Voici 6 applications convaincantes de l’intelligence artificielle

CHRONIQUE – Elle est partout même si vous ne la voyez pas. Elle vous propose des films sur Netflix, elle vous crée une sélection musicale sur Spotify, elle vous propose des itinéraires sur Google Maps et elle bat votre radiologue dans la détection de tumeurs. Sa capacité à se fondre dans votre vie est une de ses grandes qualités. Mais où est-il possible de la voir à l’oeuvre? Voici une courte liste des applications les plus convaincantes de l’utilisation de l’intelligence artificielle aujourd’hui.

BLIPPAR, une nouvelle façon de découvrir le monde

Alors qu’elle était évaluée à 1,5 milliard de dollars il y a moins de deux ans, cette jeune pousse traverse une période difficile et peine à trouver son modèle d’affaires. Elle a récemment congédié une grande partie de son personnel et fermé ses bureaux dans la Silicon Valley.

Mais ce qu’elle propose a néanmoins un grand potentiel. Avec la caméra de votre téléphone, vous ciblez des objets dans votre environnement (vous les « blippez » selon le verbe que la compagnie a voulu créer), et un algorithme de reconnaissance d’images identifiera non seulement ces objets, mais vous proposera aussi des contenus s’y rattachant.

Le taux d’erreurs est encore très élevé, mais de voir apparaître un nuage de mots sur votre écran lorsque vous pointez votre caméra vers un objet est assez bluffant, et le potentiel, lui, est énorme.

LYREBIRD, une reproduction digitale de votre voix

Cette jeune pousse montréalaise a créé un algorithme plutôt hallucinant. Vous allez sur leur site, vous vous abonnez, vous enregistrez une minute de votre voix, et vous pouvez littéralement vous faire dire n’importe quoi… sans même que vous ne parliez.

Oui, le danger de falsification que recèle une telle technologie se comprend aisément. Mais il serait possible aussi d’imaginer des applications médicales, notamment chez les gens aux prises avec des maladies dégénératives et qui pourraient « enregistrer » leur voix pendant qu’ils en ont encore une pour qu’ils puissent ensuite l’utiliser pour communiquer. Avec Lyrebird, Stephen Hawking aurait pu conserver sa voix de jeune vingtenaire, après tout…

WRNCH, numériser le geste humain

Prononcez « wrench ». Cette autre jeune entreprise montréalaise développe quant à elle des algorithmes de reconnaissance de mouvements. L’idée derrière les technologies de WRNCH est que de plus en plus, les intelligences artificielles pourront analyser vos moindres faits et gestes pour pouvoir interagir avec vous.

Les algorithmes développés par la compagnie permettent également de créer des effets spéciaux en direct. Un peu comme les filtres de Snapchat, mais appliqués au corps en entier. Bientôt dans une voiture autonome et dans un jeu vidéo? À suivre.

POSENET, l’algorithme du mouvement corporel

Dan Oved est un étudiant à l’École de médias interactifs de l’Université de New York. En collaboration avec le Google Creative Lab, il a mis au point Posenet, un algorithme qui ressemble à celui développé par WRNCH. La machine détecte vos mouvements et peut les reconnaître en temps réel. Vous pouvez ainsi interagir de manière corporelle avec un algorithme d’apprentissage machine dans le confort de votre salon.

Le code de Dan Oved est accessible sur la plateforme Github, et vous pouvez télécharger son application pour l’utiliser avec la caméra de votre ordinateur. Bientôt, un prof de yoga en forme d’intelligence artificielle pourra-t-il analyser en direct vos mouvements?

NSYNTH, l’ère du synthétiseur intelligent

Non, il ne s’agit pas du boys band américain NSYNC… même s’il s’agit d’une démonstration que l’intelligence humaine peut créer de la musique aussi formatée qu’un hamburger de chaîne de restauration rapide.

NSYNTH sert à créer de la musique aux antipodes de celle des boys band : des sons si originaux qu’ils n’ont jamais été entendus auparavant. NSYNTH pourrait aussi servir au prochain groupe à la mode. Ce projet mené par l’équipe de Google Brain et de Deep Mind propose de réimaginer la manière dont les sons de synthétiseurs sont créés.

La mécanique derrière NSYNTH vise à nourrir des algorithmes d’apprentissage au moyen d’immenses banques de sons qui permettent d’en évaluer les caractéristiques, comme le timbre. En étant capables de déconstruire ainsi les sons, les algorithmes peuvent aussi en créer de nouveaux, jamais entendus auparavant, et surtout impossibles à créer par des méthodes de synthèse traditionnelles. Bienvenue, donc, dans l’ère du synthétiseur intelligent. Comme le chantait le sémillant Justin : « This I promise you. »

François Quévillon, l’art des caméras de vos autos

Les dispositifs technologiques intéressent les artistes depuis toujours. Pensez seulement aux capacités techniques des grandes orgues dans les églises qui inspirent les compositeurs depuis plusieurs siècles.

Plus près de nous, l’artiste François Quévillon s’interroge sur notre perception du monde maintenant qu’il est bardé de caméras, qu’elles soient dans nos téléphones où dans nos autos. Son art, où il met en scène les interactions de plus en plus nombreuses qui existent entre nos intelligences et celles que nous créons, est à la fois ludique et inquiétant.

Une pharmacie virtuelle débarque chez Ubisoft

Les employés d’Ubisoft, à Montréal, peuvent désormais recevoir leurs médicaments d’ordonnance directement au bureau grâce à une pharmacie virtuelle.

