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An obstacle to large-scale bitcoin mining is finding enough cheap energy to run the huge, power-gobbling computer arrays that create and transact cryptocurrency. One mining operation in central New York came up with a novel solution that has alarmed environmentalists. It uses its own power plant.
Greenidge Generation runs a ...
The Biden administration is warning the public about cyber threats against U.S. water systems that may affect clean drinking water in communities nationwide.
The warning directs organizations responsible for securing water systems to be on the lookout for attacks ranging from hacks to ransomware.
The advisory — which was issued ...
If so inclined, an NBA player could now test himself for the coronavirus and get results on his phone in no more than 20 minutes.
And the league is convinced those tests are both fast enough and accurate enough.
It’s a high-tech answer to the issue of waiting for test ...
Director David Lowery's critically acclaimed cinematic adaptation of a classic 14th-century tale looks to mesmerize an ultra-high definition home theater audience in The Green Knight (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, rated R, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 125 minutes, $42.99)
Specifically, with the finest of homages applied to the Arthurian chivalric romance "Sir Gawain and ...
Microsoft is closing down its LinkedIn product in China and developing a new version of the platform that will follow Chinese Communist Party rules.
The new version of LinkedIn for China, InJobs, will help people find employment but the company said Thursday it "will not include a social feed or ...
Lucas Shaw / Bloomberg: Internal document: Netflix estimates Squid Game will create almost $900M in value for the company; 87M viewers have finished the series in the first 23 days — More than 130 million people have watched the Korean show — Netflix estimates that its latest megahit, “Squid Game,” …
Patrick McGee / Financial Times: Analysis: Apple's Search Ads now account for 58% of iPhone app downloads resulting from an ad click; Apple to earn $5B from its ads business this fiscal year — iPhone maker's share of mobile app advertising market has tripled in six months — Apple's advertising business has more than tripled …
Eliot Brown / Wall Street Journal: Analysis: median CEO pay of US tech startups that went public in 2020 was $21.9M; seven of the 10 best-paid CEOs of US public companies were from such startups — Startup creators once tended to take little or no remuneration as CEOs. Now, some are getting giant stock awards …
FinSMEs: Convex, which provides software for the commercial services industry, raises a $39M Series B, bringing its total raised to $60M — Convex, a San Francisco, CA-based software platform focused on digitizing the commercial services industry, raised $39m in Series B financing.
Julie Jargon / Wall Street Journal: Some doctors in the US and other countries say TikTok videos about Tourette syndrome may be contributing to a rise in cases of teen girls with physical tics — When teens started turning up in doctors' offices with sudden, severe physical tics, specialists suspected social media …
Netflix's Korean survival drama Squid Game has captured the imagination of a global audience, but how exactly does the game stay a secret despite so many people going missing? The Netflix smash hit establishes that a group of wealthy individuals recruit competitors with massive debts to vie for Squid Game's 45.6 billion Won prize, and it follows 456 of these competitors as they engage in the titular games. The premise of the game - and the show - is that 455 participants will die during the games, leaving one winner to take the prize money, pay off their debts, and live in comfort for the rest of their life.
Through the investigation of Jun-ho, a policeman who infiltrates the game disguised as one of its masked workers, it's revealed that the games have been running for 30 years. Assuming that each game has around 400 participants and (as the epilogue implies) that one occurs roughly once per year, that would mean an estimated body count of 11,970 - which is an awful lot of missing people to cover up. The theory that Jun-ho is still alive might see him bring the game's existence to light in a potential Squid Game season 2, but the real question is: just how has it been kept a secret for so long?
The show does imply an answer, but it's one that requires a lot of clarification. The game is run by the Front Man - later revealed to be Jun-ho's brother, In-ho - but it exists in order to entertain some of the world's wealthiest and most powerful people, known in Squid Game as the VIPs. With this level of financial backing behind it, it can be surmised that large sums of money are able to secure the game's continued existence. Squid Game's Old Man twist reveals that Oh Il-nam, also known as Player 001, is the game's founder, but it doesn't specify exactly how he has been able to keep it hidden for so long - although one of the most likely answers lies within the show's narrative theme.
Squid Game's story is rooted in South Korea's class divide and highlights the massive disparity of wealth within the country as well as examining the way in which the wealthy look at the people they deem beneath them. The most likely explanation for how the game remains a secret is that its selected players are all desperate people whose disappearance can be easily explained - Sang-woo is wanted by the police, Sae-byeok is a North Korean defector, and Gi-hun is a gambling addict with massive debt. The common theme is that Squid Game's cast of characters all exist on the bottom rung of a society that doesn't value them and that their disappearance will largely go unnoticed.
This is evidenced in episode 2 when Gi-hun approaches the police, and they laugh him off. They dismiss his story as outlandish as he has no real credibility, with only Jun-ho willing to investigate in an unofficial capacity in hopes of finding his brother. It certainly appears that choosing its competitors carefully is key to the game's continued secrecy, but it may even be more important that its workers are chosen carefully. From the events Jun-ho witnesses during his infiltration of the island, it's clear that complete obedience is required of the workers, and steps are surely taken to choose Squid Game's workers carefully in order to ensure their silence.
It seems that Squid Game's VIPs are the largest contributors to the game's ability to remain hidden, but this is something that's implied rather than stated. However, money and influence alone can't guarantee silence, so it's most likely that the game employs other contingencies against those seeking to expose it. Exactly what those methods might look like will surely come into play in Squid Game's hypothetical season 2, as Gi-hun made his intentions to expose the game all too clear.
Warning: This post contains major spoilers for You Season 3.
The explosive ending of You season 3 sees Penn Badgley's Joe once more free of his crimes - despite an increasingly heinous rap sheet - but with his soul mate Love (Victoria Pedretti) killed off after turning on him. It's a shocking turn of events that splits up the couple after some of the best drama of the season saw them negotiating the "safety" of married, suburban life as well as their dark impulses. But removing Joe's wife (and son) in one fell swoop does serve a purpose for the future of the show.
