Tag Archives: Technology

​How Africa Led the World in Science and Technology

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“When Europeans first came to Africa, they considered the architecture very disorganized and thus primitive. It never occurred to them that the Africans might have been using a form of mathematics that they hadn’t even discovered yet.”

Africa has the world’s oldest record of human technological achievement: the oldest stone tools in the world and evidence for tool production by our hominin ancestors have been found in eastern Africa and across Sub-Saharan Africa respectively.

Despite notable African developments in medicine, mathematics, metallurgy and technology in the past, today Africa lags far behind other regions of the world and gives too little or no attention to science and technology.

Let’s take a look at some historic technological achievements in Africa:

Mathematics

Ancient Egyptian mathematicians had a grasp of the principles underlying the Pythagorean theorem. They were able to estimate the area of a circle by subtracting one-ninth from its diameter and squaring the result.

Timbuktu in Mali was a major centre of the sciences. All of the mathematical learning of the Islamic world during the medieval period was available and advanced by Timbuktu scholars: arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.

The binary numeral system which lead to the development of the digital computer was widely known through Africa before it was known throughout much of the world.

Astronomy

Egyptians were the first to develop a 365-day, 12-month calendar. It was a stellar calendar, created by observing the stars.

Even today, South Africa has cultivated a burgeoning astronomy community. It hosts the Southern African Large Telescope, the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere.

South Africa is currently building the Karoo Array Telescope as a pathfinder for the $20 billion Square Kilometre Array project.

Metallurgy

Iron use, in smelting and forging for tools, appears in West Africa by 1200 BCE, making it one of the first places for the birth of the Iron Age.

Besides being masters in iron, Africans were masters in brass and bronze. Ife in Nigeria, produced life like statues in brass, an artistic tradition beginning in the 13th century.

Benin also in Nigeria mastered bronze during the 16th century, produced portraiture and reliefs in the metal using the lost wax process. They also were a manufacturer of glass and glass beads.

Medicine

The knowledge of inoculating oneself against smallpox seems to have been known to the Akan of Ghana and Ivory Coast. A slave named Onesimus explained the inoculation procedure to Cotton Mather during the 18th century; he reported to have gotten the knowledge from Africa.

In Djenné, Mali, the mosquito was identified to be the cause of malaria, and the removal of cataracts was a common surgical procedure. Based on Timbuktu manuscripts, the dangers of tobacco smoking were known already to African scholars.

Ancient Egyptian physicians were renowned for their healing skills, Herodotus remarked that there was a high degree of specialization among Egyptian physicians, with some treating only the head or the stomach, while others were eye-doctors and dentists.

Ancient Egyptian surgeons stitched wounds, set broken bones, and amputated diseased limbs. Around 800, the first psychiatric hospital in Egypt was built by physicians in Cairo.

Around 1100, the ventilator was invented in Egypt.In 1285, the largest hospital of the Middle Ages and pre-modern era was built in Cairo, Egypt, by Sultan Qalaun al-Mansur.

Tetracycline was being used by Nubians, based on bone remains between 350 AD and 550 AD. The antibiotic was in wide commercial use only in the mid-20th century.

The theory is earthen jars containing grain used for making Nubian beer contained the bacterium streptomycedes, which produced tetracycline. Although Nubians were not aware of tetracycline, they could have noticed people fared better by drinking beer.

Successful Caesarean section was performed by indigenous healers in Kahura, Uganda, as observed by R. W. Felkin in 1879. European travellers in the Great Lakes region of Africa (Uganda and Rwanda) during the 19th century observed Caesarean sections being performed on a regular basis.

The expectant mother was normally anesthetized with banana wine, and herbal mixtures were used to encourage healing. From the well-developed nature of the procedures employed, European observers concluded that they had been employed for some time.

A South African, Max Theiler, developed a vaccine against yellow fever in 1937. The first human-to-human heart transplant was performed by South African cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard at Groote Schuur Hospital in December 1967.

During the 1960s, South African Aaron Klug developed crystallographic electron microscopy techniques, in which a sequence of two-dimensional images of crystals taken from different angles are combined to produce three-dimensional images of the target.

Today

The coming of the Europeans to Africa hindered further scientific and technological advancement in Africa.

The continent still has great scientific minds: Ahmed Zewail, an Egyptian won the 1999 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work in femtochemistry, methods that allow the description of change states in femtoseconds or very short seconds; but 40% of African-born scientists live outside Africa because African countries invest too little or nothing in science and technology Research and Development.

Sub-Saharan African countries spent on average a meagre 0.3% of their GDP on Science and Technology in 2007. North African countries spend a comparative 0.4% of GDP on research.

