As COVID-19 Lockdowns Lift, Fraudsters Shift Focus

What’s the impact on digital fraud as countries ease COVID-19 lockdown restrictions? We recently analyzed billions of transactions in our flagship identity proofing, risk-based authentication and fraud analytics solution suite — TransUnion TruValidate™ — and found the rate of suspected digital fraud attempts across industries rose 16.5% globally when comparing Q2 2020 and Q2 2021.1 In the US, the percentage of digital fraud attempts increased at a similar rate of 17.1% during the same time period.

As fraud attempts on businesses and consumers continue to rise, fraudsters are pivoting to target industries with growing markets. “It’s quite common for fraudsters to shift focus every few months from one industry to another,” said Shai Cohen, Senior Vice President of Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion.

For example, when looking at financial services, online fraud attempt rates had risen 149% when comparing the last four months of 2020 to the first four months of 2021. Yet, when comparing Q2 2021 to Q2 2020, the rate of suspected online financial services fraud attempts has risen at a much lower rate of 38.3% in the US (18.8% globally).

Where are fraudsters turning their efforts globally? We found gaming, and travel and leisure rose 393.0% and 155.9%, respectively when comparing the percent of suspected digital fraud in Q2 this year and last. In the US, during the same time periods, these rates rose 261.9% for gaming and 136.6% for travel and leisure.

Global Industry Year-over-Year Suspected Digital Fraud Attempt Rate Increases and Declines in Q2 2021

Industry Suspected fraud percentage change Top type of fraud
Largest percentage increases
Gaming 393.0% Gold farming
Travel & Leisure 155.9% Credit card fraud
Gambling 36.2% Policy/License agreement violations
Largest percentage declines
Logistics -32.74% Shipping fraud
Telecommunications -16.35% True identity theft
Insurance -8.33% Suspected ghost broker

Fraudsters capitalize on new opportunities as travel begins to reopen

While volumes remain lower than pre-pandemic levels, travel has seen a significant increase. The daily US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screenings for many days in April 2020 were below 100,000. However, the busiest day in April 2021 had 1,572,383 screenings, reflecting the growing number of travelers.

Cybercriminals are taking note and acting accordingly. “Fraudsters tend to seek out industries that may be seeing an immense growth in transactions. This quarter, as countries began to open more from their COVID-19 lockdowns, and travel and other leisure activities became more mainstream, fraudsters clearly made this industry a top target,” noted Cohen.

In addition to leveraging credit card fraud (the top type of digital fraud reported to TransUnion by its travel and leisure customers), fraudsters are also quickly adapting to target desperate travelers. Recently, the US State Department temporarily shut down their online booking system for all urgent passport appointments in response to a group of scammers using bots to book all available appointments and sell them for as high as $3,000 to applicants with urgent travel needs.

More than one-third of consumers say they’ve been targeted by COVID-19-related digital fraud

While travel and leisure, and gaming saw the largest increases in suspected digital fraud, 36% of consumers participating in TransUnion’s Consumer Pulse study said they’d been targeted  by a digital fraud scheme related to COVID-19 — across all industries — during Q2 2021.

Phishing was the leading type of COVID-19-related digital fraud impacting consumers in Q2 2021. Stolen credit card or fraudulent charges was the second most cited type of COVID-19-related online fraud, affecting 24% of global consumers.

Suspected Digital Fraud Attempt Rate Increasing Worldwide

For more digital fraud findings, see our entire infographic here.

“One in three people globally have been targeted by or fallen victim to digital fraud during the pandemic, placing even more pressure on businesses to ensure their customers are confident in transacting with them,” said Melissa Gaddis, Senior Director of Customer Success, Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion. “As fraudsters continue to target consumers, it’s incumbent on businesses to do all that they can to ensure their customers have an appropriate level of security to trust their transaction is safe all while having a friction-right experience to avoid shopping cart abandonment.”

How our TruValidate suite helps businesses detect and prevent fraud

TransUnion Global Fraud Solutions unite consumer and device identities to detect threats across markets while ensuring friction-right user experiences. The solutions, all part of the TransUnion TruValidate™ suite, fuse traditional data science with machine learning to provide businesses unique insights about consumer transactions, safeguarding tens of millions of transactions each day.

Source: As COVID-19 Lockdowns Lift, Fraudsters Shift Focus | TransUnion


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Why Is China Cracking Down on Ride-Hailing Giant Didi?

Just days after Didi Global Inc., China’s version of Uber, pulled off a $4.4 billion initial public offering in New York, the Chinese cyberspace regulator effectively ordered it removed from app stores in its home market, citing security risks. The ruling doesn’t stop the company from operating -– its half-billion or so existing users will still be able to order rides for now. But it adds to the uncertainty surrounding all Chinese internet companies as regulators increasingly assert control over Big Tech.

1. What’s Didi?

It’s China’s biggest ride-hailing company. Didi squeezed Uber out of China five years ago, buying out the American company’s operations after an expensive price war. Its blockbuster IPO on June 30 was the second-biggest in the U.S. by a company based in China, after Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, giving Didi a market value of about $68 billion.

Accounting for stock options and restricted stock units, the company’s diluted value exceeds $71 billion — well below estimates of up to $100 billion as recently as a few months ago. The relatively modest showing reflects both investors’ increasing caution over pricey growth stocks, and China’s recent crackdown on its biggest tech players.

2. What is this investigation about?

The specifics are still very unclear. Two days after the IPO, the Cyberspace Administration of China said it’s starting a cybersecurity review of the company to prevent data security risks, safeguard national security and protect the public interest. Two days after that it said Didi had committed serious violations in the collection and usage of personal information and ordered the app pulled. There are no details on what precisely the investigation centers on, when or where the alleged violations occurred or whether there will be more penalties to come.

3. Are there any hints?

The Global Times, a Communist Party-backed newspaper, wrote in an editorial that Didi undoubtedly has the most detailed travel information on individuals among large internet firms and appears to have the ability to conduct “big data analysis” of individual behaviors and habits. To protect personal data as well as national security, China must be even stricter in its oversight of Didi’s data security, given that it’s listed in the U.S. and its two largest shareholders are foreign companies, it added.

4. Is it just Didi?

No. The Chinese internet regulator has widened its probe to two more U.S.-listed companies, targeting Full Truck Alliance Co. and Kanzhun Ltd. soon after launching the review into Didi.

5. Was this out of the blue?

No. In May, China’s antitrust regulator ordered Didi and nine other leaders in on-demand transport to overhaul practices from arbitrary price hikes to unfair treatment of drivers. More broadly, Beijing is in the process of a sweeping crackdown on the nation’s Big Tech firms designed to curb their growing influence.

In November 2020 the authorities derailed the planned IPO of fintech giant Ant Group Co. and in April hit Alibaba with a record $2.8 billion fine after an antitrust probe found it had abused its market dominance. Didi, however, said on Monday it was unaware of China’s decision to halt registrations and remove the app from app stores before its listing.

6. Why does Didi matter?

You can’t really overstate just how dominant Didi is in ride hailing in China, accounting for 88% of total trips in the fourth quarter of 2020. When Didi bought Uber’s Chinese operations in 2016, Uber took a stake in the company that currently stands at 12%. Didi’s U.S. IPO was shepherded by a who’s who of Wall Street banks. Its largest shareholder is Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. with more than 20%, and others include Chinese social networking colossus Tencent Holdings Ltd. However, due to Didi’s ownership structure, Chief Executive Officer Cheng Wei and President Jean Liu control more than 50% of the voting power.

