Category Archives: Technology

(CNBC) Europe is not headed for a ‘digital war’ with the US, Dutch minister says


  • Europe is concerned that some U.S. tech companies may not be taking the proper steps needed to protect the personal information of its citizens, Raymond Knops, minister of the interior and kingdom relations in the Netherlands, said.
  • But that does not mean Europe and the United States are headed for a “digital war”, he said.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week urged Europe to take control of its data from U.S. tech giants.

WATCH NOWVIDEO02:05Governments have to ‘speed up,’ regulate new tech: Dutch minister

Europe is concerned that some U.S. tech companies may not be taking the proper steps needed to protect the personal information of its citizens, a Dutch politician said on Wednesday.

But that does not mean Europe and the United States are headed for a “digital war” over the ownership of consumer data, Raymond Knops, minister of the interior and kingdom relations in the Netherlands, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Knops, the state secretary, took over the ministerial role from Kajsa Ollongren in November.

“What you can see is that Europe is self-confident about how we deal with our data and the data of our citizens,” Knops said. Last year, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation went into law, giving individuals sweeping new powers in controlling their data, including the right to demand companies tell them how that information is used.

“What we want is to protect this data of civilians, not be used too easily by private companies. Especially, when there was no consent from these people to deal with this data,” Knops added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week urged Europe to take control of its data from U.S. tech giants. She said the European Union should claim “digital sovereignty” by building its own technology products to manage data and reduce dependency on the likes of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, the Financial Times reported.

Lawmakers in Europe are likely to keep big American tech firms under close scrutiny, according to experts.

When asked about the possibility of digital protectionism, Knops pointed out that Europe, as a continent, is “very much depending on international trade.”

“The last thing we would do is to isolate ourselves,” he said, re-emphasizing the focus lawmakers there have on protecting user data. “What we’ve seen in the last decade is that a lot of companies were not very careful with dealing with data of civilians.”

GP: Facebook EU Parliament protest 180522

Global activists of Avaaz, set up cardboard cutouts of Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, on which is written ‘Fix Fakebook’, in front of the European Union headquarters in Brussels, on May 22, 2018.John Thys | AFP | Getty Images

Knops also explained that governments need to speed up their pace in keeping up with new technologies that are being developed in order to better regulate them. “Not to stop developments, but just to put it in the right direction.” He was addressing the trend of private companies, like Facebook, trying to launch new digital currencies and payments systems.

He explained that it’s not just the European Union that’s working to develop a set of principles and guidelines for companies and governments that deal with new tech like artificial intelligence — other countries are also exploring such options, Knops said.

In the event that U.S. tech firms fail to adhere to established principles and guidelines, Knops said there could be a potential consequence: “It’s not the intention but when you set a set of principles, and guidelines about transparency and respecting privacy, and companies don’t comply with that, the ultimate consequence could be that you say, ‘You’re not welcomed.’”

(ZH) Learn To Code: Traditional Bond Traders Now Being Overrun By Programming Quants

(ZH) Once again, the ability to code is trumping all other skills, again lending credence to the “learn to code” joke that came off as so harsh to the liberal social media elite that it wound up getting people banned from Twitter

But the adage is holding true in the bond market, according to Bloomberg, where quants are now striking it rich with the ability to code. The bond market is getting “wired up by systematic players” and firms are scrambling to scoop up the best talent. 

Hedge funds are stealing each others’ talent and trying to entice employees with robust compensation packages. For instance, credit-quant clients at Selby Jennings in London are offering annual compensation of $400,000 to a Ph.D. graduate with five years’ experience as a desk strategist.

Ex-Citadel head of quantitative research for global credit Frederic Boyer had no issue finding work, either, after being recruited to Chicago-based Jump Trading, as the HFT firm seeks to move into the bond market. (Note: we highlighted Jump Trading’s war over the best real estate for high frequency trading in Chicago in a past piece here). 

AbbVie Looking to Raise $28 Billion in High-Grade Bond Market

And Hugh Willis, co-founder of BlueBay Asset Management, is now starting a systematic debt investment firm in London. More than 70% of the new firm’s staff are able to code. A quant arm of the $113 billion hedge fund called Man Numeric started a corporate debt group last year.

Man Numeric’s Robert Lam, who leads the quantitative credit group with Paul Kamenski, said:

“The pool of candidates is vanishingly small.”

“Building a solid team is a very difficult task. It takes a lot of hard work to get the expertise on the systematic strategies side, as well as be an expert in credit markets,” Kamenski added.

His team members are trained in machine learning, engineering, computer science and econometrics. 

Andrew Das Sarma was recently hired by Jump from Citadel where he focused on convertible arbitrage and systematic credit strategies. He has a master’s degree in Applied Mathematics and a bachelor’s in Physics from Harvard University.

Recruiter Options Group reports that interviews for these types of credit quant positions are up by 25% from a year ago. 

Robeco’s offices in Rotterdam houses PhD graduates from nearby Erasmus University. Portfolio manager Patrick Houweling says: 

“They’re able to take empirical data, program a backtest and analyze the results and make sense of them.”

At the firm, fundamental traders do things like watch Mario Draghi’s press conferences. The quants are nowhere to be found. 

“There’s no Draghi on TV screens where the quant researchers sit,” Houweling says. Instead, “a proprietary software program dubbed COBRA hums along each night, delivering an email to portfolio managers in the morning, recommending allocations.”

“It’s less straightforward than equity research. It requires much more attention to detail,” he says. At the fund, humans only intervene in about 5% of the model’s investment decisions. “You need the quant skills and you need the fixed-income
skills. If you’re not a fixed-income expert, you may miss out on a lot of these bond-specific things which are simply not there in stocks.”

About 70% of institutional and 78% of wholesale investors believe the strategy of factor-based investing can work in fixed income – especially with “factor investing” in equities misfiring of late.

Luke Williams, partner at London-based recruitment firm Lascaux Partners Ltd said: “There’s been an intensification of interest and
willingness to put money on the table in the past 18 months. Credit has emerged as a stand-alone business in the systemic investing world.”

Recall, it was just days ago that we wrote about JP Morgan giving its coders licenses to trade equities. 

The bank got regulatory approvals this month for two of its coders in London and New York to trade cash equities. JP Morgan is targeting eight more licenses for coders, globally, by the end of the year.

(NYT) Portugal Hopes European Tech Investment Will Drive Up Exports

(NYT) LISBON — European investment in Portugal’s digital sector can help address a shortfall in equity funding for start-ups and support an export-driving technology industry, Portugal’s economy minister said on Wednesday.

A 30 million euro fund backed by the European Investment Fund, the Portuguese government and venture capital investors was announced on Tuesday at the Web Summit – Europe’s largest tech conference, held in Lisbon since 2016.

The fund will invest in Iberian startups focused on artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data.

“Access to finance is an issue here in Portugal and in Europe, putting us below par to our American competitors,” Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira told a press conference on Tuesday.

“Working together with European authorities allows us to leverage the very small availability of public money in this country,” he added.

Virtually non-existent 10 years ago, Portugal’s start-up sector attracted 485 million euros ($537 million) in foreign investment and contributed to 1.1% of GDP last year.

Revenue generated from exports by the sector in 2018 nearly doubled from 2016 levels, reaching 1.1 billion euros, or 1.9% of Portugal’s total export revenue that has been growing year-on-year since the financial and debt crisis of the early 2010s.

Siza Vieira told Reuters that improving Portugal’s data processing capacity was crucial to the economy.

