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Royal Caribbean Group ‘enhancing the cruise experience’ with Starlink internet on its ships



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Royal Caribbean Group is bringing Starlink web to its ships. The cruise line operator stated it can implement the satellite tv for pc web service from Elon Musk’s SpaceX on all Royal Caribbean Worldwide, Superstar Cruises and Silversea Cruises vessels, in addition to any of these manufacturers’ new ships. The corporate had beforehand been evaluating the know-how on board and performed a trial on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.

“Our goal as an organization is to ship the most effective trip experiences to our friends responsibly, and this new providing, which is the most important public deployment of Starlink’s high-speed internet within the journey trade thus far, demonstrates our commitment to that goal,” Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, stated in a information launch Tuesday. “This technology will present game-changing web connectivity onboard our ships, enhancing the cruise expertise for friends and crew alike.”

The Federal Communications Fee authorized Starlink’s use on transferring automobiles in June.

How will Starlink change web on Royal Caribbean ships?

Liberty stated Starlink will facilitate and enhance “extra high-bandwidth actions” like similar to video calls and streaming. The service will even make working and staying in contact with family members simpler, the company stated.

“Royal Caribbean Group deciding on Starlink to offer high-speed, low-latency web throughout their fleet will make their passengers’ getaways much more luxurious,” SpaceX Vice President of Starlink Gross sales Jonathan Hofeller stated within the launch. “We could not be extra excited to work with Royal Caribbean Group to make sure vacationers at sea can keep linked with an excellent web expertise.”

When will Starlink be put in?

Royal Caribbean Group will start implementing Starlink all through its fleet instantly, with deployment set to be completed by the top of the primary quarter of 2023.

How a lot will Starlink value?

Royal Caribbean Group didn’t reply to U.S. TODAY’s request for touch upon how a lot Starlink would value for purchasers on board. Royal Caribbean Worldwide presently provides a Surf Wi-Fi choice that begins at $25.99 for a one-day cross or between $14.99 and $17.99 per day for every gadget with a vast voyage bundle, spokesperson Khiavett Diaz stated in an e mail.

A one-day cross for the Surf + Stream choice begins at $32.99, or between $19.99 and $22.99 per gadget every day with the limitless voyage bundle.

SpaceX beforehand secured offers with Hawaiian Airways and regional-jet provider JSX in April, which each stated they might provide Starlink free of charge.

Royal Caribbean may add Elon Musk’s Starlink internet service to its cruise ships

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Apple enjoys ‘symbiotic’ relationship with China, Cook says



Apple enjoys a 'symbiotic' relationship with China, although tensions between Beijing and Washington have affected its supply ch
Apple enjoys a ‘symbiotic’ relationship with China, although tensions between Beijing and Washington have affected its supply chain, the company’s CEO Tim Cook said.

Apple enjoys a “symbiotic” relationship with China, CEO Tim Cook said on Saturday, as the iPhone giant looks to move production out of the country.

Cook, who is in China to attend the high-profile China Development Forum, said “Apple and China grew together,” during an interview on the role of technology in education.

“This has been a symbiotic kind of relationship that I think we both enjoyed,” he said at the state-run event attended by top government officials and corporate leaders.

Cook’s visit comes as Apple, the world’s biggest company by market value, is trying to move production out of China.

Last year, Apple sales were hit by curtailed production at factories as a result of China’s zero-COVID policy.

US export controls on high-tech components are also threatening the company’s supply chain.

Cook did not address supply chain issues during his discussion.

Instead, he focused on the need to bridge the education gap between urban and rural schools and encouraged young people to learn programming and critical thinking skills.

He also pledged to increase Apple’s spending on its rural education program in China to 100 million yuan ($15 million).

Cook visited an Apple Store in downtown Beijing on Friday, and a photo of him posing for a selfie with singer Huang Ling has gone viral on Chinese social media.

© 2023 AFP

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S. Korea’s crypto ‘genius’ turned disgraced fugitive



Do Kwon: S. Korea's crypto 'genius' turned disgraced fugitive
Do Kwon was arrested Thursday in Montenegro after being caught trying to catch a flight using fake Costa Rican travel documents.

Once hailed as a genius, South Korean entrepreneur Do Kwon—now facing multiple criminal charges over his failed cryptocurrency—was a brash industry figure whose fame disintegrated into global notoriety.

After months on the run, the 31-year-old, whose full name is Kwon Do-hyung, was arrested Thursday in Montenegro after being caught trying to catch a flight using fake Costa Rican travel documents.

