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This week on TechRepublic’s Business Technology Weekly podcast, hosts Dan Patterson, Bill Detwiler, and Amy Talbot discuss the AI headlines from the EmTechDIGITAL conference, drones at Red Rocks, and why cattle are the future of facial recognition technology.


  • Why AI is the ‘agent of the economy’: leaders show global impact of AI | Hope Reese At the EmTechDIGITAL conference in San Francisco this week, TechRepublic Staff writer Hope Reese attended a panel discussion where business leaders from companies such as GE and Amazon spoke about the effect AI can and will have on various industries. One example provided by GE’s VP of Software Research was to create a “digital twin” of specific machine parts that could help companies improve their efficiency maintaining equipment. Think about it like this: A plane that flies in a hot, harsh climate will have contamination buildup on its blades, which can cause problems for flying. So, the company needs to inspect planes every 200 flights. But what if nothing is wrong with it? The time would be wasted in a maintenance shop, or wasted because it wasn’t in use. But if you built a “digital twin” of that physical part, you could then “use data from the environment and produce a cumulative damage model and only bring in the plane in for servicing when needed–which could mean saving tens of millions of dollars.
  • Autonomous drones map historic landmark, could save construction industry billions | Erin Carson Autodesk and 3D Robotics partnered with the city and county of Denver to use autonomous drones to map the historic Red Rocks landmark and deliver data through the cloud. The drone collect data about Red Rocks park and surrounding land to aid future engineering projects.
  • From Windows 10, Linux, iPads, iPhones to HoloLens: The tech astronauts use on the ISS | Nick Heath It turns out that a lot of the tech that astronauts use on the International Space Station involves devices we use on a daily basis. There are 100 Linux and Windows-based laptops on board, used to do things like manage experiments and control the robotic arms that helped assemble the station. Stephen Hunter, manager for computer resources on board the ISS, said most of the laptops are newer models, but one, the Lenovo T61p ThinkPad, has been in use since 2009 because of its low failure rate. The crew uses iPads for a variety of functions as well. One is used in an experiment involving DNA bio-sequencing and others are used just to help the crew stay in touch with friends and family.
  • CompTIA report: Almost half of companies believe their security is ‘good enough’ | Conner Forrest A recent security report from CompTIA found that nearly half of companies surveyed believe their security measures are ‘good enough,’ which seems somewhat surprising given the increasing frequency of high-profile cyber attacks and the increased mainstream media coverage they’re getting. This belief also doesn’t seem to reflect the growing emphasis enterprise IT departments are putting on security. So what’s going on? Well, as CompTIA points out merely making security a high priority doesn’t always translate into improved security practices. Companies may not fully understand the nature of modern threats, the need to support technology with process and education, or the necessity of proactively monitoring events along with building strong defense. In addition to this belief that security is already good enough, issues such as the prioritization of other technology over security (43%) and lack of security metrics (39%) are hampering security improvements. So definitely check out Conner’s article for more details about the report and for a list of best practices you can use to keeping your organization from falling into the “just good enough” trap.
  • How virtual reality gets industrial training simulators closer to real life than ever before | Erin Carson As virtual reality has matured in the past several years, and technology has improved, ForgeFX, a company that makes industrial simulators, has made a bet on VR. De-icing airplane wings is one situation where it has figured out how to simulate in VR. Right now, an airline employee might not learn how to de-ice the wing of a plane until there are actual passengers on board. But using an Oculus Rift, workers can learn how to use controls on a de-icer, build up the muscle memory they need, and develop the spatial awareness to operate the machinery and keep from hitting other vehicles and planes on the tarmac. Another use of VR in job training, according to ForgeFX’s president and co-founder, is mining machinery operation, which has the potential to reduce deadly accidents.

Special Report:

  • Live from the Alltech Architectural Conference | Teena Maddox Digital farms will help grow the future of technology. When we consider biometric technology, we often think about security and social networking applications. The agritech and ranching industries, however, are moooving fast, to adopt facial recognition technology for cattle and other livestock. Current software costs about 10 dollars per head of cattle and allows ranchers to monitor herds remotely. Facial recognition tech can cut costs and can reduce uncertainty in low margin, high risk industries.


  • 3D Printing Survey | Amy Talbot In 2014, we conducted a survey to get your views on the newest 3D printing technologies. Now we’re updating our research to see how attitudes and uses have changed. We’d like to hear whether 3D printing is in use at your organization, why your company might not see a need for it, what benefits you might find or have observed in it, how you think it will impact your industry and where it might do so in the future. Is your company poised to take advantage of the possibilities or is it not a factor in your business operations?If you’d like a free copy of the research report, normally available only to Tech Pro Research subscribers, you’ll have the option of entering your email address at the end of the survey.

Produced by Amy Talbot, Bill Detwiler, Jason Hiner, and Dan Patterson.

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