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Students, regardless of their educational level, have been obliged to complete their studies from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the coronavirus crisis, what should have been an exciting new way to promote learning and engagement in the classroom has been transformed and almost entirely supplanted by ‘face-to-face’ interaction. Traditional group work and conversations that students had become accustomed to were no longer available… Digital learning has become the new normal almost overnight.

We have been able to continue our education despite the crisis because of technological advancements. Simultaneously, it has enabled us to examine the new learning landscape and identify its flaws and benefits in order to enhance it.

How has technology changed the learning landscape?

Assimilating technology into the learning process results in fundamental shifts that are necessary for significant productivity gains. Technology aids teaching and learning by introducing digital learning resources such as computers and other handheld devices into classrooms. When used in education, technology allows students to learn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be used to create new course offerings, learning materials, and experiences.

By offering a new model of integrated learning, technology has the potential to alter the educational process. This teaching paradigm connects teachers to their students as well as relevant resources, allowing them to customise learning to reflect students’ interests and improve instruction. Technology promotes 21st-century skills, enhances student enthusiasm and engagement, and accelerates learning when properly implemented in the learning system.

More accessible education

We couldn’t fathom education without teachers and students sharing the same exact geographic place not long ago. We can now obtain an online degree without ever having to step foot in an institution. If we’re interested in a programme that’s offered in another city or even another continent, we’re now more likely to complete it without major life changes.

Despite the fact that technology has demonstrated its ability to break down geographical barriers, societies must work to eliminate other hurdles that continue to make education a luxury for certain individuals, such as the socioeconomic divide. Many students will have the opportunity to learn from the top lecturers in the future, thanks to technological advancements. Regardless of where they live, students will be able to do so at a low cost and at their own pace, making the learning process and education less elitist.

Flexible learning

Incorporating technology into the learning landscape has made it more adaptable, in addition to making the entire process easier to access. Because all course materials are already available online, students can now attend courses, study, and complete assignments whenever it is convenient for them, as long as they stay within the confines of a set deadline.

Students may now communicate and share notes and materials in the most efficient ways possible thanks to technological advancements. A library of relevant Griffith notes and study guides made by students who previously took the same degrees, courses, assessments, and exams is an excellent example. For people who might not normally attend classical education, such flexibility and ease of access open up a world of possibilities. Full-time employees who don’t want to compromise their careers, or parents who must care for their small children, for example.

Adaptive learning

While conventional education had numerous obstacles in meeting the needs of individual pupils, technology now allows for the development of tailored learning strategies for each student. Every student benefits from such an approach, but students with special needs, whether they have vision, speech, or hearing impairments, developmental, intellectual, or social disabilities, will benefit the most. Instead of a “one-size-fits-all” learning experience, technology allows for the creation of a vibrant learning environment that can be tailored to unique students’ needs. Adaptive learning ensures that students, regardless of their learning style, pace, or preferences, have equal opportunities to achieve.

Changed interaction

Due to technological improvements, the quality of communication between professors and students is also changing. Even if face-to-face talks are no longer beneficial, they can use other communication technologies such as email or instant messengers. Students can now ask for clarification or information when they need assistance, and they can expect a far faster response.

Rethinking roles

Students’ and teachers’ roles are evolving as a result of technology improvements. In the traditional educational system, teachers were the primary source of information, but technology has allowed students to take a more active role. Students may now investigate new topics and learn about new concepts and ideas thanks to all of the information and tools available online. They can now make better use of their time spent online with their teacher because they have more time to debate ideas and their ramifications. A teacher’s job can now extend beyond lecturing and grow into that of a mentor.

Online testing

Technology has also made it possible to conduct highly efficient online testing. The method can now be unbiased and completely fair because the tests may now be assessed and graded by a machine. Furthermore, this kind of assessment reduces student anxiety greatly. They can now take their tests in a familiar atmosphere, utilising digital tools they are already familiar with, rather than sitting in a crowded room. Not to mention the fact that online tests save time and money while also being environmentally friendly.

Available learning content

Both inside and outside of formal schooling, the educational options are limitless. Everyone can use numerous tools and quality learning resources available online to enhance the abilities they require. Learners need only a phone, some free time, and enough desire to learn the basics, or more, of the language of their choosing with apps like Bussou or Duolingo, for example. In addition, there are several open educational resources in the public domain that are freely accessible via the Internet to anybody. Digital libraries, podcasts, textbooks, and games are examples of such materials, which constitute an integral part of the cognitive infrastructure.

The advantages of instructional technology will only expand as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality development. Societies may use technology to exploit these benefits with a systematic strategy, removing all of the barriers that make education a privilege.

