Friday December 2, 2022

The only source dedicated exclusively to the emerging technologies shaping the future of business and national security.

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Xi Jinping has intentionally packed the top ranks of the CCP with a new generation of leaders who have experience in aerospace, AI, and other strategically important areas as Beijing seeks to become a science and technology superpower that rivals the US.The number of people with backgrounds in strategically important technology areas among the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) elite has more than doubled.

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Officials with technical expertise occupy 81 seats, nearly 40% of the new Central Committee – the elite body that decides major national policies. That compares with less than 18% in the previous Central Committee. The increase comes as Washington takes steps to both contain China’s tech sector and boost US innovation. For most of its 73 years of power, the CCP has wrestled with the value of recruiting elites with technical knowledge opposed to political operators – the “red vs. expert” debate, as it’s known. Many of the new technocrats in the Central Committee come from engineering industries that Beijing has identified as strategic priorities including semiconductors, environmental science, and biotechnology. Aerospace experts lead with 20 seats, highlighting the importance Xi places on the industry’s role in Beijing’s civil-military fusion strategy and a source of national pride. Experts in science and technology are also being promoted in provincial governments, a sign that their influence will continue to grow. #CHN #USA #Geopolitics #AI #AER #SAT #CHP #BIO #GRN WSJ

An op-ed from the Atlantic Council highlights how Russian hackers travel overseas to conduct their operations and the untapped policy opportunities that presents. A Department of Justice indictment issued in 2018 called out Russian individuals associated with the GRU who traveled to the Hague with technical equipment to hack into the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and tamper with an investigation on the Russian assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England. The same unit identified in the indictment – GRU Unit 26165, also known as Fancy Bear – was already known for breaking into systems from afar including the US Democratic National Committee in 2016 and World Athletics in 2017. The indictment revealed that these actors travel with technical equipment all around the world to conduct onsite hacking operations and maintain persistent access to WiFi networks used by victim organizations and personnel. According to the DoJ, at least one of the actors associated with the group previously traveled to Brazil and Switzerland for onsite hacking operations. Other investigations revealed that these hackers traveled with HUMINT operators also from the GRU. The Atlantic Council op-ed argues that policymakers should use this information as a case study for how Russian government hackers – and theoretically other adversary nations – move their cyber assets around the world to conduct operations. Western governments should not restrict their hunt forward operations to the digital sphere and remember how Russian hacking fits into broader Russian intelligence activities, including overseas. #RUS #UKR #USA #Cybersecurity #Geopolitics Atlantic Council

The US is spending 5.6% of its defense budget to destroy nearly half of Russia’s conventional military capability, and some are saying that is a worthy investment. While the financial support the US is providing to Ukraine remains a hotly debated issue in American politics, the numbers appear cost effective. Altogether, the Biden administration received Congressional approval for $40B in aid for Ukraine for 2022 and has requested an additional $37.7B for 2022. More than half of this aid has been earmarked for defense. The overall US defense budget is much larger however, with $715B approved for 2022. The assistance represents 5.6% of total US defense spending. And seeing as Russia is a primary adversary for the US and top tier rival behind China, this war could provide a prime opportunity for the US to erode and degrade Russia’s conventional defense capability, with no boots on the ground and little risk to American lives. Ukraine has already killed or wounded more than 100k Russian troops – half of its original fighting force. There have been almost 8k confirmed losses of armored vehicles, thousands of APCs, artillery pieces, hundreds of fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and numerous naval assets. Dividing out the US defense budget to the threats it faces, Russia would perhaps cost $100B-$150B in spend-to-threat, otherwise. So spending $40B a year instead, provides a two-to-three time return on investment. #RUS #UKR #USA #Geopolitics CEPA

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South Korean and Chinese companies are amassing patents for metaverse hardware, with LG Electronics and Huawei climbing the ranks as the electronics sector looks beyond the smartphone. The global metaverse market is on track to reach ~$75B in 2026, a fivefold increase in five years, US market research company IDC projects for the virtual and augmented reality fields. According to Cyber Creative Institute, LG Electronics submitted the most metaverse patent applications and Samsung held its position in second. Meta was third, Huawei was fourth, Microsoft was fifth, Intel and Apple were among the six American companies in the top 10, and Sony was the sole Japanese company in sixth place. The top 20 companies submitted a combined 7,760 patents, with the US accounting for 57%, followed by South Korea at 19% and China at 12%. Japanese companies represented 8%. #DIG #Geopolitics #USA #JPN #CHN #KOR Nikkei Asia

