Facebook just bought a furniture shopping startup

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facebook-shop

Facebook has acquired GrokStyle, a shopping startup that uses AI to help you buy furniture and other items for the home. The move, which was reported by Bloomberg, is the latest sign yet that the social network is looking to push deeper into e-commerce in 2019.

Facebook spokesperson Vanessa Chan confirmed the acquisition saying, “We are excited to welcome GrokStyle to Facebook. Their team and technology will contribute to our AI capabilities.”

GrokStyle, which was founded in 2016 according to CrunchBase, is a San Francisco startup specializing in visual search. The company is known for technology that allows shoppers to search for furniture and other items by taking photos with their phones. Last year, the company partnered with Ikea on its augmented reality furniture app.

In a note posted on its website, the company said it had “only scratched the surface of what is possible with computer vision.”

“Our team and technology will live on, and we will continue using our AI to build great visual search experiences for retail.”

It’s not clear exactly what team within Facebook GrokStyle and its “AI capabilities” will be a part of. But it’s another potential sign that Facebook plans to move deeper into shopping features.

The company has been steadily adding shopping features to Instagram, but hasn’t said much about similar shopping experiences in other places.

Continue on to Mashable to read the complete article.

40 incredibly useful things you didn’t know Google Search could do

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Take your search game to the next level with these tools that’ll save you time and help you get more done.

When you think about Google services, apps such as Gmail, Docs, and Photos may be the first things that come to mind. I’d be willing to wager, though, that the Google service you use more than any other is one you rarely think about—because it’s woven so tightly into your life that it doesn’t even feel like a service anymore. It just feels like a utility, something that’s always there—like a faucet for metaphorical water.

I’m talking, of course, about Google Search, the gateway to an endless-seeming array of answers and information. But these days, Google Search can do a whole lot more than just look up simple queries. In fact, if you know all of its hidden powers, Search can be a Swiss Army knife that’s always within reach, even when you aren’t actively thinking about its presence.

Browse through these 40 advanced functions—and get ready to see Search in a whole new light.

Useful tools

1. Need an impartial judge to help make a decision? Try typing “random number generator” into Google. That’ll bring up a tool that lets you specify a minimum and maximum number—for however many choices you have, or even representing a specific set of values within a spreadsheet—and then have the Google genie randomly pick a number within that range.

For a more visual (although also more limited) version of the same concept, type “spinner” into Google and then switch the toggle at the top to “Number.” You can then create a wheel with anywhere from two to 20 numbers and click it to spin and land on a random digit. The Google Search number spinner will land on a random digit, with anywhere from two to 20 options in place.

2. For even simpler decisions, let Google flip a coin or roll a die for you by typing either command into the search box. (Bonus tip: You can also ask Google to spin a dreidel.)

3. Make Google serve as your personal time-keeper by typing “timer” or “stopwatch” into a search box. You can also launch right into a specific timer by typing “20 minute timer” (or whatever amount of time you desire).

4. You probably know that Google can act as a basic calculator, performing addition, subtraction, and so on—but did you know it can also do all sorts of advanced mathematics? For instance, you can have Google graph complicated equations like “cos(3x)+sin(x), cos(7x)+sin(x)” by entering them directly into the search box. And you can fire up a geometry calculator by searching for a specific query—”area of a circle,” “formula for a triangle perimeter,” or “volume of a cylinder”—and then entering in the values you know.

5. Google has separate standalone calculators that can figure out tips and monthly mortgage payments, too. Search for “tip calculator” or “mortgage calculator” to give either a whirl.

6. The next time you need to convert between units, try asking Google to do the heavy lifting for you. In addition to  handling currency and practically any measurement system, Google can convert megabytes to gigabytes, Fahrenheit to Celsius, and days into minutes or even seconds. You can explore all the possibilities by typing “unit converter” into the search box and then looking through the dropdown menus that appear—or you can perform most conversions directly by searching for the exact changeover you want (e.g. “14.7 lbs to oz”).

7. Who among us hasn’t come across a sprawling number and stared at it blankly while trying to figure out how to say it aloud? Search for any number followed by “=english”—”53493439531=english,” for example—and Google will spell out your number for you in plain-English words.

8. Designers, take note: Searching for “color picker” will pull up a simple tool that lets you select a color and find its hex code, RGB value, CMYK value, and more—and easily convert from one color code type to another.The color picker tool is an easy way to find color codes and convert among different code types.

