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Bill Gates declined offer to serve as Donald Trump's science advisor

Spontaneous offer made during chat about vaccines (which - phew! - Trump seemed to like)


Bill Gates reportedly turned down an offer to serve as President Donald Trump's science advisor.

The offer was first reported by health sector site Statnews, which interviewed the Microsoft founder and philanthropist about his public-health-related activities.

During the discussion, Gates told Statnews he'd discussed influenza vaccines with the president, something which required he quell Trump's enthusiasm for universal human-animal influenza vaccines that don't exist.

Gates then recalled a conversation in which he suggested the president fill the long-vacant post of White House science advisor.

“I mentioned, 'Hey, maybe we should have a science advisor'”, Gates is quoted as saying, and “He said: Did I want to be the science advisor?”

Without explaining his reasons, Gates told Statnews he said such a role is “not a good use of my time”.

The Microsoft founder's activities in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation mean he has plenty of exposure to the intellectually-taxing disciplines of climate and infection disease science. But he is not an actual scientist, although similar lacks of qualifications have not been seen as a barrier to other Trump administration appointments.

Gates' preference to stick to his own pursuits is, perhaps, regrettable now that the idea of a Silicon Valley-sourced science advisor has occurred to Trump. What if he were to ask Peter Thiel (who totally isn't “harvesting the blood of the young” but is keenly interested in anti-aging research)? Or Juicero founder Doug Evans, who's decided modern water treatment is evil and spruiks untreated water?

Or perhaps White House Science Advisor Elon Musk could construct a suitable simulation to convince Donald he's destined to be on the first crewed mission to Mars, thus saving the world? ®

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UK police lack framework for adopting new tech like AI and face recognition, Lords told

Governance structure is 'a bush, not a tree' – whatever that means

UK police forces have no overarching rules for introducing controversial technologies like AI and facial recognition, the House of Lords has heard.

Baroness Shackleton of the Lords' Justice and Home Affairs Committee said the group had found 30 organisations with some role in determining how the police use new technologies, without any single body to guide and enforce the adoption of new technologies.

Under questioning from the Lords, Kit Malthouse, minister for crime and policing, said: "It is complicated at the moment albeit I think most [police] forces are quite clear about their own situation."

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Ad blockers altering website code is not a copyright violation, German court rules

Browser filter biz Eyeo defeats Axel Springer – but case against Google poses similar risks

Ad-filtering biz Eyeo on Tuesday celebrated the defeat of a copyright claim that threatened to break the web, though that risk hasn't entirely been put to rest in the US.

Eyeo was sued last year by German publisher Axel Springer for allegedly violating its copyrights by altering its websites with its browser extension AdBlock Plus.

The publisher has tried unsuccessfully for years to have the German court system declare Eyeo's business model illegal. Eyeo offers its ad-blocking browser extension and simultaneously runs a program called Acceptable Ads which displays approved ads to consenting AdBlock Plus users and requires large publishers to pay a fee if they want to participate.

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Autonomy's Mike Lynch gets yet another judgment date as US extradition wrangling continues

Brit exec plays extremely expensive game of hurry up and wait

Autonomy Trial Mike Lynch will have to wait a week to find out if he can have his extradition from the UK to America kicked into the long grass – while the High Court in England has set itself yet another deadline for its epically long judgment on the HP/Autonomy merger.

These were the only two substantial snippets to emerge from Tuesday's court hearing as Lynch sought to push back a deadline for UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to make a decision on his extradition case, as reported yesterday.

Mr Justice Swift, sitting in the Administrative Court for Tuesday's judicial review hearing on the extradition, said he would hand down judgment next week after listening to barristers Alex Bailin QC for Lynch and Mark Summers QC for the US government.

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ESA boss gives update on stricken Sentinel-1B imaging satellite: All is not lost yet

Still borked, 1C and 1D are waiting in the wings

ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher has addressed the issue of the space agency's borked Copernicus Sentinel-1B spacecraft in his first annual press conference.

The last useful bit of data from the Earth observation satellite came last year, and as of yesterday attempts to revive the equipment to normal working order have come to naught.

It's an interesting anomaly: the spacecraft remains under control and, according to Aschbacher, "the thermal control system is properly working and the regular orbit control manoeuvres are routinely performed." However, attempts to reactivate the power unit that's holding back the transmission of image data have proven unsuccessful.

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Tesla driver charged with vehicular manslaughter after deadly Autopilot crash

Prosecution seems to be first of its kind in America

A Tesla driver has seemingly become the first person in the US to be charged with vehicular manslaughter for a deadly crash in which the vehicle's Autopilot mode was engaged.

