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Messages - Samsul Alam

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Internet / Pioneers Under 35 2018
« on: December 10, 2018, 02:36:24 AM »
Their innovations are leading the way to better gene editing, smarter AI, and a safer internet.

    Joy Buolamwini

    When AI misclassified her face, she started a movement for accountability.

    Alessandro Chiesa

    A cryptocurrency that’s as private as cash.

    Chelsea Finn

    Her robots act like toddlers—watching adults, copying them in order to learn.

    Alexandre Rebert

    He asked, what if a computer could fix itself?

    Nabiha Saklayen

    She developed a way to edit genes with cheap lasers.

    Julian Schrittwieser

    AlphaGo beat the world’s best Go player. He helped engineer the program that whipped AlphaGo.

    John Schulman

    Training AI to be smarter and better, one game of Sonic the Hedgehog at a time.

    Humsa Venkatesh

    She discovered a secret to cancer growth that could lead to a new class of drugs.
Collected from MIT Technology Review

Department of Entrepreneurship / Innovators Under 35 2018
« on: December 10, 2018, 02:26:49 AM »

Their innovations are creating new businesses and upending the old ways of doing things.

    Natalya Bailey

    A system to propel tiny satellites using electrical energy.

    Jonas Cleveland

    Helping create the shopping robots of the near future.

    Elizabeth Nyeko

    Her energy solution for rural communities in Africa could make grids more efficient everywhere.

    Yin Qi

    His face-recognition platform transformed the way business is done in China.

    Ashutosh Saxena

    When his smart speakers didn’t work as well as hoped, he built a better system.

    William Woodford

    Finding the materials for the next generation of grid-scale batteries.

    Ji Xu

    He helped build a payment system that lets anyone with an internet connection use financial services.

    Alice Zhang

    Using machine learning to identify new treatments for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Collected from MIT Technology Review

IT Forum / Innovators Under 35 2018
« on: December 10, 2018, 02:24:03 AM »
They’re building the technologies of the future, from stretchy electronics to new ways to test cancer drugs.

    James Dahlman

    His method makes it possible to test 300 drugs at once.

    Shreya Dave

    Her filtration system could eliminate much of the energy used in industrial separation processes.

    Shinjini Kundu

    Medical images are so detailed it can be hard to decipher them. Her program can spot what people can’t.

    Barbarita Lara

    An earthquake led her to invent a blend of analog and digital technologies for use when networks are down.

    Will McLean

    Hearing loss in humans has always been irreversible. His innovation may change that.

    Manan Suri

    His computer chips mimic the workings of the human brain.

    Sheng Xu

    Making off-the-shelf electronics stretchable.

    Huanping Zhou

    Her innovations could make better, cheaper alternatives to silicon solar cells.

Collected from MIT Technology Review

IT Forum / Breakthrough Technologies
« on: December 10, 2018, 02:06:18 AM »
10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2017

    Reversing Paralysis
    Self-Driving Trucks
    Paying with Your Face
    Practical Quantum Computers
    The 360-Degree Selfie
    Hot Solar Cells
    Gene Therapy 2.0
    The Cell Atlas
    Botnets of Things
    Reinforcement Learning

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2016

    Immune Engineering
    Precise Gene Editing in Plants
    Conversational Interfaces
    Reusable Rockets
    Robots That Teach Each Other
    DNA App Store
    SolarCity’s Gigafactory
    Tesla Autopilot
    Power from the Air

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2015

    Magic Leap
    Car-to-Car Communication
    Project Loon
    Liquid Biopsy
    Megascale Desalination
    Apple Pay
    Brain Organoids
    Supercharged Photosynthesis
    Internet of DNA

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2014

    Agricultural Drones
    Ultraprivate Smartphones
    Brain Mapping
    Neuromorphic Chips
    Genome Editing
    Microscale 3-D Printing
    Mobile Collaboration
    Oculus Rift
    Agile Robots
    Smart Wind and Solar Power

