A phenomenon that often accompanies technological innovations involves how they tend to become smaller with their improvement over time. From televisions and communication devices like telephones to computers and microchip components, many of the technologies we use every day occupy a fraction of the space in our homes and offices that their predecessors did just decades ago.

In keeping with this trend, it is no surprise that a new tech developed by scientists at Sandia National Laboratories, in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, may soon replace cumbersome technologies than once required an entire room to operate, thanks to an ultrathin invention that could change the future of computation, encryption, and a host of other technologies.

At the heart of the invention and its function is a peculiar phenomenon that has perplexed physicists for decades, known as quantum entanglement.

Entanglement involves particles (photons, in this case) that are linked in such a way that any changes that affect one of them will affect the other. Strangely, the distance between entangled particles does not affect the way such changes occur, a peculiarity first described by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen in 1935, which Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.”

Although physicists have difficulty reconciling this mainstay of the quantum mechanical world with our concepts of classical mechanics, scientists have nonetheless succeeded in tapping the strange phenomenon of entanglement in developing new information technologies, improving encryption technologies, and even correcting errors in the burgeoning field of quantum computing.

Now, the creation of an all-new material by the Sandia Labs and Max Planck Institute team could further improve efforts to harness quantum entanglement in the production of innovative new technologies.

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Corporate Investors Pour Billions Into ‘Digital Snoops’ to Spy on Workers’ Every Move

For generations, workers have been punished by corporate bosses for watching the clock. But now, the corporate clock is watching workers! They count this as progress.

Called “digital productivity monitoring,” it’s an integrated computer system including a real-time clock, camera, keyboard tracker and algorithms to provide a second-by-second record of what each employee is doing.

Jeff Bezos, boss of Amazon, pioneered the use of this ticking electronic eye in his monstrous warehouses, forcing hapless, low-paid “pickers” to sprint down cavernous stacks of consumer stuff to fill online orders, pronto — beat the clock or be fired.

“Terrific policy!” exclaimed taskmasters at hospital chains, banks, tech giants, newspapers, colleges and other outfits employing millions of midlevel professionals.

So, they’ve been installing these unblinking digital snoops to watch their employees, even timing bathroom breaks and constantly eyeing each worker’s job performance.

New software with such Orwellian names as “WorkSmart” and “Time Doctor” has been plugged in to count workers’ keystrokes and — every 10 minutes — to snap pictures of workers’ faces and screens, recording all on individual scoreboards.

You are paid only for the minutes the computers “see” you in action. Bosses hail the electronic minders as “Fitbits” of productivity, spurring workers to keep noses to the grindstone and instilling workplace honesty.

Only … the whole scheme is dishonest. No employee’s worthiness can be measured in keystrokes and 10-minute snapshots!

What about thinking, conferring with colleagues, listening to customers, etc.? Nope — zero “productivity points” are awarded for that work.

For example, The New York Times reports that the multibillion-dollar United Health Group marks its drug-addiction therapists “idle” if they are conversing offline with patients, leaving their keyboards inactive.

Employees mostly call this digital management “demoralizing,” “toxic” and “just wrong.” But corporate investors are pouring billions into it. Which group do you trust to shape America’s workplace?

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Deepfake audio has a tell – researchers use fluid dynamics to spot artificial imposter voices

Imagine the following scenario. A phone rings. An office worker answers it and hears his boss, in a panic, tell him that she forgot to transfer money to the new contractor before she left for the day and needs him to do it. She gives him the wire transfer information, and with the money transferred, the crisis has been averted.

The worker sits back in his chair, takes a deep breath, and watches as his boss walks in the door. The voice on the other end of the call was not his boss. In fact, it wasn’t even a human. The voice he heard was that of an audio deepfake, a machine-generated audio sample designed to sound exactly like his boss.

Attacks like this using recorded audio have already occurred, and conversational audio deepfakes might not be far off.

Deepfakes, both audio and video, have been possible only with the development of sophisticated machine learning technologies in recent years. Deepfakes have brought with them a new level of uncertainty around digital media. To detect deepfakes, many researchers have turned to analyzing visual artifacts – minute glitches and inconsistencies – found in video deepfakes.

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New doorbell technology can deny access to Covid-positive people

An invention that is yet to be patented, is marketed by its author as “the world’s first Covid-19 doorbell” – a multi-biometric device called Pulse Secure Doorbell, the intellectual property (IP) of which has been offered for sale or licensing with a price tag in excess of a million dollars.

This doorbell is the brainchild of Ross Markbreiter, who appears to be behind Pulse Security Systems. The content-wise sparse website for the project states that what makes the device “unique” is that it is equipped not only with a camera but also an infrared (IR) “beam” (thermometer) that takes a person’s temperature, as well as a fingerprint scanner that takes the pulse and starts biometric scanning to confirm identity.

The camera is used for facial recognition, and what increasingly sounds like a full-fledged “biometric lab” rather than any “doorbell” you currently know of also incorporates a microphone for voice recognition.

If the checks are completed to the satisfaction of whatever the requirements of those who use the system are, green lights will be on, all the elements will turn on, and the door opens. If not, access is denied.

“There is a speaker and a 911 button. A person will contact you if needed,” the website states.

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Why are hard drive companies investing in DNA data storage?

