition Review: Electric Vehicles.
Two videos viewed during the presentation have been included as URL links in the slide show and as direct YouTube links below.
At our first session for the year we watched then discussed a number of videos on topics including the end of the super market checkout, Scramjets, Tesla cars and batteries, Quantum Computers and more.
Class members were most impressed by the learning opportunities offered in this particular video and highly recommend it.
World Engineers Convention - Melbourne - November 2019 Presentation: 'Future Melbourne: Digitally Enhanced Communities' (any parallels with/lessons for Benalla?)
November - 'How the modern broadcasting tower at Mt Wellington near Hobart came into being' Les Rodgers
At our final session for the year we looked at how the modern broadcasting tower at Mt Wellington near Hobart came into being. After some background about the ABC and Telstra Broadcasting, we reviewed the process by which the Planning, Environmental Impact Assessment, Senate Estimates Approval of the replacement project, and finally Design and Construction of the new tower happened.
The original tower was constructed in 1959 without any radome or protection of the antennas and tower. There was early severe damage to the above due to ice formation in the extremely challenging conditions. Sometime later a form of heating was provided as protection for the antennas. This only worked if the heating was switched on before ice had formed. It also consumed 85 kW of power which made it expensive to operate. Sometime later as part of the upgrade of the facilities for FM broadcasting and SBS an unlovely fiberglass radome was added to provide protection against the elements. The wind reaction against the changed dynamic conditions due to the radome posed serious problems for the tower resulting in very high annual maintenance.
The new tower was in the form of a reinforced concrete tubular structure with a steel antenna support structure at the top accommodating four separate high-powered transmitting antennas with a fibreglass radome protecting the antenna structure. The concrete portion of the tower is 13 metres diameter at the base and held down by 18 rock anchors comprising steel cables grouted into bored holes 15 metres deep and post tensioned.
The tower is protected dynamically by two levels of “sloshing dampers” which are vaned toroidal structures partly filled with glycol anti-freeze.
Finally, we viewed a TED talk describing how it is possible to regrow neurons in the brain.
We got down into the weeds with nanotechnology this month with a presentation to The Royal Society in the UK, by Professor of Nanoscience Neil Champness. He explored the future of nanoscale machines and addressed the question of “Can we build a machine from molecules at the nanoscale”. Professor Champness research is highly cited, he being one of the top 100 most cited chemists 2000-2010 and 2015-2016. The presentation was fairly long so we started 9 minutes in. It was not a highly technical and included numerous very impressive graphics and video clips of simulations and actual molecular scale processes.
After a coffee break we had a presentation of a session from a four day Exponential Medicine conference. The presenter was a futurist and catalyst in biological technologies and is a Distinguished Researcher with the Autodesk Inc Bio/Nano Programable Matter group. He is also a founder of the Pink Army Cooperative, a company which is aiming to make open source viral therapies for the treatment of cancer. Many people will recognize Autodesk as the software company that produced Autocad over 30 years ago which revolutionized drafting and design. It was surprising to find them so deeply involved in software involved with biology and nanotechnology. The graphics in this session were amazing, perhaps not surprising having been produced by a leading edge software company. Of particular interest was the approach of 3 D printing of a specially designed virus to treat cancer in a dog.
At the September Techsavvy Talks meeting we viewed a famous 1965 talk by Richard Feynman, a noted physicist. The lecture was called “Tiny Machines” and was part of a series called “There’s Always room at the Bottom”.
This talk presaged Nanotechnology. We will look at a more detailed and up to date talk on nanotechnology at our next meeting.
There was considerable interest in nanotechnology in the 1990s without any groundbreaking outcome. More recently interest has increased with the application of nanotechnology to biology. An example is the recent possible breakthrough by Australian researchers in producing a method of using nanotechnology to attack microplastics in the ocean. The large plastic waste mass in the oceans is said to be comprised of up to 94% microplastics. There is considerable concern about this getting into the food chain via seafood etc. We viewed a summary of the paper with subsequent discussion: www.pbs.org/newshour/science/this-new-nanotech-could-help-clean-up-earths-microplastics
Finally we viewed a 25 minute video from Skynews, basically a presentation by Telstra on what’s happening with 5g. Telstra’s website now shows maps of where 5g is being rolled out in the various regions at the present time. Here's the link: www.skynews.com.au/details/_6084409398001
This month we looked at the role of the IPCC in providing reports and recommendations to governments concerning climate change. The most recent reports are AS 5 (Assessment Report 5) of 2013 and SR 1.5 of 2018 (Special Report 1.5). Also released earlier this year was IPCC 2019 a Special Report on Climate Change and Land. We considered the importance of Climate Transient Response and socio-economic factors leading to earth system computer models and projections for future warming. Mitigation and adaption strategies outlined in the reports rely heavily on Bio Energy and Carbon Capture and Storage.
