Several new and innovative ideas are expected to be generated within tourism, through the recently launched Tourism Innovation Incubator.
Speaking at the launch, held during Tourism Awareness Week on September 30, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said that tourism is about ideas and creating experiences.
“The idea of this Incubator is to create a framework to mine, hone, convert and monetise ideas,” Minister Bartlett said.
“The more ideas that we can generate within tourism is the more experiences we can develop, and the more experiences we develop is the more attractive we are to visitors,” he added, noting that visitors travel to a destination to consume and develop their passions.
The Minister outlined that the Incubator will offer numerous services, including executing workshops with participants in the refining of their ideas; providing research support; training in pitch delivery; providing opportunities for mentorship and networking; teaching participants about key topics, such as intellectual property and the importance of being formalised through informational sessions, and sourcing potential partners or investors to help participants in prototype and product development.
The initiative, which is being led by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), is guided by the Blue Ocean Strategy, which calls for the creation of business models that depart from traditional ones, based on competition and standardisation.
Selection of ideas for the Incubator will be done by a committee of members from TEF and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ). In addition to being tourism products or representing technology in tourism, each idea must be an innovation or invention that will add value.
Each participant will be required to outline how their idea will add value to the tourism landscape and provide indicators for measuring the same, such as tourism spend, visitor satisfaction, and contribution to the tourism workforce. The idea must also have a significant effect on the tourism industry.
Persons interested in participating in the Incubator must be 18 years or older by the October 14 submission deadline.
Additional submission criteria for the Tourism Innovation Incubator can be found on TEF’s website at https://tef.gov.jm/tourism-incubator/.
Sam Altman OpenAI’s co-founder Ousted By His Board Of Directors, Silicon Valley Upended
OpenAI’s Sam Altman, co-founder of the hottest startup on Earth and its most prominent spokesperson for the promises and perils of artificial intelligence, has been ousted by his board of directors.
Altman’s firing followed an intensifying dispute with his fellow co-founder, OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, over the speed and safety of the startup’s product rollouts, according to people close to the company, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The pair and their respective allies on the board also disagreed over Altman’s campaign to raise funds for a separate company to make AI chips to compete with Nvidia Corp., and another project to produce AI-related hardware in partnership with former Apple chief designer Jony Ive.
Sutskever and his friends on the OpenAI board may have also been put off by Altman using OpenAI’s name to raise capital, and by the proposed new companies not sharing the same capped-profit governance model as OpenAI, according to one of the people.
In a statement on Friday night, former OpenAI President Greg Brockman, who also resigned amid yesterday’s imbroglio, said he and Altman were surprised by the company’s decision. “Sam and I are shocked and saddened by what the board did today,” Brockman wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “We too are still trying to figure out exactly what happened.”
Brockman ended by writing, “Greater things coming soon,” suggesting the pair might soon launch another company to compete with OpenAI. If so, it could further scramble the balance of power in Silicon Valley.
Microsoft Corp. has invested $13 billion in OpenAI since 2019, and has devoted significant computing and engineering capacity to the startup. (Microsoft said in a statement that it’s committed to OpenAI.)
Of course, companies firing their founders is part of the recurring foundational lore of Silicon Valley. Apple fired Steve Jobs in 1985; Twitter dismissed its co-founder Jack Dorsey in 2008. Both executives famously returned to their firms years later. But Altman’s exit could have a larger impact on the industry and the futuristic technology he came to represent.
For much of the last year, Altman has been on a world tour rivaling Taylor Swift’s. In a given week, he might meet with a head of state, testify before Congress and sit for a magazine interview. In appearance after appearance, he touted the promise of AI with a strange blend of optimism and pessimism, maddening his critics. This week, Altman was a prominent figure at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in San Francisco.
But it all ground to a halt on Friday, days shy of the one-year anniversary of the release of ChatGPT, which introduced generative AI to the masses. In a blog post disclosing the news of Altman’s firing, OpenAI said its board had lost confidence in the CEO’s leadership after conducting a review that showed that he “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board.”
“If I start going off, the OpenAI board should go after me for the full value of my shares,” Altman posted late Friday night. But Altman famously has no equity in the company he once led.
In other words, he was being sarcastic. Sam Altman is unlikely to go quietly. —Brad Stone and Julia Love
Jamaica’s Data Protection Act Regulations to Be Tabled in Parliament Soon
Regulations governing the implementation of Jamaica’s data protection legislation will be brought to Parliament soon.
This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with Oversight for Skills and Digital Transformation, Senator Dr. the Hon. Dana Morris Dixon.
Passed in 2020, the Data Protection Act provides guidelines on how personal data should be handled in physical or electronic form.
In her video presentation during the sixth Annual TechCon Conference at the Summit in New Kingston on Wednesday (October 4), Dr. Morris Dixon said data protection and cybersecurity are critical for Jamaica’s transformation to a digital powerhouse.
