Brain-Machine Interface – Avatars Of The Future, A Reality

Brain-machine interface lets monkeys move two virtual arms with minds: study

Xinhua | 2013-11-7 | Global Times

 

US researchers said Wednesday that monkeys in a lab have learned to control the movement of both arms on an avatar using just their brain activity.

The findings, published in the US journal Science Translational Medicine, advanced efforts to develop bilateral movement in brain-controlled prosthetic devices for severely paralyzed patients, said researchers at Duke University, based in Durham, the state of North Carolina.

To enable the monkeys to control two virtual arms, the researchers recorded nearly 500 neurons from multiple areas in both cerebral hemispheres of the animals’ brains, the largest number of neurons recorded and reported to date.

Millions of people worldwide suffer from sensory and motor deficits caused by spinal cord injuries. Researchers are working to develop tools to help restore their mobility and sense of touch by connecting their brains with assistive devices.

The brain-machine interface approach holds promise for reaching this goal. However, until now brain-machine interfaces could only control a single prosthetic limb.

“Bimanual movements in our daily activities — from typing on a keyboard to opening a can — are critically important,” senior author Miguel Nicolelis, professor of neurobiology at Duke University School of Medicine said in a statement. “Future brain- machine interfaces aimed at restoring mobility in humans will have to incorporate multiple limbs to greatly benefit severely paralyzed patients.”

Nicolelis and his colleagues studied large-scale cortical recordings to see if they could provide sufficient signals to brain-machine interfaces to accurately control bimanual movements.

The monkeys were trained in a virtual environment within which they viewed realistic avatar arms on a screen and were encouraged to place their virtual hands on specific targets in a bimanual motor task. The monkeys first learned to control the avatar arms using a pair of joysticks, but were able to learn to use just their brain activity to move both avatar arms without moving their own arms.

As the animals’ performance in controlling both virtual arms improved over time, the researchers observed widespread plasticity in cortical areas of their brains. These results suggested that the monkeys’ brains may incorporate the avatar arms into their internal image of their bodies, a finding recently reported by the same researchers in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers also found that cortical regions showed specific patterns of neuronal electrical activity during bimanual movements that differed from the neuronal activity produced for moving each arm separately.

The study suggested that very large neuronal ensembles — not single neurons — define the underlying physiological unit of normal motor functions, the researchers said, adding that small neuronal samples of the cortex may be insufficient to control complex motor behaviors using a brain-machine interface.

“When we looked at the properties of individual neurons, or of whole populations of cortical cells, we noticed that simply summing up the neuronal activity correlated to movements of the right and left arms did not allow us to predict what the same individual neurons or neuronal populations would do when both arms were engaged together in a bimanual task,” Nicolelis said. “This finding points to an emergent brain property — a non-linear summation — for when both hands are engaged at once.”

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China the most powerful growth engine for new global companies

World to see boom in big firms

By YU RAN | 2013-11-07 | China Daily

Report: Nation to be ‘engine’for companies

An additional 7,000 companies globally are expected to become large enterprises with revenues of more than $1 billion by 2025, with 70 percent of them likely to be based in emerging regions, especially China, a report has said.

The new report on the shifting global business landscape, which was released by the McKinsey Global Institute on Wednesday in Shanghai, said that many more large companies will develop in emerging cities and countries from the current 8,000 large companies worldwide, 75 percent of which are based in developed regions.

China is without a doubt the most powerful growth engine for new global companies, and now is the time for forward-thinking cities to build their reputations among Chinese business leaders, the report said.

The survey found that one-third of large companies are now headquartered in only 20 cities globally while three in 10 large Chinese companies are based either in Beijing or Shanghai. However, there might be more than 300 cities in China hosting at least one large company by 2025.

“Many city officials are focused on luring corporate headquarters, but it is actually relatively rare for companies to move their head offices,” said Elsie Chang, an MGI senior research fellow.

Chang added that the more promising opportunity lies in attracting foreign subsidiaries as thousands of global companies are expanding into new markets.

For instance, opening more plants in China to make products tailored specifically to local buyers is the stated goal of PPG Industries Inc, a major global coatings and specialty products company, in the next three to five years.

“China is a very important market for PPG, being the second-largest market among 70 countries, while we have plans to continue to invest in China as our business grows and we want to apply our best technology to help our customers,” said Mike Horton, PPG’s president for the Asia-Pacific region.

With more than 30 plants in the Asia-Pacific region, 14 of which are on the Chinese mainland, PPG plans to develop its Chinese market step by step to become a major manufacturer and seller in the country.

“We are planning to find and work with more high-standard factories to manufacture what we sell in China instead of importing products from overseas to meet the increasing demand within the country,” said Horton.

The number of large companies based in emerging regions is poised to far more than triple by 2025, rising from around 2,200 today to about 7,000 in 2025. This reflects rising incomes and growing local market opportunities in these regions, as well as the fact that local companies are expanding, maturing, and reconfiguring through mergers or acquisitions, the MGI report said.

About 280 up-and-coming cities in emerging economies could host the headquarters of a large company for the first time, becoming new hubs in global industry networks, it added.

