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Accenture, Grameen Foundation’s apps to boost women’s financial inclusion

Accenture Labs in collaboration with the non-profit Grameen Foundation has developed two artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR)-based applications that can boost rural women's access to financial services

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Accenture releases app to empower women. IANS

Accenture Labs in collaboration with the non-profit Grameen Foundation has developed two artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR)-based applications that can boost rural women’s access to financial services.

The apps — Emotional Analytics for Social Enterprises (EASE) and Grameen Guru — will be rolled out by Grameen Foundation India across 300 villages in the states of Maharashtra and Odisha, Accenture Labs said in a statement on Wednesday.

Leveraging AI and AR-based technologies, the applications will help users better understand financial products and services, enabling them to make informed choices that positively impact their financial and social well-being.

mobile apps that all women should have
This app will empower rural women. Wikimedia Commons

“This is a tremendous example of how technology can help bridge the vast cultural and educational divide in places like India, having a real impact on the way people work and live,” said Sanjay Podder, Managing Director, Accenture Labs India.

EASE is an AI-based web and mobile app that helps microfinance advisors gain real-time insights into the emotional and cognitive status of their clients, based on video and audio inputs.

Helping to improve cross-cultural communication, the tool provides deeper insights on precisely what topics or keywords attract attention, or cause clients to disengage. On the other hand, Grameen Guru is a smartphone-based multilingual chatbot that leverages AR technology to help clients who cannot read and understand written material.

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Using the app, a user can hold their phone over a brochure that details available financing options, for example, and the Guru virtual assistant will pop up and prompt a conversation in the local language to explain the material.

“Barriers — ranging from illiteracy to a lack of bank branches in rural areas, coupled with a lack of confidence and access to information — hinder adoption for millions of low-income women in India,” said Prabhat Labh, CEO, Grameen Foundation India. The use of these new technologies will enable effective economic empowerment of women, he noted. IANS

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Important to Lead Workforce With Care Than Ever: Accenture Report

Caring of Workforce becomes essential than ever

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Workforce
"Responsible Leadership" has become a must while leading a Workforce. Pixabay

With COVID-19 dramatically changing the way people live and work, it is now more important for managers to lead their workforce with compassion and care than ever, said a report from Accenture.

As people find themselves in an unfamiliar, fast moving global environment, “Responsible Leadership” has taken on an even deeper meaning, it said.

The report titled “Human Resilience: What your people need to know” highlights what workers need from leaders in three basic areas: physical, mental and relational.

“These needs apply at all times, but they are magnified in crisis. Leaders who rise to the challenge will help their people develop human resilience — the ability to adapt and engage through difficult times,” said the study.

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“Everyone might be worried about employment and a paycheck during the crisis.”, said the report. Pixabay

In terms of physical needs, people require help feeling they are empowered to do what is necessary to keep themselves and their families safe and well.

“Each organisation will have its own nuances. In a company with people mainly in physical locations, concerns might include no-contact service and wearing protective equipment,” said the study.

The insights shared in the report are based on the Accenture workforce research spanning over 15,600 global workers in 10 countries and 15 industries.

“Everyone might be worried about employment and a paycheck during the crisis. Asking early and often what people need or are concerned about will help your leadership team to determine your best actions,” said the report.

workers
“Managers have to evolve work rules for more flexibility, based on emotional intelligence and people’s individual needs.”, said the report. Pixabay

Read More: Temperature, Latitude not Associated with COVID-19: Researchers

In terms of mental health issues, the research pointed out that amid the changing working conditions due to COVID-19, consecutive hours of uninterrupted work may not be feasible as many people deal with disrupted elder care and childcare, difficulties securing essential supplies at home, and potential healthcare issues.

“Managers have to evolve work rules for more flexibility, based on emotional intelligence and people’s individual needs. Educating managers on this sooner rather than later can help empower their teams to adapt,” said the report.

With regard to the relationship needs of workers, leaders should strive to provide them with a sense of connection and of belonging to something bigger than themselves. (IANS)

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Facebook AI Research Team Develops ‘RegNet’

Facebook AI model beats Google, runs 5 times faster on GPUs

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Facebook
Facebook AI Research (FAIR) has developed a novel low-dimensional design space called 'RegNet' that outperforms traditional available models. Pixabay

A team from Facebook AI Research (FAIR) has developed a novel low-dimensional design space called ‘RegNet’ that outperforms traditional available models like from Google and runs five times faster on GPUs.

