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Enterprise Tech Dispatch: Intel to develop AI fix for spinal injuries; Shashi Tharoor and citizen data

Enterprise Tech Dispatch: Intel to develop AI fix for spinal injuries; Shashi Tharoor and citizen data
Photo Credit: Reuters

In another huge step towards technology paving the way forward in healthcare, US-based chip giant Intel will work with Ivy League Brown University on a project that helps paralyzed patients restore certain movements using artificial intelligence. 

The human body is unable to regenerate severed nerve fibres, and in the case of a severe spinal injury, the brain’s electrical commands will no longer reach the muscles, which can lead to paralysis.

The United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-funded project will be a two-year programme where researchers will record motor and sensory signals from the spinal cord and use artificial neural networks to learn how to stimulate the post-injury site to communicate motor commands.

The Brown University team will work with researchers from the Santa Clara-based tech giant, which will provide hardware, software and research support for the project.

Previous projects like the BrainGate research programme provided Brown researchers the opportunity to pioneer work in this area, and this new project will strive to build on that success.

India a hotbed for testing new products

Meanwhile, RBC Capital Markets’ Mark Mahaney said India was the preferred destination for most technology giants such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet's Google, usually termed as FAANG companies, to test their new products, according to a Bloomberg report.

Mahney, who is a well-known Wall Street internet analyst who has covered the technology sector for more than 20 years, said India was the preferred destination over China owing to its lower regulations and similar growth dynamics.

Some of the examples cited were WhatsApp beta-testing its payment feature, Netflix rolling out a low cost mobile plan and trying their hands at creating original content to capture a market share.

The 53 year old analyst said India did have some regulations but were not as protectionist as China.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has been considering a new law that would need all tech giants to store data locally, which could potentially hamper the low regulatory tag of India but Mahaney believes India would still be the go to country for testing out new products.

Additionally, the FAANGs were looking towards acquisitions as an alternative route from organic growth, owing to higher levels of scrutiny in the US and Western Europe. “There’s an opportunity to build growth” in Asia, particularly in India, Mahaney was quoted as saying.

Amazon already tried its hand at deals in the South Asian nation by attempting to acquire Indian ecommerce pioneer Flipkart before it was snapped up by Walmart last year.

Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and Alphabet can all win big in India, said Mahaney, who has a buy rating on the stocks. “India is less than 5% of the Amazon’s total revenues but it has the potential” to get to that level within five years, Mahaney said.

Shashi Tharoor to examine security of citizens' data

Back home, a recently constituted parliamentary panel headed by Congress veteran Shashi Tharoor will look into the privacy and security aspects of the functioning of the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), CNN News18 reported.

The panel, known as the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology, has reportedly chosen to look into policy issues pertaining to cross-border data flows, usage of artificial intelligence as well as proper utilisation of the Internet of things and the adoption of 5G.

Additionally, the committee has also been given the responsibility of reviewing the functioning of telecom regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) , Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam  (BSNL).

"Review of functioning of UIDAI, citizens' data security and privacy, and digital payment and online security measures for data protection are the subjects selected by the committee for examination," the Lok Sabha secretariat was quoted as saying in the report.

Most importantly, the prevention of misuse of social or online news media platforms as well as safety of women in the digital space will also get a close look by the committee.

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