9. You can also see an identifying swatch for a specific color code by typing it into Google in almost any form: “#fcef00,” “rgb(252, 239, 0),” “pantone 444 u,” and so on.

10. Get up-to-date info on any flight, anytime, by typing the airline name or code and flight number directly into Google.

11. Find your current IP address in a snap by typing “IP address” into any Google prompt.

12. Google can measure your internet speed and give you speedy results, regardless of whether you’re on Wi-Fi or mobile data. Just type “speed test” into a search box and then click the “Run Speed Test” button to get started.

13. From your phone, type “bubble level” into Google to load an on-demand level tool and make sure the picture you’re hanging is perfectly straight. Keep the toolbox in the closet and pull up a bubble level right from Google Search on your phone.

14. Trying to stay on beat? Google “metronome,” and the search site will give you a fully functional metronome with a slider to start any beat-per-minute setting you need.

15. Search or browse through hundreds of old print newspapers at Google’s hidden newspaper archive site. The selection is pretty hit-and-miss, but you just might find what you’re after.

16. Hardly anyone knows it, but Google has a system that allows you to save results from your searches and then organize them into collections. From a browser, it works with images, jobs, and places; after searching for any of those types of items, you’ll see small bookmark icons alongside your results that can be clicked to save the associated entities. If you have an Android phone, you can also save web pages by pulling them up within the Google app and then looking for the bookmark icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. Either way, you can find and sort your saved stuff by going to google.com/collections or looking for the “Collections” option in the Google app on Android (tucked away within the “More” menu).

Advanced information

17. Find your next job on Google by searching for “jobs near me” or something specific like “programming jobs.” You can then narrow down the search as needed, find direct links to apply to positions, and even turn on email alerts for worthwhile queries. Google’s job search function pulls in postings from all over the web and presents them in a centralized, easy-to-follow manner.

18. Thinking about going back to school—or maybe enrolling in college for the first time? Google can give you oodles of useful info about any four-year college in the United States. All you have to do is search for the school’s name, and you’ll get an interactive box with facts about its average cost (before and after financial aid for any income level) along with its acceptance rate, typical test scores, rankings, and notable alumni.

19. Get the perfect recipe for any meal by searching for the name of a dish from your mobile device. Google will give you a scrolling list of choices and will even provide one-tap commands for sending any set of instructions to a Google Assistant Smart Display connected to your account. (Bonus tip: You can search for drink recipes in the same way—again, though, only on a mobile device for some reason.)

20. Speaking of eating, you can Google any individual ingredient to find detailed nutritional information about the food. You can also search for specific nutritional queries—things like: “How many calories are in avocados,” “How much fat is in an egg yolk,” or “How much protein is in chickpeas.”

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Siemens Foundation launches new training program to fill building technology industry skills gap

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The Siemens Foundation is advancing its mission to narrow the opportunity gap for young people in the United States in STEM careers by launching a new workforce training program to fill skilled positions in the intelligent buildings industry in collaboration with Siemens Building Technologies and the Association of Controls Professionals (ACP).

Together, the organizations will create community college training programs and develop career pathways into local K-12 systems, both aligned to new, non-proprietary industry certifications under development by ACP.  This innovative program will focus on reaching traditionally underserved or underrepresented student communities and providing them the opportunity to excel in a software-driven field. The Foundation will invest more than $1.6 million in the workforce training program over a three-year period, with the first iteration expected to launch in DeKalb County in metro Atlanta in late spring.

“Operating and maintaining today’s smart building systems requires skilled, technology-minded professionals, but companies like Siemens continue to have difficulty in finding skilled applicants for these open positions,” said Dave Hopping, CEO of Siemens Building Technologies division, Americas. “The development of career pathways from K-12 through community college, leading to high-quality certification, will help address this gap and grow the diversity of individuals who have an opportunity to receive training, compete for these software-driven jobs and earn a competitive salary.”

“A career focused on how to make buildings smarter and more efficient is truly one of purpose, giving students the opportunity to pursue work in a field that will play a significant role in reducing emissions and making our world more sustainable for years to come,” said Brian Lovell, president of ACP. “There are tens of thousands of jobs in the building automation field open today and our program’s mission is to provide the next-generation workforce with the skills and opportunity to fill these jobs and move the industry, and our world, forward.”

The intelligent buildings workforce training program is a part of the Siemens Foundation’s new SPARKS (STEM Partnerships to Advance Real-World Knowledge and Skills) Initiative, an effort to stand-up focused and employer-informed STEM training programs across industries like smart infrastructure, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing.

