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Daily Archives: March 11, 2020
Posted: March 11, 2020 at 3:49 pm
Inside the race to build the best quantum computer on Earth - ET Prime
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Why IBM thinks quantum supremacy is not the milestone we should care about.
Neerja Sundaresan, research team member of IBM Research, talks to her colleague Douglas McClure, next to an IBM Q System One quantum computer at IBM's research facility in New York.
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The carmaker has admitted that it had installed a different type of vehicle controller from what was originally planned in some China-built Model 3 sedans. However, the company has promised free hardware replacement to affected buyers.
RBIs proposed write-down of Yes Banks perpetual bonds has grave implications for Indias ailing financial system. The country cant be seen as indifferent to creditor obligations. It couldnt have come at a worse time just when India is making efforts to quickly expand its small bond market and tap international debt markets through a larger presence in global bond indices.
For producers and artistes looking to create viral content, TikTok has become an indispensable platform. Take its Hello, Kaun? music video, which has garnered 500 million views. While soundtracks are central to the platform, its features, too, are aimed at creating virality. For studios, besides being an avenue to promote films, TikTok has opened up an additional stream of revenues.
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Posted: at 3:49 pm
Google has posted open access tools for creating machine learning programs on quantum computers. They will allow you to create neural networks without delving into how the program power is arranged.
Google has published free, open source software that will facilitate the creation of quantum programs. TensorFlow Quantum is an addition to the popular Google TensorFlow toolkit, which has helped give impetus to the development of machine learning since its launch in 2015.
TensorFlow Quantum will allow you to create quantum programs without diving into the details of the equipment on which they work. The user will be able to switch between a real quantum computer and a simulator. This means that you can first check how the program works in the simulation before running it on a full-scale quantum installation. Masood Mohseni, who leads the TensorFlow Quantum project, expects programmers to use the software to discover new algorithms that the company can use.
This is not the first set of tools for quantum machine learning. For example, the Xanadu startup in Toronto offers a similar platform called Pennylane. Google notes that they are ready to cooperate with such initiatives according to them, this allows you to exchange ideas, which contributes to innovation. The Google team wants most quantum power researchers to use TensorFlow Quantum.
Previously, Google created the most powerful quantum computer that can perform calculations beyond the capabilities of other devices. At first she published a presentation about this, but later deleted information about quantum superiority. This means that the companys quantum devices are capable of performing tasks that are not available even to the most powerful supercomputer.
Read more from the original source:
Quantum Xchange Named to Fast Company’s 2020 List of the World’s Most Innovative Companies – Citybizlist Real Estate
Posted: at 3:49 pm
Quantum Xchange, a leading provider of secure communications for a quantum-safe world, has been named to Fast Company's prestigious annual list of the World's Most Innovative Companies for 2020, ranking #4 in the Security category.
The list honors the companies making a profound impact on both industry and culture. This year's MIC list features 434 businesses from 39 countries.
"The world's largest tech companies as well as governments around the world are investing heavily in the race to develop a commercially viable quantum computer but these advancements bring new cybersecurity threats," said John Prisco, President & CEO at Quantum Xchange. "Quantum computers are powerful enough to crack all of our current encryption methods, which puts our most sensitive data, intellectual property, and even our national security at risk. That's why organizations must prepare now in order to protect their communications networks and data in the quantum era. We are proud to have Fast Company recognize our efforts to bring crypto-agility and an affordable onramp to ultra-secure Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) to the enterprise."
Quantum Xchange believes that quantum readiness, or crypto agility, is critical to protecting and securing data now and fending off future threats. The company pioneered QKD technology in the U.S. with the launch of Phio in June 2018, the first quantum fiber network in the U.S. and the only solution in the world to overcome previous distance and delivery limitations of QKD. Quantum Xchange's recent innovation, Phio Trusted Xchange (TX), launched in September 2019, is a quantum security gamechanger. The complete, quantum key management system extends the life of existing encryption investments by making traditional keys quantum-safe now; has made Post-Quantum Cryptographic (PQC) algorithms a standard feature in the appliance; and allows organizations to easily layer in QKD-level security as, and when, needed.
The flexibility of the Phio family of products enables organizations at all stages of quantum readiness to protect highly sensitive data without needing to rip and replace their current security infrastructure. This makes Quantum Xchange a sound investment, and its Phio TX, a must-have technology for any organization seeking to easily upgrade defenses as the threat landscape evolves. The company currently serves customers in the finance, energy and government industries.
