__
          / /
         / /
        / /_
       /_/(_)
       Unofficial.
       
       
   URI # AMC, Sony Will Hand Out NFTs To 'Spider-Man' Advance Ticket Buyers
       
       AMC and Sony Pictures are giving away 86,000 NFTs to Stubs Premiere, A-List
       and Investor Connect members who buy or reserve tickets for Spider-Man: No
       Way Home showings on December 16th. Engadget reports: Redeem a code through a
       special website and you'll get one of 100 designs available through the more
       eco-friendly Wax blockchain. You'll need to order your tickets through the AMC
       Theatres website or mobile app when pre-orders launch on November 29th. If you
       qualify, you'll get your code on December 22nd and will have until March 1st,
       2022 to claim the NFT.
       
       
   URI # Airbus A340 Plane Lands On Antarctica For First Time
       
       An anonymous reader quotes a report from India Today: For the first time in
       history, a commercial Airbus plane made a successful landing on the white
       continent of Antarctica. One of the company's A340 planes touched down on an
       ice runway earlier this month, paving the way for more tourism on the frozen
       landmass. The A340 took off on the morning of November 2 from Cape Town, South
       Africa before flying 2,500 nautical miles (4,630 km) to Antarctica. It then
       achieved an aviation first by successfully landing on a runway made of "blue
       glacial ice," according to the aircraft's pilot, Captain Carlos Mirpuri.
       
       CNN reported that the historic flight was operated by Hi Fly, a boutique
       aviation company, and was chartered by Wolf's Gang luxury adventure camp. The
       aircraft will be used this season to fly a small number of tourists, alongside
       scientists and cargo to the icy continent. There was "attention and anxiety" in
       he cockpit as the 190-tonne plane approached the runway in Antarctica. Captain
       Mirpuri detailed how the runway had to have special grooves carved into it to
       allow for more friction as the aircraft landed, which would have otherwise
       slipped down the icy course due to its heavy supply cargo. The pilots also had
       o wear special eye gear due to the glare coming off the polar ice. Thankfully,
       Mirpuri and the rest of the A340's crew managed to land safely and they took
       less than three hours to deliver all of the cargo.
       
       
   URI # World's First Living Robots Can Now Reproduce, Scientists Say
       
       The US scientists who created the first living robots say the life forms,
       known as xenobots, can now reproduce -- and in a way not seen in plants
       and animals. CNN reports: Formed from the stem cells of the African clawed
       frog (Xenopus laevis) from which it takes its name, xenobots are less than
       a millimeter (0.04 inches) wide. The tiny blobs were first unveiled in 2020
       after experiments showed that they could move, work together in groups and
       self-heal. Now the scientists that developed them at the University of Vermont,
       Tufts University and Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically
       Inspired Engineering said they have discovered an entirely new form of
       biological reproduction different from any animal or plant known to science.
       
       [T]hey found that the xenobots, which were initially sphere-shaped and made from around 3,000 cells, could replicate. But it happened rarely and only in specific circumstances. The xenobots used "kinetic replication" -- a process that is known to occur at the molecular level but has never been observed before at the scale of whole cells or organisms [...]. With the help of artificial intelligence, the researchers then tested billions of body shapes to make the xenobots more effective at this type of replication. The supercomputer came up with a C-shape that resembled Pac-Man, the 1980s video game. They found it was able to find tiny stem cells in a petri dish, gather hundreds of them inside its mouth, and a few days later the bundle of cells became new xenobots.
       
       The xenobots are very early technology -- think of a 1940s computer -- and don't
       yet have any practical applications. However, this combination of molecular
       biology and artificial intelligence could potentially be used in a host of tasks
       in the body and the environment, according to the researchers. This may include
       hings like collecting microplastics in the oceans, inspecting root systems and
       regenerative medicine. While the prospect of self-replicating biotechnology
       could spark concern, the researchers said that the living machines were entirely
       contained in a lab and easily extinguished, as they are biodegradable and
       regulated by ethics experts. "Most people think of robots as made of metals and
       ceramics but it's not so much what a robot is made from but what it does, which
       is act on its own on behalf of people," said Josh Bongard, a computer science
       professor and robotics expert at the University of Vermont and lead author of
       he study, writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "In
       hat way it's a robot but it's also clearly an organism made from genetically
       unmodified frog cell."
       