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Technology

Finding a New Earth: the Race to Find a New Inhabitable Planet

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Anyone who has even a passing interest in the global environment is aware that things are not looking good. But how serious is the situation? Our new study reveals that the future of life on Earth is bleaker than previously thought. Over the next few decades, the problems, which are all linked to human consumption and population expansion, will probably definitely worsen. The consequences will be felt for centuries, and all species, including our own, face extinction. This issue has highlighted the importance of finding a habitable planet to replace our own.

 

Humans have travelled to Mars in quest of life beyond our planet, and a surprising discovery from this desolate world has offered up new potential. The Curiosity rover, which is now trundling around Mars, discovered that several of the samples are high in a form of carbon that is connected with life processes on Earth. Perseverance landed in the Jezero Crater region of Mars. The location is thought to have a massive old lakebed, according to scientists. NASA thinks the area is a good site to look for signs of microbial life. If life existed on Mars, scientists believe it would have existed 3 to 4 billion years ago when water flowed on the planet. Perseverance is the fifth rover sent to Mars by NASA.

 

Planet discoveries appear to be plentiful these days: more than three thousand planets have been discovered around other stars, implying that there are hundreds of billions of planets in our galaxy alone. Seven years ago, no one – not a casual stranger on the street, nor even the most knowledgeable astronomer – could tell you if any planets similar to Earth existed.

 

Planet-hunting missions like NASA’s Kepler Telescope, TRAPPIST, and a slew of other studies have revealed that there must be a plethora of rocky planets out there. The search for extraterrestrial life has recently taken a giant step ahead. Researchers working on the Breakthrough Initiatives-funded New Earths in the Alpha Centauri Region (NEAR) project may have identified a new planet in the habitable zone of the neighbouring star Alpha Centauri A, which is 4.37 light-years from Earth. Their findings were reported in the journal Nature Communications.

 

The scientists noticed a second bright object in a photograph of the star acquired with the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. They believe it might be a planet four to five times the size of Earth, or around the size of Neptune. It’s between one and two astronomical units (AU) away from its star (one AU equals the distance between the Earth and the sun), putting it in the habitable zone, where water might form and support life.

 

China is now looking at other solar systems after sending robots to the Moon, landing them on Mars, and building its own space station. Scientists will disclose comprehensive plans for the country’s first mission to find exoplanets later this month. More than 5,000 exoplanets have been identified in the Milky Way, largely because to NASA’s Kepler telescope, which was operational for nine years before running out of fuel in 2018. Some of the planets orbited small red dwarf stars and were rocky Earth-like bodies, but none fulfilled the description of an Earth 2.0. Earth 2.0 is a Chinese mission that aims to change that. It is now in the early design phase and will be supported by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The mission team will receive money to begin building the satellite if the designs pass a review by a panel of specialists in June. The spacecraft will be launched on a Long March rocket before the end of 2026, according to the crew.

 

This revolution in planet-hunting is amazing, but it raises the question of whether this pursuit for a new planet is sustainable, even in a galaxy where there are more planets than stars.

 

Scientists are concerned that an increase in rocket launches and the advent of space tourism would harm the environment and contribute to climate change. Much of the globe gasped in wonder when billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos flew into space this month aboard their companies’ suborbital tourism spacecraft. 

 

For other scientists, though, these anniversaries marked more than just a technological achievement. The flights signalled the potential start of a long-awaited era in which rockets may fly into the so-far relatively pristine upper layers of the atmosphere significantly more frequently than they do today, despite severe hurdles. These flights are powered by a hybrid engine that burns rubber and creates a cloud of soot in the case of SpaceShipTwo, the aircraft operated by Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

 

A single Virgin Galactic suborbital space tourism flight, lasting roughly an hour and a half, can cause as much pollution as a 10-hour trans-Atlantic flight, according to Dallas Kasaboski, the lead analyst at the space consultancy Northern Sky Research. In view of Virgin Galactic’s plans to transport paying tourists to the edge of space many times a day, some experts find this alarming.

 

Of course, Virgin Galactic’s rockets aren’t the only ones to blame. According to Maggi, all rocket motors that utilise hydrocarbon fuels produce soot. Solid rocket engines, such as those used in the boosters of NASA’s space shuttle in the past, burn metallic compounds and release aluminium oxide particles together with hydrochloric acid, both of which are harmful to the environment. The biggest problem, according to Karen Rosenlof, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Chemical Sciences Laboratory, is that rockets pollute the higher layers of the atmosphere — the stratosphere, which begins at an altitude of about 10 kilometres and the mesosphere, which begins at 50 kilometres. 