Fast Company's editors and writers sought out the most groundbreaking businesses on the planet and across myriad industries. They also judged nominations received through their application process. The World's Most Innovative Companies is Fast Company's signature franchise and one of its most highly anticipated editorial efforts of the year. It provides both a snapshot and a road map for the future of innovation across the most dynamic sectors of the economy.
"At a time of increasing global volatility, this year's list showcases the resilience and optimism of businesses across the world. These companies are applying creativity to solve challenges within their industries and far beyond," said Fast Company senior editor Amy Farley, who oversaw the issue with deputy editor David Lidsky.
Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies issue (March/April 2020) is now available online at fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2020, as well as in app form via iTunes and on newsstands beginning March 17, 2020. The hashtag is #FCMostInnovative.
About Quantum Xchange
Quantum Xchange gives commercial enterprises and government agencies the ultimate solution for secure communications. Its complete key management system, Phio Trusted Xchange (TX), is uniquely capable of making existing encryption keys quantum safe and supports both post-quantum crypto (PQC) and Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) for true crypto agility and quantum readiness. As the operator of the first quantum fiber network in the U.S., Quantum Xchange also holds the unique distinction of being the only company in the world to make QKD commercially viable by solving the distance and delivery limitations inherent with all other offerings. With a dynamic security infrastructure in place, organizations can enhance their existing encryption environment, select the level of protection needed based on their risk tolerance, and seamlessly scale to QKD at any time, across any distance, between multiple transmission points. To learn more about being quantum safe today and quantum ready for tomorrow's threats, visit QuantumXC.com or follow us on Twitter @Quantum_Xchange.
About Fast Company
Fast Company is the only media brand fully dedicated to the vital intersection of business, innovation, and design, engaging the most influential leaders, companies, and thinkers on the future of business. Since 2011, Fast Company has received some of the most prestigious editorial and design accolades, including the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) National Magazine Award for "Magazine of the Year," Adweek's Hot List for "Hottest Business Publication," and six gold medals and 10 silver medals from the Society of Publication Designers. The editor-in-chief is Stephanie Mehta and the publisher is Amanda Smith. Headquartered in New York City, Fast Company is published by Mansueto Ventures LLC, along with our sister publication Inc., and can be found online at http://www.fastcompany.com.
Posted: at 3:49 pm
Just over 15 years since a couple of researchers in the U.K. used adhesive tape to isolate single atomic layers of carbon, known as graphene, from a chunk of graphite, their Nobel Prize-winning discovery has fueled a revolution in ultrathin materials R&D.
Graphene and other atomically thin 2D materials exhibit exotic properties that researchers hope to tap into for a range of applications from tinier transistors packed into more powerful and compact computer processors, to smaller and more precise sensors, flexible digital displays, and a new wave of quantum computers.
Scientists at the Department of Energys Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have helped to advance this research into ultrathin materials on a number of fronts, enlisting specialized tools and techniques to make them and to study their structure and properties at the nanoscale and atomic scale.
Now a California-based company called GraphAudio is moving toward commercializing graphene-based audio technology developed by researchers at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley in an effort to stimulate an audio revolution.
Ramesh Ramchandani, GraphAudio CEO, said the companys goal is to use the licensed technology to manufacture graphene components that other companies incorporate in their products.
He said he expects GraphAudios technology which could be available to consumers within one or two years will be graphene components in earbud headphones and amplifiers that are integrated into products made by established audio-product manufacturers.
The technology licensed from Berkeley Lab in 2016, which relates to the use of graphene in a sound-producing component known as a transducer, could transform a variety of devices, including speakers, earbuds and headphones, microphones, autonomous vehicle sensors, and ultrasonic and echolocation systems.
We have been working on graphene-based materials and structures for a number of years now, and this transducer is one of the applications that came out of that, said Alex Zettl, a senior faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab and a physics professor at UC Berkeley who is a co-inventor of the technology licensed by GraphAudio. The other inventor is Qin Zhou, a former Berkeley Lab postdoctoral researcher who is now an assistant professor at the University of NebraskaLincoln.
The transducer developed through their teams research uses a small, several-layers-thick graphene film called a membrane that converts electric signals into sound.
It is kind of like a drumhead, with a circular frame and the membrane stretched over it, Zettl said. The graphene membrane measures about a centimeter across. The membrane and supporting frame are sandwiched between silicon-based electrodes that are driven with alternating voltages.
The electric fields cause the graphene membrane to vibrate and create sound in an efficient, controlled way. This design, known as an electrostatic transducer, requires fewer parts and far less energy than more conventional designs, which can require electrical coils and magnets.
When we drive it with an electrical audio signal, it acts as a loudspeaker, Zettl said.