7. How’s the company doing?

While Didi had a net loss of $1.6 billion on revenue of $21.6 billion last year, according to its filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, its diversity cushioned it against the worst of the pandemic downturn. The company reported net income of $837 million in the first quarter of 2021. With growth in its core market beginning to slow, it has expanded rapidly into fields from car repairs to grocery delivery and has pumped hundreds of millions into researching autonomous driving technology. It’s also said to be planning to expand services into Western Europe.

8. What happens now?

On Didi specifically the critical question is what the review regarding user data finds. But analysts are already looking at the likely wider impact. Key issues are whether the action is likely to discourage other Chinese tech firms from embarking on an overseas listing, and whether the action marks a new direction for the regulatory crackdown. Didi itself said in a statement in would fully cooperate with the review. It warned though that the removal of the app for new users may have an adverse affect on revenue.

Based on the laws cited by the regulators, Didi is probably being investigated over its purchase of certain products and services from other suppliers, which may threaten national data security, according to analysts from Shenzhen-based Ping An Securities. “Didi will inevitably have to check its core network equipment, high-performance computers and servers, large-capacity storage equipment, large databases and application software, network security equipment, and cloud computing services, sort them out and make necessary rectifications to meet regulatory requirements,” the analysts wrote in a note on Monday.

Yang Sirui, chief analyst for the computer industry at Bank of China International, said that Didi went for its public listing in the US hastily, probably due to investor pressure. “Listing Didi as soon as possible meets the demands of the capital,” he said. “But if [Didi] had arbitrarily collected user privacy data, abused it, or monetized it illicitly, it will inevitably be punished by Chinese regulators.” Since its founding in 2012, Didi has undergone a number of private fundraising rounds, raising tens of billions of dollars from venture capital or major tech firms. According to its IPO prospectus, SoftBank Vision Fund is currently the largest shareholder of Didi, with a 21.5% stake. Uber (UBER) and Tencent (TCEHY) followed with a 12.8% and 6.8% stake respectively.

The Reference Shelf

— With assistance by Coco Liu, Molly Schuetz, Abhishek Vishnoi, and Colum Murphy


Source: Why China is Citing Security Risks in Crack Down on $UBER rival $DIDI – Bloomberg



Didi is a Chinese vehicle for hire company headquartered in Beijing with over 550 million users and tens of millions of drivers. The company provides app-based transportation services, including taxi hailing, private car hailing, social ride-sharing, and bike sharing; on-demand delivery services; and automobile services, including sales, leasing, financing, maintenance, fleet operation, electric vehicle charging, and co-development of vehicles with automakers.

In March 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that SoftBank Group Corporation approached DiDi with an offer to invest $6 billion in the company to fund the ride-hailing firm’s expansion in self-driving car technologies, with a significant portion of the money to come from SoftBank’s then-planned $100 billion Vision Fund.

DiDi claims that it provides over tens of millions of flexible job opportunities for people, including a considerable number of women, laid-off workers and veteran soldiers. Based on a survey released by DiDi in March 2019, women rideshare drivers in Brazil, China and Mexico account for 16.7%, 7.4% and 5.6% of total rideshare drivers on its platforms, respectively. DiDi supports more than 4,000 innovative SMEs, which provides more than 20,000 jobs additionally.

40% of DiDi’s employees are women. In 2017, DiDi launched a female career development plan and established the “DiDi Women’s Network”. It is reportedly the first female-oriented career development plan in a major Chinese Internet company.


Facebook Wants Us To Fix Its Misinformation Problem

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg And News Corp CEO Robert Thomson Debut Facebook News

Facebook is increasingly willing to admit it has a problem: There’s a lot of misinformation on its site. But the company remains much less willing to do anything about it itself. Instead, it would rather leave the heaviest lifting to other people: its users, its new Oversight Board, its would-be regulators in Washington, D.C.

Over the past week, Facebook has rolled out a number of new tools meant to curb bad content. Moderators of Facebook Groups, for example, can now slow down commenting on posts, making it so someone can only comment once every five minutes. Posts containing misinformation tend to draw lots of comments—from supporters and opponents alike—and the decision to add an emergency brake for comments could theoretically reduce how much attention these types of posts get, stalling the information’s spread.

Then on Tuesday, the company announced a slew of new features for regular users meant further tamp down on problematic speech. There’s now an ability to restrict comments on posts and a new Feed Filter Bar, a navigation tool for changing what appears on a user’s timeline. You can now display posts based on chronology, friends or Facebook’s proprietary algorithm.

The algorithm is the default choice right now and can be a superspreader of misinformation. Giving people the ability to switch off the algorithmically centered feed could help limit the spread of misinformation—as long as everyone knows where to find the Feed Filter Bar and then also remembers how to use it.

Facebook may be a company worth $851 billion with nearly 60,000 employees that pulls in $29.1 billion in annual profit. But the addition of these new tools suggests the firm thinks its average users—not any person or team at Facebook HQ—are the best weapons in fighting disinformation. That’s a lot of responsibility to place on the shoulders of its users, the vast majority of whom lack any of the specialized expertise needed to fight back misinformation.

Zuckerberg has long tried to avoid assuming much oversight over what’s published on Facebook, citing concerns over possibly limiting free speech, and once famously said in 2018 he wouldn’t even boot off Holocaust deniers. He and Facebook then caved a little at the end of the Trump Era and took up some basic policing measures. Holocaust conspiracy theoristists, for instance, were (finally) banned last October.

It has tried to reduce false information about the coronavirus and made a temporary change to its main feed during the election to prioritize information from reputable news sources. And then, of course, it banned President Trump, too, after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

But even with something like Trump’s exiling, Facebook isn’t willing to take ultimate responsibility for the decision. No, the buck doesn’t stop with Zuck. Instead, it stops with Facebook’s fledgling Oversight Board. The 20-person indepedent group of social media experts will review the expulsion and make a final determination about whether it was justified, the board’s first major ruling since its formation last summer. If it decides Facebook erred, the board could allow Trump to rejoin the platform.

“Here, you try” was pretty much the underlying message from CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s in his latest Congressional testimony, too. In prepared remarks, Zuckerberg asked Congress to offer a better definition on “unlawful content,” the type of posts lawmakers would expect Facebook to monitor and remove from its site.

But Congress is unlikely to agree on something like that anytime soon, and Zuckerberg surely knows it. For now, Facebook won’t have to change anything, and it’ll have a plausible justification for doing so: It’s waiting on Congress to figure out solutions to the problem. Just as it hopes its users figure out some, too.

Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a senior editor at Forbes, where I cover social media, creators and internet culture. In the past, I’ve edited across Forbes magazine and

Source: Facebook Wants Us To Fix Its Misinformation Problem



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How To Debunk Misinformation About COVID, Vaccines & Masks


I have spent much of my career studying ways to blunt the effects of disinformation and help the public make sense of the complexities of politics and science. When my colleagues and I probed the relation between the consumption of misinformation and the embrace, or dismissal, of protective behaviors that will ultimately stop the coronavirus’s spread, the results were clear: Those who believe false ideas and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and vaccines are less likely to engage in mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing and vaccination.

In the midst of a raging pandemic, the importance of science communication is indisputable. Mention “science communication,” though, and what comes to mind in this context are public service announcements touting the 3 Ws (Wear a mask, Watch your distance, Wash your hands) or the FAQ pages of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ask someone what “science communicator” evokes, and responses might include a family physician and experts such as Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, who appear so regularly on our screens that we think of them as friends.

But Fauci isn’t on your family Zoom call when a cousin mistakenly asserts that the CDC has found that wearing a mask makes you more likely to get COVID-19. Nor is Gupta at the ready when your friend’s daughter wonders whether the COVID vaccine contains microchips designed to track us.