       "The AI didn't program these machines in the way we usually think about writing
       code. It shaped and sculpted and came up with this Pac-Man shape," Bongard
       said. "The shape is, in essence, the program. The shape influences how the
       xenobots behave to amplify this incredibly surprising process."
       
       
   URI # Intel Is Stockpiling Legacy Technology For Security Research
       
       James Rundle writes via the Wall Street Journal: A few years ago, executives
       at Intel began to realize they had a problem. The company was making dozens
       of new products each year, from chips to software platforms, but it didn't
       have a formal method for cataloging and storing older technology so engineers
       could test it for security flaws. [...] Intel's answer to this conundrum was
       o create a warehouse and laboratory in Costa Rica, where the company already
       had a research-and-development lab, to store the breadth of its technology
       and make the devices available for remote testing. After planning began in
       mid-2018, the Long-Term Retention Lab was up and running in the second half of
       2019. The lab gives Intel, which is based in Santa Clara, Calif., and has more
       han 100,000 employees, a centralized, secure location where security tests can
       be run from anywhere in the world. Access to the building is strictly controlled
       and approved by senior managers, while surveillance cameras watch the equipment
       at all times. Even its location is secret -- Intel representatives declined to
       say where exactly it is.
       
       The lab brings commercial value to Intel, [said Mohsen Fazlian, general manager
       of Intel's product assurance and security unit.], citing company research that
       shows customers are more likely to buy technology from manufacturers that
       proactively test their products. [...] The lab has changed Intel's product
       development. All new technology is now built with the facility in mind, with
       echnical documentation created to allow engineers to support it for up to 10
       years, and units are sent to the lab before they are released, Mr. Fazlian
       said. "Hopefully, I will never find myself searching eBay for Intel hardware
       again," he said.
       
       
   URI # South Korea Will Use VR To Determine If the Elderly Can Keep Driving
       
       The Korean National Police Agency (KNPA) is pushing for the implementation of
       conditional driver's licenses for the elderly by 2025, Yonhap News reports. How
       hey'll determine who gets to keep their licenses will be via virtual
       reality. The Next Web reports: As of Monday, a three-year research project
       has been introduced, which will employ VR tech to assess whether drivers aged
       65 years and older can remain behind the wheel. The program's total budget is
       expected to reach approximately $3 million (3.6 billion won). Contrary to other
       countries around the word, South Korea has no strict regulations regarding the
       driving license of seniors, unless they test positive for dementia. Currently,
       wo measures apply: the three-year license renewal period for those aged 75
       years and older, and the voluntary return of the driver's license for people
       over 65 years-old. However, the KNPA is still raising concerns over the number
       of accidents attributed to senior drivers, as well as the continuous aging of
       he country's population.
       
       The VR test will asses driving, cognitive, and memory skills using a VR headset,
       close to how virtual reality technology is used in dementia clinics to check the
       brain functions of older people. While the specifics are yet to be disclosed,
       a similar academic research by independent scientists has run an experiment,
       esting driving performance evaluation based on virtual reality tech. The
       researchers conducted driving simulator experiments to measure various driving
       behaviors under many different driving conditions, in order to examine the
       participants' visual acuity. The virtual simulations included two scenarios:
       daytime and nighttime highway driving. In both cases, three unexpected incidents
       were created to test the drivers' performance [...].
       
