Artificial Intelligence Hub Opened at Cambridge University by Stephen Hawking

Artificial Intelligence Hub Opened at Cambridge University by Stephen Hawking
Professor Stephen Hawking on Wednesday opened a new artificial intelligence research centre at Britain’s Cambridge University.

The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) will delve into AI applications ranging from increasingly “smart” smartphones to robot surgeons and “Terminator” style military droids.

Funded by a £10 million ($12.3 million or roughly Rs. 82 crores) grant from the Leverhulme Trust, the centre’s express aim is to ensure AI is used to benefit humanity.

Opening the new centre, Hawking said it was not possible to predict what might be achieved with AI.

“Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one – industrialisation.

“And surely we will aim to finally eradicate disease and poverty. Every aspect of our lives will be transformed.

“In short, success in creating AI could the biggest event in the history of our civilisation,” Hawking said.

The centre is a collaboration between the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and Berkeley, California.

It will bring together researchers from multiple disciplines to work with industry representatives and policymakers on projects ranging from regulation of autonomous weapons to the implications of AI for democracy.

“AI is hugely exciting. Its practical applications can help us to tackle important social problems, as well as easing many tasks in everyday life,” said Margaret Boden, a professor of cognitive sciences and consultant to the CFI.

The technology has led to major advances in “the sciences of mind and life”, she said, but, misused, also “presents grave dangers”.

“CFI aims to pre-empt these dangers, by guiding AI-development in human-friendly ways,” she added.

Fears of robots freeing themselves from their creators have inspired a host of films and literature – “2001: a Space Odyssey” to name but one.
Hawking warned technological developments also posed a risk to our civilisation.

“Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many.

“It will bring disruption to our economy. And in the future, AI could develop a will of its own – a will that is in conflict with ours,” he said.

But catastrophic scenarios aside, the development of AI, which allows robots to execute almost all human tasks, directly threatens millions of jobs.

 

Freedom or destruction?
So will AI, which has already conquered man in the game of chess, ultimately leave humans on the sidelines?

“We don’t need to see AI as replacing us, but can see it as enhancing us: we will be able to make better decisions, on the basis of better evidence and better insights,” said Stephen Cave, director of the centre.

“AI will help us to learn about ourselves and our environment – and could, if managed well, be liberating.”

With this in mind, ethics will be one of the key fields of research of the CFI.

“It’s about how to ensure intelligent artificial systems have goals aligned with human values” and ensure computers don’t evolve spontaneously in “new, unwelcome directions”, Cave said.

“Before we delegate decisions in important areas, we need to be very sure that the intelligence systems to which we are delegating are sufficiently trustworthy.”

The opening of the research centre comes at a time when major international groups have competing ambitions in AI.

 

Google has integrated the technology in its new phone, Apple and Microsoft are proposing personal assistants, while Sony and Volkswagen have also invested in AI development.

HP Plans Up to 4,000 Job Cuts Over Three Years Amid PC Slump

HP Plans Up to 4,000 Job Cuts Over Three Years Amid PC Slump

  • The company will eliminate positions across the board
  • HP has about 50,000 employees now
  • Newest job cuts will generate cost savings of up to $300 million

HP Inc. plans to cut 3,000 to 4,000 jobs over the next three years to help bring costs in line with slumping demand in the market for personal computers and printers.

The company will eliminate positions across the board, Chief Executive Officer Dion Weisler said on Thursday. The comments came as HP held its analyst meeting in New York. The reductions could include about 1,000 jobs being outsourced if the number of positions edges close to 4,000, Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak said.

Weisler is searching for additional ways to drive profitability after his PC company gained independence last year from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which sells corporate tech gear. Earlier this year, Weisler saidHP would need to accelerate a plan announced in 2015 to eliminate about 3,000 positions over three years. Instead, those reductions are to be completed this fiscal year. HP has about 50,000 employees now.

 

“As technology improves and as we become a faster, nimbler company, you are always looking to become more and more efficient,” Weisler said in an interview. “Efficiency wins the day. And when I think about the markets that we’re in, what’s important is that we remember to stay focused on the reinvention, the innovation that we’re driving.”

The company’s shares slipped 1.8 percent in extended trading following the announcement. Earlier, they had fallen 1.3 percent to $15.15 at the close in New York. The stock has gained 28 percent this year.

Labor costs
HP said the newest job cuts will generate cost savings of about $200 million to $300 million (roughly Rs. 1,337 crores to Rs. 2,005 crores) annually starting in fiscal 2020. The Palo Alto, California-based computer maker expects to take $350 million to $500 million (roughly Rs. 2,340 crores to Rs. 3,343 crores) in charges in connection with the plan, and of that total about $200 million will be labor costs, according to a regulatory filing.

