Small, collaborative robots, or cobots, are gaining currency across the world, as also in India. Several firms, be it Bajaj Auto or Aurolab, have benefited from the adoption of cobots and are planning to add more to their shop floors.

A cobot is intended to work hand-in-hand with humans in a shared workspace. This is in contrast to full-fledged robots that are designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance. They support and relieve the human operator of his excess work.

How do they operate? examples:

In an auto factory, while the cobot tightens the bolts, the human worker places the tools in front of the cobot. In a biscuit factory, the cobot would package the biscuits while the worker segregates burnt ones not fit for consumption. In a small-scale industry, the cobot is placed on the drilling job while the worker performs a quality check.

Benefits of Cobots:

Cobots are easy to use, flexible and safe. Unlike industrial robots, cobots don’t need fencing for the protection of workers on the shop floor.

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Expert group for suggestions on artificial intelligence policy

Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has set up an internal committee which will provide suggestions to Indian government on framing a national policy on artificial intelligence (AI).

About Committee for Suggesting Artificial Intelligence Policy:

This internal committee comprising of experts will advise the IT ministry on the most appropriate technology for India in context of emerging trends in the area of AI.

Reducing/averting cyber attacks carried out with the help of AI is the main focus area of Indian government.

Members of the committee will also hold consultations with officials from Union Home Ministry as well as Union Finance Ministry.

The committee will soon submit a detailed report including suggestions/recommendations to the Government, which will serve as a base for forming the national policy.

Framework for India’s strategic plan to use AI will incorporate key areas that have been identified in Government’s seven-point strategy.

Developing methods for human machine interactions; creating a competent workforce in line with AI and R&D needs, ensuring safety and security of AI systems; measuring and evaluating AI technologies through standards and benchmarks and understanding and addressing the ethical, legal and societal implications of AI are among the key points included in Government’s seven-point strategy.

Emerging Trends in the area of Artificial Intelligence:

Ability of machines to perform given tasks by adapting to the environment and thereby maximizing its chance of success is referred to as Artificial Intelligence.

From 2016-2022 artificial intelligence market is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.4%.

Trade analysts have forecast that in 2020, artificial intelligence market will be worth $153 billion.

From Government’s perspective, AI is being viewed as a major challenge against creating as well as sustaining job opportunities, as in future more and more companies will deploy AI for executing tasks that currently require human resources.

Countries like US, UK and China are already working on formulating national plans to appropriately position themselves for harnessing AI technology in future.

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India joins quantum computing race

Keen to tap into the next big advance in computing technology, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) is planning to fund a project to develop quantum computers.
A quantum computer, still largely a theoretical entity, employs the principles of quantum mechanics to store information in ‘qubits’ instead of the typical ‘bits’ of 1 and 0. Qubits work faster because of the way such circuits are designed, and their promise is that they can do intensive number-crunching tasks much more efficiently than the fastest comparable computers.

For instance, to sort a billion numbers, a quantum computer would require 3.5 million fewer steps than a traditional machine, and would find the solution in only 31,623 steps, says a Morgan Stanley analysis last August. Solving other problems, many having to do with computing physics, becomes possible on quantum machines, the authors say, whereas they might never be possible on traditional computers.

While the Physics departments at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and the Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, have only forayed into the theoretical aspects of quantum computing, a DST official said that “the time has come to build one.”

Experts from across the country are expected to gather this month in Allahabad for a workshop to develop such a computer. Internationally, Canada’s D-Wave Systems is a pioneer in developing quantum computers and has sold machines to Lockheed Martin and Google.

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India among top nations with potential for digital payments’: Digital Evolution Index

India has emerged strong, exhibiting a high potential in terms of digital payments and has been categorised under the “break out” segment among 60 countries, according to the Digital Evolution Index 2017.

What you need to know about the index:
The Fletcher School at Tufts University in partnership with Mastercard unveiled the Digital Evolution Index 2017.
The Index is a comprehensive research that tracks the progress countries have made in developing their digital economies and integrating connectivity into the lives of billions.
The Index measures four key drivers – supply, consumer demand, institutional environment, and innovation.

With nearly half of the world’s population online, the research maps the development of 60 countries, demonstrating their competitiveness and market potential for further digital economic growth.

