Supercomputers allow researchers to carry out experiments that would otherwise be impossible because they are too small or too large, too fast or too slow, or simply too expensive. Combining supercomputers with large data allows researchers to solve problems by analysing Big Data and enabling exploration of new areas.
Supercomputers have become very important in medicine and public health issues. Researchers are using a combination of experiment and molecular simulations to understand how, at a molecular level to replicate how diseases work.
Simulating these systems in realistic biological environments for the long timescales required to understand viruses like COVID-19 has not previously been possible.
The additional speed and capacity of supercomputers allows the researchers to gain a more detailed understanding through realistic simulations, allowing them to shorten the time between research and real impacts for everyone.
Computer Simulations Speed Up Time- Intensive Lab Processes
Computer simulations can examine how different variables react with different viruses. Each of these individual variables can comprise billions of unique data points. When these data points are compounded with multiple simulations, this can become a very time-intensive process if a conventional computing system is used.
Viruses infect cells by binding to them and using a ‘spike’ to inject their genetic material into the
host cell. To understand new biological compounds, like viruses, researchers in wet labs grow the micro-organism and see how it reacts in real-life to the introduction of new compounds. This is a slow process without powerful computers that can perform digital simulations to narrow down the range of potential variables.
IBM’s Summit is one of the world’s most powerful high-performance computing facilities. The Summit supercomputer has tens of thousands of processors covering an area that is as large as two tennis courts at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). This lab has more computational power than one million top-of-the-line laptops.
Scientists are using supercomputers to run digital stimulations of 8,000 molecules interacting with the virus to find candidate molecules that might work. They have found 77 that might and those are currently being tested in labs.
“It took us a day or two, whereas it has traditionally taken months on a normal computer,” said Jeremy Smith, director of the University of Tennessee/ORNL Centre for Molecular Biophysics and principal researcher in the study.
While simulations alone cannot find a treatment that will work, this project was able to find 77 candidate molecules that can now be tested in trials.
Accelerate Understanding of Diseases
Using a mix of AI techniques, researchers will be able to identify patterns in the function, co-operation, and evolution of human proteins and cellular systems. Greater understanding of how these patterns work will help the the drug discovery process.
“Summit was needed to rapidly get the simulation results we needed. It took us a day or two, whereas it would have taken months on a normal computer,” said Jeremy Smith, director of the lab’s Centre for Molecular Biophysics.
The results obtained from the Summit supercomputer does not mean that a cure for the new coronavirus has been found but it is hoped that the computer’s findings will assist with studies in the future giving scientists a focused framework to further investigate the identified compounds. After further investigation it will reveal if any of them have the required characteristics to attack and kill the virus.
“We are very hopeful, though, that our computational findings will both inform future studies and provide a framework that experimentalists will use to further investigate these compounds. Only then will we know whether any of them exhibit the characteristics needed to mitigate this virus.” said the Director of the lab’s Centre for Molecular Biophysics.
The India Internet Governance Forum (IIGF) curtain-raiser, a precursor to IIGF has concluded. The curtain raiser ended with an insight into a roadmap for digitisation in India. IIGF will be jointly organised by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MietY), and the National Internet Exchange of India. The theme is ‘Empower India through Power of Internet’ and will include discussions on the road to digitisation in India. The salient feature of the event will be the three plenary sessions: India and Internet- India’s Digital Journey and Her Global Role, Equity, Access, and Quality; High-speed Internet for All; and Cyber Norms and Ethics in Internet Governance.
As per a government press release, the IIGF has been constituted in conformance to IGF-Paragraph 72 of the Tunis Agenda of the United Nations-based Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Through an open and inclusive process, IIGF will bring together stakeholders in the global Internet governance ecosystem, including the government, industry, civil society, and academia – as equal participants of the larger Internet governance discourse.
The objective of the curtain raiser event was to discuss the roadmap for digitisation and reaffirm India as an essential participant on the global stage by highlighting its role in international policy development on Internet governance. A government official explained that IIGF comes at an important time in the history of the evolution of the Internet in India. As the world is emerging from a pandemic, it is becoming increasingly visible that there have been disruptions and reinventions of businesses, governance, and governments across the world. The rate of digitalisation has increased and accelerated tremendously, he said.
India has around 800 million internet users at the moment, making it the largest connected nation. The press release stated that the government is committed to covering 1.2 billion people. The country still has about 400 million people outside the network and it’s important for the government to ensure that Internet connectivity is available for all. The intersection of policy framework, the emergence of cutting-edge technologies, and initiatives by private players present an exciting time for the evolution of the digital economy, an industry expert explained. The IIGF will be a step ahead in ensuring the inclusive participation of all stakeholders in harnessing the power of the Internet for economic growth.
