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Current Affairs 02 April 2024

  1. Impact of Evolving AI on Elections: India’s Upcoming Polls
  2. Inauguration of India’s First Small-Scale LNG Unit at GAIL’s Vijaipur Complex
  3. Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework
  4. Madhya Pradesh’s New Entries in UNESCO’s Tentative World Heritage Sites List
  5. Caracal
  6. Atal Tunnel
  7. Hume AI


Context:

As AI progresses from Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) to Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), its influence on elections becomes increasingly significant. This evolution highlights the urgent need to address AI’s potential impact on democratic processes, as evidenced by India’s upcoming elections.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI): An Overview
  2. AI and its Impact on the Electoral Landscape
  3. Concerns of Deploying AI for Electoral Purposes: An In-depth Analysis
  4. Strategies to Mitigate the Impacts of AI on Elections: A Comprehensive Approach

Artificial General Intelligence (AGI): An Overview

  • AGI: Artificial General Intelligence refers to the theoretical concept of an AI system possessing human-like cognitive abilities across a broad spectrum of tasks and domains.
Objectives:

Replication of Human Intelligence:

  • The primary goal of AGI is to emulate the full range of human cognitive capabilities, including:
    • Reasoning: The ability to draw logical conclusions from available information.
    • Problem-Solving: The capacity to devise effective solutions to complex challenges.
    • Perception: The skill to interpret and make sense of sensory inputs from the environment.
    • Natural Language Understanding: The capability to comprehend and generate human languages in context.
Implications:

Versatility:

  • Unlike Narrow AI systems designed for specific tasks, AGI is envisioned to be versatile, adapting to a wide range of tasks and learning from diverse datasets.

Autonomy:

  • AGI systems would possess a high degree of autonomy, capable of self-directed learning, decision-making, and problem-solving without human intervention.

Ethical Considerations:

  • The development and deployment of AGI raise significant ethical concerns, including issues related to control, accountability, bias, and the potential impact on employment and societal structures.
Challenges:

Technological Complexity:

  • Achieving true AGI involves overcoming substantial technological hurdles, including advances in machine learning, natural language processing, robotics, and computational neuroscience.

Safety and Control:

  • Ensuring the safe and beneficial deployment of AGI is a major challenge, requiring robust safeguards, transparency, and ethical guidelines to mitigate risks and potential misuse.

AI and its Impact on the Electoral Landscape:

Data-Driven Campaigning:

Voter Profiling:

  • AI Algorithms: Political parties leverage AI algorithms to sift through vast datasets encompassing demographics, social media interactions, and historical voting patterns. This enables tailored campaign messaging aimed at specific voter segments, thereby optimizing outreach and engagement.
Predictive Analytics:

Election Forecasting:

  • AI-Powered Predictive Analytics: By analyzing a multitude of variables such as polling data, economic indicators, and sentiment from social media, AI can forecast election outcomes with a high degree of accuracy. This empowers parties to allocate resources judiciously and concentrate efforts on pivotal constituencies.
Voter Engagement:

AI Chatbots and Virtual Assistants:

  • Interactive Engagement: AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants serve as a bridge between political entities and voters, facilitating real-time interactions on social media platforms. They disseminate information about candidates, policies, and voting logistics, thereby fostering increased voter engagement and participation.
Election Integrity:

Fraud Detection and Prevention:

  • AI-Powered Surveillance: AI algorithms are instrumental in identifying irregularities and potential instances of election fraud, ranging from voter suppression tactics to tampering with electronic voting systems. By scrutinizing data patterns and detecting anomalies, AI reinforces the credibility and transparency of the electoral process.
Regulatory Compliance:

Political Advertising and Campaign Finance Oversight:

  • AI-Enabled Monitoring: Governments and election authorities harness AI to oversee political advertising campaigns, pinpoint violations of campaign finance laws, and ensure adherence to electoral guidelines. AI-powered solutions bolster transparency, accountability, and regulatory compliance throughout the electoral cycle.
Case Study: Bihar Election Commission and Staqu Collaboration:

Technological Innovation:

  • Video Analytics with OCR: In a pioneering initiative, the Bihar Election Commission partnered with AI firm Staqu to deploy video analytics coupled with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) during the panchayat elections in 2021. This innovative system facilitated comprehensive scrutiny of CCTV footage from counting booths, ensuring transparency, and precluding potential manipulation.

