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Council of Europe adopts first international treaty on artificial intelligence

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The Council of Europe has approved a groundbreaking treaty, marking the world’s first internationally binding agreement focused on safeguarding human rights, upholding the rule of law, and preserving democratic principles in the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) systems.
This treaty, which is open to participation by non-European nations, establishes a comprehensive legal framework spanning the entire lifecycle of AI systems while promoting responsible innovation and addressing potential risks.
Named the Council of Europe Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law, this historic agreement was adopted during the annual ministerial meeting of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg. Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović hailed it as a pioneering global treaty aimed at ensuring that AI technologies uphold fundamental human rights, with a balanced approach to harnessing their benefits while mitigating risks.
The convention is the culmination of two years of collaborative efforts by the Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI), bringing together representatives from 46 Council of Europe member states, the European Union, and 11 non-member states. It also involved input from various sectors including the private industry, civil society, and academia.
Covering both public and private sector applications, the treaty offers flexible compliance mechanisms for regulating AI systems, acknowledging the diversity of legal systems worldwide. It mandates transparency, oversight, and risk assessment measures tailored to specific contexts, emphasizing accountability, equality, and privacy rights.
Furthermore, the treaty addresses risks to democracy, requiring measures to prevent AI systems from undermining democratic institutions and processes. It exempts certain activities related to national security interests but underscores the importance of adherence to international law and democratic principles.
To facilitate effective implementation, the convention establishes a follow-up mechanism through a Conference of the Parties. Each participating nation is required to establish independent oversight mechanisms, promote public awareness, facilitate informed debates, and engage in multistakeholder consultations on AI technology usage.
The Council of Europe plans to open the treaty for signature in Vilnius, Lithuania, on September 5th, coinciding with a conference of Ministers of Justice. This significant step aims to set a global standard for the ethical development and deployment of AI technologies, ensuring they align with fundamental human rights, democratic values, and the rule of law.
Source: coe.int

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Global Times: China’s badminton team eye gold sweep at Paris Olympics

