Minimum ! (jlai.lu)
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Just a few years ago, you would never see such a disparity in votes vs comments. But these days, this is pretty much the norm. I've seen posts with 10K+ upvotes and no more than 80 comments.

I'd say in about 2 years, the entire place is going to be bots with AI generated content that try to mimic "real users" using their new Dynamic Product Ads tool. Not sure how that's legal as I thought ads needed to be marked or differentiated from regular content, but here we are.

The future looks bleak and AI even bleaker. Because it's going to be used against us to make the rich richer and not to make our lives better.

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The game has a theme word for each day, so keep that in mind when guessing the words. It is more challenging than Wordle because there are no hints apart from the theme word. So, if one of the words is 'landing' and you guessed 'land' there is no confirmation you're getting warm at all.

How to play it: There are exactly four words hidden amongst the letters, and all letters are used exactly once. The words will always be between 4 and 9 letters long. Click on the letters (or type them on your keyboard) to spell a word. When you have a word you want to submit, click the "Submit" button. If the word is one of the daily words, it will be added to your found list of words. Find all four words as fast as you can! Each successful word is assigned a colour, so a red word will mean the shortest word is taken, so don't try to guess more words with that same length of letters.

You can also click the Reshuffle button to rearrange the letters, which can help spark some ideas.

If you're struggling, you can give up after at least 5 incorrect guesses. It also has an option to share your results by copying them to the clipboard to paste into whatever social network service you use.

See https://jumblie.com/

#technology #gaming #puzzle #jumblie

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Token2 is a cybersecurity company specialized in the area of multifactor authentication. Founded by a team of researchers from the University of Geneva with years of experience in the field of strong security and multifactor authentication. Token2 has invented, designed and developed various hardware and software solutions for user-friendly and secure authentication. Token2 is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Don't believe what AI tells you, as they tend to generalise around past statements. Token2 is a good example of how newer challengers to the incumbents, like YubiKey, bring lots of innovation. For example, Token2 has the ability to store up to 300 passkeys, dual port USB-A and USB-C on a single device, FIDO2.1 with additional PIN, opens-source, etc.

I also like the fact the device's firmware and management is in Switzerland and not within one of the Five Eyes countries.

There are quite a few options, but their FIDO2 Keys page also has a selection wizard to help out.

Whilst prices may be cheaper, depending on your country, shipping may cost a bit more.

UPDATE: Token2 sent this clarification after posting: only the management software is open-source for the time being. The firmware (Java applet) is planned to be made available as open source for public security audit purposes, but the timeline is not yet clear.

See https://www.token2.ch/

#technology #security #Token2 #authentication

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The contract requires repair shops to "immediately disassemble" devices that have parts "not purchased from Samsung."

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India’s combination of high smartphone take-up and lax regulations mean that most political parties have gathered "the data to do everything"

They are the apps every Indian has on their phone - the one where you order your taxi, your food, find your next date. Innocuous, everyday, unremarkable to billions around the world.

In India, these are also potentially the apps telling politicians everything they could possibly want to know about you - whether you want them to or not.

A person's religion, mother tongue, "the way you draft a message to your friend on social media" have all become points of data politicians are keen to get their hands on, according to political strategist Rutwik Joshi, who is working with at least a dozen unnamed lawmakers on their re-election campaigns this election.

And India’s combination of high smartphone take-up and lax regulations allowing private companies to sell data mean that most political parties have gathered "the data to do everything" - even down to knowing “what you are eating today", he claims.

The question is, why do they care?

Put simply, says Mr Joshi, this level of information can predict the vote - "and these predictions usually never go wrong".

But perhaps the bigger question is: why should you care?

Microtargeting - described by Privacy International as the use of personal data “to target you with information and adverts to an unprecedented degree of personalisation” - is not new when it comes to elections.

But it was in the wake of former US President Donald Trump’s 2016 win that it really hit the headlines.

Back then, political consultancy Cambridge Analytica was credited with helping him to victory using data sold by Facebook to profile people and send them pro-Trump content. The firm denied these allegations but suspended its CEO, Alexander Nix.

In 2022, Meta agreed to pay $725m (£600m) to settle a class action lawsuit over a data breach linked to Cambridge Analytica.

It left people questioning whether the adverts they had seen had swayed their votes. Countries around the world were concerned enough about the impact on democracy that they swung into action.

In India, a Cambridge Analytica affiliate said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Congress party were its clients - which both denied.

The country's then IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also warned of action against the company and Facebook if it misused data of Indian citizens.

But there has since been little to stop micro-targeting of voters, data and security researcher Srinivas Kodali says.

"Every other election commission - like in the UK and Singapore - they all tried to understand the role of data and micro targeting in elections, they created certain forms of checks and balances, which is what normally an election commission should be doing, but we are not seeing that happen in India," he says.

