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Refugee Communities Can Be Built By Tech Industries

Mikkelsen said the initiative was a win-win as it would also benefit companies by slashing costs.

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Refugees
Congolese families sit at the Kyangwali refugee settlement camp, Uganda, March 19, 2018. A California company is testing an app in Uganda that lets refugees earn money for AI training. VOA

Companies could help refugees rebuild their lives by paying them to boost artificial intelligence (AI) using their phones and giving them digital skills, a tech nonprofit said Thursday.

REFUNITE has developed an app, LevelApp, which is being piloted in Uganda to allow people who have been uprooted by conflict to earn instant money by “training” algorithms for AI.

Wars, persecution and other violence have uprooted a record 68.5 million people, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

People forced to flee their homes lose their livelihoods and struggle to create a source of income, REFUNITE co-chief executive Chris Mikkelsen told the Trust Conference in London.

Rohingya, Myanmar, refugees
Rohingya refugees cross floodwaters at Thangkhali refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district. VOA

“This provides refugees with a foothold in the global gig economy,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s two-day event, which focuses on a host of human rights issues.

$20 a day for AI work

A refugee in Uganda currently earning $1.25 a day doing basic tasks or menial jobs could make up to $20 a day doing simple AI labeling work on their phones, Mikkelsen said.

REFUNITE says the app could be particularly beneficial for women as the work can be done from the home and is more lucrative than traditional sources of income such as crafts.

The cash could enable refugees to buy livestock, educate children and access health care, leaving them less dependant on aid and helping them recover faster, according to Mikkelsen.

Rohingya, Myanmar, refugees
Rohingya refugee women wait outside of a medical center at Jamtoli camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. VOA

The work would also allow them to build digital skills they could take with them when they returned home, REFUNITE says.

“This would give them the ability to rebuild a life … and the dignity of no longer having to rely solely on charity,” Mikkelsen told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Teaching the machines

AI is the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence.

It is being used in a vast array of products from driverless cars to agricultural robots that can identify and eradicate weeds and computers able to identify cancers.

Refugees
In this Aug. 27, 1994 file photo, U.S. Coast Guard crew from the cutter Staten Island are hindered by rough seas in the Florida Straits as they attempt to rescue Cuban refugees. VOA

In order to “teach” machines to mimic human intelligence, people must repeatedly label images and other data until the algorithm can detect patterns without human intervention.

REFUNITE, based in California, is testing the app in Uganda where it has launched a pilot project involving 5,000 refugees, mainly form South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. It hopes to scale up to 25,000 refugees within two years.

Also Read: Rohingyas Repatriation to Myanmar Scrapped by Bangladesh

Mikkelsen said the initiative was a win-win as it would also benefit companies by slashing costs.

Another tech company, DeepBrain Chain, has committed to paying 200 refugees for a test period of six months, he said. (VOA)

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Microsoft Lays Off News Production Workers; Replace Them With AI

A report suggests that Microsoft has cut off its editorial staff and replaced them with AI

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Microsoft
Microsoft cuts off staff and replaces them with artificial intelligence. Pxabay

Microsoft is reportedly laying off at least 50 news production workers and replacing them with artificial intelligence (AI)-based algorithms to perform their editorial duties.

According to a report in the Seattle Times on Saturday, the roughly 50 employees contracted through staffing agencies Aquent, IFG and MAQ Consulting have been notified “that their services would no longer be needed beyond June 30”.

These news production contractors work with Microsoft News, the company’s news content arm that operates MSN.com and other properties.

A Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement that like all companies, they evaluate business on a regular basis.

“This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, redeployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic,” said the Microsoft spokesperson.

artificial-intelligence microsoft
All the work, duty and tasks of the workers will be performed by AI. Pixabay

Also Read: The Future Of India will Be Based on ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’

Some employees told Seattle Times that “MSN will use AI to replace the production work they’d been doing”.

The work includes using algorithms to identify trending news stories from dozens of publishing partners, rewrite headlines or adding better photographs or slide shows.

Besides the production work, the contract employees also planned content, maintained the editorial calendars of partner news websites and assigned content to them. (IANS)

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Google Maps Allows Android Users to Share Locations Using Plus Codes

The update aims at easy sharing of locations using Plus Codes

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Plus Codes
Android users can now share their location using Plus Codes in Google Maps. Pixabay

Google Maps app for Android has received a new update where users can share their locations using Plus Codes.

Google Maps has the option to show Plus Codes since August 2015. The new change, however, is aimed to expand Plus Codes usage by allowing users to easily share their locations.

A Plus Code is essentially a digital address and it’s derived from latitude and longitude coordinates. It can be generated for any location.