It matters how we respond in these moments. As Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall wrote in this magazine in 2019, the “social transmission of knowledge is at the heart of culture and science.” In a large-scale online social network experiment conducted in 2018, Doug Guilbeault and Damon Centola, both then at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, confirmed that power. When smokers and nonsmokers collaboratively evaluated antismoking messages, the smokers were more likely to acknowledge the harms of tobacco use than the smokers who evaluated the messages on their own.

Similarly Sally Chan and Dolores Albarracin of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and I found that the level of Twitter chatter from November 2018 through February 2019 about “vaccine fraud” in the counties of our roughly 3,000 panelists were associated with negative attitudes and lower rates of flu vaccination among them later in the year. But those worrisome effects did not occur among people who reported discussing vaccines with family and friends.

Indeed, a sibling or a friend online or next door is in some ways better able to underscore the importance of behaviors such as masking and physical distancing than public health agencies or experts such as Fauci. It’s not only that we trust information from knowledgeable people who are close to us but that those in our lives can find opportune moments to explain why preventive behaviors are important to them and why they trust the science that says those actions reduce the spread of the virus.

A neighbor or a friend can respond with messages tailored to a person’s interests and concerns. In addition to correcting misconceptions in real time, a confidant can create an environment inhospitable to misinformation in the first place. Finally, and critically, deception and debunking usually occur in different venues: those who are exposed to misconceptions rarely encounter the fact-checks.


Equipped with a few tools, we can each become part of a larger misinformation-fighting system—as I like to call it, a science defense system. To see the power of such a role, consider the limitations of the first line of defense against online deception: the willingness of platforms to block it. Even when this happens, there is a lag between the appearance of harmful content, its detection and its removal. Take the 26-minute viral video “Plandemic” that appeared online last May. Despite efforts by the major platforms to remove it, within weeks that video managed to reach millions with dangerously false claims (example: certain flu vaccines contain the coronavirus, and wearing a mask activates it).

Like a game of Whac-A-Mole, when one platform bans a piece of content, the purveyors of deception simply repost it on another one or share it in invitation-only corners of a platform or in private groups. Last March even as Facebook was clamping down on misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID, a Politico report on thousands of posts found that the supposedly interdicted content was still on the platform, surviving and spreading harm.

Fact-checking organizations such as PolitiFact and (which I co-founded in 2003) provide a second barrier in the science defense system. Facebook surfaces the work of many of these groups when a user searches for content that has been flagged for containing misinformation. In a 2015 study, Leticia Bode and Emily K. Vraga, both then at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, found that this kind of corrective juxtapositioning can reduce users’ misperceptions. Later, in a 2018 study, Bode and Vraga found that corrections offered by someone’s contacts on a simulated social media platform also reduced misperceptions.

That conclusion led them to recommend that when it comes to emerging health issues, knowledgeable people online should employ material from appropriate health sources to “refute false or misleading health information clearly, simply, and with evidence.” A team of medical doctors at CriticaScience is pioneering this form of online engagement. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, my colleagues and I are seeking to develop new ways to arm the public against COVID-related deception.

When misinformation circumvents blocking, fact-checking and response by online interlocutors—as it too often does—the last line of defense is real-world relationships: family, friends and office buddies. Enlisting in a science defense system requires a commitment to make health-promoting practices the norm in one’s community, a willingness to bookmark and turn to public health and fact-checking sites for knowledge about COVID and vaccination, a few premises about the nature and limits of scientific claims, a set of realistic goals, and a strategy for depoliticizing the science if the situation requires it.

Every layer in the model—blocking on platforms, fact-checking, online engagement and creation of a science-friendly community—has limitations. Each additional layer of defense, however, slows the advance of deceptions that, to appropriate a truism, will otherwise get halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on. And in the case of COVID-19, there are at least two areas where the benefits are so great that they are worthy of concentrated attention: masking and vaccination.

1 Find—and Bookmark—the Facts That Matter

We trust experts to provide us with information that we can’t gather for ourselves. If you trust that the FDA’s list of the ingredients in the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is accurate (a list you can find in the FDA’s scope of authorization letter on the agency’s site), then that trust and knowledge buffer you from the allegation that the shot injects nano-tracking devices into your arm.

A key question, of course, is: How trustworthy do most U.S. adults consider those who certify health science? The answer, from a New York Times/Siena College poll conducted last June, contains both bad and good news. Ninety percent of Democrats trust medical experts, but only 75 percent of Republicans do, which means that appeals to experts such as Fauci and entities such as the FDA will have trouble gaining traction with one out of four GOP loyalists. Yet even in these polarized times, a majority of Americans—84 percent of the U.S. population—say they trust medical scientists, and 77 percent say the same about the CDC.

To get started on stocking a science defense tool kit, then, bookmark the CDC’s page addressing frequently asked questions about COVID-19. Do the same for reliable fact-checking groups such as the Associated Press, Reuters, USA Today, the Washington Post, PolitiFact, and To assess their usefulness, try this scenario: Imagine a friend says that a CDC study found that masks are ineffective and wonders whether Donald Trump got it right when he told a town hall audience that a study found that “85 percent of the people that wear masks catch” the virus.

The first thing the search reveals is that all the major fact-checkers independently arrived at the same answer to your question. From the Associated Press: “Posts misrepresent CDC study examining mask use”; from USA Today: “Fact check: CDC report doesn’t show mask-wearers are more likely to contract COVID-19”; from Reuters: “Fact check: Misrepresented CDC study about community exposure to the new coronavirus.” Want to see whether the fact-checkers got the study right? The Reuters and articles each contain a link to the original CDC study.

The fact-checkers all agree that in the study in question, those who got COVID-19 and those who didn’t were equally likely to report mask wearing. Those who were infected, however, were more likely to have eaten in a restaurant or to say that they had been within six feet of a person infected with COVID-19. Because our meta-analysis of studies focused on debunking misinformation showed that detailed explanations can be effective, these kinds of specifics should increase the persuasive power of a correction.

In other words, a corrective should point out that the maskers in that study who became infected were more likely to have engaged in behavior that increased their risk. You can’t put food in your mouth while wearing a mask, and in the presence of an infected person, masks provide some but not complete protection.

2 Remember That Science Is Messy and Provisional

Science is an ongoing search for knowledge that yields caveated insights. Yet scientists and reporters sometimes cause confusion by implying that a scientific finding is beyond dispute or by delivering it in a story line that invites that inference. Our analyses, conducted under a grant from the Rita Allen Foundation, revealed that a typical news account casts a new scientific finding as a linear quest by researchers who surmount challenges as they engage in a journey that culminates in “discovery” and, with it, reliable knowledge. Students of literature will recognize this story structure as a classic quest narrative that generally resolves itself with no loose ends.

In news accounts of scientific discovery, the quest story line is pervasive. Our review of more than 600 articles about science published in major news outlets from 2013 to 2018 found that most of the write-ups ignored the false starts, trial and error, and serendipity that characterize the scientific process. Most also failed to note that unanswered questions remained. But as New York Times science writer Carl Zimmer notes, a scientific article is “never a revelation of absolute truth. At best it’s a status report.”

With the iterative, provisional nature of science in mind, the Washington Post’s FAQ on masks and COVID-19 declares, “Please keep in mind that as the [novel] coronavirus continues to be studied and understood, masking advice may change, and we will update this FAQ accordingly.” Ignoring that insight, some, including Trump, have misinterpreted or misrepresented a statement about masks that Fauci made early last March. “Fauci said, ‘Don’t wear a mask,’ right?” Trump told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie at a town hall last October. “Then he changed his mind.”

