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George Soros Attacks China's AI Push as 'Mortal Danger'
January 25, 2019 12:25 am|Comments (0)

Governments and companies worldwide are investing heavily in artificial intelligence in hopes of new profits, smarter gadgets, and better health care. Financier and philanthropist George Soros told the World Economic Forum in Davos Thursday that the technology may also undermine free societies and create a new era of authoritarianism.

“I want to call attention to the mortal danger facing open societies from the instruments of control that machine learning and artificial intelligence can put in the hands of repressive regimes,” Soros said. He made an example of China, repeatedly calling out the country’s president, Xi Jinping.

China’s government issued a broad AI strategy in 2017, asserting that it would surpass US prowess in the technology by 2030. As in the US, much of the leading work on AI in China takes place inside a handful of large tech companies, such as search engine Baidu, and retailer and payments company Alibaba.

Soros argued that AI-centric tech companies like those can become enablers of authoritarianism. He pointed to China’s developing “social credit” system, aimed at tracking citizens’ reputations by logging financial activity, online interactions and even energy use, among other things. The system is still taking shape, but depends on data and cooperation from companies like payments company Ant Financial, a spinout of Alibaba. “The social credit system, if it became operational, would give Xi Jinping total control over the people,” Soros said.

Soros argued synergy like that between corporate and government AI projects creates a more potent threat than was posed by Cold War-era autocrats, many of whom spurned corporate innovation. “The combination of repressive regimes with IT monopolies endows those regimes with a built-in advantage over open societies,” Soros said. “They pose a mortal threat to open societies.”

Soros is far from the first to raise an alarm about the dangers of AI technology. It’s a favorite topic of Elon Musk, and last year Henry Kissinger called for a US government commission to examine the technology’s risks. Google cofounder Sergey Brin warned in in Alphabet’s most recent annual shareholder letter that AI technology had downsides, including the potential to manipulate people. Canada and France plan to establish an intergovernmental group to study how AI changes societies.

The financier attempted to draft Donald Trump into his AI vigilance campaign. He advised the president to be tougher on Chinese telecoms manufacturers ZTE and Huawei, to prevent them from dominating the high-bandwidth 5G mobile networks being built around the world. Both companies are already reeling from sanctions by the US and other governments.

Soros also urged the well-heeled attendees of Davos to help forge international mechanisms to prevent AI-enhanced authoritarianism—and that could both include and contain China. He asked them to imagine a technologically oriented version of the treaty signed after World War II that underpins the United Nations, binding countries into common standards for human rights and freedoms.

Here is the text of Soros’s speech:

I want to use my time tonight to warn the world about an unprecedented danger that’s threatening the very survival of open societies.

Last year when I stood before you I spent most of my time analyzing the nefarious role of the IT monopolies. This is what I said: “An alliance is emerging between authoritarian states and the large data rich IT monopolies that bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an already developing system of state sponsored surveillance. This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even George Orwell could have imagined.”

Tonight I want to call attention to the mortal danger facing open societies from the instruments of control that machine learning and artificial intelligence can put in the hands of repressive regimes. I’ll focus on China, where Xi Jinping wants a one-party state to reign supreme.

A lot of things have happened since last year and I’ve learned a lot about the shape that totalitarian control is going to take in China.

All the rapidly expanding information available about a person is going to be consolidated in a centralized database to create a “social credit system.” Based on that data, people will be evaluated by algorithms that will determine whether they pose a threat to the one-party state. People will then be treated accordingly.

The social credit system is not yet fully operational, but it’s clear where it’s heading. It will subordinate the fate of the individual to the interests of the one-party state in ways unprecedented in history.

I find the social credit system frightening and abhorrent. Unfortunately, some Chinese find it rather attractive because it provides information and services that aren’t currently available and can also protect law-abiding citizens against enemies of the state.

China isn’t the only authoritarian regime in the world, but it’s undoubtedly the wealthiest, strongest and most developed in machine learning and artificial intelligence. This makes Xi Jinping the most dangerous opponent of those who believe in the concept of open society. But Xi isn’t alone. Authoritarian regimes are proliferating all over the world and if they succeed, they will become totalitarian.

As the founder of the Open Society Foundations, I’ve devoted my life to fighting totalizing, extremist ideologies, which falsely claim that the ends justify the means. I believe that the desire of people for freedom can’t be repressed forever. But I also recognize that open societies are profoundly endangered at present.