La pharmacie Picard & Desjardins a installé au 4e étage de l’immeuble du boulevard Saint-Laurent un guichet avec des casiers qui permet d’entreposer les commandes.

«Le patient peut commander le matin ses médicaments directement en ligne et les faire livrer en après-midi dans les casiers sur les lieux du travail», explique Karl Desjardins, de la pharmacie Picard & Desjardins.

Lorsque la commande est livrée, l’utilisateur reçoit un code sur son téléphone intelligent qui lui permet de prendre possession de son colis dans l’un des casiers.

«Pour nous, c’est une suite logique de notre mission de réduire le prix des médicaments et surtout d’améliorer l’expérience qu’ont les patients avec leur pharmacie», ajoute M. Desjardins.

Jusqu’à maintenant, une centaine d’employés d’Ubisoft se sont inscrits à ce service. Il semble que le commentaire le plus souvent évoqué soit la «simplicité d’utilisation» du système.

Ces petits casiers pourraient également aider à réduire l’écart de prix de 17% entre les assurés du privé et ceux du public.

«Compte tenu du modèle qu’on a mis en place, bien sûr, ça nous expose à vouloir moins de frais à assumer financièrement, donc, ultimement, on est capable de redistribuer ces économies-là aux patients», conclut Benoit Picard.

Pas bon pour le moral, le réchauffement climatique

Une étude américaine révèle que l’élévation des températures et les canicules liées au réchauffement climatique aggravent la détresse, les admissions en psychiatrie et le taux de suicide.

Plusieurs études depuis les années 1980 montrent que la chaleur extrême entraîne des problèmes de santé et une surmortalité dans les grandes villes. Mais peu de recherches existent sur les conséquences mentales des températures extrêmes. Les chercheurs ont trouvé que la qualité de sommeil, indispensable à une bonne santé, est affectée par temps chaud.

Selon les auteurs de l’étude de l’université de la Californie, la hausse du mercure résultant du changement climatique causera 1000 suicides de plus par année aux États-Unis et 15 000 admissions hospitalières supplémentaires pour des cas de santé mentale.

Au Québec, selon un sondage mené en 2015, plus de 19 % de la population serait incommodée sur le plan mental par la chaleur excessive.

Suicide à la hausse

Les super tempêtes que le Québec a connues comme le déluge du Saguenay et le grand verglas créent de l’anxiété, du stress et de la peur. Pas étonnant que les noms d’ouragans les plus meurtriers sont retirés de la liste des noms d’ouragans après avoir sévi.

Aux États-Unis, à la suite des désastres naturels survenus entre 1982 et 1989, on a constaté une augmentation de 14 % des suicides.

Des plaques d’immatriculation électroniques bientôt à l’essai

La Californie s’apprête à mettre à l’essai des plaques d’immatriculation complètement électroniques pour les véhicules.

La ville de Sacramento sera la première à prendre part à ce projet pilote qui permettra aux automobilistes de remplacer leur plaque métallique par un panneau composé d’un écran et d’un récepteur sans fil.

Cette technologie permettra ainsi de modifier à distance le message qui apparait sur ladite plaque. Par exemple, l’écran pourrait afficher un message en particulier si le véhicule est rapporté volé ou si une alerte AMBER est déclenchée.

De plus, la plaque pourrait diffuser un message personnalisé lorsque le véhicule est immobilisé. Cette fonction particulière devra toutefois obtenir l’aval des autorités américaines avant de pouvoir être utilisée.

Le fabricant de ce produit, Reviver Auto, affirme que des projets pilotes similaires sont en préparation dans d’autres États américains.

Les intéressés devront toutefois puiser dans leurs poches pour en profiter. Ces plaques électroniques seront vendues à 699$ US. Les conducteurs devront également payer un frais mensuel de 7$.

The 14 best new Caribbean hotels and resorts

The 2017 hurricane season was not kind to the Caribbean, when Hurricanes Irma and Maria barreled across numerous islands, inflicting major damage on places that include Barbuda, Dominica and Puerto Rico.
However, other islands escaped unscathed or weren’t hit as hard.
But in a good sign of recovery for the whole region, a spate of hotels have opened up along with hotels that have been able to make repairs and reopen.
Here are 14 of the best new hotels and resorts that have opened in destinations around the Caribbean in 2018:=

1. Park Hyatt St. Kitts, St. Kitts & Nevis

This splashy five-star resort isn’t just the first Park Hyatt on St. Kitts, but the first Park Hyatt in the Caribbean.
Luckily, the fall hurricane season spared tiny St. Kitts, allowing the 126-room property to open in a remote section of the undeveloped island.
Of interest is a replica sugar mill where guests can take fitness, yoga and meditation classes, but the real highlight just may be the 37,000-square-foot Miraval Life in Balance Spa, from none other than the renowned Miraval brand.
Those wishing to venture off-site have their pick of outdoor activities, including volcano hiking, but the Park Hyatt can also arrange trips to the UNESCO Brimstone Hill Fortress or provide an island historian for a truly local experience.
Park Hyatt St. Kitts, Banana Bay, South East Peninsula, Parish of St. George, St. Kitts; +1 869 468 1234

2. Baha Mar, Bahamas

True, the Bahamas are technically in the Atlantic, not the Caribbean, but we’d be remiss not to include this massive $4 billion dollar undertaking that’s rolling out in three stages.
Once the dust settles this spring, guests can expect three hotels adding more than 2,000 rooms, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course, the Caribbean’s largest casino, the first flagship ESPA spa in the region, more than 30 high-end shopping options, and enough restaurants and nightlife to rival a small city.
The first phase debuted last spring with the sprawling Grand Hyatt. This hotel alone encompasses 1,800 rooms, the aforementioned spa, casino and golf course, plus six pools, five restaurants and nine bars and lounges.
The second phase unveiled the trendy, higher-end SLS this past November, where scenesters have their pick of a rooftop lounge, nightclub and VIP pool – with invite-only parties, of course.

