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Indian Defense Minister Talks About the Role of Blockchain in Warfare

Indian Defense Minister Talks Blockchain in Warfare

Indian Defense Minister Talks About the Role of Blockchain in Warfare

Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh believes that blockchain will play a significant role in modern warfare. In an address to envoys of more than 80 countries before the country’s DefExpo 2020 conference next February, Singh said that Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data will be required for the next generation of warfare.

Rajnath Singh said:

“The role of AI, big data and blockchain technologies has already revolutionized the existing paradigm of warfighting. The defence industry is undergoing a churning to cope and employ these technologies, in order to safeguard the safety and security of critical infrastructure.“

Considering the shift in the pattern of warfare techniques from land, sea and air to cyberspace and outer space, digital means of combat could potentially play a huge role. The defense minister emphasized the dual goal of preparing for contingencies and the threat from various sources, and at the same time have the ability to respond proactively if necessary.

As reported earlier, the concept of using blockchain in the defense sector is not the first, with the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) examining the scope of blockchain in the defense strategy. Last year, the US overseas military personnel announced a voting system via a blockchain mobile app so that servicemen could vote in midterm elections. 144 military personnel stationed overseas from 24 counties cast their ballots on a mobile, blockchain-based platform called Voatz.

 

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South Korea Aims to Put Trade Finance on the Blockchain by 2021

South Korea to Use Blockchain for Trade Finance

South Korea Aims to Put Trade Finance on the Blockchain by 2021

South Korea is planning to embark on the blockchain trail for trading. As per local media reports, the complete digitization of the trade process is headed towards achieving low cost trading benefits and is anticipated to be completed by 2021.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki introduced the Development Plan for Digital Trade which highlights the utilization of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and big data for furnishing customized trading information to the companies which will reduce the time and cost related to trade finance by more than 90%. These technologies will also be used to devise a digital trading platform to boost e-commerce exports.

Hong Nam-ki said:

“We will build a digital trading platform that can be easily and conveniently used in all stages of export, such as contracts, customs and logistics.”

The plan also stated the utilization of blockchain in the u-Trade-Hub 2.0 (uHT 2.0) initiative to garner information pertaining to exports, foreign investment and international projects.

Chung Seung-il, Vice Minister of Commerce and Industry, said that the scheme is driven towards improving the Korean export support foundation by furnishing trade information and export support services of the government and other enterprises.

In June 2019, as reported by BitcoinNews.com, the government of South Korea committed to revising laws so as to allow for more flexibility in fintech startups in the country to create new business models. Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said that the consideration of such sweeping changes represented the state’s desire to give a boost to its fintech sector, hoping to spur innovation and the creation of new industries through deregulation.

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Emerging Tech’s Role in Insurance Industry Reform

Insurance industry could transform with the help of emerging technologies.

The insurance industry has seen a meteoric rise for quite some time now. The growth of the multi-trillion industry is expected to surpass the growth of the global economy in 2018-19. While Bruce Springsteen’s vocal chords hold an insurance of USD 6 million, Julia Roberts’ killer smile is insured for a whopping USD 30 million which just goes to show that pretty much anything can have an insurance.

Even as global premium volume is increasing by leaps and bounds, like most other industries, the insurance industry has continued to grapple with several challenges all these years. As an attempt to revolutionize the space, disruptive technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IOT) are being implemented and studied by several industry giants and startups to offer faster payouts, gain trust, prevent frauds, minimize mismanagement and obtain a competitive edge in the market.

Why blockchain?

Insurance policies, as we know, are used to mitigate the repercussions of unforeseen tragedies. However, the traditional methods are prone to human errors and carry a risk of botching information. This instills a lack of trust in the clients which is so far the biggest challenge faced by the industry. Most individuals avoid purchasing insurance policies due to the risk factors.

The State Insurance Commissioner of Georgia was accused of a fraud of USD 2 million

In recent times, the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies has gone mainstream with its widespread applications in financial as well as non-financial ecosystems. Distributed ledger technology (DLT) is being advocated to reform supply chains by instituting transparency and precision.

