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South Korea's Antitrust Regulator Fines Google $177 Million for Abusing Mobile Market Dominance

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 10:38
South Korea's competition regulator on Tuesday announced it will fine Google 207.4 billion Korean won ($176.9 million) for allegedly using its dominant market position in the mobile operating system space to stifle competition. From a report: Google's Android operating system currently holds the lion's share of the smartphone market, ahead of Apple's iOS platform. The U.S. tech giant allegedly used its market position to block smartphone makers like Samsung from using operating systems developed by rivals, according to the Korea Fair Trade Commission. Yonhap News added that the regulator, which published its decision in Korean, said the tech giant required smartphone makers to agree to an "anti-fragmentation agreement (AFA)" when signing key contracts with Google over app store licenses and early access to the operating system. That agreement prevented device makers from installing modified versions of the Android operating system, known as "Android forks," on their handsets, Yonhap reported. The regulator alleged that Google's practice stifled innovation in the development of new operating systems for smartphones, the news site added. The KFTC has asked the tech giant to stop forcing companies to sign AFAs and ordered it to take corrective steps, according to Yonhap.

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Intel Is Reducing Server Chip Pricing in Attempt To Stem the AMD Tide

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 09:46
Intel has pivoted on its server strategy in order to fight a supply-constrained AMD, reports DigiTimes. It's reportedly flooding the market with chips at discount pricing, rather than sticking to MSRP. From a report: While some reports point toward a relative normalization on AMD's CPU supply, AMD has two distinct disadvantages when compared to Intel: It has fewer revenue sources than its much bigger CPU rival, and AMD doesn't own the factories that produce its market-turning Zen chips. Intel, on the other hand, can leverage its vertical integration (meaning that development and manufacturing takes place in an almost entirely Intel-owned and managed supply chain), as well as its massive revenue advantage, to play with final client pricing. In other words, Intel pull a lot more levers to increase demand and (Intel hopes) attract would-be AMD clients back into the Intel fold. AMD has seemingly been making strides in server market penetration. As seen in renowned system distributor Puget Systems' statistics, AMD has risen from a 5% share in systems sold since June 2020, up to a dominating 60% as of June 2021. However, unserved demand means that companies looking to invest in their server infrastructure or who aim to deploy AMD chips in any major way sometimes can't wait for the chips to become available. And Intel is smartly making it more attractive for those companies to go back to the Intel fold, or to skip AMD in the first place.

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AI Can Estimate Corporate Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 09:05
An anonymous reader shares a report: In 2015, representatives from more than 196 countries met in Le Bourget, France to sign the Paris Agreement. The legally binding treaty limits global warming to a rise of well below 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels, preferably capping warming at 1.5 degrees. While the Paris Agreement doesn't spell out how the undersigned are expected to achieve this goal, some countries have pledged to cut their net climate emissions to zero by 2050. For these and other steps to be successful, reliable data is key. While the ability to evaluate companies' carbon footprints will be critical for countries seeking to comply with the measures, only a fraction of companies currently disclose their greenhouse gas emissions. But researchers at Bloomberg Quant Research and Amazon Web Services claim to have successfully trained a machine learning model to estimate the emissions of businesses that don't disclose their emissions. The researchers say investors could use this model to align their investments with international regulatory measures and achieve net-zero goals. Some regions, including the European Union, require investors to apply a "precautionary principle" that penalizes non-disclosing companies by overestimating their emissions. "Merely 2.27% of companies filing financial statements are disclosing their [greenhouse gas] emissions according to our environmental, social, and governance (ESG) datasets," the coauthors wrote in a paper. "In order to make a meaningful change, we need to measure who is contributing [greenhouse gases] into the atmosphere and monitor their claims to decarbonize."