Concerns of Deploying AI for Electoral Purposes: An In-depth Analysis

Manipulation and Disinformation:

Generative AI and AGI:

  • Spread of Misinformation: Advanced AI models, particularly Generative AI and AGI, can disseminate disinformation, create deepfake content, and inundate voters with personalized propaganda. This can distort perceptions, sow confusion, and manipulate democratic processes.

Deepfake Videos:

  • Character Assassination: AI-enabled deepfake technology can fabricate convincing videos of political opponents, tarnishing their image and manipulating public opinion. This undermines the credibility and integrity of electoral campaigns.

Cambridge Analytica Scandal:

  • Exploitation of Data: The notorious Cambridge Analytica scandal exemplifies the potential dangers of leveraging AI to exploit user data for targeted political advertisements and voter manipulation.
Targeted Microtargeting:

Regional Language Translation:

  • Customized Campaigns: AI-powered translation tools enable microtargeting of voters through tailored campaign messages, leveraging local dialects and demographics to resonate with specific voter segments.
Amplified Disinformation:

AI-Enabled Propaganda:

  • Sophisticated Misinformation: The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Perception Survey underscores the escalating risks of misinformation and disinformation facilitated by AI, encompassing voice cloning, synthetic content, and sophisticated propaganda campaigns.
Inaccuracies and Inconsistencies:

Unreliable AI Models:

  • Public Outrage: Instances of AI models, including those deployed by Google in India, producing malicious or erroneous portrayals underscore the potential risks associated with ‘runaway’ AI and the inherent inconsistencies and vulnerabilities of AI systems.
Ethical and Fairness Concerns:

Bias and Discrimination:

  • Algorithmic Biases: AI algorithms may inadvertently perpetuate biases inherent in training data, leading to discriminatory treatment of certain voter groups and compromising the fairness and impartiality of electoral processes.

Resource Disparity:

  • Unequal Utilization: The differential access to AI technologies can exacerbate disparities between political parties, with resource-rich parties leveraging AI more effectively, potentially distorting the level playing field in electoral campaigns.
Regulatory and Legal Challenges:

Lack of Specific Legislation:

  • Regulatory Gaps: The absence of dedicated legislation addressing AI and deepfake technologies complicates the regulatory landscape, leaving governments and election authorities ill-equipped to address the challenges posed by AI-driven electoral activities effectively.

Jurisdictional Complexity:

  • Global Platforms: The transnational nature of online platforms further complicates regulatory efforts, with governments grappling to harmonize regulatory frameworks across jurisdictions.

Strategies to Mitigate the Impacts of AI on Elections: A Comprehensive Approach

Regulatory and Transparency Measures:

Guidelines by Election Commission:

  • Transparency Requirements: The Election Commission of India can issue guidelines mandating transparency in the deployment of AI algorithms for political campaigns. This includes disclosing funding sources for political advertisements and elucidating the functioning of algorithms in content curation and dissemination on digital platforms.

Legislative Reforms:

  • Regulatory Oversight: Implement robust regulations to govern the use of AI in electoral campaigns, ensuring accountability, fairness, and transparency in algorithmic decision-making processes. This can encompass disclosure mandates, algorithmic audits, and stringent penalties for non-compliance.
Educational Initiatives:

Media Literacy Programs:

  • Critical Thinking Skills: Launch educational campaigns to enhance media literacy among citizens, equipping them with the skills to critically evaluate online information, discern disinformation and deepfakes, and differentiate between credible and unreliable sources.
Rapid Response Mechanisms:

Response Teams:

  • Proactive Mitigation: Establish specialized rapid response teams comprising experts in AI, cybersecurity, and disinformation to swiftly identify, assess, and counteract instances of fake news, deepfakes, and AI-driven misinformation during electoral periods.

Fact-Checking and Verification:

  • Strengthening Accountability: Bolster fact-checking initiatives by allocating resources to independent organizations and journalists to validate the accuracy of information circulating online, enhancing the credibility and reliability of electoral discourse.

AI-Powered Monitoring:

  • Automated Detection: Develop AI-driven tools equipped with machine learning algorithms to monitor, detect, and flag misleading content, enabling proactive mitigation of misinformation and enhancing the integrity of electoral communications.
Public Awareness Campaigns:

Counter-Narrative Initiatives:

  • Debunking False Information: Launch targeted public awareness campaigns to debunk false narratives, disseminate accurate information, and foster an informed electorate capable of resisting manipulation and deception.