Good luck getting reservations at Katsuya (modern sushi) and Fi’lia, Italian comfort food from James Beard Award winner Michael Schwartz.
The final phase is slated for this spring, adding Rosewood, the highest-end option, to the mix.
Its 185 rooms and five villas will sport Bahamian décor, while on-site dining will also skew local, from a farm-to-table restaurant to a lounge for afternoon tea.
Plus with a spa, fitness center, salon and barber shop, two pools and a private beach, guests will have little need to access the rest of Baha Mar – but that would be a shame.
Baha Mar, Baha Mar Boulevard, Nassau, Bahamas; +1 242 788 8000

3. The Other Side, Bahamas

On the completely opposite end of the Bahamian spectrum is The Other Side, a solar-powered collection of not-inexpensive tents and shacks on quiet Eleuthera Island.
While not a hotel in the strictest sense, the accommodations are far more luxurious than the average hotel room, with three beachfront sleeping “tents” that are more like cottages, each furnished with hardwood floors, four-poster beds, two couches and modern décor; meanwhile, the “shacks” take it to the next level with decks and dual sinks.
Air conditioning and WiFi are other indicators that you won’t be roughing it.

As for other amenities, these are separated into four different tent structures encouraging communal dining, drinking and socializing.
Even though The Other Side is all about decompressing with activities such as poolside yoga, guests needing a change can take a short boat ride to Harbour Island.
The Other Side, Queen’s Highway, Bahamas

4. Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa, Jamaica

Jamaica has experienced a boom of of new hotel openings this past year, but Jewel Grande in Montego Bay stands apart for its all-inclusive, all butler-service rooms – the first of its kind on the island – and all just 15 minutes from Sangster International Airport.
Vying for guests’ attention are 11 bars and restaurants, serving everything from local Jamaican to Asian-fusion, plus two pools and a 30,000-square-foot spa with 14 treatment rooms.
The bi-evel spa even houses a Himalayan salt room, juice bar and fitness studio for yoga, pilates, barre and reggaelates – like it sounds, a blend of pilates and reggae music.
For something different, book a tour to visit the 18th-century Great House at Rose Hall, considered to be the most haunted spot (well, that you can visit) on the island.
Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa, Rose Hall Main Road, Rose Hall, St. James, Jamaica; +1 876 953 8000

5. Serafina Beach Hotel, Puerto Rico

Since tourists have been torn about whether or not they should visit Puerto Rico during the island’s recovery, Puerto Rico Tourism has recently declared the island officially open for business.
And in perfect timing, the boutique Serafina Beach Hotel, the first from NYC’s Serafina Restaurant Group, is open for business.
Combining the best of city and ocean, the beachfront Serafina is found in San Juan’s trendy Condado section, complete with a modern-bordering-on-hipster vibe.
With an emphasis on design, guests can anticipate rooms that are minimal yet inviting, with warm woods and pops of seafoam green complementing the stereotypically blue water beyond each room’s picture window.
This design scheme continues throughout the hotel, from the espresso bar by day, cocktail bar by night to the beachfront infinity pool. And of course no happening hotel would be complete without offering yoga classes and loaner bikes.
Serafina Beach Hotel, 1045 Avenida Doctor Ashford, San Juan, Puerto Rico; hello@serafinabeachhotel.com

6. Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana, Cuba

Hotel stock hasn’t been able to keep pace with demand in Havana, which makes the addition of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski all the more exciting.
Why? Because it’s supposedly the first five-star hotel to open in Cuba since the Revolution.
The Gran Hotel is also notable since it occupies what used to be Cuba’s first shopping mall, a striking building from the turn of the 20th century. Inside, guests will find rooms decked out in understated luxury with colorful accents, while suites command enviable city views.
There’s also a European-inspired spa with eight treatment rooms, an infinity rooftop pool overlooking Old Havana, and six restaurants and bars, including a tobacco lounge. El Floridita, one of Hemingway’s old haunts, is just across the way.
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana, Calle San Rafael, La Habana Vieja, Havana, Cuba; +53 7 8699100

7. Turks Cay Resort and Marina, Turks and Caicos

The incredibly luxurious Turks Cay Resort and Marina will be the latest project from Arik Kislin, co-owner of Hotel Gansevoort in NYC, and due to open next year in Grace Bay.
To be expected for this level of luxury, there will be a movie theater, three pools, a full spa with a hydrotherapy section and waterfall pool, plus a cigar bar.
And as it’s in Grace Bay, an underdeveloped section of the island, guests will have access to one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the Caribbean.
Turks Cay Resort and Marina, Turks and Caicos, 375 Grace Bay Road Providenciales, Turks And Caicos Islands 10001

8. Hodges Bay Resort and Spa, Antigua

Elegant Hotels Group, known for its collection of high-end hotels on Barbados, will be unveiling its first foray into Antigua in the summer of 2018.
Guests can expect the same level of luxury at the boutique Hodges Bay, an eco-friendly entity on the northern coast that will incorporate green walls and fluid indoor/outdoor spaces.
Its 79 modern lodging options will encompass suites (including rooftop ones with water views and private hot tubs), plus oceanfront villas and houses that include butler service.
Those who don’t want to lift a finger can also spring for laundry and grocery shopping services, while the pampering continues with pool and beach butlers at the heated infinity pool and prime stretch of white beach.
Rounding out the offerings will be three restaurants and six bars (a rooftop bar among them), and a holistic-oriented spa and cutting-edge fitness center.
Hodges Bay Resort and Spa; Sandy Lane, Hodges Bay, St. John’s, Antigua; 888 263 8011

