2019-03-19: The oil industry needn’t be too concerned -- for now -- about how Tesla Inc.’s electric cars are denting demand. China and its bus fleet could be more of a worry.
By the end of this year, a cumulative 270,000 barrels a day of diesel demand will have been displaced by electric buses, most of it in China, according to a report published Tuesday by BloombergNEF. That’s more than three times the displacement by all the world’s passenger electric vehicles (a market where Tesla has a share of about 12 percent.).
2018/12/07: why the U.S. and its allies are apprehensive of using Huawei's products:
1. There could be "kill switches" in Huawei equipment.
2. ... That even close inspections miss.
3. Back doors could be used for data snooping.
4. The rollout of 5G wireless networks will make everything worse.
5. Chinese firms will ship tech to countries in defiance of a US trade embargo.
6. Huawei isn't as immune to Chinese government influence as it claims to be.
2018/12/06: even if the current administration isn’t interested in the electric vehicles, California, China, and European nations surely are. China has followed the Golden State’s lead in pushing hard for electric vehicles. Air quality in China is an important political issue.
Because of the Chinese and European commitments to electric vehicles, the global market for EVs doesn’t appear to be facing extinction. But despite Tesla’s popularity, EV sales are not what they need to be domestically to make them major market winners.
2018/11/28: A number of dodgy lenders have realised that young shoppers are desperate for loans, and are demanding that customers hand over naked selfies as collateral. If the repayments aren’t made on time, the money lenders threaten to leak those selfies to the individual’s family and friends. Many also charge interest on the original loan, thus burying their victims further in debt and forcing them to send more pictures and videos. These kinds of transactions are known in China as “naked loan services.”
In 2016 a total of 10 gigabits of nudes from 161 young women—all of who were holding their photo IDs—were leaked online by microlenders. Most of the victims were aged between 19 and 23, and typically borrowed sums of money between $1,000 and $2,000, according to state media outlet China Youth Daily. Others were reportedly given the option to do sex work in order to pay off their loan.
So rampant is the problem of naked loan services in China that last year the country’s financial regulators vowed to crack down on unlicensed microlender
2018/10/26: researchers logged global BGP route announcements and discovered China Telecom publishing bogus routes that sucked up massive amounts of Canadian and US traffic and pushed it through Chinese listening posts. Much of today's internet traffic is still unencrypted, meaning that the entities monitoring these listening posts would have been able to read massive amounts of emails, instant messages and web-sessions.
China Telecom's BGP attacks were also used to black-hole traffic in some instances (for example, traffic from an "Anglo-American bank's" branch in Milan was diverted wholesale to China, never arriving at its intended destination).
"When he announced another US$60-billion in financing for Africa last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised that the money had “no political strings attached.”
But a series of recent incidents, including cases of media censorship and heavy-handed academic controls, have cast doubt on that promise. China’s financial muscle is rapidly translating into political muscle across the continent.
At a major South African newspaper chain where Chinese investors now hold an equity stake, a columnist lost his job after he questioned China’s treatment of its Muslim minority.
In Zambia, heavily dependent on Chinese loans, a prominent Kenyan scholar was prevented from entering the country to deliver a speech critical of China. In Namibia, a Chinese diplomat publicly advised the country’s President to use pro-China wording in a coming speech. And a scholar at a South African university was told that he would not receive a visa to enter China until his classroom lectures contain more praise for Beijing."
2018/10/10: In Edna Mall on the bustling Bole Road in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, Mesert Baru poses for her Tecno Camon i. "This phone is seriously nice for selfies," says the 35-year-old shop assistant, admiring the picture she just took.
Mesert's satisfaction is no accident. Tecno cameras have been optimized for African complexions, explains Arif Chowdhury, vice president of Transsion. "Our cameras adjust more light for darker skin, so the photograph is more beautiful," he says. "That's one of the reasons we've become successful."
More innovations followed. Transsion opened research and development centers in China, Nigeria and Kenya to work out how to better appeal to African users. Local languages such as Amharic, Hausa and Swahili were added to keyboards and phones were given a longer battery life.
Chinese companies have been eager to use technology to tap into Africans' spending habits. In 2015, Kenyan mobile payments operator M-Pesa migrated all of its 12.8 million subscribers to Huawei's Mobile Money platform as it expanded across East Africa and beyond. The move increased the number of transactions M-Pesa could process, and the app's user base has more than doubled since then.
For Transsion, future growth is set to come from building its business outside Africa in other developing markets, such as Russia, Indonesia and Bangladesh. In 2017, it launched Tecno in India and within a year had claimed 5% of the huge market, according to IDC.
How did Tecno make such rapid progress? Transsion's Chowdhury says another innovation tailored to local customs has helped.