Given the complexity surrounding insurances, DLT can be used to dumb down the procedure by instituting coordination between the issuers, brokers, re-insurers and consumers. The model ensures a streamlined information flow in the value chain. As transactions occur, the information can be updated on the ledger. The information recorded on the ledger is immutable which ensures authenticity of the records and mitigates fraud risks. Moreover, the security provided by the technology cuts down on the countless checks and data verification. Consequently, payouts are settled quickly and this improves the overall efficiency and enhances accountability and customer satisfaction.

Smart contracts give a real-time outlook of policy data like insurance coverage and payout details to the network participants post claims. Needless to say, this saves a lot of time for the company as well as the customers while procuring error-free data.

Real-life use cases in various insurance sectors

Several insurance giants are leveraging blockchain solutions due to the low operational costs and increased automation of processes. In Zimbabwe, officials from Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) endorsed blockchain solutions to tackle the hurdles of the industry.

Earlier this month, as reported by BitcoinNews.com, a Sri Lankan firm embraced blockchain to provide agricultural insurance policies for smallholder paddy field farmers in Sri Lanka.

Last year, the effectiveness of blockchain technology was tested in the marine ecosystem for cargo insurances. With the goal of issuing faster payouts, the project was deemed successful by the two collaborating partners which extended the prospects of establishing a full-fledged version of the platform in the future.

Life insurance

Life insurance claims are perhaps the most difficult to file with the mundane task taking on the emotional toll. In such a scenario, a blockchain-based model certainly comes as a blessing with boosted efficiency and authentic insurance products.

In June 2019, leading global insurer, MetLife (Metropolitan Life Insurance Company), announced the adoption of Ethereum blockchain to revolutionize the life insurance industry. The smart contract platform dubbed “Lifechain” will serve the customers by providing the family with reliable data of the insurance along with automated claim procedure. Zia Zaman, CIO of MetLife Asia, said that the primary reason behind implementing the technology is to exploit the security benefits offered by it along with the freedom to incorporate multiparty participation. He also stated:

“If you try technology that has been around for twenty years you’re not going to learn as much as if you try it with a decentralized system like DLT, and that’s advantageous because we are realizing that there is a lower cost of implementation for this system versus the other way.”

On demise, Lifechain will encrypt the corresponding National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) number on the ledger following which a search will be initiated to determine if the deceased is insured. The platform will then notify the family promptly while initiating a claim.

The concept simplifies the excruciating process of filing a claim with an attempt to deliver quick services and foster better relationships with the customers.

Health insurance

Slowly but surely, the healthcare industry has recognized the unprecedented benefits of blockchain to provide a trusted infrastructure. Nevertheless, the paradigm shift from traditional methods to blockchain-based solutions requires ample time and groundwork, but the health insurance sector has left no stones unturned to experiment the technology.

In January 2019, health insurance giant Aetna collaborated with IBM to devise a network based on IBM’s blockchain platform. Per the release, the primary reason for introducing blockchain was to achieve a smooth and secure information exchange to reinforce efficient claims and payment processes.

Soroush Abbaspour, IBM’s program director of blockchain for HCLS, stated that smart contracts will be the driving force to garner efficiency as they will permit cheaper claims and payment processes along with transparency in the network. He stated:

“Smart contracts on blockchains can be used to implement contract terms and business rules in a trusted execution environment. The benefit of blockchain is to dramatically reduce administration costs by eliminating duplicate processing, reducing disputes, and allowing for more effective risk management through real-time visibility and provenance leading to broader adoption of value programs by providers.”

Title insurance

Title insurance primarily insures an individual from the financial losses endured due to the defects in the title to a property. The title insurance industry is implementing blockchain for efficient title registries. Although refashioning the model will affect the process of title search requests, certifications and the issuance of  insurance policies, the industry is eyeing the transition to exploit the benefits that it brings along while continuing to perform other key functions in real estate.