Trending Misinformation Analysis:

  • AI-Enabled Counter Messaging: Harness AI capabilities to analyze trending misinformation, identify patterns, and deploy counter-messages effectively to mitigate the spread of false narratives and reinforce factual discourse.
Ethical AI Development:

Ethical Guidelines:

  • Responsible Innovation: Encourage the development and deployment of AI technologies with a strong ethical foundation, emphasizing principles such as bias mitigation, privacy protection, transparency, and accountability in political contexts.

Standardization and Certification:

  • Quality Assurance: Establish standardized guidelines, protocols, and certification mechanisms to ensure the responsible and ethical utilization of AI in political campaigns, promoting integrity, fairness, and public trust in electoral processes.
Collaborative Governance and International Cooperation:

Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration:

  • Global Partnerships: Foster collaborative initiatives involving governments, tech companies, civil society organizations, and international bodies to address the transnational challenges posed by AI-driven disinformation campaigns, facilitate knowledge sharing, and coordinate concerted efforts to safeguard democratic institutions and electoral integrity globally.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas recently inaugurated India’s first small-scale liquefied natural gas (SSLNG) unit at GAIL (India) Ltd’s Vijaipur complex in Madhya Pradesh.

Relevance:

GS III: Energy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. LNG and SSLNG: A Comprehensive Overview
  2. Major Applications and Challenges of LNG

LNG and SSLNG: A Comprehensive Overview

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG):
  • Definition: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) refers to natural gas that has been cooled to a liquid state, typically at temperatures around -260°F (-162°C), to facilitate safer and more efficient storage and transportation.
  • Composition: The primary component of LNG is methane, which constitutes 70-90% of its composition, with the remaining constituents comprising ethane, propane, butane, and other trace gases.
Environmental and Economic Significance:
  • Cleaner Alternative: Natural gas is recognized as a cleaner and more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional hydrocarbon fuels such as coal and oil, emitting fewer greenhouse gases and pollutants upon combustion.
  • Economic Implications: LNG plays a pivotal role in India’s energy landscape, contributing to approximately 6.7% of the country’s energy mix. It offers a more economical and sustainable energy solution, supporting India’s transition towards greener and more diversified energy sources.
Global Perspective:
  • Global Utilization: According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), natural gas accounts for approximately a quarter of global electricity generation, highlighting its significance in the global energy sector.
  • Major Producers: The leading producers of natural gas globally include the United States, Russia, and Iran, with extensive infrastructure and export capabilities.

Small-Scale LNG (SSLNG):

Definition: Small-Scale LNG (SSLNG) refers to the process of liquefying and transporting natural gas on a smaller scale, typically catering to regions without extensive pipeline infrastructure.

Distribution and Utilization:
  • Versatile Distribution: Starting from large-scale LNG import terminals, SSLNG facilitates the distribution of LNG directly to consumers through specialized cryogenic road tankers or small vessels, either as a liquid or regasified for conventional applications.
  • Enhanced Accessibility: SSLNG enhances the accessibility and availability of natural gas in remote or isolated areas, promoting energy access and facilitating economic development.
Benefits and Implications:
  • Cost-Efficiency: SSLNG can contribute to reducing dependency on costly gas imports, particularly if it displaces a significant portion of diesel consumption, leading to substantial foreign exchange savings and economic benefits.
  • Environmental Advantages: By promoting the use of cleaner and more efficient energy sources, SSLNG supports India’s transition towards sustainable fuel alternatives, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigating environmental impacts.

Major Applications and Challenges of LNG

Major Applications of LNG:

Maritime Industry:

  • Fuel for Ships: LNG is increasingly adopted as a fuel for ships and vessels, particularly in emission-controlled areas, owing to its reduced emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter compared to conventional marine fuels.

Transportation Sector:

  • Fuel for Heavy-Duty Vehicles: LNG serves as a cleaner alternative fuel for trucks, buses, and other heavy-duty vehicles, offering significant reductions in emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter, and greenhouse gases compared to diesel.

Power Generation:

  • Energy Source for Power Plants: LNG is utilized in gas-fired power plants to generate electricity, providing a cleaner and more efficient alternative to coal or oil-fired power plants, with lower emissions of pollutants.

Industrial Applications:

  • Heating and Cooling: LNG finds applications in various industrial processes requiring heating and cooling, including manufacturing, food processing, and refrigeration, contributing to energy efficiency and operational sustainability.

