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Author: Tan KW   |   Latest post: Wed, 23 Jan 2019, 02:19 PM


Waymo says it will build self-driving cars in Michigan

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Wed, 23 Jan 2019, 02:19 PM

Alphabet Inc's Waymo self-driving vehicle unit said on Jan 22 it plans to build a plant in Michigan to transform vehicles into autonomous cars for Waymo's ride services business. 
Waymo has proposed private investments of US$13.6mil to build a facility in southeast Michigan and create more than 100 jobs, potentially up to 400 jobs, the Michigan Economic Development Corp said separately on Jan 22. 
The state agency said it will contribute an US$8mil grant to fund the project, it added. That would equate to US$20,000 in state aid per job if the project hits the 400 employee target. 
Waymo said the new facility would be dedicated to mass production of L4 or level 4 autonomous vehicles which can pilot themselves without a human driver under certain conditions.  
Waymo said in a blog post it will work with auto supplier Magna International Inc to install its self-driving system in vehicles manufactured by others. 
Waymo is already using Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV minivans and vehicles made by Jaguar Land Rover, a unit of India's Tata Motors. Waymo develops the hardware and software and combines self-driving systems into its fleet. 
Waymo chief executive officer John Krafcik has said the company plans to expand its fleet to as many as 20,000 vehicles by 2022, and he has been assembling an array of partnerships to that end, including agreements with car dealer chain AutoNation Inc to provide maintenance and fleet management services. 
However, Waymo and other potential players in the nascent robo-taxi and automated delivery market face significant technical and legal hurdles. For instance, the US Congress and federal regulators have not yet established a regulatory framework to govern large-scale deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads. Waymo alluded to another challenge in its blog post Jan 22, praising Michigan for its "excellent snowy conditions for our cars to test". 
Waymo currently employs about 20 people in Novi, Michigan. At its new southeast Michigan facility, for which it is yet to identify a location, the company aims to hire engineers, operations experts, fleet coordinators and other professionals for retrofitting vehicles with its self-driving technology. 
The scale of Waymo's Michigan investment is small compared to operations run by the Detroit Three. Still, the Silicon Valley company's decision has symbolic impact in the home state of the legacy US auto industry, which is losing thousands of automotive jobs this year as General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co cut staffs. 
Both GM and Ford also have said they will build autonomous vehicles at Michigan factories. 
In December, Waymo launched self-driving taxis in Arizona for paying customers. 
Waymo is considered the leader in developing self-driving technology, due to its decade of testing and millions of miles driven. Volkswagen chief executive said last November that Waymo had a one- to two-year head start. 
GM's Cruise Automation and Uber Technologies, have yet to launch their paid self-driving services. Cruise has a goal of launching its service this year, but GM and Cruise executives have said that depends on assuring the driving system meets safety criteria.
– Reuters 
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Microsoft seeks to restrict abuse of its facial recognition AI

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Wed, 23 Jan 2019, 02:18 PM

Microsoft Corp is planning to implement self-designed ethical principles for its facial recognition technology by the end of March, as it urges governments to push ahead with matching regulation in the field. 
The company in December called for new legislation to govern artificial intelligence software for recognizing faces, advocating for human review and oversight of the technology in some critical cases, as a way to mitigate the risks of biased outcomes, intrusions into privacy and democratic freedoms. 
“We do need to lead by example and we’re working to do that,” Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said in an interview, adding that some other companies are also putting similar principles into place. 
Smith said the company plans by the end of March to “operationalise” its principles, which involves drafting policies, building governance systems and engineering tools and testing to make sure it’s in line with its goals. It also involves setting controls for the company’s global sales and consulting teams to prevent selling the technology in cases where it risks being used for an unwanted purpose. 
The use of facial recognition software by law enforcement, border security, the military and other government agencies has stirred concerns about the risks of bias and mass surveillance. Research has shown that some of the most popular products make mistakes and perform worse on people with darker skin. Microsoft, Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google have all faced protests from employees and advocacy groups over the the idea of selling AI software to government agencies or the police. 
“It would certainly restrict certain scenarios or uses,” Smith said of the principles, adding that Microsoft wouldn’t necessarily reject providing governments with the technology. The company only wants to prevent law enforcement from using the technology for ongoing surveillance of a specific individual without the preferred safeguards, he said. 
The company has turned down contracts for that reason, he said. One was a case that Smith said would have amounted to public surveillance in a national capital “in a country where we were not comfortable that human rights would be protected”. Another was deployment by a law enforcement agency in the US that “we thought would create an undue risk of discrimination”. 
Asked whether Microsoft would rule out working with Chinese law enforcement, especially in light of new rules to judge citizens on their social behaviour, Smith said “it would definitely raise important questions in China”. He said that in any case it appears that Beijing is more interested in procuring facial-recognition technology from local firms instead of American ones. 
Despite steaming ahead with the self-imposed rules, the company said industry-wide regulation is necessary. 
“You never want to create a market that forces companies to choose between being successful and being responsible and unless we have a regulatory floor there is a danger of that happening,” Smith said.
– Bloomberg 
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Hacker uses Nest camera to broadcast hoax nuke alert