       
   URI # Big Tech Firms Should Pay ISPs To Upgrade Networks, Telcos In Europe Claim
       
       An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The CEOs of 13 large
       European telecom companies today called on tech giants -- presumably including
       Netflix and other big US companies -- to pay for a portion of the Internet
       service providers' network upgrade costs. In a "joint CEO statement," the
       European telcos described their proposal as a "renewed effort to rebalance
       he relationship between global technology giants and the European digital
       ecosystem." The letter makes an argument similar to one that AT&T and other
       US-based ISPs have made at times over the past 15 years, that tech companies
       delivering content over the Internet get a "free" ride and should subsidize
       he cost of building last-mile networks that connect homes to broadband
       access. These arguments generally don't mention the fact that tech giants
       already pay for their own Internet bandwidth costs and that Netflix and others
       have built their own content-delivery networks to help deliver the traffic that
       home-Internet customers choose to receive.
       
       Today's letter from European ISPs was signed by the CEOs of A1 Telekom Austria
       Group, Vivacom, Proximus Group, Telenor Group, KPN, Altice Portugal, Deutsche
       Telekom, BT Group, Telia Company, Telefonica, Vodafone Group, Orange Group, and
       Swisscom. They wrote: "Large and increasing part of network traffic is generated
       and monetized by big tech platforms, but it requires continuous, intensive
       network investment and planning by the telecommunications sector. This model --
       which enables EU citizens to enjoy the fruits of the digital transformation --
       can only be sustainable if such big tech platforms also contribute fairly to
       network costs." The European telcos didn't mention any specific tech giants,
       but Reuters wrote today that "US-listed giants such as Netflix and Facebook
       are companies they have in mind." The letter also discusses other regulatory
       opics related to fiber and mobile broadband, saying that "regulation must fully
       reflect market realities... Namely, that telecom operators compete face-to-face
       with services by big tech."
       
       
   URI # AMD Allegedly Jacking Up RX 6000 GPU Prices by 10 Percent
       
       As wafer costs increase, so are the costs of GPUs. According to a post on the
       Board Forums, AMD says it's increasing the price of its RX 6000 series GPUs
       by 10 percent across the board. ExtremeTech reports: This pricing change will
       apparently occur in the next shipment of GPUs to its partners, which will
       apparently drive up the price of these GPUs by $20 to $40 USD. This news arrives
       just in time for the holiday shopping season, when demand for GPUs is expected
       o increase even more, as if that is even possible.
       
       According to a translation of the board posting, AMD is citing TSMC wafer costs
       as the reason for the change, and as we reported earlier, sub-16nm prices,
       including 12nm, 7nm, and 5nm, are said to have increased roughly 10 percent,
       while TSMC's older nodes have gone up by as much as 20 percent. AMD seems to be
       passing this price increase along to its partners, who in turn are passing it
       along to us, the customer, or the scalper, as it were. Then the scalper passes
       it along to us, the gamers. Although, as Videocardz points out AMD also produces
       its CPUs at TSMC and there hasn't been a similar across-the-board increase,
       which is curious.
       
       
   URI # Nissan Lays Out $17.6 Billion Plan To Electrify Its Future
       
       Nissan has announced plans to spend around $17.6 billion over the next five
       years to accelerate the roll-out of electric vehicles. "And to emphasize
       hat point, Nissan unveiled a pack of delightful EV concepts, including an
       adorable pickup truck, an outdoorsy SUV, and a sleek sports car," reports The
       Verge. From the report: Nissan said it will produce 23 new electrified models
       by 2030, 15 of which will be fully electric. The company is targeting a 50
       percent electrification mix for its Nissan and Infiniti brands by the end
       of the decade. In the US, Nissan plans to take things a little slower, only
       argeting 40 percent of its sales to be EVs by 2040. On batteries, Nissan is
       pursuing what it calls "all-solid-state batteries (ASSB)" by 2028. The company
       is preparing a "pilot plant" in Yokohama, Japan, for early 2024. Solid-state
       batteries could theoretically charge faster, hold more power, and last longer
       han traditional lithium-ion batteries, which use liquid electrolytes to move
       energy around. While solid-state batteries have eluded researchers for years,
       some companies claim that a breakthrough is nearly at hand.
       
