HackerEarth is set to host a series of hackathons to commemorate the 70th year of India’s Independence. The hackfest will comprise of four hackathons, which will cover diverse themes like democracy, health, women empowerment & civic society. HackerEarth is inviting all developers to start a digital revolution by building smart and intelligent solutions for a better nation.

Image Source – Hackocrazy

Through these hackathons, HackerEarth aims to encourage the use of technology and the power of computers to bring about a social change. These hackathons are a part of the company’s CSR initiatives which focus on building innovative solutions that can strengthen democracy, empower women, and bring transparency in governance. The solutions can also help in improving health and civic facilities.

The initiative aims to bring together government bodies, NGO’s, corporates and citizens to work towards a common goal of building a more vibrant and responsive democracy, through the power of technology. These hackathons will also bring together people with diverse backgrounds and skills to unite around a common cause and promote fairness, openness, and equality.

The first hackathon in the series starts with HackoCracy [#HACK4HAQ] on 15th August 2017 and will be a 24 hour-long code fest. The hackathon has four themes:

Democracy [Political transparency] – India needs solutions that make it easier for its citizens to be heard by their representatives. The solutions should reach out to the remotest corners of the country so that the people are more that can keep people informed and there is an increased participation in elections and government affairs.

Media [Fake news and Free press] – We need tools for fact checking and helping people decipher fact from fiction. We need tools to ensure the ‘freedom of the press’ holds for those who are attempting to bring the truth to the public.

Corruption [Bring to light the corruption around you] – Solutions are required to ensure that the misdeeds are exposed promptly. It is also required to help control its spread and reach so as to completely purge the system of corruption.

Society [Create a social impact] – We need solutions that will ensure freedom from many social ills such as unemployment, homelessness, child labour, etc. These solutions should make India a better place to live in and trigger a socio-economic change.

The results of this hackathon will be announced on 30th September and the top three winners will be awarded a cash prize of INR 75,000, INR 50,000 and INR 25,00 respectively.

Vivek Prakash, CTO and Co-founder, HackerEarth said

Technology is a great balancer and can bridge the gap between the civic authorities and citizens. Through these hackathons we want to encourage developers to build solutions that can bring about a socio-economic change in the country, which is the need of the hour.  With each hackathon we would ideally like to create at least one workable solution that addresses issues which are plaguing our nation.

For more information, please visit Hackocrazy Page

State Bank of India-Collaborative Innovation Centre launched SBI National Hackathon – Code For Bank, an API Hackathon Platform for developers, start-ups and students to put their thinking caps on and come up with ideas and solutions that can change the way banking is done in India. From a technology standpoint, Bank views APIs as a set of micro-services that are individual or a combination of use cases, around which a mash-up of applications can be developed on-the-fly.

Image Source – SBI Hackathon

In the age of digital Banking, SBI is organizing this Hackathon with an objective to invite start-ups, developers and partners to collaborate, ideate and co-develop disruptive and innovative solutions spearheading Indian Banking Technology Landscape. The bank’s effort is to promote an Outcome based Technology Culture amongst Start-ups and Developers with the focus on Developing Cutting Edge Solution for Bank in an agile manner. This will put in focus the Business Value driven by Technologies like Predictive Analytics, Fin-Tech/Blockchain, Digital Payments, IOT, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, BOTS and Robotic Process Automation.

In the phase-1, participants can register their idea during 20th – 29th May 2017 followed by Hackathon which will start from 6th June 2017 and ends on 20th June 2017.  The initiative will allow participants comprising a team of maximum five people to develop applications or solutions using only SBI APIs, only external APIs and a combination of SBI APIs and External APIs.

SBI keeps innovation on priority and CODE FOR BANK 2017 [C4B 2017] is bank’s biggest step in launching this platform for start-ups and developers in India. The initiative will a part of APIfication Strategy and Transformation which is developed by SBI Collaborative Innovation Centre to create a Boundary less and collaborative development ecosystem which is Technology Agnostic, Agile and completely Digital.

Today all Emerging technology is becoming API based, Fintech is Disruptive, RegTech for Banks is gaining and everything is on Mobile. Banks have to respond to VUCA world [Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous] and local themes like Demonetization, Financial Inclusion, Digital Payments, etc.