A related selectively edited viral video clip showing Fauci saying people “should not be walking around with masks” has been viewed millions of times on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Attacks based on that out-of-context quotation fail to recognize that scientific knowledge is always subject to updating as new evidence emerges. Between early March and the April 3 CDC recommendation that everyone wear masks when in contact with people outside their bubble, scientists learned that those experiencing no symptoms could transmit the coronavirus.

Not until October was that agency confident that airborne spread was occurring. Complicating the messaging was the fact that early in the pandemic, hospitals experiencing a surge in COVID patients had too few masks to protect their doctors and nurses. Until mask production could be ramped up, there was a need to reserve the N95 respirators and surgical masks for health-care workers and first responders. Fauci made that point as well.

In context, what he told Jon LaPook of 60 Minutes on March 8, 2020, was:

“The masks are important for someone who’s infected to prevent them from infecting someone else…. Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks…. [W]hen you think masks, you should think of health-care providers needing them and people who are ill…. I’m not against it [mask wearing]. If you want to do it, that’s fine.”

LaPook: “But it can lead to a [mask shortage]?”

Fauci: “Exactly, that’s the point. It could lead to a shortage of masks for the people who really need it.”

So when someone in your social circle says that the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases should not be trusted because he once said, “people should not be walking around with masks,” remind them that, as has pointed out, when he made that recommendation he was referring to people who weren’t infected, and at the time scientists had not yet confirmed that asymptomatic transmission was happening or that the virus was airborne.

Another reason to bookmark the CDC site is that it provides accurate content, context and caveats. When it comes to facial coverings, the CDC says: “Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.” Note the words “help” and “reduce.” If a person knows that when scientists say “masks work” they are saying that masks “help prevent” and “reduce” viral spread, they will be less likely to mistakenly conclude that a mask wearer getting infected means that masks do nothing.

Caveats also matter when it comes to vaccination. Rather than categorically declaring that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe, the CDC instead reports that the “data [about the FDA-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine] demonstrate that the known and potential benefits of this vaccine outweigh the known and potential harms of becoming infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID19).”

A small risk: a few of the multitudes being vaccinated have experienced what the CDC characterizes as a severe allergic reaction—that is, one that is treated with epinephrine or an EpiPen on-site or that requires hospitalization. A major benefit: taking two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine dramatically reduces the chances that the name of the vaccinated person will be added to the list of half a million Americans whose lives have been cut short by COVID-19.

3 Set Norms by Modeling Good Behavior

For decades before COVID-19 upended our lives, public health officials, school nurses, family physicians and our parents reminded us that to minimize contagion during cold and flu season, we should frequently wash our hands and stay away from others when coughing or sniffling. Because social norms powerfully shape what we do and because we saw evidence in our lives that these practices reduced transmission of colds and the seasonal flu, we and our families and friends practiced and preached them.

As a result of that combination of knowledge and norms, our survey early last March found that even before ubiquitous health messages urged us to do so, almost nine in 10 in the U.S. (87 percent) had responded to word of a new respiratory virus by increasing hand hygiene and keeping a distance from those with respiratory symptoms.

The lesson: By reinforcing and modeling a behavior such as mask wearing, science champions can make it a norm in their social circles. We should also remind ourselves that overwhelming numbers do believe in masking up. A poll that the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted last December found that about three in four U.S. adults report doing so every time they leave home.

4 Depoliticize the Science

As psychological reactance theory predicts, injunctions are more likely to elicit counterargument than acceptance; as the proverb tells us, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. An effective science defender will listen to a person’s reasons for not masking or vaccinating and share counterevidence without questioning their competence, good will or intelligence.

“The Battle Between The Masked And The Masked-Nots Unveils Political Rifts,” an NPR headline noted last May. Because mask avoidance has for some become a sign of commitment to conservative politics, the artful science advocate will marshal instances in which those of like ideological bent have championed the behavior, as former senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky did in 2020 and as former New Jersey governor Chris Christie did in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, explaining how getting infected with COVID-19 led him to conclude, as the headline said, “I Should Have Worn a Mask.” Conversion narratives like Christie’s or, on the vaccination front, like that of physician Eugenia South (“I’m a Black doctor who didn’t trust the Covid vaccine.

Here’s what changed my mind”) can be powerful. My co-authors and I saw that power in action in our study of how people reacted to environmental activist Mark Lynas’s explanation of why he once opposed but now favors genetically modified crops. The people exposed to his conversion account were significantly more likely to change their attitudes about genetically modified crops than those who were presented only with his arguments about their benefits.

5 Consider before You “Like”

When we click a “like” button on social media, we signal that the content is both acceptable and accepted. By sharing, we invest it with our credibility. Not only do the thumbs-up icon and the retweet symbol serve as signals of community approval, but they also invite our friends to join us in reinforcing the sentiments of our in-group. This process of signaling agreement is agnostic about whether it is used to spread science or viral deception (VD).

In a fashion analogous to that of the original VD, venereal disease, viral deception is contagious and socially transmitted. So, as the editors of Scientific American recommended in September 2019, “Before you click ‘like,’ hit ‘pause.’ ” If the message is VD, quarantine it. If the science comes from a reliable source and is consistent with what you see on the Web sites of the CDC or the National Institutes of Health, give it a boost by clicking “send,” “like” and “share.


6 Set Realistic Goals

One of the things that my colleague Joe Cappella and I found in our decade-long study of talk radio was that faithful listeners adopted the arguments and idioms of the hosts who served as their daytime companions. In addition to schooling the members of his audience in ways to support conservatism, the late talk show host Rush Limbaugh reduced their susceptibility to arguments incompatible with that philosophy. His success suggests that a talk show host whose audience is hesitant about protective behaviors or immunization could increase the disposition and capacities of at least some people by using the principles of the science defense system. So, too, could a family member.

Yet no amount of evidence or level of persuasive appeal will sway some people on some topics. For them, information will inevitably be contorted to conform to the demands of group identity. Rather than trying to convince people whose minds are closed, time is better spent focusing on persuading those who are reluctant but not opposed to engaging in preventive behaviors.

That said, people who are undecided about a health behavior may be more receptive to new information than scholars once thought. A study published last year in Nature upended the assumption that those who are undecided about vaccination are disengaged. On the contrary, these people searched Facebook for information. The problem is they were more likely to reach antivaccination than provaccination pages.

7 Make It about Protecting Your Neighbors

People engaged in defending science in their communities can convey its messages in concrete, local contexts with clear, immediate impact—protecting neighborhood kids, teachers, relatives in assisted living facilities, friends who work at the local hospital or the town pharmacy. If it’s a matter of taking care of the community, even doubters might decide to take preventive measures.

A case in point is Gary Abernathy of Hillsboro, Ohio, who, in a July 2020 Washington Post piece entitled “I’m Not So Sure on Masks. But Here’s Why I Wear One,” reported that he cared “about the peace of mind of my neighbors who hold different attitudes.” At the same time, he reported that he knew that “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that ‘fear and anxiety about a new disease … can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.’ ”

Additionally, he acknowledged the CDC argument that “directives meant to protect people, like social distancing, ‘can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.’ ” That combination of knowledge, understanding and empathy led him to adopt a community norm despite his doubts about the need. “[T]hat’s why,” he explained, “whether required or not, and no matter how distant I am from a COVID-19 hot spot, I’ve been donning a mask when I walk into a busy store where most people are wearing one.”

Abernathy’s decisions to mask up last summer and to articulate a rationale for other doubters to do the same qualify him as part of his community’s science defense system. And as Dolores Albarracin and Robert Wyer showed in a 2001 study, doubts aside, engaging in a helpful behavior is likely to increase one’s belief in its value.