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2013

    Smart Watches
    Ultra-Efficient Solar Power
    Memory Implants
    Prenatal DNA Sequencing
    Deep Learning
    Additive Manufacturing
    Big Data from Cheap Phones
    Temporary Social Media
    Baxter: The Blue-Collar Robot

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2012
    Egg Stem Cells
    Ultra-Efficient Solar
    Light-Field Photography
    Solar Microgrids
    3-D Transistors
    A Faster Fourier Transform
    Nanopore Sequencing
    High-Speed Materials Discovery
    Facebook's Timeline

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2011
    Social Indexing
    Smart Transformers
    Gestural Interfaces
    Cancer Genomics
    Solid-State Batteries
    Homomorphic Encryption
    Cloud Streaming
    Crash-Proof Code
    Separating Chromosomes
    Synthetic Cells

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2010
    Real-Time Search
    Mobile 3-D
    Engineered Stem Cells
    Solar Fuel
    Light-Trapping Photovoltaics
    Social TV
    Green Concrete
    Implantable Electronics­
    Dual-Action Antibodies
    Cloud Programming

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2009
    Intelligent Software Assistant
    $100 Genome
    Racetrack Memory
    Biological Machines
    Paper Diagnostics
    Liquid Battery
    Traveling-Wave Reactor
    Software-Defined Networking

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2008
    Modeling Surprise
    Probabilistic Chips
    Wireless Power
    Atomic Magnetometers
    Offline Web Applications
    Graphene Transistors
    Reality Mining
    Cellulolytic Enzymes

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2007
    Peering into Video's Future
    Nanocharging Solar
    Invisible Revolution
    Personalized Medical Monitors
    Single-Cell Analysis
    A New Focus for Light
    Neuron Control
    Digital Imaging, Reimagined
    Augmented Reality

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2006
    Comparative Interactomics
    Diffusion Tensor Imaging
    Cognitive Radio
    Pervasive Wireless
    Universal Authentication
    Nuclear Reprogramming
    Stretchable Silicon

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2005
    Airborne Networks
    Quantum Wires
    Silicon Photonics
    Magnetic-Resonance Force Microscopy
    Universal Memory
    Bacterial Factories
    Cell-Phone Viruses

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2004
    Universal Translation
    Synthetic Biology
    Distributed Storage
    RNAi Interference
    Power Grid Control
    Microfluidic Optical Fibers
    Bayesiam Machine Learning

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2003
    Wireless Sensor Networks
    Injectable Tissue Engineering
    Nano Solar Cells
    Grid Computing
    Molecular Imaging
    Nanoimprint Lithography
    Software Assurance
    Quantum Cryptography

10 Breakthrough Technologies, 2001
    Brain-Machine Interface
    Flexible Transitors
    Data Mining
    Digital Rights Management
    Natural Language Processing
    Untangling Code
    Robot Design

Collected from MIT Technology Review

IT Forum / 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2018
« on: December 10, 2018, 01:12:50 AM »
1. 3-D Metal Printing

    Breakthrough: Now printers can make metal objects quickly and cheaply.
    Why It Matters: The ability to make large and complex metal ­objects on demand could transform manufacturing.
    Key Players: Markforged, Desktop Metal, GE
    Availability: Now

2. Artificial Embryos

    Breakthrough: Without using eggs or sperm cells, researchers have made embryo-like structures from stem cells alone, providing a whole new route to creating life.
    Why It Matters: Artificial embryos will make it easier for researchers to study the mysterious beginnings of a human life, but they’re stoking new bioethical debates.
    Key Players: University of Cambridge; University of Michigan; Rockefeller University
    Availability: Now

3. Sensing City

    Breakthrough: A Toronto neighborhood aims to be the first place to successfully integrate cutting-edge urban design with state-of-the-art digital technology.
    Why It Matters: Smart cities could make urban areas more affordable, livable, and environmentally friendly.
    Key Players: Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto
    Availability: Project announced in October 2017; construction could begin in 2019

4. AI for Everybody

    Breakthrough: Cloud-based AI is making the technology cheaper and easier to use.
    Why It Matters: Right now the use of AI is dominated by a relatively few companies, but as a cloud-based service, it could be widely available to many more, giving the economy a boost.
    Key Players: Amazon; Google; Microsoft
    Availability: Now

