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Astronomers reveal first image of Black Hole

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Astronomers snapped an image of a supermassive black hole for the first time in history. This is the second result of the research team since 2019, when it presented a picture of the M87 black hole. The Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) also participated in the research. Scientists said the result is a milestone in the history of astronomy. Humans have taken one more step closer to the secret of the birth of the universe. According to the KASI on May 12, Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, the global joint research team formed by more than 300 researchers from 80 institutions, captured the image of the supermassive black hole “Sgr A” at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. This is the result made in three years since the team succeeded in observing the shadow of the black hole in the core of the galaxy M-87. The black hole Sgr A is located at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy, 27,000 light years from Earth. It is roughly 4 million times the mass of the sun. Dr. Sohn Bong-won at the KASI said, “The Sgr A is the closest supermassive black hole to Earth that humans have ever observed.” As the Sgr A is 2,000 times closer to Earth than the black hole in M87, it is a strong target for black hole research. However, the Sgr A is 1,500 times more compact than M87 black hole, which means that drawing out Sgr A was far more difficult as the gas flow moves faster and change rapidly. The EHT used for the research is a virtual super ultra-telescope coordinated by eight radio observatories around the world. The team captured a clear image of the black hole by analyzing the black hole’s radio signal data observed by the eight telescopes and translating the signals into a representative image of the black hole. An official from the KASI explained the telescope’s performance, “It is able to read newspapers in New York while sitting at a cafe in Paris.” To process massive b l a c k h o l e observation data, the t e a m a n a lyz e d d at a by u s i n g supercomputers and conducted simulations for five years. After calibrating data and making the image, the ream succeeded in observing the shadow and ring-like structure of the Sgr A. Three Korean VLBI Network (KVN) of the KASI also participated in the project. The three units observed that the structure of the Sgr A black hole is close to a sphere shape, and the accretion disk of the black hole is facing Earth head-on. Korean researchers, including the KASI, carried out various tasks of the research such as operation of Chile’s Atacama Large Millimeter, submillimeter Array (ALMA) and Hawaii’s James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) to observe and process data.

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Apple plans to hire 500,000+ employees in India by 2027

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According to government sources, Apple, the manufacturer of iPhones, is anticipated to create employment opportunities for over 500,000 individuals in India through its vendors within the next three years. Presently, Apple’s vendors and suppliers provide jobs for 150,000 people in India. Tata Electronics, operating two plants for Apple, stands out as the largest contributor to job creation. “Apple’s recruitment efforts in India are gaining momentum. By conservative estimates, it is projected to hire half a million individuals in the next three years through its vendors and component suppliers,” stated a senior government official. When contacted, Apple declined to comment on the projection.

Apple has plans to scale up production in India by over five-fold to around $40 billion (about 3.32 lakh crore) in the next 4-5 years. According to market research firm Counterpoint Research, Apple led the India market with the highest revenue in 2023 for the first time, while Samsung topped the chart in terms of volume sales. The firm in its recent report said Apple surpassed the 10-million-unit mark in shipments and captured the top position in revenue in a calendar year for the first time.

Apple’s iPhone exports from India rose sharply to $12.1 billion in 2023-24 from $6.27 billion in 2022-23, representing a massive surge of nearly 100 per cent, according to trade intelligence platform The Trade Vision.

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Kerala to train 80,000 secondary school teachers in AI

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In a pioneering move towards integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into the education sector, the Kerala government has announced a comprehensive three-day training program for over 80,000 state secondary school teachers. Scheduled to commence from May 2, the initiative is spearheaded by the Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) with a vision to equip teachers with essential AI expertise by August 2024.

The program aims to empower teachers of classes 8 to 12 with hands-on training in AI techniques tailored to enhance teaching and learning experiences. According to a press release, the training will cover a wide array of AI applications, including summarization techniques for simplifying complex documents in various formats such as PDFs, images, and videos. Teachers will be trained to generate concise summaries while retaining crucial information and even creating new content using AI tools.

Additionally, the training curriculum includes sessions on image generation techniques, enabling teachers to create and edit subject-specific visuals, transform them into cartoons or paintings, and integrate text seamlessly. Prompt Engineering and Machine Learning segments will offer insights into formulating precise prompts essential for effective AI tool utilization and understanding programming mechanisms.

Through data visualization exercises, teachers will explore the potential of AI in creating presentations and animations, along with customizing tables, graphs, and charts to cater to specific educational requirements. The training will also focus on AI techniques for assessment purposes, empowering teachers to design various question formats, including unit tests, thereby enhancing the evaluation process.

K Anvar Sadath, Chief Executive Officer of KITE, highlighted the program’s objective to foster a culture of responsible AI usage and mitigate potential risks associated with AI. Teachers will engage in activities aimed at creating their avatars to gain insights into concepts like deepfakes, privacy concerns, and algorithm bias.

