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International collaboration in the field of #ICT research is a central cog in the wheel in tackling the global challenges of today

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Researchers and scientists from all over the world are working together to find a vaccine to combat Coronavirus. Companies from Europe, China, USA, Australia and Canada are at the forefront in seeking to find medical solutions to tackle Covid-19. But there is one common denominator in the work of all these specific research programmes. They bring scientists together from different parts on the world to work on this incredibly important field of health research, writes Abraham Liu, the Huawei chief representative to the EU institutions.

 

Abraham Liu, the Huawei chief representative to the EU institutions.

Abraham Liu, the Huawei chief representative to the EU institutions.

The pursuit of scientific excellence does not stop at any defined geographical border. If governments or companies alike want to deliver the most innovative products and solutions into the marketplace, they should pursue a policy of international co-operation and engagement.

In other words, ensuring that the best scientists in the world are working together in the pursuit of a common purpose. For example, this can relate to collaborative research activities in combatting chronic health disorders, tackling climate change and in building the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient cities of the future.

Advances in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) now, underpin today the innovative development of all vertical industries. The energy, transport, health, industrial, financial and agriculture sectors are being modernized and transformed via the process of digital ingenuity.

  • 5G can now ensure that medical operations can be carried out remotely.
  • Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) can help in identifying Covid-19 via cloud applications.
  • Innovations in the field of the Internet of Things (I.O.T) ensure the more efficient operation of water supply systems by automatically identifying faults and leaks.
  • Today 25% of all traffic congestion in cities is caused by people looking for parking spaces. By properly using data centres and by integrating the use of video, voice and data services, traffic-light and parking systems are operationally more efficient.
  • 5G will deliver self-driving cars because the latency response times in carrying out instructions are now much lower compared to 4G. Car companies are now using server computers to test new vehicle models as opposed to deploying physical cars for such demonstrations.
  • 85% of all traditional banking services are now carried out online. Advances in AI are also leading the fight in combating credit card fraud.
  • By properly using sensors to identify the blood pressure and heartbeat levels in cattle, milk production can increase by 20%.

At the core of all these advances is a very strong commitment by both the public and private sectors to invest in basic research. This includes areas such as mathematical algorithms, environmental sciences and energy efficiencies. But international co-operation and engagement is the key component in delivering the digital transformation that we are witnessing today.

The policy objectives of Horizon Europe (2021-2027) will be successfully achieved through positive international collaboration. This research programme of the EU will help make Europe fit for the digital age, build a green economy, tackle climate change and implement the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. Huawei can and will help the EU fulfil these vitally important social and economic policy goals.

Huawei is committed to continuing our policy of international engagement in delivering new innovative products and solutions into the marketplace. Huawei employs over 2400 researchers in Europe, 90% of whom are local recruits. Our company works with over 150 universities in Europe on a range of different research activities. Huawei is an active participant in EU research and science initiatives such as Horizon 2020.

The private and public research and educational communities from all parts of the world – by working together - with a common sense of purpose - can and will tackle the serious global challenges facing us today.

Where we are united, we will succeed. Where we are divided, we will fail.

Artificial intelligence

What is #ArtificialIntelligence and how is it used?

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to be a "defining future technology", but what exactly is AI and how does it already affect our lives?

Definition of artificial intelligence

AI is the ability of a machine to display human-like capabilities such as reasoning, learning, planning and creativity.

AI enables technical systems to perceive their environment, deal with what they perceive, solve problems and act to achieve a specific goal. The computer receives data - already prepared or gathered through its own sensors such as a camera - processes it and responds.

AI systems are capable of adapting their behaviour to a certain degree by analysing the effects of previous actions and working autonomously.

Why is AI important?

Some AI technologies have been around for more than 50 years, but advances in computing power, the availability of enormous quantities of data and new algorithms have led to major AI breakthroughs in recent years.

Artificial intelligence is seen as central to the digital transformation of society and it has become an EU priority.

Future applications are expected to bring about enormous changes, but AI is already present in our everyday lives.

