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Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Artificial Intelligence facing large skills shortage: Microsoft

Artificial Intelligence facing large skills shortage: MicrosoftThe Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also facing the challenge of appropriate use of data, group programme manager of Microsoft Learning Matt Winkler told.
The fast-emerging field of Artificial Intelligence, which has suddenly caught the attention of the IT industryand the governments across the world, is facing a large skills shortage, a top Microsoft official has said. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also facing the challenge of appropriate use of data, group programme manager of Microsoft Learning Matt Winkler told .

"There is a pretty large skills shortage. Lots of folks are talking about it (AI). A lot of folks are very, very excited about it and then they want to go and make that real. And when they go to make that real, there's a really large skills shortage," Winkler said.

That's why it's so exciting to be trying to bring these technologies to more developers because it's going to bring more people into the mix, he said.

Winkler said the second challenge is really around data. "How do you get the data in the right shape? How do you prepare the data? Because all of the AI in the world is based on data, and so what makes it interesting is the data that you have, the data that your business has, that what you understand about your customers. So how do you most effectively use that data to go and produce models," he said.

Then within kind of any individual product project, one of the key challenges is the same thing that the industry has seen with software, which is, if one tries and do too much, the project gets much harder.

"And so we'll often times see failed projects, which are the result of trying to create just the most amazing thing having done nothing," he said. At the recently concluded developers conference - Build 2018 - Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella talked about how to make AI accessible for everyone.

"Our guidance to a lot of customers to pick a domain and pick a used case where you have a high, high-quality data and that it is really well understood. Start there, get some wins with that and then start expanding the use cases so far," Winkler said. Microsoft is partnering with multiple players in both the private and governmental sectors to use AI for public good.

"Absolutely, AI is being used for public good. For instance, it is being used in school districts in order to predict drop-out rates in India. "We see a ton of healthcare applications: patient re-admission rates is very very popular one. We have seen medical image analysis. We are doing some really interesting work doing diabetes prediction through scans of retinas," Winkler said.

Microsoft is working with the Snow Leopard Trust, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of the snow leopard and parts of Nepal and India to analyse in real time the presence of snow leopards. "So it's fundamentally changed the way they do their research," he said, adding that the Microsoft is working with three-four other conservation agencies doing similar things.

"For a lot of the customers, what AI is enabling is not just an incremental... but It's something they fundamentally couldn't do before. So it really does introduce a step change for the things that they want to do in their business," Winkler added. (Source: ETtelecom)

Reliance Jio complains to DoT against Airtel

Reliance Jio complains to DoT against AirtelThe latest Apple watch offers a service through which a customer can remain connected, make calls, and receive texts and more, even without their iPhone nearby.
Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) has asked the telecom ministry to take “severe action” and levy “strictest of penalties” against rival Bharti Airtel for allegedly violating licence conditions by using a network of nodes based abroad to offer its services on the latest Apple watch, which could lead to a security breach. Airtel has denied the accusations, calling Jio’s complaint “frivolous”.

In a letter to the department of telecommunications (DoT) dated May 11, Jio alleged that Airtel has not set up “eSIM provisioning node in India and the node being used to provide Apple Watch Series 3 is currently located outside India in gross violation to the licence terms”.

The Mukesh Ambani-owned telco alleged that this may lead to a national security breach and is a “deliberate and gross violation” of terms and conditions of unified licence.

The maximum penalty for a breach of licence conditions is Rs 50 crore per circle. India has 22 telecom circles. Airtel has denied Jio’s accusations, saying it is “another frivolous complaint by a desperate operator, whose sole aim appears to have a monopoly over everything that they do”.

“All information relating to customers, network nodes, etc. is hosted in a fully secure manner by Airtel India, along with provision for lawful interception,” the country’s top telecom operator told ET in an emailed response. “We will be happy to share more details with the DoT as and when required,” it said.

Officials at Airtel, who did not want to be named said that the only information outside of India is the eSIM inventory, which is like any other SIM inventory data and is a practice followed by almost all global operators. “There is no CDR (call detail record) or KYC (know your customer), or any private information, outside the country and lawful interception is within India,” one of the officials said. He said Apple watch does not change anything per se while changing from the physical SIM to the eSIM, and both are compliant with security and privacy requirements.