In some popular in-ear headphones, only about 10 percent of electrical energy gets converted to sound while the rest is lost as heat. The graphene transducer, though, converts about 99 percent of the energy into sound, he said.
Also, the graphene transducer is almost distortion-free and has an extremely flat response across a very broad range of sound frequencies even well beyond what the human ear is capable of hearing. This means that the sound is of equal quality across a wide range of high and low frequencies not just in the audio band, but from subsonic all the way to ultrasonic, Zettl said. This is pretty much unprecedented.
Because of this large bandwidth, the graphene-based transducer could be used for echolocation systems for submarine communications, ultrasonic systems for locating survivors in a rubble-strewn environment, and for high-quality imaging of human fetuses in the womb, as examples.
And the same properties that make the graphene transducer work well in speakers can also make for high-quality microphones, Zettl noted. We demonstrated both technologies in our lab. Both have the potential for being commercialized.
Ramchandani of GraphAudio said that GraphAudios sample headphones and microphones that the company demoed at the Consumer Electronics Show in January resulted in some productive discussions with prospective partners, and some consumer experiences that he said evoked a Wow response.
The company claims the sound quality of its technology is so crystal-clear that its possible to pick out an individual instruments tones from a symphony orchestra.
Ramchandani noted that flat-screen television technology has all but replaced bulkier and heavier cathode-ray tube televisions, and he expects the same sort of transformation in audio products.
Among the products that could emerge from GraphAudios licensed technology are thin car speakers embedded in a vehicles interior ceiling for an improved surround-sound experience, and improved car sensors that rely on two-way echolocation to avoid vehicle collisions.
Zettl said his team continues its R&D efforts with ultrathin materials and nanostructures.
His team members have specialties ranging from chemistry and physics to mechanical engineering and materials science, and the researchers are frequent users of Berkeley Labs Molecular Foundry, a nanoscale science facility; and the Advanced Light Source, which produces light beams that can be used to study materials at tiny scales.
I wouldnt be able to do any of this work without the students and postdoctoral researchers and the facilities that are here at Berkeley Lab, Zettl said.
Members of his research team routinely use atomic-resolution microscopes at the Molecular Foundry to explore the structure of ultrathin materials, for example. And team members also use X-rays produced by the Advanced Light Source to examine other properties of materials that could make them well-suited for particular applications, he noted.
A new thrust in his teams research is to explore how to make new types of mechanical transducers with ultrathin materials that are manufactured with tunable elastic properties enabled by precisely patterned nanoscale holes or slots.
In addition to their use in new transducer configurations, such perforated membranes could also be useful for applications ranging from water filtration to genetic sequencing.
To be able to work on things that have real applications and public benefits its nice to see that full progression, Zettle said. Im thrilled to be able to see these applications come out of this. For me thats personally rewarding.
The Molecular Foundry and Advanced Light Source are DOE Office of Science user facilities.
The Berkeley Lab research is supported by the U.S. Department of Energys Office of Basic Energy Sciences.
# # #
Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams,Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratoryand its scientists have been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Labs facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energys Office of Science.
DOEs Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visitenergy.gov/science.
Posted: at 3:48 pm
It should be instructive to consider how the problem of censorship has been dealt with in the ancient world, in premodern times, and in the modern world. Care must be taken here not to assume that the modern democratic regime, of a self-governing people, is the only legitimate regime. Rather, it is prudent to assume that most of those who have, in other times and places, thought about and acted upon such matters have been at least as humane and as sensible in their circumstances as modern democrats are apt to be in theirs.
It was taken for granted in the Greek communities of antiquity, as well as in Rome, that citizens would be formed in accordance with the character and needs of the regime. This did not preclude the emergence of strong-minded men and women, as may be seen in the stories of Homer, of Plutarch, of Tacitus, and of the Greek playwrights. But it was evident, for example, that a citizen of Sparta was much more apt to be tough and unreflective (and certainly uncommunicative) than a citizen of Corinth (with its notorious openness to pleasure and luxury).
The scope of a city-states concern was exhibited in the provisions it made for the establishment and promotion of religious worship. That the gods of the city were to be respected by every citizen was usually taken for granted. Presiding over religious observances was generally regarded as a privilege of citizenship: thus, in some cities it was an office in which the elderly in good standing could be expected to serve. A refusal to conform, at least outwardly, to the recognized worship of the community subjected one to hardships. And there could be difficulties, backed up by legal sanctions, for those who spoke improperly about such matters. The force of religious opinions could be seen not only in prosecutions for refusals to acknowledge the gods of the city but perhaps even more in the frequent unwillingness of a city (no matter what its obvious political or military interests) to conduct public business at a time when the religious calendar, auspices, or other such signs forbade civic activities. Indicative of respect for the proprieties was the secrecy with which the religious mysteries, such as those into which many Greek and Roman men were initiated, were evidently practicedso much so that there does not seem to be any record from antiquity of precisely what constituted the various mysteries. Respect for the proprieties may be seen as well in the outrage provoked in Sparta by a poem by Archilochus (7th century bce) in which he celebrated his lifesaving cowardice.