Carbon Capture is one of the features of a new type of natural gas-based turbine electricity generation based on the Allam Cycle. A demonstration 50 mW system came online in Texas, USA last year and there is a proposal for a future 300 mW plant in New Zealand.
The system relies on burning natural gas with pure oxygen at high pressure in a combustor, producing super critical CO2 feeding into a conventional type of turbine at 300 bar pressure and 1150 degrees C temperature. The output of the turbine is completely recovered and most of it is ‘recuperated’ and fed back into the oxygen and natural gas mixture in the combustor. Only a relatively small amount of CO2 is not reused, but it is fully captured and there are no emissions of gas to the atmosphere. Water is also an output.
www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/ www.ipcc.ch/sr15/download/ www.ipcc.ch/report/srccl/
The emphasis of July’s session was how artificial intelligence can be used to enhance human capability rather than replace it. We looked at a number of TED Talks which reflected that.
The first was about the incredible inventions of intuitive AI:
The third referred to a device which allows mind and machine to work together with extraordinary results. There is much research in this by people like Elon Musk and the usual suspects from the Tech giants
We also saw how the future of surgery might be affected by AI:
Tech Savvy Talks this month was about Space.
There has been great interest in Space over the last few years in Australia almost entirely lead by private organisations rather than the government. This interest has been fanned by low earth orbiting satellite technology which is very much cheaper to implement than geosynchronous satellites mainly used for communications in the past and are of course still being used. The pressure from private organisations forced the government to establish The Australian Space Agency last year. It is part of the Department of Innovation and Science, with a staff of 20 and a budget of $20 m.
The reason for this is that with low earth orbiting (Leo’s) the orbit radius is only of the order of 1000 km above the earth compared with 22,600 for the geosynchronous case. This means that much smaller and lower powered, hence cheaper satellites can be used. However with the nonsynchronous satellites a much larger number of satellites is needed to provide continuous coverage at any point on the earth.
Leo’s have been launched both from the International Space Station and by Elon Musk’s series of large recoverable rockets from his SpaceX program. The first 60 of an expected 10,000 plus satellites was recently launched which is to provide a global internet service.
As an introduction to cryptocurrency, Bitcoin and Blockchain, we were fascinated by a video from Coldfusion explaining how money works. Banks, particularly central banks have never been popular for many, many years. Little seems to have changed. They have always operated in great secrecy and in the case of central banks with unlimited power. They are responsible it seems to nobody. The only countries in the world without a central bank are North Korea, Iran and Cuba. Until the late 20th century all countries currencies were tied to the US dollar and the various central banks held reserves in $US. The Federal Reserve was in turn backed by gold. In 1971 President Nixon severed the connection between the $US and gold. The $US is now backed by…..nothing! In turn currencies tied to the $US are also backed by nothing. Australia was also in the same situation until 1983 when Treasurer Keating floated the $A. The producer of the Coldfusion blamed the 1939 recession on the actions of the Federal Reserve and the GFC in 2008 was partly blamed on the Federal Reserve, for lowering interest rates to an unheard of (until then) 1% causing a housing bubble and the crash that followed. It seems that modern economies are debt economies and rely on debt for successful functioning. Without debt there is no new money!
The crash of 2008 inspired the enigmatic Satoshi Nakamoto to develop a proposal for a crypto currency called Bitcoin in a 9 page seminal paper called Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System. In January 2009, the bitcoin network came into existence with Satoshi Nakamoto mining the genesis block of bitcoin with a reward of 50 bitcoins.
A second Coldfusion video briefly describes Bitcoin and explains at some length, what else the Blockchain/Distributed Ledger Technology could also be used for.
After a break we had a closer look at the nuts and bolts of Bitcoin, including cryptographic hashes and double key digital signatures. The application of Distributed Ledger Technology to Australia’s ASX was also considered and the reasons why it was different. For example the ASX implementation is highly centralised and not peer to peer, it is not immutable, that is entries can be edited, and also there are legal aspects together with the fact that the required throughput is hundreds of thousands of transactions per day which Bitcoin’s Blockchain cannot match.
Many commentators liken the introduction of Bitcoin and Blockchain of equal importance to the introduction of the internet.
