Prof. Yuval Elovici at the iTrust Research and Security Innovation Lab for IoT
(Photo credit: iTrust at SUTD)
On October 21st, a swathe of major websites, including Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Airbnb, CNN, Guardian and many more were taken down by distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) attacks on Domain Name System (DNS) provider Dyn. Users across North America and Europe were affected.
The internet-of-things (IoT) was at the heart of this attack. IoT devices including baby monitors, DVRs, printers, cameras and other appliances connected to the internet were hijacked to form malicious botnets. As the number of IoT devices continues to grow exponentially, the frequent absence of basic security measures is proving a cause for deep concern. It enables attacks like this which require no network breach and rely on scanning open networks for IoT devices using simple factory-default passwords, such as ‘password’.
As governments embark on smart nation projects and explore how to expand IoT to improve citizens’ lives, while maintaining security, such attacks could become disturbingly common. OpenGov met Prof. Yuval Elovici at iTrust, Centre for Research in Cyber Security, at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) to learn about his work in the area of IoT security.
Prof. Elovici is a Professor at the Department of Information Systems Engineering and the founder and Director of Telekom Innovation Laboratories, established in 2004, through a collaboration between Deutsche Telecom (DT) and Ben-Guiron University (BGU) in Israel. Around 50% of the research at the institute is devoted to cyber security.
He also heads the Cyber Security Research Center @ Ben-Guiron University, part of a network of centres opened by the Israel Nation Cyber Bureau (INCB) in different universities. At SUTD, he is the research director of iTrust, leading research in the domain of IoT security. It is the next big area for cyber security in his opinion. He is also the Laboratory Director of the ST Electronics-SUTD Cyber Security Laboratory at SUTD, together with Singapore Technologies Electronics Limited (ST Electronics or STE), earlier this year.
Can you tell us more about IoT security? What are the risks?
The domain of IoT is extremely wide. It can be anything from a connected car to a smartwatch. In a personal computer or a mobile phone the variety of models and operating systems is relatively small. If you consider Windows, Linux, IoS and Android, you cover almost all end-point operating systems. You expect that the manufacturer is going to patch the device based on these operating systems if a vulnerability is discovered.
The problem with IoT is that it comes from the domain of embedded systems. Manufacturers of embedded systems in general are not used to patching their systems. They are used to selling you a new device, which has a small, dedicated computer inside, with dedicated software. And they are not going to upgrade it since they focus their efforts on a new and more advanced version.
Something which in the past was an embedded system, is a full-fledged operating system now and it is connected. It could be connected directly to the internet. It could be connected via the mobile phone, which poses additional risks. Because if someone compromises your mobile phone, they might gain access to all those IoT devices being controlled via the mobile phone.
Earlier the huge variety was a bulwark against the possibility of somebody trying to compromise the device. With the evolution of the IoT, all these embedded systems are now connected to the Internet making them much more accessible to the attacker. The same tendency of the manufacturer not to patch them continues. Many unpatched devices continue to be added every day.
Some might think: “There are so many refrigerators, smart TVs, smart cars out there – what are the chances of an attacker attacking my device?” But this is not the case. If an attacker manages to find a way how to attack an IoT device, they will share the information on the dark market with anyone willing to pay a fee for it.
In addition, many of these devices are connected to the IT infrastructure of the organisation. They can be used to launch attacks against the rest of the infrastructure. Suppose you have a smart smoke detector that is connected to the network. The attacker can gain access to the network and go on to attack the other parts of the organisation. There is a website called Shodan – which maps all the IoT devices all over the world – which the attacker can use to determine which devices to attack.
To give you another example, in BGU, we are investigating a smart fridge. We bought a fridge for $4,000. We read about a vulnerability that was discovered one year ago. We bought it 3 months ago. Even after 9 months, the fridge had the same vulnerability. If for such an expensive product, the company didn’t patch it, think about all the cheap IoT devices that you have all around us. Nobody is going to patch them.
What are the implications of this for the Smart Nation Programme?