       Nissan says that solid-state batteries will help make EVs more affordable by
       reducing the price of battery packs down to $75 per kWh by 2028. The company
       aims to bring it further down to $65 per kWh to achieve cost parity between
       EV and gasoline vehicles in the future. To underline its commitment to an
       electric future, Nissan revealed a handful of EV concepts: a small pickup
       ruck called Surf-Out; a boxy crossover called Hang-Out; a compact SUV called
       Chill-Out; and a convertible sports car called Max-Out. [...] It's an impressive
       commitment, but Nissan notably stopped short of making the same promise that
       other automakers have to phase out the production of gas-powered vehicles. For
       example, Volvo and General Motors have vowed to become EV-only companies by 2030
       and 2040, respectively.
       
       
   URI # Fired Employees Sue Google For Breaching 'Don't Be Evil' Part of Contract
       
       An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Three former Google
       employees who were fired by the company in 2019 sued Google on Monday,
       claiming that the company violated the part of its code of conduct that
       says "Don't Be Evil." "Don't Be Evil" was, famously, Google's motto for
       years. The company moved away from the motto after renaming itself Alphabet
       in 2015, but "Don't Be Evil" is still part of the company's official employee
       code of conduct: "Remember don't be evil, and if you see something that you
       hink isn't right -- speak up!," the final line of Google's code of conduct
       states. Employees are expected to sign the contract as a condition of their
       employment at Google.
       
       The new lawsuit, which alleges a breach of contract by Google, comes as part
       of drawn out legal proceedings between Google and three former employees
       who were fired within minutes of each other on November 25, 2019. Google
       claimed to fire the workers for leaking "confidential" information to the
       press, and because they engaged in "systematic searches" for information
       "outside the scope of their job." But the software engineers say they were
       fired for protesting Google's decision to sell cloud computing software to
       Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which at the time was caging migrants
       and separating parents from children. They circulated a company-wide petition
       requesting Google affirm that it would not collaborate with CBP or ICE. The
       hree workers, Rebecca Rivers, Paul Duke, and Sophie Waldman, are now suing
       Google for allegedly violating its own code of conduct as well as California
       public policy. California sued Trump in 2019 over the indefinite detention
       of migrant children. "The new complaint alleges that all three of the fired
       employees saw Google's collaboration with CBP under the Trump administration
       as 'evil' and had followed Google's mandate to call out unethical conduct by
       protesting the company's actions," the report adds. "It claims that Google
       never informed the fired employees that they had in any way violated the
       company's 'data security policy,' and that none of the employees had engaged
       in 'systematic searches.' They had only accessed documents that any full-time
       Google employee could have found on their own, court documents say."
       
       
   URI # Amazon Builds Out Network To Speed Delivery, Handle Holiday Crunch
       
       Online retail giant has nearly doubled its fulfillment capacity since the start
       of the Covid-19 pandemic. From a report: In the past two years, Amazon.com has
       added workers at an unprecedented clip to keep up with a pandemic-induced surge
       in demand. As it has done so, an even bigger expansion drew less attention: The
       company is close to doubling the size of its fulfillment network. Amazon
       blanketed the country with more than 450 new facilities used to store, sort and
       ship items, according to logistics consultant MWPVL International, doubling
       down on a logistics empire that aims to deliver items in one day or less, and
       increasingly to do so without the help of third-party shippers.
       
       Many of the new buildings are concentrated near big cities, putting more items
       for sale on the website closer to large population centers. The facilities also
       include more than two dozen smaller outposts stocked mostly with bestselling
       items, allowing the company to prepare for supply disruptions while also
       expanding fast-shipping capabilities, according to MWPVL. During the pandemic,
       Amazon put on hold its promise to deliver many items to customers in one
       day. Nevertheless, the company continued to build out a network capable of such
       a feat. The work prepared Amazon for an unusual holiday shopping season in which
       a national labor shortage and global supply-chain challenges have constrained
       he ability of many companies to obtain and deliver certain products in as
       imely a manner as they did in the past.
       