5. Dueling Neural Networks

    Breakthrough: Two AI systems can spar with each other to create ultra-realistic original images or sounds, something machines have never been able to do before.
    Why It Matters: This gives machines something akin to a sense of imagination, which may help them become less reliant on humans—but also turns them into alarmingly powerful tools for digital fakery.
    Key Players: Google Brain, DeepMind, Nvidia
    Availability: Now

6. Babel-Fish Earbuds

    Breakthrough: Near-real-time translation now works for a large number of languages and is easy to use.
    Why It Matters: In an increasingly global world, language is still a barrier to communication.
    Key Players: Google and Baidu
    Availability: Now

7. Zero-Carbon Natural Gas

    Breakthrough: A power plant efficiently and cheaply captures carbon released by burning natural gas, avoiding greenhouse-gas emissions.
    Why It Matters: Around 32 percent of US electricity is produced with natural gas, accounting for around 30 percent of the power sector’s carbon emissions.
    Key Players: 8 Rivers Capital; Exelon Generation; CB&I
    Availability: 3 to 5 years

8. Perfect Online Privacy

    Breakthrough: Computer scientists are perfecting a cryptographic tool for proving something without revealing the information underlying the proof.
    Why It Matters: If you need to disclose personal information to get something done online, it will be easier to do so without risking your privacy or exposing yourself to identity theft.
    Key Players: Zcash; JPMorgan Chase; ING
    Availability: Now

9. Genetic Fortune Telling

    Breakthrough: Scientists can now use your genome to predict your chances of getting heart disease or breast cancer, and even your IQ.
    Why It Matters: DNA-based predictions could be the next great public health advance, but they will increase the risks of genetic discrimination.
    Key Players: Helix; 23andMe; Myriad Genetics; UK Biobank; Broad Institute
    Availability: Now

10. Materials' Quantum Leap

    Breakthrough: IBM has simulated the electronic structure of a small molecule, using a seven-qubit quantum computer.
    Why It Matters: Understanding molecules in exact detail will allow chemists to design more effective drugs and better materials for generating and distributing energy.
    Key Players: IBM; Google; Harvard’s Alán Aspuru-Guzik
    Availability: 5 to 10 years

Collected from MIT Technology Review

ICT / Alibaba already has a voice assistant way better than Google’s
« on: December 08, 2018, 11:33:43 PM »
It navigates interruptions and other tricky features of human conversation to field millions of requests a day.
by Karen Hao

In May, Google made quite the splash when it unveiled Duplex, its eerily humanlike voice assistant capable of making restaurant reservations and salon appointments. It seemed to mark a new milestone in speech generation and natural-language understanding, and it pulled back the curtain on what the future of human-AI interaction might look like.

But while Google slowly rolls out the feature in a limited public launch, Alibaba’s own voice assistant has already been clocking overtime. On December 2 at the 2018 Neural Information Processing Systems conference, one of the largest annual gatherings for AI research, Alibaba demoed the AI customer service agent for its logistics company Cainiao. Jin Rong, the dean of Alibaba’s Machine Intelligence and Technology Lab, said the agent is already servicing millions of customer requests a day.

The pre-recorded demo call involved the agent asking a customer where he wanted his package delivered. In the back-and-forth exchange, the agent successfully navigated several conversational elements that demonstrated the breadth of its natural-language capabilities.

Take this exchange at the beginning of the call, translated from Mandarin:

Agent: Hello, I am Cainiao’s voice assistant. I am—
Customer: Hello.
A: Yes, hi, you have package scheduled for morning delivery to 588 Culture West Road. Is it convenient for you to receive?
C: Who are you?
A: I am Cainiao’s voice assistant. I’d like to confirm your morning delivery to 588 Culture West Road. Does that work for you?
C: I’m not home in the morning.
A: Then do you have another address that you’d like to use?