Energy Integration:

  • Complementary to Renewable Energy: LNG can complement intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar by providing backup power during periods of low renewable generation or when renewable energy is unavailable.
Related Challenges of LNG:

Infrastructure and Cost Challenges:

  • High Capital Costs: Establishing LNG liquefaction and regasification facilities entails significant capital expenditure. Additionally, the specialized cryogenic carriers required for transportation further escalate the overall costs.

Market and Adoption Challenges:

  • Limited Market Penetration: Despite successful adoption in countries like China, India faces challenges such as limited availability of LNG vehicles, higher initial costs, and a lack of financing and retail networks for LNG, hindering widespread adoption and market growth.

Environmental Concerns:

  • Methane Emissions: Although LNG production and transportation are cleaner than coal, they still contribute to methane emissions, which is the second-most abundant greenhouse gas (GHG) after CO2 and possesses a stronger planetary warming effect.

Safety and Handling Risks:

  • Safety Concerns: LNG is highly flammable and can pose significant safety risks if not stored, handled, or used properly. Improper practices can lead to leaks, fires, or explosions, necessitating stringent safety protocols and operational standards.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, a symposium on the rights of indigenous people organised by the University of Arizona. It focused on how the Global Biodiversity Framework and India’s Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act of 2023 will impact tribes.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)
  2. Implications of Kunming-Montreal GBF for India

Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)

Adoption: The Kunming-Montreal GBF was adopted during the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in December 2022.

Objectives:
  • Support Sustainable Development Goals: Aims to support the achievement of sustainable development goals and build on previous strategic plans.
  • Global Harmony with Nature: Sets a bold path towards global harmony with nature by 2050.
Implementation:
  • National Targets: All parties commit to setting national targets to implement the GBF.
  • Targets and Goals: Consists of 23 targets (set for 2030) and four global goals (set for 2050) to preserve biodiversity for current and future generations.
Content:
  • Reducing Threats: Targets address reducing threats to biodiversity.
  • Sustainable Use: Emphasizes meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit-sharing.
  • Implementation Tools: Provides tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming.
Legal Status:
  • Non-binding: The GBF is not an international treaty and is therefore not legally binding on Parties.
  • No Mandatory System: It also doesn’t require a mandatory system that forces parties to step up their efforts at a specific time.

Target 3 of the Kunming-Montreal GBF:

  • Objective:
    • 30% Conservation: Ensure that at least 30% of the world’s land, waters, and seas are conserved by 2030.
  • Current Status:
    • Protected Areas: At present, protected areas (PAs) cover about 16%.
  • Nickname:
    • 30 by 30: This target is also known as the “30 by 30” target.
Controversies:
  • Impact on Indigenous Communities:
    • Southeast Asia Examples: In Indonesia’s Ujungkulon National Park and Cambodia’s Beng Per Wildlife Sanctuary, indigenous people lack basic rights and face unfair convictions.
  • Private Sector Involvement:
    • India’s Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act 2023: Includes zoos, safaris, and ecotourism facilities as forest activities, which some analysts view as detrimental to conservation efforts and indigenous rights.
  • Historical Context:
    • Colonial Origins: Protected areas were initially created for leisure and hunting by colonial elites.
    • Modern Issues: Today, ecotourism projects often treat indigenous people as exhibits, showcasing their traditional culture in staged settings.

Implications of Kunming-Montreal GBF for India:

Concerns:

Impact on Indigenous Communities:

  • National Parks: About 84% of India’s national parks (89 out of 106) are located in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples. Meeting GBF targets could threaten their existence and way of life.
  • Specific Cases: Initiatives like upgrading the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary to a tiger reserve, expanding the Nauradehi Sanctuary, and the Barak Bhuban Wildlife Sanctuary have raised concerns about displacement of tribal villages.

Legal Issues:

  • Gazette Notifications: The Barak Bhuban Wildlife Sanctuary gazette notification suggests no rights or concessions for people in the area, despite evidence of indigenous communities residing there since 1914.
Strategies to Protect Tribal Lands:

Policy Updates:

Acknowledge Tribal Rights:

  • Free, Prior, and Informed Consent: India should acknowledge the right to free, prior, and informed consent as per the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act.
  • Guardianship: Amend laws to recognize tribal communities as guardians of protected areas, given their historical role in protecting nature.

