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Pushing Buttons: what games can offer us in times of crisis | Games

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It’s difficult to sit down and concentrate at the moment, isn’t it. Whenever something worrying and momentous is occurring in the news, most things feel frivolous and pointless. I used to experience an amorphous sense of guilt around writing about video games for a living when important and harrowing things were happening in the wider world. I work at a newspaper replete with talented people doing difficult and vital journalism about the geopolitical events that affect us all. Should we not be reading that, instead of something about Elden Ring?

It was the pandemic that finally convinced me that games, like all art and culture, are vital when things are terrible – they provide not just a distraction, but also respite. When we are overwhelmed, we need something that helps us feel more grounded, in control. When we are heartbroken, we seek out songs and novels and poems (and, yes, games) that reflect our feelings back at us, or give us space to process them. During 2020, video games were actively helping people – to socialise, to unwind, to cope with the near-unbearable stress of living through Significant Historic Events. I saw (and reported on) the positive effects that they were having on people, some of whom were totally new to games. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the joy in the real world. That is why we create fictional ones.

I think that in times of crisis, games are not just a useful escape from our feelings, but a way to process them. I was really struck by these lines from the closing paragraph of Simon Parkin’s beautiful Elden Ring review last week: “Video games can be all kinds of different things, representing all manner of artistic ambitions. Most, however, share a common goal: to conjure a compelling fictional reality, filled with beckoning mysteries, enchanting secrets, and enriching opportunities to compete and collaborate. They aim to provide a liminal space in which a determined player can fix that which is broken, order that which is chaotic … Its final gift is the assurance that, whatever monsters lurk in a broken world, with perseverance and cooperation, they too can be overcome.”

That urge to fix things – to take action, to make things better – is something that video games can satisfy for us, even when there is little we can usefully do to help in the real world. This is why, perhaps, they can be such a powerful mental salve, and why we so often turn to them when things feel broken. Here, at least – on my Animal Crossing island, or in the Lands Between, or on my Civ map, I can experience a sense of calm, of joy, of victory, and bring some order to the world.

What to play

This War of Mine, inspired by the siege of Sarajevo, shows the impact of war on civilians
This War of Mine, inspired by the siege of Sarajevo, shows the impact of war on civilians Photograph: 11 Bit

I have never seen a more affecting interactive portrayal of the effects of conflict on ordinary people than This War of Mine, from Polish studio 11 Bit, inspired by the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s. Instead of a squad of soldiers, you take control of ordinary people searching for food, shelter, medicine and safety in an occupied country, trying to avoid danger and get by until a ceasefire is declared. You must manage not only their physical needs, but also their emotional state, which takes a dreadful battering with each new misfortune. It doesn’t soften the horrors of war; it doesn’t offer you an easy way to win. But this is an example of how video games can be unmatched in their ability to engender empathy. For the next few days, the developer is donating all profits to the Ukrainian Red Cross.

Available on: Xbox, PlayStation 4/5, PC, Nintendo Switch, smartphones
Approximate playtime: 10 hours

What to read

  • The video game industry has of course responded to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which is home to several game studios. Frogwares, makers of the Sherlock games, have been posting updates on Twitter: “the team is now spread throughout Ukraine. Pinned under bombs, with tanks and mechanised artillery by their windows.” GSC, currently making Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl, entreated the rest of the world not to stand aside. Ubisoft has paid for all of its employees in the region to relocate to wherever they consider safe. Developers Bungie, CD Projekt RED and others have pledged to donate to humanitarian aid as the crisis continues.

  • In wider games news: Street Fighter 6 has been announced, with a troublingly sterile logo that rather goes against the ostentatious arcade riotousness of the franchise. Nintendo has also announced the next two Pokémon games, Scarlet and Violet, with a teaser trailer promising an open-world adventure.

  • The Steam Deck, a portable gaming PC from gaming kingmakers Valve, has been made available to a very small number of people while the company ramps up production. Not everything runs on it, but impressions so far suggest that this is as good and powerful a portable gaming machine as we’ve ever seen.

What to click

Gay weddings for Russia: How The Sims became a battleground for the LGBTQ+ community

Elden Ring review – an unrivalled masterpiece of design and inventiveness

Love Big Jet TV? Meet the flight simulator streamers

Question Block

Reader SleepingDog is here with a question that’s niche in a way I can totally get behind: What games (best) treat Scottish independence (in a near-future sense)?

The game that immediately came to mind was Watch Dogs: Legion, an innovative and lovably imperfect action-thriller about a near-future London that has become a technocratic surveillance state. In this game’s fiction, Brexit was a disaster, Scotland seceded from the UK, and corporate and military interests have seized total control over government, providing two very good illustrations of why Scottish independence might be a good idea in the first place. Unfortunately there is barely a mention of Scotland in the game’s actual script (to my knowledge, and I played a lot of it), so we don’t know how it’s going north of the border in this fictional future. If you want a go at running an independent Scotland yourself, you could always try Civilization 6.

