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While Google Duplex, which lets AI mimic a human voice to make appointments and book tables through phone calls, has mesmerised people with its capabilities and attracted flak on ethical grounds at the same time, Microsoft has showcased a similar technology it has been testing in China.
At an AI event in London on Tuesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed that the company’s Xiaoice social chat bot has 500 million “friends” and more than 16 channels for Chinese users to interact with it through WeChat and other popular messaging services.
“Microsoft has turned Xiaoice, which is Chinese for ‘little Bing’, into a friendly bot that has convinced some of its users that the bot is a friend or a human being. Xiaoice has her own TV show, it writes poetry and it does many interesting things,” The Verge quoted Nadella as saying.
Xiaoice interacts in text conversations but now the company has started allowing the chat bot to call people on their phones.
The bot does not work exactly like Google Duplex, which uses the Assistant to make calls on a user’s behalf but it holds a phone conversation with the user.
“One of the things we started doing earlier this year is having full duplex conversations. So now Xiaoice can be conversing with you in WeChat and stop and call you. Then you can just talk to it using voice,” Nadella was quoted as saying.
Humans will be humans and the latest victim of humankind was Microsoft.
Two years ago, Microsoft launched an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bot on Twitter, named Tay, for a playful chat with people, only to silence it within 24 hours as users started sharing racist and offensive comments with the bot.
Launched as an experiment in “conversational understanding” and to engage people through “casual and playful conversation”, Tay was soon bombarded with racial comments and the innocent bot repeated those comments back with her commentary to users.
Some of the tweets had Tay referring to Hitler, denying the Holocaust, and supporting Donald Trump’s immigration plans, among others.
Later, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the company is taking Tay off Twitter as people were posting abusive comments to her. (IANS)
By Maria Wirth
This is a true story about a Hindu who had converted to Christianity, and who felt the need to convince his family also to convert.
Once on a flight from Germany to India, one of those bright, young Indians sat across the aisle. We started talking. He was a science lecturer at an American university.
When food came, he ordered non-veg and I ordered veg. I teasingly asked him “non-veg”? He replied, “Yes, I started to eat meat when I converted to Christianity eight years ago.”
“You… converted… to… Christianity?” I asked in disbelief. “How could you do this? Are you not aware of their belief?” I kept throwing questions at him. He surely had not expected this reaction from a white woman with the name Maria. In all likelihood he had converted because he wanted to belong and fit in into the new surrounding in America.
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But since I grew up as a Christian, I knew what Christianity claims and he didn’t have answers. Ultimately he fell back at the ‘personal experience with Jesus’ which convinced him that Christianity is the true religion.
I told him, “If your trust in Jesus helps you, great, but why convert?” Doesn’t your own tradition stress the importance of devotion and does it hinder you from trusting Jesus?” And while for you Jesus may be the ideal guide, for others it may be Shiva or Krishna or Devi. Your tradition allows you all freedom whereas the Church binds you to the doctrine. For example it claims that Hindus go to hell. Do you believe that your Hindu brothers and sisters go to hell?” I asked.
I couldn’t believe his answer and by now he did not look anymore so bright. He said, “Yes, we have to believe this.” … we have to…
So I asked him about his family. Will they burn in hell? He had managed to convince his parents to convert, but his siblings had not (yet?) converted.
I really felt pity for him. His mental freedom to question and to enquire was gone.
He had earlier told me that he wanted to return to India. If he did, I hope he has found his way back to common sense and realised the folly to believe that Hindus go to hell.
By- Laxman Balagani
Remote working has grown to be a dominant trend in the post-pandemic world. Gartner anticipates that 41% of employees will work at least some of the time remotely once the coronavirus is in the rear-view mirror. Such a lasting change in the workplace culture has had the biggest impact on cybersecurity.
Many businesses struggle with how to secure remote workers or if it's even worth trying at all due to fears about security risks for those who aren't physically present on-site at any given time. What they need is insightful, practical, and useful visibility across all communication vectors as they support vast, remote workforces. To obtain this level of visibility, organizations should reconsider their data and user protection techniques and strive to get meaningful insights into what's going on behind the scenes.
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There are cyber risk management solutions available today that can help ensure your business stays safe and productive without sacrificing flexibility for your employees.
To guarantee a safe and secure working environment, enterprises must rethink their approach to security and privacy when dealing with a dispersed workforce. This article explores how business leaders should approach cybersecurity risk management in the era of remote working.
A behavior-centric approach based on a human-centric viewpoint on cybersecurity
The growing usage of smartphones, cloud-based apps, and social media in both work and personal has made it clear that people are the new perimeter. To contain these changes, the new cybersecurity risk management strategy, which aims to protect people, places, and things, works on a behavior-centric approach.
