Papua New Guinea bans Facebook for a month to root out ‘fake users’

Analysts will explore how fake news and porn spreads, and assess whether country needs its own version of the platform

The Papua New Guinean government will ban Facebook for a month in a bid to crack down on” fake users” and study the effects the website is having on the population.

The communication minister, Sam Basil, said the shutdown would allow his department’s analysts to carry out research and analysis on who was using the platform, and how they were use it, acknowledges rising very concerned about social well-being, security and productivity.

” The period will allow information to be collected to identify users that hide behind fake accounts, users that upload pornographic images, users that post false and misleading information on Facebook to be filtered and removed ,” Basil told the Post Courier newspaper .” This will allow genuine people with real identities to use the social network responsibly .”

Basil has repeatedly raised concerns about protecting the privacy of PNG’s Facebook users in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica revelations, which found Facebook had leaked the personal data of tens of millions of users to a private company. The pastor has closely followed the US Senate inquiry into Facebook.

” The national government, swept along by IT globalisation, never truly had the chance to ascertain the advantages or drawbacks[ of Facebook]- and even train and provide guidance on employ of social networks like Facebook to PNG users ,” said Basil last month .

” The two cases involving Facebook show us the vulnerabilities that Papua New Guinean citizens and residents on their personal data and exchanges when using this social network .”

” We can also look at the possibility of creating a new social network site for PNG citizens to use with genuine profiles as well ,” said Basil.” If there need be then we can assemble our local applications developers to create a site that is more conducive for Papua New Guineans to communicate within the country and abroad as well .”

Basil said the risks and vulnerabilities of Facebook were wider than the potential threat of data violates, and included the possibility of Facebook acting as an unchecked ad platform, a threat to people’s productivity- especially among children and employees- and wider issues of cyber-security.

The PNG government said it would be examining how other countries were managing Facebook around the world, and the impact of government policies on private users of the network.

Dr Aim Sinpeng, an expert in digital media and politics from the University of Sydney, said the ban created some troubling questions, because when Facebook had been banned in other countries it was usually in the run-up to elections, or banned indefinitely, like in China.

” One month is an interesting time limit for a prohibit, I am not exactly sure what they think they can achieve, and why a forbid is necessary. You can do Facebook analysis without it. And what data are the government collecting? If they are concerned about fake news there are many ways to do it without issuing a ban on a platform ,” she said.

Dr Sinpeng said the most recent statistics she had assured put internet piercing at only 12% in PNG, and Facebook penetration was closely related to internet access; entailing it was likely the platform wasn’t used by the vast majority of people.

” Politically I think they will be able to get away with the ban because internet piercing is not high, a prohibit is not viable in countries with 60 -7 0% penetration. These issues such as Facebook are being spoken about in a number of other countries, so the fact that PNG is on the bandwagon shows how widespread concerns have become .”

Facebook has been contacted for comment.

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Laurel or Yanny debate: why do some people hear a different word?

Original audio clip comes from and features voice recurring a single word but which one do you hear?

A short audio clip of a computer-generated voice has become the most divisive subject on the internet since the gold/ blue dress controversy of 2015.

The audio ” illusion”, which first appeared on Reddit, seems to be saying a single word- but whether that term is “Yanny” or “Laurel” is the source of furious disagreement.

Cloe Feldman (@ CloeCouture)

What do you hear ?! Yanny or Laurel jvHhCbMc8I

May 15, 2018

Professor David Alais from the University of Sydney’s school of psychology says the Yanny/ Laurel sound is a fine example of a” perceptually ambiguous stimulus” such as the Necker cube or the face/ vase illusion.

” They can be seen in two ways, and often the mind flips backward and forward between the two interpretations. This happens because the brain can’t decide on a definitive interpreting ,” Alais says.

” If there is little ambiguity, the brain locks on to a single perceptual interpreting. Here, the Yanny/ Laurel voiced is meant to be ambiguous because each sound has a similar timing and energy content- so in principle it’s confusable.

” All of this goes to highlight just how much the brain is an active interpreter of sensory input, and thus that the external world is less objective than we like to believe .”

Alais says that for him, and presumably many others, it’s” 100% Yanny” without any ambiguity.

That lack of ambiguity he says is likely down to two reasons: firstly his age. At 52 his ears lack high frequency sensitivity, a natural outcome of ageing; and secondly, a difference in accent between the North American accented computer-generated “Yanny” and “Laurel” and how the words are certainly be spoken in Australian or British English.

This argument is further supported by the deputy professor of audition and cognitive neuroscience Lars Riecke at Maastricht University. Speaking to the Verge, Riecke indicates the” secret is frequency … but some of it also represents the mechanics of your ears, and what you’re expecting to hear “.

” Most sounds- including L and Y, which are among the ones at issue here- are made up of several frequencies at once … frequencies of the Y might have been made artificially higher, and the frequencies that stimulate the L sound might have been dropped .”

Prof Hugh McDermott from Melbourne’s Bionics Institute been shown that while the frequency of the device you are listening on does have an impact, there are” a lot of different factors playing into it “.

” When the brain is uncertain of something, it use surrounding cues to help you attain the right decision ,” he said.

” If you heard a dialogue happening around you regarding’ Laurel’ you wouldn’t have heard’ Yanny’.

” Personal history can also devote an unconscious predilection for one or the other. You could know many people named’ Laurel’ and none called’ Yanny ‘.”

McDermott also thinks visual cues may have played a part.” You would have noticed it had both the names appearing on the screen with no other context or information. This forces the brain to make a selection between those two alternatives.

” It is a compelling illusion and you can hear both those voices either way .”

In National Geographic, Brad Story from the University of Arizona’s speech acoustics and physiology lab, claimed the original recording was ” Laurel “ but because the audio clip isn’t clear it leaves room for confusion and varying interpretations.

Story has experimented by recording his own voice pronouncing both words and find similar sound patterns for “Yanny” and “Laurel”.

Online commentators have added their own theories as to why people are hearing different words in the clip- and pointed out it varies depending on the level of frequency, amplitude and the type of speakers used to play back the clip.