Types of AI
  • Software: virtual assistants, image analysis software, search engines, speech and face recognition systems
  • "Embodied" AI: robots, autonomous cars, drones, Internet of Things

AI in everyday life

Below are some AI applications that you may not realize are AI-powered:

Online shopping and advertising

Artificial intelligence is widely used to provide personalized recommendations to people, based for example on their previous searches and purchases or other online behaviour. AI is hugely important in commerce: optimizing products, planning inventory, logistics etc.

Web search

Search engines learn from the vast input of data, provided by their users to provide relevant search results.

Digital personal assistants

Smartphones use AI to provide services that are as relevant and personalized as possible. Virtual assistants answering questions, providing recommendations and helping organize daily routines have become ubiquitous.

Machine translations

Language translation software, either based on written or spoken text, relies on artificial intelligence to provide and improve translations. This also applies to functions such as automated subtitling.

Smart homes, cities and infrastructure

Smart thermostats learn from our behaviour to save energy, while developers of smart cities hope to regulate traffic to improve connectivity and reduce traffic jams.

Cars

While self-driving vehicles are not yet standard, cars already use AI-powered safety functions. The EU has for example helped to fund VI-DAS, automated sensors that detect possible dangerous situations and accidents.

Navigation is largely AI-powered.

Cybersecurity

AI systems can help recognize and fight cyberattacks and other cyber threats based on the continuous input of data, recognising patterns and backtracking the attacks.

Artificial intelligence against COVID-19

In the case of COVID-19, AI has been used in thermal imaging in airports and elsewhere. In medicine it can help recognise infection from computerised tomography lung scans. It has also been used to provide data to track the spread of the disease.

Fighting disinformation

Certain AI applications can detect fake news and disinformation by mining social media information, looking for words that are sensational or alarming and identifying which online sources are deemed authoritative.

Other examples of artificial intelligence use

AI is set to transform practically all aspects of life and the economy. Here are just a few examples:

Health

Researchers are studying how to use AI to analyze large quantities of health data and discover patterns that could lead to new discoveries in medicine and ways to improve individual diagnostics.

For example, researchers developed an AI program for answering emergency calls that promises to recognise a cardiac arrest during the call faster and more frequently than medical dispatchers. In another example, EU co-funded KConnect is developing multi-lingual text and search services that help people find the most relevant medical information available.

Transport

AI could improve the safety, speed and efficiency of rail traffic by minimizing wheel friction, maximizing speed and enabling autonomous driving.

Manufacturing

AI can help European manufacturers become more efficient and bring factories back to Europe by using robots in manufacturing, optimising sales paths, or by on-time predicting of maintenance and breakdowns in smart factories.

SatisFactory, an EU co-funded research project, uses collaborative and augmented-reality systems to increase work satisfaction in smart factories.

Food and farming

AI can be used in creating  a sustainable EU food system: it can ensure healthier food by minimising the use of fertilisers, pesticides and irrigation; help productivity and reduce the environmental impact. Robots could remove weeds, lowering the use of herbicides, for example.

Many farms across the EU already use AI to monitor the movement, temperature and feed consumption of their animals.

Public administration and services

Using a wide range of data and pattern recognition, AI could provide early warnings of natural disasters and allow for efficient preparation and mitigation of consequences.

88% Although 61% of Europeans look favourably at AI and robots, 88% say these technologies require careful management. (Eurobarometer 2017, EU-28)

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International organisations can play a crucial role in promoting #ICT for economic recovery - #Huawei

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International multilateral organisations have a crucial role to play in promoting ICT technologies - to help the European and global economies recover from the Covid-19 crisis, Huawei’s Chief Representative to the EU Institutions Abraham Liu said during an online debate today.

Abraham Liu

Abraham Liu

“Huawei has demonstrated know-how and dedication during recent months, setting up 5G networks with telecom operators in hospitals, providing technological solutions for telemedicine and for pandemic control procedures,” said Abraham Liu during the debate “Economic Transition into the ‘New Normal’: how can international organisations help European economies bounce back”, organised by The Brussels Times. “5G and AI technologies are also used in vaccine development and have played a key role in reliable medical data quantitative analysis. Our technology has also been successfully applied to managing public and private sector re-opening,” Abraham Liu underlined.