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Meat Accounts For Nearly 60% of All Greenhouse Gases From Food Production, Study Finds

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 08:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The global production of food is responsible for a third of all planet-heating gases emitted by human activity, with the use of animals for meat causing twice the pollution of producing plant-based foods, a major new study has found. The entire system of food production, such as the use of farming machinery, spraying of fertilizer and transportation of products, causes 17.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases a year, according to the research. This enormous release of gases that fuel the climate crisis is more than double the entire emissions of the US and represents 35% of all global emissions, researchers said. The use of cows, pigs and other animals for food, as well as livestock feed, is responsible for 57% of all food production emissions, the research found, with 29% coming from the cultivation of plant-based foods. The rest comes from other uses of land, such as for cotton or rubber. Beef alone accounts for a quarter of emissions produced by raising and growing food. Grazing animals require a lot of land, which is often cleared through the felling of forests, as well as vast tracts of additional land to grow their feed. The paper calculates that the majority of all the world's cropland is used to feed livestock, rather than people. Livestock also produce large quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. [...] The difference in emissions between meat and plant production is stark – to produce 1kg of wheat, 2.5kg of greenhouse gases are emitted. A single kilo of beef, meanwhile, creates 70kg of emissions. The researchers said that societies should be aware of this significant discrepancy when addressing the climate crisis. The researchers built a database that provided a consistent emissions profile of 171 crops and 16 animal products, drawing data from more than 200 countries. They found that South America is the region with the largest share of animal-based food emissions, followed by south and south-east Asia and then China. Food-related emissions have grown rapidly in China and India as increasing wealth and cultural changes have led more younger people in these countries to adopt meat-based diets. The paper's calculations of the climate impact of meat is higher than previous estimates -- the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization has said about 14% of all emissions come from meat and diary production. The study has been published in Nature Food.

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China Will Reportedly Break Up Ant Group's Alipay, Force Creation of New Loans App

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 05:00
Beijing plans to break up Ant Group's Alipay and create a separate app for the fintech giant's loans business, according to a Financial Times report on Monday. CNBC reports: Regulators previously ordered Ant to split the businesses of AliPay from lending businesses Huabei and Jiebei. They now want the credit businesses to be split into an independent app as well, according to the FT. According to the plan, Ant will turn over user data underpinning loan decisions to a new credit scoring joint venture, the FT reported, citing people familiar with the process. The JV will be partly state-owned, the report said. Reuters said in early September that state-back firms are set to take a sizeable stake in the credit-scoring joint-venture, with Ant and Zhejiang Tourism Investment Group owning 35% each of the venture. Ant will not be the only online lender in China affected by the new rules, according to the FT. [...] In April, regulators ordered Ant Group to revamp its business, including restructuring into a financial holding company as well as creating more separation between its payment app Alipay and its credit products. In that same month, Chinese regulators also slapped Alibaba with a massive 18.23 billion yuan (about $2.8 billion) fine in its anti-monopoly investigation of the tech behemoth due to alleged abuse of its market dominance.

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Nvidia Leak May Reveal Unannounced Games, Including God of War For PC

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 02:00
An Nvidia GeForce Now server has leaked a confidential list of thousands of games, some of which have never been seen before, like the PlayStation exclusive God of War seemingly coming to Windows PC via Steam. Developer Ighor July has published the list to GitHub. The Verge reports: Here's a screenshot of what that looks like in the GeForce Now client, according to the developer. There are reasons to believe the list is legit. We know graphics giant Nvidia has access to games long before they're released -- and we know Sony in particularly has been banking on banking on PlayStation games on PC. It quietly revealed Uncharted 4 was coming to PC, after seeing a 250 percent return on its investment porting Horizon: Zero Dawn to the platform, and it was just Thursday that Sony announced it would be part of the Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection -- a name that we'd never heard of before then, but already appears in Nvidia's list as well. So too do Demon's Souls and Final Fantasy XVI -- the games where Sony had to retroactively retract all mentions of PC to make them sound like PlayStation exclusives. PS5 exclusive Returnal appears as well, as does a Final Fantasy VII Remake for PC. And there are codenames for games in here that seem original, ones that bring up zero search results. Is "Platinum" the internal name for Bethesda's Indiana Jones games? But there are also a lot of mentions that seem rather out of date or out of place, like a whole host of Facebook-exclusive Oculus Rift titles that would make little sense on Nvidia's GeForce Now cloud gaming service, or a mention of a "Titanfall 3" which clarifies that it's actually "GAMEapex_legends_-_titanfall," aka Apex Legends, the popular battle royale game. And some of them may simply be guesses, like Kingdom Hearts IV, "BioShock 2022," and so on. All of that means you should probably take any given name on the list with a grain of salt...