This approach centers on understanding users' behaviors using critical data and intellectual property across worldwide IT systems. This strategy is designed to identify problematic employee behaviors and prevent them from escalating. It's a new way of defending against threats that complements the traditional cyber risk management approach of stopping the bad guys.
It has become essential for businesses to integrate edge security, cloud security, and network security into a single, cohesive format. Here are a few steps businesses can take to enhance cybersecurity when working remotely -
To guarantee a safe and secure working environment, enterprises must rethink their approach to security and privacy when dealing with a dispersed workforce.Unsplash
Providing cyber security training to employees who work remotely can help minimize cyber threats. Ideally, employees should be able to spot a cyber scam in action and know how to avoid it in the future so they stay one step ahead of cyber threats. Providing cyber security training through video modules or cyber security e-learning is a great way to help remote employees retain cyber threat prevention techniques, cyber-hygiene standards, and cyber safety procedures.
There is an absence of a true security perimeter in a remote workplace. Thus, organizations must adopt the mentality of zero trust. All systems must be properly secured and require verified access, whether internal or external. Adding a layer of multi-factor authentication is a crucial step that will protect data from unauthorized access.
Ironically, cloud-based security systems offer better cybersecurity risk management than on-premise servers. Cloud systems are built from the ground up to be safe even when exposed to the public internet. This gives them an edge over regular file servers, which are only lightly secured with sensitive data.
The use of collaboration tools and videoconferencing platforms to allow for business interactions while away has increased significantly. Most of these were quickly integrated, with resiliency taking precedence over any security concerns. The recent Zoom-bombing is the poster child for the risks that come with adopting technologies fast. Teams in the CXO suite need to get defensive and audit all tools and platforms for security flaws before integrating them.
We've already seen software-defined networks (SDNs) emerge to define and protect networks, allowing businesses to use a single, holistic approach for all edge computing. Now that remote networks have taken center stage, IT leaders must apply the same strategy across the network and into the cloud to ensure consistency, cohesion, and security.
Remote working makes it imperative to rely on digital connections, making it critical to ensure that they're secure, fast, scalable, and robust across all networks.
Some companies may not embrace working remotely as their modus operandi, while some organizations might cling to an outdated network model. Anyhow, businesses must consider the long-term impacts of technological disruption and look at them as opportunities. With a distributed workforce, organizations must reconsider how they secure and protect their data.
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and includes some commercial links.)
By- Devakinanda Ji!
ॐ त्रिकालसन्ध्यानुष्ठितभूम्यै नमः
(Ṫrikāla: Three periods of the day; Sandhya: Obeisance to Sun god; Anuṣthiṫa: Practice, performance)
The word sandhya refers to those times, when night passes into day and day passes into night. They are dawn and dusk. The ritual of one's obeisance to God during these periods is known as sandhyāvandanam. Doing the ritual thrice at dawn (prātah sandhyā), at midday when the sun is right above our head (madhyāhna sandhyā); and dusk (sāyantrah sandhyā) is known as trikāla.
A person who has undergone the upanayana ceremony, as also house-holders (except the working class), are expected to perform this sandhyā ritual three times a day, as a sacred duty. These three rituals have many steps in common. However, in practice, only the first and the last have survived. The scriptures have provided for this modification.
After taking a bath and wearing the traditional religious dress (dhoṫi and chadar or uttarīya) one should apply the religious marks on the forehead (like the vibhūti or the ūrdhva puṇḍra as per one's family traditions), and sit on the seat (kept aside and used only for such religious purposes). Though there are differences in the procedure and the various steps to be followed, the six steps common to all and the detailed procedure has to be learnt from the family priest or the elders in the family.
These six steps are: 1) Āchamanam- is the ceremonial sipping of water from the right hand cupped in the shape of the ear of a cow (gokarṇam) to the appropriate mantras. This āchamanam is a general purification act that precedes every religious undertaking. 2) Prāṇāyāmam- is the control of the prāṇic energy through the regulation of the breathing process as detailed in the works of yoga. Prāṇayāmam helps in the control of the mind also. 3) Mārjanam- is literally means cleansing or purifying. It consists of sprinkling water on specified parts of the body with a mantra. This process will make the body ceremonially pure and fit the ritualistic act. 4) Arghyapradāna-is the offering of water taken in the two hands cupped together, by repeating the Gāyatrī mantra and addressing the Sun-god. This is just to show our gratitude to the Sun-god who is our primary life-support. 5) Gāyatrī japa-is for the goddess Gāyatrī within the orb of the sun. 6) Sūryopasṭhāna- is repeating the prayer addressed to the deity Gāyatrī in the standing posture, facing the sun. This is the last rite of bidding farewell to the goddess after having invoked her and satiated her through japa.
Hence, our land which worships the Sun-god who is our primary life-support, three times a day is known to be 'Trikālasandhyāvandānuṣthiṫa Bhūmi'.