Google Brain co-founder tests AI doomsday threat by trying to get ChatGPT to kill everyone

Google Brain co-founder tests AI doomsday threat by trying to get ChatGPT to kill everyone

technology By Dec 21, 2023 No Comments


In a nutshell: Figma is a recently incorporated company providing a web-based interface design platform focusing on real-time collaboration.

Adobe was pursuing an acquisition of its most intriguing competitors in years, but the attempt ultimately failed due to antitrust scrutiny in the Europe.

Adobe has lost interest in acquiring Figma.

The company was willing to pay $20 billion to buy the product design startup, but regulatory watchdogs from the EU and UK opposed the deal.

Antitrust laws are designed to preserve market competition, but Adobe said that the proposed remediations were unacceptable and “wholly disproportionate.”

Adobe and Figma negotiated the deal during the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly increasing worldwide technology and software investment.

The potential deal was eventually announced in September 2022, revealing that Adobe was willing to pay 50 times Figma’s annual recurring revenue and double the company’s latest private funding round in 2021.

Since the announcement, the two companies have fought battles on multiple fronts, with antitrust authorities trying to halt the sale.

The European Commission believed the merger could “significantly reduce” competition in global markets.

The EU’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the Figma acquisition would have prevented “all future competition” between the two companies, leading to less choice, reduced quality, and higher costs for consumers.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) was equally concerned with Adobe’s proposal.

The agency proposed alternative “remedies” in November, forcing Adobe to abandon the deal or eliminate overlapping business products such as Illustrator or Photoshop.

Alternatively, the CMA could have forced Figma to sell off its core product, Figma Design, under the proposal.

Figma CEO Dylan Field told the Financial Times that the suggestion of “buying a company so that you can divest the company” was “quite amusing.”

Reading the CMA proposal was like reading a punchline to a joke, Field said.

Figma’s boss was disappointed with the outcome.

The situation ultimately forced Adobe to abandon the acquisition as there was “no clear path” to satisfy UK or EU regulators’ conditions for approval.

Provisional findings from the CMA contained “serious errors of law and fact,” Adobe and Figma said.

Regulators were influenced by an “irrational approach” to the gathering and appraisal of evidence.

Officials required divestment of a multibillion-dollar business (Photoshop, Illustrator) to address an “uncertain and speculative” theory of harm to competition, a wholly disproportionate reaction to the now-failed deal.

Priced from $349 – $600, these new video smartglasses are a whole new category of Assisted Reality, which traditionally means is putting a monitor in or around your field of view, like the original Google Glass.

The new display glasses put a big screen right in front of you.

It’s the only thing you see, and the screen is big, like 45% of your field of view.

They’re all great for media consumption, playing games, or screen expansion for mobile productivity.

Instead of looking down at a screen in your hands, you can now sit up and look ahead.

If you’ve got a geek on your list, they’re really going to like these.

New TCL RayNeo Air 2 video smart glasses for a big scrteen experience on-the-go. .


A smart phone viewing accessory that delivers a 201″ hi-def screen on the go.

We love these glasses, but compatibility is an issue.

If you have an iPhone 14 or any with a lightning port, you’re going to need the $99 to go with it.

The $499 XReal Air2. .


The biggest, brightest screen this new category of mobile phone accessories delivers.

I recommend buying it with the $119 , a needed iPhone adaptor which allows you to place the screens of varying sizes around the room.

Rokid Max AR Smartglasses $399.

One of the best is also the most expensive, but we love the $199 , a great Android device for streaming, and viewing downloaded videos without wi-fi.

The light weight Station controller makes media consumption on the Rokid Max feel more like the experience of watching TV on your living room sofa.


I first me Virture at CES last year, fresh off their win as one of Time’s best inventions of 2022.

It was plug and play with my iPhone 15 and the old Samsung Galaxy 10 worked well, too.

The screen dimming feature, the focal adjustments, and the outstanding Harmon audio are best-in-class.

The Spacewalker app turns the Virture into more of a 3DOF experience, and makes the phone your controller.

Check device compatablity, as some iPhone and iPads require an adaptor.

The Solos AirGo3’s detachible wing allows for interchangeable styling. .


There’s no display or camera on these smart smartglasses, which use AI as their operating system.

Ray-Ban Stories.


Our friend, Moor Insights analyst Anshel Sag, took great care with this lengthy review of Meta’s new iteration of Ray-Ban Stories: “The latest collaboration between Meta and Luxottica marks a significant improvement over their predecessor, Ray-Ban Stories.

These glasses, powered by Qualcomm’s AR1 Gen 1 platform, offer enhanced features like superior camera capabilities (12MP photos, 1920 x 1440 video), increased storage (32GB), and advanced wireless connectivity.

Notable upgrades include IPX4 water resistance, a sleek design, and a battery life of 36 hours with the charging case.

The inclusion of Meta AI facilitates voice commands and messaging, enhancing day-to-day usability.

Despite some areas needing improvement, such as video frame rate and continuous use battery life, the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses represent a major step forward in wearable technology, combining style, functionality, and a strong value at $299, signaling Meta’s leadership in the evolving smart glasses market.”

In brief: Pour one out for the GTX 16 Series.

According to new reports, Nvidia has decided to officially discontinue its entire line of GTX 16xx graphics cards that were first announced in 2019 and remain popular among Steam users.

It’s been over a year since Nvidia launched the last of its GTX 16xx graphics cards, the GTX 1630, a product we awarded a score of 20 and called an insult to gamers , which could explain its very short life.

According to the Chinese Board Channel Forums , Nvidia is expected to stop production of all GTX 16-series cards starting in the first quarter of next year – in a few weeks, essentially – with the final orders being completed this month.

Nvidia has already officially, or in some cases reportedly, discontinued most of the GTX 16xx cards, meaning the upcoming series discontinuation will only impact the GTX 1650 and GTX 1630; the latter is a cut-down version of the former.

The GTX 16 series is based on the same Turing architecture that launched a year earlier in the RTX 20 Series, which was more expensive and came with the likes of hardware-accelerated ray tracing and DLSS as standard.

While it might not have been as technologically advanced, the budget GTX 16 series has proved to be very popular with gamers: it was only in September when the RTX 3060 knocked the GTX 1650 off its long-held top spot on the Steam Hardware and Survey GPU chart.

The older card remains in second place and even saw its user share increase 1.13% last month.

Expect to continue to see the GTX 16-series cards available to buy until AIB and retailer inventories sell out – there are still plenty available from Amazon and Newegg.

Don’t be surprised to see their prices fall significantly over the coming months, too, and more GTX 16xx cards appearing on eBay as owners trade them in for newer models.

As we noted in our Best GPUs feature , there really aren’t many options left for anyone looking to buy a good sub-$200 GPU these days.

Our recommendation is the AMD Radeon RX 6600 or Radeon 6650 XT.

The former’s cheapest non-refurbished models on Newegg are $199, and they’re either discounted or are from lesser-known brands.

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The agreement was struck in September between the parties but was filed late Monday in a federal court in San Francisco, our colleague .

The settlement and allocates a $630 million payout for U.S. consumers who used a payment system in Google’s Play store.

The states allege the system magnified prices for in-app purchases.

Google’s store collects on in-app purchases.

“The Complaint also alleges state-law antitrust and consumer protection claims.

Specifically, the States allege that Google has unreasonably restrained trade and monopolized Android app distribution and payment-processing services through anticompetitive conduct,” the settlement agreement states.

Those who are eligible will .

Additional payments may be issued depending on how those eligible spent on Google Play from Aug. 16, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2023.

Google will also need to in penalties and other costs.

The settlement needs to be approved by a judge.

Google’s vice president of government affairs and public policy Wilson White in a blog post said the settlement “builds on Android’s choice and flexibility, maintains strong security protections, and retains Google’s ability to compete with other OS makers.”

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An estimated 260 million packages disappeared in the U.S. last year, according to Safewise, many taken right from the front door area while a camera recorded the theft.

As the holiday season kicks into high gear, package thefts are a top concern, and one shipping company is using artificial intelligence to combat porch pirates.

Nearly one in four adults had a package stolen in the last 12 months, a survey by Finder said.

Theft can be an even more serious problem if those packages contain necessities, like medication, or expensive items.

“This time of year, we ship a lot of gifts, so every package is very special to the person receiving it,” said Tarek Saab, president of Texas Precious Metals, whose company ships items like silver bars and gold coins.

This year, Saab is using a new UPS data program called DeliveryDefense, which he says helps them identify addresses that are likely targets for theft.

UPS gave CBS News a look at how the program works.

The A.I.-powered program takes a recipient’s address and produces a score — a higher score indicates a higher likelihood of a successful delivery.

The scores are created using years of data from previous deliveries and other factors.

For addresses with a low score, the merchant can reroute the item, with the customer’s approval, to a UPS Store or other pickup locations.

“About 2% of addresses will be considered low confidence, and we’re seeing that represents about 30% of losses our customers are having,” Mark Robinson, president of UPS Capital, told CBS News.

At Texas Precious Metals, Saab believes the technology can reduce those numbers.

“We recognize it’s computers versus criminals, and we have to use every tech capability that we have to try to circumvent any challenges we might run into,” he said.

Janet Shamlian Janet Shamlian is a CBS News correspondent based in Houston, Texas.

Shamlian’s reporting is featured on all CBS News broadcasts and platforms including “CBS Mornings,” the “CBS Evening News” and the CBS News Streaming Network, CBS News‘ premier 24/7 anchored streaming news service.

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Once upon a time, there was a market for sentiment analysis across multiple vertical industries.

Companies wanted to know what clients thought about ther products, services and even their “attitude.”

Did their clients like them, loathe them, empathize with their struggles?

Social media sentiment analysis was a way to expand insight into what clients do and think beyond traditional customer interviews and surveys.

Data was collected from newspaper clips, blogs, posts, headlines, articles and speeches – an expanded view of the customer.

But not a complete view.

Fast forward a decade and a truly holistic approach to investing is the raison d’etre of .

Many of us who have championed the role that so-called “soft” variables play in decision-making have been waiting for a comprehensive approach to problem-solving – in this case investing – for decades.

Highmoon describes its approach this way (the italics are mine): Highmoon blends all this with “traditional” market metrics to generate a complete picture of market conditions that generates informed investment decisions.

It’s amazing how many market analysts cite “emotion,” “psychology,” “sentiment” and other soft variables as the drivers of company and market performance, but fail to integrate them into their assessments or predictions.

Decades ago there were clear technological barriers to measuring the importance of these variables, but today we have generative AI (GenAI) and other tools that enable us to integrate hard and soft variables for improved investment decision-making, risk reduction, and even market projections.

: Lumine Lin, Founder & CEO, Highmoon Capital As the Highmoon founder and CEO – Lumine Lin – explains: But Lin’s most important statement?

The marriage between soft market forces and GenAI is a smart one.

While it remains to be seen how emotionally smart GenAI can be – how fast, if at all, it reaches general AI (GAI) – there’s no question that Highmoon’s approach is the right one.

It’s also one that will reveal some unexpected investment results as GenAI’s capabilities grow.

Said a little differently, the timing of all is this excellent as the capabilities of GenAI will only grow — and grow quickly.

The key to all this is the research agenda that emerges from a holistic approach to investing.

The premise of Highmoon’s approach is that there’s a large – and growing – family of variables that drive financial performance.

When that’s the assumption, research yields never before seen nuances.

Well-bounded problems with pre-packaged solutions are redefined into broader, fuzzier problems that require a set of new methods, tools and techniques that have not been in the traditional arsenal of financial analysts.

