GlobalData: COVID-19 accelerates human/tech collaboration
As the Singapore economy kickstarts, workers are returning to changed workplace. In a research report conducted by GlobalData, the company identified that COVID-19 has accelerated collaboration between humans and technology. This collaboration has empowered employees with new digital skills.
Since the start of the pandemic, rapid advances in mobile technology and applications has driven collaboration in the form of video conferencing via AI platforms. In addition the use of wearable devices is also accelerating in order to support the health sector. “One example is 'smart rings' which provide advance warning of infections with a 90% accuracy,” commented GlobalData.
As connectivity evolves, so does the seamless communication between smart objects, which is proving to be transformative in the current environment.
In recent months, telecom provider M1 has been working with regulator IMDA and airline manufacturer Airbus to trial unmanned aerial vehicles using 5G technology to use as part of its incident management response, in addition to the running of general operations.
One of the biggest changes since COVID-19 highlighted by GlobalData, has been the automation of the supply chain with multiple industries embracing 3D printing.
“Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have found a method of producing nasopharyngeal COVID-19 testing swabs using 3D-printing and injection molding providing local production capability which will ease global shortages,” commented GlobalData.
Data visualisation and interpretation
In addition to the above, advanced digital technologies are providing organisations with analytics tools and insight for line-of-business users. GlobalData highlights within its research that several of singapore’s capital intensive industries such as construction - one of the hardest hit sectors - are increasing their investment in digital twins to create virtual representations of processes and physical objects.
"One of the biggest challenges facing Singaporean businesses in the short-term is in HR. Employees will need a lot of reassurance and support to embrace the changing future of work and acquire the skills they will need to adjust to new ways of working, as work flows move from physical locations and rigid hierarchies towards peer-to-peer collaboration in virtual teams,” commented Dustin Kehoe, Head of Technology Research for Asia-Pacific at GlobalData.
Founded in 1964, GlobalData’s mission is to help its clients decode the future to be more successful and innovative, as the world becomes more complex and uncertain.
GlobalData creates trusted intelligence on the world’s largest industries by harnessing its data, analysis capabilities, and innovative solutions.
“Easily-accessible and fully-integrated into one platform, our Intelligence Center solution helps companies, government organisations, and industry professionals make faster, more informed decisions,” commented GlobalData.
Chinese Firm Taigusys Launches Emotion-Recognition System
In a detailed investigative report, the Guardian reported that Chinese tech company Taigusys can now monitor facial expressions. The company claims that it can track fake smiles, chart genuine emotions, and help police curtail security threats. ‘Ordinary people here in China aren’t happy about this technology, but they have no choice. If the police say there have to be cameras in a community, people will just have to live with it’, said Chen Wei, company founder and chairman. ‘There’s always that demand, and we’re here to fulfil it’.
Who Will Use the Data?
As of right now, the emotion-recognition market is supposed to be worth US$36bn by 2023—which hints at rapid global adoption. Taigusys counts Huawei, China Mobile, China Unicom, and PetroChina among its 36 clients, but none of them has yet revealed if they’ve purchased the new AI. In addition, Taigusys will likely implement the technology in Chinese prisons, schools, and nursing homes.
It’s not likely that emotion-recognition AI will stay within the realm of private enterprise. President Xi Jinping has promoted ‘positive energy’ among citizens and intimated that negative expressions are no good for a healthy society. If the Chinese central government continues to gain control over private companies’ tech data, national officials could use emotional data for ideological purposes—and target ‘unhappy’ or ‘suspicious’ citizens.
How Does It Work?
Taigusys’s AI will track facial muscle movements, body motions, and other biometric data to infer how a person is feeling, collecting massive amounts of personal data for machine learning purposes. If an individual displays too much negative emotion, the platform can recommend him or her for what’s termed ‘emotional support’—and what may end up being much worse.
Can We Really Detect Human Emotions?
This is still up for debate, but many critics say no. Psychologists still debate whether human emotions can be separated into basic emotions such as fear, joy, and surprise across cultures or whether something more complex is at stake. Many claim that AI emotion-reading technology is not only unethical but inaccurate since facial expressions don’t necessarily indicate someone’s true emotional state.
In addition, Taigusys’s facial tracking system could promote racial bias. One of the company’s systems classes faces as ‘yellow, white, or black’; another distinguishes between Uyghur and Han Chinese; and sometimes, the technology picks up certain ethnic features better than others.
Is China the Only One?
Not a chance. Other countries have also tried to decode and use emotions. In 2007, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched a heavily contested training programme (SPOT) that taught airport personnel to monitor passengers for signs of stress, deception, and fear. But China as a nation rarely discusses bias, and as a result, its AI-based discrimination could be more dangerous.
‘That Chinese conceptions of race are going to be built into technology and exported to other parts of the world is troubling, particularly since there isn’t the kind of critical discourse [about racism and ethnicity in China] that we’re having in the United States’, said Shazeda Ahmed, an AI researcher at New York University (NYU).
Taigusys’s founder points out, on the other hand, that its system can help prevent tragic violence, citing a 2020 stabbing of 41 people in Guangxi Province. Yet top academics remain unconvinced. As Sandra Wachter, associate professor and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, said: ‘[If this continues], we will see a clash with fundamental human rights, such as free expression and the right to privacy’.