As many as 15,000 people, mainly between the ages of 7 and 17, will converge on the RDS in Dublin this Saturday for the CoderDojo Coolest Projects Event. The international coding event provides a showcase for projects created by young people and how they have applied the skills learned in the CoderDojo programming camps of which there are now 1,200 in 70 countries around the world.
Riot Games, which employs 180 people at its European Headquarters in Dublin, has teamed up with the non-profit CoderDojo for Saturday's event. Riot's Jason Killingsworth said that children - from a very early age - are itching to use technology as they see it as magical. Mr Killingsworth said the Coolest Projects event shows people that you do not just have to be a consumer of technology but also a creator of technology and you can actually engage in this "real world wizardry".
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Describing what is being produced by CoderDojo participants as phenomenal, Jason Killingsworth said it is not just a case of children dragging and dropping images to make a website, but children - who are just 10 years old - are working with robotics. He cites the creation of a robot which has edge detection technology - the invention was inspired by the fact that the child's grandfather uses a wheelchair and struggled on footpaths.
Mr Killingsworth said CoderDoJo children can aim for jobs in engineering and information security and lots of other diverse, interesting fields. He also said that Ireland has children from very diverse backgrounds - girls and boys - and there are no stereo-types as all children are creative. He said that people have to get away from the notion that all those who work in technology are "nerds", adding that kids can play football and still want to build apps.
The way things are going with automation and to be competitive in the workforce, children are going to have to learn technology skills and the earlier their natural creativity can be harnessed the better, according to Mr Killingsworth. Within the games industry, he said there is already some exciting games development work happening in Ireland. He said he has seen an "exciting shift" in the last few years from Irish companies providing just play support and customer services into the creative space and actually designing games both both mobile and PCs.
MORNING BRIEFS - The US Federal Reserve hiked interest rates for a second time this year overnight - as expected. Investors, however, were surprised that the Fed moved despite weak inflation figures. Fed chair Janet Yellen and the other members of its rate setting open markets committee essentially dismissed the consumer price figures as reflecting a number of short term trends. They expect inflation to return to more normal levels, reflecting a healthy level of demand in the world's biggest economy. The Fed is also a return to business as usual as it eases back extraordinary support measures implemented during the financial crisis which have seen it buy up over $4 trillion in assets to boost demand. Fed chief Janet Yellen said the US economy was in good shape.
*** A number of recent surveys have highlighted low levels of understanding among businesses of the impact of the EU's new Data protection regulation or GDPR which comes into force next year. This will impose new obligations and potentially massive fines for data breaches. Well ahead of the Data Summit which gets underway in Dublin today, a study carried out by iReach suggests low levels of awareness among the public too. 72% of Irish consumers have limited or no understanding of their data protection rights and almost half say they don't read terms and conditions governing how their information will be used when they are online.
*** The pace at which rents are rising slowed over the first quarter of the year. For the 12 months to the end of March the latest Residential Tenancies Board index shows the average rent nationally was up 7.4%. The quarter-on-quarter increase, however, was 0.1% down from 2.8% over the final quarter of last year. Rents in Dublin fell by 1.5% between January and March. The four local authorities in Dublin are among 16 Rent Pressure Zones established in December's Residential Tenancies Act which restricts rent increases in these zones to 4% per year over the next three years.