9. Quintessence Boutique Resort, Anguilla

This addition is a positive mile marker for Anguilla, which is still recovering from Hurricane Irma.
The Quintessence Boutique Resort feels like staying in a private mansion, complete with round-the-clock butler service, a five-star restaurant serving locally sourced food, an expertly stocked wine cellar, yoga pavilion and tennis courts.
Of course there’s a spa, offering customized massages and facials, which guests can also opt for in spacious suites or villas.
These are designed not to leave anyway, thanks to four-poster beds with jaw-droppingly expensive Swedish Hastens’ mattresses and marble bathrooms with Roman soaking tubs.
But it’s worth emerging for Long Bay Beach, a perfect example of a white sand beach that stretches long and wide – and rarely frequented by anyone beyond the hotel.
Quintessence Boutique Resort, Long Bay, Anguilla; +1-264-498-8106

10. The Loren at Pink Beach, Bermuda

Like the Bahamas, Bermuda is also situated in the Atlantic, but its proximity to Caribbean islands merits a mention of The Loren at Pink Beach. especially since it’s Bermuda’s first new hotel in a decade.
The sleek boutique property on the southern coast is a worthy addition to the traditional lodging landscape, thanks to its clean, modern lines and décor.
As the Loren is parked right on the beach (which really is pink), it takes full advantage with floor-to-ceiling windows that maximize the turquoise water views.
The drama continues inside, where a floating spiral staircase makes a great first impression; artwork from developer Stephen King’s personal collection, found throughout the hotel, continues this impression, and doesn’t stop there.
The all-suite rooms contain private outdoor space, marble baths with giant soaking tubs and earthy colors and textures.
The two restaurants focus on locally sourced menus, while NYC chef Tim Sullivan of Great Performances oversees the more formal Marée.
The Loren at Pink Beach, 116 South Road, Tuckers Town Smiths HS01, Bermuda; +1 844 384 3103

11. Pink Sands Club, Canouan, St. Vincent and The Grenadines

Mandarin Oriental just assumed management of the Pink Sands Club, a little more than a year old, with the renaming coming this spring.
If you’ve never heard of Canouan (pronounced ka-no-wan), part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it’s probably because it’s all of five-miles long and geared toward the 1 percent (or honeymooners and anyone looking to splurge).
Maintaining the highest luxury standards, each of Pink Sands’ 26 suites contain Rivolta linens, plus his-and-her walk-in closets. In-room tablets allow guests to bypass phones in order to make spa reservations, which can arrange for delivering treatments in palapa-style suites.

The resort added contemporary patio villas in December, which were designed by Italian architects and contain an infinity pool and hot tub. Venture outside for the 18-hole championship golf course and the uncrowded, pink-tinged beach.
Pink Sands Club, Carenage Bay, Canouan Island, St. Vincent; +1 784 4314500

12. Silversands, Grenada

The tiny island of Grenada often gets overlooked in favor of its larger neighbors (Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago), but that’s about to change when the upscale Silversands opens in late 2018.
This will be the first resort on Grande Anse beach in 25 years, and, as is the trend for many new boutique properties in the Caribbean, its low-rise, modern design will blend into its environs.
The 43 rooms will also reflect the minimal aesthetic with earthy woods, neutral tones and marble accents, while playfully modern touches (hamster wheel-esque poolside seating) can be found throughout the resort.
The Sisley Spa if of particular interest, as is the rum and cigar bar, while the main standout is the Olympic-size swimming pool that appears to stretch right into the ocean.
Silversands, Grand Anse Main Road, St George’s, Grenada; +1 473 533 8888

13. The Shore Club, Turks and Caicos

For the moment, The Shore Club holds bragging rights as the only resort on the pristine and less visited Long Bay Beach. The $100 million all-suite property is all about wellness, from comprehensive spa treatments to its four pools.
And even its entry-level suites are conducive to relaxing, what with king-size beds, comfy couches and a neutral color palette.
The Shore Club also took its offerings to the next level by adding three new villas this January, each offering a whopping 8,800 square feet with six bedrooms, butler service, heated pool and unparalleled beachfront location.
The Shore Club, Shore Club Beach, Grace Bay, Turks & Caicos; +1 888 808 9488

14. Bahama House, Bahamas

Those in the know are beelining to laid-back hotspot Harbour Island for Bahama House, a carefully renovated 19th-century colonial decked out in Bahamian style.
But what sets this apart from other hotels is that it’s the latest offering from Eleven Experience, an adventure travel company that specializes in customizing local experiences.
For example, Bahama House can arrange bonefishing, deep-sea fishing, jet skiing or horseback riding on the beach, although it’s understandable if Harbour Island escapees simply want to while away the hours on the beach.
Of course there are plenty of reasons to hang out at Bahama House as well, namely 11 rooms, some with four-poster, king-size beds; two cottages; proper tiki and rum bars; and a freshwater pool with underwater speakers.
Unlike other boutique properties, the nightly rate includes prearrival planning, customized itineraries, a gourmet breakfast spread, private concierge service and, get this – a full day of professional photography, guaranteed to inspire Insta-envy.
Bahama House, Dunmore Street, Dunmore Town, Bahamas; +1 970 349 7761

Is this the food capital of Asia?

