Business India News Technology

IFC to invest Rs 600 cr in Mahindra’s new EV firm

The Rs 600 crore investment will result in an ownership of between 9.97 per cent to 13.64 per cent for IFC in NewCo…reports Asian Lite News

Global development institution IFC will invest Rs 600 crore in a new last-mile mobility (LMM) company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra that will be newly incorporated (NewCo), it announced on Wednesday.

IFC’s first investment in an EV manufacturer in the country, and the first in electric three-wheelers globally, will be in the form of compulsory convertible instruments at a valuation of up to Rs 6,020 crore.

The Rs 600 crore investment will result in an ownership of between 9.97 per cent to 13.64 per cent for IFC in NewCo.

NewCo will house the last mile mobility division, including three wheelers (Alfa, Treo, Zor) and four-wheeler SCV (Jeeto).

“With the electrification of the last mile mobility business at scale, we will move a step further in our commitment to be aPlanet Positive’ by 2040. This also presents a tremendous opportunity for growth for micro and women entrepreneurs,” said Anish Shah, MD and CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra.

India has committed to reducing its emissions profile by 45 per cent by 2030, and simultaneously aims to achieve 80 per cent EV penetration for two-and three-wheelers, 70 per cent for commercial vehicles and 30 per cent for private cars in the same time-frame.

“India is the largest three-wheeler market globally, and this investment marks a significant step towards scaled domestic production of electric vehicles catering to this segment, as well as small commercial vehicles,” said Hector Gomez Ang, IFC’s Regional Director for South Asia.

According to Rajesh Jejurikar, Executive Director and CEO (auto and farm sector), Mahindra & Mahindra, being the market leaders in this segment: “We have an opportunity to drive higher EV penetration in this segment and provide a more sustainable as well as profitable option to microentrepreneurs”.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, works in more than 100 countries. In fiscal year 2022, IFC committed a record $32.8 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries.

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Business Economy Technology

Bank failures hammer global crypto market

Two crypto-friendly banks Silvergate Capital and Signature Bank collapsed last week, and billions of dollars belonging to crypto exchanges got stuck….reports Asian Lite News

The collapse of three banks in the US, including the giant Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), within a week has hammered the global crypto market, wiping off more than $70 billion as Bitcoin fell below $20,000 per single coin.

On Monday, Bitcoin was hovering around $18,000 and Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, predicted the world’s largest cryptocurrency could soon drop below $4,000.

Two crypto-friendly banks Silvergate Capital and Signature Bank collapsed last week, and billions of dollars belonging to crypto exchanges got stuck.

Signature Bank was shut down by the New York regulators and all depositors of Signature Bank “will be made whole”.

Signature Bank had $88.59 billion in deposits as of December 31, 2022 and the New York Department of Financial Services has taken possession of the bank.

Leading crypto exchange Coinbase had $240 million in cash at Signature Bank.

“As of close of business Friday March 10, Coinbase had an approximately $240m balance in corporate cash at Signature. As stated by the FDIC, we expect to fully recover these funds,” the crypto exchange said in a tweet.

Circle, the firm behind USDC stablecoin, is also affected by the Signature Bank closing.

Its CEO Jeremy Allaire said in a tweet that with the closure of Signature Bank, “we will not be able to process minting and redemption through SigNet, we will be relying on settlements through BNY Mellon”.

“Additionally, we will be bringing on a new transaction banking partner with automated minting and redemption potentially as soon as tomorrow. We are committed to building robust and automated USDC settlement and reserve operations,” he added.

Crypto firm Circle also has $3.3 billion stuck at SVB, the non-crypto bank that collapsed last week, triggering panic in the tech industry.

Bankrupt crypto lender BlockFi also has $227 million in funds stuck at SVB.

Top cryptocurrency exchanges Binance and Coinbase have also temporarily suspended USDC stablecoin conversions after the collapse of SVB.

Another US traditional bank Silvergate Capital last week announced it was “wind down operations and voluntarily liquidating” its bank division.

The interest rate hikes over the past year has badly affected risk assets like cryptocurrencies.

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-Top News Technology USA

TikTok ban edges closer as Senators unveil new bill

The bipartisan bill would empower the US Secretary of Commerce to ban foreign technologies and companies…reports Asian Lite News

A group of 12 US Senators has unveiled a new bill, that now has a White House backing, that will give President Joe Biden power to ban TikTok nationwide.