“In a few weeks, I will take the data protection regulations for both the Minister and the Data Commissioner to Parliament. The Data Protection regulations will not be rigid dictums but collaborative frameworks forged through active engagements with professionals,” she said.
The Minister pointed out that the Office of the Information Commissioner has been intensifying its public education campaign and compliance support efforts for the Act, which will come into effect on December 1 this year.
“I ask you to pay keen attention to their messages. We have been listening to key stakeholders in the private and public sector who are working hard to be ready for the implementation of the Act,” she said.
“We have heard that some [stakeholders] have been very proactive and have done tremendous work to be ready for December. There are others, however, who are having challenges putting all of the requisite systems and processes in place to be compliant with the Act,” the Minister added.
Senator Morris Dixon said the Government is aware of these concerns, “and we are looking at ways to ease in the requirements as much as is possible within the confines of the Act”.
She advised: “I will speak more on that as we have further engagements with the private-sector interest groups.”
Dr. Morris Dixon reiterated that laws and policies are only as effective as their execution.
“As the architects of the digital age, look at data protection as more than just a check box in your operating procedures. View it as a core principle, a guiding star. Legislation and policies can only do so much. True data protection begins with you – the innovators, builders, coders. The choices you make, the codes you write and the systems you develop will determine the trajectory of Jamaica’s future,” the Minister said.
Senator Morris Dixon pointed out that the legislation represents a significant milestone for Jamaica.
“It ensures that personal data is handled with the respect and care it deserves, placing Jamaica at the forefront of global best practices. In other words, it ensures resilience going forward. I urge you all to view the Data Protection Act, not as a hinderance but as a foundation. It is a foundation upon which we can build resilient digital platforms and solutions for our country,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Fayval Williams, said the work continues to help persons and entities understand their rights and responsibilities under the legislation.
Minister Bartlett Endorses Spatial AI Technology for Advancing Tourism Stakeholder Development
Spatial Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is poised to revolutionise training in Jamaica’s tourism industry through virtual and augmented reality platforms for enhancing the education and professional development of staff and stakeholders in the sector.
Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, endorsed the transformative potential of the technology while addressing the launch of the EON Reality and Sandals Corporate University (SCU) training and development partnership at Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on Thursday (October 5).
“We gather to celebrate the launch of the SCU and the EON Reality XR platform as a milestone innovation that has the potential to dramatically reshape the education and training landscape in the tourism sector and other industries,” Mr. Bartlett stated.
“This is because it focuses on the use of virtual augmented mixed and extended reality, and this will help to fundamentally transform the methods by which we acquire knowledge and exchange training,” he added.
The collaboration promises to impact Jamaica and the Caribbean on a wide scale, with the potential to target over 10,000 employees for upskilling according to the Minister.
Additionally, he said the interactive and immersive approach contributes to securing the future of tourism by equipping the workforce with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in an ever-evolving industry.
“In the current era, characterised by rapid technological changes, endeavours such as the SCU and EON partnership will guarantee Jamaica’s sustained position in tourism as a global leader in education and training,” Mr. Bartlett outlined.
“What we are doing in Jamaica is truly creating the space for leadership. The goal is not to merely establish a platform but, more importantly, it is to herald the advent of a new paradigm in education transformation,” he added.
SCU, as part of the Sandals Resorts International brand, holds an esteemed place in the hospitality sector.
Through the unique adult education programme offered by SCU, team members have access to comprehensive hospitality-specific training and academic qualifications.
The use of EON Reality’s innovative solutions across these diverse programmes demonstrates the versatility of the EON AI Assistant in facilitating learning and teaching across various subject areas.
Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, Adam Stewart, pointed out that learning has always been and will continue to be at the heart of what defines Sandals and its subsidiaries.
He said the brand is built on human interaction, noting that amidst all the changes, the core of their service remains “person to person, smile to smile”.
“So, my job has been to follow through on what started many, many years ago, to assemble the most extraordinary team of visionaries and find most extraordinary platforms to be able to execute on that dream,” Mr. Stewart explained.
“This [partnership] is going to help so many Caribbean nationals, hopefully starting here, but expanding right through the wider Caribbean and far beyond Sandals Resorts International, so [that] we can train our people and uplift them,” he added.
Programme to Advance Jamaica’s Transition to Digital Society Launched
Digital Jamaica, a €9.5-million programme aimed at increasing access to and use of information and communications technologies (ICT) to support the country’s transition to a digital economy and society was launched on Tuesday (October 10).
An initiative of the Government of Jamaica in partnership with the European Union (EU), Digital Jamaica will be implemented by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), the Ministry of Education and Youth and the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.
It will connect Jamaicans through high-speed Internet, support the installation of Wi-Fi networks in schools, and the training of students and teachers in digital skills.
Support will be provided to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to adopt technological solutions.
