Product Promotion Network


China is being pushed out of US telecoms

The Federal Communications Commission is moving forward with a plan intended to stop carriers from using Chinese hardware. The news: Bloomberg reports that the FCC has voted unanimously to bar telcos from using US federal subsidies to buy technology deemed a national security risk. Striking out at China: The move is aimed at Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE.

Plus, on Monday, the US banned ZTE from buying technology from American firms. More of the same: In recent months, America has made a series of moves to slow China’s tech growth, such as blocking Broadcom’s bid to acquire Qualcomm. Why it matters: China and the US both see tech as perhaps their most important asset.

This, plus tit-for-tat tariffs and IP theft by China, is escalating a tech showdown.

But: The anticipated trade war that all this foreshadows could hurt US companies.

What next: The FCC rules will go to a second vote before they become binding.

Image credit:

  • Bluetip Design / Noun Project / Jamie Condliffe

Watch Jordan Peele use AI to make Barack Obama deliver a PSA about fake news

What does the future of fake news look like? No one really knows, but here’s a little sampler from Jordan Peele and BuzzFeed, who teamed up to make the above PSA. Using some of the latest AI techniques, Peele ventriloquizes Barack Obama, having him voice his opinion on Black Panther (“Killmonger was right”) and call President Donald Trump “a total and complete dipshit.”

The video was made by Peele’s production company using a combination of old and new technology: Adobe After Effects and the AI face-swapping tool FakeApp.

The latter is the most prominent example of how AI can facilitate the creation of photorealistic fake videos. It started life on Reddit as a tool for making fake celebrity porn, but it has since become a worrying symbol of the power of AI to generate misinformation and fake news.

Yes, we’ve had software to create fakes for a while, but AI makes the whole process easier. Researchers have developed tools that let you perform face swaps like the one above in real time; Adobe is creating a “Photoshop for audio” that lets you edit dialogue as easily as a photo; and a Canadian startup named Lyrebird offers a service that lets you fake someone else’s voice with just a few minutes of audio.

Technologist Aviv Ovadya summed up the fears created by this tech, asking BuzzFeed News, “What happens when anyone can make it appear as if anything has happened, regardless of whether or not it did?”

Scientists are currently creating tools that can spot AI fakes, but at the moment, the best shield against this sort of misinformation is instilling everyone with a little more media savvy. If you see a provocative video, you should ask yourself: where does this come from? Have other outlets corroborated it?

Does it even look real?

In the case of AI-generated videos, you can usually see that they’re fake by telltale signs of distortion and blurring.

As “Obama” says in the PSA: “It may sound basic, but how we move forward in the Age of Information is going to be the difference between whether we survive or whether we become some kind of fucked up dystopia.”

The EU may insist tech firms hand some terror suspect data to judges inside 6 hours

A draft policy at the European Commission would provide judges with the ability to demand data from technology companies on incredibly tight deadlines. The news: The Guardian reports that the new rules would allow courts to demand the data of terror suspects, such as email or text messages, from other countries, no matter where in the world the data was stored. Firms would also be banned from deleting some specific kinds of data.

More details: The default deadline for handing over data would be ten days, but that could be shortened to 6 hours in some cases. Curent deadlines are 120 days or more. Companies would be able to challenge requests for data if they believed that its provision would, say, break laws.

What they’re saying: “Criminals use fast and cutting-edge technology to operate,” said EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova in a statement. “We need to equip law enforcement authorities with 21st century methods to tackle crime, just as criminals use 21st century methods to commit crime.” The case against: “If companies are coerced into handing over citizens’ data, our existing rights are put at risk,” said Maryant Fernandez Perez, a senior policy adviser at lobby group European Digital Rights, to the Financial Times. “States have legal obligations to respect and defend people’s fundamental rights. Companies do not have such legal obligations.”

Move fast, break things? Tech firms are often enthusiastic about working at speed.

But a 6-hour turnaround is likely to raise concerns about whether it provides enough time to perform due diligence on data being handed over.

Next up: The policy will go to vote inside the European Parliament and member-state governments.

Image credit:

  • European Parliament | Flickr

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