Within 30 seconds, the agent has smoothly handled three common, and tricky, conversational ingredients: interruption, nonlinear conversation, and implicit intent. Interruption is self-explanatory: the agent can respond to the customer’s interruption and continue relaying relevant information without starting over or skipping a beat.

The nonlinear conversation occurs when the customer asks, “Who are you?” This requires the agent to register that the customer is not answering the preceding question but rather starting a new line of inquiry. In response, the agent reintroduces itself before returning to the original question.

The implicit intent occurs when the customer responds, “I’m not home in the morning.” He never explicitly says what he actually means—that home delivery won’t work—but the agent is able to read between the lines and follow up sensibly.

These elements may be boringly commonplace in human conversations, but machines often struggle to handle them. That Alibaba’s voice assistant can do so suggests it’s more sophisticated than Google Duplex, judging from similar sample calls demoed by Google. It’s worth noting, however, that Alibaba’s demo call is designed for onstage presentation; the experience could differ in reality.

Currently, the agent is used only to coordinate package deliveries, but Jin said it could be expanded to handle other topics. He wouldn’t fully reveal how the assistant was trained. But he alluded to using the massive number of customer recordings at the company’s disposal, in addition to other resources. On a typical day the company averages 50,000 customer service calls, according to the presentation slides—a number that quintuples for Singles’ Day (November 11), its highest revenue-generating holiday of the year.

Alibaba is also developing digital assistants for other aspects of its business, including a food-ordering agent that can take your order in noisy restaurants and stores; a humanlike virtual avatar that can field questions about Alibaba products; and a price-haggling chatbot that is already used by 20% of sellers on Alibaba’s resale platform Xianyu.

At their core, each of these assistants is powered by the speech-recognition and natural-language-processing engine called AliMe, developed by the company’s Machine Intelligence and Technology Lab. They are then packaged and adapted to different parts of the business.

Alibaba’s biggest advantage in this field is the overwhelming wealth of data it has to train its AI. The assistants learn and improve faster because of the amount of practice they get in handling all kinds of situations. A huge business incentive to deploy these technologies quickly also helps. In addition to handling a high volume of customer support calls, Alibaba delivers one billion packages per day. Offloading certain tasks to AI helps alleviate the burden on humans and keep the business running smoothly.

Collected from MIT Technology Review

BBA Discussion Forum / 50 Smartest Companies 2017
« on: December 08, 2018, 11:24:05 PM »
1 Nvidia
Continues to tweak its chips, originally developed for gaming, to help develop breakthrough technologies like deep learning and autonomous driving.

$3 billion: spending on R&D to create its new data-center chip

2 SpaceX
Changing the economics of space travel with its successful landing and recycling of rockets to be recycled for multiple trips

10 percent: price discount being considered for customers who agree to fly their payloads on reused rockets

3 Amazon
Creating an AI-powered store of the future with Amazon Go while expanding intelligent voice assistant Alexa into phones, cars, and more.

12,000: number of programs that software developers have published for Alexa

4 23andMe
Vindicated this year when the U.S. FDA granted permission to tell customers whether their DNA puts them at higher risk for some diseases.

1 million plus: number of customers who have consented to have their genetic information used for scientific research

5 Alphabet
Continues to dominate research into AI while expanding innovation in phone systems, virtual reality, and self-driving cars.

40 percent: amount of energy the company says it saves applying machine-learning algorithms from its DeepMind subsidiary to cooling its data center.

6 iFlytek
Its voice assistant technology is the Siri of China, and its real-time portable translator puts AI to remarkable use, overcoming dialect, slang, and background noise to translate between Chinese and a dozen other languages with surprising accuracy.

70 percent: iFlytek’s share of China’s market in voice-based technologies

7 Kite Pharma
Nearing FDA approval of its experimental immunotherapy that uses a patient’s own blood cells to combat cancer.

39 percent:
proportion of study participants very sick with lymphoma who showed no sign of the disease six months after a single treatment with Kite’s therapy

8 Tencent
Turning its insanely popular chat platform WeChat into a virtual operating system featuring mini programs.

50 percent: proportion of WeChat’s 770 million daily users who are on the service at least 90 minutes a day

9 Regeneron
The biotech company has a strong drug pipeline and track record treating eye and other diseases, and it’s testing treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and pain.