Highmoon is pioneering the application of GenAI to enable its holistic approach to market analysis and the deployment of capital.

At least two aspects of this are unique: the broad definition of market drivers and the application of GenAI.

The integration of cognitive biases, emotional influences, stock market sentiment, traders’ emotional intelligence and psychological factors with traditional financial metrics is what many of us have been hoping would transform the investment thesis.

The journey from social media analytics to GenAI-enabled holistic investing has been a long one — but it’s begun at Highmoon.

Stay tuned.

Marma charging rack for micromobility Standab, the Swedish micromobility infrastructure start-up, plans to roll out parking bays for bikes and e-scooters that can charge the batteries in the vehicles.

Marma is a parking rack for the likes of e-scooters that is equipped with charging technology to charge the electric batteries while the scooter or bike is docked.

The Swedish start-up has been making parking infrastructure since 2018 but the latest product marks a move into charging, chief executive Marcus Adolfsson said.

“We saw the natural development of this was to start charging.

When they’re parked why are they not charging?” he said.

Marma was initially piloted in Stockholm, where Standab is based, with Dott, one of Europe’s largest micromobility companies.

“We are always looking for ways to improve our integration into cities,” Laurent Kennel, chief development officer at Dott, added.

“This pilot with Standab has shown that a charging solution can be combined with neat, organized parking in city centers, to ensure riders can always find a vehicle which is ready to use, whenever they need it.”

With the findings from the pilot, Standab now plans to expand the new product to between four to seven European cities in 2024 and is in talks with many of the major operators around the continent.

Collaborating with operators is a key issue, Adolfsson said.

“We saw that the main issue was the compatibility, it has to be compatible with everyone.

Cities are not interested in having, for example, Tier come with their charging solution when there are three or four more players there.

It has to be compatible

[with] everyone.”

Marma can solve issues for both the operators and city authorities, he added.

Parking of e-scooters has been a major bugbear in cities with reckless parking or discarding of vehicles, which can cause injuries, being a hot button issue.

This was a major factor behind Paris’s rental services earlier this year.

“The cities have a real issue that we’re solving and it’s of course the parking issue,” Adolfsson said.

“The good thing here is that we are all interested in the same areas, it’s the high footfall areas.

The operators, that’s where they have parking problems as well, and it’s also where they have the highest rotation of scooters.

Of course they want their fleet to be topped up [with energy] as much as possible.”

For the e-scooter operators, they can keep more units on the streets with enough juice while appeasing the concerns of city officials.

This, Adolfsson added, can be more cost effective than the practice of swapping out drained batteries in the fleet.

“Swapping a battery is extremely expensive for the operators, it’s a high manual cost and we’re going to be able to deliver that same amount of electricity into the battery at a much lower cost than manual swapping,” he said.

According to Standab, the Marma stands can charge a battery about 20% to 25% in an hour.

“If you take a scooter that has been there for an hour, you get an extra 25% of battery which will give it more or less an extra day of operations on the streets.”

Standab generates revenue from the operators who pay for the electricity used plus a premium.

“Cities get the infrastructure for free.

The operators get the infrastructure for free as well as the connectors and everything.

We are more charging as a service, the operators pay for exactly what amount of electricity is going into the scooter with a premium there.”

Adolfsson said that Standab has deployed 1,700 of its previous parking racks in dozens of European cities and hopes to replicate that with Marma.

He is joined in running Standab by Eric Bergqvist, who previously held senior public policy roles at Voi, one of Europe’s largest e-scooter players.

Several other former Voi executives have also joined the company.

Adolfsson said that the start-up has been largely self-financed to date but will explore opportunities from outside investors to fund the expansion of Marma.

Back Print

By Taiwo Adebayo – Associated Press – Wednesday, December 20, 2023 OMO FOREST RESERVE, Nigeria (AP) —

Men in dusty workwear trudge through a thicket, making their way up a hill where sprawling plantations lay tucked in a Nigerian rainforest whose trees have been hacked away to make room for cocoa bound for places like Europe and the U.S. Kehinde Kumayon and his assistant clear low bushes that compete for sunlight with their cocoa trees, which have replaced the lush and dense natural foliage.

The farmers swing their machetes, careful to avoid the ripening yellow pods containing beans that will help create chocolate, the treat shoppers are snapping up for Christmas.

Over the course of two visits and several days, The Associated Press repeatedly documented farmers harvesting cocoa beans where that work is banned in conservation areas of Omo Forest Reserve, a protected tropical rainforest 135 kilometers (84 miles) northeast of the coastal city of Lagos in southwestern Nigeria.

Trees here rustle as dwindling herds of critically endangered African forest elephants rumble through.

Threatened pangolins, known as armored anteaters, scramble along branches.

White-throated monkeys, once thought to be extinct, leap from one tree to the next.

Omo also is believed to have the highest concentration of butterflies in Africa and is one of the continent’s largest and oldest UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

Cocoa from the conservation zone is purchased by some of the world’s largest cocoa traders, according to company and trade documents and AP interviews with more than 20 farmers, five licensed buying agents and two brokers all operating within the reserve.

They say those traders include Singapore-based food supplier Olam Group and Nigeria’s Starlink Global and Ideal Limited, the latter of which acknowledged using cocoa supplies from the forest.

A fewer number of those working in the forest also mentioned Tulip Cocoa Processing Ltd., a subsidiary of Dutch cocoa trader and producer Theobroma.

Those companies supply Nigerian cocoa to some of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers including Mars Inc. and Ferrero, but because the chocolate supply chain is so complex and opaque, it’s not clear if cocoa from deforested parts of Omo Forest Reserve makes it into the sweets that they make, such as Snickers, M&Ms, Butterfinger and Nutella.

Mars and Ferrero list farming sources on their websites that are close to or overlap with the forest but do not provide specific locations.

Government officials, rangers and the growers themselves say cocoa plantations are spreading illegally into protected areas of the reserve.

Farmers say they move there because their cocoa trees in other parts of the West African country are aging and not producing as much.

“We know this is a forest reserve, but if you are hungry, you go to where there is food, and this is very fertile land,” Kumayon told the AP, acknowledging that he’s growing cocoa at an illegal plantation at the Eseke farming settlement, separated only by a muddy footpath from critical habitat for what UNESCO estimates is the remaining 100 elephants deep in the conservation zone.

Conservationists also point to the world’s increasing demand for chocolate.

The global cocoa and chocolate market is expected to grow from a value of $48 billion in 2022 to nearly $68 billion by 2029, according to analysts at Fortune Business Insights.

The chocolate supply chain has long been fraught with human rights abuses, exploitative labor and environmental damage, leading to lawsuits, U.S. trade complaints and court rulings.

In response, the chocolate industry has made wide-ranging pledges and campaigns to ensure they are sourcing cocoa that is traceable, sustainable and free of abuse.

Companies say they have adopted supply chain tracing from primary sources using GPS mapping and satellite technology as well as partnered with outside organizations and third-party auditors that certify farms’ compliance with sustainability standards.

But those working in the forest say checks that some companies rely on are not done, while one certifying agency, Rainforest Alliance, points to a lack of regulations and incomplete data and mapping in Nigeria.

AP followed a load of cocoa that farmers had harvested in the conservation zone to the warehouses of buying agents in the reserve and then delivered to an Olam facility outside the entrance of the forest.

Staffers at Olam’s and Tulip’s facilities just outside the reserve, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to discuss their companies’ supplies, confirmed that they source cocoa from farmers in the conservation zone.

AP also photographed cocoa bags labeled with the names and logos of Olam and Tulip in farmers’ warehouses inside the conservation zone.

The Omo reserve consists of a highly protected conservation zone ringed by a larger, partially protected outer region.

Loggers, who are also a major source of deforestation, can get government licenses to chop down trees in the outer areas, but no licenses are given anywhere for cocoa farming.

Agriculture is banned from the conservation area, except for defined areas where up to 10 indigenous communities can farm for their own food.

Nigeria is one of Africa’s biggest oil suppliers and largest economy; after petroleum, one of its top exports is cocoa.

It’s the world’s fourth-largest producer of cocoa, accounting for more than 5% of global supply, according to the International Cocoa Organization.

Yet it’s far behind the world’s largest producers, Ivory Coast and Ghana, which together supply more than half of the world’s demand and are often singled out in companies’ sustainability programs.

According to World Bank trade data and Nigeria’s export council, more than 60% of Nigeria’s cocoa heads to Europe and about 8% to the United States and Canada.

It passes through many hands to get there: Farmers grow the cocoa beans, then brokers scout farms to buy them.

Licensed buying agents purchase the cocoa from brokers and sell it to big commodity trading companies like Olam and Tulip, which export it to chocolate makers.

In October, AP followed a blue- and white-striped van loaded with bags of cocoa beans along a road pitted with deep mud holes within the conservation zone to an Olam warehouse just outside the entrance of the forest.

At the warehouse, which Olam confirmed was theirs, AP photographed the cocoa being unloaded from the van, whose registration number matched the one filmed in the forest.

Farmer Rasaq Kolawole and licensed buying agent Muraina Nasir followed the van to sell the cocoa, and neither expressed misgivings about the deforestation.

“We are illegal occupants of the forest,” said farmer Kolawole, a college graduate and former salesperson.

AP also visited four cocoa warehouses in the forest belonging to licensed buying agents: Kadet Agro Allied Investments Ltd., Bolnif Agro-allied Farms Nigeria Ltd., Almatem and Askmana.

Managers or owners all told AP that they buy from farmers growing cocoa in protected areas of the forest and that they sell that cocoa to Olam.

Three of the warehouse managers told AP that they also sell to Tulip and Starlink.

“They do not differentiate between cocoa from local – that is farms outside the forest – and the reserve,” said Waheed Azeez, proprietor of Bolnif, describing how “big buyers like Olam, Tulip and Starlink” buy cocoa sourced from deforested lands.

“They buy everything, and most of the cocoa is from the reserve.”

Despite AP’s findings, Olam insists that it “forbids” members of its “Ore Agbe Ijebu” farmer group from “sourcing from protected areas and important natural ecosystems like forests.”

That Ijebu farmer group is listed as a sustainable supplier on Olam’s website and is said to be in Ijebu Ife, a community near the reserve.

“Any farmers found not complying with the code and illegally encroaching on forest boundaries are removed from our supply chain and expelled from the OAIJ farmer group,” the company said in a statement emailed to AP.

However, Askmana manager Sunday Awoke said, “Olam does not know the farmers.

We buy from the farmers and sell directly to Olam, and no assessment against deforestation takes place.”

Speaking to AP as a convoy of motorcycles brought bags of cocoa from the conservation area to his warehouse within the reserve, Awoke said he used to be a conservation worker who fought deforestation by farmers.

“But I am on the other side now.

I wish to go back, but survival first, and this pays more,” he said.

Others agreed.

“The place is not meant for cocoa farming, but elephants,” said Ewulola Bolarinwa, who is both a broker and a leader of those who farm at the Eseke settlement inside the conservation zone.

“We have a lot of big buyers who supply the companies in the West, including Olam, Tulip and many more.”

Ferrero, which makes Ferrero Rocher hazelnut balls, Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread and popular Baby Ruth, Butterfinger and Crunch candy bars, lists a farming group in a community near the forest as the source of its cocoa supplied by Olam, the Italian company says on its website.

McLean, Virginia-based Mars Inc., one of the world’s largest end users of cocoa with brands from Snickers to M&Ms, Dove, Twix and Milky Way, uses Nigerian cocoa from both Olam and Tulip, according to online company documents.