Geographical Alternatives:

Create Protected Areas in Non-Tribal Areas:

  • Examples: Tiger reserves have been established in areas without tigers, such as Sahyadri (Maharashtra), Satkosia (Odisha), Kamlang (Arunachal Pradesh), Kawal (Telangana), and Dampa (Mizoram). Similar flexibility could be applied to create protected areas in non-tribal regions.

Human Rights:

Address Violations Seriously:

  • Access to Basic Services: Issues like access to education, healthcare, and housing should be addressed seriously and not solely left to the Wildlife or Forest Department.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Six new sites from Madhya Pradesh have been included in the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS). This recognition underscores the cultural and historical significance of these sites, highlighting Madhya Pradesh’s rich heritage on the global stage.

Relevance:

GS I: Art and Culture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Features of Sites Recently Added to Tentative UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites (WHS)
  2. What is the tentative list of UNESCO world heritage sites?
  3. What are UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

Key Features of Sites Recently Added to Tentative UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites (WHS)

Gwalior Fort:
  • Location and Description: Situated atop a hill, Gwalior Fort offers panoramic views of the surrounding city.
  • Historical Significance: Founded in the 6th century AD by Rajput warrior Suraj Sen, it has witnessed a turbulent history of invasions, reconstructions, and changes in rulership, including periods under the Tomar ruler Maan Singh, Ibrahim Lodi, the Mughal Sultanate, Akbar, the Marathas, and British rule.
  • Architectural Highlights:
    • Ancient Temples: Houses several ancient temples like Teli ka Mandir, Chaturbhuj temple, Sas Bahu temples, and Gurdwara Data Bandi Chhor.
    • Mathematical Significance: Chaturbhuj temple features one of the oldest references to zero in mathematics.
  • Cultural and Strategic Significance: Known as Gopachala or Gopagiri in old Sanskrit inscriptions, it holds cultural, historical, and strategic importance.
Historical Group of Dhamnar:
  • Location and Description: Comprises 51 rock-cut caves, stupas, chaityas, and dwellings dating back to the 7th century AD.
  • Architectural Highlights:
    • Colossal Statue: Features a significant colossal statue of Gautam Buddha in the nirvana pose.
    • Historical Caves: Notable caves include Bari Kacheri and Bhima Bazar, known for their historical and architectural significance.
  • Historical Accounts: Mentioned in accounts by James Tod, James Fergusson, and Alexander Cunningham.
Bhojeshwar Mahadev Temple:
  • Location and Description: Located in Bhojpur, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and houses a massive Linga carved from a single stone.
  • Architectural Highlights:
    • Bhumija Style: Architecture follows the Bhumija style characterized by towering shikhara and ornate carvings.
    • Dravidian Influence: Main body and shikhara exhibit components influenced by Dravidian temple architecture.
Rock Art Sites of the Chambal Valley:
  • Location and Description: Hosts the world’s largest concentration of rock art sites across Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Artistic Highlights:
    • Ancient Depictions: Showcases hunting and gathering scenes from Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and later periods.
  • Geographical Features: Located in the hilly regions of Vindhyan, Satpura, and Kaimur ranges.
Burhanpur’s Khooni Bhandara:
  • Location and Description: An underground water management system in Burhanpur comprising eight waterworks built by Abdurrahim Khankhana.
  • Technological Features:
    • Persian Qanat Approach: Built using the Persian qanat approach and designed by Persian geologist, Tabkutul Arz.
  • Historical and Cultural Significance: Imported Persian technologies from Iran and Iraq during the Mughal era as useful public utilities.
Gond Memorial of Ramnagar, Mandla:
  • Location and Description: Cluster of monuments in the region formerly known as Gondwana, home to the largest heterogeneous tribe of India, the Gond tribe.
  • Monuments: Includes Moti Mahal, Raibhagat ki Kothi, Suraj Mandir (Vishnu Mandir), Begum Mahal, and Dalbadal Mahal.

What is the tentative list of UNESCO world heritage sites?

  • If a state considers a monument/site has cultural and/or natural heritage of outstanding universal value and therefore suitable for inscription on the World Heritage List. Then the state prepares a list of such sites and sends it to UNESCO. The UNESCO after preliminary inspection accepts/rejects the monument and form a tentative list.
  • A position on a country’s tentative list does not automatically tender that site with world heritage status.
  • It is mandatory to put any monument/site on the Tentative List (TL) before it is considered for the final nomination dossier.
  • The sites will remain on the tentative list for a year, after which the government will decide which one of them to push for in their final dossier to UNESCO.
  • The tentative list is extremely important. This is because the World Heritage Committee cannot consider a nomination for the World Heritage List unless the property has already been included on the State party’s tentative list.

