New Tech

ESA preps Earth observation satellite with onboard AI processor

Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s director for Earth observation programs

ROME — The European Space Agency plans to launch an Earth observation satellite equipped with an artificially intelligent processor that would enable the spacecraft to make decisions regarding what to image and which data to send to the ground.

The satellite, currently nicknamed BrainSat, will sport Intel’s Myriad visual data processor and launch next year, Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s director for Earth observation programs, told SpaceNews on the sidelines of PhiWeek, a five-day conference focusing on the future of Earth observation at the ESA Centre for Earth Observation in Frascati, Italy.

“The technology has not been flown in space yet. We are working on this right now because we think that’s certainly an experiment that we need to do,” Aschbacher said. “At the moment, we are organizing the details of when and where exactly, but we will see this coming up to space very soon.”

The sensor, requiring only 1 Watt of power, is one of the game-changing advancements in artificial intelligence and computing technology that the space industry is seeking to harness.

ESA, Aschbacher said, is boosting its artificial intelligence development team and is collaborating with leaders in the sector including Google, NVIDIA, Amazon and SAP.

Last year, the Earth Observation directorate launched what it calls the PhiLab, a future-focused team working on harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence and other disruptive innovations.

Aschbacher said the cooperation between ESA and artificial intelligence developers is mutually beneficial. The agency’s Earth observation satellites produce 150 terabytes of data per day — a massive data set that can’t be conveniently processed by human analysts but which can at the same time serve as an excellent source of training data for machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms.

Speaking at the same event, Planet CEO Will Marshall said that advancements in artificial intelligence and computing technology are finally unlocking the full potential of Earth observation, enabling companies to take full advantage of the resources that are currently in orbit.

“The goal is to be able to see deforestation in the morning and be able to tell the officials the same day to send someone to go there immediately instead of notifying them that something happened a month later,” he said. “It requires a lot of translation. It’s not just the imagery. We are flooded with imagery at this point.”

Last year, Planet achieved their goal of imaging every spot on Earth once a day. Now, Marshall said, the San Francisco-headquartered firm is focused on a new goal: indexing everything that’s happening on the Earth every day using artificial intelligence.

“Basically we are trying to turn the massive amount of images that we get every day into a map of objects and locations of the objects,” he said.  “Then we can search, for example, how many houses are there in Italy, what’s happening around the borders or how ships are moving in the oceans.”

Artificial intelligence, Marshall said, will cover the ‘last mile problem’ of getting the right information into the hands of the right people to help them make the right decisions when it comes to natural disasters and emergencies, climate change or geopolitical issues.

Aschbacher said ESA hopes to create an AI-powered system that would bring together images from all Earth observation platforms operated by the agency as well as European national and commercial providers. This task will be challenging since data come in different formats, using different sensors and calibration.

“In the future, data from ESA assets will be integrated, but also assets across Europe because we want to create a coordinated approach to some societal questions,” he said. “It’s really much better to connect them and make sure that this is really not just a data source but a connected data source in order to better utilize various data sources both from big satellites and small satellites combined.”

Aschbacher said he expects the development of artificial intelligence systems will be a large part of the agency’s next Earth Observation Envelope Programme that will be decided on at the ESA ministerial conference in November 2019. This meeting of ESA member states takes place every three years, and is where budgets and future activities of the agency are approved.

“At the moment the funding [for AI] is not huge on our side,” he said. “But we expect AI as well as machine learning and other emerging technologies such as blockchain to be a bigger part of the next envelope program.”

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Korean Crypto Exchange Earns Key Government Cybersecurity Certification

Go PAx

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange GOPAX has become the first blockchain company to attain K-ISMS certification, the official standard in Korea for information security management systems. This is an important sign of approval by the Korean government regarding GOPAX’s cybersecurity infrastructure.

K-ISMS certification is an official domestic standard regarding the establishment, management and operation of information security systems for selected industries including server hosts, portal services and internet service providers. Based on Article 47 of the Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Information Protection (“the Network Act”), the certification carries significance for the blockchain sector as it signals that blockchain companies possess the capacity to manage and operate information security systems at a level on par with much more established corporations and businesses, specifically those in the technology and financial sectors.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Myeonghun Baek, the chief information security officer (CISO) at GOPAX, explained, “K-ISMS certification is mandatory for companies above a certain level in terms of either sales or user numbers that utilize information communication networks. GOPAX is currently not at that level, and thus didn’t need to obtain certification, but we voluntarily underwent the K-ISMS audit to become certified. As there is no official operating standard for blockchain companies currently in place, GOPAX receiving K-ISMS certification is a sign that it is willing to be ahead of legislation and set an operating standard for other blockchain companies.”