You season 3 is only partly based on Caroline Kepnes' books, after the first two seasons were based on her first two titles, You and Hidden Bodies. As such, while there are elements of the story adapted from third Joe Goldberg book You Love Me, the majority of the plot was invented for the Netflix show. The librarian storyline comes from the book, but the fate of Love is changed significantly: in the third book, Vitoria Pedretti's killer wife is initially not involved because the Quinn family have paid Joe $4m to stay away from them, but she appears to try and exact revenge on him. Here, of course, Love and Joe are somewhat "happily" married, and it's not until the end when Joe's new stalking victim is revealed that Love turns on him and is killed.
In both cases, Love ends up dying, but in the book it's by her own hand (after she shoots Joe in the head) - so why did You season 3's ending change the specifics of Love's death? And why was she killed in the first place? It comes down to the opportunity to continue Joe's story into the newly announced You season 4, which couldn't happen with Joe still tied to suburbia, and also fits with Joe's darkness within and the curse that he will never be happy. As revealed in You season 3, Joe's evil manifests because of his "mommy issues" (or so he claims) and his innate need to be the saviour after he was forced to kill his father to protect his mother. After she rejected him for what he did, Joe was forever cursed to chase the perfect opportunity to save his victims - as a power trip and a realization of the fantasy his mother robbed of him - and a stable, happy ending with Love simply didn't fit that. In order for Joe's story to continue, in other words, Love had to die in You season 3's ending.
You season 3 goes some way into exploring Joe's origin story in a new way, giving him some insight into why he craves the power over his victims that drives him, but stops short of offering him the realization that he will never be happy with any of his "conquests". As soon as the chase is over, Joe will always become bored and look to his next possible victim, who could still feed his saviour complex from afar, without the stability and mundanity of familiarity. Joe isn't just stalking women, he's stalking the happy ending and the validation from his mother he feels he's due, and settling down destroys his opportunity to do that, blunting his edge.
On top of that, the reality of Love is nothing like the fantasy he'd created in his own head that had been fed by his need to save her. As soon as she revealed that she could be just like him, he was repulsed, almost killing her but choosing not to because of her shock reveal of her pregnancy. From there on, Joe was simply playing a role, performing to fit in and be what he thought he needed to be to save his son from becoming just like him. But his quick infatuations with Natalie and then Marienne proved without doubt that it was all a lie hiding his true impulses. Now that Love has been removed from the scene, Joe can continue to chase what he will never achieve: satisfaction in his "hunt". Additionally, Love's death at the end of You season 3 potentially gives season 4 its antagonist, as the Quinn family are unlikely to allow his death to go fully investigated, which may put them on a collision course in France when Joe Goldberg returns.
DC's The Flash movie trailer reveals Michael Keaton's Batman return, with the actor donning the Batsuit again in the upcoming movie. Ezra Miller will lead The Flash film as Barry Allen, reprising his DC Extended Universe role in his first solo movie. However, he'll be joined by other DC heroes in The Flash movie including Keaton's Batman from Tim Burton's 80s & 90s movies, Ben Affleck's DCEU Batman and new-to-the-universe Sasha Calle as Supergirl. IT helmer Andy Muschietti directs The Flash from a script by Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey: Harley Quinn).
During production on The Flash, Muschietti posted teaser images of Miller's Flash suit, Keaton's Batman suit and Calle's Supergirl suit that just showed their respective logos, but never revealed the full costumes. An additional teaser image featured a Batman logo with the Flash's red and gold logo painted over it, though it wasn't clear what exactly the image meant for the film's story. Further looks at the movie were revealed unofficially by photographers, with The Flash movie set photos revealing Keaton's Bruce Wayne, Calle's full Supergirl costume and Affleck's Batcyle. However, now official looks at the movie are unveiled.
During DC FanDome 2021, a first look at Keaton's Batman return in The Flash movie was revealed. Check it out in the video below.
On Friday, it was revealed Superman is getting a brand-new catchphrase, as the iconic DC Comics hero will fight for “Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow." At DC FanDome, DC Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee revealed the Man of Steel will officially be dropping the "American Way" from his motto and instead, which will be replaced by the phrase "a Better Tomorrow." The new catchphrase better embodies the hero's ultimate mission of making the world a better place.
Superman is one of the most recognizable pop culture figures on the planet, as he originally debuted in Action Comics #1 in 1939. The hero has always been connected to the United States, as The Man of Tomorrow crash-landed on Earth and ended up being raised in Smallville, Kansas in the United States. However, despite his longtime motto suggesting he fights for the American Way, Superman has long fought for everyone across the globe - meaning his motto hasn't been all-encompassing as it should be. Now, Superman is officially losing "The American Way" from his iconic catchphrase. MORE DETAILS WILL BE ADDED SOON.
LEGO Star Wars: Terrifying Tales, the latest comedic holiday-themed Star Wars television special, is the latest official property to poke fun at Kylo Ren’s mask. Kylo Ren, formerly Ben Solo, is one of the main antagonists of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, despite often being the subject of mockery both in-universe and in the real world. Like Darth Vader, Kylo Ren is a powerful dark side user who wears a menacing armored mask. Though Vader wore his mask as part of a cybernetic survival suit, Kylo wears his for a variety of other reasons -- namely, vanity.
Darth Vader, the grandfather of Ben Solo, was a Sith Lord who required his suit following grievous injuries sustained in a battle against Obi-Wan Kenobi. As Kylo Ren, Ben Solo worshipped Vader, but there were numerous differences between the two. Kylo was never a Sith. He was a Knight of Ren using the dark side with a different philosophical outlook from the Sith. While Vader resigned himself to his new Sith identity, Kylo craved his, killing and sacrificing everything any everyone necessary to ascend to his position as Master of the Knights of Ren.
The humorous take on Kylo Ren’s origin in the non-canon Terrifying Tales took some inspiration from the canonical four-issue Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren comic series, with Ben becoming intrigued by the Knights of Ren during his Jedi days. In the LEGO parody, Ben joins the marauding gang, but receives his armor, robes, and mask immediately, since the Knights needed to maintain an intimidating appearance. Though it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, this iteration of Kylo Ren wears his mask for similar reasons in the Star Wars canon universe.
There were several reasons why Kylo wore a mask in the Star Wars sequels, but the main one is that all Knights of Ren wore armored suits, complete with battle helms. After renouncing his ties to the Jedi, Kylo usurped Ren as the Knights’ new leader and devoted himself to their philosophy and customs, including the use of an armored mask. Aside from indicating his affiliation with the Knights and protecting his head, Kylo’s mask served another, more sentimental, purpose.