He is accused of fraud over the dramatic implosion last year of his company Terraform Labs, which wiped out about $40 billion of investors’ money and shook global crypto markets.

Immediately after his arrest the United States hit him with a slew of charges over what they called a “multi-billion-dollar crypto asset securities fraud” and South Korea, where he faces separate charges, said it wants to extradite him.

The cryptocurrency he created, an “algorithmic stablecoin” called Terra, was in reality a glorified Ponzi scheme, experts say.

Yet as recently as March 2022, Kwon was being described in glowing South Korean media reports as a “genius” as thousands of private investors lined up to pour cash into his company.

“Kwon and his story are a product of our times,” Cho Dong-keun, an economics professor emeritus at Myongji University, told AFP.

“He knew how to win the hearts of those who so desperately wanted to make a fortune in one stroke. He also knew how to exploit their anxiety and turn it into massive profits.”

Elite connections

Born in 1991, Kwon attended South Korea’s elite Daewon Foreign Language High School where, according to a book he wrote about his school days, he founded an English-language student paper and competed in various English debating championships.

He went on to major in computer science at Stanford University in the US, and reportedly interned at Apple and Microsoft before returning to Asia to start his own business.

In 2018, he co-founded Terraform Labs with Daniel Shin—who is linked to South Korea’s elite Samsung family through his uncle—and developed the TerraUSD and Luna currencies.

He quickly rose to fame, partly thanks to Shin’s connections, successfully branding himself as a young industry luminary.

TerraUSD was marketed as a “stablecoin”, a type of cryptocurrency which is typically pegged to stable assets such as the US dollar to prevent drastic price fluctuations.

In 2019, he featured in Forbes’ 30 under 30 Asia list.

Forbes wrote that Kwon’s “price-stable cryptocurrency, or stablecoin, attracted 40 million users to work with the company at launch in January 2018”.

“With the aim of building a blockchain-based payment system, Terra has raised $32 million from crypto-giants such as Binance,” it said.

‘S Korean Elizabeth Holmes’

But experts had long warned Kwon’s model was fundamentally flawed, with some outright calling it a Ponzi scheme.

Unlike other stablecoins backed by real-world assets such as cash or gold, TerraUSD was algorithmic—pegged only to sister currency Luna, using maths and incentive mechanisms to maintain their peg.

“Algorithmic stablecoins like Terra/Luna were doomed from the very beginning,” Christian Catalini, founder of MIT’s Cryptoeconomics Lab, told AFP.

“Things can work for a while, while the ecosystem is growing, but are destined to run into a death spiral at some point.”

A full investigation of Kwon should help clarify what happened when Terra/Luna collapsed, he said, adding this was necessary to improve the crypto industry as a whole.

“We need to make sure that bad actors are not able to use the technology to design scams and perpetuate other forms of fraud or financial crime,” he said.

Kwon’s impressive rise and precipitous fall are now being compared to those of convicted American fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of the medical technology startup Theranos.

Kwon “is just like Holmes, another elite who went to Stanford”, the Korea Economic Daily newspaper wrote.

Cory Klippsten, CEO of crypto trading app Swan.com, made a similar parallel on Twitter last year.

Kwon had “major Elizabeth Holmes vibes”, he wrote ahead of the collapse. “Creepy levels of cockiness on display, 99.99% of the time means fraud.”

Kwon slipped out of South Korea before disaster struck in May last year, and has effectively been in hiding ever since—even as he claimed on Twitter that he was not “on the run”.

South Korea eventually revoked his passport, and asked Interpol to place him on the red notice list.

“A responsible adult and entrepreneur would have stayed and explained,” professor Cho at Myongji University said.

“The fact that he tried to avoid authorities by even using forged passports shows his character.”

© 2023 AFP

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Recycling of fruit waste into a solar absorber for water desalination



Recycling of fruit waste into solar absorber for water desalination
Assistant Professor Edison Ang Huixiang (left) and his PhD student, Marliyana Aizudin (right) from National Institute of Education/Nanyang Technological University Singapore, turn fruit waste into value-added MXene materials for solar desalination. Credit: NIE/NTU Singapore

Scientists from the National Institute of Education/Nanyang Technological University of Singapore developed a method for converting fruit wastes such as coconut husks, orange peels, and banana peels into a solar absorber made of MXene for efficient water desalination process.