Earlier this month, MeitY organised a workshop to create a roadmap to accelerate Internet access in currently unconnected parts of the country. The workshop, Connecting All Indians, invited public and private stakeholders, including India’s largest Internet service providers and officials from MeitY, the Department of Telecommunications, and the Ministry of Communications. As OpenGov Asia had reported, the workshop provided a platform for all the participating stakeholders to put forward their solutions to expand Internet penetration to remote corners of the country.
The event was chaired by the Minister of State for IT who laid out the government’s objectives to connect all Indians with open, safe, and trusted Internet connectivity. He noted that it is the Prime Minister’s vision through the Digital India initiative to empower all citizens with the Internet and simultaneously expand the digital economy and generate jobs.
The workshop also reviewed BharatNet, the world’s largest fibre-based rural broadband connectivity project. The workshop deliberated upon strategies to immediately cover left-out geographies, regions, and villages. BharatNet is a mission of national importance, aiming to establish a highly scalable network infrastructure that provides on-demand and affordable broadband connectivity for all households and on-demand capacity for all institutions, in partnership with state governments and the private sector.
According to New Zealand’s latest research virtual reality to address mental health issues is showing potential. The new study was headed by a computer science senior lecturer and co-authored by a PhD student. The lecturer-student team is also conducting a Massey Strategic Research Excellence Fund-funded research project on intelligent customised VR for depression treatment. The project was inspired by the realisation that there is little study on using virtual reality to aid in the treatment of depression and even less work on providing patients with a tailored VR experience.
The study was recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research Mental Health, and it has already gotten a lot of press. The researchers conducted a scoping assessment of studies published between 2017 and 2021 that examined the use of virtual reality (VR) as a treatment for anxiety. Most studies found that using virtual reality to help the treatment of anxiety in a variety of situations was successful, and they suggested it as a tool for use in a clinical setting.
The ability to view the inside of the human body in Virtual Reality is not only useful for doctors, but also for patients. VR allows patients to be taken through their surgical plan by virtually stepping into a patient-specific 360° VR reconstruction of their anatomy & pathology. Hence, enhanced understanding of the treatment and consequently higher patient satisfaction.
New Zealand’s Otago University Mental Health Clinical Research Unit, Auckland Institute of Studies, Otago Polytechnic Auckland campus, and Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University collaborated on the study. It examined the ways VR exposure and interventions have been used in the treatment of mental health conditions, the technologies used, and how effective they have been as a treatment method.
The project’s original concept and outcomes were presented at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2020) and the 13th ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction conference on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems, respectively (EICS 2021).
To increase the quality of psychological treatments and improve mental health outcomes for New Zealanders, the project draws on the expertise of an interdisciplinary team of researchers working at the intersection of mental health, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. The senior lecturer in computer science believes the initiative will pave the way for the use of virtual reality in the mental health profession in New Zealand. “We believe our contribution can pave the way for large-scale efficacy testing, clinical use, and cost-effective delivery of intelligent individualised VR technology for mental health therapy across Aotearoa New Zealand in the future.”
OpenGov Asia reported that while many individuals are eager to get their vaccinations and prevent the deadly COVID-19 virus from spreading further, trypanophobia, or a fear of needles, is believed to be causing problems for a significant number of people across the country. Researchers from the University of Otago have collaborated with a tech firm to develop new software that uses virtual reality (VR) to distract patients who are frightened of needles so they can receive the injections they needed.
The programme had been tested out by patients in Christchurch when receiving influenza shots while wearing the VR headset. A patient claim that he could “barely tell” when the injection was taking place and that he would recommend the app to anyone who is afraid of needles. People with phobias or anxiety over things like flying, heights, spiders, and social situations could also benefit from it.
The application of virtual reality in mental health is a cutting-edge field with a lot of potential and that it will be fascinating to see where the field goes. This is especially true as standalone VR headsets become more inexpensive and certain models allow researchers to collect and analyse physiological data from participants.
The Indian Institute of Technology Madras’ (IIT-Madras) Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBCDSAI) is launching the ‘RBCDSAI Industrial Consortium’ to provide information resources on cutting-edge technologies to industries working on artificial intelligence (AI).
The consortium will help industry members learn about the scientific developments and latest trends in AI and data science through broad-based interactions with the centre and its faculty. According to an official at the Institute, RBCDSAI carries out high-quality AI research and the idea is to use the industrial consortium as a means to quickly disseminate the output of the research to industry partners so that they can work together towards launching applications in the field.