TikTok’s chief executive said that amid downsizing at some competitors, TikTok was still hiring – though at a measured pace. Tiktok is in the middle of a three-year hiring push, having committed to adding about 3,000 engineers in worldwide locations including the US TikTok also is hiring at its major hub in Singapore, according to people familiar with its plans. TikTok’s owner, Beijing-based ByteDance, is also recruiting people in China to work on its TikTok platform. Tiktok lowered its target for this year’s advertising revenue to $10B from at least $12B. TikTok has surpassed Facebook and Meta-owned Instagram in popularity, especially among American teens. But TikTok still brings in a fraction of the revenue of Meta, which had $118B in sales in 2021. In 2020, TikTok said it would hire 10,000 U.S. workers, a move that came as it faced growing scrutiny in Washington over its Chinese roots and its access to information about the millions of Americans that use the app. #DIG #USA #CHN WSJ

On Monday, Intel introduced FakeCatcher, which it says is the first real-time detector of deepfakes. Intel claims the product has a 96% accuracy rate and works by analyzing the subtle “blood flow” in video pixels to return results in milliseconds. FakeCatcher is focused on clues within actual videos. It is based on photoplethysmography, or PPG, a method for measuring the amount of light that is absorbed or reflected by blood vessels in living tissue. When the heart pumps blood, it goes to the veins, which change color. Back in 2020, Forrester Research predicted that costs associated with deep fake scams would exceed $250M. The team researching it is developing many different detectors based on different authenticity clues, like gaze detection. The next step after that will be source detection, or finding the GAN model that is behind each deepfake. #DIG #USA VentureBeat

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties sent a letter to the European Commission saying Facebook parent Meta cannot comply with new EU data laws. The group said documents show “data anarchy” at Meta, which keeps the social media giant from being able to sufficiently monitor how data is used internally. The letter calls for the European Commission to order “structural remedies” on Meta, which could include efforts to break the company up. #DIG #Geopolitics #Cybersecurity #IRL #EU #USA Irish Times

Over the weekend, Twitter was flooded with spam and suggestive ads in what appears to be an attempt to help the Chinese government hide news about rioters protesting coronavirus restrictions in China. According to Mengyu Dong, Chinese bots are flooding Twitter with escort ads and some of these accounts have been dormant for years, only to become active yesterday after protests broke out in China. According to Alex Stamos, this appears to be the first major failure to stop a government interference campaign under Musk’s leadership. Musk – who relies on the favor of Chinese authorities to safeguard Tesla’s market and assets in China and appears to have courted that favor with government-appreciated remarks about Taiwan – attempted to make light of the pro-government influence operation through his acquisition of Twitter. #DIG #Geopolitics #USA #CHN #TWN The Register

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The European Union reached a political agreement on Thursday, November 17 to fund its next-generation satellite constellation with $2.5B between 2023 and 2027. Intended to be operational by the end of that period, the constellation of hundreds of satellites, called IRIS² (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnectivity, and Security by Satellite), will be used by both government and commercial customers.On November 17, The European Council stated that cyberattacks and natural disasters can lead to the breakdown of terrestrial communication networks – the constellation will provide for a better-connected critical infrastructure and high-speed and resilient independent satellite communication services.The EU also sees the investment as crucial given the current speed that “third-country mega-constellations” are taking up space in low-Earth orbit. #SAT The Record

Astronomers are calling a new satellite – that is brighter than most stars – a threat to their work and humanity’s view of the universe. The orbital object is AST SpaceMobile‘s Bluewalker 3, which was launched on September 10, but its 693-square-foot array of solar panels and antennas was just fully unfurled in November. The International Astronomical Union coordinated observations from around the planet, which found that the satellite is almost as bright as stars such as Antares and Spica, the 15th and 16th brightest in the night sky, respectively. It isn’t just Bluewalker 3 that concerns astronomers; it serves as a test model for a constellation of over 100 so-called Bluebirds the company aims to launch as part of its plan to build a network of satellites to provide 5G connectivity from orbit to Earth – “cell phone towers in space,” as the IAU describes them. Astronomers have been more concerned about the potential impacts from mega-constellations of thousands of satellites like SpaceX’s Starlink, but the IAU says AST SpaceMobile’s plans raise new issues because of the strong radio waves they will transmit that could interfere with astronomical observations. Philip Diamond, who directs the Square Kilometer Array Observatory in South Africa and Australia, worries that orbiting cell towers aren’t subject to the same “quiet zone” restrictions that protect radio astronomers from interference by terrestrial cellular networks. The IAU noted that it has begun conversations with AST SpaceMobile about potential mitigation measures. #SAT #5G #USA CNet