8 Aim for Community Immunity

Wrapping a science defense shield around the concentric circles in which we live—our homes; our neighborhoods; the places where we come in contact with others from our community, such as the grocery store, our child’s school, the dentist’s office—is particularly important for encouraging immunization against COVID-19. It is immunity within our community—not at the national or state level—that protects us and our families.

When scientists talk about an immunity threshold—that percentage of the population that needs immunity to prevent spread—they are talking about the level required to protect a community. If a high percentage of people statewide are vaccinated against measles, but that number is low in a specific community within that state, then people living in that place are vulnerable.

This was the case in the Somali-American community in Minnesota in 2017, where at the time of a measles outbreak, in one county just 36 percent of Minnesota-born Somali children had been vaccinated against the disease. Instead of thinking of herd immunity, we should dedicate ourselves to achieving immunity within our communities from COVID-19, from measles, from flu—and from viral deception.

By relying on trustworthy sources of scientific information, working from an understanding of how science works, modeling behaviors that prevent the spread of both the coronavirus and viral deception, being realistic about the powers and limits of persuasion, and, where possible, depoliticizing the science, we can play our part in our community’s science defense system. Doing so will increase the chances that others in our circles will adopt COVID-fighting behaviors and urge those in their social spheres to do the same.


By: Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Kathleen Hall Jamieson is director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder of

Source: How to Debunk Misinformation about COVID, Vaccines and Masks – Scientific American


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What AI Practitioners Could Learn From A 1989 MIT Dissertation

Child at laptop

More than thirty years ago, Fred Davis developed the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) as part of his dissertation at MIT. It’s one of the most widely cited papers in the field of technology acceptance (a.k.a. adoption). Since 1989, it’s spawned an entire field of research that extends and adds to it. What does TAM convey and how might today’s AI benefit from it?

TAM is an intuitive framework. It feels obvious yet powerful and has withstood the test of time. Davis started with a premise so simple that it’s easy to take it for granted: A person will only try, use and ultimately adopt technology if they are willing to exert some effort. And what could motivate users to expend this effort?

He outlined several variables that could motivate users, and many researchers have added to his list over the years, but these two variables are the ones that were most important: 1. Does it look easy to use? 2. Will it be useful? If the learning curve doesn’t look too steep and there’s something in it for them, a user will be inclined to adopt. Many researchers have added to this foundation over the years. For example, we’ve learned that a user’s intention can also be influenced by subjective norms.

We’re motivated to adopt new tech at work when senior leadership thinks it’s important. Perceived usefulness can also be influenced by image, as in, “Does adopting this tech make me look good?” And lastly, usefulness is high if relevance to the job is high.

TAM can be a powerful concept for an AI practitioner. It should be front-of-mind when embedding AI in an existing tool or process and when developing an AI-first product, as in, one that’s been designed with AI at the center of its functionality from the start. (Think Netflix.) Furthermore, AI can be used to drive adoption by levering TAM principles that increase user motivation.

Making AI more adoptable

With the proliferation of AI in sales organizations, AI algorithms are increasingly embedded in tools and processes leveraged by sales representatives and sales managers. Adding decision engines to assist sales representatives is becoming increasingly common. A sales organization may embed models that help determine a customer’s propensity to buy or churn, recommend next best actions or communications and more. The problem is, many of these initiatives don’t work because of a lack of adoption.

TAM can help us design these initiatives more carefully, so that we maximize the chances of acceptance. For example, if these models surface recommendations and results that fit seamlessly into reps’ tools and processes, they would perceive them as easy to use.

And if the models make recommendations that help a sales person land a new customer, prevent one from leaving and help them upsell or cross-sell when appropriate, reps would perceive them as useful. In other words, if the AI meets employees where they are and offers timely, beneficial support, adoption becomes a no-brainer.

We also see many new products and services that are AI first. For these solutions, if perceived ease of use or perceived usefulness are not high, there would be no adoption. Consider a bank implementing a tech-enabled solution like mobile check deposits. This service depends on customers having a trouble-free experience.

The Newark airport’s global entry system uses facial recognition to scan international flyers’ faces. It’s voluntary, and the experience is fantastic. The kiosk recognizes my face, and a ticket is printed for me to take to the immigration officer. Personally, I find this AI-first process a better experience than the previous system that depended on fingerprints, and now I will always opt for the new one.

Using AI to drive adoption

And perhaps counter intuitively, what if AI was used to drive elements of TAM within existing technology? Can AI impact perceived usefulness? Can AI impact perceived ease of use? Consider CRM. It has been improved and refined over the years and is in use within most sales organizations, yet the level of dissatisfaction with CRM is high and adoption remains a challenge.

How can AI help? A machine learning algorithm that uses location services can recommend that a rep visit a nearby customer, increasing the perceived usefulness of their CRM solution. Intelligent process automation can also help reps see relevant information from a contracting database as information on renewals are being entered. Bots can engage customers on behalf of the representatives to serve up more qualified leads. The possibilities are numerous. All these AI features are designed to ensure that CRM lives up to its promise as a source of value to the sales representative.

Outside of sales, consider patients. In the past few years, many new technologies have been introduced to help diabetics. Adoption of this technology is critical to self-management, and self-management is critical to treating the disease. For any new technology in this space, patients need to see that it’s useful to them.

AI can play a role in gathering information such as glucose levels, activity and food intake and make recommendations on insulin dosing or caloric intake. Such information gathering could go a long way toward reducing the fatigue that diabetics feel while they make countless health and nutrition decisions throughout the day.

AI’s algorithmic nature makes it easy to forget that it’s another technology and that it can aid technology. Its novelty can convince us that everything about it is new. TAM holds up because it’s intuitive, straightforward and proven. While we boldly innovate a path forward in the world of AI, shed convention and think like a disruptor, let’s keep an eye on our history too. There’s some useful stuff in there.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Arun provides strategy and advisory services, helping clients build their analytics capabilities and leverage their data and analytics for greater commercial effectiveness. He currently works with clients on a broad range of analytics needs that span multiple industries, including technology, telecommunications, financial services, travel and transportation and healthcare. His areas of focus are AI adoption and ethics, as well as analytics organization design, capability building, AI explainability and process optimization.

Source: What AI Practitioners Could Learn From A 1989 MIT Dissertation



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Tiny Graphene Microchips Could Make Your Phones & laptops Thousands of Times Faster, Say Scientists

Graphene strips folded in similar fashion to origami paper could be used to build microchips that are up to 100 times smaller than conventional chips, found physicists – and packing phones and laptops with those tiny chips could significantly boost the performance of our devices.

New research from the University of Sussex in the UK shows that changing the structure of nanomaterials like graphene can unlock electronic properties and effectively enable the material to act like a transistor.  


The scientists deliberately created kinks in a layer of graphene and found that the material could, as a result, be made to behave like an electronic component. Graphene, and its nano-scale dimensions, could therefore be leveraged to design the smallest microchips yet, which will be useful to build faster phones and laptops. 

SEE: Hiring Kit: Computer Hardware Engineer (TechRepublic Premium)

Alan Dalton, professor at the school of mathematical and physics sciences at the University of Sussex, said: “We’re mechanically creating kinks in a layer of graphene. It’s a bit like nano-origami.  

“This kind of technology – ‘straintronics’ using nanomaterials as opposed to electronics – allows space for more chips inside any device. Everything we want to do with computers – to speed them up – can be done by crinkling graphene like this.” 

Discovered in 2004, graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms, which, due to its nano-sized width, is effectively a 2D material. Graphene is best known for its exceptional strength, but also for the material’s conductivity properties, which has already generated much interest in the electronics industry including from Samsung Electronics. 

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The field of straintronics has already shown that deforming the structure of 2D nanomaterials like graphene, but also molybdenum disulfide, can unlock key electronic properties, but the exact impact of different “folds” remains poorly understood, argued the researchers.  

