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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 27th February 2018

  • IASbaba
  • February 27, 2018
  • 4
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 27th February 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


Social media executives for each district in India

Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Key issues related to Governance

Key pointers:

  • For sharper delivery of the government’s message to the citizens, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) has approved the hiring of 716 social media executives, one for each district of the country.
  • Their primary responsibility will be to analyse local news media and help the government adapt the message according to the responses to it.
  • The responsibility of these executives will be to “monitor local editions of newspapers, local cable channels, local audio channels and important local social media handles for important local developments”.
    They will also have to analyse the news to assess whether the government’s message was received positively or negatively.
  • This hiring is part of the Ministry’s outreach programme for smaller cities and rural areas.
    Till now, the government has largely reacted to opinions based out of the capital, giving a very lopsided view.

Article link: Click here


Mass nesting by Olive ridley turtles

Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Environment

Key pointers:

  • Olive ridley turtles, the endangered species has created an all-time record of mass nesting at the Rushikulya rookery coast in the Ganjam district of Odisha this year.
  • Major nesting sites in Odisha:
    The Gahirmatha beach
    The mouth of the Debi river
    The Rushikulya rookery coast in the Ganjam district
  • The Gahirmatha beach is the largest mass nesting site for olive ridley turtles along the Indian coastline, followed by the rookery at the mouth of the Rushikulya river.
  • Reason behind more nesting-
    This year, sea waves and winds have widened a portion of the beach near the Rushikulya rookery. A sandbar was eroded entirely, and its sand was deposited on the coast, widening a stretch of the beach and increasing its height. This is the region where a large number of nestings took place this year.

Article link: Click here


Developments in Transportation Sector

Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Infrastucture

Key pointers:

  • A significant transformation is expected in the transportation sector in the next couple of years as the economic benefits of electric vehicles and alternative fuels like ethanol become apparent, said Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways.
  • States like Maharashtra have already passed a law for the establishment of charging stations to support the electric vehicle ecosystem.
  • The move towards electric vehicles and those that run on alternative fuels has gathered pace.
  • Price of Li-ion batteries, meant for electric vehicles, had dropped about 50 per cent in the past one year and would continue to decline.

Push for ethanol:

  • The government was working on policies to encourage ethanol, which can be easily produced from wheat straw, rice straw, bagasse, and municipal waste, among others.
  • By encouraging the use of ethanol in the transportation sector, the import bill (crude oil) can be cut at least by Rs. 2 lakh crore.
  • Ethanol will not only be an import substitute, but it will be cost-effective, pollution-free and will help create an industry in rural areas, thereby helping the farmers.

Article link: Click here


(MAINS FOCUS)


SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

TOPIC: General Studies 3:

  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Artificial Intelligence: Potential Benefits & Risks

What is AI?

AI, is the “science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs”. AI enables intelligent machines that can execute functions, similar to human abilities like speech, facial, object or gesture recognition, learning, problem solving, reasoning, perception and response.
AI enables machines to think intelligently, somewhat akin to the intelligence human beings employ to learn, understand, think, decide, or solve a problem in their daily personal or professional lives. Intelligence is intangible.

The present wave of enthusiasm in AI is backed by the industry, with Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and Baidu in the lead. Automotive industry is also unleashing benefits of AI for self-driving cars, led by Tesla, Mercedez-Benz, Google and Uber.

Real-world examples from around us:

  • AI empowered cars are already under rigorous testing and they are quite likely to ply on the roads soon.
  • The social humanoid robot Sophia became a citizen of Saudi Arabia in 2017.
  • Apple’s intelligent personal assistant, Siri, can receive instructions and interact with human beings in natural language.
  • Autonomous weapons can execute military missions on their own, identify and engage targets without any human intervention.
  • Facial detection has instated deep interest from law enforcement and security agencies. China is known to be building a massive facial recognition system, connected with its surveillance camera networks, to assist in detecting criminals and fugitives.
  • AI is also changing the ways militaries command, train, and deploy their forces.