The K-ISMS certification process takes place through the Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA), which operates a team of specially trained auditors to examine the applying companies, along with a committee that evaluates the audit results.

The audit itself covers two major areas: information security management processes and information security measures. The former consists of 5 individual categories that are examined, including management responsibilities and organizational structure, and risk management and post-incident management, while the second is composed of 13 categories, such as information security policy, information security organization, external security, the categorization of information assets and information security training.

This is not GOPAX’s first step toward government compliance. Last July, the company was ISO/IEC 27001–certified, and was ultimately the first cryptocurrency exchange in the world to become so. ISO/IEC 27001 is a global information security management standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). It works as a standard used between companies on an international level, which according to Baek suggests that GOPAX meets certain standards around the globe and can thus operate on a level that ensures basic competence regarding information security management.

“For operating within the bounds of Korea, K-ISMS is still more significant because it offers tangible benefits when operating a relevant business within Korean jurisdiction, as well as discounts when applying for information security insurance and bonus points during KISA’s information security evaluations,” said Baek. “Companies looking to scale within the financial and tech sectors will eventually be required to obtain K-ISMS certification or face penalties.”

Baek mentions that under the Network Act, cryptocurrency exchanges are presently identified as “information and communications service providers” rather than financial institutions. Thus, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) rather than Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC), but he believes this opens yet another door for GOPAX and its staff.

“It’s different from countries like Japan, where the overarching organization regarding crypto exchanges is the Financial Services Agency,” he stated. “However, the blockchain industry has been requesting the government to establish a set of rules so that the companies know what is out of bounds when it comes to operating a blockchain company.”

He continued, “While nothing official has come out in that regard, it is also up to the companies themselves to demonstrate that they can operate up to standards that are currently in place for other companies in the tech sector. By achieving K-ISMS certification, GOPAX has shown that it is capable and serious about legal compliance, and we feel this move can inspire other companies to follow suit. That would show that the companies in this sector are interested in compliance and in cooperating with the government to establish a set playing field and to operate in a transparent manner.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Canadian Blockchain Company Sees Opportunity in Newly Legalized Cannabis

DMG Cannabis

Like Walmart with pork from China and Maersk with shipping containers, DMG Blockchain Solutions (DMG) is hoping to be the first global supply chain company to manage cannabis products on the blockchain, initially in Canada — and then around the world.

Canada’s legalization of cannabis came into effect today on October 17, 2018, and Vancouver-based DMG Blockchain Solutions is poised to launch its platform built on the Hyperledger permissioned blockchain to provide what it calls “legal and safe” marijuana.

DMG Blockchain Solutions CEO Dan Reitzik told Bitcoin Magazine in an interview:

“The legal cannabis industry is brand new and, as such, producers, distributors, retailers and regulators are waiting for a solution and don’t have years of experience with existing technology.”

In an effort to ensure that individual information and privacy will be protected, DMG is using the Hyperledger permissioned blockchain in conjunction with its own proprietary technology.

“This is one of the reasons we have partnered with a globally known, respected and trusted technology partner, as they have the experience integrating platforms with existing systems and software,” said Reitzik.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada for medical purposes since 2011, and, to this end, existing cannabis regulation calls for tight licensing and compliance measures. As pot goes recreational in the country, DMG’s solutions will leverage blockchain technology to enforce and streamline these processes.

This mainly involves verifying and tracking products — anything from cannabis, including edibles, oils and other derivatives — using a combination of the blockchain’s immutable distributed ledger and monitoring hardware. Keeping tabs on the flow of products with more certainty than existing systems will make it easier for companies to demonstrate that they’re falling in line with regulatory mandates, as federal departments responsible for regulating and taxing cannabis will have access to the DMG platform.

“[Companies] have been approved by the Canadian Government to cultivate and sell product, and our intention is to have ALL industry participants on this blockchain … [the government] will want assurances that product is from legal sources (elimination of black market) and that the products are safe for consumers. This is why all stakeholders will want to participate on our blockchain — to access these markets,” Reitzik said.