A supercomputer installed earlier this year, which multiplied Portugal’s computational capacity ten-fold, was an untapped opportunity for start-ups, he added.

Portugal’s young people are highly educated and often multilingual, but wages remain far below the European average, with the minimum wage at 600 euros month ($664) and average wage at 943 euros ($1,045), government data shows.

A qualified labor force, tax incentives, and a stable political environment are Portugal’s competitive advantages, according to Siza Vieira. The Socialist government, now in its second term, has presided over a period of solid economic growth and budget deficit cuts.

“We expect to see a sizeable increase in companies from abroad investing in service centers and software development in Portugal and exporting from here,” he said.

Siza Vieira expects the majority of investment to come from European companies, stating that most of the firms announcing expansion in Portugal at the Lisbon event are European.

(Reuters) China’s digital currency will kick off ‘horse race’: central bank official


HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s digital currency will create a “horse race” when it is launched as commercial banks and other institutions compete to provide the best services using the new form of money, a central bank official said on Wednesday.A China yuan banknote featuring late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong and a computer keyboard are seen reflected on an image of Chinese flag in this illustration picture taken November 1, 2019. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

China is preparing to be the first country to roll out a digitized domestic currency, a development that is being closely watched by the world’s financial services industries, though few details are currently available.

Akin to Facebook’s proposed Libra digital currency and other cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) project will be powered partially by blockchain technology.

The People’s Bank of China will adopt a two-tier approach with its project, Mu Changchun, the head of the central bank’s digital currency research institute, told a forum in Hong Kong. It will first issue the currency to commercial banks and other institutions, who will then resend it to the general public.

“During the research period, and also the issuance period there will be a horse race approach,” Mu said.

“The front runner will take the whole market – who is more efficient, who can provide a better service to the public – they can survive in the future.”

Mu added that the central bank was “technology neutral”, but he anticipated that if a front runner takes the lead, “the technology they use will be adopted by other parties”.

As the DCEP is designed to substitute existing coins and paper money, holders of the currency would not receive interest payments, which would mean there would be no implications for inflation or monetary policy, Mu said.

While the project has some similarities to Facebook’s Libra, it seems likely to allow Chinese regulators even closer oversight over money flows than they currently have.

The main motivation behind the project, market observers say, is China’s desire to protect its capital borders in the face of fears that newer global payment systems and advanced technology could facilitate illegal cash flows.

Mu reiterated Chinese regulators’ concerns about Libra on Wednesday, saying that if a country had capital management policies, the crytocurrency “was definitely a threat to the country’s currency sovereignty.

He also said that any other “stable coins”, digital currencies whose value is pegged to that of other assets or currencies, would have to abide by all of China’s foreign exchange rules if they were to be accepted in China.

(DieZeit) Don’t Be Naive, Germany

(DieZeit) Don’t Be Naive, Germany

Huawei shouldn’t be allowed to help build Germany’s 5G network. The government in Berlin needs to see that China exploits the weaknesses of liberal democracies.

Huawei 5G Breitband Netzausbau
The Global Mobile Broadband Forum in Zurich © Stefan Wermuth/​AFP/​Getty Images

Germany granted me protection as a political refugee. That is I why believe I have a duty to warn the federal government against making a mistake that will have far-reaching consequences. Angela Merkel’s Chancellery hasn’t ruled out the possibility of working together with Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei to build Germany’s 5G mobile technology infrastructure. But Huawei is not a company like any other. It has close ties with the Chinese government and its military. Should Germany decide to allow Huawei to build one of the most critical infrastructure technologies, it would potentially be opening the backdoor for China to access and disrupt key national assets like electric power grids, the banking and financial system and telecommunications. It would also send a signal to those fighting for democracy and freedom in Hong Kong and beyond that Berlin puts economic interests above the consistent defense of Western values.


26, a freedom activist from Hong Kong, received political asylum in Germany. In 2014, he founded a pro-democracy party in the city. Officials subsequently charged him with instigating riots and incitement of unlawful assembly. He managed to flee to Europe and today lives in Göttingen, Germany, where he studies political science at the local university.

Ray Wong © Norman Hoppenheit für Die Zeit

If you believe such warnings to be alarmist, then my answer is this: Don’t be naive, Germany. You can’t allow yourselves to be deceived into thinking that Huawei’s motives are purely commercial.

The 5G network is part of the foundations of the digital future. If the federal government compromises on the network’s security, in the long run it will compromise not only this country’s working environment, but also the privacy of its citizens. In the United Kingdom, government security experts concluded last year that the use of Huawei components in telecommunications infrastructure could pose risks to UK national security. Australia has already banned Huawei from providing 5G equipment out of fear the Chinese regime might one day shut down power grids and other networks.

I grew up in Hong Kong, so I know how naive it would be to trust the Chinese state to keep its word when it promises not to abuse 5G as a political tool. Hong Kong is the West Berlin in the new cold war, a small bastion of freedom in the grip of a totalitarian regime.

We know the reality behind the facade of the Chinese state. When China signed the agreement with Britain in 1984 regulating the handover of its former colony, it was agreed that the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong would be upheld for 50 years. This didn’t happen. On the contrary, in the last 10 years, the people of Hong Kong have seen our rights systematically undermined. Why, Dear Germans, do you still believe you can trust Beijing?

( Reaction Engines precooler test hits Mach 5

( Reaction Engines has successfully tested its innovative precooler at airflow temperature conditions representing Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.Published 22 October 2019From:UK Space Agency and Chris Skidmore MP

Reaction Engines test facility, Colorado
Reaction Engines test facility, Colorado

This marks a significant milestone in the development of the UK-designed SABRE™ engine and paves the way for a revolution in hypersonic flight and space access.

The precooler heat exchanger is a vital component of Reaction Engines’ revolutionary SABRE air-breathing rocket engine and is an enabling technology for other pre-cooled propulsion systems and a range of commercial applications.

The UK government committed £60 million through the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency to aid preparations for the design, manufacture and testing of SABRE demonstrator engines. This has led to further private investment from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Boeing HorizonX.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore said:

The SABRE engine is one of the UK’s most exciting engineering projects which could change forever how we launch satellites into orbit and travel across the world.

It’s fantastic to see Reaction Engines passing this significant milestone, which demonstrates how its precooler technology can deal with the extreme temperatures associated with travelling at five times the speed of sound.

The government has invested £60 million in SABRE and is committed to taking a more strategic approach to space, developing our national capabilities to complement and expand on the UK’s leading role in the European Space Agency once we leave the EU.

This ground-based test achieved the highest temperature objective of the company’s HTX testing programme and took place at its specially constructed facility at the Colorado Air and Space Port, United States.

During the latest series of tests, Reaction Engines’ precooler successfully quenched airflow temperatures in excess of 1,000°C in less than 1/20th of a second. The tests demonstrated the precooler’s ability to successfully cool airflow at speeds significantly in excess of the operational limit of any jet-engine powered aircraft in history.

Mach 5 is more than twice as fast as the cruising speed of Concorde and over 50% faster than the SR-71 Blackbird aircraft – the world’s fastest jet-engine powered aircraft.

Reaction Engines’ patented precooler heat exchanger has the potential to be used in a wide range of commercial thermal management applications. These include the development of precooled systems that would significantly enhance the performance of existing jet engine technology, along with applications in automotive, aerospace, energy and industrial processes.

