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The biggest tech controversies of 2017

From AI scare to LeEco's exit, here are the top tech controversies of 2017.

2017 was the year when we in India saw the rise of Reliance Jio and with it the fall of mobile data prices. We saw the government’s push for the cashless economy. At the start of the year, our very own ISRO sent 104 satellites to space in one go, creating a record of some sort. Throughout the world, there were many more tech innovations that though didn’t impact us directly, they have certainly laid the foundation for future innovations.

However, there were many controversies in the world of tech too. Here we have compiled five tech controversies that made headlines in India.

The LeEco India exit

This was a surprise for many tech watchers. China-based LeEco started its Indian operations just a year back and had tremendous success with its phones selling like hotcakes till then. It even entered large appliances space like TV and had made big plans to offer its content services in the country. Everyone was quite sure that the company, like all its other Chinese peers, looking for a market with huge potential and India fits the bill quite well.

However, in March the news of LeEco firing 85 percent of its staff shook the tech industry. The company was gone within days, leaving its remaining employees and vendors high and dry. LeEco’s ambitious expansion, analysts said, left the company with too little money. It even cast a shadow on other Chinese companies with many started watching their moves in suspicion.

Bluewhale game

This online game came into prominence in 2016 but it wrecked havoc in India this year. Many kids committed suicide under the influence of this game that reportedly consists of a series of tasks assigned to players by administrators over a 50-day period, with the final challenge requiring the player to commitsuicide.

The Indian government was finally had to intervene and it requested internet companies like Facebook and Google to remove the links of the game.

AI Job scare

The Machine-mania is there for ages and was even portrayed well by Terminator movies. However, this year the job losses due to machines reached the crescendo. Not only in India but in countries across the world, the topic has been widely discussed and is being discussed even now.

While there were doomsday predictions about machines to eat away the majority of jobs, there were naysayers who believe that while machines will take over some mundane jobs, they will also open up a type of jobs.

Particularly, there was a scare of automation after companies revealed that they had reduced the headcount due to automation of some types of jobs. Infosys even admitted of laying off 11,000 due to automation.

Facebook manipulation

Though US elections were held in 2016 its echo filled 2017. Reports started tumbling out about how Russia meddled in the elections by spreading fake new in the Americas. But Americans weren’t the only victims of fake news. The issue of propaganda and fake news dominated the political arena in India. With several assembly elections held this year, political parties and they cyber army unleashed a volley of fake news.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity and privacy were the top trending words in India in 2017 thanks to government’s massive push for Aadhaar. The Indian government made Aadhaar mandatory for citizens to avail many services and subsidy, including bank accounts, gas connections and many more. This is a clear invitation to the hackers and any leak of data would jeopardise crores of people, critics pointed out. Two massive cyber breaches of Uber and Equifax data also highlighted the unpleasant reality of cyber threats.

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