Threat of Deepfakes in India
Synopsis: Deepfakes are becoming a huge threat. This AI-based technology has been used to incite violence and disrepute people. Recently, it was used allegedly used to incite violence in the US.
What are Deepfakes?
- Deepfakes are modified images, text, audio, and video or synthetic media, created with the help of Artificial Intelligence.
- It generates a fake version from an original or real audio-visual content by superimposing new audio or image on an existing media file.
- For example; with the use of AI, the face of a person in an original video can be replaced with the face of another person (Morphing). Now the modified face will mimic the head movements, vocal patterns, and facial expressions of the original one.
- Media is manipulated with such sharpness that it becomes almost impossible to identify the difference between fake and real media. It can only be identified by using AI tools.
Threats of Deep Fakes
- Deep fakes can be used to disrupt the democratic processes like elections in any country.
- It is believed that Capitol Hill violence was incited by using deep fake media which caused misinformation and disinformation.
- Deep Fakes are used to stain the reputations of individuals and spread propaganda against them.
- According to a deep fake tracking research organization, in the month of October alone, over 100,000 fake nude images of women were circulating online.
- Real images for that purpose were acquired through social media accounts.
- The existence of deep fakes causes that much distrust among the public that any true evidence of a crime can easily be dismissed as fake.
- These technologies can be used by terrorist organizations and insurgents to further their agenda of destabilizing state governments. They can spread false information about institutions, public policy, and politicians for this purpose.
- The existing legal framework of many countries including India does not criminalize deep fakes.
Regulations of Deep fakes
In US: As per US law, Social Media Companies cannot be held responsible for the posts on their platforms.
In India: Some provisions in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Information Technology Act, 2000 criminalize a few related cybercrimes. But there is no specific law as of now to deal with deep fakes.
Issues in India’s legal system
- Sections 66E, 67, 67A, and 72 of the IT act deal with the violation of privacy and publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form.
- But these provisions can also result in penal consequences for the victim, for voluntarily producing such material.
- The Information Technology Intermediary Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018 are insufficient to tackle content manipulation on digital platforms.
- Guidelines require that intermediate companies take necessary steps for the removal of illegal content.
- During the 2019 general election of India, the election commission gave out instructions on the use of social media for election campaigns. Social media companies also agreed to take action to prevent any violations.
- However, it has been reported that social media platforms like WhatsApp were used for spreading misinformation and propaganda during the election.
What are the steps to be taken?
Existing laws are not enough to protect individuals against deep fakes. Only AI-generated tools can be effective in detection.
- AI-based detection tools with the capability to detect deep fakes must be invented as soon as possible.
- In 2020, the University of Washington and Microsoft arranged a workshop with experts to discuss how to avoid deep fake technology from harmfully affecting the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The workshop concluded with the following suggestions:
- Deep Fakes must be included under hateful manipulated media, propaganda, and disinformation campaigns.
- Journalists should be provided with tools to examine the authenticity of images, video, and audio recordings. For that, they require proper training and resources.
- Policymakers need to understand how deep fakes can threaten polity, society, economy, culture, individuals, and communities.
The best way to deal with this menace is AI-backed technological tools to detect and prevent deep fakes. These tools must be invented by the countries in cooperation as soon as possible. If steps are not taken immediately, these technologies are even capable of invoking wars among countries, in this information age.
5G technology in India – importance, challenges and solutions
More than 40 telecom operators in the World have already launched 5G technologies. India being the 5th largest economy in the world has not yet launched the 5G technology. Is it high time to launch 5G services in India or India still have time to catch up with the technology?
Present Status of 5G in India:
Department of Telecommunication (DoT) in 2017 setup a 5G steering committee headed by AJ Paulraj. The committee submitted the report and suggest important steps. In 2018, India planned to start 5G services but it has not yet materialized.
All the private telecom players urged the DoT to lay out a road map of spectrum allocation and 5G frequency bands.
Reliance Jio plans to launch an indigenously built 5G network in the second half of 2021. And also, to be ready for deployment once the networks are in place.