“The process of innovation does not stop at any defined geographical border,” Mr Liu added. “The Horizon Europe research, innovation and science programme 2021-2027 is a key policy instrument that can play an important role in boosting economic competitiveness in Europe, delivering the EU Green deal and tackling the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

As lockdowns lift cautiously across Europe, the focus of collective attention is shifting to what key players can do to help the economy recover. Today’s debate, moderated by Digital Storyteller Dan Sobovitz and The Brussels Times journalist Pauline Bock, asked how the good practice that has come to the fore during the pandemic can be shared in the future, to ensure safe progress to renewed economic prosperity in Europe.

High-level representatives from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), World Economic Forum (WEF), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) andthe Croatian Presidency of the EU Council took part in the webinar.

Learn ON programme

Another good example of Huawei’s collaboration with international organisations is in its Learn ON programme to prevent education disruption during the pandemic. Working with UNESCO and partner schools and colleges, Learn ON has delivered an online distance education system to support around 50,000 students and their teachers.

The programme is continuing for the rest of 2020 with more than 100 online Train the Trainer (TTT) courses, involving 1,500 teachers, and the opening of over 130 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) covering advanced technological fields such as AI, Big Data, 5G and IoT, funded by a EUR 4.6 million Huawei ICT Academy Development Incentive Fund (ADIF).

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#AI assigned growing responsibility for #PrivacyCompliance

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Though perhaps few realized it at the time, when new European rules regarding data handling took effect in 2018, the floodgates had opened. At that point in time, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was a novel attempt at forcing those who collect personal consumer data to store it securely and delete it promptly upon request of the data’s owner, writes Samuel Bocetta. 

That last bit is important. The GDPR was the first and still most credible public step towards defining ownership of consumer data. To the chagrin of online operations everywhere, GDPR put legal teeth into the idea that data was not a business asset but property of an individual. This was a seismic shift in thought at the time.

Fast forward a couple of years and data regulations are multiplying like bunnies at a Roman orgy. First, there was the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), an Americanized version of the GDPR, though with a less vigorous fine schedule. And now a Gartner survey lists at least 60 jurisdictions from various corners of the world who are hard at work legislating their own data privacy rules. 

For website owners trying to make progress with their marketing, it’s hard enough to meet the requirements of one regulation, much less a herd of them. Every hour spent fiddling with data handling obligations is one less hour to devote to doing the things that actually contribute to business operations. If ever there was a catch-22, this is it.

A funny little thing called AI...

Unless, like that dude in the Geico commercial, you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that artificial intelligence (AI) has become a bit of a thing in technology circles. In school, at work, and online, individuals are learning about AI and its uses in droves. Sometimes used interchangeably with the term machine learning (ML), the idea is simple: feed an algorithm immense amounts of data. Before long, it “learns” to make intelligent decisions.

The reality is that AI/ML is already being put to work fighting fraud in various forms. Maybe you use cardless transactions to make payments. AI is involved and has been incorporated into many leading merchant service POS systems already. The heightened security of this mode of paying is possible because algorithms can sift through an immense amount of data quickly, looking for anything that appears not to be authentic and flag it.  

Though the power behind advancements like this makes some people queasy, especially those who have seen the movie Terminator 2, the idea of computers becoming self-aware is not as lunatic as it used to be. The good news is that the growing use of AI promises relief from tasks that were heretofore defined as drudgery or too complex for humans to efficiently handle. 

When it comes to trying to stay abreast of all the new privacy rules taking effect, we might have found something that AI is perfect for. In fact, the Gartner survey estimates that a full 40% of privacy compliance might be turned over to machines by 2023.

Subject rights requests are a big deal

While there are approximately one million and one things to pay attention to when it comes to data compliance, perhaps the biggest headache of all relates to Subject Rights Requests (SRR). This refers to the fact that those who collect individual personal data are required to respond within a time limit when an individual makes a data-related request, typically to see a copy of their information or to have it removed completely from a database.