Kylo Ren worshipped his grandfather, Darth Vader, seeking to become a similarly fearsome dark side user, thanks in part to telepathic goading by Darth Sidious. When wearing his armored mask, which deepened his voice, Kylo felt more like Vader. Kylo’s dark side master, Snoke, brutally criticized Kylo in the comics and films for his attempts to mimic his grandfather.
Snoke, along with Poe Dameron, also complained about the mask’s distortion of Kylo’s voice, making it the subject of frequent criticism in-universe. Aside from Kylo Ren’s desires to follow in Vader’s footsteps the traditional helmets worn by the Knights of Ren were meant to strike fear into their victims. This makes the satirical reason for Kylo Ren wearing his mask fitting in LEGO Star Wars: Terrifying Tales, as both he and the Knights of Ren were concerned with appearances.
Survival analysis is the best thing in the world since sliced bread! However, in most machine learning circles, it’s pretty much synonymous with an “# it’scomplicated” relationship status. Survival Analysis is an Extremely Valuable Branch of Statistics. We want our guide to better serve you as a straightforward go-to/how-to, eliminating any confusion. The guide provides […]
In this day and age, virtual assistants have become one of the staples of the increasingly digital business world. The outbreak of COVID-19 only sped up their rise to prominence. As a result, most companies around the world had to shift their operations online. In such a situation, most of the tasks that were otherwise […]
The post How a Virtual Assistant can Help Startup Make More Sales appeared first on ReadWrite.
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning is paving their way in almost all industries. Its next target is the high-tech industry. The emergence of Artificial Intelligence in the engineering and mechanical world has raised many questions. What is the scope of Artificial Intelligence in the high-tech industry? Is it a good idea to invest in AI? […]
The post How High-Tech Industry is Leveraging AI for Exponential Business Growth appeared first on ReadWrite.
Coding boot camps have soared in popularity since their inception in the early 2010s. Course Report, an organization that conducts yearly market studies on boot camps, reports that nearly 25,000 coding boot camp graduates entered the job market in 2020 — up 39% from the previous year. With the growth in popularity, however, has come an increase in price. […]
The post Expensive Coding Boot Camps are Limiting the Tech Talent Pool appeared first on ReadWrite.
The future of finance can be brighter if it’s accessible to the widest swath of society. Broad-based financial inclusion is the enabler of the Sustainable Development Goals, and achieving it is of utmost importance today. Digitalization spans the world across different industries and verticals. The financial industry is not an exception. We’re fast-moving to the […]
The post What Is Financial Inclusion and Why Do We Need It? appeared first on ReadWrite.
Despite what conservatives say, Joe Biden is not trying to ruin the holiday shopping season.
President Biden announced this week that the Port of Los Angeles would operate 24/7 in a bid to address product shortages in the United States. The news arrived in tandem with the Labor Department’s release of data showing that the ongoing supply chain crisis is driving up consumer prices and inflation.
Conservatives are spinning these developments into a tale about how this supply chain catastrophe is ruining Christmas — and it’s all Biden’s fault.
There’s a new front in the Fox News "War on Christmas" coverage: supply chain delays. pic.twitter.com/kosVA3pkMV— The Recount (@therecount) October 13, 2021
Despite what some people are saying on right-wing news outlets and social media, recent problems with the global supply chain can’t be blamed on Biden alone. As his recent efforts have shown, the president is trying to help. In reality, these shortages and delays are the product of many cross-cutting problems that have existed for years, including the Covid-19 pandemic, rising consumer demand, and a global and highly optimized manufacturing network that doesn’t adapt to change quickly.
As handy as it would be to blame just one person for America’s supply chain woes, the situation and its solutions are far too complex for such an easy explanation. Let’s discuss.
So the supply chain is complex. What does that even mean?
The supply chain is how the global economy produces and delivers the stuff that people buy. It encompasses all the people, companies, and countries that play a role in that process. Technicians at facilities in Taiwan who make computer chips are part of the supply chain, and so are the truck drivers that deliver goods from warehouses to retailers in the US.
Factories that make the plastic used in packaging, cargo ships that move products from Asia to the West Coast, even Amazon’s fleet of jets are all considered part of this incredibly complicated system of global manufacturing that’s been dramatically disrupted in the past couple of years.
How did the supply chain get so messed up?
It’s tempting to blame the pandemic alone for the current supply chain catastrophe, but in some ways, the pandemic merely exacerbated existing problems with global trade and exposed some new ones.
What the pandemic did do was cause factories to shut down, usually because there weren’t enough workers, and that created shortages of products and components. Those shortages led to bottlenecks and delays in product manufacturing (if factories don’t have the parts to build something, it doesn’t get made and doesn’t get shipped).
As more shortages lead to more bottlenecks, the disruption causes problems in other parts of the supply chain, creating even more shortages, new delays, and higher prices. For example, automotive manufacturers haven’t been able to make cars and trucks, because they can’t get their hands on enough computer chips. Ikea can’t ship furniture parts from its warehouses to its stores thanks to the trucker shortage. A supply crunch for petrochemicals has driven up the cost of making anything that includes plastic, including children’s toys.
Who broke the supply chain?
Again, no one person is responsible for upending the global supply chain. Several long-term trends and compounding challenges created the conditions that caused this crisis. US companies have been moving more and more manufacturing abroad for decades, which means a growing amount of the stuff American consumers want to buy needs to be imported. Meanwhile, worsening conditions for truck drivers in the US have made the job incredibly unpopular in recent years, even though the demand for drivers has gone up as e-commerce has become more popular. That means that as Americans relied more on online shopping during the pandemic, getting goods from ports to doorsteps has been challenging.
“It’s 40 years in the making,” Nick Vyas, the director of the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Southern California, told Recode. “We allowed supply chains to get away without having contingencies in place, resiliencies in place, and other measures to ensure humanity would never be subjected to this.”
The pandemic made these problems worse, which contributed to the breakdowns in the supply chain we’re now witnessing. While US automakers have imported semiconductor chips from abroad for decades, Covid-19 forced those companies to compete with laptop and phone manufacturers over the same components. As the pandemic pushed many veteran truckers to retire early, new drivers couldn’t earn licenses because trucking schools were closed during lockdown.