What I find particularly disturbing is that the instruments of control developed by artificial intelligence give an inherent advantage to authoritarian regimes over open societies. For them, instruments of control provide a useful tool; for open societies, they pose a mortal threat.

I use “open society” as shorthand for a society in which the rule of law prevails as opposed to rule by a single individual and where the role of the state is to protect human rights and individual freedom. In my personal view, an open society should pay special attention to those who suffer from discrimination or social exclusion and those who can’t defend themselves.

By contrast, authoritarian regimes use whatever instruments of control they possess to maintain themselves in power at the expense of those whom they exploit and suppress.

How can open societies be protected if these new technologies give authoritarian regimes a built-in advantage? That’s the question that preoccupies me. And it should also preoccupy all those who prefer to live in an open society.

Open societies need to regulate companies that produce instruments of control, while authoritarian regimes can declare them “national champions.” That’s what has enabled some Chinese state-owned companies to catch up with and even surpass the multinational giants.

This, of course, isn’t the only problem that should concern us today. For instance, man-made climate change threatens the very survival of our civilization. But the structural disadvantage that confronts open societies is a problem which has preoccupied me and I’d like to share with you my ideas on how to deal with it.

My deep concern for this issue arises out of my personal history. I was born in Hungary in 1930 and I’m Jewish. I was 13 years old when the Nazis occupied Hungary and started deporting Jews to extermination camps.

I was very fortunate because my father understood the nature of the Nazi regime and arranged false identity papers and hiding places for all members of his family, and for a number of other Jews as well. Most of us survived.

The year 1944 was the formative experience of my life. I learned at an early age how important it is what kind of political regime prevails. When the Nazi regime was replaced by Soviet occupation I left Hungary as soon as I could and found refuge in England.

At the London School of Economics I developed my conceptual framework under the influence of my mentor, Karl Popper. That framework proved to be unexpectedly useful when I found myself a job in the financial markets. The framework had nothing to do with finance, but it is based on critical thinking. This allowed me to analyze the deficiencies of the prevailing theories guiding institutional investors. I became a successful hedge fund manager and I prided myself on being the best paid critic in the world.

Running a hedge fund was very stressful. When I had made more money than I needed for myself or my family, I underwent a kind of midlife crisis. Why should I kill myself to make more money? I reflected long and hard on what I really cared about and in 1979 I set up the Open Society Fund. I defined its objectives as helping to open up closed societies, reducing the deficiencies of open societies and promoting critical thinking.

My first efforts were directed at undermining the apartheid system in South Africa. Then I turned my attention to opening up the Soviet system. I set up a joint venture with the Hungarian Academy of Science, which was under Communist control, but its representatives secretly sympathized with my efforts. This arrangement succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I got hooked on what I like to call “political philanthropy.” That was in 1984.

In the years that followed, I tried to replicate my success in Hungary and in other Communist countries. I did rather well in the Soviet empire, including the Soviet Union itself, but in China it was a different story.

My first effort in China looked rather promising. It involved an exchange of visits between Hungarian economists who were greatly admired in the Communist world, and a team from a newly established Chinese think tank which was eager to learn from the Hungarians.

Based on that initial success, I proposed to Chen Yizi, the leader of the think tank, to replicate the Hungarian model in China. Chen obtained the support of Premier Zhao Ziyang and his reform-minded policy secretary Bao Tong.

A joint venture called the China Fund was inaugurated in October 1986. It was an institution unlike any other in China. On paper, it had complete autonomy.

Bao Tong was its champion. But the opponents of radical reforms, who were numerous, banded together to attack him. They claimed that I was a CIA agent and asked the internal security agency to investigate. To protect himself, Zhao Ziyang replaced Chen Yizi with a high-ranking official in the external security police. The two organizations were co-equal and they couldn’t interfere in each other’s affairs.

I approved this change because I was annoyed with Chen Yizi for awarding too many grants to members of his own institute and I was unaware of the political infighting behind the scenes. But applicants to the China Fund soon noticed that the organization had come under the control of the political police and started to stay away. Nobody had the courage to explain to me the reason for it.

Eventually, a Chinese grantee visited me in New York and told me, at considerable risk to himself. Soon thereafter, Zhao Ziyang was removed from power and I used that excuse to close the foundation. This happened just before the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 and it left a “black spot” on the record of the people associated with the foundation. They went to great length to clear their names and eventually they succeeded.