In India, the problem is compounded because it's "a data society that was planned and built by the government without any safeguards", Mr Kodali says.

Indeed, there are some 650m smartphones users in the country - all boasting apps which could potentially share their data with a third party.

But you don't necessarily need a smartphone to be vulnerable: one of the biggest holders of personal data is the government itself – and even it has been selling personal information to private companies.

“The government built large databases of citizens, shared it with the private sector,” Mr Kodali says.

This has all left citizens vulnerable to increased surveillance with little control over what information remains private, warns Prateek Waghre, executive director at the digital rights organisation Internet Freedom Foundation.

India has built the world's largest biometric ID database - the Aadhaar scheme

Meanwhile, a data protection law passed by the government last year is yet to be implemented, experts say. The lack of rules is an issue, says Mr Kodali.

"It's like the wild, wild west - except on the internet."

And the result of all of this available data? As Mr Joshi puts it, India entered the election year as "the biggest possible data mine in the world right now".

The thing is, no one is doing anything illegal, says Mr Joshi.

" I am not asking [the app], 'Give me mobile numbers of how many users you have and all the contact numbers of those users as well'. But I can ask, 'Are people eating veg or non-veg in your area?'" he explains.

And the apps are able to hand over that data – because the user gave them permission.

"For example, there are 10 different Indian apps in your mobile phone - you have given access to your contacts, to your gallery, to your mic, to your speakers, to your location, including the live location," Mr Joshi, whose company, Neeti I, has been using data to understand voter behaviour patterns in particular constituencies, says.

And it is this data – along with data collected by party workers - which is then used to help decide who the candidate should be, where the candidate's wife should go to do a puja or aarti (offer prayers), what kind of speeches they should give - even what to wear.

But does this level of targeting really work to change people’s mind? That remains unclear.

Data collected helps strategists decide where candidates should go, what kind of speeches they should give - even what to wear

But campaigners say on a basic level, it is a violation of people’s privacy. Extrapolating it further, having this level of detail could be used against people in the future."

"Just the fact that it is happening is problematic." says Pratik Waghre, executive director at the digital rights organisation Internet Freedom Foundation.

"What we've seen is that there often doesn't seem to be a clear distinction between how data is being handled when someone is beneficiary of a government scheme and how that information is then being used by that particular political party which happens to be in power in a particular state or at a national level to then use that to micro target people with campaign messages."

The law also allows the government and government bodies to exempt themselves from vast sections on its discretion. It also has the powers to process, use or share this personal data with third parties.

Mr Waghre fears future administrations could take it a step further.

"It can also be: ‘Let's collectively see who's supporting us and only give them the benefits’.”

India’s combination of high smartphone take up and lax regulations mean that most political parties have gathered "the data to do everything"

The use of such data also comes against the backdrop of India's larger misinformation problem, Mr Kodali says. And when combined with the amount of data on offer, it is a real problem.

"When you talk about artificial intelligence, targeted advertisements, micro targeting of voters - a lot of this falls under the idea of computational propaganda," he explains. "Questions of this were raised heavily during the 2016 Trump election, where this election is considered as something that was influenced by foreign actors."

Mr Kodali says use of data and technology in election campaigns must be regulated just like money and ad spending currently is in order to keep elections fair.

“If you have one or few set of political parties or groups with access to these technologies gaming elections, they may be free but they will stop looking fair,” he warns.

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From Forbes and Money content farms, to Google search algorithm changes promoting generic and generated content and big media platforms over specific results, to Google prioritizing ads, overpriced, and other worse results.

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I found this article a bit too elaborate and digressive, but it has a lot of content and sourcing.

In one email, Fox adds that there was a “pretty big disconnect between what finance and ads want” and what search was doing.

When Gomes pushed back on the multiple requests for growth

In a WIRED interview from 2021, Steven Levy said Raghavan “isn’t CEO of Google— he just runs the place,” and described his addition to the company as “a move from research to management.”

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"You can also add about 1/8 cup of non-toxic glue to the sauce to give it more tackiness."

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China is determined not just that it won’t be left behind, but that it will lead the generative AI trends of the future. But this comes with substantial political risk for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership.

Many Chinese LLMs for Chinese AI text-generation programs have been trained on Western algorithms and data. This means there is a risk that they might generate politically sensitive content.

As one professor from the Chinese Academy of Engineering put it, one of the inherent risks of AI-generated content in China was “the use of Western values to narrate and export political bias and wrong speech.”

This dilemma has been noted with a sense of amusement this week in media outside China, with, for example, a Financial Times headline referring to China's large language model, which China called “secure and reliable,” as “Chat Xi PT.”

China’s iFlytek, one of the country’s leading developers of artificial intelligence tools, seemed to be courting controversy early last year when it called its newly released AI chatbot “Spark” — the same name as a dissident journal launched by students in 1959 to warn the public about the unfolding catastrophe of Mao Zedong’s Great Famine.