Athens, it can be said, was much more liberal than the typical Greek city. This is not to suggest that the rulers of the other cities did not, among themselves, freely discuss the public business. But in Athens the rulers included much more of the population than in most cities of antiquityand freedom of speech (for political purposes) spilled over there into the private lives of citizens. This may be seen, perhaps best of all, in the famous funeral address given by Pericles in 431 bce. Athenians, he pointed out, did not consider public discussion merely something to be put up with; rather, they believed that the best interests of the city could not be served without a full discussion of the issues before the assembly. There may be seen in the plays of an Aristophanes the kind of uninhibited discussions of politics that the Athenians were evidently accustomed to, discussions that could (in the license accorded to comedy) be couched in licentious terms not permitted in everyday discourse.
The limits of Athenian openness may be seen, of course, in the trial, conviction, and execution of Socrates in 399 bce on charges that he corrupted the youth and that he did not acknowledge the gods that the city did but acknowledged other new divinities of his own. One may see as well, in the Republic of Plato, an account of a system of censorship, particularly of the arts, that is comprehensive. Not only are various opinions (particularly misconceptions about the gods and about the supposed terrors of death) to be discouraged, but various salutary opinions are to be encouraged and protected without having to be demonstrated to be true. Much of what is said in the Republic and elsewhere reflects the belief that the vital opinions of the community could be shaped by law and that men could be penalized for saying things that offended public sensibilities, undermined common morality, or subverted the institutions of the community.
The circumstances justifying the system of comprehensive thought control described in Platos Republic are obviously rarely to be found. Thus, Socrates himself is recorded in the same dialogue (and in Platos Apology) as recognizing that cities with bad regimes do not permit their misconduct to be questioned and corrected. Such regimes should be compared with those in the age of the good Roman emperors, the period from Nerva (c. 3098 ce) to Marcus Aurelius (121180)the golden times, said Tacitus, when everyone could hold and defend whatever opinions he wished.
Much of what can be said about ancient Greece and Rome could be applied, with appropriate adaptations, to ancient Israel. The stories of the difficulties encountered by Jesus, and the offenses he came to be accused of, indicate the kinds of restrictions to which the Jews were subjected with respect to religious observances and with respect to what could and could not be said about divine matters. (The inhibitions so established were later reflected in the manner in which Moses Maimonides  proceeded in his publications, often relying upon hints rather than upon explicit discussion of sensitive topics.) The prevailing watchfulness, lest someone say or do what he should not, can be said to be anticipated by the commandment You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain (Exodus 20:7). It may be seen as well in the ancient opinion that there is a name for God that must not be uttered.
It should be evident that this way of lifedirecting both opinions and actions and extending down to minute daily routinescould not help but shape a people for centuries, if not for millennia, to come. But it should also be evident that those in the position to know, and with a duty to act, were expected to speak out and were, in effect, licensed to do so, however cautiously they were obliged to proceed on occasion. Thus, the prophet Nathan dared to challenge King David himself for what he had done to secure Bathsheba as his wife (II Samuel 12:124). On an earlier, perhaps even more striking, occasion, the patriarch Abraham dared to question God about the terms on which Sodom and Gomorrah might be saved from destruction (Genesis 18:1633). God made concessions to Abraham, and David crumbled before Nathans authority. But such presumptuousness on the part of mere mortals is possible, and likely to bear fruit, only in communities that have been trained to share and to respect certain moral principles grounded in thoughtfulness.
The thoughtfulness to which the Old Testament aspires is suggested by the following counsel by Moses to the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:56):
Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them; for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
This approach can be considered to provide the foundation for the assurance that has been so critical to modern arguments against censorship (John 8:32): And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. Further biblical authority against censorship may be found in such free speech dramas as that described in Acts 4:1321.
It should be remembered that to say everything one thought or believed was regarded by pre-Christian writers as potentially irresponsible or licentious: social consequences dictated a need for restraint. Christian writers, however, called for just such saying of everything as the indispensable witness of faith: transitory social considerations were not to impede, to the extent that they formerly had, the exercise of such a liberty, indeed of such a duty, so intimately related to the eternal welfare of the soul. Thus, we see an encouragement of the privateof an individuality that turned eventually against organized religion itself and legitimated a radical self-indulgence.