With its unique mix of cultures, languages and religions, Kuala Lumpur often gets described by locals as a ‘big melting pot’, where different traditions are openly celebrated.

With its unique mix of cultures, languages and religions, Kuala Lumpur often gets described by locals as a ‘big melting pot’, where different traditions are openly celebrated and enjoyed.

The melting pot is also often more literal than metaphorical in Malaysia’s biggest city and capital. “Food is always the quickest way to get acquainted with a culture, and what food in Malaysia tells us is that an ethnic mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay can work, really well,” said Jeff Ramsey, a Michelin star chef from Babe restaurant based in Kuala Lumpur. But the food here takes on its very own distinct flavour that can’t be found anywhere else. “For example, when eating a large spread of Chinese food here, you won’t taste much that you can find in China, if at all,” he said.

Along with the diversity of food, locals enjoy the mix of modern icons like the skyline-defining 452m-tall Petronas Twin Towers and the older, Moorish-inspired colonial architecture of places like the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. “I love that it offers an interesting blend of the old and new, which makes it fun to explore,” said Emily Yeap, who is originally from Kuala Lumpur and now lives in the US. “The city is definitely lively. There’s always something going on and something to do.”

Why do people love it?

Kuala Lumpur’s food culture is a huge draw, and is one that’s fully experienced after dark, from around 19:00, when people meet their friends and jalan jalan cari makan (go out and look for food). “Vendors set up stalls at pasar malams (night markets), which happen once a week in every area or district,” said Zuzanna Chmielewska, who moved from Poland to Malaysia in 2012 and writes about the country at her blog Zu in Asia. “Street food options include various kinds of curries, dumplings and fried rice, as well as trendy imported items, like rainbow toasts or unicorn desserts.” This kind of socialising can go well into the night, according to Chmielewska, and 24-hour canteens known as mamaks stay bustling until the early morning.

The eating doesn’t stop then though. “For breakfast after a night out, a really good bak kut teh will hit the spot,” Ramsey said. The pork dish is braised in a broth with cinnamon, clove, star anise and fennel and served alongside a dipping sauce made from chopped garlic, soy sauce and sliced green bird’s eye chilli. “Beer is the choice [of] drink to have in this scenario, so make sure you don’t have too much to do later in the day.”

With so many cultures converging here, newcomers enjoy a constant sense of discovery. “I love to walk around KL and discover its hidden secrets, from a small stall selling curry made of monitor lizard meat, to street art performances during the Chinese Hungry Ghost Month,” Chmielewska said. In fact, the different religious calendars mean there’s a celebration at least a couple of times a month.

I love to walk around KL and discover its hidden secrets

Those celebrations are often open to quite literally anyone. “There’s a tradition of an ‘Open House’, in which on a chosen special occasion, a family prepares tons of food and decorations and then lets anyone join,” Chmielewska said. “It’s mostly their friends and relatives, but the gate to the house is literally open, so anyone can just walk in and enjoy the celebration.”

Newcomers feel like it’s easy to quickly become part of the local community, with Chmielewska explaining that “people are quite used to expats from all over the world so it’s not a problem to blend in.”

What’s it like living here?

The city is hot, rainy and frequently stormy, which causes a lot of traffic jams. “KL’s roads are so complicated that everyone drives with their GPS on, even people who have lived in the city since they were born,” Chmielewska said.

The traffic also means that many people choose to use the effective, mostly train-based, public transportation system. When that’s not an option, expats suggest using fixed-rate ride-hailing apps, such as Grab, over taxis, which sometimes charge foreigners differing rates.

Most expats live in Mont Kiara (around 11km north-west of the city centre) for its easy access to international schools and shopping malls, but expats looking for a more immersive experience can settle in one of the more culturally distinct districts, which include Cheras (Chinese), Kampung Baru (Malay) or Brickfields (Indian). Though some areas of the city are more ethnically segregated than others, expats can live in any area of the city.

What else do I need to know?

Minor street crime is a daily reality here – muggings at ATMs and handbag thefts near street food stalls are unfortunately common – so residents advise carrying as little cash as possible and avoiding walking alone at night.

While the city is still more affordable than Western big cities and Asian countries like Japan and Singapore, the cost of living is rising. “Things like accommodation, transportation and eating out are becoming more expensive,” said Yeap. “Newcomers should be aware that the ringgit (local currency) doesn’t go as far as it did in the past.”

Just go with the flow and be open to new experiences

Because of the city’s diversity, newcomers also shouldn’t assume other expat experiences will mirror theirs. “Just because your friend already works in KL, doesn’t mean you will have a similar experience,” Chmielewska said. “You might end up working with mostly Malaysian-Chinese team, while he works with Malaysian-Malay team. There would be huge differences in working culture, lengths of breaks, etc. Just go with the flow and be open to new experiences. Respect the cultures and others will do the same.”

Egypt’s exquisite temples that had to be moved

If Abu Simbel had not been saved, places like Vienna’s Historic Centre, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and other Unesco World Heritage sites might only live on in history books.

Deep within the interior of the Great Temple at Abu Simbel, carved into a mountainside in southern Egypt’s ancient Nubian Valley, lies a vast, wondrous world. Pillars adorned with intricate military artworks support a ceiling painted with winged vultures. Floor-to-ceiling hieroglyphics depicting the victorious battles of Pharaoh Ramses II, the same man responsible for constructing this enormous temple, decorate the walls. Outside, four colossal statues of the pharaoh face east toward the rising sun, looking out over a crystal-clear lake.