Notably outstripping other African countries, South Africa spends 0.87% of GDP on science and technology research. Although there are many technology parks in the world there is none in Africa.

There are over 500 Science and Technology centres in the world but only two in the whole of Africa. This is how far Africa has fallen in Science and Technology.

Today, Africa is shadow of herself. The continent can hardly even show the remains of her glorious era of scientific and technological advancement, net even science or technology museums to showcase whatever remained.

The Nigerian Government Plans to Establish a Science and Technology Development Bank

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The Nigerian government plans to establish a Science and Technology Development Bank, a government official said on Tuesday.

According to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the bank would assist the informal sector to close the technological gap and give financial assistance for research and innovation activities.

The Minister made the announcement at a meeting with the National Association of Motor Mechanics and Technicians in Abuja.

He told the gathering that the ministry had commenced the process of establishing the bank, with a view to implementing a venture capital component to improve the process of technological development.

Credit: ChannelsTv

Google’s AlphaGo A.I. Defeats World Champion at the Game of Go

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The boundaries for what machines cannot do has been pushed a little farther, as Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo has beaten Go world champion Lee Se-dol in the first five matches.

AlphaGo is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) robot. It can think by itself. After a 3 1/2 hour game, Se-dol conceded to the computer.

This is only the first match, but Se-dol expected a 5-0 sweep on his part. During a press conference after the match, Se-dol hung his head.

“I didn’t know AlphaGo would play such a perfect game,” he said.

Demis Hassabis, founder and CEO of DeepMind, compared this win to landing on the moon in a tweet after the match was called.

Go was thought to be unplayable by a machine at a champion level, because the game is so complex. This idea was shattered in October 2015, when AlphaGo beat European chamption Fan Hui, but skeptics still believed that Se-dol would best the machine.

Behind the scenes, Google has been tweaking AlphaGo, learning from the mistakes it make in the 2015 match with Hui. That seems to have paid off, as even Se-dol, who studied the few previous AlphaGo games was surprised about how well the machine performed.

Much like Garry Kasparov in 1997, Se-dol also has not had very much access to games that AlphaGo has played, besides the 5 against Hui. Normally, both players would be able to analyze the other’s playing style and prepare themselves. On the other hand, it might not have mattered, since the computer doesn’t have a set personality or preferential style—it just looks to win.

The second match will take place Thursday, March 10 at 1 p.m. KST (or Wednesday, March 9 at 11 p.m. EST for us in the West).

The Difference Between a Programmer, a Hacker, and a Developer

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Programmer is someone who can solve problems by by manipulating computer code. They can have a wide range of skill levels—from just being “ok” with basic scripting to being an absolute sorcerer with any language.

Hacker is someone who makes things. In this context, it’s someone who makes things by programming computers. This is the original, and purest definition of the term, i.e., that you have an idea and you “hack” something together to make it work. It also applies to people who modify things to significantly change their functionality, but less so.

Developer is a formally trained programmer. They don’t just solve problems or create things, but do so in accordance with a set of design and implementation principles. These include things like performance, maintainability, scale, robustness, and (ideally) security.

In short, all three solve problems using code. Programmer is the umbrella term which means problem solver, a Hacker is the creator/tinkerer, and a Developer is a formally trained programmer who doesn’t just solve problems but does so in a structured and disciplined way likely learned as part of a formal education.

Relationships
People can be any combination of these. Here’s how they relate to each other:

All hackers and developers are programmers. Many programmers, and even developers, are not creative enough to be considered hackers. Many programmers, and even hackers, are not educated or experienced enough to be considered developers

Ideally, one would strive to be all three, i.e., creative enough to be considered a hacker, but with enough formal training and experience to design softwarerather than simply…well, hackingit together.

But even if you aren’t very creative, and/or lack the education and/or experience to properly build massive applications, you should still be proud to be a programmer. Solving problems using code is a superpower by itself.

Notes
A “coder” is basically a synonym for programmer.

Hacking is often, but not always, associated with poor quality. This is because it usually takes place in a rush of creativity that is best not slowed by the friction of doing things properly. In cases where a hacker is also a developer, or has an eye for design and quality elsewise, they almost inevitably have to come back to their creations afterward and clean them up.

The determination of who gets called a hacker and who doesn’t is a contentious one. The basic rules that most agree on include 1) that you need to have made one or more things that people find useful, and 2) be recognized as a hacker by other hackers.

In the security world, a hacker also means multiple things. For testers it usually means someone who understands systems and can defeat their security controls. In the top tiers of security, however, the definition returns to its more pure form, i.e. someone who creates security software or tools used by others.

In popular culture, hacker means computer criminal. Within the security world that type of actor is often referred to as an “attacker”.

