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Elizabeth Holmes trial: jury to begin deliberations in Theranos founder’s case | Theranos

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After months of criminal proceedings that have gripped Silicon Valley, the fate of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes now rests in the hands of 12 jurors.

A group of eight men and four women will consider whether to convict or exonerate Holmes, 37, on nine counts of fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud. Deliberations are expected to begin on Monday.

Holmes faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and has pleaded not guilty.

Throughout the trial and in closing statements on Thursday, the prosecution sought to prove Holmes knowingly lied to investors and patients, arguing she purposely oversold the capabilities of the company’s devices to attain wealth and fame.

Calling more than 30 witnesses including investors, patients, and former employees, lawyers for the prosecution painted a picture of a founder hell-bent on making her technology succeed despite mounting evidence that her claims were largely baseless.

Prosecutor Jeff Schenk presented to the jury a recap of arguments that Holmes knowingly lied about the capabilities of Theranos testing, saying the evidence shows “she made the decision to defraud her investors and then to defraud her patients”

“She chose fraud over business failure. She choose to be dishonest with investors and patients,” he said. “That choice was not only callous, it was criminal.”

Holmes founded the company at the center of the case in 2004 after dropping out of Stanford, seeking to revolutionize the health care space with a machine that could perform a vast range of tests from just one drop of blood.

As a female founder in the male-dominated tech space, Holmes quickly soared to fame, attracting funding from big name investors like the former US secretary of state George Schultz and media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The company had amassed more than $9bn in value when reports from the Wall Street Journal revealed major concerns in its revolutionary claims.

During the trial, multiple lab directors testified they warned Holmes about shortcomings of Theranos technology and were told to downplay such concerns. Meanwhile, Holmes told investors the technology was working as planned.

In one particularly damning piece of evidence, Holmes doctored paperwork with pharmaceutical logos, implying the firms had endorsed her technology. Holmes admitted to doing so, saying, “I wish I had done it differently.”

Holmes, meanwhile, has maintained her innocence, claiming she relied on the word of scientists and other employees and believed the technology worked as advertised. She also alleged that her co-president and former lover Sunny Balwani had emotionally and physically abused her, influencing her to commit fraud. Balwani has denied these allegations and faces his own fraud trial in 2022.

In closing arguments on Friday, her lawyer Kevin Downey compared Holmes’s final days at Theranos to the experience of a captain valiantly trying to save a sinking ship.

Had Holmes committed any crimes, she would have been scurrying to jump overboard like a scared rat, Downey told jurors as he wrapped up roughly five hours of closing arguments.

“Did she leave?” he asked the jury. “No, she stayed. Why? Because she believed in this technology. She believed she was building a technology that would change the world.”

In late November, Holmes stunned those following the trial when she unexpectedly took the stand in her own defense. The move was a gamble on her part, opening Holmes up to cross examination from prosecutors eager to fact check her public statements against internal documents that contracted them.

For more than four days the prosecution grilled Holmes on her initial testimony, implying Balwani was not abusive but warm and loving towards her and that she made decisions regarding the business on her own accord.

The jury could hand down a decision at any time, and it is speculated it will do so next week.

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Iran reveals use of cryptocurrency to pay for imports • The Register

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Iran has announced it used cryptocurrency to pay for imports, raising the prospect that the nation is using digital assets to evade sanctions.

Trade minister Alireza Peyman Pak revealed the transaction with the tweet below, which translates as “This week, the first official import order was successfully placed with cryptocurrency worth ten million dollars. By the end of September, the use of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts will be widespread in foreign trade with target countries.”

It is unclear what Peman Pak referred to with his mention of widespread use of crypto for foreign trade, and the identity of the foreign countries he mentioned is also obscure.

But the intent of the announcement appears clear: Iran will use cryptocurrency to settle cross-border trades.

That’s very significant because Iran is subject to extensive sanctions aimed at preventing its ability to acquire nuclear weapons and reduce its ability to sponsor terrorism. Sanctions prevent the sale of many commodities and technologies to Iran, and financial institutions aren’t allowed to deal with their Iranian counterparts, who are mostly shunned around the world.

As explained in this advisory [PDF] issued by the US Treasury, Iran has developed numerous practices to evade sanctions, including payment offsetting schemes that let it sell oil in contravention of sanctions. Proceeds of such sales are alleged to have been funnelled to terrorist groups.

While cryptocurrency’s anonymity has been largely disproved, trades in digital assets aren’t regulated so sanctions enforcement will be more complex if Iran and its trading partners use crypto instead of fiat currencies.

Which perhaps adds more weight to the argument that cryptocurrency has few proven uses beyond speculative trading, making the ransomware industry possible, and helping authoritarian states like Iran and North Korea to acquire materiel for weapons.

Peyman Pak’s mention of “widespread” cross-border crypto deals, facilitated by automated smart contracts, therefore represents a challenge to those who monitor and enforce sanctions – and something new to worry about for the rest of us. ®



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Edwards Lifesciences is hiring at its ‘key’ Shannon and Limerick facilities

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The medtech company is hiring for a variety of roles at both its Limerick and Shannon sites, the latter of which is being transformed into a specialised manufacturing facility.