Canada: Fertile Market for Growing Cannabis Demand

According to DMG, cannabis represents a $23 billion industry in Canada alone. Some reports estimate that the global cannabis market could exceed $500 billion.

“Canada is being positioned to be the global supplier of cannabis, and our blockchain platform can help enable this by way of product traceability for rapid recalls, ensuring a legal source of product, and enhancing product safety, as well as facilitating and automating legal and taxation compliance,” DMG noted in a public statement.

“Canada has set up a network of more than 100 Licensed Producers (LPs), some of which have market caps in excess of $5 billion,” claimed Reitzik.

DMG is currently in discussions with cannabis industry players, including major licensed producers, quality assurance labs, retail distributors and government regulators.

The Blockchain Prescription

DMG’s goal is to have a global platform that will provide immediate product traceability, as well as the ability to automate transactions and information flow among licensed producers, licensed distributors, regulators, retailers, shippers, and reporting and auditing systems.

To DMG, there are many clearcut benefits to using a permissioned blockchain to manage cannabis logistics.

It can integrate the licensed accreditation of producers, distributors, retailers, shippers, as well as manage reporting and auditing systems. For an industry that is still federally illegal in the neighboring U.S., such rigid control mechanisms are essential to keeping product flow within regulatory confines and preventing it from illegally jumping across the border.

Within the supply chain itself, smart contracts will detect events such as defective products and product recalls, which will allow distributors and retailers to react to issues in real time.

For all other operations, interfaces are being developed between the blockchain and traditional systems to facilitate faster and more efficient information flow. The same systems will ensure that employee and client onboarding is frictionless and fast and that cooperation between industry entities is painless and efficient.

“This global blockchain initiative is a collaboration among industry stakeholders and is being tailored to meet industry players’ specific requirements. DMG intends to onboard significant industry participants as it launches its cannabis supply chain solution,” said Reitzik.

“This project is not simply DMG building a platform, it is a collaboration between many industry participants. Just as there’s one global blockchain that manages bitcoin globally, we intend for this to be the single blockchain to manage the entire supply chain for cannabis globally,” added Reitzik.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Artificial intelligence extends into space

Adam Van Etten, CosmiQ Works technical director, Valvanera Moreno, SES system architecture and innovation manager, Devin Brande, Orbital Insight advance programs director, Gabriel Comi, Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services' Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy Capability Center chief architect, discuss artificial intelligence and machine learning at Satellite Innovation 2018 in Mountain View, California. Credit: SpaceNews/Debra Werner

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California –SES is working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to explore ways to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to simplify operation of its communications satellite fleet.

“We have a very large fleet and tens of thousands of telemetry signals on each of our satellites,” Valvanera Moreno, SES system architecture and innovation manager, said Oct. 10 at Satellite Innovation 2018 here.“The next satellites will have even more data to process. That’s why we think this area has a lot of value.”

Like SES, government agencies and space companies looking for ways to apply artificial intelligence to various problems they face.

Orbital Insight, a geospatial analytics company, relies on artificial intelligence to help answer questions its customers ask.

“Artificial intelligence enables human analysts to extract maximum value from imagery,” said Devin Brande, Orbital Insight advance programs director. “We are on the cusp of combining modern remote sensing with other sources of intelligence to create a rich picture.”

Raytheon’s Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance business established a capability center to focus its artificial intelligence and machine learning expertise. “As we grow that into a fundamental capability of our business, the goal is to dissolve the capability center and have it become part of the DNA of our business,” said Gabriel Comi, Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services’ Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy Capability Center chief architect.

CosmiQ Works, one of four laboratories established by In-Q-Tel to explore how the U.S. government can take apply new and emerging commercial space capabilities to solve national security problems, and its partners Radiant Solutions, DigitalGlobe and Amazon Web Services holds competitions, called SpaceNet, that offer cash prizes to competitors who develop automated methods to detect road networks or other landmarks from high-resolution satellite imagery.

CosmiQ Works makes the winning algorithms open source. “Hopefully, that helps our government partners and the commercial sector,” said Adam Van Etten, CosmiQ Works technical director. “Sometimes these algorithms that get a lot of press don’t translate to our domain.”

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