Based on what I have seen, the Smart Nation in Singapore is being designed with security in mind. Singapore can afford to build it secure. I am less concerned about it. I am more concerned about entities that don’t have the resources that a nation has, to build their own infrastructure.
We were recently doing a trial at a law firm in Israel, with around 100 lawyers, which focuses on mergers and acquisitions with deals worth millions of dollars. It turned out that the head of firm’s IT and Security department is actually a DJ at weddings. I am telling you this story to show that the biggest problem in security is that the even if small and medium sized businesses, with 100-200 employees, conduct deals in the millions, they do not bother to hire a security expert to look after their assets. Attackers know this, and the motivation to attack such organisations is very high. Now combine such an environment with IoT, which adds another layer of risk. It is heaven for the attackers.
So, you would not consider smartphones as IoT devices?
We don’t consider phones to be IoT. We even conducted research to distinguish between phones and PCs and what we consider to be IoT devices. Their network behaviour is supposed to be different. However, there are situations where it gets a bit tricky. When you use a Smart TV for navigation, what’s the difference between that and a mobile phone?
Are you exploring the use of machine learning for mitigating cyber security risks?
One of our primary tools in detecting compromised devices is using machine learning. In the corporate lab, one of the biggest projects is big data security analytics. It is about using big data and deep learning to detect the existence of cyber attacks, such as APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats).
In most cases, the infected organisations are not aware that they are infected. If an attacker manages to get an APT into an organisation, he wants to stay there as long as possible without being detected.
The goal is to employ big data analytics and machine learning techniques to analyse and identify the forensic information that gives you at least some indication that there is an APT in the network.
Once you have some evidence, you can bring in a good team to locate and remove the threat.
The role of IoT in healthcare seems to be expanding by leaps and bounds. Can you tell us about the security risks therein?
Take a pacemaker for instance. You can ask a person entering into a secure area to remove all wearable devices. But how can you tell somebody to remove an implant? In the movies, somebody might try to kill the person by hacking into their pacemaker. But why kill? It’s a device which can enter a top-secret environment. Let me try to leak information to the pacemaker. And once the person goes for a regular check-up by the doctor, who will read the information on the pacemaker, I am going to take the information out. So how can we protect implanted devices from being used for cyberattacks is a big challenge.
We are interested in telemedicine too. From our point of view, all the wearable devices used for telemedicine are IoT devices. We are very interested in entering this domain as part of our research into IoT security. We are trying to do it via one of the companies that are providing smart home solutions.
Are there any new areas where you see huge risks in the future?
There are three emerging areas I am highly interested in:
- Additive manufacturing or 3-D printing: We see potentially huge risks in additive manufacturing, when you generate components using 3D printers. We demonstrated an attack where we could modify the structural integrity of the component being printed.
In the future, a garage is not going to stock components. It is going to receive a design and print the part, including critical ones. The garage is definitely not going to have a security expert. An attacker can easily compromise a critical component, so that it fails while it is being used. Even in commercial planes, some critical parts are being printed and installed.
When you want to replace your knee, they put in an implant that is custom made for you. I carry out a cyberattack against the hospital and when they print your implant, I make it weaker. The part is implanted and after two weeks, when you are fully recovered, and you go for the jog, it breaks.
- Flight systems: I am also looking into aeroplane security. There is a tendency to connect devices to planes, either through the multimedia system, for example a passenger connecting mobile phone or tablet, or connectivity that allows pilots to connect systems to the plane. In commercial planes, they have done a very good job of isolating the different networks. Still risks will emerge with more and more connections inside the plane.
- Autonomous entities: Another very interesting emerging domain in my opinion is the autonomous entities that will be able to move about in their environment. It won’t be just autonomous cars. You are going to have autonomous drones and robots. All these autonomous entities may be compromised. And we need to find ways to secure them.
What are your thoughts on security-by-design?
Security-by-design is a very good buzzword. That is the way it should be done. But security-by-design means that your product is going to come later to the market. That is the biggest dilemma.
I know of examples of security systems, let alone products, that were not designed correctly. So if you ask whether a product can be designed security, as a security expert I can tell you it can be done. The price? Time to market.
Few companies are willing to put more security features into their products and push them out to the market later than their competitors.
