PM Modi Gets Emotional at Facebook Q&A Recalling Childhood

Prime Minister Narendra Modi received a warm welcome at Facebook headquarters on Sunday for atown hall hosted by CEO Mark Zuckerberg that focused as much on the two men’s backgrounds as the business potential of the world’s second most-populous country.

Modi’s voice broke as he described his humble beginnings. “I came from a very poor family. … We went to our neighbors’ houses nearby (to) clean dishes, fill water, do hard chores. So you can imagine what a mother had to do to raise her children.”

And Zuckerberg opened the event by telling Modi about a little-known incident several years ago when Facebook “wasn’t doing so well.” His then-mentor, the late former Apple Inc Chief Executive Steve Jobs, urged him to take a spiritual trip to India and visit a specific temple there.

That journey, Zuckerberg said, cleared his head and helped reaffirm Facebook’s mission to connect billions of people around the world.

The Indian Prime Minister spent 50 minutes on stage with Zuckerberg, when he also talked about the importance of social media and his “Digital India” initiative, which seeks to connect thousands more Indian villages to the Internet and boost technology investments.

Modi did not offer any new announcements, but instead pointed to government programs aimed at combating problems and his administration’s success in improving Internet accessibility.

Modi later visited Google headquarters and met with Indian-born CEO Sundar Pichai. Pichai announced that Google would bring wireless Internet to 500 Indian railway stations, news that Modi revealed at a dinner Saturday night.

He later travels to an event at the San Jose Convention Center that 18,000 people are expected to attend.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced Modi’s visit on his Facebook page earlier this month and invited users to post questions.

More than 46,000 comments were made in reply, with some questions regarding criticism that Modi did not do enough to stop 2002 religious riots in Gujarat that killed about 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, when he was chief minister of the state. He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. No questions on that subject were brought up at the event.

Mostly Sikh protesters calling on Modi to answer for his human rights record temporarily blocked one of Facebook’s entrances.

However, he generally received a rock-star welcome through most of his visit.

Modi boasts an 87 percent approval rating in India and is the second-most popular world leader on social media after US President Barack Obama.

On Saturday, he attended a dinner with 350 business leaders where Indian-born CEOs Satya Nadella ofMicrosoft Corp, Shantanu Narayen of Adobe Systems Inc and Pichai of Google moderated a panel.

Modi visited Tesla Motors headquarters on Saturday and met Chief Executive Elon Musk, where the two discussed renewable energy. He also met Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook.

Modi, 65, is the first Indian leader to visit the US West Coast in more than 30 years. His trip follows a similar visit by China’s president, Xi Jinping, who met several tech leaders in Seattle last week.

Snapdeal Preview Monday Sale Kicks Off

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Snapdeal has kicked off the Diwali sale season in earnest with the launch of one-day Snapdeal Preview Monday Sale.With Snapdeal Preview Monday Sale, the e-commerce giant is offering deals on mobile phones and other categories every hour, up to 70 percent off on its category stores, and discounts on Snapdeal exclusive products as well.The highlights of the Snapdeal Preview Monday Sale include 16GB iPhone 6 at Rs. 38,999, Google Nexus with Chromecast at Rs. 18,999, Micromax 32-inch LED YV at Rs. 16,990, Apple MacBook Pro at Rs. 49,999, Micromax Canvas Spark at Rs. 4,999, and Samsung Galaxy Grand Max at Rs. 10,599.State Bank of India Debit and Credit Card users can get 10 percent extra cashback as part of the Snapdeal Preview Monday Sale. If you choose Freecharge as the payment method, you can get up to 100 percent cashback on your purchase. Terms and conditions apply on all offers associated with Snapdeal Preview Monday Sale.Snapdeal Preview Monday Sale is the first amongst what is expected to be a lineup of several online shopping festivals this Diwali in India. Snapdeal rivals Amazon and Flipkart are set to have their special festival sales soon, and Paytm too is expected to try and capture a share of the increasing e-commerce market in India with discounts and cashbacks of its own.

Looking beyond electronics, the Snapdeal Preview Monday Sale offers discounts on apparel brands like Vero Moda, Jack & Jones, Ed Hardy, and more. There’s up to 70 percent discount on other clothing and footwear brands as well.

Google Voice Search Gets Faster

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Google has announced that they have made a number of improvements to their Google Voice Search, this includes improved accuracy and also faster responses.

The latest version of Google Voice Search is also designed to pick out your voice from background noise, for example if you were in a busy public place with lots of noise, the Voice Search can block out background noise and focus on your voice.