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Wed, 23 Jan 2019, 02:17 PM

SAN FRANCISCO: Nest urged owners of its security cameras Jan 22 to use enhanced authentication to thwart hackers, after one terrified a family with a hoax nuclear missile attack. 
A couple living in a California town near San Francisco told local media they experienced “sheer terror” over the weekend when a Nest security camera atop their family’s television issued a realistic-sounding warning of missiles heading to the United States from North Korea. 
The couple and their frightened child eventually figured out they had been targeted by a hacker who got control of speakers built into the camera, which is equipped for two-way conversations. 
Nest, which is owned by Google-parent Alphabet, told AFP that incidents of commandeered camera control in recent months were the result of hackers using passwords stolen from other online venues. 
“Nest was not breached,” Google said in a statement. 
“These recent reports are based on customers using compromised passwords – exposed through breaches on other websites.” 
Reported incidents involving Nest cameras in the US in the past three months include a hacker threatening to snatch a baby and a seemingly well-intended hacker telling someone that his data was exposed. 
Nest camera users were urged to prevent such invasions by implementing two-factor verification, meaning that a second step such as entering a code sent via text message is needed along with a password to get into an account. 
Nest sifts through stolen data dumped online by hackers to check whether email addresses and passwords match those used for accounts at the smart home device company. 
Account holders are prompted to change passwords when matches are found, but the massive amount of stolen data posted online by hackers can make the process slow. 
People can check online at sites such as www.haveibeenpwned.com to see whether their email addresses have been found in troves of stolen data.
 – AFP 
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Chinese celebrities pay US$1.7b in back taxes after Fan Bingbing scandal

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Wed, 23 Jan 2019, 02:17 PM

LOS ANGELES: Chinese film and TV stars have paid some $1.7 billion (RMB11.7 billion) of additional taxes, following the mid-2018 scandal surrounding actress Fan Bingbing. The figure was announced Tuesday by China's State Tax Administration.
Chinese authorities launched a probe into the taxation affairs of the entertainment sector in October. Companies and individuals were asked to examine and self correct their post-2016 tax affairs, by the end of December last year. Those that complied would be exempt from further penalties for tax evasion, the Tax Administration said.
In July last year, Fan was accused of hiding a proportion of her income on a film production through use of multiple contracts, only some of which would be declared to the tax authorities. It also emerged that she had set up companies in the regions in order to made use of lower tax regimes offered by some of China's provinces.
In October, after going missing from public view for months, Fan resurfaced. She apologized and was ordered to pay $130 million (RMB884 million) of back taxes and penalties on behalf of herself and her companies.
The huge scale of the other celebrities' unpaid tax bill - the number equates to roughly 20% of China's gross box office last year - reinforces the argument that the use double contracts and tax loopholes was widespread throughout the Chinese entertainment industry. The number of productions initiated in China slowed sharply from the summer as production companies and talent reassessed their financial relationships.
"Industry workers should practise socialist core values ... and strive to be entertainment workers with belief, empathy and sense of responsibility in the new era," authorities said, according to state news agency Xinhua.
 - Reuters 
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China says will step up fiscal spending this year to support economy