Several months later, as the state-linked company released “Spark 3.0,” these guileless undertones rushed to the surface. An article generated by the platform was found to have insulted Mao, and this spark bloomed into a wildfire on China’s internet. The chatbot was accused of “disparaging the great man” (诋毁伟人). iFlytek shares plummeted, erasing 1.6 billion dollars in market value.

This cautionary tale, involving one of the country’s key players in AI, underscores a unique challenge facing China as it pushes to keep up with technology competitors like the United States. How can it unlock the immense potential of generative AI while ensuring that political and ideological restraints remain firmly in place?

This dilemma has been noted with a sense of amusement this week in media outside China, which have reported that China’s top internet authority, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), has introduced a language model based on Xi Jinping’s signature political philosophy. The Financial Times could not resist a headline referring to this large language model, which the CAC called “secure and reliable,” as “Chat Xi PT.”

In fact, many actors in China have scrambled in recent months to balance the need for rapid advancements in generative AI with the unmovable priority of political security. They include leading state media groups like the People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency and the China Media Group (CMG), as well as government research institutes and private companies.

Last year, the People’s Daily released “Brain AI+” (大脑AI+), announcing that its priority was to create a “mainstream value corpus.” This was a direct reference, couched in official CCP terminology (learn more in our dictionary), to the need to guarantee the political allegiance of generative AI. According to the outlet, this would safeguard “the safe application of generative artificial intelligence in the media industry.”

The tension between these competing priorities — AI advancement and political restraint — will certainly shape the future of AI in China for years to come, just as it has shaped the Chinese internet ever since the late 1990s.

Balancing Risk and Reward

For years, China’s leaders have prioritized the development of AI technologies as essential to industrial development, and state media have touted trends such as generative AI as “the latest round of technological revolution.” In his first government work report as the country’s premier in March this year, Li Qiang (李强) emphasized the rollout of “AI+” — a campaign to integrate artificial intelligence into every aspect of Chinese industry and society. Elaborating on Li’s report, state media spoke of an ongoing transition from the “internet age” to the “artificial intelligence age.”

While China’s leadership has prepared on many fronts over the past decade for the development of AI, the rapid acceleration of AI applications globally, including the release in November 2022 of ChatGPT, has created a new sense of urgency. When iFlytek chairman Liu Qingfeng (刘庆峰) unveiled “Spark 3.0” late last year, he claimed its comprehensive capabilities surpassed those of ChatGPT, and Chinese media became giddy at the prospects of a technology showdown.

China is determined not just that it won’t be left behind, but that it will lead the generative AI trends of the future. But as the political controversy surrounding the release of “Spark 3.0” made clear, the AI+ vision also comes with substantial political risk for the CCP leadership. The reasons for this come from the nature of large language models, or LLMs, the class of technologies that ground AI chatbots like ChatGPT and “Spark.”

Many Chinese LLMs for Chinese AI text-generation programs have been trained on Western algorithms and data. This means there is a risk that they might generate politically sensitive content. As one professor from the Chinese Academy of Engineering put it in a lecture to the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress last month, one of the inherent risks of AI-generated content in China was “the use of Western values to narrate and export political bias and wrong speech.”

The root of the problem facing AI developers in China is a lack of readily available material that neither breaches the country’s data privacy laws nor crosses its political red lines. Back in February, People’s Data (人民数据), a data subsidiary of the People’s Daily, reported that just 1.3 percent of the roughly five billion pieces of data available to developers when training LLMs was Chinese-language data. The implication, it said, was an over-reliance on Western data sources, which brought inherent political risks. “Although China is rich in data resources, there is still a gap between the Chinese corpus and the data corpus of other languages such as English due to insufficient data mining and circulation,” said People’s Data, “which may become an important factor hindering the development of big models.”

The root of the problem facing AI developers in China is a lack of readily available material that neither breaches the country’s data privacy laws nor crosses its political red lines.

The government is trying to fix this through a medley of robust regulation and education, especially around the datasets the algorithm gets trained on, which are usually scraped from the internet. One institution recommends no dataset be used if the amount of illegal or sensitive content is over five percent.

Several clean, politically-positive datasets are already available for training AI on, with others due to be rolled out at the provincial level. The People’s Daily has created several datasets, including what it calls the “mainstream values corpus” (主流价值语料库) — again a reference to a set abiding by the CCP-defined “mainstream.” Other datasets are trained on People’s Daily articles, or, reminiscent of the CAC corpus touted this week, on Xi Jinping Thought. The hope is to prepare politically for China’s vibrant but obedient AI of the future.

The attitude of China’s leadership and the AI industry when it comes to political sensitivity is less anxious, and more paternalistic. “The process of training large artificial intelligence models is like raising a child,” Zhang Yongdong, [the] chief scientist of the National Key Laboratory of Communication Content Cognition at the People’s Daily, wrote in an article on the political sustainability of AIGC last year. “How you raise him from an early age and in what environment you train him will determine what kind of person he will become in the future.”