The Foundation will work in tandem with Siemens core businesses to develop targeted programming that addresses specific workforce development needs across their industry. Though each program will be unique, all share common goals under the broader SPARKS Initiative to provide economic opportunity for America’s next generation of workers and grow talent for relevant industries.

Since its inception, the Siemens Foundation’s mission has been to ignite and sustain today’s STEM workforce and tomorrow’s scientists and engineers. The Foundation has invested more than $115 million in the United States to advance workforce development and education initiatives in science, technology, engineering, and math. Its mission is inspired by the culture of innovation, research and continuous learning that is the hallmark of Siemens’ companies. Together, the programs at the Siemens Foundation are narrowing the opportunity gap for young people in the United States in STEM careers.

Recently, the Foundation took a closer look at the widening U.S. income gap and shifts in workforce demographics and determined it could better address the education and economic challenges facing young adults by leveraging Siemens own business expertise and the Foundation’s experience in building and implementing youth STEM initiatives. This focus led to the Foundation’s launch of the STEM Middle-Skill Initiative in 2015, its inaugural investment in workforce development.

“The Foundation’s mission, at its core, is to ensure opportunity for those who traditionally have been left behind and make good on America’s most basic social compact  – to ensure that those who set goals and work hard can provide for themselves, their families, and their communities,” said David Etzwiler, CEO of the Siemens Foundation. “Work like the STEM Middle-Skill Initiative and SPARKS partnerships allows us to continue to deliver on this mission by increasing awareness, advancing proven training models, and communicating the value of STEM middle-skill careers.”

Through the STEM Middle-Skill Initiative, the Siemens Foundation has created an ecosystem of national partners, government leaders, and educational stakeholders to further its workforce development mission including the National Governors Association, The Aspen Institute, Advance CTE, New America, among others. These partnerships have resulted in expanded work-based learning opportunities, including new registered apprenticeship programs, the first national conference on apprenticeship, growing excellent community college STEM programs, and building a new generation of CTE students.

For further information on the Siemens Foundation, please visit https://www.siemens-foundation.org/programs/stem-middle-skill-initiative/.

Hyundai shows off ‘walking car’ at CES

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The Hyundai Elevate Walking Car

Hyundai has shown off a small model of a car it says can activate robotic legs to walk at 3mph (5km/h) over rough terrain and also able to climb a 5ft (1.5m) wall and jump a 5ft gap.

The Hyundai Elevate could be useful for emergency rescues following natural disasters, Hyundai said.

It was part of a project exploring “beyond the range of wheels”, it added.

The concept has been in development for three years and was unveiled at the CES technology fair in Las Vegas.

“When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field. They have to go the rest of the way by foot,” said Hyundai vice-president John Suh.

“Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete.”

Mr. Suh also suggested that wheelchair users could be collected via the vehicles, which could “walk” up to the front door of a building with step-only access.

Prof David Bailey, from Aston Business School, said: “Often car companies bring out lots of concepts which may or may not make it into production but it’s great to think in new ways about mobility.

“For most of us, it’s going to be wheels and roads but in extreme situations there may be scope for this sort of thing.

Continue on to BBCnews.com to read the complete article.

Five New Year’s Resolutions Would Be Novelists Should Set

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With the New Year right around the corner, it’s a great time to start thinking about your resolutions. Everyone should set goals at the beginning of the year, so they have some idea of what it is that they want to accomplish.

In other words, by setting goals you will solidify your long-term vision for what it is that you want to achieve. There are some great resolutions for writers to set that will keep them productive and working toward their publishing goals.

“Every January we get a fresh start, we get a chance to make plans about what we want to complete in the New Year,” explains Annalisa Parent, writing coach and award winning author. “It’s so important that writers make resolutions every January. By getting those goals out of your head and down on paper, you will be one step closer to making them happen.”

Many people are skeptical about setting New Year’s resolutions, fearing that they will not see them through. While it’s true that many people do abandon their resolutions within weeks of making them, there are many others who stick with them and are successful in accomplishing what they set out for themselves. You can never accomplish a goal that you don’t take the time to set.

