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WebSummit lands in Portugal for a week of tech conferences

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Black Lives Matter co-founder Ayo Tometi on the stage of the opening night of the WebSummit 2021 in Lisbon, Portugal
Black Lives Matter co-founder Ayọ Tometi shared her vision on the stage of the WebSummit, in Lisbon | Photo: Eóin Noonan

The WebSummit, Europe’s largest tech gathering, returns to Lisbon for four days of events.

Of the 1000  speakers expected to share the stage over the four day event, notable names include Microsoft president Brad Smith, EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager, Prime Minister of Portugal António Costa, content creator Nuseir Yassin (Nas Daily), and American actress Amy Poehler. This is the first time the event will be held in person since 2019.

Organizers of the annual international conference, which brings together policymakers and leading field experts to discuss the future of tech, has been working closely with the Portuguese authorities to ensure the in-person event follows all health protocols. This includes showing a vaccination certificate, or a negative COVID-19 test. People from over 160 countries are expected at Lisbon’s Altice Arena, where the event has been held in previous years.

Besides a host of familiar names from across the global technology industry, with confirmed panellists including Horacio Gutierrez (head of global affairs at Spotify), Craig Federighi (senior vice president of software engineering at Apple), Nick Clegg (VP of global affairs and communications at Facebook), Nancy Dubuc (CEO at Vice Media), Selman Careaga (global president at Coca-Cola), Ole Obermann (global head of music at TikTok), Caspar Lee (YouTube star and entrepreneur), Cecilie Thorsmarck (CEO at the Copenhagen Fashion Week), and Stephen Kaufer (CEO at TripAdvisor), amongst others, the summit will also cater for much smaller enterprises.

One of those initiatives will be the celebration of start-ups that are trying to make a difference for their communities. The event will have several fashion start-ups joining its schedule, including Renoon, an app focused on sustainability within fashion, allowing users to search for pre-owned, re-worked, and rental buying options, and Swaplanet, a start-up aiming to change consuming habits and reduce families’ environmental impact by facilitating the swapping of children’s clothes.

OURS, a fashion start-up building a community of users who put their wardrobes online, and lend or rent clothes among themselves, to fight over-consumption, and Changing Room, a platform rating fashion items using a variety of metrics to measure business impact and offering suggestions for alternative conscious purchases have also confirmed their participation.

Established in 2009, by Paddy Cosgrave, David Kelly, and Daire Hickey, and originally called the ‘Dublin Web Summit’, the event was held annually in Ireland. The decision was then made in 2016 to move the event to Lisbon, where it will remain for 10 years as part of a multi-million agreement.

The WebSummit is taking place at the Altice Arena, Lisbon, from November 1st. For tickets and the event’s full schedule, visit: websummit.com

 

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Ecological DNA 101: How does technology protect the Planet?

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How does technology protect the Planet
Environmental DNA, or eDNA, is found in soil, water, and air samples.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is transforming scientists’ knowledge of ecosystems. This cutting-edge device can collect genetic material from dirt, water, or air without sampling living beings. EDNA monitoring—a sensitive, practical, and non-invasive technique to quantify biodiversity—is becoming essential to ecological study as technology progresses.

In current science, eDNA is crucial. Conventional biodiversity monitoring requires species collection and identification. This may be costly, time-consuming, and harmful to animals and their habitats. Alternatively, eDNA can determine a species’ presence and abundance by evaluating its genetic footprints in the environment. The more attentive approach may reveal tiny ecological differences that are usually neglected.

EDNA is crucial to ecology and conservation biology. Applications include monitoring endangered species, detecting invasive species, and assessing environmental changes. This page discusses eDNA’s basics, uses, pros, cons, and future developments. It emphasizes the relevance of this cutting-edge technology in preserving biodiversity.

What is environmental DNA (eDNA)?

Environmental DNA, or eDNA, is found in soil, water, and air samples. Excretion, skin cell loss, or disintegration cause it in living beings. Even without seeing or capturing animals, eDNA may identify species in an area.

Environmental samples like soil or river water are needed for eDNA analysis. Testing occurs before DNA is extracted from these sources. Water is highly filtered to remove genetic material. DNA may be extracted from dirt using specific equipment.

Cleaning and amplifying extracted DNA using PCR produces enough DNA for study. They identify species by comparing DNA sequences to genetic databases.