Steve Pomeroy (@ xxv)

Ok, so if you pitch-shift it you can hear different things:

down 30%: https :// F5WCUZQJlq
down 20%: https :// CLhY5tvnC 1
up 20%: https :// zAc7HomuCS
up 30% https :// JdNUILOvFW
up 40% https :// /8 VTkjXo3L 1 https :// suSw6AmLtn

May 15, 2018

According to the Twitter user Earth Vessel Quotes, the amount of bass projected from the sound device can have a significant impact.

Earth Vessel Quotes (@ earthvessquotes)

you can hear both when you adjust the bass levels: 22 boppUJS1

May 15, 2018

Lower frequencies increase your chances of hearing the world “Laurel” while higher ones are more likely to sound like “Yanny”.

One user wrote on Reddit:” If you turn the volume very low, there will be practically no bass and you will hear Yanny. Turn the volume up and play it on some speakers that have actual bass reaction( AKA not your telephone) and you will hear Laurel .”

A video posted by another Twitter user, Alex Saad, backs this theory by showing the audio mix morphing from “Yanny” into “Laurel” while toggling through different frequencies.

Alex Saad (@ XeSaad)

Despite objective proof I still think it’s #Laurel RcJpZZncRC

May 15, 2018

Others have theorized that the difference is a possibility down to the age of the listener, or individual physiology. As you get older, your hearing scope begins to deteriorate, attaining certain high frequencies hard or impossible to hear. This process can begin from the age of 25.

Alex Zalben (@ azalben)

guys help me out, does this dress say yanny or laurel Tl2lfZKYBS

May 15, 2018

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Is this a pigeon? The story behind the internet’s new favorite meme

A still from The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird is being used to mock everyone from men that mansplain to high school Tv shows

The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird was created to be the Japanese version of Transformers: all androids, intergalactic police force and merchandise opportunities. First broadcast 25 years ago, it has never been especially popular outside of Japan, but in the past month it has become responsible for one of the more popular images on the internet, posted to Twitter and Instagram thousands of times a day.

The image comes from a scene in the depict where an android is trying to convince a police detective that he is human. He’s a long way from Westworld standards of artificial intelligence, however, and keeps incorrectly identifying the objects around him. He guesses rises are violets, and asks if a butterfly is a pigeon.

A screengrab from that scene first appeared in 2011, mostly on Tumblr and anime forums. Back then it was primarily used for anime in-jokes, such as superfans taunting each other for misidentifying Pokemon. But in the last couple of months it’s gone mainstream.The meme has become extremely popular- new iterations are being created constantly, with some of the best going viral on social media, or trending on the meme library

Cat Graffam (@ catgraffam) k90ssimgos

May 4, 2018

fullmullet alchemist (@ rfetts)

i attained one LwiyqyoJfE

May 11, 2018

After the official Netflix account use the meme to comment on the questionable casting of actors in high-school drama, its popularity soared.

Netflix US (@ netflix) uh1ztR0wam

May 3, 2018

But what’s so special about this scene? He’s just a boy, standing in front of a butterfly, asking if it’s a pigeon.

Some have said the meme has a melancholy quality; some iterations involve mistaking likes on Twitter for friendship, while others joke about” buying expensive things with money I shouldn’t spend” in a quest for self-care. Vice has suggested the meme acts as a window into people’s psychology, and” could help demystify the process of dealing with depression and other mental health issues “.

But the truth is that, like any memetic form, it can’t be contained to a single topic. It’s already been adopted by the left and right, feminists and” incels“, and used to comment on everything from Ohio environmental politics to rape culture.

ghost science class chalkboard doodle (@ frimairist)

sorry for the butterfly meme eQq7 2teFZW

May 10, 2018

Dan (@ strngephtoghrpr)

My take on’ is this a pigeon’ meme NeJwCXPX2 4

May 7, 2018

This sudden popularity is likely down to its similarity to the” confused boyfriend” stock image that has been doing the rounds since last year.

popular comedy account” the pixelated barge” (@ pixelatedboat) wey5DjJvQQ

August 24, 2017

Previously, most memes consisted of ugly text laid over a single image, inducing it easy for anyone to adapt. But confused boyfriend generated the feeling of a comic strip- constructing it staggeringly popular and spawning a whole new genre of meme.

Finding an image that can tell a story so perfectly isn’t easy, but” is this a pigeon ?” fits the bill, which is likely why it remerged. It also helps that anyone with the most slapdash editing skills can give it a go, even me.

Photograph: Sunup

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Employers are monitoring computers, toilet breaks even emotions. Is your boss watching you?

From microchip implants to wristband trackers and sensors that can detect tirednes and depression, new technology is enabling employers to watch staff in more and more intrusive routes. How worried should we be?

Last year an American company microchipped dozens of its workers. In a “chip party” that induced headlines around the world, employees lined up to have a device the size of a grain of rice implanted under the skin between their thumb and forefinger. At first, Todd Westby, the CEO of Three Square Market, guessed merely about five or six people – him and a couple of directors, some of the people who worked in the IT department- would volunteer. But of the 90 people who work at the headquarters, 72 are now chipped; Westby has a chip in each hand. They can be used to open security doors, log on to computers and make payments at the company’s vending machines.

Can he see it taking off at lots of other companies?” Not inevitably ,” he says. Or at least not yet. It’s partly a generational thing, he believes.” You may never want to be chipped but if you’re a millennial, you have no problems. They think it’s cool .” There are other uses for it- two months ago, the company( whose core business is selling vending machine and kiosks) started chipping people with dementia in Puerto Rico. If person strays off and gets lost, police can scan the chip” and they will know all their medical information, what narcotics they can and can’t have, they’ll know their identity .” So far, Three Square Market has chipped 100 people, but plans to do 10,000.

The company has just launched a mobile phone app that pairs the chip with the phone’s GPS, enabling the implantee’s location to be tracked. Last week, it started use it with people released from prison on probation, as a replacement for ankle tags, which Westby describes as” intimidate and degrading “. Could he ever see the company using GPS to track its chipped employees? “No,” he tells. “There’s no reason to.”