Covid-19 has also affected consumer demand — namely, which products they want to buy and how much — creating constant changes that the supply chain just hasn’t been able to keep up with, especially lately.
It seems like we’ve had plenty of time to fix these problems. Why are they suddenly ruining Christmas?
Global manufacturing has been operating at full capacity for more than a year. But without any slack to address worker shortages, bottlenecks, and delays, problems have only piled up. These issues have now reached a critical mass. So even though American consumers have started to order much more stuff, there’s no flexibility in the supply chain to accommodate that demand.
“Delta basically conditioned our behavior to tell all of us that, ‘Hey, this could last a while,’” Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, a senior resident fellow for climate and energy at the think tank Third Way, said. “So we just went out and bought like crazy.”
This record number of imports is slowing down product deliveries. Cargo ships carrying holiday merchandise are waiting to unload their stock along the California coast, but there aren’t enough port workers to do the job. Those delays mean there are fewer containers available for manufacturers trying to send more products to the US, which only sets the supply chain back even more.
We can agree that it’s everybody’s problem. But what’s Biden actually doing to fix it?
Pushing the Port of Los Angeles to operate 24/7 is Biden’s most direct action to date, and it’s supposed to ensure that an additional 3,500 cargo ships are unloaded each week. The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, which expanded its operations last month, are responsible for 40 percent of the containers brought into the US, so expanding their operations is supposed to speed up shipping nationwide, the White House says.
The move will help reduce the number of ships waiting to dock, but it only affects the later stages of the supply chain problems: shipping and delivery. Right now, it’s not clear what Biden can do to fix the bottlenecks occurring higher up in the supply chain, like manufacturers running low on components and factories getting shut down abroad. While the White House has convened task forces to address these underlying problems, those efforts probably won’t bear fruit in time for the holidays.
“This is more a demand and supply situation, more so than a government situation,” Patrick Penfield, a supply chain management professor at the University of Syracuse, said. “The government has a role with regulations and enforcing laws, creating laws, and trying to stimulate development. But other than that, they’re powerless as far as how commerce works.”
If Biden can’t fix it, who can?
No one can fix the supply chain challenges before the holidays because they’re too complicated. Factories can’t immediately increase their manufacturing capacity, and more people won’t suddenly receive trucking licenses just because US consumers want to buy more stuff. Severe weather events in Texas, an energy crisis in China, and a fire at a chip factory in Japan have created new hurdles, too.
In the long run, it’s possible that the US government can change policies that contributed to this situation in the first place. Politicians could shift their approach to trade, which has historically encouraged US companies to manufacture products abroad. Improving labor standards might boost working conditions for truckers and factory workers to make those jobs more appealing — boost global vaccine manufacturing and ensure that workers in other countries are safer from Covid-19 outbreaks. Admitting more people into the US could address a shortage of delivery and port workers.
The government could even consider redeploying the Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era law that gives the president certain powers over domestic manufacturing during a crisis. For instance, the US Commerce Department is weighing how to use that law to address the US supply of semiconductor chips.
But these ideas are a reminder that US supply chain policy does not exist in a vacuum. It’s an amalgam of all sorts of broader policy choices that aren’t so easy to change.
When is this all going to end?
Some experts say it will be months before these supply chain problems resolve themselves. Others think these disruptions represent a new normal that could last years. Regardless, there’s no reason to think these issues will be fixed by the holiday season. In fact, the White House has already said there’s no guarantee that packages will arrive on time.
So should we blame Joe Biden for ruining Christmas?
A top Pentagon software official recently quit his job, claiming that the US is dragging its heels.
The Pentagon’s first-ever chief software officer abruptly quit earlier this month, and now we know exactly why: Nicolas Chaillan, former CSO of the United States Air Force and Space Force, told the Financial Times that the United States has “no competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years” when it comes to cyberwarfare and artificial intelligence.
Chaillan, a 37-year-old tech entrepreneur, added that cyber defenses at many government agencies are at “kindergarten level,” and that companies like Google were doing the US a disservice by not working with the military more on AI, since Chinese companies were making a “massive investment” in AI without getting all hung up on the ethics of it all. And while quitting your job because America has already lost the AI race is a bit dramatic, Chaillan isn’t the only one who’s concerned about China’s dominance in this arena.
A growing number of leaders in Washington and Silicon Valley are worried about the US falling behind in the race to AI supremacy. Congressional hearings on the future of AI have been going on since 2016, and Chaillan said he plans to testify in some upcoming ones. Earlier this year, the National Security Commission on AI, a project chaired by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, also boldly declared that China is poised to surpass the US as the world’s “AI superpower.” In a statement signed by Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and Stephen Hawking, among thousands of scientists, the commission said, “AI technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is — practically if not legally — feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.”
We can all agree that nobody wants China to invent a real-world version of Skynet, the all-powerful AI that takes over the planet in the Terminator movies. But we don’t want the US to do that either. And what does the finish line in this AI race actually look like? Does the US really want to win at all costs?
For years, pundits have been comparing the AI race to the space race — and warning that the US is losing it. It’s a handy analogy, since it helps Americans put current conflicts with countries like China and Russia into the familiar context of the Cold War. Many have argued that we’ve found ourselves in a second Cold War and that the country that wins the AI race will take the throne as the dominant superpower. But the AI revolution isn’t just about fighting wars or geopolitical dominance. What we’re racing to build will transform almost every aspect of our lives, from how we run businesses to how we process information to how we get around.
So it’s imperative that the US is thoughtful about quickly charging into a future filled with autonomous cars, boundless data collection, and full-time surveillance. These are the applications that next-generation AI will enable, and if a small group of powerful tech companies and/or the US military pushes for innovation without putting the proper guard rails in place, this world-changing technology could lead to some grim unintended consequences. President Biden called for the US and Europe to work together on developing new technology responsibly in a February speech at the Munich Security Conference.
“We must shape the rules that will govern the advance of technology and the norms of behavior in cyberspace, artificial intelligence, biotechnology so that they are used to lift people up, not used to pin them down,” Biden said. “We must stand up for the democratic values that make it possible for us to accomplish any of this, pushing back against those who would monopolize and normalize repression.