Perhaps no people has ever been so thoroughly trained, on such a large scale and for so long, as the Chinese. Critical to that training was a system of education that culminated in a rigorous selection, by examination, of candidates for administrative posts. Particularly influential was the thought of Confucius (551479 bce), with its considerable emphasis upon deference to authority and to family elders and upon respect for ritual observances and propriety. Cautiousness in speech was encouraged; licentious expressions were discouraged; and long-established teachings were relied upon for shaping character. All in all, it was contrary to Chinese good taste to speak openly of the faults of ones government or of ones rulers. And so it could be counselled by Confucius, He who is not in any particular office has nothing to do with plans for the administration of its duties (Analects [Lunyu], 7:14). It has been suggested that such sentiments have operated to prevent the spread in China of opinions supportive of political liberty.
Still, it could be recognized by Confucius that oppressive government is fiercer than a tiger. He could counsel that if a rulers words are not good, and if people are discouraged from opposing them, the ruin of the country can be expected (Analects, 13:5). Blatant oppressiveness, and an attempt to stamp out the influence of Confucius and of other sages, could be seen in the wholesale destruction of books in China in 231 bce. But the Confucian mode was revived thereafter, to become the dominant influence for almost two millennia. Its pervasiveness may well be judged oppressive by contemporary Western standards, since so much depended, it seems, on mastering the orthodox texts and discipline.
Whether or not the typical Chinese government was indeed oppressive, effective control of information was lodged in the authorities, since access to the evidently vital public archives of earlier administrations was limited to a relative few. In addition, decisive control of what was thought, and how, depended in large part on a determination of what the authoritative texts weresomething that has been critical in the West, as well, in the establishment of useful canons, both sacred and secular. Thus, Richard McKeon has suggested, Censorship may be the enforcement of judgments based on power, passion, corruption, or prejudicepolitical, popular, elite, or sectarian. It may also be based on scholarship and the use of critical methods in the interest of advancing a taste for literature, art, learning, and science.
Posted: at 3:48 pm
Woody Allen has a #MeToo problem, but only when its bad for optics.
Allen reached a settlement with Amazon Studios last fall after the streaming platform decided it suddenly cared about a sexual abuse allegation against Allen that was lodged in 1992. The claim that he molested his daughter, Dylan Farrow, was ultimately dismissed by investigators at the time, and Allen has not been accused of sexual misconduct since.
That is unless you count the entertainment world relitigating the past when Allens murky history suddenly reflects badly on it. The latest development in this exercise in hypocrisy is drama at Hachette Book Group, a U.S. publisher that backed out of its decision to publish Allens memoir, Apropos of Nothing, following outrage that Hachette would associate with an alleged sexual predator.
Its swift backpedal makes sense, considering a Hachette imprint also published Ronan Farrows Catch and Kill. Yep, Ronan Farrow: the brother of Dylan and the instigator, through his reporting on Harvey Weinstein, of the #MeToo movement.
Whether or not Allen is guilty of his alleged crimes, Hachettes backtrack reflects badly on the publishing industry. And its also a problem for us, the readers.
Of course, there is the issue of censorship, as Stephen King pointed out, much to the dismay of the culture warriors. The Hachette decision to drop the Woody Allen book makes me very uneasy, he tweeted last week. It's not him; I don't give a damn about Mr. Allen. It's who gets muzzled next that worries me.
But another less talked about problem is this: When we censor views or people with whom we disagree, we make ourselves dumber. Really.
Were losing the ability to grapple with opposing ideologies, or with people whove committed wrongdoings. Letting the other side speak can do wonders for our own argument. As author Hadley Freeman wrote for the Guardian this week:
When I wrote about the bewildering support in the movie industry for Roman Polanski, despite being a convicted sex offender, I quoted extensively from his memoir, Roman by Polanski. Those passages, in which he described his attack on 13-year-old Samantha Geimer, were probably the most incriminating details in the piece.
Freeman argues that for the Hachette employees who walked out in protest of Allens book, If they really are so convinced of Allens guilt, they ought to let him speak.
This is what happens when the literati havent read Areopagitica.
When John Milton wrote Areopagitica in 1644, he meant to oppose censorship in pre-Enlightenment England. He ended up writing a free speech treatise that anyone interested in the meaning of words ought to read. Milton begins, with some confusing 17th century spelling, by arguing that publishers should print the good and the bad:
For this is not the liberty which wee can hope, that no grievance ever should arise in the Commonwealth, that let no man in this World expect; but when complaints are freely heard, deeply consider'd and speedily reform'd, then is the utmost bound of civill liberty attain'd, that wise men looke for.
