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This is today’s edition of The Download our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

The world’s biggest surveillance company you’ve never heard of

You may never have heard of Hikvision, but chances are you’ve already been captured by one of its millions of cameras. The Chinese company’s products can be found anywhere from police surveillance systems to baby monitors in more than 190 countries. Its ability to make decent-quality products at cheap prices (as well as its ties with the Chinese state) has helped make Hikvision the largest manufacturer of video surveillance equipment in the world.

But while Hikvision’s close links with the Chinese government have helped it grow, these links may now be its undoing. The firm has helped build China’s massive police surveillance system and tailored it to oppress the Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang. As a result, the US government has imposed several sanctions on it in the last three years. This year, the US Treasury is reportedly considering adding Hikvision to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List, usually reserved for countries like North Korea or Iran.

Here’s everything you should know about Hikvision: a firm that used to fly under the radar but now faces becoming the most sanctioned tech company in the world. Read the full story.

—Zeyi Yang

Scientists hacked a locust’s brain to sniff out cancer 

They’ve done what? Some animals, including dogs, have been taught to spot signs that humans are sick. They’re thought to be able to sense the chemicals that people emit through body odor or breath. The mix of chemicals can vary depending on a person’s metabolism, which is thought to change when we get sick. But dogs are expensive to train and look after and making a device that mimics a dog’s nose is still too difficult. So scientists decided to “hijack” an insect’s brain instead.

How did they do it? They exposed the brain of a living locust and inserted electrodes into the lobes that receive signals from the insects’ antennae, which they use to sense odors. The locusts’ brains reacted distinctly to odors emitted from human cells both with and without cancer in a lab—the first time a living insect brain has been tested as a tool to detect the disease.

What next? The team behind the work hopes it could one day lead to an insect-based breath test that could be used in cancer screening, or inspire an artificial version that works in much the same way. Although that’s a long way off. Read the full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

Energy-hungry data centers are quietly moving into cities

When you think of data centers, you probably picture a giant server farm in a rural area where electricity is cheap and tax breaks are plentiful. But now, to reduce lag times, companies are increasingly weaving nodes in their network into the fabric of cities. 

A 24-story art deco building located at 60 Hudson Street in lower Manhattan, once a bustling telegraph station, is now home to vast halls of computer servers, while the One Wilshire building in Los Angeles, formerly home to a network of law offices, now oversees one-third of all internet traffic between the US and Asia—and demand is quickly growing. Read the full story.

—Michael Waters

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Microsoft is pulling the plug on its facial analysis AI
Its controversial emotional state prediction tools had been criticized as unscientific. (NYT $)
Emotion AI researchers say overblown claims give their work a bad name. (MIT Technology Review)

2How experts hope to protect Earth from deadly sun storms

Spoiler: SPF won’t do you any good. (Wired $)
The space mission to buy us vital extra hours before a solar storm strikes. (MIT Technology Review)

3Privacy has become weaponized
Partly because knowing we’re being watched informs the decisions we make. (New Yorker $)
Marseille’s battle against the surveillance state. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Maybe it’s time to rethink what we mean by the term ‘sentient’
Google’s AI dilemma shows how little we understand about what sentience really is. (The Atlantic $)
New York’s highest court doesn’t think an elephant is a person. What about an AI? (Vox)

5 How China and the west fell out over satellites
And raised serious questions about the control of earth-orbiting assets along the way. (FT $)
SpaceX made three rocket launches in just 36 hours. (Gizmodo)
There’s somewhere between 6 and 20 trillion galaxies in the universe—we think. (Big Think)
How to fight a war in space (and get away with it).

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: China’s possible surveillance sanctions, and hacking locusts
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Published Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2022 15:26:52 +0000

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Advancing AI innovation with cutting-edge solutions  

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AI is helping organizations in nearly every industry increase productivity, engage customers, realize operational efficiencies, and gain a competitive edge. Advances in supercomputing in the cloud and the ability to achieve processing at an exascale level are major catalysts for this new era of AI innovation.

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Common AI use cases today include personalized healthcare and targeted therapies, virtual assistants and chatbots, financial fraud detection, predictive maintenance, autonomous cars and machinery, energy management, and accelerated scientific discoveries.

Some companies are deep into their AI journey, delivering advanced AI-enabled products and services, but many businesses are at the early stages and are struggling with where and how to best apply AI in their business. AI is complex, requiring new skills, tools, and technologies.

To accelerate AI development and integration, organizations can benefit from a trusted partner that has AI expertise across the complete technology stack. The right AI solution provider can help determine the best AI strategy for a company’s specific business model and provide comprehensive, unified services, advanced infrastructure, and tools specifically designed for AI.

Discover the latest AI technologies. Join Microsoft at the NVIDIA GTC AI Conference March 18–21. Learn more.   

