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NITI Aayog and Google to Help Grow AI Ecosystem in India

Under the aegis of this program, Google will train and incubate Indian AI startups in an accelerator program.



NEW DELHI: Aiming to foster growth for India’s nascent Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) ecosystem, NITI Aayog and Google have come together to work on a range of initiatives to help build the AI ecosystem across the country.

A Statement of Intent (SoI) was signed to this effect by Anna Roy, Advisor, NITI Aayog and Rajan Anandan, Vice President, India and South East Asia, Google in the presence of the Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog.

The NITI Aayog has been entrusted to set up a national programme to conduct research and development in frontier technologies such as AI.

In furtherance of this mandate, NITI Aayog has been developing India’s national strategy on AI along with the National Data and Analytics Portal to enable the wide deployment and use of AI.

Highlighting the importance of this partnership, Amitabh Kant said, “Artificial Intelligence is going to disrupt the way business is done and India, in particular, is uniquely poised in utilising AI to innovate for social and inclusive good. India is embracing future technologies such as machine learning and AI to augment its capacity in healthcare, improve outcomes in education, develop innovative governance systems for our citizens and improve the overall economic productivity of the nation. NITI’s partnership with Google will unlock massive training initiatives, support startups and encourage AI research through PhD scholarships, all of which contributes to the larger idea of a technologically-empowered New India.”

Under the aegis of this program, Google will train and incubate Indian AI startups in an accelerator program.

These startups will be mentored and coached by Google and its affiliates to enable them to better leverage AI in their respective business models.

To help bolster the research ecosystem, one of the initiatives includes funding Indian researchers, scholars and university faculty for conducting AI-based research.

Further, Google will also bring its online training courses on AI to students, graduates and engineers to numerous cities across India, in the form of study groups and developer-run courses.

NITI Aayog and Google will organize a AI/ML hackathon that will be focused on solving key challenges within agriculture, education, healthcare, financial inclusion, transportation/mobility and more.

This hackathon may use Kaggle, a global platform, to help facilitate international participation into these planned hackathon challenges.

Google through the NITI Aayog, will conduct hands-on training programs that aim to sensitise policymakers and technical experts in governments about relevant AI tools, and how they can be used to streamline governance.

Google and NITI Aayog will work on the following initiatives:

(a) Organise trainings for relevant government functionaries to introduce them to open source AI tools with the goal of enabling more effective governance.
(b) Awarding grants and scholarships to researchers, scholars and university faculty conducting cutting edge research in the field of AI/ML in India.
(c) Organising AI/ML study jams for students and developers based on Google’s Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC) on the fundamentals of machine learning
(d) Incubating Indian AI/ML startups in a program where they will be mentored by Google to better leverage AI in their respective business models.
(e) Organise a Hackathon focused on using AI/ML and open data sets to solve key challenges within agriculture, education, healthcare, etc. in India

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Astronomers Discover the Fastest-Growing Black Hole in the Universe

We don’t know how this one grew so large, so quickly in the early days of the universe: Researcher Christian Wolf said.



CANBERRA (Australia): Scientists have discovered the fastest-growing black hole known in the universe. They described it as a monster equal to a mass of 20 billion suns and that devours a mass equivalent to our Sun every two days, yielding a growth rate of 1 percent every 1 million years.

They found the supermassive black hole in the far reaches of the cosmos, 12 billion light-years away.

“This black hole is growing so rapidly that it’s shining thousands of times more brightly than an entire galaxy, due to all of the gases it sucks in daily that causes lots of friction and heat,” said Christian Wolf from Australian National University (ANU).

“If we had this monster sitting at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy, it would appear 10 times brighter than a full moon. It would appear as an incredibly bright pin-point star that would almost wash out all of the stars in the sky,” said Wolf.

Wolf and his colleagues were able to study the massive black hole with the help of the SkyMapper telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory, which rendered the object in infrared. Because the supermassive black hole is so far away, its light red-shifted during its long journey to Earth.

“As the universe expands, space expands and that stretches the light waves and changes their colour,” Wolf said.

The European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite was also essential to the discovery. Gaia is working its way toward compiling the largest and most precise 3D space catalogue in history, measuring tiny motions of millions of celestial objects.

Gaia failed to measure any movement, only extreme luminosity, suggesting the object was far away and very large — likely a massive quasar. The spectrograph on the ANU 2.3 meter telescope helped astronomers confirm the supermassive black hole’s identity.

Wolf said as these kinds of black holes shine, they can be used as beacons to see and study the formation of elements in the early galaxies of the universe. “Scientists can see the shadows of objects in front of the supermassive black hole,” he said.

“Fast-growing supermassive black holes also help to clear the fog around them by ionising gases, which makes the universe more transparent,” he added. Instruments on very large ground-based telescopes being built over the next decade would be able to directly measure the expansion of the universe using these very bright black holes, Wolf said.

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Consider Changing Your Password: Says Twitter, After a Glitch

Fortunately, an internal investigation had found no indication passwords were stolen or misused.



SAN FRANSISCO (United States): Twitter Inc. urged its more than 330 million users to change their passwords on Thursday after a glitch caused some to be stored in readable text on its internal computer system rather than disguised by a process known as “hashing”.

The social network disclosed the issue in a blog post and series of Tweets, saying it had resolved the problem and an internal investigation had found no indication passwords were stolen or misused by insiders. Still, it urged all users to consider changing their passwords.

“We fixed the bug and have no indication of a breach or misuse by anyone,” Twitter said in a Tweet.

“As a precaution, consider changing your password on all services where you’ve used this password.”

Twitter’s account stated, “We recently found a bug that stored passwords unmasked in an internal log. We fixed the bug and have no indication of a breach or misuse by anyone. As a precaution, consider changing your password on all services where you’ve used this password.”

The blog did not say how many passwords were affected. A person familiar with the company’s response said the number was “substantial” and that they were exposed for “several months.”

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Data Breach Scandal Accused Cambridge Analytica Shuts Down

The company said it is filing for insolvency in Britain and the United States.



LONDON (England): Cambridge Analytica, the UK marketing analytics firm at the heart of the Facebook data scandal, has announced it was “immediately ceasing all operations” and filing for insolvency in Britain and the United States.

Cambridge Analytica, hired by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, said it had been “vilified” in recent months over “numerous unfounded accusations”, which had decimated its business.

It has vehemently denied exploiting Facebook users’ data for the election campaign of US President Donald Trump following revelations it gathered up profile information via a personality prediction app.

Facebook has admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by the firm. CA claims it deleted data about Facebook users obtained in breach of the social network’s terms of service.

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