A report by Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) provides a first look at demand for AI talent in China. It finds that of a sample of 6.8M job postings across four popular Chinese job boards, over 30% could be counted as part of the AI workforce. Of these, 14%, or 955k, could be counted as technical talent. To account for differences across types of technical jobs, CSET split job postings for technical talent into two groups. Technical Team 1 consists of computer and mathematical occupations that could be working in AI design, development, and deployment. Technical Team 2 consists of engineering, science, and other technical occupations that have the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities to work in AI, but likely would first need some minor retraining or upskilling. CSET finds that most postings for Technical Team 1 positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, similar to those in the US. This suggests that a four-year college degree acts as a gatekeeper to many of these positions, also similar to those in the US. Across all AI workforce categories, CSET finds an overwhelming majority of identified Chinese AI job postings are junior or entry-level. Separately, there is evidence of geographic concentration for both Technical Team 1 and Technical Team 2 job locations. About 60% of all job postings for these teams were concentrated in Guangdong Province, Jiangsu Province, and Shanghai Municipality, with half of these (30%) in Guangdong Province. This is likely because these regions are important economically, containing many renowned AI companies and universities. Guangdong Province also has the largest population in China, likely a large factor in its dominant representation. For the US to maintain a competitive edge in AI talent attraction and retention, CSET’s analysis underscores the need for understanding the state of China’s AI workforce. Investing in more data on China’s AI workforce could assist the US in its own national AI strategic planning, particularly in developing targeted US national security, education, and workforce policies. #AI #USA #CHN CSET

NVIDIA’s generalist AI agent, dubbed MineDojo, can perform actions from written prompts in the game Minecraft. To train the MineDojo framework to play Minecraft, researchers fed it 730k Minecraft YouTube videos (with more than 2.2B words transcribed), 7k web pages from the Minecraft wiki, 340k Reddit posts, and 6.6M Reddit comments describing Minecraft gameplay. From this data, the researchers created a custom transformer model called MineCLIP that associates video clips with specific in-game Minecraft activities. As a result, someone can tell a MineDojo agent what to do in the game using high-level natural language, such as “find a desert pyramid” or “build a nether portal and enter it,” and MineDojo will execute the series of steps necessary to make it happen in the game. According to NVIDIA, researchers have trained autonomous AI agents in video-game environments such as StarCraft, Dota, and Go, but these agents usually specialize in only a few tasks. By turning to Minecraft, the world’s most popular game, Nvidia sought to develop a scalable training framework for a generalist agent that can successfully execute a wide variety of open-ended tasks.

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#AI #USA Ars Technica

Copilot – a new AI technology that can generate its own computer code – is the subject of a lawsuit against Microsoft and the other high-profile companies that designed and deployed the tool. Like many cutting-edge AI technologies, Copilot developed its skills by analyzing vast amounts of data. In this case, it relied on billions of lines of computer code posted to the internet. But some technical experts equate this process to piracy because the system does not acknowledge its debt to existing work. One programmer’s lawsuit claims that Microsoft and its collaborators violated the legal rights of millions of programmers who spent years writing the original code. After Microsoft and GitHub released Copilot, GitHub’s chief executive, Nat Friedman, tweeted that using existing code to train the system was a “fair use” of the material under copyright law, an argument often used by companies and researchers who build these systems. But no court case has yet tested this argument. Under existing laws, most experts believe training an AI system on copyrighted material is not necessarily illegal unless the system ends up creating material that is substantially similar to the data it was trained on. Some users of Copilot have said it generates code that seems identical – or nearly identical – to existing programs, an observation that could become a central part of the case. #AI #USA NY Times

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The United States has banned the import or sale of Chinese telecoms and video surveillance products from Chinese suppliers Huawei, ZTE, Hytera Communications, Hikvision, and Dahua. The ban also allows the five Chinese companies to continue selling equipment that has already been authorized for sale in the US. However, the FCC is seeking further comment on revisions to the rules and procedures allowing this. When it comes to Hytera, Hikvision, and Dahua, the ban technically only applies to equipment designed ‘for the purpose of public safety, security of government facilities, physical security surveillance of critical infrastructure, and other national security purposes’, potentially allowing a loophole for equipment supplied to small businesses or consumers. FCC Chair, Jessica Rosenwood said these three companies will be required to document the safeguard they will put in place on marketing or sale for these purposes. And the FCC is putting a freeze in place on all of their telecommunications and video surveillance equipment authorizations until that work is done. The FCC announcement comes just days after a move by the UK government to restrict the use of Chinese-made surveillance equipment. #5G #SCRM #Cybersecurity #Geopolitics #USA #CHN Forbes