Parent is an expert writing coach who has helped many writers through all aspects of writing, publishing, and marketing their novel. Here are five New Year’s resolutions she offers for every writer:

  1. To finish your novel. Every writer seems to have an unfinished novel on their hands. Make 2019 the year that you finish the novel so that it’s no longer nagging you. Once you get it done, you will feel better about it and can move toward the next steps to get it published.
  2. To read more. Every writer needs to be an avid reader. If you haven’t been getting much reading done, it’s important to make it a priority. Whether you read a book a month or a book a week, you need to keep reading. It’s important because it helps expose you to what’s been written and published.
  3. To work with a writing coach. Working with a writing coach can do wonders for your writing career. It can help you get organized, finish your book, get your book published, and market your book in a successful way.
  4. To embrace your writing style. Everyone has their own writing method, but some people don’t embrace it. Instead, they try to change it, which doesn’t seem natural. Make 2019 the year you embrace your writing method and go with it, seeing where it may lead you.
  5. Go beyond your comfort zone. It’s difficult for people to go beyond their comfort zone when it comes to writing. This year, make a commitment to go beyond that comfort zone and see where it leads. Try new things, because you may find they are extremely rewarding and enrich your writing life.

“By making writing goals for the New Year, you are letting the universe know you are making writing a priority,” adds Parent. “It’s time to give your writing the time and attention that it deserves, so you can live your publishing dream. Do that, and you will be very happy and fulfilled with where it leads you along your career path.”

Parent has coached hundreds of writers and has taught over 100 writing courses around the world. She works with fiction authors looking to traditionally publish. Her book Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel without an Outline won the CIPA EVVY Silver Award in Best Business Books, and earned a merit award in the Humor category. She has been a featured speaker on writing-related topics across the globe, and she has been a guest on a variety of television, radio, and podcast shows, sharing her secrets for how to write, publish, and sell your book.

For more information about Annalisa Parent, her book, and her coaching services, visit her site at: datewiththemuse.com. For more information on how to become a published author, download her free e-book TheSix Secrets to go from Struggling Writer to Published Author here: datewiththemuse.com/6secrets.

About Annalisa Parent

Annalisa Parent has worked with writers all over the world. She offers writing coaching services that have been instrumental in helping writers to go from idea to publishable piece and have the confidence to take their work to the market. Parent focuses on three main areas: Quality, Clarity and Creative Flow, all through a neuroscientific approach. For more information on her services and to set up a chat about publishing, visit her site at: datewiththemuse.com or book a one-on-one chat session at datewiththemuse.com/publishnow.

Dr. Mae Jemison: On a ‘Starship’ Enterprise

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Doctor Mae Jemison floating in spacesuit

By Brady Rhoades

The first female African-American astronaut in space was not cured of curiosity when she whirled about the cosmos as part of NASA’s STS-47 in 1992. Her vision sharpened, like a kid who takes her first plane flight. Wondrous, yes, but still a hint.

Space, for Dr. Mae Jemison, is a wild trip in your bones and a homecoming in your soul. “It’s the one thing that connects us all around the world,” she said, in an interview with Diversity in STEAM Magazine. “And it also connects us to the planet and to the greater universe.”

Jemison is in demand, but she manages telescopic vision when it comes to her current project: 100 Year Starship.

The goal? Human travel to another solar system in the next 100 years. “Creating an extraordinary tomorrow actually creates a better world today,” Jemison said.

Jemison, the principal and leader of the 100 Year Starship program, stated on the organization’s website (100yearss.org): “When we explore space, we garner the greatest benefits here at home. The challenge of traveling to another star system could generate transformative activities, knowledge, and technologies that would dramatically benefit every nation on Earth in the near term and years to come.

“The concept of humans traveling to other star systems may appear fantastical, but no more so than the fantasy of reaching the moon was in the days of H. G. Wells. The First Men in the Moon was published considerably less than 100 years before humans landed on the Moon (1901 vs. 1969), and the rapidity of scientific and technological advances was not nearly as great as it is today. The truth is that the best ideas sound crazy at first. And then there comes a time when we can’t imagine a world without them.”

Jemison was the science mission specialist on STS-47 Spacelab. STS-47 was a cooperative mission between the United States and Japan. The eight-day mission was accomplished in 127 orbits of the Earth, and included 44 Japanese and U.S. life science and materials processing experiments.

Dr Mae Jemison seated resting hand on chin
Dr. Mae Jemison

She was a co-investigator on the bone cell research experiment that traveled with the mission. In completing her first space flight, Jemison logged more than 190 hours in space. She’d been starstruck all her life; that didn’t change. “I imagined myself on another star, and I was connected to that star because I’m part of the universe,” she said.

