Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Elon Musk floats brain electrode firm; Big rise in visitors to UK; Singapore staff seen least engaged in Asia

1 Elon Musk floats brain electrode firm (BBC) Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has launched Neuralink, a start-up which aims to develop technology that connects our brains to computers. A report from the Wall Street Journal said the company was in its very early stages and registered as a “medical research” firm.

The company will develop so-called “neural lace” technology which would implant tiny electrodes into the brain. The technique could be used to improve memory or give humans added artificial intelligence. According to the Journal, leading academics in the field have been signed up to work at the company which is being funded privately by Mr Musk.

Specialists in the field envision a time when humans may be able to upload and download thoughts. Mr Musk is considered one of Silicon Valley’s most visionary figures - and surely now its busiest.

As well as heading electric carmaker Tesla, Mr Musk is involved with running space exploration company Space X, a project to reinvent transport called Hyperloop and, most recently, a firm investigating the feasibility of boring tunnels underneath Los Angeles - and a new project to power Australia.

2 Big rise in visitors to UK (Will Coldwell in The Guardian) Stay-at-home holidaymakers in the UK are likely to be rubbing shoulders with even more overseas visitors this summer, according to statistics that suggest Brexit could lead to an influx of foreign tourists.

As Article 50 is triggered, marking the start of the process through which Britain will leave the EU, voices from the tourism industry suggest this summer will be a strong period, with a record-breaking increase in visitor numbers, as well as an increase in how much they spend.

Much of this increase will be down to the weaker pound making the UK a more-affordable destination for foreign visitors. According to Visit Britain, at the end of February 2017, the UK was 11% more affordable for overseas tourists than it was in the same month last year.

The latest official figures released by Visit Britain, show that January already set new records, with 2.85m inbound visits to the UK. These visitors spent £1.5bn, up 15% on last year, while holiday and business visits were also up a record-breaking 19% and 22% respectively.

Flight bookings to the UK for this summer, from March-August 2017 are up 19%. Visit Britain forecasts this growth will continue during the remainder of the year, with a total of 38.1m inbound visits – and a total spend of £24.1bn.

3 Singapore staff seen least engaged in Asia (Straits Times) Employees in Singapore are the least engaged among major Asian markets, according to a new study. The term refers to how workers relate to their companies.

This is measured by asking staff if they are motivated to give their best at their jobs, if they say positive things about their organisation and if they intend to stay for a long time. The annual survey noted that Singapore's employee engagement score fell by 4 percentage points to 59 per cent in 2016 - a stark contrast to 2015, when an increase of 3 percentage points was recorded.

The study by talent firm Aon Hewitt suggests that workers here feel less meaningfully invested in their jobs, a trend seen most prominently among younger employees. Millennials - people under the age of 34 - indicated a dimmer view of the ways in which organisations involve and manage their staff.

Workers in China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines were found to be more invested in their jobs than Singapore staff. Aon Hewitt also found that, on the whole, employees in the Asia- Pacific region were less engaged in 2016 than they were in 2015. Its research also showed that a rise in employee engagement is linked to higher revenue growth.

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