A new federal broadband map published Friday shows roughly 2% of American residential addresses lack access to broadband internet service. Rough data from the system Friday showed nearly 98% of US home addresses could access fixed internet service over the 25 megabit-per-second download speed threshold federal officials consider adequate for broadband. That coverage figure counted service from satellite-internet providers like ViaSat, EchoStar’ Hughes and SpaceX’s Starlink as well as cable and fiber-optic companies. The information will inform a wave of federal broadband programs, including $42.5B in grants included in the 2021 infrastructure law. According to Jim Stegeman, the draft map has an estimated error rate of 1% to 2%. New York, in October, stated it would challenge the federal data on 31,000 locations based on conflicts with broadband maps that the state had already drawn. The new map is the result of a $45M contract the commission awarded CostQuest last year. Limits on the FCC’s rights to share the data prompted the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, another federal agency, to announce a separate $50M contract to access CostQuest’s location data set and cost models, meaning the federal government would be paying the company twice. #5G #SAT #SCRM #USA WSJ

JMA Wireless recently announced that it will deploy its cloud-native 5G XRAN solution on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) Anywhere. Together, the combination of the two services will provide enterprises, carriers, universities, and government agencies to simplify the process of building, managing, and operating private 5G networks. This allows joint customers more flexibility to choose what hardware they use to run XRAN, so they can take advantage of existing infrastructure investments or run across hardware from multiple vendors, while maintaining consistent Kubernetes operational tooling across AWS and on premises.” #5G #DIG #USA PR Newswire

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On November 30, European Central Bank officials claimed that Bitcoin is “rarely used for legal transactions,” and that its recent decline in value indicates that it is on the “road to irrelevance.” Regulators have historically refrained from lending legitimacy to the cryptocurrency industry. The central bankers argue that bitcoin’s conceptual design and “technological shortcomings” make it “questionable” as a means of payment. “Real bitcoin transactions are cumbersome, slow, and expensive. Bitcoin has never been used to any significant extent for legal real world transactions,” they wrote. They argued that bitcoin does not generate cash flow like real estate or dividends like equities; it cannot be used productively like commodities or provide social benefits like gold. The market value of bitcoin is therefore based purely on speculation, they wrote. Tech savvy enthusiasts, however, found holes in the officials’ argument, and lack of data, saying the current regulation of cryptocurrencies is shaped by misconceptions. One also pointed to a Chainalysis report which concluded that only 0.15% of crypto transactions were linked to criminal activities, compared to 5% for the traditional currency. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, HSBC, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Bangkok Bank, and Development Bank of Wales are among the banks that have backed one or more crypto firms. #FIN #EUR #Geopolitics TechCrunch

FTX’s collapse has three implications for North Korea’s ability to exploit weaknesses in the virtual asset ecosystem. North Korea has struggled to acquire the hard currency needed to fund its weapons programs and trade deficit. The regime has increasingly turned to the crypto theft to fund itself. According to Chainalysis, North Korea stole around $300M in virtual assets in 2020 and nearly $400M in 2021. So far this year, Chainalysis estimates that North Korea has stolen $1B in cryptocurrency. On the surface, FTX’s collapse would not seem to have much relation to North Korea’s crypto activities, but because of the regime’s heavy reliance on cryptocurrency it has three major implications: 1) FTX’s crash reduced the value of North Korea’s holdings 2) Firms will seek to improve their systems 3) Regulatory bodies will exercise greater scrutiny. All of these changes will likely take time and the vulnerabilities in open source software could be a permanent feature of the industry, but the scale of the FTX collapse will likely result in the types of corporate and regulatory changes that will make crypto less useful for North Korea. #FIN #DPRK #SCRM #Geopolitics The Diplomat


Three Chinese astronauts arrived on Wednesday at China’s space station for the first in-orbit crew rotation in Chinese space history. The operation marks the second inhabited outpost in low-Earth orbit after the NASA-led International Space Station. The spacecraft Shenzhou-15 (or “Divine Vessel”) was the last of eleven missions, including three previously crewed missions, needed to assemble the “Celestial Palace” as the multi-module station is known in Chinese. The first mission was launched in April 2021. The space station was also an emblem of China’s growing clout and confidence in its space endeavors and a challenger to the United States in the domain, after being isolated from the NASA-led ISS and banned by U.S. law from any collaboration, direct or indirect, with the American space agency. The mission offered the nation a rare moment to celebrate, at a time of widespread unhappiness over China’s zero-Covid policies, while its economy cools amid uncertainties at home and abroad. The astronauts will live and work on the space outpost for six months. During the space station’s operation over the next decade, China is expected to launch two crewed missions to the orbiting outpost each year. Resident astronauts are expected to conduct more than 1,000 scientific experiments – from studying how plants adapt in space to how fluids behave in microgravity. #AER #BIO #CHN #USA #Geopolitics Reuters

