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The Week in Tech: A Break From Consumer Tech

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IBM talks about “chapter two” in the cloud market. Increasingly, it says, companies will run not only new applications but also their legacy software on the cloud, either private clouds in their own data centers or on IBM’s cloud. The next stage of cloud computing, Virginia Rometty, IBM’s chief executive, told Jon Fortt of CNBC, “is going to be driven by the modernization of mission-critical apps. That’s our sweet spot.”

And in a nod to reality, IBM announced a Watson Anywhere initiative: Its A.I. technology will run on the popular clouds of Amazon, Microsoft or Google as well as IBM’s cloud.

In other news:

■ In an article this week before Amazon’s retreat, J. David Goodman, City Hall reporter for The Times, deftly explained the shifting politics before Amazon withdrew its plan in “Why Amazon Is Caught in an Unexpected Brawl in New York.”

But what happened in Queens is part of a broader resistance to the tech boom, and its consequences. After the protests surfaced last year, Fred Wilson, the dean of New York venture capitalists, told me that “it’s partly from a sense that Amazon coming in is not going to help them, and will only drive up their costs. To really be a success in New York, the benefits of the tech sector have to extend to every borough and every neighborhood.”

That concern, across the country, as A.I. technology marches ahead, is the subject of a lengthy analysis this week by Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

■ For a rich, enlightening read, I recommend a piece in this week’s New York Times Magazine, “The Secret History of Women in Coding.” The “secret” is a headline writer’s exaggeration. Anyone with an interest in computing history knows about Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper and the women who programmed the early Eniac computer. Those stories have been told repeatedly, including in books.

But Clive Thompson, the author, elegantly weaves that history around the story of an early female programmer who is alive and recalls it all. His piece captures what it was like in the 1940s through early 1960s, when writing software was a wide-open field, before a male-dominated culture took root.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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