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Researchers Toilet-Trained Cows In Hopes of Reducing Their Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Researchers in Germany recently demonstrated that cattle can be toilet trained to reduce some of their climate impact. By having the young cows pee in latrines made of turf, the team of experts in animal behavior and agricultural science stopped the natural production of nitrous oxide from the cow's urine. Cows are notorious for their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions in large-scale farming; the animals belch (and to a lesser extent, fart) methane, and their urine and poop combine to produce ammonia, which isn't a greenhouse gas itself but is converted into nitrous oxide by microbes in the soil. The team trained nearly a dozen calves to urinate in a makeshift latrine, nicknamed the MooLoo, thereby stopping the urine from becoming part of the problem. The research was published on Monday in Current Biology. Training the cows was a fairly simple process on paper. First, the scientists penned 16 of the animals into the latrine area. When the cows urinated, they were given food or sugar water, tacit endorsements of their decisions. The next step was teaching them not to pee in the pasture, which the team did by implementing an unpleasant stimulus whenever they did so. That stimulus was originally a loud noise, but when the researchers realized the animals didn't mind it much, they swapped it out for spraying the cows with water, a relatively harmless message of "bad cow." The team found that the cows' ability to hold it and go in the latrine was equivalent to a child's ability with the toilet -- even superior to that of young children. [The team] hopes to bring the latrines to other sites and increase the number of potty-trained cows. "To do this, we must first automate the whole training procedure and adapt it to the conditions on the farm," he told Gizmodo in an email. "We want to tackle this in a follow-up project." The report notes there are a couple of limitations with this effort. "First, not all of the cows could be potty-trained. Only 10 of the 16 calves quickly learned to pee in the proper place and could routinely reproduce that action," reports Gizmodo. "That's trouble for anyone trying to scale up the practice (there are more than 1 billion cows on Earth). Second, the experiment didn't cover defecation, and cow poop also contains ammonia. There's also still the major problem of methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, tied to cows burps and farts."

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New York To Ban Sale of All Gas-Powered Vehicles In the State By 2035

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 21:02
New York is aiming to ban the sale of all gas-powered vehicles in the state by 2035. CBS News reports: A bill amending the state's environmental conservation law was passed by the state's Senate and Assembly and signed by Governor Kathy Hochul last week. Under the new law, 100% of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will have zero emissions by 2035. That means state agencies will work to develop affordable powering options for zero-emissions vehicles in all communities, improve sustainable transportation and support bicycle and pedestrian options. Several agencies will work to create a zero-emissions vehicle market development strategy by 2023, so ensure more zero-emission cars are available in the state.

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Engineers Grow Pancreatic 'Organoids' That Mimic the Real Thing