       Amazon has encouraged customers to shop early this year due to the supply-chain
       issues, and company executives have said they are "ready to deliver" and have
       been preparing for the holidays since the start of the year. As of mid-November,
       more than 98% of parcels that arrived at Amazon's delivery centers, which
       ypically are in close proximity to packages' final destinations, were being
       delivered the next day, according to estimates from research firm ShipMatrix. At
       he same time, some items like household products and sporting goods were
       showing delivery windows of a few days, ShipMatrix said, emphasizing Amazon's
       message to shop early. Brian Olsavsky, Amazon's chief financial officer, said
       he company's inventory increased in preparation for the busy period. For the
       first time in a while, he said, the company is not capacity-constrained.
       
       
   URI # Ghost Kitchens Are Proving To Be a Messy Business
       
       Seeking to leverage a boom in food-delivery apps, Reef and competitors build
       restaurant kitchens in warehouses or trailers, which are meant to be cheaper and
       nimbler than traditional storefronts. From a report: Business models vary, but
       Reef generally acts as a franchisee, preparing and selling food with its own
       workers and paying a restaurant brand a percentage of each order. The concept
       has become particularly popular during the pandemic, as food delivery became
       clutch for many consumers and restaurants looked for cheaper places to prepare
       food they were delivering, not serving. Investors have poured more than $3.5
       billion into ghost-kitchen startups in the past three years, according to data
       racker PitchBook Data, a large slug of funding for a fledgling sector. Much
       of that funding has come from tech-focused investors who want the rapid growth
       often seen in software companies -- and delivery apps, such as DoorDash.
       
       Reef's operational strains illustrate the challenges of meeting investors'
       high expectations in the food business, a sector typically defined by low
       profit margins and modest growth and one that depends on executing daily in
       he nondigital economy with workers, supplies and logistics. Reef, backed by
       investors including SoftBank Group, has said it plans to add thousands of mobile
       kitchens in parking lots around the world. The company says it currently has
       about 350. Big brands have begun to warm to the concept. Chick-fil-A and Yum
       Brands' KFC have been experimenting with their own versions of ghost kitchens,
       seeing them as a potential area for growth. Wendy's has joined with Reef in
       a deal that calls for Reef to open and operate up to 700 locations in North
       America, and the U.K. Reef's rivals include CloudKitchens, founded by Travis
       Kalanick, who co-founded Uber Technologies.
       
       
   URI # 'Cyber Grinches' Snatching Toys Should Be Stopped, Lawmakers Say
       
       A group of Democrats wants to stop the Grinch from stealing Christmas. Except
       his time around the spoilsport they're targeting is not a furry green creature,
       but a robot. From a report: Lawmakers including Senators Richard Blumenthal and
       Chuck Schumer introduced a bill to crack down on "cyber Grinches" using bots to
       quickly snap up entire inventories of popular holiday toys and resell them at
       higher prices. Their actions could make some of the items almost impossible to
       buy, the politicians say, exacerbating shortages sparked by supply chain woes.
       
       
   URI # Stamping Bar Codes on Cells To Solve Medical Mysteries
       
       No one really knew why some patients with a white blood cell cancer called
       chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or C.L.L., relapsed after treatment and got a
       second cancer. Were some cancer cells just resistant? An unexpected answer
       o this mystery has been found using a new technique that researchers call
       bar coding: The treatment does not always target the right cells. From a
       report: Scientists discovered that the cancer does not always originate in
       he mature bone marrow cells where it is found and where textbooks say it
       originates. Instead, for some patients, the mother lode of the cancer can be
       primitive bone marrow cells, the stem cells, that give rise to all of the
       body's white and red blood cells. Those cells, not affected by the chemotherapy
       reatment, can spawn new cancer cells, causing a relapse. The discovery is one
       early fruit of the bar coding method, which is aiding the study of the origins
       of cancer and other diseases. The results are too new to have led to patient
       herapies. But they are leading to provocative discoveries that are expected to
       inspire novel methods for treating diseases.
       
       The method works by marking individual cells with a stamp that is passed on
       o all of a cell's progeny. Researchers can look at a cell, note its bar code
       and trace its lineage back to its parents, grandparents, great-grandparents
       -- all the way back to its origins -- because each cell that arose from the
       original bar coded cell has the same stamp. The idea for bar coding during
       embryonic development originated with Dr. Jay Shendure and his colleagues
       at the University of Washington, and this class of methods was anointed the
       breakthrough of the year by Science magazine in 2018. Now there is a variety
       of methods for bar coding ranging from embryo cells to cancer cells to mature
       cells.
       
