The debate continues on whether or not we should use live facial recognition in public areas

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You may probably have heard about China’s efforts to introduce a social scoring system based on live facial recognition in public areas. The idea was to give people points for doing good things, and punish those doing bad things – like jaywalking, fighting or stealing. 

Well, UK goes through a similar debate right now, and while it may not be as controversial as the Chinese scoring system, it still has gathered quite a lot of controversies. The question is, should UK apply live facial recognition to their already extensive network of CCTV cameras? What inpact would that have on society and would the positives outweigh the negatives? Let’s review the arguments that have been made by both sides. 

The difference between normal CCTV and this technology is that it can automatically indentify you by your facial feature and can pull up available data about you. Some look at the opportunities this could bring in finding people that have been doing bad things – such as thiefs or other criminals. They could be indentified by walking down the street or while buying groceries. It could also help with finding missing persons. 

On the other side, people are very distressed about the possibilities of doing harmful things with this technology. People often refer to the ‚Big Brother’ from George Orwell’s book, 1984. The UK information commisioner mentioned the following in one of her blog posts: “I am deeply concerned about the potential for live facial recognition (LFR) technology to be used inappropriately, excessively or even recklessly. When sensitive personal data is collected on a mass scale without people’s knowledge, choice or control, the impacts could be significant,”

There are also campaigns like Reclaim Your Face that fight against biometric mass surveilance and want to reclaim the public space. They believe that either to government or coporations will use this technology against the people. It’s just a matter of when, not if. 

What is your opinion on this? Do the negatives outweigh the positives or the other way around?  

Solar Panel Revolution, Perovskites.

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Olga Malinkiewicz is the person responsible for the recent renaissance of perovskites. This was due to her discovery in 2013 when she detected the new way of applying the perovskites not only on the glass surfaces and that attracted international attention to her discoveries. Today together with her team, she is disrupting the energy sector. The recently opened factory is a sign to the competitors that the change is coming fast.

https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5ee157a906d3a8583f80f996/60ccdba4cf10877cb9b6c0e2_pexels-pixabay-356036.jpg

Beginnings

Perovskites are the minerals discovered by the Russian scientist Gustav Rose in 1839. They are among the most common crystal structures found on the planet. They are responsible for 38% of the planet’s mass. Their presence has also been proved in the structure of other planets. 

Perovskites’s have been identified with semiconductor capabilities, and in comparison with silicons, they are characterized with exponentially higher defect tolerance. The fact of adaptability and efficiency is also recognizing their potential.

Development 

The technology is currently under intensive investigation aiming to make real-life solutions more reliable and ecological using perovskites. In 2013 in one of such research centers in Spain, Olga Malinkiewicz invented « a revolutionary method to produce solar cells by coating perovskites on flexible foils. This achievement earns her multiple awards and garners international media attention » Before Olga’s discovery, perovskites were only available for use on the glass, and her discovery increased the possibility to apply powerful minerals on a wider scale. This event is the moment when Saule Technologies is born. A year later she forms a team with Piotr Krych and Artur Kupczunas. Just a year later, prominent Japanese investor Hideo Sawada put his money into the project. 

The company is getting traction, and the eyes of the publicity are pointed to the team. The series of partnerships shown what perovskites on flexible foils are capable of.

  1. In-house electronic charger
  2. A4 size module is created for the Skanska park in Warsaw
  3. The solar carport 
  4. Partnership with Columbus (solar panels distributor)

The fact that Malinkiewicz decided to use the flexible foils made her dicsovery a perfect way to scale the perovskites’ capabilities. An example of a solution possible thanks to the chosen approach is creating a T-shirt that produces the energy and makes it possible to charge the phone just by exposing yourself to the light. The flexible foil of perovskites is implemented in the fabric of the clothes. Similarly, many solutions can be powered by panels thanks using the flexible foil. 

The price also plays in favor of perovskite-driven solutions as the solar cells could be just printed in the 3d printing machine and don’t have to be manufactured in complicated processes.

The great advantage that perovskite-based solar panels have over regular solar panels is their lower sensitivity to the change of angles of the absorbed light. Unlike the already known solutions, Saule Technologies identified that panels using their perovskite technology significantly lower side effects when angles of absorbed light change. Moreover, the panels maintain the same efficiency when absorbing both the sunlight and the light from artificial sources.

What is missing for the technology is the way to make the panels less degradable. The battery in an average phone is degradable after 50 years, and the perovskite technology charging the phone would become degradable after a couple of months.

Nonetheless, among the already established use cases, there are solar sunblinds, photovoltaic glass, bus stations, car parks, price tags. What is very promising about the technology is its scalability and palette of potential applications. 