The ‘break out’ segment refers to countries that have relatively lower absolute levels of digital advancement, yet remain poised for growth and are attractive to investors by virtue of their potential.

India has been experiencing rapid strides of progress with an evolving payments landscape, catalysed by the government’s demonetization decision.

The government’s endeavour to boost the acceptance infrastructure coupled with a host of other economic reforms have further hastened the momentum for the country’s journey towards a cashless society.

Adoption of digital payments has also witnessed a massive growth with a shift in behaviour change as more people adopt digital payments in daily life.
With new players foraying into the market and an entire gamut of solutions for alternate payments, the India payment ecosystem is growing each day.

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India, China home to 39% of young Internet users – UN report

As per ‘ICT Facts and Figures 2017’, released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialised agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), India and China are home to 39% of the 830 million young people worldwide who use the Internet.

As per the report, there has been a significant increase in broadband access and subscriptions with China leading the way.

Youths (15-24 years old) are at the forefront of Internet adoption. In the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), up to 35% of individuals using the Internet are aged 15-24, compared with 13% in developed countries and 23% globally.

ICT Facts and Figures 2017 shows that great strides are being made in expanding Internet access through the increased availability of broadband networks.

International Internet bandwidth grew by 32% between 2015 and 2016, with Africa registering an increase of 72% during this period, the highest of all regions.

Mobile Broadband and Fixed-broadband subscriptions:
The report adds that mobile broadband subscriptions have grown more than 20% annually in the last five years and are expected to reach 4.3 billion globally by the end of 2017.

Between 2012 and 2017, LDCs saw the highest growth-rate of mobile broadband subscriptions. Despite this, the number of mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in LDCs is the lowest globally at 23%.

Mobile broadband prices, as a percentage of gross national income per capita, dropped by half between 2013 and 2016. Mobile broadband is more affordable than fixed broadband in most developing countries.

The number of fixed-broadband subscriptions has increased by 9% annually in the last five years with up to 330 million subscriptions added.

Most of the increase in high-speed fixed broadband subscriptions in developing countries can be attributed to China, which accounts for 80 per cent of all fixed-broadband subscriptions at 10 Mbit/s or above in the developing world.

Gender wise Internet Penetration:
Internet user gender gap has narrowed in most regions since 2013.
However, the proportion of men using the Internet remains slightly higher than the proportion of women using the Internet in two-thirds of countries worldwide.

In 2017, the global Internet penetration rate for men stands at 50.9% compared to 44.9% for women.

Global Revenue from Telecommunication:
Global telecommunication revenues declined by 4% from USD 2.0 trillion in 2014 to USD 1.9 trillion in 2015.

Developing countries, which are home to 83% of the global population, generate 39% of the world’s telecommunication revenues.

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Government Appoints Committee To Study Data Protection Framework for India

The government has appointed an expert committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna, to “identify key data protection issues” in India and recommend methods to address any potential problems.

The ten-member committee – which includes representatives from the department of telecommunications (DoT), the IT ministry, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the academic community – will not only study the various issues around data protection in India but will also draft a data protection bill that will be taken up for consideration by the Centre.

According to sources, while the committee will be headed by former justice Srikrishna, the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity) will likely be a driving force. The ministry, which issued the circular, will provide the committee with necessary information in order for it to start its deliberation efforts.

In addition to Srikrishna, members of the committee include DoT secretary Aruna Sundararajan, UIDAI head Ajay Bhushan Pandey, national cyber security coordinator Gulshan Rai, MeitY additional secretary Ajay Kumar, IIT Raipur director Prof Rajat Moona, IIM Indore director Rishikesha T Krishnan, DSCI’s Rama Vedasree and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy Arghya Sengupta.

Breaches, privacy violations

The government’s decision to focus on data protection comes on the back of a wave of privacy and data breaches in India – from corporates such as Reliance Jio, McDonalds and Zomato to government agencies that have leaked the Aadhaar and personal data of over 100 million Indian citizens.

The IT ministry, according to sources, has over the last six months already started working towards putting together data protection legislation.
It has been assisted in this goal by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy – a legal think-tank that has assumed a certain amount of prominence amongst bureaucratic and civil society circles after having helped draft the Aadhaar Act of 2016 and the recent Bankruptcy Code.

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