Bits + Bytes : A Miscellany of Technology

This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on May 9, 2022 - May 15, 2022.
Bits + Bytes : A Miscellany of Technology
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NEWS

Pantas and UKM partner to come up with climate fintech solution to access green investments

E-invoicing software start-up Pantas and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) have inked a memorandum of agreement (MoA) to develop a carbon accounting software and a climate transition equity index for companies in emerging markets (EM). 

The carbon accounting software will allow companies to seamlessly calculate, monitor and disclose their carbon emissions based on current international standards while automating the carbon accounting analysis and workflow with Pantas’ proprietary software and algorithm. The climate fintech solution is dubbed the Pantas-UKM Green Solution. 

There is a growing market demand for environmental disclosure, with over US$5.5 trillion (RM24 trillion) in procurement spent. Companies that reveal their environmental data will have greater access to green investments.

But companies in EM are unable to do this due to the complex and costly process of calculating, monitoring and disclosing carbon emissions.

The Pantas-UKM Green Solution consists of two components: the carbon accounting software and the climate transition equity index. 

The carbon accounting software allows companies to monitor their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by leveraging data collected by Pantas’ e-invoicing software and the carbon emission factors co-developed with UKM.

With the climate transition equity index, metrics related to climate change are taken into consideration, allowing companies included in the index to easily access green investments. 

Currently, Pantas and UKM are recruiting companies for a pilot programme for them to showcase the benefits of carbon disclosure and assist them in accessing green investments on a first-come, first-served basis.

KeTSA fights illegal crypto mining with Tenaga, PDRM, Energy Commission

The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (KeTSA) is actively collaborating with Tenaga Nasional Bhd, the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) and the Energy Commission (ST) to prevent power theft resulting from illegal cryptocurrency mining activities.

The ministry, in response to Digital Edge’s cover story, “The Dark Side of Cryptocurrency Boom”, said in an email reply that it is working with the agencies and regulators to curb “illegal connection electricity meter tampering by crypto miners to prevent more losses to the country”.

However, the ministry did not mention any policies being discussed to regulate the contentious issue.

In February, KeTSA revealed that the country had lost RM2.3 billion worth of electricity — which equals 4.5 billion kilowatts per hour — to illegal crypto mining between 2018 and 2021. The number of incidents increased by 400% in the corresponding period.

According to Tenaga, 211 joint raids were conducted with ST, PDRM and local councils on 677 premises in Peninsular Malaysia from November 2020 to December 2021, and 244 arrests were made for power theft.

The ministry also took down an illegal bitcoin mining syndicate in 988 premises throughout the country through joint operations carried out with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Tenaga.

Countries around the world have governed crypto mining on their own terms. Some countries such as China and North Macedonia have banned cryptocurrency completely, including mining activities.

Others have legalised crypto mining. Dubbed as “Bitcoin’s green haven”, the Nordic regions’ crypto mining rigs operate using renewable energy. Iran also provides licences to legal miners and offers a special electricity tariff.

 

COMPETITIONS, GRANTS & TRAINING

Digital Content Grant 2022 open for application

The Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia (K-KOMM) and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) welcomes applications for the Digital Content Grant (DCG) for 2022.

The DCG was introduced in 2016 and it focuses on aiding Malaysian digital content creators to formulate new content or market existing content in animation, interactive media and digital games. 

Digital creative content companies with a minimum paid-up capital of RM20,000 are encouraged to apply for the DCG. They can either apply for a grant for development cost, worth up to RM300,000, or up to RM500,000 for Intellectual Property (IP) Marketing and Licensing cost.

MDEC and K-KOMM are committed to ensuring the industry gains the support it needs to remain competitive in the market.

Over the year, MDEC has approved 55 projects worth over RM34.5 million to assist digital creative content companies to fund ideas at the development stage to make them investment-friendly. Didi and Friends by DD Animation Sdn Bhd, Ejen Ali The Movie by Wau Animation Sdn Bhd, and Astrology by Lemon Sky Animation Sdn Bhd are among the creative content developed from this initiative. 

For more information, visit: https://mdec.my/digital-economy-initiatives/for-the-industry/entrepreneu....

National Secondary School Programming Competition and Workshop open for registration

The National Secondary School Programming Competition (NSSPC) and Workshop 2022, organised by the Alumni Association of the National Taiwan University and University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), is now open for registration. Secondary students regardless of the different streams are welcome to participate in the event.

NSSPC was first launched in 2021 with 1,100 participants. The overwhelming support it received from teachers and students nationwide has led to the second NSSPC being held this year.

The main objective of NSSPC is to cultivate innovative thinking among students and hone their ability to solve real-life problems. These are essential skills in a rapidly digitalised world, said Choo Yan Tiee, president of the Alumni Association of National Taiwan University.

“We hope the competition can enhance the digital capabilities of the local students and increase the awareness among local schools about the importance of programming. We also hope that the competition will continue to be held moving forward and become a prominent competition in Southeast Asia.”

The NSSPC workshop will be launched before the competition begins. The workshop is an integral component as it aims to educate secondary school students who are new to programming.

The workshop will be split into two groups: beginners and advanced. Based on their knowledge and experience, students can choose which group to join to kick-start their programming journey or enhance their existing capability.

A total of five workshops will be held on Sundays from May 15 to July 17. Apart from programming-related sessions, industry leaders will also be invited as speakers during the workshops to help students better understand the job market for programming.

Students interested in joining the competition are required to participate in the workshop and pass a basic test. Selected participants will then need to form a team of three from the same or different schools.