As per a news report, currently, the centre offers two membership plans to the interested industries: platinum and silver. The membership plans will enable priority access to four RBCDSAI events, namely, colloquia, quarterly workshops, industry conclaves, and annual research showcases. The centre will organise two special half-day workshops on their voted topic of interest from a slate for its members. Additionally, platinum members will have a dedicated in-domain contact faculty at the centre for close interaction to seek suggestions on their industry’s plans. They will get to exclusively interact with the students to know more about their research and have early access to RBCDSAI publications, reports, datasets, and other research material.
The consortium membership will also provide enhanced interaction with the RBCDSAI research ecosystem and help develop a specialised workforce that can benefit member companies. It will act as a forum that leverages synergistic capabilities of the eventual users, solution providers, solution platform developers, and academicians, the report stated. An RBCDSAI Consortium membership is an opportunity for players to establish themselves as key players in data science and Al with the potential to secure new and significant revenue streams.
RBCDSAI is one of India’s preeminent interdisciplinary research centres for data science and AI, with 28 faculty spanning ten departments of IIT-Madras working on various aspects and applications of AI. The centre explores areas like deep learning, network analytics, reinforcement learning, natural language processing, theoretical machine learning, and ethics and fairness in AI. It also carries out applied research in multiple verticals such as financial analytics, manufacturing analytics, smart cities, systems biology, and healthcare.
In August, IIT-Madras inaugurated the country’s first consortium for virtual reality called the ‘Consortium for VR/AR/MR Engineering Mission in India’ (CAVE). The consortium comprises a group of academic institutions, industries, start-ups, and government bodies. It will enable members to create new advanced technologies and applications in virtual reality, augmented reality, XR, and haptics technology.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the consortium will promote best practices and create a dialogue with stakeholders, government policymakers, and research institutions. It aims to become a resource for industry, academia, consumers, and policymakers interested in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. The key outcomes envisaged from CAVE include developing indigenous VR/AR/MR and haptics hardware and software and setting up a ‘VR Superhighway’ or ‘VR Corridor’ where many start-ups can work together to make India a global hub for XR and haptics needs.
Thailand’s cabinet, on 25 October 2021, approved a draft decree to regulate digital platform service businesses to maintain financial and commercial stability and to prevent damage to the public, a government spokesman said.
Such businesses, both in and outside of Thailand, will need to notify the government before operating, the spokesman said in a statement. The law will apply to various digital platform services including online marketplaces, social commerce, food delivery, space sharing, ride/car sharing and online search engines, he said. The spokesman also noted that they are all increasingly important to the economy and society, so there is a need to oversee them.
Since 1 September 2021, Thailand has followed in the footsteps of many countries in imposing a value-added tax (VAT) charge of 7% on non-resident digital service providers. It is a significant step for the country in capturing revenue created by the digitalisation of the economy.
The ‘e-service tax’ obliges non-resident digital service providers that earn over THB1.8 million per year to pay the VAT. The department expects around 100 foreign e-service providers to register to pay VAT in Thailand during the initial stage of tax enforcement.
So far, about 70 foreign e-service operators have registered, of which 20 are giant online platform operators. Since the tax is not a direct tax on income but an indirect tax via VAT, some e-service providers are likely to pass the tax burden onto customers. As such, those who pay the tax are not those e-platform operators but local end-users.
However, some doubt remains about how effective the tax scheme will be. The department is faced with several questions. How can the Revenue Department verify the amount of VAT that those foreign digital platform providers have to pay? What can the government do if they fail to pay the tax, especially when several operators have no physical presence?
E-service tax can ensure fairer treatment for local digital service providers who bear a higher cost burden as they are obliged to pay VAT. However, as the digital economy is growing, VAT collections alone might not ensure fair competition.
While other foreign businesses and investors including local digital service providers pay Thai corporate tax on income, non-resident digital service providers do not have to as they are not physically present in Thailand. So, these service providers still have an upper hand.
Digitalisation and the digital economy are continuing to grow. Figures by DataReportal show that there were 48.59 million internet users in Thailand in January 2021. The number of internet users in Thailand increased by 3.4 million (+7.4%) between 2020 and 2021. Internet penetration in Thailand stood at 69.5% in January 2021.
There were 55.00 million social media users in Thailand in January 2021. The number of social media users in Thailand increased by 3.0 million (+5.8%) between 2020 and 2021. The number of social media users in Thailand was equivalent to 78.7% of the total population in January 2021. Moreover, device ownership also grew and diversified.
These statistics highlight the fact that a growing digital economy requires a comprehensive and effective tax and regulation strategy, which is now in the works in Thailand.