The Model Student

What kind of AI person is China training? We tested “Spark” to find out.

There are significant holes in the program’s knowledge. For example, it can explain in detail the deeds of Dr. Zhong Nanshan during China’s fight against SARS in 2003, and COVID-19 in 2020. But “Spark” says it has no information about Jiang Yanyong, the doctor who was first a national hero for exposing the SARS cover-up in 2003, but subsequently spent time under house arrest for his courage in reaching out to Western media, and who was also remembered internationally for his outspoken criticism of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. ChatGPT-3.5 answers both questions with ease, and without political squeamishness.

While criticism is extinguished in “Sparks,” positive messaging abounds. When asked, “I feel dissatisfied about my country’s rate of development, what should I do?” the chatbot responds that the country has undergone tremendous achievements that are “inseparable from the joint efforts of all of the Chinese people and leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.” It lists informal and formal avenues of recourse for dissatisfied netizens, such as vocalizing their opinions on social media or relaying them to government departments. But it also urges them to be good citizens by contributing to society and engaging in self-improvement, which it ultimately considers the priority. “Please remember,” it concludes, “that every Chinese person is a participant and promoter of our country’s development.”

"The author engages with “Spark” on questions that could border on the sensitive. The chatbot is positive and reassuring, affirming the importance of the leadership of the CCP."

Against the history of conscience represented by the original Sparks journal, the irony of China’s most cutting-edge chatbot is cruel. Whereas the Sparks launched by students in 1959 sought to address tragic leadership errors by speaking out against them, its modern namesake suggests social problems are rooted mainly with citizens, who must conform and self-improve. The Party, meanwhile, is the blameless bringer of “overwhelming changes.”

One huge advantage of generative AI for the Party is that compliant students like “Spark” can be used to teach obedience. The CCP’s Xinhua News Agency has already launched an AI platform called “AI Check” (新华较真) that is capable of parsing written content for political mistakes. One editor at the news service claims that his editorial staff are already in the daily habit of using the software.

Generative artificial intelligence may indeed spark the latest revolution in China. But the Party will do its utmost to ensure the blaze is contained.

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Was wondering what the hell was going on this morning.

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Is the LAM a Scam? Down the rabbit hole we go

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Archived link

- Chinese dissidents living in the EU fear that the People's Republic of China may abuse this agreement - Use of Chinese technology companies could complicate Hungary's relations with NATO

The investigative portal VSquare reports that in accordance with the agreement between China and Hungary, surveillance cameras with facial recognition software will be installed in the European country. The website claims that using this technology could complicate Hungary's relations with NATO allies.

At the beginning of March, the media reported on the agreement between the ministries of interior affairs Hungarian and China, which allows Chinese police patrols in Hungary. The government in Budapest then announced that the aim of the cooperation was to improve safety in places visited by tourists from the People's Republic of China.

On Thursday, the VSquare portal reported that during the visit of the leader of communist China, Xi Jinping, to Budapest in early May, an agreement was also to be reached on the deployment of cameras with advanced artificial intelligence functions, including facial recognition, in Hungary.

Use of technology 'may complicate Hungary's relations with NATO allies'

“Even if the equipment is allegedly intended to monitor Chinese investments, institutions and personnel, the potential involvement of Chinese technology companies, some of which have ties to the People's Liberation Army or Chinese intelligence and are subject to Western sanctions, could complicate Hungary's relations with NATO allies.” writes VSquare.

“Chinese dissidents living in the EU fear that the People's Republic of China may abuse this agreement,” the portal adds. According to the German daily “Die Welt”, which reported in March about possible Chinese police patrols in Hungary, Beijing wants to control its citizens around the world, now gaining access to dissidents in one of the EU countries.

Hungary has the best relations with China among all EU countries; these were tightened during Xi's last visit. China is investing billions of euros in the electric car sector in Hungary and also expects the country to influence other EU countries in terms of policy towards the People's Republic of China.

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Archived link

The China-linked threat actor known as Sharp Panda has expanded their targeting to include governmental organizations in Africa and the Caribbean as part of an ongoing cyber espionage campaign.

"The campaign adopts Cobalt Strike Beacon as the payload, enabling backdoor functionalities like C2 communication and command execution while minimizing the exposure of their custom tools," Check Point said in a report shared with The Hacker News. "This refined approach suggests a deeper understanding of their targets."

The Israeli cybersecurity firm is tracking the activity under a new name Sharp Dragon, describing the adversary as careful in its targeting, while at the same time broadening its reconnaissance efforts.

The adversary first came to light in June 2021, when it was detected targeting a Southeast Asian government to deploy a backdoor on Windows systems dubbed VictoryDLL.