UBITQUITY is one such platform with uses Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) to provide title companies and municipalities benefit from a “clean record of ownership, thereby reducing future title search time, and increasing confidence/transparency”.

Even in the crypto insurance industry, leading insurers such as Marsh & McLennan and Aon are extending blockchain startup services to cater to the specific requirements of crypto protection. With the increase in demand for crypto premiums, insurers are being driven towards low-cost services.

In the coming years, the need to switch to better business models cannot be overlooked by the industry to achieve a robust and frictionless ecosystem. With real-time visibility and settlement of contracts, the program will attract more customers with effective risk management.

With endless possibilities, it is only up to the market players to explore the vast potential of the emerging technologies and incorporate what takes them to the forefront of the realm. The brisk DLT-based models already hold evidence to provide a sophisticated and advanced insurance program compared to the traditional counterparts.

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Blockchain and AI: Journey to the Promised Land

Blockchain and AI: Journey to the Promised Land

Blockchain technology’s advantage as an immutable, encrypted, and secure distributed ledger is well known. The ability for multiple parties can write data to the blockchain or access the data, and know that the data on the blockchain is trustworthy since it cannot be modified or deleted, is one that is now getting the recognition it deserves.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is another powerful technology, with the ultimate dream to create a program that surpasses human intelligence, and once that happens, recursively self-improve itself until it has theoretically infinite intelligence and processing capabilities. This is called the AI singularity, and the late Stephen Hawking, one of the most renowned physicists in history, said:

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded”.

More optimistically, such an AI could perhaps solve all the problems in the world by creating futuristic technologies. It can be speculated that current AIs, and a theoretical super-intelligent AI in the future, would be enhanced by synergizing with blockchain technology. This article explores how AI and blockchain can be combined to pave the way for the fourth industrial revolution.

Blockchain and AI synergy

There are several ways that blockchain technology and AI can be combined to produce a more efficient technological system. First, since the former provides a distributed ledger which cannot be modified or deleted, the information from the latter can be stored in a blockchain, and then the scientists trying to understand the AI would have a clear and trustworthy audit trail of its actions. This data can then be used to make the program more powerful and efficient.

Further, if AI data is stored in a blockchain, the scientists that are working on producing better programs can give each other access to the blockchain. This data sharing via blockchain accelerates the scientific process of producing the most optimal AIs.

Also, blockchain technology and cryptocurrency can be combined to create peer-to-peer marketplaces for data produced by AI programs and even the programs themselves. This will help AI technology to proliferate across the world in a decentralized manner.

Additionally, properly built blockchain technology ensures that data cannot be modified or deleted, so the data produced by the AI will not be hacked. Also, the program that comprises the AI could be stored on the blockchain, so it can never be compromised.

Another aspect of blockchain technology is smart contracts. In the theoretical scenario where an AI has reached super-intelligence, smart contracts can be used to ensure that itdoes not do anything it is not supposed to do. This will avoid catastrophic risks like those seen in “The Animatrix” and the “The Terminator“.

Ongoing efforts

There are actually a gauntlet of nascent companies already combining AI and blockchain technology, and these are sometimes called decentralized intelligent companies.

Tech firm Neureal combines AI and blockchain technology by allowing idle computing power to be commoditized and utilized to analyze tremendous amounts of data, referred to as Big Data. This data is fed into an AI program which then uses the data to answer questions and make predictions, as explained in the white paper. Ultimately, if Neureal succeeds in their mission to build this project, the end result would be a distributed and decentralized AI supercomputer.

Golem is somewhat similar to Neureal, in that it uses blockchain technology to combine idle processing power to form a decentralized supercomputer. The decentralized supercomputer created by Golem could easily be plugged into an AI by any user, although that is not the stated goal of the project.

SingularityNET provides a decentralized protocol using blockchain technology where developers across the world can share the AI technology that they create, accelerating progress towards the AI singularity, which is SingularityNET’s goal according to their white paper. It is doing this because the industry is highly privatized and run by major corporations, which keep their technological advancements a secret. A platform like SingularityNET, which allows all the scientists in the world to collaborate and build the ultimate AI, could perhaps eventually outpace major corporations like Google. Effect.AI is another company trying to decentralize development.