In retrospect, it’s clear that I made a mistake in trying to establish a foundation which operated in ways that were alien to people in China. At that time, giving a grant created a sense of mutual obligation between the donor and recipient and obliged both of them to remain loyal to each other forever.

So much for history. Let me now turn to the events that occurred in the last year, some of which surprised me.

When I first started going to China, I met many people in positions of power who were fervent believers in the principles of open society. In their youth they had been deported to the countryside to be re-educated, often suffering hardships far greater than mine in Hungary. But they survived and we had much in common. We had all been on the receiving end of a dictatorship.

They were eager to learn about Karl Popper’s thoughts on the open society. While they found the concept very appealing, their interpretation remained somewhat different from mine. They were familiar with Confucian tradition, but there was no tradition of voting in China. Their thinking remained hierarchical and carried a built-in respect for high office. I, on the other hand I was more egalitarian and wanted everyone to have a vote.

So, I wasn’t surprised when Xi Jinping ran into serious opposition at home; but I was surprised by the form it took. At last summer’s leadership convocation at the seaside resort of Beidaihe, Xi Jinping was apparently taken down a peg or two. Although there was no official communique, rumor had it that the convocation disapproved of the abolition of term limits and the cult of personality that Xi had built around himself.

It’s important to realize that such criticisms were only a warning to Xi about his excesses, but did not reverse the lifting of the two-term limit. Moreover, “The Thought of Xi Jinping,” which he promoted as his distillation of Communist theory was elevated to the same level as the “Thought of Chairman Mao.” So Xi remains the supreme leader, possibly for lifetime. The ultimate outcome of the current political infighting remains unresolved.

I’ve been concentrating on China, but open societies have many more enemies, Putin’s Russia foremost among them. And the most dangerous scenario is when these enemies conspire with, and learn from, each other on how to better oppress their people.

The question poses itself, what can we do to stop them?

The first step is to recognize the danger. That’s why I’m speaking out tonight. But now comes the difficult part. Those of us who want to preserve the open society must work together and form an effective alliance. We have a task that can’t be left to governments.

History has shown that even governments that want to protect individual freedom have many other interests and they also give precedence to the freedom of their own citizens over the freedom of the individual as a general principle.

My Open Society Foundations are dedicated to protecting human rights, especially for those who don’t have a government defending them. When we started four decades ago there were many governments which supported our efforts but their ranks have thinned out. The US and Europe were our strongest allies, but now they’re preoccupied with their own problems.

Therefore, I want to focus on what I consider the most important question for open societies: what will happen in China?

The question can be answered only by the Chinese people. All we can do is to draw a sharp distinction between them and Xi Jinping. Since Xi has declared his hostility to open society, the Chinese people remain our main source of hope.

And there are, in fact, grounds for hope. As some China experts have explained to me, there is a Confucian tradition, according to which advisors of the emperor are expected to speak out when they strongly disagree with one of his actions or decrees, even that may result in exile or execution.

This came as a great relief to me when I had been on the verge of despair. The committed defenders of open society in China, who are around my age, have mostly retired and their places have been taken by younger people who are dependent on Xi Jinping for promotion. But a new political elite has emerged that is willing to uphold the Confucian tradition. This means that Xi will continue to have a political opposition at home.

Xi presents China as a role model for other countries to emulate, but he’s facing criticism not only at home but also abroad. His Belt and Road Initiative has been in operation long enough to reveal its deficiencies.

It was designed to promote the interests of China, not the interests of the recipient countries; its ambitious infrastructure projects were mainly financed by loans, not by grants, and foreign officials were often bribed to accept them. Many of these projects proved to be uneconomic.

The iconic case is in Sri Lanka. China built a port that serves its strategic interests. It failed to attract sufficient commercial traffic to service the debt and enabled China to take possession of the port. There are several similar cases elsewhere and they’re causing widespread resentment.

Malaysia is leading the pushback. The previous government headed by Najib Razak sold out to China but in May 2018 Razak was voted out of office by a coalition led by Mahathir Mohamed. Mahathir immediately stopped several big infrastructure projects and is currently negotiating with China how much compensation Malaysia will still have to pay.

The situation is not as clear-cut in Pakistan, which has been the largest recipient of Chinese investments. The Pakistani army is fully beholden to China but the position of Imran Khan who became prime minister last August is more ambivalent. At the beginning of 2018, China and Pakistan announced grandiose plans in military cooperation. By the end of the year, Pakistan was in a deep financial crisis. But one thing became evident: China intends to use the Belt and Road Initiative for military purposes as well.