The company also gave a forecast for fiscal 2017. Lesjak said adjusted profit per share in the year that ends next October will be $1.55 to $1.65, compared with analysts’ average estimate of $1.61, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. HP also is boosting its planned quarterly dividend by 7 percent to 13 cents a share.

 

Nod to Arianespace for Launch of Isro Satellite

European space agency Arianespace has got the nod to go ahead with the November 10 launch of Indian communication satellite GSAT-15 and Arabsat-6B, the agency said.

In a statement early Saturday, Arianespace said the November 10 dual-passenger mission with Ariane 5 rocket the spaceport in French Guiana got the authorisation after the Launch Readiness Review on November 6.

Planned during a 43-minute launch window that opens at 6.34 p.m. (local time in French Guiana), the Ariane 5 mission will have a total payload lift performance of 9,810 kg.

“This includes the two satellites’ mass at liftoff – 5,798 kg for Arabsat-6B and 3,164 kg. for GSAT-15 – along with launcher integration hardware and Ariane 5’s dual-passenger deployment system,” Arianespace said.

The Indian satellite GSAT-15 is designed to deliver telecommunications services, along with dedicated navigation-aid and emergency services, for India.

Built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), it will be the 19th payload launched by Arianespace for this customer – which is one of the world’s six largest space agencies.

The Indian satellite with a design life of 12 years will have 24 Ku-band transponders (automatic receivers and transmitters of radio signals) and two GAGAN (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation) transponders.

Nasa Completes Heat Shield Testing for Future Mars Vehicles

Nasa has successfully completed key heat shield tests for the future exploration spacecrafts that will scout the Red Planet for signs of life.

Nasa’s Adaptive Deployable Entry and Placement Technology (ADEPT) is a mechanically-deployable heat shield concept using carbon fabric – a flexible heat shield that expands to “open” like an umbrella.

Recently, engineers at Nasa’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California successfully completed heating simulation testing of an ADEPT model under conditions akin to entering the Martian atmosphere.

During the tests, the surface temperatures on the test article reached 1,704 degrees Celsius.

Extensive instrumentation and imaging products from the test will be used to validate how materials respond to the testing conditions, the US space agency said in a statement.

The testing approach demonstrated with this test will enable future, more extensive testing of the ADEPT configuration – toward possible future use of the system on missions bigger than anything Nasa’s ever flown.

As Nasa missions to Mars progress with science and complex human exploration missions, spacecraft will require larger heat shields to protect against the extreme heat of entering a planet’s atmosphere and decelerating at a safe altitude in the thin Martian atmosphere.

Today’s rockets have limited space to accommodate spacecraft and their heat shields.

Uber’s storm in Europe

It’s set to be a pretty tough week for Uber in Europe.

The ride-hailing app’s offices in Amsterdam were raided by the Dutch authorities, two of its top executives appeared in court in Paris on Tuesday and proposals that Uber is unhappy about were published on Wednesday by London’s transport rule-setting body.

Here’s a roundup of the storm the company – now worth $50 billion – is facing.

Dutch office raids

Dutch police raided Uber’s office in Amsterdam on Tuesday as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, the public prosecutor said.

Uber has been accused of violating the country’s taxi laws with its UberPOP service. The service allows untrained drivers and those without a taxi license to offer trips at a cheaper rate. It is different from Uber’s regular service and was banned in the Netherlands in December.

The law banning UberPOP is under review and a new piece of legislation expected by the end of 2016.

A woman uses the Uber app on a smartphone as a taxi cab drives by.

A woman uses the Uber app on a smartphone as a taxi cab drives by.

In the meantime, Uber has decided to launch legal proceedings against the Dutch taxi law.

“Naturally we dispute the allegations, as the legal status of uberPOP continues to be debated in court and the underlying law is under legislative review,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.

French court case

Uber has a short and troubled history in France. Two senior Uber executives were on trial on Wednesday in Paris on charges of “misleading commercial practices” and “complicity in the illegal exercise of the taxi profession.”

Thibaud Simphal, head of the company’s French operations, and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s general manager in western Europe, appeared in the Paris Correctional Court, but managed to get their case delayed until February 2016.

The trial relates to the company’s UberPOP service. Earlier this year, Francois Hollande’s Socialist government passed a law effectively banning UberPOP. The service was suspended and remains unavailable.