500,000: number of U.K. volunteers whose genetic data it is helping sequence

10 Spark Therapeutics
Its blindness treatment could be the first gene therapy approved in the U.S. to treat an inherited disease.

1 in 30,000: estimated number of individuals affected by the disease, Leber hereditary optic neuropathy

11 Face ++
Pioneering new uses of face recognition technology, from fraud investigation to “smile to pay.”

106: maximum number of points on a person’s face that its technology tracks

12 First Solar
Making advances in cadmium telluride cells; building three of the five largest solar projects in the U.S.

$2.9 billion: estimated 2017 revenue

13 Intel
Acquisitions in computer vision and AI show it’s serious about adapting to new technology.

46 percent: portion of revenues derived from areas beyond PC chips

14 Quanergy Systems
Its solid-state version of lidar is cheaper and more compact than conventional versions of a technology essential to autonomous driving.

$250: price of its S3 Lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles

15 Vestas Wind Systems
Overtook General Electric to become the biggest U.S. installer of new wind power last year and is investing in energy storage.

14: consecutive number of profitable quarters

16 Apple
Minting money selling its popular mobile phones and laptops while adding impressive names to its AI research team and promising to do more manufacturing in the U.S.

$257 billion: cash on its balance sheet, more than the entire market value of General Electric

17 Merck
In a first, the FDA has approved its immunotherapy Keytruda to treat cancers on the basis of the tumor’s genetic characteristics, not its location in the body.

$39 billion: estimated 2017 revenue, buoyed by sales of Keytruda

18 Carbon
Its novel 3-D printing process makes it possible to fabricate parts out of a wide variety of plastics.

number of pairs of shoes Adidas will print by the end of 2018 using Carbon technology

19 Desktop Metal
With nearly $100 million from VC firms, GE, Alphabet, and others, this startup is focused on cheap, fast 3-D printing of metal parts.

$120,000: cost of its first product, to begin shipping in September

20 Ionis Pharmaceuticals
RNA drug approved for a rare disease, spinal muscular atrophy

36 plus: number of its RNA-targeted drugs in development

21 Gamalon
Its technology can write and rewrite its own code, algorithms that will accelerate machine learning.

100 times: its technology’s efficiency advantage over other machine-learning methods

22 Illumina
After a drop in sales last fall, unveiled a new machine, NovaSeq, that will be capable of sequencing 48 entire human genomes in two and a half days—and could one day push the cost of genome sequencing down to $100.

$850,000: price of the cheaper of its two NovaSeq models

23 Facebook
Despite controversies over fake news, live streaming video, and discriminatory advertising, and poor sales of its Oculus VR headset, it continues to work on interesting applications of AI and VR, and its Instagram business is singing.

20: number of natural-language data sets built into the company’s AI research tool, ParlAI.

24 Udacity
Has found a business model for online education by working with corporations to make course material relevant to jobs; now connecting companies to students and graduates, too.

15: number of “nanodegrees” the company offers in skills for selected jobs

25 DJI
Has continued to innovate in consumer drones and begun expanding into drones for enterprise as well.

50 percent: estimated North American market share

26 MercadoLibre
Runs the largest online market in Latin America and is expanding to mobile point-of-sale transactions. Its MercadoPago online payment tool lets users deposit cash into their accounts.

182 million:
number of registered users, a 20 percent increase over the previous year

27 Microsoft
Its fast-growing cloud business has reduced the software giant’s reliance on PC sales. Its expanding team of quantum computing experts hopes to develop commercially viable products to compete with efforts by Google and IBM.

$15 billion: projected annual revenue for its commercial cloud business

28 Rigetti Computing
Though a startup, it’s got its own fab in the Bay Area and an ambitious approach to quantum computing that combines hardware and software, focusing on design that can be easily commercialized.

$64 million: venture funding raised by the company in the past year

29 Kindred AI
Combining strengths of humans and robots into exoskeleton suits in a bid to help people and machines work together.