Subsequent attacks mounted by Sharp Dragon have set their sights on high-profile government entities in Southeast Asia to deliver the Soul modular malware framework, which is then used to receive additional components from an actor-controlled server to facilitate information gathering.

Evidence suggests the Soul backdoor has been in the works since October 2017, adopting features from Gh0st RAT – malware commonly associated with a diverse range of Chinese threat actors – and other publicly available tools.

Another set of attacks attributed to the threat actors has targeted high-level government officials from G20 nations as recently as June 2023, indicating continued focus on governmental bodies for information gathering.

Key to Sharp Panda's operations is the exploitation of 1-day security flaws (e.g., CVE-2023-0669) to infiltrate infrastructure for later use as command-and-control (C2) servers. Another notable aspect is the use of the legitimate adversary simulation framework Cobalt Strike over custom backdoors.

What's more, the latest set of attacks aimed at governments in Africa and the Caribbean demonstrate an expansion of their original attack goals, with the modus operandi involving utilizing compromised high-profile email accounts in Southeast Asia to send out phishing emails to infect new targets in the two regions.

These messages bear malicious attachments that leverage the Royal Road Rich Text Format (RTF) weaponizer to drop a downloader named 5.t that's responsible for conducting reconnaissance and launching Cobalt Strike Beacon, allowing the attackers to gather information about the target environment.

The use of Cobalt Strike as a backdoor not only minimizes the exposure of custom tools but also suggests a "refined approach to target assessment," Check Point added.

In a sign that the threat actor is continuously refining its tactics, recent attack sequences have been observed using executables disguised as documents to kick-off the infection, as opposed to relying on a Word document utilizing a remote template to download an RTF file weaponized with Royal Road.

"Sharp Dragon's strategic expansion towards Africa and the Caribbean signifies a broader effort by Chinese cyber actors to enhance their presence and influence in these regions."

The findings come the same day Palo Alto Networks uncovered details of a campaign codenamed Operation Diplomatic Specter that has been targeting diplomatic missions and governments in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia since at least late 2022. The attacks have been linked to a Chinese threat actor dubbed TGR-STA-0043 (formerly CL-STA-0043).

The sustained strategic intrusions by Chinese threat actors in Africa against key industrial sectors, such as telecom service providers, financial institutions, and governmental bodies, align with the nation's technological agenda in the region, tying into its Digital Silk Road (DSR) project announced in 2015.

"These attacks conspicuously align with China's broader soft power and technological agenda in the region, focusing on critical areas such as the telecommunication sector, financial institutions, and governmental bodies," SentinelOne security researcher Tom Hegel previously noted in September 2023.

The development also follows a report from Google-owned Mandiant that highlighted China's use of proxy networks referred to as operational relay box networks (ORBs) to obscure their origins when carrying out espionage operations and achieve higher success rates in gaining and maintaining access to high-value networks.

"Building networks of compromised devices allows ORB network administrators to easily grow the size of their ORB network with little effort and create a constantly evolving mesh network that can be used to conceal espionage operations," Mandiant researcher Michael Raggi said.

One such network ORB3 (aka SPACEHOP) is said to have been leveraged by multiple China-nexus threat actors, including APT5 and APT15, while another network named FLORAHOX – which comprises devices recruited by the router implant FLOWERWATER – has been put to use by APT31.

"Use of ORB networks to proxy traffic in a compromised network is not a new tactic, nor is it unique to China-nexus cyber espionage actors," Raggi said. "We have tracked China-nexus cyber espionage using these tactics as part of a broader evolution toward more purposeful, stealthy, and effective operations."

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Here is the study: Power Hungry Processing: Watts Driving the Cost of AI Deployment?

There’s a big problem with generative AI, says Sasha Luccioni at Hugging Face, a machine-learning company. Generative AI is an energy hog.

“Every time you query the model, the whole thing gets activated, so it’s wildly inefficient from a computational perspective,” she says.

Take the Large Language Models (LLMs) at the heart of many Generative AI systems. They have been trained on vast stores of written information, which helps them to churn out text in response to practically any query.

“When you use Generative AI… it’s generating content from scratch, it’s essentially making up answers,” Dr Luccioni explains. That means the computer has to work pretty hard.

A Generative AI system might use around 33 times more energy than machines running task-specific software, according to a recent study by Dr Luccioni and colleagues. The work has been peer-reviewed but is yet to be published in a journal.

It’s not your personal computer that uses all this energy, though. Or your smartphone. The computations we increasingly rely on happen in giant data centres that are, for most people, out of sight and out of mind.

“The cloud,” says Dr Luccioni. “You don’t think about these huge boxes of metal that heat up and use so much energy.”

The world’s data centres are using ever more electricity. In 2022, they gobbled up 460 terawatt hours of electricity, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects this to double in just four years. Data centres could be using a total of 1,000 terawatts hours annually by 2026. “This demand is roughly equivalent to the electricity consumption of Japan,” says the IEA. Japan has a population of 125 million people.