 

Pollutants are being emitted in regions where they are not ordinarily emitted. We must grasp the situation. What are the consequences if we raise these factors? According to Northern Sky Research, the number of space tourism flights will increase dramatically over the next decade, from perhaps 10 per year in the near future to 360 per year by 2030. This forecast falls far short of the growth rates that space tourism companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin anticipate. The consequences of generating pollutants in places where you wouldn’t ordinarily emit them are poorly understood. Though it is expected that the space tourism sector will grow tremendously in the future years, with the quantity of fuel consumed by the space industry being less than 1%, it is unclear when rocket launches will begin to have a significant environmental impact.

 

It is not only naive but also dangerous, to ignore the magnitude of the issues that face space travel and exploration. And science has a significant role to play in this. Scientists must be honest about the enormous problems that lie ahead. They should instead tell it like it is. Anything else is at best deceptive, and at worst possibly fatal for the human endeavour.

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Technology

Climate Crisis; Cries Asia

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By 2050, regions of Asia may see rising average temperatures, deadly heatwaves, extreme precipitation events, catastrophic hurricanes, drought, and water supply problems (see figure below). The GDP of Asia is threatened by global warming, accounting for more than two-thirds of the total yearly global GDP at danger. According to McKinsey & Company’s Climate Risk and Response in Asia report, countries in Frontier Asia (Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan) and Emerging Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam) are the most vulnerable to climate change consequences.

 

Climate change consequences are predicted to be less severe in advanced Asia (Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea) and China, which is a separate category. In fact, increased crop yields are predicted to constitute a net agricultural benefit from climate change in these countries. However, owing to more frequent extreme precipitation events and typhoons in many locations, hazards to infrastructure and supply systems will increase in these countries, which is especially critical given China’s significance in global supply chains.

 

Warming has a significant impact on what is known as Natural Capital. By 2050, the glacial mass will have decreased by up to 40%, fisheries harvests may have decreased by half, and 90 per cent of coral reefs would have suffered significant degradation. Rising temperatures and deadly heatwaves have an impact on livability and effective working hours in key Asian countries, with up to 10% of daylight work hours likely to be lost by mid-century.

 

The paper by McKinsey & Company discusses possible solutions to this massive problem. They point out that, thankfully, Asia is ideally positioned to handle these issues and seize the benefits that come with efficiently managing climate risks — if they choose to do so. Many Asian countries are still developing their infrastructure and metropolitan centres. This gives the region an opportunity to make sure that whatever is built is more robust and capable of withstanding the increased hazards of climate change.

 

The paper by McKinsey & Company discusses possible solutions to this massive problem. They point out that, thankfully, Asia is ideally positioned to handle these issues and seize the benefits that come with efficiently managing climate risks — if they choose to do so. Many Asian countries are still developing their infrastructure and metropolitan centres. This gives the region an opportunity to make sure that whatever is built is more robust and capable of withstanding the increased hazards of climate change.

 

As the Himalayan glaciers have receded, the annual melting water supply used to feed farmland in India’s Ladakh area has decreased. A system was devised to store meltwater in massive standing structures, allowing for year-round irrigation. However, without major decarbonization, these initiatives are likely to fail. Asia is responsible for about half of all greenhouse gas emissions. The research examines the transition from coal to renewables, which includes a combination of solar and wind power with battery storage, as well as rewards to coal asset owners for retiring assets before they reach the end of their useful lives.

These tactics have not proven to be very effective in the real world, and they consume a lot of energy. For everything, the amount of renewables required to reach these goals would require more steel than China now produces, and that doesn’t include renewables to make green hydrogen to decarbonize steel manufacturing. Leading Asia through the challenges of a warming planet is a huge task, but one that is just as important as leading the rest of the globe to the same objective.

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Technology

Digital Yuan: The Breakthrough Digital Currency of Winter Olympics 2022

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Shen Xue, a retired Chinese pair skater and 2010 Olympic champion, appeared on Chinese media in December 2020 as the first person to purchase a Beijing Subway pass using the country’s official digital money. Shen celebrated the start of China’s campaign to market its central bank digital currencies overseas during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics by swiping the turnstile with ski gloves equipped with the latest digital yuan wallet. The Winter Olympics were supposed to be a big premiere for the e-CNY, a digital version of China’s sovereign currency that would be seen by millions of people across the world. Without a local bank account, foreign visitors will be able to use e-CNY to purchase things at the games, which begin on Friday.

With the emergence of the COVID-19 epidemic, which locked the Chinese capital to the rest of the world, those plans went awry. Beijing has adopted a “closed-loop system” for the games, which isolates the 11,000 participants from the general public as part of a “zero COVID” policy aimed at preventing any virus transmission.

