DepEd’s Taal challenge: 30K students displaced Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netSan Miguel Beer returned the favor and ripped Barangay Ginebra, 134-109, in Game 2 to even the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals Sunday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.Alex Cabagnot redeemed himself after struggling offensively in Game 1 with a career-high 33 points that went with four rebounds, nine assists and four steals as the Beermen showed why they’re the defending champions.ADVERTISEMENT ‘High crimes and misdemeanors’: Trump impeachment trial begins LATEST STORIES Putin’s, Xi’s ruler-for-life moves pose challenges to West Agravante, Hallasgo top Milo 42K race Report: Disney dropping the ‘Fox’ from movie studio names View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. MOST READ Palace OKs total deployment ban on Kuwait OFWs Trump assembles a made-for-TV impeachment defense team Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew After getting blown out by 28 points, 127-99, in the finals opener, San Miguel came out firing with Cabagnot setting the tone and Marcio Lassiter, who made just two out of his 13 attempts in the previous game, also regaining his touch to finish with 20 points.“We’re so sad with what happened the last game. We were humiliated,” said SMB head coach Leo Austria. “This time we were able to get back and even the series. Now we have a series.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone still willing to coach Gilas but admits decision won’t be ‘simple yes or no’“I’m so thankful for our players because they realized how important this game is for us.”Things got testy between the two teams late with Arwind Santos and Chris Ross getting tossed in separate instances inside the final six minutes. Lacson: Calamity fund cut; where did P4 billion go? Santos was ejected with 5:18 remaining after getting called for a flagrant foul penalty 2 for elbowing Ginebra guard Scottie Thompson in the midsection while Ross joined him 15 seconds later after incurring a couple of technical fouls during a verbal spat with Kings forward Joe Devance.“I cannot blame them but next time they should be smart,” Austria said.The Gin Kings trailed by as high as 31, 77-46, in the third quarter and even with much of the 15,000 in attendance rallied behind them, they just couldn’t pull within striking distance.Justin Brownlee led Ginebra, which only managed to trim the deficit to 18 early in the fourth quarter, with 29 points just two nights after erupting for 42 in Game 1.Game 3 is on Wednesday night at Araneta Coliseum.ADVERTISEMENT
…claims SOCU agents leaked confidential information to selected mediaEmbattled Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Presidency, Omar Shariff has broken his silence to deny the allegations being peddled in the public domain that he embezzled, stole or laundered billions of dollars of public funds for personal gain.Sheriff was sent on leave by Minister of State Joseph Harmon pending an investigation by the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) into his financial affairs.Shariff has since categorically denied the reports that he has billions of dollars in his bank accounts and further charges that sections of the local media has been abusing its rights afforded to it as the Fourth Estate and is in fact ensnared in a plot against him:“I deny all allegations which seek to link me and my business to money laundering, tax evasion and any corrupt practice that arise as a result of misuse of public funds or the breakage of the law.”SOCU leaksHe lamented that information disclosed to SOCU which was obtained through a warrant has since found its way into the public domain.According to Shariff, “The fact that selected media houses continue to publish detailed information which they purport to be true (but which is materially and substantially false) about my alleged assets, accounts and their contents, is indicative that one or more persons at a high level of the investigation is not only leaking information but is pursuing an obvious agenda against me by seeking to try me in public, impugn my integrity and reduce my standing as a professional.”Shariff for the first time broke his silence yesterday, after being accused in the public domain of having some $10 billion in personal accounts which led SOCU to launch an investigation into his financial affairs.The permanent secretary who served under the previous administration and was retained by the current government, on Saturday said: “After consultation with my attorney, I have been advised that it is now appropriate and has become necessary for me to address the false and unsubstantiated allegations and imputations being published by the electronic, broadcast and print media.”According to Shariff: “I wish to strongly condemn a series of vile, sensationalist, untrue, propagandistic, and, insubstantial and material respects, misleading news reports carried by sections of the electronic, broadcast and print media in Guyana following a decision by the Special Organized Crime Unit to launch an investigation into a personal matter related to tax remittance and compliance regarding my legitimate business operations over the past few years.”Shariff has since sought to make it pellucid that the matter of tax remittance and compliance has been an ongoing engagement “between my business and the tax authority from as early as 2007.”He said the distortion of this personal income tax matter to make it appear