(GUA) The Rise of the Deepfake and the Threat-to Democracy

(GUA) On 4 May 2016, Jimmy Fallon, the host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, appeared in a sketch dressed as Donald Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee. Wearing a blond wig and three coats of bronzer, he pretended to phone Barack Obama – played by Dion Flynn – to brag about his latest primary win in Indiana. Both men appeared side by side in split screen, facing the camera. Flynn’s straight-man impression of Obama, particularly his soothing, expectant voice, was convincing, while Fallon played the exaggerated caricature that all of Trump’s mimics – and the man himself – settle into.

Three years later, on 5 March 2019, footage of the sketch was posted on the YouTube channel derpfakes under the title The Presidents. The first half of the clip shows the opening 10 seconds or so of the sketch as it originally aired. Then the footage is replayed, except the faces of Fallon and Flynn have been transformed into, seemingly, the real Trump and Obama, delivering the same lines in the same voices, but with features rendered almost indistinguishable from those of the presidents.

The video, uploaded to YouTube by the founder of derpfakes, a 28-year-old Englishman called James (he asked us not to use his surname), is a forgery created by a neural network, a type of “deep” machine-learning model that analyses video footage until it is able algorithmically to transpose the “skin” of one human face on to the movements of another – as if applying a latex mask. The result is known as a deepfake.

A deepfake Donald Trump (right) based on talkshow host Jimmy Fallon’s impression of the president (left)

James’s video wasn’t intended to fool anyone – it was, he says, created “purely for laughs”. But the lifelike rendering of the presidents, along with thousands of similar deepfakes posted on the internet in the past two years, has alarmed many observers, who believe the technology could be used to disgrace politicians and even swing elections. Democracies appear to be gravely threatened by the speed at which disinformation can be created and spread via social media, where the incentive to share the most sensationalist content outweighs the incentive to perform the tiresome work of verification.

Last month, a digitally altered video showing Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, appearing to slur drunkenly through a speech was widely shared on Facebook and YouTube. According to The Daily Beast, the clip was first posted by Shawn Brooks, 34, a sports blogger and “Trump superfan” from New York, who uploaded the doctored footage to Facebook. Trump then posted the clip on Twitter with the caption: “PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE”. The video was quickly debunked, but not before it had been viewed millions of times; the president did not delete his tweet, which at the time of writing has received nearly 98,000 likes. Facebook declined to take down the clip, qualifying its decision with the statement: “Once the video was fact-checked as false, we dramatically reduced its distribution.”

In response, a team including the artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe two weeks ago posted a video on Instagram, in which Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg boasts that he has “total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures”. The film formed part of an installation at the 2019 Sheffield Doc Fest earlier this month and was posted, the artists said, in an attempt “to interrogate the power of these new forms of computational propaganda”. It was also a test of whether or not Facebook would allow the film to be distributed via its platforms – in this case, Instagram – when the content was damaging to the company’s reputation. At the time of writing, the fake Zuckerberg video remains live. “We will treat this content the same way we treat all misinformation on Instagram,” a spokesperson said. “If third-party factcheckers mark it as false, we will filter it.”Close this@realDonaldTrump



ONCE THE VIDEO WAS FACTCHECKED WE REDUCED ITS DISTRIBUTION1,000,000,000A fake video appearing to show Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, slurring drunkenly through a speech

When James, whose day job is unrelated to technology, launched his channel in January 2018, most deepfakes had nothing to do with politics. Using publicly available software such as FakeApp, amateurs typically would transpose the faces of celebrity women on to those of pornographic actors (one pornography site that specialises in deepfakes contains more than 60 films “starring” the singer Ariana Grande).

“The technology intrigued me, but the early uses didn’t, so I tried my hand at something more wholesome,” James says over online chat. He set his neural network the task of examining the face of Carrie Fisher, as she had appeared, aged 21, in the original Star Wars film, in order to transpose her into the 2016 sequel, Rogue One. James hoped to show how a desktop PC could produce special effects comparable with those that might cost a Hollywood studio tens of thousands of dollars in CGI work (proponents argue that deepfake technology has a variety of applications to offer film companies, potentially enabling automated dubbing and lip-syncing.) The resulting clip, in which 1977-era Fisher lands intact in the 2016 movie, was created “in the time it takes to watch an episode of The Simpsons”, James says, and viewed thousands of times within a few days.

The Star Wars clip helped to kickstart a community of meme-creating film fans around the world, who use deepfake technology to place actors in films in which they never appeared, often to comic or meaningful effect. A popular subgenre of deepfakes places Nicolas Cage into films such as Terminator 2 and The Sound Of Music, or recasts him as every character in Friends. One deepfake convincingly transposes Heath Ledger’s The Joker into the actor’s role in A Knight’s Tale. In February, a video grafting the face of one of China’s best-known actors, Yang Mi, into a 25-year-old Hong Kong television drama, The Legend Of The Condor Heroes, went viral, picking up an estimated 240m views before it was removed by Chinese authorities. Its creator wrote on the video-sharing platform Bilibili that he had made the video as a warning.

Since then, deepfake technology has continued to gain momentum. In May, researchers at Samsung’s AI lab in Moscow published “footage” of Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dalí and the Mona Lisa, each clip generated from one still image. While it is still fairly easy to discern a deepfake from genuine footage, foolproof fabrications appear to be disconcertingly close. Recent electoral upsets have demonstrated the unprecedented power of political entities to microtarget individuals with news and content that confirms their biases. The incentive to use deepfakes to injure political opponents is great.

‘Footage’ of Salvador Dalí and the Mona Lisa, each clip generated, from one still image, by Samsung’s AI lab in Moscow

There is only one confirmed attempt by a political party to use a deepfake video to influence an election (although a deepfake may also have played a role in a political crisis in Gabon in December). In May 2018, a Flemish socialist party called sp.a posted a deepfake video to its Twitter and Facebook pages showing Trump appearing to taunt Belgium for remaining in the Paris climate agreement. The video, which remains on the party’s social media, is a poor forgery: Trump’s hair is curiously soft-focus, while his mouth moves with a Muppet-like elasticity. Indeed, the video concludes with Trump saying: “We all know that climate change is fake, just like this video,” although this sentence alone is not subtitled in Flemish Dutch. (The party declined to comment, but a spokesperson previously told the site Politico that it commissioned the video to “draw attention to the necessity to act on climate change”.)

But James believes forgeries may have gone undetected. “The idea that deepfakes have already been used politically isn’t so farfetched,” he says. “It could be the case that deepfakes have already been widely used for propaganda.”

At a US Senate intelligence committee hearing in May last year, the Republican senator Marco Rubio warned that deepfakes would be used in “the next wave of attacks against America and western democracies”. Rubio imagined a scenario in which a provocative clip could go viral on the eve of an election, before analysts were able to determine it was a fake. A report in the Washington Times in December claimed that policy insiders and Democratic and Republican senators believe “the Russian president or other actors hostile to the US will rely on deepfakes to throw the 2020 presidential election cycle into chaos”.