You could also look to present-day China to see what the near future of a more AI-centric society might look like. As Kai-Fu Lee argues in his book AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, China has been more aggressive at implementing AI breakthroughs, especially in surveillance and data collection applications, thanks in part to government support and a lack of oversight that’s let some tech companies there leapfrog the competition and dominate entire industries. WeChat and its parent company, Tencent, are perfect examples of this. On WeChat, privacy does not seem to be a priority, but the vast quantities of data the app can collect are certainly helpful for training AI.
“Imagine, if you will, that Facebook acquired Visa and Mastercard and integrated everything into the functions, as well as invested money into Amazon and Uber and OpenTable and so on and so forth, and made an ecosystem that once you log into Facebook, all these things are one click away and then you could pay for them with another click,” Lee told New York magazine. “That is the kind of convenience that WeChat brought about, and its true worth is the gigantic data set of all the user data that goes through it.”
This is the sort of winning-at-all costs approach that appears to give China a leg up in the AI race. China also appears to be playing catch-up when it comes to establishing standards for algorithmic ethics. Just last week, the country issued its first-ever guidelines on AI ethics. The US has long known that algorithms can be racist or sexist, and the Pentagon adopted its guidelines on ethical AI nearly two years ago. And as we’ve learned more recently, the AI that companies like Facebook and YouTube use to serve up content can also be used to radicalize people and undermine democracy. That’s why — especially in the wake of Facebook’s whistleblower scandal that revealed internal research showing that its products were harmful to some users, including teenage girls — lawmakers in the US lately seem more interested in talking about how to regulate algorithms than how to beat China in the AI race.
The two things aren’t mutually exclusive, by the way. Chaillan, the former military software chief, has certainly earned his right to an opinion about how quickly the US is developing its cyber defenses and artificially intelligent computers. And now that he’s taking his knowledge of how the Pentagon works to the private sector, he’ll probably make good money addressing his concerns. For the rest of us, the rise of AI shouldn’t feel like a race against China. It’s more like a high-stakes poker game.
This story first published in the Recode newsletter. Sign up here so you don’t miss the next one!
A startup called Field Trip is opening clinics where they administer ketamine treatments. Other psychedelics, like MDMA and psilocybin, may follow.
For a long time, Chase Chewning had wanted to try a new type of psychotherapy that uses ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic that’s shown promise as a mental health treatment. Chewning, a veteran who has had several recreational experiences with MDMA and psilocybin, hoped the drug could help him with his PTSD, so he made an appointment at a Los Angeles ketamine therapy clinic operated by Field Trip Health. Having now completed two ketamine sessions, Chewning says his experience at Field Trip has indeed helped him make progress.
“In two sessions, I am profoundly closer to my work on my PTSD,” Chewning told Recode. “And [the treatment] left me with a lot of responsibility on some new work, but very, very exciting things, because I know I’m moving in the right direction, towards better mental health.”
Field Trip, a Canadian startup, is betting others could have similar experiences. In fact, the company is so confident in the promise of these drugs that it’s building 75 centers for psychedelic therapy over the next three years.
Although ketamine is legal if prescribed by a doctor, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) lists psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA in schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act, which says they have no medical value and a high potential for abuse. But there’s also growing evidence that psychedelics could lead to game-changing medications and, when combined with conventional therapy, may help people who aren’t seeing results through currently available treatments. Several US cities have already decriminalized psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is overseeing clinical trials into using psychedelics to treat PTSD and depression.
This potentially revolutionary approach to mental health also represents a tremendous commercial opportunity for health care and pharmaceutical companies. But despite promising, privately funded studies into psychedelics, current government regulations prevent the wider availability of psychedelic therapy.
Field Trip currently offers ketamine treatments at six clinics in major US cities, including New York and Atlanta. The actual ketamine therapy session — Field Trip calls this a “psychedelic exploration session” — involves a patient receiving one or two shots of ketamine into their arm muscles, initiating a 45- to 90-minute hallucinogenic journey that’s supposed to help people disconnect from their normal selves. As the drug sets in, patients cover their eyes and listen to music as they’re coached by a therapist. The next day, patients return for a follow-up appointment called an “integration session” to reflect on the treatment.
“Whatever comes up in your session — new insights, perspectives — that can be fleeting if you don’t work to integrate that into your life,” Emily Hackenburg, Field Trip’s clinical director, told Recode. “Regardless of what psychedelic you’re using, preparation, journey, integration, that’s going to be the same.”
Field Trip says most patients undergo the ketamine program four to six times. The initial treatment, which includes a medical screening, an exploration session, and an integration session, costs $750. Because ketamine isn’t specifically approved for mental health applications by the FDA, the medication itself isn’t typically covered by insurance, though customers can try to get other aspects of the therapy reimbursed.
Though its treatments are expensive, Field Trip is growing quickly. In July, the company went public through a direct listing on Nasdaq and plans to offer ketamine treatments at 20 clinics in the US by early next year. Along the way, Field Trip is also setting itself up to be a huge player in an industry that largely doesn’t exist yet. While Field Trip’s US locations are currently limited to ketamine, the company hopes to offer more psychedelics, including MDMA, when the government approves their use. Field Trip is even developing its own psychedelic that’s meant to have similar effects as psilocybin, but with a much shorter trip.
The future of psychedelic therapy is also uncertain. While it seems likely that at least some psychedelic drugs will be approved for certain medical conditions in the years to come, it’s also possible that recreational use could be widely decriminalized or legalized. The status quo could also stay in place.
The US government has only recently begun to support and review research into psychedelics’ potential mental health benefits. But that slow approach means that just a few prominent companies and nonprofits are shaping much of the narrative surrounding the emerging psychedelics industry.
“This is really the most promising development in mental health care to come along, literally, in many decades. And that’s one reason why you don’t want a few companies controlling it,” says Mason Marks, a project lead at Harvard Law’s Petrie-Flom Center who focuses on psychedelics regulation.
Of course, not everyone is pleased that these startups could make psychedelics more mainstream. Some think these companies are capitalizing on a medical pathway for psychedelics that could ultimately exclude recreational users and make psychedelics more expensive and inaccessible. Others believe that psychedelics are being marketed as a cure-all that current research doesn’t support.
