Technology optimists argue that progress creates many more jobs than it destroys. They say fears over job losses are as misplaced as Luddite worries in the 19th century over the loss of jobs like horse and buggy driver or loom weaver. More recently, the introduction of ATMs also supports this view since the machines haven’t replaced bank tellers but broadened their roles into customer relationship management.
Certainly, the skyscrapers in cities like Manila and Mumbai are filled with people doing new jobs that have moved them and many others from poverty into the middle class. The last two decades have seen a wave of new professional jobs created in developing Asia, from research analysts to programmers, environmental scientists and data engineers.
But in many cases, even well-paid, new jobs are under threat. Not from technology itself, though artificial intelligence and high-performance robots are a challenge. Rather, policies are lagging the changes happening in industry at large. For Asian countries to overcome the threat to their progress, policymakers need to work with the full range of stakeholders—from employers to educators to workers and unions—and focus on ensuring relevant education and labor regulation.
Take the example of the Philippines. In less than 15 years, the country has built a thriving business process outsourcing (BPO) sector that has created over a million well-paid clerical jobs. The sector now accounts for over 6 percent of annual gross domestic product.
But recently, employment growth has slowed because the sector now requires fewer of the customer service agents that the Philippines most often provides and far more specialized analysts, designers, and researchers. Estimates from the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines show that the share of low-skilled workers in BPO will decline from 47 percent in 2016 to 27 percent in 2022 while high-skill BPO jobs will increase from 15 percent to 46 percent.
Going forward, automation of basic BPO services, notably robotic process automation, will continue to transform the sector in ways we cannot even conceive of today. This means that the government, education institutions, and BPOs need to work together to train workers for the jobs of the future.
One way to do this is to align education more closely with industry needs. Universities need to speak to employers to find out exactly which IT skills are needed and create courses targeted to their needs. But while it is imperative to increase quality and access to tertiary education in computer and IT-related fields, it is also crucial to create links between vocational and higher education so workers can learn new skills or upgrade their existing skills as employer demands shift. That would create a larger and better educated labor force with a more relevant and diverse skill set.
Other skills for the future are those that develop high cognitive and social abilities useful for roles in research, analysis, or management. We estimate that every year, employment in jobs that have an IT, cognitive, or social focus grows an average of 2.6 percentage points faster than overall employment.
Incorporating digital literacy into standard school curricula from an early age and ensuring that schools develop not only reading, writing, and numeracy skills, but also social and emotional skills is likely to be the most effective way of teaching and providing a foundation for future learning and re-learning.
Labor laws and protections also need a rethink. More than ever before, labor market regulations need to protect workers rather than jobs. In practical terms, this means that stiff regulatory barriers to employee layoffs or to certain types of contracts such as fixed term contracts—common in countries such as India and Indonesia—need to be reconsidered and modern systems of social protection introduced.
Such systems would include minimum wages covering a large pool of workers, workfare programs, regulations on work hours and conditions, and new ways of promoting equal opportunity. Workers of the future may well work part-time, on-call, or in temporary placements, perhaps with multiple employers at the same time. Even full-time employees are likely to switch jobs frequently.
Some forms of unemployment insurance – tailored to reflect the fiscal health of the government in question – would also help to protect people between jobs. This calls for healthcare, pension, and other benefits that are attached to the worker, rather than the firm, and can be carried from job to job.
Digital technologies using biometric information will make all that easier, and there are good models in place such as India’s Aadhaar system which now covers 1.2 billion people, Indonesia’s e-KTP, Pakistan’s NADRA, and Malaysia’s MyKad.
There are many reasons to be bullish about the power of technology to create new and better jobs and the Asia and Pacific region is well-placed to benefit. But we cannot be complacent. Policymakers need to confront bottlenecks in their education and regulatory systems that could impede the rise of a middle class.
The future of work and the region’s prosperity depend on it.
At Last A Malaria Vaccine and How It All Began
This week marked a signal achievement. A group from Oxford University announced the first acceptable vaccine ever against malaria. One might be forgiven for wondering why it has taken so long when the covid-19 vaccines have taken just over a year … even whether it is a kind of economic apartheid given that malaria victims reside in the poorest countries of the world.
