Germany assures China that doors still open to discuss EU surcharges

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Shanghai, China — The German vice-chancellor assured China on Saturday that the "doors" remained "open" to discuss EU surcharges on Chinese electric vehicles, without reassuring Beijing which promised to "firmly defend" its manufacturers. Also, the Minister of Economy and Climate, Robert Habeck is making a visit that seems like a last chance to avoid a trade war between the Old Continent and the second world power, an important economic partner of Germany. A task further complicated by the political context, the German leader reproached China on Saturday for its economic support for Russia against a backdrop of the invasion of Ukraine, stressing it was "harming" relations between Beijing and Brussels. China regularly denounces these upcoming surcharges on electric vehicles as being "purely protectionist." "These are not punitive customs duties," Habeck assured…


US bans Russia’s Kaspersky antivirus software

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Washington — U.S. President Joe Biden's administration on Thursday banned Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky from providing its popular antivirus products in the United States over national security concerns, the U.S. Commerce Department said. "Kaspersky will generally no longer be able to, among other activities, sell its software within the United States or provide updates to software already in use," the agency said in a statement. The announcement came after a lengthy investigation found Kaspersky's "continued operations in the United States presented a national security risk due to the Russian Government's offensive cyber capabilities and capacity to influence or direct Kaspersky's operations," it said. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said, "Russia has shown time and again they have the capability and intent to exploit Russian companies, like Kaspersky Lab, to collect and…


India, US to strengthen high technology cooperation 

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New Delhi — Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his third term in office, India and the United States agreed to strengthen cooperation in high technology areas during a visit by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan to New Delhi. Sullivan met Modi, the Indian foreign minister and his Indian counterpart during the visit that reaffirmed both countries will pursue closer ties. “India is committed to further strengthen the India-US comprehensive global strategic partnership for global good,” Modi wrote on X after meeting Sullivan on Monday. The main focus of Sullivan’s visit was to hold discussion with Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on a landmark initiative launched by the two countries in January last year to collaborate more closely in high-technology areas including defense, semiconductors, 5G wireless networks…


Smartphone stroke detection breakthrough announced by Australian team

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SYDNEY — A new technology that allows smartphones to identify strokes far quicker than existing methods has been developed by researchers in Australia. The new technology uses artificial intelligence as it scans a patient’s face for symmetry and certain muscle movements, which are called action units. People who have suffered a stroke often have one side of their face looking different from the other.   The biomedical engineers at Melbourne’s RMIT University say the smartphone technology can detect facial asymmetry, potentially identifying strokes within seconds - much sooner and more precisely than current technologies. Professor Dinesh Kumar, who led the research team, explained to Australian Broadcasting Corp. how the AI-driven device works. “It takes a video of a person who is doing a smile, and the model determines whether this particular smile…


A year after the Titan’s tragic dive, deep-sea explorers vow to pursue ocean’s mysteries

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PORTLAND, Maine — The deadly implosion of an experimental submersible en route to the deep-sea grave of the Titanic last June has not dulled the desire for further ocean exploration, despite lingering questions about the disaster. Tuesday marks one year since the Titan vanished on its way to the historic wreckage site in the North Atlantic Ocean. After a five-day search that captured attention around the world, authorities said the vessel had been destroyed and all five people on board had died. Concerns have been raised about whether the Titan was destined for disaster because of its unconventional design and its creator’s refusal to submit to independent checks that are standard in the industry. The U.S. Coast Guard quickly convened a high-level investigation into what happened, but officials said the inquiry…


Myanmar cracks down on flow of information by blocking VPNs

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BANGKOK — Myanmar's military government has launched a major effort to block free communication on the internet, shutting off access to virtual private networks — known as VPNs — which can be used to circumvent blockages of banned websites and services.  The attempt to restrict access to information began at the end of May, according to mobile phone operators, internet service providers, a major opposition group, and media reports.  The military government that took power in February 2021 after ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi has made several attempts to throttle traffic on the internet, especially in the months immediately after their takeover.  Reports in local media say the attack on internet usage includes random street searches of people's mobile phones to check for VPN applications, with a…


World leaders discuss AI as China’s digital influence in Latin America grows  

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washington — Pope Francis, originally from Argentina, spoke Friday about the ethics of artificial intelligence at the G7 summit at a time when China has been rolling out its own AI standards and building technological infrastructure in developing nations, including Latin America. The annual meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized nations held in the Puglia region of Italy this week focused on topics that included economic security and artificial intelligence. On Friday, Francis became the first pope to speak at a G7 summit. He spoke about AI and its ethical implications and the need to balance technological progress with values. “Artificial intelligence could enable a democratization of access to knowledge, the exponential advancement of scientific research, and the possibility of giving demanding and arduous work to machines,” he said. But…