Uber’s lawyers moved quickly at the start of the trial to call the whole case into question, arguing that the government had moved quickly to bring this case to court in order to appease taxi drivers.

Earlier in the year, cab drivers held violent protests in France to demonstrate against Uber. The case will now be pushed to next year after Uber requested access to all evidence in the trial.

London petition

Uber has gone on the front foot in London, petitioning users to sign against new rules proposed by the U.K. capital’s transport authorities that could hit the service hard.

Transport for London (TfL)’s proposals include forcing drivers to work for only one cab company at a time and making it obligatory for taxi operators to allow users to pre-book up to seven days in advance. Also, the proposals include a rule that would create a mandatory five-minute wait time between ordering a cab and it arriving.

Uber currently does not offer an advanced booking service and many of its drivers work for several companies.

“If adopted, they (the rules) will mean an end to the Uber you know and love today,” Uber wrote in an email to London-based users of its app. “And the proposed rules threaten drivers’ livelihoods by forcing them to drive for just one operator. These rules make no sense.”

Uber’s low prices have caused a stir among London’s black cab drivers who have held numerous protests in the capital causing big disruptions over the last few months.

Reliance Jio may push Airtel to buy Aircel spectrum

 • Bharti Airtel has held initial talks to buy Aircel’s 4G airwaves in 2300Mhz band
• Sources familiar with the matter said the talks involved Airtel buying Aircel’s 4G bandwidth
• Airtel currently holds a mix of 1800Mhz and 2300Mhz airwaves and deploys 4G technology across 15 circles

Airtel deploys 4G technology acroos 15 of India's 22 circles, and currently holds a mix of 1800MHz and 2300MHz airwaves.Airtel deploys 4G technology acroos 15 of India’s 22 circles, and currently holds a mix of 1800MHz and 2300MHz airwaves.

Bharti Airtel has held initial talks to buy Aircel’s 4G airwaves in the 2300Mhz band as the country’s leading telco looks to expand its high-speed broadband footprint, and close the gap with Reliance Jio Infocomm, which holds pan-India airwaves.
While Airtel denied any discussions had taken place and Maxis-owned Aircel said it doesn’t comment on market speculation, three people familiar with the matter said the talks involved Airtel buying Aircel’s 4G bandwidth through the spectrum trading route.
“Some discussions have happened between very senior management of both the companies,” one of the people told ET. “But lots of things need to be sorted out like the valuations, but importantly, the deal may fall foul of the spectrum cap rules in two circles — Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.”
A second person said the thought process within Airtel is to “beef up as much spectrum as it can through spectrum trading and auctions”. He noted that after buying Qualcomm’s 4G airwaves in four circles, Airtel recently bought Augere Wireless, which owned 4G airwaves in Chhattisgarh-Madhya Pradesh circle.
The development comes as the country’s top GSM telcos Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular brace for a bitter battle for higher-paying data subscribers with Jio, which is set to launch 4G services in December.
Jio, on its part, is set to ink pan-India spectrum sharing and trading deals with Reliance Communications in a bid to bolster its own bandwidth holdings on which it can offer the highspeed broadband services. Given the plateauing of growth in voice revenue and spurt in growth of mobile data, success of telecom operators in 3G and 4G space will become the decisive factor in profitability in near future.
Airtel currently holds a mix of 1800Mhz and 2300Mhz airwaves on which it deploys 4G technology across 15 of India’s 22 circles. Aircel’s airwaves in eight circles would give the Sunil Mittal-headed telco a 4G footprint across 18 circles, nearly on a par with Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio, the only operator to hold 4G airwaves across all 22 circles.

For Aircel, which has rolled out selected services in six of its eight 4G circles and is reeling under a debt of over Rs 20,000 crore while being embroiled in the 2G scam, any deal will help generate funds to pare debt.

4G fight will bleed Aircel
Moreover, Aircel doesn’t want to get caught in the 4G fight between heavyweight GSM telcos such as Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular and a Jio-Reliance Communications combine which can leave it bleeding even more, a third person said.
“Aircel is keen to offload airwaves, especially 2300Mhz, and there is only one buyer in the market at this time (Airtel), unlike airwaves in 1800Mhz and 2100Mhz band which could see interest from other bigger players,” he added.
Another person in the know added that going by discussions so far, the airwaves could be sold at a discount of 5-7% to the last discovered price of spectrum in the 2010 auctions, which is when both Airtel and Aircel bought their 4G airwaves.
Aircel had paid Rs 3,438 crore to win 4G airwaves in the 2300Mhz band in the 2010 spectrum auctions in eight of the 22 circles. However, five years later, the company has launched its services in six circles of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Assam and Jammu & Kashmir, but only for enterprise customers. It is yet to launch any services in the North East and West Bengal. It recently announced expansion of its network by adding 13,000 2G, 3G and 4G sites across the country by December.