When a government, like Singapore’s, designs a Smart Nation, they have the time to do multiple pilots and they can integrate security-by-design. Singapore also has the resources to do it. For some other countries, it would be too expensive to do so. The issue is about balancing the risks and benefits, how much more money you invest in adding security to smart nation infrastructure.
What is the role of the government in cyber security?
I think the top priority of the government should be to encourage and help increase the local expertise in cyber security. Governments need to promote programmes in the areas of cyber security education and research.
Secondly, governments should try to find ways to assist the business sector to be safeguarded against cyberattacks. If somebody launches a missile against another country, you would expect its military to defend against it. But today you can cause a lot, if not more damage by launching a cyberattack.
The government needs to support the protection of critical infrastructure. In Israel, the original definition of critical infrastructure was water, electricity and transportation. But now it is much wider. It includes banks, food distribution, high tech industries. For example, Intel is the biggest private sector employer in Israel, thus the Israeli government has an interest in ensuring that Intel operations in Israel are safe.
Small and medium sized companies would not have the resources to have strong in-house cyber security teams. The government has to step in. It could be by subsidising security solutions. It could be by creating national CERTs to help companies cope with cyberattacks and recover from them.
However, there are also complexities beyond the technical. Consider the Sony email hacking incident. Let’s assume that North Korea attacked Sony. Then it is a company against a state, and the odds are highly stacked against the company. Or, for the government to help in cyber defence, the government would need to have some presence inside the company because it is very difficult to protect an organisation from the outside. So, do you want the government to be inside your organisation? Even so, if the government sees a cyberattack inside an organisation, are they going to reveal it to the public? Whose interest comes first, the public or the company? Look at what happened with Yahoo.
These are difficult questions we need to address.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan recently addressed the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit, shedding light on Singapore’s unique relationship with the oceans and its proactive approach to addressing the challenges nowadays. He highlighted the significance of the digitalisation of the maritime sector as a critical component in fostering sustainability.
Singapore’s history, culture, and economy are inextricably intertwined with its maritime surroundings. This small but dynamic city-state relies heavily on maritime trade, with a trading volume that is three times its GDP. This unique ratio underscores the vital importance of maritime routes and the sea itself to Singapore’s prosperity and well-being.
Minister Vivian highlighted the global movement toward the decarbonisation and digitalisation of the maritime sector as a significant opportunity. According to him, the shipping industry is a substantial contributor to carbon emissions, releasing one billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually. However, there is immense potential for abatement through innovative strategies.
One such strategy involves the establishment of green and digitally empowered shipping corridors, such as the partnership between the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore, the Port of Los Angeles, and the Port of Long Beach.
This corridor, initiated in April 2023, is part of the green shipping challenge, jointly launched by the United States and Norway. These corridors serve as vital nodes in the transition to lower and zero-emission fuels for ships, creating growth opportunities for businesses and promoting low-emission technologies in maritime port operations.
Minister Vivian added that the decarbonisation and digitalisation of the maritime sector represent a profound transformation that goes beyond mere industry trends; they are significant opportunities that can revolutionise the way shipping and maritime operations are conducted. These two interrelated processes are not just advantageous; they are pivotal in shaping the future of the maritime industry and addressing some of its most pressing challenges.
The synergy between decarbonisation and digitalisation holds great promise, with each complementing the other to produce amplified benefits. One of the key advantages of this partnership lies in the realm of data-driven decarbonisation. Digital tools and technologies offer the means to collect, analyse, and interpret vast amounts of data related to energy consumption, emissions, and environmental impact.
This data serves as the foundation for informed decision-making regarding the implementation and effectiveness of decarbonisation measures. By leveraging digital resources, organisations can ensure that their efforts are both cost-effective and environmentally impactful, directing resources where they are needed most while minimising wastage.
Besides, the fusion of decarbonisation and digitalisation leads to the concept of continuous improvement. Digital analytics tools excel in identifying areas where further decarbonisation efforts can be deployed. This iterative process creates a feedback loop that is indispensable in an industry marked by rapid technological advancements and changing environmental regulations.