Tony Danna, vice-president at Three Square Market, get his microchip implant. Photograph: Jeff Baenen/ AP

Not all firms would agree. Tech companies are coming up with ever more bizarre and intrusive ways to monitor workforces. Last week the Times reported that some Chinese companies are using sensors in helmets and hats to scan workers’ brainwaves and detect wearines, stress and even feelings such as anger. It added that one electrical company employs brainwave scans to decide how many infringes employees get, and for how long. The technology is used on high-speed develop drivers to” detect tirednes and attention loss “. While this sort of technology may have legitimate safety applications- a similar project was carried out with Crossrail employees utilizing wristbands that sensed fatigue – it’s not hard to see how it could creep into other areas.

In February, it was reported that Amazon had been granted patents for a wristband that not only tracked workers’ locatings in the warehouse as they “picked” items to be dispatched, but could “read” their hand movements, buzzing or emitting a pulse to alert them when they were reaching for the incorrect item. In the filing, Amazon describes it as being able to” monitor performance of the placing of the incoming inventory item into the identified storage location by the inventory system worker “.

There are tech companies selling products that can take regular screenshots of employees’ work, monitor keystrokes and web usage, and even photograph them at their desks employing their computers’ webcams. Running from home offers no protection, as all this can be done remotely. Software can monitor social media utilization, analyse language or be installed on employees’ phones to monitor encrypted apps such as WhatsApp. Employees can be fitted with badges that not only track their location, but also monitor their tone of voice, how often they speak in sessions and who they speak to and for how long.

Employees have always been watched at work, and technology has always been used to do it. But where it was once a factory foreman with a stopwatch, or employees having to physically clock in and out , now” all of that physical stuff has gone into digital technology”, tells Andre Spicer, professor of organisational behaviour at Cass Business School.” It captures things that you weren’t able to capture in the past, like how many keystrokes are people taking, what are they looking at on their screen while they’re at work, what kind of language are they using. And surveillance follows you outside the workplace now .”

Some Chinese companies are utilizing sensors to see employees’ levels of tirednes and their emotional state. Photo: AFP/ Getty Images

How much of this is legal? In the UK, employers are allowed to monitor which websites you look at while at work, tells Philip Landau, a partner at Landau Law Solicitors who specialises in employment statute.” However, the device they monitor must be partly or wholly provided by run. Employers must also give prior warn if they are going to monitor your online activity, and should make you aware of the relevant social media policy .” It is also legal to monitor keystrokes, though again employees must be told they will be watched.” In companies where this system is in place, “its not” uncommon for employers to speak to employees if they feel that their number of keystrokes is low ,” says Landau.” It is important to recognize that a high number of keystrokes does not inevitably entail high levels of productivity and vice versa .”

Employers could theoretically use your computer’s webcam to see when you’re at your desk but” there should be a justification for such monitoring, and you should be informed of it beforehand. You should also be informed what the pictures will be used for, and how they will be stored .” As for GPS tracking,” a company may track any vehicles that they furnish to their staff. However, the data they collect must only be used for the management purposes of the company. Any GPS device is not allowed to be turned on if the employee is using the vehicle for personal reasons outside of work .”

James Bloodworth spent a month working as a “picker”- the person who locates the products ordered- for Amazon in March 2016 for his volume Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain.” We carried this handheld device at all times and it tracks your productivity ,” he tells. It would direct employees to the items they need to find on the shelves in one of Amazon’s vast warehouses.” Each hour you picked up an item, there would be this countdown timer[ to get to the next item] which would measure your productivity .” Bloodworth tells superintendents would tell people how productive they were being; he was advised he was in the bottom 10%.” You were also sent admonishments through the device saying you need to get your productivity up. You’re constantly tracked and rated. I received you couldn’t keep up with the productivity targets without operating- yet you were also told you weren’t allowed to run, and if you did, you’d get a disciplinary. But if you fell behind in productivity, you’d get a disciplinary for that as well .” It didn’t feel, he tells,” that you were really treated as a human being “. Workers had to go through airport-style security scanners at the beginning and end of their shifts, or to get to the break regions. He tells going to the loo was described as” idle period” and once procured a bottle of urine on one of the shelves.

A employee in an Amazon distribution centre. Photograph: Ralph Freso/ Reuters

Amazon tells its scanning devices” are common across the warehouse and logistics sector as well as in supermarkets, department store and other industries, and are designed to assist our people in performing their roles”, while the company” ensures all of its associates have easy access to lavatory facilities, which are just a short stroll from where they are working “. It adds:” Associates are allowed to use the lavatory whenever needed. We do not monitor lavatory breaches .”

Some of Bloodworth’s colleagues, he says, were angry about the level of monitoring-” but it was more cynicism and resignation. Most of the people I fulfilled hadn’t been in the job very long or were looking for other jobs. Every chore was temporary and it was a workforce totally in flux .” Has Bloodworth seen the future? Will we all be monitored like this by our boss in years to come? Maybe, he tells.” One of the things that has arisen in response to the book is that people say work is going to be automated anyway, or employees need to be more flexible, as if this is the way of the future and it’s inevitable, which I think is quite dangerous. Amazon can get away with this because of political choices and because the trade union movement is quite weak. I believe other businesses will look at Amazon, ensure they have had success with this business model- and seek to replicate it .”

For his volume Working the Telephone, Jamie Woodcock, a sociologist of work at the Oxford Internet Institute, expended six months working in a call centre. You get a sense of the monitoring, he says,” from the moment you walk in. You have TV screens that have everyone’s relative performance to each other displayed. Administrators collect data on almost every single part of what you do. Every single telephone call I ever induced was digitally recorded and stored. In terms of monitoring, it’s like being able to call back every single thing somebody has attained on an assembly line and retrospectively magistrate it for quality. We all induce mistakes and we all have bad days, but this kind of monitoring can be made retrospectively to sack people and is used to give people a sense that they could lose their jobs at any moment .”