All these setbacks have forced Xi Jinping to modify his attitude toward the Belt and Road Initiative. In September, he announced that “vanity projects” will be shunned in favor of more carefully conceived initiatives and in October, the People’s Daily warned that projects should serve the interests of the recipient countries.

Customers are now forewarned and several of them, ranging from Sierra Leone to Ecuador, are questioning or renegotiating projects.

Most importantly, the US government has now identified China as a “strategic rival.” President Trump is notoriously unpredictable, but this decision was the result of a carefully prepared plan. Since then, the idiosyncratic behavior of Trump has been largely superseded by a China policy adopted by the agencies of the administration and overseen by Asian affairs advisor of the National Security Council Matt Pottinger and others. The policy was outlined in a seminal speech by Vice President Mike Pence on October 4th.

Even so, declaring China a strategic rival is too simplistic. China is an important global actor. An effective policy towards China can’t be reduced to a slogan.

It needs to be far more sophisticated, detailed and practical; and it must include an American economic response to the Belt and Road Initiative. The Pottinger plan doesn’t answer the question whether its ultimate goal is to level the playing field or to disengage from China altogether.

Xi Jinping fully understood the threat that the new US policy posed for his leadership. He gambled on a personal meeting with President Trump at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires. In the meantime, the danger of global trade war escalated and the stock market embarked on a serious sell-off in December. This created problems for Trump who had concentrated all his efforts on the 2018 midterm elections. When Trump and Xi met, both sides were eager for a deal. No wonder that they reached one, but it’s very inconclusive: a ninety-day truce.

In the meantime, there are clear indications that a broad based economic decline is in the making in China, which is affecting the rest of the world. A global slowdown is the last thing the market wants to see.

The unspoken social contract in China is built on steadily rising living standards. If the decline in the Chinese economy and stock market is severe enough, this social contract may be undermined and even the business community may turn against Xi Jinping. Such a downturn could also sound the death knell of the Belt and Road Initiative, because Xi may run out of resources to continue financing so many lossmaking investments.

On the question of global internet governance, there’s an undeclared struggle between the West and China. China wants to dictate rules and procedures that govern the digital economy by dominating the developing world with its new platforms and technologies. This is a threat to the freedom of the Internet and indirectly open society itself.

Last year I still believed that China ought to be more deeply embedded in the institutions of global governance, but since then Xi Jinping’s behavior has changed my opinion. My present view is that instead of waging a trade war with practically the whole world, the US should focus on China. Instead of letting ZTE and Huawei off lightly, it needs to crack down on them. If these companies came to dominate the 5G market, they would present an unacceptable security risk for the rest of the world.

Regrettably, President Trump seems to be following a different course: make concessions to China and declare victory while renewing his attacks on US allies. This is liable to undermine the US policy objective of curbing China’s abuses and excesses.

To conclude, let me summarize the message I’m delivering tonight. My key point is that the combination of repressive regimes with IT monopolies endows those regimes with a built-in advantage over open societies. The instruments of control are useful tools in the hands of authoritarian regimes, but they pose a mortal threat to open societies.

China is not the only authoritarian regime in the world but it is the wealthiest, strongest and technologically most advanced. This makes Xi Jinping the most dangerous opponent of open societies. That’s why it’s so important to distinguish Xi Jinping’s policies from the aspirations of the Chinese people. The social credit system, if it became operational, would give Xi total control over the people. Since Xi is the most dangerous enemy of the open society, we must pin our hopes on the Chinese people, and especially on the business community and a political elite willing to uphold the Confucian tradition.

This doesn’t mean that those of us who believe in the open society should remain passive. The reality is that we are in a Cold War that threatens to turn into a hot one. On the other hand, if Xi and Trump were no longer in power, an opportunity would present itself to develop greater cooperation between the two cyber-superpowers.

It is possible to dream of something similar to the United Nations Treaty that arose out of the Second World War. This would be the appropriate ending to the current cycle of conflict between the US and China. It would reestablish international cooperation and allow open societies to flourish. That sums up my message.


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Intel says more women, blacks in workforce after diversity push
October 30, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

FILE PHOTO: The Intel logo is shown at E3, the world’s largest video game industry convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Intel Corp has increased the ratio of women and African-Americans in its workforce after three years of a high-profile effort to improve diversity, the U.S. microchip maker said in a report released on Monday.