C4B 2017 will help drive both External and Internal Innovation. Developers can quickly get an Application Ecosystem View, learn the Bank Technology DNA and start developing solutions using the APIs available on the platform.

For more information, please visit SBI Code For Bank

Unisys have announced the winners of the eighth Unisys Cloud 20/20, one of India’s largest annual technical project contests. The contest is designed to foster innovation among students and create a talent pipeline for Unisys and the IT industry at large.

In this year’s contest, the project titled Fin Assistant by Arpan Kumar Mishra, Datla Manish Varma, Nabil Silva and Sailesh Sriram from Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, won the first prize [Rs. 2,00,000 cash]. Nagashree T S, Nikitha Chowta and Sandhya S from Mangalore Institute of Technology & Engineering, Mangalore, took the second prize [Rs. 1,25,000 cash]for their project titled CO-DI-RA Messenger. This year, the third prize has been awarded to two teams [Rs. 1,00,000 each]; Shyam Suganth J, Hariharsudan S, Subash M and Thamarai Selvan S, of Sri Manakula Vinayagar Engineering College, Puducherry, for their project Envirinsta and Vinaydeep Kaur, Akriti Tyagi, M Kritika and Pratima Kumari from Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, for their project Crowd Sourcing Based Android Application for Structural Health Monitoring and Data Analytics of Roads Using Cloud Computing.

Winners of the Cloud 20/20 contest

Unisys project leads and subject matter experts supported the student contestants. This year’s topics included Internet of Things, data analytics, cloud-based applications and services, cloud security, computing everywhere, context-rich systems, cloud security, DevOps and potential future technologies.

The 2017 Cloud 20/20 contest drew 828 team registrations and 317 project submissions from colleges across India. In addition to the cash prize, Unisys will also offer the finalists internship and job opportunities, subject to winners’ eligibility and open positions within the company.

The finalist’s project details of the 2017 Cloud 20/20 contest are below

Ravikumar Sreedharan, MD, Unisys India and head, Global Delivery Network, Unisys said

As the IT industry moves toward automation, only those with strong skills in emerging technologies will make the cut in the job market. This increased competition is driving great changes to the talent requirements at the entry level. Given that new reality, the Cloud 20/20 contest plays an important role in encouraging student interest in new technologies and innovation.

Over the last eight years, Cloud 20/20 has attracted more than 22,000 team entries and generated cash awards, internships and full-time positions for many participants.

Tarek El-Sadany, senior vice president, Technology, and chief technology officer, Unisys said

Acquiring talent in social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies will be key to driving digital transformation for enterprises in India and around the globe. Through initiatives like Cloud 20/20, Unisys is proud to team with institutions of higher education to enrich the learning environment for future leaders in digital technology.

For further information on Cloud 20/20, please log on here or here.

The National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj [NIRDPR] launched India’s First focused ‘Rural Innovators Startup Conclave’ [RISC2017] at NIRDPR, Hyderabad. The focus of the two day event was to build capacities and promote fresh talent by giving them a platform to display their innovations, encourage greater learning, and strengthen the cadre of young rural innovators and start-ups.

Highlights [Day – 1, 23/03]

Indian start-ups are mostly IT based and cater to urban services. Innovation and Technology Diffusion for ‘rural development’ is the need of the hour. Other important stakeholders who act as support systems to rural innovators are still evolving. There is a need to develop and nurture mentors, angel investors, faculty, corporates, media so that they play a much more active role in contributing to the ecosystem.

The Chief Guest for the event, Honourable Minister of State for Science, Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri YS Chowdary noted

I am immensely happy to be associated with RISC2017, an initiative very close to my heart. Rural development is an important subject and higher dividends from the rural youth are still at large. This kind of an initiative which focuses on rural urbanisation requires synchronisation modern day development concepts. Since our country is agrarian based we have to take a quantum leap to help farmers improve their income level and reduce cost of living. I believe NIRD&PR can play a major role in capacity building-help farmers get educated in fundamental financial literacy and cost accountancy.