Some question the scale of this threat. Russell Brandom, policy editor at the Verge, the US tech news site, argued recently that deepfake propaganda is “a crisis that doesn’t exist”, while the New York Times has called deepfakes “emerging, long-range threats” that “pale in comparison” with established peddlers of political falsity, such as Fox News. But many experts disagree. Eileen Donahoe, the director of the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity (TCEI) and an adjunct professor at Stanford University, has been studying the deepfake threat to democracy for the past year. “There is little to no doubt that Russia’s digital disinformation conglomerate has people working on deepfakes,” she says. So far, the TCEI has not seen evidence that the Russians have tried to deploy deepfakes in a political context. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not coming, or that Russia-generated deepfakes haven’t already been tried elsewhere.”’Those who seek to undermine democracy won’t be deterred by the law’

Ivan is a 33-year-old Russian programmer who, having earned a fortune in the video-game industry, is enjoying an extended sabbatical spent cycling, running and camping near where he lives, on the banks of the Volga. He is the creator of DeepFaceLab, one of the most popular pieces of software used by the public to create forged videos. Ivan, who claims to be an “ordinary programmer” and not a political activist, discovered the technology on Reddit in 2017. The software he used to create his first deepfake left a watermark on his video, which irritated him. After the creator of the software rejected a number of changes Ivan suggested, he decided to create his own program.

In the past 12 months, DeepFaceLab’s popularity has brought Ivan numerous offers of work, including regular approaches from Chinese TV companies. “This is not interesting to me,” he says, via email. For Ivan, creating deepfake software is like solving an intellectual puzzle. Currently, DeepFaceLab can only replace the target’s face below the forehead. Ivan is working to get to the stage where an entire head can be grafted from one body to another. This will allow deepfake makers to assume “full control of another person”, he says, an evolutionary step that “all politicians fear like fire”. But while such technology exists behind closed doors, there is no source code in the public domain. (Ivan cites a 2018 presentation, Deep Video Portraits, delivered at a conference by Stanford researchers, as the gold standard towards which he is working.)

The most sophisticated deepfakes require advanced machine-learning skills and their development is computationally intensive and expensive. One expert estimates the cost to be about £1,000 a day. For an amateur creating fake celebrity pornography, this is a major barrier to entry. But for a government or a well-funded political organisation, the cost is insignificant – and falling every month. Ivan flipflops in his assessment of the threat. “I do not think that so many stupid rulers… are capable of such complicated schemes as deepfakes,” he says. Then, when asked if politicians and journalists have overestimated the risk of deepfake propaganda, he says: “Did the gods overestimate the risk of giving people fire?”deepFaceLab: Training previewClose thisDeepFaceLab, one of the most popular pieces of software used to create forged videos. Nicolas Cage is a popular choice for fan fakes.

James, founder of derpfake, uses Ivan’s software to create his fakes. He says it is only a matter of time before “truly convincing” forgeries are created by amateurs, but he believes public awareness of the technology will prevent such footage from being able to “significantly disrupt or interfere” politically. “If I show you the latest Transformers film, you fully understand the world isn’t being attacked by robot aliens and that [the film] has been created using computers,” he says. “But show the same footage to a person from 1900 and the reaction would likely be very different.”

Not everyone shares James’s optimism. In December, the Republican senator Ben Sasse introduced the US’s first bill to criminalise the malicious creation and distribution of deepfakes, describing the threat as “something that keeps our intelligence community up at night”. A similar bill is being debated in New York state, while last month a Chinese law to regulate the use of deepfakes reached its second review before the country’s legislative body. For James, however, legislation cannot halt the rising tide: “Those who seek to undermine democracy or the rights of others won’t be deterred by the laws in another country, or even their own.”’There will always be an arms race between detection and generation’

Just north of Oxford Circus in central London, 80-odd data analysts work in a four-storey mansion, the lofty rooms of which each contain a blackboard, giving it the feel of a Victorian schoolhouse. Unlike most of London’s tech startups, Faculty chose an office in Marylebone, rather than the industry hub of Shoreditch, due to its proximity to University College London, where many of the company’s employees studied.

For the past year, one of Faculty’s teams has focused exclusively on generating thousands of deepfakes, of varying quality, using all the main deepfake algorithms in the market. The idea is not to sow disinformation, but to compile a library that will help train systems to distinguish real video or audio from fakes. While politicians scrabble to write laws that may protect societies from weaponised deepfakes, startups such as Faculty, whose clients including the Home Office and numerous police forces, hope to inoculate the internet-going public to their effects.

The theory is that a machine-learning detective will adapt quickly as new deepfake technology emerges, whereas human forensics experts will take much longer to get up to speed. The results of Faculty’s deepfake experiments are improving at a pace that has startled the company’s co-founder and CEO, Marc Warner. Earlier this year, the company created an AI-generated audio deepfake, trained on clips of Trump’s speeches, that sounded more like him than some of the best human impersonators. The company’s latest version, Warner says, is almost impossible to distinguish from Trump. “We’re trying to work on this before it’s a large problem, to ensure that we’re prepared,” says Warner, who has tousled hair, tortoiseshell glasses, a dusting of startup founder’s stubble and a PhD in quantum computing. If anything, he argues, the danger posed by this new form of lying has been underestimated. “It’s an extremely challenging problem and it’s likely there will always be an arms race between detection and generation.”

Faculty, which is working with the TCEI, is not the only tech company aiming to fight fire with fire. In May 2018, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded three contracts to a nonprofit group called SRI International to work on its “media forensics” research programme. Then there is Amber, a company in New York with an even bolder vision for cleaning up the internet: the creation of a ubiquitous “truth layer” – software embedded in smartphone cameras to act as a kind of watermark, used to verify a video’s authenticity in perpetuity. The technology works by creating a fingerprint at the moment of a film’s recording. It then compares any “playback” of the footage with the original fingerprint to check for a match and provides the viewer with a score that indicates the likelihood of tampering.

Amber’s CEO, Shamir Allibhai, is driven by a moral belief in the importance of his work. “Society is increasingly in an unfair fight against bad actors wielding powerful AI tools for ill intent,” he says. “A postfact world could undo much of the last century’s progress toward peace, stability and prosperity, driven in part by a belief in evidence-based conclusions.” Without detection tools powerful enough to match the deepfakes, Allibhai believes society will be forced to become more cynical. But that cynicism presents an additional risk, enabling powerful people to discredit authentic video – dismissing potentially damaging footage as fakery.

Listen to the audio of Donald Trump created by machine learning

For derpfakes’ James, however, cynicism is the perfect protection. “Erosion of public trust in everything people see on the internet is surely a positive for society,” he says. “Far better than the assumption of everything as truth as the default.” James is also sceptical of companies such as Faculty and Amber, claiming that authentication would detect only amateur deepfakes. “Authentication hasn’t completely stopped any other sort of crime or nefarious activity. I have little reason to believe it would stop anyone working at a serious enough level.”

There is also the issue that the original disinformation can have a much greater effect than its subsequent debunking. In March, the Conservative political activist Theodora Dickinson posted a video alongside the tweet: “In response to the New Zealand mosque attacks, Islamists have burned down a Christian church in Pakistan. Why is this not being shown on @BBCNews?!” In fact, the video showed an attack on a church in Egypt in 2013. Despite scores of Twitter users pointing out the error, Dickinson left her tweet uncorrected (it has since been deleted) and continued to use the site. At the point at which she knew it wasn’t true, she apparently still believed – somehow – it a point worth making. She did not respond to a request for a comment.


“Once a political narrative is shifted, it’s almost impossible to bring it back to its original trajectory,” says Donahoe of the TCEI. This, for her, is the issue with authentication tools such as Faculty and Amber. “Claiming a deepfake is not real or true can’t completely erase its impact.” Whatever the creators of deepfakes and the software that builds them may say, the loss of citizen confidence in the trustworthiness of information is destructive for democracy.