“Our experience with so-called pain clinics peddling untold amounts of opioids should be a cautionary tale,” Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy adviser who opposed legalizing cannabis, told Recode. “The psychedelics fad has reached a fever pitch far above and beyond what science tells us. We cannot forget the harmful potential and opportunity for manipulation by massive corporate interests.”
Nevertheless, it seems clear that the movement to make psychedelic therapy an accepted mental health treatment is gaining momentum.A psychedelics renaissance could be coming
The origins of the government’s apprehensive approach to psychedelic-based mental health treatment stretch back decades. In the 1950s and ’60s, the federal government invested heavily into researching drugs like LSD and psilocybin. But after the Controlled Substances Act of 1972, federal funding into the possible benefits of psychedelics quickly evaporated.
That stance may be changing. In September, researchers at Johns Hopkins University received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to investigate whether psilocybin could help people quit cigarettes. it appears to be the first federally funded direct study in decades of the mental health benefits of a traditional psychedelic drug. At the same time, the DEA, which keeps tight caps on how much psychedelics are available to US researchers, recently proposed increasing the nationwide availability of psilocybin from 30 grams to 1,500 grams.Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images Ketamine can be taken in the form of a lozenge, an IV, a nasal spray, or an intramuscular shot.
There is also a growing number of efforts to make psychedelics more widely available not only to researchers but also to patients. In the last few years, Denver, Oakland, and Washington, DC, have decriminalized psilocybin, and in 2023, supervised psilocybin-based therapy will become legal in Oregon. Meanwhile, a psilocybin regimen for depression is in phase 2 trials, and an MDMA-assisted treatment for people with severe PTSD is currently in phase 3 clinical trials. The FDA has also already approved a Johnson & Johnson drug called Spravato, a nasal spray that’s derived from ketamine, to treat depression.
In anticipation of looser regulations, there’s a burgeoning psychedelic health care industry made up of companies that want to offer psychedelic treatments or develop new drugs based on psychedelic compounds. In addition to Field Trip, there are 31 publicly traded firms focused on psychedelics, and at least 18 more that are still private, according to the psychedelics industry tracker Psilocybin Alpha. Inspired by promising but limited research showing that psychedelics can help treat not only treatment-resistant depression but also addiction and end-of-life anxiety, venture capitalists, including Peter Thiel, have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into these companies.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm. And that makes sense because there are many people who have suffered for many years for whom this has brought relief,” Sharmin Ghaznavi, an associate director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics, told Recode. “But we have a lot that we need to learn, and we owe that to our patients.”
The government has been slow to support research into the potential benefits of psychedelics. That means philanthropies and private companies have funded almost all of the recent studies into the medical applications of drugs like MDMA and psilocybin. Many of those studies come with important caveats, including small sample sizes and unrepresentative patient pools. One 2018 analysis of 18 psychedelics studies found that 82 percent of the participants were white.
But even as research into psychedelics continues, companies are already developing everything from apps for guided trips and mushroom-facilitated retreats to psychedelic-assisted virtual reality experiences. After all, as with any big pharmaceutical breakthrough, the future of psychedelics could be extremely profitable.How Field Trip plans to get ahead
Field Trip is well on its way to being a major player in the psychedelic health care industry. A centerpiece of Field Trip’s plan is the design of its clinics. The idea, the company says, is that psychedelics will need a brand new environment for medical care. Doctors’ offices are too sterile, and therapists’ offices don’t have the medical staff, time, or equipment to monitor patients. After all, trips on more intense psychedelic drugs require several hours and lots of supervision.
That’s why, at Field Trip’s New York location, there are serene rooms with reclining chairs and headphones for patients to use during their exploration sessions. Because ketamine can increase blood pressure, there are blood pressure monitors on-site, too. There are also rooms for post-trip reflection, where there are soft fur rugs, easels for drawing, and a gong. The space also includes a wall covered in live moss, a bubble-blowing machine, and several copies of Michael Pollan’s influential book about psychedelics, How to Change Your Mind.
“There’s lots of shoe companies out there, but Nike has a very prominent voice in that conversation,” Field Trip CEO Ronan Levy told Recode. “I want Field Trip to do that for psychedelics.”Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images Field Trip hopes to open 75 clinics by 2024.
While the company had about $100 million on hand at the end of June, Field Trip is currently making less than $1 million on patient services, according to its most recent quarterly report. One of the biggest challenges for Field Trip is that most people don’t have several thousand dollars lying around to spend on ketamine therapy. But if the FDA were to approve a psychedelic drug for a mental health condition, insurance companies may start to cover more Field Trip treatments, bringing them a huge new customer base.
There are certain conditions, like a history of psychosis or a ketamine allergy, that rule out Field Trip’s offering for some patients. Levy says the safety of ketamine has been well established and that Field Trip hasn’t had any medical issues. But others believe there is a litany of open questions.
Jeffrey Lieberman, a Columbia psychiatry professor, says the enthusiasm about psychedelics is outpacing the science, and he worries that mishaps could lead to backlash and a return to restrictions. If MDMA is approved for PTSD, for example, companies could end up prescribing the drug for other conditions that it hasn’t been approved for. That practice, which is sometimes called off-label prescribing, is already in place for ketamine. Lieberman added that we don’t fully understand the long-term safety of ketamine. There is also evidence ketamine clinics throughout the US are overhyping the drug’s abilities and not properly screening patients, acccording to a 2018 investigation by STAT.
There are other objections. A significant number of people oppose even the monitored use of psychedelics, including the 44 percent of Oregon residents who voted against the state’s recent measure to legalize a supervised psilocybin therapy model much like Field Trip’s. There are also psychedelic advocates who believe that allowing companies like Field Trip to do business will end up medicalizing and driving up the cost of psychedelics, which they think should be freely available.
The companies and people hoping to make psychedelic-based mental health care mainstream say this trend is about far more than just the drugs themselves.
“Taking a gram of mushrooms recreationally with your friends sitting around and giggling at YouTube music videos … it’s harmless,” Sanjay Singhal, a tech entrepreneur who directs the Nikean Foundation, a nonprofit that funds psychedelics research, told Recode. “But it’s completely different from taking five grams, knocking you out in the presence of a therapist for five hours while your brain processes whatever trauma, anxiety, emotional issues you might have.”