Applications of AI:

  • Gaming industry, where AI empowered computers can think of a large number of possible positions in games such as chess, poker, and go. These computers can test the skills of the human beings who are playing against these AI enabled computers, in games or simulations which require greater mathematical and strategic depth.
  • Computers with natural language processing capability can understand and generate human language, including speech, imitating human capabilities of listening, comprehending, thinking and responding.
  • Law enforcement or internal security requirements for detecting and recognizing individuals or criminals, with multitudes of data streaming from police databases or the network of surveillance cameras.
  • Healthcare industry to design optimized treatment plans, assistance in repetitive jobs, data management for medical records, or even assistance in clinical decision making with better analysis of diagnostics and interpretation of clinical laboratory results.
  • Banking and financial services for fraud detection using advanced algorithms to identify patterns in transactions and consumer behaviors which are risk prone.
  • Automotive industry is already using AI algorithms to enhance fuel efficiency and safety in vehicles to build features such as automatic braking, collision avoidance systems, alerts for pedestrian and cyclists, and intelligent cruise controls.

Indian Context:

India fares average in the surging competition for AI technology development. There is no clearly stated policy document or vision statement for AI development.
In February 2018, the Department of Defence Production has constituted a 17-member task-force to study the use of AI for both military applications and technology-driven economic growth.

Applications in Indian context:

The potential benefits are plenty, from basic sectors like healthcare, governance and economy to the specialized ones like foreign policy and defence and security.

  • Reforms in governance-
    AI can actually help with process optimization and cost savings for the government, in addition to solving some strategic problems or assisting in decision making.
  • India has one of the world’s largest automotive industries, with a significant production and consumption base. AI applications have vast scope in the automotive sector, ranging from enhancing fuel efficiency to passenger safety to the concept of self-driving vehicles.
  • AI can augment the potential of government and private sector to deliver healthcare services and products with improved drug safety, better diagnosis and analysis of clinical reports for preventive and accurate treatment.
    More advanced applications of AI extend to the domains of foreign, defence and security policies.
  • Defence and foreign policy decisions are based on immense cognitive and intangible skillsets.
    As AI evolves further, it could play a vital role in analyzing large data sets, intelligence inputs, imagery from satellites or other airborne platforms etc.
    Such detailed analyses can supplement individual and organisational ability during bilateral or multilateral negotiations, and military standoffs or geopolitical conflicts.

Summary of Potential Benefits of AI and Risks:

Sector Potential Benefits Potential Risks
Governance Process Optimization & Cost Saving

Decision Making & Problem Solving

Human Resources Management
Lack of Technical Competence

Inability to Synchronize Goals/Expectations

Dependence on Foreign Technology
Economy Next Generation of Economic Growth

Spurring Innovation

Value and Job Creation
Economic Competition & Espionage

Threats to Intellectual Property

Loss of Conventional Jobs
Automotive Industry Self-driving Cars

Enhanced fuel efficiency

Enhances Safety Features

Optimize Logistics & Supply Chain
Regulatory Challenges

Overdependence on Technology

Software Error, Defect or Failure

Susceptible to Hacking/Interference
Defence & Security Decision Making (Tactical & Strategic)

Trainings and War-gaming

Logistics, Fleet Management

Periodic Maintenance

Intelligence Analysis

Face Recognition & Crime Prevention

Dependence on Foreign Technology

Human Safety & Security

Software Error, Defect or Failure

Potential Weapons Arms Race
Foreign Policy Decision Making

Scenario Analysis

Analysis of Historical Data/Events

Negotiations

Information Analysis

Public Diplomacy
Lack of Cognitive Data for Deep Learning

Multilateral Rules of the Road

Technology Acceptance in Decision Making

Lack of Data from Other Countries

Dependence on Foreign Technology

Potential Weapons Arms Race
Healthcare Drug Discovery and Safety

Diagnosis and Lab Results Analysis

Preventive Care

Insurance Risk Assessment
Training Doctors and Paramedical Staff

Generating Awareness

Acceptance of AI in Medical Practices

Technology Affordability

Challenges for India:

Akin to any advanced technology, AI also has its own set of risks.

  • AI has to meet the first and foremost challenge of acceptability with the users from the government, public sector and the armed forces, or even the private sector.
    Technical competence in this fast-paced sector, primarily in the case of government, could be a road block.
  • AI can better adapt to the goals and expectations of the Indian decision makers, if the technology development is indigenous.
    Foreign dependence in this case would be detrimental and unproductive.
  • AI has set off an economic and technological competition, which will further intensify. Any delay in recognizing the benefits and in innovating will limit India’s ability to draw the economic advantage.

Conclusion:

More than a technology developer or consumer, India can play a vital role in defining the multilateral rules of the road and help setting up of best ethical standards, ensuring safe and beneficial Artificial Intelligence for all.

Connecting the dots:

  • What do you mean by Artificial Intelligence? Discuss its potential benefits and associated risks. Also highlight the challenges in adoption of AI in Indian context.

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