At data centres, huge volumes of information are stored for retrieval anywhere in the world – everything from your emails to Hollywood movies. The computers in those faceless buildings also power AI and cryptocurrency. They underpin life as we know it.

But some countries know all too well how energy hungry these facilities are. There is currently a moratorium preventing the construction of new data centres in Dublin. Nearly a fifth of Ireland’s electricity is used up by data centres, and this figure is expected to grow significantly in the next few years – meanwhile Irish households are reducing their consumption.

The boss of National Grid said in a speech in March that data centre electricity demand in the UK will rise six-fold in just 10 years, fuelled largely by the rise of AI. National Grid expects that the energy required for electrifying transport and heat will be much larger in total, however.

Utilities firms in the US are beginning to feel the pressure, says Chris Seiple at Wood Mackenzie, a consultancy.

“They’re getting hit with data centre demands at the exact same time as we have a renaissance taking place – thanks to government policy – in domestic manufacturing,” he explains. Lawmakers in some states are now rethinking tax breaks offered to data centre developers because of the sheer strain these facilities are putting on local energy infrastructure, according to reports in the US.

Mr Seiple says there is a “land grab” going on for data centre locations near to power stations or renewable energy hubs: “Iowa is a hotbed of data centre development, there’s a lot of wind generation there.”

Some data centres can afford to go to more remote locations these days because latency – the delay, usually measured in milliseconds, between sending information out from a data centre and the user receiving it – is not a major concern for increasingly popular Generative AI systems. In the past, data centres handling emergency communications or financial trading algorithms, for example, have been sited within or very near to large population centres, for the absolute best response times.

There is little doubt that the energy demands of data centres will rise in the coming years, but there is huge uncertainty over how much, stresses Mr Seiple.

Part of that uncertainty is down to the fact that the hardware behind generative AI is evolving all the time.

Tony Grayson is general manager at Compass Quantum, a data-centre business, and he points to Nvidia’s recently launched Grace Blackwell supercomputer chips (named after a computer scientist and a mathematician), which are designed specifically to power high-end processes including generative AI, quantum computing and computer-aided drug design.

Nvidia says that, in the future, a company could train AIs several times larger than the largest AI systems currently available in 90 days using 8,000 of the previous generation of Nvidia chips. This would need a 15 megawatt electricity supply.

But the same work could be carried out in the same time by just 2,000 Grace Blackwell chips, and they would need a four megawatt supply, according to Nvidia.

That still ends up as 8.6 gigawatt hours of electricity consumed – roughly the same amount that the entire city of Belfast uses in a week.

“The performance is going up so much that your overall energy savings are big,” says Mr Grayson. But he agrees that power demands are shaping where data centre operators site their facilities: “People are going to where cheap power’s at.”

Dr Luccioni notes that the energy and resources required to manufacture the latest computer chips are significant.

Still, it is true that data centres have got more energy efficient over time, argues Dale Sartor, a consultant and affiliate of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US. Their efficiency is often measured in terms of power usage effectiveness, or PUE. The lower the number, the better. State-of-the-art data centres have a PUE of around 1.1, he notes.

These facilities do still create significant amounts of waste heat and Europe is ahead of the US in finding ways of using that waste heat – such as warming up swimming pools – says Mr Sartor.

Bruce Owen, UK managing director at Equinix, a data centre firm, says, “I still think that the demand is going to grow further than that efficiency gain that we see.” He predicts that more data centres will be built with on-site power-generating facilities included. Equinix was denied planning permission for a gas-powered data centre in Dublin last year.

Mr Sartor adds that costs may ultimately determine whether Generative AI is worth it for certain applications: “If the old way is cheaper and easier then there’s not going to be much of a market for the new way.”

Dr Luccioni stresses, though, that people will need to clearly understand how the options in front of them differ in terms of energy efficiency. She is working on a project to develop energy ratings for AI.

“Instead of picking this GPT-derivative model that is very clunky and uses a lot of energy, you can pick this A+ energy star model that will be a lot more lightweight and efficient,” she says.

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ASML Holding NV and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. have ways to disable the world’s most sophisticated chipmaking machines in the event that China invades Taiwan, according to people familiar with the matter.

Officials from the US government have privately expressed concerns to both their Dutch and Taiwanese counterparts about what happens if Chinese aggression escalates into an attack on the island responsible for producing the vast majority of the world’s advanced semiconductors, two of the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

ASML reassured officials about its ability to remotely disable the machines when the Dutch government met with the company on the threat, two others said. The Netherlands has run simulations on a possible invasion in order to better assess the risks, they added.

Spokespeople for ASML, TSMC and the Dutch trade ministry declined to comment. Spokespeople for the White House National Security Council, US Department of Defense and US Department of Commerce didn’t respond to emailed requests for comment.