“The world’s competitive landscape will be transformed over the next 10 to 15 years by the rise of a formidable new breed of large emerging-market companies,” said Jonathan Woetzel, a director at MGI and one of the report’s authors.

Woetzel added that the long-established dominance of Western multinationals is about to be challenged.

In addition, China will also see more small and medium-sized companies becoming large ones as the number of large companies in China is expected to increase from 800 to more than 3,400 by 2025, the report said.

Some private business owners in China are already pursuing the goal of transforming the scale of their companies from small and medium-sized to large.

For example, the effects of the growing e-commerce industry are bringing impressive results to some sectors.

Zhejiang Duoying Jewelry Co Ltd, which closed its physical shop and registered an online shop in 2012, saw its gross profit grow to 30 million yuan ($4.88 million) in 2012, twice the amount posted in 2011.

“The peak period of export trading ended in 2011 with a sharp decrease of over 30 percent on annual output from 2008 while the amount of orders also declined nearly 40 percent,” said Zeng Hongqi, the general manager of Zhejiang Duoying Jewelry.

Zeng added that he aims to boost his company’s profits with gradual annual growth and upgraded branding, going from the current mid-market clients to high-end customers in 10 years.

In particular, more focus will be placed on the services sector in China, as Shenzhen and Nanjing are developing as hubs for non-State controlled, medium-sized companies with a higher share of global revenue from services companies than other leading emerging-region cities such as Mumbai, India, and Sao Paulo, Brazil, said the report.

 

China to deepen reforms to achieve sustainable economic development

China to deepen reforms to spur growth

2013-11-07 | China Daily

 

BEIJING – The upcoming policy meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is expected to unveil a package of measures to deepen reforms to achieve sustainable economic development, said experts.

The reforms are “essential for China as it tries to find a sustainable growth model over the medium and long term,” said the Wall Street Journal in an article.

The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which is expected to steer the country to an historic turning point, will kick off at this weekend.

Thanks to three-decade reform and opening up, China has become the second largest economy in the world with an annual growth rate of nearly 10 percent and an approximate $6,000 GDP per capita.

However, China’s economic growth has experienced a sequential slowdown since 2011, with a growth target of 7.5 percent in 2013.

China is facing comprehensive problems such as production overcapacity, local debts and shadow banks. Population aging and an enlarging wealth gap also piles pressure on the old growth model.

China’s economic development has entered a stage where only reforms can unleash growth potential and reduce risks, said a research report from Britain’s Barclays Bank.

Experts anticipate that the new reforms will focus on urbanization — a critical driving force for China’s long-term economic growth.

The director of the Asia Research Center of the London School of Economics, Athar Hussain, said China has made great changes in the past few years, noting that urbanization, which requires both economic and political reform, will become the most important issue for the Chinese government in the next five years.

Hussain also forecasted that more city clusters, such as the Chengdu-Chongqing cluster in the central and western areas, will be created to reduce the stress on the four megacities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Expert said a scientific and effective transformation to urbanization will stimulate domestic demand, balance investment and consumption, and inject new impetus to the economic growth.

As a driving force of economic growth and rebalance, the Wall Street Journal said urbanization will be supported at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee on November 9-12.

Experts also pointed out that the policy of focusing on the dominant role of people is very important, which will increase the autonomy and sustainability of China’s urbanization progress.

History shows that land and agriculture is deeply related to the fate of Chinese people. The old urban-rural dual structure is expected to be reshaped following reforms in such fields as the land system, the social security system, modern agriculture and law.

The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee is an opportunity for China’s new leadership to show their wisdom by coping with those challenges, said Anoop Singh, director of the Asia and Pacific Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in an article published on IMF’s website.

Gainers & Losers of Chinese Economy

China’s Rich List Mirrors Industry Shifts

2013-09-23 17:20 | The Economic Observer

By Kang Yi (康怡) | Issue 637, Sept 16, 2013

 

The worst period for the Chinese economy seems to have passed – at least for China’s ultra-rich.

The latest Hurun Rich List, released on Sept 11, showed that the average wealth of the entrepreneurs listed had risen by 18.5 percent over last year. But rather than indicating a recovering economy, this could just be an illustration of the “Matthew Effect” where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

59-year-old Wang Jianlin (王健林), chairman of the real estate giant Wanda Group, became China’s richest man for the first time with his 135 billion yuan. This broke the previous 130 billion yuan record for the wealthiest Chinese.

Compared to last year, Wang’s wealth increased by 108 percent. Founder and Chairman of Hangzhou Wahaha Group Zong Qinghou (宗庆后), who held the top spot last year, fell to number two this year but still saw his wealth grow by 44 percent. Founder of Tencent Ma Huateng (马化腾) came in at third after his fortune grew 51 percent. The wealth accumulation rate of all these entrepreneurs far outpaced the growth of the Chinese economy, which only grew by 7 to 8 percent.

Wang Zhongmin (王忠明), vice secretary-general of the All-China Federation of Industry & Commerce,  says that even though China’s economic growth is slowing, wealth accumulation of the rich is speeding up. He says this indicates that private enterprises of a fairly large scale have started to enjoy a certain economic inertia.