Singapore produces over 20,000 tons of fruit waste annually, the majority of which comes from the fruit juicing sector, which uses 50% of the fruit but discards the rest as trash, such as fruit peel. This gave Dr. Edison Ang inspiration. He sees wealth where others perceive waste since wastes are free resources that may be used to create valuable products, like MXene in this example.

A type of material known as MXene has outstanding light-to-heat conversion capabilities and can be utilized to build solar stills for the treatment of water using clean, renewable solar energy. This solar still can be made portable and set up easily in rural areas with limited access to electricity.

Fruit wastes were used to create MXene materials through a two-step carbonization process, and these materials were employed to create a solar absorber in a solar still for water desalination. This work has been featured in the 2022 Young Chemists theme collection in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

The key findings of the paper are:

  • MXenes derived from fruit wastes demonstrate excellent light-to-heat conversion efficiency, with a rate of 90%. This is nearly 30% higher than that of the commercial solar absorber, which means that it is more effective at converting solar energy into heat energy.
  • The use of fruit waste as a source of raw materials for MXene production can significantly reduce the cost of the material. In this study, the MXene material was less expensive than commercial alternatives because one of the reactant sources was obtained for free from fruit waste.
  • The homemade solar still prototype that utilized MXene material showed a significant improvement in the water production rate, with an increase of approximately 50% over the existing solar still.
  • The purified water produced by the homemade solar still prototype met the World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water standard. This indicates that the MXene-based solar still can produce clean drinking water that is safe for human consumption.

The main focus of Dr. Edison’s research is to develop innovative and cost-effective methods to turn organic wastes into useful materials for solar stills that purify water. Graphite was successfully made from plastic trash in a prior study by his team, and this work was published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

Both investigations showed that organic wastes can be turned into two-dimensional (2D) materials with higher values like graphite and MXene. Additionally, its distinct honeycomb structure enhances the effectiveness of light-to-heat conversion, and the 2D structure’s interlayers offer numerous pathways for fast water production.

Recycling and reusing organic wastes and turning them into materials with value added, such as carbon, can lessen the negative effects of waste pollution while also lowering the cost of MXene or graphite materials and the mining of natural carbon resources. As a result, the economy and the environment will both gain significantly.

Finding suitable materials for eco-friendly and more efficient solar stills is the main challenge. Usually, non-organic impurities are mixed with organic wastes. As a result, there are only a few pure materials that can be produced using current technologies. Sorting out the different waste material types will require additional work, such as using machine learning and artificial intelligence together to enhance the quality of the waste management process.

Commercial Li-ion batteries, which are used in everything from smartphones to electric vehicles, are known to be made with graphite as a key component. MXenes, which are naturally conductive like graphite and have a 2D structure, are useful for storing charges in batteries and may soon be used in the manufacture of batteries. The MXene made from fruit waste therefore has potential uses that go far beyond water purification.

More information:
Marliyana Aizudin et al, Sustainable development of graphitic carbon nanosheets from plastic wastes with efficient photothermal energy conversion for enhanced solar evaporation, Journal of Materials Chemistry A (2022). DOI: 10.1039/D2TA02092K

Recycling of fruit waste into a solar absorber for water desalination (2023, March 24)
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How AI can reveal corporate tax avoidance



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Are the words used in annual reports a key to unlocking the secrets of corporate tax avoidance?

When it comes to spotting corporate tax dodgers, words can be as useful as numbers. Recent research from Texas McCombs finds that careful reading of text can offer new insights into how companies are trying to avoid taxes—activities that may not be apparent from financial numbers alone.

Dean and Accounting Professor Lillian Mills and her co-author, Kelvin Law of Nanyang Technological University, examined 18 years’ worth of U.S. multinational companies’ annual reports, ones that discussed their business activities in foreign countries, including tax havens. The researchers covered a total of 183,061 reports.

The team used natural language processing (NLP) to analyze the text and identify patterns and word choices that might reveal what kind of activities companies were conducting in tax havens. The computer analysis uncovered clues about these activities.

For example, suppose a U.S. pharmaceutical company has developed a successful drug for treating heart disease, generating a high profit margin. The company owns intellectual property (IP) for the specific formula of the drug and indicates it has “established a subsidiary in Panama to handle manufacturing and production,” using the patented formula. By routing profits from the sale of the heart disease drug through the use of IP in a country known for low tax rates, the company is able to pay lower taxes through the subsidiary in the tax haven.

