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Samsung Phone Users Perturbed To Find They Can't Delete Facebook
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '19 at 05:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's worst-nightmares department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Nick Winke, a photographer in the Pacific northwest, was perusing internet forums when he came across a complaint that alarmed him: On certain Samsung Electronics Co. smartphones, users aren't allowed to delete the Facebook app. Winke bought his Samsung Galaxy S8, an Android-based device that comes with Facebook's social network already installed, when it was introduced in 2017. He has used the Facebook app to connect with old friends and to share pictures of natural landscapes and his Siamese cat -- but he didn't want to be stuck with it. He tried to remove the program from his phone, but the chatter proved true -- it was undeletable. He found only an option to "disable," and he wasn't sure what that meant.

A Facebook spokesperson said the disabled version of the app acts like it's been deleted, so it doesn't continue collecting data or sending information back to Facebook. But there's rarely communication with the consumer about the process. The Menlo Park, California-based company said whether the app is deletable or not depends on various pre-install deals Facebook has made with phone manufacturers, operating systems and mobile operators around the world over the years, including Samsung. Facebook, the world's largest social network, wouldn't disclose the financial nature of the agreements, but said they're meant to give the consumer "the best" phone experience right after opening the box.

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Mark Zuckerberg's Resolution Is To Talk About Tech's Place In Society
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '19 at 03:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's regular-human-conversation department:
In the past, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg challenged himself to create an AI assistant for his home and committed to learning Mandarin. This year he's planning to hold a number of public discussions about how technology plays a role in the future of society. Engadget reports: "I'm an engineer, and I used to just build out my ideas and hope they'd mostly speak for themselves," he wrote in a Facebook post. "But given the importance of what we do, that doesn't cut it anymore. So I'm going to put myself out there more than I've been comfortable with and engage more in some of these debates about the future, the tradeoffs we face, and where we want to go." Zuckerberg plans to hold talks with "leaders, experts, and people in our community from different fields" every few weeks. He'll make the discussions available on his Facebook and Instagram feeds or elsewhere. Engadget suggests Zuckerberg "might be best served to directly focus on restoring trust with Facebook's two billion users and fixing the vast array of problems with which his platform is struggling, including privacy screwups and a tanking stock."

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Dell Alienware Area-51m Packs Desktop Hardware Into Powerful, Upgradeable Laptop
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '19 at 12:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's now-we're-talking department:
MojoKid writes: Dell just unveiled its latest desktop-replacement class notebook, the new Alienware Area-51m. Unlike most other notebooks, however, the Area-51m is actually packing an array of desktop-class hardware. Intel's Core i9-9900K is an available CPU option, for example, and NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2080 will be offered in the machine as well. The Area-51m also supports up to 64GB of RAM via quad SO-DIMM slots, multiple NVMe M.2 solid state drives and a SATA drive can be installed, and numerous 17.3" display options will be available as well, including a 144Hz IPS G-SYNC model. The Alienware Area-51m is also upgradeable, thanks to the use of socketed desktop processors and a custom GPU module. The machine will be available starting January 29th in two color options, Lunar Light and Dark Side of the Moon.

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AT&T Preps For New Layoffs Despite Billions In Tax Breaks and Regulatory Favors
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 08:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's surprise-surprise department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: AT&T is preparing for yet another significant round of layoffs according to internal documents obtained by Motherboard. The staff reductions come despite billions in tax breaks and regulatory favors AT&T promised would dramatically boost both investment and job creation. A source at AT&T who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly told Motherboard that company leadership is planning what it's calling a "geographic rationalization" and employment "surplus" reduction that will consolidate some aspects of AT&T operations in 10 major operational hubs in New York, California, Texas, New Jersey, Washington State, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, and Washington, DC. A spokesperson for AT&T confirmed to Motherboard that it is planning to "adjust" its workforce.