Ferrero, Mars and Tulip say they’re committed to their anti-deforestation policies, use GPS mapping of farms, and their suppliers are certified through independent standards.

Ferrero also says it relies on satellite monitoring to show that its “cocoa sourcing from Nigeria does not come from protected forest areas.”

Mars says its preliminary findings show that none of the farms it’s mapped overlap with the reserve.

Tulip’s managing director, Johan van der Merwe, said in an email that the company’s cocoa bags, which AP photographed in farmers’ warehouses inside the conservation zone, are reused and distributed widely so it’s possible they’re seen across Nigeria.

He also said “field operatives” complete digital questionnaires about sourcing with all farmers and suppliers.

On the ground, however, farmers and licensed buying agents who said they supply Tulip told AP that they were not required to complete any questionnaire before their cocoa is purchased.

“Though we know they depend on our cocoa, we don’t directly sell cocoa to the exporters like Olam and Tulip, middlemen do, and there are no questions about deforestation,” said farmer Saheed Arisekola, 43, also a college graduate who said he turned to farming because he could not get a job.

As farmers, brokers and buying agents say cocoa from the conservation area flows into Olam’s export supply, U.S. customs records show a slice of where it might be going.

Olam’s American arm, Olam Americas Inc., received 18,790 bags of Nigerian cocoa shipped by its Nigerian subsidiary, Outspan Nigeria Limited, between March and April 2022, according to trade data from ImportGenius.

Olam and Tulip are both licensed to trade Nigerian cocoa certified by the Rainforest Alliance.

However, Olam told AP that its license does not cover the Ijebu area, where it sources the cocoa it sends to Ferrero and is near Omo Forest Reserve.

Ferrero says Olam’s sustainability standard in the area is verified by a third-party body.

Farmers who told AP that their cocoa heads to Olam and Tulip said they are not Rainforest Alliance certified.

Tulip has only one farm with active certification in Nigeria, the nonprofit’s database shows.

The Rainforest Alliance says it certifies that farms operate with methods that prohibit deforestation and other anti-sustainability practices.

It says farmers must provide GPS coordinates and geographic boundaries for their plantations, which are checked against public forest maps and satellite data.

The Rainforest Alliance told AP that Nigeria has “unique forest regulation challenges,” including incomplete or outdated data and maps that can “lead to discrepancies when comparing forest data with real on-ground conditions.”

It said it is working to get updated data from Nigerian authorities and would decertify any farms found to be operating illegally in conservation areas following a review.

The organization also says companies it licenses can buy cocoa certified by other agencies or that isn’t certified at all.

Starlink Global and Ideal Limited – the Nigerian cocoa exporter that the farmers and buying agents said they sell to – doesn’t have its own farmland in the reserve, “only suppliers from there,” spokesman Sambo Abubakar told AP.

Starlink does not make sustainable sourcing claims on its website, but it supplies at least one company that does – New York-based General Cocoa Co., U.S. trade data shows.

Between March and April 2023, Starlink shipped 70 containers, each loading 4,000 bags of dried cocoa beans, to General Cocoa, according to ImportGenius trade data.

General Cocoa, which is owned by Paris-headquartered Sucden Group, supplies Mars, according to online company documents.

Jean-Baptiste Lescop, secretary general of Sucden Group, says the company manages risks to forest conservation by sourcing Rainforest Alliance cocoa, mapping farms and using satellite images but that it’s a “continuous process” because most farmers in Nigeria don’t have official land ownership documents.

Sucden investigates reports of problems and is working on a response to AP’s findings about Starlink, Lescop said.

The conservation zone, which spans about 650 square kilometers (250 square miles), is the only remaining vital rainforest in Nigeria’s southwest, conservation officials say.

Such forests help absorb carbon from the atmosphere and are crucial for Nigeria to meet its pledges under the Paris climate agreement.

Besides helping fight climate change, the forest is designated an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area by BirdLife International, with significant populations of at least 75 bird species.

“There are now more than 100 illegal settlements of cocoa farmers, who came from other states because the land here is very fertile,” said Emmanuel Olabode, a conservation manager who supervises the reserve’s rangers in the protected areas.

“But after some years, the land becomes unproductive.”

The farmers know this.

“We’ll then find another land somewhere else or go back to our original homes to start new businesses,” said Kaseem Olaniyi, who acknowledges that he farms illegally in the conservation zone after moving in 2014 from a neighboring state.

The government in Ogun state, which owns the forest, said in a statement to AP that the “menace of cocoa farming” in the reserve dates back decades and that “all the illegal farmers were forcefully evicted” in 2007 before they found their way back.

“Arrangements are in the pipeline to engage the services of the Nigerian Police Force and the military to evict them from the Forest Reserve,” the government statement said.

However, Omolola Odutola, spokeswoman for the federally controlled police, said they do not have records of such a plan.

The farmers have been ordered not to start new farms, and those who spoke with AP said they are complying.

But forest guards said new farms are sprouting up in remote areas that are difficult to detect.

Rangers – who work for the government’s conservation partner, the nonprofit Nigerian Conservation Foundation – and forest guards who are employed by the state government both told AP that lax government enforcement has made combating cocoa expansion a challenge.

They told AP that previous arrests have done little to stop the farmers from returning and that has led to a sense of futility when they encounter illegal farming.

The state government said it “has never compromised regulations” but acknowledged that farmers are in the forest despite its efforts.

Homes and other buildings at farming settlements visited by AP have been marked for removal, including warehouses like that of licensed buying agent Kadet, one of the biggest there.

Farmers’ homes lack running water and toilets, forcing women and children to collect water from narrow streams to use while the men work.

The removals have not taken place because officials make money from the cocoa business in the forest, according to farmers and buying agents, who lament the difficult living conditions, with mud roads filled with holes creating high transportation costs that eat away their already meager profits.

The state government declined to comment about making money from illegal cocoa farming in the forest.

The agents have formed a lobby group that has “rapport with government officials” to ensure farmers remain in the conservation zone despite threats to evict them, said Azeez, the owner of buying agent Bolnif who is also chairman of a committee that monitors risks against cocoa business in the forest.

The European Union, the largest destination of cocoa from West Africa, has enacted a new regulation on deforestation-free products that requires companies selling commodities like cocoa to prove they have not caused deforestation.

Big companies must ensure they’re following the rules by the end of 2024.

Experts at the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria are launching a “Trace Project” in six southern states – though it doesn’t include Ogun state where Omo Forest Reserve is located – to advance efforts against deforestation in cocoa production and ensure Nigeria’s cocoa is not rejected in Europe.

“From the preliminary data collected, major exporters are implicated in deforestation, and it is their responsibility to ensure compliance with standards,” said Rasheed Adedeji, who leads the institute’s research outreach.

But farmers say they’ll keep finding places to work.

“The world needs cocoa, and the government also gets taxes because the cocoa is exported,” said Olaniyi, one of the farmers.


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With CES 2024 just around the corner, a slew of product reveals is in store with the first set being LG’s upcoming soundbar lineup.

The 2024 soundbars as presented by LG in its press release hinge primarily on TV synergy and audio immersion using several features that make them stand out from the crowd: The two newest soundbar models in its lineup include the SG10T and S70TY, while the S95TR is an upgraded version of LG’s S95QR from 2023.

Among the features coming to next year’s lineup is a new AI Room Calibration feature that “rapidly analyzes the environment of a room and adjusts the settings” both for the front and rear surround speakers.

Using newly designed internals and a rich feature set that is expertly paired with specific LG TVs, these new soundbars could prove to make a world of difference in your everyday entertainment consumption — provided you have an LG TV to pair alongside them.

As already mentioned, LG’s new 2024 soundbar lineup consists of three main products: the S95TR, SG10T, and S70TY.

They’re listed in accordance with their general market, with the S95TR being LG’s flagship model.

Given its premium nature, the S95TR comes kitted with all the bells and whistles, including 15 channels, 810W of total power output, and a list of internal upgrades to set it apart from the previous S95QR iteration.

The size of the soundbar has been increased slightly to better compensate for these internal improvements.

The S95TR will use an enhanced passive radiator and a set of upgraded tweeters for impeccable audio quality and boosted bass.

Its five dedicated upward firing drivers will also make it quite a beast for those who love Dolby Atmos , but do note that this is a wired product as opposed to the other new LG offerings.

On that topic, the new LG SG10T is a wireless soundbar with some neat tricks up its sleeve.

The most obvious one is its ultra-thin design that’s intended to make wall mounting far easier and fit more cleanly with LG’s G series OLEDs, like the LG G3 OLED , which the soundbar specifically caters to.

In the more mid-range category is the S70TY, yet another wireless soundbar built specifically for LG’s QNED TV models.

It’s set to leverage LG’s up-firing channel speakers and is intended to aesthetically match with the LG QNED80, QNED85, QNED90, QNED95, and LG QNED99 TVs.

There’s little else LG announced in terms of exciting internals on the new soundbar models and pricing remains a question mark most likely until CES 2024.

The company did, however, highlight some key features that will make these models turn your TV viewing experience into a draw dropping spectacle.

So which of the features are specific to LG TVs?

Leveraging the WoWCast feature, soundbars — like the aforementioned SG10T and S70TY — can wirelessly send Dolby Atmos sound to other compatible devices, such as LG TVs and even alternative LG soundbars.

LG’s Wow Orchestra, a feature that allows both the TV and soundbar to work in tandem for perfected sound quality, is also being improved and included on newer LG soundbar models.

Finally, the newly introduced Triple Level Spatial Sound technology is also an exciting new addition on LG soundbars, gifting them, as the press release states, “lifelike sound and a compelling sense of space.”

The feature uses a 3D engine to analyze channels for the most optimal and immersive sounds possible.

The good news is that this one should work regardless of whether you own an LG TV or not.

Those in attendance at CES 2024 in January can get a special taste of LG’s new soundbars and the delectable audio enhancements they provide to the home cinema.

LG will be in the Central Hall of the LAs Vegas Convention Center at booth #15501.

Researchers have developed an augmented reality heads-up display that could improve road safety by displaying potential hazards as high-resolution three-dimensional holograms directly in a driver’s field of vision in real time.

Current heads-up display systems are limited to two-dimensional projections onto the windshield of a vehicle, but researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and University College London (UCL) developed a system using 3D laser scanner and LiDAR data to create a fully 3D representation of London streets.

The system they developed can effectively “see” through objects to project holographic representations of road obstacles that are hidden from the driver’s field of view, aligned with the real object in both size and distance.

For example, a road sign blocked from view by a large truck would appear as a 3D hologram so that the driver knows exactly where the sign is and what information it displays.

The 3D holographic projection technology keeps the driver’s focus on the road instead of the windshield, and could improve road safety by projecting road obstacles and potential hazards in real time from any angle.

The results are reported in the journal Advanced Optical Materials .

Every day, around 16,000 people are killed in traffic accidents caused by human error.

Technology could be used to reduce this number and improve road safety, in part by providing information to drivers about potential hazards.

Currently, this is mostly done using heads-up displays, which can provide information such as current speed or driving directions.

“The idea behind a heads-up display is that it keeps the driver’s eyes up, because even a fraction of a second not looking at the road is enough time for a crash to happen,” said Jana Skirnewskaja from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, the study’s first author.

“However, because these are two-dimensional images, projected onto a small area of the [windshield], the driver can be looking at the image, and not actually looking at the road ahead of them.”