The government for its part also working on creating a corpus of Rs 500 crore dedicated exclusively for the research and development of 5G technology in India.
Recently, The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sought opinion about the sale and use of radiofrequency spectrum over the next 10 years, including the 5G bands from the experts.
Importance of 5G Technology:
5G will bring with High speed and ultra-low latency will revolutionise government effort in promoting digital India.
First, Minimum Government and Maximum Governance: Better speed and connectivity will reduce the red–tapism and enhance speedy and better implementation of projects and policies. This will various government missions such as smart cities mission, etc.
Second, Ultra-Low latency in 5G services (time taken by a network to respond) will help in improvement in the logistics and shipping sector and also reduces the overall cost of goods and services.
Third, Employment generation: 5G technology will open a new horizon of opportunity for new device manufacturers and application developers. Thus, more job opportunities will be created and it will help in the inclusive growth of the nation.
Fourth, Enhanced network coverage: This will enhance network performance and support during limited access or absence of mobile networks. The small cell concept used in 5G will have multiple advantages of maximum data transfer, better cell coverage, cloud access network and low power consumption etc. This will help in reducing the digital divide in India.
Fifth, 5G will provide enhanced Security: 5G will enhance security surveillance, better coordination among various agencies. The closed-circuit cameras will provide high–quality real-time video for security purposes.
Sixth, 5G will revolutionize Industrial Growth: The future of industries will greatly depend on smart technologies like 5G for efficient automation, safety, maintenance, tracking, smart packing, and energy management.
Seventh, 5G will improve Agricultural applications: 5g can be used for smart farming in the future. Such as combining smart RFID sensors and GPS technologies, farmers can track the location of livestock and manage them easily. Smart sensors can be used for irrigation control, access control and energy management.
Eighth, 5G will improve healthcare and mission–critical applications: Scientists are working on smart medical devices such as remote surgical machines, Smart medical devices, etc.
Challenges faced by India in introduction of 5G technologies:
First the major question of need and viability: Telecom operators are facing a financial crisis and have a combined debt of Rs 4 lakh crore. Apart from that, they are still trying to fully monetise 4G services. The introduction of 5G will involve a heavy upfront investment and have a long payback period. Thus, the viability of 5G after the introduction is a major challenge.
The Second challenge in the 5G deployment will be the pricing of the spectrum. DoT will price the spectrum but heavy upfront investment associated with 5G technologies will increase the price of the spectrum. But the telecom operators with a stressed balance sheet might not have that much capital to invest in the 5G technologies and spectrum.
Third challenge associated with 5G is the technological and operational challenges,
- Extensive fiberisation requirement: Most operators at present have about 20-25% fiberisation. But, a true 5G experience will require up to 80% fiberisation this also involves investment.
- The antennae need to be upgraded at every site and also require an entirely new orchestration layer to achieve the critical feature of 5G network slicing.
Fourth, the threat to national security: China is preparing to dominate the world by rolling out its 5G technology warfare across countries. By deploying the 5G in India without indigenisation of technology will make India vulnerable to China. This will make the data of individuals, groups or even security agencies at risk.
Lastly, diverting the traffic from 4G to a more efficient 5G is also a challenge. As the AJ Paulraj committee pointed out that older generation technologies will remain for almost 10 years after the 5G deployment.
Solutions for faster implementation of 5G technologies in India:
India needs to fast the pace of its 5G implementation as technology is critical to India’s digital ambitions.
First, India needs to introduce the spectrum policy: the policy should focus on incentivising heavy investment in 5G, including long-term support, and technology-neutral spectrum licences, instead of trying to look for reaping profits right away.
Second, India needs to create an ecosystem capable of leveraging 5G, Like skilled manpower, technology, R&D and investment, etc.
Third, India has to work on Indigenous 5G technology. IoT platforms not only for military applications but also for civilians to avoid any 5G warfare and data threat in the future.