If you’ve got a question for Question Block – or anything else to say about the newsletter – hit reply or email us on

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Global Affairs

Open Source Software (OSS) Supply Chain, Security Risks And Countermeasures

OSS Security Risks And Countermeasures

The software development landscape increasingly hinges on open source components, significantly aiding continuous integration, DevOps practices, and daily updates. Last year, Synopsys discovered that 97% of codebases in 2022 incorporated open source, with specific sectors like computer hardware, cybersecurity, energy, and the Internet of Things (IoT) reaching 100% OSS integration.

While leveraging open source enhances efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and developer productivity, it inadvertently paves a path for threat actors seeking to exploit the software supply chain. Enterprises often lack visibility into their software contents due to complex involvement from multiple sources, raising concerns highlighted in VMware’s report last year. Issues include reliance on communities to patch vulnerabilities and associated security risks.

Raza Qadri, founder of Vibertron Technologies, emphasizes OSS’s pivotal role in critical infrastructure but underscores the shock experienced by developers and executives regarding their applications’ OSS contribution. Notably, Qadri cites that 95% of vulnerabilities surface in “transitive main dependencies,” indirectly added open source packages.

Qadri also acknowledges developers’ long-standing use of open source. However, recent years have witnessed heightened awareness, not just among developers but also among attackers. Malware attacks targeting the software supply chain have surged, as demonstrated in significant breaches like SolarWinds, Kaseya, and the Log4j exploit.

Log4j’s widespread use exemplifies the consolidation of risk linked to extensively employed components. This popular Java-based logging tool’s vulnerabilities showcase the systemic dependency on widely used software components, posing significant threats if exploited by attackers.

Moreover, injection of malware into repositories like GitHub, PyPI, and NPM has emerged as a growing threat. Cybercriminals generate malicious versions of popular code to deceive developers, exploiting vulnerabilities when components are downloaded, often without the developers’ knowledge.

Despite OSS’s security risks, its transparency and visibility compared to commercial software offer certain advantages. Qadri points out the swift response to Log4j vulnerabilities as an example, highlighting OSS’s collaborative nature.

Efforts to fortify software supply chain security are underway, buoyed by multi-vendor frameworks, vulnerability tracking tools, and cybersecurity products. However, additional steps, such as enforcing recalls for defective OSS components and implementing component-level firewalls akin to packet-level firewalls, are necessary to fortify defenses and mitigate malicious attacks.

Qadri underscores the need for a holistic approach involving software bills of materials (SBOMs) coupled with firewall-like capabilities to ensure a comprehensive understanding of software contents and preemptive measures against malicious threats.

As the software supply chain faces ongoing vulnerabilities and attacks, concerted efforts are imperative to bolster security measures, safeguard against threats, and fortify the foundational aspects of open source components.

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By John Elf | Science, Technology & Business contributor Digital

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Choco: Revolutionizing The FoodTech Industry With Innovation & Sustainability | EU20

By Clint Bailey

— In the rapidly evolving world of food technology, European startup Choco has emerged as a pioneering force. With its website,, this Berlin-based company is transforming the way food industry professionals operate by leveraging innovative digital solutions. By linking restaurants, distributors, suppliers, and producers on a single platform, Choco is streamlining the supply chain process while promoting sustainability.

Let’s explore the journey of and its impact on the overall foodtech industry.

  1. Company: Choco Technologies GmbH
  2. Website:
  3. Head Office: Berlin, Germany
  4. Year Established: 2018
  5. Founders: Choco was co-founded by Daniel Khachab, Julian Hammer, and Rogerio da Silva.
  6. Industry: Choco operates in the foodtech industry, specifically focusing on digitizing the supply chain for the food industry.
  7. Funding: Choco has secured significant funding rounds from investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners & Coatue Management.
  8. Market Presence: Choco has a strong presence in several European cities, including Berlin, Paris, London & Barcelona.
  9. Mission: Choco aims to revolutionize the food industry by leveraging technology to simplify supply chain management, promote sustainability, and reduce food waste.

Simplifying Supply Chain Management

One of the core focuses of Choco is to simplify supply chain management for food businesses. Traditionally, the procurement process in the food industry has been cumbersome and inefficient, with numerous intermediaries and manual processes. Choco’s digital platform replaces the traditional paper-based ordering system, allowing restaurants and suppliers to communicate and collaborate seamlessly.

Choco’s platform enables restaurants to place orders directly with suppliers, eliminating the need for phone calls, faxes, or emails. This not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of errors and miscommunications.

By digitizing the ordering process, Choco improves transparency, making it easier for restaurants to compare prices, track deliveries, and manage inventory efficiently.

Streamlining Operations For Suppliers & Producers

Choco’s impact extends beyond restaurants. The platform also provides suppliers and producers with valuable tools to streamline their operations. By digitizing their product catalogs and integrating them into the Choco platform, suppliers can showcase their offerings to a wide network of potential buyers.