The word “manufacturing” is one of about 80 words the computer looks for to suggest operations that might be avoiding taxes. Others include “purchasing,” “importing,” “warehouses,” and “distributors.”

Although there is no sure way to detect all instances of tax avoidance, Mills says, close attention to word choices in an annual report can reveal several kinds of insights that numbers might not:

New metrics. A new set of measures in the study assesses not only whether a company has a subsidiary in a tax haven country, but whether it’s an active subsidiary. The new measures are three times as effective as existing ones for predicting that a company is avoiding taxes.

Undisclosed operations. Machine learning techniques can identify companies that may have tax haven operations but do not disclose them in annual reports.

Higher tax avoidance. Nondisclosers flagged by machine learning have lower effective tax rates than other companies.

“Using AI to analyze text data could be a powerful tool for both regulators and investors to detect corporate tax avoidance,” Mills says.

“That information could especially help regulators other than the IRS, who don’t have access to companies’ tax returns. It could guide them in looking at publicly available data to find companies that might be using abusive profit-shifting strategies in tax havens.”

More information:
Kelvin K. F. Law et al, Taxes and Haven Activities: Evidence from Linguistic Cues, The Accounting Review (2021). DOI: 10.2308/TAR-2020-0163

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Corporate investment could improve climate-tech innovation



wind farm
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Corporate investments in climate-tech start-ups are a growing but overlooked aspect of energy innovation. According to a new report from Morgan Edwards, a professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and her lead co-author at University of Maryland, these investments should be more fully considered as methods to advance climate technology. The report was published in Joule.

Start-up companies have the potential to rapidly commercialize innovation, but they don’t always have the resources to make such ventures successful. Corporations, on the other hand, tend to have the resources that start-ups lack, like access to global markets and supply chains, manufacturing facilities and experience across the energy system.

While corporations are often strategic investors motivated by profits, they can also be motivated to expand existing business models, gain innovation insights, and meet environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments. When well-resourced corporations invest in start-ups, they can have an outsized influence on which start-ups succeed and grow, therefore shaping climate technology trajectories.

“We will need a whole host of new technologies to transition to a net-zero or net-negative emissions economy. Many innovations are currently in development but not yet mature,” says Edwards, who holds a joint position in the Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at UW–Madison. “Finding the right mix of corporate, private, and public investments will be critical to getting these technologies to market quickly and encouraging new innovations.”

In 2021, corporate investments in climate technology totaled over $11 billion, flowing to more than 460 start-ups, representing a quarter of all public and private investment dollars. This number has grown considerably since the Paris Agreement began in 2016 but still leaves a sizeable gap for governments to step in and incentivize investment in climate-tech that aligns with long-term climate and societal goals.

Kavita Surana, lead co-author with Edwards and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland, says this gap needs to be a larger point of emphasis moving forward to make necessary advances in climate technology.

“Corporations and the choices they make investing in climate-tech start-ups are particularly important as they tend to focus on technologies closer to reaching widespread adoption compared to public or other private investors. However, their role in climate change innovation has been overlooked to this point in our efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change,” says Surana, who is also an associate faculty member at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna.

The paper’s team of researchers investigated a dataset of 6,996 climate-tech start-ups from North America, Europe, and Israel that were founded between 2005 and 2021. They also looked at 9,749 investors who participated in 33,698 investment deals.

Among the paper’s findings, the research team observed that corporate investors are most active in later investment stages when technologies are closer to market deployment.

They also found that corporate investment in climate-tech start-ups is highly concentrated, with a few large corporations like Shell, Alphabet, and Samsung playing an outsized role. Between 2016 and 2021, these large companies each invested in over 25 climate-tech start-ups. A handful of companies, including Amazon, Ford, and Alphabet, each invested over $1 billion.

Investments were also concentrated in certain technologies. For example, fuel cell and hydrogen technologies received a much higher percentage of corporate investment than other sectors like marine and hydropower, nuclear, and biomass generations. These sectors also receive little funding from other private sources, suggesting that public investment may be necessary to fill the gap.

The research team’s policy recommendations include:

  • Using data-driven insights on corporate climate-tech investments and their outcomes to anticipate technological change and identify policy and regulatory gaps for emerging sectors and industries.
  • Incentivizing investments that support long-term climate solutions over short-term workarounds. This could help policymakers target the technologies that reduce emissions most efficiently.
  • Identifying and filling in gaps in corporate and private investment in key technologies and infrastructure. Policymakers need a more complete picture on the full investment landscape to keep balanced the portfolio of technologies needed for decarbonization.
  • Mobilizing and rewarding additional corporate and private finance to support climate-tech start-ups. Designing new public-private models that mobilize capital from corporations through rewards or accountability nudges can help advance corporate efforts to invest in climate and energy innovation.