We have been talking about globalisation in last 2 decades-we have a lot of potential to tap rural markets. There is need to focus on particular areas in particular technologies for particular people and see that they are saturated. The Govt of India should ensure that a number of initiatives are started by properly coordinating with colleges institutions and state govts. I assure the full support of my ministry to NIRD&PR, besides lobbying with other relevant ministries to muster their support in the endeavours of NIRD&PR.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. W.R. Reddy, IAS, Director General NIRDPR, Hyderabad, said

RISC2017 is the first of its kind platform to connect all institutes and agencies promoting innovation and start-up culture to look at the rural landscape. RISC will be an annual feature that can handhold and mentor the innovators and connect the startups with funding agencies. We believe rural development can be accelerated by infusion of technology tapping the creative minds of the youth across the country.

RISC2017 featured RISC Awards 2017 under Six domain areas namely

  1. Agriculture and Allied
  2. Green Energy Technologies
  3. Drinking Water, Health and Sanitation
  4. Waste to Wealth
  5. Sustainable Housing
  6. Other Livelihoods

Rural Innovations and Technologies in ‘Idea with Prototype’ and ‘Startup Stage’ were recognized by the jury members. The award winners were announced 24th March.

Highlights [Day – 2, 24/03]

The ‘RISC 2017 Awards’ were conceptualised to encourage the rural youth and bring to the fore the creative young minds of the country to showcase their innovations for rural development.

The award ceremony was graced by Chief Guest N. Ramesh Kumar, IAS [Retd], State Election Commissioner, Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad. The RISC 2017 Awards received 200 entries from across India. Out of the 200 entries, 110 were shortlisted and 12 were awarded under the categories of ‘Best Innovators’ & ‘Best Startups’. The  six best startups were awarded a cash prize of Rs 1 Lakh each and the 6 best innovators were were awarded a cash prize of Rs 50,000 each, along with a certificate and  glittering memento.

The winners of the RISC Awards 2017 were adjudged  under the following six categories

  • Agriculture and Allied – Exabit System [Startup category], Mr D Babu Rao [Innovator category]
  • Green Energy Technologies – Divyanga Thrift and Credit Society [Startup category], Mr Amol Koli [Innovator Category]
  • Drinking Water, Health and Sanitation – Mr Soujanya Bodha [Innovator category], Cerela Nutritech [Startup category]
  • Waste to Wealth – Allika [Startup category], Mr Chandra Dass [Innovator Category]
  • Sustainable Housing – Pipal Tree [Startup Category], Mohammed Ismail Khan [Innovator category]
  • Suatainable Livelihoods – Ms Ambica Eco Green Bags [Startup Category], Mr Tirupati Rao [Innovator category]

Images Images

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. W.R. Reddy, IAS, Director General NIRDPR, Hyderabad, said

We thank all the innovators and start-ups for coming out with their inventions and making this event a great success. NIRD&PR will put in efforts to ensure that these products which are at their nascent stage, will receive the kind of support and facilitation required to package them attractively for end users. Going forward, NIRD&PR will be opening up a new front for them-we will be engaging a large number of volunteer service providers for design improvement of these products and integrate these designs in the rural ecosystem.

We are are grateful to NIRD&PR for intitating this first of its kind platform that encourages rural innovators like us to do more for our country and promote entrepreneurship amongst all strata of society.


The National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, an autonomous organisation under the Union Ministry of Rural Development, is a premier national centre of excellence in rural development and Panchayati Raj. Recognized internationally as one of the UN-ESCAP Centres of Excellence, it builds capacities of rural development functionaries, elected representatives of PRIs, bankers, NGOs and other stakeholders through inter-related activities of training, research and consultancy. For more information, please visit National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj

Paytm founder and CEO, Vijay Shekhar Sharma was vocal about being disappointed with the way banks and the financial system in India work. ‘The financial system penalizes a sincere person, but if someone speaks the language of those in the power corridor, he takes a loan of Rs 600 crore and lives in London,’ said Sharma, taking a jibe at the other Vijay, Vijay Mallya.

Speaking at the India Today Conclave 2017 held in Mumbai, during a session titled Master Talk: The e-economy | From the Front-lines of Change, the Founder and CEO of Paytm said, Financial system in India is penalising for those who are sincere, who pay their taxes on time.

