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17th June Current Affairs

Public Consultation on Draft National Data Governance Framework Policy

(GS-II: Important aspects of governance and accountability, e-governance(applications))

In News:

The Minister of State, Electronics & Information Technology and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship highlighted the rapid digitalization and the subsequent rise in data volumes necessitating a framework for harnessing the potential of this data.

Details:

Government’s vision is to build a modern framework for Data Governance that will be a kinetic enabler of India’s Digital Economy.

Draft National Data Governance Framework Policy:

Indian Datasets programme: It calls for the creation of an India Datasets programme, which will consist of non-personal and anonymised datasets from Central government entities that have collected data from Indian citizens or those in India. Private companies will be “encouraged” to share such data.

The non-personal data housed within this programme would be accessible to start ups and Indian researchers(Non-personal data is any set of data which does not contain personally identifiable information).

India Data Management Office (IDMO): The draft also calls for creation of an India Data Management Office (IDMO), which will be in charge of designing and managing the India Datasets platform.

The IDMO will prescribe rules and standards, including anonymization standards for all entities (government and private).

For purposes of safety and trust, any non-personal data sharing by any entity can be only via platforms designated and authorized by IDMO.

No Selling of Data: The most significant change in this new draft is the omission of the most contentious provision in the old draft — selling data collected at the Central level in the open market.

Suggestions included:

Consultative process informing the functioning of the IDMO

Provisions for harnessing the future potential of integrated datasets and clarifications around the nature of engagement with private players.

Furthermore, information and clarity on the operations of the India Data Management Office

Access to annotated datasets for AI innovation

Active collaboration with private sector and social impact firms to build data capacity.

The reasons behind the crashing crypto market

(GS-III: Effects of liberalisation on the economy (post-1991 changes), changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth)

In News:

Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies have been crashing since they hit an all-time high late last year.

Why are cryptocurrencies crashing?

Tight monetary policy by governments across the world: As central banks withdraw liquidity from the market, there’s less money chasing assets, which in turn causes the prices of assets to drop. Bubble: Crash could also mark the popping of the bubble that has driven the prices of cryptocurrencies to very high levels.

How do governments view cryptocurrencies?

Many countries have taken several steps to discourage the widespread use of cryptocurrencies. While countries such as China and Russia have opted to impose outright bans on cryptocurrencies, others such as India have tried to tax and regulate them heavily. In India, while the government has not imposed an outright ban on cryptocurrencies, the Reserve Bank of India has been quite vocal about the need to ban them completely.

Do these virtual currencies have intrinsic value?

Similar to Fiat currency, Bitcoin (or most of the cryptocurrencies) is also not backed by any gold or silver hence does not have any intrinsic value. The value of any currency comes from the backing of the state and the trust that people have over the government.

Cryptocurrency:

A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange wherein individual coin ownership records are stored in a ledger existing in a form of a computerized database.

It uses strong cryptography to secure transaction records, to control the creation of additional coins, and to verify the transfer of coin ownership. It typically does not exist in physical form (like paper money) and is typically not issued by a central authority.

Cryptocurrencies typically use decentralized control as opposed to centralized digital currency and central banking systems.

Why is it in demand?

Funds transfer between two parties will be easy without the need of third party like credit/debit cards or banks.

It is a cheaper alternative compared to other online transactions.

Payments are safe and secured and offer an unprecedented level of anonymity.

Modern cryptocurrency systems come with a user “wallet” or account address which is accessible only by a public key and pirate key.

The private key is only known to the owner of the wallet.

Funds transfers are completed with minimal processing fees.

Significance of Cryptocurrencies:

Corruption Check: As blocks run on a peer-to-peer network, it helps keep corruption in check by tracking the flow of funds and transactions.

Time Effective: Cryptocurrencies can help save money and substantial time for the remitter and the receiver, as it is conducted entirely on the Internet, runs on a mechanism that involves very less transaction fees and is almost instantaneous.

Cost Effective: Intermediaries such as banks, credit card and payment gateways draw almost 3% from the total global economic output of over $100 trillion, as fees for their services.

Integrating blockchain into these sectors could result in hundreds of billions of dollars in savings.

AI (Artificial intelligence) and Ethics: Can the new Google chatbot be sentient?

In News:

Google engineers claim that Language Models for Dialog Applications or LaMDA is sentient AI. He claims that the neural network with deep learning capacity has the consciousness of a child of seven or eight years old. He argues that consent from the software must be obtained before experiments are run on it.

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers.

E.g: Facebook’s facial recognition software which identifies faces in the photos we post, the voice recognition software that translates commands we give to Alexa, etc are some of the examples of AI already around us.

How intelligent are AI’s?

To test the intelligence of machines Alan Turning devised a practical solution. Place a computer in a closed room and a human in another. If an interrogator interacting with the machine and the human cannot discriminate between them, then Turing said that the computer should be construed as ‘intelligent’.

Counter View:

A baby learns a language from close interaction with caregivers and not by acquiring a massive amount of language data. Moreover, whether intelligence is the same as sentience is questionable.

Is the technology dangerous?

Unethical AI perpetuating historical bias and echoing hate speech may cause the real dangers to society.

E.g: If AI is to select candidates for any supervisory role then Women and marginalized communities hardly get in as AI would analyze centuries-old data, which would exclude these sections as they were discriminated against during that time.

India Ranks Third in Renewable Energy Installations in 2021

(GS-III: Infrastructure – Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.)

In News:

India ranked third in renewable energy installations in 2021, after China and Russia, according to a Renewable 2022 Global status report published by REN21 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century).

What does the report say:

On India:

India installed 4 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy projects in 2021

India ranked fourth in total solar installations (60.4 GW) for the year – overtaking Germany (59.2 GW) for the first time.

On world: Overall countries added around 3,146 GW of total installed renewable power capacity in 2021 – a rise of 11% from the previous year.

On Target of renewables: Despite the rise in installed capacity, the share of renewables in global energy use stagnated in 2021. The renewable energy capacities achieved so far come nowhere close to the targets required to keep the world on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

On impact of pandemic: Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, renewables saw a year of record growth in both investment and installation.

On impact of Ukrain crisis: The invasion of Ukraine added to the energy crisis. Governments, however, responded by increasing fossil fuel production and subsidies. This has caused a record surge in carbon dioxide emissions (up by 6%, adding more than two billion tonnes).

India’s Efforts:

India has announced a target of 500 GW of renewable energy by 2030through sources such as solar photovoltaic (PV) energy, wind and hydropower.

Currently, projects worth almost $197 billion are underway in India.

India extended its national solar production programme, which provides incentives to domestic and international companies for setting up battery manufacturing plants.

In 2021, after India increased its cap on solar PV installations under its net metering scheme, the country’s rooftop PV market hit a record high.

Other Government Programmes: Performance Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme, Green Open Access Rules (which facilitates the generation, purchase and consumption of green energy including that produced by waste-to-energy plants), Green Term Ahead and Day-Ahead Market etc.