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Tag: ai

Moonhack: why it’s important for kids to learn how to code

Telstra Foundation Technology For Kids

Posted on July 19, 2019

5 min read

With Moonhack about to lift off, the annual record-setting global event to get as many kids coding as possible, Jackie Coates, Head of Telstra Foundation chats to Telstra’s Group Executive Product & Technology, Christian von Reventlow about the importance of coding and AI education for young minds.

Jackie Coates: It’s the 50th Anniversary of the first moon landing this year and to celebrate we’re aiming to get tens of thousands of kids coding across the world as part of our annual Code Club Moonhack campaign. Why do you think parents should get their kids to learn how to code?

Christian von Reventlow: I believe it’s vital for kids to learn how to code. I have taught my own children and it’s certainly a skill they’ll have for life and can build upon. I think initiatives like Code Club and Moonhack are a great first step because they demystify technology and enable children to “get under the digital bonnet” and understand it better. When a child learns coding, they are also developing skills in critical thinking, persistence and problem-solving – skills needed as they grow up. Coding can also help develop mathematics skills and despite what many people think, it actually helps them to be more creative as it encourages curiosity and teaches us to be a bit fearless and not worry about making mistakes.

JC: What advice do you have then, for parents with young children?

CvR: The challenge for parents nowadays is around how we can help young people with the skills they need to thrive in the future. We need a pipeline of future developers to take the first step and get kids coding. There are thousands of Code Clubs around Australia that can sew the seed. Parents don’t have to know how to code to start which is a great thing.

JC: There is a sense of urgency and sometimes it feels we are in a bit of an arms race in education with technology evolving so quickly – it’s hard to keep pace, would you agree?

CvR: It’s true, things are moving fast which is why we need to futureproof this learning investment in our young kids. Just like we looked at the moon and said one day we’ll walk on it, we need to look at AI with a future focus. Young people will need to understand machine learning and the concept of AI – really know how it works in order to make more informed and critical use of these technologies. 

We need to start thinking about AI literacy because coding itself is evolving. It is shifting to a self-coding model where AI will create its own code. This is different from classic programming which describes what the machine does. In AI, the machine finds patterns to program and the deterministic nature of programming gets lost in AI scenarios as a result. I don’t think we’ve fully digested the meaning and impact of this, which is why we need to up-skill our young people to be AI literate so they can better understand this future.

JC: You’ve written a book about Artificial Intelligence where you advocate it must become a tool for everyone. What do you think the challenge will be for young people growing up in a world where machine learning and AI is increasingly pervasive?

CvR: I think one of the biggest changes in the next two decades will be increase relevance of artificial intelligence changing the way we live our lives. Digital Assistants, Chatbots, music and video recommendations, flying planes are just some of the ways it’s in our everyday lives now. So given this context, if our children have an early understanding of how it works, they’ll be better equipped to live, work, and interact in this future world.

Along with an understanding of AI and machine learning – such as how bots learn, how algorithms work and how data is being collected – we also need to teach kids how they can humanise AI and adapt it. This is critical because this is what humans will ultimately need to do in an AI-saturated world. We will need to make sure the next generation has the programming skills to ensure AI is inclusive and reflects the social, cultural and moral standards of contemporary society.

Parents can introduce their children to the concepts of AI through educational projects online like Cognimates which was developed by the MIT Media Lab

About Moonhack

Moonhack is an initiative of Code Club Australia, powered by Telstra Foundation. This year’s event will be held on July 20 to July 26 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing – and we’re looking for more Aussie kids to get involved. To take part, you’ll need a computer with internet access and a passion for discovery. Simply register your interest and prepare for lift off!  Kids can take part in the challenge at home by themselves or in groups.

A next-generation network to handle the data demands of the future


Posted on July 1, 2019

3 min read

With the future at our fingertips, technologies like a completed NBN, the emergence of 5G, machine-to-machine communications, AI and IoT will all individually and collectively require data – enormous amounts of data, which we have seen increase five-fold as we head towards 2020.

Our fixed broadband needs in our homes are ever-increasing due to the rising demands of video streaming and online gaming. 5G brings with it many clear advantages in bandwidth, capacity and reliability over 4G and 3G, but there are also many potential use cases that we don’t yet know about.

We see that our small, medium, enterprise and government business partners are also demanding higher bandwidth as they start to transform the experiences of their own customers.

On top of this, what we know unequivocally is that any new and growing technology will require data, plenty of it so people can seamlessly give purpose to our technology and applications.

It’s at this point when you can really start to understand a clear and obvious need for our Next Generation Optical Transport Network.

In 2016, as part of our Networks of the Future program, we accelerated our journey to build the Next Generation Optical Transmission Network – a landmark upgrade to our long-haul, regional and metropolitan data transport infrastructure.