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AI under the microscope, CCI probes impact on competition and innovation

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The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has initiated a comprehensive study to analyze the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on competition, efficiency, and innovation in key user industries, according to a press statement. The study aims to explore the transformative capabilities of AI while addressing potential competition concerns arising from its use.

The CCI emphasized that while AI holds significant procompetitive potential, there may also be competition concerns associated with its adoption. The study is designed as a knowledge-building exercise to develop an in-depth understanding of the emerging competition dynamics in the development of AI systems.

Key objectives of the study include understanding the landscape and application of AI in Indian markets, examining existing legislations worldwide and in India, and determining enforcement and advocacy priorities concerning AI and its application. To facilitate the study, the antitrust watchdog plans to engage with stakeholders across various sectors to explore the scope and nature of AI use cases and their effects on competition. Data will be collected from technology firms, investors, startups, industry associations, independent developers, and customer firms.

The CCI has issued a request for proposals from agencies to conduct the market study, with a deadline for submission set for June 3. The study seeks to understand key AI systems and markets, ecosystems, AI actors, stakeholders, value chains, market structures, and parameters of competition.

Meanwhile, a high-powered committee, led by the principal scientific advisor to the Government of India, is developing a framework for AI. The committee comprises representatives from various ministries, academia, industry associations, and think tanks, aiming to establish a comprehensive framework for AI governance.

Sources suggest that a dedicated regulation or comprehensive framework for AI may be introduced post the Lok Sabha elections, as India currently lacks a policy framework to govern AI. The absence of such regulation raises concerns about potential harms and risks associated with AI, prompting initiatives to manage risks and ensure user safety. Previously, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued advisories to intermediaries and AI platforms to manage risks associated with AI use, emphasizing the importance of addressing biases in AI models to safeguard Indian users.

Discussions around AI governance began in the government in 2018, with the release of a paper titled “National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence” by NITI Aayog. The paper highlighted the need for appropriate data handling, privacy protection, and the establishment of regulatory frameworks to ensure the safe and ethical use of AI.

The CCI’s initiative reflects a proactive approach towards understanding and regulating AI’s impact on competition and innovation, signaling India’s commitment to harnessing AI’s potential while mitigating associated risks. As AI continues to transform industries, robust governance frameworks become essential to foster innovation and safeguard consumer interests in the digital age.

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Infosys Acquires German firm in-tech in 450M Euro All-Cash deal

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IT major Infosys announced its acquisition of in-tech, a prominent engineering R&D services provider specializing in the German automotive industry, on Thursday in an exchange filing. This 450 million euro acquisition will help the IT company expand its footprint in Europe. The acquisition is expected to be wrapped up in the first half of the financial year 2025, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, the company said. Infosys has already received approvals from regulatory authorities in Germany, Romania, Austria, India, and “such other regulatory approvals as may be required”.

Headquartered in Germany, in-tech is one of the fastest-growing engineering R&D services providers, playing a pivotal role in driving digitization across the automotive, rail transport, and smart industry sectors. The company focuses on areas such as e-mobility, connected and autonomous driving, electric vehicles (EVs), off-road vehicles, and railroad solutions. The German firm offers a comprehensive suite of services, including system design, methodical consulting, advanced electronics platform development, and validation of automotive-specific software and hardware systems.

“Together with in-tech, Infosys Topaz, an AI-first set of services, solutions, and platforms, and recently acquired InSemi’ semiconductor’s expertise, we have successfully created deeper capabilities for the next phase of automotive innovation in the arena of software-defined vehicles. We are excited to welcome in-tech and its leadership team into the Infosys family,” said Dinesh Rao, executive vice president, and co-delivery head at Infosys.

“Together we now cover the entire end-to-end process, a step that is crucial to fully meet our customers’ needs. With access to more talent and expertise, we gain incredible strength and scale in our delivery capability, enabling us to successfully implement even more ambitious projects,” added Tobias Wagner, CEO of in-tech.

Infosys also reported its results for the financial year 2023-24 (FY24) on Thursday. Infosys reported a net profit increase of 8.9 percent to Rs 26,233 crore from Rs 24,095 crore recorded at the end of FY23 and its annual income from operations went up by 4.7 percent to Rs 1,53,670 crore in FY24 from Rs 1,46,767 crore in FY23.

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OpenAI Establishes India Presence with Government Relations Head

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OpenAI, backed by Microsoft Corp., has appointed Pragya Misra as its first employee in India, naming her as the head of government relations. The move comes as India votes in a new administration, a crucial time for shaping artificial intelligence regulations in the country. Misra, 39, previously worked at Truecaller AB and Meta Platforms Inc. She is set to start at OpenAI toward the end of the month. Her appointment signals OpenAI’s efforts to advocate for favorable regulations as governments worldwide grapple with how to regulate AI technology.