Edwards, Surana and their team see this paper as a first step in being able to understand the relationship between corporate investors and climate-tech start-ups and eventually inform policy that can ensure beneficial climate and societal outcomes.

More information:
Kavita Surana et al, The role of corporate investment in start-ups for climate-tech innovation, Joule (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2023.02.017

Journal information:

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Ford’s Tenn. plant could make 500K electric pickups a year



Ford's Tenn. plant could make 500K electric pickups per year
Ford CEO Jim Farley talks about a new Ford electric pickup truck factory that is currently under construction in rural Tennessee on Friday, March 24, 2023 in Stanton, Tenn. Credit: AP Photo/Adrian Sainz

Ford said Friday that its assembly plant under construction in western Tennessee will be able to build up to 500,000 electric pickup trucks a year at full output, part of the automaker’s drive to produce 2 million electric vehicles worldwide annually by late 2026.

The company made the announcement as it provided updates on the so-called BlueOval City project at an event attended by Ford executives, project leaders, politicians and residents who live near the sprawling Tennessee site.

The Dearborn, Michigan, automaker announced the project in September of 2021 that would build the truck plant and a battery factory on 3,600 acres (1,460-hectares) in rural Stanton, located in Haywood County northeast of Memphis. Known as the Memphis Regional Megasite, the land designated by the state for industrial development sat unused for years before Ford moved in.

Ford’s assembly plant, and the battery plant run by South Korean battery maker SK On, will employ about 6,000 people with an investment of roughly $5.6 billion, Ford said.

The joint venture will also construct twin battery plants in Glendale, Kentucky, with an estimated $5.8 billion investment. The projects are expected to create more than 10,800 jobs and shift the automaker’s future manufacturing footprint toward the South while putting an emphasis on green energy.

Construction on the Tennessee site began last year. Ford plans to start production by 2025, and that timetable remains in place, company officials said

Construction is about 50% complete, said Donna Langford, Ford’s project manager. Media members who joined a bus tour of the site in the rain Friday saw steel skeletons of the massive, partially built structures that will house the battery plant and the truck assembly factory. Once finished, the site will also include a Tennessee Valley Authority substation to help power the plants and a Tennessee College of Applied Technology, where workforce training will take place.

The automaker said its second-generation electric truck is “code named Project T3,” and Ford CEO Jim Farley touted the truck’s simplified design and high-quality technology.

Ford did not release images of the new truck during the event, but it did display colorful drawings made by Tennessee schoolchildren with suggestions for its design—including some trucks that would fly.

In a reference to the fast and tough Star Wars ship, Farley said the new truck “is going to be like the Millennium Falcon, with a back porch attached.”

Speaking with reporters, Farley acknowledged that the Tennessee truck factory would be the most environmentally friendly new plant Ford has ever built.

“Not even close,” said Farley, adding later that “this is a new industrial revolution about clean, carbon neutral manufacturing.”

Ford says the plant is designed to be its first carbon-neutral vehicle manufacturing campus. It will have a 30% smaller general assembly footprint than traditional plants by simplifying sub-assemblies and reducing the number of stations on the line, Farley said.

“We shrunk the plant because we have less people, we have less stations,” Farley said.

Ford also said it will use recovered energy from the site to provide carbon-free heat for the assembly plant and save water by reducing evaporation from the site’s cooling towers.

Before landing the Ford project, Tennessee had invested more than $174 million in the unused Memphis megasite. Tennessee lawmakers have committed to spending nearly $900 million on state incentives, infrastructure upgrades and more as part of a sweeping plan with Ford. The agreement included $500 million in capital grant funds.

The lease essentially grants the land to Ford through December 2051. The rent is $1 for the entire lease term.

Some of the rural West Tennessee counties surrounding the plant hope it will help boost their economies.

With an economy based largely on farming, Haywood County saw its population shrink by 4.9% to 17,864 people from 2010 to 2020, one of 14 counties to lose population as Tennessee grew as a whole by 8.9%, according to census data.

The factory is expected to bring both small and large businesses to the area, including hotels, restaurants, health care facilities and suppliers for the plant, among others. Real estate values also could increase.