Monitoring is built into many of the jobs that form the so-called ” gig economy “. It’s not easy to object to the constant surveillance when you’re desperate for run. What has astonished Spicer is how willingly people in better-paid chores have taken to it.” Prisoners in the past were forced to wear tracking bands but now we willingly put one across step trackers or other kinds of tracking devices given to us by our employers, and in some cases we pay for the privilege .” Companies such as IBM, BP, Bank of America, Target and Barclays have offered their employees Fitbit activity trackers.

It is part, Spicer says, of” this whole idea of wanting to improve or optimise yourself. A lot of technology is designed to not just feed back data about your performance to your boss, but also give it to you. I guess they’re also seen as cool or fashionable, so it’s not surprising they’re taken up so readily .”

Spicer has watched the transformation away from” monitoring something like emails to monitoring people’s bodies- the rise of bio-tracking basically. The monitoring of your vital signs, feelings, moods .” Of Three Square Market’s practice of chipping employees, he says:” You can imagine that slowly widening. You could imagine things like employers asking to have your Dna in the future, and other kinds of data .”

Deliveroo already monitors its riders and drivers’ performance. Photograph: Charles Platiau/ Reuters

Surveillance can have positive applications. It’s necessary( and legally required) in the financial industry to prevent insider trading. It could be used to prevent harassment and bully, and to root out bias and discrimination. One interesting study last year monitored emails and productivity, and used sensors to track behaviour and interaction with management, and found that men and women behaved almost identically at work. The findings challenged the notion that the reason women are not promoted to senior levels is that they are less proactive or have fewer interactions with leaders, and simply need to” tilt in “.

Still, tells, Woodcock,” we need to have a conversation in society about whether run should be somewhere that you’re surveilled “. That require is perhaps most urgent where low-paid, insecure tasks are concerned.” If you work in the gig economy, you have a smartphone ,” Woodcock points out, and that smartphone can be used to track you.” I believe because many of these workplaces don’t have traditional forms of organisation or trade unions, management are able to introduce these things with relatively little collective resistance .”

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain are familiar with the issues of monitoring and data collection. James Farrar is the chair of its United Private Hire Drivers branch, and the Uber driver who won a legal battle against the company last year for drivers’ rights.” They do collect an awful lot of information ,” he tells.” One of the things they will report to you on a daily basis is how good your acceleration and braking has been. You get a rating. The question is: why are they collecting that info ?” Uber also monitors” unusual motions” of the phone when someone is driving( connoting it knows if someone is using their telephone while at the wheel) and, of course, tracks cars and drivers by GPS.

” My fear with it is this information is being fed into a dispatch algorithm ,” he says.” We should have access to the data and is how it’s being used. If some kind of quality score on my driving ability[ is put into an algorithm ], I may be offered less valuable work, kept away from the most valuable clients- who knows ?” It’s not an unreasonable fear- the food delivery company Deliveroo already does something similar, monitoring its riders’ and drivers’ performance, and has started offering ” priority access” when booking switchings to those who” provide the most consistent, quality services “~ ATAGEND. Uber, however, says its monitoring is aimed merely to deliver” a smoother, safer ride … This data is used to inform drivers of their driving habits and is not used to affect future trip-up requests .”

Not all surveillance is bad, says Farrar. In some styles, he would like more. He was assaulted by a passenger and is calling for CCTV in all vehicles, partly for the safety of drivers.” There is a role for surveillance technology ,” he says. Ironically, when Farrar ran for a meeting with Uber to discuss the assault, the company attained him turn his telephone off to prove he wasn’t recording it.

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Dont let bitcoin greed blind you to the potential of blockchain technology | John Naughton

The mechanism that underpins cryptocurrencies could help to provide secure public records in countries susceptible to corruption

Because I write about technology I am regularly assailed by people who are exercised about so-called ” cryptocurrencies” like bitcoin, which most of them regard as a scam. But when I respond that while bitcoin might be newsworthy, the really important narrative concerns the blockchain technology that underpins it, their eyes glaze over and they start looking for the nearest exit as they conclude that they are in the grip of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner.

And, in a sense, the objective is. Blockchain technology is indeed important, but it seems largely incomprehensible to ordinary mortals, even though the web teems with attempts to explain it. This is partly because cryptography lies at its core, and since crypto involves complex maths it was thus lies beyond the ken of most people. But if one is prepared to take the maths as given, then actually the basic idea is simple. As Don and Alex Tapscott put it in their volume, Blockchain Revolution , a blockchain” is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not only financial transactions but virtually everything of value “.

Until recently, the banking establishment was unremittingly hostile to cryptocurrencies. Jamie Dimon, the boss of JPMorgan Chase, for example, famously described bitcoin as a “fraud”. But recently, the wind seems to have changed. Last December, two big exchanges- the CME Group and Cboe Global Markets- launched bitcoin futures trading operations. This week Goldman Sachs announced that it would follow suit and is looking into the direct trading of bitcoin. And now- according to Wednesday’s Financial Times – even the New York Stock Exchange is” setting up an online platform for buying and holding bitcoin “.

So what’s going on? To interpret it you need to understand that the cryptocurrency story has two interwoven strands: human avarice on the one hand and utopian idealism on the other. It’s no accident that bitcoin emerged just after the 2008 banking crisis as people realised that we had been taken for an epic ride by the financial services industry. In a world where nobody- even the biggest banks- could be trusted, an unknown genius going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper arguing that cryptography could be harnessed to enable trustworthy transactions without having to rely on fallible or corrupted human institutions. A new digital currency- bitcoin- was the working example he proposed. And underpinning it was the cryptographic tool- the blockchain- which ensured that all transactions in the new currency could be validated without requiring an institution to guarantee or underwrite them.

Because the total number of bitcoins that can exist is limited by the design of the system to 21 m, the currency was rapidly perceived as an asset or a store of value- like gold. Accordingly greed kicked in, triggering waves of speculative mania that are still continuing. And it is this speculative wave that Goldman Sachs and co now- belatedly- wish to surf.

No surprise there, then. But implicit in the blockchain notion is an endearing strain of technocratic utopianism, a hope that technology can overcome some aspects of human frailty and corruption. The key to that lies in the latter half of the Tapscott definition quoted earlier- the idea that a blockchain can record” not only financial transactions but virtually everything of value” in a ledger that cannot be falsified.

