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The Vardy Effect: Going to court to deny something a rock could see is true | Rebekah Vardy

Voice Of EU



Oscar Wilde, Barbra Streisand, and now – Rebekah Vardy. When news broke that Vardy had lost her libel case against Coleen Rooney, she joined this heady roster of celebrities who have launched brain-bogglingly misguided and self-wounding legal cases. Like Wilde – who sued the Marquess of Queensberry for revealing his homosexuality – Vardy went to court to deny something that a rock could see was true: she’d passed on private stories about Rooney to the press. And like Streisand – who sued a website for featuring an image of her house, thereby drawing the world’s attention to it – she believed going to court was the best way to control her image. She was wrong.

Vardy traded private details of her husband’s colleagues and their wives in the hope of currying positive coverage in the media. And because of that, Mrs Justice Steyn delivered a verdict that was even more of a character assassination than Vardy’s own memorable description of Rooney to a Daily Mail journalist: “Arguing with Coleen Rooney would be as pointless as arguing with a pigeon: you can tell it that you are right and it is wrong, but it’s still going to shit in your hair.” Well, Rebekah, you’re covered in shit now.

I sat just a few yards from Vardy every day of the trial, and it was obvious that she deserved to lose this case. But it was not always obvious she would do so. Rooney took a big risk in publicly accusing Vardy – or, to be precise “It’s………Rebekah Vardy’s account” – of leaking stories about her to the tabloids, because in English law the burden of proof falls on the person who made the defamatory claim. She took an even bigger risk in refusing to back down even after Mr Justice Warby decreed in November 2020 that Rooney would have to prove Vardy herself was the source of the leaks, not just someone with access to Vardy’s account.

Yet from the first day of the trial, Rooney, who sat every day alongside her husband, Wayne, radiated certainty and sanity, like a holy figure in a painting by Vermeer, waiting for their blessing. Vardy, by contrast, was more like a character on Dynasty, hysterically crying and collapsing in the witness box as Rooney’s barrister, David Sherborne, repeatedly read out her own words, from WhatsApp messages and tabloid interviews, that disproved Vardy’s claims.

Did she leak stories? No she did not. So why had she sent a WhatsApp telling her agent, Caroline Watt: “Leak the story about her shagging G behind H’s back?” Did she endorse revealing personal details about other people? No she did not. So why did she do a kiss and tell about Peter Andre in 2004 in which she described him as “hung like a chipolata”?

And this was the evidence we did see. So much we did not. Watt’s phone, which somehow ended up at the bottom of the North Sea, and endless WhatsApp messages on Vardy and her husband Jamie’s phones that mysteriously vanished – these should be discussed alongside the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Colossus of Zeus as mythical objets d’art that were tragically lost to mankind.

Justice Steyn concluded that their disappearance was “not accidental” and it was “likely that Ms Vardy deliberately deleted her WhatsApp chat with Ms Watt, and that Ms Watt deliberately dropped her phone into the sea”. Vardy probably isn’t buzzing – to use one of her favourite terms – at that ruling, but she can console herself that at least the judge didn’t accept Vardy’s own barrister’s argument that she would have to have been “very clever or very cynical” to delete her WhatsApps. In other words, that she was too thick to bin her own messages. Better too cynical than too thick, Becky.

And Justice Steyn clearly thinks Vardy was very cynical indeed. At the trial, Vardy tried to chuck Watt into the North Sea (although probably not to retrieve her phone) by insisting that, if Watt did leak stories to the Sun, she did so without Vardy’s knowledge, consent or approval. Justice Steyn writes simply: “I reject that contention.” I wonder what made her think that? Oh maybe, the various messages from Vardy to Watt saying “leak it” and “I want paying for this”.

The index to Justice Steyn’s ruling is endearingly revealing in its own way: “The Flooded Basement Post”; “The Soho House Posts”; “Ms Rooney’s Decision to Remove Ms Vardy as a Follower”. This is what that £3m trial was ultimately about: whether someone blabbed that Rooney’s basement flooded and other similarly newsworthy stories, and Vardy being annoyed at her removal from Rooney’s Instagram. The argument between the two women, Justice Steyn concluded, “can fairly be described as trivial, but it does not need to be important to meet the sting of libel … The essential sting of libel has been shown to be true”.

Vardy has been well and truly stung. Perhaps, to paraphrase and homage her own immortal words about pigeons, that rare but apparently possible phenomenon of shitting in your own hair can now be known as The Vardy effect.

And what of Rooney? Not since her husband scored a hat-trick in his Old Trafford debut has a Rooney scored so magnificently. Her Wagatha sleuthing might have showed heretofore hidden canniness, but it was her strength during the trial that really left an impression. She didn’t even blink at references to her husband’s repeated infidelities, didn’t stumble under questioning, but conducted herself like someone who truly has the courage of her convictions, and her convictions are that you don’t cross Coleen or her family. Vardy, by contrast, couldn’t even look at Rooney, and the only conviction she seems to have is an appetite for the shallowest kind of fame. Well, she’s got it now.