Fourth, India has to Implement the recommendations of 5G steering committee. The important recommendations are:
- Three phased implementation of 5G technology in India
- Early adoption of 5G technologies to fast-track India’s embrace of 5G’s benefits.
- Setting up of Standing Committee with a five-year term to advice on building Spectrum Technology Infrastructure.
The shift from 4G to 5G is not incremental, but transformational. Skipping of 5G is not a choice India can afford. The economic impact of 5G in India is expected to be over $1 trillion by 2035 according to the report of KPMG. The Sooner the deployment of 5G in India is the better for India.
What is 5G Technology?
5G or fifth generation is the latest upgrade so far in the long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks. The 5G technology mainly works in 3 bands, (low, mid and high–frequency spectrum). The important feature of 5G is:
- 5G services will provide up to 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second) of download speed. It is 100 times higher than the existing network speed. The upload time will also increase drastically.
- The energy efficiency of devices and stability of network connections will improve further with the 5G technology.
- 5G services work across the low, medium and high–frequency spectrums. This will avoid any network congestions.
- 5G services will have ultra-low latency (time taken by a network to respond). Latency for is predicted to be below 10 milliseconds, and in best cases around 1 millisecond.
- A government panel report expects the peak 5G data speeds are to be in the range of 2-20 Gbps.
- 5G technologies are the enabler of AI technologies, IoT ecosystems etc.
Three bands of 5G and their characteristics:
|5G Spectrum band||Characteristics of Spectrum|
|low band spectrum||Higher coverage with low-speed internet
|mid-band spectrum||Higher speed but has lower coverage area and penetration of signals compared to the low band.
|high-band spectrum||Offers highest speed, but has extremely limited coverage and signal strength
NIC and CBSE to launch CollabCAD Software
News: National Informatics Centre(NIC), MeitY along with Central Board of Secondary Education(CBSE), Ministry of Education is jointly launching CollabCAD Software.
- CollabCAD Software: It is a collaborative network, computer-enabled software system providing a total engineering solution from 2D drafting & detailing to 3D product design for students and faculty of the Engineering Graphics Curriculum.
- Aim: This initiative aims to provide a great platform to students across the country to create and modify 3D digital designs with a free flow of creativity and imagination.
- Significance: This software would also enable students to collaborate over designs across the network and concurrently access the same design data for storage and visualization.
- CollabCAD 3D modeling: National Informatics Centre (NIC), CBSE, and Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog will jointly release a comprehensive e-book on CollabCAD 3D modeling.
- This book is ready for public release through the CollabCAD portal and will guide CAD students, beginners, and professionals in understanding and using CollabCAD Software.
Government launches Single Window Clearance Portal of Ministry of Coal
News: Union Home Minister has launched a Single Window Clearance Portal of the Ministry of Coal.
- Single Window Clearance Portal: The portal aims to allow successful bidders for coal blocks to be able to obtain all required clearances, including environmental and forest clearances, from a single portal with progress monitoring, instead of having to go to multiple authorities.
- Significance: The portal is in the spirit of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance. It would be a milestone for Ease of Doing Business in the Indian Coal Sector.
Read Also :upsc current affairs
What was the need of the Portal?
- Presently, about 19 major approval or clearances are required to be obtained before starting a coal mine in the country.
- Some of them include approval of Mining Plan and Mine Closure Plan, Grant of Mining Lease, Environment and Forest Clearances among others. These approvals or clearances are granted either by central or state governments.
- Hence, in the absence of a unified platform for grant of clearances/ approvals for starting of a coal mine, the project proponents are required to approach different administrative ministries and Government departments separately to apply for the requisite clearances leading to delay in operationalization of coal mines.
1,600 new tech start-ups and 12 unicorns in 2020: Nasscom’s Indian Tech Start-up Ecosystem report
News: National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) has released the annual start-up report ‘Indian Tech Start-up Ecosystem – On the March to Trillion Dollar Digital Economy’.
Key Takeaways from the Report:
Source: NASSCOM Report
- India has added 1,600 new tech start-ups and a record 12 unicorns in 2020 (the highest ever added in a single year).