Media literacy can only go so far; humans often believe first, then look for things that support those beliefs. As elections loom in Israel, Canada, Europe and the US, Donahoe wants political leaders and candidates of all stripes to pledge not to use deepfakes against their opponents and to disavow any deepfakes put out on their behalf, even if their campaigns had nothing to do with them.

“We have to inoculate the public before deepfakes affect elections,” she says. “People have a right to choose their government and representatives. We all need to stand up to protect this right from interference.”

• If you would like a comment on this piece to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s letters page in print, please email, including your name and address (not for publication).

How to spot a deepfake

A lack of blinking Many older deepfake methods failed to mimic the rate at which a person blinks – a problem recent programs have fixed.

Face wobble Shimmer or distortion is a giveaway. Also, look for abnormal movements from fixed objects in the frame – a microphone stand or a lamp, for example.

Strange behaviour An individual doing something implausible or out of character should always be a red flag.

But obvious fakes may not be what they seem It is easy to sow doubt about real footage by adding an inconsistency.

(Politico) German MPs urge Merkel to keep Huawei out of 5G network

(Politico) Lawmakers argue that parliament, not the chancellor, should decide on telecoms contracts.

BERLIN — A group of MPs from Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is pressing the German chancellor to keep Chinese telecom company Huawei out of the country’s 5G network, citing national security reasons.

The push comes after Berlin last week released a new “security catalogue” for telecoms networks, which critics say lacks teeth because it only obliges Huawei to sign a “no spy” clause while generally opening 5G tenders to the Chinese telecoms giant.

Merkel has come under fire for her decision from allies like the U.S., which warned last week the move could have serious implications for future intelligence-sharing between Berlin and Washington.

Critics say Germany is bowing to pressure from China because it fears trade retaliation from the Asian powerhouse, which is Germany’s biggest trading partner and an important export destination at a time when the German economy risks sliding into a recession.

Senior CDU lawmaker Norbert Röttgen told POLITICO that he wants Merkel not to decide alone on the 5G issue, but submit the decision to the German parliament, which should debate and vote on the case.

Critics say Germany is bowing to pressure from China because it fears trade retaliation from the Asian powerhouse.

“The last word is far from spoken and I’m also cautiously optimistic that this matter can be decided in the Bundestag in the coming weeks or months,” said Röttgen, who is chair of the parliament’s committee for foreign affairs.

He described the 5G network as a “digital neural system” for Germany’s economy, society and political system, which meant the decision was “a first-rank question of national security.”

“In reality, this is not about Huawei but the trust in the Chinese leadership: This is a company that is at the mercy of state interests and can, in doubt, not refuse government-led interference,” he said, adding: “Significant state influence is something that we cannot tolerate because it would mean that we don’t have that company but the state in our networks.”

“I’m … cautiously optimistic that this matter can be decided in the Bundestag in the coming weeks or months” — senior CDU lawmaker Norbert Röttgen

Röttgen’s criticism was backed by his party colleague Mark Hauptmann, who said the 5G decision was about “critical infrastructure for the next 20 years.”

“I can only warn against relying on Huawei because we would enter a technological dependency relationship and there are massive security concerns, such as the outflow of information, a possible kill-switch scenario, but also a possible dependency in a trade war in which, for example, certain important accessories for a particular area could suddenly no longer be made available.”

Huawei and other Chinese telecommunication companies reject suggestions that their equipment is vulnerable to backdoors or spying by the Chinese state and says European countries should make their own decisions about 5G security.

The chancellor’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hauptmann and Röttgen also expressed their concerns in an op-ed, co-signed by fellow CDU lawmakers Christoph Bernstiel, Peter Beyer, Stefan Rouenhoff and Roderich Kiesewetter, which was published by German newspaper Handelsblatt on Tuesday.

Hauptmann, in his interview with POLITICO, criticized that Huawei was partly offering prices for the installation of 5G networks that are below the purchase price for the required components. “This is not a market price, but a political price to push competitors out of the market,” he said.

He also asserted that China had largely shut European telecom providers Nokia and Ericsson out of its own tenders for 5G networks, and said that Germany should offer markets for those companies if it was serious about creating “European champions.”

“This is not a market price, but a political price to push competitors out of the market” — CDU lawmaker Mark Hauptmann

However, Hauptmann warned that Germany should brace for consequences if it decided to reject Huawei’s applications for 5G tenders: “It’s perfectly clear that excluding Huawei will lead to a response from the Chinese.”

His party colleague Röttgen said that Germany should coordinate its decision with European partners to cushion such retaliation.

“China prefers to pick and sanction individual countries and is betting on the premise that there is no solidarity [among EU countries],” he said. “I am firmly convinced that if we stand together here, there is no way to sanction Europe.”

(BBG) Google Says Quantum Computer Beat 10,000-Year Task in Minutes


Google’s Sycamore processor.
Google’s Sycamore processor. Source: Google

Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it’s built a computer that’s reached “quantum supremacy,” performing a computation in 200 seconds that would take the fastest supercomputers about 10,000 years.

The results of Google’s tests, which were conducted using a quantum chip it developed in-house, were published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.You’ve reached you

(TC) Germany says it won’t ban Huawei or any 5G supplier up front


Day 2 - GSMA Mobile World Congress 2019

Image Credits: Miquel Benitez / Getty Images

Germany is resisting US pressure to shut out Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G networks — saying it will not ban any supplier for the next-gen mobile networks on an up front basis, per Reuters.

“Essentially our approach is as follows: We are not taking a pre-emptive decision to ban any actor, or any company,” government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told a news conference in Berlin yesterday.

The country’s Federal Network Agency is slated to be publishing detailed security guidance on the technical and governance criteria for 5G networks in the next few days.

The next-gen mobile technology delivers faster speeds and lower latency than current-gen cellular technologies, as well as supporting many more connections per cell site. So it’s being viewed as the enabling foundation for a raft of futuristic technologies — from connected and autonomous vehicles to real-time telesurgery.

But increased network capabilities that support many more critical functions means rising security risk. The complexity of 5G networks — marketed by operators as “intelligent connectivity” — also increases the surface area for attacks. So future network security is now a major geopolitical concern.

German business newspaper Handelsblatt, which says it has reviewed a draft of the incoming 5G security requirements, reports that chancellor Angela Merkel stepped in to intervene to exclude a clause which would have blocked Huawei’s market access — fearing a rift with China if the tech giant is shut out.

Earlier this year it says the federal government pledged the highest possible security standards for regulating next-gen mobile networks, saying also that systems should only be sourced from “trusted suppliers”. But those commitments have now been watered down by economic considerations at the top of the German government.

The decision not to block Huawei’s access has attracted criticism within Germany, and flies in the face of continued US pressure on allies to ban the Chinese tech giant over security and espionage risks.

The US imposed its own export controls on Huawei in May.

A key concern attached to Huawei is that back in 2017 China’s Communist Party passed a national intelligence law which gives the state swingeing powers to compel assistance from companies and individuals to gather foreign and domestic intelligence.

For network operators outside China the problem is Huawei has the lead as a global 5G supplier — meaning any ban on it as a supplier would translate into delays to network rollouts. Years of delay and billions of dollars of cost to 5G launches, according to warnings by German operators.

Another issue is that Huawei’s 5G technology has also been criticized on security grounds.

report this spring by a UK oversight body set up to assess the company’s approach to security was damning — finding “serious and systematic defects” in its software engineering and cyber security competence.