Dr. Jemison, the author of Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments From My Life and other books, overcame all the obstacles placed on the career course, and life course, of an African-American woman. She negotiated each pothole, each roadblock, moved on, didn’t look back. “You make sure you’re doing the best you can do, but you don’t hang out at stumbling blocks that other people want you to hang around.”

Her advice for those facing similar challenges? “You have to be comfortable with yourself,” she said. “The key issue is to understand criticism. Is it coming because you aren’t doing something right or because someone has a different expectation of you?”

Jemison, who earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University in 1977 and a doctorate degree in medicine from Cornell University in 1981, urges others to focus on education.  “There is nothing we can do that is more important in this world than education,” she said. “Here’s the thing: Children don’t get to do 8 years old over again… if we fail to take advantage, then we have lost.”

The astronaut who went on to be inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the National Medical Association Hall of Fame, and the Texas Science Hall of Fame, started off gazing at the night sky as a girl in Chicago and watching the Gemini and Apollo flights on TV.

“I used to be really irritated when I was a little girl that there were no women astronauts,” she said. “And no people of color in the astronaut program. Really irritated.”

She said there’s a difference between role models and inspiration. She’s had many role models, including cats (“They’re so confident; they don’t take nonsense”), but inspiration is another matter. “Life inspired me,” she said.

Dr Jemison onstage with Stephen Hawkings
(L-R) Ann Druyan, producer, co-founder and CEO of Cosmos Studios; Zac Manchester, post-doctoral fellow, Harvard University; Yuri Milner, Breakthrough Prize and DST Global founder; Stephen Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research, University of Cambridge; Freeman Dyson, Emeritus Professor, Princeton Institute for Advanced Study; Mae Jamison, NASA Astronaut, Principal 100 Year Starship Foundation; Peter Worden, Chairman, Breaktrough Prize Foundation and former NASA Director; Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University; and Philip Lubin, UC Santa Barbara Physics Professor, pose for a photo together. BRYAN BEDDER/GETTY IMAGES FOR BREAKTHROUGH PRIZE FOUNDATION

Jemison, a lover of the arts who dove deeply into dancing, has a background in engineering and medical research. She has worked in the areas of computer programming, printed wiring board materials, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, computer magnetic disc production, and reproductive biology. She completed her internship at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center in June 1982 and worked as a general practitioner with INA/Ross Loos Medical Group in Los Angeles until December of that year.

From January 1983 through June 1985, Jemison was the Area Peace Corps Medical Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa. On return to the United States, Jemison joined CIGNA Health Plans of California in 1985 and was working as a general practitioner and taking graduate engineering classes in Los Angeles when she was chosen for the astronaut program in 1987.

She worked on the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory and the Science Support Group activities.

Then she was chosen to go to space, and she made history. “We have been in science all along,” she said about women of color. “Even when people didn’t want us involved. I want folks to understand they have the right to be involved. They don’t have to ask.”

Jemison left NASA in 1993—with a new mission. “My path was to include other people,” she said. She formed the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, which fosters science literacy. The non-profit, founded in honor of Jemison’s late mother, who was a school teacher, is all about “personal excellence.” The foundation’s main program, developed in 1994, is The Earth We Share international science camp. Students from the United States and around the world work together to solve such global issues as, “How Many People Can the Earth Hold?” and “Predict the Hot Public Stocks for the Year 2030.”

Dr. Mae Jemison in Star Trek episode picture Lt. Ohura
Jemison appeared in a speaking role on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Lieutenant Palmer, an officer serving aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D in 2369. Seen here speaking to Nichelle Nichols, who played communications officer Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek series and movies.

Today, if you visit the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City, Jemison will speak directly to you about the contributions women have made to the space program, via a life-size hologram in the exhibit Defying Gravity: Women in Space. She narrates, discussing her career and those of other women involved in the space program while visitors wear Microsoft HoloLens mixed-reality headsets and walk around the exhibit. Holograms appear, helping to illustrate her points, including a life-size rendering of an spacewalking astronaut that appears to be tethered to the real-life Enterprise that hangs above the installation.

Jemison’s story jumpstarted when, as a girl, she did a simple thing: she looked up.

The story never really ends; the cosmos are infinite; you can never look too closely or far enough. All this is to say Jemison is still looking up, and she wants others—especially generations to come—to do the same.

That’s why she coaxed a sea of people to do just that on September 28, 2018, as part of her Look Up project. “We want to chronicle what happens when you look up at the sky,” she said. “What do you hope, dream, think, fear, wish, plan, love?” Stories of those voyages were posted to the digital world as poems, songs, photos and art. That day and in the days after, Americans, Africans, French, Japanese, girls, boys, old, young and you-name-them connected in strange and soothing ways.