Talking about his hope that the RBI will give a nod to Paytm doing banking in the country, he said, ‘If the RBI blesses us, we will be able to have our bank by this month end.’ ‘What happened in 2016 was nothing short of revolution,’ Sharma said, talking about the demonetization drive.

When asked about the key to success of Paytm, Sharma said

The key to success for Paytm is that Paytm works. Paytm works when it is expected to work. Paytm works where it needs to work.

Talking some numbers, he said

Paytm currently has about 21.5 crore subscribers. SBI has 20.7 subscribers. Paytm does about 20 crore transactions while according to RBI all other e-wallets do 19 crore transactions combined.

Paytm’s net worth is around USD 6 billion. The company has seen exponential growth post-demonetization.

About India Today Conclave

Started as part of India Today’s 25th anniversary, India Today Conclave was designed as a meeting point for the best minds from India and around the world to map the geopolitical and economic future of the country. In its inaugural year the theme was India Tomorrow 2002: Opportunities and Threats with Vice President of the USA Al Gore as the chief Guest. The speakers who have been part of this conference each year are current and former heads of state, Nobel Laureates, spiritual leaders, industry captains, social workers, economists, authors, academics, scientist, strategists, activists, cine directors, actors and sportspersons. The past conferences can be accessed here

Ratul Puri, Chairman, Hindustan Power Projects Pvt. Ltd, kick-started the session titled The Disruptors: Technology and Opportunity on a promising note, when he spoke of twelve technologies which have been identified which are likely to add between USD 0.5-1 trillion to the Indian economy. IT was a fitting introduction to a session of young disruptors, who are paving the way for new developments in the space of technology to create opportunities.

Rohan Murty took over as he analysed the promises and challenges of artificial intelligence. He opened his presentation with an image of 18 women on the screen, who were professional computers. The word computer was a job title well before it was a machine, he said. He spoke of a telescope run by AI, which makes discoveries of the night sky, of haikus and artwork created by machines and revealed that through AI, a task completed by 1,000 people, could within 12 months, be completed by just nine.

However, he also spoke of the shortcomings of AI as it stands now-it cannot identify basic images, it does not have fundamental human traits, there are trust issues and he reminded the audience of a twitter account created by Microsoft, run by AI, which tweeted racist and bigoted tweets and eventually had to be taken down.

Ananya Birla introduced the importance of human-tech synergy, when she said that consumer behaviour was the biggest challenge when moving towards a cashless economy. Her micro-finance company Svatantra Microfinance functions on a completely cashless process and creates a link between the user’s adhar payment scheme and their bank account. The primary challenge to a cashless economy is consumer behaviour. People are so used to cash that they have trust issues and there are literacy problems, she said.

From demonetisation, the conversation moved to autonomous vehicles. While saying that the idea of autonomous cars is ‘cool’, Manasi Kirloskar dismissed any prospect of such cars in India in the foreseeable future. ‘70 per cent of electricity in India is generated from coal fire, which leaves harmful emissions. Electric cars are not eco-friendly‘, she said. She also expressed concern over issues of interrupted broadband systems, virus attacks and hacking, all of which could pose a serious threat to the efficient functioning of autonomous cars. She also brought up ethical concerns-‘In case of an accidents, who does the car protect? The passengers or the pedestrians?‘ she said.

While humans are better off behind the steering wheel for now, truly riving the retail sector is e-commerce, said Shashwat Goenka. ‘Ecommerce is the inevitable future, since we are impatient as consumers. But, we are Indians and our purchase psychology is tuned into touch and feel,’ he said. ‘Brick and mortar will continue to exist,’ he added. Goenka also spoke about the need for re-skilling employees in a tech enabled environment and how it’s the need of the hour. The women ended the session on an astute note. ‘We need technology that will facilitate the efficient access to food, water, shelter, education and healthcare,’ said Kirloskar. ‘The vision is to reach a platform where technology and human beings optimize each other’, Birla concluded.

Big Ideas

Artificial Intelligence

While artificial intelligence can take over a lot of conventionally human activities such as exploring their place in the universe, making art and improving efficiency [a task completed by 1,000 people, could within 12 months, be completed by just nine], it still lacks basic human traits and the lack of trust towards AI poses a great challenge.