RegNet produces simple, fast and versatile networks and in experiments, it outperformed Google’s SOTA EfficientNet models, said the researchers in a paper titled ‘Designing Network Design Spaces; published on pre-print repository ArXiv. The researchers aimed for “interpretability and to discover general design principles that describe networks that are simple, work well, and generalize across settings”.

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The Facebook AI team conducted controlled comparisons with EfficientNet with no training-time enhancements and under the same training setup.

Introduced in 2019, Google’s EfficientNet uses a combination of NAS and model scaling rules and represents the current SOTA.
With comparable training settings and Flops, RegNet models outperformed EfficientNet models while being up to 5× faster on GPUs.

Facebook
Facebook AI research team recently developed a tool that tricks the facial recognition system to wrongly identify a person in a video. Pixabay

Rather than designing and developing individual networks, the team focused on designing actual network design spaces comprising huge and possibly infinite populations of model architectures. Design space quality is analyzed using error empirical distribution function (EDF).

Analyzing the RegNet design space also provided researchers other unexpected insights into network design. They noticed, for example, that the depth of the best models is stable across compute regimes with an optimal depth of 20 blocks (60 layers).

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“While it is common to see modern mobile networks employ inverted bottlenecks, researchers noticed that using inverted bottlenecks degrades performance. The best models do not use either a bottleneck or an inverted bottleneck, said the paper. Facebook AI research team recently developed a tool that tricks the facial recognition system to wrongly identify a person in a video.

The “de-identification” system, which also works in live videos, uses machine learning to change key facial features of a subject in a video. FAIR is advancing the state-of-the-art in artificial intelligence through fundamental and applied research in open collaboration with the community.

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The social networking giant created the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) group in 2014 to advance the state of the art of AI through open research for the benefit of all.

Since then, FAIR has grown into an international research organization with labs in Menlo Park, New York, Paris, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and London. (IANS)

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Find Out How AI-Based ‘Smart’ Systems Help in Communication Amid Pandemic

AI-based 'smart' communication way to go during a pandemic

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AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based smart systems could play a major role in keeping our conversations on track, say researchers. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Daily life during a pandemic means social distancing and finding new ways to remotely connect with friends, family and co-workers via Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based smart systems could play a major role in keeping our conversations on track, say researchers.

According to the study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, humans having difficult conversations said they trusted artificially intelligent systems – the ‘smart’ reply suggestions in texts – more than the people they were talking to.

“We find that when things go wrong, people take the responsibility that would otherwise have been designated to their human partner and designate some of that to the artificial intelligence system,” said study first author Jess Hohenstein from Cornell University in the US.

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“This introduces a potential to take AI and use it as a mediator in our conversations, for example, the algorithm could notice things are going downhill by analyzing the language used, and then suggest conflict-resolution strategies,” Hohenstein added. The study was an attempt to explore the myriad ways – both subtle and significant – that AI systems such as smart replies are altering how humans interact.

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In addition to shedding light on how people perceive and interact with computers, the study offers possibilities for improving human communication – with subtle guidance and reminders from AI. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Choosing a suggested reply that’s not quite what you intended to say, but saves you some typing, might be fundamentally altering the course of your conversations – and your relationships, the researchers said. “Communication is so fundamental to how we form perceptions of each other, how we form and maintain relationships, or how we’re able to accomplish anything working together,” said co-author Malte Jung.

“This study falls within the broader agenda of understanding how these new AI systems mess with our capacity to interact,” Jung said. “We often think about how the design of systems affects how we interact with them, but fewer studies focus on the question of how the technologies we develop affect how people interact with each other,” Jung added.

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In addition to shedding light on how people perceive and interact with computers, the study offers possibilities for improving human communication – with subtle guidance and reminders from AI.

The researchers said they sought to explore whether AI could function as a “moral crumple zone” – the technological equivalent of a car’s crumple zone, designed to deform in order to absorb the crash’s impact.

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“There’s a physical mechanism in the front of the car that’s designed to absorb the force of the impact and take responsibility for minimizing the effects of the crash,” Hohenstein said. “Here we see the AI system absorb some of the moral responsibility,” Hohenstein added. (IANS)