- Unicorn: It is a term in the business world to indicate a startup company valued at over $1 billion.
- The Tech start-up base continues to expand steadily at 8-10%. Sectors, which benefited from covid-19, such as edtech, agritech and gaming, are seeing a steady rise in first-time funding.
- Remote working continues to see significant adoption amongst tech startups, with around 30-35 % offering remote roles and 15-20 % companies having committed to remote work culture.
- In 2020, 14% of total investments were in deep-tech startups up from 11% in 2019.Furthermore, 87% of all deep-tech investments were in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) startups.
- India will have at least 12 more unicorns in 2021 taking the total count to 50.
Core growth drivers for Startup’s in 2020
- Digital acceleration, and shift from moving from offline to online
- Vocal-for-Local provided market support for start-ups to thrive
- Remote work enabled start-ups to reduce burn whilst accelerating growth of new start-up hubs.
Read Also :upsc current affairs
NIXI Offers free Domain in Local Indian Languages
News: The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has announced that it will offer a free IDN (Internationalized Domain Name) in any of their preferred 22 official Indian languages along with every IN domain booked by the registrar.
- NIXI: It is a not for profit Organization established under section 8 of the Companies Act 2013 in 2003.
- Purpose: It was set up for peering of ISPs among themselves for the purpose of routing the domestic traffic within the country, instead of taking it all the way to US/Abroad thereby resulting in better quality of service (reduced latency) and reduced bandwidth charges.
- To promote the Internet.
- To set up, when needed, in select location(s)/parts/regions of India Internet Exchanges/Peering Points.
- To enable effective and efficient routing, peering, transit and exchange of the Internet traffic within India.
- To continuously work for enhancing and improving the quality of Internet and Broadband services.
- Set up. Internet Domain Name Operations and related activities.
- Managed by: NIXI is managed and operated on a Neutral basis, in line with the best practices for such initiatives globally.
- India’s Country Code: “.IN” is India’s Country Code Top Level domain (ccTLD).The Govt. of India delegated the operations of INRegistry to NIXI in 2004.
Economic Impact of Internet shutdown in Indian and world economy
News: According to a report by the UK-based privacy and security research firm Top10VPN, India has suffered the longest internet shutdowns in 2020 globally.
Key Takeaways from the report:
- Globally, internet shutdowns cost the world economy $4 billion. However, this represents a 50% decrease in impact compared to $8.05 billion in 2019.
- India has suffered the biggest economic impact in the world in 2020 due to Internet shutdowns adding up to 8,927 hours and $2.8 billion losses.
- Among 21 countries that curbed internet access last year, the economic impact seen in India was more than double the combined cost for the next 20 countries in the list.
- India continued to restrict Internet access more than any other country — over 75 times in 2020.The majority of these short blackouts were highly targeted, affecting groups of villages or individual city districts.
- The report made a separate mention of the extended curbs on Internet use in Jammu and Kashmir. It has called it as the longest Internet shutdown in a democracy.
Digital technology worsen financial exclusion in rural India
Synopsis- Internet Services base payment system is worsening the financial exclusion prevalent in rural India.
Internet services have provided much comfort to the user. But for the majority of the rural population digital technology has become troublesome due to lack of technical knowledge and nexus of service providers, middleman, government officials and others.
We need to find solutions so that the fruits of digital technology will be borne by all the rural population.
Introduction of the digital payment based solution in rural India
- Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) was launched with an aim of improving financial inclusion in 2011. Since 2015, it has become synonymous with the Aadhaar Payments Bridge Systems (APBS).
- Money is transferred to the various beneficiaries of programs under DBT such as maternity entitlements, student scholarships, and wages for MGNREGA.
- To deal with the “last mile challenges” facing beneficiaries in accessing their money, banking kiosks known as Customer Service Points (CSP) and Banking Correspondents (BC) were promoted.
- These are private individuals who offer banking services through the Aadhaar Enabled Payment Systems (AePS).
