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Competitive Book Sorters

Teamwork and speed.

Teamwork and speed. Courtesy Jonathan Blanc/The New York Public Library

Formerly the NYPD captain in charge of Brooklyn’s major crimes investigations, Magaddino glides around the machine, with one hand gesturing to its component parts and the other clutching a styrofoam cup of coffee. Wearing a checked suit, he gloats in consummate Brooklynese about the remarkable operation this beast enables. Sorting items that move every day from the tip of the Bronx to the lip of Staten Island, his team tallied nearly 7.5 million successful deliveries last year.

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One employee traveling for work checked his pooch into a kennel and billed it to his boss as a hotel expense. Another charged yoga classes to the corporate credit card as client entertainment. A third, after racking up a small fortune at a strip club, submitted the expense as a steakhouse business dinner.

These bogus or phony expenses, which occurred recently at major U.S. companies, have one thing in common: All were exposed by artificial intelligence algorithms that can in a matter of seconds sniff out fraudulent claims and forged receipts that are often undetectable to human auditors—certainly not without hours of tedious labor.

A company an 18-month-old AI accounting startup, named AppZen, has already signed up several big companies, including Amazon.com Inc., International Business Machine Corp., Salesforce.com Inc. and Comcast Corp. and claims to have saved its clients $40 million in fraudulent expenses. AppZen and traditional firms like Oversight Systems say their technology isn’t ousting  jobs —so far—but rather freeing up auditors to dig deeper into dubious claims and educate employees about travel and expense policies.

A report released in April, by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners analyzed 2,700 fraud cases from January 2016 to October 2017 that resulted in losses of $7 billion.

The world’s largest anti-fraud organization found travel and expense embezzlement typically accounts for about 14 percent of employee fraud. It has become easier to fool finance departments thanks to websites such as fakereceipts.us that make it easy to create a bogus paper trail.

The algorithms have already exposed some creative—and costly—frauds: employees tacking on bottles of vodka to their “work lunch” bill, buying $3,000 worth of Starbucks gift cards and claiming it as “coffee with a contact.” One employee expensed her $900 office farewell party and submitted a claim that contained an animated photograph of her face instead of any receipts—demonstrating how seriously she took the auditors.

Guido van Drunen, a principal in KPMG’s Forensic Advisory Services, believes some lower-level jobs will disappear as more and more companies adopt the technology in the coming years. But he says there’s no way AI can spot all the sneaky ways employees try to defraud their employers.

Info obtained from Accounting Today

Super Smash Bros Ultimate Mario

The three heavy-hitter exclusive games for Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft’s Xbox One, and Nintendo’s Switch console this holiday season.

1. “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” on the Nintendo Switch

1.

The biggest Nintendo game of the year is’nt here yet. “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” is expected to launch on December 7 for the Nintendo Switch — the biggest entry yet in the decades-old “Super Smash Bros.” fighting game franchise.

“Forza Horizon 4” on the Xbox One/Xbox One X

2.

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The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission gave a warning of dangers to the US government and private sector from a reliance on global supply chains linked to China, which is the world’s largest manufacturer of information technology equipment. 

It appears that China’s aggressive push to dominate the high-tech industry by 2025 already is a sore point with Washington and a contributing factor in trade tensions that have seen the world’s two largest economies slap billions of dollars in punitive tariffs on each other’s products this year. 

The US also has had long-running concerns about state-backed cyber theft of corporate secrets, something that China agreed to stop in 2015. But the bipartisan commission highlights the potential security risks to the United States by China’s pre-eminence in the so-called Internet of Things, or IoT.

China’s role as an economic and military competitor to the United States creates enormous economic, security, supply chain, and data privacy risks for the United States,” the report says.

The commission, is warning that the potential impact of malicious cyberattacks through such systems will intensify with the adoption of ultra-fast 5G networks that could quicken data speeds by up to 100 times.  

Their report says “The lax security protections and universal connectivity of IoT devices creates numerous points of vulnerability that hackers or malicious state actors can exploit to hold US critical infrastructure, businesses, and individuals at risk,”

The United States has already restricted government procurement from Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE, which deny their products are used for spying by China’s authoritarian government. 

In June, the Defense Department suspended the purchase of all commercial, off-the-shelf drones until a cybersecurity risk assessment strategy was established. In 2017, US customs authorities alleged that drones produced by Chinese company DJI, which has dominated the US and Canadian drone markets, likely provided China with access to US critical infrastructure and law enforcement data. DJI denied the allegation. 

The commission is calling for Congress to push for assessments by US government agencies on their supply chain vulnerabilities.

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The official definition of a kilogram is currently determined as the mass of a metal cylinder...
The official definition of a kilogram is currently determined as the mass of a metal cylinder called the International Prototype of the Kilogram, but that could be about to change(Credit: Greg L)

Scientists from around the world have been debating and discussing on whether the kilogram, the mole, the ampere and the kelvin should be changed to more stable and reliable definitions. They are meeting in Paris on Friday to vote.

As it stands now, the kilogram is the only unit of measurement to still be based on a physical object – specifically, a lump of metal in a vault in France. This International Prototype of the Kilogram (IPK) has been the official standard since 1879, but it isn’t as unchanging as you might think.

Naturally, the IPK has been gathering microscopic contaminants during the past 140-odd years, meaning the official definition of a kilogram has to keep being updated to match the new mass, while the artefact itself needs to undergo regular cleaning. Complicating things further, 40 “exact” copies of the IPK were made and distributed to institutions around the world, but their own masses are also changing slowly at different rates, meaning their definitions are drifting out of sync.

If the vote is successful, going forward the kilogram will be defined by the Planck constant. This is calculated in an instrument known as a Kibble balance, which suspends a 1-kg weight using electromagnetic forces. The constant is the amount of energy it takes to balance the weight, and after years of experiments and measurements, that value has been determined to a precise degree.

If the vote goes ahead, the redefinitions are set to officially come into effect on May 20, 2019, which is World Metrology Day.

 

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China’s Xinhua News Agency has debuted an artificial intelligence (AI) news anchor on Wednesday as the state-run media organization seeks to bring a “brand new” news experience to the world.

A report posted on YouTube by New China TV features a life-like, English-speaking “AI anchor” modeled after one of Xinhua’s actual presenters named Qiu Hao.

Explaining he is programmed to read texts typed into his system, the digital presenter said he would deliver the news without interruption.

“I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted,” it said.

According to the South China Morning Post, Xinhua said its new AI anchors have officially become members of the Xinhua News Agency reporting team and will work with other anchors to bring authoritative, timely and accurate news information in both Chinese and English.

It was also hinted that AI anchors may one day “challenge” their human counterparts because of their ability to work 24 hours a day provided human editors keep inputting text into the system.

 

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