Immersive teleoperation: the type of technology the company makes, in which a human controls a robot via a wearable device

30 Sophia Genetics
Evangelists of data-driven medicine are sorting through DNA sequences with AI algorithms to accelerate diagnosis in oncology, cardiology, and more.

106,000: number of patients tested to date

31 Tesla
Autopilot accidents, car maintenance problems, and concerns about its solar strategy and ability to produce enough cars have hurt, but cofounder Elon Musk continues to take big bets. Battery cell production has begun at his giant Nevada “gigafactory.”

400,000 plus: number of preorders for its lower-cost Model 3

32 Oxford Nanopore
Twelve years and $200 million in the making, its inexpensive, portable genetic analyzer has been successfully tested from Antarctica to space and shows promising for on-the-spot diagnostic testing, germ monitoring, and more.

882,000 letters: record length of a single DNA strand read continuously by one of its machines

33 Foxconn
Acknowledging the direction of Chinese manufacturing by shifting from low-cost human labor to add extensive robotics to its factories.

60,000: number of jobs automation eliminated at a single Chinese factory

Its pay-as-you-go solar power model works well in its African target market, and the company is expanding sales with local communications leader Safaricom.

500,000: number of homes connected as of this spring

35 ForAllSecure
Headed by an academic from Carnegie Mellon University, the company is still in startup mode but has been garnering attention since last August, when it won the Pentagon’s DARPA contest with a bot designed to autonomously spot, test, and fix software security flaws.

number of previously undiscovered vulnerabilities in networking devices the company’s tools have found

36 Flipkart
Benefiting from the consolidation of India’s competitive e-commerce sector, including $500 million investment from eBay.

$11.6 billion: company’s current valuation, the highest for any Indian e-commerce startup

37 Bluebird Bio
Leading gene-therapy company focuses on engineered T cells that recognize and kill cancer and other conditions. Its treatment for sickle-cell disease appears promising.

66 percent: increase in stock price over the past year

38 Adidas
Commercial production at its robot-heavy factory in Ansbach, Germany, is to begin this year, producing locally and on demand. A second factory has been announced in Atlanta.

300 million: number of pairs of shoes Adidas makes each year, largely in Asia

39 IBM
Exploring new technologies like blockchain and cloud AI while continuing work on important long-term challenges like quantum computing.

400: number of customers the company has worked with on blockchain applications

40 General Electric
Moving to incorporate AI into its businesses as it focuses on technological innovation in wind and renewable energy, data-driven services, and other business lines.

60,000: number of jet engines GE says will be connected to the Internet by 2020

41 Alibaba
Quickly expanding the artificial intelligence in its Alibaba Cloud platform, including industry-specific products, and launching a global electronic trade platform to build its business with small and medium-size companies around the world.

57 percent: Alibaba’s share of Chinese online commerce

42 HTC
Despite some executive turnover and a tough year financially, the company has interesting prospects in virtual reality and access to China’s enthusiastic VR users.

1,500: number of pieces of content outside developers have created for its VR system, Vive

43 Blue Prism
Its software helps companies including banks and insurers use AI to do back-office clerical tasks.

189: number of deals the company signed in 2016, more than four times its 2015 number

44 Jumia (Africa Internet Group)
The online platform has consolidated all its consumer Web services—shopping, travel, food delivery, real estate sales, car rentals—under one name, Jumia.

500,000: number of African companies that use Jumia’s platform

45 Veritas Genetics
Launched by well-regarded researchers and funded with venture capital backed by Chinese and U.S. pharmaceutical companies, it will sequence anyone’s genome for just $1,000 and interpret it, too. In 2017, it started offering to sequence newborns in China.

1,250: number of conditions, risks, and traits it will tell parents about in their newborns

46 Daimler
Delivering the first run of its short-haul all-electric truck this year while working on vehicle connectivity and autonomous driving for cars.

200 kilometers: range of its lithium-battery-powered eTruck

47 Salesforce
Looking to push AI-generated tools, such as an algorithm designed to summarize documents, to its massive user base.