< article continued at Slashdot's surprise-surprise department >

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Deep Pacific Waters Are Cooling Down Due To Centuries-Ago Little Ice Age, New Study Suggests
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 07:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department:
schwit1 quotes a report from The Inquisitr: Most of the world's waters may be warming as a result of climate change, but a new study shows that the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean still appear to be cooling down hundreds of years after the period in history known as the "Little Ice Age." According to a report from Science Daily, a team of researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) and Harvard University discovered that there has been a "lag" of a few centuries in terms of temperature change in the deep Pacific. This part of the ocean, the report stressed, is still seemingly cooling and adjusting to the temperature drops of the Little Ice Age while the rest of the Pacific gets warmer as a result of modern factors.
< article continued at Slashdot's cause-and-effect department >

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Canada's Bell Telecommunications Company Wants Permission To Gather, Track Customer Data
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 05:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ask-and-you-shall-receive department:
Bell Canada is asking customers for permission to track everything they do with their home and mobile phones, internet, television, apps or any other services they get through Bell or its affiliates. "In return, Bell says it will provide advertising and promotions that are more 'tailored' to their needs and preferences," reports CBC.ca. From the report: "Tailored marketing means Bell will be able to customize advertising based on participant account information and service usage patterns, similar to the ways that companies like Google and others have been doing for some time," the company says in recent notices to customers. If given permission, Bell will collect information about its customers' age, gender, billing addresses, and the specific tablet, television or other devices used to access Bell services. It will also collect the "number of messages sent and received, voice minutes, user data consumption and type of connectivity when downloading or streaming." "Bell's marketing partners will not receive the personal information of program participants; we just deliver the offers relevant to the program participants on their behalf," the company assures customers. Teresa Scassa, who teaches law at the University of Ottawa and holds the Canada Research Chair in Information Law and Policy, says Bell customers who opt into Bell's new program could be giving away commercially valuable personal information with little to no compensation for increased risks to their privacy and security. "Here's a company that's taking every shred of personal information about me, from all kinds of activities that I engage in, and they're monetizing it. What do I get in return? Better ads? Really? That's it? What about better prices?" Toronto-based consultant Charlie Wilton, whose firm has advised Bell and Rogers in the past, says: "I mean, in a perfect world, they would give you discounts or they would give you points or things that consumers would more tangibly want, rather than just the elimination of a pain point -- which is what they're offering right now."

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Software Developer Tops List of U.S. News & World Report's Annual Best Jobs Rankings
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 05:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's best-of-the-best department:
According to U.S. News and World Report's annual best jobs rankings, software developer is the top pick for the new year. "The publication's Best Jobs of 2019 list takes seven factors into account, including median salary, employment rate and stress level," reports USA Today. "The median salary for a software developer is $101,790, and the unemployment rate is 1.9 percent, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics." From the report: Though software developers have neither the highest median salary nor lowest unemployment rate on the U.S. News Best Jobs of 2019 list, the position's projected increase in demand -- roughly 30 percent between 2016 and 2026 -- and average stress levels helped it land the top spot, said Rebecca Koenig, careers reporter at U.S. News and World Report. "Unlike some other jobs that do pretty well on the list, which are very demanding, software developer tends not to be a really stressful profession," Koenig said. Here are the Top 10, in order: 1. Software Developer
2. Statistician
3. Physician assistant
4. Dentist
5. (tie) Orthodontist
6. (tie) Nurse anesthetist
7. Nurse practitioner
8. Pediatrician
9. (tie) Obstetrician and gynecologist
9. (tie) Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
9. (tie) Prosthodontist
9. (tie) Physician

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The Impossible Burger 2.0 Is a Plant-Based Beef Replacement That Uses Soy Instead Wheat Protein To Take On New Forms
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 04:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's food-tech department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Popular Science: During a press event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Impossible Foods showed off its new plant-based ground beef replacement by offering a selection of foods from traditional sliders to the ambitious tartare. Thanks to a change in formula, the new Impossible Burger 2.0 goes beyond simple patties and aims to take on ground beef with every recipe, from lasagna to tacos. The first tastes are very promising. Back in 2016, the original Impossible Burger debuted as a veggie burger that could almost pass as beef. Its meaty secret was a molecule called heme, which contains iron and is largely responsible for the flavors we associate with cooked flesh. But, according to Impossible CEO Pat Brown, it requires a protein to bind it. The original Impossible Burger used wheat protein, which worked, but had some drawbacks. First, it meant the Impossible Burger wasn't gluten-free, but it also put some limitations on the meat's form factor. The wheat worked for burger patties that stayed in a relatively static shape, but it couldn't crumble or take on other shapes -- like meatballs -- without losing its integrity. The solution was a switch to soy.