In a traditional speech recognizer, the waveform spoken by a user is split into small consecutive slices or “frames” of 10 milliseconds of audio. Each frame is analyzed for its frequency content, and the resulting feature vector is passed through an acoustic model such as a DNN that outputs a probability distribution over all the phonemes (sounds) in the model. A Hidden Markov Model (HMM) helps to impose some temporal structure on this sequence of probability distributions. This is then combined with other knowledge sources such as a Pronunciation Model that links sequences of sounds to valid words in the target language and a Language Model that expresses how likely given word sequences are in that language. The recognizer then reconciles all this information to determine the sentence the user is speaking. If the user speaks the word “museum” for example – /m j u z i @ m/ in phonetic notation – it may be hard to tell where the /j/ sound ends and where the /u/ starts, but in truth the recognizer doesn’t care where exactly that transition happens: All it cares about is that these sounds were spoken.

Our improved acoustic models rely on Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN). RNNs have feedback loops in their topology, allowing them to model temporal dependencies: when the user speaks /u/ in the previous example, their articulatory apparatus is coming from a /j/ sound and from an /m/ sound before. Try saying it out loud – “museum” – it flows very naturally in one breath, and RNNs can capture that. The type of RNN used here is a Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) RNN which, through memory cells and a sophisticated gating mechanism, memorizes information better than other RNNs. Adopting such models already improved the quality of our recognizer significantly.

Digital India an Enterprise to Transform India, PM Modi Says in San Jose

Digital India is an enterprise to transform India in a scale unmatched anywhere in the world and it has the potential to make development truly inclusive, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday.

“Digital India is an enterprise for India’s transformation on a scale that is, perhaps, unmatched in human history,” PM Modi said while speaking about his ambitious Digital India initiative before a gathering of Silicon Valley CEOs in San Jose.

PM Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Silicon Valley in more than three decades, said his government wants paperless transactions.

“We would set up digital locker for every citizens to share documents across departments,” he said.

“After MyGov.in, we have just launched the Narendra Modi Mobile App. They are helping me stay in close touch with people,” he said amidst applause from the audience.

“I want our 1.25 billion citizens to be digitally connected,” PM Modi said, describing the steps taken by his government towards broadband connectivity.

“I see technology as a means to empower and as a tool that bridges the distance between hope and opportunity,” he added.

“In this digital age, we have an opportunity to transform lives of people in ways that was hard to imagine just a couple of decades ago,” the Prime Minister said, adding that the pace at which people are taking to digital technology defies stereotypes of age, education, language and income.

“We must ensure that technology is accessible, affordable and adds value,” he said, adding that his government is giving highest priority to cyber-security, intellectual property.Recognising that a Digital India could not be built without bridging the digital divide, he listed out the measures taken by his government to bridge this digital divide.

“From large corporates to young professionals in this great centre of innovation, each can be part of India story,” he said.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, andQualcomm executive chairman Paul Jacobs were among those present at the event.”Building upon that vision, we conceive of Digital India, to fundamentally transform the way our nation will work,” the Prime Minister said.”I see technology as a means to empower and as a tool that bridges the distance between hope and opportunity,” he said.

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Backs Call for Universal Internet Access by 2020

A day before he meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a call to world leaders at the UN to ensure universal Internet access by 2020 to “give a voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless.”

Zuckerberg, who will host a townhall meeting with PM Modi at his company’s sprawling campus in Menlo Park in California on Sunday, participated in several engagements at the world body’s headquarters on the sidelines of the ongoing UN Sustainable Development Summit.

He called for greater global Internet access during a speech at the United Nations Private Sector Forum on Saturday.

He said that when communities are connected, they can be lifted out of poverty.

“Connecting the world is one of the fundamental challenges of our generation,” Zuckerberg said adding that wide Internet access “needs to be at the heart of the global development strategy” to address new challenges and needs of the new generation.

mark_zuckerberg_on_screen_united_nations_facebook.jpgJust prior to his speech, Zuckerberg posted on Facebook that Internet access is essential for achieving humanity’s Global Goals.

“By giving people access to the tools, knowledge and opportunities of the Internet, we can give a voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless.

“We also know that the Internet is a vital enabler of jobs, growth and opportunity. And research tells us that for every 10 people connected to the Internet, about 1 is lifted out of poverty,” he said.

“By connecting more people in developing countries, we have an opportunity to create more than 140 million new jobs, lift 160 million people out of poverty, and give more than 600 million children access to affordable learning tools,” he said.

Zuckerberg also kicked off a global campaign demand Internet access for all. Joining Zuckerberg in this global campaign is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, singer Bono, business tycoon Richard Branson and pop star Shakira.