Though a leak shortly afterwards from the UK government suggested it would allow Huawei partial access — to supply non-core elements of networks.

An official UK government decision on Huawei has been delayed, causing ongoing uncertainty for local carriers. In the meanwhile a government review of the telecoms supply chain this summer called for tougher security standards and updated regulations — with major fines for failure. So it’s possible that stringent UK regulations might sum to a de facto ban if Huawei’s approach to security isn’t seen to take major steps forward soon.

According to Handelsblatt’s report, Germany’s incoming guidance for 5G network operators will require carriers identify critical areas of network architecture and apply an increased level of security. (Although it’s worth pointing out there’s ongoing debate about how to define critical/core network areas in 5G networks.)

The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) will be responsible for carrying out security inspections of networks.

Last week a pan-EU security threat assessment of 5G technology highlighted risks from “non-EU state or state-backed actors” — in a coded jab at Huawei.

The report also flagged increased security challenges attached to 5G vs current gen networks on account of the expanded role of software in the networks and apps running on 5G. And warned of too much dependence on individual 5G suppliers, and of operators relying overly on a single supplier.

Shortly afterwards the WSJ obtained a private risk assessment by EU governments — which appears to dial up regional concerns over Huawei, focusing on threats linked to 5G providers in countries with “no democratic and legal restrictions in place”.

Among the discussed risks in this non-public report are the insertion of concealed hardware, software or flaws into 5G networks; and the risk of uncontrolled software updates, backdoors or undocumented testing features left in the production version of networking products.

“These vulnerabilities are not ones which can be remedied by making small technical changes, but are strategic and lasting in nature,” a source familiar with the discussions told the WSJ — which implies that short term economic considerations risk translating into major strategic vulnerabilities down the line.

5G alternatives are in short supply, though.

US Senator Mark Warner recently floated the idea of creating a consortium of ‘Five Eyes’ allies — aka the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK — to finance and build “a Western open-democracy type equivalent” to Huawei.

But any such move would clearly take time, even as Huawei continues selling services around the world and embedding its 5G kit into next-gen networks.

(Reuters) EU warns of 5G cybersecurity risks, stops short of singling out China

(Reuters) BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union warned on Wednesday of the risk of increased cyber attacks by state-backed entities but refrained from singling out China and its telecoms equipment market leader Huawei Technologies as threats.

The comments came in a report prepared by EU member states on cybersecurity risks to next-generation 5G mobile networks seen as crucial to the bloc’s competitiveness in an increasingly networked world.

The authors chose to ignore calls by the United States to ban Huawei’s equipment, drawing a welcome from the Shenzen-based company after it faced U.S. accusations that its gear could be used by China for spying.

“Among the various potential actors, non-EU states or state-backed are considered as the most serious ones and the most likely to target 5G networks,” the European Commission and Finland, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said in a joint statement.

“In this context of increased exposure to attacks facilitated by suppliers, the risk profile of individual suppliers will become particularly important, including the likelihood of the supplier being subject to interference from a non-EU country,” they said.

Huawei, which competes with Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson, said it stood ready to work with its European partners on 5G network security. It has always denied its equipment can be used for spying.

“This exercise is an important step toward developing a common approach to cybersecurity and delivering safe networks for the 5G era,” a Huawei spokesman said.

“We are pleased to note that the EU delivered on its commitment to take an evidence-based approach, thoroughly analyzing risks rather than targeting specific countries or actors.”

Tom Ridge, a former U.S. secretary of homeland security, took a different view of the report. He said Huawei’s close ties to the Chinese government meant it would have to comply with legislation requiring it to assist with intelligence gathering.

“If countries needed more reason to implement stricter security measures to protect 5G networks, this comprehensive risk assessment is it,” said Ridge, a member of the advisory board of Global Cyber Policy Watch.

Fifth-generation networks will hook up billions of devices, sensors and cameras in ‘smart’ cities, homes and offices. With that ubiquity, security becomes an even more pressing need than in existing networks.

“5G security requires that networks are built leveraging the most advanced security features, selecting vendors that are trustworthy and transparent,” a Nokia spokesperson said, adding that the company was the only global vendor capable of providing all the building blocks for secure 5G networks.

EU members have differed on how to treat Huawei, with Britain, a close U.S. ally, leaning toward excluding it from critical parts of networks. Germany is meanwhile creating a level playing field in which all 5G vendors should prove they are trustworthy.


The report warned against over-dependence on one telecoms equipment supplier.

“A major dependency on a single supplier increases the exposure to a potential supply interruption, resulting for instance from a commercial failure, and its consequences,” it said.

European network operators, including Germany’s Deutsche Telekom typically have multi-vendor strategies that they say reduce the security risks that might arise from relying too heavily on a single provider.

“The Commission’s 5G assessment recognizes security isn’t just a supplier issue,” said Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer of the GSMA, a global mobile-industry trade group.

“We all have a role to play – from manufacturers to operators to consumers – and we are taking responsibility for our part in the security chain seriously.”FILE PHOTO: A logo of the upcoming mobile standard 5G is pictured at the Hanover trade fair, in Hanover, Germany March 31, 2019. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

The EU will now seek to come up with a so-called toolbox of measures by the end of the year to address cyber security risks at national and bloc-wide level.

The European Agency for Cybersecurity is also finalizing a map of specific threats related to 5G networks.

(CNBC) Microsoft unveils new folding smartphone in surprise announcement


  • Microsoft unveils the new Surface Duo, which runs on Android, at its annual hardware event on Wednesday.
  • The folding phone features two side-by-side 5.6-inch displays that are connected by a 360-degree hinge.
  • The Duo will launch in late 2020, in time for the holiday season.
CNBC Tech: Microsoft event 22

Microsoft had its annual product event on Wednesday.

Microsoft made a surprise announcement Wednesday of a new two-screened Android smartphone, the Surface Duo. The device will launch in late 2020, in time for the holiday season. No pricing details were announced.

The device features two side-by-side 5.6-inch displays that are connected by a 360-degree hinge. Once it’s folded up, the Duo is small enough that it can fit in your pocket.

CNBC Tech: Microsoft event 24

Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer, holds up the new Surface Duo.

Microsoft said it partnered with Google to “bring the best of Android” to the device, while incorporating elements of Windows 10X, a new operating system meant for hybrid devices. It can also run two different apps at the same time.PUBLICIDADE

The phone opens up so that the second display can be used as a game controller or a keyboard. The second display can also function as a stand, enabling users to watch videos in landscape mode.

“You can text, you can write, you can do what you want,” said Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer. “Make no mistake, this product is a Surface.”

CNBC Tech: Microsoft event 25

The Duo folds open so that the second screen can be used as a game controller.

Microsoft was rumored to be developing a Surface phone for some time. The company’s last stab at a smartphone, the Windows Phone operating system, didn’t sell as well as Microsoft had hoped, and it has since been discontinued. This time around, Microsoft isn’t relying on its own mobile operating system; instead, it has chosen to bring Android, the most popular operating system globally, to the Duo.

The company unveiled Duo alongside other Surface announcements. The company debuted an all-new dual-screen computer, called the Surface Neo, as well as the Surface Pro 7, the Surface Laptop 3, the Surface Pro X and the Surface Earbuds.

(ECO) Edward Snowden é o convidado surpresa do Web Summit. Fala na sessão de abertura, a partir de Moscovo

(ECO) A viver em Moscovo, na Rússia, o whistleblower que desafiou o sistema de segurança da NSA vai estar em direto no palco principal do Web Summit, no arranque da edição deste ano.