What are UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

  • UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of distinctive cultural or physical importance which is considered of outstanding value to humanity.
  • It may be a building, a city, a complex, a desert, a forest, an island, a lake, a monument, or a mountain.
  • They have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy as they have a special cultural or physical significance and outstanding universal value to the humanity.
  • Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites.
  • At present, India has 38 World Heritage Properties. All the sites under the Ministry are conserved as per ASI’s Conservation Policy and are in good shape.
UNESCO World Heritage Committee
  • The World Heritage Committee selects the sites to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger.
  • It monitors the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties.
  • It is composed of 21 states parties that are elected by the General Assembly of States Parties for a four-year term.
  • India is NOT a member of this Committee.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, there was a concern regarding the conservation of the Caracal species.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Overview of Caracal

Elusiveness and Behavior

  • A primarily nocturnal animal.
  • Highly valued for its agility and exceptional skill in catching birds mid-flight.

Names and Identity

  • Known as ‘siya gosh’ in India.
  • Translates from Persian as ‘black Ear’.

Habitat and Dens

  • Prefers abandoned porcupine burrows and rock crevices for maternal dens.
  • Can also be found with offspring in dense vegetation.

Distribution

  • Primary habitats in India include Kutch, Malwa Plateau, Aravalli hill range, and Bundelkhand region in Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Found across several countries in Africa, the Middle East, Central, and South Asia.

Preferred Habitats

  • Inhabits woodlands, savannahs, and scrub forests.

Threats to Caracal

  • Faces significant threats from large-scale hunting, illegal trading, and habitat loss.

Conservation Status

  • Protected under The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972: Listed under Schedule I.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Manali-Leh highway was blocked due to fresh snowfall near the Atal Tunnel in Lahaul and Spiti districts recently.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Overview of Atal Tunnel

World Record

  • Formerly known as Rohtang Tunnel.
  • Recognized as the world’s longest high-altitude tunnel.

Location and Elevation

  • Situated in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas.
  • Located in Himachal Pradesh at an elevation of approximately 3,100 meters (10,171 feet) above sea level.

Route and Connectivity

  • Passes through the Rohtang pass.
  • Spans a length of 9.02 km.
  • Connects Manali to Lahaul and Spiti Valley.
  • Ensures year-round connectivity; previously, the region was cut off for about six months annually due to heavy snowfall.

Portal Details

  • South Portal (SP) located 25 km from Manali at an altitude of 3,060 metres.
  • North Portal (NP) situated near village Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3,071 metres.

Tunnel Specifications

  • Design: Horseshoe-shaped, single tube, double lane.
  • Roadway width: 8 meters.
  • Overhead clearance: 5.525 meters.

Safety Features

  • Semi-transverse ventilation system.
  • Emergency exits every 500 meters.
  • Evacuation lighting, broadcasting systems, and fire hydrants are installed for enhanced safety.

-Source: Hindustan Times



Context:

Recently, a New York-based research lab and technology company Hume, has introduced what can be called the ‘first conversational AI with emotional intelligence’.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About Hume AI

Unique Features

  • World’s first emotionally intelligent voice AI.
  • Accepts live audio input and provides generated audio.
  • Returns transcripts enriched with vocal expression metrics.

Technical Overview

  • Operates as an API.
  • Powered by its proprietary empathic large language model (eLLM).
  • eLLM understands and replicates tones, word emphasis, and vocal nuances to enhance human-AI interactions.

Training and Learning

  • Trained on human reactions to optimize for positive emotions such as happiness and satisfaction.
  • Continuously learns from user interactions.

Capabilities

  • Processes speech’s tune, rhythm, and timbre.
  • Enhances abilities like appropriate speaking times and generating empathic language with the correct tone.
Large Language Model (LLM) Explained

Definition

  • A type of artificial intelligence (AI) that recognizes and generates text.

Training and Data

  • Trained on extensive datasets, hence termed “large.”

Foundation

  • Built on machine learning principles.
  • Utilizes a specific neural network architecture known as a transformer model.

In Layman’s Terms

  • A computer program fed with vast examples to understand and interpret human language and complex data.

-Source: Indian Express


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