to be theft and embezzlement of public funds is without any factual foundation and is in fact mischief by its orchestrators.In what could be read as a direct remark to SOCU, Shariff said, “I call upon the individuals within the organs of the state to exercise restraint in agenda setting and the divulging of information for sensationalism which compromises not only the state organs themselves but also the banking system, citizens’ confidence in the rule of law, and Guyana as a maturing democracy.”Simply not true“I would like it to be known that I have not been involved by myself or in collusion with others in any theft or embezzlement of public funds…I am unable to discern from where the publications have concluded that I was holding billions of dollars in my accounts; this is simply not true,” according to the Permanent Secretary.He said the continued publication of “these have caused me and my family great concern – security, hardship and otherwise.”He used the opportunity to lament and express disappointment that information he provided to SOCU and which SOCU took from his home pursuant to a search warrant has found its way into the public domain and has been “deliberately skewed, distorted, misrepresented and misinterpreted for obvious sensationalism, implying I had stolen billions of dollars of public funds and owned billions of dollars’ worth of property and shares in public companies; none of which have any factual underpinning…This is simply not true.”The embattled permanent secretary said he has provided all of the information asked for, “while making myself available to answer any and all questions about my business, its revenue and related tax matters.”Iterating confidence in the Government and “my expectation of the investigating bodies and all concerned with probing this matter that due process and justice will prevail and the rule of law maintained,” Shariff declared “I am confident that I will be vindicated at the end of this matter.”
Olga Garay, the former chief of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, was nominated Monday to head the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs. If approved by the City Council, Garay will receive $180,000 annually overseeing the city’s $9.9 million-a-year cultural-arts program. Garay left the Duke Foundation in 2005 to work as an independent producer in New York. She was previously director of cultural affairs at Miami Dade College and worked for the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Department in Florida. “Olga will bring just the right mix of vision, knowledge and creativity that Los Angeles needs as we reaffirm our commitment to making this the arts and culture capital of the country,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who nominated Garay. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “This should send a strong message that we are ready to build support around the arts.”
TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey will become the first state in four decades to abolish the death penalty under a measure lawmakers approved Thursday and the governor intends to sign within days. Assembly members voted 44-36 to replace the death sentence with life in prison without parole. The state Senate approved the bill Monday, and Gov. Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill within a week. A special state commission found in January that the death penalty was a more expensive sentence than life in prison, hasn’t deterred murder and risks killing an innocent person. “We would be better served as a society by having a clear and certain outcome for individuals that carry out heinous crimes,” Corzine said. “That’s what I think we’re doing, making certain that individuals would be imprisoned without any possibility of parole.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champThe measure would spare eight men on the state’s Death Row, including Jesse Timmendequas, a sex offender convicted of murdering 7-year-old Megan Kanka in 1994. That case sparked a Megan’s Law, which requires law enforcement agencies to notify the public about convicted sex offenders living in their communities. Marilyn Flax, whose husband, Irving, was kidnapped and murdered in 1989 by Death Row inmate John Martini Sr., said she seethes at the thought Martini will remain alive “while my innocent, loving, adoring husband lies in a grave.” “I feel the system has spit on me, has slapped me and I am fuming,” Flax said. Republicans said that’s why they would vote against the bill. Assemblyman Richard Merkt said the bill was “a victory for murderers and rapists.” “It does not benefit families. It does not benefit New Jersey society. It does not benefit justice,” he said. Senate Republicans had sought to retain the death penalty for those who murder law enforcement officials, rape and murder children, and terrorists, but the Senate rejected the idea. Democrats control the Legislature. Although New Jersey reinstated the death penalty in 1982, six years after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to resume executions, no one has been executed in the Garden State since 1963. The last states to eliminate the death penalty were Iowa and West Virginia in 1965, according to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. New Jersey has been barred from executing anyone under a 2004 court ruling that determined the state had to revise procedures on how the penalty would be imposed; It never did. Among those who have been executed in New