The People’s Bank of China, a forerunner in the development of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), first proposed a digital yuan in 2014, while its colleagues were still assessing the benefits of virtual currencies. CBDCs are issued and managed by a central government, unlike cryptocurrencies, which China banned last year because of worries about financial stability and crime. The central bank announced in January that more than 261 million individual users have enrolled for a digital yuan wallet, an app that allows users to utilise e-CNY. Since October, the number of users has roughly doubled.

According to the Beijing Financial Supervision Authority, Beijing has been pilot-testing its digital currency for usage at the games for more than a year, with 9.6 billion CNY ($1.5 billion) in transactions by the end of 2021.

Before the Olympics, the city tested the digital yuan in over 400,000 “scenes” involving real transactions of products and services, according to the regulator, with over 12 million individual users and 1.3 million business users in the capital registering on the app. Mobile payments handled a record 432 trillion yuan ($67.9 trillion) in transactions in 2020, largely on Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay. Last year, Bloomberg Intelligence predicted that by 2025, the digital yuan would have a 9% domestic market share. Alipay and WePay are thought to have a combined market share of over 90% at the moment.

According to Suji Yan, founder of Mask Network, a Singapore-based cryptographic and encryption start-up, transitioning from tech giants’ digital payments to a CBDC is a simple transition for Chinese citizens. They are already paying with internet giants such as WeChat and Alipay, and the shift [of payment applications] makes no difference to the majority of Chinese customers.

Distrust overseas

Beijing’s Olympic showcase for the digital yuan may be met with scepticism abroad, owing to a rising mistrust of Chinese technology, particularly in terms of data protection and regulatory monitoring. For overseas users, anonymity and privacy are the most pressing concerns when it comes to using the digital yuan. According to official media Xinhua, four levels of user categorization are currently accessible, allowing users to choose how much information to submit with the digital wallet app in order to meet different usage restrictions. Even in the most basic model, with simply a cell phone number, no one believes their transactions will be completely anonymous and private.

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Defence

Information Warfare: The Lethal Weapon of the New Ages

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Great Generals and Strategists have long believed the information to be the key to victory in any operation or conflict. Many empires have fallen or risen as a result of information. It is clear from General Sun Tzu’s book, The Art of War, that critical information about the enemy will allow us to analyse his strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, and will ultimately provide us with a strategic advantage and triumphs in the wars that are being waged. It also emphasises the importance of information security in winning a battle.

The Internet’s arrival ushered in a fundamental shift in information warfare (IW). It has ushered in a new era in which cyberspace is being used to conduct virtual information operations in order to obtain sensitive data. Information Warfare is a concept in which information is the target and information is the tool used to carry out the information operation. Information operations can be divided into two categories: defensive and offensive.

In every element of society and human connections, information has played a critical role. As a result, it is utilised as a type of warfare in which information gathered through intelligence and cyber espionage is reviewed and manipulated through misinformation campaigns, propaganda, and fake news in order to affect targeted opponents to the state’s advantage or will. In today’s world, contentious geostrategic concerns and power conflicts between states require rivalling states to engage in information warfare, using the essential information of the rival nation. The Three Warfare Strategy and the Assassin Mace Strategy both include information warfare.

China’s Information Warfare Strategy

Information Dominance is the ultimate goal of the Chinese Information Warfare Strategy. The Chinese IW strategy is based on deterring and disrupting the adversary’s ability to use data by focusing on its important information system and decision-making process, which would eventually influence the adversary’s willingness or ability to fight. Conducting cyber espionage and psychological operations to collect sensitive information from the adversary.

Information Operations (IO) are used to strategically implement China’s IW policy across global cyberspace. Information operations are divided into two types: offensive information operations (OIO) and defensive information operations (DIO).

Methods and strategies for disrupting an adversary’s information structure, as well as cyber espionage, are included in offensive information operations. Defensive information operations, on the other hand, were focused on assuring information security, that is, shielding vital information systems from incoming enemy disruption attempts.

Implications for India

According to Cert-In assessments, there has been a slew of serious cyber-attacks linked to Chinese Information Operations against India, targeting both the government and the general population. Since June 1998, when the first known cyber-attack on India was on the computers of BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre), the country has been subjected to Chinese cyber-attacks.

 

Furthermore, after any major events in India, the number of cyberattacks tends to rise. For example, 80,000 cyber-attacks were recorded following the demonetisation of banknotes, and more than 40,300 attacks were reported in the aftermath of the Galwan fight on the Indian internet. In the month following the Galwan Clash, there was a 200 per cent increase in Chinese cyberattacks, most of which were aimed at stealing critical information.