< article continued at Slashdot's food-tech department >

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Google Removes 85 Adware Apps That Were Installed By Millions of Users
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 04:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department:
Google has removed 85 Android apps from the official Play Store that security researchers from Trend Micro deemed to contain a common strain of adware. "The 85 apps had been downloaded over nine million times, and one app, in particular, named 'Easy Universal TV Remote,' was downloaded over five million times," reports ZDNet. From the report: While the apps were uploaded on the Play Store from different developer accounts and were signed by different digital certificates, they exhibited similar behaviors and shared the same code, researchers said in a report published today. But besides similarities in their source code, the apps were also visually identical, and were all of the same types, being either games or apps that let users play videos or control their TVs remotely.

The first time users ran any of the apps, they would proceed to show fullscreen ads in different steps, asking and reasking users to press various buttons to continue. If the user was persistent and stayed with the app until it reached a menu page, every menu button push would trigger yet another fullscreen ad, over and over again until the app would suddenly crash, hiding its original app icon. But despite the crash, unbeknownst to the user, the app would continue to run in the phone's background, showing new fullscreen ads ever 15 or 30 minutes, generating profits for the fraudsters until users either removed the apps or reset devices to factory settings as a last resort. You can view a list of the 85 adware apps via this PDF file.

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DARPA Wants To Build an AI To Find the Patterns Hidden in Global Chaos
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 03:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's glitch-in-the-matrix department:
A new program at DARPA is aimed at creating a machine learning system that can sift through the innumerable events and pieces of media generated every day and identify any threads of connection or narrative in them. It's called KAIROS: Knowledge-directed Artificial Intelligence Reasoning Over Schemas. From a report: "Schema" in this case has a very specific meaning. It's the idea of a basic process humans use to understand the world around them by creating little stories of interlinked events. For instance when you buy something at a store, you know that you generally walk into the store, select an item, bring it to the cashier, who scans it, then you pay in some way, and then leave the store. This "buying something" process is a schema we all recognize, and could of course have schemas within it (selecting a product; payment process) or be part of another schema (gift giving; home cooking).

Although these are easily imagined inside our heads, they're surprisingly difficult to define formally in such a way that a computer system would be able to understand. They're familiar to us from long use and understanding, but they're not immediately obvious or rule-bound, like how an apple will fall downwards from a tree at a constant acceleration. And the more data there are, the more difficult it is to define. Buying something is comparatively simple, but how do you create a schema for recognizing a cold war, or a bear market? That's what DARPA wants to look into.

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Verizon Says It Won't Launch Fake 5G Icons Like AT&T Did
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 03:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's public-shaming department:
Verizon and T-Mobile are calling out AT&T for starting a shady marketing tactic that labeled its 4G network as a 5G network. "In an open letter, in which AT&T is not named directly, Verizon says in part 'the potential to over-hype and under-deliver on the 5G promise is a temptation that the wireless industry must resist,'" reports TechCrunch. Meanwhile, T-Mobile directly called out AT&T, tweeting a short video of someone putting a sticky note reading "9G" on top of their iPhone's LTE icon. The Verge reports: The promise comes right as AT&T has started to roll out updates doing exactly that: changing the "LTE" icon in the corner of select phones into an icon reading "5G E." One might assume that a "5G E" connection is the same thing as a "5G" connection, but it's not. AT&T is just pretending that the faster portions of its LTE network are 5G and is trying to get a head start on the 5G marketing race by branding it "5G Evolution." T-Mobile isn't happy about the marketing nonsense either. Its CTO, Neville Ray, wrote that AT&T was "duping customers."

< article continued at Slashdot's public-shaming department >

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Huawei Has Suspected Ties To Front Companies In Iran and Syria, New Documents Reveal
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 01:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. case against the chief financial officer of China's Huawei Technologies, who was arrested in Canada last month, centers on the company's suspected ties to two obscure companies. One is a telecom equipment seller that operated in Tehran; the other is that firm's owner, a holding company registered in Mauritius. U.S. authorities allege CFO Meng Wanzhou deceived international banks into clearing transactions with Iran by claiming the two companies were independent of Huawei, when in fact Huawei controlled them. Huawei has maintained the two are independent: equipment seller Skycom Tech Co Ltd and shell company Canicula Holdings Ltd. But corporate filings and other documents found by Reuters in Iran and Syria show that Huawei, the world's largest supplier of telecommunications network equipment, is more closely linked to both firms than previously known.