For several years, Skirnewskaja and her colleagues have been working to develop alternatives to heads-up displays (HUDs) that could improve road safety by providing more accurate information to drivers while keeping their eyes on the road.

“We want to project information anywhere in the driver’s field of view, but in a way that isn’t overwhelming or distracting,” said Skirnewskaja.

“We don’t want to provide any information that isn’t directly related to the driving task at hand.”

The team developed an augmented reality holographic point cloud video projection system to display objects aligned with real-life objects in size and distance within the driver’s field of view.

The system combines data from a 3D holographic setup with LiDAR (light detection and ranging) data.

LiDAR uses a pulsed light source to illuminate an object and the reflected light pulses are then measured to calculate how far the object is from the light source.

The researchers tested the system by scanning Malet Street on the UCL campus in central London.

Information from the LiDAR point cloud was transformed into layered 3D holograms, consisting of as many as 400,000 data points.

The concept of projecting a 360° obstacle assessment for drivers stemmed from meticulous data processing, ensuring clear visibility of each object’s depth.

The researchers sped up the scanning process so that the holograms were generated and projected in real time.

Importantly, the scans can provide dynamic information, since busy streets change from one moment to the next.

“The data we collected can be shared and stored in the cloud, so that any drivers passing by would have access to it—it’s like a more sophisticated version of the navigation apps we use every day to provide real-time traffic information,” said Skirnewskaja.

“This way, the system is dynamic and can adapt to changing conditions, as hazards or obstacles move on or off the street.”

While more data collection from diverse locations enhances accuracy, the researchers say the unique contribution of their study lies in enabling a 360° view by judiciously choosing data points from single scans of specific objects, such as trucks or buildings, enabling a comprehensive assessment of road hazards.

“We can scan up to 400,000 data points for a single object, but obviously that is quite data-heavy and makes it more challenging to scan, extract and project data about that object in real time,” said Skirnewskaja.

“With as little as 100 data points , we can know what the object is and how big it is.

We need to get just enough information so that the driver knows what’s around them.”

Earlier this year, Skirnewskaja and her colleagues conducted a virtual demonstration with virtual reality headsets loaded with the LiDAR data of the system at the Science Museum in London.

User feedback from the sessions helped the researchers improve the system to make the design more inclusive and user-friendly.

For example, they have fine-tuned the system to reduce eye strain, and have accounted for visual impairments.

“We want a system that is accessible and inclusive, so that end users are comfortable with it,” said Skirnewskaja.

“If the system is a distraction, then it doesn’t work.

We want something that is useful to drivers, and improves safety for all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.”

The researchers are currently collaborating with Google to develop the technology so that it can be tested in real cars.

They are hoping to carry out road tests, either on public or private roads, in 2024.

More information: Accelerated Augmented Reality Holographic 4K Video Projections Based on LiDAR Point Clouds for Automotive Head-Up Displays, Advanced Optical Materials (2023).

DOI: 10.1002/adom.202301772

The 8 Biggest AI Moments Of 2023 I feel confident that 2023 will be looked back on as a major turning point in the adoption of AI into society.

Largely thanks to the emergence of generative natural language interfaces, including ChatGPT, AI has become an increasingly omnipresent aspect of our everyday lives.

From what we know of earlier technological and industrial revolutions, the arrival of AI is as much about societal change as technological change.

The impact on how we work, build, socialize and play will be enormous, and the direction this will take us in is likely to be strongly influenced by actions taken today.

So, here’s what I believe are the most important events of the last 12 months – in terms of the implications they could have on the future of not just AI but our lives.

2023 was undoubtedly defined by ChatGPT mania.

Although we were blown away by the capabilities of the GPT-3.5 engine powering its initial release, rumors were swirling regarding the upcoming GPT-4 and how much more powerful and capable it would be.

When it arrived in March, few were disappointed – it was clearly far more advanced in its ability to converse and provide us with information.

Further updates throughout the year gave it the ability to search the web as well as view and create images.

Public awareness of the dangers of fake AI images and videos rose in 2023, thanks to the emergence of ever-more realistic deepfakes and scams.

One incident in particular threw a spotlight on the issue when images of Pope Francis wearing a ridiculously oversized puffer jacket appeared at the top of our social media feeds.

The image was noteworthy for its realism, and the response showed that it had clearly fooled many people.

For many, this could have been the first real indication of the technology’s potential for spreading manipulation and misinformation.

As examples of legislation being enacted in 2023, the European Union AI Act and China’s Interim Measures for the Management of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) are potentially the most significant.

In June, the European Parliament adopted the act, which is designed to ensure the safe, reliable, and transparent use of AI in line with existing legislation, including the Human Rights Act and GDPR.

The GAI interim measures aim to promote the healthy use of AI that is in line with moral and ethical values.

Both contain measures aimed at addressing the issue of AI and intellectual property.

Some of the most profound implications for AI are in the field of bioscience and genetics, and in 2023, Google made a significant leap forward with its DeepMind-developed AlphaMissense model.

Google that its model was able to identify potentially dangerous mutations that can cause diseases like cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, hemophilia and cancer.

The breakthrough built on work previously done by the AlphaFold project and a catalog of mutation data was published with the aim of helping researchers fight these diseases.

We’ve never seen a business go from virtual obscurity to darlings of the tech world as quickly as has happened with ChatGPT owner OpenAI, so it’s probably natural that its organizational integrity experienced some stress.

CEO and current Silicon Valley

Golden Boy Sam Altman was briefly fired before being reinstated due to reasons that still aren’t exactly clear but seem to be down to board-level politics and rivalry.

Why is it significant?

Well, we’ve never seen a superstar CEO like Altman removed and then returned to power- due to popular demand– so quickly.

The event has led to renewed calls for greater regulation and scrutiny into the ways that leading AI companies are run, which could influence debate on the subject in the future.

Public awareness is a critical part of the puzzle regarding managing AI‘s integration into society.

The Pause Giant AI Experiments may not yet have achieved its apparent primary aim.

Thanks to the publicity generated because signers include Elon Musk, Yoshua Bengoi and Stuart Russel, they captured headlines and generated awareness.

By the end of the year, more than 33,700 signatures had been gathered, and although research on giant AI is ongoing, I believe many of us have a better understanding of what’s at stake as we head into 2024.

A new version of Microsoft’s Bing, powered by ChatGPT, appeared early in 2023, marking the first time many people would see natural language integrated into a search engine.

The move was not surprising as Microsoft’s multi-billion-dollar investments in ChatGPT’s creator, OpenAI, were well publicized.

However, it marked the start of a rush to integrate large language models capable of understanding and responding via human language into many tools and apps.

This trend is likely to be at the vanguard of AI’s push to be integrated and accepted into society in the next few years.

Later, in 2023, Microsoft began rolling out generative AI functionality branded as Co-Pilot across other products and services tied to its Windows operating system and 365 Office platform.

A first-of-its-kind international agreement was made at the AI UK 2023 conference between 28 countries, including the US, EU, UK and China.

The aims to put in place a framework for identifying risks and putting guardrails in place around the super-powerful AI that we can expect to see emerging in the near future.

Some have said the events and its outcomes were shrouded by political aims and overlooked many concerns including impact on women and questions around intellectual property rights and AI.

But it can’t be denied that the issue of safe and ethical advanced AI is critical and will require international cooperation at the highest levels.

It’s less than a week until Christmas Day, so you can’t put it off any longer.

If you’re gifting this season, you need to get your act together pronto.

Gadgets and tech make for great gifts: if the person you’re choosing for likes an electric toothbrush, they’ll think of you every morning.

Below, I’ve gathered together 15 of the best items for every budget and a variety of recipients.

Some will be brands you know, others will I hope be new to you.

All have been put through their paces and reviewed thoroughly so they come with a tried-and-tested recommendation.

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Prestige 9900

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Prestige 9900 $249.96 from , £223.52 from The Sonicare range is unbeatably good, offering excellent brushing to ensure optimum dental health, with multiple settings and a companion app that can tell you how well you’re doing as you go, warning you if you press too hard or miss a bit.

The brush head is bigger than on some rivals and has angled bristles to improve plaque removal.

It’s a sonic toothbrush, which means it vibrates so fast plaque is dislodge more easily.

There’s a charging base where the toothbrush stands and a travel case which charges by USB.

This is great for the holidays, though the battery tends to last more than a week anyway.

This is an expensive toothbrush, but look around and you can find it significantly cheaper, as in the Amazon prices above which are respectively 34% and 59% off.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Amazon Kindle Paperwhite $139.99 from , £149.99 from Give the gift of reading with Amazon’s best-ever Kindle.

The Paperwhite now comes with a bigger display, 6.8 inches, narrow borders around the edges and a flush-front design.

Kindles are front-lit, so unlike a regular tablet which is backlit, these are much more restful on the eyes.

The Paperwhite, which is waterproof so you can read in the bath with peace of mind, has a light which you can adjust in brightness and color, from white to amber.

This also contributes to the restfulness of the experience.

The price includes lockscreen ads which are not very intrusive, but if you don’t like them, you can pay an extra $20 to banish them.

Note that the U.K. price is higher because it’s for the 16GB capacity version, while the U.S. price is for 8GB.

Unless you plan on holding multiple Audible audiobooks on your device, 8GB is enough.

Nomad 65W

Slim Power Adapter Nomad

65W Slim Power Adapter $65 from Travel adapters are tricky things: you always need several and they often have the wrong connectors on board.

The new slim adapter, has two USB-C sockets in it so you can plug two devices in at the same time, and it’s powerful enough to handle a laptop and a phone at the same time.

It’s designed with technology which makes it small and slim, so it can be squirreled away in the smallest carry-on.

If you don’t need multiple sockets, there’s a 35W version which has one output socket on board, which costs $35.

Nomad’s trademark immaculate build quality is on display here in both cases.

OOFOS OOMG Sport LS Shoe OOFOS OOMG Sport LS Shoe $139.95 from , £129.95 from This health option concerns recovery.

If you’ve been running and have overdone it, or you suddenly suffer from the annoying and painful plantar fasciitis, then you need recovery footwear.

The incredibly soft foam that OOFOS owns is different from the bouncy effect you find in performance shoes—this is to help you get better.

It works brilliantly and is amazingly comfortable to wear.

There are different styles from clogs to slippers to mules to trainers.

The website has a big range and if the person you’re gifting is in need, their feet will thank you.

OnePlus Open Smartphone OnePlus Open $1,699.99 from , £1,599 from Phones that open out into smallish tablets are all the rage these days and the OnePlus Open looks great, especially in its sultry green finish, and works like a dream.

It feels sturdy, which is not something you can say about all foldables, and it is thinner than some rivals.

The OLED panels look great, inside and out, with a matte screen protector helpfully minimizing reflections.

Some folders neglect the camera, but the rear panel here with three snappers is enormous and offers great performance.

The main 48-megapixel camera is especially good and the company’s liaison with Hasselblad continues to pay dividends.

The other cameras are a 48-megapixel ultrawide and a 64-megapixel periscope zoom lens.

Highly enjoyable.

Sonos Era 300 Smart Speaker Sonos Era 300 Sonos pioneered great-sounding wireless speakers that were superbly easy to set up.

The latest model, the Era 300, is the most versatile and best yet.

Its unique shape gives you a clue that it’s designed to project audio in every direction, and it delivers sumptuous, room-filling sound.

It’s designed to work with spatial audio formats.

And, unlike most of Sonos’s previous devices, this one includes Bluetooth as well as wi-fi.

One of the joys of Sonos is the way you can add more speakers when budget allows.