Further reading: https://demoblockchain.org/coinbase
The Techsavvy Talks group had the pleasure of spending the April meeting at the Benalla Gliding Club, courtesy of Tim Shirley, vice president, Gliding Club of Victoria.
Tim started by asking what our interests were being under the impression we were interested only in computery things. Our reply was …”everything”.
So we had a wide ranging talk from Tim, initially covering the various essential technologies involved in communications and instrumentation such as altimeter, compass, airspeed indicator, variometer, specialized “sat nav”, emergency position beacon, piece of string over the canopy, etc.
Tim didn’t get very far before the questions started coming related to finding and staying on various sized thermals, the effects of terrain, being strongly forced upwards when crossing mountains, glide ratio, the effect of flying along ridges, for example along the cliffs of Dover, or flying from one end of New Zealand to the other.
I think Tim felt like some respite and decided to show us around his own personal glider, a very fine aircraft. Again he was met with a barrage of questions but we had the impression it was a labour of love this time.
We heard about water ballast, air brakes, flaps, those funny shaped things at the wing tips etc.
We greatly appreciated the time that Tim spent with us and a big thank you to Tim.
Photos: Malcolm Sanders
Jennifer Clemow, an Olefins Applications Engineer from Qenos gave us an interesting presentation on the production of various industrial use outputs from the Qenos Melbourne Petrochemical plant. She spoke about the long history of the plant which uses natural gas as the feedstock. Jennifer’s role is in the design, development and implementation of computer based control systems to maximise the safety of the plant while at the same time ensuring the profitability of the plant. The presentation was well received and the half hour presentation quickly blew out to an hour with the discussion and many questions that followed
. Les Rodgers with Jennifer Clemow
After the break we viewed an interview with Bill Gates centred around his role in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. This group was formed at the time of the Paris accord when he lobbied a number of fellow wealthy people to form a coalition to fund innovative research. The research is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and only those research projects which expect to reduce greenhouse gas by half a percent or more are being funded
Two examples which were discussed included the production of meat grown from cells from live animals such as chicken and wagyu beef. The other example was the funding of a nuclear fusion generator, the holy grail of nuclear power because of its extraordinary efficiency & safety. We ran out of time so will hold over the discussion until later in the semester.
Our next session will be an excursion to the Benalla Gliding Club on Wednesday April 10. We will meet at Gliding Club at 11am.
I thought we might take a break from 5g for a while because we have a visitor Jennifer Clemow from Qenos, who is going to tell us all about sensors, actuators and supervisory systems and computers in controlling a petro–chemical plant.
Jennifer Clemow is a chemical engineer with 28 years experience as a process control and automation engineer in the petrochemical industry. She has worked much of her career at Qenos Australia (Melbourne plant) on configuration of control systems and implementation of advanced control. She has also worked internationally for Aspen Technology, Singapore, on implementation of advanced control for plants in Malaysia and the USA, and worked for ExxonMobil in Singapore on start up of one of the worlds largest ethylene crackers. Jennifer was the 2012 PACE ZENITH award winner in the oil and gas section and runner up for the Brodie prize at APCChE/CHEMECA 2015.
Also we have an interesting interview about innovation with Bill Gates, formerly the world’s richest man having been deposed this year by Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame. Mind you the divorce settlement may change that back again. A notable philanthropist, Bill Gates talks about the likeminded group (eg Richard Branston et al) that he coerced into setting up a $billion innovation fund during the Paris agreement negotiations.
Next month we have a visit to the gliding club organized. More about that later.
This session commenced with a number of short videos about autonomous aircraft, possibly for use as Uber style taxis.
We also viewed a Wall Street Journal video of future technologies exploring the use of autonomous aircraft particularly for military applications.
There seem to be fewer difficulties with autonomous aircraft than there are with autonomous road transport.
The second part of this month’s meeting was devoted to 5 G. The 3GPP standard called 5 G NR was finalized and released last year. NR stands for New Radio and implies two methods of implementing the technology, one being 5 G NR SA, which is a Stand Alone version for new base stations. The second is 5 G NR NSA or Non-Stand Alone, which allows for the use of the existing 4 G LTE network to simplify and speed up implementation. Two frequency bands will be used for 5 G, these are less than 6 gHz and greater than 15 gHz. The later is now called millimeter waves
We viewed a video produced by Ericsson, the well-known manufacturer of telecommunications equipment. This video showed what we might expect from 5 G
(This video and other Ericsson resources on 5 G - https://www.ericsson.com/en/5g/what-is-5g)
We also saw a Nokia video showing the effect of lower latency:
We generally discussed the specifications, which allows the network to be split into slices depending on requirements. The main slices are:
In all cases lower power consumption is required for both user equipment (now called Ue) and base station equipment.