A declaration signed by Zuckerberg, Gates and others for the global campaign states that Internet access is essential for achieving humanity’s global goals.

The declaration calls on leaders and innovators from all countries, industries and communities to work together to make universal Internet access a reality by 2020, as promised in the new Global Goals adopted by world leaders, including Prime Minister Modi, last week.

Narendra Modi at Facebook – Where to Watch Q&A With Mark Zuckerberg

If you are wondering where to watch the Q&A with Mark and Prime Minister Modi, it’s scheduled to start at 10pm IST, and can be seen on Facebook’s dedicated live-stream page, as also on the profile pages of Mark Zuckerberg and Narendra Modi.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed his support for PM Modi’s Digital India initiative, with a profile picture change emblazoned with the Indian tri-colour, ahead of his townhall meeting with the Indian Prime Minister on Sunday.

Zuckerberg in a status update that accompanied the profile picture change said, “I changed my profile picture to support Digital India, the Indian government’s effort to connect rural communities to the internet and give people access to more services online. Looking forward to discussing this with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Facebook today.  Show your support for Digital India atfb.com/supportdigitalindia.”

The Indian Prime Minister followed Zuckerberg with a profile picture change of his own, and said, “Thanks Mark Zuckerberg for the support. I changed my DP in support of the efforts towards a Digital India.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take questions from some of Facebook’s 1.5 billion users at a townhall on Sunday.

PM Narendra Modi, 65, is the first Indian leader to visit the US West Coast in more than 30 years. His trip follows a similar visit by China’s president, Xi Jinping, who met several tech leaders in Seattle last week.

The Indian Prime Minister continues his Silicon Valley tour on Sunday with visits to Facebook and Google Inc headquarters before an event at the San Jose Convention Center that 18,000 people are expected to attend.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced PM Modi’s visit on his Facebook page earlier this month and invited users to post questions.

More than 37,000 comments were made in reply, with questions ranging from those about Internet expansion in India, unemployment rates and calls for PM Modi to address his human rights record.

Some groups have protested against his arrival. The Sikhs for Justice group has called on its members to picket Facebook headquarters before the townhall. However, PM Modi remains wildly popular and is expected to receive a rock-star welcome through most of his visit.

PM Modi boasts an 87 percent approval rating in India and is the second-most popular world leader on social media after US President Barack Obama. He has 15 million Twitter followers and more than 30 million “likes” on Facebook.

The Indian Prime Minister is eager to bring bigger technology investments and jobs back to India to help its growing startup scene. He has also sought to encourage some Indians who have thrived around Silicon Valley to bring their knowledge back home.

Much of his visit, which began Saturday, has also focused on connecting with the Indian diaspora community in Silicon Valley.

On Saturday, he attended a dinner with 350 business leaders where Indian-born CEOs Satya Nadella ofMicrosoft, Google Inc’s Sundar Pichai and Shantanu Narayen of Adobe Systems moderated a panel.

PM Modi visited Tesla Motors headquarters on Saturday and met Chief Executive Elon Musk, where the two discussed battery technology, energy storage and renewable energy. He also met with Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook.

New System Can Check for Malware in Twitter URLs

Computer scientists from Cardiff University have created an intelligent system to identify malicious links disguised in shortened URLs on Twitter.

The system could identify potential cyber-attacks with up to 83 percent accuracy within five seconds and with up to 98 percent accuracy within 30 seconds when a user clicked on a URL posted on Twitterand malware began to infect the device.

“We are trying to build systems that can help law enforcement authorities make decisions in a changingcyber-security landscape,” said principal investigator on the project, professor Omer Rana.

As people are increasingly using social networks such as Twitter to find information about events, the high volume of traffic around large-scale events creates a perfect environment for cybercriminals to launch surreptitious attacks.

The scientists collected tweets containing URLs during the 2015 Superbowl and cricket world cup finals, and monitored interactions between a website and a user’s device to recognise the features of a malicious attack.

“Attackers can hide links to malicious servers in a post masquerading as an attractive or informative piece of information about the event,” said lead scientist Pete Burnap.

URLs are always shortened on Twitter due to character limitations in posts, so it is incredibly difficult to know which are legitimate, Burnap said.

Once infected the malware can turn your computer into a zombie computer and become part of a global network of machines used to hide information or route further attacks.

“In a 2013 report from Microsoft these ‘drive-by downloads’ were identified as one of the most active and commercial risks to cyber-security,” Burnap said.