According to the cops, the driver exited a highway in his Tesla Model S, ran a red light, and smashed into a Honda Civic at an intersection in Gardena, Los Angeles County, in late 2019. A man and woman in the second car were killed. The Tesla driver and a passenger survived and were taken to hospital.

Prosecutors in California charged Kevin George Aziz Riad, 27, in October last year though details of the case are only just emerging, according to AP on Tuesday. Riad, a limousine service driver, is facing two counts of vehicular manslaughter, and is free on bail after pleading not guilty.

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AMD returns to smartphone graphics with new Samsung chip for your pocket computer

We're back in black

AMD's GPU technology is returning to mobile handsets with Samsung's Exynos 2200 system-on-chip, which was announced on Tuesday.

The Exynos 2200 processor, fabricated using a 4nm process, has Armv9 CPU cores and the oddly named Xclipse GPU, which is an adaptation of AMD's RDNA 2 mainstream GPU architecture.

AMD was in the handheld GPU market until 2009, when it sold the Imageon GPU and handheld business for $65m to Qualcomm, which turned the tech into the Adreno GPU for its Snapdragon family. AMD's Imageon processors were used in devices from Motorola, Panasonic, Palm and others making Windows Mobile handsets.

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Big shock: Guy who fled political violence and became rich in tech now struggles to care about political violence

'I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy,' billionaire VC admits

Billionaire tech investor and ex-Facebook senior executive Chamath Palihapitiya was publicly blasted after he said nobody really cares about the reported human rights abuse of Uyghur Muslims in China.

The blunt comments were made during the latest episode of All-In, a podcast in which Palihapitiya chats to investors and entrepreneurs Jason Calacanis, David Sacks, and David Friedberg about technology.

The group were debating the Biden administration’s response to what's said to be China's crackdown of Uyghur Muslims when Palihapitiya interrupted and said: “Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay? ... I’m telling you a very hard ugly truth, okay? Of all the things that I care about … yes, it is below my line.”

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Crypto.com acknowledges 'unauthorized activity' on servers, maintains no funds have been lost

Security biz PeckShield claims $15m in Ethereum taken

Crypto.com, a Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange, has denied reports that the firm lost nearly $15m in Ethereum in a possible network intrusion over the weekend.

According to blockchain biz PeckShield, Crypto.com lost about $14.3m or 4,600 ETH, based on its analysis of public blockchain addresses. And the China-based security firm claims that about half of that is being washed through a service called TornadoCash, which offers anonymous transactions.

Crypto.com, which recently paid $700m to rename the Los Angeles Staples Center and saw a high-profile ad campaign disallowed in the UK for being misleading, acknowledged on Sunday that something curious happened and briefly suspended withdrawals.

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Tonga takes to radio, satellite, motorboat comms to restore communications after massive volcano blast and tsunami

Next steps for island nation

Limited communication is being restored in Tonga through satellite, high-frequency radio and motorboat after a violent underwater volcano severed a fiber-optic cable connecting the remote island to the world.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai underwater eruption – equivalent to a 10 megaton blast, it's estimated – on Saturday damaged two cables that were the backbones of international and domestic communications in Tonga.

The internet still remains cut off though communications is being restored through other means, the government of Tonga said in its first official statement, posted on Twitter by the Tonga Embassy in Tokyo.

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Apple grabs smartphone crown as iPhone 13 wakes up the fanbois, leaves Chinese rivals eating dust

But smartphone shipments globally edge up just 1% for total market as demand outweighs supply

More than one in five phones shipped in Q4 carried a certain fruit brand as Apple leapt to the top of a barely growing global smartphone market.

Preliminary estimates from tech analyst Canalys are obviously subject to change and only provide part of the picture, but as headlines go, Apple CEO Tim Cook will be pleased the iPhone was top dog over the company's vital winter sales season.

Total smartphones sales edged up by just 1 per cent globally, the market watcher said, as vendors came up against supply chain woes and a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. The single-digit shipment rise equates to 363.3 million phones being sold in the quarter based on available data from Q4 2020.

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Foxstuck: Firefox browser bug boots legions of users offline

Outfoxed? Not if you read The Reg

In a hard-to-beat demo of the perils of software telemetry, Mozilla accidentally kicked legions of users offline last week by an update to its telemetry servers that triggered an existing bug in Firefox. Internally, Mozilla is calling the bug "foxstuck".

Firefox periodically reports back some fairly innocuous info, including how long your session lasted, how many tabs and windows you had open, what extensions you have and so on. You can see a list by entering about:telemetry in the address bar.

It's all pretty harmless data. What isn't harmless is if your browser goes TITSUP* and stops you from accessing any website just because it can't phone home – especially if other browsers still work fine.

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