Jersey are Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was executed in 1936 for the kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s son. The nation has executed 1,099 people since the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorized the death penalty in 1976. In 1999, 98 people were executed, the most since 1976; last year 53 people were executed, the lowest since 1996. Other states have considered abolishing the death penalty recently, but none has advanced as far as New Jersey. According to the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center, 37 states have the death penalty. Bills to abolish the death penalty were recently approved by a Colorado House committee, the Montana Senate and the New Mexico House. But none of those bills has advanced. The nation’s last execution was Sept. 25 in Texas. Since then, executions have been delayed pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether execution through lethal injection violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
John Cannon on his way to claiming a gold Ironman 70.3 medal in his age groupJohn Cannon wins precious medal at Dublin’s Ironman 70.3Letterkenny 24/7 club members had another busy weekend racing all over the country. On Saturday, Midlands Triathlon hosted their Olympic distance course near Mullingar. Hugh Gallagher was the first home for the club in 2.14.55 and showing that his race preparations for the World Championships in Chicago in September are all going to plan. John Conaghan made it three age group wins in three consecutive races and his surely in line for a National Championship title. Clara Quigley also had a good race picking up a second place in her age group.On Sunday it was off to Dublin for seven club members to compete in the first Ironman 70.3 to be held in the capital city. With a 1.9km swim, that many said was longer, and a technical 90Km bike it was great to see that all members made it across the finish line in what is a huge accomplishment. The determination and hours of training certainly paid off. For one member this was only their fourth triathlon, for another it was a race that he thought he may not compete in after an accident put him out of training for months, but for all it was the climax of their season. Martin Donnolly had a great race and was to be first through the finish chute for the club in 5.18.11. A huge congratulations goes to John Cannon who, following his age group gold medal at the National Championships in Athlone, came home with a very prestige’s gold Ironman medal in his age group and therefore a possible place in the World Championships in Australia. Sean McFadden took part in Chain Driven Cycles Ultra TT series’s. This time trial consisted of a 100 mile cycle from Sligo to Longford and back. He completed it in 4.19.44 and it is his final preparation race before he travels to Ironman Copenhagen.Gavin Crawford ran in the Lifford 10Km road race also on Sunday and came in 5th in a time of 35.19.Training continues and details can be found on the clubs Facebook page or www.letterkenny247.com.Caroline Kearney Memorial TriathlonHugh Gallagher 2.14.55John Conaghan 2.15.38Barry MCLaughlin 2.36.50Clara Quigley 2.36.59Stephen Sweeney 2.43.34Cathal Roarty 2.47.23Liam Tinney 2.49.23Ironman 70.3 DublinMartin Donnolly 5.18.11Gavin Harris 5.33.28John Cannon 5.34.37Kilian Nulty 5.48.30Graham Parker 5.54.40Patrick McNulty 6.37.48Sean McAuliffe 6.42.3324/7 Club members at Caroline Kearney Memorial Triathlon on Saturday.ATHLETICS: JOHN CANNON WINS PRECIOUS MEDAL AT DUBLIN’S IRONMAN was last modified: August 10th, 2015 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:John CannonLetterkenny 24/7 Triathlon Club
DUARTE — St. Margaret’s High School from San Juan Capistrano, ranked second in CIF Division XIII, defeated Flintridge Prep 29-9 Saturday night at Duarte High in a nonleague game. Unable to sustain any offensive rhythm during the game, the Rebels fell behind 14-3 early in the second quarter. Gary Au kicked a 23-yard field goal for the Rebels’ first points in the opening half after a drive stalled with five minutes left in the first quarter. Following the second touchdown by St. Margaret’s in the first half, Alex Clayton returned the ensuring kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown with 1:14 left before halftime to pull Flintridge Prep within 14-9. Alex has been nursing some nagging injuries the last couple of games and we are happy to have him back,” Rebels coach Brad Miller said. When he touches the ball he always energizes our team. He raises our level of play.” Assistant coach John Fisher said before the game that the Rebels had to find a way to get Clayton more touches. Clayton’s kickoff return electrified the crowd. I am very proud of the valiant effort of the team,” Miller said. There were four or five pivotal plays tonight that we didn’t respond to.” The loss dropped the Rebels to 2-2 in nonleague play heading into the start of Prep League action next weekend. We have a strong understanding of our strengths and weaknesses,” Miller said. I like our team speed and the way we fly to the ball defensively. We can match our skill players with any one in the league. I feel very comfortable going against Chadwick next week. I like our chances this year.” The Rebels, comprised of 25 upperclassmen and only one sophomore, believe they can turn things around in league. Two-way performers Brady Thompson, Adrian Rodriguez and Matt Stein had strong games Saturday for Flintridge