 The Cabinet recently approved spectrum trading guidelines, but is yet to notify these rules. One of the key points of discussions is that Airtel could breach the spectrum cap of 25% of total airwaves held in a service area in two circles while almost hitting the limit in a few more, one of the people said.
 “The company is waiting for a telecom department decision over a review of the spectrum caps.” While the 2300Mhz has had technological challenges in propagation inside buildings, Airtel has tied up with China Mobile, the world’s largest telco, for jointly sourcing devices and equipment as well as developing 4G technology and standards in this band.
 Sunil Mittal, chairman of the Bharti Group, had told ET that Airtel would use China Mobile’s scale, power of procurement, understanding of this technology, and their handholding between 3G and 4G in the 2300Mhz.

Apple ‘own worst enemy,’ US antitrust monitor says

 • Apple Inc’s antitrust compliance programme has improved, but the company continues to impede a court-appointed monitor overseeing the programme, the monitor told a federal judge
• Apple was liable in a civil antitrust case brought by US Justice Department

• Apple is considering whether to appeal that decision to the US Supreme Court

Apple has been been accused of scheming with five book publishers to raise e-book prices in an effort to slow competitors such as Amazon.com Inc.Apple has been been accused of scheming with five book publishers to raise e-book prices in an effort to slow … Read More

Apple Inc’s antitrust compliance programme has improved, but the company continues to impede a court-appointed monitor overseeing the programme, acting as “its own worst enemy,” the monitor told a federal judge in a report made public on Tuesday.

Michael Bromwich, who was assigned to monitor Apple’s internal antitrust policies after US District Judge Denise Cote found the company liable for conspiring to raise e-book prices, said Apple persisted in raising objections to his requests for information.

“In this respect, Apple has been its own worst enemy,” he said. “This lack of cooperation has cast an unnecessary shadow over meaningful progress in developing a comprehensive and effective antitrust compliance program.”

Nevertheless, Bromwich said Apple’s programme has become “substantially stronger,” commenting in what could be his final assessment unless Cote chooses to extend his two-year appointment.

An Apple spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bromwich, a former US Justice Department inspector general whose relationship with Apple has been strained from the outset, was named in October 2013 by Cote after she found Apple liable in a civil antitrust case brought by the Justice Department.

Cote found Apple schemed with five book publishers from 2009 to 2010 to raise e-book prices in an effort to slow competitors such as Amazon.com Inc.

The publishers — Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group Inc, News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Penguin Group Inc, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan — settled the allegations.

In June, a divided US appeals court in New York upheld Cote’s finding, rejecting Apple’s argument that it had engaged in pro-competitive behavior.

Apple is considering whether to appeal that decision to the US Supreme Court, according to court filings.

If it stands, the appellate ruling would require Apple to pay consumers $450 million in damages under a 2014 class action settlement that included nearly three dozen state attorneys general.

In his report, Bromwich said Apple had for the first time created a set of antitrust procedures, implemented training and improved engagement among its senior executives.

Wipro sued by ex-employee for sexual discrimination

 • A former woman employee has sued Wipro seeking a compensation of 1m pounds
• Shreya Ukil told the Telegraph that she was subjected to a “deeply predatory, misogynistic culture” at Wipro
• She has claimed that she was manipulated into having an affair with former senior VP and global BPO head Manoj Punja

According to the complainant, the culture within Wipro requires women to be subservient.According to the complainant, the culture within Wipro requires women to be subservient.

Former Wipro employee Shreya Ukil, who worked in the UK, has sued the Indian IT services company seeking a compensation of 1 million pounds, accusing the firm of sex discrimination, unequal pay, harassment and unfair dismissal, a report in the Telegraph said.

Ukil, 39, who worked as the sales and marketing manager, told the Telegraph that she was subjected to a “deeply predatory, misogynistic culture” at Wipro. She filed a sexual discrimination and equal pay claim at the Central London Employment Tribunal where she alleged that she was manipulated into having an affair with former senior VP and global BPO head Manoj Punja, who quit the company last year. The tribunal hears claims from employer or potential employer for being treated unlawfully that includes claims of discrimination and unfair deductions from pay.
Wipro veteran Punja was the CEO of the BPO business since June 2012. Prior to that, he was the chief sales and operations officer for Latin America, Africa, France, Germany and Canada. Punja is currently the executive vice president responsible for global sales, solutions and client services in Bengaluru-based IT firm Microland.