Eric Raymond, a notable programmer and personality in the original computer community, defines a hacker like so, “An intelligent, creative, and open-minded individual who enjoys problem-solving, learning, and the sharing of knowledge above all else.”

“Software Engineer” is synonymous with Developer. It implies a formal education in the core concepts of software architecture, design, and the requisite pre-education to support.

By Daniel Miessler

Africa Must Produce its Own Technology

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Such a proposal might sound outlandish while so many people still lack basic necessities like food, clean water and medicine. In the long view of history, however, mathematics and science have served as the foundation of modern society because they underlie every technology – from plumbing to telecommunications, medicine to satellites.

But the continent has another problem. It is largely a consumer rather than a producer of the technologies it needs. If this doesn’t change, Africa will remain dependent and subject to outside control, its economies dominated by others’ exploitation of its natural resources. Africa will never escape from its reliance on international aid until it builds the capacity to develop itself.

Computers, mobile communications, and medical technologies are the modern engines of commerce, prosperity and public health. Africa will remain sidelined in these areas unless it nurtures its own experts, pioneers, and innovators.

Culled from The Conversation

Meet the Nigerian who makes Drone for the U.S Army

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Nigerian born, Dr. Osatohanmwen Osemwengie has been an integral member of the American armed forces, building drones for the United States Army. These drones are used for surveillance to gather important information, as well as take out terrorist camps.

Dr. Osatohanmwen Osemwengie, who comes from Benin, Edo state, joins the list of Nigerians making a difference around the world.

Here’s what you should know about Dr. Osato Osemwengie:

1.  He is a successful academic

Dr. Osemwengie has four graduate degrees, a Doctorate degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Cincinnati. He is currently working on his 5th and 6th Master’s degree in software engineering at Regis University and Information Systems at the Keller Graduate School of Management.

2. He is the founder of a US-based University

Dr. Osato Osemwengie is the founder of the Open Robotics University; a tuition free engineering degree-granting university that allows people to further exercise their talents and expand their knowledge into all fields related to engineering.

3. His skill sets him apart from other educational administrators

Dr. Osemwengie was selected in 2008 to present at the world robotics championships, having expertly coached robotics and served as software engineering mentor to robotics teams.

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4. He has been recognized both at home and abroad.

Prior to his trip to the United States in 1982, Dr. Osemwengie served as an administrator of  the College of Education, Benin City and was recognized as their Educator of the Year for securing funding used to design and implement pre-service teacher education programs.

He served as the Administrator of the Columbus City School System from 1992 to 2011, where he coordinated staff and student recruitment. He also developed programs to increase staff and student retention. He also taught for five years (1987- 1992) in the aforementioned school district. Dr. Osemwengie was a facilitator for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation- sponsored Ohio Leadership for Integrating Technology Initiative (OLIT).

It is true that the science is fast becoming an integral component in the battle of influences all over the world.

Source: Ventures Africa

WhatsApp Will Stop Working On BlackBerry Phones At The End Of 2016

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The world of smartphones looks very different to the one WhatsApp was born in seven years ago. Today BlackBerry has approximately 1% of the market, but in 2009 it was a world-leading smartphone vendor.

It made sense over the years for WhatsApp to support all the main mobile platforms in its efforts to be accessible to everyone.

Now the facebook-owned company has decided that platform ubiquity is not worth the limitations that can bring to developing new features.

WhatsApp will be ending its support for all BlackBerry devices, even the most up-to-date models, at the end of 2016, the company says in a blog post.

It’ll also end support for Nokia S40, Nokia Symbian S60, Windows Phone 7.1 and older version of Android, 2.1 and 2.2.

The problem isn’t just that these platforms aren’t relevant to smartphone users anymore, but limited in what they can do with forthcoming features that WhatsApp has planned, it said.

“While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future,” the company said.

“This was a tough decision for us to make,” it added, “but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using WhatsApp.”

Source: Forbes Magazine

Nigeria Has Neglected Science and Technology – Onu

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The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has disclosed that Nigeria has never paid sufficient attention to Science and Technology, which he said is one of the major factors that hindered the nation’s development.

He said this yesterday at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) 2015 Convocation lecture tagged, “Positioning Nigeria as the Technology Hub of Africa” held at the institution’s main auditorium.

The guest lecturer noted that there are many technological gaps which the nation have allowed to exist for a very long time.

According to him, Nigeria has never paid sufficient attention to Science and Technology, noting that pupils and students run away from the study of Mathematics and Science in primary and secondary schools.

“Many parents discourage their children from pursuing a career in Science, Engineering and Technology. Very limited work is done in research and development in the industry, universities and research institutes.