Google AI Gemini parrots China’s propaganda

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Washington — VOA’s Mandarin Service recently took Google’s artificial intelligence assistant Gemini for a test drive by asking it dozens of questions in Mandarin, but when it was asked about topics including China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang or street protests against the country’s controversial COVID policies, the chatbot went silent. Gemini’s responses to questions about problems in the United States and Taiwan, on the other hand, parroted Beijing’s official positions. Gemini, Google’s large-language model launched late last year, is blocked in China. The California-based tech firm had quit the Chinese market in 2010 in a dispute over censorship demands. Congressional lawmakers and experts tell VOA that they are concerned about Gemini’s pro-Beijing responses and are urging Google and other Western companies to be more transparent about their AI training data.…


Netflix’s recipe for success includes ‘secret sauce’ spiced with tech savvy

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LOS GATOS, California — Although its video streaming service sparkles with a Hollywood sheen, Netflix still taps its roots in Silicon Valley to stay a step ahead of traditional TV and movie studios. The Los Gatos, California, company, based more than 300 miles away from Hollywood, frequently reaches into its technological toolbox without viewers even realizing it. It often just uses a few subtle twists on the knobs of viewer recommendations to help keep its 270 million worldwide subscribers satisfied at a time when most of its streaming rivals are seeing waves of cancelations from inflation-weary subscribers. Even when hit TV series like “The Crown” or “Bridgerton” have wide appeal, Netflix still tries to cater to the divergent tastes of its vast audience. One part of that recipe includes tailoring summaries…


Some US families opt to raise teens sans social media

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WESTPORT, Connecticut — Kate Bulkeley's pledge to stay off social media in high school worked at first. She watched the benefits pile up: She was getting excellent grades. She read lots of books. The family had lively conversations around the dinner table and gathered for movie nights on weekends. Then, as sophomore year got under way, the unexpected problems surfaced. She missed a student government meeting arranged on Snapchat. Her Model U.N. team communicates on social media, too, causing her scheduling problems. Even the Bible Study club at her Connecticut high school uses Instagram to communicate with members. Gabriela Durham, a high school senior in Brooklyn, says navigating high school without social media has made her who she is today. She is a focused, organized, straight-A student. Not having social media…


US lawmakers call for scrutiny of NewsBreak app over Chinese origins

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WASHINGTON AND LONDON — Three U.S. lawmakers have called for more scrutiny of NewsBreak, a popular news aggregation app in the United States, after Reuters reported it has Chinese origins and has used artificial intelligence tools to produce erroneous stories. The Reuters story drew upon previously unreported court documents related to copyright infringement, cease-and-desist emails and a 2022 company memo registering concerns about "AI-generated stories" to identify at least 40 instances in which NewsBreak's use of AI tools affected the communities it strives to serve. “The only thing more terrifying than a company that deals in unchecked, artificially generated news, is one with deep ties to an adversarial foreign government," said Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat who chairs the Intelligence Committee. "This is yet another example of the serious threat posed…


22 Chinese nationals sentenced to prison in Zambia for cybercrimes

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LUSAKA, Zambia — A Zambian court on Friday sentenced 22 Chinese nationals to long prison terms for cybercrimes that included internet fraud and online scams targeting Zambians and other people from Singapore, Peru and the United Arab Emirates. The Magistrates Court in the capital, Lusaka, sentenced them for terms ranging from seven to 11 years. The court also fined them between $1,500 and $3,000 after they pleaded guilty to charges of computer-related misrepresentation, identity fraud and illegally operating a network or service on Wednesday. A man from Cameroon also was sentenced and fined on the same changes. They were part of a group of 77 people, the majority of them Zambians, arrested in April over what police described as a "sophisticated internet fraud syndicate." Director-general of the drug enforcement commission, Nason…


Many Americans still shying away from EVs despite Biden’s push, poll finds

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Washington — Many Americans still aren’t sold on going electric for their next car purchase. High prices and a lack of easy-to-find charging stations are major sticking points, a new poll shows.   About 4 in 10 U.S. adults say they would be at least somewhat likely to buy an EV the next time they buy a car, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, while 46% say they are not too likely or not at all likely to purchase one.   The poll results, which echo an AP-NORC poll from last year, show that President Joe Biden’s election-year plan to dramatically raise EV sales is running into resistance from American drivers. Only 13% of…