India tested its first privately developed rocket on Friday, November 18 with a successful suborbital launch, marking a step forward in the country’s push to develop a commercial space industry. The Vikram-S rocket, developed by the startup Skyroot Aerospace, launched from the Sriharikota spaceport and reached an altitude of 55.6 miles with all of its systems working as planned. Space experts said the launch was a crucial step forward for the country’s space industry, which has been dominated for decades by India’s national agency, the Indian Space Research Organization. The Vikram-S tested technologies that Skyroot plans to use next year in launching an orbital vehicle called Vikram-1, including carbon composite parts and 3D-printed engines, according to the company. India has been lagging behind other major countries in developing its space industry because private companies for years weren’t given opportunities to research, develop, or test their own equipment. Now, Indian startups are expected to start competing with space companies in Europe and the US. #AER #MFG #IND #USA WSJ

NASA awarded the Texas-based company ICON $57.2M for its Project Olympus, which is working to develop technology that will allow humanity to build outposts on the moon and Mars using locally available dirt and rock. ICON is a pioneer in the use of advanced construction technologies. The company built the first-ever fully permitted 3D-printed home in the US in 2018 and has since delivered entire communities of such houses in the US and in Mexico. The company launched Project Olympus in 2020, reasoning that its tech could help build critical infrastructure like landing pads, roads, and habitats on the moon and Mars. ICON has already produced a simulated 3D-printed Red Planet habitat called Mars Dune Alpha, which NASA will use to train astronauts for long-duration missions. ICON plans to use the money to learn how lunar soil, or regolith, behaves in lunar gravity using simulated samples and real ones brought back by the Apollo missions, according to company representatives. The company will also test its hardware and software on a space mission that simulates lunar gravity.

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In a medical breakthrough, lecanemab, an experimental drug that removes a substance called amyloid from the brain, appears to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Lecanemab is an antibody, similar to those produced by the body to combat viruses or bacteria, that has been engineered to instruct the immune system to clear amyloid from the brain. Amyloid is a protein that forms distinctive plaques in the spaces between neurons in the brain and is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The large-scale study included 1,795 volunteers with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Lecanemab infusions were given every two weeks. Researchers reported the results of this study at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease meeting in San Francisco, in which lecanemab reduced the rate of cognitive decline by 27% in the volunteers. Infusions of lecanemab in patients resulted in a half-point improvement on a zero-to-18-point scale of mental functioning, a small but statistically significant difference. However, ~20% of volunteers who got lecanemab in the study experienced an adverse event, such as swelling or bleeding in the brain. They also reported symptoms including headaches, visual disturbances, and confusion. The treatment has also been linked to two deaths. The data is now being evaluated by US regulators, who will soon decide whether lecanemab should be approved for wider use. The companies that developed lecanemab, Eisai and Biogen, intend to begin the approval process in other countries early next year. #BIO #USA #SGP #GBR #CAN #DEU #JPN #FRA NPR BBC

Bionaut Labs has received ~$43M in new VC funding to aid in the development of its tiny robots into machines capable of moving through the human body and delivering drugs where other therapies and surgeons cannot. An external magnetic field is used to guide the remote-controlled, micro-scale devices through blood vessels and tissues. When they reach their destination, such as a deep and difficult brain tumor, they can release a variety of therapeutic payloads, including injectable drugs and chemotherapies that were previously rejected by the blood-brain barrier. #BIO #MFG #USA Fierce Biotech

An Oregon couple welcomed twins from embryos frozen 30 years ago — possibly the longest frozen embryos to result in a live birth, according to experts. On April 22, 1992, they were stored in liquid nitrogen at around -196 ℃ (-323 ℉). “The decision… to adopt these embryos should reassure patients who wonder if anyone will adopt the embryos that they created 5, 10, 20 years ago,” according to Dr. John David Gordon, who performed the embryo transfer. #BIO #USA CNN NBC News BBC

Deep learning AI could predict heart disease death from a chest X-ray 10 years in advance, according to a new study. The researchers trained the AI to look for signs that a major adverse cardiovascular event could occur within a decade by examining ~150k chest X-rays from more than 40,000 patients in order to develop the deep learning model. They tested the program on a separate group of ~11,000 people and discovered a “significant association” between the AI-predicted risk level and the actual occurrence of a major cardiovascular disease event. According to the researchers, there was a “significant association” between the patients identified by the AI as being at risk for future adverse events and the 9.6% who experienced those events within 10 years of the X-ray being taken. The AI findings were also compared to the results of the traditional scoring method for ~2,400 patients who had both a chest X-ray and all necessary medical data on file. In that comparison, the deep learning model produced largely similar results to the ACC calculator, and its results were also discovered to be “additive” to the standard method, because it relies only on a single variable that may already be stored in a patient’s electronic health record. #BIO #AI #DIG #USA Fierce Biotech CNN