India, with its vast population and rapidly growing economy, presents significant growth opportunities for global tech companies like OpenAI. However, navigating India’s regulatory landscape can be challenging due to local lawmakers and regulators prioritizing the protection of domestic firms. OpenAI representatives and Misra did not respond to requests for comment outside regular US office hours. Misra’s experience in leading public affairs at Truecaller and Meta Platforms Inc., where she spearheaded WhatsApp’s campaign against misinformation in 2018, positions her well for her new role at OpenAI.

In India, OpenAI faces competition from tech giants like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which is developing AI models tailored for the country, aiming to cater to diverse linguistic needs and widen internet access. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman emphasized the importance of integrating AI technologies into government services, particularly in sectors like healthcare. Altman, who has previously met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, underscored India’s role as an early adopter of OpenAI’s generative-AI service, ChatGPT.

While Altman has advocated for more regulations in the AI space, he has also expressed concerns about the potential harm caused by the technology. He believes that while significant regulatory changes may not be necessary for current AI versions, they may become essential in the near future. OpenAI’s decision to appoint its first employee in India reflects the company’s recognition of the country’s importance in the global AI landscape.

With a population of 1.4 billion and a rapidly growing economy, India presents a vast market and innovation hub for AI technologies. By establishing a presence in India, OpenAI aims to leverage local talent and resources to drive its growth and influence in the region. Pragya Misra’s appointment as head of government relations underscores OpenAI’s commitment to engaging with policymakers and stakeholders in India.

Her experience in navigating regulatory environments and building partnerships will be instrumental in advancing OpenAI’s interests and objectives in the country. India’s government has shown increasing interest in AI regulation and adoption, recognizing its potential to transform various sectors, including healthcare, education, and governance.

As AI technologies continue to evolve, policymakers are grappling with issues related to privacy, security, and ethical use, making effective government relations crucial for companies like OpenAI. Moreover, OpenAI’s competition with tech giants like Google highlights the importance of strategic positioning and advocacy efforts in India’s competitive market.

By proactively engaging with regulators and policymakers, OpenAI seeks to shape the regulatory landscape in its favor while also fostering collaboration and innovation within the AI ecosystem. Overall, OpenAI’s decision to establish a presence in India and appoint a government relations head underscores its commitment to driving responsible AI development and adoption globally.

As the company expands its footprint in India, it is poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of AI in the region and beyond.

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Micron to receive over $6 bn in chips grants next week

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Micron Technology Inc., the leading US manufacturer of computer-memory chips, is positioned to receive $6.1 billion in grants from the Commerce Department to support domestic factory projects, as part of an initiative to reestablish semiconductor production in the United States. While the award is still pending finalization, individuals familiar with the matter anticipate its announcement next week. Additionally, Micron, alongside Intel Corp. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., is expected to accept loans as part of its award package.

However, the exact value of these loans is currently unknown. Micron shares gained as much as 2.6 per cent in late trading after Bloomberg reported on the planned award. The stock was already up 36 per cent this year through Wednesday’s close. President Joe Biden is scheduled to travel on April 25 to the Syracuse, New York, region as part of the announcement, the people said. Micron, based in Boise, Idaho, is building factories near Syracuse, as well as in its home state. Representatives for Micron, the Commerce Department and the White House declined to comment.

The 2022 Chips and Science Act set aside $39 billion for direct grants, as well as loans and loan guarantees worth $75 billion, to revitalize American chipmaking after decades of production shifting to Asia. Officials have unveiled six preliminary awards so far: three to firms that produce older-generation semiconductors, plus multibillion dollar packages for Intel, TSMC and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has said the agency plans to spend about $28 billion of the grant funding on leading edge projects.

After the preliminary agreement is announced, Micron would enter months of due diligence and then receive the money in tranches tied to project-specific benchmarks. Micron has pledged to build as many as four factories in New York state, plus one in Idaho. But those plans “require Micron to receive the combination of sufficient Chips grants, investment tax credits and local incentives to address the cost difference compared to overseas expansion,” Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Mehrotra said last month.

The company is proceeding with projects in China, India and Japan as well. Raimondo has said that her agency will prioritize funding projects that begin production by the end of the decade. Two of Micron’s four New York sites are on track to meet that benchmark, while the other two won’t be operational until 2041, the company said in a recent federal filing. That means that Micron’s award is likely to support only the first two New York facilities, people familiar with the matter said earlier. Computer memory and storage chips are a vital part of everything from smartphones to the biggest data centers, where they store information and help advanced logic process information. Production is primarily done in Asia.

Micron’s biggest two competitors, Samsung and SK Hynix Inc., account for the majority of that manufacturing. These companies also intend to establish factories in the United States — one for logic chips and another for advanced packaging — contributing to a surge of over $200 billion in private semiconductor investment catalyzed by the Chips Act.

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