In other words, expect to hear of problems. Its easier to reform if you have some idea of whats going on. Milton's best case for free speech comes not from the argument that we need to read the right words, but that we need to read the wrong ones. He writes:
And though all the windes of doctrin were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licencing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falshood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the wors, in a free and open encounter. Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing.
Translation: Even with so much information spreading around, the truth will still prove to be more forceful than lies. The best way to suppress fake news and misinformation, whether that comes from Twitter or from a controversial filmmaker's memoir, is to listen to them. If we never encounter the wrong opinions or the opinions of the wrong people, we'll never learn quite how wrong they are.
Now that Hachette has backed down, we may never be able to criticize Allen's book. And that's a shame since we won't get any closer to the truth.
Chinas coronavirus cover-up: how censorship and propaganda obstructed the truth – The Conversation UK
Posted: at 3:48 pm
Chinas political leaders will be hoping that when concerns about the coronavirus eventually start to recede, memories about the states failings early on in the outbreak will also fade. They will be particularly keen for people to forget the anger many felt after the death from COVID-19 of Dr Li Wenliang, the doctor censured for trying to warn colleagues about the outbreak. After Dr Lis death, the phrase We want freedom of speech was even trending on Chinese social media for several hours before the posts were deleted.
Dr Li had told fellow medical professionals about the new virus in a chat group on 30 December. He was accused of rumour-mongering and officials either ignored or played down the risks well into January. If officials had disclosed information about the epidemic earlier, Dr Li told the New York Times, I think it would have been a lot better. There should be more openness and transparency.
I am currently researching the Chinese party-states efforts to increase legitimacy by controlling the information that reaches its citizens. The lack of openness and transparency in this crucial early phase of the outbreak was partly because officials were gathering for annual meetings of the local Communist Party-run legislatures, when propaganda departments instruct the media not to cover negative stories.
However, the censorship in this period also reflects increasingly tight control over information in China. As Chinese media expert Anne-Marie Brady notes, from the beginning of his presidency, Xi Jinping was clear the media should focus on positive news stories that uphold unity and stability and are encouraging.
The deterioration in the medias limited freedoms under Xi Jinping was underlined by a visit he made to media organisations in 2016, declaring that, All Party media have the surname Party, and demanding loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
There have been a series of good quality investigative reports, notably by the business publication Caixin, since the authorities fully acknowledged the virus. As political scientist Maria Repnikova argues, providing temporary space for the media to report more freely can help the party-state project an image of managed transparency. However, the clampdown has undoubtedly had a significant effect on the medias ability to provide effective investigative reporting, particularly early on in the outbreak.
Online, there have been a succession of measures to limit speech the party deems a threat. These include laws that mean the threat of jail for anyone found guilty of spreading rumours. In an authoritarian regime, stopping rumours limits peoples ability to raise concerns and potentially discover the truth. A point made only too clearly by Dr Lis case.
The party focuses its censorship on problems that might undermine its legitimacy. Part of my ongoing research into information control in China involves an analysis of leaked censorship instructions collected by the US-based China Digital Times. This shows that between 2013 and 2018, over 100 leaked instructions concerned problems about the environment, food safety, health, education, natural disasters and major accidents. The actual number is likely to far exceed this.
For example, after an explosion at a petrochemical factory, media organisations were told to censor negative commentary related to petrochemical projects. And after parents protested about tainted vaccines, the media were instructed that only information provided by official sources could be used on front pages.
State media play a key role in the CCPs efforts to set the agenda online. My research shows that the number of stories featuring problems about the environment and disasters posted by Peoples Daily newspaper on Sina Weibo (Chinas equivalent of Twitter) fell significantly between 2013 and 2018.
Around 4.5% of all People Dailys Weibo posts between 2013 and 2015 were about the environment, but by 2018 had fallen to as low as 1%. Similarly, around 8%-10% of all posts by the newspaper were about disasters and major accidents between 2013 and 2015, but this figure fell to below 4% in the following three years.
The party wants people to focus instead on topics it thinks will enhance its legitimacy. The number of posts by Peoples Daily focusing on nationalism had doubled to 12% of the total by 2018.
As well as investigative reports on the outbreak in parts of the media, some Chinese individuals have also gone to great lengths to communicate information about the virus and conditions in Wuhan. However, the authorities have been steadily silencing significant critical voices and stepping up their efforts to censor other content they deem particularly unhelpful.