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According to an op/ed by former Attorney General William Barr, the Inflation Reduction Act’s EV and domestic-production provisions will help the US respond to the Made in China 2025 threat. Before the law passed, EVs made in China or containing Chinese batteries were eligible for US tax credits. Now, those vehicles must be made in North America and with high levels of North American content to receive a credit. Eventually, vehicles with a Chinese battery or critical mineral content will be disqualified entirely. This will push automakers and suppliers, including those in allied countries, to produce in North America instead of Asia or Europe and remove China’s stranglehold over the battery supply chain. According to Barr, Republicans can help usher in this new reality by exerting pressure on the Biden administration to streamline and accelerate the permitting process for mines and battery plants, and to eliminate any loopholes that would deliver tax credits for Chinese batteries. Barr indicated that implementing these provisions is a critical first step, but more will need to be done to shore up American competitiveness globally. As China advances in autonomous-vehicle development and production, US companies continue to be hamstrung by antiquated rules that prevent large-scale deployment—even when the safety and consumer benefits of autonomous vehicles are clear. At the same time, the enormous concentration of power in the hands of a few US tech companies threatens to stifle innovation. #GRN #AUT #Geopolitics #USA #CHN WSJ

A project led by Rolls Royce and easyJet has successfully tested a modern-day jet engine that runs solely on hydrogen. The prototype for the experiment, which was conducted at a test facility at the Ministry of Defense Boscombe Down, U.K., was a commonly-used Rolls-Royce AE-2100A regional aircraft engine. The turbine was supplied with ‘green’ hydrogen, which was made by splitting water into its constituent components at European Marine Energy Centre in the Orkney Islands, U.K. The experiment gains prominence as the size of batteries required to propel a civilian airplane has, for the time being, sidelined the option of electric-powered vehicles in aviation. Yet there are many challenges to practical implementation as the fuel needs to be stored at ultra-low temperatures (-391F) and turned back into gaseous form for ignition. Liquid hydrogen fuel is also estimated to take up nearly four times the volume when compared to traditional aviation fuels; airline firms would need to completely rehaul the structure of the airplanes to fulfill these requirements. Both Rolls Royce and easyJet plan to continue the partnership to complete more rig tests leading up to a full-scale ground test of a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 jet engine. #GRN #AER #GBR Interesting Engineering


A group of engineers from across the globe have designed a team of flying robots with the ability to create structures while hovering in the air. These drones open up the possibility for construction projects that would otherwise be out of reach, according to research published in Nature. Inspired by insects like bees and wasps that utilize collective construction techniques, the research team employed a first-of-its-kind swarm of 3-D-printing drones that navigate on their own and deposit construction materials. 3-D printing is already used to enhance the efficiency and safety of some construction projects, according to the research. However, the large size of current 3-D printing technology as well as the fact that this equipment is typically connected to a stationary power supply limits these machines’ ability to build in hostile environments that may be difficult to access. To bypass these limitations, the proposed technology uses two types of aerial drones that work together. The “BuilDrone” utilizes a depositing nozzle to unload physical building materials and the “ScanDrone” observes and analyzes its counterpart’s depositing operations. Within the study, researchers illustrated proof of concept through the drones’ ability to work together to construct cylinders made from insulation foam and cement-like materials. #MFG Smithsonian

According to the Global Times, China has adapted 3D printing to make it ideal for its warplanes. These new and advanced 3D printing techniques are now enabling the production of new planes with high structural strength, long service life, low cost of production, and fast manufacturing. Conventional manufacturing methods have many drawbacks including the need to use rivets or welding to connect parts. Since 3D printing builds an integrated part, the resulting structure benefits from greater strength and longer service life. In addition, no extra materials are wasted in the 3D printing process. This makes for lighter parts which reduce an airplane’s overall weight, allowing it to fly further and perform better. 3D printing is also very speedy, allowing parts to be manufactured quickly and making logistics support simpler and more affordable. The technology has also become extremely popular in aircraft manufacturing outside China. In September 2022, Hermes announced that its 3,800 mph hypersonic airplanes would get 3D-printed bodies. The company, which previously worked with NASA and the US Air Force, revealed it had obtained the Sapphire and large-format Sapphire XC printers of Velo3D, an end-to-end metal additive manufacturing solution. #MFG #AER #USA #CHN Interesting Engineering

Amazon is working to automate more of its warehousing operations by giving some of the most physically challenging and repetitive tasks to robots. Warehouse workers pick items up, sort them, and put them down millions of times a day. But Amazon is trying to get Sparrow – a robotic device with suction cups powered by AI – to pick up a variety of objects as easily as humans can, as well as identify them by characteristics such as color, shape, and size. Amazon has been criticized for the tough requirements it imposes on workers in the name of efficiency – warehouse workers are at risk of developing repetitive-stress injuries and musculoskeletal disorders. In response, the company has rolled out safety programs and work schedules designed to reduce those injuries. According to the company, Sparrow is meant to be the next step in the safety process. Sparrow can handle millions of items that represent about 65% of Amazon’s total inventory. Amazon intends to use it initially to group items in each order just before they are packaged. If this works, the company will likely employ the device for broader applications. Separately, this month, Amazon exhibited new technologies at its robotics manufacturing facility in Westborough, Mass., including robots that can tote heavy carts through warehouses and delivery drones that can fly through weather conditions such as light rain. #MFG #USA WSJ