Prep. Pasadena Poly 61, at Viewpoint 0 Quarterback Stephen Sherman and John Grace led a Pasadena Poly offensive assault as the Panthers stormed to a nonleague victory over Calabasas Viewpoint. The Panthers, 2-2, opened a 28-0 lead after one quarter and led 47-0 at halftime before cruising to the victory. Sherman got Poly on the board first, connecting with Greg Lawler on a 60-yard pass play — the first of his three TD passes. Scott Gregg’s extra point gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead. Grace then scored the first of his two TDs, catching a 12-yard pass from Sherman to make it 14-0. After Jake Schorr caught a 10-yard scoring pass from Sherman, Grace scored his second TD on a 48-yard run. Josh Moore tackled Viewpoint’s quarterback in the end zone in the second quarter for a safety and Tim Lembke returned a pass interception 64 yards in the fourth quarter to conclude Poly’s scoring. Viewpoint remained winless at 0-4 with the loss. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Former Finn Harps players Garbhan Friel and Oisin McMenamin have returned for pre-season training with the club in the hope of securing contracts for the 2015 First Division campaign.Friel and McMenamin previously had spells at the club before and are back hoping they can make a positive impression on Harps manager Ollie Horgan.With Sean McCarron signing for Cliftonville last month, Horgan is short on options in attack. Ruairi Keating was Finn Harps top goal-scorer last season even through he returned to Sligo Rovers midway through the season.Paul McVeigh also left the club to sign for Institute towards the end of last season and as a result Harps have been left with only one recognized striker in the form of Kevin McHugh.Friel was in stunning form for Cockhill last season as he helped them win the double.He was in unstoppable form all season and his goals fired Donal O’Brien’s side to the USL title. Friel was signed by James Gallagher in 2011, but a bad injury in pre-season coupled with Gallagher’s sacking soon after seen Friel head towards the exit door.He’ll be hoping he can play a big part for Finn Harps this season as they look to get amongst the play-off places.McMenamin was a popular player having came through the underage ranks at Finn Park.McMenamin played for two seasons at Finn Park, and was a lively and pacey frontman that was a menace to any First Division defence.He’s been central to Letterkenny Rovers attack over the last few seasons and has been very impressive. He’s looking for a way back into senior football and he’ll be confident he can do enough to earn himself a contract with Finn Harps.Harps began training last night in Ballyare, and a fringe side will play a friendly match with Cockhill Celtic on Sunday afternoon.GARBHAN FRIEL AND OISIN MCMENAMIN RETURN AS FINN HARPS BEGIN PRE-SEASON TRAINING was last modified: January 13th, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Finn Harps FCGarbhan FrielnewsOisin McMenaminPre-seasonSport
16 May 2014Foreign direct investment (FDI) in sub-Saharan Africa is on the rise, with the continent’s share of global FDI projects at its highest level in a decade, and sharply improved perceptions making it the second-most attractive investment destination in the world, according to Ernst & Young’s 2014 Africa Attractiveness Survey.The survey, released in Johannesburg and London on Thursday, also found that intra-African investment was on the rise, and noted an investor shift from extractive industries to consumer-related sectors on the continent.Ernst & Young’s latest survey combines an analysis of international investment into Africa since 2003 with a 2014 survey of over 500 global business leaders about their views on the potential of the African market.The data shows that while there has been a decline in African FDI project numbers, from 774 in 2012 to 750 in 2013, primarily due to ongoing uncertainty in North Africa, they remain easily in excess of the 390 projects per year the continent was averaging before the 2008-09 global financial crisis.At the same time, the report point to a noticeable divide between FDI trends in north Africa compared to sub-Saharan Africa. While FDI projects in North Africa declined by nearly 30% in 2013, projects in sub-Saharan Africa increased by 4.7%, reversing the sub-region’s decline in 2012 while further widening the gap between the two sub-regions, with sub-Saharan Africa’s share of FDI projects exceeding 80% for the first time.While the UK remains the lead investor into the continent, intra-African investment continues to steadily rise, according to the report.Investors are also looking beyond the more established markets of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya to expand their operations, as well as moving into more consumer-related sectors as Africa’s middle class expands.