This is a really big idea, because well-governed societies depend on maintaining certain kinds of documentation- birth and death credentials, title deeds, wills and so on- in ledgers that are both public and secure. In industrialised societies we have achieved this by having trustworthy organizations( registrars, solicitors, local authorities, etc ), which have legal responsibilities and democratic oversight. But other societies are not so fortunate. In developing or authoritarian countries, for example, registries of land titles are critically vulnerable to tampering by corrupted officials. Use a blockchain to hold such titles could offer a style of ensuring that credible records endure, which is why countries such as the Republic of Georgia are beginning to do it.

None of this is easy to do, and there are lots of practical difficulties ahead. But in the greed and cynicism surrounding bitcoin and its peers, we shouldn’t lose sight of the great potential of blockchain technology. Many years ago, an technologist called Paul Baran had a Big Idea- that we could make a great communications network by using digital data packets rather than analogue phone lines. He was giggled out of tribunal by AT& T. But it turned out that Baran’s idea was what gave us the internet.

What I’m reading

Gone- and forgotten
Honestly! Kids these days! Opinion pollster YouGov did a survey to discover how much today’s schoolchildren know about the communications technologies of the past. They were proven 12 pictures of relevant objects from the past- typewriter, Nokia mobile phone, overhead projector, floppy disk, cassette, pager etc. Two-thirds didn’t know what a floppy disk was( though some recognised it as the icon for “Save” ), 27% didn’t recognise a typewriter and 40% didn’t know what an audio cassette was.( On the other hand, analogue nostalgists can take comfort that only a one-quarter of the kids couldn’t recognise a record player. So vinyl may not be a lost cause with future generations. Biggest surprise: 23% didn’t recognise a postcard.

Scandal you say ?
Facebook users occupy an ethics-free zone. A Reuters survey has found that the Cambridge Analytica scandal has had no real impact on the individuals who use the service. Three-quarters of US users say they’re using Facebook as much as or more than before the revelations.

Take back control
MIT researchers have constructed a tool that enables you to control what you see in your social media feeds. It’s called Gobo and it’s free.

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Google wants to cure our phone addiction. How about that for irony? | Matt Haig

It helped us get hooked on tech , now it wants to wean us off by employing more tech. Is this about business , not wellbeing ?, says author Matt Haig

Worried about the hours you spend scrolling your phone, sinking into despair, gazing at glamorous Instagrammers leaning against palm trees while you try to get out of bed?

Worry no longer: help is coming. And it’s coming from, um, Google. Yes, that’s right. Google is now trying to improve our” digital wellbeing'” by making our telephones less addictive. Its newest version of Android includes an array of features with the stated objective of maintaining us from our phones.

Among the many latest additions is a “dashboard” app that tells you at a glance how- and how often – you’ve been using your telephone. It will enable you to set time limits via an app timer, and give you warns when you’ve been using it for too long.

This is Google doing what it always does. It is trying to be the solution to every aspect of our lives. It already wants to be our librarian, our encyclopedia, our dictionary, our map, our navigator, our billfold, our postman, our calendar, our newsagent, and now it wants to be our therapist. It wants us to believe it’s on our side.

There is something suspect about deploying more technology to use less technology. And something ironic about a company that fuels our tech craving telling us that it holds the key to weaning us off it. It doubles as good PR, and pre-empts any future criticism about corporate irresponsibility.

Google may be the world’s most valuable brand, but it is has been consistently dogged by criticisms including over privacy, search neutrality and paying its fair share of tax. Amid a new era of scepticism towards the privacy-neglecting practices of Silicon Valley behemoths and awareness of technology’s potential harm to our mental health, Google’s move looks like a classic attempt to get ahead of the game. People no longer want a life-work balance, they want a life-tech balance. And Google is here to assist.

” Seventy percent of people want more help striking this balance ,” told Sameer Samat, vice-president of product management at Google at its annual showcase last Tuesday. So they could be seen to be acting as the will of the people, a wise move for a company which boasts- for its search engine alone- route over a billion users.

The trouble is that while Google professes to acknowledge the dangers of technology taking over our lives, it keeps on attempting new ways for, well, technology to take over our lives. At the very same showcase, it unveiled something else it is working on. A Google Assistant, straight out of a dystopian sci-fi movie: a type of AI that constructs telephone call on your behalf.

An audience of tech fans watched with palpable exhilaration as Google CEO Sundar Pichai proved a demo of Google Assistant booking a hair appointment over the phone. The bit that really got them when the “assistant” dropped a casually affirmative “mmm-hmm” into the call. Pichai told the crowd,” The amazing thing is that Assistant can actually understand the subtleties of conversation .” It also unveiled Google Lens, a visual search tool that looks for information in the objects around you, and proved a demo of it identifying everything in your friend’s apartment, even the blurb of a Zadie Smith novel.( Zadie Smith, as a self-described” luddite abstainer”, was a brave selection .)

Ultimately, it looks like Google is ready to wean us off our telephone craving because tech is no longer just about phones and laptops. Google’s ultimate award is to be involved with every aspect of their own lives. Like an overbearing mother, it wants you to sit down and take it easy, as it does everything for you, even telephone the hairdresser. It wants to know everything about you. It wants, quite literally, to get inside your eyeballs. And it will sell us this, the way it sells everything: without us even noticing. It will construct something so convenient we’ll wonder how we got by without it.

In the name of convenience, Google is not just mining our data, it is eroding our unique humanity. We require a time-out. Technology is evolving far faster than we are. We need to be asking Google bigger topics than:” Can you book my hair appointment ?” Starting with: if tech can do everything we can do, what is the point of us?

* Matt Haig is a novelist and journalist. His book Note on a Nervous Planet is published in July

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Video consultation service Doctor on Demand raised $74 million so everyone can see a doctor anytime

Healing America’s broken healthcare industry has been at the top of the priority list for almost every politician, entrepreneur and inventor for at the least the past 40 years.