It turns out that the difficulties of making a malaria vaccine have been due to the complexity of the pathogen itself. The malarial parasite has thousands of genes; by way of comparison, the coronavirus has about a dozen. It means malaria requires a very high immune response to fight it off.
A trial of the vaccine in Burkina Faso has yielded an efficacy of 77 percent for subjects given a high dose and 71 percent for the low-dose recipients. The World Health Organization (WHO) had specified a goal of 75 percent for effective deployment in the population. A previous vaccine demonstrated only 55 percent effectiveness. The seriousness of the disease can be ascertained from the statistics. In 2019, 229 million new malaria infections were recorded and 409 thousand people died. Moreover, many who recover can be severely debilitated by recurring bouts of the disease.
Vaccination has an interesting history. The story begins with Edward Jenner. A country doctor with a keen and questioning mind, he had observed smallpox as a deadly and ravaging disease. He also noticed that milkmaids never seemed to get it. However, they had all had cowpox, a mild variant which at some time or another they would have caught from the cows they milked.
It was 1796 and Jenner desperate for a smallpox cure followed up his theory, of which he was now quite certain, with an experiment. On May14, 1796 Jenner inoculated James Phipps, the eight-year-old son of Jenner’s gardener. He used scraped pus from cowpox blisters on the hands of Sarah Nelmes, a milkmaid who had caught cowpox from a cow named Blossom. Blossom’s hide now hangs in the library of St. George’s Hospital, Jenner’s alma mater.
Phipps was inoculated on both arms with the cowpox material. The result was a mild fever but nothing serious. Next he inoculated Phipps with variolous material, a weakened form of smallpox bacteria often dried from powdered scabs. No disease followed, even on repetition. He followed this experiment with 23 additional subjects (for a round two dozen) with the same result. They were all immune to smallpox. Then he wrote about it.
Not new to science, Edward Jenner had earlier published a careful study of the cuckoo and its habit of laying its eggs in others’ nests. He observed how the newly hatched cuckoo pushed hatchlings and other eggs out of the nest. The study was published resulting in his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was therefore well-suited to spread the word about immunization against smallpox through vaccination with cowpox.
Truth be told, inoculation was not new. People who had traveled to Constantinople reported on its use by Ottoman physicians. And around Jenner’s time, there was a certain Johnny Notions, a self-taught healer, who used it in the Shetland Isles then being devastated by a smallpox epidemic. Others had even used cowpox earlier. But Jenner was able to rationally formalize and explain the procedure and to continue his efforts even though The Royal Society did not accept his initial paper. Persistence pays and finally even Napoleon, with whom Britain was at war, awarded him a medal and had his own troops vaccinated.
The Dark Ghosts of Technology
Last many decades, if accidently, we missed the boat on understanding equality, diversity and tolerance, nevertheless, how obediently and intentionally we worshiped the technology no matter how dark or destructive a shape it morphed into; slaved to ‘dark-technology’ our faith remained untarnished and faith fortified that it will lead us as a smarter and successful nation.
How wrong can we get, how long in the spell, will we ever find ourselves again?
The dumb and dumber state of affairs; extreme and out of control technology has taken human-performances on ‘real-value-creation’ as hostage, crypto-corruption has overtaken economies, shiny chandeliers now only cast giant shadows, tribalism nurturing populism and socio-economic-gibberish on social media narratives now as new intellectualism.
Only the mind is where critical thinking resides, not in some app.
The most obvious missing link, is theabandonment of own deeper thinking. By ignoring critical thinking, and comfortably accepting our own programming, labeled as ‘artificial intelligence’ forgetting in AI there is nothing artificial just our own ‘ignorance’ repackaged and branded. AI is not some runaway train; there is always a human-driver in the engine room, go check. When ‘mechanized-programming, sensationalized by Hollywood as ‘celestially-gifted-artificial-intelligence’ now corrupting global populace in assuming somehow we are in safe hands of some bionic era of robotized smartness. All designed and suited to sell undefined glittering crypto-economies under complex jargon with illusions of great progress. The shiny towers of glittering cities are already drowning in their own tent-cities.
A century ago, knowing how to use a pencil sharpener, stapler or a filing cabinet got us a job, today with 100+ miscellaneous, business or technology related items, little or nothing considered as big value-added gainers. Nevertheless, Covidians, the survivors of the covid-19 cruelties now like regimented disciples all lining up at the gates. There never ever was such a universal gateway to a common frontier or such massive assembly of the largest mindshare in human history.