Comparing Biodiversity Assessment Methods

Traditional biodiversity study involves direct animal observation or collection, which may be time-consuming and harmful to the ecosystem. These methods may miss uncommon or elusive species.

EDNA is unusual since it is non-invasive and can identify tiny amounts of DNA from different species. This suggests scientists might finish biodiversity studies without damaging the environment. EDNA may be used in many situations, including those that are hard to reach or survey.

Using eDNA to track biodiversity and conservation.

One of the biggest uses of eDNA is biodiversity monitoring. Scientists may identify many species in an area using eDNA samples. This aids rare or endangered species monitoring. Conservationists utilise eDNA to track species populations and analyse their changes. Conservation decisions may be made using this knowledge.

Non-native animal observation.

Invasive species may harm ecosystems by outcompeting native species and changing their surroundings. Early identification of invasive species is possible using eDNA. By recognising invasive species’ genetics in environmental samples, scientists may stop them before they damage the ecology. Environmental health relies on this early warning system.

Evaluations of Environmental Impact

eDNA is utilised in environmental impact assessments. It’s crucial to understand the area’s biodiversity before starting any construction or other ecosystem-impacting projects. eDNA quickly and accurately identifies species, ensuring that environmental impacts are properly examined. Thus, planning and implementing environmental initiatives is easier.

Use of eDNA Benefits Non-invasiveness

The non-invasiveness of eDNA technology is a major benefit. Biodiversity studies sometimes include trapping or uprooting animals, which might hurt them. However, obtaining eDNA needs just soil or water samples and no direct touch with living creatures. Researching ecosystems this way is more ethical and less damaging.

Cost-Effectiveness

Compared to traditional survey techniques, eDNA is cheaper. It may be able to collect and evaluate eDNA samples faster and cheaper. This lets scientists monitor more species and cover more area on a budget. Due of its efficacy, eDNA may replace intensive biodiversity monitoring.

Improved sensitivity and specificity

Another feature of eDNA is its high sensitivity and specificity. Researchers may uncover uncommon or difficult species using DNA since it can be detected in tiny amounts. Moreover, eDNA analysis can differentiate closely related species and accurately assess an area’s biodiversity. This specificity is needed for effective conservation and management.

Limitations of eDNA: Technique and Methodology

Even if eDNA is practical, methodological and technical challenges remain. Contamination—DNA from other sources combining with the sample—can lead to erroneous results. Clean sample methods and competent laboratory techniques decrease this risk. Some research organisations may struggle to find eDNA extraction and amplification equipment and expertise.

Evaluation of outcomes

Interpreting eDNA data may be difficult. DNA may stay in an environment long after an organism has died, therefore its presence does not necessarily indicate its presence at that time. Researchers must carefully assess sample context to avoid misconceptions. Accurate results need knowledge of the target species’ ecology and DNA degradation dynamics.

Environmental eDNA Degradation Factors

Several environmental factors may degrade eDNA. Temperature, pH, and microbial activity may impact DNA survival. For instance, higher temperatures and microbial activity may accelerate DNA degradation and underestimate species occurrence. These elements must be considered while designing and assessing investigations.

Future eDNA research and technology.

EDNA research is rapidly growing and requires technology. New DNA sequencing technologies like next-generation sequencing can investigate eDNA samples faster and more accurately. These advances expand the usage of eDNA, allowing for more in-depth ecological dynamics and biodiversity studies.

Possible new uses moving forward

As eDNA technology advances, new applications emerge. For instance, eDNA is being studied to detect animal diseases and infections, which might affect public health and conservation. By examining sedimentary DNA, eDNA may reveal ancient ecosystems, biodiversity, and environmental changes. Due of its versatility, eDNA offers several possibilities for future research.

EDNA needs further research to attain its full potential and overcome its current challenges. This requires improving DNA extraction and analysis, sampling methodologies, and eDNA data interpretation models. Scientists, environmentalists, and politicians must collaborate to improve eDNA research and secure its usage in environmental monitoring and conservation.

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How to use Lenses in Skype

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How to use Lenses in Skype
Snapchat is bringing Lenses to more than 80 million monthly active Skype users

Snapchat is bringing Lenses to more than 80 million monthly active Skype users.

The announcement, made in June, will allow Skype regular users to add Lenses to their conversations with friends and family. Dozens of Lenses are currently available to choose from, including glitter beards, disco glasses, and raining hearts.