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Earlier in May, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) unveiled the list of qualified participants for the Paris Olympics, with 173 athletes competing in five disciplines. The Chinese team is the only team in the world set to participate in all five events.
The only country ever to achieve a clean sweep of gold medals, accomplished at the 2012 Summer Olympics, China has been dominating badminton at the Summer Olympics.
However, their Olympics performances after London hit a slump, as Team China finished the Tokyo Olympics with only two gold and four silver medals, bouncing back from a lackluster Rio Olympics performance of two golds, one bronze in 2016.
However, lately the Chinese national team players showed quality form at the Thomas and Uber Cup finals, winning the two prestigious team titles for the first time in 12 years, raising hopes that the team could repeat the feat they accomplished at the London Olympics.
In this installment of the Road to Paris series, Global Times reporter Lu Wenao offers insight into the Chinese shuttlers squad that bears China’s gold medal hopes.
Winning the Thomas and Uber Cup finals was a confidence booster for the Chinese national badminton team’s Olympic campaign this year, Chinese Badminton Association chief Zhang Jun said, noting that the team looks ready to restore its pride in the sport. He stated that the national team’s goal for the Paris Olympics remains five gold medals, although there are strong competitors in every discipline.
Thomas Lund, secretary-general of the BWF, also told the Global Times that Team China players consistently perform well at the elite level and always provide strong competition for their opponents.
“China has tremendous badminton infrastructure and support networks to develop a deep talent pool across the country, which has constantly produced champions over many years,” Lund told the Global Times.
“In recent years, we have been fortunate to witness new champions emerging, and traditional powerhouses being tested to the limit.”
With a blend of seasoned champions and emerging stars, the team is well-equipped to tackle the challenges ahead.
Shi Yuqi: Men’s singles maestro
Shi Yuqi has emerged as a beacon of hope for China in men’s singles badminton now that aces Lin Dan and Chen Long have retired from the sport. Shi is now shouldering the responsibility of being the captain of the national team.
His journey to fame began at a young age, when he showcased his talent in various junior tournaments. By 2016, he had already started making waves on the senior circuit, culminating in a silver medal at the BWF World Championships in 2018.
Shi’s play style is characterized by his agility and tactical intelligence, which have often left his opponents scrambling. Despite facing injuries that hampered his progress, Shi’s ­resilience saw him bounce back to claim victory at the All England Open in 2018, one of the sport’s most prestigious titles.
At the Thomas Cup held in Chengdu earlier in May, Shi contributed to the team’s success by winning all his six singles matches.
“Good performance comes from managing psychological challenges well,” Shi told the Global Times. “If you carry too much pressure and responsibility, it can ­actually hinder your performance. Honestly, there will definitely be pressure, but I think handling these mental hurdles well is something I’ve been doing ­effectively during this period.”
As he prepares for the Paris Olympics, Shi is determined to convert his past experiences into Olympic glory, aiming to add to China’s illustrious badminton legacy.
Chen Yufei: Women’s singles sensation
Chen Yufei’s crowning achievement came at the ­Tokyo Olympics, where she secured the gold medal, reaffirming China’s dominance in women’s singles. Her style of play, which combines relentless defense with strategic offense, has made her a formidable opponent on the court.
“My opponents always come at me with the mind-set of challenging me, and their mental state is often better than mine,” she told the Global Times, noting she had to make adjustments after initially struggling to adapt.
“Over the past year, I’ve been slowly adjusting. Now, I feel that every opponent has something I can learn from,” she noted.
The Olympic campaign undoubtedly presents many challenges, such as maintaining physical health and preparing for opponents’ targeted strategies. With this humble and modest attitude, Chen is tackling the challenges in her buildup toward the Paris Olympics.
“Although I’m not in the best condition right now, I’m still in the first tier. I need to be more confident. If I maintain a good physical condition, I think I still have a good chance to defend my title,” she said.
“But this process will definitely be very difficult, so it’s about taking things one step at a time and handling every detail in the process as I strive to achieve this goal,” she concluded.
As Chen heads to Paris, expectations are high for her to continue her winning streak and inspire a new generation of badminton enthusiasts in China.
Liang Weikeng &Wang Chang: Men’s doubles dynamos
The dynamic duo Liang Weikeng and Wang Chang in men’s doubles have become household names in Chinese badminton. Both born in the early 2000s, their partnership began in their teenage years and quickly blossomed into one of the most formidable pair ups in international badminton.
Their breakthrough came at the 2021 world championships, where they secured a bronze medal, showcasing their potential on the global stage. Liang and Wang’s synergy on the court is their biggest asset, with their complementary playing styles allowing them to dominate their opponents.
“We have won championships, we’ve also been runners-up, and of course, there have been times when we didn’t perform well,” Wang said. “Experiencing failure helps us grow and teaches us how to handle future matches.”
Though many Chinese badminton fans are still skeptical of the pair’s consistency, their journey in the sport, now ranked at world No.2, has already inspired many young people to pick up a racket.
Chen Qingchen & Jia Yifan: Women’s doubles queens
Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan have established themselves as the queens of women’s doubles badminton. The pair, known as Fan-Chen domestically, began their partnership in their early teens and have since become one of the most successful pairs in the sport’s history.
Their journey to fame includes multiple titles, with notable victories at the world championships in 2017, 2021, 2022 and 2023. Their ability to anticipate each other’s moves and their relentless attack style have earned them numerous accolades.
“Whenever I step onto the court, I really want to win the game with my partner. The two of us are actually like one person. With such great pressure, there are only the two of us facing it on the court, and no one else can help us,” Chen said of her partnership with Jia.
“Before we go on court, we exchange a smile, a smile that only the two of us can understand at that moment. I think there won’t be a third person in this world who can understand our feelings at that moment, so this feeling is very precious.”
Jia said her partner Chen plays “like a spring.”
“The higher the pressure is, the higher she will bounce back. She is not someone who forsakes,” Jia said.
Though they suffered a bitter Olympic final defeat in Tokyo in 2021, the duo is currently sitting in first place in the women’s doubles ranking thanks to their dedication and unwavering determination.
Zheng Siwei & Huang Yaqiong: Mixed doubles magicians
Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong, China’s mixed doubles magicians, have captivated audiences with their seamless coordination and unmatched skill.
Both players boast impressive individual resumes, but it is their partnership that has truly made them stand out. Since teaming up in 2017, the pair, known as Ya-Si in China, have won numerous titles, including three world championships.
A Tokyo Olympics final defeat to teammates Wang Yilu and Huang Dongping has propelled the duo to continue honing their skills, both physically and mentally.
“Our mind-set is much better for this Olympics compared to the last one. Previously, we didn’t know what the Olympics would be like, so we prepared for the last Olympics by training intensely and aggressively,” Huang revealed.
“That approach wasn’t effective and led to injuries, which affected our training and competition. This time, we will maintain a calm mind-set. As we age, our recovery isn’t as quick as it was during the previous Olympics. We need to ensure we train with the highest quality within our capabilities.”
Their dynamic playing style, characterized by swift exchanges and powerful smashes, has made them a formidable force in mixed doubles badminton. As they head to the Paris Olympics, Zheng and Huang are determined to reinforce supremacy in the sport.
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Unlocking AI’s transformative potential in South Africa: Enhancing society & creating opportunities

