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Colours in the age of technology

by Sumeet Swarup Imagine having a bright red fridge sitting in your kitchen, or a bright orange television in your living room. There is a strong reason why most of our everyday gadgets around the house tend to have neutral colours such as black, white, silver and grey. Fridge, microwave, television, mobile, laptop, Alexa and Google Home – they are all telling us one thing – “don’t look at me, instead look at the wonderful things I can do for you”. The same philosophy takes place for the digital products also – think websites and mobile applications. The colours are there to help the digital product achieve its goals – be attractive, lower bounce rate, increase engagement, repeat visits, sales, conversions, stickiness of brand, etc. Although there are no absolute truths about the usa...

Did you know…………..

by Jibu Elias 5G Mobile phones have been tested on the 5G network in South Korea, and are reported to have speeds of 2.7 Gbps. In comparison, 4G has a laboratory max speed of 300 Mbps, real world speeds of 60 Mbps, and in India it can be down to 10 Mbps (note: 1 Gbps  = 1000 Mbps) Scientists have reversed time in a quantum computer, by sending 3 qubits back to their state a second ago, with a 50% success rate. However, real life applications are still far away, since that will involve sending an infinite number of particles backwards with 100% success rate. Gene editing technology CRISPR can be used to make superbugs that can overpower the disease causing bugs, ultimately killing them both, and leaving the host body free of fatal diseases In 2018, 80 million cars were sold worldwide out of...

A Connected Woman

by Sumeet Swarup In my home in Delhi, I live with four generations of women who are all technology users in their own way. My grandmother, who is 100 years old, uses her classic push button mobile phone, along with her favorite three channels on TV. My 70 year old mother uses her Android smart phone, communicates on whatsapp and drives her car with ease, but is not comfortable with the voice enabled Firestick. My wife, who is a designer, easily navigates the applications on her Mac and orders diapers on the phone. My 1 year old daughter (Alia) has already figured out that there is a connection between the remote and the TV that plays her favorite cartoon. Watching the 4 of them is such an interesting study of human adaptability and instinct. Technology is changing rapidly and the pace of c...

Challenges of the University incubated technology startups in India

By Dr. Sunil Sherlekar and Sumeet Swarup We look upon deep technology startups coming out of Stanford or MIT and wonder why India can’t emulate that. It is true that India produces some very good and original academic research. In addition, in some of the top technical universities in India, professors and students are allowed to take ownership of their technology or patent and setup a startup after giving a single digit (typically 7% or 8%) equity to the university. In exchange, the university allows the startup to be incubated on its premises, access labs and other resources, help with patent filings, amongst other benefits. It’s a phenomenal administrative step ahead for the otherwise conservative and theory inclined technical institutions of India. Given the above two factors, one woul...

Artificial Intelligence can now commit crimes

By Jibu Elias and Sumeet Swarup Crimes committed by Artificial Intelligence programs/bots/agents are no longer just the plot of an exciting movie. According to cutting edge research done by leading scientists John Seymour, Philip Tully and Luz Martinez-Miranda, AI crimes are not only possible, but could fast become a reality. At present, three major areas are identified as the potential breeding ground for AI Crimes. They are financial crimes, drug trafficking, and offences against individuals. In financial crimes, a simple implementation of an AI Program designed to optimally trade on behalf of a user, results in the program becoming so smart about the financial markets, that it starts doing market manipulation, price fixing and collusion, all to optimize its returns. In drug trafficking,...

The Social Network vs. The Street Network

by Sumeet Swarup The image of the successful Silicon Valley startup is this – a genius geek develops a brilliant tech product and rolls it out over cyberspace and takes over the world – facebook, google, Airbnb, Dropbox, linkedin, Twitter, Youtube – the list goes on. The image is epitomized by the movie “The Social Network” – Harvard dropout codes while sitting in his pyjamas and rolling out his product into university after university. This is not just an image, but true in most of the tech startups from the Valley. The product is treated very seriously and is by far the most important asset of the startup. The founders spend most of their time on the product – the technology and a clean UI and smooth UX. They have a rockstar team that huddles together to do designing and coding. Th...

Goldfinger

By Sumeet Swarup and Jibu Elias Do you remember the James Bond villains of the cold war era? They were always trying to start a war between USSR and USA so as to profit from it? Well, there is a new villain in town, and this one seems in a better position to start a war. “Russia has declared war on the United States after Donald Trump accidentally fired a missile in the air. Russia said it had “identified the missile’s trajectory and will take necessary measures to ensure the security of the Russian population and the country’s strategic nuclear forces.” The White House said it was “extremely concerned by the Russian violation” of a treaty banning intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The US and Russia have had an uneasy relationship since 2014, when Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region...

Genetic Engineering

by Sumeet Swarup In November, 2018, He Jiankui, a scientist in China announced that he had successfully modified the genes of a human embryo, which had resulted in the birth of two baby girls (nicknamed Lulu and Nana) in Shenzhen. The news immediately shocked the world, with some people going so far as to call it the start of the era of designer babies. Enter the field of Genetic Engineering, which involves altering the genetic make-up of living organisms – think Jurassic Park. Many technologies/techniques are used for Genetic Engineering. CRISPR (the one used by Dr. He) is one such technology that has seen very successful results in being able to make precise changes to the genetic makeup. While Genetic Engineering has been deployed in plants (for improved food production), there is a fie...

Green Jersey, Dutch Sandwich, Irish Double and Single Malt

by Sumeet Swarup No, this is not a Rugby game, or the menu of an evening dinner. These are slang names of techniques used to reduce taxes for corporates around the world. Each has its own intricacies, but to illustrate an Irish Double – a multinational corporate will setup a company in Ireland, assign it an Intellectual property (IP) for a product, and conduct sales across Europe. When this product is sold in EU, laws will allow Ireland (a member EU state) to collect taxes. However, Ireland has a unilateral treaty with Bermuda that allows companies with an IP in Ireland to transfer money to a tax haven like Bermuda without paying any corporate tax in Ireland. Thus the company lands up paying no (or minimal) overall corporate tax. If the tax haven is Malta instead of Bermuda, the sche...

Setting Rules for Artificial Intelligence

by Sumeet Swarup Policies and rules are usually planned for an area when the Government sees a current or future imbalance in an important sector, and it is felt that it is harming or going to harm certain stakeholders or unduly benefit certain others. The question of setting policies and rules for Artificial Intelligence has started coming up in formal and informal settings around the world. This was also the topic of a discussion at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos recently. At a session held by the Editor in Chief of Wired magazine, Mr. Nicholas Thompson, the topic of “Setting Rules for the AI Race” was hotly debated by senior leaders like Kai-Fu Lee (founder of Sinovation Ventures), Amitabh Kant (CEO of NITI Aayog), Amy Webb (professor at NYU), Jim Hagemann Snabe (Chair...