Companies across the world are turning to Microsoft to help them transform their business with innovative, secure, and responsible AI. At the forefront of artificial intelligence, Microsoft has delivered cutting-edge advances in vision, speech, language, decision-making, machine learning, and supercomputing infrastructure for more than 30 years. Hear how Microsoft AI solutions are helping organizations around the world achieve more in the video below.

ccelerating AI application development

Microsoft recently unveiled yet another round of AI services that can help businesses accelerate AI production, whether by adding intelligence to existing applications and processes or creating new ones from scratch. These new services include the following:

Azure AI Studio, now in preview, empowers organizations and developers to innovate with AI. The platform, accessibly and responsibly designed, provides a one-stop shop for developers to seamlessly explore, build, test, and deploy AI solutions using state-of-the-art AI tools and machine learning models, all grounded in responsible AI practices. Developers can build generative AI applications, including copilot experiences, using out-of-the-box and customizable tooling and models with built-in security and compliance.Azure OpenAI Service offers industry-leading coding and language AI models and the latest advancements in generative AI for content creation, conversational AI, and data grounding.New GPT-4 Turbo in Azure OpenAI provides a leap forward with lower pricing, extended prompt length, and structured JSON formatting, delivering improved efficiency and control.GPT-4 Turbo with Vision is a new large multimodal model (LMM) developed by OpenAI that can analyze images and videos and provide textual responses to questions about them.DALL·E 3is the latest image generation model from OpenAI, featuring enhanced image quality, more complex scenes, improved performance when rendering text in images, and more aspect ratio options.

Powering AI workloads

Microsoft is also reimagining every aspect of their data centers to deliver the agility, power, scalability, and efficiencies AI workloads demand. Microsoft’s pioneering performance for AI has ranked them as the number-one cloud in the Top500 List of the world’s supercomputers and powered innovations like a new battery material. AI trailblazers are building and training the most sophisticated models in the world on Microsoft Azure AI infrastructure.

Here are some of Microsoft’s latest infrastructure advancements:

Custom-built silicon tailored for the Microsoft cloud offers optimized performance for AI and enterprise workloads. Azure Maia, an AI accelerator chip, is specifically designed to run cloud-based training and inferencing for AI workloads, such as OpenAI models, Bing, GitHub Copilot, and ChatGPT. Azure Cobalt is a cloud-native chip optimized for performance, power efficiency, and

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By: Lachlan Ainley
Title: Advancing AI innovation with cutting-edge solutions  
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Published Date: Mon, 04 Mar 2024 14:00:00 +0000

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The Download: the mystery of LLMs, and the EU’s Big Tech crackdown

This is today’s edition of The Download our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

Large language models can do jaw-dropping things. But nobody knows exactly why.

Two years ago, Yuri Burda and Harri Edwards, researchers at OpenAI, were trying to find out what it would take to get a large language model to do basic arithmetic. At first, things didn’t go too well. The models memorized the sums they saw but failed to solve new ones.

By accident, Burda and Edwards left some of their experiments running for days rather than hours. The models were shown the example sums over and over again, and eventually they learned to add two numbers—it had just taken a lot more time than anybody thought it should.

In certain cases, models could seemingly fail to learn a task and then all of a sudden just get it, as if a lightbulb had switched on, a behavior the researchers called grokking. Grokking is just one of several odd phenomena that have AI researchers scratching their heads. The largest models, and large language models in particular, seem to behave in ways textbook math says they shouldn’t.

This highlights a remarkable fact about deep learning, the fundamental technology behind today’s AI boom: for all its runaway success, nobody knows exactly how—or why—it works. Read the full story.

—Will Douglas Heaven

If you’re interested in the mysteries of AI, why not check out:

+ Why AI being good at math matters so much—and what it means for the future of the technology.

+ What the history of AI tells us about its future. IBM’s chess-playing supercomputer Deep Blue was eclipsed by the neural-net revolution. Now, the machine may get the last laugh. Read the full story.

+ What an octopus’s mind can teach us about AI’s ultimate mystery. Machine consciousness has been debated—and dismissed—since Turing. Yet it still shapes our thinking about AI. Read the full story.

+ The great AI consciousness conundrum. Philosophers, cognitive scientists, and engineers are grappling with what it would take for AI to become conscious. Read the full story.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The EU wants to end self-regulation for Big Tech
A new law is forcing the biggest companies to alter their technologies—or else. (NYT $)
The EU wants to regulate your favorite AI tools. (MIT Technology Review)

2 The US-China trade secret war is escalating
Proving criminal intent is tough, but the risks posed by corporate espionage are real. (WSJ $)
The Chinese Communist Party is gearing up for its annual meeting in Beijing. (Economist $)
Meanwhile, China is offering AI startups subsidizing vouchers. (FT $)

3 Apple’s driverless car project was always doomed
The company has little to show for nearly a decade of work on it. (The Verge)
Its hopes of dethroning Tesla were ridiculously ambitious. (Bloomberg $)
Apple is no stranger to axing a project it feels isn’t working. (TechCrunch)