Ford’s leaders have pledged to help the communities near the plant. The Ford Motor Company Fund announced Friday it has awarded 17 grants of $75,000 to $100,000 each to fire departments, arts and parks conservancy groups, a community center, local governments and other organizations in six counties.

The $1.2 million grant program received 200 applications, said Mary Culler, president of the Ford Motor Company Fund.

“Those are the kinds of grass-roots, capital projects that these towns and municipalities are looking for,” Culler said.

As it seeks to develop its workforce in Tennessee, Ford said it has begun a talent development program that will support STEM instruction in K-12 schools, bring advanced manufacturing education to schools, and expand certification, dual-enrollment and internship opportunities for students.

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Utah social media law is ambitious, but is it enforceable?



social media
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Utah’s sweeping social media legislation passed this week is an ambitious attempt to shield children and teens from the ill effects of social media and empower parents to decide whether their kids should be using apps like TikTok or Instagram.

What’s not clear is if—and how—the new rules can be enforced and whether they will create unintended consequences for kids and teens already coping with a mental health crisis. And while parental rights are a central theme of Utah’s new laws, experts point out that the rights of parents and the best interests of children are not always aligned.

For instance, allowing parents to read their kids’ private messages may be harmful to some children, and age verification requirements could give tech companies access to kids’ personal information, including biometric data, if they use tools such as facial recognition to check ages.

“Children may be put at increased risk if these laws are enforced in such a way that they’re not allowed to some privacy, if they are not allowed some ability for freedom of speech or autonomy,” said Kris Perry, executive director of the nonprofit Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development.

The laws, which will go into effect in a year, impose a digital curfew on people under 18, require minors to get parental consent to sign up for social media apps and force companies to verify the ages of all their Utah users. They also require tech companies to give parents access to their kids’ accounts and private messages, which has raised alarms for child advocates who say this could further harm children’s mental health by depriving them of their right to privacy. This is especially true for LGBTQ+ kids whose parents are not accepting of their identity.

The rules could drastically transform how people in this conservative state access social media and the internet, and if successful, serve as a model for other states to enact similar legislation. But even if the laws clear the inevitable lawsuits from tech giants, it’s not clear how Utah will be able to enforce them.

Take age verification, for instance. Various measures exist that can verify a person’s age online. Someone could upload a government ID, consent to the use facial recognition software to prove they are the age they say they are.

“Some of these verification measures are wonderful, but then also require the collection of sensitive data. And those can pose new risks, especially for marginalized youth,” Perry said. “And it also puts a new kind of burden on parents to monitor their children. These things seem simple and straightforward on their face, but in reality, there are new risks that may emerge in terms of that that collection of additional data on children.”

Just as teens have managed to obtain fake IDs to drink, they are also savvy at skirting online age regulations.

“In Southeast Asia they’ve been trying this for years, for decades, and kids always get around it,” said Gaia Bernstein, author of “Unwired,” a book on how to fight technology addiction.

The problem, she said, is that the Utah rules don’t require social networks to prevent kids from going online. Instead, they are making the parents responsible.

“I think that’s going to be the weak link in the whole thing, because kids drive their parents insane,” Bernstein said.

There is no precedent in the United States for such drastic regulation of social media, although several states have similar rules in the works.

On the federal level, companies are already prohibited from collecting data on children under 13 without parental consent under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. For this reason, social media platforms already ban kids under 13 from signing up to their sites—but children can easily skirt the rules, both with and without their parents’ consent.

Perry suggests that instead of age verification, there are steps tech companies could take to make their platforms less harmful, less addictive, across the board. For instance, Instagram and TikTok could slow down all users’ ability to mindlessly scroll on their platforms for hours on end.

The laws are the latest effort from Utah lawmakers focused on children and the information they can access online. Two years ago, Gov. Spencer Cox signed legislation that called on tech companies to automatically block porn on cell phones and tablets sold, citing the dangers it posed to children. Amid concerns about enforcement, lawmakers in the deeply religious state revised the bill to prevent it from taking effect unless five other states passed similar laws—which has not happened.

Still, child development experts are generally hopeful about the growing push to regulate social media and its effects on children.

“Children have specific developmental needs, and we want to protect them at the same time that we’re trying to push back on Big Tech,” Perry said. “It’s a two-part effort. You have to really put your arm around the kids while you’re pushing Big Tech away.”