Some of the harsh lessons acquired while gasping during the pandemic were to isolate techno-logy with brain-ology. Humankind needs humankind solutions, where progress is measured based on common goods. Humans will never be bulldozers but will move mountains. Without mind, we become just broken bodies, in desperate search for viagra-sunrises, cannabis-high-afternoons and opioid-sunsets dreaming of helicopter-monies.
Needed more is the mental-infrastructuring to cope with platform economies of global-age and not necessarily cemented-infrastructuring to manage railway crossings. The new world already left the station a while ago. Chase the brain, not the train. How will all this new thinking affect the global populace and upcoming of 100 new National Elections, scheduled over the next 500 days? The world of Covidians is in one boat; the commonality of problems bringing them closer on key issues.
Newspapers across the world dying; finally, world-maps becoming mandatory readings of the day
Smart leadership must develop smart economies to create the real ‘need’ of the human mind and not just jobs, later rejected only as obsolete against robotization. Across the world, damaged economies are visible. Lack of pragmatic support to small medium businesses, micro-mega exports, mini-micro-manufacturing, upskilling, and reskilling of national citizenry are all clear measurements pointing as national failures. Unlimited rainfall of money will not save us, but the respectable national occupationalism will. Study ‘population-rich-nations’ and new entrapments of ‘knowledge-rich-nations’ on Google and also join Expothon Worldwide on ‘global debate series’ on such topics.
Emergency meetings required; before relief funding expires, get ready with the fastest methodologies to create national occupationalism, at any costs, or prepare for fast waves of populism surrounded by almost broken systems. Bold nations need smart play; national debates and discussions on common sense ideas to create local grassroots prosperity and national mobilization of hidden talents of the citizenry to stand up to the global standard of competitive productivity of national goods and services.
The rest is easy
China and AI needs in the security field
On the afternoon of December 11, 2020, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held the 26th Collective Study Session devoted to national security. On that occasion, the General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, Xi Jinping, stressed that the national security work was very important in the Party’s management of State affairs, as well as in ensuring that the country was prosperous and people lived in peace.
In view of strengthening national security, China needs to adhere to the general concept of national security; to seize and make good use of an important and propitious period at strategic level for the country’s development; to integrate national security into all aspects of the CPC and State’s activity and consider it in planning economic and social development. In other words, it needs to builda security model in view of promoting international security and world peace and offering strong guarantees for the construction of a modern socialist country.
In this regard, a new cycle of AI-driven technological revolution and industrial transformation is on the rise in the Middle Empire. Driven by new theories and technologies such as the Internet, mobile phone services, big data, supercomputing, sensor networks and brain science, AI offers new capabilities and functionalities such as cross-sectoral integration, human-machine collaboration, open intelligence and autonomous control. Economic development, social progress, global governance and other aspects have a major and far-reaching impact.
In recent years, China has deepened the AI significance and development prospects in many important fields. Accelerating the development of a new AI generation is an important strategic starting point for rising up to the challenge of global technological competition.
What is the current state of AI development in China? How are the current development trends? How will the safe, orderly and healthy development of the industry be oriented and led in the future?
The current gap between AI development and the international advanced level is not very wide, but the quality of enterprises must be “matched” with their quantity. For this reason, efforts are being made to expand application scenarios, by enhancing data and algorithm security.
The concept of third-generation AI is already advancing and progressing and there are hopes of solving the security problem through technical means other than policies and regulations-i.e. other than mere talk.
AI is a driving force for the new stages of technological revolution and industrial transformation. Accelerating the development of a new AI generation is a strategic issue for China to seize new opportunities in the organisation of industrial transformation.
It is commonly argued that AI has gone through two generations so far. AI1 is based on knowledge, also known as “symbolism”, while AI2 is based on data, big data, and their “deep learning”.
AI began to be developed in the 1950s with the famous Test of Alan Turing (1912-54), and in 1978 the first studies on AI started in China. In AI1, however, its progress was relatively small. The real progress has mainly been made over the last 20 years – hence AI2.