20 percent: market share in customer relationship software

48 Snap
Though its glasses have not been a runaway hit, Snap was strategically smart to recast itself as a camera company. It’s entertaining users with face-altering filters and pioneering the use of machine vision and augmented reality for socializing.

3 billion: number of snaps users create each day

49 Ant Financial
Its Alipay business, dominant in China, is moving into new markets with investments in India, Korea, and elsewhere. It’s now exploring AI as a means of underwriting lending, and blockchain to record customers’ charitable donations.

450 million: number of annual active users

50 Baidu
Despite the high-profile loss this year of its well-regarded head of AI, Andrew Ng, the company is doing important work in the field, including leading China’s National Engineering Lab of Deep Learning Technology and Application.

1,300: number of employees dedicated to working on AI

Collected from MIT Technology Review

A startup says it has tackled a long-standing problem that has kept smart contracts from responding to actual events.
by Mike Orcutt  November 19, 2018
You have probably heard that blockchain technology and "smart contracts" are going to revolutionize our lives.

Recommended for You
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The 6 reasons why Huawei gives the US and its allies security nightmares
Universal income vs. the robots: Meet the presidential candidate fighting automation
Canada has arrested Huawei’s CFO for extradition to the US
So much for that hope of reaching peak climate emissions
But there’s a problem: before smart contracts can do anything really useful, they need a reliable way to connect with events in the real world—and that has proved impossible so far. This is the so-called "oracle problem," a technological challenge that is still hampering any chance that blockchain will break out and become a part of our everyday lives.

Until now, perhaps. A startup called Chainlink is combining its software with a trusted hardware system called Town Crier, developed by a leading academic cryptocurrency research group. Together, they might be closer than ever to solving the problem.

Smart contracts are computer programs stored in a blockchain. They can be used to automate the unstoppable transfer of crypto-tokens between users, according to agreed-upon conditions. “Oracles” are real-time data feeds that deliver things like weather data, currency exchange rates, airline flight information, and sports statistics to smart contracts.

The idea is that by working together, the two systems can allow blockchain-based services to interact with real-world events with a greater degree of trust than is possible from today’s oracle services. For example, if your flight is canceled but you bought flight insurance, a smart contract might instantaneously pay you after getting an update from a trusted source of flight times.

So what’s the problem? The oracle services introduced to date defeat the purpose of using a blockchain in the first place, says Chainlink’s CEO, Sergey Nazarov. In Ethereum, for example, all the participating nodes in the network compute every smart contract, making the programs virtually impossible to shut down. But today’s oracle services are too centralized, says Nazarov. They represent single points of failure that make targets for tampering.

That means smart contracts lack reliable access to real-world data. Without that, they are “like a city with no electricity,” says Ari Juels, a computer science professor at Cornell. “There’s not much interesting stuff you can do.”

Juels and colleagues at Cornell’s Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts have developed Town Crier, which they describe(PDF) as a “high-trust bridge” between the Ethereum blockchain and HTTPS-enabled online data sources. The core component is a program that runs inside an isolated piece of hardware called a secure enclave.

The enclave’s function is to protect the program from malicious attacks and keep the computation confidential. It receives queries for data from smart contracts—for example, a flight insurance contract may query whether a flight was canceled—and then it retrieves answers from websites and relays them back to the blockchain. Using cryptography, and assuming trust in the hardware, it provides proof to the flight insurance contract that the data really came from Town Crier and hasn’t been messed with.

Town Crier may be more trustworthy than other data feeds, but on its own it doesn’t offer the reliability that decentralized systems do. That’s where Chainlink comes in. Its software orchestrates decentralized networks of oracles to draw on multiple sources of data for smart-contract-based services so that they don’t have to rely on a single one.

Using cryptography, the Chainlink service provides proof on the blockchain that the data is in fact the information it committed to delivering. Customers can pay for different levels of decentralization, and the nodes can make money in return for submitting data. Nazarov says the combination of Chainlink’s software with the Town Crier hardware system is the first “provably secure, decentralized oracle network.”