Yet the behavior of those materials offers huge potential for high-performance devices: for example, changing the structure of a strip of 2D material can change its doping properties, which correspond to electron density, and effectively convert the material into a superconductor.  

The researchers carried an in-depth study of the impact of structural changes on properties, such as doping in strips of graphene and of molybdenum disulfide. From kinks and wrinkles to pit-holes, they observed how the materials could be twisted and turned to eventually be used to design smaller electronic components.  

Manoj Tripathi, research fellow in nano-structured materials at the University of Sussex, who led the research, said: “We’ve shown we can create structures from graphene and other 2D materials simply by adding deliberate kinks into the structure. By making this sort of corrugation we can create a smart electronic component, like a transistor, or a logic gate.” 

SEE: Microsoft’s quantum cloud computing plans take another big step forward

The findings are likely to resonate in an industry pressed to conform to Moore’s law, which holds that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years, in response for growing demand for faster computing services. The problem is, engineers are struggling to find ways to fit much more processing power into tiny chips, creating a big problem for the traditional semiconducting industry. 

A tiny graphene-based transistor could significantly help overcome these hurdles. “Using these nanomaterials will make our computer chips smaller and faster. It is absolutely critical that this happens as computer manufacturers are now at the limit of what they can do with traditional semiconducting technology. Ultimately, this will make our computers and phones thousands of times faster in the future,” said Dalton. 

Since it was discovered over 15 years ago, graphene has struggled to find as many applications as was initially hoped for, and the material has often been presented as a victim of its own hype. But then, it took over a century for the first silicon chip to be created after the material was discovered in 1824. Dalton and Tripathi’s research, in that light, seems to be another step towards finding a potentially game-changing use for graphene.

Daphne Leprince-Ringuet

By: Daphne Leprince-Ringuet

Subject Zero Science

Graphene Processors and Quantum Gates Since the 1960s, Moore’s law has accurately predicted the evolution trend of processors as to the amount of transistor doubling every 2 years. But lately we’ve seen something odd happening, processor clocks aren’t getting any faster. This has to do with another law called Dennard Scaling and it seems that the good old days with silicon chips are over. Hello everyone, subject zero here! Thankfully the solution might have been available for quite some time now and Graphene offers something quite unique to this problem, not only for your everyday processor types, but also Quantum computing. In 2009 it was speculated that by now we would have the famous 400GHz processors, but this technology has proven itself to be a bit more complicated than previously thought however most scientists including me, believe that in the next 5 years we will see the first Graphene commercial hardware come to reality. References…………………………………………

Japan Is Using Robots As A Service To Fight Coronavirus And For Better Quality Of Life

As societies around the world grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, service robots have emerged as a powerful tool in fighting the virus and addressing social needs. Sterilizing robots using ultraviolet light are disinfecting hospitals and airplanes, delivery robots are carrying out contactless deliveries, and avatar robots are even standing in for university students at graduation. Japan has long been a leading manufacturer of both industrial and service robots, and the pandemic is accelerating development of robots as a service (RaaS) that can both extend human abilities and relieve people of work that is exhausting and repetitive.

Robots to cure loneliness

Avatar robots, sometimes known as telepresence robots, are an emerging field of service robots that allow users to remotely operate interactive machines and project their presence into a distant location. Ory Laboratories, a robotics startup in Tokyo, is building avatar robots that can benefit not only those working from home during the pandemic, but people with chronic health conditions that prevent them from leaving their home or care facility.

OriHime Biz is a desktop communications robot that works via smartphone, tablet or PC. About 20 cm tall and equipped with a camera, microphone and speaker, OriHime has a sleek, streamlined design and can move its head and arms. Children with physical impairments have used OriHime to virtually attend class. In one instance, a teacher suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) used it to attend his students’ graduation ceremony.

“Since the pandemic, OriHime has been increasingly used for social distancing applications such as users who want to attend conferences in avatar form,” says Yuki Aki, COO and cofounder of Ory Laboratories. “It has also been used to greet COVID-19 patients recuperating in a hotel in Kanagawa Prefecture.”

Yuki’s background drives her passion for avatar robotics. As a student, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was unable to attend school, an experience that made her very lonely. It was through the Japan Science & Engineering Challenge (JSEC), a competition for young science enthusiasts where she won a prize, that Yuki met fellow prizewinner Yoshifuji Kentaro, now CEO of Ory. He told her about his idea to extend human abilities through robots, and after developing a prototype as college students, they set up Ory Laboratories in 2012.

“I wanted to solve the problem of solitude,” says Yuki. “The tool to accomplish that mission turned out to be a robot, but it could also be something completely different.”

The startup now has more than 20 employees, two types of robot and one service. Aside from OriHime Biz, it has developed OriHime D, a mobile robot that stands 120 cm tall, about the size of an elementary school student. Controlled by remote users, it can carry objects such as trays and drinks. OriHime eye, meanwhile, is an eye-tracking communications device for users such as ALS patients who can only move their eyes, fingers, or other body parts. It can be employed to communicate with loved ones or operate robots such as OriHime.

“OriHime D has been used as an avatar waiter in cafés we organize as temporary events, and by controlling it, users can experience what it’s like to work in the service industry,” says Yuki. “One man using it said he was able to earn money for the first time in his life, and decided to buy clothes for his mother, who cares for him because he cannot work.”

Ory Laboratories has collaborated with a regional government in Denmark to provide robots for use by children confined to their homes or in hospital. The company is now focused on expanding the use of its avatars and would like to work with other partners overseas.

“By 2050, we want to have robots for nursing care, for instance eye-controlled avatars that can help people care for themselves in their old age,” says Yuki. “You could take continuing education classes or attend school reunions via your robot. We envision a future world in which avatar robots are an extension of yourself and help you overcome the limitations of the physical body.”

Robot chefs to the rescue

Another Tokyo robotics startup that is expecting increasing demand, even during the pandemic, is Connected Robotics. Founded in 2014, it’s targeting an underserved but potentially huge market: automated food preparation, especially for Japanese cuisine. Its first robot is OctoChef, a machine that can prepare up to 96 takoyaki, a Japanese snack consisting of chopped octopus and other ingredients in a ball of batter. OctoChef can whip them up in 15 to 20 minutes using artificial intelligence, computer vision, and a collaborative robot arm. 

“Japanese industry needs more workers but the labor market is shrinking and aging,” says CEO and founder Sawanobori Tetsuya. “We want to help by providing robots that can take over difficult cooking jobs, working long hours over a hotplate with temperatures of 200 C.”

Sawanobori was born into a family of restaurateurs and dreamed as a child of having his own eatery. But he was also attracted to robotics and computer science, subjects he studied in university. He gained some early momentum by winning top prize at Startup Weekend Robotics, and joining the Kirin Accelerator Program, sponsored by Kirin Holdings, owner of Kirin Brewery. Fast-forward to 2020, and Connected Robotics has installed a number of OctoChef machines around Japan. Earlier this year, it launched another robot that can make soba noodles. Restaurants that rent the machine can save 50% on labor costs for cooking soba noodles, according to the company.

“As collaborative robots that work alongside people, our machines can move smoothly, while being adaptive and flexible,” says Sawanobori. “This is especially important in confined spaces like restaurant kitchens. With our control technology and computer vision, we can achieve smooth, intelligent machines that can help get the job done.”

Connected Robotics has developed a number of other food-related robots, including a machine that produces soft-serve ice cream, another that prepares deep-fried foods often sold at Japanese convenience stores, and yet another that cooks bacon and eggs for breakfast. Along the way, it was selected for the Japanese government’s J-Startup program, which highlights promising startups in Japan, and has raised over 950 million yen ($9.1 million) from investors including Global Brain, Sony Innovation Fund and 500 Startups Japan. 