Called the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act, it gives the US government new powers, up to and including a ban, “against foreign-linked producers of electronics or software that the Commerce Department deems to be a national security risk,” reports CNN.

The bipartisan bill, led by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), would empower the US Secretary of Commerce to ban foreign technologies and companies from operating in the US if they present a threat to national security.

The bill covers companies in countries, including China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela.

“Today, the threat that everyone is talking about is TikTok, and how it could enable surveillance by the Chinese Communist Party, or facilitate the spread of malign influence campaigns in the U.S. Before TikTok, however, it was Huawei and ZTE, which threatened our nation’s telecommunications networks,” Warner said in a statement.

“We need a comprehensive, risk-based approach that proactively tackles sources of potentially dangerous technology before they gain a foothold in America, so we aren’t playing Whac-A-Mole and scrambling to catch up once they’re already ubiquitous,” he added.

The Warner bill comes just a few days after the House Foreign Affairs Committee pushed through a separate measure to restrict access to TikTok, called the Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries Act, or DATA Act.

Jake Sullivan (File Photo ANI)

WH applauds Senators

The White House applauded the Senators for introducing the RESTRICT Act that would give new powers to the US government to take action against technologies posing risk to the country, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement.

White House urged Congress to pass legislation and send it to President’s desk.

Jake Sullivan said that the legislation will empower the US government to prevent certain governments from exploiting technology services operating in the United States in a way that poses risks to sensitive data of people and the country’s national security.

“We applaud the bipartisan group of Senators, led by Senators Warner and Thune, who today introduced the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act. This legislation would empower the United States government to prevent certain foreign governments from exploiting technology services operating in the United States in a way that poses risks to Americans’ sensitive data and our national security,” Sullivan said in a statement.

Sullivan noted that the bill presents a systematic framework for addressing technology-based threats to the security and safety of Americans. He stressed that the legislation will provide the US government with new mechanisms to mitigate the national security risks posed by high-risk technology businesses operating in the country.

“Critically, it would strengthen our ability to address discrete risks posed by individual transactions, and systemic risks posed by certain classes of transactions involving countries of concern in sensitive technology sectors. This will help us address the threats we face today, and also prevent such risks from arising in the future,” Sullivan said in a statement.

He further said, “We look forward to continue working with both Democrats and Republicans on this bill, and urge Congress to act quickly to send it to the President’s desk.” (IANS/ANI)

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Business Technology

EV sale may hit 1.7 cr by 2023 end

Tesla’s Model Y remained the best-selling model globally followed by China-based BYD’s Song model…reports Asian Lite News

The global passenger electric vehicle (EV) sales rose by 53 per cent (year-on-year) in Q4 2022 to bring the year’s total to over 10.2 million (more than 1.2 crore) units, a report showed on Monday.

Tesla’s Model Y remained the best-selling model globally followed by China-based BYD’s Song model.

During Q4 2022, battery EVs (BEV) accounted for almost 72 per cent of all EV sales, while plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) accounted for the rest, according to Counterpoint Research.

According to senior analyst Soumen Mandal, by the end of 2023, EV sales are expected to reach nearly 17 million units.

In 2022, the top three EV markets were China, Germany, and the US. The top 10 EV automotive groups, which hold more than 39 passenger car brands, contributed to almost 72 per cent of all EV sales in Q4 2022.

“The annual total for 2022 would have reached close to 11 million units had fresh Covid-19 infections not surfaced in China. The infections in China during November and December affected automotive production and sales and disrupted the component supply chain,” said research analyst Abhik Mukherjee.

Despite these headwinds, Chinese brands managed to record strong growth.

In 2022, many Chinese brands started to expand in markets like Europe, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

“Chinese brands are likely to dominate in Southeast Asia and Latin America as there are very few brands operating in these regions. But a fight for market presence is expected in Europe,” Mukherjee added.

The top 10 EV models accounted for one-third of the total passenger EV sales in Q4 2022.

According to Mandal, by the end of 2023, EV sales are expected to reach nearly 17 million units.

“The end of the purchase subsidy in China might push EV manufacturers to increase their prices. BYD has already implemented one price hike in January. But these price hikes are unlikely to affect EV sales in one of the most matured EV markets,” said Mandal.