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As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to supercharge every aspect of business and society, South Africa stands at a critical juncture. Rather than fearing job displacement, we can harness AI to drive widespread growth and prosperity. By fostering local innovation, investing in AI education, and creating a conducive regulatory environment, we can empower citizens and businesses alike. In insightful piece, Richard Shrewry, Regent Business School’s iLeadLAB Manager, explores how AI can enhance society, bridge gaps, and create new opportunities, all while preserving the essential human element.
In the heart of our country, a quiet revolution is underway. This revolution, marked not by upheaval but by the gentle hum of computers and the boundless curiosity of students and innovators, is reshaping the landscape of opportunity through the power of artificial intelligence (AI). This is a story about using AI to enhance, not replace, the human element in society, particularly in a country like South Africa where unemployment rates are at an all-time high, and opportunities may seem scarce to most people.
The Human-Centric Approach to AI
In South Africa, the narrative around AI often raises concerns about job displacement. However, AI should really be viewed as a supportive tool designed to enhance human capabilities and create new opportunities for upskilling and upliftment. The focus needs to be on finding ways for AI to work alongside people to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and efficiency, ultimately benefiting society as a whole.
There is no doubt that AI technologies are enabling personalised learning experiences, ensuring individuals receive tailored content and support based on their needs. Of course, it is vital that we are actively addressing bias in AI systems, especially when implementing them in early education. AI must be made accessible to all schools, enhancing learning effectiveness and empowering individuals. This approach ensures that everyone can benefit from AI, making learning more effective and relevant but more importantly, the outcome needs to be AI empowering people to become more skilled and adaptable to thrive in a dynamic job market.
Job Creation Through AI
I would be remiss if I did not mention the link between entrepreneurship and innovation. AI tools are paving the way for a new wave of entrepreneurs and innovators in South Africa. By providing access to powerful technologies, individuals are able to create unique businesses and offerings. Whether it’s developing new AI-driven products or using AI to improve existing processes, the opportunities are vast:

Enhanced Roles in Business: AI is not about replacing jobs but enhancing them. For instance, in marketing, AI aids in analysing customer behaviour and optimising strategies, allowing marketers to focus on creativity and strategic thinking.
Improving Efficiency in Accounting: AI applications in financial analysis and automated systems make accounting processes more efficient, enabling accountants to focus on advisory roles and complex decision-making.
Optimising Supply Chains: AI in logistics and inventory management helps businesses run more smoothly, creating demand for professionals who can manage and interpret AI-driven insights.
Agricultural Advancements: In a country where agriculture plays a significant role, AI can help in precision farming, crop monitoring, and yield prediction, thus improving productivity and creating jobs in tech-enabled farming.
Healthcare Improvements: AI-powered diagnostic tools and predictive analytics can enhance healthcare services, leading to better patient outcomes and creating jobs in health informatics and telemedicine.
Educational Support: AI-driven platforms can support teachers by automating administrative tasks and providing personalised learning experiences for students, allowing educators to focus on mentoring and student engagement.
Urban Planning and Smart Cities: AI can assist in the development of smart cities, improving infrastructure and services through efficient traffic management, energy distribution, and public safety, thereby creating jobs in urban planning and data analysis.
Environmental Monitoring: AI can be used to monitor environmental changes and manage natural resources more effectively, leading to jobs in environmental science and sustainable development.