Costs continue to climb( roughly 5 percentage this year) and expending is already 20 percentage of the nation’s GDP. For the trillions of dollars Americans spend on healthcare, they’re getting declining services, more frequent ailments and a steadily diverging standard of care for rich countries and the poor in the country.

Something needs to be done — and venture capitalists and some of the biggest names in finance led by Goldman Sachs are expending $74 million in a technology startup they see as a potential solution.

The company is Doctor On Demand, and its solution is video-based telemedicine.

The new funding, led by Goldman Sachs and Princeville Global( with participation from existing investors, including Venrock, Shasta Ventures and Tenaya Capital ), will be used to continue the company’s rapid expansion in the U.S. and abroad — and brings the company’s total financing to $160 million.

” This trend of consumerization, which we’re leading, is really going to result in much greater patient-driven healthcare experiences, which will save the patient a lot of fund ,” tells company chief executive Hill Ferguson.

Ferguson knows that the arc of internet services bends toward on demand and he says that healthcare should be no different.” Most people have no idea they can see a board-certified physician on their phone from their bed while they’re sick at two in the morning with a five-minute wait time ,” he says.

That’s essentially the service that Doctor On Demand provides.

While the company’s consultations aren’t a panacea for everything that ails the healthcare industry, Ferguson claims his company’s board-certified faculty can manage 90 percent of the consultations that happen every day in urgent-care facilities and for $300 less than insurers currently pay out.

While the service started out as something that consumers had to pay out of pocket, it has now transitioned to a more seamless( and cheaper) alternative for customers — it’s covered by most major insurance carriers.

” We’ve shifted from being a money pay virtual practice to more of an enterprise player. We’re driving the majority of members of our volume through health insurance plans and employers ,” Ferguson says.

The company utilizes its own doctors and staffs its video consultation service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Ferguson says. Despite the workload — which sees the company’s virtual doctors consult with four patients each hour on average — the company’s 14 -day readmission rate( a standard measure of effective diagnosings) is on par with brick and mortar services, Ferguson says.

Roughly 5 percent of the consultations involve patients who need to be referred to specialists, according to Ferguson.

The service also can refer patients to diagnostics and testing facilities to get blood work and other exams that they are able supplement an initial diagnosis.

Through its agreements with insurers, Doctor On Demand stipulates what kinds of conditions its video consultations can cover, and which ailments and maladies require immediate medical attention. Increasingly, customers can benefit of the company’s mental health services — an region that’s grown 240 percentage since it was introduced, according to Ferguson.

Mental health is one growth area for the company, and its testing services offer another. In all, Ferguson believes there’s a $50 billion addressable market in the U.S. alone. A figure, he says, that more than justifies the company’s $160 million( and counting) in funding.

Doctor On Demand isn’t profitable yet, and the new financing still insures the company valued under$ 1 billion, but Ferguson is confident about the future.” I gotta wear shades ,” the chief executive said.

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Tesla posts record $710m net loss as it struggles to produce Model 3 cars

Elon Musk get testy with analysts amid concerns over companys future, after it burned through $745.3 m in money during important quarter

Tesla posted a record $709.6 m net loss in the first quarter and burned through $745.3 m in money while struggling to crank out large numbers of its Model 3 mass-market electric car.

The loss and cash burn announced Wednesday raised questions about the company’s future and whether it would be able to pay all of its bills by early next year without more borrowing or the other round of stock sales.

During a sometimes-testy conference call with analysts, Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, conceded that criticism was valid but said it was ” quite likely” the company would make money and have positive cash flow in the third quarter.

” It’s high time we became profitable ,” told Musk, who also promised restructuring this month to attain earning goals.” The truth is you’re not a real company until you are, frankly. That’s our focus right now .”

But Tesla investors dedicated a rare rebuke to Musk after he cut off analysts asking about future gain potential, sending shares down 5% despite promises that production of the troubled Model 3 electric car was on track.

Tesla stock was little changed after the earnings announcement but fell during a conference call with analysts, when Musk began cutting analysts’ topics short, expensing Tesla over$ 2bn in market capitalization.

” These questions are so dry. They’re killing me ,” Musk told after an analyst asked what percentage of Tesla 3 reservation holders have started to configure options for their vehicles, an indicator of how much gain Tesla will be able to wring from the vehicles. Another analyst asked about a capital requirement before being cut off.

He then took several questions in a row about plans for a self-driving vehicle network and other long-term projects from the host of a YouTube channel focused on investing, praising the questions as not boring.

Tesla said its net loss amounted to $4.19 per share. Excluding one-time expenditures such as stock-based compensation, the company lost $3.35 per share. Revenue grew by 26% from a year ago to $3.4 bn.

The giant loss in a critical quarter for the 15 -year-old company fell short of Wall Street estimates. Analysts polled by FactSet expected an adjusted loss of $3.54 per share. Revenue, however, exceeded estimates of $3.28 bn.

In April, Tesla said it would not need to return to marketplaces for more capital because it expected to generate cash from sales of the Model 3. But it has had trouble getting them out the door to several hundred thousand people who put down $1,000 deposits to order one.

Moody’s Investor Service downgraded Tesla’s debt into junk province back in March, alerting at the time that Tesla didn’t have money to covering $3.7 bn for normal operations, capital expenses and debt that come due early next year. At the end of last year the company had a total of $9.5 bn in long-term debt.

A Tesla Model 3 at an auto show in China. Photograph: Roman Pilipey/ EPA

” The negative outlook reflects the likelihood that Tesla will have to undertake a large, near-term capital raise in order to refund ripening obligations and avoid a liquidity shortfall ,” Moody’s wrote in a note to investors.

Tesla has had only two profitable quarterss in its virtually eight years as a public company.

The key to raising money to cover-up expenses is production of the Model 3 mass-market electric car, which starts at $35,000 but can easily top $50,000 with options.

Musk said the restructuring would involve getting rid of third-party contractors that have grown out of control.” We’re going to scrub barnacles on that front ,” he said.
He admitted that Tesla made a mistake by adding too much automation too quickly at the factory.

