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Microsoft’s Brad Smith casts concerns over deep-fake technology

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Amid the fast development of artificial intelligence (AI) and experts coming forth voicing their concern over the pace of technology, Microsoft President Brad Smith said Thursday that he was worried about deep fakes, realistic-looking but false content.

During his speech in Washington on the topic of how AI should be regulated he called for steps to ensure that people know when a photo or video is real and when it is generated by AI, potentially for ill objects.

The experts have been concerned about the technology that boosted after the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT — a human-like AI-powered chatbot capable of writing human responses.

Smith said: “We’re going have to address the issues around deep fakes. We’re going to have to address in particular what we worry about most foreign cyber influence operations, the kinds of activities that are already taking place by the Russian government, the Chinese, the Iranians.”

This photo shows a Microsoft logo displayed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. — AFP/File
This photo shows a Microsoft logo displayed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. — AFP/File

“We need to take steps to protect against the alteration of legitimate content with an intent to deceive or defraud people through the use of AI.”

Smith also called for licensing for the most critical forms of AI with “obligations to protect the security, physical security, cybersecurity, national security.”

“We will need a new generation of export controls, at least the evolution of the export controls we have, to ensure that these models are not stolen or not used in ways that would violate the country’s export control requirements,” he underlined.

This photo shows screens displaying the logos of OpenAI and ChatGPT. — AFP/File
This photo shows screens displaying the logos of OpenAI and ChatGPT. — AFP/File

Legislators in Washington have been struggling to find solutions regarding how to best regulate the as the tech giants like Microsoft and Google have jumped into incorporating the technology into their products.

CEO Open AI Sam Altman last week told a Senate panel in his first appearance before Congress that the use of AI interfering with election integrity is a “significant area of concern”, adding that it needs regulation.

Altman, whose OpenAI start-up is backed by Microsoft, also called for global cooperation on AI and incentives for safety compliance.

Smith further argued also in his blog post, Thursday, that people “needed to be held accountable for any problems caused by AI,” urging lawmakers to ensure that “safety brakes be put on AI used to control the electric grid, water supply and other critical infrastructure so that humans remain in control.”

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during a keynote address announcing ChatGPT integration for Bing at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, on February 7, 2023. — AFP
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during a keynote address announcing ChatGPT integration for Bing at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, on February 7, 2023. — AFP

He also suggested the use of a “Know Your Customer”-style system for developers of powerful AI models to “keep tabs on how their technology is used and to inform the public of what content AI is creating so they can identify faked videos.”

Back in March, hundreds of researchers, CEOs and tech leaders including Tesla owner Elon Musk signed an open letter that voiced concerns over the “profound risks” AI technology poses to society and humanity.

“AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity,” said the open letter.

“Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable.

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The China-Pakistan alliance aims to introduce environmentally friendly solar-powered electric bicycles.

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Recently, a preliminary cooperation deal was made to bring eco-friendly solar e-bikes to Pakistan by Road King, a well-known electric scooter company in Pakistan, and AGAO Solar Mobility, a China-based startup that specialises in solar-powered scooters.

With solar panels installed, solar scooters are environmentally friendly electric scooters. Instead of using conventional charging methods, these panels use solar energy to recharge the scooter’s battery. The Chinese company said that the short-distance, carbon-emission-free scooter and solar energy combination is dedicated to this goal.

The demand for products in Pakistan’s local transportation industry, trends in product development, and particular cooperative methods were all extensively discussed by the parties at the conference, according to CEN.

The Chinese firm promised to help Road King with product optimisation, marketing support, and technical support for solar-powered e-bikes. Developing superior transport products in tandem with the needs of the regional market is the aim.

As the delegation from Road King pointed out, we will aggressively pursue collaboration with the Chinese side and bring solar e-bikes to the Pakistani market. The high efficiency and eco-friendliness of solar e-bikes perfectly match Pakistan’s present need for environmentally friendly transportation.