AI Blockchain has a different spin then the projects described so far, by using an AI to govern the blockchain, which supposedly increases security. The so-called super peers on AI Blockchain are designed to protect data in the blockchain by preventing malicious activity.

OpenMined aims to create a platform where AI programs can be connected with big data sets, which is an important part of the process for training a program. This learning environment is secured with blockchain technology, allowing scientists to keep their programs and data safe from hacking. Essentially, OpenMined uses blockchain technology like a protective shield, fostering the more rapid development of AI.

SynapseAI also is trying to develop a unique platform which accelerates the advancement of AI by monetizing it with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. AIs are uploaded to the SynapseAI network, and other users pay for the data from the programs via SYN tokens. Super-intelligent AIs could become self-sufficient and earn their own money in a theoretical future via platforms like this.

Another interesting convergence of blockchain technology and AI is the internet of things (IoT). The IoT is a worldwide network of connected devices as explained in a previous BitcoinNews.com article. For example, in a smart home, the IoT is used to connect windows, the garage door, the fridge, the tv, security sensors, and any other electronic to your smartphone. Also, IoT can be used to connect sensors for industrial usages, such as for power companies and traffic control systems.

Since the IoT produces a tremendous amount of data, blockchain technology is already quite useful for ensuring this data is properly stored, secured, and shared. IOTA is the best example of a blockchain project that is designed to store and share data from the IoT, and this data can actually be monetized via the IOTA (MIOTA) cryptocurrency, which is one of the top cryptocurrencies with a market cap near $1 billion.

It would make sense to plug an AI into the IoT to analyze and process the data, and then monetize that data via IOTA.

Thus, blockchain technology and AI have fundamentally useful synergy, and the combination of these powerful technologies is paving the way for the fourth industrial revolution. This is not a pipedream of the future; it is already happening via decentralized intelligence companies like Neureal, Golem, SingularityNET, Effect.AI, OpenMined, and SynapseAI, among others not discussed in this article.

This is only the beginning. The combination of blockchain technology and AI could lead to programs so powerful that they solve all of the world’s relevant problems. Certainly, this is an exciting time to be alive.

 

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How Important is Blockchain Interoperability?

How Important is Blockchain Interoperability_

Blockchain interoperability describes the process by which different blockchains can communicate with one another, allowing a smoother process of sharing information. Many consider interoperability key to the success of blockchain applications being user-friendly, practical, and economically efficient.

Think of it in terms of social media; if everyone’s friends are using different platforms that can’t interact with one another, the success of such platforms is significantly restricted and monopolies will emerge. In the cryptocurrency space, is there really room for success for all the tokens out there running on different blockchains? How useful is a smart contract on one platform if it is not recognized on another?

As major corporate giants including Walmart and Pepsico begin rolling out their own blockchain applications, it seems only a matter of time before a protocol will be developed to enable such platforms to communicate with one another without issue. Several attempts to provide a solution have been rolled out, although their achievements so far have been limited as the technology is still in the early stages of development.

Here are some of the biggest projects to date:

Aion, Quant Network, and XRouter

  • Quant Network’s keystone project is called OverLedger, a ledger system for ledgers themselves, operating as a meta-gateway for connecting blockchain networks. Eventually, the project hopes to connect centralized industries such as financial services to blockchains.
  • Aion is a smart contract platform focused on the interoperability of blockchains and java based contracts. It aims to become the common protocol to be used between blockchains for creating a more efficient decentralized system. It focuses on the concept of a ”federated blockchain network.”
  • The beta version of XRouter was released just last month, claiming to be the first ”blockchain router” on the market. The platform serves as the foundation for multi-blockchain architectures, letting users build Dapps with features from any existing blockchain. By allowing blockchains to communicate, XRouter believes it will promote increased adoption of Dapps.