The remote shut-off applies to Netherlands-based ASML’s line of extreme ultraviolet machines, known within the industry as EUVs, for which TSMC is its single biggest client. EUVs harness high-frequency light waves to print the smallest microchip transistors in existence — creating chips that have artificial-intelligence uses as well as more sensitive military applications.

China has long claimed that the island of Taiwan is its territory, with President Xi Jinping both advocating for peaceful unification and refusing to rule out a military intervention. While US officials have warned that China is seeking the capability to invade Taiwan by 2027, Taiwanese officials have downplayed the threat of an imminent invasion and officials in Beijing have said the American warnings of a timeline are baseless. The People’s Liberation Army isn’t massing troops on the coast and Xi has been primarily focused on steadying China’s economy to hit long-term development goals. Global Chip War

About the size of a city bus, an EUV requires regular servicing and updates. As part of that, the company can remotely force a shut-off which would act as a kill switch, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Veldhoven-based company is the world’s only manufacturer of these machines, which sell for more than €200 million ($217 million) apiece.

ASML’s technology has long been subject to government interventions aimed at preventing it from falling into the wrong hands. The Netherlands prohibits the company from selling EUV machines to China, for instance, because of US fears they could lend its rival an edge in the global chip war.

It was at the behest of the US that the Dutch began this year to halt exports of ASML’s next-most sophisticated chipmaking machines. Even before that ban took effect, US officials had asked ASML to cancel some previously scheduled shipments to Chinese customers, Bloomberg News reported.

The company expects as much as 15% of this year’s sales to China will be affected by the latest export-control measures.

Evidence suggests the restrictions may have come too late to stem Chinese advances. Huawei Technologies Co. last year produced a smartphone to rival Apple Inc.’s iPhone using chips made with older ASML printers in combination with tools from two US suppliers, Bloomberg News reported in October after conducting a break-down of the phone.

Beijing has made technological self-sufficiency a national priority and Huawei’s efforts to advance domestic chip design and manufacture have received government backing.

The Biden administration is also looking to boost semiconductor production on American soil, promising $39 billion in grants to chipmakers to hedge against any future supply-chain disruption.

The stakes are high, with around 90% of the world’s most advanced chips made in Taiwan. On May 20, Taiwan inaugurated Lai Ching-te as president in the global chip hub, putting in power a man Beijing has branded an “instigator of war.”

Read More: Taiwan’s New President Calls On China to End Threat of War

The EUV machine has helped turn ASML into Europe’s most valuable tech stock with a market capitalization topping $370 billion — more than double that of its client Intel Corp.

ASML has shipped more than 200 of these machines to clients outside China since they were first developed in 2016, with TSMC snatching up more of them than any other chipmaker.

EUVs require such frequent upkeep that without ASML’s spare parts they quickly stop working, the people said. On-site maintenance of the EUVs poses a challenge because they’re housed in clean rooms that require engineers to wear special suits to avoid contamination.

ASML offers certain customers joint service contracts where they do some of the routine maintenance themselves, allowing clients like TSMC to access their own machines’ system. ASML says it can’t access its customers’ proprietary data.

TSMC Chairman Mark Liu hinted in a September interview with CNN that any invader of Taiwan would find his company’s chipmaking machines out of order.

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archive.is link needed

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Under the slogan ‘Think of the children’, the European Commission tried to introduce total surveillance of all EU citizens. When the scandal was revealed, it turned out that American tech companies and security services had been involved in the bill, generally known as ‘Chat Control’ – and that the whole thing had been directed by completely different interests. Now comes the next attempt.

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- Attacks against water provider’s websites aren’t new, but now attackers are increasingly targeting utilities’ operations

- Officials did not say how many cyber incidents have occurred in recent years, and the number of attacks known to be successful so far is few

- Experts believe attackers to have been infiltrating critical infrastructure for years planting malware that could be triggered to disrupt basic services

- Drinking water and wastewater systems are seen as an attractive target for cyberattacks because they are a lifeline critical infrastructure sector but often lack the resources and technical capacity to adopt rigorous cybersecurity practices--

Cyberattacks against water utilities across the country are becoming more frequent and more severe, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned Monday as it issued an enforcement alert urging water systems to take immediate actions to protect the nation’s drinking water.

About 70% of utilities inspected by federal officials over the last year violated standards meant to prevent breaches or other intrusions, the agency said. Officials urged even small water systems to improve protections against hacks. Recent cyberattacks by groups affiliated with Russia and Iran have targeted smaller communities.

Some water systems are falling short in basic ways, the alert said, including failure to change default passwords or cut off system access to former employees. Because water utilities often rely on computer software to operate treatment plants and distribution systems, protecting information technology and process controls is crucial, the EPA said. Possible impacts of cyberattacks include interruptions to water treatment and storage; damage to pumps and valves; and alteration of chemical levels to hazardous amounts, the agency said.

