Asia Tech Correspondent
Thomson Reuters Foundation
Rina Chandran is Tech Correspondent for the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Prior to joining the foundation in 2016, Rina was a business journalist for more than a dozen years in India, Singapore and New York, with Reuters News, Bloomberg and the Financial Times. Rina has an MFA in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University and an MA in Business & Economics Reporting from New York University.
April 03, 2023
When U.S. tech firm OpenAI rolled out Whisper, a speech recognition tool offering audio transcription and translation into English for dozens of languages including Māori, it rang alarm bells for many Indigenous New Zealanders.
Whisper, launched in September by the company behind the ChatGPT chatbot, was trained on 680,000 hours of audio from the web, including 1,381 hours of the Māori language.
March 28, 2023
Just outside the Reserve Bank of India's Monetary Museum - which charts the evolution of money, from barter to electronic transactions - Bachche Lal Sahani is testing the nation's newest form of currency, the e-rupee.
The 45-year-old fruit vendor is among the first retailers in India to use the central bank digital currency (CBDC) the RBI, launched as a pilot on Dec. 1, a month after the trial for wholesale, or interbank transactions, was rolled out.
March 22, 2023
A mobile app for job listings for freelance LGBTQ+ workers in Southeast Asia can help tackle workplace discrimination and provide more economic opportunities for the growing number of people in the informal sector, activists said.
GetEqual, launched last week, is available on the Line app in Thailand initially, and will be rolled out in Vietnam and Cambodia later in the year, said Ryan Figueiredo, founder and executive director of LGBTQ+ rights group Equal Asia Foundation, which launched the app.
March 22, 2023
After finishing college in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, Saurav hunted for work for more than four months before he came across an advertisement for jobs at a call centre. He signed up, not knowing it would one day land him in jail.
In his job, Saurav - who asked to go by one name to protect his identity - called people in the United States, enticed them to sign up for loans and insurance policies, then told them they needed to improve their credit score by paying $50-$100.
March 21, 2023
From February to April each year, Kam Thon spends most of her days knee-deep in the waters of the Mekong River by her village in northern Thailand, gathering river weed to sell and cook at home.
Kam Thon and other women who live by the Mekong have been collecting river weed, or khai, for decades, but their harvest has fallen since China built nearly a dozen dams upstream.
March 20, 2023
Khadeer Khan was arrested in the south Indian city of Hyderabad in January after police claimed to have identified him from CCTV footage as a suspect in a chain snatching incident. He was released a few days later, and died while being treated for injuries he allegedly sustained while in custody.
The police said Khan was arrested because he looked like the man seen in the CCTV footage.
March 14, 2023
Dinesh Raj, who lives in the south Indian city of Salem, treasures his account on microwork website Amazon Mechanical Turk, even if competition for data annotation tasks on the crowdsourced platform is high, and the pay is low.
The 30-year-old, who has an engineering degree, has struggled to find a well-paid job, and relies on the platform for much of his income, which can vary every day.
February 22, 2023
In Singapore's prisons, CCTVs in the cells watch over inmates, facial recognition is used for headcount checks, and an artificial intelligence-based behaviour detection system monitors for fights and other suspicious activities.
"Sometimes, the facial recognition cameras would turn on at odd times, without warning. Or the behaviour detection would alert the guards if people were just exercising in the cell," said Tan, 26, a former inmate, who asked to go by his last name.
February 14, 2023
Activists in Thailand are suing the government for using spyware technology to monitor dissidents, the first such case in the country that they hope will help raise awareness and better protect citizens subject to increasing surveillance.
Legal non-profit iLaw told Context it is preparing a lawsuit against the Thai government for its alleged use of Israeli firm NSO Group's Pegasus spyware to hack into the mobile phones of at least 30 activists and lawyers in 2020-21.
February 06, 2023
Shortly after the Nigerian government blocked Twitter in 2021 for removing a post by the country's president, its verified handle @NigeriaGov appeared on Koo, an Indian microblogging platform that was little known overseas.
It was a major milestone for Koo, which had launched with a focus on Indian languages and a government-friendly stance even as its bigger rival Twitter increasingly locked horns with authorities over its content moderation policies.