The plant has missed Musk’s forecasts by a wide mark. When production started last summer he promised to build 20,000 Model 3s during the course of its month of December. Instead, Tesla induced merely 2,425 during the course of its entire fourth quarter.

Then Tesla forecast 10,000 Model 3s per month at the end of the first one-quarter. As it turned out, only under 9,800 were assembled from January through March, Tesla said in April. The Fremont, California factory was shut down for four or five days last month to clear production bottlenecks, Tesla said.

The company, which also makes solar panel, predicted in April that production would climb rapidly through the second one-quarter and reach about 5,000 vehicles per week- which would return Tesla to its originally promised 20,000 per month rate- around the end of June. It predicted high marketings and strong cash flow in the third one-quarter.” As a outcome Tesla does not require an equity or indebtednes create this year, apart from standard credit lines ,” the company said.

The Model 3 is the most important piece of Tesla’s plan to become a mainstream automaker. At one point it had more than 500,000 potential purchasers on a waiting list. But in April the company conceded that some had canceled, although women refused to give numbers. Tesla said reservations “remained stable” through the first quarter.

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The new food: meet the startups racing to reinvent the meal

Lab-grown meat and food-tech companies in the US are showing that applying science to what we eat can save the world and make money

” If you induce food that tastes really good, you win ,” tells Josh Tetrick, with a smile. And winning is crucial, he tells, with his company Just in the vanguard of a new sector with an ambitious mission: to employ cutting-edge technologies to create food that they are able to take down the meat and dairy industries.

The scope is huge: growing meat in labs, producing creamy scrambled “eggs” from mung beans, or inducing fish that has never swum in water, or cow’s milk brewed from yeast. The drive is to mitigates the colossal environmental damage worked by industrial farming, from its vast carbon emissions to water pollution and illnes.

And the meat industry appears to be well and truly rattled. In the US the beef industry has filed a petition to omit non-animal products from the definition of meat, while a farmer politician in France has managed to get a law passed that forbiddings vegetarian companies from calling their products “sausages”, ” mince” or “bacon”.

The most famous “alt-protein” product so far is the Impossible Burger, an altogether plant-based patty that has an uncanny resemblance to meat and is now served in more than 1,000 eateries in the US, usually at around $15. The key meaty ingredient in the Impossible Burger- the “blood”- is a hemeprotein found in the roots of soy plants. But the route it is produced for the burger shows how the new food tech companies are harnessing techniques first developed for biomedical uses.

The DNA for the hemeprotein is encoded by genetic modification into a yeast, which is then brewed. The protein, identical to the soy original, is then divided and no GM material objective up in the burger.

The same yeast fermentation technique is being used by other companies to stimulate egg and milk proteins that are identical to the originals, but without actual chickens or cows. Arturo Elizondo, CEO of Clara Foods, based in San Francisco, is targeting a marvel of the culinary world- the egg white, which foams, gels and binds in myriad recipes.

A trillion eggs are feed every year around the world. Illustration: Joe Magee

” I looked into how unbelievably unsustainable animal agriculture is- it truly blew my intellect ,” he says , noting that a trillion eggs are feed every year around the world.” There are more chickens in the US than people, each confined to the area of a piece of paper and never ensure daylight .”

Elizondo’s company has produced animal-free egg white in the lab and is now working on scaling up and putting products on sale by the end of 2019. He tells the GM yeast technique has a decades-long track record:” Insulin[ for diabetics] used to come from animals, you’d kill them and extract the pancreas .” Now it is all made from yeast, as is the rennet used to build most cheese, which once was extracted from the belly of baby cows.

Milk is being targeted by Tim Geistlinger, chief technology officer at Perfect Day in Silicon Valley, who says making real dairy products without cows may once have appeared mad. But the company has already induced yoghurt, cheese and ice cream in their laboratory:” When people think you are crazy, that’s nice, because it allows you to think differently .”

Sweets and makeup are being targeted across the bay at the start-up Geltor in San Leandro, where microbes are being put to work to replace the animal products gelatin and collagen. The company has performed stunts like stimulating gummy bears from gelatin derived from the preserved DNA of mastodons– an extinct elephant-like creature- and growing a leather book binding in the lab. Its first product, launching in April, is for cosmetics.

” Collagen is often the only animal-derived product in cosmetics ,” says Nick Ouzounov, a co-founder of Geltor, with most of it collected from animals.” I think a lot of people overlook that .” The traditional process of extracting collagen and gelatin has an “extreme yuk factor”, he tells:” Skin, bones and cartilage goes into an acid bath for days until the tissues disintegrate .”

But although purely plant-based replacings for meat and dairy are improving fast, can they ever genuinely savor as good the real thing, and become the first choice of regular consumers? Taste has to be the most important factor, argues Tetrick.

” The common denominator between all the folks in the world is they like food that savours good- Donald Trump voters, Bernie Sanders voters, Vladimir Putin voters ,” he tells.” If you can’t make food that is good for countries around the world, and maybe a little bit healthier, also taste really good, then all of this applies to only 1% of the population. And if it only applies to 1% of the population, then there is zero chance it will actually solve the problem .”

Lab-grown meat

Just is also seeking the major slaughter-free alternative- real meat grown from cells in the lab.” My personal sentiment is that, of the $1.1 tn of meat that is bought every year, the great majority of it will not be solved by veggie burgers and veggie nuggets. As much as I might want that to be true, I don’t think it is .”

Lab-grown meat, dubbed” clean meat” due to its lack of microbial or antibiotic contamination, has yet to arrive on the market. But at least a dozen companies are working on it and Just could be the first, having said they will launch an “avian” product by the end of 2018, rumoured to be a replacement for foie gras pate which is now illegal in the US.

Beef, chicken and duck are being developed by Memphis Meats, seen as the clean meat leader and backed by food commodity giant Cargill among others. Steve Myrick, a vice-president at the company, tells:” We very much recognise that the world loves meat and eating it is deeply culturally ingrained. We are not activists. We just want to attain meat that is better .”