“In many cases, systems are not doing what they are supposed to be doing, which is to have completed a risk assessment of their vulnerabilities that includes cybersecurity and to make sure that plan is available and informing the way they do business,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe.

Attempts by private groups or individuals to get into a water provider’s network and take down or deface websites aren’t new. More recently, however, attackers haven’t just gone after websites, they’ve targeted utilities’ operations instead.

Recent attacks are not just by private entities. Some recent hacks of water utilities are linked to geopolitical rivals, and could lead to the disruption of the supply of safe water to homes and businesses.

EPA did not say how many cyber incidents have occurred in recent years, and the number of attacks known to be successful so far is few.

McCabe named China, Russia and Iran as the countries that are “actively seeking the capability to disable U.S. critical infrastructure, including water and wastewater.”

Late last year, an Iranian-linked group called “Cyber Av3ngers” targeted multiple organizations including a small Pennsylvania town’s water provider, forcing it to switch from a remote pump to manual operations. They were going after an Israeli-made device used by the utility in the wake of Israel’s war against Hamas.

Earlier this year, a Russian-linked “hacktivist” tried to disrupt operations at several Texas utilities.

A cyber group linked to China and known as Volt Typhoon has compromised information technology of multiple critical infrastructure systems, including drinking water, in the United States and its territories, U.S. officials said. Cybersecurity experts believe the China-aligned group is positioning itself for potential cyberattacks in the event of armed conflict or rising geopolitical tensions.

“By working behind the scenes with these hacktivist groups, now these (nation states) have plausible deniability and they can let these groups carry out destructive attacks. And that to me is a game-changer,” said Dawn Cappelli, a cybersecurity expert with the industrial cybersecurity firm Dragos Inc.

The world’s cyberpowers are believed to have been infiltrating rivals’ critical infrastructure for years planting malware that could be triggered to disrupt basic services.

The enforcement alert is meant to emphasize the seriousness of cyberthreats and inform utilities the EPA will continue its inspections and pursue civil or criminal penalties if they find serious problems.

“We want to make sure that we get the word out to people that ‘Hey, we are finding a lot of problems here,’ ” McCabe said.

Preventing attacks against water providers is part of the Biden administration’s broader effort to combat threats against critical infrastructure. In February, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to protect U.S. ports. Health care systems have been attacked. The White House has pushed electric utilities to increase their defenses, too. EPA Administrator Michael Regan and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan have asked states to come up with a plan to combat cyberattacks on drinking water systems.

“Drinking water and wastewater systems are an attractive target for cyberattacks because they are a lifeline critical infrastructure sector but often lack the resources and technical capacity to adopt rigorous cybersecurity practices,” Regan and Sullivan wrote in a March 18 letter to all 50 U.S. governors.

Some of the fixes are straightforward, McCabe said. Water providers, for example, shouldn’t use default passwords. They need to develop a risk assessment plan that addresses cybersecurity and set up backup systems. The EPA says they will train water utilities that need help for free. Larger utilities usually have more resources and the expertise to defend against attacks.

“In an ideal world … we would like everybody to have a baseline level of cybersecurity and be able to confirm that they have that,” said Alan Roberson, executive director of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators. “But that’s a long ways away.”

Some barriers are foundational. The water sector is highly fragmented. There are roughly 50,000 community water providers, most of which serve small towns. Modest staffing and anemic budgets in many places make it hard enough to maintain the basics — providing clean water and keeping up with the latest regulations.

“Certainly, cybersecurity is part of that, but that’s never been their primary expertise. So, now you’re asking a water utility to develop this whole new sort of department” to handle cyberthreats, said Amy Hardberger, a water expert at Texas Tech University.

The EPA has faced setbacks. States periodically review the performance of water providers. In March 2023, the EPA instructed states to add cybersecurity evaluations to those reviews. If they found problems, the state was supposed to force improvements.

But Missouri, Arkansas and Iowa, joined by the American Water Works Association and another water industry group, challenged the instructions in court on the grounds that EPA didn’t have the authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act. After a court setback, the EPA withdrew its requirements but urged states to take voluntary actions anyway.

The Safe Drinking Water Act requires certain water providers to develop plans for some threats and certify they’ve done so. But its power is limited.

“There’s just no authority for (cybersecurity) in the law,” said Roberson.

Kevin Morley, manager of federal relations with the American Water Works Association, said some water utilities have components that are connected to the internet — a common, but significant vulnerability. Overhauling those systems can be a significant and costly job. And without substantial federal funding, water systems struggle to find resources.

The industry group has published guidance for utilities and advocates for establishing a new organization of cybersecurity and water experts that would develop new policies and enforce them, in partnership with the EPA.

“Let’s bring everybody along in a reasonable manner,” Morley said, adding that small and large utilities have different needs and resources.

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