“Africa’s share of global FDI projects has grown steadily over the past decade, and it is a promising sign that investors are now looking across the continent and to new sectors,” Ernst & Young Africa CEO Ajen Sita said in a statement on Thursday. “Further regional integration and infrastructure development should continue to entice investors to the exciting investment opportunities that Africa can offer.”New FDI hotspots emergingThere was significant movement in the list of top 10 countries by FDI projects in 2013, the report found. Only South Africa and Nigeria retained their 2012 positions, of first and third with 142 projects and 58 projects respectively. However, FDI projects in both these countries witnessed a slight decline, while countries such as Kenya (68 projects), Ghana (58) and Mozambique (33) all moved up the ranks.Zambia and Uganda were the new entrants in the top 10 list in 2013, with 25 and 21 FDI projects respectively, an increase of more than 20%. In contrast, North African countries such as Morocco, Tunisia (ranked 8th in 2012) and Egypt slipped in the rankings.In 2013, both west and east Africa surpassed north Africa for the first time, becoming the second and third-most attractive sub-regions in Africa after southern Africa.UK leads investment into the continentAccording to Ernst & Young, the UK became the clear leader among foreign direct investors in Africa in 2013, with 104 projects, while the US fell from joint first place to second place with 78 projects, a 20% decline from 2012.South Africa, the third largest investor, directed 63 investment projects into the rest of Africa in 2013, a 16% decline on 2012 but a significant increase from 2008-09 pre-crisis levels, when it registered on average 12 projects a year.There was a sharp uptake in FDI projects by Spanish and Japanese companies, with increases of 52% and 77%, respectively.At the same time, intra-African investment is gaining momentum, with African investors nearly tripling their share of FDI projects over the last decade, from 8% in 2003 to 22.8% in 2013. Ernst & Young attributed this growth to strengthening regional integration, the need for improved regional value chains, and African investors’ improved understanding of the market.“External investors supply long-term capital, skills and technology, and intra-African investment creates a virtuous circle that encourages greater foreign investment,” said Michael Lalor, lead partner of Ernst & Young’s Africa Business Center.Shift away from extractive industriesThe top three FDI sectors in the survey – technology, media and telecoms with 150 projects, retail and consumer products with 131 projects, and financial services with 112 projects – accounted for more than 50% of the total projects in 2013.Retail and consumer products overtook financial services to become the second-most attractive FDI sector in Africa in 2013, while FDI projects in the continent’s real estate, hospitality and construction sector increased by 63%, making the sector the fifth-most attractive, up three positions from 2012.On the other hand, for the first time ever, mining and metals exited the top 10 sectors when measured by FDI project numbers.When asked about the three sectors that would offer the highest growth potential for Africa in the next two years, investors highlighted the rising importance of agriculture, which ranked only marginally behind mining and metals.Increasingly, infrastructure is also perceived as a key growth sector, as well as consumer-facing industries including financial services, telecommunications and consumer products.“Although perceptions indicate that resource-driven sectors are expected to remain the industries with the highest potential over the next two years, the actual numbers show that infrastructure and consumer-facing sectors will increase in prominence as the middle class expands and consumer spending on discretionary goods increases,” Lalor said.Dramatic improvement in perceptions of AfricaAfrica’s perceived investment attractiveness relative to other regions in the world has improved dramatically over the past few years, with the overall survey results showing that the continent had jumped from third-last position in 2011 to become the second-most attractive investment destination in the world behind North America.Sixty percent of survey respondents said that there had been an improvement in Africa’s investment attractiveness over the past year, up four percentage points from last year’s survey.“The good news in this year’s survey is that perceptions about the continent seem to be shifting,” Ajen said. “For the first time, Africa is seen as the second-most attractive investment destination in the world. It has strong fundamentals to encourage investment, including steady democracy and macroeconomic growth, an improving business environment, rising consumer class, abundant natural resources and infrastructure development.”However, there remains a stubborn perception gap between those already operating on the continent and those who are not yet present, according to Ernst & Young. For the first time, this year’s survey shows that companies with a presence on the continent perceive Africa to be the most attractive investment destination in the world. In stark contrast, those with no business presence in Africa continue to view the continent as the world’s least attractive investment destination.Seventy-three percent of those who are already established in the region believe Africa’s attractiveness has improved over the past year, versus 39% of those who are not established.Urban centres on the riseAfrica’s cities are now emerging as the hotspots of economic and investment activity on the continent, the survey found, with nearly 70% of respondents stressing the significance of cities and urban centres in their investment strategy in Africa.In terms of perception, city attractiveness closely maps country appeal. In sub-Saharan Africa, half of respondents identified Johannesburg as the most attractive city in which to do business, followed by Cape Town, Nairobi and Lagos. In north Africa, Casablanca, Cairo and Tunis were seen as the top three cities in which to do business.Survey respondents stressed that in order to attract greater investments, cities needed to focus on infrastructure (77%), consumer base (73%), local labour cost and productivity (73%) and a skilled workforce (73%).“Africa’s stronger investment attractiveness is best explained by its own sustained growth rates in the context of slower global growth,” Ajen said, adding that the continent’s growth prospects were likely to remain solid “as an urbanizing and rising middle class drives demand for consumer products and improved services”.SAinfo reporter