In addition, Minister Vivian stressed the importance of international law in guiding the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) plays a pivotal role in this regard, providing a comprehensive legal framework for all activities in oceans and seas. Recent accomplishments, such as the “Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction” (BBNJ) treaty, represent significant milestones in global ocean governance.
The Minister is calling for collective commitment and collaboration across public, private, and civic sectors to create a more resilient, sustainable, and equitable world. “As we navigate the digital seas of the future, Singapore stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration for all who share a commitment to safeguarding our oceans and securing a brighter tomorrow,” he concludes.
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) and the Hospital Authority (HA) have joined forces to create the HKSTP HA Data Collaboration Lab, set to launch in October 2023 at Hong Kong Science Park. The facility will grant over 1,400 Park companies and their partners direct access to de-identified clinical data sourced from HA’s extensive patient database, comprising around 200,000 patient records.
The lab will be the first portal of its kind, offering non-academic research and development (R&D) access to HA’s data, opening up exciting opportunities for the tech industry to leverage clinical data for groundbreaking biomedical and healthcare innovations.
HKSTP’s CEO highlighted the lab’s transformative potential within the innovation and technology (I&T) ecosystem. He highlighted how seamless data collaboration between hospitals, academia, and industry will drive Hong Kong’s healthcare transformation and digital economy aspirations. The lab is expected to catalyse the development of breakthrough technologies by Park companies, aimed at positively impacting global lives.
The Chief Executive of the Hospital Authority underscored the significance of this partnership in facilitating industry access to clinical data and fostering collaboration and innovation. It aligns with the shared goal of accelerating healthcare transformation and enhancing healthcare quality across Hong Kong.
The HKSTP HA Data Collaboration Lab, situated in Building 19W of Hong Kong Science Park, will provide robust infrastructure, enabling exclusive access to HA’s Self-service Data Platform. This platform encompasses clinical data from a randomly selected group of 200,000 patients spanning 2007 to 2017, categorised by age and gender. The data covers various aspects, from patient demographics and hospital/clinic attendance records to clinical diagnoses, procedures, medication records, and laboratory/radiology results.
Data security and privacy are paramount, with HKSTP implementing rigorous measures. These include on-site personnel, surveillance systems, an isolated network, and restrictions preventing data download, saving, or printing. Additionally, all personal information is anonymised in the database. Governance committees, namely the HKSTP Clinical Research Ethics Committee and the Data Governance Committee, ensure compliance with data protection, privacy, and clinical research ethics.
The official launch of the HKSTP HA Data Collaboration Lab is scheduled for October 2023, following a pilot phase. During this time, all 1,400+ HKSTP Park companies (primarily in biotech and healthcare), their partners, and academic researchers can apply for access, with each application granting a five-day exploration window.
This collaboration stems from Hong Kong’s 2021 Policy Address, which tasked HKSTP and HA with promoting enhanced collaboration and data sharing between the R&D and healthcare sectors. The Self-service Data Platform was initially restricted to academic research and publications at select secure locations.
The establishment of the HKSTP HA Data Collaboration Lab at Hong Kong Science Park marks a significant milestone in HKSTP’s journey to strengthen collaboration across government, industry, academia, and research sectors, positioning Hong Kong as a global I&T hub.
The establishment of the HKSTP HA Data Collaboration Lab aligns with the goals of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, as outlined in its policies and initiatives. One of the central objectives of the HKSAR government is to transform Hong Kong into an international innovation and technology (I&T) hub.
This initiative aims to foster collaboration between government, industry, academia, and research sectors to boost technological advancements and economic growth. The lab directly supports this goal by facilitating seamless data sharing between the healthcare and tech sectors, driving innovation, and advancing healthcare quality—a key component of the HKSAR government’s vision for a thriving and competitive knowledge-based economy.
OpenGov Asia reported on the Chief Executive of Hong Kong’s 2021 Policy Address which aimed to bolster the development of innovation and technology (I&T) to transform Hong Kong into an international I&T hub. The CE had noted, before delivering her final Policy Address, that the address would focus on economic integration with the Chinese mainland, housing and land supply, and resumption of quarantine-free travel with the mainland.