‘Modern-Day Pirate’ Kim Dotcom’s Words Now Used Against Him

Prosecutors say Kim Dotcom and his colleagues sometimes revelled in their role as “modern-day pirates,” discussed how to thwart the justice system, and joked that a judge would one day realize how “evil” they were.

The much-delayed extradition hearing for Doctom and three others who owned or helped run the website Megaupload began in Auckland this week in a case that could have broader implications for Internet copyright rules.

Megaupload was shut down by U.S. authorities in early 2012, but not before prosecutors claim it raked in some $175 million (roughly Rs. 1,157 crores), mainly from people who flocked to the site to illegally download movies.

Dotcom has been listening to the arguments while slowly swiveling in his black leather armchair, a concession by the judge to his bad back. Parked outside the court is a remnant from the high-rolling lifestyle Dotcom long embraced – a black Mercedes SUV with the vanity plate “kim.com.”

Federal authorities have charged Dotcom and the others with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. A summary of the U.S. case is being presented by New Zealand lawyers as the U.S. attempts to extradite the men to face trial in Virginia.

Lawyer Christine Gordon told a judge this week that after Dotcom launched Megaupload in 2005, it grew to become so popular that each day 50 million people used the site, sucking up 4 percent of all Internet traffic.

“This was a big fraud but conducted in a fairly simple manner,” she said.

“Behind the scenes, the respondents admitted their business broke the law. Sometimes they enjoyed the fact they were making their money by breaking the law,” she said. “Sometimes they worried about protection, and pondered what action they should take to, and I’m quoting here Mr. Dotcom’s words, ‘counter the justice system.'”

That some people used the site for illegally downloading movies is not in dispute. The real question is the extent to which Dotcom and the others knew about this activity, and whether or not they encouraged it. Prosecutors are trying to use the men’s own words against them, after some of their online chatter was intercepted by the FBI.

Sometimes, Gordon said, they joked about being pirates, or how their site wasn’t totally “legit,” or how they weren’t “the dumb pipe we claim to be.”

In 2010, she said, Dotcom, in his native German, told a colleague over Skype: “At some point, a judge will be convinced about how evil we are.”

The defence has yet to present its case, but Dotcom has long argued that plenty of people used his site to legitimately store files, and he can’t be held responsible for those who elected to use it for illegal downloads.

His lawyers say that any action against him should have been taken in civil court and that criminal charges are unjustified.

Professor James Grimmelmann, who specializes in Internet law at the University of Maryland, said the outcome of the case could have important implications in defining the bounds of U.S. copyright law. He likened it to other cases which are testing the Internet’s jurisdictional boundaries, such as the European notion of the right to be forgotten.

He said that if Dotcom loses the case, it will make sites like YouTube pay closer attention to ensure they are being vigilant enough in removing copyrighted material. He added that the U.S. courts would likely be careful to define what distinguishes a pirate site from one that’s legitimate.

In New Zealand, the extradition hearing has been delayed nine times since Dotcom was arrested in early 2012, after a dramatic SWAT-style raid on his mansion near Auckland. He was released from jail a month later, and has attracted intense media coverage since.

His unabashedly ostentatious lifestyle was unusual in a nation which often prizes humility. And his arrest hardly seemed to slow him down. He soon released a music album, started another Internet file-sharing company called Mega, and launched a political party which contested the nation’s 2014 election.

But over the past year his star appears to have faded. Some of the money he made from Mega helped fund his political ambitions, which came to nothing after his party failed to win any seats in the election.

As major arguments began at the hearing on Thursday, a couple of dozen curious onlookers watched, including one man who seemed to enjoy the warmth of the courtroom and soon began to snore. Outside, a lone protester appeared from time to time, sometimes wearing a bandanna, sometimes a tinfoil hat.

Dotcom’s U.S. lawyer Ira Rothken said the defence has been disadvantaged because authorities seized more than $60 million (roughly Rs. 396 crores) belonging to Dotcom and the others and have refused to release some of it to pay legal bills outside of New Zealand. Rothken said his firm is owed more than $500,000, but he’s continuing to represent his client because he’s confident he will prevail.

Dotcom, too, appears confident. During a break after Gordon had laid out a summary of the case against him, he turned to a reporter: “That sounded bad, huh?” he said. “Wait till some of the rebuttal.”

Obama Announces ‘Understanding’ With China’s Xi on Cyber Espionage

President Barack Obama announced on Friday that he had reached a “common understanding” with Chinese President Xi Jinping on curbing economic cyber espionage, but threatened to impose US sanctions on Chinese hackers who persist with cyber crimes.