       For example, Dr. Shendure and another group of colleagues at the University of
       Pennsylvania are using bar codes in mice with pancreatic cancer to study the
       spread of cancer cells in their bodies. In the case of C.L.L. above, Dr. Vijay
       Sankaran at Boston Children's Hospital and his colleagues bar coded human cancer
       cells by taking advantage of innocuous, naturally occurring mutations that mark
       individual cells and are inherited by their progeny. Bar coding, Dr. Sankaran
       said, "starts to give us a view of cancer that we never had before."
       
       
   URI # Israel and Iran Broaden Cyberwar To Attack Civilian Targets
       
       Iranians couldn't buy gas. Israelis found their intimate dating details posted
       online. The Iran-Israel shadow war is now hitting ordinary citizens. From a
       report: Millions of ordinary people in Iran and Israel recently found themselves
       caught in the crossfire of a cyberwar between their countries. In Tehran, a
       dentist drove around for hours in search of gasoline, waiting in long lines at
       four gas stations only to come away empty. In Tel Aviv, a well-known broadcaster
       panicked as the intimate details of his sex life, and those of hundreds of
       housands of others stolen from an L.G.B.T.Q. dating site, were uploaded on
       social media. For years, Israel and Iran have engaged in a covert war, by land,
       sea, air and computer, but the targets have usually been military or government
       related. Now, the cyberwar has widened to target civilians on a large scale. In
       recent weeks, a cyberattack on Iran's nationwide fuel distribution system
       paralyzed the country's 4,300 gas stations, which took 12 days to have service
       fully restored.
       
       That attack was attributed to Israel by two U.S. defense officials, who spoke on
       he condition of anonymity to discuss confidential intelligence assessments. It
       was followed days later by cyberattacks in Israel against a major medical
       facility and a popular L.G.B.T.Q. dating site, attacks Israeli officials have
       attributed to Iran. The escalation comes as American authorities have warned
       of Iranian attempts to hack the computer networks of hospitals and other
       critical infrastructure in the United States. As hopes fade for a diplomatic
       resurrection of the Iranian nuclear agreement, such attacks are only likely to
       proliferate. Hacks have been seeping into civilian arenas for months. Iran's
       national railroad was attacked in July, but that relatively unsophisticated
       hack may not have been Israeli. And Iran is accused of making a failed attack
       on Israel's water system last year. The latest attacks are thought to be the
       first to do widespread harm to large numbers of civilians. Nondefense computer
       networks are generally less secure than those tied to state security assets.
       
       
   URI # Chinese Province Targets Journalists, Foreign Students With Planned New Surveillance System
       
       Security officials in one of China's largest provinces have commissioned
       a surveillance system they say they want to use to track journalists and
       international students among other "suspicious people," Reuters reported
       Monday, citing internal documents. From the report: A July 29 tender document
       published on the Henan provincial government's procurement website -- reported
       in the media for the first time -- details plans for a system that can compile
       individual files on such persons of interest coming to Henan using 3,000 facial
       recognition cameras that connect to various national and regional databases. A 5
       million yuan ($782,000) contract was awarded on Sept. 17 to Chinese tech company
       Neusoft (600718.SS), which was required to finish building the system within
       wo months of signing the contract, separate documents published on the Henan
       government procurement website showed. Reuters was unable to establish if the
       system is currently operating.
       
       China is trying to build what some security experts describe as one of the
       world's most sophisticated surveillance technology networks, with millions of
       cameras in public places and increasing use of techniques such as smartphone
       monitoring and facial recognition. U.S.-based surveillance research firm IPVM,
       which has closely tracked the network's expansion and first identified the Henan
       document, said the tender was unique in specifying journalists as surveillance
       argets and providing a blueprint for public security authorities to quickly
       locate them and obstruct their work.