A few weeks ago, Google presented a demo of a new AI system called Duplex. Duplex is an extension of Google Assistant that has the ability to communicate eerily like a human being. Listening to the recordings, there were times I wasn’t quite sure which speaker was human and which was a computer.Of course, robotic phone interactions are nothing new. We’ve all had to listen to a robot read off a list of extensions to reach the department we’re looking for, and we’ve seen chatbots become more prevalent for customer interactions over the past couple of years.But Google Duplex is different. It’s probably still years away from being ready for mass use, but to a lot of people, its development signals the end of interpersonal communication as we know it. Companies will adopt robots to replace call centers, while customers will use Duplex to make appointments and resolve issues. Pretty soon, it’ll just be robots talking to robots, and people will never interact with each other again…right?I’m not so convinced. Audiences seek out genuine experiences with the brands they trust and reward them with their loyalty and advocacy. From their first interactions with a company via its thought leadership content all the way through the remainder of the marketing process to sales, customer service, and everywhere in between, people want authentic interactions.Google has labored to create this robot that sounds exactly like a human being precisely because nobody wants to have a conversation with a robot. This tool (and others like it) suggest what people really want: authenticity.While I understand the concern of those who say Duplex and other AI-powered tools like it will eliminate the need for human interaction — and certainly agree that misuse of this technology could be dangerous — I still see Duplex as proof of the value consumers everywhere place on authenticity.Technology enables us to interact with customers more efficiently, but that doesn’t mean those interactions can’t also be authentic. Here are four ways companies can use technology while still remaining human:1. Personalize your tech.As humans, we’re a little obsessed with ourselves. We love it when others remember our names or details about our lives that we’ve shared with them. And we extend that positive feeling to brands when they do the same. Nearly 90 percent of consumers have said that personally relevant content makes them view a brand more favorably, and 78 percent said it makes them more likely to buy something.Thankfully, technology can allow you to create those personal touches while still automating contact with customers. There are plenty of customer relationship management tools and even chatbots that help brands communicate with audience members in ways that feel deeply personal but don’t drain all your time and resources. If you want to take advantage of the efficiency tech has to offer while remaining authentic, then your first step is to get personal.2. Make good first impressions.I’m sure you’ve heard that it takes just seven seconds to make a first impression, but did you know that first impressions remain engrained in people’s minds for months? This is true of interpersonal relationships, and it’s also true of interactions between your company and its customers.If a customer contacts your company for help with a problem, only to be greeted and assisted by a robotic voice or an automatic email, you won’t be making a good first impression. He may be hesitant to reach out for further assistance, or he might even be slow to trust the human employees who eventually do come to his aid.This doesn’t mean you should avoid technology for fear of turning off customers. It simply means that real interactions should take priority, especially for newer customers who are still getting to know you.It might be wise to assign your customers human points of contact and introduce them to automated service options as you build trust with them. This ensures your customers have a positive first impression of both your company and the automated service. When a trusted person recommends using an automated service, customers will be more inclined to use and be patient with the technology, and that’s a win for everyone.3. Be transparent when robots are involved.This may not be a huge issue right now, but Google Duplex certainly signals that it will be in the future: If you’re going to use technology like this, you need to let the people interacting with it know that it’s not a real person.As I said earlier, when I listened to Duplex book a haircut, it honestly was difficult to tell at times which voice belonged to the robot, and I guarantee the person on the other end of the line had no clue to whom (or what) she was speaking. In a few years, these conversations will be the norm. You and I will converse with robots without even realizing it.Utilizing this AI technology may save businesses a lot of money, but the truth is that people don’t trust robots as much