This was no simple exercise, given not only the size and complexity of our network but also the challenges we face in Australia when it comes to the enormous distance between cities, and unique environmental factors in building next generation technology throughout some of the most remote and hottest regions of Australia. 

We have now successfully connected all of our inter-capital paths and our 121 NBN point of interconnect locations across our transmission network. We can now support up to 11 times the capacity of our legacy network.

The new infrastructure provides enormous improvements to the reliability of our networks; for example, we recently introduced a capability into our optical network which now automates the rebuild and migration of services to another path when we experience a network fault such as a fiber break.

With the meshed nature of the new optical network, we are able to quickly reconfigure the network to stand up new routing paths within hours to reduce the overall risk of faults – this is something that previously would have taken days. In the future, we will be able to reconfigure the network within minutes in the event of a service disruption, providing our customers unprecedented connectivity.

Our new optical transport network will also see the introduction of software-defined network orchestration, which will enable the fast turn-up of optic wave services for our enterprise customers through the digital stack. Where we have the infrastructure in place, customers will be able to activate new services within hours rather than days or weeks.

The Next Generation Optical Transport Network is a significant and fundamental upgrade to the hidden infrastructure that powers our business across Australia. Along with our other upgrades as a part of our Network Evolution 2020 program as part of our T22 strategy, this milestone speeds up the delivery of products for our customers, as well as making it easier and faster for our partners to connect to our network and develop their own offerings.

Tags: 5g, AI, IoT, networks,

Why AI is good for us, and good for business

Tech and Innovation

Posted on March 1, 2019

3 min read

Not a day goes by without a headline about artificial intelligence, or AI. Whether it’s another breakthrough in capability, a prediction about big economic changes, or even killer robots and impending doom – we are fascinated by what this technology may hold.

I am a technology optimist, and after decades of working with technology companies in Australia, Europe and the US, I can see huge potential in AI.

There are many types of work that AI might always struggle with, particularly where instinct, experience and inference matter most.

However, there is one area in which it can clearly make a huge difference – putting our overwhelming amounts of data to good use.

Data growth, AI and IoT

Look at almost any part of our economy – healthcare, transport, logistics, agriculture, education or engineering – and you’ll see that we measure, monitor, video and track more things than ever before. The boom in Internet of Things (IoT) means sensors and other low-power gadgets are being used in huge and increasing quantities. For instance, we can monitor the location, performance and the condition of drivers and cargo in every truck on our roads. Or monitor and manage precious natural resources like fresh drinking water.

This has created a tsunami of data and the volume will increase exponentially as technologies like 5G and cloud computing become commonplace. With more data than people know what to do with, AI’s enormous analytical capacity can deliver insights and help us make good decisions.

Why AI is good for us, and good for business

AI capability on a reliable network

But before AI can help, all this data needs to travel across a network from where it is collected to where it is analysed and acted on. And the larger, safer and more reliable and more capacity a network has, the better. Luckily, this is what Telstra is famous for. Our Narrowband-IoT network provides more than 3.5 million square kilometres of coverage for NBIoT sensors and devices. Our mobile network connects around 18 million phones, tables and other services. And our international subsea cable network stretches for more than 400,000 km, carrying about one-third of all internet traffic in the Asia Pacific region.

To make sure our networks can run smoothly, we constantly monitor its performance. This generates a huge amount of data – 151 terabytes each day, or at least a terabyte of data every 10 minutes! This volume of data will grow over time as more people and devices are connected.

Our Next Gen Operations Support System already parses, enriches and analyses this ocean of data to provide actionable intelligence and insight into the current health of the entire network. Our ambition is to create an even smarter network, one that can use AI to make decisions to avoid failures before they happen, self-heal in order to keep the network stable, and present people with the data visualisation and recommendations on the most complex and critical problems.

The challenge of our digital age is that we can see plenty of problems, and we are collecting an ocean of data about them, but human capacity alone cannot deliver the solution. In short, these are the perfect challenges for AI to help us solve.

Solving customer problems before they knew they had them

Tech and Innovation 5G

Posted on February 11, 2019

4 min read

There’s a Darwinian edge to the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where every January CES gives 150,000+ industry delegates the chance to experience the world’s largest showcase of next-gen (and often pre-launch) devices, gadgets, drones and robots. Through the noise and colour it is easy to see the practical use cases that will change our lives. Also obvious – though maybe no less important – are the things that seem more like solutions looking for problems, cat bowls with face recognition and robots that fold your laundry among them.

With the benefit of a few weeks to reflect, I wanted to share three quick thoughts on what I saw as key themes this year.