It’s an incredible sight to behold, but one that if history had gone just a little bit differently, would not be here today. Instead, this temple would be under the lake’s waters. What’s even harder to imagine, if Abu Simbel had not been saved, places like Vienna’s Historic Centre, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and other Unesco World Heritage sites might only live on in history books.

“Egypt has done a great job preserving their ancient temples,” said Kim Keating, director of global sales for luxury adventure tour company Geographic Expeditions. “And this [complex] – with soft lighting highlighting its interior artworks; graffiti that dates back to early invaders, documenting how Egypt was conquered over time; and its location in front of a beautiful lake so large it’s like peering out on to the ocean – is magnificent.”

North Africa’s Nubian Valley straddles the border of southern Egypt and northern Sudan, a remote desert region dotted with palm-fringed oases and occasional wadis (seasonal rivers) that is home to the mighty Nile River, which winds its way past the Egyptian city of Aswan towards Cairo. In ancient days, this was a land of gold and riches, and one ruled by kings – many of whom built pyramids, monuments and temples, in part as a show of power. The Abu Simbel complex, built over the course of 20 years in the 13th Century BC, is one of the most impressive still standing today. Alongside the larger Great Temple stands a smaller temple that honours Ramses’ queen, Nefertari.

It’s all done so perfectly

Keating was in awe when she saw the temples for the first time. But she was even more amazed to find out that in the early 1960s, a team of international engineers disassembled and then carefully moved – piece by piece – each of them. They then reassembled the temples more than 60m above their original location to save the complex from the Nile’s rising waters. That 5,250-sq-km lake that Keating described is Lake Nasser, a reservoir that formed when the valley flooded. Just more than 50 years ago, it didn’t even exist.

“It’s all done so perfectly,” she said. “It’s impossible to tell, even when you (like me) really try.”

Unesco’s ‘Nubia Campaign’ came about in 1960, when the United Arab Republic (a political union of Egypt and Syria that existed between 1958 and 1961) began construction on a new dam along the Nile River, just outside of Aswan. While the dam would improve irrigation throughout the valley as well as significantly increase Egypt’s hydroelectric output, in a few years the swelling waters would also completely submerge Abu Simbel’s exquisite temples.

In an effort to prevent the temples’ destruction, Unesco embarked on its first-ever collaborative international rescue effort (the organisation initially formed in 1945 to promote a joined culture of peace and prevent the outbreak of another war). This incredible effort later became the catalyst for a World Heritage list that would help protect and promote what now totals 1,073 significant cultural and natural sites around the globe.

“I had no idea before visiting Abu Simbel that it led to Unesco creating a World Heritage list,” Keating said. “But I can definitely see why. The setting… the history… it all has that wow factor.”

However, the process of relocating the temples wasn’t so simple.

“It was a huge undertaking,” explained Dr Mechtild Rössler, Unesco’s director of Heritage Division and director of the World Heritage Centre. “One that I’m not sure could be done again today, with questions such as the ways a campaign of this magnitude would impact a region both environmentally and socially coming into play.”

We recognised that one country alone is just not capable

Beginning in November 1963, a group of hydrologists, engineers, archaeologists and other professionals set out on Unesco’s multi-year plan to break down both temples, cutting them into precise blocks (807 for the Great Temple, 235 for the smaller one) that were then numbered, carefully moved and restored to their original grandeur within a specially created mountain facade. Workers even recalculated the exact measurements needed to recreate the same solar alignment, assuring that twice a year, on about 22 February (the date of Ramses II’s ascension to the throne) and 22 October (his birthday), the rising sun would continue to shine through a narrow opening to illuminate the sculpted face of King Ramses II and those of two other statues deep inside the Great Temple’s interior. Finally, in September 1968, a colourful ceremony marked the project’s completion.

“[Abu Simbel] was a case in which the confluences of Unesco – culture, science and education – came together in an amazing way,” Dr Rössler said.

Indeed, it has gone down as one of history’s greatest archaeological engineering challenges. Imagine such a massive project being conducted in what seems to be the middle of nowhere, often in stifling heat. In retrospect, the whole thing seems preposterous, but it was exactly what Unesco needed to prove to themselves that by pulling together resources, they were virtually unstoppable.

“The completion of such an enormous and complex project helped [the organisation] realise that we were capable of three main things,” Dr Rössler said. “First, bringing together the best expertise the world has to offer. Second, securing the international cooperation of its members [at the time totalling around 100 member states; today there are 195 member states and 10 associate members]. And third: assuring the responsibility of the international community to bring together funding and support that would help the world’s heritage as a whole.”

“We recognised that one country alone is just not capable,” she said.

With momentum flowing, Unesco continued launching campaigns, including the ongoing safeguarding of Venice, nearly destroyed by floods in the mid-1960s. In 1965, a White House conference in Washington DC proposed the formation of a ‘World Heritage Trust’ to continuously preserve the world’s ‘superb natural and scenic areas and historic sites’. A few years later, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) crafted a similar proposal. But it wasn’t until November 1972 that the General Conference of Unesco adopted the Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, merging both drafts together to preserve cultural and natural heritage equally.

Natural disasters, war… we can’t let these things take that heritage away

Today, the Nubia Campaign’s success is responsible for the conservation and preservation of places like Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, Germany’s Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura, and South Africa’s Robben Island, where the country’s former president, Nelson Mandela, served time in a tiny prison cell. It has also led to more elaborate safeguarding measures – similar to those taken at Abu Simbel – at World Heritage sites around the globe. These exist especially in war-torn zones like Iraq and Yemen, as well as Ethiopia, where just a decade ago Unesco returned the Obelisk of Axum: a 24m-tall, 160-tonne granite obelisk that the Italians took piecemeal back to Rome in 1937 under Mussolini’s fascist regime.