"Indian people use their hands to eat food," he says, "so their fingers get oily. What if you're having lunch and your boss calls? You try to take the call but your fingerprint won't work." The fix: screens that can read greasy fingers.
2018/10/04: The story, which has been a year in the making and covers events it says happened three years ago, had a huge impact on the markets: the company at the center of the story, San Jose-based Super Micro, saw its share price drop by nearly 50 per cent; likewise Apple's share price dropped by just under two per cent, and Amazon's dropped by more than two per cent.
But the article has been strongly denied by the three main companies involved: Apple, Amazon, and Super Micro. Each has issued strong and seemingly unambiguous statements denying the existence and discovery of such chips or any investigation by the US intelligence services into the surveillance implants.
These statements will have gone through layers of lawyers to make sure they do not open these publicly traded corporations to lawsuits and securities fraud claims down the line. Similarly, Bloomberg employs veteran reporters and layers of editors, who check and refine stories, and has a zero tolerance for inaccuracies.
So which is true: did the Chinese government succeed in infiltrating the hardware supply chain and install spy chips in highly sensitive US systems; or did Bloomberg's journalists go too far in their assertions?
2018/10/08: That Businessweek decided to run a story accusing the country of espionage may be a reaction to those accusations, or it may speak to how solid its editors felt about the reporting.
admission of guilt here about failing to either detect the hack or proactively tell the public about it would be pretty damaging to the reputations of all the victims. It has since emerged that Businessweek’s report had some questionable elements, including a chart that took pretty broad artistic license with how the hack would have worked, but Bloomberg stands by its reporting. Who is right?
Maybe the most important thing to remember here is not the strict truth of what happened, but that the story resonates because — not to be a conspiracy theorist — it is eminently plausible.
It already appears from the story that these companies may have done significant work to quietly settle the issue with the government directly.
All that said, it also seems plausible that Businessweek’s sources (the people working for the respective companies and government divisions at the time the story was reported) have no fucking idea what they are talking about (security authorities are divided on whether this hack would work, why anyone would even do it this way, and whether Businessweek is fully, accurately describing it).
it’s not hard to imagine someone “with knowledge of the situation” overhearing a conversation about a malfunctioning chip, which is how both Apple and Amazon explained the story away, and misunderstanding it to mean willful surveillance by whatever political interest might have supplied it.
2018/10/04: Bloomberg accuses the PLA of hardware tampering supply chain attacks. If this is at all true, it is a pretty big deal. If it is completely false, it is still a pretty big deal (but thats between Bloomberg’s lawyers and SuperMicro, the company allegedly shipping the hacked server boards.) Supply chain attacks are a scary vulnerability because the root of trust has to start somewhere, and if it starts in a no-name Chinese subcontractor factory…it’s maybe not the ideal foundation. I’ve attempted to collect as much info actual information as I can based on the Bloomberg statement:
The illicit chips … were connected to the baseboard management controller
Before the wild speculation though, it must be mentioned that the story is short on evidence and high on flat out denials.
Update: more evidence from an earlier Ars Technica article seems to support the Bloomberg report.
Update: Amazon is pretty emphatic that everything Bloomberg said about them and Supermicro is wrong.
2018/10/01: China's biggest tech firm announced Wednesday that the new business will develop artificial intelligence chips for cloud computing, internet-connected devices and other sectors.
Alibaba's chief technology officer, Jeff Zhang, said the e-commerce company's advantages in algorithms and data put it in "a unique position to lead real technology breakthroughs in disruptive areas, such as quantum and chip technology."
Alibaba (BABA) has previously made several investments in chipmakers. Earlier this year, it bought C-Sky, a Chinese chip design firm.
Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma has been vocal about addressing China's heavy reliance on foreign-made chips.
"The market for chips is controlled by America ... and suddenly if they stop selling, what that means, you understand," Ma told university students in Tokyo in April. "That's why China, Japan and any country — you need core technologies."
Ma's remarks came shortly after the US Commerce Department blocked American companies from selling parts to ZTE (ZTCOF), a Chinese tech company that relied on US suppliers, including chipmakers, to manufacture smartphones and telecommunications equipment.
2018/09/06: as outlined above:
the number of models of electric vehicles available for sale is about to increase enormously
the purchase price of electric vehicles is falling significantly
the range of electric vehicles about to match or even surpass ICE vehicles
EVs have essentially zero maintenance issues apart from the need to replace brakes and tyres (and with regenerative braking, brake pad wear is minimal)
the batteries in EVs last hundreds of thousands of miles/kilometers with absolutely minimal degradation;
and EVs are cheaper to fuel
So why would anyone consider buying a car with an Internal Combustion Engine? Most people won't. And consequently, the resale value of ICE vehicles will collapse.