Both Airtel and Jio have announced that they are selling the latest Apple watch that comes with built-in cellular, in an attempt to attract or retain high-valued subscribers amid severe revenue and margin pressure due to rock bottom voice and data rates.

The latest Apple watch offers a service through which a customer can remain connected, make calls, and receive texts and more, even without their iPhone nearby. In its letter to DoT, Jio has asked the department to direct Airtel to stop its latest Apple service and start it “only upon complying with the requirements of national security and addressing the violations of the license terms and conditions”.

ET reviewed a copy of the letter.

A subscriber shares the same number in an iPhone and Apple Watch, and uses an eSIM to make or receive calls. The air provisioning of this eSIM is done by a dedicated network of nodes and they contain user information and other sensitive data. The Unified License (UL) states that location of switches and network elements needs to be within the country.

"Airtel has deliberately chosen to install a critical network element outside India for a service being offered under the Access Services License (which) indicates its blatant disregard for the sanctity of the license terms and conditions including important security conditions," Jio has alleged.

It said the new service also necessitates changes in the way security agencies receive and analyse any target information. Airtel should have carried out Lawful Interception Management (LIM) demonstration before launch of this service “so that national security interests are not compromised in any manner”, it claimed.

The telco said it was unaware if Airtel had made necessary changes in its LIM solution or offered the LIM demonstration to DoT or security agencies. The market leader, in its response, said it had notified DoT prior to the launch of the latest Apple Watch, including product features, network architecture and lawful interception, and had requested them to carry out a demonstration of the same.

Jio’s latest complaint is the latest in a series of accusations and counter accusations between the two telcos on several issues including points of interconnect, interconnect charges and advertisements over speed of networks, and Indian Premier League tournament coverage. (Source:ETtelecom)

Telecom companies ask TRAI not to penalise them over minor service issues

Telecom companies ask TRAI not to penalise them over minor service issuesTelecom companies have asked the sector regulator to take a pragmatic view on levying penalties, especially over marginal deviations from quality of service benchmarks as some of those may have been caused by natural events such as floods or heavy rains.

Carriers have argued that deviations may have been due to unforeseen circumstances, system failures or factors beyond the control of the carriers, for which they should not be penalised, and have sought for individual hearings to explain their stand.

“We request that these nominal or marginal deviations from the prescribed benchmarks should be waived off and no financial disincentives should be imposed on the operators,” the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said in a letter to the telecom regulator last week, adding that certain marginal deviations were not material enough to attract financial disincentives when a large number of customers were being served.

ET has seen a copy of the letter.

The association, which represents all private sector carriers including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio, said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) should take a ‘pragmatic and considerate view’ on the marginal deviations and sought for a “review of all financial incentive orders” issued from the quarter ended March 2017 onwards.

Rajan Mathews, the association’s director-general, said Trai needed to work with the carriers to address systemic issues, “instead of continuing to slap on penalties which are often quashed or reduced substantially by the courts”.

The view comes even as the regulator is preparing to levy new penalties on carriers based on quality of service benchmarks which came into effect from October 2017. ET reported recently that the regulator was preparing to issue penalties on carriers for not meeting quality-of-service rules in certain circles as per the tougher parameters.

The new rules have toughened the parameters determining call drops, with penalties of a maximum of Rs 10 lakh for every violation. The likely latest penalties, or financial disincentives, will follow show-cause notices that were sent out by the regulator in early March, after going through the call drop data submitted by all carriers including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio.

The carriers are learnt to have responded to Trai on the notices, saying that they were enabling their systems to report as per the new rules and added that the data were being reported for the first time, therefore it could have some small margin for errors.

In its May 3 letter, COAI also flagged cases in the past where for minor deviations in the previous quarter, no financial penalties were imposed, but said that of late, the penalties had been compounded to the maximum limit, factoring in consecutive violations. (Source: Economic Times)

Airtel violating licence norms in selling Apple watch: RJio tells DoT

Airtel violating licence norms in selling Apple watch: RJio tells DoTReliance Jio Infocomm (RJio) has accused Bharti Airtel of “gross and blatant violation” of licence conditions while launching Apple Watch Series 3, a move that further intensifies the rivalry between the two telecom companies. In April, RJio had moved the Delhi High Court accusing Airtel of misleading advertisements during on the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) series.