The fourth industrial revolution

The rise of the autonomous economy is considered to be propelling the world’s fourth industrial revolution, and blockchain plays a significant role in this alongside IoT and AI. However, for these three technological components to synergize efficiently, blockchain interoperability is paramount, else there will essentially be communication blocks between the technology and a lack of user-friendly versatility meaning that blockchain and other decentralized ledger technologies (DLT) will just not be adopted at high enough rates.

With blockchain interoperability running alongside AI and IoT data, the networks can run themselves and grow smarter over time though machine learning. This would be the culmination of the fourth industrial revolution. It would seem only a matter of time before blockchain interoperability becomes a reality for everyday actors in the economy.

Is this one of the biggest hurdles for blockchain in 2019? Probably, yes. But by the looks of the current adoptions rates of the solutions on offer, seeing true interoperability is still several years off.

Really, it is a race between blockchain interoperability projects to create the first mass-adopted solution and reap the rewards.

 

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EU Report: Blockchain Key to ”Digital Twin” Transformation, Brings Trust

EU Report: Blockchain Key to ''Digital Twin'' Transormation, Brings Trust

A report published by the European Union Blockchain Observatory and Forum cites blockchain technology as fundamental in the next generation digital transformation, facilitating trustful transactions between parties.

Dr Tim Weingärtner, a professor at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences & Arts, authored the report, featuring it on the concept of a ”digital twin” world. This concept essentially looks to build a replica of the physical world within the digital realm, utilizing artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and tokens to represent physical objects, all underlined with blockchain as the ledger.

While blockchain would be used to identify and tokenize physical objects, smart contracts would also be vital in providing a tamper-proof digital environment, the report claims. Smart contracts would enable a secure, automated financial environment.

The Ethereum blockchain is touted as the best for creating and managing tokens, praised for its programming language and existing code examples.

The report claims this embedded connection between the digital and physical worlds will be particularly crucial in the near future because of exponential growth, explaining: ”…The physical world will be exceeded by the digital world in the coming years. This means that speed, growth, and complexity will increase by a multiple.”

 

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Is AI Really More Dangerous Than Nukes?

Is AI Really More Dangerous Than Nukes

The fictional Terminator universe, in which artificial intelligence (AI) and robots eventually usurp human beings as rulers of the planet, may not be stranger than truth, after all, at least not in the mind of tech entrepreneur and pro-Bitcoin advocate Elon Musk.

Musk has insisted, more than once, that AI is “far more dangerous” than nuclear weapons. He may have bought himself a lot of room for understanding, given his immense contributions in the field of technology, but it’s worth examining whether or not what he says has any merit.

The man has always been a detractor of AI in terms of its dangers, and he was known to have stated his preference for nukes at a Texas conference last year, after earlier saying AI was more dangerous than North Korea.

Others have criticized him for his outbursts and have called him a fear monger, with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg accusing him of being “pretty irresponsible” and Harvard Professor Steven Pinker not at all agreeing.

Musk does not hold back:

“The biggest issue I see with so-called AI experts is that they think they know more than they do, and they think they are smarter than they actually are.”

He believes that he knows enough about machine intelligence to repeat the foretelling of AI supremacy, just as Stephen Hawking, Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space Odyssey) and even the Terminator have.

And with more and more research, such as this recent paper released by Science Robotics, suggesting that the idea of a world controlled by robots and AI isn’t too far-fetched, one might do well to heed the warnings of our modern-day tech prophets.

 

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President Macron Claims Blockchain Can Boost French Agriculture

President Macron Claims Blockchain Can Boost French Agriculture

Speaking at the 56th International Agricultural Fair in Paris, French president Emmanuel Macron has spoken of the benefits that can be brought to the industry by the utilization of blockchain technologies.

President Macron has asserted that both the agricultural industry in France as well as the food industry, in general, will gain through the integration of blockchain:

“Let’s do this in Europe, [be at the] the vanguard of agricultural data by developing tools that will track every product from raw material production to packaging and processing.”