“Taking Wang Jianlin as an example, his industry structure is prepared for the future,” Wang Zhongmin said. “It’s not only involved in real estate, but is also internationalizing and branching out into culture. Wang has already accelerated and has inertia. Because his development is healthy, the government and other sectors will provide him with more support in terms of resources.”

According to Hurun, the shift in this year’s rich list is a sort of microcosm of the industrial structure adjustment in China. “The wealth of the Rich List this year reached a new record mainly through the real estate industry recovery and the rapid development of IT,” Hurun said.

Hurun also gave a nod to the progress of China’s urbanization, which was hoped to become the biggest engine driving China’s economy during “Twelfth Five-Year Plan” period (2011–2015). “No one is more representative than Wang Jianlin to represent China’s urbanization progress,” it said.

Wang’s Wanda Group has branched into four industries including commercial real estate, high-end hotels, cultural tourism and department store chains. It’s opened 72 Wanda Plazas, 40 five-star hotels, 6,000 cinema screens, 62 department stores and 68 karaoke clubs across China.

Wanda Group had total revenue of 141.7 billion yuan in 2012 with a profit of over 20 billion yuan. According to Hurun’s estimate, 80 percent of Wang Jianlin’s wealth comes from real estate.

But the IT industry had the biggest gains this year. Three out of the top 10 richest Chinese on the list are in IT, and the total number of entrepreneurs on the list involved in the IT industry increased over 20 percent since last year.

One of the best representatives on the list was Xiaomi Founder and CEO Lei Jun (雷军), who came in at 63rd. His wealth grew 567 percent from 2.4 billion yuan last year to 16 billion yuan this year. Xiaomi’s MI mobile phone is one of the most popular domestic made models in China, reaching 12.6 billion yuan in sales in 2012.

However, the Rich List showed that not all of China’s super rich had such a good year. 252 entrepreneurs saw their wealth shrink, of which 77 percent came from publicly-listed companies.  Six people experienced more than a 50 percent drop in their wealth and 115 entrepreneurs who made the list last year fell off altogether this time.

It was the clothing and liquor industries that saw the biggest loss of wealth. Iron and steel, minerals and non-ferrous metals also saw big declines. Many entrepreneurs from these industries fell off the Rich List this year.

The Hurun Rich List is being regarded as a mirror of China’s private economy. Wang Zhongmin says he hopes to see more private bankers on the list in the future. Gradual financial reform may allow this to happen. Meanwhile, Hurun says that the entertainment industry will be the most likely “dark horse” to make a splash in the future.

However, Hurun warns that the people on its Rich List are just the top of the iceberg. “Behind each of the people with ‘transparent wealth’ there are two rich people with ‘hidden wealth,’” it says. “There are 1,000 rich people ranked in our list, which means there should be more than 3,000 if you count those with hidden wealth.”

Private Security Firms & China’s Growing Population of Super-Rich

2013-10-10 11:21 | The Economic Observer
By Li Rong (李容) and Zhang Hua (张华) | October 7, 2013  
As a Shaolin Temple disciple since childhood, Shi Xingfeng, president of Bojing Security Agency, often has to remind himself to hide the heroic spirit that often glows from the eyes of martial arts masters.

“It’s professional discipline,” Shi says. “You’ve got to learn to be an invisible bodyguard.”

As a matter of fact, the Chinese super-rich are still not accustomed to the idea of having tall, strongly built men in suits and a solemn face hanging around. It’s considered too indiscreet. “In China, bodyguards are disguised as chauffeurs or secretaries to protect the clients’ safety better,” Shi explains.

But he also says there are cultural differences in the approach to paid protection. In the West, if a VIP’s hat has been blown off by the wind, his bodyguards are not to pick it up for him.  A Chinese magnate though expects such services. “The Chinese super-rich have yet to nurture such a concept — a bodyguard is there to protect his safety, not to be his babysitter,” Shi laments.

It was not until 2010 that privately run security services were even legalized in China, which is when Shi founded his security agency. He aspires to imitate Academi, formerly known as Blackwater USA, a security contractor that has worked for the U.S. State Department and usually retrains retired military or police personnel to become premium armed security guards.

Shi says Chinese often have a very poor awareness of their safety. “In China, many rich people are reluctant to hire bodyguards because they believe that it is showing off,” he explains. “They also worry about privacy.”

Moreover, since their homes and the venues they frequent are thought to be well-secured, VIPs in China don’t feel they are at particular risk. “The truth is that as public figures, rich people often attract hatred of the rich,” and are “in much greater danger than an ordinary person” of calculated attacks, Shi says.

After the Fact

Some 80 percent of Shi’s clients are entrepreneurs, but the majority of them came to him only after running into trouble. “Usually they have already encountered a real security problem in general verbal abuse, but sometimes even physical confrontations, before thinking about hiring bodyguards.”

The latest example is Zong Qinghou, China’s beverage tycoon and the 86th richest man in the world, according to Forbes’ Global Rich List. He was attacked walking out of his own house and injured by someone who had asked him for a job.