The research community is excited about the potential of DNA to function as long-term archival storage. That’s largely because it’s extremely dense, chemically stable for tens of thousands of years, and comes in a format we’re unlikely to forget how to read. While there has been some interesting progress, efforts have mostly stayed in the research community because of the high costs and extremely slow read and write speeds. These are problems that need to be solved before DNA-based storage can be practical.

So we were surprised to hear that storage giant Seagate had entered into a collaboration with a DNA-based storage company called Catalog. To find out how close the company’s technology is to being useful, we talked to Catalog’s CEO, Hyunjun Park. Park indicated that Catalog’s approach is counterintuitive on two levels: It doesn’t store data the way you’d expect, and it isn’t focusing on archival storage at all.

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Synthetic Embryo With Brain and Heart Formed Without Using Eggs or Sperm.

Asynthetic embryo with cells capable of forming a brain and a beating heart was developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge using mouse stem cells. EuroNews described the effort as “yet another success in the unfolding race to develop embryos from human and mouse stem cells.”

The team, led by Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, developed the embryo model without using any eggs or sperm. The researchers used stem cells, specifically three types found in early mammalian development.

“By inducing the expression of a particular set of genes and establishing a unique environment for their interactions, the researchers were able to get the stem cells to ‘talk’ to each other,” explains a summary of the work.

“The stem cells self-organised into structures that progressed through the successive developmental stages until they had beating hearts and the foundations of the brain, as well as the yolk sac where the embryo develops and gets nutrients from in its first weeks.”

The synthetic embryo model developed by the Cambridge team is unique, as it reached a record level of development where the entire brain, including the anterior portion, began to develop.

The findings, which took researchers over a decade of work, could potentially be useful in understanding why some pregnancies fail along with developing synthetic organs for patients awaiting transplants.

The research also opens “new possibilities to study the mechanisms of neurodevelopment in an experimental model,” according to Zernicka-Goetz.

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Saudis Use Orwellian App to Identify Dissidents, Imprisoning Some for Decades

Saudi Arabians are using a mobile app sold by both Apple and Google to snitch on their fellow citizens for dissenting against government authorities. As a result, activists and others are going to prison for more than 30 years in some cases, Business Insider reported on Friday.

On August 16, Saudi national Salma el-Shabab, a PhD student at Leeds University, was sentenced to 34 years in prison for tweets “in support of activists and members of the kingdom’s political opposition in exile,” the report said. Though the posts were made while she was in the UK, el-Shabab was nonetheless reported through the “Kollona Amn” app and immediately arrested upon returning home. 

“Every day we wake up to hear news, somebody has been arrested, or somebody has been taken,” Real, a Saudi women’s-rights activist using an alias, told Insider.

Kollona Amn – which roughly translates to “We Are All Security” in Arabic – was launched by the Saudi Interior Ministry in 2017, but the last few years have seen a “dramatic” surge in court cases referencing the app, according to legal-rights activists.

The app “encourages everyday citizens to play the role of police and become active participants in their own repression. Putting the state’s eyes everywhere also creates a pervasive sense of uncertainty – there is always a potential informant in the room or following your social media accounts,” said Noura Aljizawi, a researcher at Citizen Lab, which focuses on threats to free speech online.

The Orwellian nature of the app is such that users often report on people “defensively,” fearing they could face punishment themselves for merely overhearing speech deemed offensive to the regime. In some cases, the app has also been used for “blackmail” and to “settle scores,” Insider noted.

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Chinese scientists claim to have engineered the world’s first mouse with fully reprogrammed genes

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) claim to have found a novel technique for programmable chromosome fusion successfully producing mice with genetic changes “that occur on a million-year evolutionary scale” in the laboratory.

The findings could shed light on how chromosome rearrangements—the tidy packages of organized genes provided in equal numbers by each parent, which align and trade or blend traits to produce offspring—influence evolution, reported on Thursday.

“The laboratory house mouse has maintained a standard 40-chromosome karyotype—or the full picture of an organism’s chromosomes—after more than 100 years of artificial breeding,” said Li Zhikun, a researcher at CAS’s Institute of Zoology.

“Over longer time scales, however, karyotype changes caused by chromosome rearrangements are common. Rodents have 3.2 to 3.5 rearrangements per million years, whereas primates have 1.6,” added Li, co-first author of the study.

The mouse, known as Xiao Zhu, or “Little Bamboo,” was the world’s first mammal with fully reprogrammed genes, according to the South China Morning Post.

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Dominion Voting Machine Bought for $7.99 at Goodwill and Sold on eBay For $1,200

A Dominion voting machine was purchased for $7.99 on Goodwill’s website and sold on eBay for $1,200 last month.

Authorities are now investigating how the machine ended up for sale in the first place.

The machine was first purchased by Ohio-based Uber driver Ean Hutchison, who resells tech items on eBay.

Though the machine was only listed as “AVALUE TECHNOLOGY Touch Panel SID-15V-Z37-B1R,” Hutchinson knew that it was a voting machine.

“Own a piece of history!” Hutchison’s eBay listing read, according to a report from CNN. “This voting machine was one of thousands used in the 2020 United States presidential election and included in one of the many lawsuits against Dominion that were thrown out.”

Hutchinson started the bidding at $250, but included an option to skip the auction and purchase it for $1,200.

It was purchased for the “Buy It Now” price by Harri Hursti, a Connecticut cybersecurity expert, who was in HBO’s documentary “Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections.”

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