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 20:25
Researchers from MIT have developed a new way to grow tiny replicas of the pancreas, using either healthy or cancerous pancreatic cells. They believe that their "specialized gel" could also be useful for studying lung, colorectal, and other cancers, including how potential cancer drugs affect tumors and their environment. The findings have been published in the journal Nature Materials. MIT reports: Using a specialized gel that mimics the extracellular environment surrounding the pancreas, the researchers were able to grow pancreatic "organoids," allowing them to study the important interactions between pancreatic tumors and their environment. Unlike some of the gels now used to grow tissue, the new MIT gel is completely synthetic, easy to assemble and can be produced with a consistent composition every time. The researchers have also shown that their new gel can be used to grow other types of tissue, including intestinal and endometrial tissue. [...] About 10 years ago, [Linda Griffith, the School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Innovation and a professor of biological engineering and mechanical engineering, and her lab] started to work on designing a synthetic gel that could be used to grow epithelial cells, which form the sheets that line most organs, along with other supportive cells. The gel they developed is based on polyethylene glycol (PEG), a polymer that is often used for medical applications because it doesn't interact with living cells. By studying the biochemical and biophysical properties of the extracellular matrix, which surrounds organs in the body, the researchers were able to identify features they could incorporate into the PEG gel to help cells grow in it. One key feature is the presence of molecules called peptide ligands, which interact with cell surface proteins called integrins. The sticky binding between ligands and integrins allows cells to adhere to the gel and form organoids. The researchers found that incorporating small synthetic peptides derived from fibronectin and collagen in their gels allowed them to grow a variety of epithelial tissues, including intestinal tissue. They showed that supportive cells called stromal cells, along with immune cells, can also thrive in this environment. In the new study, Griffith and [Claus Jorgensen, a group leader at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute] wanted to see if the gel could also be used to support the growth of normal pancreatic organoids and pancreatic tumors. Traditionally, it has been difficult to grow pancreatic tissue in a manner that replicates both the cancerous cells and the supporting environment, because once pancreatic tumor cells are removed from the body, they lose their distinctive cancerous traits. Griffith's lab developed a protocol to produce the new gel, and then teamed up with Jorgensen's lab, which studies the biology of pancreatic cancer, to test it. Jorgensen and his students were able to produce the gel and use it to grow pancreatic organoids, using healthy or cancerous pancreatic cells derived from mice. "We got the protocol from Linda and we got the reagents in, and then it just worked," Jorgensen says. "I think that speaks volumes of how robust the system is and how easy it is to implement in the lab."

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Uber Drivers Are Employees, Not Contractors, Says Dutch Court

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 19:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Uber drivers are employees, not contractors, and so entitled to greater workers' rights under local labor laws, a Dutch court ruled on Monday, handing a setback to the U.S. company's European business model. It was another court victory for unions fighting for better pay and benefits for those employed in the gig economy and followed a similar decision this year about Uber in Britain. The Amsterdam District Court sided with the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions (FNV), which had argued that Uber's roughly 4,000 drivers in the capital are employees of a taxi company and should be granted benefits in line with the taxi sector. The court found drivers who transport passengers via the Uber app are covered by the collective labour agreement for taxi transportation. "The legal relationship between Uber and these drivers meets all the characteristics of an employment contract," the ruling said. Uber drivers are in some cases entitled to back pay, the court said. The judges also ordered Uber to pay a fine of 50,000 euros ($58,940) for failing to implement the terms of the labor agreement for taxi drivers. Uber said it would appeal against the decision and "has no plans to employ drivers in the Netherlands." They added: "We are disappointed with this decision because we know that the overwhelming majority of drivers wish to remain independent. Drivers don't want to give up their freedom to choose if, when and where to work." Last November, Uber, Lyft and other gig economy companies scored a decisive win in California when a majority of the state's voters passed a company-sponsored ballot measure that cemented workers' status as contractors, albeit with some benefits.

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Kape Technologies Agrees to Buy ExpressVPN for $936 Million

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 19:20
Kape Technologies Plc agreed to buy ExpressVPN in a $936 million deal that will more than double the cybersecurity company's customer base and expand its tools for private web surfing. Bloomberg reports: Kape will pay $354 million in cash when the deal closes and the equivalent of $237 million in shares, which can be sold after a 24-month lockup, the company said in a statement on Monday. Another $345 million in cash will be paid in two installments, 12 months and 24 months after the close. The deal still needs approval from regulators.