“What’s above us, unites us,” Jemison said.

Robots and Millennials: Joining Forces To Change The Future of Work

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Ironman isn’t Ironman without the suit, but the suit has no power without the man. That is the future of robotic development, people and robots, working together hand-in-hand to accomplish more than we ever thought would be possible.

Gartner predicts that by 2025 one in three jobs will be done by software, robots and smart machines, but that is not an ominous prediction. And in fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, artificial intelligence will create more jobs than it eliminates.

The next generation of robots isn’t working to replace people, it’s working to improve the lives and jobs of people. We see that in the industrial world, where robot design is pivoting from giant mechanical arms that take up factory floors, to smaller, more collaborative bots, that are designed to work alongside people. While these collaborative bots only make up 3% of the market today, they will make up 34% of the market by 2025.

In today’s world, to suggest that automation will eliminate the need for human workers is proving to be as ridiculous as suggesting that tablets will replace laptops. With the United States enjoying a 3.8% unemployment rate, the job market is more booming, and employees can be more selective about the roles they want to take. Locked in the battle for top talent, companies are looking to find ways to get more efficient and effective, rather than cut headcount.

Deloitte recently published a study confirming this fact, in that the majority of organizations leveraging automation are focused on the benefit of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their workforce, rather than the motivation of replacing people. In most cases, as it becomes easier to accomplish formerly manual tasks through automation, organizations will take advantage of the extra bandwidth by retraining employees to manage more valuable or rewarding activities. And this suits the millennials just fine.

Millennials are Shaping the Nature of Work

When it comes to the workforce, no group has more to gain from the rise of robotics than millennials. As the most educated generation, millennials expect a lot from their time in the workforce. With different motivations than their parents, including a relentless focus on creating memorable experiences in all areas of their lives, millennials prioritize job opportunities that will allow them to develop their skills for the future, and find a rewarding career path.

Millennials crave opportunities for advancement and challenge, and they will not stay in roles that don’t offer it. The average job tenure was already in decline, but millennials will only accelerate this trend. A recent LinkedIn survey found that millennials were 16% more likely to switch industries and 50% more likely to relocate for a new job than non-millennials. Industries and jobs that have historically offered little room for advancement will be overlooked, as millennials expect to be trained on technical skills in their area of expertise, and want the opportunity to lead while pursuing creativity and innovation.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Meet the 26-year-old entrepreneur turning high-school gamers into varsity athletes

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With his PlayVS e-sports platform, Delane Parnell is creating a valuable scouting grounds for new tech talent.

Sporting a pair of black Jordan 11 Cap and Gowns that look like they were just unboxed and a dark baseball cap that casts a slight shadow over his baby-cheeked face, Delane Parnell fields questions from the audience at this September’s TechCrunch Disrupt, the annual San Francisco assembly that has become a startup kingmaker of sorts. He shares the stage with Jason Citron, founder and CEO of Discord, a messaging app for video gamers with more than 150 million users, and—after a $50 million fundraising round in April—a valuation of $1.65 billion. Parnell’s PlayVS (pronounced play versus), an e-sports platform for high schools, has yet to even launch. But the 26-year-old Detroit native exudes confidence. “Investors are starting to realize that gaming is the next social paradigm,” says Parnell, answering a question about e-sports’ mainstream popularity. “And they want a piece of it.”

You don’t have to look far for evidence of gaming’s influence. It’s all over YouTube and Twitch in how-to videos and live-streamed sessions of FIFA 19 and Assassin’s Creed. A robust ecosystem of e-sports competitions is rising as well, with game publishers, entertainment companies, and even colleges and universities creating leagues and events for pro gamers and amateurs alike. The largest tournaments, for titles such as Dota 2 and Call of Duty, can fill stadiums and dangle purses of millions of dollars. According to research firm NewZoo, revenue from e-sports-related media, sponsorships, merchandise, tickets, and publisher fees is expected to nearly double from 2014 to reach $1 billion this year. Goldman Sachs projects e-sports viewership to reach 300 million by 2022, putting it on par with the NFL.