Medical devices giant Edwards Lifesciences began renovations to convert its existing Shannon facility into a specialised manufacturing centre at the end of July.

The expansion will allow the company to produce components that are an integral part of its transcatheter heart valves. The conversion is part of Edwards Lifesciences’ expansion plan that will see it hire for hundreds of new roles in the coming years.

“The expanded capability at our Shannon facility demonstrates that our operations in Ireland are a key enabler for Edwards to continue helping patients across the globe,” said Andrew Walls, general manager for the company’s manufacturing facilities in Ireland.

According to Walls, hiring is currently underway at the company’s Shannon and Limerick facilities for a variety of functions such as assembly and inspection roles, manufacturing and quality engineering, supply chain, warehouse operations and project management.

Why Ireland?

Headquartered in Irvine, California, Edwards Lifesciences established its operations in Shannon in 2018 and announced 600 new jobs for the mid-west region. This number was then doubled a year later when it revealed increased investment in Limerick.

When the Limerick plant was officially opened in October 2021, the medtech company added another 250 roles onto the previously announced 600, promising 850 new jobs by 2025.

“As the company grows and serves even more patients around the world, Edwards conducted a thorough review of its global valve manufacturing network to ensure we have the right facilities and talent to address our future needs,” Walls told SiliconRepublic.com

“We consider multiple factors when determining where we decide to manufacture – for example, a location that will allow us to produce close to where products are utilised, a location that offers advantages for our supply chain, excellent local talent pool for an engaged workforce, an interest in education and good academic infrastructure, and other characteristics that will be good for business and, ultimately, good for patients.

“Both our Shannon and Limerick sites are key enablers for Edwards Lifesciences to continue helping patients across the globe.”

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Meta’s new AI chatbot can’t stop bashing Facebook | Meta

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If you’re worried that artificial intelligence is getting too smart, talking to Meta’s AI chatbot might make you feel better.

Launched on Friday, BlenderBot is a prototype of Meta’s conversational AI, which, according to Facebook’s parent company, can converse on nearly any topic. On the demo website, members of the public are invited to chat with the tool and share feedback with developers. The results thus far, writers at Buzzfeed and Vice have pointed out, have been rather interesting.

Asked about Mark Zuckerberg, the bot told BuzzFeed’s Max Woolf that “he is a good businessman, but his business practices are not always ethical. It is funny that he has all this money and still wears the same clothes!”

The bot has also made clear that it’s not a Facebook user, telling Vice’s Janus Rose that it had deleted its account after learning about the company’s privacy scandals. “Since deleting Facebook my life has been much better,” it said.

The bot repeats material it finds on the internet, and it’s very transparent about this: you can click on its responses to learn where it picked up whatever claims it is making (though it is not always specific).

This means that along with uncomfortable truths about its parent company, BlenderBot has been spouting predictable falsehoods. In conversation with Jeff Horwitz of the Wall Street Journal, it insisted Donald Trump was still president and would continue to be “even after his second term ends in 2024”. (It added another dig at Meta, saying Facebook “has a lot of fake news on it these days”.) Users have also recorded it making antisemitic claims.

BlenderBot’s remarks were foreseeable based on the behavior of older chatbots such as Microsoft’s Tay, which Twitter users quickly taught to be a racist conspiracy theorist, forcing the company to apologize for its “wildly inappropriate and reprehensible words and images”. GPT-3, another AI system, has also delivered racist, misogynist and homophobic remarks. A South Korean startup’s chatbot, designed to resemble a 20-year-old college student, had to be suspended after it rattled off racial slurs and anti-LGBTQ+ remarks.

Given the cesspool that is the internet, Meta appears to have expected similar things from its own service. Before logging on, users must acknowledge that BlenderBot is “likely to make untrue or offensive statements”. As Vice notes, Meta researchers have described the AI tech behind the bot as having “a high propensity to generate toxic language and reinforce harmful stereotypes, even when provided with a relatively innocuous prompt”.

“Everyone who uses Blender Bot is required to acknowledge they understand it’s for research and entertainment purposes only, that it can make untrue or offensive statements, and that they agree to not intentionally trigger the bot to make offensive statements,” said a Meta spokesperson in a statement.

My own conversation with BlenderBot did not veer into that territory, but it did highlight another flaw in the service: its utter inanity.

The bot began by asking me what subject I liked in school. The bot is open about which “persona” it is using in the conversation; our discussion involved a persona it described as “I like to read. I went to college.” When I asked it tough questions, such as which colleges accepted AI bot students, it offered nonsensical replies (“in some ways, aren’t we all chatbots?” No) and offered further reading by saying, “Here’s the link”, without providing a link. It also kept steering the conversation back to chatbots.

It did, however, maintain its firm stance against its own creators. When I said I wasn’t a fan of Facebook’s ethics, it wholeheartedly agreed: “Me too! That is why I stopped using it and just stick with reading books instead.”



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