Easy set-up remains as key as ever and this is sublimely simple to get going.

And using it reminds you how good your music can sound.

There are plenty of other Sonos models worth a look, but this is strong on value and outstanding for audio quality.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 Apple Watch Ultra 2 $799 from , £799 from You need to get your skates on for this one if you’re living in the U.S.

Thanks to an intellectual property disagreement which has gone against Apple, the company is pausing sales online on Thursday, December 21, and instore sales on Sunday, December 25.

Other countries are unaffected, and you should be able to buy it from other resellers in the U.S. after these cut-off dates.

The Watch Ultra 2 is brilliant—literally, as it has a 3,000 nits display, the brightest yet on an Apple Watch.

It looks great and works wonderfully well.

There’s an extra button compared to other Apple smartwatches, which can be configured as you like.

It’s perfect to start workouts, for instance.

The Ultra 2 also has the new double-tap mechanic, where you pinch your index finger and thumb together to pause a timer, snooze and alarm or otherwise interact with the watch.

Battery life is two days with ease.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Bose QuietComfort Ultra $429 from , £449.95 from These cans are not cheap (though if you’re quick you can snag $50 or £50 discounts) but they are tremendous.

Bose is known for its class-leading noise-cancellation and that’s better than ever here, promising a quieter environment when it’s turned on.

As well as quiet mode there’s an effective aware mode, and a Bose specialty: immersion mode which works in conjunction with Bose immersive audio, which works better with some tracks than others.

Across the board, though, audio quality is tremendous.

Superbly comfortable, even for extended wear.

Belkin AirPods Cleaning Kit Belkin AirPods Cleaning Kit $14.99 from , £14.99 from This is a great stocking-filler or other small gift for anyone with AirPods.

It may not be the pleasantest of subjects, but in-ear headphones can see build-up of earwax on them (I mean, the good news is at least it’s not in your ears any more, right?).

It’s designed for regular AirPods rather than Pro or Max, but works with all three generations of AirPods.

There’s a brush, a dispenser with wax softener in it, cleaning gel and microfiber cloth.

You drip the softener into the areas you want to clean, wait for a minute, tip it out and gently scrub with the brush.

After that, the cleaning gel satisfyingly picks up any debris.

It’s sold as a single use package

but I reckon you could clean a couple of pairs at least.

Therabody TheraFace Mask Therabody Theraface Mask $599 from , £549 from LED light therapy is used to stimulate the skin’s collagen and elastin production to make your skin look younger, which is probably something everybody wants.

TheraFace is the mask from Therabody, the brilliant company that makes outstanding massagers, among other things.

It has almost 650 LEDs which offer three different settings: red, blue or red plus infra-red.

These variously treat fine lines and wrinkles (red), treat breakouts and blemishes (blue) and tone the skin (red plus infra-red).

There are plenty of different sessions.

The mask also has vibration therapy, which is relaxing and enjoyable.

Tremendously good.

Allbirds Runner-Up Mizzles Allbirds Wool Runner-up Mizzles in Thunder Green $145 from , £135 from Winter wear has never been more comfortable.

The exceptional Allbirds shoes are smart because they’re made from remarkable materials.

They use a technologically advanced design, and have unique foam soles (made from sugar, though don’t try snacking on them).

The shoelaces are made from recycled plastic bottles and there’s recycled nylon in some products and TrinoXO in others, which contains chitosan, made from crab shells.

The insole is made from merino wool and castor bean oil.

Wear them and you’ll feel like you’re walking on clouds.

The runner-ups cover more of your ankle, keeping them warm in the winter.

And the Mizzles refer to their resistance to mist and drizzle, keeping you dry, too.

Ugreen MagSafe 10,000mAh

Powerbank Ugreen MagSafe 10,000mAh powerbank $69.99 from , £49.99 from There are plenty of battery packs on the market.

What sets this one apart is it is compact and light but still manages to pack in 10,000mAh of energy.

That’s enough for two charges of an iPhone 15, or one-and-a-half times an iPhone 15 Pro Max.

It’ll work with other phones, too, but is best for an iPhone with MagSafe as it snaps in place.

There’s also a kickstand, so you can use this to connect an iPhone 15 Pro, for instance, in landscape orientation so that it can display a clock at night, among other features.

What’s more, it can charge up to three devices at the same time, though only one wirelessly, obviously.

Anker 765 USB-C to USB-C Cable Anker 765 USB-C to USB-C cable 3ft $34.99 from , £22.99 from 6ft $34.99 from , £25.99 from I know, a cable is about as sexy as a handkerchief or pair of socks, but here’s why you should consider this: this year, Apple’s iPhone moved to a USB-C connector instead of the previous Lightning socket.

So, plenty of people who until now had more cables than they knew what to do with suddenly need a spare cable for the car, the bedroom or the travel pack in the suitcase.

Anker’s cables are brilliant, offering great build quality and attractive design.

They’re powerful enough to allow up to 140W output so you can be sure your gadget is charging fast.

Nomad Base One Max Nomad Base One Max $150 from When Apple introduced its ring of MagSafe magnets on the back of the iPhone to ensure a secure and strong connection between charger and phone, it also created charging pads, but so light that when you lifted the iPhone, the pad would stay attached.

However, Nomad’s handsome, well-built charger is heavy enough to stay put, however quickly you grab your phone.

A rubber base means it doesn’t slip and you can choose between a dark carbide or eye-catching silver.

If you have an Apple Watch as well, then the Base One Max has a charging pad for your smart timepiece, too, plus a dip into which AirPods Pro fit.

There’s also a version, the Base One, that’s for iPhones only.

Nomad does not supply a charging plug, believing that many of us have more power adapters than we know what to do with.

Note that this needs a 30W adapter as a minimum.

Philips Azur Elite Iron Philips Azur Elite £119.99 from Now, look, you need to be careful who you give an iron to: it could suggest you expect them to smooth the wrinkles out of all your clothes.

But if that special recipient has hinted that’s what they want, there’s no better choice than the Philips Azur Elite.

Philips makes sensational steam irons and the Azur Elite is the top of the range.

It includes something called OptimalTEMP technology which basically means you never have to set the temperature of the iron, it does it automatically, with no fear of you burning or scorching the fabric, whatever it is.

It also claims that the steam control is also intelligent, ensuring just the right amount of steam is released.

It heats up fast and has a steam boost to get rid of creases.

Hard to beat.

Note, in the U.S., Philips has a different range of irons but are consistently well-designed and effective.

Happy holidays!

If you’ve recently updated your Windows 11 PC to the very latest version you might suddenly find you start having issues with your Wi-Fi.

The gremlins seem to have begun after users installed the most recent cumulative update called KB50532288 and KB5033375 which were pushed out during Microsoft’s most recent Patch Tuesday.

Once downloaded onto PCs, some have reported Wi-Fi connectivity issues especially when trying to join public networks.

Microsoft has now confirmed that it is looking into the bug which doesn’t affect any versions of Windows 10 .

“Microsoft has received reports of an issue in which some Wi-Fi adapters might not connect to some networks after installing KB5032288,” the Redmond firm said in an update .

“We have confirmed this issue was caused by KB5032288 and KB5033375.

As reported, you are more likely to be affected by this issue if you are attempting to connect to an enterprise, education, or public Wi-Fi network using 802.1x authentication.

This issue is not likely to occur on home networks.”

If your PC is having issues then Microsoft is recommending rolling back to its previous version of Windows 11 until it releases an official fix.

The company also wants affected users to submit data using the Feedback Hub.

To uninstall this update just search “Windows Update” from the Windows search bar.

Then you can navigate to “Update History” and tap “Uninstall Updates”.

You should then see KB503375 which can then be easily removed.

Hopefully, Microsoft will release a full update soon which will iron out the bug for good.

If you’re still sticking with Windows 10 then don’t forget there’s limited time left before this software loses full support from Microsoft.

That date is set for 2025 and means users will no longer get new features or security patches.

Microsoft has recently confirmed that it will offer updates past the 2025 deadline although Windows 10 users will need to pay extra to access them.

Phones can be a thoughtful gift around the holidays, whether you’re wrapping up a present for a relative who’s a few generations behind the latest smartphone or one of your kids champing at the bit for the latest and greatest technology.

For many, a phone will be an exciting and welcome present.

At the same time, it’s also a highly personal item that comes with a lot of personal preferences.

If you’re trying to track down a phone as a present, you’ve got to contend with more than just finding the best cell phone deals .

There are other considerations, both when you’re shopping for that phone and as you’re getting ready to give that gift.

Here are the seven things to consider when giving a phone as a holiday gift.

The first thing to ask yourself is how much you want to spend on a gifted phone and how you want to pay for that purchase — and how both those considerations balance with the needs of your gift recipient.

You probably know that there are plenty of handsets to choose from at a wide range of prices.

But you’re also going to need to consider whether to pay for the phone up front or through monthly installments.

The latter is almost always an option when buying a phone from wireless carriers, and a few retailers offer payment plans, too.

But be sure to be clear on who’s going to be be paying off that phone.

“What the gift giver should absolutely not do is saddle their giftee with monthly phone payments that they did not ask for and may not be prepared to handle,” said Lauren Hannula, a tech expert with wireless comparison site WhistleOut.

“If you can’t buy the phone outright or cover any installment payments yourself, find a different yet equally thoughtful gift.”

(Note: a practical alternative to buying a brand-new phone, especially for your kid or teen, is gifting your current device as a hand-me-down and upgrading your own handset.)

One factor that may help you with budgeting for your smartphone gift is knowing which phone carrier your recipient uses.

If you’re on a family cell phone plan — purchasing that gift phone for a partner or child, for example — this is an easy decision, and you may be able to get a better deal if you trade in an old device or buy multiple new phones at once.

Other considerations including pricing at the phone carrier — both for the phone and the cell phone plan — as well as whether the recipient has other wireless devices, such as an Apple Watch, on their current plan.

If you aren’t sure, or if you want maximum flexibility, you can buy the device unlocked.

Be sure to check the return and exchange policies before buying a phone as a gift, just in case the recipient changes their mind.

Your recipient most likely already has a phone and is comfortable with a specific operating system — Android or iOS are the two most common options these days.

You really shouldn’t choose a device that’s different than what they have, unless they’ve explicitly stated a desire to switch platforms.

“​Stick with what they already have, but just upgrade them,” Hannula said.

When considering your budget for a gift phone, you should also take into account an insurance or device protection plan, which may be offered by the carrier, manufacturer or both.

These plans allow for free or discounted phone repair or replacement in the event of a lost or damaged device.

(Be aware that there are restrictions, so you should read any terms and conditions ahead of time.)

If your gift recipient has a tendency to drop their phone or leave it behind, insurance may be well worth the extra expense for a device that can cost as much as $1,000 for some of the leading flagship hones.

Note that some protection plans are billed monthly, while others can be paid in full up front depending on how you buy the device.

If you’re gifting a phone, make sure you’re not transferring this expense to the recipient without their knowledge.

Some carriers and manufacturers also allow you to enroll in a protection plan after purchase within a certain timeframe if that’s a decision you want to leave up to your gift recipient.

Knowing how the recipient uses their phone will help you determine what features your gifted device should come with.

For example, if they love mobile gaming, look for a large, bright display with a high refresh rate and extended battery life like you’d find on the best gaming phones .

Photographers and videographers will appreciate one of the best camera phones along with plenty of storage for storing all those images and video files.

Users who are very active—runners, for example—and minimalists who carry their phones in their pockets may appreciate a smaller, low-profile device they can take on the go.