The first clean meat burger was created by a Dutch academicat Maastricht University back in 2013. Prof Mark Post , now also head of spin-off company Mosa Meats, is glad other numerous companies have sprung up:” Before I was the only one. I was lonely and wondering if I was crazy .”

But even with the head start, the burgers he hopes to be selling in two to three years will be expensive to start with, perhaps EUR6 per 100 g. The key obstacle, say most clean meat companies, is developing an affordable and animal-free growth medium: the present standard is very expensive and requires growth promoters extracted from bovine embryos.

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Israeli company Alelph Farms is working on lab-grown mince meat and other companies such as Finless Foods are creating clean– with no mercury or plastic contamination though white fish still costs about $7,000 per pound to create at the moment.

Even if the technology does develop to produce delicious, affordable and sustainable food, the potential “yuk factor” of tech-created food hangs heavy over the embryonic sector. Food journalist Joanna Blythman lately criticised the Impossible Burger:” It’s the very antithesis of local food with a transparent provenance and backstory. It’s patently the brainchild of a technocratic mindset, one brought to us by food technologists and scientists whose natural environment is the laboratory and the factory- not the kitchen, farm or field .”

But this is the wrong problem, argues Patrick Brown, founder of Impossible Food and a Stanford University professor.” Currently we generate that hemeprotein by trashing the planet by encompassing it with billions of kine. We need to use every tool at our disposal to deal with this environmental catastrophe. It is not how you do it- it is what you do .”

These products, say their backers, are intended to replace mass-produced animal products , not local organic ones.” From our perspective, health is not the point ,” says Bruce Friedrich, at the Good Food Institute, which supports the alt-protein sector.” These products are for people who currently eat industrially made meat .”

” I don’t think mayonnaise, even ours, is healthy at all ,” says Tetrick.” I’d much rather people have a box of carrots if they are concerned about health, without question .” But he says Simply can attain widely eaten food a bit healthier, by reducing fat and cholesterol.

The history of GM foods is also a cautionary tale. Vonnie Estes, is now an independent food industry consultant but worked for Monsanto in the 1990 s, when the company was aroused about its what its new technology could do.

” Huge mistakes were attained in how that was brought to marketplace ,” she says. GM food has been feed by hundreds of millions of people since, but Estes tells:” There is still a huge group of people who do not want GMOs in their food. Thirty years ago we believed people will get over this quickly- they didn’t .”

Some 62% of Americans said they were likely to try a food constructed use technology. Illustration: Joe Magee

” There is a race to shelf, but not a race to believe how we get to shelf properly ,” says Linda Eatherton, managing director at the Ketchum communication agency, who warns that how alt-protein companies communicate their production processes is” unbelievably critical “.

” My biggest concern is people will rush to shelf and Mr and Mrs Consumer will say’ what the what ?’ How did they make that ?” But there are also grounds for optimism, she tells: a recent Ketchum survey received 62% of Americans are likely to try a food stimulated use technology, rising to 71% among millennials.

Contrasting clean meat with factory farms is also crucial, says Friedrich.” People are eating meat today with their eyes squeezed shut. Nobody wants to even think about slaughterhouses ,” he says.” When we have the two products side by side, I don’t think it is going to be hard to persuade people to switch .”

The environmental benefits also seem clear from the contrasting inefficiency of conventional livestock production: it takes 23 calories of plant feed to render one calorie of beef and farmers have to grow a whole cow , not just the valuable cuts of meat.

However , not many full impact analyses have been done on these new products. Just, whose methodology was independently certified, says its current mayo and cookie products cut carbon emissions by at the least 25% and water use by 75%. Impossible Foods says its burger, which replaces the meat with the heaviest carbon hoofprint, cuts greenhouse gases by 87%.

Could this food could end up being dominated by a few tech giants? All these new foods are produced using techniques that are then patented by the companies to protect their investments, resulting some critics to indicate a creeping privatisation of livestock could occur.

This is rejected by the companies.” You can’t patent nature and we don’t want to lock up our products ,” tells Elizondo, who points out that existing food companies like Kraft already have huge numbers of patents.” We would be totally open to licensing .”

The technological optimism of the young alt-protein sector is clear in the Bay Area, as is the hype. Backers, from Bill Gates to meat giant Tyson, are betting the application of science to food can both save the world and make money doing it.

Whether it can really take down the meat industry, whether it can actually deliver safe, tasty, cheaper food on a large scale and with smaller environmental footprints- and so play a big its participation in saving countries around the world- will only be known in the coming months and years.

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By keeping its head in the cloud, Microsoft makes it rain on shareholders

Thanks in part to its colossal cloud business, Microsoft earnings are drenching stockholders in dollars.

For the quarter ending March 31, 2018, the tech ringer from Redmond saw its revenue increase to $26.8 billion( up 16 percent) from $23.2 billion, with operating income up 23 percent to $8.3 billion, up from $6.7 billion.

Income was a whopping $7.4 billion( up from $5.5 billion) and diluted earnings per share were 95 cents versus analyst expectations of 85 pennies per share, according to FactSet.

Despite the earnings beat, shares of the company stock fell as much as 1 percent in after-hours trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Floating much of Microsoft’s success for the quarter was the continued strength of the company’s cloud business, which chief executive Satya Nadella singled out in a statement.

” Our results this one-quarter reflect the trust people and organizations are placing in the Microsoft Cloud ,” Nadella told.” We are innovating across key growth categories of infrastructure, AI, productivity and business applications .”

The company also returned $6.3 billion to shareholders in dividends and share repurchases in the third one-quarter 2018, an increase of 37 percent.

The company notched wins across the board. In addition to the growth of its cloud business — led by Azure( which grew 93 percent) — Microsoft also recorded strong growth from LinkedIn, which insured revenue increase 37 percent to $1.3 billion and hardware revenue from the Surface increasing 32 percent.

Even the move of Microsoft office into a hosted business seemed to be stanched the flow of hemorrhaging from the company’s former cash cow. The company counts 135 million business users on Office 365, and 30.6 million customer subscriptions for the service.

The Surface numbers are notable because it’s perhaps the first indication that its hardware successes aren’t necessarily limited to the Xbox( insert Zune joke here ).

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