It is expected that the programme will facilitate greater use of digital tools to further bridge the digital divide and equip young people with the digital skills needed to succeed in the future.
Minister without Portfolio in the OPM with oversight for Skills and Digital Transformation, Senator Dr. the Hon. Dana Morris Dixon, hailed the programme as a beacon of change and development.
She underscored that the initiative aims to not only transform the technological landscape of Jamaica but to empower citizens by enhancing access to information, promoting digital literacy and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.
She noted that a population equipped with digital skills is better poised for innovation, is more competitive in the global arena and is likely to attract more investors.
“Digital empowerment is not a luxury; it is a necessity. It is the catalyst that propels nations towards unparalleled growth and prosperity. It bridges the gap between the urban and the rural, the privileged and underprivileged, creating a symphony of inclusivity and equality,” she said.
Senator Morris Dixon, who was addressing the Exchange of Documents Ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in downtown Kingston, thanked the EU for funding the initiative.
“This programme stands as a testament to the unyielding commitment and collaborative spirit of our nations, marking a new chapter in our enduring partnership,” she said.
In her remarks, Deputy Secretary General for Economic and Global Affairs at the EU, Helena Konig, noted that Digital Jamaica is the first concrete, grant-funded multi-sector programme of support to Jamaica’s digital transformation agenda to be launched post-COVID-19.
“Digital Jamaica represents a well-packaged programme of support to key challenges identified by Jamaica as imperative to address over the next four years. Digital Jamaica will support the Ministry of Education and Youth to review, update and integrate Jamaica’s National ICT Competency Framework for Teachers into the curricula of all publicly funded teacher training institutions,” Ms. Konig indicated.
She explained that the strategic targeting of the foundation of education is vital for Jamaica to achieve its goal of a knowledge-based society and a digitally competent labour force.
Ms. Konig shared that Digital Jamaica will further boost the collaboration between the OPM and the Ministry of Education and Youth to bring Wide Area Network (WAN) and Wi-Fi connectivity to more than 1000 public schools, including children’s homes.
“It will contribute towards ongoing government efforts to reduce social vulnerability to the digital divide, particularly among students, including special needs students in unserved and underserved areas,” she remarked.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Sancia Bennett Templer, disclosed that €1.7 million of the budget will be allocated to the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) to facilitate the active participation of MSMEs in the digital transitioning programme.
This, she noted, is of great importance, given that MSMEs currently constitute about 60 to 70 per cent of all jobs in Jamaica.
“By nature, they tend to be agile and responsive to change. By involving them in digital transitioning programmes, there is a tremendous opportunity for widespread adoption of digital technologies. Digital solutions can support MSMEs by assisting them in managing transactions at a distance, delivering goods efficiently, facilitating access to financial services and engaging with existing and new customers,” Mrs. Bennett Templer said.
She shared that among other things, the Ministry will provide training for the JBDC and business support services providers, who will then provide digital transformation training to MSMEs across the island.
Meanwhile, Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Fayval Williams, welcomed the programme, noting that it is an important complement to the Government’s efforts at enabling citizens to develop new capabilities – from simple digital literacy to complex competencies in data science and coding.
Mrs. Williams noted that in-service teachers, those in training and aspiring teachers stand to benefit from Digital Jamaica.
“The increased focus on technology allows for an avenue to encourage our students to widen their career prospects and to embrace this field as one in which they can thrive.
“We believe that by improving access to technology and technological devices, we will create a level playing field for all our students,” the Education Minister said.
Digital Jamaica is the first bilateral EU Global Gateway Flagship Programme to be signed in the Caribbean.
Global gateway is a new European strategy to boost smart, clean and secure links in the digital, energy and transport sectors and to strengthen health, education and research systems across the world.
Overseas Ransomware Gangs Continue to Prey on Jamaican Entities
Ransomware gangs originating overseas continue to prey on establishments operating in Jamaica through cyberattacks.
Head of the Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team (JaCIRT), Lieutenant Colonel Godphey Sterling, says some of the gangs are succeeding in carrying out monthly attacks while others are less frequent.
“These are like any other criminal organisation… and they operate almost without any restriction. They [also] operate similarly to a physical gang in a community, with the same levels of leadership and segmentation,” Colonel Sterling informed.
He was speaking during a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’ at the agency’s head office in Kingston.
Colonel Sterling pointed out that more than 10 ransomware gangs have been identified, to date.
Consequently, he urges establishments, especially educational institutions, to take reasonable steps to safeguard their computer systems.
Colonel Sterling noted that the education sector is most vulnerable to cyberattack, given the large volume of data that portfolio entities process.
Victims of these and other social engineering attacks are also being encouraged to report the incidents to the JaCIRT, Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) headquarters or the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
This call has been renewed in observance of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is recognised annually in October.
The theme for this year is ‘Responding Today, Securing our Future’.
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