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What’s new in blockchain, AI and IoT: April 28 – May 4, 2017

Following are highlights from the past week’s news developments in blockchain, artificial intelligence and Internet-of-Things technologies:

U.S. defense contractor to incorporate blockchain into processes
Lockheed Martin announced in late April that Guardtime Federal will be a key partner to add cyber-security features to systems engineering processes, supply chain risk management and software development. In its news release, Lockheed Martin said it is “the first U.S. defense contractor to incorporate blockchain technology into its developmental processes, enabling more efficient and assured offerings to the federal government.”

Raspberry Pi offers AIY Projects kit for Google voice interactivity
Raspberry Pi, the organization behind the single-board computer of the same name, is offering developers a new hardware kit from Google called AIY Projects. The free kit, which provides access to the Google Assistant SDK and the Google Cloud Speech API, will allow Raspberry Pi developers to add Google-based voice interactivity to their projects.

Forum to explore IoT impact on healthcare privacy, security
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has scheduled a two-day Privacy and Security Forum in San Francisco next week that will feature programs on such subjects as “Medical Devices as a Gateway to Cybercrime” and “Ransomware, IoT, and Confronting New and Emerging Threats.” “While significant attention has been given to security and privacy concerns surrounding pharmaceutical development, manufacturing, and supply, considerably less has been given to medical devices and diagnostics,” the forum schedule states. “This is perplexing, since for medical devices particularly, the confluence of IoT and mobility represent one of the most attractive areas of cyberattack. Personal medical records are now valued 10-20 times more highly than financial data.  This information can be used to create online personas, which in turn are used to propagate massive identity theft and other crimes.”

Dubai bank pilots blockchain cheque verification program
The Dubai-based banking group Emirates NBD on May 1 launched Cheque Chain, a new program using blockchain technology to help authenticate cheques and minimise the potential for fraud. The initiative, rolling out first as a pilot among employees, will add a unique QR code to every cheque in newly issued books, and each code will be registered on the bank’s blockchain platform when a cheque is received and cleared. “Cheque Chain will bring an added layer of security to our cheque clearing system, and ensure that each cheque issued will be verified under the bank’s system with its own unique QR code providing significant improvement in cheque security,” said Abdulla Qassem, the group’s chief operating officer.”

AI could ‘liberate’ or ‘overwhelm’ us, says Kasparov
In his latest book, “Deep Thinking,” co-authored with Mig Greengard, famed chess champion Garry Kasparov describes the future of intelligent machines as one that could “liberate us and be as profound a boon to our prosperity as electricity.” However, he added in a May 1 interview with Macleans, “If we are fearful, and fail to press ahead, we could be overwhelmed by automation and inequality.” Kasparov was the first World Chess Champion to be defeated by a computer, IBM’s Deep Blue, in a six-game match in 1997.

Maersk eyes digitalised supply chain built on Microsoft Azure
Microsoft is working with the global shipping and transport firm Maersk to use digital solutions to improve supply chain efficiency. The company’s supply chain unit Damco recently launched several new applications built on Microsoft’s cloud-based Azure platform, and next plans to come out with a digital app for Customs House Brokerage. “Eventually Maersk’s vessels and containers and other assets will be generating terabytes of data on operations and activities in real time, and machines and people will be talking to each other, learning things about our operations and our customers that we can’t even imagine now — and they’ll be available as products, for download,” Ibrahim Gokcen, Maersk’s chief digital officer, said in a new announcement late last month.

Blockchain could ‘revolutionise’ electricity markets: EDF
Distributed ledger technology could do more than transform financial markets and supply chains — it could also “upend” electricity markets, according to a recent blog post by the Environmental Defense Fund. Noting blockchain plans or tests in the works by utilities such as RWE, Vattenfall AB and Fortum, EDF’s director of clean energy for the U.S. Midwest Dick Munson wrote in a May 4 post, “Blockchain likely will face opposition from entrenched utilities, and regulators will want to ensure the platform is safe and reliable. Diverse stakeholders in electricity markets also will need to establish common industry standards. Yet as more stakeholders consider grid modernization and new utility business models, this disruptive technology suggests innovative models and approaches for delivering efficient, reliable, affordable, and clean energy.”

AI4All aims to diversify world of artificial intelligence
In a May 4 interview with the technology publication Backchannel, Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Fei-Fei Li, who is on sabbatical from the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, talk about their goals for the non-profit AI4All, which was created to promote diversity in the artificial intelligence field. AI, Li said, is “going to carry the values that matter to our lives, be it the ethics, the bias, the justice, or the access. If we don’t have the representative technologists of humanity sitting at the table, the technology is inevitably not going to represent all of us.”

China’s healthcare challenges mean AI, IoT opportunities
Advanced new technologies like AI and the Internet of Things are dramatically changing how China is developing its healthcare sector, especially as its population ages, according to a May 4 article in the Nikkei Asian Review. “With the largest online population in the world, a vibrant startup and venture capital ecosystem, and growing demand for healthy lifestyles, China has seen explosive growth in both technology and innovative business models,” the publication reported. “The numerous problems with health care — lack of qualified doctors, disparity in distribution, and inefficient hospital operations, to name a few — are actually seen as sources of opportunity by a new generation of players.”

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