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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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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)

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Social Media: A Boon Amid Lockdown

Social media has proved itself a boon, be it dealing with a crisis or emergency and sometimes even saving a life

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Social media has proved its worth in these times. Pixabay

BY PUJA GUPTA

There have been several incidents when social media has proved itself a boon; be it dealing with a crisis or emergency and sometimes even saving a life. There are various groups and communities formed on different platforms that work as a support system of communities.

‘My Pincode’ is one such group on Facebook that was launched by the NGO Social Media Matters in April when the entire country was confined in their houses. It is about local groups on Facebook to virtually connect, communicate, collaborate and create a support system for each other in their respective pincode areas. These groups bring together users, community leaders, subject matter experts, resource points and organizations at a very hyper-local level to provide immediate support, relief, and share critical information.

Blood donation, ration supply, repair work, daily essential information, government advisories are the highlights of My Pincode as these demands top the charts across posts made by users. Partners like Sarvahitey, Akshay Patra Foundation, Blood Bank were fundamental in their roles to look into all the requests and take immediate action.

Shantanu Garg, who lives in West Delhi, posted on the group requesting for a blood donor on behalf of a friend. Within a few hours, moderators of the group who tagged all volunteers and other admins and started reaching out to other blood donor agencies were able to arrange the required amount of blood. There have also been other instances of such donor requests. Sajal Bhateja’s request for urgent requirement of blood on South Delhi Group was also addressed in two hours.

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There are various groups and communities formed on different platforms that work as a support system of communities. Pixabay

Other topics that are being discussed on the groups are:

Which is the nearest clinic I can visit?

Where can I get emergency help?

What does the situation look like right now on the roads?

What are the queues like at the shops?

How much longer will supplies last?

Are courier services working in the area?

Which are the nearest Government and Private Testing Centres?

Can I visit the police stations?

Are postal services working in the area?

How do I obtain a curfew pass?

What is the situation at the hospitals?

Are there any blood donor requests?

In an attempt to bring together communities from 170 hotspots of India across 17 states (as identified by the Central Government of India in April 15, 2020) and crowdsource help, open groups have been formed and are being managed by moderators and group admins, trained by the NGO. It will be further extended to 32 states and union territories.

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Social media groups bring together users, community leaders, subject matter experts, resource points, and organizations at a very hyper-local level to provide immediate support. Pixabay

Each state has a moderator and several admins who have been moderating the discussions and letting users connect with each other for essential and verified information as to keep fake profiles/information away.

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Every day the lead moderators sift through all the groups to look for any inappropriate content that is posted/approved/queried. As soon as users post on the group, the network of admins gets activated and they look into the prime information or request made by the user. Once that is identified, the request is verified and then the network gets activated to resolve the request. (IANS)

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Cybercrime on Rise During Pandemic, Warns UN

There has been a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the ongoing pandemic

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A Toyota Hybrid during a test for hackers at the Cybersecurity Conference in Lille, northern France, Jan. 29, 2020. VOA

The U.N. disarmament chief said the COVID-19 pandemic is moving the world toward increased technological innovation and online collaboration but warned that “cybercrime is also on the rise, with a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the current crisis.”, as suggested by Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news.

Izumi Nakamitsu told an informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that “there have also been worrying reports of attacks against health care organizations and medical research facilities worldwide.”

She said growing digital dependency has increased the vulnerability to cyberattacks, and “it is estimated that one such attack takes place every 39 seconds.”

According to the International Telecommunication Union, “nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity,” Nakamitsu said.

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Nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity. Pixabay

The high representative for disarmament affairs said the threat from misusing information and communications technology “is urgent.” But she said there is also good news, pointing to some global progress at the United Nations to address the threats as a result of the development of norms for the use of such technology.

Also Read: New York Times Devotes Entire Front Page to COVID-19 Victims

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, whose country holds the Security Council presidency and organized Friday’s meeting on cyber stability and advancing responsible government behavior in cyberspace, said “the COVID-19 crisis has put extra pressure on our critical services in terms of cybersecurity.”

He said the need for “a secure and functioning cyberspace” is therefore more pressing than ever, and he condemned cyberattacks targeting hospitals, medical research facilities and other infrastructure, especially during the pandemic.

“Those attacks are unacceptable,” Ratas said. “It will be important to hold the offenders responsible for their behavior.” VOA

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Guwahati-based NGO Launches ‘Dhara Helpline’ For Free Psychological Consultations Amid Pandemic

Guwahati-based NGO has launched the 'Dhara Helpline' to provide free psychological consultations for masses

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NGO Global Pandemic Response Forum (GPRF) launched the 'Dhara Helpline' to provide free psychological consultations. Pixabay

In a bid to help Corona Warriors on the forefront of the global battle against the pandemic, Guwahati-based NGO Global Pandemic Response Forum (GPRF) launched the ‘Dhara Helpline’ to provide free psychological consultations. It has now opened the helpline to the general public with the freedom of “Pay as you wish” option.

With more than 150 professionals from across the country, the platform offers services 24×7 in English, Hindi, Assamese, Bodo, Marathi, Khasi, Bengali, Garo and Tamil.

Dharitri Nath, Project Head, Dhara Helpline said: “On May 14, the Director General of WHO made a worldwide appeal to immediately increase access to mental health services or risk a massive increase in mental health conditions in the coming months. As the second highest populous nation, a major component of our country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic will need to include support for the masses with their mental health needs immediately.”

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Dhara Helpline will make efforts to make mental health counseling accessible to all. Pixabay

She added: “At Dhara Helpline we have been making efforts to make mental health counseling accessible to all, especially women and children, and the opening of the helpline for the general public was a natural progression for us.

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While the Dhara Helpline to the Corona Warriors will remain free, we have added a ‘Pay as you wish’ option for the general public to make the initiative sustainable. It is open for all and accessible from anywhere in the country.” Dhara Helpline for Corona Warriors is +91 92054 67567 (4am to 2am daily) while for general public is +91 2239560964. (IANS)