The censors do not stop everything, but as the China scholar Margaret E. Roberts suggests, porous censorship can still be very effective. She points out that the Chinese authorities efforts to make it more difficult for people to access critical content that does make it online, while flooding the internet with information the CCP wants them to see, can still be very effective.
When a problem cannot be avoided, my research shows that the propaganda authorities try to control the narrative by ensuring the media focus on the states efforts to tackle the problem. After a landslide at a mine in Tibet, the media were told to cover disaster relief promptly and abundantly. Coverage of such disasters by Peoples Daily focuses on images of heroic rescue workers.
This same propaganda effort is in evidence now. As the China Media Projects David Bandurski notes, media coverage in China is increasingly seeking to portray the Chinese Communist Party as the enabler of miraculous human feats battling the virus.
After Dr Lis death, CCP leaders sought to blame local officials for admonishing him. However, the actions taken against Dr Li were fully consistent with the Partys approach to controlling information under Xi Jinping.
It is impossible to know how many people have died, or might die in future, because people have decided to self-censor, rather than risk punishment for spreading rumours, or because the authorities have sought to avoid information reaching the public. The coronavirus outbreak highlights the risks of a system that puts social stability and ruling party legitimacy above the public interest.
Posted: at 3:48 pm
When Hachette bought Woody Allens autobiography, they no doubt expected it to be controversial. And no doubt they expected it to be a commercial success.
He is, after all, one of the great American writers and directors. And the notoriety and outrage that have continued since his daughter Dylan Farrow accused him of sexual abuse bring additional interest regarding what he might have to say on the subject. Following the staff walkout on Friday, and critical statements from Dylan and Ronan Farrow, they have now dropped the book. Very swiftly, the book became too damaging to Hachettes reputation to publish.
This is worrying for writers and for readers. The staff at Hachette who walked out last week clearly thought that they were doing the right thing morally protesting against the publication of a book by a man who has been accused of abusing his own child. But, as has been repeated many times, Woody Allen was investigated on two occasions and has never been charged. While Dylan and Ronan accuse Woody Allen, he has not been found guilty. Nothing has been proven. There is in fact no acceptable reason for not publishing Woody Allens book.
The staff at Hachette who walked out were not behaving like publishers, they were acting as censors. I have been watching Woody Allen films since I was a child and I would like to read his book. I would even want to read his book if he were found guilty, because I am interested in the man, his work and his life. I do not check up on the moral purity or criminal record of a writer before I read them. I would have to strip my bookshelves of many of the writers I love the most if I were going to start to apply the principles of the Hachette staff. TS Eliot and Roald Dahl for a start, as antisemites. In fact most of the English canon would have to be chucked on that basis.
Publishers need to have courage the courage to publish books that do not suit the moral climate and that express unfashionable views. In the 70s, publishers repeatedly fought for the right to publish in the face of obscenity prosecutions. Those were battles that pushed the boundaries for freedom of expression. Back then, it was Mary Whitehouse who led the moral outrage, most famously in bringing a private prosecution against Gay News for publishing James Kirkups poem in which a Roman centurion has sex with Jesus. Gay News lost the case.
I interviewed the great writer and barrister John Mortimer shortly before he died, who defended Gay News and acted for many of the defendants in the obscenity cases of the time. He remembered Whitehouse praying in the corridor when the jury were reaching their verdict. He told me that the general public tends to be in favour of censorship.
I'd have to strip my bookshelves of the writers I love the most if I were to apply the principles of the Hachette staff
In the wake of #MeToo, we have come to view moral outrage as a good thing we dont associate it with a reactionary figure like Mary Whitehouse or see it as a barrier to progress. Shutting things down, keeping the wrong kind of views off the platform, has come to be admired. Its remarkable that a small group of people has managed to persuade one of the biggest publishers in the world to back down, but their cause may not be as morally sound as they believe.
As publishers, in fact, the conduct of the staff who protested is highly questionable. I do not want to read books that are good for me or that are written by people whose views I always agree with or admire. I am always afraid when a mob, however small and well read, exercises power without any accountability, process or redress. That frightens me much more than the prospect of Woody Allens autobiography hitting the bookstores.
Jo Glanville is former director of English PEN and ex-editor of Index on Censorship. She is editing a book on antisemitism for Short Books, a Hachette imprint
Go here to see the original:
Woody Allens memoirs: this is the behaviour of censors, not publishers - The Guardian
Posted: at 3:48 pm
Nothing like a little bad publicity to get a business to change its mind.