Future

Saule Tech. has a great journey ahead and is now in a crucial phase where the competition is trying to take over its leading place. Mrs. Olga indicates that it is not time to relax but to increase the speed of development. Crucial decisions about the place of building the next factory are about to happen. The team underlines that the place will be chosen based on the needs of local economies. Mr. Hideo Sawada announced the willingness to create the next factories in Japan, where the government expressed interest in supporting Saule’s venture. These facts show the management board’s geopolitical awareness and pragmatic thinking.

Anduril, the startup that wants to solve Americas biggest security challenges, just got funded $450M

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Anduril is a startup that creates cutting edge products for the US and its allies. They build everything from software, to drones and sentries. 

Andruil has now raised 450 million dollars giving it a valuation of 4.6 billion dollars, which is about 4 times greater than one year ago. Elad Gill, who is a former Googler and Twitter VP, has taken the lead on this investment round, however there have been a number of funds and investors that also joined this round. 

Since it’s foundation, the company has built a better and better relationship with the US army.

Last year it was chosen as one of the 50 companies to work on the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) project or the US army.

Find more about this interesting start-up in this video made by Bloomberg.

Apple’s new AirTags cause serious controversies regarding privacy

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Apple’s new AirTags

Apple’s new AirTags, a location device that you can attach onto almost anything and track it through your application has been met with a lot of love, but also criticism. People are afraid that these will be used for stalking or other illegal activities. 

Apple responded that they are aware of the issue and they are trying to deal with it. Their solution, for now, is to notify users that have been tracked for 3 days that they may be stalked. There is a debate inside whether or not that is the correct ammount of time. On the one hand, getting a notification after 3 days allows you to make sure that you will not be tracked long term without your knowledge, but 3 days is still a lot of time in which someone may stalk you and potentially take advantage of you with the information he has aquired. 

Another issue with these devices is the way they communicate. They basically send SOS signals to other people’s iPhones in the area, allowing them to communicate the signal to Apple.  The issue is, if there are no iPhones around then there will be no SOS signal received. Apple’s team has been working on this and ‚lost’ ome of these AirTags on purpose to test them to their limits. 

What do you think about Apple’s new AirTags. Would you use them and are you worried that someone may track your whereabouts with one? 

Mercury powered space vehicles to speed up space exploration

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An idea from the Cold War times – mercury as a spacecraft fuel, used by startup from Silicone Valley.

Source: Spacenews.com

Recently, Apollo Fusion, a startup led by Mike Cassidy (ex VP of Google) was purchased by Astra for $50 million. The company is specialised in electric propulsion systems. Currently, gases such as xenon or Krypton are used to power spacecrafts, but according to Apollo Fusion, mercury gives new opportunities.

Mercury is a much heavier alternative from used gases, which gives the possibility of obtaining a larger power from such fuel, based on the research, it could be up to 3 times more powerful than the strongest engine known to us today system, powered by xenon.

Mercury would allow you to give a much larger and heavier cosmic vehicles, which would accelerate the investigation of space.

Sources:
https://apollofusion.com
https://spacenews.com/astra-to-acquire-spacecraft-propulsion-company-apollo-fusion/
https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/a25242578/apollo-fusion-mercury/
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-19/this-space-startup-could-lace-the-atmosphere-with-toxic-mercury

Advertising in VR – welcome to new channel of digital marketing

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Social Media mogul, Facebook, announced that it will start advertising in a virtual reality environment using the Oculus platform. The first attempts will be carried out on a game called Blaston, which is a single player shooter.

Source: oculus.com

The game is not a highly popular one, but Facebook wants to run the tests on less used apps. “For now, this is a test with a few apps – once we see how this test goes and incorporate feedback from developers and incorporate, we’ll provide more details on when ads may become more broadly available across the oculus platform and in the oculus mobile app “

The first doubts are directed towards the data privacy and whether the headset from Oculus will not use camera or user movements for advertisement targeting purposes. Facebook denied accusations and ensured that all activities will be ethical and the data will come from other sources. As it is mentioned on oculus blog, “ads are most effective when they’re high-quality and relevant—because of that, Oculus ads will follow Facebook’s advertising principles, the first of which is “build for people first””

Sources:

https://www.oculus.com/blog/testing-in-headset-vr-ads/

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/16/facebook-to-begin-testing-ads-inside-oculus-virtual-reality-headsets.html

China launches first crewed space mission in 11 years

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For the first time in 11 years, on June 17, 2021, China launched a space mission with a crew. The mission will last 90 days, which makes it the longest crewed space mission in China’s space exploration history.

Source: CNN

Three astronauts are participating in Shenzhou 12 mission – Commander No Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo, the goal of the mission is to work on Chinese space station, “Preparing a new home in space for use”.

Astronauts docked at Tianhe, the main section of the Tianongong station, which was launched on April 29. In May, it was equipped with fuel, food and everything else needed for a crewed mission.

China invests billions in development of space program, this year their space rover landed on Mars, and 11 space missions have already been planned for next year.