In most cases, whether they are robberies or retaliation, the perpetrators aren’t even “professional.” Had these entrepreneurs had a bit more awareness of safety issues, the tragedies wouldn’t have occurred.

A Whole Engineering System

As the number of China’s super-rich grows, so do concerns for personal safety. “The demand is related to economic development, especially in the coastal cities such as Beijing and Shanghai,” says Xin Yang, the general manager of Beijing Yunhai Elite Security.

Industry statistics show that China currently has some 4,000 licensed security firms with as many as 4.3 million security agents and an annual turnover of about 40 billion RMB ($653 million). And there is sure to be plenty of room for growth in the sector.

For the rich and famous, it isn’t just their own personal safety, but that of their families and properties. This is a whole “engineering system,” as Shi puts it.

Shi says the typical procedure when taking on a client is first to assess all the potential risks, then identify the level of danger and finally develop a specific strategy for protection. Teams of five to eight security personnel are typically dispatched. They include those specialized in anti-kidnapping, anti-tracking or target control, as well as those disguised as chauffeurs or secretaries to offer close minute-by-minute protection of the client.

Uneven Quality

Having studied martial arts since the age of 15, and having later worked for years as one of the “Zhongnanhai Guards Group” protecting China’s top leaders, as well as foreign visitors such as Bill Gates, Zhe Meijie is considered one of the top Chinese security specialists.

Zhe says that while more and more security companies are springing up, the industry lacks supervision and public regulations. “It’s a mixed bag,” he says. “We hope that the government will introduce appropriate policies to guide the industry’s development and that practitioners and managers in the sector get better training, as well as learn to cooperate to avoid vicious competition among themselves.”

As such a new industry, China’s bodyguard services are still groping in the dark. To improve standards and find quality recruits, security firms increasingly tap into the ranks of newly retiring police and soldiers. “Decommissioned special forces soldiers possess high military qualities and can adapt themselves fast to bodyguard work,” Shi says. “They are our first choice.”

Before being put into service, candidates must go through a sort of boot camp, including physical training, kickboxing, martial arts and anti-kidnapping training, as well as business protocol.

“If you can’t fight, you definitely can’t be a bodyguard,” Shi says. “But only knowing how to fight doesn’t make you a bodyguard either. What a bodyguard requires most is intelligence.”

Half the training is related to skills and theories such as driving special vehicles, information collection, legal knowledge, public relations, emergency care and social etiquette. Physical techniques represent 20 percent and fighting 30 percent, Shi estimates.

But above all, integrity is still the most important aspect of a profession that involves both danger and privacy. “We are still far from the standards of the profession in advanced countries like America since this is a business that is just starting in China,” says Shi. “We want to become China’s Blackwater, but it’s a tough road. We are learning how to do our job, and we realize that also includes educating the clients.”

7 Technology Trends for 2014

The Top 7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2014

Jayson DeMers

Strap yourself in, it’s going to be a wild ride. In considering the changes we’ve seen in technology over the past year, I’m bracing myself for unprecedented growth when it comes to anytime, anywhere, on-demand information and entertainment.

Based on the trends we’ve seen so far in 2013, I predict 2014 will see many fledgling technologies mature and grow beyond what we could have imagined just a few years ago.

So without further ado, here are my top 7 predictions for technology trends that will dominate 2014.

1. Consumers will come to expect Smart TV capabilities

With Smart TV shipments expected to reach 123 million in 2014 – up from about 84 million in 2012 – we are poised to see explosive growth in this industry.

In the midst of this growth, we will continue to see fierce competition between major players like Samsung, Panasonic, and LG. Prices will need to continue to drop, as more consumers crave, and even expect, the ability to use Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video and their web browser via their TV.

Of course, the development we’re all waiting for in 2014 is the release of Apple’s much anticipated iTV. It appears the iTV is now in the early development stage, and that Apple may be in the process of making a deal with Time Warner to facilitate programming on Apple devices.

The device is rumoured to include iCloud sync, the ability to control your iPhone, and ultra HD LCD panels. Keep an eye out for this release as early as summer 2014.

2. Smart watches will become ‘smarter’

Rather than having to pull out your smartphone or tablet for frequent email, text and social media updates, you’ll glance at your watch.

2014 is the year to keep an eye out for the Google watch. Rumor has it the device will integrate with Google Now, which aims to seamlessly provide relevant information when and where you want it (and before you’d asked for it).

We’ll see smart watches become even smarter, learning what news and updates are important to us, when we want to receive them, and responding more accurately to voice controls.

For smart watches to succeed, they’ll need to offer us something that our smart phone can’t; whether this means more intuitive notifications, or the ability to learn from our daily activities and behaviours (for instance, heart rate monitoring), it will be interesting to see.

3. Google Glass will still be in “wait and see” mode

While Google Glass hasn’t yet been released to the general public, we’ve heard enough about it to know it’s still very early days for this technology. With an estimated 60,000 units expected to sell in 2013, and a predicted several million in 2014, it’s still a long way from becoming a common household technology.