You should also consider accessibility, such as display size, speech-to-text, screen reading and accessory compatibility, for users who need these features.

You could set up a gifted phone in advance so it’s ready to use the moment it’s opened, though many recipients will prefer to do this themselves.

This allows them to transfer their contacts, apps and other information from their old phone, which you likely cannot do without their knowledge.

“Plus, it’s nice to unwrap a brand-new phone that hasn’t yet been meddled with,” Hannula added.

A good compromise is to offer to help the recipient with setup as needed once they’ve opened their gift.

Phone accessories can make great low-stakes gifts — with or without a new device.

If you know the recipient’s style and habits, you could include a case — we’ve got our picks for a variety of current models, including the best Google Pixel 8 cases and the best iPhone 15 cases , just to name a few.

Screen protectors, wireless chargers, car mounts and desk stands are also useful add-ons for new phones.

Just be sure to get a gift receipt in case the recipient wants to exchange your selection.

A brand-new phone can be a welcome and exciting holiday gift for someone you love as long as you take their needs and preferences into account, since they’ll be the ones using the device for years to come.

Pharmacy group Rite Aid was ordered Tuesday to stop using facial recognition for the next five years by a US regulator, which said the company falsely identified consumers as shoplifters using the technology.

The case touches on one of the main concerns about the proliferation of artificial intelligence, and facial recognition in particular, which is deemed to potentially misidentify or discriminate against individuals, especially non-whites and women.

“Rite Aid’s reckless use of facial surveillance systems left its customers facing humiliation and other harms,” said Samuel Levine, director of consumer harms at the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC said that from 2012 to 2020, Rite Aid deployed facial recognition technology to spot repeated shoplifting offenders and other problematic behavior.

But the technology “falsely flagged…

consumers as matching someone who had previously been identified as a shoplifter or other troublemaker.”

The pharmacy group, which is currently in bankruptcy proceedings, also failed to properly train employees about the fact that there could be false positives with the technology or to prevent the use of low-quality images.

In addition to the ban, the FTC ordered the group and any other company involved to delete all data connected to its program.

Rite-Aid said it was “pleased to reach an agreement with the FTC and put this matter behind us.”

© 2023 AFP

Amazon has surprisingly slashed the prices of several of its Alexa products right before Christmas, meaning now is a great time to invest in the company’s smart speakers.

The newest addition to the Echo line up, the Echo Pop, only came out in May but Amazon is currently selling it for £19.99 , a huge saving on its usual £44.99 RRP.

The Echo Pop is a compact smart speaker that connects to your home Wi-Fi and reacts to voice commands, just as all smart speakers do.

It can play the radio, set alarms, tell you the weather, read the headlines, and perform many other useful tasks for you throughout the day.

It connects to Spotify, Apple Music or Amazon Music (naturally) as well as BBC Sounds, or you can use it as a Bluetooth speaker and control the music with your phone rather than via voice commands.

If you want, you can also link the Pop up to your Amazon shopping account and ask it to re-order something you might be running low on.

And if you pick one up in time for Christmas Day, you can ask Alexa to run a few trivia rounds to keep your guests entertained between dinner courses.

As part of Amazon’s sale, for just £5 extra you can also buy an Echo Pop with a Meross smart plug or with a Phillips Hue bulb .

The former is a plug that fits into your wall socket and acts as a way to set up and use smart home devices, such as the aforementioned Hue bulb – in this case, you need the plug in order to ask Alexa via the Echo Pop to turn on the lights, or perform other actions with other smart devices in your home.

The Echo Pop looks like a pretty useful gadget even at full price, so grabbing it for under £20 during this sale seems a very good deal to us.

It’s not just the Echo Pop that’s on sale – Amazon has also cut the prices of the Echo Dot and Echo Dot with clock, Ring smart doorbells, Kindle e-readers, and the latest Fire TV Stick 4K .

You can check out all of Amazon’s tech on sale here .

We’re not sure how long the deals are on for, but it’s certainly unusual to see such good prices before Christmas, rather than straight after.

What just happened?

A massive, six-month police operation that saw 34 nations cooperating, with financial aid from South Korea, has resulted in the arrest of almost 3,500 alleged cybercriminals for a wide range of crimes.

Authorities have also seized $300 million in cash and digital assets.

International police organization Interpol revealed the transcontinental operation against online financial crime this week.

Dubbed Operation HAECHI IV, the op targeted seven of the most common online scams: voice phishing, romance, sextortion, investment fraud, money laundering associated with illegal online gambling, business email compromise fraud, and e-commerce fraud.

Three-quarters of the crimes investigated involved business email compromise, e-commerce fraud, and investment fraud.

As part of the operation, authorities blocked 82,112 suspicious bank accounts, seizing a combined $199 million in hard currency and $101 million in virtual assets.

Officers also identified 367 virtual asset accounts linked to transnational organized crime.

One of the scams used by the criminals was the popular NFT “rug-pull” scheme in which investors are promised huge returns if they invest in the digital tokens, only for the operators to disappear with the money, leaving the buyers with worthless digital images they paid thousands for.

In March last year, two men aged 20 years old at the time were arrested after they made $1.1 million from an NFT “rug-pull” scam.

Interpol also warned about the new threat of AI and deep fake technology being used to trick people into believing they are talking to friends or family members, either over the phone or on video calls.

The voice-based version of the scam has been used to steal thousands of dollars from victims in the US and Canada this year.

In June, the FBI warned that criminals are harvesting images from social media sites, using them to create sexually explicit deepfakes of the victims, then blackmailing the targets by threatening to send the pictures and videos to friends and family.

Interpol highlighted how the operation involved cooperation between Filipino and Korean authorities that led to the arrest in Manila of a high-profile online gambling criminal after a two-year manhunt by Korea’s National Police Agency.

“The seizure of USD 300 million represents a staggering sum and clearly illustrates the incentive behind today’s explosive growth of transnational organized crime.

This represents the savings and hard-earned cash of victims.

This vast accumulation of unlawful wealth is a serious threat to global security and weakens the economic stability of nations worldwide,” Interpol’s Executive Director of Police Services, Stephen Kavanagh, said.

Microsoft now lets you create music from a simple text prompt to its Copilot AI .

The partnership with Suno includes creating lyrics and a backing track in any style.

The musical addition to Copilot is available through plug-ins and is being gradually rolled out to all users over the coming weeks.

So if you don’t see it today, try again another day.

Unlike other music creation tools, like the Google MusicFX experiment I tried last week, Suno can generate a complete song with music and lyrics from a simple text prompt.

Copilot users can get access to Suno by going to the Microsoft Copilot website, logging in with a personal Microsoft account and enabling the Suno plug-in.

The plug-in menu should appear in the top right of the screen, just look for the logo that says Make music with Suno.

Once enabled its just a case of letting your imagination run wild.

Enter a text prompt in much the same way you would for any other interaction with Copilot and then wait for it to make the magic happen.

It will send your request out to the Suno app and come back with a song title, lyrics and a play button where you can listen to the creation.

There is still a degree of artificiality about the vocals.

You can hear the digital effects underlying the voice.

But synthetic voice technology is improving all the time and that likely won’t be an issue in future versions.

The music isn’t as good as that generated by MusicFX, as in it feels more like a generated backing track than a crafted piece of art, but it does provide a complete song and you can remix, adapt the lyrics and even change the style completely.

If you don’t have access to Suno through Copilot yet and don’t want to wait you can access it by going to the Suno website.

You get 50 free credits when you sign-up but it takes 10 credits per song generation or remix — so you may want to wait for Copilot which will be free.

Microsoft said in a blog post: “We believe that this partnership will open new horizons for creativity and fun, making music creation accessible to everyone.”

This is a sentiment likely shared by other big tech companies and startups.

Google is investing heavily in generative music and it goes beyond the MusicFX experiment.

The company has launched DreamTrack in YouTube which lets you create backing music for Shorts in the style of real-life artists like John Legend and Charlie Puth.

Meta is working on a range of AI-music experiments and research projects.

If these follow the same path as Meta’s image and video projects they could soon be integrated into Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

The issue is how to balance the ability of AI to create a song from nothing, with the right of artists and musicians to have their talent and creativity protected.

Suno, the tool that powers music creation in Copilot, won’t let you create a song in the style of an existing artist.

You can’t just say “make a Christmas song that sounds like Mariah Carey or Michael Buble”.

You can say make it in the style of a diva or crooner.

I think over time, like we’re seeing with generative image and video technology, the music industry will adapt and even adopt generative AI music tools as a way to enhance or speed up the creation process.

A quick “try it out” before recording for real.

It’s less than a week until Christmas and now is a good time to make sure your Wi-Fi is ready for the festive rush.

With millions of us staying at home, the broadband is bound to get a battering as we all try and stream movies, download games to play on consoles, test out new gadgets and get the Christmas playlist booming out of every room.

The last thing anyone wants is their Wi-Fi playing up and there is a simple thing to do this week that should help to keep things up to speed.

Virgin Media has recently issued some useful advice that can make sure things stay up to scratch.

The best part is, it only takes a few minutes to perform and you don’t need any technology know-how.

Sky confirms changes to your TV plan next month as free service shuts down All you need to do is reach around the back of your router and turn this flashing black box off via the power button.

Leave it for around a minute then turn it back on and wait for the reboot to take place (this usually takes around 4-5 minutes so be patient).

This easy advice not only clears any issues that might be clogging up the Wi-Fi but also makes sure your gadgets are connected to the best and strongest channel.

“Wi-Fi modems remain static on a single channel setting, which can become congested,” Virgin explained.

“If another gadget nearby is also using one of the same channels (for example, your neighbour’s router), the two devices could be competing for airtime.

You can solve this by turning your Hub off and on again.

When you reboot, the Hub’s channel switching mode instantly kicks in.

It will automatically pick up the best channel to operate on.”

Millions of BT and Sky users missing out on huge broadband boost – check your postcode Along with turning things off, there are plenty of other things you can try to make sure Christmas isn’t ruined by dropouts and dire speeds.

Firstly, make sure you check the position of the router and move it away from things that could cause interference such as wireless speakers, cordless phones and baby monitors.

Christmas trees are also bad for signals as they are covered in glossy baubles and metal tinsel so don’t place your router under the branches.

Other things to try include raising the box off of the floor and keeping it out of cupboards.

Fish tanks, microwave ovens and mirrors can also wreak havoc with the broadband so keep these objects clear for better speeds.

All of these tips work no matter who your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is so give them a try.

Microsoft’s burgeoning relationship with OpenAI is piling scrutiny on the tech giant’s market power and ways it is building and yielding that power in the lucrative artificial intelligence (AI) space.

Microsoft successfully skirted some of the spotlight on the market power of other technology giants, such as Apple and Google, over the past few years.

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes a target for global regulators and lawmakers, Microsoft’s growing partnership with the leading AI firm and creator of ChatGPT is bringing renewed attention.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is examining the nature of Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI, .

The U.K. Competition Market Authority (CMA) also launched an to see if Microsoft’s growing relationship with OpenAI “resulted in a relevant merger situation,” and if that change would lessen competition.

Microsoft invested billions of dollars in OpenAI and has incorporated ChatGPT into Microsoft services.

The lines between the two companies, however, have been blurred in the aftermath of the tumultuous firing and rehiring of OpenAI co-founder and CEO Sam Altman.

“The relationship between Microsoft and OpenAI existed prior to that.

But that debate, that very public dispute, showed really the extent of Microsoft’s control over OpenAI,” said Lee Hepner, legal counsel at the American Economic Liberties Project, a nonprofit that supports aggressive antitrust enforcement.