Self-driven cars

It is necessary to create a system and set policies for self-driven cars. Presently, they are neither eco-friendly, nor does India have the physical or ethical infrastructure in place to make them a reality.

Going cashless

Consumer behaviour needs to be addressed in order for the country to go completely cashless. Trust, literacy and the need to touch and feel a transaction are impediments. Svatantra Microfinance creates a cashless process where Aadhar payment schemes are linked with the user’s bank accounts. They use the biometric system and eventually work towards reducing KYCs etc.

About India Today Conclave

Started as part of India Today’s 25th anniversary, India Today Conclave was designed as a meeting point for the best minds from India and around the world to map the geopolitical and economic future of the country. In its inaugural year the theme was India Tomorrow 2002: Opportunities and Threats with Vice President of the USA Al Gore as the chief Guest. The speakers who have been part of this conference each year are current and former heads of state, Nobel Laureates, spiritual leaders, industry captains, social workers, economists, authors, academics, scientist, strategists, activists, cine directors, actors and sportspersons. The past conferences can be accessed here

Setting the stage for Government of Andhra Pradesh’s ambitious initiative, #SpringConference 2017 was inaugurated at Novotel, Visakhapatnam today. Fintech Valley Vizag is Government of Andhra Pradesh’s flagship initiative that brings together industry, academia and investors to innovate, co-create & build the fintech ecosystem. The Fintech Spring Conference 2017 marks the beginning of this journey.

The primary objective of the event is to explore trends and opportunities in fintech. This is a platform where the finest minds of financial and startup community get to share mind-space with thought leaders, business leaders, artists, actors, musicians, futurists and entrepreneurs.

Offering full support to organisations, incubators, facilitators and start-ups, inviting anyone with disruptive ideas to be a part of Fintech Valley, on the edge of innovation, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nara Chandrababu Naidu interacted with delegates for an hour over video conference and took inputs from fintech community present at the Spring Conference.

He will chair The Fintech Valley Forum setup to focus on various aspects of the ecosystem creation. While addressing the gathering he said

The Fintech Valley Spring Conference is our step in joining the Fourth Industrial Revolution which is a spectacular combination of technology and Internet of Things [IoT]. In recent times, technology has started influencing our lives in a comprehensive manner. The demand for Fintech is growing each day. To meet this demand, we would need the support from Fintech and Cyber security companies. We also need the academic institutions to adapt curriculum that trains individuals to contribute to fintech sector. I extend my best wishes for the success of the initiative and hope it provides multiple opportunities to meet the futuristic requirements of our country and the global economy at large.

In his keynote address, Special Chief Secretary and IT Advisor to the AP Chief Minister, J. A. Chowdary stated

Indian IT 1.0 is facing difficulties. The next flight towards IT 2.0 will be backed by fintech. The tectonic shifts this will cause and entail is captured by the expression ‘fintectonics’. It is a fintech culture we are creating here-a culture of doing something for the betterment of the common man, a culture of creating an ecosystem by getting the right industry linkages and finding the right formula for the critical manpower.

Present on the dais were Roy Teo, Director, Fintech & Innovation Group, Monetary Authority of Singapore [MAS]; Utkarsh Palnitkar, Partner KPMG; George Inasu-COO, Fidelity Financial Services; Puneet Pushkarna, Chairman, TIE-Singapore & Joe Seunghyun Cho, Co-founder and Chairman, Marvelstone Group.

Keynote speakers at the conference

To accelerate the evolution of Fintech Valley, the Government of Andhra Pradesh [GoAP] has also initiated a fintech networking event every month, in addition to the annual fintech international flagship event. This year, on October 9-10, the government will host the Blockchain Technology International Event. The flagship Global Fintech Summit will take place on Feb 19th & 20th, 2018. This event provides the opportunity to participate in the $1 million global fintech award challenge and the INR 1 crore Indian fintech award challenge.