These augmented reality glasses allow you to access information like email and texts, take hands-free pictures and videos, effortlessly translate your voice, and even receive overlaid walking, cycling or driving directions, right within your field of vision.

It’s predicted that both Google Glass 2.0, and its companion, the Glass App Store, should be released to the general public sometime in 2014.

Be on the lookout for competition in this market, particularly from major players like Samsung. I predict we’ll see much of this competition aimed at niche markets like sports and healthcare.

4. Other applications and uses for Apple’s TouchID will emerge

The release of the iPhone 5S has, for the first time, made on-the-go fingerprint security a reality. The potential for Touch ID technology to really take off is, I believe, an inevitable reality. Touch ID, which uses a high-resolution camera to scan your fingerprint, allows convenient ultra-security for your iPhone.

Currently, the technology is limited; the only real uses are unlocking your iPhone, and making purchases in the App store. I predict that we’ll see this technology incorporated into other Apple products soon. I think we’ll even see TouchId integrated into MacBook products later this year or next.

I also predict TouchID, though not quite bug-free, will be used for other purposes, such as to securely integrate with home security systems, access password software, and even pay for groceries (more on that in an upcoming article).

5. Xbox One and PS4 will blur the lines between entertainment and video gaming

The new gaming consoles (Xbox One and PS4) will increasingly integrate social media-like connectivity between players. Players could have followers, work together to achieve in-game goals, and new technology will allow for equally-skilled players to compete.

The PS4, slated to be released November 15th, will track both the controller and the player’s face and movements for more intuitive play.

Apart from great gaming, these systems will allow for a far more integrative entertainment experience. For instance, rather than switching between TV, gaming, music and sports, you’ll be able to do two or even three activities side-by-side, or by easily switching back and forth.

6. 3D Printing will begin to revolutionize production

We’ve seen a huge rise in the popularity of 3D printing this year, coupled with a dramatic fall in pricing. The ability to easily create multi-layered products that are actually usable – well, that’s pretty amazing.

I’ll be watching for a movement towards simple products being produced close to home, and to greater customization given the ease of manufacturing. I think it’s inevitable that manufacturing in countries such as China will become less appealing and lucrative for businesses given the high costs of shipping and managing overseas contracts.

I don’t expect these changes to reach their full effect in 2014, however I believe businesses will be starting to consider how this will affect their production plans for 2015 and beyond.

7. The movement towards natural language search will make search more accurate and intuitive

There was a time when we used terms like “personal digital assistant” to describe a hand-held calendar. Oh, how times have changed.

With the emergence of intelligent personal assistants like Google Now and Apple’s Siri, the goal is to have information intuitively delivered to you, often before you even ask for it. The shift seems to be away from having to actively request data, and instead to have it passively delivered to your device.

Natural language search will continue to overtake keyword-based search, as seen by Google’s move towards longer, more natural searches in its recent release of Hummingbird, Google’s largest algorithm update thus far.

 

Why the Cloud is Winning

Here are another 51 million reasons why the cloud is winning

Summary: Commodity cloud services are delivering savings that put prices charged by large systems integrators to shame, according to the UK’s tech chief.

By | July  4, 2013 — 08:36 GMT (01:36 PDT)

Faced with a £52m bill from a large IT vendor for hosting “a major programme” the UK government decided to turn to commodity cloud services.

The result? It picked up a comparable service from a smaller player for £942,000.

“In the world of the cloud the services I get from a major systems integrator and from a minor systems integrator are relatively comparable, given the security and ability to host is often specced out anyway,” UK government CTO Liam Maxwell told The Economist’s CIO Forum in London yesterday.

The UK government plans to use commodity cloud services to help free itself from the stranglehold of a small number of systems integrators that traditionally carried out about 80 percent of government IT work, and charged huge sums of money for doing so.

Departments are being encouraged to buy cloud services from the government-run CloudStore — an online catalogue of thousands of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS and specialist cloud services available to public sector bodies — which are sourced by Whitehall through its G-Cloud procurement framework.

The idea of the CloudStore is to provide a platform where it is as easy for small and medium sized businesses to sell to government as the large vendors. The government has simplified the accreditation process to become a supplier to government and the vendors selling through the store range from multi-national corporates to start-ups.

While more than 60 percent of the spend through the CloudStore has been with SMEs since it launched last year, larger deals through the store are still going to big companies, with IBM picking up a £1.2m deal with the Home Office in May.

Spend on G-Cloud services is growing rapidly, passing £25m in May, but is still tiny compared to an estimated annual public sector IT spend of £16bn. However this could pick up even more sharply as long-term contracts with large systems integrators expire.

“The majority of the large contracts finish by 2014-15, so there’s an enormous amount of change underway at the moment,” said Maxwell.

“We’re not going to replace, we’re going to base our services around user need, and in many cases that means not doing the same thing again.”

The UK’s Office of Fair Trading today called for suppliers and purchasers in the UK public sector to contact them with their experiences on how easy it is for smaller vendors to supply to government and barriers put in place by larger players to prevent government switching to competitors.