The enabling technology to achieve these standards is Massive MIMO with beam forming and active antennas and precoding. We saw a video by Thomas Marzetta from the Bell Labs who was responsible for the development of these.
We looked at what these technologies involved. As they say, ‘it’s complicated’.
While Massive MIMO can be explained using elementary linear algebra, explaining how multiple interferences caused by multipath propagation from nearby buildings and even the atmosphere is a problem in radio communications, it is not easily explained how that can be turned to a huge advantage in massive MIMO without using mathematics. The best way is to let the maths flow past and look at the results. In Marzetta’s paper in the limiting case, with an infinite number of antennas, the interference and noise disappear leaving only the enhanced required signal. Massive MIMO uses hundreds or thousands of antennas depending on the frequency band. 4 G LTE uses 4 or 8.
We will finish discussion of 5G and its implementation next month.
Tech Savvy Talks for February will include a Ted Talk about autonomous aircraft for use as taxis. An Uber air service for local trips without a driver! Also a video on actual prototype autonomous aircraft in action.
Five G is now a reality at least for Optus with a fixed service at two locations in the ACT, and more promised elsewhere. Telstra is also gearing up to deploy services this year. It is time that we had a closer look at what this new technology is and its benefits. Five G was inspired by a new method for mobile wireless communications in a paper in 2010 by Thomas Marzetta who now owns a number of patents. This had the potential to give startling increases in speed and throughput, decreased power consumption and cheaper handsets and accordingly the specification for 5G started that year. It has been a long time coming and much work has gone into finalizing the specification and designing the building blocks for the system now called 5G.
NR. NR equals new radio. We will look at it in two parts over two months with the first part a more general view.
This month in a rather packed session we looked at some digital assistance technology. Bev demonstrated her Google Digital Assistant for us and fun was had by all in giving it instructions and its response to those requests. We even had some music from Scotland as well as episodes of Late Night Live, as a result of requests of it.
Videos of other assistance technology were shown for example Alexa, Amazon’s version of a digital assistant where you can actually order products from Amazon, by instructing Alexa. Unfortunately Alexa sends only what she thinks is appropriate.
Of particular interest to older people was Apple’s latest digital watch. Apart from telling the time (it seems a minor requirement for a watch now) it can detect when you have had a hard fall and if you don’t respond within a minute it will ring an emergency number for you. Other health features apart from the usual such as heart rate, include monitoring atrial fibrillation which would be of interest to some. Another convenience is that it can be paired to your mobile phone service, and can be used as a phone. Useful for those who don’t have their phones welded to their hand
We brought ourselves up to date with the latest in driverless cars and discussed the things that lead up to the death of a woman wheeling her bike across a four lane highway in Arizona. She was struck by the Uber autonomous car (with a driver on board). After about a seven month investigation Huber have put in place a much more rigorous testing regime.
RACWA have purchased a level four autonomous vehicle at a cost of $500,000 for trial in Western Australia. The small bus which was purchased has an unusually large number of sensors, including three costly Lidars, six cameras, radars and ultrasonic sensors. The trials should lead to legislation for the operation of autonomous vehicles in that state. It is something of an anomaly that the first level three autonomous car is available for sale in Australia but is disabled due to lack of required legislation.
Hydrogen power for electric fuel cell cars has had a boost with CSIRO research into the production of hydrogen from the use of metal membrane technology using ammonia. The idea is to transport liquid ammonia to your local garage where it would be converted to hydrogen on site in a simple process. A number of fuel cell vehicles are being trialled in Australia, including Melbourne, at the present time.
A video proposing wide scale use of hydrogen was discussed. The advantage of hydrogen is that its use produces zero greenhouse gases. Ideal for backup of intermittent renewable energy.
Finally we viewed a video of a TED Talk by Tom Gruber, the designer of Apple’s Siri. He is urging the development of AI as an enhancement of human capability rather than a competitor to it.
This video prompted some interesting discussion. It is interesting to note the timeline for an implant to ameliorate the effects of dementia is slated for 2030. That would be good to bring forward!
Les was indisposed this month so we didn't have our regular meeting. However Tech Savvy talkers met at the Northo later in the month with the topic for discussion - the evolution of the mobile phone into a smart phone, it's now a device - what's next? Can it be a replacement for the NBN with or without 5G?