AI is known for the traditional information industry, typically Internet companies. This has acquired and accumulated a large number of users in the development process, and has then established corresponding patterns or profiles based on these acquisitions, i.e. the so-called “knowledge graph of user preferences”. Taking the delivery of some products as an example, tens or even hundreds of millions of data consisting of users’ and dealers’ positions, as well as information about the location of potential buyers, are incorporated into a database and then matched and optimised through AI algorithms: all this obviously enhances the efficacy of trade and the speed of delivery.
By upgrading traditional industries in this way, great benefits have been achieved. China is leading the way and is in the forefront in this respect: facial recognition, smart speakers, intelligent customer service, etc. In recent years, not only has an increasing number of companies started to apply AI, but AI itself has also become one of the professional directions about which candidates in university entrance exams are worried.
According to statistics, there are 40 AI companies in the world with a turnover of over one billion dollars, 20 of them in the United States and as many as 15 in China. In quantitative terms, China is firmly ranking second. It should be noted, however, that although these companies have high ratings, their profitability is still limited and most of them may even be loss-making.
The core AI sector should be independent of the information industry, but should increasingly open up to transport, medicine, urban fabric and industries led independently by AI technology. These sectors are already being developed in China.
China accounts for over a third of the world’s AI start-ups. And although the quantity is high, the quality still needs to be improved. First of all, the application scenarios are limited. Besides facial recognition, security, etc., other fields are not easy to use and are exposed to risks such as 1) data insecurity and 2) algorithm insecurity. These two aspects are currently the main factors limiting the development of the AI industry, which is in danger of being prey to hackers of known origin.
With regard to data insecurity, we know that the effect of AI applications depends to a large extent on data quality, which entails security problems such as the loss of privacy (i.e. State security). If the problem of privacy protection is not solved, the AI industry cannot develop in a healthy way, as it would be working for ‘unknown’ third parties.
When we log into a webpage and we are told that the most important thing for them is the surfers’ privacy, this is a lie as even teenage hackers know programs to violate it: at least China tells us about the laughableness of such politically correct statements.
The second important issue is the algorithm insecurity. The so-called insecure algorithm is a model that is used under specific conditions and will not work if the conditions are different. This is also called unrobustness, i.e. the algorithm vulnerability to the test environment.
Taking autonomous driving as an example, it is impossible to consider all scenarios during AI training and to deal with new emergencies when unexpected events occur. At the same time, this vulnerability also makes AI systems permeable to attacks, deception and frauds.
The problem of security in AI does not lie in politicians’ empty speeches and words, but needs to be solved from a technical viewpoint. This distinction is at the basis of AI3.
It has a development path that combines the first generation knowledge-based AI and the second generation data-driven AI. It uses the four elements – knowledge, data, algorithms and computing power – to establish a new theory and interpretable and robust methods for a safe, credible and reliable technology.
At the moment, the AI2 characterised by deep learning is still in a phase of growth and hence the question arises whether the industry can accept the concept of AI3 development.
As seen above, AI has been developing for over 70 years and now it seems to be a “prologue’.
Currently most people are not able to accept the concept of AI3 because everybody was hoping for further advances and steps forward in AI2. Everybody felt that AI could continue to develop by relying on learning and not on processing. The first steps of AI3 in China took place in early 2015 and in 2018.
The AI3 has to solve security problems from a technical viewpoint. Specifically, the approach consists in combining knowledge and data. Some related research has been carried out in China over the past four or five years and the results have also been applied at industrial level. The RealSecure data security platform and the RealSafe algorithm security platform are direct evidence of these successes.
What needs to be emphasised is that these activities can only solve particular security problems in specific circumstances. In other words, the problem of AI security has not yet found a fundamental solution, and it is likely to become a long-lasting topic without a definitive solution since – just to use a metaphor – once the lock is found, there is always an expert burglar. In the future, the field of AI security will be in a state of ongoing confrontation between external offence and internal defence – hence algorithms must be updated constantly and continuously.
The progression of AI3 will be a natural long-term process. Fortunately, however, there is an important AI characteristic – i.e. that every result put on the table always has great application value. This is also one of the important reasons why all countries attach great importance to AI development, as their national interest and real independence are at stake.
With changes taking place around the world and a global economy in deep recession due to Covid-19, the upcoming 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) of the People’s Republic of China will be the roadmap for achieving the country’s development goals in the midst of global turmoil.