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Sony Is Nickel-and-Diming PS5 Owners On Upgrades For Games They Already Own

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 19:02
According to Insider, Sony is charging a $10 upgrade fee to bring cross-generational games from a PS4 to a PS5. From the report: When new game consoles launch nowadays, a variety of games on that new console are also available on the previous generation of consoles. The next major PlayStation 5 exclusive game, for instance, is also headed to the PlayStation 4: "Horizon Forbidden West" launches in early 2022, and millions of players will get it on the last generation console. [..] Unfortunately, when PlayStation 4 owners do finally find and purchase a PlayStation 5, those cross-generational games don't automatically make the leap with them. Instead, Sony intends to charge $10 apiece for that upgrade -- and that's only after fans criticized Sony for an even stranger policy. "Thursday was to be a celebration of 'Horizon Forbidden West' and the amazing team at Guerrilla working to deliver it on February 18, 2022," PlayStation leader Jim Ryan said in an update on a Sony blog post earlier this month. "However, it's abundantly clear that the offerings we confirmed in our pre-order kickoff missed the mark." Ryan was referring to a previously announced pre-order announcement for "Horizon Forbidden West" that revealed the only way to get both the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game was to order an $80 "digital deluxe" edition -- a $20 increase over the base level $60 price of a PS4 video game. Sony had previously announced that any PlayStation 5 games in the "launch window" would only need to be purchased on one console to own both the PS4 and PS5 versions. "Horizon Forbidden West" has been delayed repeatedly, which pushed it out of the ambiguous "launch window" Sony set for the PlayStation 5 (which launched in November 2020). When PlayStation fans cited this, Sony caved. Moreover, Ryan laid out a clear upgrade path for the future -- albeit one that's still open to scrutiny. "Moving forward, PlayStation first-party exclusive cross-gen titles (newly releasing on PS4 & PS5) -- both digital and physical -- will offer a $10 USD digital upgrade option from PS4 to PS5," Ryan said. "This will apply to the next 'God of War' and 'Gran Turismo 7,' and any other exclusive cross-gen PS4 & PS5 title published by Sony Interactive Entertainment." Microsoft's policy, on the other hand, states that if you owned a game on a previous Xbox console, you own it on the current consoles. If there's a newer version of that game for your newer console, that's the version you get when you buy and download the game.

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A Horrifying New AI App Swaps Women Into Porn Videos With a Click

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 18:20
Karen Hao, reporting for MIT Technology Review: The website is eye-catching for its simplicity. Against a white backdrop, a giant blue button invites visitors to upload a picture of a face. Below the button, four AI-generated faces allow you to test the service. Above it, the tag line boldly proclaims the purpose: turn anyone into a porn star by using deepfake technology to swap the person's face into an adult video. All it requires is the picture and the push of a button. MIT Technology Review has chosen not to name the service, which we will call Y, or use any direct quotes and screenshots of its contents, to avoid driving traffic to the site. It was discovered and brought to our attention by deepfake researcher Henry Ajder, who has been tracking the evolution and rise of synthetic media online. For now, Y exists in relative obscurity, with a small user base actively giving the creator development feedback in online forums. But researchers have feared that an app like this would emerge, breaching an ethical line no other service has crossed before. From the beginning, deepfakes, or AI-generated synthetic media, have primarily been used to create pornographic representations of women, who often find this psychologically devastating. The original Reddit creator who popularized the technology face-swapped female celebrities' faces into porn videos. To this day, the research company Sensity AI estimates, between 90% and 95% of all online deepfake videos are nonconsensual porn, and around 90% of those feature women.