Owhistleblower Edward Snowden vai ser orador na edição de 2019 do Web Summit. No palco principal da conferência e, a falar a partir de Moscovo para uma audiência de mais de 70 mil pessoas, anunciou esta manhã Paddy Cosgraveo analista de sistemas será o cabeça de cartaz da quarta edição do maior evento de tecnologia e empreendedorismo em Lisboa, revelou a organização do evento.

Esta terça-feira, Paddy Cosgrave, CEO do Web Summit, anunciava no Twitter que “a pessoa mais importante na área da tecnologia, no planeta”, estaria no evento, questionando os seus seguidores sobre o nome do convidado em causa. Pouco mais de 24 horas depois sabe-se, agora, que Edward Snowden estará na sessão de abertura do maior evento de tecnologia e empreendedorismo do mundo, no dia 4 de novembro, a partir de Moscovo.PUBLICIDADE

inRead invented by Teads

Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave

The most important person in tech on the planet is coming to @WebSummit – formal announcement in a few hours.

Who could it be?7008:59 – 1 de out de 2019Informações e privacidade no Twitter Ads66 pessoas estão falando sobre isso

Edward Joseph Snowden foi administrador de sistemas da CIA e ex-contratado da National Security Agency (NSA). Em 2013, com 29 anos, tornou-se conhecido depois de ter divulgado informações secretas recolhidas a partir do seu trabalho na NSA, quebrando o sistema de segurança secreto estabelecidos nos Estados Unidos. A revelação aconteceu através dos jornais The Guardian e The Washington Post.Vestager é “oradora mais popular”. Vai voltar ao Web Summit Ler Mais

Snowden falará, em direto, a partir da capital russa e a transmissão da sua talk poderá ser vista, ao vivo, no Altice Arena, em Lisboa. De acordo com a organização do evento, Snowden falará, pela primeira vez, sobre a forma como ajudou a construir o sistema de segurança e sobre as razões que o levaram a revelar informação confidencial.

Snowden junta-se assim a uma lista de convidados que já conta com nomes repetentes, como o caso da Comissária Europeia da Concorrência, Margrethe Vestager. “O Web Summit dá as boas-vindas a ativistas de segurança e privacidade (…) como Werner Vogels, CTO da Amazon, Garry Kasparov, campeão do mundo de xadrez e embaixador de segurança da Avast, e Natalia Oropeza, diretora de cyber segurança da Siemens”, entre outros.

(BBG) Facebook, WhatsApp Will Have to Share Messages With U.K.


  •  Information will be shared in serious criminal investigations
  •  Facebook opposes government attempts to build ‘backdoors’

Social media platforms based in the U.S. including Facebook and WhatsApp will be forced to share users’ encrypted messages with British police under a new treaty between the two countries, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The accord, which is set to be signed by next month, will compel social media firms to share information to support investigations into individuals suspected of serious criminal offenses including terrorism and pedophilia, the person said.You’ve reached your free article limit.Get unlimited access 

(NewScientist) Google claims it has finally reached quantum supremacy


Energy flash
Google’s demonstration reportedly involved checking a series of binary numbers were truly random

This could be the dawn of a new era in computing. Google has claimed that its quantum computer performed a calculation that would be practically impossible for even the best supercomputer – in other words, it has attained quantum supremacy.

If true, it is big news. Quantum computers have the potential to change the way we design new materials, work out logistics, build artificial intelligence and break encryption. That is why firms like Google, Intel and IBM – along with plenty of start-ups – have been racing to reach this crucial milestone.

The development at Google is, however, shrouded in intrigue. A paper containing details of the work was posted to a NASA server last week, before being quickly removed. Several media outlets reported on the rumours, but Google hasn’t commented on them.

A copy of the paper seen by New Scientist contains details of a quantum processor called Sycamore that contains 54 superconducting quantum bits, or qubits. It claims that Sycamore has achieved quantum supremacy. The paper identifies only one author: John Martinis at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who is known to have partnered with Google to build the hardware for a quantum computer.

“This dramatic speedup relative to all known classical algorithms provides an experimental realization of quantum supremacy on a computational task and heralds the advent of a much-anticipated computing paradigm,” the paper says.

Google appears to have partnered with NASA to help test its quantum computer. In 2018, the two organisations made an agreement to do this, so the news isn’t entirely unexpected.

The paper describes how Google’s quantum processor tackled a random sampling problem – that is, checking that a set of numbers has a truly random distribution. This is very difficult for a traditional computer when there are a lot of numbers involved.

Totally random

But Sycamore does things differently. Although one of its qubits didn’t work, the remaining 53 were quantum entangled with one another and used to generate a set of binary digits and check their distribution was truly random. The paper calculates the task would have taken Summit, the world’s best supercomputer, 10,000 years – but Sycamore did it in 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

This benchmarking task isn’t particularly useful beyond producing truly random numbers – it was a proof of concept. But in the future, the quantum chip may be useful in the fields of machine learning, materials science and chemistry, says the paper. For example, when trying to model a chemical reaction or visualise the ways a new molecule may connect to others, quantum computers can handle the vast amount of variables to create an accurate simulation.

“Google’s recent update on the achievement of quantum supremacy is a notable mile marker as we continue to advance the potential of quantum computing,” said Jim Clarke at Intel Labs in a statement.

Yet we are still at “mile one of this marathon”, Clarke said. This demonstration is a proof of concept, but it isn’t free of errors within the processor. Better and bigger processors will continue to be built and used to do more useful calculations.

Read more: Google’s quantum computing plans threatened by IBM curveball

At the same time, classical computing isn’t giving up the fight. Over the past few years, as quantum computing took steps towards supremacy, classical computing moved the goal posts as researchers showed it was able to simulate ever more complex systems. It is likely that this back-and-forth will continue.

“We expect that lower simulation costs than reported here will eventually be achieved, but we also expect they will be consistently outpaced by hardware improvements on larger quantum processors,” says the Google paper.

(CNBC) Apple’s iPhone 11 goes on sale with lines outside major stores around the world


  • Apple’s new lineup of iPhones went on sale in retail stores around the world Friday.
  • Crowds gathered outside of Apple’s stores in Singapore, Sydney, Berlin and London, among other cities
  • Lines also formed outside New York’s new Fifth Avenue Store which reopened on Friday after renovations.  CEO Tim Cook greeted crowds there.
  • Some analysts have pointed to strong demand in pre-orders for the new smartphones, especially the $699 iPhone 11.

WATCH NOWVIDEO01:55Consumers wait in line to buy iPhone 11 in London

Apple will get a taste of whether upgraded features on the new iPhone 11 are enough to lure shoppers to retail stores around the world as the new smartphones officially hit shelves Friday.

At the Apple flagship store on Regent Street, a handful of diehard iPhone fans started waiting in line to purchase the new smartphones Thursday evening. As of 6 a.m. Friday, roughly 40 customers were waiting for the doors to open. The number started rising as Apple opened its doors.

There were also lines outside of Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York on Friday morning. The store officially reopens at 8 a.m. ET after two years of renovations. CEO Tim Cook greeted the crowd as he made his way inside.