Lenses have been created through Snapchat AR authoring tool, Lens Studio, and made available on Skype through our Camera Kit SDK, which allows partners to distribute Lenses in their own apps and websites. Lens Studio and Camera Kit also power AR experiences in Microsoft Teams, SwiftKey, and Microsoft Flip.

How to use Lenses in Skype

1. Open the Skype app on your Android or iOS device. Select a contact you’d like to chat with or open an existing conversation. Click the camera icon on the bottom right of your screen.

2. Select the smiling face icon to the right of the capture button to see all the fun Lenses available in Skype.

3. Once you’ve found one you want to use, click the check mark on the bottom right of the screen. Press and hold the capture button to record a video of yourself using the Lens. Once recorded, hit the image of your recording to review and make any edits you’d like to your video.

4. If you’re happy with what’s recorded, select the send icon on the bottom right of the screen (if you’re not, you can do another take and record again!).

5. Your video will appear in the chat. Hit the send button and your video with a Lens will be on its way to your contact

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How to use AI to scale your business

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A group of creative people in a meeting
AI can be utilised by all types of companies, from small startups to established firms. | Photo: Jason Goodman

The moment you decide to scale your business is incredibly exciting. Maybe you’ve got a great idea for a new sector or product you want to bring to your existing customer base. Or, you want to take your business from a part-time endeavour and make it your full-time livelihood. Regardless of your reason for deciding to scale up, it’s a significant commitment. As a result, you may be struggling to find the time to get started.

Taking the next step in your business can often feel like you’re venturing out of your comfort zone, but modern technology solutions are on hand to help. Artificial intelligence (AI) is breaking down barriers for entrepreneurs and big business owners alike, allowing everyone to benefit from time management, invoicing and creative tools that previously may have required another hire within the team. That’s not to say that AI can replace humans; but for those at the start of their scaling journey, it can represent a smaller financial commitment before taking the plunge and hiring a full-time expert or assistant. Plus, it can speed up many repetitive or data-heavy tasks.

In this post, we explore four ways AI can help you to take your business to the next level.

Find more leads to target

Unless you’ve got an inbox full of customers just waiting for you to release new products or services, the chances are that you’ll need to be proactive when it comes to getting new leads and converting those into sales. Trawling the internet to find stockists, brands who might want to work with you or even just looking through your own database of people who have purchased something previously is extremely time consuming.

AI can take on these tasks for you, meaning that you simply have to review the information and then decide on whether to get in touch with these contacts personally. Additionally, it can help you with creating customer personas and gathering audience insights, hopefully increasing your chances of success once you do pitch.

Increase your marketing capacity

Part of running a successful business is being known and seen in the marketplace, allowing you to remain competitive. In the modern world, that means you need to cover a huge variety of platforms, each with their own unique content strategy. Considering that includes everything from social media to email newsletters, that gives you a lot to do.

AI can help by creating outlines for emails or posts that you can then review and add your personal touch to, significantly reducing the time you need to spend on this task. Or, it can take content you’ve already rewritten and repurpose it for a different platform and audience, allowing you to extend your reach with minimal effort.

Automate and track your finances

Hopefully, as you increase your offering, your number of sales will also increase – but with that comes a rise in the number of invoices you need to create. Financial tasks are one of the areas where AI can be invaluable, as it’s a data-oriented process, which is where this technology tends to excel.

Setting up your business on a platform that works with AI can allow you to automatically generate invoices when a certain trigger is hit – for example, the day after you’ve delivered a service for a client. Plus, it can recognise when invoices haven’t been paid, sending the customer a reminder that their bill is due.

From an accounting perspective, AI can track and categorise your expenses and income. Especially when you take on more employees, this can be incredibly useful, saving you hours of time and hassle when it comes to closing the month.

Gain key data insights

Making the right decisions about which direction to take your business in can be hard. You may have a gut feeling about which markets to target or products to create, but without evidence, it can be difficult to take the risk and put money behind this decision.

AI can help you understand the trends that are happening in your industry, as well as forecasting the impact certain decisions will have on your business. Whilst things can always change, having some data-driven insights into what your future might look like can help you understand how it might be best to progress.

Supercharge your business

AI is a tool that can be utilised by all types of companies, from small startups to established firms. Rather than looking to replace human input, AI can act as a helpful assistant, reducing the financial and time risk associated with scaling.

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