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-Top News Technology UAE News

Experts predict quantum computing as key driver of economy

Jan Goetz emphasised on the power of quantum technology in the application of AI, allowing for faster problem-solving…reports Asian Lite News

Thought leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world discussed the opportunities presented by AI and quantum computing to optimise efficiency and growth in all walks of life, during Investopia 2023 annual conference, which took place on 2nd and 3rd March, 2023.

The session, titled “Quantum Leap: Transforming Industry Through Quantum Computing & AI”, was led by Jan Goetz, CEO and co-Founder of IQM Quantum Computers, Joanna Shields, CEO of BenevolentAI and Herman Narula, CEO & Co-Founder of Improbable.

The speakers presented their thoughts on integrating technology into every aspect of work to create opportunities and resolve shared problems.

They explored different elements of AI, quantum computing, and the Metaverse, and their game changing potential to ensure purposeful jobs and contributions to society on a whole.

In the context of the new economic formations resulting from the tremendous technical developments, experts affirmed that, investment in quantum computing will be the new economy during the next two years.

Jan Goetz emphasised on the power of quantum technology in the application of AI, allowing for faster problem-solving. He explained that quantum allows you to solve problems exponentially faster. “If you want to simulate a molecule, and you use a normal computer, it takes millions of years, but with quantum, it will solve this problem in days or minutes. We find this problem in all industries. In the class of optimisation and supply chain problems, quantum is a disruptive tech that can solve some of these issues.”

He also noted that we are at the beginning of the development of this emerging technology, and there are vast opportunities for building the industry together. As technology disrupts every industry, it is important to create opportunities for people to maintain their fulfilment. For example, the Metaverse has the potential to provide new opportunities in the education sector and that the creation of virtual experiences goes beyond video games and can serve a purpose. Finally, he underlined the need to thoroughly understand the type and kind of skills and infrastructure we need as an industry to prepare for this dynamic future.

Joanna Shields highlighted the increasing use and mainstream understanding of general-purpose language models, such as ChatGPT, and the potential ethical challenges associated with AI.

She emphasises the exciting development of large language models for specific purposes, such as deciphering complex diseases, and the ability to ingest data from multiple sources to aid decision-making. From an investment perspective, she noted the real-world impact of this technology. However, she stressed upon the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach and engaging with organisations and experts to generate awareness of ethical AI.

Shields also discussed the need for the technology to be in the hands of thousands of scientists to better understand disease biology and have a broader impact on society.

Herman Narula put the spotlight on the potential of the Metaverse and its applications in various industries such as sports, music, gaming, and defence.

He emphasised the importance of making the virtual world meaningful and creating new opportunities for people as there will be a shift in the way we work and operate.

He argued that the idea of Singularity AI being perfect at every problem is a misguided notion, and instead, we are likely to see many specialised AI models for different purposes. However, he suggested that AI is already smarter than humans in some areas.

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Business Health Technology

New AI tech to pick donor organs for transplant

The OrQA assessment will majorly look for damage, pre-existing conditions and how well blood has been flushed out of the organ….reports Asian Lite News

British researchers are developing a novel technology based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) that will pick donor organs for transplant on a much better level than humans, the media reported.

The new technology known as OrQA — Organ Quality Assessment — uses AI and its “memory” of tens of thousands of images of donor organs to identify the ones that offer the best chance of success during transplant, the Evening Standard reported.

Currently, doctors physically examine the organs that have the best chance of a success during transplant.

The OrQA assessment will majorly look for damage, pre-existing conditions and how well blood has been flushed out of the organ.

The technology, once rolled out, can result in up to 200 more patients receiving kidney transplants and 100 more receiving liver transplants every year in the UK, according to researchers, which include from the University of Oxford.

“Currently, when an organ becomes available, it is assessed by a surgical team by sight, which means, occasionally, organs will be deemed not suitable for transplant,” Prof. Hassan Ugail, director of the centre for visual computing at the University of Bradford, was quoted as saying.

“We are developing a deep machine learning algorithm which will be trained using thousands of images of human organs to assess images of donor organs more effectively than what the human eye can see,” he said.

“This will ultimately mean a surgeon could take a photo of the donated organ, upload it to OrQA and get an immediate answer as to how best to use the donated organ,” Ugail said.

The project is backed by ministers, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Blood and Transplant Research Unit. Researchers have also secured more than 1 million pounds in funding from NIHR, the report said.

“This is a really important step for professionals and patients to make sure people can get the right transplant as soon as possible,” Colin Wilson, transplant surgeon at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was quoted as saying.