- At these kiosks, beneficiaries can perform basic banking transactions such as small deposits and withdrawals.
However, it doesn’t solve the basic issues that are being faced by the lower strata of the rural areas in receiving their own money from their bank accounts.
What are the issues faced by rural population?
The process of transition from older payment systems and the APBS technology needs to be scrutinised which impact all DBT programmes.
- Lack of technical knowledge– Workers have little clue about where their wages have been credited and what to do when their payments get rejected, often due to technical reasons such as incorrect account numbers and incorrect Aadhaar mapping with bank accounts.
- Lack of accountability– State governments have not set any accountability for APBS and AePS/payment intermediaries and there is no grievance redressal mechanism for the same.
- Lack of consultation– The workers/beneficiaries have rarely been consulted regarding their preferred mode of transacting.
- Creation of new forms of corruption – All the above factors have resulted into new form of corruption. For Example; Massive scholarship scam took place in Jharkhand, where many poor students were deprived of their scholarships owing to a nexus of middlemen, government officials, banking correspondents and others.
Findings of the new report by LibTech India
LibTech India recently released a research report based on a survey of nearly 2,000 MGNREGA workers across Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan. The survey explains the experiences of workers in obtaining wages in hand after they were credited to their bank accounts.
- Access to wages from banks becomes arduous– Rural banks are short-staffed and tend to get overcrowded. Hence, it requires more hours and multiple visits to access wages from banks.
- Technical issues– CSP/BCs appeared to be a convenient alternative to banks due to their proximity. However, an estimated 40 per cent of them had to make multiple visits to withdraw from CSPs/BCs due to biometric failures.
- Too much travel cost is involved – To get their DBT share, MGNREGA workers need to spend too much on travel leading in addition to the loss of their daily wage on the day of travel. E.g. the average travel cost for one visit to a bank in Jharkhand is Rs 50 which becomes Rs 100 for two bank visits.
- Passbook related issues– The only way for rural bank users to keep track of their finances is through their bank passbooks. However, more than two-thirds of time workers were denied the facility to update their passbooks at banks, some workers are even charged (45 per cent in Jharkhand) for this free service by CSPs/BCs.
The right to access your own money in a timely and transparent manner is a basic right of every individual that must be protected by government at any cost.
- There are just 14.6 bank branches per 1 lakh adults in India. This is sparser in rural India. Despite hardships of access, most workers preferred to transact at the banks. Hence Branch expansion into rural unbanked locations will significantly reduce poverty.
- The technological solutions must be coupled with a governance structure, in which protection of rights and choices of individuals must be fundamental.
Union Minister launches Digital Ocean – a digital platform for Ocean Data Management
News: Union Minister Earth Sciences has launched a web-based application named “Digital Ocean”.
- Digital Ocean: It is a first of its kind digital platform for ocean data management developed by Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services(INCOIS).
- Purpose: It has been developed to share information on marine data and forecast services.
- Key Features:
- It includes a set of applications developed to organise and present heterogeneous oceanographic data by adopting rapid advancements in geospatial technology.
- The platform will also serve as a one stop-solution for all the data related needs of a wide range of users including research institutions, operational agencies, strategic users, academic community, maritime industry, policy makers and the public.
- It will play a central role in sustainable management of our oceans and expanding our “Blue Economy” initiatives.
- It will contribute to the Digital India programme and is expected to bring a sea change in how the oceanographic data is served for a better understanding of the oceans.
- INCOIS: It is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).It is located in Hyderabad & was established in 1999 under the MoES and is a unit of the Earth System Science Organization (ESSO).
- Mandate: It provides ocean information and advisory services to various stakeholders including data based on oceanographic research, advisory services such as fishing zone advisories, ocean state forecast, high wave alerts, tsunami early warnings, storm surge and oil-spill.
- INCOIS is a permanent member of the Indian delegation to IOC of UNESCO and a founding member of the Indian Ocean Global Ocean Observing System (IOGOOS) and the Partnership for Observing the Oceans (POGO).