Earlier this year the government’s director of the G-Cloud programme Denise McDonagh said systems integrators are slashing what they charge Whitehall departments in an effort to stop them from switching to cloud services.

Maxwell has plenty of government IT horror stories of his own, telling the conference it historically cost government £723 to process each payment claim made by farmers to the Rural Payments Agency.

“It would be cheaper to rent a taxi put the cash in the taxi, drive the taxi to the farm and keep a manual record than it would have been the way the outsource contract worked,” he said.

 

Companies That Pay Interns Boatloads Of Money

20 Tech Companies That Pay Interns Boatloads Of Money

Alyson Shontell | Feb. 2, 2013, 8:15 AM | Business Insider

If you intern for a high-profile tech company, you can make more money than the average US citizen.

Facebook, for example, pays its average intern $6,056 per month. That ends up being a base salary of about $72,000 per year.

But there’s another tech company that pays its interns even more than Facebook.

Glassdoor, a career and company rating site, helped us compile a list of tech companies that pay their interns the most. Its salary data is based on anonymous salary reports voluntarily shared by current and recent employees, including interns.

The following list combines monthly average pay with hourly monthly pay to take into account a larger data sample among tech interns. Companies were only included if they had 20 or more salary reports within the past two years.

Here’s who pays its lowest level people thousands of dollars every month.

20. Cisco Systems pays its interns an average of $3,930 per month

Annually, that would be: $47,160

“Great company, very knowledgeable peers from top universities, work is good, good compensation and you learn a lot. Flexibility and work/life balance is unmatched. Free movie tickets, tickets to amusement park, free frequent lunches, great gym, free train pass, lot of intern events with free food, pays for your tuition, San Jose a good place to live. College grads like me these days wants to work for more recent brands like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter but companies like CISCO and others who have been there from decades are great places to start your career.” — Former Cisco Systems college intern (San Jose, CA)

19. IBM pays its interns an average of $3,942 per month

Annually, that would be: $47,304

“Tech giant with massive resources and really talented people. You work on products that are touched by millions in mission critical areas. For such a big company, it feels very nimble. You can easily reach any employee worldwide through Same time. It feels like a tight-knit environment, even thought you are 1 or hundreds of thousands. Every manager I have dealt with is awesome. Uber professionalism throughout.” — IBM software engineer intern (Austin, TX)

18. EMC pays its interns an average of $4,004 per month

Annually, that would be: $48,048

“EMC is a great company with great employees. Seniors are willing to help and easy about timelines. Its was a awesome experience as a starter and provided me a good learning experience. With that said, it has good salaries for the intern.” — EMC software engineer intern (Hopkinton, MA)

17. Hewlett-Packard pays its interns an average of $4,008 per month

Annually, that would be: $48,096

“Great place to start working, a lot of opportunities, resources in other departments, great pay for an internship, great company to start a career with.” — HP intern (San Diego, CA)

16. Dell pays its interns an average of $4,024 per month

Annually, that would be: $48,288

“Excellent community, with an open atmosphere. The company is reshaping itself, there is a lot of room for upward movement, and it is clear that Dell will be a part of the future of technology.” — Former Dell Engineering Intern

15. Intuit pays its interns an average of $4,427 per month

Annually, that would be: $53,124

“Very open and collaborative work culture, employees are very helpful and friendly. Accommodation is provided by the company for internship.” — Intuit Data Analyst Intern (Mountain View, CA)

14. NetApp pays its interns an average of $4,559 per month

Annually, that would be: $54,708

“Nice cafeterias; bright, successful people. Plenty of space for meeting rooms, and the building is full of the latest technology.” — NetApp intern (Sunnyvale, CA)

13. Autodesk pays its interns an average of $4,559 per month

Annually, that would be: $54,708

“They go out of their way to make employees feel part of the company. There are perks, such as paid volunteer, sabbatical, and nice offices.” — Autodesk intern (San Francisco, CA)

12. QUALCOMM pays its interns an average of $4,560 per month

Annually, that would be: $54,720

“Competitive salary, lodging reimbursement, relocation reimbursement, paid time off. Worked on projects just same as a full-time. opportunities to get access to top-level technologies and made real contributions to the future products.” — Interim QUALCOMM Engineering Intern (San Diego, CA)

11. Intel pays its interns an average of $4,749 per month

Annually, that would be: $56,988

“Intel has a very organized and constructive internship program. They set you up for success and provide many opportunities for future employment. Excellent pay as well.” — Former Intel BIOS Technical Intern

10. Apple pays its interns an average of $4,914 per month

Annually, that would be: $58,968

“Great culture, great people, very efficient workplace, good food in cafe, and great knowing people take pride in their work. They have the resources to do what you need. They take good care of their interns with nice overtime pay. Their are lots of nice intern activities (giants game, great America), along with the executive seminar series. The gym is nice although it can get busy.” — Apple Hardware intern (Cupertino, CA)

9. Yahoo pays its interns an average of $5,191 per month

Annually, that would be: $62,292

“Has good culture. Has best Managers. Good work-life balance. New CEO is very good. Positive environment. UR team pampers interns. Free food is one of the major attractions here. The environment is completely different inside, media has created a hype.” — Former Yahoo Software Developer Intern (Santa Clara, CA)