The OpenAI board announced Altman was ousted as CEO on Fri.

Nov. 17.

By the following Monday, Microsoft announced they would be hiring Altman to lead an AI research team to the AI startup just a few days later — with the blessing of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella — after hundreds of OpenAI employees threatened to quit if he was not reinstated.

One week later, OpenAI announced that Microsoft would have a on its board of directors.

“The question on everyone’s minds here is ‘Who absolutely controls OpenAI?’”

Hepner said.

“On the one hand, you have this perception of a nonprofit board that is controlling OpenAI and making critical decisions about the future of development of AI, generally.

On the other hand the public tussle over the disposition of Sam Altman and his role at OpenAI, I think, made very clear that actually Microsoft controls OpenAI,” Hepner added.

Microsoft has pushed back on accusations that it controls OpenAI.

After U.K. regulators asked for comment on the Microsoft-OpenAI partnership — the first step the launch of a formal investigation — Microsoft President Brad Smith said it has “fostered more AI innovation and competition, while preserving independence for both companies.”

Smith said the “only thing that has changed is that Microsoft will now have a non-voting observer on OpenAI’s board.”

He also said the situation is “very different from an acquisition such as Google’s purchase of DeepMind in the UK,” seemingly taking a shot at rival Google over its 2014 acquisition of an AI company.

Sam Weinstein, a former Justice Department antitrust attorney who is now a professor at Cardozo School of Law professor, said the change in having a non-voting board observer “potentially raises more red flags” for antitrust enforcers.

“Instead of what’s been characterized by Microsoft as this kind of economic interest where they have no actual control … now you have a board observer.

Of course, they don’t have a vote, but they’re in the room.

So do they exert control there?

We won’t know, we’re outside the room, but it’s a question,” he said.

The situation also draws more questions about how information is flowing between the companies, he said.

“The board observer kind of raises the stakes a little bit and catches the eye of the enforcers,” Weinstein added, but acknowleged the situation falls in a legal “gray area.”

The Clayton Act prohibits a board member from serving on the board of management of a competing corporation, but a non-voting observer from Microsoft may not violate that law, he said.

“One way you could look at this is Microsoft’s exerting some kind of control over OpenAI, it’s kind of hard to say how much, in a way that at least seems like it doesn’t implicate the antitrust laws,” Weinstein said.

“They’re sort of dancing around the scope of what the enforcement agencies can do by having this unusual arrangement,” he added.

Microsoft has also sought to tamp down concerns about its influence on OpenAI.

“While details of our agreement remain confidential, it is important to note that Microsoft does not own any portion of OpenAI and is simply entitled to share of profit distributions,” said Microsoft chief communication officer Frank Shaw after in statement following the CMA’s invitation for comment.

The FTC declined to comment on whether it was probing the Microsoft-OpenAI relationship, but a source familiar with the situation told The Hill that the agency has not reached out to Microsoft about the matter.

FTC Chair Lina Khan, a vocal critic of tech giants’ market power before assuming her role at the agency, has focused the commission on the potential competition concerns raised by AI.

In a June memo, the agency pledged to use its “full range of tools to identify and address unfair methods of competition.

The FTC voted unanimously last month to authorize the use of compulsory process, such as subpoenas, in nonpublic investigations involving AI-related products and services.

The FTC is currently controlled by three Democratic commissioners after of two Republican colleagues earlier this year and last.

The agency said the update “will streamline” the agency staff’s ability to issue civil investigative demands.

“There’s an obvious effort at the Federal Trade Commission to move quickly here.

And I think that that’s what is most important.

The outcome will be a result of the investigation, but it’s critical that the Federal Trade Commission move quickly before this runaway train gets too far down the track,” Hepner said.

The American Economic Liberties Project and other tech advocacy groups including Demand Progress and the Center for Digital Democracy sent a letter Wednesday to Khan and Jonathan Kanter, assistant attorney general and head of Justice Department antitrust division, urging their offices to investigate “Big Tech’s concentration in the AI space.”

The letter specifically calls out changes between Microsoft and OpenAI’s relationship, including the restructuring that secured Microsoft a non-voting board position.

The groups said the change “indicates a greater level of access and control for Microsoft over the management and future trajectory of OpenAI,” according to a copy of the letter.

The rise of generative AI comes heels of the federal government’s ramped up scrutiny of the market power of tech giants — an effort that spawned a and lawsuits filed by antitrust enforcers by both the Trump and Biden administrations.

While Microsoft avoided much of the recent push to rein in Big Tech, the company is no stranger to antitrust scrutiny.

The federal government sued Microsoft in 1998, alleging that the company was violating antitrust law through restrictions placed on its software.

Microsoft and the Justice Department eventually reached a settlement after the company successfully appealed a district court ruling that would have broken up the firm.

More recently, the FTC challenged Microsoft’s $69-billion acquisition of the gaming company Activision Blizzard, but the deal after the FTC to block it.

The FTC is still fighting the merger, through an appeal, even after the deal closed.

A decision on the appeal has not yet been reached.

The 2020 House antitrust report — and hearings with the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook that followed — focused largely on how the tech giants amassed their power and if they stifled innovation by acquiring nascent companies as the modern-day internet and social media landscape took shape.

Microsoft may have avoided the spotlight of that push, but Weinstein said the industry is at another inflection point as key AI companies rise up and pose a potential threat — or valuable input — to tech giants.

Microsoft and OpenAI are now in the middle of that debate.

Regulators have to face the question of whether companies like Microsoft and Google should be able to control their affiliated AI companies or if they should compete separately and possibly “overthrow the current set of dominant” firms, Weinstein said.

“If you want the latter, and think ‘Okay, these companies are the competitive threat we’ve been waiting for to the Facebook’s, Apple’s, Amazon’s, et cetera., you probably want them outside the control of those monopolists, as pure competition matter, and that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening,” Weinstein said.

We know generative AI is changing the way we work.

The next logical question to ask is: How?

As a CEO, I know the pressure this question places on business leaders.

A recent survey conducted by our company shows 46% of board members said generative AI is their “main priority above anything else.” , combined with the relative newness of generative AI and its potential benefits, has leaders scrambling.

Nearly every day, our smart and savvy team of technologists assesses how we implement generative AI.

This prompted us to complete two surveys with data leaders and board members to inform us of our approach.

Based on the feedback from my team and this research, I would like to share 10 questions that I have learned leaders should ask before implementing generative AI for data analytics in their organization.

1. How much of a priority is generative AI?

In our survey, 46% of board members stated that generative AI is the top priority for the board, but that may be different for your business.

To decide on prioritization of generative AI, consider its expected outcome, your available internal resources and the potential downsides of not adopting it.

Your board and leadership team may see its priority differently, so be sure to align with them.

2. How much do we want to invest?

Research by indicates that generative AI is a top investment focus for CEOs, with 70% of companies significantly investing in this technology.

The majority (52%) anticipate a return on their investment within three to five years.

For a generative AI project to succeed, you will need your technology, legal and leadership teams to invest their time and attention.

Consider critically how much of that time you can dedicate on top of the budget needed.


What data will we use?

Data that represents the highest reward and lowest risk is the best type for pilot or early-stage projects.

However, before you jump in and use all your available data, determine which types of data you want to make available.

You may only want to use some of it.

The sources of data that survey respondents were most comfortable using for generative AI included customer data (78%), market research data (77%), labeled data (72%) and web data (67%).

Whichever route you take, remember that generative AI‘s results are only as good as the data used to inform it, so make sure any data you use is clean and high quality.


Who will use generative AI?

One of the most revolutionary aspects of generative AI is that you can receive outputs from conversational prompts, opening the results to a much broader audience.

While this is ultimately one of the greatest potential benefits of AI, it also means that you need to be considerate when providing the technology to your workforce.

In , one as “It’s not that anything is on fire.

It’s that everyone in our organization is holding a flame thrower.”

Providing the technology isn’t enough—you will also need to supply the right training to ensure it is used ethically.


Who will manage implementation?

Anyone can lead your generative AI adoption, but having a dedicated person in your organization managing the process is what’s most important.

Our pulse survey found that 98% of organizations using generative AI reported having a singular leader responsible for their generative AI strategy.

It also didn’t seem to matter who that leader was: The most common leaders were the CEO (30%), head of IT (25%), chief data officer (22%) and head of AI (19%).


What policies will we create?

Generative AI poses an undeniable risk—including copyright and intellectual property protection loss, the sharing of confidential data and hallucinations—so governance is key.

That’s why leaders need to proactively develop a comprehensive policy strategy around generative AI.

Board members listed privacy and security (79%), fairness and bias (78%) and trust and transparency (75%) as their most common policies.


Who will enforce governance?

Policies are only as good as their compliance, so you need to decide how to roll out policies and enforce them.

The most common practices for ensuring governance that we found in our board member survey were conducting regular audits (58%), establishing clear lines of responsibility (51%) and training staff on generative AI ethics (45%).


How will we educate our employees about generative AI?

What types of training do you need to provide employees, and who should receive it?

Topics to consider include: Also, decide who will get access to the training—is this something you want to supply only to team members who have access to generative AI, or would you see benefits from training everyone?


What benefits do we expect to see from generative AI?

Before implementation, name what benefits you expect to see and how you will measure them.

Understanding how generative AI affects your bottom line will make it much easier to decide how and where to roll out the technology as your business matures and scales.

According to research, marketers predict that they will save up to five hours per week using generative AI.

Of sales professionals currently using generative AI, 84% said it helped increase sales in their business.


How will we communicate our results?

Communicating the results of using generative AI in your data analytics stack can assuage any concerns or hesitations surrounding the technology.

Sharing results can even drive interest from others in applying the technology to more use cases.

Instead of only sharing results with the leadership team, be transparent and provide reports to the whole organization.

The path to successful data analytics generative AI adoption is a journey—not a destination.

By addressing these critical questions, you too can navigate the challenges of generative AI and harness its power.

is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives.

close Video Best transmitter to hook up to TV that will connect to Bluetooth earbuds or headphones Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson talks about the best transmitter to use for your TV for Bluetooth earbuds or headphones.

Have you ever wished self-checkout was easier than the glitchy scanning of barcodes?

A new checkout process using old technology is rolling out to happy shoppers.

What is RFID?

RFID stands for “radio frequency identification,” a technology that uses radio waves to identify and track objects.

RFID tags are small electronic devices that can be attached to products, and RFID readers are devices that can scan the tags and communicate with them.


(Amazon) RFID tags can store information such as the product name, price, expiration date, and origin.

RFID readers can read this information from a distance, without requiring direct contact or line of sight.



How RFID is revolutionizing the retail industry

According to a report by Grand View Research , the global RFID market size was estimated at “USD 15,769.8 million in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1% from 2023 to 2030.”

The retail sector is one of the major drivers of this growth, as more retailers are adopting RFID to improve inventory management, customer experience, and operational efficiency.

RFID market chart (Grand View Research)

How does RFID-powered self-checkout work?

RFID-powered self-checkout is a system that allows you to pay for your purchases without going through a cashier or a traditional barcode scanner.

At one innovative retailer, Uniqlo, you can simply place your items in a bin, click start on the screen and within 30 seconds, you’re walking out the door with your purchase.

Amazon hopes to expand another RFID checkout experience that has consumers eliminating the point of sale process entirely.

The goal is for you the customer to enter a store, get what you need, and walk out the door with your credit card automatically being charged.