Intel still lags behind several large U.S. technology companies in terms of women and ahead of many for African Americans and Hispanics, the report showed. Chronic underrepresentation of minorities has been a source of concern for years at tech companies.

Overall, women comprised 26.8 percent of Intel’s U.S. workforce in 2018, up from 24.7 percent in 2015. Women in leadership positions grew to 20.7 percent from 17.7 percent.

The percentage of African Americans at Intel has risen to nearly 5 percent from 3.5 percent in 2015 and Hispanics rose to 9.2 percent from 8.3 percent.

“Although we are among the leaders in African American representation in the tech industry, we are still not satisfied,” Barbara Whye, Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer said by email. The company will continue to work with historically black colleges and the Oakland Unified School District in California, she added.

Without providing figures, Intel said it had reached “full representation” two years ahead of its goal based on skilled minorities in the available workforce.

In 2015, Intel established a $ 300 million fund to be used by 2020 to improve diversity. Whites make up 46.2 percent of the workforce at the company, and Asians 38.9 percent, according to Intel.

Intel’s African American 2018 representation was better than at Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc, and Microsoft Corp, according to the companies’ latest data.

But its female representation was behind Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc , and only ahead of Microsoft.

Reporting By Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Richard Chang

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Exclusive: Amazon eyes new warehouse in Brazil e-commerce push – sources
February 9, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) is looking to lease a 50,000-square-meter warehouse just outside Sao Paulo, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, as it steps up its push into Latin America’s biggest retail market, Brazil.

The logistics investment, which would be four times the size of its current book-shipping operation in the country, is a sign the online retailer may soon handle distribution of electronics and other goods sold on its Brazilian website.

That would be the first step of its kind for Amazon in Latin America’s largest economy, where it currently relies on third parties to ship their own goods sold on its marketplace, and it underscores the seriousness of the e-commerce giant’s renewed push into Brazil.

Amazon declined to comment to questions about leasing a warehouse.

While an estimated two-thirds of Brazil’s 209 million people have internet access, online retail was slow to take off at first, amid concerns over security and complications with tax and logistics in the continent-sized country.

E-commerce accounts for around 5 percent of Brazil’s roughly $ 300 billion retail market — about half its share in the United States — but it has doubled in the past four years and is forecast to keep growing annually at a double-digit pace.

Now Amazon, which expanded its Brazil business from books to electronics in October, is gearing up to fight rivals such as Latin Ameria’s homegrown e-commerce champion Mercado Libre Inc (MELI.O) and B2w Cia Digital, (BTOW3.SA) which is indirectly controlled by partners of private equity group 3G Capital.

“You obviously can’t underestimate a company like Amazon,” said Pedro Guasti, CEO of Brazilian online consultancy Ebit. “It has huge capacity to invest and it’s obviously taking a bigger bite of the cake than it did last year.”

Mercado Libre Inc, B2w and local retailer Magazine Luiza SA (MGLU3.SA) have stolen a march on Amazon by storing and shipping goods appearing on their websites even when offered by third-party sellers, to ensure speed and customer satisfaction.

Amazon, by contrast, has been slow to tackle the challenges of shipping in a country where tricky logistics and tax issues have long made online retail an unprofitable venture.

MEXICAN CONTRAST

In Mexico, Amazon launched its third-party marketplace coupled with its own shipping service, called “Fulfillment by Amazon,” in 2015.

The contrast has been stark. Nearly 20 percent of reviews on Amazon’s Brazilian marketplace are negative, compared with 10 percent in Mexico and just 4 percent in the United States, according to e-commerce analytics firm Marketplace Pulse.

Complaints in Brazil often focus on delayed or canceled orders – a problem dramatically reduced in other countries when Amazon itself packs and posts orders of third-party goods stored at its warehouse facilities.

In an early sign of Amazon’s Brazilian logistics push, the company posted more than a dozen listings for distribution jobs in the country to LinkedIn last year, including “Site leader, Fulfillment Center”.

The new warehouse site outside of Sao Paulo, in the municipality of Cajamar, looks to be a step in that direction.

There San Francisco-based logistics company Prologis Inc (PLD.N) has offered a 50,000-square-meter space to Amazon in a new industrial park that hosts DHL and Samsung, according to sources, who said adaptation of the warehouse had not begun.