“The return and re-erection of the obelisk – this was the moment that marked the end of the Second World War [for Ethiopians],” Dr Rössler said, adding: “People need their heritage. Natural disasters, war… we can’t let these things take that heritage away.”

Fifty years after the completion of the Nubia project, the Abu Simbel temples remain a popular – albeit still remote – traveller pilgrimage. Lake Nasser is known for its excellent freshwater fishing, as well as its numerous crocodiles. But the highlight of the Nubian Valley is undoubtedly the temple complex, which 3,000 years on endures as an iconic symbol of both humankind’s common heritage and how one ancient monument can help preserve the planet. Of course, it could have been something else entirely:

“People might still be visiting the temples,” said Dr Rössler, “but it would be through snorkelling or diving or – because of the crocodiles – looking at them through the floor of a glass-bottom boat.”

As Fuel Prices Rise, Airlines Warn of Higher Fares

The price of jet fuel has gone up 50 percent in the past year, and airline executives are warning that they may have to raise ticket prices and cut capacity if fuel costs continue to rise.

Delta Air Lines on Wednesday became the latest carrier to cut its profit forecast because of the sharp rise in fuel prices. American Airlines had taken that step a little over a month ago, when it estimated that the higher prices would cost it $2 billion this year.

With the summer travel season about to begin and many of their seats already booked, the airlines have indicated that they are not going to act immediately. In fact, Delta told investors on Wednesday that it planned to make decisions in the next month on capacity in the fall, when demand usually drops off. Delta’s stock fell nearly 1 percent on Wednesday, closing at $54.31.

A growing economy and an increasing reliance on fees, for everything from baggage to premium economy seats, have spurred several years of strong profits for airlines, and they still expect to be profitable this year. But “probably not at the levels we were anticipating in December,” said Alexandre de Juniac, the head of the International Air Transport Association.

And with newer, more efficient planes, fuel now accounts for 17 to 22 percent of airlines’ operating costs, down significantly from the last time fuel costs spiked, an industry consultant, Robert W. Mann, said.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, closed at more than $75 a barrel on Wednesday, up about $20 over the past year. In two weeks, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is set to discuss whether to relax the oil production limits that have helped raise prices.

When oil prices hit record highs a decade ago, airlines added fuel surcharges to tickets. When oil prices dropped a few years later, those extra charges were slow to disappear, as the carriers chose to use the revenue to reinvest in their business, pay dividends to shareholders or raise employee pay.

More recently, the positive economic environment led airlines to add flights in response to strong ticket sales, said Patrick DeHaan, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, web- and app-based fuel-tracking platform.

“Some of the big legacy carriers have been vocal about their plans to add capacity this year,” he said. “So what you’re seeing is some pretty healthy demand for jet fuel as the economy continues to grow.”
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Mr. DeHaan said he did not expect any immediate action by the airlines.

“There’s a lot of pressure on fares right now, and it’s going to be a challenge raising fares, especially in the summer,” he said. If current jet fuel prices emerge as a new norm, he added, “I would look for more increase in the fall.”

And eventually, the high price of fuel could put newly added routes on the chopping block, said Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at the travel app Hopper. “If it continues to rise, we’ll start to see a knock-on effect on pricing and consolidation, maybe some shrinkage of capacity and routes,” he predicted.

George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog, said investors’ concerns would add a sense of urgency to how and when airlines responded.

“Wall Street is just going to slam them if they don’t increase prices or reduce capacity,” he said.

This might not mean higher base fares, thanks to greater competition from low-fare carriers, Mr. Hobica said, but travelers might see fuel surcharges become common again, or have to pay higher fees for checked bags, Wi-Fi and other ancillary services.

In particular, industry experts predicted that travelers flying internationally, booking business-class and premium-economy seats, and flying less competitive routes — especially to or from smaller airports — could expect to pay more in the fall. They may also have fewer flights from which to choose.

“This summer may well be the last time you’re going to get a great price to Europe,” Mr. Surry said.

Airbus Rattles Its Whale of a Jet in the Name of Safety

It was a balmy evening, and Airbus was walking out of Le Cafe des Nuages with its date when a hoodlum jumped in front of the pair, held a commercial airliner to Airbus’ neck, and demanded its wallet. Airbus chuckled. “That’s not a plane,” it said. “This is a plane.” And it pulled out a Beluga. The would-be mugger took one look and fled.

So, the Crocodile Dundee thing didn’t actually happen, but if the European planemaker did find itself in a size contest, the Beluga would be hard to beat. Since 1995, Airbus has used the comically bulbous aircraft to transport oversize, unwieldy cargo like fuselages and wings between its European production and assembly plants.

Now, Airbus is going even bigger, with the Beluga XL. The new generation of the transporter plane, in development since 2014, is based on Airbus’ twin-engine A330-200 freighter, and, like its predecessor, does an outstanding impression of Will Ferrell’s Megamind. It will be 20 feet longer and three feet wider than the original. It will also be able to lift six more tons, but weight matters less here than that extra space: The outgoing Beluga can only carry one wing of the popular A350 XWB airliner; the XL can carry both.

If all goes according to plan, the company will put the first Beluga XL into service next year, then build four more to round out the fleet. This being aviation, the new jet must brave a series of torments before it can swing open its front-mounted cargo door and gulp down whatever needs transporting, and this week, Airbus announced the XL had cleared another hurdle: the static ground vibration test.