4 Brace yourself for generative AI’s data-stealing worms
It’s an entirely new kind of cyberattack. (Wired $)
India is cracking down on unreliable and unfinished AI tools. (Reuters)
Three ways AI chatbots are a security disaster. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Lab testing monkeys are being laundered from Cambodia
They’re ripped from their homes, illegally bred, and shipped into the US. (Bloomberg $)

6We’re being advised to treat covid like the flu
New US guidance says we don’t need to isolate anymore. (NY Mag $)
Instead, stay at home until you feel well enough to mix again. (Ars Technica)
Scientists are finding signals of long covid in blood. (MIT Technology Review)

7 Waymo’s driverless cars are heading to LA
Despite some very vocal backlash from locals. (Insider $)
What’s next for robotaxis in 2024. (MIT Technology Review)

8 It’s high time we killed our speeding habit
Modern vehicles are capable of unnecessarily high speeds. A new technology could stop that. (Vox)

9 Meet the AI influencers changing the course of the industry
It goes to show X is still good for something. (IEEE Spectrum)
Why it matters how we picture AI. (New Yorker $)
I went for a walk with Gary Marcus, AI’s loudest critic. (MIT Technology Review)

10 We’re getting closer to finding real-world use cases for quantum computers
And Google’s willing to pay to hear your ideas. (New Scientist $)
How scientists are using quantum squeezing to push the limits of their sensors. (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“To be honest, what concerns me more is the lack of control from humans, who are still making wars after 2,000 years.”

—Roberto Cingolani, CEO of Italian defense company Leonardo, explains to CNBC why he thinks

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: the mystery of LLMs, and the EU’s Big Tech crackdown
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Published Date: Mon, 04 Mar 2024 13:10:00 +0000

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Top 5 Bitcoin ATM Locations in Athens for Fast and Easy Crypto Access

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As a crypto analyst and frequent investor in the Greek digital currency market, I can confidently recommend Bcash for convenient and secure Bitcoin purchasing in Athens. With 10 strategically located crypto ATM hotspots spanning central Athens and the northern suburbs, Bcash enables instant access to leading cryptocurrencies like BTC, ETH, and USDT.

Experience the Leading Greek Crypto ATM Network at Bcash’s Hotspots

From first-hand experience, I’m impressed by Bcash’s easy user interface, excellent customer assistance, and fair prices. Their two-way ATM machines allow both buying with Euro cash and selling crypto for instant fiat payouts. I found the simple on-screen instructions enabled completing transactions in under 2 minutes!

Bcash’s Bitcoin ATM network stands out from competitors by aligning prices closely with real-time crypto market rates. Their typical 6-8% fees are much cheaper than traditional crypto brokers and exchanges in Greece. For investors seeking reliable local crypto access, Bcash has the solutions.

Central Athens Bcash Shops Offer Prime Buying and Selling

For maximum security while buying or selling Bitcoin, Bcash’s dedicated Athens shop locations are ideal. Their main office on Dimitrakopoulou Street in the city center contains a premier crypto ATM location open 6 days weekly. It’s close to public transit for easy access.

I also frequented Bcash’s Glyfada branch in the south shopping district. With spacious storefront access and long business hours, this hotspot proved one of my favorite crypto transaction destinations. The expert staff helped guide my buying process as a beginner too.

Glyfada Shopping District ATM Location

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The Glyfada store sits right on Gennimata Street, providing a safe and high-traffic venue for easily buying and selling leading cryptocurrencies. Open Monday through Saturday, this major Bcash outlet enjoys strong local area visibility for crypto investors.

Northern Suburbs ATM Hotspots

In Athens’ northern suburbs, I purchased Bitcoin multiple times at Bcash’s Nea Erythraia shop off Mikras Asias Street. Located just 20 minutes from the city center, it makes crypto conveniently accessible for residents across northeast Athens.

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Piraeus Port Shopping District ATM

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While recently docking overnight at the Piraeus cruise port as part of an Aegean island-hopping vacation, I encountered one of Bcash’s handy crypto ATMs just 5 minutes from the passenger terminals. Located right on Sachtouri Street inside the company’s Piraeus store, this machine proved hugely convenient for buying Bitcoin during my stay.

As one of Europe’s largest passenger ports, Piraeus receives over 4 million travelers every year who could benefit from easy access to crypto. Whether before boarding ferries to venture deeper into the Greek islands or arriving back onshore in Athens, the Bcash outlet enables obtaining coins to capture optimal valuations.

And for tourists exploring downtown Piraeus’ vast harborfront retail area, having a trusted Bitcoin ATM one block away gives peace of mind. Rather than relying solely on airport kiosks, cruise ship visitors can turn Euros into crypto almost anytime thanks to Bcash’s strategic positioning. As vacationing investors, that accessibility offers real advantages.

Bcash Brings Bitcoin to the Greek Islands

Rhodes Island BTM Location

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Title: Top 5 Bitcoin ATM Locations in Athens for Fast and Easy Crypto Access
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Published Date: Sun, 03 Mar 2024 17:18:46 +0000

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