What is 5G warfare of China?
Synopsis: China is preparing to dominate the world by rolling out its 5G technology warfare across countries, India needs to fast the pace of its 5G implementation to contain the digital threat of China.
What is 5G warfare?
- 5G technology will enable IOT (Internet of Things) and IOT is driven by data and Information.
- It will aid the providing country with the power to access and control the data of individuals, groups or even nations.
- Moreover,5G technologies are main enabler of AI technologies and the recent example of use of AI in warfare, like drone killing machines, multiply these threats.
Implications of Chinese 5G warfare?
China, as one of the foremost countries to roll out 5G technologies with huge investment worldwide, posing the risks of digital encirclement of the world. An invasion by Chinese 5G technology in to other nations will make them completely dependent on China
- First example is the recent cooperation of measurement of Mt. Everest between China and Nepal may enable the launch of Chinese 5G technology in Nepal, with the following implications.
- It will provide China the ability to control Nepal’s business interests, its mountaineering and tourism industry.
- It will make locals or visitors to Nepal dependent on China for Real-time information on weather, routes, map/terrain details, logistics and rescue programmes, etc.,
- There is a significant chance that, with lower incomes, the Nepal’s tourism industry might get lured into Chinese cheap loans, leading to a strategic debt trap.
- Second, Militaries who do not have indigenous 5G capabilities for IOT platforms might allow Chinese 5G infrastructure, leading them to become a hostage to Chinese technology. For example, The CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) is a clear example. Pakistan today has become the virtual vassal state of China.
- Third, with Chinese companies having made huge investments across the world to spread a 5G it would lead to complete digital encirclement of the world when combined with BRI (belt and road initiative)
How India should prepare to fight the onslaught of the Chinese 5G warfare?
- First, India is already working on Indigenous 5G technology that would run IOT platforms for civilians as well as military applications, it needs to accelerate the launch of Indian 5G.
- Second, the Counteroffensive measures such as banning of Chinese apps and blocking of hardware supply chains will be able to protect the business and security interests of the country.
There is an urgent need to fasten the pace of 5G technology development in India which is suffering due to slow adoption, entangled policy processes and bureaucratic processes.
Niti Aayog launches made-in India cloud storage service — DigiBoxx
Source: Times Now
News: Niti Aayog has launched a cloud storage service called DigiBoxx as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative.
- Digiboxx: It is India’s first indigenous digital file storage and sharing platform that provides an easy and secure way to store all the files in one centralised location.
- Key Features:
- Like Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud service, DigiBoxx will enable both individuals and enterprises to store, manage, collaborate, organise and share all their data online.
- For Individuals the free Digiboxx offers 20GB of storage, a 2GB maximum file size, Gmail integration, and unlimited external collaborations, while the monthly plan comes with up to 5TB of storage and 10GB max file size.
- For SMEs there is an 999 plan that provides up to 50TB storage with 10GB max file size, unlimited external collaborations, advanced real-time collaboration, web preview, automated backups, user management and Gmail integration. Additionally, for enterprises, there is a customised solution.
- DigiBoxx is said to be hosted on an Indian server which means the data will be saved and encrypted in India itself.
- DigiBoxx is available on the web and Android as of now with iOS support arriving soon
What is Solar Winds Hack?
News: The ‘Solar Winds hack’, a cyberattack discovered in the United States, has emerged as one of the biggest ever targeted against the US government.In fact, it is likely a global cyberattack.
- SolarWinds Hack also called the Supply Chain attack is a cyberattack discovered in the United States.
- Instead of directly attacking the federal government or a private organisation’s network, the hackers target a third-party vendor which supplies software to them.
- Cyberattack: It is a malicious and deliberate attempt by an individual or organization to breach the information system of another individual or organization.
- Common types of cyber attacks
- Malware: Malware (malicious software) refers to any kind of software that is designed to cause damage to a single computer, server or computer network.