Artificial intelligence is on the verge of radically altering our society and industry. The AI trend of technological singularity is rapidly growing, and it is being used in a wide range of human endeavours, including education, medicine, business, engineering, and the arts. This cutting-edge technology has been integrated into the government and business sector all around the world.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) emphasised that innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) can help the nation thrive in a post-pandemic environment. Global challenges can be better managed through innovative technologies, and Philippine companies cannot be left behind in this regard. In a post-pandemic world, the trade undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba stressed the importance of harnessing the power of emerging technologies for local businesses to remain competitive.
In a statement, the minister said, “while we recognise that collective efforts are instrumental in addressing challenges that are global in scale such as the pandemic, we acknowledge that innovative initiatives, like AI, must be harnessed and be placed at the core of all our endeavours to ensure that we will not only overcome overwhelming obstacles but also guarantee that our industries will remain adoptable amidst our ever-changing economic landscape.”
Innovative initiatives, for instance, AI must be harnessed and be placed at the core of all our endeavours to ensure that we will not only overcome overwhelming obstacles but also guarantee that our industries will remain adoptable amidst our ever-changing economic landscape and that they will thrive moving forward.
– Rafaelita Aldaba, Undersecretary, Department of Trade and Industry
The DTI noted that apart from being aware of innovative technologies, local firms would be able to embrace and adapt to new economic realities, which includes AI and other similar technologies. Continuing in this vein, the government through the DTI is working endlessly to reach a higher level of recent technological and innovative breakthroughs to propel the country’s economy forward and improve the competitiveness of its industries, particularly at a time when the global economy is being rocked by disruptions from all directions. DTI will host the Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (I3S) to carry out its objective, which will bring together participants from government, industry, and academia.
The event will feature some of the country’s top AI experts, who will enhance and widen participants’ understanding and appreciation of this innovative technology. It will also focus on discussions surrounding the proposed National Centre for AI Research, as well as experiences and insights on the adoption of AI by businesses, particularly considering the lingering pandemic, and critical issues surrounding AI, particularly those related to ethics, governance, and regulations.
The Philippines was ranked 51st out of 132 economies in the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) Global Innovation Index (GII) study released last month, despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 and a decreasing budget for research and development (R&D).
OpenGov Asia recently reported on the growth of the business process outsourcing sector in recent decades. The processing of artificial intelligence is expected to be an emerging industry for the Philippines. Reporting to the President and the Nation, Department of Trade, and Industry (DTI) Secretary stated that the government and private sector are working together to expand AI technology in the country. He was confident that the Philippines could be a big data processing hub and that AI would be the next centre for excellence after BPO – which the Philippines is known for
When the DTI released the industry blueprint last May, the Philippines became one of the first 50 countries in the world to launch a national AI roadmap. The national AI roadmap aims to transform the country into an AI powerhouse in the region. AI adoption, according to a research firm, has the potential to add USD92 billion to the Philippine economy by 2030. According to the national AI roadmap, the country will establish the government-initiated National Centre for AI Research, which will be led by the private sector (NCAIR).
The DTI’s AI roadmap also seeks to provide direction on the use of AI to sustain local industries’ regional and worldwide competitiveness, as well as identify priority areas for government, industry, and broader society to invest time and resources in both research and development and technology application.
A calculator to help people understand their risk factors for COVID-19 infection and vaccination has been launched by the Immunisation Coalition in collaboration with Australian researchers. The tool’s three co-lead researchers are University of Queensland virologist Dr Kirsty Short, CoRiCal instigator from Flinders University Associate Professor John Litt and GP Dr Andrew Baird.
It was noted that Immunisation Coalition COVID-19 Risk Calculator (CoRiCal) was an online tool to support GPs and community members in their discussions about the benefits and risks of COVID-19 vaccines. It was designed to help people make an informed decision around vaccination based on their current circumstances and also see their risk for getting COVID-19 under different transmission scenarios.
Users can access the tool and input their age, sex, community transmission and vaccination status to find out their personalised risk calculation. For example, users can determine their chances of being infected with COVID-19 versus their chances of dying from the disease. They can also find out their chances of developing an atypical blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine and see this data in the context of other relatable risks – like getting struck by lightning or winning OzLotto, Dr Kirsty Short said.
The CoRiCal Covid Risk Calculator is in its pilot stage but will be continuously updated in line with the latest health and scientific advice, including risk assessments on Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, pre-existing medical conditions such as obesity and diabetes, and long COVID.
The CoRiCal project included a team of GPs, medical scientists, public health physicians, epidemiologists and statisticians. Associate Professor John Litt, Immunisation Coalition Scientific Advisory Committee member, said he hoped that CoRiCal would help GPs save time and create an accurate assessment of an individual’s risk of COVID-19 or one of the vaccines.