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Hundreds of Chinese-manufactured drones have been detected in restricted airspace over Washington, DC in recent months, posing a new foreign espionage threat. The recreational drones made by Chinese company DJI, which are designed with “geofencing” restrictions to keep them out of sensitive locations, are being manipulated by users with simple workarounds to fly over restricted zones around the nation’s capital. Federal officials and drone industry experts have delivered classified briefings to the Senate Homeland Security, Commerce, and Intelligence committees on the development, according to three people privy to the meetings. The officials say they do not believe the swarms are directed by the Chinese government. Yet the violations by users mark a new turn in the proliferation of relatively cheap but increasingly sophisticated drones that can be used for recreation and commerce. They also come as Congress debates extending current federal authorities and adopting new ones to track the aerial vehicles as potential security threats. It’s unclear how Congress is likely to respond to the threat. And while officials believe Beijing is not overseeing the swarms, DJI has secured funding from investment entities owned by the Chinese government — a fact that DJI reportedly sought to conceal. The ease with which recreational users can evade the flight restrictions means that their high-definition cameras or other sensors could also be hacked into for intelligence-gathering. #AUT #Cybersecurity #Geopolitics #USA #CHN Politico

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The global semiconductor market is expected to shrink 4% in 2023 to $557B, marking the first annual decline since 2019, heralding a wider economic slowdown, according to analysts. According to World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS), the memory market, which accounts for more than 20% of the total semiconductor market, is expected to fall 17%. While chipmakers’ output has increased in response to a supply shortage, consumer demand for devices such as smartphones and computers appears to be declining. Adding to the downward pressure, tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon are reducing investment in data centers as their earnings begin to dwindle. According to TrendForce, global server shipment growth will slow to 2.8% in 2023, down from 5.1% this year. The demand for automotive and industrial semiconductors remains high. According to WSTS, growth will be seen in Japan, the United States, and Europe in 2023. However, the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, including China, is expected to decline by 7.5%. #CHP #SCRM #JPN #USA #EUR #CHN Nikkei Asia

As Beijing braces for additional US sanctions, China has enlisted the assistance of various tech giants in its efforts to design semiconductor chips. To develop new chip intellectual property, the Chinese government has formed a consortium of companies and research institutes, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Beijing is aiming to reduce its reliance on SoftBank-owned Arm, whose technology underpins the vast majority of semiconductors worldwide. As Washington has increased pressure on China’s tech sector by limiting access to cutting-edge chip components and machinery, Beijing’s interest in Risc-V has grown. Risc-V is an open-source chip design architecture developed by the University of California, Berkeley in 2010, has emerged as a competitor to Arm. According to one Chinese official, the government-led effort to pool resources on Risc-V-based chip design will put China on the “right track.” The official also stated that the fragmented nature of Risc-V development — hundreds of different companies use its open-source software architecture — was slowing the replacement of Arm’s designs. The Beijing Open Source Chip Research Institute, a government-backed consortium, has developed “Xiangshan,” a high-performance Risc-V computer-processing chip aimed at matching Arm’s IP and boosting the development of a Chinese chip design market. Chinese tech giants Alibaba and ByteDance have already formed teams to develop high-performance chips that power AI algorithms and data centers using the Risc-V architecture. According to Semico Research, by 2024, more than 62B Risc-V chips will have been supplied. Risc-V only accounted for $80M of the total $2.2B IP market for computer processing unit cores in 2020. However, Semico expects this to grow to $687M by 2027, increasing its global market share from 1% to 16%.

Mm 4 Risc V Market Share Forecast 1
#CHP #DIG #AI #SCRM #Geopolitics #CHN #USA Financial Times

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In the last two years, the number of Chinese quantum patent applications has increased nearly six times, according to a new report. The number of Chinese companies submitting these applications increased from 137 in September 2020 to 804 by October 2022. This is a significant increase that corresponds to the increased interest and awareness in quantum, but China remains far behind many other countries in terms of quantum IP creation. In fact, the paper claims that IBM filed 1,323 patent applications for quantum devices, more than China. With 762 and 502 quantum applications, respectively, Google and D-Wave came close to matching the country’s output. However, the number of Chinese companies developing quantum-related patents has increased significantly. Tencent has generated 93 patent applications for quantum, up from only two in 2020. Origin Quantum, a quantum computing company founded in 2017 in the Hefei National high-tech Industry, has applied for 234 patents. In terms of quantum patents, it ranks first in China and sixth worldwide. Other Chinese companies in the top 100 include tech giants Baidu, Huawei, and Alibaba. #QNT #CHN #USA #CAN The Quantum Insider