8. NVIDIA pays its interns an average of $5,215 per month

Annually, that would be: $62,580

“In the GPU group, you will learn a lot from the best in the industry. Of course you are working for the leader in graphics technologies involved with exciting products so that’s a big plus. They put me in a position to handle plenty of responsibility. Also, did a lot of design work instead of stereotypical intern work. My group was very friendly and helpful. Even held some small outings together. Many events and free swag for interns, but don’t expect it to be a Google experience.” — Former NVIDIA hardware intern (Santa Clara, CA)

7. Amazon pays its interns an average of $5,366 per month

Annually, that would be: $64,392

“Great culture and a fun place to work. Everyone is intelligent and drives each other to be better. Be prepared to work hard and be pushed to do well. Although they pay very well and as a result expect you to perform. Firings will happen but they are often expected and never unwarranted. Also the concept of moving groups or leaving for new opportunities is accepted here and never feels awkward. Many people even end up coming back after they leave.” — Amazon Software Development Engineer (Seattle, WA)

6. Google pays its interns an average of $5,678 per month

Annually, that would be: $68,136

“Very attractive company culture; great work-life balance; genius co-workers; some interesting intern events; very nice recruiting team; good pay; free food and many more things.” — Google Engineer Intern (Mountain View, CA)

5. Adobe pays its interns an average of $5,757 per month

Annually, that would be: $69,084

Stocked Kitchen, Beer Bashes on Fridays. Lunches are well prepared by chefs (not free though). Very passionate and smart people. Very fun and relaxed atmosphere to work in. ‘Work Hard, Play Hard.’ Awesome game room. People are very open minded and willing to listen to your opinion and ideas and courteous as well. Good pay, cool perks like free fitness reimbursement.” — Former Adobe intern (Seattle, WA)

4. LinkedIn pays its interns an average of $5,808 per month

Annually, that would be: $69,696

“inSpiring! People love their jobs, the culture tries to make the employees happy, free food, a chance to collaborate with people from different departments, fun environment, maintains a small company feel even with 1000+ employees.” — LinkedIn intern (Mountain View, CA)

3. Microsoft pays its interns an average of $5,936 per month

Annually, that would be: $71,232

“Great compensation, fun activities, fabulous intern gifts – you can tell that money was really thrown your way as an intern.” – Microsoft Software Development Engineer Intern (Bellevue, WA)

2. Facebook pays its interns an average of $6,056 per month

Annually, that would be: $72,672

“The benefits and pay are obviously great, and since it’s a well-known company it’s a good place to start if you’re looking to get recognized at other tech companies and startups.” – Facebook Software Engineering Intern (Palo Alto, CA)

1. VMWare pays its interns an average of $6,536 per month

Annually, that would be: $78,432

“Salary. I was making more than any of my classmates. Environment…almost everything was free. As an intern, the intern leaders were extremely helpful and supportive and responsive of feedback.” – VMware Technical Staff Intern (Palo Alto, CA)

Silicon Valley 100

The Silicon Valley 100

SAI | Feb. 2, 2012, 5:21 PM
2011 was a huge year for Silicon Valley.Larry  Page took over Google  and dropped $12.5 billion on Motorola  a couple of months later.IPOs finally returned to tech as Zynga  and LinkedIn  found their ways to public markets.

The greatest innovator and CEO of his generation left us.

Now, after months of research, debates, and more research, we’re happy to  present the latest installment of the Silicon Valley 100, a compilation of the  people who did the coolest things in Silicon Valley this year.

A big shout out to everyone named in the list; you earned it. We apologize if  we missed anyone, we’re not all-knowing.