After Hallmark scrubbed all mentions of the pro-life film Unplanned from a recent broadcast, pro-life advocates grew outraged. The star of Unplanned, Ashley Bratcher, first revealed that all references to the film had been removed from Hallmark's broadcast of the Movieguide Awards, even though Unplanned was nominated for awards in three categories.
"This is completely UNACCEPTABLE," she tweeted on Sunday.
Note that not only had the broadcast eliminated Bratcher's speech which, as she told me, "happens all the time" it had also scrubbed the name Unplanned entirely; when nominees were announced for categories in which the film had been selected, it was as if Unplanned hadn't been nominated at all.
On Monday, I wrote about the issue and reached out to a Hallmark representative for comment. On Wednesday afternoon, she got back to me. Without explaining how or why the omission occurred (although I have a few guesses), the spokeswoman said the network is sorry and a new broadcast will be airing soon.
"We have scheduled the MOVIEGUIDE Awards to re-air on Hallmark Drama on Monday, March 9th at 10 PM," the spokeswoman said in an email. "It will also be available on the TV Everywhere app. All telecasts will include mentions of the film, 'Unplanned' and its lead actress, Ashley Bratcher. We at Crown Media extend our sincere apologies to Ms. Bratcher."
Since Hallmark didn't try to explain away Unplanned's glaring omission, it's pretty clear that the media company simply didn't want to wade into any controversy. But by censoring the pro-life movement, Hallmark did anyway. And it proved, unwittingly, that pro-life voices will not be silenced.
Update: Movieguide has taken responsibility for cutting Unplanned from the broadcast that aired on Hallmark Drama. We made some decisions, Ted Baehr, founder and publisher of Movieguide, said. We may have made some wrong decisions, but weve made decisions.
The rest is here:
Hallmark backtracks on its censorship of Unplanned - Washington Examiner
Posted: at 3:48 pm
For millions around the world, internet outages have become the norm. For example, the Iranian government recently shut off the internet for nearly all of its population of more than 80 million. The authorities say this was done to silence protests over rising gasoline prices. But sometimes official motives for switching off the internet may be different from the actual ones.
Governments block internet content for three main reasons: to maintain political stability, protect national security, and impose traditional social values. The reasons vary from country to country. In fact, states with the most severe online censorship rely on all three motives at once.
The infographic below takes a look at the countries with the heaviest internet censorship. It also lists their motives for cutting down access to global websites.
For example, North Korea has the highest level of online restrictions in the world, with only 4% of the nation having access to the internet. The limited access that exists is controlled and censored by the government. The main motive behind this is to avoid the outside influence and information leak.
China is another example of severe internet censorship. The country uses advanced technologies to block IP addresses, obstruct access to various websites, and block search engines, such as Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and others. This blockade is usually called the Great Firewall of China."
Saudi Arabia stands out among the most censored countries. It puts a strong emphasis on imposing its social and religious values. Saudi Arabia has blocked more than a million websites that contain any contradiction to Islamic beliefs. Any threat to Islamic social and political principles is also filtered and blocked.
According to research provided by the#KeepItOn campaign, there were 196 internet shutdowns across the world in 2018. 134 of them were in India, and the rest occurred in a wide range of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries.
The report states that official and actual causes of the internet shutdowns were different. In most cases (91), the blackouts were justified as a way to maintain public safety. Other reasons include national security protection (40), sabotage (2), stopping fake news and hate speech (33), and school exams (11). Six internet shutdowns happened for no reason, while the motives remained unknown in 13 cases.
However, the actual causes differed from their official explanations. Government justifications rarely matched the causes reported by the media, civil society organizations, and free speech activists. The majority of shutdowns occurred in response to militant or terrorist activity (especially in the Kashmir area of India) (53), protests (45), communal violence (40), elections (12), maintaining information control (11), preventing cheating during school exams period (11), and other events, including religious holidays (16). The reasons for eight internet shutdowns were unknown.
Governments usually claim to be responding to public safety issues when they shut down the internet. The real reason, however, is often to suppress protests. By limiting access to the internet, they limit peoples ability to organize demonstrations. Similarly, shutdowns that are reported as fake news prevention may actually be the authorities responses to elections, community violence, or militant activities.
No matter what grounds are used to justify internet shutdowns, they violate human rights and our freedom of speech and expression. Luckily, there are tools that help people in need of secure connections.
A VPN (virtual private network) securely bypasses online restrictions and helps keep communications away from prying eyes. These services send internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel, which makes it almost impossible to hijack. It hides IP addresses and real locations. By connecting to another countrys server, users can set their location to virtually anywhere in the world.