Tim Draper, a venture capitalist known for his early bets in Tesla and SpaceX, spoke in Taiwan about his decision to stop investing in China while President Biden met with China’s Xi Jinping. In the interview, Mr. Draper criticized Xi Jinping, saying the country is going backward after more than four decades of former leader Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening up” policy. An early investor in Baidu – China’s equivalent of Google – Mr. Draper said he pulled out completely and froze investment in the country around 2014 after a startup he had invested in was fined by regulators. It was a sign, he said, of the government’s increasing interference in the market. In the years since, Mr. Xi has launched a sweeping campaign to corral the ambitions of China’s most successful internet companies and reassert state control over the economy. The American investor spoke as President Biden was conducting his first face-to-face meeting with Xi as heads of state, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali. Tensions between Washington and Beijing have been running high, especially after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August, prompting China’s military to briefly encircle the self-ruled island with a flurry of jet fighters, warships, and missiles. #Geopolitics #USA #CHN #TWN WSJ

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An international police operation has dismantled an online spoofing service that allowed cybercriminals to impersonate trusted corporations to steal more than $120M from victims. iSpoof offered “spoofing” services that enabled paying users to mask their phone numbers with one belonging to a trusted organization, such as banks and tax offices, to carry out social engineering attacks. iSpoof had around 59,000 users, which caused $58M of losses to 200,000 identified victims in the UK, according to the Met Police. One victim was scammed out of $3.6M, while the average amount stolen was $12,000. Europol says the service’s operators raked in estimated profits of $3.8M in the last 16 months alone. The Metropolitan Police said it also used Bitcoin payment records found on the site’s server to identify and arrest a further 100 UK-based users of the iSpoof service. #Cybersecurity #USA #EU TechCrunch

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Amazon is adding a supply-chain management service to its web services business. Amazon’s launch of its cloud application, AWS Supply Chain, adds Amazon to a growing list of software suppliers, such as Manhattan Associates and Blue Yonder, that help merchants juggle increasingly complex cargo flows and inventory demands. Microsoft launched its own supply-chain management software platform last month. Many companies are pressing for greater efficiency and visibility of their goods flows after being caught unprepared during the pandemic by disruptions such as factory shutdowns in Asia and US port congestion. These challenges added months to import delivery times and led to empty shelves and lost sales heading into the 2021 holiday season. Amazon has a ready audience for its software with a collection of small- and medium-size businesses in its third-party marketplace. It says its application gives companies better visibility into their supply chains and that it uses machine learning to help manage inventory levels and better forecast demand. #SCRM #USA WSJ TechCrunch

Hundreds of thousands of rail workers are set for a nationwide strike that would paralyze the US supply chain and passenger rail service ahead of the busy holiday season. President Joe Biden asked Congress to pass a law that imposes the terms of a tentative agreement reached in September but was rejected by several unions. The fate of a potential deal between rail workers and companies remains uncertain, especially if Congress fails to impose the tentative agreement. Four of the 12 unions have already voted down the agreement and those four unions represent the majority of unionized rail workers. A nationwide strike is expected unless the contract is ratified by each of the 12 rail unions since all of the unions have vowed not to cross the picket line in the event of a work stoppage. Unions have said rail employees are seeking improvements to working conditions since workers do not receive paid sick days. #SCRM #USA ABC News

Apple is caught in the crosshairs of covid restrictions and subsequent protests in China. The tech giant is slated to lose millions of iPhones due to production stoppages as a result of Covid lockdowns affecting a China plant. Much of the damage will depend on how quickly Foxconn Technology Group – the Taiwanese company that operates the facility – can get people back to assembly lines after the protests subside. If lockdowns continue in the weeks ahead, however, production could be set back even further. The Foxconn facility produces the vast majority of iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max devices, Apple’s most in-demand handsets this year. Apple’s shares fell 2.6% in New York on Monday, marking the biggest one day drop in more than two weeks. They have declined 19% this year. To add to Apple’s China woes, the tech giant is facing international media scrutiny for a China-only software update it pushed just before the protests. The update limited the airdrop feature on iPhones in China – a feature that has traditionally been widely used to help protestors in places like Hong Kong circumvent authoritarian censorship. Apple has a history of adapting its products and services to conform with China’s strict controls. And the country accounts for a growing portion of Apple’s consumer market with iPhones accounting for 16% of the total smartphone shipments in China last quarter, up from 11% a year ago. #USA #CHN #TWN #SCRM #Geopolitics Bloomberg CNBC

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