Ella Bowman@EllaMatildaB

Wahoo! Tim Cook is in da haus! @Apple #AppleEvent @MousCase

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112:31 PM – Sep 20, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee Ella Bowman’s other Tweets

Among the features customers were most excited about: the triple-camera system on the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

“Instead of buying a new camera, I prefer to upgrade my phone,” said Tarif Karanfil, who started waiting in line around 6am Friday morning to upgrade from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

GP: Apple lines London

Customers are applauded as they arrive to collect their pre-orders for new Apple products at the tech giant’s flagship store in Regent Street, central London.Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images

Images on Twitter showed crowds outside of Apple’s stores in Singapore, Sydney and Berlin, among other cities.

Ben Rudolph@BenThePCGuy

Always impressive how Apple inspires Fandom. This is the line outside the Sydney Apple Store on #iPhone11 launch day.

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78:22 AM – Sep 20, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee Ben Rudolph’s other Tweets

Fernando Montoya@montogeek

Berlin Apple Store line

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18:37 AM – Sep 20, 2019 · Berlin, GermanyTwitter Ads info and privacySee Fernando Montoya’s other Tweets

Spencer Chong@exynosx

#iPhone11 is only out tomorrow but there is already a line at the Singapore Apple Store and it is only going to be worse as the day passes!

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433:39 AM – Sep 19, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy17 people are talking about this

Apple unveiled the new lineup iPhones earlier this month, touting the upgraded cameras, longer battery life, more durable screens and faster processors. Some analysts have pointed to strong demand in pre-orders for the new smartphones, especially the lowest-price $699 iPhone 11, as a positive sign for Apple heading into the crucial holiday quarter.

J.P. Morgan said Friday that it expected the iPhone 11 to be the largest driver of iPhone shipments over the next year. The investment bank also maintained its iPhone shipment forecast for 184 million units in 2019, with 195 million shipments of the smartphone expected in 2020.

Leading Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier this week the iPhone 11 appears to be attractive to buyers in China, a belief echoed by Chinese e-commerce firm Fenqile in an interview with CNBC. Strong demand for the new iPhones from Chinese consumers would be a positive sign for Apple, which has struggled to boost sales in the market in the past few quarters.

WATCH NOWVIDEO03:23iPhone 11 review: Lots of small improvements that add up to a solid phone

Some analysts expected demand for the iPhone 11 series would be more muted as consumers hold out for a 5G iPhone, which is expected to be released next year.

Global smartphones sales declined 2% in the second quarter, according to research from IDC, as consumers wait longer to buy new devices. Samsung was the biggest smartphone seller in the world as the second quarter, followed by Huawei then Apple.

(CNBC) Facebook working on smart glasses with Ray-Ban, code-named ‘Orion’


  • Facebook has partnered with Luxottica to develop augmented-reality Ray-Ban glasses, sources familiar with the matter told CNBC. 
  • Facebook is hoping a partnership with Luxottica will result in the glasses reaching consumers by 2023, 2024 or as late as 2025. 
  • The glasses are internally codenamed Orion, and they are designed to replace smartphones, the sources said.
RT: Mark Zuckerberg F8 Developers Conference 190430 1

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes his keynote speech during Facebook Inc’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019.Stephen Lam | Reuters

Facebook has been working to develop augmented reality glasses out of its Facebook Reality Labs in Redmond, Washington, for the past couple of years, but struggles with the development of the project have led the company to seek help. Now, Facebook is hoping a partnership with Ray-Ban parent company Luxottica will get them completed and ready for consumers between 2023 and 2025, according to people familiar.

The glasses are internally codenamed Orion, and they are designed to replace smartphones, the people said. The glasses would allow users to take calls, show information to users in a small display and live-stream their vantage point to their social media friends and followers.

WATCH NOWVIDEO01:17Facebook enlists Ray-Ban maker to help develop ‘Orion’ smart glasses

Facebook is also developing an artificial intelligence voice assistant that would serve as a user input for the glasses, CNBC previously reported. In addition, the company has experimented with a ring device that would allow users to input information via motion sensor. That device is code-named Agios.

The company has hundreds of employees at its Redmond offices working on technology for the AR glasses, but thus far, Facebook has struggled to reduce the size of the device into a form factor that consumers will find appealing, a person who worked on the device told CNBC.

Given the long lead time, there’s no guarantee that the glasses will be completed on time or ever ship. But one person familiar with the project said that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a strong interest in the glasses, and asked hardware chief Andrew Bosworth to prioritize them.

Facebook declined to comment. Luxottica did not immediately return request for comment.

Facebook is not alone in believing that smart glasses that superimpose computer-generated images over the real world will be the next big thing in computing. Already, Microsoft makes the HoloLens 2 headset, Snapchat parent company Snap sells its Spectacles glasses and Florida startup Magic Leap sells its Magic Leap One AR glasses, although none of these devices has become a hit. Apple is also reportedly working on a similar product that could hit the market as early as next year.

Luxottica is the parent company of Ray-Ban, Oakley and other sunglasses brands. The company has previously experimented with this technology, partnering in 2014 with Google to design, develop and distribute the Google Glass device.

(ZH) Older iPhones Reported ‘Breaking’ After Apple Unveils iPhone 11


Right after Apple announced the iPhone 11, numerous owners of older iPhones began to report device malfunctions reminiscent of a 2017 debacle in which the company admitted slowing the performance of older phones – ‘officially’ in order to extend their battery life. 

At the time, Apple said in a statement that it had “never – and wound never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product.” 

According to USA Today, however, the coincidences are piling up

“So, of course I’m suspicious that yesterday’s Apple announcement killed my current iPhone. It just stopped working. Awesome,” claimed Twitter user ZarduBen. 

Ben Acevedo@ZarduBen

So, of course I’m suspicious that yesterday’s Apple announcement killed my current iPhone. It just stopped working. Awesome. #Apple106:11 PM – Sep 11, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee Ben Acevedo’s other Tweets

“The new iPhone was just announced and my phone randomly stopped working,” user @secondhandcurls tweeted.

numjin @secondhandcurls

the new iPhone was just announced and my phone randomly stopped working36:02 AM – Sep 12, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee numjin ‘s other Tweets

jenna noel darosa@jdarosa115

iphone 11 was announced YESTERDAY and my phone is already acting up46:43 AM – Sep 12, 2019 · California, USATwitter Ads info and privacySee jenna noel darosa’s other Tweets

Desireé Meowington@DesireeMeoww


Swear I just said my phone has been acting up ever since they started talking about the iPhone 11 release . My 10 was working perfectly fine and then bam 512:29 PM – Sep 12, 2019 · Pittsburgh, PATwitter Ads info and privacySee Desireé Meowington’s other Tweets


I find it awfully convenient that the camera on my iPhone stopped working the day Apple announced new iPhones with fancier cameras92:14 PM – Sep 11, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee Evan’s other Tweets

And so on. All Apple can offer on the topic is the same “As batteries age” schpiel – however the flurry of sudden issues being reported would appear unrelated.  

Whether Apple practices the theory or not, its latest iOS 13 update will leave some iPhones and tablets behind. The older devices will still work, but they’ll miss out on security updates, which makes them more vulnerable to hacks.

Apple’s website lists several reasons why your iPhone’s performance may be lagging over time, and one of the main causes is aging batteries.

“All rechargeable batteries are consumables and have a limited lifespan – eventually their capacity and performance decline so that they need to be replaced,” Apple says on its website. “As batteries age, it can contribute to changes in iPhone performance.” –USA Today

So what’s going on? Perhaps suspicious users are more sensitive to phone issues surrounding new product announcements – or maybe, just maybe, Apple is nerfing their older phones to drive sales.