An invigorating Investment Panel Discussion on ‘Funding Fintech – wearing an investor’s hat‘ was moderated by P. S. Sreekanth, Investment Director, Hyderabad Angels; Sampath Iyengar, Partner, Forum Synergies; Abhinav Chaturvedi, Principal, Accel Partners; Prasad Vanga, Founder & CEO, Anthill Ventures; Utkarsh Sinha, Enterprise Technology Investor, Bitkemy Ventures; Puneet Pushkarna, Chairman, TiE-Singapore & Utkarsh Palnitkar, Partner and National Head IGS Advisory Management, KPMG. Beginning the discussion with the post demonetization scenario, the panelists sustained their dynamic dialogue in identifying fintech investment portfolios with high RoIs.

Additionally, the finalists’ demos and presentations for the ICICI Bank Start-Up Challenge & the HDFC Life Start-Up Challenge were showcased to the audience, wherein the competitors took questions from the judging panelists. Following this, another Banking Panel Discussion on Consumers and Marketplaces changing in an increasingly cashless world was moderated by Neha Punater, Partner and Head Fintech, KPMG. Key panelists Akhil Handa, Advisor to MD&CEO, Bank of Baroda; Shashi Bhushan, Managing Director, Investment Management Technology, Goldman Sachs India; Ramesh Loganathan, Professor, IIIT Hyderabad and Sudin Baraokar, Head of Innovation SBI discussed challenges faced by start-ups in being unable to identify and direct resources towards the accurate fintech problem area. They also proposed the need to create a consolidated industry-wide ‘use case’ library to facilitate innovation.

Furthering collaboration towards developing this ecosystem, the Government also signed a partnership agreement with Lattice80, Pearson, Anthill Ventures, HackerEarth, F6S, Forum Synergies, Hyderabad Angels, Zone Startups, ParadigmIT and Trade Land Finance Tech Consortium [TLF].

The first Fintech Valley Vizag Spring Conference brought together fintech companies, start-ups, researchers and key government officials working in the fintech sector and provided opportunities for disruptive business solutions.

The peaceful atmosphere offered by Visakhapatnam compared to other bustling tech-hubs in India, created a serene environment for igniting fintech innovation and disruption ideas at the Fintech Valley Spring Conference. Fintech Valley Vizag is rapidly becoming the epicenter of fintech disruption. Since the launch of Fintech Tower, the Andhra Pradesh government has signed numerous partnership agreements with renowned educational institutions, corporations and governments that share the state’s vision of becoming pioneers for building strong standards for fintech and mutually sharing the desire in working towards cooperative advancement through information and resource sharing.

About Fintech Valley Vizag

The Fintech Valley brings together public and private players, state of the art incubators and accelerators, innovation labs, mentorships, angel investors and anyone willing to break free from traditional processes. The self-sustained global Fintech Ecosystem provides more than just access to Fintech and its innovators; it nurtures an oasis in which cyber security, block chain, digital education and research thrive at international standards. For more information, please visit Fintech Valley Vizag

About Spring Conference 2017

Fintech Valley Vizag is Government of Andhra Pradesh’s flagship initiative that brings together industry, academia and investors to innovate, co-create and build the Fintech ecosystem. The Fintech Spring Conference 2017 marks the beginning of this new journey. Spring conference will have CXOs from Fintech companies, start-ups & financial services. For more information, please visit Spring Conference 2017

CNN International hosted the second edition of Asia Business Forum 2017 on 13th February 2017 in Bengaluru, which since last year has been an exclusive platform for leaders across the region. Around 200 business leaders came together to assess India’s position in a turbulent global economy, the event attracted a lot interest amongst business and technology leaders. Asia Business Forum 2017 coincided with the start of the Indian government’s ‘Make in India Conference’.

Speakers at the event included Richard Quest, CNNMoney Editor-at-Large and anchor of Quest Means Business and Kristie Lu Stout, CNNNews Stream anchor will lead discussions with star speakers including EkStep Chairman and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, Air Vistara CEO Phee Teik Yeoh, Spicejet Chairman & Managing Director Ajay Singh, JetSetGo Co-Founder and CEO Kanika Tekriwal, and viral YouTube star ‘Rickshawalli‘.

Some of the notable sessions included India at 30,000 Feet-Exploring the world’s fastest growing aviation industry and Digitizing India-How technology is transforming the world’s biggest democracy.