Connected Robotics wants robots to do more than just prepare food in the kitchen. It is collaborating with the state-backed New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) to tackle the task of loading and unloading dishwashers. Under the project, one robot arm will prewash dishes and load them into a dishwashing machine, and another arm will store the clean dishes. The company aims to roll out the machine next spring, part of its goal to have 100 robot systems installed in Japan over the next two years. From that point, it wants to branch out overseas into regions such as Southeast Asia.

“I think we can be globally competitive because while there are some robots that can make hamburgers, spaghetti or pizza, so far there are no other companies that are serious about doing Japanese cuisine,” says Sawanobori. “We want to spread Japanese culture while showcasing our unique technologies and strengths.”

Note: All Japanese names in this article are given in the traditional Japanese order, with surname first.

To learn more about Ory Laboratory click here.

To learn more about Connected Robotics, click here.

To learn more about NEDO, click here.



Japan is changing. The country is at the forefront of demographic change that is expected to affect countries around the world. Japan regards this not as an onus but as a bonus for growth. To overcome this challenge, industry, academia and government have been moving forward to produce powerful and innovative solutions. The ongoing economic policy program known as Abenomics is helping give rise to new ecosystems for startups, in addition to open innovation and business partnerships. The Japan Voice series explores this new landscape of challenge and opportunity through interviews with Japanese and expatriate innovators who are powering a revitalized economy. For more information on the Japanese Government innovations and technologies, please visit



Al Jazeera English 6.4M subscribers Countries around the world are looking at all sorts of technologies to help contain the coronavirus. And an army of robots is helping to relieve the pressure on health workers treating coronavirus victims Al Jazeera’s Raheela Mahomed explains. – Subscribe to our channel: – Follow us on Twitter: – Find us on Facebook: – Check our website:


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Huawei Sells Honor Unit ‘To Ensure Its Own Survival,’ But Loses Smartphone Synergy

Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant once ranked as the world’s largest smartphone maker and increasingly squeezed by Washington, announced Tuesday that it would sell its budget handset brand Honor to a government-backed consortium in a bid for the unit’s survival.

Huawei has been struggling to overcome restrictions on crucial chip technologies by the U.S., which calls the company a national security threat. By breaking off, Honor can get smartphone supplies without Washington’s blockade, but will lose access to Huawei’s resources and may even face new U.S. restrictions in the longer term, analysts warn.

“This move has been made by Honor’s industry chain to ensure its own survival,” Huawei said in a statement. “Huawei’s consumer business has been under tremendous pressure as of late. This has been due to a persistent unavailability of technical elements needed for our mobile phone business.”

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Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology is set to buy all Honor assets to “help Honor’s channel sellers and suppliers make it through this difficult time,” according to the statement. The buyer comprises more than 30 “agents and dealers” of the Honor brand.

Government-run Shenzhen Smart City Technology Development Group founded the consortium. It counts local government-linked energy, healthcare and investment firms as members. Chinese sports, retail and entertainment conglomerate Group, one of China’s largest private companies, is also on the list. MORE FOR YOUVietnamese Mega-Conglomerate Vingroup Launches South China Sea Tourism With New SubmarineTop iPhone Assembler Foxconn Expects To Move Further Away From ChinaVietnam’s Richest Man Sees Interim Earnings Drop 60% As His Conglomerate Retreats From Retail

Shenzhen Smart City Technology Development said in its own statement the investment is “market-driven” one aimed at saving Honor’s “industry chain,” including suppliers, sellers and consumers.

The sale will let Honor “get the ball rolling” on getting supplies, says Kiranjeet Kaur, a Singapore-based senior research manager at IDC’s Asia Pacific client devices group. But it will miss the “synergy” it had established behind the scenes with Huawei, she notes. The two had shared R&D and original design manufacturing. “I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be for Honor to detach from that,” Kaur says. “I’m not sure how Honor is going to differentiate in the market from Huawei.”

The consortium’s state influence could land Honor in trouble if it wants approval from the U.S., Kaur adds.

“The fact that there is no strategic investor behind the deal, but rather a consortium of players, many of which are related to the government, sheds light on some of the deal rationale,” says Alexander Sirakov, an independent Chinese financial technology analyst.

Huawei has hoped that a sale will give it an infusion of cash while protecting Honor itself from more U.S. sanctions, experts said last week when news first broke about a possible sale. Huawei’s billionaire founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, had said last year that U.S. sanctions would cause company revenue to drop by billions of dollars.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce added Huawei to an entity list of companies that are barred from doing business with organization in the U.S. An order that took effect two months ago placed 38 Huawei affiliates to the list and restricts transactions where U.S. software or technology would help develop the Chinese company’s hardware.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is not expected to cancel action against Huawei at the start of his term next year as he focuses on domestic issues, analysts said last week, but he might not add sanctions.

Huawei’s statement does not disclose a selling price or mention the U.S. sanctions.

Honor was launched in 2013 as a budget brand to compete with Chinese rivals and sold throughout developing markets in Asia at an average price of $156. Honor has kept costs low and saved money by selling most of its phones online. Huawei would ship more than 70 million Honor phones annually. “We hope this new Honor company will embark on a new road of honor with its shareholders, partners, and employees,” the Huawei statement says.

Huawei was ranked No. 2 in the world and No. 1 in China in the third quarter by IDC. It had reached the top spot in the previous quarter for its first time.Follow me on Twitter

Ralph Jennings

Ralph Jennings

As a news reporter I have covered some of everything since 1988, from my alma mater U.C. Berkeley to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing where I followed Communist officials for the Japanese news agency Kyodo. Stationed in Taipei since 2006, I track Taiwanese companies and local economic trends that resonate offshore. At Reuters through 2010, I looked intensely at the island’s awkward relations with China. More recently, I’ve studied high-tech trends in greater China and expanded my overall news coverage to surrounding Asia.




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Chinese tech giant #Huawei has announced it’s selling its budget, youth-oriented smartphone brand Honor to another Chinese company. The move is seen as helping it ride out challenges posed by U.S. sanctions. #5G#China Subscribe to us on YouTube: Download our APP on Apple Store (iOS):… Download our APP on Google Play (Android):…

7 Areas of Your Business That Can Be Streamlined By Big Data

Big data as a concept is thrown around a lot. It’s often used as a buzzword to sound tech-savvy and on the ball — but how much do you really know about it? In truth, it’s been around for decades. Businesses have been analyzing their customers’ actions and behaviors and using it to inform their business decisions for a long time; it’s the marker of a strong businessperson. The difference today is that we now have the tools and technology to gather and analyze larger amounts of data faster. Enter big data.

Related: The Pivotal Role of Big Data in Ecommerce

You don’t have to be a tech genius or a data scientist to make big data work for you and your business. Here are seven areas where you can use big data to streamline and optimize what you already have, with key examples and actionable tips to get you started.

1. Website design

To prove that big data is not only for the scientists of the world, let’s start with a more creative example. A well-designed website shouldn’t only look good, it should be part of a subtle conversation going on between you and your customers and leads.

One way to gather useful big data from your website is through heat maps. You can see exactly where the eyes and cursors of visitors to your site spent the most time. If these heat spots aren’t on your CTA button, contact form, or wherever else you most want them to go, you know what needs to be changed. You can achieve similar results with traffic analysis — looking at page views, unique visitors, visit duration and more. Many traffic analysis tools will also let you compare to your competitors’ sites to get a bigger picture of the general landscape.