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France bans TikTok, Twitter from government staff phones



France bans TikTok, Twitter from government staff phones
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew departs after testifying during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on the platform’s consumer privacy and data security practices and impact on children, Thursday, March 23, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Credit: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

France announced Friday it is banning the “recreational” use of TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and other apps on government employees’ phones because of concern about insufficient data security measures.

The move follows similar restrictions on TikTok in democratic countries amid fears about the popular video-sharing app’s Chinese connections. But the French decision also encompassed other platforms widely used by government officials, lawmakers and President Emmanuel Macron himself.

The French Minister for Transformation and Public Administration, Stanislas Guerini, said in a statement that ”recreational” apps aren’t secure enough to be used in state administrative services and ”could present a risk for the protection of data.”

The ban will be monitored by France’s cybersecurity agency. The statement did not specify which apps are banned but noted that the decision came after other governments took measures targeting TikTok.

Guerini’s office said in a message to The Associated Press that the ban also will include Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, gaming apps like Candy Crush and dating apps.

Exceptions will be allowed. If an official wants to use a banned app for professional purposes, like public communication, they can request permission to do so.

Case in point: Guerini posted the announcement of the ban on Twitter.

The U.S., Britain, the European Union and others have banned TikTok on government phones. Western governments worry Chinese authorities could force TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance Ltd., to hand over data on international users or push pro-Beijing narratives.

The company’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, pushed back on assertions that TikTok or ByteDance are tools of the Chinese government during questioning by U.S. lawmakers Thursday. The company has been reiterating that 60% of ByteDance is owned by global institutional investors.

A law China implemented in 2017 requires companies to give the government any personal data relevant to the country’s national security. There’s no evidence that TikTok has turned over such data, but fears abound due to the vast amount of user data it collects.

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Designing antennas for 6G V2X (Vehicle to Everything) communication



Designing antennas for 6G V2X (Vehicle to Everything) communication
Simplified architecture of intelligent transportation system (ITS) showing V2X Connectivity. Credit: Jogesh Chandra Dash and Debdeep Sarkar

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) are working on designing antennas that can empower 6G technology, which is instrumental in realizing efficient V2X (Vehicle to Everything) communications.

In a recent study, the team, led by Debdeep Sarkar, Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering, shows how self-interference in full-duplex communication antennas can be reduced, and consequently the movement of signals across the communication network can be faster and more bandwidth-efficient. Such full-duplex antennas are particularly helpful for applications that require almost instantaneous relay of commands, like driverless cars.

Full-duplex antennas consist of a transmitter and a receiver to send and receive radio signals. Traditional radio transceivers are half duplex, which means that they either use signals of different frequencies for sending and receiving or there is a time lag between the signal transmitted and the signal received.

This time lag is needed to ensure that there is no interference—the signals going back and forth should not cross paths with each other, similar to two people talking to each other at the same time, without pausing to listen to the other. But this also compromises the efficiency and speed of signal transfer.

In order to transmit data much faster and more efficiently, full-duplex systems are required, where both the transmitter and receiver can operate signals of the same frequency simultaneously. For such systems, eliminating self-interference is key. This is what Sarkar and his IoE-IISc postdoctoral fellow, Jogesh Chandra Dash, have been working on for the past few years.

“The broad objective of the research is that we want to eliminate the signal that is coming as self-interference,” says Sarkar. There are two ways to cancel self-interference—passive and active. Passive cancelation is done without any additional instrument, by just designing the circuit in a certain way (for example, increasing the distance between the two antennas).

Active cancelation relies on additional components like signal processing units to cancel out the self-interference. But the components needed for these steps can make the antenna bulky and expensive. What is needed, instead, is a compact, cost-efficient antenna which can be easily integrated into the rest of the circuitry of any device.

The antenna developed by Sarkar and Dash, by virtue of its design, relies on passive interference, allowing it to operate as a full-duplex system. It consists of two ports, either of which can act as transmitter or receiver.

The two ports are isolated from each other by electromagnetic tools called metallic vias. Metallic vias are holes drilled into the metal surface of the antenna which disrupt the electric field. In this way, the team managed to cancel out most of the interference passively, alongside achieving a cost-effective and compact design.

“We are eliminating all the conventional techniques for self-interference cancelation, and we are integrating a very simple structure that can be installed in a car,” says Dash.

In the immediate future, the team plans to optimize their device so that it can entirely remove passive interference, and reduce the overall size of the antenna. Then, it can easily be fixed onto a vehicle where it can transmit and receive data at very high speeds, bringing driverless operation as well as 6G mobile connectivity closer to reality.