Chainlink has partnered with several smart-contract projects to demonstrate its oracle network. For example, a project called OpenLaw, which is developing smart-contract-based legal agreements, is using a Chainlink oracle to determine exchange rates between ether and US dollars at a given time. “I don’t know if anyone has fully solved the ‘oracle problem,’” says OpenLaw cofounder Aaron Wright. But he says Chainlink and Town Crier are a “good first attempt.”

Collected from MIT Technology Review

Articles and Write up / Investment On IT: Students Perspective
« on: December 08, 2018, 09:40:44 PM »
The focus of this study is to seek the relevance for implementing in Information Technology by students in Dhaka University. The research takes into account 50 students studying at different disciplines. The respondents were visited randomly to get the relevant data. The paper applies statistical tools e.g. SPSS on the information received and analyzes the results towards the solution. The result of the study suggests that students’ academic quality and knowledge enhancement have significantly strong relationship with investment in IT. However, the findings of this exploratory study offer insights that the money invested in IT for academic purpose is more advantageous than otherwise be invested especially for those whose academic curriculum mainly decorated in accordance with the modern up-to-date era of Information Technology. On the basis of intellectual interaction between premises and experiences gathered during study, investment on IT will help concerned students understanding how important IT is for their study.

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Edition: 1st, Publisher: LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, Editor: Olivia Morrison, ISBN: 978-3-659-76402-8, 9783659764028, 3659764027

In this modern age of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), many local and international firms are entering into the e-marketplace, launching new business models and constantly generating new ideas for serving the society. While there are a number of top rated companies running through e-Business platforms worldwide that thrive only for profit; they also can run non-profit, charity-based businesses (social business) which can utilize e-Business platforms to save administrative costs which can then be used to directly help the underprivileged sections of the population. This study develops a Social Business B2B model for the B2B market to help in developing effective strategies in a social business environment. Given the fact that Alibaba provides a very successful B2B e-Business model based in a developing country (China) and that there is an ongoing interest of the proprietor of Alibaba in social business, we examine the suitability of Alibaba as a model for social business B2B framework.

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The purpose of this study was to show the effect of current country risk on international finance. The findings of this exploratory study shows that country risk considerably affect the operations of international finance but this correlation cannot be stated with sufficient level of confidence. Data and analysis of the study give us a notion that there are effects of country risk on international finance and that effect is negatively correlated that means when the country risk tends to be higher as in turn making the country rating lower, the international finance is negatively affected. In contrary, when the country risk is lower giving a higher country rating, international finance is positively affected. The result shown gives us perception that due to political instability, high interest rate, high inflation rate, and frequently volatile currency exchange rate cause disturbance in the normal operations of the international trade that reduce the country risk rating score and in turn the global international finance gets hampered.

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The main objective of this study is to present the Walmart’s financial performance, making the important valuation of the company. The study used quantitative method using secondary sources. The finding of this descriptive study is that Walmart is the lucrative choice for the past, present and future investors with the estimation of terminal value at the end of the fiscal year 2026 estimated US $580 billion and the fundamental value of US $736 billion. The result shows that due to the emergence of stronger competitors and for being matured, Walmart is not performing as expected by investors, but its gigantic market size will make it capable of doing business profitably over a longer period of time. The ultimate decision given for the investors is to buy. The assumption is made on in-depth financial analysis with reliable data and calculation. The study has noteworthy importance to the financial market stakeholders.

DOI: 10.20321/nilejbe.v3i5.105

Share Your Change Story / Quizzes taken online
« on: May 17, 2018, 11:14:54 AM »
When I joined DIU on September 2016, I took online assessment test using google form in all of the courses assigned to me. The response was good.
Then in Summer 2017 semester, took online quiz in a course using google form. Although students were reluctant to attend that quiz, finally succeeded and they were satisfied.
In the Spring 2018 semester, took 6 online quizzes using Moodle successfully. But some problems arose such as slow internet facility in the campus, students not having appropriate device to attend the exam and mindset up.
Overall the system of bringing something new to students is inspiring.

Thanks for the post.

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