2. Campaign timing

Have you ever put together a five-star marketing campaign that ticks all of your customer persona boxes, looks great and has a punchy CTA — only to see it flop? The greatest campaigns in the world will get you nowhere if you don’t publish them at the right time.

Whether you’re publishing on social media, email or any other digital platform, there are tools (like Growbots for email or Sprout Social for social media) that will gather data for you about when your audience is most active, when they are most prone to engaging and ultimately when the best time to reach them is. With big data, you don’t have to take a stab in the dark about when to launch a winning campaign.

3. Conversion optimization

There are a lot of variables when it comes to on-site content. While that may seem daunting to some, that really just means that there’s a lot of room for optimization so that your business can do even better than it is now. From headline copy to page color scheme, it can all be tweaked and improved to gather the highest amount of conversions possible.

Big data analytics can help us to understand how leads travel through our sales funnels, where they might get lost and at what point many prospective customers drop off. Data-driven optimization is the fastest and most efficient way to get it right. Even while experimenting, be sure to gather as much data as possible and analyze it in bulk for the most accurate and informative results.

Related: 5 Things That Cause Reasonable Consumers to Abandon Their Shopping Carts

4. Personalized communication

No matter what your business is, at the end of the day it will come down to people making a decision. Big data might seem like a huge and faceless tool, but it can also be used to add more personality and individuality to your marketing and customer interaction. 

The fashion brand, H&M, used big data to do exactly that when they integrated it with their chatbot. As it offered options to prospective customers and asked them if they liked the product choice, it learned more and more about what clothing options they liked. Along the same vein, for marketers to make personalized decisions that will have a real impact on leads and customers, we need to learn about them first. Big data is one effective way to do so.

5. Customer retention

A good business person knows how to attract and win clients. A great business person knows how to keep loyal customers. Once again, big data can take the heavy lifting out of this process.

Checking in with your existing customers through quick surveys and polls is one way to be continually staying in touch with how they perceive your company and what they think of your products or services. It’s anywhere between five to 25 times more expensive to find a new customer than to retain an existing one, depending on your industry. Use big data to regularly make sure that you are doing exactly what your existing customers are expecting of you.

6. Informing risk management

Risk is a fact of life for any business. Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to make smarter strategic decisions with key data to back up our more risky ventures? With big data, that could be a reality.

UOB Bank in Singapore did it. As a financial institution, making a misstep in risk assessment and management could be catastrophic. The bank used big data to develop a risk management system that cut down their risk analysis time from 18 hours to just a few minutes. Being able to carry out extensive risk analysis in real-time was a game-changer.

Of course, not every business has the ability or the resources to create their own risk management solution from scratch but there are tools out there that help businesses accurately quantify the risks they take on a daily basis, shedding light on one of the trickiest parts of business decision-making.

Related: Cybersecurity Practices That Protect Your Small Business

7. Smart business growth and innovation

Think about the most successful businesses in the world — Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, just to name a few. They didn’t get to where they are today by sticking to their first idea and running with it. They diversified, innovated and kept up with other demands from their customers. Often, it was big data that showed them the way.

Let’s look at Amazon’s recent venture, Amazon Fresh. To launch their whole foods service, Amazon focused on big data analytics to not just understand how customers buy groceries, but also how suppliers interact with grocers. Big data helped them understand the whole supply chain and find a solution that streamlined every aspect of it, thereby providing an innovative and helpful service. 

By: Sina Fak / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

The ability to predict what customers will purchase for how much is incredibly useful in the retail industry. Big data and analytics are the key to those insights, helping retailers better understand customers and improve operations. To learn more about Reliable Software’s solutions for the retail industry, visit: Follow us on social media:…… Subscribe to our Blog:



Why 5G Is Going to Transform Our Approach to Data Processing


It’s easy to forget what communications life was like before 4G. Since its introduction around 2010, mobile subscribers using 4G have enjoyed excellent connectivity. They can stream music, videos and movies, even while conducting video chats.

But over the next few years, the rollout of 5G networks around the world will usher in exciting capabilities that are much more advanced and promise to boost commerce. In its report entitled “Study on Socio-Economic Benefits of 5G Services Provided in mmWave Bands,” the GSMA, which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, predicts that “by 2034, 5G can be expected to generate US$2 trillion in GDP globally and US$588 billion in tax revenue.” All industries—agriculture, mining, financial services, public services, manufacturing and more—are expected to benefit.

Advanced capabilities

Due to 5G’s higher connection speeds, mobility and capacity, as well as its lower latency, this next-generation network is expected to enable innovative software for a range of advanced applications. The GSMA identifies several key use cases, including:

  • Remote object manipulation, which lets surgeons perform microscopic surgery from remote locations
  • Industrial automation, which allows artificial intelligence (AI)- and machine learning (ML)-enabled robots to collaborate to improve production line efficiency using data analytics
  • Virtual and augmented reality, which enables workers to learn how to operate new equipment using holograms rather than physical equipment
  • Next-generation transport connectivity, which can lead to improved commute times and reduced pollution through use of streaming and real-time data to optimize travel routes

Software-defined infrastructure drives 5G

These services won’t appear overnight. Communications service providers (CSPs) will continue to support existing networks while they invest in new infrastructure to support 5G.

In a recent blog, Jean-Pierre Brulard, VMware senior vice president and general manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), writes: “For CSPs, it is a major undertaking, which is why it is likely that rather than a pure 5G network, the majority of people will see a blended approach, where 4G is available to deliver basic services, and 5G introduced for specific tasks. It is therefore critical [for CSPs] to have what’s known as the telco cloud. This is software-defined technology that supports both current 4G and lays the groundwork for 5G.”

The telco cloud uses a common architecture that simplifies a CSP’s infrastructure so it can be a foundation for deploying new services. CSPs use the telco cloud to connect their existing environments with private, edge and public networks.

The telco cloud is based on Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), which streamlines the design and deployment of networking services and automates their operation. VMware helps CSPs like Vodafone create new revenue streams, open new industry opportunities, drive down costs and improve overall customer satisfaction by enabling them to become nimbler and more responsive.

VMware provides an optimal infrastructure for all telco applications and services: custom built, packaged, virtualized, cloud native and software as a service (SaaS). With this infrastructure, CSPs can deliver those applications securely to any endpoint across a telco-distributed cloud, including private and public cloud, branch/edge, micro data center, gateway or end user.

5G creates new possibilities for enterprises

Becoming 5G-ready isn’t an opportunity only for CSPs. 5G provides huge possibilities for businesses to deliver new services and applications, allowing them to reimagine how they engage with customers. Imagine restaurants delivering freshly prepared food via drones, for example.

changelly5According to Brulard: “With 5G, enterprises can access the levels and speeds of connectivity they need to take advantage of the game-changing technologies—such as Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing and AI—that are going to shape the next stage of the digital revolution.”

Processing IoT and AI in an accelerated 5G world means computing, storage and networking need to be done closer to the end user, an approach that is poles apart from the traditional data center method of data processing. The voluminous amount of real-time data generated by the IoT and AI makes it inefficient to stream to a cloud or data center for processing.

A more efficient solution is to implement edge computing, which processes data closer to where it is generated. VMware EdgeTM, for example, is a software-defined edge platform that enables providers and IT teams to run applications and analytics anywhere, with consistent infrastructure and operations from edge to cloud. Organizations can remotely manage, monitor and secure thousands of locations and millions of diverse devices. This helps to ensure the rapid delivery of the latest apps, containers and infrastructure updates via granular over-the-air lifecycle management.

Such a robust infrastructure will help CSPs and businesses fulfill 5G’s potential to significantly enhance quality of life. 5G can lead to better, accelerated access to healthcare and education, and people can enjoy safer driving conditions and reduced pollution, among other digitally fueled benefits.

By VMware


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