5G focus at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 2019

Solving customer problems before they knew they had them

The real decision-makers at CES were not the sales teams, the engineers or technologists – in fact, the real decision makers were not even there! The ones driving natural selection in the technology world are of course customers. The challenge in technology innovation though is that customers often do not know what they want before they see the solution. Did people know they wanted voice recognition AI on their mobile phone before it was developed? Probably not. Was the idea of a vehicle with software that could be continuously and autonomously updated a real need before it became possible? I don’t think so. Are the high def televisions you can fold up like beach towels at CES something customers will take to? Time will tell.

The point is the tech companies that are the most successful take things that customers did not know they wanted, develop them and then let the customer be the real judges of the experiences they create.

That dynamic is right at the heart of what we are trying to do at Telstra through our T22 strategy. We are working to transform the company around simple, intuitive products and services that offer a fantastic customer experience. Part of this work is getting the basics right and removing pain points but a lot of it is also about developing solutions customers did not even know they might need. That also underlines the real importance of Telstra being at events like CES and how we use it to inform our thinking around how to bring the best experience to life for our customers.

The power of unexpected outcomes

My second reflection on CES is that you cannot always predict how things will work out. CES had all manner of robots, drones and devices that could perform every conceivable task but with some of them it was easy to think: “Well, that’s never going to take off!”. That might be true but I think it is important to never underestimate the power of unexpected outcomes. In this ,I am reminded of Amazon’s less than successful attempt to enter the smartphone market a few years ago. It did not work out but one piece of technology developed as part of that is something the world now knows as Alexa. It is interesting to think that if Amazon had been successful with that smartphone they might not have pushed ahead in developing the amazing, voice controlled AI capabilities that Alexa now has. There is great power in unexpected outcomes and who knows how the underlying technology in some of the technology on show might eventually change the world.

Networks – bringing it all to life

My third reflection from CES was the absolutely central role networks play. This year 5G comes to life and the list of things it will enable includes just about everything at CES along with technologies like artificial intelligence, smart cities, digital health and countless other life-changing and life-enhancing advances. The great news is Telstra is 5G ready and we already have more than 200 5G towers operational and have developed deep domain expertise, including at our 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast. As a network operator, what is exciting for us in planning and building a 5G-enabled network is that the full range of opportunities it will create in the future will not only be nowhere near clear when the first 5G devices begin to use it later this year, they will evolve with the market, with innovators and entrepreneurs and, most of all, with customer needs and preferences. We know where we have come from, we know where we are now, but we don’t know exactly what 5G technology will enable in the future – that makes the future unpredictable, unknown, but most of all incredibly exciting.

More to come as I head to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress from 25-28 February.

5G focus at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 2019

Tags: 5g, AI, IoT,

4 technology projects our teams are working on this year

Telstra Careers 5G

Posted on February 4, 2019

3 min read

From launching 5G to creating new Internet of Things (IoT) experiences for our millions of customers, we continue to be at the forefront of technological advancements that are changing our industry.

This means 2019 is going to be another big year for all of our technology teams as they’ll be at the centre of this exciting journey.

So what are the biggest projects our teams will be working on this year? Here are the top four:

2019 is the year of 5G

5G will take us from a world of connecting people to each other and the internet to a world of ultra-fast mobile speeds and IoT on a mass scale.

Our people have already made some pretty huge advancements in this space, including turning on 5G in all major Australian cities, and opening our 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast.

But this is only just the beginning of what we are hoping to achieve together. See how our teams are helping to turn 5G into a reality.

Creating new IoT experiences

Our talented tech teams are creating the future of IoT and this means in 2019 we’re going to continue to deliver new experiences to Australian families and businesses, so they can be better connected, protected and empowered.

Since launching our IoT network, our people have created the Telstra Locator and helped to transform the agriculture industry.

With over 50 million connected devices expected on our network over the next five years, this is just the start of new innovations that our people will deliver.

See how our people are bringing new IoT experiences to life and the skills we’re looking to hire in.

Using AI and Machine Learning

Customers are at the heart of everything we do, so we believe it’s important they can speak with us in a way that’s easiest and convenient for them.

That is why our teams will continue to use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in innovative new ways, to help create amazing digital experiences.  Get a look into the work our people are doing.

Cyber security remains top of mind

With one of the largest cyber security teams in Australia, our hundreds of information security specialists will continue to play a big role in helping to keep Australia secure in 2019.

As an organisation, we’re committed to addressing cyber security threats, and continue to invest heavily to make sure our customers are supported.

We’ll continue to do this in a number of new ways including how we keep our code secure and help our people to keep up to date with latest cyber security trends.

Want to know what else we have planned for 2019?
Hear from our tech leaders.