In the latest face-off, RJio has shot off a letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) asking it to direct Airtel to “immediately stop this service”. The letter, a copy of which was reviewed by BusinessLine, also termed the services of violating security conditions.

Airtel, in an e-mail response, said it as another “frivolous complaint by a desperate operator” and added that Airtel is a law- abiding and responsible operator. RJio, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries, said Airtel has not set up an eSIM provisioning node — a critical network element which contains important network and user information — in India.

Airtel’s current node, which is located out of India, is a gross violation to the licence terms, it added. “Airtel has deliberately chosen to install a critical network element outside India for a service being offered under the Access Services Licence and this indicates its blatant disregard for the sanctity of the licence terms and conditions, including important security conditions,” the letter said.

Further, Airtel should have carried out Legal Interception and Monitoring (LIM) prior to service launch so that important national security interests are not compromised in any manner. “We are neither aware whether Airtel has made necessary changes in its LIM solution nor if it has offered this service for LIM demonstration to the DT and security agencies,” it added.

Responding to RJio’s allegations, Airtel said, “The DoT was duly notified prior to the launch of Apple watch, including product features, network architecture and lawful interception and we have also requested them to carry out a demonstration of the same” .

“All information relating to customers, network nodes etc is hosted in a fully secure manner by Airtel India along with provision for lawful interception. We will be happy to share more details with the DoT as and when required,” it added. (Source: The Hindu businessline)

Tax dept to seek Flipkart’s share purchase pact

Tax dept to seek Flipkart’s share purchase pactThe tax department will seek share purchase agreement from Flipkart on the mega USD 16 billion buyout by US retail giant Walmart to assess the tax liability and also to find out whether the General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) provisions can be invoked, an official said.

The department currently is going through the Section 9(1) of the Income Tax law, which deals with indirect transfer provisions, to see if the benefits under the bilateral tax treaties with countries like Singapore and Mauritius, could be available for foreign investors selling stakes to Walmart.

Singapore-registered Flipkart Pvt Ltd holds majority stake in Flipkart India. As per the definitive agreement between the companies last week, Walmart will acquire about 77 per cent stake in the Singapore entity for USD 16 billion. The agreement will effectively result in transfer of ultimate ownership in Flipkart India to Walmart.

To ascertain the exact tax liability, the revenue department will write to Flipkart seeking the share purchase agreement that the company had entered into with Walmart. “The department will seek the share purchase agreement once the formalities for the sale are completed. The agreement will help in tracking the flow of funds and the ultimate beneficiary,” the official told PTI.

As regards applicability of GAAR, the official said it would apply in cases where the investments were made to avoid taxes. In the Walmart-Flipkart deal, the revenue department will go through the share purchase agreement to ascertain the purpose of investment and the emanating gains.

On whether the benefits of bilateral tax treaties will be available in this deal, the official said the department will go through the details of different double taxation avoidance agreements (DTAAs) to ascertain whether taxes could be levied at concessional rate and investment made prior to a particular date can be grandfathered.

“There is likely to be capital gains withholding tax implications when the shares of Flipkart Singapore are sold by Softbank or other foreign investors. The tax rate will depend upon the facts of the case,” V Lakshmikumaran, Managing Partner of law firm Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan said.

The tax department had last week written to Bentonville-Arkansas based Walmart saying that the US company can seek guidance about the tax liability under Section 195 (2) of the I-T Act. Under Section 195 of the Act, anyone making payment to non-residents is required to deduct tax (commonly known as withholding tax).

As per Section 9 (1) of I-T Act dealing with indirect transfer provisions, the value of shares of a foreign company is deemed to be substantially derived from India, if the value of the Indian assets is greater than 50 per cent of its worldwide assets -- a criteria that is apparently met in Flipkart’s case. “In the Walmart-Flipkart deal, Section 9 (1) will apply as the assets of Flipkart Singapore are substantially based in India and hence the sellers would be liable to pay capital gains tax,” Titus & Co Managing Partner Diljeet Titus opined.

As regards the capital gains tax made by Indian founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, the official said they would have to pay 20 per cent tax with indexation benefit, which is applicable on sale of unlisted shares by Indian residents. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

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