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Wed, 23 Jan 2019, 02:16 PM

BEIJING: China will step up fiscal spending this year to support its economy, focusing on further cuts in taxes and fees for small firms, finance ministry officials said on Wednesday.
Mounting pressure on the world's second-biggest economy pushed growth last year to its lowest since 1990 even as Beijing stepped up stimulus measures and spurred banks to lend more.
The government may unveil more fiscal stimulus during the annual parliamentary meeting in March, including bigger tax cuts and more spending on infrastructure projects, economists say.
China's fiscal spending rose 8.7 percent to 22.1 trillion yuan ($3.3 trillion) in 2018, while revenue increased 6.2 percent to 18.3 trillion yuan, said Li Dawei, an official at the finance ministry. 
China achieved its 2018 fiscal revenue target despite extensive tax cuts last year, Li added.
Beijing delivered about 1.3 trillion yuan of cuts in taxes and fees in 2018.
Finance Minister Liu Kun said this month that China will further lower taxes and fees this year. The government is also studying a plan to reduce social security fees to lighten the burden on small companies, Liu said.
Policy insiders also expect Beijing to cut the value-added tax, which ranges from 6 percent for the services sector to 16 percent for manufacturers.
Policymakers' pledge of more aggressive tax reductions in 2019 has fanned expectations that the annual budget deficit ratio could be lifted to 3 percent of gross domestic product.
The government had lowered the 2018 deficit target to 2.6 percent of GDP from 3 percent the previous year - the first cut since 2012.
The finance officials, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, did not report the size of the 2018 budget deficit.
China will "appropriately" step up fiscal spending in 2019, said ministry official Hao Lei.
Fiscal revenue growth is expected to slow this year, Li said.
Earlier, sources told Reuters the deficit target could rise from 2.6 percent of GDP but is likely to be kept below 3 percent.
The slowdown in China has also raised concerns of rising indebtedness of local governments as they ramp up measures to support growth.
China must be on guard against "black swan" risks while fending off "grey rhino" events, President Xi Jinping said on Monday.
A "black swan" event refers to an unforeseen occurrence that typically has extreme consequences, while a "grey rhino" is a highly obvious yet ignored threat.
Local governments and state organizations should find a balance between stabilising growth and fending off risks, controlling the pace and intensity of such policies, Xi warned.
China will be more strict in curbing local government bond risks and any form of hidden debt, Hao said.
Outstanding local government debt stood at 18.39 trillion yuan at the end of 2018, Hao said, adding that local government debt risks remain manageable overall.
Total outstanding local government debt was 16.47 trillion yuan at the end of 2017, according to the finance ministry's 2018 work report.
Special bonds are usually issued to fund public works spending including infrastructure projects or land development.
At the end of 2018, the State Council, or cabinet, approved a 2019 quota for new local government bond issuance of 1.39 trillion yuan, enabling local authorities to start issuing debt from January.
Local government bond issuance typically begins in March, following approval of quotas at the National People's Congress, or parliament.
Special purpose local bond issuance is expected to be completed by September, Hao said.
Local government special bond issuance was 1.95 trillion yuan last year, the finance ministry said in a separate statement on Wednesday.
That brings the total outstanding local government special bond issuance to 7.39 trillion yuan as of end-2018, it said.
That compares with 6.14 trillion yuan at end-2017, according to the ministry's 2018 work report.
 - Reuters 
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[转贴] 长期投资LPI?(二) - 蛤蜊先生

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Wed, 23 Jan 2019, 01:49 PM





伦平的combined ratio 是64.9%,低于市场平均92.5%。Combined ratio的意思是经营成本加上理赔损失除以保费收入的比率,一般低于100%则表示有承保利益。

而management expenses ratio 19.4%,也低于市场平均24.2%。
在2018年第四季,公司也推出BPM system(我也不懂是什么,只知道弄好后,会加快效率),公司预计完成后将会节省更多成本。
Alliance 净赚幅7%。
Takaful 净赚幅10%。
TunePro 净赚幅9%。
根据过去三个季度总计为57.75sen,预估Q4至少能赚21sen,全年EPS 78.75sen。
最高价17.5,本益比 22。
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Labels: LPI
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