CNN Asia Business Forum Panelistswith Ms Kristie Lu Stout on extreme right

Fellow blogger Jogesh Midha interviewed Kristie Lu Stout, CNN Anchor and host of News Stream on the lines of Social Media, Technology trends, entrepreneurial culture in India, etc. Below are the edited excerpts of the interview.

What has changed about the Technology Business & News Business since the last 15 years?

We have seen the rise of social media with Facebook being the pioneer of social media. It has impacted Retail, Political campaigns, businesses, etc. So arguably social media has been the biggest game changer both on the technology as well on social front. Big proportion of audience referrals to CNN come from Facebook and our job as journalists has become much meaningful because of it.

What are the technology trends of 2017?

It has to be Artificial Intelligence (AI). Last few months we have seen AI been able to out-bluff the best players in Poker, it has taken jobs away from real human beings. In fact in Japan, number of insurance claim workers lost their jobs to AI. AI is incredible!

However with technology advancements comes the ethical challenges, what happens when AI takes over jobs. This is the same issue that Elon Musk of Tesla raised a couple of months back and there lies the fundamental debate-How do you incentivise learning for children who know that they really do not have to learn since the computer does a better job there but there is still a reason why need to learn Math, Science, etc.

Electrification of transport, clean energy, human computer interface and brain implants are some of the trends that might evolve in 2017.

What are some of the Prons & Cons of social media, especially from the angle of journalism?

Good thing about social media is that you are able to engage with so many people across the world. Dark side is online bullying, cyber harassment and identity theft. Fake News spreads like wild fire primarily due to social media. I recently interviewed the founder of David Mikkelson, Snopes that has been in the business of debunking fake news since last 20 years and he told me that Fake News syndrome has been around since centuries but with social media, Attention Economy has grabbed the attention since it is all about CTR’s.

Your comments on the entrepreneurial rise in India, how do you compare the startup culture here vis-a-vis Silicon Valley?

The secret to success of Silicon Valley has been the access to the brightest minds that come from some of the best universities in America. In India also the emphasis has been on education especially IIT’s that have been the pioneers and many of the entrepreneurs are from IIT’s.

Impact of Blogging, YouTube and other mediums on traditional journalism?

Video has become the new killer feature especially with the advent of YouTube and Facebook Live. Many media companies including BuzzFeed are investing heavily on Video Content and video is what CNN has been doing since many years!

The solution to responsible content [or journalism] is not regulation but education via media literacy programs for consumers so that they can identify fake news and prevent sharing of fake news.

There is a highly recommended course Making sense of the news that every digitally literate person should take up in order to make sense of what we heard or read. Prevention of spreading of fake news is a joint responsibility of the media consumers, media houses, journalists, etc. and this is very important for the rising Social Media generation.

Your views on initiatives like Startup India, Digital India, etc. and it’s impact on the nation

Couple of weeks back when Apple CEO Tim Cook was in India he made it clear that India is where the action is taking place. Overall there are lot of opportunities, especially in Manufacturing in India. There is lot of excitement about India even though there might be a decline of the number of H1B visa holders [due to the bill passed by the Trump Administration]. H1B is always in demand since there is lack of skilled engineering talent in the USA and hence it requires engineers from countries like India. Decline of H1B visa holders might work in India’s favor as it could result into Return to India dream/Reverse brain drain 🙂

How serious is cyber security in today’s changing era ?

Some people can argue that cyber-security swayed the US elections, looking at the allegations of Russian Hacking, Wikileaks, etc. There is a lot to be lost in case of political security. We only hope that the world leaders and the policy makers are digitally literate. World leaders should be digitally savvy enough to understand the dangers posed by Cyber-security threats.

Enough has not been done in the awareness about cyber-security and there needs to be more discussions in organizations about Phishing, Digital & Cyber security, etc. Lot of work still needs to be done in strengthening the security of networks. The hindsight is that sometimes it is more about convenience and that which is the primary reason why most of us continue to use Google instead of Duck Duck Go, though we are aware that Google knows a lot about us. There is always a trade-off between right to privacy vs right to convenience. Unintended consequences of technology resulting in misuse & abuse of technology is the biggest threat to this evolving world of technology.

We thank Kristie Lu Stout for her time and hope that our readers enjoyed the interview…