 Ukil said she was forced into having an affair with her older boss and alleged that the atmosphere for women employees at Wipro was “toxic.” “The culture within Wipro requires women to be subservient,” she was quoted in the Telegraph. She has also accused Punja of “aggressive sexual advances” and “abuse of power.” Indian-born Ukil said she was treated like “dirty goods” after ending the affair and lodging complaints about her treatment.

Samsung sees massive profit growth in Q3

Samsung estimated its July-September operating profit reach 7.3 trillion won ($6.29 billion), compared with a 6.7 trillion won profit tipped.Samsung estimated its July-September operating profit reach 7.3 trillion won ($6.29 billion), compared with a … Read More
SEOUL: Samsung Electronics said it would post its first quarterly profit gain in two years, beating expectations as strong sales of chips and displays probably offset weakness in its smartphone division.

The South Korean tech giant estimated its July-September operating profit would leap 79.8% from a year earlier to 7.3 trillion won ($6.29 billion), compared with a 6.7 trillion won profit tipped by a Thomson Reuters SmartEstimate poll of 30 analysts.

While analysts attributed much of the earnings surprise to the weaker won, Samsung’s shares were on track for their biggest daily percentage gain in nearly 4 years in midday trade as investors saw an end to successive quarters of declining earnings.

“There were worries that overall earnings will continue falling as mobile profits declined, but now the numbers make the case that Samsung has the capacity to withstand weakness from the mobile business,” IBK Securities analyst Lee Seung-woo said.

The weaker won added about 300 billion won to operating profit, while cost-cutting and improved smartphone inventory management also probably helped, Dongbu Securities analyst Yoo Eui-hyung said.

The world’s No.1 maker of smartphones and memory chips guided for a 7.5% revenue increase for the third quarter, in line with expectations. It gave no further details about its performance, and will disclose full results in late October.

Samsung shares were up 6.3%, outperforming a 0.5% gain for the broader market.

Its semiconductor division is expected to have remained the top earner for the fifth straight quarter, analysts said. Display earnings meanwhile are believed to have been boosted by rising sales to external clients such as Huawei Technologies, they added.

The won’s depreciation helped as well, with the average exchange rate against the dollar falling 12% in the third quarter from a year earlier, according to Bank of Korea data.

Though smartphone earnings likely improved from a year earlier on the back of new lower-end models and the August launch of the premium Galaxy Note 5, the firm has yet to win back market share from Apple in the premium segment or its Chinese rivals in the lower end of the market despite revamping its product lineup, according to research firms.

Fourth quarter operating profit would probably ease sequentially due to higher smartphone marketing bills ahead of the year-end holidays, HDC Asset Management fund manager Park Jung-hoon said.

Microsoft Band 2 With Curved Oled Display, Barometer Launched

At its Windows 10 devices briefing event on Tuesday, Microsoft announced the Band 2, the refresh ofMicrosoft Band fitness tracker device that it had launched last year. Other products launched at the event were the Microsoft Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, as well as the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book.

The Microsoft Band 2 comes with a number of features and improvements, and will be available to pre-order in the US from Tuesday. It will start shipping from October 30 at $249 (roughly Rs. 16,300).

The Microsoft Band 2 features a curved Oled display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screen protector. The company says that the display is more responsive than ever.

microsoft_band_2_side.jpgThe Microsoft Band 2 also comes equipped with a range of sensors including GPS, gyroscope, and barometer (which is new) among others. These sensors will enable UV monitoring, offer guided workouts, sleep tracking, and measure calorie intake.

microsoft_band_2_back.jpgIn addition, the Band 2 will also fetch notifications from your smartphone and show them on the display. Microsoft Health will show you more comprehensive information about your fitness level and activities. The company says that Band 2 will work with Android and iOS apart from Windows 10 Mobie. Unlike most other fitness trackers, it also tracks VO2 Max levels – the amount of oxygen the body can absorb in a minute.
The Microsoft Band 2 also features Cortana integration. Users will be able to preview emails, get calendar and call alerts, receive text messages, and see social updates, apart from reply to text messages with quick responses, or dictate responses using Cortana.

microsoft_band_2_cortana_side.jpgAs for what’s coming, the company announced that it has partnered with several new players including Runkeeper, Facebook, Starbucks, and others. Another new partner is Lose It!, which offers fitness tracking.