The upgrade of the Vietnam-US bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership has created opportunities for Vietnam to attract more high-quality investments in the fields of innovation and advanced technology.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh recently attended a meeting with chief executive officers of leading United States enterprises in the semiconductor industry in Washington DC. According to a report, American business representatives spoke highly of Vietnam’s semiconductor industry’s potential, noting the presence of high-quality human resources and the continuously advancing capabilities of local enterprises and training establishments in the country.
They believed that the possibility for cooperation between the two countries in the semiconductor industry is substantial and holds great significance for the development of bilateral relations in the new era. During the meeting, participants explored investment prospects in Vietnam and put forth collaborative strategies to nurture a semiconductor ecosystem. They suggested that in the long run, American companies could consider establishing chip factories in Vietnam.
The Prime Minister urged the United States semiconductor enterprises to increase their investment in Vietnam across all stages of the semiconductor industry, including infrastructure development, technology transfer, design, production, distribution, and manpower training. The collaboration should involve businesses, research institutions, and training establishments from both countries.
This approach will pave the way for enhancing the quality of human resources and the capabilities of Vietnamese companies, enabling the country to further engage in the value and supply chains of the global semiconductor industry.
Developing Vietnam’s semiconductor industry aligns with the current global trend and harnesses the potential and resources available in the country. Moreover, it brings about tangible benefits for people, therefore, the Minister noted that Vietnamese citizens will actively participate and contribute to the process.
He claimed that the government and relevant ministries and sectors are committed to creating an equal and healthy business environment. They will offer optimal conditions for foreign enterprises, including United States semiconductor companies, to operate in Vietnam stably, effectively, and sustainably.
At the event, three significant memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed by Vietnam’s National Innovation Centre (NIC) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MoPI) with American partners. The agreements aim to bolster design capabilities, advance product development, and enhance the training of human resources dedicated to the semiconductor industry.
One of these MoUs signed with an electronic design automation company, is geared towards providing support for the establishment of a chip design incubation centre. The second agreement was formulated to foster the growth of Vietnam’s semiconductor and electronics sector. Within this partnership, NIC will offer Vietnamese universities, training centres, and startups the necessary technology and training programmes to design and develop semiconductor products.
Under the third agreement, NIC will work with an American university to engage with Vietnamese research institutes and educational organisations to develop training programmes and share research in the domains of semiconductors and related fields. Additionally, they will actively seek and leverage appropriate sources of funding to enhance the capacity of the workforce in the semiconductor industry.
Founded in 2019, NIC supports and develops Vietnam’s startup and innovation ecosystem. Its mission is to modernise the country’s economic growth model by harnessing the power of science and technology. In October, NIC will inaugurate its new research centre located in the Hoa Lac High-Tech Park in Hanoi. This facility will include a chip design incubation centre equipped with cutting-edge technologies from key partners of NIC.
Breakthrough Victoria has unveiled investment partnerships totalling AU$ 87 million with five universities, geared toward facilitating the transition of transformative research from the laboratory to the marketplace. Swinburne University of Technology is set to co-invest AU$ 9 million, a sum reciprocated by Breakthrough Victoria, aimed at fostering the creation of novel ventures that will accelerate the commercialisation of research endeavours. This investment bolsters Swinburne University of Technology’s capacity to propel innovation and instils confidence among its researchers that their pioneering ideas can be translated into tangible realities.
Under these partnerships, each entity will funnel investments into startup companies originating from research initiatives, with pre-seed and seed funding capacities of up to AU$ 1 million per venture.
The official announcement was made by the Minister of Industry and Innovation during the inauguration of the Global Entrepreneurship Conference in Melbourne, a gathering that drew more than 4,000 investors and entrepreneurs from across the globe.
These alliances are being established as part of the ambitious AU$100 million Breakthrough Victoria – University Innovation Platform which was designed to elevate the level of commercialisation of pivotal research, characterised by its real-world applicability and benefits from Victorian universities.