Tools and Technologies Empowering Individuals
In innovative spaces, people engage with cutting-edge technologies, including AI, machine learning, robotics, and IoT. These tools are not just for large corporations but are accessible to anyone with the drive to learn and innovate.
A number of open-source and proprietary tools area available:

Language Models: Using tools like LM Studio and Ollama, individuals learn to fine-tune language models for specific tasks, enhancing their research and analytical skills.
Advanced AI Platforms: GROK, Meta AI, OpenAI – ChatGPT, Gemini, and Claude provide hands-on experience in applying AI to real-world scenarios, preparing individuals for future careers and entrepreneurial ventures.
Creative AI Applications: Tools like Stable Diffusion for image generation and 11 Labs for voiceovers and narration encourage people to explore new forms of expression and communication.
Efficient Presentations: SlidesAI.io, integrated with Google Sheets, helps individuals quickly create professional presentations, improving their presentation and communication skills.

The Larger Picture: 4IR and South Africa
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is not just a concept; it’s a seismic shift that is reshaping industries and societies. In South Africa, and indeed across developing markets, the impact of 4IR technologies like AI is profound. These technologies promise to drive economic growth, transform education, and revolutionise healthcare. Yet, they also bring challenges—an urgent need for upskilling, investment in digital infrastructure, and ethical considerations.
By addressing these challenges through comprehensive programs and initiatives, we can equip individuals with the skills of the future, preparing them to be leaders in this new era.
The post Unlocking AI’s transformative potential in South Africa: Enhancing society & creating opportunities appeared first on HIPTHER Alerts.

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Aragen Life Sciences Ltd. receives the 2024 Global Customer Value Leadership Award from Frost & Sullivan for Pioneering Excellence in Drug Discovery and Development Services

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Frost & Sullivan has recognized Aragen Life Sciences, a world-class contract research, development, and manufacturing organization (CRDMO), with the 2024 Global Customer Value Leadership Award. With nearly 25 years of experience, Aragen assists its global clients in various industries, such as pharmaceutical, biotech, and agrochemical, throughout the biopharmaceutical lifecycle, offering comprehensive solutions spanning small and large molecules.
The company provides highly customized services tailored to meet client requirements and leverages cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, to drive its discovery and development projects to commercialization.
It also focuses on sustainability through initiatives like carbon-neutral programs and green chemistry, underscoring its dedication to environmental responsibility.
Mani Kantipudi, CEO of Aragen Life Sciences, said, “We are honored to receive the 2024 Global Customer Value Leadership Award from Frost & Sullivan. This recognition reflects our relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation in delivering value to our clients. We remain committed to advancing the forefront of drug discovery and development while upholding the highest standards of quality and sustainability.”
“Frost & Sullivan commends Aragen’s impressive customer centricity, which is evident in its tailored approach to meeting diverse client needs, commitment to transparency and trust through collaborative partnerships, and dedication to ensuring customer satisfaction at every engagement stage. By adapting its strategies to address individual pain points, assigning dedicated product managers driven by customer feedback, and offering flexibility and choice in service delivery, Aragen sets itself apart as a leader in delivering exceptional customer experiences within the global life sciences industry,” said Khushbu Jain, Principal Consultant at Frost & Sullivan.
Aragen’s success is driven by a talented workforce of over 3,700 scientists worldwide, including 450+ PhDs, ensuring robust scientific capabilities and operational efficiency. The company’s strategic investments and customer-centric approach have cemented its reputation as a trusted partner in the life sciences industry.
Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that demonstrates excellence in implementing strategies that proactively create value for its customers, focusing on improving the return on investment that customers make in its services or products. The award recognizes Aragen’s unique focus on augmenting customer value beyond simple good service, leading to improved customer retention and an expanded base.
Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognize companies in various regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analyses, and extensive secondary research to identify best practices in the industry.
The post Aragen Life Sciences Ltd. receives the 2024 Global Customer Value Leadership Award from Frost & Sullivan for Pioneering Excellence in Drug Discovery and Development Services appeared first on HIPTHER Alerts.

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