Thursday November 14, 2019
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Intel Becomes Savior Of Exploited Workers

In recent years modern slavery has increasingly come under the global spotlight

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Research on AI and Machine Learning is already on at all Indian Institutes of Technologies (IITs). VOA
Intel bets on artificial intelligence, to train 15,000 people in India. VOA

Intel topped a list issued on Monday ranking how well technology companies combat the risk of forced labor in their supply chains, overtaking HP and Apple.

Most of the top 40 global technology companies assessed in the study by KnowTheChain, an online resource for business, had made progress since the last report was published in 2016. But the study found there was still room for improvement.

“The sector needs to advance their efforts further down the supply chain in order to truly protect vulnerable workers,” said Kilian Moote, project director of KnowTheChain, in a statement.

Intel, HP and Apple scored the highest on the list, which looked at factors including purchasing practices, monitoring and auditing processes. China-based BOE Technology Group and Taiwan’s Largan Precision came bottom.

Workers who make the components used by technology companies are often migrants vulnerable to exploitative working conditions, the report said.

About 25 million people globally were estimated to be trapped in forced labor in 2016, according to the International Labor Organization and rights group Walk Free Foundation.

Laborers in technology companies’ supply chains are sometimes charged high recruitment fees to get jobs, trapped in debt servitude, or deprived of their passports or other documents, the report said.

It highlighted a failure to give workers a voice through grievance mechanisms and tackle exploitative recruiting practices as the main areas of concern across the sector.

In recent years modern slavery has increasingly come under the global spotlight, putting ever greater regulatory and consumer pressure on firms to ensure their supply chains are free of forced labor, child labor and other forms of slavery.

From cosmetics and clothes to shrimp and smartphones, supply chains are often complex with multiple layers across various countries — whether in sourcing the raw materials or creating the final product — making it hard to identify exploitation.

Overall, large technology companies fared better than smaller ones, suggesting a strong link between size and capacity to take action, the report said. Amazon, which ranked 20th, was a notable exception, it said.

“Top-ranking brands … are listening to workers in their supply chains and weeding out unscrupulous recruitment processes,” Phil Bloomer, head of the Business & Human Rights Resource Center, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

intel technology
intel technology, pixabay

A spokesman for Amazon said the report drew from old and incomplete information and failed to take into account recently launched anti-slavery commitments and initiatives.

HP said it regularly assessed its supply chain to identify and address any concerns and risks of exploitation.

“We strive to ensure that workers in our supply chain have fair treatment, safe working conditions, and freely chosen employment,” said Annukka Dickens, HP’s director for human rights and supply chain responsibility.

Also read: Another Security flaw is Revealed By Intel in its Chips

Intel, Apple, BOE Technology and Largan Precision did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (VOA)

Next Story

This New Toilet Can Monitor And Improve Health

Smart Toilets can improve and monitor our health

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Smart toilet
This new smart toilet technology can monitor and improve health. Pixabay

Wearable, smart technologies are transforming the ability to monitor and improve health, but a decidedly low-tech commodity — the humble toilet — may have the potential to outperform them all, a new study suggests.

The Coon Research Group is designing a toilet that will incorporate a portable mass spectrometer that can recognise the individual and process samples across a variety of subjects.

Coon also believes the “smart toilet” concept could have major population health implications .

For the study, published in the journal Nature Digital Medicine, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research are working to put the tremendous range of metabolic health information contained in urine to work for personalised medicine.

“We’re pretty sure we can design a toilet that could sample urine. I think the real challenge is we’re going to have to invest in the engineering to make this instrument simple enough and cheap enough. That’s where this will either go far or not happen at all,” said study lead author Joshua Coon.

Urine contains a virtual liquid history of an individual’s nutritional habits, exercise, medication use, sleep patterns and other lifestyle choices.

Urine also contains metabolic links to more than 600 human conditions, including some of the major killers such as cancer, diabetes and kidney disease.

Toilet
The Coon Research Group is designing a toilet that will incorporate a portable mass spectrometer. Pixabay

For the study, two research subjects consistently collected all urine samples over a 10-day period, submitted those samples for tests with both gas chromatography and mass spectrometry for a complete readout of metabolic signatures.

The two subjects also happen to be lead authors on the paper– Joshua Coon and Ian Miller. However, the sample size used in the study is too small.

Collectively they provided 110 samples over the 10-day period, and also used wearable technology to track heart rates and steps, calorie consumption and sleep patterns.

The samples do indeed contain a remarkable health fingerprint that follows the ebbs and flows of daily life.

For example, the subjects kept records of coffee and alcohol consumption, and the biomarkers with a known connection to both those drinks were abundantly measured.

One subject took acetaminophen, which was measured in urine by a spike in ion intensity.

The metabolic outputs from exercise and sleep could also be measured with precision.

While the pilot experiment didn’t examine health questions, many possibilities exist.

For example, testing could show how an individual metabolises certain types of prescription drugs, in ways that could be healthy or dangerous.

Also Read- Climate Change Would Affect Health Of Indian Children: Lancet

Also, as the population gets older with more stay-at-home care, urine tests would indicate whether medications are being taken properly and are having their intended effect.

“If you had tens of thousands of users and you could correlate that data with health and lifestyle, you could then start to have real diagnostic capabilities, it might provide early warning of viral or bacterial outbreaks,” Coon said. (IANS)