“The software we have developed ‘scores’ the quality of the organ and aims to support surgeons to assess if the organ is healthy enough to be transplanted,” he added.

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Business Tech Lite Technology

Apple nod to ChatGPT-driven app amid concerns

Apple approved the app called aBlueMail’ following assurances from its developer that it has content moderation tools…reports Asian Lite News

Apple has reportedly approved an AI chatbot-driven app after content moderation assurances from its developer, as concerns rise about ChatGPT going bonkers and even generating inappropriate content for some users.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Apple approved the app called aBlueMail’ following assurances from its developer that it has content moderation tools.

Apple scrutinised whether a feature in the software that uses AI-powered language tools “could generate inappropriate content for children”.

According to Ben Volach, co-founder of the app maker, Blix Inc., he told Apple that “its update includes content moderation”.

He suggested that “the company should make public any new policies about the use of ChatGPT or other similar AI systems in apps”.

The BlueMail app is still available for users aged 4 and older, said the report.

Apple curates and reviews each app before approving those for its App Store.

However, there have been concerns regarding ChatGPT use.

Since its release, researchers have been grappling with the ethical issues surrounding its use, because much of its output can be difficult to distinguish from human-written text.

AI chatbot ChatGPT-driven Bing search engine triggered a shockwave recently after it told a reporter with The New York Times that it loved him, confessed its destructive desires and said it “wanted to be alive”, leaving the reporter “deeply unsettled.”

Cyber-criminals are also using ChatGPT to create Telegram bots that can write malware and steal data.

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-Top News Technology UAE News

LIFTOFF: Crew-6 takes flight

The dragon carrying the crew, including Emirati Astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, is now expected to reach the ISS after a 25-hour journey and stay in the orbiting laboratory for six-months conducting scientific research….reports Asian Lite News

The longest Arab space mission in history was launched today at 9:34 am (UAE time). The 6-month mission is carried out by astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi aboard the International Space Station as part of Crew-6.

SpaceX for the seventh time launched the international crew of four astronauts — two from NASA and one each from Roscosmos and the UAE.

“Liftoff! Dragon takes flight!” NASA wrote on Twitter.

The Crew-6 mission, launched to the International Space Station (ISS) at 12.34 a.m. ET (11.04 a.m. IST) from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida onboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft.

The mission was originally scheduled to blast off to space on Monday, but was scrubbed a few minutes before the liftoff due to an issue with the ignition system.

It prevented data from confirming a full load of the ignition source for the Falcon 9 first stage Merlin engines, triethylaluminum triethylboron (or TEA-TEB).

Another launch opportunity on Tuesday was also dropped due to unfavourable weather forecast conditions, NASA and SpaceX had said.

The dragon carrying the crew is now expected to reach the ISS after a 25-hour journey and stay in the orbiting laboratory for six-months conducting scientific research.

The Crew 6 includes NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren “Woody” Hoburg, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.

Al Neyadi will be making his first trip to space, representing the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center of the UAE.

Al Neyadi will be the first UAE astronaut to fly on a commercial spacecraft. Once aboard the station, he will become a flight engineer for Expedition 69.

Fedyaev will be making his first trip to space, and will also serve as a mission specialist, working to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. He will be a flight engineer for Expedition 69.

The team is expected to perform more than 200 science, technology demonstrations, and maintenance activities aboard the microgravity laboratory.

The experiments include studies of how particular materials burn in microgravity, tissue chip research on heart, brain, and cartilage functions, and an investigation that will collect microbial samples from the outside of the space station.

The flight is the sixth crew rotation mission with SpaceX to station, and the seventh flight of Dragon with people as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme.

The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft previously flew NASA’s Crew-1, Inspiration4, and Axiom Mission-1 astronauts.

As part of the refurbishment process, teams have installed new components, including the heat shield, nosecone, trunk and all forward bulkhead and service section Draco engines. These hardware components help the spacecraft withstand reentry heat, support docking and cargo space, and provide steering and thrust to the spacecraft.

During their stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, Crew-6 will also see the arrival of cargo spacecraft including the SpaceX Dragon and the Roscosmos Progress.

Crew-6 also is expected to welcome the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test astronauts and the Axiom Mission-2 crew during their expedition.