The documents reveal that a high-level Huawei executive appears to have been appointed Skycom's Iran manager. They also show that at least three Chinese-named individuals had signing rights for both Huawei and Skycom bank accounts in Iran. Reuters also discovered that a Middle Eastern lawyer said Huawei conducted operations in Syria through Canicula. Huawei, U.S. authorities assert, retained control of Skycom, using it to sell telecom equipment to Iran and move money out via the international banking system. As a result of the deception, U.S. authorities say, banks unwittingly cleared hundreds of millions of dollars of transactions that potentially violated economic sanctions Washington had in place at the time against doing business with Iran.

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Connecting Your Bank Account To an App is Now a $3-Billion Business
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 01:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
When you link your checking account to Venmo or use it to buy bitcoin, a startup called Plaid is likely facilitating the connection with your bank. You punch in your user name and password; Plaid checks those credentials with the financial institution and, if they're accurate, passes banking information back to the app. That's it.

From a report: This kind of software has been around for decades. But in the last year, Plaid has captured investors' attention. The San Francisco startup was the subject of a bidding war among venture capitalists and at least one tech company, ultimately resulting in a $250-million investment last month. That money will partly go toward the acquisition of one of its biggest competitors. Plaid announced Tuesday it was buying New York-based Quovo Inc. The deal could be worth about $200 million after performance bonuses, said three people familiar with the transaction, who asked not to be identified because terms of the deal were private.

Since starting Plaid in 2012, Zach Perret has sold the startup's nine lines of code to some of the most popular finance apps. Robo-advisor startup Betterment, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Inc., PayPal Holdings Inc.'s Venmo and stock-trading app Robinhood Markets Inc. have all used Plaid. Meanwhile, Quovo specializes in wealth management and brokerages. "This represents the merging of two complementary but both very important businesses," said Perret, Plaid's chief executive. Plaid is now valued at roughly $3 billion.

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Intel Demonstrates 10nm Ice Lake Processor, Promises PCs Will Ship With it Later this Year
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 12:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Intel announced a major rethink of its chip design back in December, just before it finally delivers 10nm chips for PCs and laptops. At CES 2019 this week, Intel is demonstrating its first Ice Lake 10nm processor that's based on its new Sunny Cove microarchitecture. From a report: Intel is building in Thunderbolt 3, Wi-Fi 6, and DL Boost (deep learning boost) into these Ice Lake chips for laptops and PCs to take advantage of. Intel is now promising that PC makers will have devices with Ice Lake processors on shelves by the end of 2019. At its CES keynote today, Intel demonstrated ODM systems from Pegatron and Wistron, and Dell even joined Intel on stage to show off an Ice Lake-powered XPS laptop that will be available later this year. Dell didn't show the device powered on, but it appeared to be a 2-in-1 device that looked similar to the XPS 13. Intel is also looking to the future, too. The chip giant is planning to use Foveros 3D chip stacking technology to build future chips, a method that allows Intel's chip designers to stack extra processing power on top of an already-assembled chip die. These "chiplets" can be stacked atop one another to form a processor that includes graphics, AI processing, and more.

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US Telcos Are Selling Access To Their Customers' Location Data, and That Data Reaches Bounty Hunters and Others Not Authorized To Possess It
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 12:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's blade-runner-is-here department:
T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are selling access to their customers' location data, and that data is ending up in the hands of bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it, letting them track most phones in the country, an investigation by news outlet Motherboard has found. From the report: Nervously, I gave a bounty hunter a phone number. He had offered to geolocate a phone for me, using a shady, overlooked service intended not for the cops, but for private individuals and businesses. Armed with just the number and a few hundred dollars, he said he could find the current location of most phones in the United States. The bounty hunter sent the number to his own contact, who would track the phone. The contact responded with a screenshot of Google Maps, containing a blue circle indicating the phone's current location, approximate to a few hundred metres. [...] The bounty hunter did this all without deploying a hacking tool or having any previous knowledge of the phone's whereabouts. Instead, the tracking tool relies on real-time location data sold to bounty hunters that ultimately originated from the telcos themselves, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, a Motherboard investigation has found. These surveillance capabilities are sometimes sold through word-of-mouth networks.