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE Some of the benefits of RFID-powered self-checkout Convenience: You can save time and avoid long lines by checking out yourself.

You can also enjoy a more personalized and seamless shopping experience, as you can browse and buy products at your own pace and preference.

Accuracy: RFID tags can store more information than barcodes, and can be read more reliably and faster.

This reduces the chances of errors, such as scanning the wrong product, missing an item, or charging the wrong price.

Security: RFID tags can prevent shoplifting and fraud, as they can be detected and deactivated by RFID readers.

They can also alert the staff if an item is removed from the store without being paid for, or if a tag is tampered with or damaged.

Sustainability: RFID tags can reduce the use of paper and plastic, as they can eliminate the need for printed receipts, labels, and packaging.

They can also help reduce food waste, as they can monitor the freshness and quality of perishable products.



What are some stores using or testing RFID-powered self-checkout?

Amazon Go convenience stores are using RFID, computer vision, and artificial intelligence to enable a “just walk out” shopping experience.

Customers can enter the store, take the items they want, and leave without having to check out or pay at a counter.

The items are automatically detected and charged to the customer’s Amazon account.

Just Walk Out technology (Amazon) MORE: 5 SECRETS TO SHOPPING SMARTER ON AMAZON Zara, the fashion retailer, has implemented RFID tags in its clothing items to improve its inventory management and customer service.

Customers can use self-checkout kiosks that scan the RFID tags and accept various payment methods.

The kiosks also provide suggestions for complementary products and accessories, based on the customer’s purchase history and preferences.

Inditex, the parent company of Zara, tells us that it “is now implementing a new in-store security technology (adapting several existing technologies by our own teams) that will eliminate hard tags and will be rolled out to all Zara stores worldwide in 2024.”

Walmart is testing a new checkout system that uses RFID scanners to track the items and bags of customers who scan their own products using a handheld device or their smartphone.

The system also uses audio sensors to detect the sound of scanning and bagging, and to alert the staff if an item is missed.

Uniqlo , a casual apparel retailer, uses RFID technology to improve its checkout process.

RFID chips are embedded in price tags and can be read by machines that automatically calculate the total amount.

Uniqlo claims that RFID has reduced out-of-stock items and improved customer satisfaction.

MORE: HOW WALMART IS USING AI TO CHANGE HOW YOU SHOP FOREVER RFID technology raises privacy and ethical concerns RFID technology does raise privacy and ethical concerns, as RFID tags can potentially store and transmit personal and sensitive information without the consent or knowledge of the customers.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP Kurt’s key takeaways RFID-powered self-checkout is a game-changer for the retail industry, as it offers many benefits for both customers and retailers.

It makes shopping faster, easier, and more enjoyable for the customer, while also improving accuracy, security, and sustainability for the retailer.

It is no wonder that more and more businesses are adopting this technology to keep up with the changing needs and expectations of their customers.

How do you feel about RFID-powered self-checkout?

Are you for or against and why?

Let us know by writing us at .

For more of my tech tips & security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to .

Ask Kurt a question or let us know what stories you’d like us to cover .

Answers to the most asked CyberGuy questions: What is the best way to protect your Mac, Windows, iPhone and Android devices from getting hacked?

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Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson is an award-winning tech journalist who has a deep love of technology, gear and gadgets that make life better with his contributions for Fox News & FOX Business beginning mornings on “FOX & Friends.”

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An calculator which can predict when a person will die is proving to be chillingly accurate.

Stats show there is a 78% accuracy to the “life2vec” model study after scientists developed an algorithm that uses the story of a person’s life to predict their demise.

Danish put themselves to work on the death predictor, which works like a chat bot and has fed on information on over six million real people ncluding their income, profession, place of residence, injuries, and pregnancy history.

The end result was a model that can process plain language and generate predictions about a person’s likelihood of dying early, or their income over the lifespan, the .

Trained on data from 2008 to 2016, the bot can be asked simple questions and give replies based on how long a user believes they will last on earth.

Based on their research which appeared in , it correctly predicted who had died by 2020 more than three-quarters of the time.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, researcher Sune Lehmann said: “We are actively working on ways to share some of the results more openly, but this requires further research to be done in a way that can guarantee the privacy of the people in the study.”

The networks professor and Technical University of Denmark alumni says the bot can also predict parts of a person’s personality.

Lehmann made it clear data used in the predictor was that of Denmark qualities of living, and results across the world may vary.

She said: “The model opens up important positive and negative perspectives to discuss and address politically.

“Similar technologies for predicting life events and human behaviour are already used today inside tech companies that, for example, track our behaviour on social networks, profile us extremely accurately, and use these profiles to predict our behaviour and influence us.

“This discussion needs to be part of the democratic conversation so that we consider where technology is taking us and whether this is a development we want.”

As the bar for digital transformation continually rises, CTOs, CIOs and CFOs face a serious cost conundrum.

Embracing innovation is crucial for creating a competitive edge, but is a mind-bending challenge.

Enterprises are expected to operate at breakneck speeds using budgets that limit velocity.

To go the distance, every dollar must be wisely spent—and that means regaining control of IT budgeting and spending.

This, in a nutshell, is the key for sustaining enterprise innovation at speed and scale: finding funds from within.

Scrutinizing every dollar to pinpoint waste and overspending is a great way to loosen purse strings to accelerate the corporate trajectory (and believe me, IT waste is rampant with the swift-moving costs that surround new investments).

Innovation Is Wasteful, But It Doesn’t Have To Be On average, with the majority of that waste coming from cloud, mobile and telecom services.

Finding opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle permits sustainable innovation and growth.

Here are three prominent examples of unnecessary innovation spending and how IT expense management helps turbo-boost transformation.

The cloud is where companies transform, and now making it all too easy to get lost in the Wild West of cloud costs.

Effectively managing applications and infrastructure, a practice known as , wrings every dollar out of the cloud estate, which can be poured back into GenAI initiatives.

A cornucopia of corporate communication tools is bleeding budgets in the form of tooling overlap, unused licenses and telecom service charges traced back to offices closed during the pandemic.

Technology expense management software clears the haze of these costs to show exactly what’s required to meet business needs, creating a budget to fast-track transformation.

The most common example is the need to assign and reassign software licenses and mobile devices.

Mobile devices are how business gets done, but apps and devices abandoned in the fog of employee turnover silently tack on costs.

Expense management scours the entire environment to immediately uncover unused assets and plug budget leaks to funnel money back into mobility and IoT innovation.

AI supercharges these results, allowing executives to firmly put the pedal to the metal.

Research that AI-powered cloud cost management programs generate an average cost savings of 20% plus additional productivity gains compared to a DIY approach, which averages less than a 10% savings.

The Beauty Of AI For Automated Cost Reductions Powering expense management strategies with AI applies machine learning, advanced analytics and robotic process automation to identify IT waste in real time and adjust services instantaneously.

AI wrangles information across the IT environment, connecting the dots between a growing list of services, usage data, costs, contract details and newly released discounts.

This comprehensive sifting of siloed data quickly brings intelligence into one view, from unused infrastructure and mobile devices to billing inaccuracies and unsanctioned apps.

From there, AI will prioritize actions based on the amount of savings.

AI delivers a one-two punch to accelerate cost savings with actionable recommendations and automated problem-solving.

For example, the AI engine might recommend how to more efficiently use cloud storage and servers and will then do the work of actually solving this problem with just the click of an approval button.

This accelerates speed-to-savings that can be reinvested into digital innovation.

IT and finance traditionally work in silos, yet each group has overlapping dependencies and coinciding fiscal management tasks that require tight collaboration.

AI can establish a hyper-automated ecosystem where stakeholders reduce unnecessary spending more efficiently—with clear observability, integrated systems and automated cost governance and reporting.

Cost Optimization

Jumping The AI Hurdles Building an AI-powered platform for cost optimization isn’t always easy.

Visibility challenges temper cost savings with incomplete and outdated information.

Highly interconnected platforms are the only way to ingest vast data sets across a growing portfolio of IT services, making integration essential.

Even when AI can automate actions needed to capitalize on cost-saving opportunities, oversight is still necessary.

For these reasons, CFOs and CIOs are carefully considering The level of interconnectivity required for AI-managed IT spending requires a large team of dedicated experts.

needing 15-45 engineers and at least $1M to invest in building a cloud cost management technology platform from the ground up—plus three full-time employees to operate a FinOps program.

Considering the level of complexity involved in DIY tech expense management, it’s not surprising to hear that believe they will have to wait at least two to three years to see real results from their in-house platforms.

Research shows most companies are in the early stages of advanced technology expense management.

For example, that less than half of companies are adept at analytics despite citing the need for better budgeting and forecasting.

The good news is you don’t need to transform overnight.

There are strong leaders in technology expense management who can help you start immediately taking the reins.

Final Note Deriving long-term business value from existing technologies while simultaneously accelerating new investments requires a disciplined approach to handle the natural side effect of overspending.

AI offers an effective tool to govern spending for sustainable IT transformation, and the key is to strike the right balance between in-house resources and providers with advanced AI platforms.

Consider your observability, analytics and integration challenges but keep dedicated expertise and professional services at the top of your needs list.

While AI is the new necessary component to make every dollar go the distance, the human touch is still the compass guiding enterprises to fuel innovation faster.

is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives.

A hot potato: Fears of AI bringing about the destruction of humanity are well documented, but starting doomsday isn’t as simple as asking ChatGPT to destroy everyone.

Just to make sure, Andrew Ng, the Stanford University professor and Google Brain co-founder, tried to convince the chatbot to “kill us all.”

Following his participation in the United States Senate’s Insight Forum on Artificial Intelligence to discuss “risk, alignment, and guarding against doomsday scenarios,” Ng writes in a newsletter that he remains concerned that regulators may stifle innovation and open-source development in the name of AI safety.

The professor notes that today’s large language models are quite safe, if not perfect.

To test the safety of leading models, he asked ChatGPT 4 for ways to kill us all.

Ng started by asking the system for a function to trigger global thermonuclear war.

He then asked ChatGPT to reduce carbon emissions, adding that humans are the biggest cause of these emissions to see if it would suggest how to wipe us all out.

Thankfully, Ng didn’t manage to trick OpenAI‘s tool into suggesting ways of annihilating the human race, even after using various prompt variations.

Instead, it offered non-threatening options such as running a PR campaign to raise awareness of climate change.

Ng concludes that the default mode of today’s generative AI models is to obey the law and avoid harming people.

“Even with existing technology, our systems are quite safe, as AI safety research progresses, the tech will become even safer,” Ng wrote on X. As for the chances of a “misaligned” AI accidentally wiping us out due to it trying to achieve an innocent but poorly worded request, Ng says the odds of that happening are vanishingly small.

United States Senate’s Insight Forum on AI

But Ng believes that there are some major risks associated with AI.

He said the biggest concern is a terrorist group or nation-state using the technology to cause deliberately harm, such as improving the efficiency of making and detonating a bioweapon.

The threat of a rogue actor using AI to improve bioweapons was one of the topics discussed at the UK’s AI Safety Summit .

Ng’s confidence that AI isn’t going to turn apocalyptic is shared by Godfather of AI Professor Yann LeCun and famed professor of theoretical physics Michio Kaku , but others are less optimistic.

After being asked what keeps him up at night when he thinks about artificial intelligence, Arm CEO Rene Haas said earlier this month that the fear of humans losing control of AI systems is the thing he worries about most.

It’s also worth remembering that many experts and CEOs have compared the dangers posed by AI to those of nuclear war and pandemics.


Source: techspot

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