  1. Steve Jobs
  2. Larry Page
  3. Tim Cook
  4. Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz
  5. Jack Dorsey
  6. Ray Lane and Meg Whitman
  7. Gideon Yu and Jim Harbaugh
  8. Jeff Weiner
  9. Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Yashwanth Nelapati
  10. Sam Lessin
  11. Aaron Levie
  12. Dave Morin
  13. Sean Parker
  14. Mark Pincus
  15. Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk abd Joe Gebbia
  16. Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi
  17. Mark Zuckerberg
  18. Ren Ng
  19. Michael Arrington and MG Siegler
  20. Keith Rabois
  21. Sheryl Sandberg
  22. Bret Taylor
  23. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger
  24. Travis Kalanick
  25. Joe Kennedy
  26. Tony Bates
  27. Blake Irving and Ross Levinsohn
  28. Dag Kittlaus
  29. Andy Rubin
  30. Robert Kyncl
  31. Bill Nguyen
  32. Ben Horowitz, Marc Andreessen, Jeff Jordan
  33. Alexander Asseily and Hosain Rahman
  34. Sergey Brin
  35. Tony Zingale
  36. Gregg Zehr
  37. Mike McCue
  38. Yuri Milner
  39. Chamath Palihapitiya
  40. Bing Gordon
  41. Dave Goldberg and Ryan Finley
  42. Joe Fernandez and Binh Tran
  43. Dustin Moskovitz
  44. Jim Breyer
  45. Eric Grosse and Leah Busque
  46. Reid Hoffman
  47. Eddy Cue
  48. Reed Hastings
  49. Joe Lonsdale
  50. Dick Costolo
  51. Jessica Scorpio, Sam Zaid, and Elliot Kroo
  52. Charlie Cheever and Adam D’Angelo
  53. Dave McClure
  54. Paul Graham
  55. Jeremy Stoppelman
  56. Rob Hayes
  57. Brian and Lisa Sugar
  58. Evan Williams, Jason Goldman, Biz Stone
  59. Kevin and Julia Hartz
  60. Mike Olson
  61. Doug Mack and Alison Pincus and Susan Feldman
  62. Frank Quattrone
  63. Kevin Rose
  64. Daniel Rosensweig
  65. Elon Musk
  66. Sundar Pichai
  67. Ron Conway and David Lee
  68. Mark Johnson
  69. Marc Benioff
  70. Shawn Fanning
  71. Ernestine Fu
  72. Steven Boal
  73. Sarah Lacy
  74. Kara Swisher
  75. Aydin Senkut
  76. Peter Thiel
  77. Uri Levine and Ehud Shabtai
  78. Aneel Bhsuri
  79. Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell
  80. Alex Karp
  81. David Lawlee
  82. Max Levchin
  83. Scott Sandell and Peter Sonsini
  84. Akshay Kothari and Ankit Gupta
  85. David Drummond
  86. Salar Kamangar
  87. Phil Fernandez
  88. Satoshi Nakamoto
  89. Sam Shank
  90. Phil Libin
  91. Lars Dalgaard
  92. Mariam Naficy
  93. Sukhinder Singh Cassidy
  94. Vikash Varma
  95. Ryan Howard
  96. Kevin Chou
  97. David Samuel and Josh Felser
  98. Mary Meeker
  99. Michael Morell and Ali Behnam
  100. Jason Shellen

Digital 100

THE DIGITAL 100: The World’s Most Valuable Private Tech Companies

 

Alyson Shontell | Oct.  3, 2012,  2:32 PM Welcome to the DIGITAL 100: The World’s Most  Valuable Private Tech Companies!

In the past two months, we have evaluated hundreds  of private tech companies and ranked the top 100 by value.

Our rankings are based on several metrics,  including revenue, users, market opportunities, growth rates, and the perception  of investors and tech gurus.

A lot has changed since we published last year’s  list. Since then, three of the top private tech companies—Facebook, Zynga, and  Groupon—have gone public. And all of their stocks have crashed.

So we’ve taken that into account in the valuations  on this year’s list. In many cases, we’ve disregarded valuations stamped on  recent funding rounds and instead valued companies based on their public  comparables.

(And note that we’re valuing common stock, not the  preferred stock that private investors get when they invest in the private  market. Preferred stock comes with downside protection, which makes it much more  valuable than common stock.)

1. Alibaba
2. Bloomberg
3. Twitter
4. 360Buy
5. Palantir
6. Dropbox
7. Square
8. MLB.com
9. Softlayer
10. Vente-Privee
11. VANCL
12. Airbnb
13. Pinterest
14. Datapipe
15. Spotify
16. Craigslist
17. Flipkart
18. Ozon  Group
19. Wonga
20. Hulu
21. Klarna
22. Kaspersky  Lab
23. Rovio
24. Conduit
25. Aricent  Group
26. Survey  Monkey
27. Mu  Sigma
28. ZocDoc
29. Just  Eat
30. Gilt  Groupe
31. Everyday  Health
32. Evernote
33. LivingSocial
34. Criteo
35. Zulily
36. Zoosk
37. Coupang
38. Redfin
39. Qualtrics
40. Seamless
41. Media  Ocean
42. JustDial
43. 10gen
44. AppNexus
45. GitHub
46. Tumblr
47. Box.net
48. Glam  Media
49. Stella & Dot
50. Marketo
51. Etsy
52. One  Kings Lane
53. Nasty  Gal
54. Klout
55. Automattic
56. Xiu
57. Manta
58. Eventbrite
59. Sugar,  Inc
60. Kickstarter
61. Apptio
62. Fresh  Direct
63. eHarmony
64. Veracode
65. Wix
66. Turn
67. Quantcast
68. Nest
69. Fab
70. Foursquare
71. Storm8
72. Flipboard
73. Vibrant  Media
74. Rubicon  Project
75. OpenX
76. Return  Path
77. Quora
78. Snapdeal
79. Tremor  Video
80. RightScale
81. Whaleshark/RetailMeNot
82. Break  Media
83. Tagged
84. Yext
85. Stripe
86. Rocket  Fuel
87. Mind  Candy
88. AddThis
89. SoundCloud
90. Xirrus
91. Federated  Media
92. Say  Media
93. Yodle
94. Coupons.com
95. Path
96. Shazam
97. Plenty  of Fish
98. Warby  Parker
99. Thrillist
100. Vox  Media
101. Gawker  Media
102. Media6Degrees
103. CafeMom