Source:
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-57504052
https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/17/china-launches-3-Astronauts-to-its-new-space-station-core-module/
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/06/16/china/china-manned-mission-space-launch-intl-hnk-cn/index.html

PGNiG implementation of AI effects on gas production

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PGNiG is a Polish state-owned company specialised in extracting gas and kerosene operating since 1976. This week, the company has launched a AI implementation project called Smart Field.

Source: media.wplm.pl

The aim of the project is to maximize resource extraction, its operation will “slow down deplet of its recoverable gas reserves by 7.3 Billion Cubic Meters over the next 12 months.”

In 2009, the PGNiG launched the Digital Deposit Platform, which connected work related to hydrocarbon extraction into and single deposit model, since then the company effectively introduces AI and tech innovations in analytics and automation of company processes. Smart Field is considered as a direct effect of the platform that will help the company develop further. “This is a technological leap that opens up new Opportunities for us to build our position on global markets” – Robert Perkowski, PGNiG’s Operations VP


What’s more, the company plans to implement AI-based solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving the effectiveness of working on the extractions. “Natural gas can play a key role in the process of rapid deconison of the national economy. We want the fuel we supply to have the lowest possible carbon footprint in the entire value chain, “Pawel Majewski, PGNiG’s Board President.

Sources:

https://en.pgnig.pl/news/-/news-list/id/pgnig-to-harness-artificial-intelligence-to-make-production-more-efficient-cheaper-and-greener/newsGroupId/1910852

https://aibusiness.com/document.asp?doc_id=770253&

https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/pgnig-to-increase-domestic-gas-deposits-thanks-to-ai-project-22574

The technological race for autonomous vehicles

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Alphabet, Google parent company, initially was the only investor of Waymo, but recently it opened to investments and quickly gathered over $2 billion. In the latest round, the company gathered over $2.5 billion, which in total gave $5 billion Capital.

Source: Waymo.com


Waymo has been operating for 12 years, the company specialises in autonomous vehicles. It is one of the oldest and best co-financed companies in this industry, and their great advantage is full access to unlimited Google resources.


Company’s cars are tested on the roads of 25 cities, Waymo One, which is a service that allows a ride to a stand-alone car, traveled thousands of kilometres, what is more company signed partnerships with numerous transport companies.


Recently, Waymo entered cooperation with Daimler – the owner of Mercedes-Benz, to work on autonomous trucks. After that, many other automakers have started a similar cooperation with Waymo.

Despite numerous successes and continuous development, the company also faced many problems that leaked to the public. This year, from the company, the vast majority of CxO level employees left, which was probably associated with videos that appeared soon after. The movies showed as autonomous vehicles get out from control during road tests. In recent years, numerous accidents were caused by autonomous vehicles and media was vocal about every case.

The autonomous vehicle market is dynamically developing and interest is increasing among tech giants such as Microsoft or Amazon. The first one invested $2 billion in Lyft, and the second one bought a company called Zoox. Companies from the automotive market are also increasingly interested in this technology, Daimler took over many companies specialised in autonomous tech, Ford and Volkswagen invested gigantic capital in Argo Ai, Toyota started working on the first autonomous car, and Bridgestone bought the majority of Kodiak Robotics, all these activities look like a technological race.

Despite this, the old player on the market, Waymo claims that “They love a challenge.”

Sources:

https://waymo.com

https://aibusiness.com/document.asp?doc_id=770295&

Artificial Intelligence and Business Areas

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Nowadays, some organisations look at applying AI in order to solve problems by applying it onto existing processes to automate them or add insights. Other organisations undertake a total makeover of their business overhauling the entire organisation with AI. However, neither of these two options can deliver speed of change as well as level of change companies need in order to develop.

Organisations need to identify business domains which are broad enough and as a result AI will improve their financial performance as well as customer and employee experiences. The areas should be identified along with some characteristics :

  • Areas which will create solutions to systemic business problems (e.g. chronic process inefficiency and difficulties getting services and goods to customers) needs to be addressed together.
  • Areas with sponsors and teams. Reinvention with AI needs a supportive business leader (or maybe even multiple leaders) and a team which will take roles such as product owner, translator and change lead. AI practitioners should also be included in the area.
  • Area with AI assets and reusable data since it is of significant importance to have domains in which the data needed to run the AI models overlap. Consequently, every new AI project with such a domain can be built based on previous projects instead of starting from zero.

In the majority of cases, leaders are able to identify from eight to ten domains in order for AI to completely transform their business. Nevertheless, organisations are usually succeeding when they pay attention to one or two main domains to start. These domains are based on value and leadership support so that they can build up their capabilities and skills before moving on.

Most leaders can likely identify around eight to ten domains where AI can transform their business. However, we find that companies are most successful when they focus on one or two priority domains to start—based on value, feasibility, and leadership support—so they build up their capabilities and skills before expanding further.

Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/artificial-intelligence#