The capital injections into startups during this critical nascent stage will serve as pivotal financial support, facilitating the development of product concepts, prototypes, and trials that are essential for research with strong commercial viability. Moreover, researchers and academics will receive dedicated support to enhance their ability to identify and effectively translate innovative ideas into commercially viable opportunities, thereby augmenting their entrepreneurial capabilities. The specifics of these partnership agreements have been tailored in collaboration with each respective university, thereby addressing the unique needs and the specific stage of their research commercialisation journey.
The co-investment partnership is expected to fuel innovation across a spectrum of industries, with a particular focus on aerospace, healthcare, sustainability, and manufacturing. These sectors, all intricately linked with technology, stand to benefit significantly from the injection of capital into startups that are on the cusp of technological breakthroughs. Such investments will not only drive product development but also foster technological advancement and drive economic growth.
One of the key benefits of this collaboration is the ability to transform research concepts into tangible products and services. Often, groundbreaking research remains confined to the academic realm due to a lack of resources for development and commercialisation.
However, with this co-investment initiative, researchers will have access to the funding necessary to bring their ideas to life. This is particularly relevant in the tech sector, where rapid innovation is critical, and timely investment can be the difference between an idea’s success and its stagnation.
Furthermore, this initiative acknowledges the pivotal role that universities play in fostering innovation. Universities are often hubs of research and development, where cutting-edge ideas are born. However, bridging the gap between academic research and commercial viability can be challenging.
With the partnership between Swinburne University of Technology and Breakthrough Victoria, there is a concerted effort to facilitate this transition. This not only benefits the university but also the broader tech ecosystem by ensuring that innovative ideas reach the market.
Moreover, the support provided to researchers and academics to enhance their entrepreneurial capabilities is a crucial aspect of this initiative. In the tech sector, it’s not just about having a great idea; it’s also about understanding how to bring that idea to market successfully.
This includes aspects like intellectual property management, market research, and business development strategies. The co-designed partnership agreements consider the specific needs and stage of research commercialisation, ensuring that the support provided is tailored to maximise the chances of success, especially in tech-related ventures.
The new Centre for Paramedicine, housed within the dedicated capability hub at Victoria University in Sunshine, is a testament to the commitment of the government to provide top-notch training for paramedics, OpenGov Asia earlier reported.
The Minister for Ambulance Services inaugurated the pioneering capability hub, a first of its kind in Australia. During the event, she met a group of 54 recently graduated paramedics who will receive training at the hub before embarking on their missions to provide essential care to the people of Victoria.
Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is at the forefront of transforming the boundaries of digital reality, promising to take simplicity and turn it into complexity through the creation of patterns in images, sounds, and text. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) have delved deep into this realm, introducing an innovative AI model that bridges the gap between two unrelated physical principles: diffusion and Poisson Flow. Their work has led to the development of the “Poisson Flow Generative Model ++” (PFGM++), which is poised to redefine digital content creation across various applications.
The PFGM++ model represents a leap in generative AI, offering the capabilities to generate a wide range of content, from images to audio. Its potential applications span from the creation of antibodies and RNA sequences to graph generation. At its core, PFGM++ extends the foundation of the Poisson equation, a concept from physics, to enhance its data exploration and generation capabilities. This breakthrough underscores the power of interdisciplinary collaboration between physicists and computer scientists in advancing the field of AI, as highlighted by Jesse Thaler, a physicist at MIT.
Thaler emphasises the remarkable progress achieved by AI-based generative models in recent years. These models have generated photorealistic images and coherent textual content, challenging the boundaries of artificial intelligence. Notably, some of these powerful generative models draw inspiration from well-established physics concepts such as symmetries and thermodynamics. PFGM++ builds upon a century-old notion from fundamental physics—the existence of extra dimensions in space-time – and transforms it into a versatile tool for crafting synthetic yet authentic datasets. The infusion of ‘physics intelligence’ is revolutionising the landscape of AI.
In the PFGM model, data points take on the role of minuscule electric charges within a multidimensional space, shaping an electric field that extends into an extra dimension, ultimately forming a uniform distribution.