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Facebook: Some High-Profile Users 'Allowed To Break Platform's Rules'

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 17:42
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Facebook gives high-profile users special treatment, which includes immunity from its rules for some, and allowed Brazilian footballer Neymar to post nude pictures of a woman who had accused him of rape, according to a report. The XCheck or "CrossCheck" system steers reviews of posts by well-known users such as celebrities, politicians and journalists into a separate system, according to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal. Under the program, some users are "whitelisted" -- not subject to enforcement action -- while others are allowed to post material that violates Facebook rules, pending content reviews that often do not take place. People are placed on the XCheck list -- where they are given special scrutiny -- if they meet criteria such as being "newsworthy," "influential or popular" or "PR risky." Names on the XCheck program included Donald Trump, US senator Elizabeth Warren and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, although the report does not state whether those names were whitelisted at any point. By 2020 there were 5.8 million users on the XCheck list, the Wall Street Journal said. In one example cited by the WSJ, Brazilian football star Neymar responded to a rape accusation in 2019 by posting Facebook and Instagram videos defending himself, which included showing viewers his WhatsApp correspondence with his accuser. The WhatsApp clips included the accuser's name and nude photos of her. Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by Facebook. Instead of immediately deleting the material, which is Facebook's procedure for "nonconsensual intimate imagery," moderators were blocked for more than a day from removing the video, according to the WSJ. The WSJ investigation details the process known as "whitelisting," where some high-profile accounts are not subject to enforcement at all. An internal review in 2019 stated that whitelists "pose numerous legal, compliance, and legitimacy risks for the company and harm to our community." The review found favoritism to those users to be both widespread and "not publicly defensible." "We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly," said the confidential review. It called the company's actions "a breach of trust" and added: "Unlike the rest of our community, these people can violate our standards without any consequences." According to another internal document, enforcement procedures and rule-drafting were subject to interventions from members of Facebook's public-policy team and senior executives. One 2020 memo from a Facebook data scientist added: "Facebook routinely makes exceptions for powerful actors." The WSJ also reported that the system suffered from enforcement delays that allowed posts to stay up before they were eventually prohibited. In 2020, posts being reviewed by XCheck were viewed at least 16.4 billion times before being removed. A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement: "A lot of this internal material is outdated information stitched together to create a narrative that glosses over the most important point: Facebook itself identified the issues with cross check and has been working to address them. We've made investments, built a dedicated team, and have been redesigning cross check to improve how the system operates."

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Intuit Confirms $12 Billion Deal To Buy Mailchimp

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 17:03
It was teased earlier this month and now it's confirmed: Intuit said on Monday it would buy email marketing company Mailchimp for about $12 billion in a cash-and-stock deal. Reuters reports: The deal, expected to close by the second quarter of fiscal 2022, will be financed through cash on hand and new debt of about $4.5 billion to $5.0 billion, Intuit said. The deal for Atlanta-based Mailchimp, which operates a marketing platform for small and mid-market businesses, will help Intuit expand its product base for small businesses. California-based Intuit's products include TurboTax, a software that helps Americans file income tax returns, and QuickBooks, a cloud-based application that helps small businesses manage payments.

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Facebook Unveils Superpack, a New Compression Technique

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 16:25
An anonymous reader writes: Facebook unveiled a new compression technique they call 'Superpack compression.' In a blog post written by software engineer Sapan Bhatia, they claim that their compression improves Android app size by 20% over the default Zip compression used by Android. The post gives an overview of the compression ideas. The basis of these ideas is called out to be a key insight in Kolmogorov Complexity, that any data can be represented in the form of programs that generate that data. Facebook's tool, Superpack, mines out such small programs and optimizes them using compiler techniques.