For all the organizations rushing into e-sports, a hole remains: high school competitions that engage the estimated 75% of American teens who already play video games. Parnell is filling that void with PlayVS, which lets schools create leagues and host virtual and live competitions. Though he’s diving into an industry full of well-funded sharks, including Amazon (Twitch’s parent company) and Discord, Parnell has an edge. In January, PlayVS signed an exclusive, five-year e-sports partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the organization that oversees varsity sports and activities at nearly 19,500 public and private high schools across the country. The first test season of a PlayVS-powered competition, for the popular multiplayer game League of Legends, commenced this October at high schools across five states, and the company is gearing up for its official inaugural season in February.

Parnell is now on a roll. Last week, just five months after PlayVS closed its $15.5 million Series A, the company announced a $30.5 million round from investors that include Adidas, Samsung, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and the VC arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers“I don’t care if you’re gaming on your phone, on a console, or through a cloud service,” Parnell says. “Gaming in high school, even if it’s tic-tac-toe, will run through us.”

If he succeeds, he could effectively control a pipeline that would feed into the burgeoning pro leagues. It took the NBA two decades after its first draft to start recruiting players from high schools, but e-sports leagues are already tapping young talent. A 13-year-old recently signed with a European pro Fortnite team. Given the venture capital and startups flooding into e-sports today, Parnell could create another, equally valuable conduit: one that enables high schoolers—particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds—to parlay their interest in gaming into lucrative tech jobs. All he has to do is convince schools that e-sports deserves to be taken as seriously as football and basketball.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

6 Ways Employers Recruit With Artificial Intelligence

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Companies hope chatbots and video interviews will improve the recruiting process for everyone.

Most job seekers and human resources managers would agree that the hiring process is flawed.

It’s as if the two groups speak different languages. For example, there’s a disconnect in how HR and job seekers prefer to communicate, and there’s also a gap between how employers present job requirements and the skills job seekers include on their resumes. Applicant tracking systems seem to arbitrarily weed out candidates or, worse, lose them in a black hole. Employers say they can’t find candidates with the right skills and are eager to fill open jobs.

There isn’t an easy fix for recruiting process problems. But employers want to talk to qualified candidates and workers want to talk to recruiters. This human-to-human connection is still the most important aspect of hiring. As strange as it sounds, technology may actually help more of these conversations happen. Here’s how:

Improved Job Postings

In order to attract the best candidates, HR needs to write a compelling yet accurate job description. The technology exists to assess and analyze job postings based on how well they do. Manually analyzing this data consumes a lot of time, but algorithms can quickly analyze successful job postings and descriptions and make suggestions to improve the wording to address the unique needs of specific candidates. This saves hours and improves the applicant pool. It also better informs potential candidates.

Chatbots

Companies already use artificial intelligence to provide customers with answers at any time. Now HR can use it to provide more information to job seekers when they need it. Chatbots allow applicants to ask questions and get quick automated answers while perusing the company’s website. Do you want to know what the company’s culture is like? Just ask.

Chatbots are also used to pre-screen interested candidates by asking qualifying questions. Be aware that information given to and provided by chatbots is reviewed by HR.

Video Interviews

Once you apply to a job, you may receive a link to a video interview platform before you talk with a recruiter. Recorded video interviews save recruiters time by replacing screening calls. They also provide candidates with an opportunity to prepare answers to questions.

Algorithms review recorded video interviews to evaluate the answers by analyzing facial expressions, word choice, speech rate and vocal tones. If all goes well, candidates move forward for in-person interviews.

Proponents of this kind of evaluation claim it removes human bias while providing recruiters with better-quality candidates in less time. For job seekers, a video interview provides the opportunity to thoughtfully construct your answers and explain your qualifications. During a phone interview, you may not have as much time to plan your responses as thoroughly.

The best advice for a video interview is to make sure you are prepared. Research the company, know about the job and make sure you record in a neutral, professional setting.

Continue onto U.S. News & World Report to read the complete article.

How This Former MIT Professor And Google Engineer Used Holograms To Build A $28 Million Startup

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A red laser pointer shining through a raw chicken carcass may not seem like groundbreaking science, but for veteran technologist Mary Lou Jepsen, it’s worth $28 million in funding for her latest startup, Openwater.

Jepsen performed the chicken act as part of her August TED Talk to illustrate how her imaging-tech company is building cost-conscious body-scanning technology by using the same components one might find at a science fair. The laser pointer’s light made both skin and bone of the plucked fowl glow, revealing a tumor just under its flesh. This simple demonstration shows the science behind what Openwater is trying to achieve; wearable diagnostics made from consumer electronic parts that offer higher resolution than multimillion-dollar MRI machines but cost as much as a smartphone.