< article continued at Slashdot's blade-runner-is-here department >

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London's Heathrow Airport Halts Departures Over Drone Sighting
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 11:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-problem department:
London's Heathrow Airport halted departures on Tuesday after a report of a drone sighting, less than a month after a similar event crippled operations at a major U.K. airport. From a report: "We are currently responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met Police to prevent any threat to operational safety," a spokesperson for the airport said. "As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate. We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause."

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Google's New SMS and Call Permission Policy is Crippling Apps Used by Millions
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 11:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Ryne Hager, writing for AndroidPolice: Late last year, Google decided it was time to crack down on apps requesting SMS and call log permissions. Ostensibly, exceptions would be granted for categories including backups and automation, but as of now, there are still gaps which cover legitimate use cases. While some popular apps like Tasker have successfully secured exemptions, others like Cerberus have not. Instead, they've decided to strip out those permissions or risk facing the wrath of Google's upcoming January 9th banhammer, killing associated functionality and disappointing millions of long-time users to adhere to the Play Store's new policy.

The Play Console support page for the applicable set of permissions notifies developers that they can submit what is effectively an application for an exemption, categories for which are listed on the same page. (And that list of exceptions has grown since the original announcement.) Nonetheless, a further set of prohibitions are also included in the form itself, which explicitly preclude support for phone security/device location apps like Cerberus.

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Proceedings Start Against Portland State University Professor Whose Carefully Crafted Fiction Helped Expose the Rot Within Some Sectors of Modern Academia
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's a-lot-at-stake department:
Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University in Oregon, led a trio of scholars last year who submitted to leading publications what they called "intentionally broken" papers on gender, race and sexuality. Several of those absurd pieces were published. Portland State University has now started disciplinary proceedings against Boghossian. From a report: The Oregon university's institutional review board concluded that Boghossian's participation in the elaborate hoax had violated Portland State's ethical guidelines, according to documents Boghossian posted online. The university is considering a further charge that he had falsified data, the documents indicate. Last month Portland State's vice president for research and graduate studies, Mark R. McLellan, ordered Boghossian to undergo training on human-subjects research as a condition for getting further studies approved. In addition, McLellan said he had referred the matter to the president and provost because Boghossian's behavior "raises ethical issues of concern."

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Digital Hoarding Can Make Us Feel Just as Stressed and Overwhelmed as Physical Clutter, Research Suggests
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's "it's-a-disease" department:
Emerging research on digital hoarding -- a reluctance to get rid of the digital clutter we accumulate through our work and personal lives -- suggests that it can make us feel just as stressed and overwhelmed as physical clutter. From a report: Not to mention the cybersecurity problems it can cause for individuals and businesses and the way it makes finding that one email you need sometimes seem impossible. The term digital hoarding was first used in 2015 in a paper about a man in the Netherlands who took several thousand digital photos each day and spent hours processing them. "He never used or looked at the pictures he had saved, but was convinced that they would be of use in the future," wrote the authors.

In a study published earlier this year Neave and his colleagues asked 45 people about how they deal with emails, photos, and other files. The reasons people gave for hanging on to their digital effects varied -- including pure laziness, thinking something might come in handy, anxiety over the idea of deleting anything and even wanting "ammunition" against someone. The team has used those responses to develop a questionnaire to assess digital hoarding behaviours in the workplace, and have tested it with 203 people who use computers as part of their job. Their findings show that email appears to be a particular problem: among participants, the average inbox had 102 unread and 331 read emails.

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IBM Tops 2018 Patent List as AI and Quantum Computing Gain Prominence
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '19 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's who-is-counting? department:
IBM earned a record 9,100 U.S. patents in 2018, marking the 26th year in a row the Armonk, New York-based company has been the top recipient. From a report: Samsung was second with 5,850 patents while tech giants Apple and Microsoft also appeared in the top ten, according to a list compiled by research service IFI Claims. IBM's latest patent haul, which topped the 9,043 it received last year, includes a growing number of inventions related to artificial intelligence and quantum computing, which many people see as critical technologies of the future.

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