“Indeed, most of the industries depend on the research work done in their home countries. Very little attention is paid to the innovation going on in order to harness the creativity of our people in the informal sector”, Onu stated.

The minister stressed that Nigeria must embrace knowledge and emphasise technology as an important instrument for national development, saying it would arm the nation with the necessary tool to address economic challenges.

“As I speak, we must seek for alternative ways, which science and technology offer, to diversify our economy, reduce poverty, protect our environment, defeat illiteracy, create jobs, recreate the middle class, check insecurity and restore honour and accountability in the conduct of government business.

“History has shown that no nation that has made sustainable progress has been able to do so without emphasising science and technology. Such emphasis sustained over a long period of time has always helped to quicken the pace of economic growth and development”, he added.

Dr. Ogbonnaya maintained that “It is our intention to initially build a Science and Technology museum in order to show our rich past in technology and also explain how technological ideas are conceived, nurtured and developed as well as acquaint the people with perceptible ideas of how science and technology can be utilised to advance the frontiers of human progress”.

The minister who was part of the institution alumni therefore promised that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration through the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology will work speedily to close all technology gaps in the country.

“In the near future, the Federal Ministry of Science of ‎technology, as a way to encourage local development of technology, will come out with practical steps to appeal to Nigerians to patronise made in Nigeria good”, he stated.

Part of the dignitaries present were former head of State, Earnest Shonekan, General Ladipo Diya, White Cap chiefs amongst others.

HP Is Launching A Windows 10 Phone That Can Be Turned To A PC

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HP Inc. — the PC and printer side of the recently split HP – is trying to get back into the phone game with an interesting approach.

At Mobile World Congress, HP announced the Elite x3, a phablet (3.29 x 0.31 x 6.36 inches) designed for enterprise customers. But it’s not just a big smartphone – the device can be paired with two accessories that turn the device into either a desktop computer or laptop.

The phone will run Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile operating system and will take advantage of Microsoft’s Continuum feature, which lets developers make universal apps that run on any screen size: PCs, phones, tablet, Xbox One and even HoloLens, Microsoft’s foray into augmented reality headsets.

There are three parts to HP’s Elite x3. First is the phone equipped with Qualcomm’s latest high-end mobile “system on a chip,” the Snapdragon 820. The chip will have all the processing power to turn it into a PC. “For the first time, mobile chips can rival PC workloads,” said Michael Park, the vice president and general manager of HP’s mobility division, in an interview.

To turn the phone into a desktop PC, HP is creating the “Desk Dock” that supports an external monitor. Plug the phablet into this docking station and hook it up to a larger screen. For a laptop experience, HP has a 12.5-inch diagonal high-definition display that folds up with a keyboard and trackpad. Inside the laptop is just WiFi radio and a big battery — about two and a half times larger than a normal laptop battery. The phablet will connect to the laptop through WiFi direct or a USB cable.

For apps that can’t run on the phone — many of the traditional workplace apps were developed  on Intel’s x86 chip architecture and built for traditional mouse and keyboard interactions — HP is offering a catalog of these apps that can be virtualized. HP plans to start selling the Elite x3 this summer and pricing hasn’t been determined yet.

HP hasn’t had much luck in mobile so far. The company killed off its phone division for the most part in 2011, after having spent $1 billion acquiring Palm. Palm isn’t likely to have much luck in the consumer smartphone market, as that segment has matured and the dominant players have mostly been set. Attempts at introducing a new smartphone brand for consumers is close to impossible at this point. But HP thinks the business market has plenty of openings left. HP is jumping back into the phone game because it thinks it has a chance to address the growing need for business-specific phones that integrate with legacy enterprise software made for the PC era.

“For us, it’s difficult to lead on the consumer side,” Park said. “The real pain point is in commercial. All the x86 apps are trapped in the PC world. What we’re doing is building a bridge to the future. We think HP can really differentiate there.”

This new mobile effort from HP provides a pretty compelling answer for what Microsoft’s future mobile strategy could be. Another phone that supported the 
continuum feature is the Lumia 950, which relied on a weaker Qualcomm processor. Now a company like HP is willing to try out this approach and run with it. “This is the best implementation of Continuum I’ve seen so far,” said technology analyst Patrick Moorhead, who has had a chance to get a hands-on demo of the phone.

“Windows 10 was built for an era of more personal computing, one in which your experiences, content and data are mobile with you,” said Microsoft CEO  Satya Nadella in a statement. “Together with partners including HP andQualcomm, we are focused on enabling customers to be productive wherever they are, furthering our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

“You’re going to see a lot more phones like this in the future,” Moorhead said. “Smartphone growth has been leveling out. People are looking for ways to make smartphones do more.”

Source: Forbs Magazine