Suppliers benefit from increased visibility, enabling them to reach new customers and expand their market presence. Moreover, Choco’s platform helps suppliers manage their inventory, track orders, and plan deliveries effectively. These features enhance operational efficiency, reduce waste, and ultimately contribute to a more sustainable food system.
YouTube Channel

Promoting Sustainability & Reducing Food Waste

Choco recognizes the critical importance of sustainability in the food industry. According to the United Nations, approximately one-third of the world’s food production goes to waste each year. By digitizing the supply chain and enabling more efficient ordering and inventory management, Choco actively works to combat this issue.

Air France – Deals & Destinations

Choco’s platform facilitates data-driven decision-making for restaurants, suppliers, and producers. By analyzing purchasing patterns & demand, Choco helps businesses optimize their inventory levels, reducing overstocking and minimizing food waste. Additionally, Choco supports local sourcing, enabling businesses to connect with nearby suppliers & promote sustainable, community-based practices.

Expanding Reach & Impact

Since its founding in 2018, Choco has experienced rapid growth and expansion. The startup has successfully secured significant funding rounds, allowing it to scale its operations and establish a strong presence across Europe and other global markets. Today, Choco’s platform is used by thousands of restaurants and suppliers, revolutionizing the way they operate.

Choco’s impact extends beyond operational efficiency or sustainability. By connecting restaurants, suppliers & producers on a single platform, Choco fosters collaboration & encourages the exchange of ideas. This collaborative approach strengthens the overall foodtech ecosystem and creates a supportive community of like-minded aiming to drive positive change within the industry.

Future Of FoodTech

Choco’s rise to prominence in the foodtech industry exemplifies the reach of sustainability, innovation, and community. Through its user-friendly platform, Choco simplifies supply chain management, streamlines operations for restaurants & suppliers, and actively promotes sustainable practices. By harnessing the potential of digital, Choco is disrupting the future of the food industry, making it more efficient and transparent.

As Choco continues to expand its impact and reach, its transformative influence on the foodtech sector is set to inspiring, grow other startups, and established players to embrace technology for a better and more sustainable food system.

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— Compiled by Clint Bailey | Team ‘Voice of EU’
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The Implications Of Controlling High-Level Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

By Clint Bailey | ‘Voice of EU’

The notion of artificial intelligence surpassing humanity has long been a topic of discussion, and recent advancements in programs have reignited concerns. But can we truly control super-intelligence? A closer examination by scientists reveals that the answer is highly unlikely.

Unraveling The Challenge:

Controlling a super-intelligence that surpasses human comprehension necessitates the ability to simulate and analyze its behavior. However, if we are unable to comprehend it, creating such a simulation becomes an impossible task. This lack of understanding hinders our ability to establish rules, such as “cause no harm to humans,” as we cannot anticipate the scenarios that an AI might generate.

The Complexity Of Super-Intelligence:

Super-intelligence presents a distinct challenge compared to conventional robot ethics. Its multifaceted nature allows it to mobilize diverse resources, potentially pursuing objectives that are incomprehensible and uncontrollable to humans. This fundamental disparity further complicates the task of governing and setting limits on super-intelligent systems.

Drawing Insights From The Halting Problem:

Alan Turing’s halting problem, introduced in 1936, provides insights into the limitations of predicting program outcomes. While we can determine halting behavior for specific programs, there is no universal method capable of evaluating every potential program ever written. In the realm of artificial super-intelligence, which could theoretically store all possible computer programs in its memory simultaneously, the challenge of containment intensifies.

The Uncontainable Dilemma:

When attempting to prevent super-intelligence from causing harm, the unpredictability of outcomes poses a significant challenge. Determining whether a program will reach a conclusion or continue indefinitely becomes mathematically impossible for all scenarios. This renders traditional containment algorithms unusable and raises concerns about the reliability of teaching AI ethics to prevent catastrophic consequences.

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The Limitation Conundrum:

An alternative approach suggested by some is to limit the capabilities of super-intelligence, such as restricting its access to certain parts of the internet or networks. However, this raises questions about the purpose of creating super-intelligence if its potential is artificially curtailed. The argument arises: if we do not intend to use it to tackle challenges beyond human capabilities, why create it in the first place?


Urgent Reflection – The Direction Of Artificial Intelligence:

As we push forward with artificial intelligence, we must confront the possibility of a super-intelligence beyond our control. Its incomprehensibility makes it difficult to discern its arrival, emphasizing the need for critical introspection regarding the path we are treading. Prominent figures in the tech industry, such as Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, have even called for a pause in AI experiments to evaluate safety and potential risks to society.

The potential consequences of controlling high-level artificial super-intelligence are far-reaching and demand meticulous consideration. As we strive for progress, we must strike a balance between pushing the boundaries of technology and ensuring responsible development. Only through thorough exploration and understanding can we ensure that AI systems benefit humanity while effectively managing their risks.

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By Clint Bailey, Team ‘THE VOICE OF EU

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