We’re bound to hear more about psychedelic therapy in the months to come. But even if psychedelics’ legal status remains the same, it’s clear to some patients that there’s a place for psychedelic therapy — even if it’s just the existing ketamine treatments — in our health care system. To Chewning, the veteran, these startups are addressing the demand for better mental health care and providing a new option for people who haven’t had success with traditional medications and therapy.
“I just look at what they’ve done for me personally, I look at what they have done for people I know,” he said. “We’re being put on a path toward a higher quality of life in the near future.”
Heads up, Substack. But also Twitter. And Facebook. And the New York Times ...
Here’s a media trend: Journalists setting up their own newsletters instead of working for big, established publishers.
Here’s a media trend working in the opposite direction: Big, established publishers with robust business models or big backers — or both — consolidating their power by hoovering up talent.
And here’s a story that can do both: The Atlantic is launching a newsletter offering that wants to bring writers under the Atlantic’s umbrella (and paywall) while letting them stay semi-independent.
The idea, per people familiar, is for the magazine to unveil a roster of newsletter writers — maybe a dozen or so — in the coming weeks. They’ll only be available to Atlantic subscribers. The New York Times has done something similar this year, rolling out subscriber-only letters from writers, including Kara Swisher and Jay Caspian Kang.
One big difference between the Atlantic’s plan and other newsletter distributors is that, in some cases, the Atlantic is recruiting writers who are already in the paid newsletter business. And it wants to convert those writers’ subscribers into Atlantic subscribers.
At least one of those writers, I’ve confirmed, is a writer who currently has set up shop at Substack, the company that kicked off the most recent newsletter boom by making it easy (theoretically) to make money self-publishing.
Here’s the rough outline of what the Atlantic wants to do, via people with knowledge:The Atlantic isn’t hiring the writers as full-time employees, but will offer them some sort of base payment with the ability to make additional money if they hit certain subscriber goals. So it’s a much more reliable income source than a paid newsletter — even Casey Newton, a contributing writer for Vox Media’s The Verge, who has been running his own, successful, Substack for the last year, says he sees monthly churn of 3 to 4 percent. If the writers are already selling paid subscriptions to their letters, the Atlantic wants to turn those subscriptions into Atlantic subscriptions. That is: If you’re currently paying Provocative But Thinky Takes Guy $5 a month for his work, now that same money will get you that letter, plus any other newsletters the Atlantic publishes, plus the Atlantic itself, which currently sells a digital-only subscription for $50 a year. Newsletter writers who join the Atlantic’s program get to keep their existing list of subscribers. So if they decide to bail on the Atlantic, they could start up their business again. How much oversight or assistance the letter writers will get from Atlantic editors and staff still sounds like a work in progress. But the thrust is that the writers are supposed to remain editorially independent from the publication; they won’t be edited by Atlantic editors. Update: Got some gentle pushback from an Atlantic source on this point — seems more accurate to say newsletter writers will have some light oversight from Atlantic editors, though it’s unclear what exactly that will entail. So what happens if the Atlantic ends up hiring someone the Atlantic decides is too racy/racist/problematic for the Atlantic? Good question!
An Atlantic spokesperson declined to comment.
It’s easy to see the appeal of the program to the Atlantic, led by editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg and CEO Nick Thompson. The publication gets a new roster of voices and the possibility of instantly increasing its subscriber numbers. And while more subscribers are always nice, they would be particularly nice for the Atlantic right now, which thrived during the Trump years and the pandemic in particular but, like other publishers, has seen its website traffic slump as Trump and Covid-19 have stopped dominating the news cycle.
And since declining traffic makes it harder to convert new readers into subscribers, anything that brings in new eyeballs — let alone an injection of paying readers — would be welcome. (Here we should note that even though the Atlantic is owned by Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire wants the publication, which had a round of layoffs in the early months of the pandemic, to be self-sustaining.)
The pitch to writers is a little more nuanced, with some parts spelled out and other parts more tacit. The obvious one: Come work at an award-winning publication with wide reach, backed by a billionaire. Unstated: Maybe you thought you’d be crushing it once you started up your newsletter business. But maybe you’re not, and maybe you’d like a steady paycheck. Running a solo shop isn’t for everybody.
That said, some newsletter writers who’ve found receptive audiences — primarily via Substack — are making way more money than they ever did at established media companies.
Former New York Times opinion writer and editor Bari Weiss, for instance, tells me she now has 16,500 subscribers to her Substack, Common Sense. Which at $5 per subscriber, per month, means she could be bringing in $890,000 a year, after Substack takes its 10 percent fee. So don’t expect Weiss to show up in the Atlantic’s roster anytime soon.
I asked Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie what it means if competitors like the Atlantic poach some of his authors. He was gracious about it. “We root for writers even when they’re not Substackers, so we’re glad to see a trend toward more ownership for writers,” McKenzie said in a statement. “We’ve always advocated for writers to have full ownership of their content and audiences, and we applaud every step in this direction.”
McKenzie and his team have clearly contemplated some kind of this platform-jumping: Part of Substack’s pitch is that writers can easily walk away, taking all the content they published and an email list of all their subscribers. And Substack’s success has spurred new competitors, including Facebook and Twitter, both of which can easily outspend Substack if they want to — as I reported in June, Facebook dropped $6 million on the URL for Bulletin, its Substack clone.
But if you’re not a Substack superstar, maybe it doesn’t take a ton of money to woo you from the company: just a steady paycheck and the ability to write for a big group of people. Like people at some regular media companies do.
Clarification, October 9: This article has been updated to reflect an Atlantic source’s statement that a coming slate of newsletter writers will have some degree of oversight by Atlantic editors.
The most popular holiday gifts might not arrive in time for the holidays, even if you order now.
Best Buy has revealed a curious way to cash in on worldwide shortages and shipping delays: subscriptions. This week, the company announced a $200-a-year program that promises consumers lower prices and exclusive access to hard-to-find devices. While the new membership also includes 24/7 tech support and free shipping, the idea of guaranteed product availability might be particularly appealing to shoppers worried that their orders won’t arrive in time for the holidays.
