Facebook Current Affairs - 2019

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Quick Facts: What is CTRL-Labs? Why Facebook is acquiring it?

On 23rd September, 2019, Facebook announced that it will acquire CTRL – Labs, a tech company that makes wrist bands capable of reading minds. The band can transmit electrical signals from brain into computers as digital input. The deal is worth approximately, from 500 million USD to 1 billion USD. This is the most substantial acquisition of Facebook after its acquisition of virtual reality company Occulus on a deal of 2 billion USD in 2014.

CTRL – Labs was founded by Patrick Kaifosh, a neuro scientist and Internet Explorer creator Thomas Reardon.

What is CTRL – Labs?

CTRL – labs is a start up looking to guide computers with the help of brain signals without using hands. The lab is working on brain science, machine learning and intends to create interfaces for people to control and manipulate the digital gadgets just by thinking.

What is CTRL – Labs’s wrist band?

The flagship product of CTRL – labs is a wrist worn device. It measures neuron activity in the brain and imitates the same motion on computer screen. This device does not read minds. However, it is capable of acquiring signals from brain and electrical impulses that come from muscle cells. In lay man terms the company says that one need not move his hand to move the hand on the screen. He just has to think about moving his arms.

Why is Facebook acquiring CTRL labs?

The acquisition eludes the company’s Building 8 initiative. Building 8 is a secretive research group. Regina Dugan, the leader of Building 8 announced it in 2017. Under the initiative Facebook had been working on non – invasive sensors that will help people communicate. The goal of the initiative is to let users type 100 words a minute using their minds alone. But not everything wandering in the brain, only specific information that it intends to convey.

Under Building 8 initiative, Facebook also plans to create sensors that allows users hear using vibrations on skin.

Apart from Building 8 initiative Facebook also wants to build new ways to interact with computers. Bottom line, Facebook is on the verge of integrating online and offline lives.

How does the band work?

The band leverages EMG to translate mental thought processes into action. EMG is Electrodiagnostic medicine technique to record and evaluate electrical activity in skeletal muscles. The band contains 16 electrodes to monitor electrical signals from motor neuron. The device detects the firing of a neuron at its axon which is called action potential. This puts the device above other wearable devices as they use EEG to measure electrical activity of the brain.

Gafa Tax: France to levy 3% tax on Internet giants

The French parliament approved a law dubbed as Gafa Tax (an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon), the legislation will impose a 3% levy on sales generated in the country by non-tax paying online giants.

Key Highlights

Levying this 3% tax on total annual revenues of largest technology firms providing services to French consumers would make France 1st major economy to impose a tax on internet heavyweights.

Background: At present, digital companies pay nearly no tax in countries where they have large sales like France. The Bill was adopted by National Assembly last week has got its final approval from Senate.

Objective: To stop multinationals from avoiding taxes by setting up headquarters in low-tax European Union (EU) countries. At present, companies pay nearly no tax in countries where they have large sales such as France.

Applicable on: The tax would be applied only to companies with global revenues in excess of €500 million and revenue of at least €25 million from UK activities.

Implications:

As per France’s Finance Ministry estimations the Gafa tax will raise about €500 million ($566 million) in 2019 but that should increase “quickly.”

The tech industry has warned that it could lead to higher costs for consumers.

It could also affect US multinational companies such as Airbnb and Uber as well as those from China and Europe.

Way ahead: Although France failed to persuade European Union (EU) partners to impose a Europe-wide tax on online giants, but it is pushing for an international deal with member countries of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).