If a site owner doesn’t reply to the request within a reasonable time frame, they can be fined. The problem is that responding to these requests is a massive undertaking for some companies. According to the survey, it can take 2-3 weeks for the data protection officer to deal with a single request. The average cost to do this is $1,400. 

This is time-consuming grunt work. Too bad there isn’t a data privacy tool that could do it. But wait, there is!

Next-generation AI-powered tools are allowing companies to finally catch up on their backlog by cranking through volumes of SRR in a fraction of the time.

So are data breaches

Where a company can really get into trouble with privacy regulators is in the realm of data breaches. The philosophy of GDPR and other legislation is that the responsibility to prevent breaches lies with the company that collects and stores the data. Fines for dereliction of duty can be massive. The GDPR allows for a penalty of either $20 million or 4% of a company’s annual revenue, whichever is greater.

And in case you thought that hackers had decided to have mercy on the internet, you’d be wrong. Statistics show that 60% of companies have had some sort of data breach since 2017. And a breach kicks in another personnel intensive task as the breached company is required to notify every person whose data might have been compromised of that fact within 72 hours of the breach.

One common method of breaching a database is hacking or phishing the password. For a while, about two seconds, it seemed that password manager software might be the answer to all our problems until a major security flaw came to light. Luckily it can be avoided. Meanwhile, hackers are working furiously to create sophisticated AI programs that have been shown can guess about a quarter of the 43 million active LinkedIn profiles. Of course, the good guys are using the same advanced algorithm technology to try and stop them. This is a battle that isn’t close to being won by either side yet.

Privacy tech AI - the next generation

 

Since GDPR, there has emerged a common theme among those charged with securing a website or database against hacker intrusion. They need help, especially in the area of privacy tools. Perhaps that help is arriving with the next generation of AI, though it’s not quite here yet. 

Those who have fallen madly, deeply in love with the idea of embedding AI into security tools like to ignore a recent test in which researchers managed to trick an AI-powered antivirus program into thinking malware was, in fact, GOodware simply by attaching a few random strings of code cadged from an online game. Not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, because online security should include a malware scanner as well as an antivirus suite. Just don’t fall for the idea that they are bulletproof just because the promotional material brags about AI inclusion. Not quite there yet.

For another AI use, let’s pay a visit to privacy policies.

We all love to carefully read the privacy policies associated with any new app we install, right? Sure you do. The mind-numbing verbiage is only exceeded in ridiculousness by the excessive length of the document. The typical response amongst humans is to speed scroll to the bottom and check the “accept” box as fast as possible. 

Currently, in beta-testing, there’s an algorithm-powered website that allows you to make suggestions in regard to privacy policies you’d like it to inspect. There’s no guarantee when it will get around to your suggestion, if at all, but be patient. It’s learning.

Though created for the consumer market, it could eventually be helpful to businesses also. Guard works by reading through a privacy policy presented to it, sentence by sentence, and alerting the user as to threats that could be posed to the user’s privacy. 

For now, you can visit the website and learn some very interesting information about some companies’ privacy policies. Twitter logged a terrible score of 15%, which earned it a D grade. In other words, CEO Jack Dorsey’s social media product is crap-awful at respecting user privacy and protecting data.

Use with caution!

Final thoughts 

The interesting thing about Guard is not that it’s especially helpful right now. Most of us already realize that Twitter is a bad public citizen when it comes to data protection. The interesting thing is that Guard is like a baby taking its first steps. We’re watching the process of teaching a machine about privacy concepts as it happens.

While on the site, you’ll be asked to take a few minutes to respond to a survey that presents questions based on a side-by-side comparison of privacy policy snippets and asks you to choose which best represents your concept of privacy. Each completed survey is a data point. Eventually, there will be millions and Guard will have a much better grasp on what privacy means to a human.

This is machine learning in action. Expect it, and other projects like it, to yield great rewards in the field of privacy compliance. For now, hang on until AI catches up with us.   

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