May 19, 2020

IBM launches new data centre services in Australia

IBM Australia
Cloud container services
Australian data centre industry
Addie Thomes
2 min
IBM launches new data centre services in Australia

Global tech giant IBM has launched new cloud container service in its Australian data centres, delivered out of Sydney and Melbourne, on IBM Cloud.

The local availability of this service is designed to fuel the speed and simplicity at which Australian developers can build and manage more secure and cognitive apps, while giving them the flexibility to keep their data within the Australian border.

Available on IBM Cloud, the service uses Kubernetes, an open-source container orchestration system leveraging a Docker engine.

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Andrew Kupetz ‎Director & CTO, Cloud Computing, IBM Australia, commented: “Container services available from Australian data centres are an important factor for businesses who need greater control over how and where their data is stored, to address compliance and security requirements, as well as WAN latency.  

“IBM’s new local offering will provide clients with increased performance, whilst the dual site deployment across Sydney and Melbourne ensures high availability and a strong disaster recovery posture. We’re committed to helping developers to do what they do best – invent. Today’s news provides an easy and simple way for them to automate critical parts of an app’s environment, whilst also providing the ability to build in cognitive intelligence, blockchain and Internet of Things services.”

Container technology has existed for over 30 years, but recently has gained popularity due to the simplicity of using containers provided by Docker. IBM partnered with Docker in December 2014 to bring containers to the enterprise market and launched containers-as-a service on its cloud platform in June 2015. In May 2017, IBM integrated the advanced container orchestration of Kubernetes into the IBM Cloud Container Service. 

As a fully managed service, IBM maintains the environment, handles security and provides orchestration of the underlying host infrastructure for container-based apps. Previously, organizations wishing to use the service could tap into it via IBM’s global data center network. IBM has now made the capability available specifically in Australia, with the service delivered out of IBM’s Cloud Data Centres in Sydney and Melbourne.

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Jun 17, 2021

Chinese Firm Taigusys Launches Emotion-Recognition System

Taigusys
China
huawei
AI
3 min
Critics claim that new AI emotion-recognition platforms like Taigusys could infringe on Chinese citizens’ rights ─ Taigusys disagrees

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’. 

 

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