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SXSW Interactive – Internet of Things Investment – Alien Contact Questioned

SXSW Interactive: surprises and historic moments

This year's South by South West Interactive, part of the family of SXSW Festivals, finished on the 11th of March after five days of inspirational keynotes and events, including a much anticipated speech from Edward Snowden.

Of the many topics covered, the hottest was wearable technology and the effects of this on health.

Saqib Shah's whatmobile report tells us about basketball player Shaquille O'Neil, who used Fitbit to complete his daily 10,000 steps; and about British cardiologist Graham Stuart, who is involved with an ongoing study to discover if NikeFuel can prolong the lives of children with congenital heart defects.

The highlight of the festival must be the Google hangouts appearance of Edward Snowden, perhaps the most controversial figure in digital politics. The video link was set up through a network of proxy servers to conceal his location and went viral within minutes with over 40,000 related tweets.

In his talk Snowden said practices like those used by the NSA were "setting fire to the future of the internet," and he encouraged viewers to become active participants in democracy. "You are all fire fighters," he said.

Among those to pick up awards at the ceremony was Neil deGrasse Tyson, popular science author and presenter of the new television show "Cosmos," who received the award for best speech.

The event returns March 13-17 2015.

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Internet of Things receives £45 million boost

Prime Minister David Cameron has revealed the government will invest an extra £45 million in what is known as the "Internet of Things".

The internet of things dates back to at least 1991 when it was known under different names, but became concrete in 1999 when the term was first proposed by Kevin Ashton, co founder of the Auto-ID centre at MIT.

Generally speaking, the internet of things is a system where objects present in the real world also have a counterpart in a kind of virtual catalogue. Connected devices can then communicate to one another. This interconnected world could save resources and improve efficiency; it's the stuff of science fiction edging ever closer to scientific fact.

Gartner, a technology research group based in Connecticut, predict that by 2020 the internet of things will consist of over 26 billion interconnected devices.

Mr Cameron compared the process to the industrial revolution:

"I see the internet of things as a huge transformative development - a way of boosting productivity, of keeping us healthier, making transport more efficient, reducing energy needs, tackling climate change."
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Senior SETI astronomer believes 20 yrs for alien sightings

A senior astronomer at the SETI institute, a body which has collaborated with NASA on space exploration missions such as Kepler and SOFIA, has said we could make alien contact in just 20 years.

Dr. Seth Shostak's belief is founded in Moore's law, the famous observation that certain component parts of computer hardware double every two years.

In a parallel with Moore's law, the capabilities of many devices are increasing; and they do so at an exponential rate which becomes more rapid in proportion to the already existing total.

When asked about his prediction Dr Shostak said:

"My guess that we'll succeed in the next two decades is based on the fact that with improvements in digital electronics and computers--which are getting better and cheaper, following Moore's law--we will be continually sifting through the sky faster. And you can extrapolate how fast we'll be able to search, assuming we have the money, in the next decade or two. "

Many see the idea of intelligent extraterrestrial life as ridiculous or absurd. The subject has been tainted by conspiracy theories, such as the well known Area 51, and has been the focal point of documentaries, books and debate. Because there is little real information, any truth in Shostak's prediction must remain a point for conjecture, that is, at least, for now.

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Written by Rachel Hand

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