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China is constructing the majority, namely two-thirds, of the world’s new wind and solar power plants.

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According to a report by the U.S.-based think tank Global Energy Monitor (GEM), China is constructing 339 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale wind and solar energy, which accounts for 64% of the total global capacity. The project pipeline of the first-place country is more than eight times that of the second-place U.S., which has 40 GW.

The authors of the paper stated that China’s rapid progress makes it highly achievable to treble renewable capacity by the end of 2030, even without more hydropower. They urge China to increase its climate ambitions in its upcoming promises to the United Nations next year.

Last week, the Sydney-based think tank Climate Energy Finance said that Beijing is on course to achieve its own target of installing 1,200 GW of wind and solar power by this month, which is six years ahead of schedule.

According to GEM research analyst Aiqun Yu, China’s coal-centric power grid is facing difficulties in accommodating the rapid growth of renewable energy sources. To address this issue, there is a need for the accelerated expansion of transmission lines.
However, a different analysis published by Carbon Brief on Thursday revealed that the recent increase in capacity has resulted in renewable generation reaching unprecedented levels.

According to the analysis conducted by Lauri Myllyvirta, senior fellow at Asia Society Policy Institute, China’s electricity generation from coal reached a record low of 53% in May. At the same time, a record high of 44% of electricity came from non-fossil fuel sources. This suggests that China’s carbon emissions may have reached their highest point last year, assuming this trend continues.

The percentage of coal decreased from 60% in May 2023.

In May, solar power generation increased to 12% and wind power generation reached 11%, primarily due to China’s significant addition of new capacity. The remaining non-fossil fuel electricity was comprised of hydropower at 15%, nuclear power at 5%, and biomass at 2%.

In May, the power industry in China experienced a 3.6% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions, which account for almost 40% of the country’s total emissions, due to the increased generation of renewable energy.

“According to Myllyvirta, if China continues to rapidly deploy wind and solar energy, it is expected that the country’s CO2 emissions will continue to decrease, with 2023 being the year when emissions reach their highest point and start to decline.”
In May, solar power generation had an unprecedented increase of 78% compared to the previous year, reaching a total of 94 terrawatt hours (TWh).

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, there was a 29% rise in electricity generation from solar power. However, this figure does not account for the electricity generated by rooftop solar panels, which represents approximately half of the total solar electricity produced.

The new analysis computed the wind and solar power production by utilizing data on the capacity of power generation and the utilization figures provided by the China Electricity Council, an industry body.

Wind power generation increased by 5% compared to the previous year, reaching a total of 83 TWh. This growth was primarily driven by a 21% increase in capacity. However, the overall utilization of wind power was lower due to fluctuations in wind conditions. Hydropower production experienced a significant increase of 39% compared to the previous year, during which it was adversely affected by a drought.

Gas-fired output experienced a decline of 16%, while power generation from coal decreased by 3.7%, despite a 7.2% growth in overall energy consumption compared to the previous year.

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Put an end to unwelcome WhatsApp groups! View the latest feature

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The instant messaging service WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta, has introduced a new function to improve group chat security.

Referred to as “context cards,” this feature aims to address the common problem of online group fraud by preventing members from being added to groups by strangers.

According to a press statement from WhatsApp, the global deployment of context cards has already started and is anticipated to be accessible to all users in the upcoming weeks.

When users receive group invites from contacts who are not saved on their phone, the context card function offers more details. The card has information about the group’s originator as well as specifics like the group’s founding date and a succinct statement of its goals. Users are able to join new groups with greater knowledge thanks to this additional background.

Context cards seem to offer very little information, but their purpose is to give consumers enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not to accept a group invitation. In addition, people who have doubts about the authenticity of the invitation have the option to report, block, or unsubscribe from groups.

The new feature was unveiled by WhatsApp CEO Cathcart on his channel within the app, with a focus on how it could shield users from common online group scams.

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