The French president urged the EU to embrace the use of blockchain in order to tap into the potential which exists in both of these markets. Last year, the French government announced a partnership with IBM regarding its Pathways to Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) education system. This included the development of new skills in data science, cloud computing, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain. The push forward on blockchain would see new graduates and experienced technical professionals filling the new vacancies created by the new government-led drive.

President Macron suggests that the successful use of blockchain in both the agricultural and food industries could see a trickle-down effect in other areas, arguing, “The innovation is there and it must be used in the agricultural world as doing so would both bring shared excellence and offer benefits to consumers.”

UNICEF France, who has already started accepting cryptocurrency donations for a number of its programs, is equally positive. Executive Director Sebastien Lyon commented: “Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology for charitable purposes offer a new opportunity to appeal to the generosity of the public and continue to develop our actions with children in our country of intervention.”

 

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Robotic Art Recorded on Ethereum Blockchain

Robotic Art Recorded on Ethereum Blockchain

Art linked with cryptocurrency, whether cryptically hidden within an installation, or used for buying paintings, along with blockchain used for storing and sharing art are all becoming commonplace, but the recording of a piece of art in progress by the artist is a less familiar occurrence.

That is until now, but in this case, the artist Gaka-Chu is not a human, but the brainchild of Robonomics Network, a platform set up to integrate autonomous robots into everyday life.

Yes, this artist is a robot.

The Ethereum infrastructure, with the help of Microsoft’s Azure, allows the image to be created based on popular hashtags in social networks using sensors and an RGB camera. AI is now allowing Gaka-Chu to complete a number of tasks such as buying paints, brushes, paying electricity bills and of course creating a work of art.

Of course, as yet, Da Vinci recreations are a little beyond the robot’s artistic scope, so for the time being it is limited to Japanese characters. And for anyone who has ever learned Japanese or Mandarin, they will know that is certainly no mean achievement.  Little human support is given to Gaka-Chu, being largely self-supporting, as it is quite happy accepting tokens for its commissions, which are then used for consumables and electricity.

Robonomics Network leader Sergey Lonshakov says that the artwork isn’t perfected at this stage due to the structure of the robot’s drawing arm. The entire process is based on a smart chain contract between the customer and the robot and is fully trackable on the blockchain.

 

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South Korea Startup, New York Hospital Adopt Blockchain for Data Collection

South Korea Startup, New York Hospital Adopt Blockchain for Data Collection

Data collection using available new technologies continues to benefit from the application of DLT, a fact that a Manhattan hospital is discovering for itself through a new collaboration with blockchain startup Medibloc.

The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), one of the United States’ top five hospitals, cites its project as being one of the first attempts by a major healthcare institution in the country to connect with a blockchain startup in order to create a system of decentralized patient data.

Using blockchain platforms means that only authorized medical professionals can use the patient data, itself secured by sophisticated cryptography and possibly smart contract technology. This also makes it easier for data sharing among health care specialists, assisting with the digitization of healthcare data across networks.

Currently, the MGH gathers its information independently through different bodies such as insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies with no guarantee this information can be transferred securely. This could change if MGH can utilize DLT in the way that it wants to. Synho Do, director of the Laboratory of Medical Imaging and Computation, a joint venture of MGH and Harvard Medical School, commented:

“In collaboration with Medibloc, we aim to explore potentials of blockchain technology to provide secure solutions for health information exchange, integrate healthcare AI applications into the day-to-day clinical workflow, and support [a] data sharing and labeling platform for machine learning model development.”

Medibloc itself was born out of the healthcare industry with both of its founders previously working as industry professionals. As doctors, Kho and Eunsol Lee, brought notoriety to their company from industry players, and also from government officials in South Korea, giving Medibloc added credibility. The main asset the startup brings to MGH is the functionality of decentralized information, which hospitals of this size have not explored to date, still preferring to use multiple databases to store and develop data.

Medibloc had formed several Asian partnerships before its latest American project, with eight medical institutions and 14 tech giants now using their services. Plans to begin operating at MGH in the second quarter of 2019 are underway.

 

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