The new Best Buy service is a stark reminder that retailers don’t anticipate that supply chain issues, including the global semiconductor chip shortage, are going away anytime soon. In fact, it looks like they’re getting worse. A supply crunch for petrochemicals, which are used in everything from paint to plastics, has raised the prices on all kinds of products. Meanwhile, an emerging energy crunch in China has led to power cuts that have closed factories and disrupted daily life there. These recent developments are compounding the existing problems with the global supply chain and making logistical bottlenecks worse. Combine that with an ongoing shortage of shipping containers and truck drivers, and the end result is a huge slowdown in the delivery of goods.
“You’ve got labor-related issues. You’ve got issues of lack of availability of empty containers and space on vessels. Port congestion here in the United States, workforce issues with trucker availability and warehouse workers,” Jon Gold, a vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, told Recode. “The entire system has been stretched.”
While retailers are racing to import the goods and gadgets they think consumers will want during the holiday shopping season, the growing list of shortages has made it difficult for them to find enough stock. Now, experts say consumers should expect higher prices, delays, and opportunistic resellers as Black Friday and Cyber Monday draw closer. And for the next six months to a year, we just won’t see the same variety of products that we’re used to, according to Patrick Penfield, a supply chain professor at Syracuse University.Supply chain problems are getting worse
Gadgets are particularly vulnerable to shortages because they include many different components. Consider all the parts that go into a PlayStation 5 or a new laptop, including their chips, outer shells, and screens. Many of these components require their own specialized manufacturing facilities, which are typically in different factories and often in different countries. For a device to be delivered on time, all of these parts need to be made in sync. Right now, that’s not happening.
“A lot of people who are working on this don’t really understand how diverse all the components that go into supply chains are,” Willy Shih, a business administration professor at Harvard, told Recode in August. “They don’t understand that I need capacitors. They don’t understand that I need power management chips. They don’t understand that I need inductors.”
Demand for these components has run up against efforts to contain Covid-19 in the countries where the production and assembly of many goods actually take place. Amid a recent delta variant outbreak and nationwide lockdown in Malaysia, the government designated electronics manufacturers critical businesses so that production could continue. In May, Vietnam directed vaccines directly to factory workers, while urging smartphone manufacturers working in the country, like Samsung, to do the same. (Vietnam’s Covid-19 challenges haven’t gone away: This past weekend, tens of thousands of workers fled the country’s commercial center after the government, which is still struggling to access vaccines, lifted pandemic lockdown restrictions.)
Now, planned power outages aimed at curbing energy use in China are making electronics manufacturing increasingly complicated. The situation is a consequence of several interwoven problems, including a global surge in fossil fuel prices; a dispute between China and Australia, which is one of the country’s main suppliers of coal; and China’s efforts to curb pollution ahead of the Winter Olympic Games. The resulting electricity cuts have had a devastating effect on people’s daily lives and left some homes and classrooms without power and water.
China’s energy crunch has also forced many factories, including those that build components for Apple, Dell, Tesla, and Microsoft, to pause or cut down on production. Meanwhile, appliance manufacturers and automakers in the country are bracing for a shortage of metal after metal smelters limited operations. Power shortages are likewise hindering companies responsible for things like chip packaging, chip testing, and phone assembly.
On top of all this, the shortage of petrochemicals, which are derived from oil, has made it more difficult and expensive to produce all sorts of goods, including paint, adhesives, and food packaging. In recent weeks, the price of polyvinyl chloride, a chemical used to make plastic, has surged 70 percent. Without those raw materials, makers of everything from credit cards to medical devices to cars are having an even harder time keeping up production.
“What will happen is that a phone will be delayed because they’re waiting on their plastic supplier, and the plastic supplier is waiting on the ingredient,” Penfield, the Syracuse professor, said. “It just takes one supplier — and it could be the base ingredient supplier — to fully screw up your supply chain.”
The disruptions in petrochemical manufacturing have many causes, but some are linked to companies that still haven’t recovered from the winter storm in Texas and several recent hurricanes along the Gulf Coast. This correlation shows how extreme weather exacerbated by climate change is having unanticipated ripple effects across many industries.Rethink the holiday season
All these problems mean that consumers are seeing rising prices and shipping delays for a wide range of products. So those looking ahead to the holiday shopping season might want to get an early start, and not just on consumer electronics. As Vox’s Terry Nguyen reported last month, almost everything people might want to purchase for the holidays seems to be vulnerable to snags in the global supply chain:
Here is an incomplete list of consumer goods that have been subject to backorders, delays, and shortages: new clothes, back-to-school supplies, bicycles, pet food, paint, furniture, cars, tech gadgets, children’s toys, home appliances, lumber, anything that relies on semiconductor chips, and even coveted fast food staples like chicken wings, ketchup packets, Taco Bell, Starbucks’ cake pops, and McDonald’s milkshakes (in the UK, for now).
“Most likely, there will be some shortages on specific products over the holiday season,” Seckin Ozkul, from the University of South Florida’s Supply Chain Innovation Lab, said. “So, if consumers know what they want to buy for their loved ones for the holiday season, now is a good time to act on it.”
Beyond buying early and paying more, there are other ways customers can adapt. Shoppers should consider purchasing products that aren’t their first choice, since some items, like the PlayStation 5, will likely be in short supply until sometime next year. When buying online, it may be worth looking to see if local stores have a curbside pick-up option. (One helpful tool for this is Google Shopping, which can include information about where an item is in stock at nearby retailers.)
Another strategy is just to avoid online shopping altogether and buy items in stores, the old-fashioned way. Bigger chains like Walmart and Home Depot have the resources to charter their own cargo ships, and they seem less likely to be out of items. Best Buy, of course, is hoping that some people will consider paying $200 to secure access to in-demand products, though the company hasn’t shared which products that program will include.
Regardless of how customers choose to prepare, they shouldn’t assume that supply chain problems will be resolved before the holidays. Given how easily shortages compound other shortages, there doesn’t seem to be an end date in sight.
Oh no. Why is the new MacBook Pro screen notched? pic.twitter.com/zO67bl81fX— DuanRui (@duanrui1205) October 16, 2021 Read more...