This process is akin to rewinding a video, starting with charges and retracing their path along electric lines to recreate the original data distribution. This process enables the neural model to grasp the electric field concept and generate new data that mirrors the original.
The PFGM++ model takes this concept further by expanding it into a higher-dimensional framework. As these dimensions continue to grow, the model’s behaviour unexpectedly begins to resemble another crucial category of models known as diffusion models. This work aims to strike a balance, as PFGM and diffusion models occupy opposite ends of a spectrum: one is robust yet complex to handle, while the other is simpler but less sturdy. The PFGM++ model introduces a balanced middle ground, combining robustness with user-friendliness, revolutionising image and pattern generation and marking a significant technological advancement.
In addition to its adaptable dimensions, the research team has proposed a novel training approach that enhances the model’s understanding of the electric field, further boosting its efficiency.
To bring this concept further, the research team tackled a pair of differential equations detailing these charges’ motion within the electric field. They evaluated the model’s performance using the widely accepted Frechet Inception Distance (FID) score, which assesses the quality of generated images compared to real ones. PFGM++ excelled in demonstrating enhanced error tolerance and resilience regarding the step size within the differential equations, solidifying its position as a game-changer in the realm of AI-generated content.
In the future, the researchers are committed to refining specific aspects of the model through systematic approaches. They aim to identify the optimal value of D, customised for distinct data sets, architectures, and tasks, by closely analysing the behaviour of neural network estimation errors. Moreover, they plan to leverage PFGM++ in contemporary large-scale endeavours, particularly in text-to-image and text-to-video generation.
MIT’s PFGM++ stands at the forefront of a digital content revolution, bridging the gap between AI and reality. By integrating physics principles and advanced AI techniques, this innovative model promises to reshape the way we create digital content, opening up new horizons for creativity and application across various industries.
According to Dr Juanito Batalon, OIC, Office of the Executive Director for Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), digitalisation in the Philippines’ agricultural sector ushers in a new era of innovation and efficiency.
“Due to the nation’s reliance on agriculture for food security and livelihoods, the incorporation of digital technologies is transforming the way agriculture is practised,” Dr Juanito explained.
Precision agriculture is one of the primary areas that will benefit from digitisation. Farmers are optimising agricultural planting, irrigation, and pest management by employing GPS technology, drones, and satellite imagery. This not only enhances crop yields but also saves resources and has a lower environmental impact.
Dr Juanito emphasised that precise farming methods like drip irrigation and controlled-release fertilisers reduce waste, save water, and have less of an effect on the environment. Farmers can also get information about market prices and trends through digital platforms. This helps them make smart choices about how to sell their crops, which increases their profits.
He highlights the Project SARAi, a research programme designed to deliver important information to local farmers in order to improve their yield. He has explained that SARAi specifically supports farmers by informing them about the weather, what crops they should plant for the season, what soil type they should employ to optimise crop quality and yield, and what pests and illnesses their crops are prone to.
He added that the project team also created drones that allowed them to see if their crops were still healthy or if they needed extra attention. With SARAi’s continual innovation, they were able to use satellites to estimate rainfall for the week, as well as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to find farmlands that cater to various crops.
Dr Juanito also stressed that they are actively promoting the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in agriculture to improve productivity and sustainability citing that the DOST-PCAARRD has been involved in various initiatives related to the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, in agriculture with the help of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Besides, digital solutions give farmers the real-time data they need to make smart, data-driven choices. This includes decisions about planting, harvesting, and getting rid of pests, all of which lead to better crop management in the long run.
Drones and sensors are also very helpful for keeping an eye on crops and finding diseases early, which lets farmers target their efforts and lower production losses. Besides these useful advantages, digital technology is also very important for rural development because it helps rural communities get training, education, and knowledge, which makes their lives better.
Also, blockchain technology makes it possible to track crops, which improves food safety and quality control and helps farmers adjust to changing weather conditions, eventually making Philippine agriculture more sustainable.
“Digital technology is changing the Philippines’ farming industry, which is good for food security, economic growth, and the environment,” Dr Juanito said.