“The technology to generate Plus Codes is also open source, which means the technology is easy and free to use, so anyone can see how the technology works and develop their own applications for any use case,” David Martin, Director of Program Management, Google Maps, said in a statement on Friday.

Users will be able to tap on the blue dot representing their current location and get a Plus Code for it.

Plus Code
Users will be able to tap on the blue dot representing their current location and get a Plus Code for it. Wikimedia Commons

Alternatively, they can long tap on a spot to put a pin on it and get a code for that.

Also Read: Canada Faces Sharpest Downturn in GDP Since 2009

Alongside the Plus Code, the application will also show other options including options to see nearby places, share your location and save your parking.

Once the app shows the Plus Code on the screen, one will be able to copy it just by tapping on it. Now, one will be able to share it among contacts by pasting it on apps like WhatsApp, Messages and more. (IANS)

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#21DaysAllyChallenge: Initiative to Support Inclusion of LGBT+ Community in all Spheres

#21DaysAllyChallenge is a drive to celebrate LGBT+ Pride

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The recent drive aims to support the cause of inclusion of LGBT+ Community in different spheres. Pixabay

In a recent drive, corporates, academia and individuals from across the world have signed up to extend support for inclusion of the LGBT+ community in different spheres.

#21DaysAllyChallenge, a unique initiative conceptualised by Pride Circle, a Diversity & Inclusion Consultancy, aims to bring a holistic social change by building a community of passionate allies, across the world. The campaign will kick off on June 1 which marks the beginning of the Global Pride Month.

As the world is trying to stabilize in the current circumstances caused by the pandemic, this is an effort to push forward for inclusion. The movement, led across India, is not only joined by individuals, influencers from 28 nations and 70 organisations, but also by academic institutions such as IIMs, IITs, NMIMS, MICA, Tagore International School.

Under this initiative, allies from across the world will engage in a series of 21 mini-challenges spread over a period of 21 days in the month of June. This is based on science that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.

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As a part of this initiative, allies from across the world will engage in a series of 21 mini-challenges spread over a period of 21 days in the month of June. Pixabay

Commenting on this empowering initiative, Ramkrishna Sinha, Co-Founder, Pride Circle, said, “In our country where homosexuality legalization is yet to complete two years, this India-born initiative is our leap of faith to create a large-scale, global movement to advocate for equal rights and fair treatment for the LGBT+. We believe that allies are some of the most effective and powerful voices for this movement. The contribution of allies in terms of helping create a space of comfort, help bridge the gap in understanding of others with respect to the importance of equality, fairness, acceptance, and mutual respect, can be vast.

The #21DaysAllyChallenge is an affirmative action in the direction of building an inclusive and just society with the support from the allies.”

Echoing the sentiments, Srini Ramaswamy, Co-Founder, Pride Circle, added, “We are really humbled and excited by the response we have received from several national and international organizations, influencers, schools, colleges, voluntary groups which are committed to championing the cause for the greater good of the LGBT+ community as well as the society.

Pride Circle urges more and more organisations and individuals to come forward and partake in this movement. We are confident that with every new ally we create, we are loosening the shackles of homo/bi/transphobic conditioning our society is conditioned with.”

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The initiative is working towards the dignity, equality, and increased visibility of the LGBT+ community. Pixabay

Working towards establishing social equity through affirmative actions since 2017, Pride Circle has taken a significant move through #21DaysAllyChallenge. They have brought together the whole gamut of the stakeholders. Individuals and influencers from schools, workplaces to global human rights bodies, all are set to demonstrate their allyship and influence a lot more to commemorate self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of the LGBT+ community.

Also Read: Vaccine to Prevent COVID-19 Could be Ready by October End: Pfizer CEO

“Allies play a critical role in the broader fight to advance LGBTQ equality and inclusion in key areas of life, including the workplace,” said Milagros Chirinos, Associate Director of HRC’s Global Workplace Equality Program. “We are incredibly excited to support Pride Circle’s #21DaysAllyChallenge to engage businesses and organizations in promoting allyship during Pride Month and beyond.” Milagros Chirinos, Associate Director, Global Workplace Equality Program, Human Rights Campaign Foundation (USA).

“This initiative is a great opportunity for people in India and across the world to come together in support of equality for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people. Visible allies to the LGBT community make a huge difference, whether that’s championing LGBT rights in your work, or supporting LGBT family members or friends. Now, more than ever, we encourage everyone who believes in LGBT equality to Come Out For Equality and find out more about how they can be an ally,” said Pete Mercer, Head, Global Programmes, Stonewall (UK).

Anyone can sign-up and participate free-of-cost by clicking on the link https://thepridecircle.com/21daysallychallenge/   (IANS)