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The IT Talent Gap is Still Growing

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 15:45
IT executives see the talent shortage as the most significant adoption barrier to 64% of emerging technologies, according to a new Gartner survey. From a report: Across compute infrastructure and platform services, network, security, digital workplace, IT automation, and storage and database, respondents cited a lack of qualified candidates as a leading factor impeding tech deployment at their companies. "The ongoing push toward remote work and the acceleration of hiring plans in 2021 has exacerbated IT talent scarcity, especially for sourcing skills that enable cloud and edge, automation, and continuous delivery," Gartner research VP Yinuo Geng said in a press release. "As one example, of all the IT automation technologies profiled in the survey, only 20% of them have moved ahead in the adoption cycle since 2020. The issue of talent is to blame here." The talent gaps are particularly acute for IT automation and digital workplace solutions, according to the executives surveyed -- a reflection of the demand for these technologies. According to McKinsey, nearly half of executives say their embrace of automation has accelerated, while digital and technology adoption is taking place about 25 times faster than before the pandemic. For example, Brain Corp reported that the use of robots to clean retail stores in the U.S. rose 24% in Q2 2020 year-over-year, and IBM has seen a surge in new users of its AI-driven customer service platform Watson Assistant.

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Apple Patches a NSO Zero-Day Flaw Affecting All Devices

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 15:00
Apple has released security updates for a newly discovered zero-day vulnerability that affects every iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. Citizen Lab, which discovered the vulnerability and was credited with the find, urges users to immediately update their devices. From a report: The technology giant said iOS 14.8 for iPhones and iPads, as well as new updates for Apple Watch and macOS, will fix at least one vulnerability that it said "may have been actively exploited." Citizen Lab said it has now discovered new artifacts of the ForcedEntry vulnerability, details it first revealed in August as part of an investigation into the use of a zero-day vulnerability that was used to silently hack into iPhones belonging to at least one Bahraini activist. Last month, Citizen Lab said the zero day flaw -- named as such since it gives companies zero days to roll out a fix -- took advantage of a flaw in Apple's iMessage, which was exploited to push the Pegasus spyware, developed by Israeli firm NSO Group, to the activist's phone. Pegasus gives its government customers near-complete access to a target's device, including their personal data, photos, messages and location.

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Firm Raises $15 Million To Bring Back Woolly Mammoth From Extinction

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 14:25
Ten thousand years after woolly mammoths vanished from the face of the Earth, scientists are embarking on an ambitious project to bring the beasts back to the Arctic tundra. From a report: The prospect of recreating mammoths and returning them to the wild has been discussed -- seriously at times -- for more than a decade, but on Monday researchers announced fresh funding they believe could make their dream a reality. The boost comes in the form of $15m raised by the bioscience and genetics company Colossal, co-founded by Ben Lamm, a tech and software entrepreneur, and George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School who has pioneered new approaches to gene editing. The scientists have set their initial sights on creating an elephant-mammoth hybrid by making embryos in the laboratory that carry mammoth DNA. The starting point for the project involves taking skin cells from Asian elephants, which are threatened with extinction, and reprogramming them into more versatile stem cells that carry mammoth DNA. The particular genes that are responsible for mammoth hair, insulating fat layers and other cold climate adaptions are identified by comparing mammoth genomes extracted from animals recovered from the permafrost with those from the related Asian elephants. These embryos would then be carried to term in a surrogate mother or potentially in an artificial womb. If all goes to plan -- and the hurdles are far from trivial -- the researchers hope to have their first set of calves in six years.

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Brazil's President Bans Social Networks From Removing Some Posts

Mon, 09/13/2021 - 13:45
President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil is temporarily banning social media companies from removing certain content, including his claims that the only way he'll lose next year's elections is if the vote is rigged -- one of the most significant steps by a democratically elected leader to control what can be said on the internet. From a report: The new social media rules, issued this week and effective immediately, appear to be the first time a national government has stopped internet companies from taking down content that violates their rules, according to internet law experts and officials at tech companies. And they come at a precarious moment for Brazil. Mr. Bolsonaro has used social media as a megaphone to build his political movement and make it to the president's office. Now, with polls showing he would lose the presidential elections if they were held today, he is using sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to try to undermine the legitimacy of the vote, following the playbook of his close ally, former President Donald J. Trump. On Tuesday, Mr. Bolsonaro repeated his claims about the election to thousands of supporters in two cities as part of nationwide demonstrations on Brazil's Independence Day.

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