As AI is included in the aforementioned plan, its development shall also tackle many “security bottlenecks”. Firstly, there is a wide gap in the innovation and application of AI in the field of network security, and many scenarios are still at the stage of academic exploration and research.
Secondly, AI itself lacks a systematic security assessment and there are severe risks in all software and hardware aspects. Furthermore, the research and innovation environment on AI security is not yet at its peak and the relevant Chinese domestic industry not yet at the top position, seeking more experience.
Since 2017, in response to the AI3 Development Plan issued by the State Council, 15 Ministries and Commissions including the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Development and Reform Commission, etc. have jointly established an innovation platform. This platform is made up of leading companies in the industry, focusing on open innovation in the AI segment.
At present, thanks to this platform, many achievements have been made in the field of security. As first team in the world to conduct research on AI infrastructure from a system implementation perspective, over 100 vulnerabilities have been found in the main machine learning frameworks and dependent components in China.
The number of vulnerabilities make Chinese researchers rank first in the world. At the same time, a future innovation plan -developed and released to open tens of billions of security big data – is being studied to promote the solution to those problems that need continuous updates.
The government’s working report promotes academic cooperation and pushes industry and universities to conduct innovative research into three aspects: a) AI algorithm security comparison; 2) AI infrastructure security detection; 3) AI applications in key cyberspace security scenarios.
By means of state-of-the-art theoretical and basic research, we also need to provide technical reserves for the construction of basic AI hardware and open source software platforms (i.e. programmes that are not protected by copyright and can be freely modified by users) and AI security detection platforms, so as to reduce the risks inherent in AI security technology and ensure the healthy development of AI itself.
With specific reference to security, on March 23 it was announced that the Chinese and Russian Foreign Ministers had signed a joint statement on various current global governance issues.
The statement stresses that the continued spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the evolution of the international scene, has caused a further imbalance in the global governance system and has affected the process of economic development while new global threats and challenges have emerged one after another and the world has entered a period of turbulent changes. The statement appeals to the international community to put aside differences, build consensus, strengthen coordination, preserve world peace and geostrategic stability, as well as promote the building of a more equitable, democratic and rational multipolar international order.
In view of ensuring all this, the independence enshrined by international law is obviously not enough, nor is the possession of nuclear deterrent. What is needed, instead, is the country’s absolute control of information security, which in turn orients and directs the weapon systems, the remote control of which is the greedy prey to the usual suspects.
Eastern Balkans Economic update: Romania’s and North Macedonia’s new data for 2020
When governments around the world started reacting to the pandemic, they induced a vast and unpredictable crisis. The ensuing recession...
Political Lessons from Kerala: People’s Response to the Communist Welfare System
Amid covid-19 fears, the elections to the legislative assemblies of four Indian states- West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Kerala,...
5th Generation Warfare: A reality or Controversy?
In the truest sense, the constant repetition of phrase ‘the 5th generation warfare’ by our military leaders in every media...
Has Modi Conceded ‘South Asia’ to the United States?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pursuing an assertive and confrontational foreign policy. From carrying out ‘surgical strikes’ across the...
Angelus U30 Black Titanium: The one-of-a-kind mean machine
Offered up on the altar of the grande complication, the U30 is a piece like no other. Ultra-light and ultra-sporty,...
Conflict Affected Families in Armenia to Receive World Bank Support
A Grant Agreement for the “Support to Conflict Affected Families” project was signed today by Sylvie Bossoutrot, World Bank Country...
Russia becomes member of International Organization for Migration
After several negotiations, Russia finally becomes as a full-fledged member of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). It means that...
Energy2 days ago
Nord Stream 2: To Gain or to Refrain? Why Germany Refuses to Bend under Sanctions Pressure
Defense2 days ago
China’s quad in the making: A non-conventional approach
Americas3 days ago
Trump Lost, Biden Won. Is Joe Biden’s presidency a signal towards Obama’s America?
South Asia2 days ago
Covid19 mismanagement in India
Green Planet3 days ago
Climate Change Problem: an Emerging Threat to Global Security
Reports2 days ago
Clean energy demand for critical minerals set to soar as the world pursues net zero goals
Reports3 days ago
Global e-commerce jumps to $26.7 trillion, fuelled by COVID-19
South Asia2 days ago
Rohingya crisis: How long will Bangladesh single-handedly assume this responsibility?