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Australia to Witness New Intelligence Laws By Sweeping Older Ones

Australian intelligence laws to be reviewed

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Australia's Defense Minister Marise Payne (L-R), China's PLA Lieutenant-General He Lei and Canada's Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan listens to U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis' address at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, June 2, 2018. VOA

Australia’s intelligence laws are to be reviewed in the most comprehensive overhaul of national security legislation in decades.

The review will take 18 months and will be led by a former spy chief. It will be the most comprehensive review of Australia’s intelligence laws since the 1970s. Much of its terms of reference are being kept secret but officials say the shake-up will look at how information is shared among the nation’s six security and intelligence agencies, as well with other law enforcement bodies.

Analysts say the review is long overdue with existing laws designed for a previous era. They say the review would likely address the main threats facing Australia; terrorism, cyber-warfare and influence by foreign powers.

Law books
Law books, Representational image, Pixabay

Australia’s federal Attorney-General Christian Porter says the overhaul will help to integrate the various agencies that keep the nation safe.

“The control, direction and coordination of all of these agencies, and the way they interact with non-intelligence agencies and state-based agencies, such as state police forces. It is looking at how we share information and whether or not that can be improved on.It is looking at the overall staffing and resourcing, so it has a very holistic approach, and the other thing it will look at is accountability and oversight,” said Porter.

The review comes amid rising fears in Australia over the influence of China in its domestic affairs.

Earlier this week media reports detailed allegations apparently contained in a top-secret report that China has attempted to influence Australia’s political parties for the past decade, as well as every level of government.

Beijing has previously accused Australia of being anti-China.

Last year the Australian government introduced new foreign interference laws into federal parliament, which, if passed, would put a ban on all overseas political donations. In January, Australian opposition Senator Sam Dastyari was forced to resign over alleged links to Chinese authorities.

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Australia’s National Terrorism Threat Level remains set at “probable,” which means security agencies believe that individuals or groups have the intent and capability to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia. (VOA)

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Here’s how MRI may Predict Intelligence Level in Children

MRI may predict intelligence level in children

Researchers have found that MRI scanning can help predict the intelligence level in children. Pixabay

Researchers have used ensemble methods based on deep learning 3D analysis networks to answer the global Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) prevision challenge for children.

Importantly, they made predictions for both the fluid intelligence level and the target variable independent from age, gender, brain size or MRI scanner used.

MRI is a common technique used to obtain images of human internal organs and tissues. Scientists wondered whether the intelligence level can be predicted from an MRI brain image.

“Our team develops deep learning methods for computer vision tasks in MRI data analysis, amongst other things,” said study researcher Ekaterina Kondratyev from Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) in Russia.

“In this study, we applied ensembles of classifiers to 3D of super precision neural networks: with this approach, one can classify an image as it is, without first reducing its dimension and, therefore, without losing valuable information,” said Kondratyeva.

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) database contains a total of over 11,000 structural and functional MRI images of children aged 9-10.

MRI is a common technique used to obtain images of human internal organs and tissues. Pixabay

In 2013, NIH launched the first grand-scale study of its kind in adolescent brain research, Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development, to see if and how teenagers’ hobbies and habits affect their further brain development.

NIH scientists launched an international competition, making the enormous NIH database available to a broad community for the first time ever.

The participants were given a task of building a predictive model based on brain images.

As part of the competition, the Skoltech team applied neural networks for MRI image processing.

To do this, they built a network architecture enabling several mathematical models to be applied to the same data in order to increase the prediction accuracy, and used a novel ensemble method to analyse the MRI data.

In their recent study, Skoltech researchers focused on predicting the intelligence level, or the so called “fluid intelligence”, which characterises the biological abilities of the nervous system and has little to do with acquired knowledge or skills.

Importantly, they made predictions for both the fluid intelligence level and the target variable independent from age, gender, brain size or MRI scanner used.

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The results of the study helped find the correlation between the child’s “fluid intelligence” and brain anatomy.

Although the prediction accuracy is less than perfect, the models produced during this competition will help shed light on various aspects of cognitive, social, emotional and physical development of adolescents. (IANS)