- Phishing: It is the practice of sending fraudulent communications that appear to come from a reputable source, usually through email.The goal is to steal sensitive data like credit card and login information or to install malware on the victim’s machine.
- Zero-day exploit: A zero-day exploit hits after a network vulnerability is announced but before a patch or solution is implemented. Attackers target the disclosed vulnerability during this window of time.
- Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks also known as eavesdropping attacks occur when attackers insert themselves into a two-party transaction. Once the attackers interrupt the traffic, they can filter and steal data.
BSNL launches world’s first satellite-based narrowband IoT network
Source: Click here
News: BSNL has launched the world’s first Satellite-Based Narrowband IoT (Internet of Things) Network in partnership with Skylotec India.
- Narrowband Internet of Things(IoT): It is a standards-based low power wide area (LPWA) technology developed to enable a wide range of new IoT devices and services.
- very low power consumption
- excellent extended range in buildings and underground
- easy deployment into existing cellular network architecture
- network security & reliability
- lower component cost.
- Internet of Things(IoT): It describes the network of physical objects — “things”—that are embedded with sensors, software and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet.
Cabinet approves Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity between Mainland, Lakshadweep Islands
Source : Click here
News: Union Cabinet has given its approval for Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity between Mainland (Kochi) and Lakshadweep Islands (KLI Project).
- Objective: The Project envisages provision of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable(OFC) between Kochi and 11 Islands of Lakshadweep viz. Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Agati, Amini, Androth, Minicoy, Bangaram, Bitra, Chetlat, Kiltan and Kadmat.
- Funding: The project would be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF).
- Implementation: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) has been nominated as Project Execution Agency and Telecommunications Consultant India Ltd. (TCIL) as the Technical Consultant of the Project.
- Target: The project is targeted to be completed by May 2023.
- Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF): It was set up in 2002 and was given statutory status under the Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003.
- Objective: Enabling rural Indians to achieve their fullest potential and participate productively in the development of the nation by virtue of being effectively connected through a reliable and ubiquitous telecommunications network.
AI moment in India
Context: The importance of AI economy to India
What is the significance of AI economy to India?
- Data and AI services are expected to help boost India’s economic growth in a big way. For example, according to NASSCOM, data and AI will contribute $450 billion-$500 billion to India’s GDP by 2025, which is around 10% of the government’s aspiration of a $5 trillion economy.
- With more opportunities created, there will be a net positive effect on employment generation. For example, it is estimated to create over 20 million technical roles.
- AI can create niche solutions to specific problems that banks and other service providers are deploying, such as speeding up loan application processing or improving customer service.
- it can provide solutions for better governance and social impact. For example, during the lockdown, the Telangana police used AI-enabled automated number plate recognition software to catch violations.
What are the prospects for India?
- India has a thriving AI start-up ecosystem with cutting-edge solutions being developed in areas such as cancer screening, smart farming and conversational AI for the use of enterprises.
- Our skilled human resource in AI/ML is fast growing, with over 5,00,000 people working on these technologies at present.
What are the steps taken to Promote use of AI in India?
- NITI Aayog’s national strategy for AI envisages ‘AI for all’ for inclusive growth, and identifies healthcare, agriculture, education, smart cities and infrastructure, and smart mobility and transportation as focus areas for AI-led solutions for social impact.
- The Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra governments, among others, have announced policies and strategies for AI adoption.
- Technology companies have established AI centres of excellence to create solutions for global clients.
What needs to be done?
- Skill Development: In 2019, we nearly doubled our AI workforce to 72,000 from 40,000, however the demand continues to outpace the supply. That means our efforts to develop talent must pick up speed.
- Data usage policy: We need a robust legal framework that governs data and serves as the base for the ethical use of AI.
- Speed up Digitalization process: though the use of digital technologies has increased, the level of digitisation continues to be low. This poses a big challenge for organisations in finding the right amount of training data to run AI/ML algorithms, which in turn affects the accuracy of the results.
- Clean Data sets: Organisations need to invest in data management frameworks that will clean their data before they are analysed, thus vastly improving the outcomes of AI models.