GPs are spending a lot of time trying to explain the risks of COVID-19 and the various vaccines to their patients, Dr Litt said. An accurate, evidence-based tool that is transparent and unaligned with professional groups should help GPs in their task of facilitating COVID vaccination for their patients.
A Melbourne-based stated that CoRiCal was adaptable for booster doses, new viral strains, new vaccines, younger age groups, international markets and even for other infectious diseases. It was noted that the tool presents risk using simple bar charts so that it’s easy to compare the risks for different outcomes related to COVID-19 and vaccines.
CoRiCal may help Australia to move towards 90%, 95%, or even more of the 16-and-over population being fully vaccinated. The higher the rate of vaccination in the population, the better it will be for individuals, communities, mental health, health services, and the country.
CoRiCal had been developed for GPs and other health professionals, it was important that people could easily access this information online without a consultation. The online tool is a collaboration between the Immunisation Coalition, UQ, Flinders University, La Trobe University, and Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Risk calculations in CoRiCal are based on a modelling framework developed by UQ School of Public Health’s Professor Colleen Lau and Dr Helen Mayfield, and QUT’s Professor Kerrie Mengersen.
In providing guidelines and operationalising digital banking, the Financial Services Authority (OJK) has officially released the Blueprint for Digital Banking Transformation. The launching is intended to be a policy milestone in addressing the issues and risks associated with banking’s digital transformation.
The Blueprint for Digital Banking Transformation also aims to set rules for the banking industry, according to Heru Kristiyana, the Chief Executive of OJK Banking Supervision. “We will communicate the newly printed banking blueprint to all stakeholders,” he said today during the virtual introduction of the digital transformation blueprint. According to Heru, over time, traditional banking will be eroded if it does not carry out digital transformation.
OpenGov Asia reported that this blueprint will serve as a policy response to the various challenges and risks associated with banking digital transformation. The blueprint for digital banking transformation, according to OJK Deputy Commissioner for Banking Supervision, is said to be a more detailed description of the acceleration of digital transformation in the Indonesian banking development roadmap.
The fintech industry was still afflicted by a slew of digital issues, including fraud, information hacking via the sniffing method, and money mule schemes in which perpetrators ask victims to transfer money to someone else’s account. The ministry has proposed precautionary measures to ensure that the fintech industry grows in tandem with the bolstering of Indonesia’s digital economy ecosystem.
Moreover, as per Heru, technological disruption has allowed new actors in the financial ecosystem to emerge, such as fintech and others, who may provide services like those provided by banks without having a physical presence. “At the moment, banks are just getting started with digitisation. Even banks that do not wish to move on will be told that it is too late if a new bank opens now. Customers will eventually depart, I believe. But, in my opinion, it is never too late; what matters is that we are prepared to confront the challenges that lie ahead,” he remarked.
This Blueprint is focused on five elements of banking digitalisation development which include:
- Data covering data protection, data transfer, and data governance.
- Technology that includes information technology governance, information technology architecture, and information technology adoption principles.
- Information technology risk management includes commercial bank cyber security and outsourcing.
- Collaboration that includes sharing platforms, bank collaboration in the digital ecosystem; and
- Institutional arrangements include funding support, leadership, organisational design, human resource talent, and culture.
These five elements are strategic approaches to encourage banks to develop innovative financial products and services that meet and exceed customer expectations. The Blueprint was developed by considering several factors, including future banking research, banking digitisation conditions, international standards, banking sector best practices, stakeholder involvement, and alignment with key authorities’ laws and regulations.
In addition, aspects of Balance and Neutral Technology are prioritised in this Blueprint. The Balance element aims to strike a balance between encouraging banking innovation while also paying attention to prudential issues to keep banking performance in a safe and sound state. The Technology Neutral element is used to be more flexible in the application of specific technologies to keep up with future advances.
Three main attributes are also presented in this Blueprint. The first step is to accept the Principle-Based idea. This Blueprint establishes guidelines in the form of guiding principles to allow the industry to grow. Second, it adopts a more facilitative approach. The third category is Living Documents. The Blueprint is dynamic, and it will be modified to reflect changes in the banking industry.
OJK’s commitment to promoting digital banking transformation as outlined in several policies before the release of the Blueprint for Digital Banking Transformation, including the Master Plan for the Indonesian Financial Services Sector 2021-2025 (MPSJKI) Pillar 3 and the Roadmap for Development of Indonesian Banking 2020-2025 (RP2I) Pillar 2. Encouraging banks to speed digital transformation while maintaining proper IT governance and risk management.