This month Tech Savvy Talkers looked at the exciting new technology of CRISPR Cas9 for use as a gene editing tool. This technology was awarded “Breakthrough of the Year 2015” by the prestigious Science magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
This tool allows editing, ie removing or replacing a single base pair of the 3 billion in a DNA sequence of the human genome or of course replacing whole genes. The co-inventor of the process, Jennifer Doudna likens it to using a word processor for editing text. The ramifications are far reaching ranging from curing genetic diseases in humans or animals ie blood diseases or types of cancer, creating new types of medication, modifying crops etc. One application of great importance is the ability to eradicate whole species such as the malaria causing mosquito which kills one thousand children a day at present. There could be unforeseen impacts of doing so. This known as a gene drive. Designer humans are also theoretically possible. The great strength of CRISPR is the ease and low cost of using the technology. This also its greatest threat.
There are many moral and ethical issues similar to those for AI and there is a worry that the technology is advancing so quickly that the regulators are unable to keep up.
Videos that we used follow...
The themes of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) featured on Gruen Transfer early in September - the thought provoking segment starts about 3 mins in and lasts for around 26 mins. It's available until Oct 8 on iView .... https://iview.abc.net.au/show/gruen-xl
This month Tech Savvy Talkers had an excursion to the Wangaratta GOTAFE where the Innovation Hub was the subject of our visit.
The Innovation Hub is managed by Craig Murphy who generously spent two hours with us to explain what it is all about. He also demonstrated some of the equipment for us.
The Hub has come a long way from an initial grant application in 2016 to what is a very well equipped facility today.The Hub has already had a relocation in its short life and is now located in a new area which is currently being expanded to include additional functions.
Craig explained that the thinking behind the facility is that it is based on the worldwide Maker Movement in that it provides working space for students, local business, industry and the community at large. Digital Disruption, Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things and the need to be responsive to product development and lead times were all considered when designing the Innovation Hub.The vision is to provide a ‘one stop shop’ where people from all walks of life can come together and learn and grow in a safe non-threatening environment.
The equipment includes quite a number of 3d printers of various types including resin and plastic filament and a 3d scanner to reproduce a software model for later printing by the 3d printer. Also included is a very sophisticated CO2 laser cutter and etcher (able to cut wood up to about 10 mm thick and etch anodised aluminium). The etcher can be driven by the well known Adobe and Autodesk software such as Photoshop and Autocad.
Other items of interest were the vacuum former for making plastic objects from a mould. A garment printer is also available for reproduction of artwork on suitable material. We were taken with the small robot based on an Arduino micro computer board together with the various actuators to make it do something. While this was assembled from a kit, the plastic components could easily be obtained by using the 3d printers and the software developed by local enthusiastic students etc.
The two hours passed quickly and we all enjoyed our visit. After thanking Craig profusely, those of us who had the time enjoyed lunch at The Hollywood in Wangaratta.
Coffee at the Northo this month was highlighted by Malcolm’s presentation of his adventures in the UK particularly in regard to travelling the canal system and also the technologies he and his family saw at the Farnborough air show. Most impressive was the new lightweight Airbus 350. The A350 uses a combination of materials, including plastic reinforced by carbon fibre, along with titanium and aluminium alloys. More than 70 per cent of the aircraft is made of lightweight materials. Aerobatic helicopters with ‘outside’ loop the loop capability were also amazing. Sadly, the canal system technology relying more on brawn (in this case Malcolm’s wife’s) was not nearly so impressive but none the less interesting.
Tech Savvy Talks will return from a winter break on Wednesday August 8th, meeting at 9.15 am in the car park for an excursion to GOTAFE’s Innovation Hub in Wangaratta.
Then on Thursday August 23rd the ‘Tech Savvy Talkers’ will meet at ‘The Northo’ at 3pm to catch up on items and issues of interest.
Our last meeting consisted of a short talk about the origins of coffee from about the 15th century onwards. Some surprising facts were that it is the most traded agricultural commodity in the world and the second most traded after petroleum. The industry employs over 100 million people worldwide mainly in the production of green beans in developing countries. Other interesting facts are that it spread across the world quite rapidly after an Islam mystic Brother Baba Budan smuggled seven seeds into Yemen and grew the Coffea Arabica bushes. We also looked at the development of roasting and grinding methods which are now quite sophisticated. The evolution of brewing machines started around the beginning of the 20th century with the first true espresso machine being produced in 1947. Technological improvements followed quite rapidly and today’s machines, both home and commercial take full advantage of today’s technologies. The presentation closed with a short video of a café latte complete with latte art being produced robotically using the latest machines.