Further, DOST Secretary Renato Solidum, Jr highlighted during the 9th Balik Scientist Programme Annual Convention the importance of addressing the brain drain in the Philippines and retaining scientific talent through various initiatives like the “Balik Scientist Programme.” It discusses the country’s increasing global innovation index and government spending on research and development.
The Balik Scientist Programme, recognised as a significant national initiative, is emphasised for bringing back diverse Filipino scientists to contribute to the nation’s growth. The programme focuses on harnessing global science for sustainable development and innovation including digitalisation, AI, and robotics among others that are tailored to local challenges.
The University of Wollongong (UoW) has received a financial boost from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, to further support Indigenous students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. This significant contribution underscores a commitment to fostering Indigenous talent in the technology sector and ensuring a brighter future for these students.
The CSIRO Indigenous STEM Scholarship was initially established in 2019 with an initial gift of AU$ 30,000 from CSIRO. This initial funding aimed to support two Indigenous STEM students throughout their academic journeys. However, this commitment has now been elevated to an even more profound level. CSIRO has pledged an additional AU$ 500,000, ensuring that the scholarship will be awarded in perpetuity. This signifies a long-term partnership between CSIRO and UOW in nurturing and empowering Indigenous students in their pursuit of STEM education.
The primary objective of this partnership is to empower Indigenous students who are undertaking full-time degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics by providing financial support. Each year, one deserving student will be awarded AU$ 5,000 throughout the duration of their degree. This financial assistance not only eases the financial burden on the students but also allows them to fully concentrate on their academic and career goals within the tech and science sectors.
The 2021 recipient of the CSIRO Indigenous STEM Scholarship serves as an example of the positive impact of this initiative. The recipient noted that the financial assistance provided by the CSIRO scholarship allowed her to reduce her work commitments and allocate more time to engage in meaningful activities that can positively impact her career and well-being.
The Director of Indigenous Science and Engagement at CSIRO who is also a Gamillaroi man emphasised the importance of growing an Indigenous STEM pipeline, which not only benefits the science and technology sector but also the broader community. He noted that the development of an Indigenous STEM pipeline holds the potential to facilitate the engagement of the science and technology sector, with a particular focus on CSIRO, in integrating Indigenous talent, incorporating Indigenous knowledge and expertise, and nurturing successful careers in science and research for individuals of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.
UOW’s Vice-Chancellor and President highlighted the critical role that STEM fields play in shaping the future of communities, economies, and nations and praised the power of philanthropy in enriching the lives of Indigenous students.
CSIRO scholarships will provide students with the opportunity to delve deeper into their STEM interests, which are crucial for the future of communities, the economy, and the nation, all while alleviating the burden of financial stress. She underscored the profound and positive influence of this substantial investment, paving the way for Indigenous students towards a promising and prosperous future in technology and science-related domains.
The Vice-President for Indigenous Strategy and Engagement and Director of Woolyungah Indigenous Centre at UOW celebrated the increased financial support from CSIRO, recognising the importance of nurturing Indigenous students’ interest in thriving STEM industries.
CSIRO’s collaboration with UOW will authentically empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to reach their full potential, address the significant challenges of the future, and emerge as leaders in STEM disciplines. Sustained partnerships and scholarship commitments will open tangible avenues for Indigenous students to engage with ongoing projects and research, ultimately influencing their communities and shaping the nation’s future.
This partnership between CSIRO and the University of Wollongong signifies a remarkable commitment to fostering Indigenous talent in STEM fields. The significant financial support provided by CSIRO not only eases the financial burden on Indigenous students but also empowers them to pursue their passions and become leaders in technology and science-related fields. This collaboration highlights the tech sector’s dedication to creating opportunities for Indigenous students and recognising the essential role of Indigenous knowledge in advancing STEM disciplines.
OpenGov Asia reported that New South Wales (NSW) is partnering with key stakeholders, including universities and businesses, to develop an Innovation Blueprint aimed at revitalising the state’s innovation sector. The backdrop for this initiative is the stagnation in university-industry collaboration and the lack of progress in commercialising research outcomes, as highlighted by the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council. Simultaneously, R&D intensity in the region has been declining, emphasising the need for strategic interventions.