The future for AI looks promising but to convert the potential into reality, India will need better strategies around talent development, stronger policies for data usage and governance, and more investments in creating a technology infrastructure that can truly leverage AI.
Chinese photonic quantum computer demonstrates quantum supremacy
Source: Click here
News: China has claimed Quantum Supremacy With Computer 10 Billion Times Faster Than Google’s Prototype.
- Quantum Supremacy: It is a term proposed in 2012 by John Preskill, professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology. It describes the point where quantum computers can do things that classical computers cannot.
- Difference between Quantum and Traditional Computing: Quantum computing differs from traditional computing in the way the two store information.
- The traditional computer stores information in the form of binary bits that can process either ‘1’ or a ‘0’ at a time.
- On the other hand,Quantum computers compute in qubits or quantum bits which means it can be put into a quantum state where they can simultaneously represent both 0 and 1.
- Advantages of Quantum Supremacy: Quantum computers could be put to good use such as for: Strengthening cyber security; Accelerating artificial intelligence; Modeling traffic flows to improve our cities; Developing new medicines among others.
- Concerns: Quantum computing might pose a challenge for the governments because if this technology goes into wrong hands, all the government’s official and confidential data will be at a risk of being hacked and misused.
Policy framework for technology
Context: With the rapid pace of technology blurring boundaries, a holistic policy framework is must.
How is Data a new currency?
- Paradigm shift: The amount of “value add” from intangible technology services as opposed to physical objects, even in traditional goods, is being transformed by information.
- A modern automobile has 40% of its component value from electronic-based products and a modern electric vehicle has close to 100 million lines of code, which is more than that used by a Boeing 787 or the Chrome browser.
- Increasing digitisation: There is increasing digitisation and electronification of industrial activities, products and services, influencing the evolving skill sets in industry.
- For instance, a conventional “metal-based” industrial product, information and electronics are becoming all-pervasive, ensuring that we set boundaries to control quality or the uptime of the equipment.
- Revolution: This revolution is taking place across products, as information availability drives efficiency and creates value for customers by providing greater control over the product and its surrounding environment.
Why is there a need of a new policy framework?
- To address the needs of various stakeholders: governments have tended to build specialised departments and designed policies that govern those areas.
- Over time, as each of these departments grew, they have tended to operate in silos. This has for most of the 20th century been reasonably successful in driving economic development in countries.
- Capital formation: Technology is driving an increasing share of the value add coming from digitisation and data analytics in products and services across industry segments, there needs to be a way of encouraging capital formation by way of intangibles in traditionally tangible industries.
- Issue of a shift of value between manufacturing and services as technology changes: The policy, promotes and gives incentives for manufacturing, whereas the share of intangibles, even in traditional manufacturing companies, whether it be software, research and development or even servicing of products, are not adequately covered in industrial policies.
- Inter-departmental cooperation: There is increasingly a need for inter-departmental cooperation and synergy not only in policy framework but also in deployment.
- Increasing electronification and digitisation of the automobile are not covered by industrial policies that govern the Electronics and Information Technology Ministry.
- Drones that could serve different sectors, including agriculture, and would require a lot of inter-departmental clearances outside of the Department of Agriculture.
- Holistic view: There is a need to have a holistic view of policies for economic development as technology is becoming a significant enabler in most industries.
- A sufficiently empowered policy clearing cell: It could ensure a holistic view on policy across departments of government, at the State and the Centre.
- Ecosphere: A nourishing ecosystem for industry, including the hard infrastructure and softer areas such as education, skilling, technical institutions, laboratories, testing centres, etc., has to be cultivated.
- The creation of clusters of companies in adjacent but complementary areas could constitute such an ecosystem that encourages multi and cross-disciplinary learning and spur innovation and economic development.
- In this evolving policy framework, it is important that there is close cooperation and alignment between the Centre and State to ensure effective implementation on the ground. Some of these thoughts could help us navigate through an ecosystem that is changing with technology.