Conducted by the DLR (the German equivalent of NASA) and French aerospace lab Onera, the test involves 14 electrodynamic shakers, which are basically long metal poles attached to various bits of the aircraft: the tail, the wing tips, the engines. These thin rods then piston back and forth, some of them applying up to 670 Newtons of force, to make the whole thing vibrate.

Meanwhile, 600 sensors, connected by 23,000 feet of cable, measure the acceleration and displacement of the Beluga’s fuselage, engines, wings, and empennage (that’s the fancy collective term for the horizontal and vertical stabilizers, and rudder on the tail).

The point of this shakedown is to improve Airbus’ understanding of how its plane will behave in the air, to verify or update its computer models. It’s also key for ensuring the plane won’t fall victim to flutter, where parts of the aircraft start to oscillate, increasing in amplitude until things start breaking. Flutter is what triggered the famous swaying and collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge—aka Galloping Gerdie—in 1940. And of all the things you want your airplane wings not to do, rollicking is right up there with snapping off.

The Beluga XL spent eight days being poked and prodded, first with an empty fuselage, then fully loaded with cargo. Airbus says it’s pleased with the results—no galloping to be seen—and that this whale of an airplane is on track to make its maiden flight later this summer.

8 Game-Changing Strategies to Become More Influential at Work

Whether you are at the top of the corporate ladder or just want to be heard in a meeting, influencing skills are vital for anyone to be successful.

Moreover, those skills are vital for a leader, whose job it is to move people forward.

What is influence? At work, it is the capacity or power someone has to be a persuasive or compelling force to produce effects on the actions, behavior or opinions of others. Or, put simply, it is getting someone to go from Point A to Point B. Influence can come with a position and title but it is not guaranteed. In fact, people can be influential in any role, whatever their station.

Women, however, continue to struggle while they search for ways to become more influential at work. Sometimes they toil just to have their ideas heard or valued. (Stories abound about men and women who independently present the same material and are often treated differently.)

Here then are eight strategies women can do to raise their level of influence at work.
1. Develop your drive to become more influential.

First, you have to want to improve. Becoming more influential takes desire and effort. If it doesn’t matter to you, then figure out why it doesn’t matter!
2. Remember that your workplace is not a meritocracy.

Be careful not to get caught up in the notion that if you work hard, you will be justly and fairly rewarded. Real competition exists in the workplace. Yes, competence and results are essential for your growth. But you still must learn how to promote yourself and bring attention to your excellent work.
3. Keep your skills and knowledge up to date.

It is so easy nowadays to keep your skills current and continue to learn. Online courses, MOOCs, blogs, books, podcasts, seminars and even YouTube all provide easily accessible learning resources. If you’re not learning and keeping yourself up to date, know that your co-worker or competitor is.

4. Believe in yourself or what you know.

When you’ve done #3, you have laid a strong foundation to be credible with coworkers and bosses. The next step is to have the courage to show what you know and to be as smart as anyone on the team. Women repeatedly underestimate their competence. An HBR article notes that a woman will apply for a job when she meets 100 percent of the job requirements, whereas a man will apply even if he has met only 60 percent of the requirements.
5. Solve “important” problems.

Women sometimes pride themselves at being good multitaskers, getting things done, and helping others. It’s useful to know that if you are particularly good at these traits, you also run the risk of being given lots of insignificant tasks to finish. While you may not be in a position to say “no” when given these requests, you should also look for “important” problems to solve. Do all you can to understand the pain points of the business or your boss, and then help solve them. When you start to solve your business’ real problems, your level of influence will skyrocket.
6. Know when to show your agentic (masculine) and communal (feminine) communication styles.

This balancing act is also called the Goldilocks Dilemma. A woman’s communication style is constantly being judged. Your style may be seen as too aggressive, demanding, competitive or maybe too warm, caring and soft — but never just right. In the work world, it is detrimental for a woman to outwardly show anger. On the other hand, men are given a greater pass when they show aggression, disgust or anger. So the communication playing field is uneven. What then do you do?

You take incremental steps to bring your authentic communication style in line with what works for you and your environment. Start with self-awareness and then make small changes that will enhance your agentic and communal communication techniques. Knowing when and which communication style to show in a particular context will increase your influence.

Next, heighten your self-awareness around your nonverbal communication. Your brand of it sends many messages about you that your audience is implicitly deciphering. Nonverbal qualities for you to consider are the following: your appearance, demeanor, posture, language and speaking style, room positioning, body language, voice and diction. (This list can go on and on!) Seek to understand how your own components of it are affecting your credibility; the right nonverbal communication can positively affect your influencing ability when you are able to project confidence, approachability, professionalism and yes, the right amount of power.

7. Prep and practice makes perfect.

Like an athlete, prep and practice of a newly learned skill are important to change habits and outcomes. Self-awareness will uncover areas you want to adjust. Practice will allow you to test your new behaviors. When you experience small wins along the way, your confidence and influence will grow.
8. Hold up others.

Make every effort torecognize and acknowledge others at work. Research indicates that greater benefit is gained when a woman receives accolades or is promoted by others, than when she self-promotes. This does not mean that you should not learn more effective ways to (professionally and prudently) self-promote, but it does mean that you should also find cohorts and champions who are willing to tout how great you are.

With certainty, if you start to employ these strategies you will enhance and improve your influencing capabilities. No matter what role you have in your organization, your ability to influence is key to your continued growth and success.