as or in the same way that they do other human beings. And if that’s the case, people won’t trust companies that blur the lines between robots and human beings.4. Don’t overdo it.A few weeks ago, I was expecting a package that never arrived at my home. The tracking number indicated the package was delivered, but I never saw it, so I called the shipper to see whether I could get more information. The robot on the line repeated what I already knew and directed me to check the website (where I had just been) for more information. I was never given the option to speak to a real person, and I ended up in a loop with no clear help in sight.Thankfully, a neighbor had been holding my package and brought it by later that day, but the experience left a sour taste in my mouth. Nothing is more frustrating than a company forcing its customers to use technology when they don’t want to and when it doesn’t create more value in the customer relationship. The last key to authenticity when using technology in your business? Don’t overdo it. Don’t feel as though you must use a technology simply because it exists. Use it when it benefits your business and benefits your customers.We are seeing new and exciting technological advances every day. Many of these will be brought into the business world, but it’s important that companies never allow technologies to diminish their ability to be authentic and transparent with their customers. These four tips will ensure that business leaders can maintain authenticity while embracing technologies that will push their businesses forward. John HallCo-founder of Influence & Co. and Keynote Speaker AI is Not the Holy Grail of Sales, at Least Not… John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a keynote speaker, and the author of “Top of Mind.” How Self-Service Technology Can Boost Startup G… Tags:#AI#artificial intellgence#authenticity#customer relationship#customer service#Duplex#Google#tech adoption With This One Question, You’ll Never Need an Ic… Related Posts Man or Machine? 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As a young Kashmir-based advocate A.S. Majid (name changed) takes up the Facebook-linked quiz ‘Which rebel best suits your personality?’, the web-based reply sets off a long thread of debate. The reply has likened him with the deceased Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, whose killing in 2016 set off a cycle of violence. The Facebook-linked quiz has held netizens, especially the young population in the Valley, in a sway as scores of profiles pop up on searching the quiz.“When I took up the quiz, I was not sure about the reply. I thought it will throw up some comic character while relating to my personality. Instead, I found Wani. I was pleasantly surprised. Slain Wani did impact our lives in many ways,” said Mr. Majid, adding, “Many of my friends too took up the quiz. But not many were ‘Burhan Wani’.”The quiz mostly correlates netizens’ personalities with the slain militant commanders of 2017, like Hizb-ul Mujahideen’s Sabzar Bhat, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Abu Dujana and Wani. The name of Zakir Musa of the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a group that is believed to have links with the al-Qaeda, also comes up as an option. The faces of all these commanders have been popular online. The quiz, created by an unknown person whose profile is named Devil’x Dadd, was curated on Facebook, with youngsters hooking up to know the results. A website, testony.com, allows netizens to create their own quiz and supports the search system that throws up the results locally.“This year has been a tough year during which militancy was not only fought on the ground but off-ground too, that is, on online social media. From customised phone applications to producing online films to roping in youth into militancy, social media and the Internet have turned into a potent weapon to galvanise support for militancy in Kashmir,” explained a counter-insurgency police official.The official revealed that over 2,000 Twitter handles that champion “the Kashmir issue” are operated from overseas locations. “Such a quiz is easy to set up overseas without attracting action. It is worrying,” said the police official.Kashmir’s leading psychiatrist Dr. Arshad Hussian, a professor at the Government Medical College, Srinagar, explains the phenomena thus: “Teens tend to look for heroes in every society. Before militancy in Kashmir, comic heroes like Robin Hood or Chacha Chaudhary were popular among youngsters. Heroes emerge from a socio-political context. Kashmir being a conflict zone with militant figures dominating the daily narrative, teens are pulled towards their persona. Most of those who took up the quiz may not become militants, but it shows who are the fast-emerging heroes.”Ruling People’s Democratic Party youth wing leader Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra is aware of the challenge before the government, especially given that youth constitute 69% of the total population in Jammu and Kashmir. ‘A sense of defeat’ “Youth [in Kashmir] live with a sense of defeat and do not aspire to be happy. It is a challenge: why do young people see dignity in death and volunteer for death? Many youth in Kashmir see and visualise dignity in death and volunteer for militancy,” he added.Mr. Parra said the government in J&K was reaching out to the youth from the village level onward. “We are trying to listen to the youth to create a participatory process,” he said.