From AI to Reminbi – This is World News in Focus


China: The Yuan continues to weaken this week and China’s currency reserve is draining rapidly, with the government responding by introducing new restrictions against outflow of capital from the country.

The Financial Times reported that the State Administration of Foreign Exchange had asked banks to “improve standards for verifying customers’ identities” and to report “large or questionable transactions.”

The restrictions seemed to have worked as offshore renminbi rose as much as 2.5 percent, to 6.7853 against the dollar on Thursday, according to the New York Times.

The Market Watch said that last December, China’s foreign-exchange reserves fell to to $3.011 trillion, the lowest level since March 2011.

For more about China’s economy we go to the Financial Times:


Japan: Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is replacing  34 of its employees with an artificial intelligence system that can calculate payouts to policyholders.

The company expects that the layoffs would save about 140 million yen (about US$1.2 million) in staff costs a year, which could offset the 200 million yen (US$1.7 million) installation cost of the AI system in the short term.

The artificial intelligence system is based on IBM’s Watson Explorer, which, in turn, was developed with the tech company’s Watson system.  In 2011, Watson competed on the quiz show Jeopardy! and received the first place prize of US$1 million.

Fukoku’s decision may remind readers to rethink what Professor Stephen Hawking portended last October, when he spoke at the opening of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (LCFI) at Cambridge University.

“In short, the rise of powerful AI (artificial intelligence) will be either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which,” the professor said.

Here’s Hawking in 2014 talking technology with BBC News:


Turkey: A gunman shot at partygoers with a long-barrelled weapon on New Year’s Eve inside the Reina nightclub — a popular nightclub in Istanbul’s upmarket Ortaköy neighborhood.

Thirty-nine revellers died and 69 were injured.  Most of the victims were foreigners and many were from the Middle East.

The Turkish government said on Wednesday that the gunman had been identified, but no one has been arrested.  Turkish media had reported that the gunman was believed to be an ethnic Uighur from central Asia, possibly Kyrgyzstan.

The Islamic State on Monday claimed responsibility for the attack, hailing the gunman as a “heroic soldier of the caliphate.”

For more we go to BBC News:


Russia: President Vladimir Putin was found to be behind the hacking activities and had ordered an influence campaign last year which might have given an edge to Donald Trump in winning the US presidential election against Hillary Clinton, according to US intelligence officials.

A declassified intelligence report released by President Obama’s order on Friday suggested that Russians were behind the raid on Clinton campaign chairperson John Podesta’s e-mails.

According to the New York Times, the report concludes that President Putin and the Russian government “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

While the report describes how President Putin and his security services released information gained from the hacks to the public, it did not conclude whether and how the hacking and other cyber-activities had affected the outcome of the election.

For more we go to Fox News:


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