Prologis, which also partnered with Amazon on a mega-warehouse north of Mexico city last year, declined to comment.

The preparations in Brazil come as Luft, the local logistics operator for Amazon’s book business, readies a move into another Prologis site nearby in Cajamar, sources said, leaving its current 12,000-square-meter facility in the city of Barueri.

Amazon registered in October to conduct operations in Cajamar, according to municipal records seen by Reuters.

The new logistics investment could spell trouble for rivals.

Mercado Libre has been a success story among Latin America tech start ups: its shares have nearly tripled since 2014, bringing its market capitalization to more than $ 15 billion.

Magazine Luiza’s stock has risen sixfold in each of the past two years as it shifted its rolled out an ambitious e-commerce strategy built on its brick and mortar stores.

Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Writing and additional reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Alistair Bell

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Apple brings Alibaba-linked payment system into China stores amid market push
February 7, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Apple Inc will accept Chinese mobile payment app Alipay in its local stores, boosting its ties with giant e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd amid a push by the iPhone maker to revive growth in the world’s No.2 economy.

The tie-up will make Alipay, run by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, the first third-party mobile payment system to be accepted at any physical Apple store worldwide, Ant Financial said in a statement on Wednesday. Apple’s own payment system has had a lukewarm reception in China.

The Cupertino-based firm will accept Alipay payment across its 41 brick-and-mortar retail stores in China, said Ant Financial, which was valued at $ 60 billion in 2016.

Apple, whose China website, iTunes store and App Store have been accepting Alipay for more than a year, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The deal comes as Apple is doubling down on the market and looking to strengthen ties with local Chinese partners and government bodies. The firm’s CEO Tim Cook has made regular recent visits to the country.

Apple is also shifting user data to China-based servers later this month to meet local rules and last year removed dozens of local and foreign VPN apps from its Chinese app store.

Alipay is China’s top mobile payment platform, but faces stiff competition from rival internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd’s payment system that is embedded within its hugely-popular chat app WeChat.

China’s official Xinhua news agency said late on Tuesday that Apple would build its second data center in China in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region after it set up a data center in the southern province of Guizhou last year.

Reporting by Pei Li in BEIJNG and Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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Icahn, Deason to jointly push Xerox to explore selling itself, other options: WSJ
January 22, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Investor Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason, the biggest- and third-largest shareholders of Xerox Corp, jointly plan to push the printer and photocopier maker to explore options, including a sale of the firm, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Icahn and Deason, who together own 15.7 percent of the photocopier pioneer, have earlier separately called on the company to break off or renegotiate a joint venture with Fujifilm Holdings Corp, saying it was unfavorable to Xerox. Icahn has also called for Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson to be replaced.

The two shareholders have now formed an alliance and plan to ask Xerox to explore options, including selling itself, breaking off its long-running joint venture with Fujifilm, and immediately firing Jacobson, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. on.wsj.com/2EYCRHd

The Journal had previously reported that Fujifilm and Xerox were discussing deals, including a change of control of Xerox, though not a full sale.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Xerox company is seen on a building in Minsk, Belarus, March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko/File Photo

In a statement, Xerox said: “The Xerox Board of Directors and management are confident with the strategic direction in which the Company is heading and we will continue to take action to achieve our common goal of creating value for all Xerox shareholders.”

Deason has been asking the company to make public the terms of its deal with Fujifilm, which he called “one-sided”. Xerox has described Deason’s criticism as “false and misleading”.

The five-decade-old joint venture, 75 percent owned by Fujifilm and 25 percent by Xerox, is a pillar of Fujifilm’s business, accounting for nearly half the group’s overall operating profit. It has limited prospects for future growth, however, because of declining demand for office printing.

The reported operating profit of the joint venture, called Fuji Xerox, was about $ 750 million on sales of $ 10 billion in the year ended last March.

Fujifilm declined to comment on the Journal report.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Makiko Yamazaki in TOKYO; Editing by Peter Cooney and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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China Citic, Baidu launch direct bank in fintech push
November 18, 2017 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

BEIJING (Reuters) – China Citic Bank Corp (601998.SS) and search engine giant Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) launched on Saturday a direct banking joint venture, dubbed AiBank, to capitalize on China’s rapidly growing fintech sector.

FILE PHOTO: A man stands in front of CITIC bank’s branch in Beijing, China, March 23, 2016.REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

AiBank is one among several tie-ups between an internet firm and a lender in China’s booming online finance market where technology gurus like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK) have already set up their own finance arms to offer a range of financial products including payment, wealth management and micro loans.