Just as the chicken’s tumor blocked the laser pointer light, which shone through the rest of the chicken’s flesh, Openwater’s wearables will capture images by recording light particles and the negative spaces where they fail to scatter. X-rays use radiation and MRI machines use a magnetic field and radio waves because they can go through the human body and produce an image. But so does “red light, infrared light,” Jepsen tells Forbes. “Guess which one is cheaper by a lot?”

It’s a method similar to how holograms are made, and it uses readily available camera and display chips you can find in a smartphone. It’s also an idea that took Jepsen’s skill set to consider, and perhaps her impressive CV to convince investors to buy in. The serial founder led the display divisions at Intel and the semi-secret research group Google X and helped develop Oculus after Facebook purchased the virtual reality headset company in 2014. But Openwater began with Princess Leia’s projected message to Obi Wan Kenobi, when Jepsen aimed her life at building holograms like the one she first saw in Star Wars.

Hooked by the lasers and optical illusions involved, Jepsen made her first hologram as an engineering undergrad at Brown. Later, she’d use her growing skill set to develop computer display screens and VR glasses at the top tech companies in the world.

At that time, however, holograms did not pay the bills. Because holography was viewed as a frivolous “technology looking for an application,” no one would fund it, Jepsen says. “I just had to figure out a way to support my habit. I basically lived all through my 20s on $12,000 a year just because I thought I’d die if I couldn’t make holograms,” Jepsen said.

Her pursuit of holograms bought her to Melbourne, Australia, where she worked as a professor of computer science at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and helped put holograms on the country’s paper money. In Cologne, Germany, she built some of the world’s largest holographic displays, including one of historic buildings projected on an entire city block. Still, she didn’t feel her work was taken seriously, so Jepsen figured she’d need a Ph.D.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Taking Engineering to a New Level—Q&A with NASA engineer Adriana Ocampo

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Adriana Ocampo, PhD, is the Science Program Manager at NASA headquarters. Take a look at NASA’s Q&A with the accomplished engineer.

Where are you from?

I was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and I was raised in Argentina. My family and I moved to the United States when I was a teenager. I now live in Washington, DC.

Describe the first time you made a personal connection with outer space.

When I was a little girl, I would go on the roof of my house and look at the stars and wonder how far they were away from me. I would also make “spacecraft” with the pots and pans from my mother’s kitchen. I would dress my doll up as an astronaut, and my dog Taurus was my co-pilot.

How did you end up working in the space program?

As soon as I landed in the USA I asked: “Where is NASA?” After my junior year in high school, and thanks to the Space Exploration Post 509—sponsored by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)—I was able to first volunteer at JPL and then work there as an employee during the summer. As I started college I continued to work at JPL. I majored in geology at the California State University at Los Angeles, earning a B.S. there in 1983. I then got my Master of Science in planetary geology from California State University, Northridge. I received both my degrees while working full time at JPL as a research scientist. I’m currently finishing my PhD at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Who inspired you?

My parents were my inspiration. They always encouraged me to reach for the stars and instilled in me the knowledge that education was the gateway to making my dreams come true. Space exploration was my passion from a very young age, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. I would dream and design space colonies while sitting atop the roof of my family’s home in Argentina.

What is a Science Program Manager?

Some of my duties include being the New Frontiers lead program executive. New Frontiers includes the Juno mission to Jupiter, the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the asteroid sample return mission OSIRIS-REx. I am also the lead Venus scientist responsible for NASA’s collaboration with ESA’s Venus Express mission, JAXA’s Venus Climate Orbit and the Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG), which develops strategic plans and assessments for the exploration of this planet.

Tell us about a favorite moment so far in your career.

A favorite moment would have to be my research that led to the discovery of the Chicxulub impact crater. The impact that formed this crater caused the extinction of more than 50 percent of the Earth’s species, including the dinosaurs. I wrote my master’s and PhD theses on this crater, and I have led six research expeditions to study this amazing event that changed the evolution of life on our planet.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the same career path as you?

“Dream and never give up.” When thinking about the great adventure that you have ahead, dream and never give up, be persistent and always be true to your heart. Live life with gusto. I would like to share my mnemonic (STARS) with you from the Girl Scouts book “Recipes for Success:”

STARS

Smile: Life is a great adventure
Transcend to triumph over the negative
Aspire to be the best
Resolve to be true to your heart
Success comes to those who never give up on their dreams

Source: NASA