The two leaders also unveiled a deal to build on a landmark emissions agreement struck last year, outlining new steps they will take to deliver on pledges they made then to slash their greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking after White House talks during Xi’s first US state visit, Obama quickly homed in on the thorniest dispute between the world’s two biggest economies – growing US complaints about Chinese hacking of government and corporate databases, and the suspicion in Washington that Beijing is sometimes behind it.

“It has to stop,” Obama told reporters at a joint news conference in the White House Rose Garden, with Xi standing beside him. Obama said he and Xi made “significant progress” on cyber-security.

But he added warily: “The question now is, are words followed by actions?” and made clear he is prepared to levy sanctions against cyber criminals.

The two leaders said they agreed that neither government would knowingly support cyber theft of corporate secrets or business information.

But the agreement stopped short of any promise to refrain from traditional government-to-government cyber spying for intelligence purposes. That could include the massive hack of the federal government’s personnel office this year that compromised the data of more than 20 million people. US officials have traced that back to China but have not said whether they believe the government was responsible.

Xi reiterated China’s denial of any government role in the hacking of US corporate secrets and said the best way to address the problem was through bilateral cooperation and not to “politicize this issue.”

“Confrontation and friction are not the right choice for both sides,” he said. China has routinely insisted that it too is a victim of cyber hacking.

Analysts said the agreement was significant. James Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the leaked plan for sanctions helped push the Chinese toward a better-than-expected agreement, but noted that Beijing also got Washington to consider some Chinese concepts for norms of behaviour.

Pomp and tech
Obama hosted a lavish black-tie state dinner for Xi on Friday night, featuring Maine lobster and Colorado lamb for about 200 guests, with technology executives featured among them.

Seated with Obama and Xi at the head table were Apple CEO Tim Cook, Satya Nadella of Microsoft,Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff.

In their dinner toasts, both leaders focused on the theme of friendship. But Obama also referenced the tensions. “There will be times when there are differences between our two countries. It’s inevitable,” Obama said, also gently urging China to accept diverse views and “uphold the rights” of all people.

Earlier in the day, the two men struck a serious, businesslike tone when they appeared before reporters, showing little sign of close personal rapport as Obama laid out concerns with Beijing’s economic policies, territorial disputes with its neighbours and its human rights record.

As the two leaders spoke, dozens of pro- and anti-Xi protesters gathered near the White House grounds, waving flags, beating drums and shouting slogans.

US and Chinese officials sought to cast their talks in a favourable light by showcasing at least one area of cooperation – the global fight against climate change.

As part of their agreement, Xi announced that China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, will launch a national carbon cap-and-trade system in 2017 to help contain the country’s emissions.

For Obama, the deal with China strengthens his hand ahead of a global summit on climate change in Paris in December.

But disagreements on other issues loomed.

Obama told Xi after a 21-gun salute at a morning welcoming ceremony that the United States would continue to speak out over its differences with China, but he reiterated that the United States welcomes the rise of a China that is “stable, prosperous and peaceful.”

Xi, who faces rising nationalism at home as well as pressure to get China’s economic house in order, called for “mutual respect.”

In their talks, Obama also pressed Xi to follow through on economic reforms and not discriminate against US companies operating in China. Some analysts believe Obama has more leverage due to China’s slowing economic growth, which has destabilised global markets.

At the same time, the Obama administration is still at a loss about how to curb China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, where Beijing has continued to reclaim land for potential military use despite conflicting claims with its neighbours.

Xi defended his government’s “right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty” and denied any plan to use its island-building efforts to create military strongholds.

In a reminder of potential flashpoints, the United States and China also finalised a plan aimed at reducing the risk of aerial collisions between warplanes in areas such as the South China Sea through adoption of common rules of behaviour.

Facebook CEO Invites Questions for Narendra Modi’s Townhall Session

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is inviting people to post questions for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a townhall meeting that he will be hosting on Sunday at the company headquarters.

In a post on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg said: “Prime Minister Modi and I will discuss how communities can work together to address social and economic challenges.”

Zuckerberg asked for questions to be posted in the comments section of his post and said he will have as many as possible asked at the meeting.

The question-answer townhall meeting is set for 9.30am local time or 10pm Indian Standard Time and will be carried live on Zuckerberg’s Facebook page.

As of Thursday, the townhall post was shared more than 40,000 times and it was being promoted through advertisements on many sites.

Many questions posted so far by Facebook users are on the reservation controversy. Others are about development issues, universal internet access, censorship, net neutrality and women’s rights.

Predictably, there were also comments about “genocide”, lifting ban on beef and pornography and caste.