A direct bank offers services over the internet instead of through physical branches.

AiBank will focus on lending to individuals and small businesses while leveraging big data and artificial intelligence to build new risk control models, Li Rudong, president of the new bank said at a launch event in Beijing.

Li said 60 percent of the new bank’s employees will be technology staff.

“AiBank is the future of intelligent finance…It is an institution that understands customers best and understands finance best,” said Baidu Chief Operating Officer Lu Qi.

Mid-tier lender Citic Bank owns 70 percent of the joint venture, while Baidu controls the remaining 30 percent. The direct bank has a registered capital of 2 billion yuan.

China’s banking regulator approved the establishment of AiBank earlier this year.

Reporting by Shu Zhang and Elias Glenn; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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'The future is exciting. Ready?' asks Vodafone in new ad push
October 5, 2017 12:00 am|Comments (0)

LONDON (Reuters) – “The future is exciting. Ready?”, Vodafone is asking in a new campaign it hopes will capture a sense of optimism about technology, an association mobile operators have to some extent lost in recent years to the likes of Facebook, Google and Apple.

The slogan, which replaces “Power to You”, in use since 2009, will be deployed in all of the company’s 36 markets from Friday in the biggest ad campaign in its 33-year history, Vodafone said.

“Technology can be complex, can be overwhelming and can sometimes alienate people,” said Serpil Timuray, Vodafone’s chief commercial operations and strategy officer.

”But at the same time we know that digital innovations have significant benefits for individuals and for societies.

“In order to express this point of view, we will be repositioning the Vodafone brand on the theme of future optimism.”

The new strapline has echoes of “The future’s bright. The future’s Orange” – a slogan that helped Orange establish itself as a new rival to Vodafone when it launched in 1994.

Vodafone, the world’s second largest mobile operator, declined to say how much it was spending on the brand overhaul, which also includes a new visual identity based on its “speech mark” logo.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Mark Potter

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Oracle unleashes attack on Amazon in push for cloud computing crown
December 6, 2016 8:10 am|Comments (0)

Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison has launched a scathing attack on Amazon claiming that his own business can lower prices and faster technology …


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Capgemini recruits Microsoft Azure in cloud service expansion push
December 31, 2015 12:25 pm|Comments (0)

CloudCapgemini has added Microsoft to its cloud services programme as it seeks to give a broader range of cloud services to more clients. Microsoft is the first in a number of vendors that CapGemini is seeking to add to its cloud service portfolio, it said.

Under the new Capgemini Cloud Choice with Microsoft scheme it will offer cloud advice, managed platforms and ‘applied integrated innovation’ services. Initiatives include OneShare, which speeds the testing and development of Microsoft Azure systems and offers to control costs through usage monitoring and resource scheduling.

A second mooted offering is SkySight, which is described as an ‘Azure-like’ private cloud which aims to help enterprises to speed up the installation of new applications. Capemini says it will help clients get value for money on managed services and fine-tune the configuration process.

A third scheme will create industry-focused IP offerings, such as a system tailored to the specific needs of the banking sector, based on the experiences of Capgemini’s own in house banking specialists. The domain expertise will be offered in all major industries, including pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and the health sector.

The cloud offering will cover all solutions encompassed within hybrid, public, hosted and private cloud services using Azure.

As part of the offering, Capgemini will align activities with independent software vendors and start-ups to create new ways of delivering integrated solutions. New ventures and start-ups will also benefit from the offering, Capgemini says, as partners will become a focal point for integrating new innovations into the Capgemini solutions portfolio.

The expansion comes after Capgemini subsidiary Sogeti reported that it managed to cut the costs of one client, Dutch postal service PostNL, by 20 per cent by migrating its IT services onto the cloud with Microsoft Azure.

“Capgemini helped us to define our roadmap to migrate more than 40 applications and now operates its Cloud Platform for us,” said Marcel Krom, CIO at PostNL. “We have reduced costs and gained flexibility in handling volume variances.”


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SEC’s 2nd Push on Cyber Security Focuses on Risk Assessment
September 19, 2015 9:15 am|Comments (0)

The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations issued a risk alert this week to give some guidance about the areas of focus the second round of their cyber security examination initiative…

(PRWeb September 19, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015-Cyber-Security/SEC-alert/prweb12972002.htm


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