Brian Howard showed us some of the model heat engines that he has produced with his great skill. One works simply on hot water while a second was a miniature steam engine.
Bev lead a discussion on podcasting, which was new to most members. There is a huge range of podcasts available both audio and video based on a great variety of topics and music. Very useful when driving or at night if sleep isn’t coming so easily. We will look into this further next semester.
Speaking of next semester we discussed greater involvement by the members of the group and decided that for next semester it might be better if I lead the first hour of a session and others might be able finish the second half with topics of interest to them personally. Because of the absence of a number of members in July it was agreed to have a break that month and start in August with a possible excursion as the first meeting.
Photograph - Malcolm Sanders
Seeing that the instigator of quantum computing, Richard Feynman, would have been be 100 years old this month and our Australian of the year Michelle Simmons, is a whiz on quantum computing, quantum computing was the focus of our May session. As part of a most informative session presented by Les, we watched a presentation by Richard Feynman ‘Probability & Uncertainty – the Quantum Mechanical View of Nature’ on You Tube, followed by a video segment Women in Science - Michelle Simmons.
Throughout May there have been many emails between members about next steps in terms of the NBN, with some members now choosing from available plans, receiving new routers, being connected, monitoring internet speeds and comparing them with what they have been used to.
NBN and related topics were also shared at a most convivial ‘Tech Savvy Talkers at the Northo’ session in late May.
Members are asked to put their thinking hats on then contact Les on 5762 7600 with a technology/science related topic of interest they could add to the agenda for 15 minutes at our session on 13th June. It could be a 'show and tell'; a book review; Ted Talk, documentary of interest or a presentation on a topic about which you are intrigued or have a passion. This isn't compulsory, but a great opportunity to give Les a break if you have a topic you'd like to present.
Bev Lee and Les Rodgers
'Digital Assistants’ have been on the agenda at a recent Thursday afternoon coffee meeting and at our regular session this month. There are four main alternatives, which are Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft. Of these Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ appears to be the most innovative, with an enhanced voice recognition algorithm able to recognize individual account owner’s voices and proposed use of the owner’s voice as a password for access to the account. Up to ten different voices can be recorded.
We watched a short video clip demonstrating how to set up Alexa with the latest version of the digital assistant. The video also demonstrated how Alexa would only recognize the account owner’s voice and rejected others. However it also showed how it could be foiled by a recording of the owner’s voice. Since Amazon is also considering developing a finance capacity similar to PayPal using Alexa, further enhancement of the security will be needed.
Our Ted Talk this time was by Scott Galloway, a Professor of marketing from NYU. The talk was entitled “How Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google manipulate our emotions.”The combined market capitalization of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google is now greater than the GDP of India (and Australia).
In this spectacular and controversial rant, Scott Galloway shared insights and eye-opening stats about their dominance and motivation. Some interesting discussion followed the video..
We also followed up on the 5G mobile demonstration by Telstra at the Gold Coast during the Commonwealth Games using some cutting edge technology. We noted the evolution of Telstra from a telephone company to a data services company which will involve the “shuttering” of 2500 local telephone exchanges and converting the remainder to distributed data centres. There will also be additional data centres located between the major data centres and the local facilities. This is needed for edge computing vis a vis cloud computing where fast acting low latence transmission is required for the IOT. Fifty percent of mobile traffic is still expected to go over the 4G network.
About 'Tech Savvy Talks'
Are you reasonably ‘Tech Savvy’ and keen to continue developing your knowledge base? Then this ‘Tech Savvy’ discussion group may be of interest. Monthly sessions include viewing of topical ‘TED Talks’; presentations on topics of interest by class members or guest speakers; shared news of developments across a range of technologies such as 'robotics'; 'alternative options to baseload energy'; 'driverless cars'; 'alternative vehicles' and more. Topics discussed include developments in science as well as technology.
Second Wednesday 11 am to 1 pm U3A Meeting Room
Neville Gibb 0428 858 688 will facilitate a team effort by group members to develop and deliver sessions of interest in 2020.
Resources from Ian McLeod's 'Making the Most of the Internet' course which preceded Tech Savvy:
Links and references
Developed and maintained by members, this website showcases U3A Benalla & District.
Photographs - acknowledgment to U3A members; Benalla Art Gallery website;
Weebly 'Free' images;Travel Victoria and
State Library of Victoria