The findings are published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II: Express Briefs.

More information:
Jogesh Chandra Dash et al, A Co-Linearly Polarized Shared Radiator Based Full-duplex Antenna with High Tx-Rx Isolation using Vias and Stub Resonator, IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II: Express Briefs (2023). DOI: 10.1109/TCSII.2023.3238710

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Malware ‘vaccine’ generator licensed for cybersecurity platform



ORNL malware 'vaccine' generator licensed for Evasive.ai platform
Jared Smith, former ORNL scientist and the inventor of the adversarial malware input generator, or AMIGO, shakes hands with Susan Hubbard, ORNL deputy for science and technology, during an event to celebrate the licensing of AMIGO to Smith’s company, Penguin Mustache, on March 21. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Access to artificial intelligence and machine learning is rapidly changing technology and product development, leading to more advanced, efficient and personalized applications by leveraging a massive amount of data.

However, the same abilities also are in the hands of bad actors, who use AI to create malware that evades detection by the algorithms widely employed by network security tools. Government agencies, banking institutions, critical infrastructure, and the world’s largest companies and their most used products are increasingly under threat from malware that can evade anti-virus systems, hijack networks, halt operations and expose sensitive and personal information.

A technology developed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and used by the U.S. Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, or NAVWAR, to test the capabilities of commercial security tools has been licensed to cybersecurity firm Penguin Mustache to create its Evasive.ai platform. The company was founded by the technology’s creator, former ORNL scientist Jared M. Smith, and his business partner, entrepreneur Brandon Bruce.

“One of ORNL’s core missions is to advance the science behind national security,” said Susan Hubbard, ORNL’s deputy for science and technology. “This technology is the result of our deep AI expertise applied to a big challenge—protecting the nation’s cyber- and economic security.”

Smith, who worked in ORNL’s Cyber Resilience and Intelligence Division for six years, created the technology—the adversarial malware input generator, or AMIGO—at the request of the Department of Defense. AMIGO was created as the evaluation tool for a challenge issued by NAVWAR for AI applications that autonomously detect and quarantine cybersecurity threats. NAVWAR is an operations unit within the Navy that focuses on secure communications and networks.

“ORNL’s Cyber Resilience and Intelligence Division is a world leader in cybersecurity technology,” said Moe Khaleel, associate laboratory director for the lab’s National Security Sciences Directorate. “Moving AMIGO into the marketplace will help protect our nation’s critical infrastructure from attack.”

“We put AMIGO to the test in a realistic environment. It’s been through the wringer and has been validated at a high technical readiness level,” Smith said. “The core technology is designed to build evasive malware, like a virus, that can bypass an existing detection technology.”

ORNL malware 'vaccine' generator licensed for Evasive.ai platform
Mike Paulus, ORNL director of technology transfer, speaks to attendees at an event celebrating the licensing of AMIGO to Penguin Mustache. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Drawing on more than 35 million malware samples—some publicly available and others never before seen—AMIGO generates optimally evasive malware in tandem with the training information needed for a security system to detect it in the future.

Smith likens the process to vaccine development. “It’s as if we generated a million virus variants and a million vaccines to protect against them—we can collapse that into one vaccine and inoculate everyone. They’re protected against the threat, but also all the natural evolutions of the threat going forward.”

Luke Koch, who in 2019 worked on the AMIGO development team through the DOE Office of Science’s SULI, or Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program, is now a doctoral student at the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education, a collaboration between ORNL and the University of Tennessee, as well as a graduate research assistant in ORNL’s Cybersecurity Research Group. With Smith’s direction, Koch wrote the binary instrumentation code used in AMIGO.

“Cybersecurity commercialization is important because our adversaries are always probing for weaknesses throughout the supply chain,” Koch said. “One single flaw is all it takes to invalidate a clever and expensive defense.”

Amid a growing public understanding of the power of AI, the team is eager to see AMIGO integrated into Evasive.ai and implemented by national security agencies to protect government assets and infrastructure.

“Bad actors are already using artificial intelligence to advance their attacks,” Bruce said. “As open AI tools improve, attempts to penetrate security systems will increase in volume and sophistication.”

Additionally, long-term use of the Evasive.ai platform could inform a more complete understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to adversarial samples. This insight will make the next generation of machine learning defenses more robust.

And what does any of this have to do with penguins? The company’s playful name is a riff on the problem of a small mutation enabling a virus to evade existing defenses—a penguin disguised with a mustache.

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