At the conclusion of the mission, Dragon Endeavour will autonomously undock with the four crew members aboard, depart the space station and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

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-Top News China Technology

China leans on courts to pry western technologies

The battle over China’s acquisition of technology has raged for years. …reports Asian Lite News

Amid the growing conflict with the US, China is using its courts and patent panels to undermine foreign intellectual-property rights and help Chinese businesses, especially in technology, pharmaceuticals and rare-earth minerals, says American and EU officials, The Wall Street Journal reported.

China leans on an array of levers to pry technology from American companies. In 2018, The Wall Street Journal laid out the example of Beijing’s plan to pry technology from other nations. DuPont Co. suspected its onetime partner in China was getting hold of its prized chemical technology and spent more than a year fighting in arbitration trying to make it stop. Then, 20 investigators from China’s antitrust authority showed up. For four days this past December, they fanned out through DuPont’s Shanghai offices, demanding passwords to the company’s worldwide research network, say people briefed on the raid. Investigators printed documents, seized computers and intimidated employees, accompanying some to the bathroom.

And to strengthen its control over technology from the US, now, China is using the legal system.

A US manufacturer of X-ray equipment had a decade-old patent invalidated by a Chinese legal panel. A Spanish mobile antenna designer lost a similar fight in a Shanghai court. Another Chinese court ruled that a Japanese conglomerate broke antitrust law by refusing to license its technology to a Chinese rival, reported The Wall Street Journal.

In China’s 20th National Congress, in October 2022, President Xi Jinping secured the third term and pledged to help the country in becoming a global innovator and also to help it prosper further.

“We will increase investment in science and technology through diverse channels and strengthen the legal protection of intellectual property rights, in order to establish a foundational system for all-around innovation,” he told Chinese lawmakers.

The battle over China’s acquisition of technology has raged for years. Counterfeit products and logo look-alikes are pervasive in China. Recently, Beijing has tried to crack down on domestic companies violating the intellectual-property rights of some foreign firms. In July, luxury shoemaker Manolo Blahnik said it won a long-running trademark dispute against a Chinese businessman accused of improperly selling shoes under a similar name.

Officials in the U.S. and EU and executives at some Western companies, however, say Beijing is going the opposite route in some industries. China’s State Administration for Market Regulation, the government body that oversees all intellectual-property matters, and the Chinese embassy in Washington didn’t respond to requests for comment, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The conflict is central to the growing competition between the US and China for technological and economic superiority. The U.S. has slapped restrictions on chip-related exports to China. Beijing has accused the U.S. of politicizing science and technology to try to protect American leadership in those fields.

In December, the EU sued China in the World Trade Organization on behalf of Swedish telecom-equipment maker Ericsson AB and other companies, complaining that China has barred EU companies from suing to protect their patents in courts outside China. The EU called China’s policy “extremely damaging,” saying Chinese companies requested the intervention “to pressure patent right holders to grant them cheaper access to European technology.”

Canada, Japan and the U.S. had asked to join an initial version of the European complaint, which the EU said could now take about 18 months to adjudicate, reported The Wall Street Journal. (ANI)

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-Top News Canada Technology

Canada launches funding program for next-gen nuclear tech

The new programme will provide 29.6 million Canadian dollars ($24 million) over four years to develop supply chains for SMR manufacturing…reports Asian Lite News

The Canadian government has launched a new funding programme to support research and development of the country’s small modular reactor (SMR), the next generation of nuclear technologies.

The new programme will provide 29.6 million Canadian dollars ($24 million) over four years to develop supply chains for SMR manufacturing and fuel supply and security to support the crucial elements necessary for Canada’s SMR industry to thrive, according to a statement issued by Natural Resources Canada.

It will also fund research on safe SMR waste management solutions to ensure that SMRs, and the waste they generate, will be safe now and into the future, the statement added.

On February 6, 2023, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada had a similar fund programme to support university applicants in their efforts to address waste generated from SMRs and develop SMR supply chains, the statement said.

Last year, through an inter-provincial Memorandum of Understanding, the provincial governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta put forward a nuclear plan that will transition them toward SMRs with the first 300-megawatt plant to be built in Darlington, Ontario, by 2028. The project would support Canadian efforts to become a global SMR technology hub in a market estimated to be 150 billion Canadian dollars ($120 billion) per year by 2040, Xinhua news agency reported.

SMRs, which are nearly 300 megawatts or less, have a smaller footprint and a shorter construction schedule, compared to traditional nuclear generating stations. Energy experts said there is no path to bringing the world’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050 without nuclear.

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