Il consumo è passato dai 10 chili l’anno per persona del 1980 ai 54 chili registrati nel 2013. Nel paese asiatico si contano circa 700 milioni di suini, pari al 50% del totale mondiale e dal 2000 l'utilizzo di pratiche di smaltimento occulte è schizzato al 70%. Con gravi conseguenze per l'uomo e per l'ambiente
2018-09-18: In recent decades, China and India have presented the world with two different models for how such countries can climb the development ladder. In the China model, a nation leverages its large population and low costs to build a base of blue-collar manufacturing. It then steadily works its way up the value chain by producing better and more technology-intensive goods. In the India model, a country combines a large English-speaking population with low costs to become a hub for outsourcing of low-end, white-collar jobs in fields such as business-process outsourcing and software testing. If successful, these relatively low-skilled jobs can be slowly upgraded to more advanced white-collar industries. Both models are based on a country's cost advantages in the performance of repetitive, non-social and largely uncreative work -- whether manual labor in factories or cognitive labor in call centers. Unfortunately for emerging economies, AI thrives at performing precisely this kind of work.
Without a cost incentive to locate in the developing world, corporations will bring many of these functions back to the countries where they're based. That will leave emerging economies, unable to grasp the bottom rungs of the development ladder, in a dangerous position.
the best thing emerging economies can do is to "recognize that the traditional paths to economic development -- the China and India models -- are no longer viable." Countries with "less-educated workers" are advised to build up human-centered service industries.
2018/09/13: A list that names seven employees who say they quit their jobs at Google over a lack of corporate transparency is circulating within the company’s ranks. The departures follow the controversial revelation of Google’s work on Project Dragonfly, a censored search app for the China market. Employees shared the list of names on an email list dedicated to discussions of ethics and transparency issues at Google.
While current employees declined to provide the list itself or to specify most of the names on it, three sources familiar with the matter confirmed the existence of the list, which is made up largely of software engineers whose experience at Google ranges between one and 11 years.
2018/09/14: Google built a prototype of a censored search engine for China that links users’ searches to their personal phone numbers, thus making it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people’s queries, The Intercept can reveal.
The search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, was designed for Android devices, and would remove content deemed sensitive by China’s ruling Communist Party regime, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.
Sources familiar with Dragonfly said the search platform also appeared to have been tailored to replace weather and air pollution data with information provided directly by an unnamed source in Beijing.
2018/09/10: so far there’s no sign of a wide-spread shift toward restraints on child labor, better pay or safer working conditions. One reason for this is that new international trade pacts, such as GATT and NAFTA, make it difficult to enact sanctions against countries that permit labor abuses. And another reason is the obvious one: these cheap labor pools are enormously profitable for American corporations.
The consequences of the new global trade reach far beyond the wretched conditions inside the factories themselves. Environmental degradation is a hidden externality of the shift in industrial production from developed countries to Latin America and Southeast Asia. The new plants consume enormous amounts of energy in areas where power supplies have been primitive in the past. To meet the increased demand, Indonesia and Mexico have begun constructing huge coal-fired power plants, posing a grave threat to air quality in places like Jakarta and Mexico City. Similarly, China is in the midst of building dozens of new coal-fired plants that will emit thousands of tons of greenhouse gases each year, a dangerous contribution to global warming trends. But China also has more monumental ambitions: the Three Gorges hydroelectric dam.
Beijing is also rolling out a social credit system, using mass data collection to monitor and nudge citizens’ behaviour through strategic rewards and punishments. This is straight out of the dystopian TV series Black Mirror: in one episode, a woman is barred from buying a plane ticket due to her plummetting social ranking. In China, this is reality: one state-run media report admitted that 11 million train trips and 4 million plane trips have already been blocked due to low social credit scores. Such punishment can be triggered by misbehaviour ranging from the failure to pay back debts to spreading rumours, or even smoking or using expired tickets on trains. Conversely, a low credit score can be boosted by regular donations to charity. A senior official recently said that the system should ensure that “discredited people become bankrupt,” to underline the necessity of compliance.
The Chinese wheelbarrow - which was driven by human labour, beasts of burden and wind power - was of a different design than its European counterpart. By placing a large wheel in the middle of the vehicle instead of a smaller wheel in front, one could easily carry three to six times as much weight than if using a European wheelbarrow.
The one-wheeled vehicle appeared around the time the extensive Ancient Chinese road infrastructure began to disintegrate. Instead of holding on to carts, wagons and wide paved roads, the Chinese turned their focus to a much more easily maintainable network of narrow paths designed for wheelbarrows. The Europeans, faced with similar problems at the time, did not adapt and subsequently lost the option of smooth land transportation for almost one thousand years.