The preliminary competition will be held on Aug 7, with the top 30 teams advancing into the finals. The finals will be held on Aug 28 in Kuala Lumpur. Winners of the competition will receive cash, medals and internship opportunities.

Additionally, the New Talent Award will be given to the top six teams in the lower secondary school category. Details about the competition can be found on NSSPC’s official website https://nsspc.io.

 

TECH BOOKS

AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan

How will artificial intelligence (AI) change our world within 20 years?

AI will be the defining development of the 21st century. In two decades, aspects of daily human life will be unrecognisable. AI will generate unprecedented wealth, revolutionise medicine and education through human-machine symbiosis and create brand-new forms of communication and entertainment.

In liberating us from routine work, however, AI will also challenge the organising principles of our economic and social order. Meanwhile, AI will bring new risks in the form of autonomous weapons and smart technology that inherits human bias.

AI is at a tipping point, and people need to wake up — both to AI’s radiant pathways and its existential perils for life as we know it.

In this provocative, utterly original work, Kai-Fu Lee, the former president of Google China and bestselling author of AI Superpowers, teams up with celebrated novelist Chen Qiufan to imagine our world in 2041 and how it will be shaped by AI. In 10 gripping short stories, they introduce readers to an array of eye-opening 2041 settings, such as:

• In San Francisco, the “job reallocation” industry emerges as deep learning AI causes widespread job displacement;

• In Tokyo, a music fan is swept up in an immersive form of celebrity worship based on virtual reality and mixed reality;

• In Mumbai, a teenage girl rebels when AI’s crunching of big data gets in the way of romance;

• In Seoul, virtual companions with perfected natural language processing skills offer orphaned twins new ways to connect; and

• In Munich, a rogue scientist draws on quantum computing, computer vision and other AI technologies in a revenge plot that imperils the world.

By gazing towards a not-so-distant horizon, AI 2041 offers urgent insights into our collective future — while reminding readers that, ultimately, humankind remains the author of its destiny.  — Amazon 

 

EDITOR’S MUST-HAVES

Create up to 1,000 shades of lipstick in the comfort of your home

It’s always a hassle to pick the perfect lip colour to match our outfits. This is where Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Sur Mesure Powered by Perso — a smart at-home device that allows consumers to create their personalised lip colours — comes in.

Yves Saint-Laurent Beauté (YSL), which is known for its iconic lip shades, tied up with L’Oréal using artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things to create thousands of bespoke shades.

All users need to do is pair the device to their smartphones via Bluetooth and then insert three lipstick cartridges into the base. Each cartridge set falls within a colour palette — red, pink, orange, nude — and each tube has its own NFC (near field communication) tag.

The colour palette generates up to 1,000 preset shades, or users can customise their own within the companion app. According to technology news website The Verge, the NFC tag lets the device recognise each cartridge, its expiration date and how much is left.

The first time the cartridges are loaded, users will be prompted to calibrate, and the device is ready to produce the selected shades. The whole process takes about five minutes.

A virtual try-on feature is built into the app, and a detachable compact is attached on top of the device, with a magnetic-retractable lip brush for portability.

The device retails for US$299 on the YSL website. The Rouge Sur Mesure app is available on Android and Apple App Store.

 

WHILE YOU WERE WORKING

(FROM HOME)

TrainerCentral to maximise opportunity in e-learning and knowledge entrepreneurship

Indian multinational company Zoho Corp has launched a new business division, TrainerCentral, to solve the gap in the e-learning market that requires an end-to-end solution to deliver all forms of training.

With TrainerCentral, creators and educators can access a robust toolkit to quickly establish their knowledge brand, create impressive online courses and inspire thousands of learners worldwide. It helps the experts nurture a dedicated community of learners through their unique skills, generate revenue from their courses and turn their passion into profit.

TrainerCentral enables creators to: 

• Create online courses with a diverse curriculum that uniquely reflects one’s knowledge and expertise;

• Run live workshops and online coaching sessions to hundreds of remote learners through the in-built web-conferencing functionality, without having to subscribe to any third-party meeting tool;

• Offer a personalised learning experience and nurture a micro-community of learners with the help of TrainerCentral’s learner-centric features; 

• Evaluate learners through graded quizzes, ensure discipline through course compliance and reward them with completion certificates;

• Build an intuitive website with a customised URL, to publish and sell online courses without writing a single line of code; 

• Quickly set up a payment gateway, configure different payment methods like one-time fees or a recurring subscription and accept payments in any currency; 

• Easily manage a fast-growing team of trainers and monitor trainer performance, all under a single admin-console; and

• Gather deep insights on key business metrics like revenue trends, learner progress and course feedback through the analytics dashboard. 

TrainerCentral is currently offering a 15-day free trial. Once the trial session expires, users have the option of choosing from two paid plans with access to unlimited courses and unlimited learners. Solo-edupreneurs and independent experts can create and sell online courses, and this includes a live workshop functionality for up to 50 live attendees from US$20 (RM87.10) per month. Meanwhile, a team of trainers can access the professional package to run a scalable training business, which includes a live workshop functionality for 100 live attendees with an ability to scale up to 1,000, from US$50 per month.

 

DIGITIONARY

Diamond hands

A term that gained infamy due to the cryptocurrency community, diamond hands refer to an investor who holds on to an investment asset despite volatility and risks.

By other definitions, it refers to the stubbornness of the investor in not letting go of an asset despite its falling value.

The term diamond hands are commonly expressed in emoji as  (a combination of the gemstone emoji  and the hands raised emoji ).