 

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitYCert-In)’s (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team) has played a critical role by developing proactive measures. India responded positively by banning over 150 apps, including Tik Tok, PUBG, and other utility apps.

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Technology

Dating Apps: Latest Instruments of Espionage

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Espionage is not some new-age practice.

Diplomatic workers, military attachés, and trade delegations are all routinely acquiring publically available information. They obtain information through open sources such as the media, conferences, diplomatic events, and trade shows, as well as direct contact with representatives from the host government. This allows them to keep tabs on political, economic, and military developments in their host country while also providing information to their own governments. As a result, foreign officials assist their governments in shaping international, commercial, and military policy. This type of effort does not jeopardise our national security. In fact, it frequently assists us in forming positive relationships with other countries.

The goal of espionage is to get non-public information using covert techniques. First and foremost, classified material is kept secret because its exposure could jeopardise national security, jeopardise the country’s economic well-being, or hurt international relations. Its sensitivity necessitates our protection, but it also makes it appealing to spies.

Serious harm can be done if this information is obtained by individuals who have no permission to access it. Other countries, for example, are looking for technical knowledge about weapons systems in order to identify strategies to counteract our military advantages. Furthermore, the theft of sensitive technologies could allow foreign corporations to imitate them, posing a threat to national security as well as job security.

Dangerous Liaisons- Honey Trapping

A wide-ranging Chinese operation to blackmail Western businesses over sexual ties was described by the renowned British security service. The document report expressly states that Chinese intelligence agencies are attempting to build “long-term connections” and have been known to “exploit vulnerabilities such as sexual relationships… to pressurise individuals to cooperate with them,” as the London Times reported in 2009.

Spymasters of all kinds have been training their spies to utilise the amorous arts to gather hidden information for millennia. The “honey trap” is the trade name for this sort of surveillance. And it turns out that both men and women are equally capable of creating one — and equally prone to falling into it. As bait, spies utilise sex, intelligence, and the thrill of living a double life. Against a well-set honey trap, cunning, training, character, and patriotism are frequently ineffective.

Spymasters, Romeo Spies and Elaborate Honey Traps

Markus Wolf, the legendary East German spymaster, perhaps devised the biggest honey trap in intelligence history. Wolf realised in the early 1950s that, as a result of the large number of marriageable German men killed in World War II and the increasing number of German women pursuing careers, the higher echelons of the German government, commerce, and industry were now stocked with lonely single women, ripe — in his opinion — for the temptations of a honey trap.

Wolf established a special division of the Stasi, East Germany’s security organisation, and filled it with his most attractive and intelligent officers. They were dubbed “Romeo spies” by him. Their mission was to infiltrate West Germany, find influential, unmarried women, woo them, and get all of their secrets from them. The Stasi infiltrated most levels of West German government and industry thanks to the Romeo spies and their honey traps. At one point, the East Germans even had a spy inside NATO who could provide information on the West’s nuclear weapons deployment. Another utilised her contacts to work as a secretary in the office of Helmut Schmidt, the West German chancellor.

Honey Trap Spies lurking on Dating Apps Today

In 2019, India discovered 150 Pakistani social media personas that were meant to dupe Indian army officers into divulging state secrets. India instructed soldiers to deactivate Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, and hundreds of other apps from phones because the problem was so serious. A woman would normally begin the seduction by ‘liking’ a soldier’s social media post and asking for more photographs of firearms and aircraft. The conversation would then shift to direct texting, with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence enticingly requesting defence secrets.

Foreign Interference Plot on an unspecified Australian Election Revealed

Tinder and other dating apps are being used by foreign spies to recruit Australians with access to key government information currently. While delivering his yearly threat assessment, ASIO commander Mike Burgess revealed the alarming disclosure, warning that identifying anti-vaccine campaigners who could turn violent was proving tough.

Mr Burgess confirmed espionage and foreign interference has now “supplanted” terrorism as the “principal security concern” in a wide-ranging address to an audience of military chiefs, security bosses, and politicians inside ASIO’s Canberra headquarters, declaring the recent AUKUS nuclear partnership an obvious target for international agents.

Thousands of Australians with access to confidential material are thought to have been targeted by foreign intelligence services through social media profiles over the last two years. These assassins know how to use the internet to find new recruits. On messaging systems like WhatsApp, there has been an increase in dubious approaches. As part of its attempt to entice Australians with access to state secrets, overseas intelligence operatives are being tracked by ASIO on popular dating apps. Foreign intelligence services can easily target personnel of interest by going online, according to the Director-General of Security.

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