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.NET 6 comes to Ubuntu 22.04 • The Register

Voice Of EU



Ubuntu and Microsoft have brought .NET 6 to the Ubuntu repositories, meaning that you can install it without adding any extra sources to the OS.

The announcement means that Ubuntu 22.04 is catching up with the Red Hat Linux family. As per Microsoft’s online docs, you could already do this on Fedora 36 as well as the more business-like variants: RHEL 8, CentOS Stream 8 and 9, and via scl-utils on RHEL 7.

Microsoft’s blog post about the news also mentions the ability to install the runtime, or the full SDK, into Ubuntu containers. Canonical also has new versions of these. It describes Ubuntu ROCKs as “new, ultra-small OCI-compliant appliance images, without a shell or package manager,” smaller than existing Ubuntu container images thanks to a new tool called chisel.

.NET 6 is Microsoft’s cross-platform toolchain for building apps to run on multiple platforms, including Windows, Linux, macOS, and mobile OSes. Essentially, it’s Microsoft’s answer to Oracle’s JVM – the increasingly inaccurately named Java Virtual Machine, which now supports multiple languages, including Clojure, Kotlin, Scala, and Groovy.

Microsoft’s own list of .NET languages is relatively short – C#, F#, and Visual Basic – although there are many others from outside the company. The list arguably should include PowerShell, but that already has its own Linux version.

Since 2014 or so, .NET primarily means what was formerly called .NET Core. According to Microsoft’s own diagram, that means the .NET Common Language Runtime, the bit which allows “managed code” to execute, and Microsoft’s web app framework ASP.NET.

There are three separate packages: dotnet-sdk-6.0, the SDK; dotnet-runtime-6.0, the CLR runtime; and aspnetcore-runtime-6.0, the runtime for ASP.NET. All three can be installed at once via the dotnet6 metapackage.

The notable bits of .NET that aren’t included in Core are the venerable Windows Forms framework or the slightly more modern Windows Presentation Framework, WPF.

Compare and contrast: .NET Framework versus .NET Core

Diagram showing .NET Core design

Click to enlarge

So don’t get excited and think that the inclusion of .NET in Ubuntu means that graphical .NET apps, such as Windows Store apps, can now be built and run natively on Linux. Limit your expectations to server-side stuff. This is a mainly a way to deploy console-based C# and ASP.NET apps into Ubuntu servers and Ubuntu containers.

When we asked Canonical about this, a spokesperson responded: “WPF is not currently supported in .NET 6 on Ubuntu. So, you’re correct that .NET 6 on Ubuntu is aimed at developers building text/server apps rather than graphical/GUI apps.”

We’ve also asked Microsoft if they have any additional information or details, and will update when they respond.

There are cross-platform graphical frameworks for .NET, including the open-source Avalonia and as well as Uno, which got on board in .NET 5. There is also Microsoft’s own Multi-platform App UI, or MAUI, which evolved out of Xamarin Forms.

The origins of .NET lie in Microsoft’s 1996 acquisition of Colusa Software for its OmniWare tool, which Colusa billed as “a universal substrate for web programming.” As Microsoft faced off against the US Department of Justice and European Commission, and the possibility of being broken into separate apps and OS divisions, it came up with Next Generation Windows Services, which then turned into .NET: a way to use Microsoft tools to build apps for any OS.

There is still controversy over exactly how open .NET really is, as exemplified by the aptly named isdotnetopen site. ®

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How cognitive science can be used to bring AI forward

Voice Of EU



Dr Marie Postma spoke to about misconceptions around AI as well its relationship with human consciousness.

AI and robots are getting ‘smarter’ all the time. From Irish-made care robot Stevie to Spot the robot dog from Boston Dynamics, these tech helpers are popping up everywhere with a wide range of uses.

The tech beneath the hardware is getting smarter too. Earlier this year, Researchers at MIT developed a simpler way to teach robots new skills after only a few physical demonstrations. And just this week, Google revealed how its combining large language models with its parent company’s Everyday Robots to help them better understand humans.

However, the advances in these areas have led to recent discussions around the idea of sentient AI. While this idea has been largely rebuffed by the AI community, an understanding of the relationship between cognitive science and AI is an important one.

Dr Marie Postma is head of the department of cognitive science and artificial intelligence at Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences in the Netherlands.

The department is mainly financed by three education programmes and has around 100 staff and between 900 and 1,000 students.

‘Technology is not the problem; people are the problem’

The team focuses on different research themes that combine cognitive science and AI, such as computational linguistics with a big focus on deep learning solutions, autonomous agents and robotics, and human-AI interaction, which is mainly focused on VR and its use in education.

Postma was a speaker at the latest edition of the Schools for Female Leadership in the Digital Age in Prague, run by Huawei’s European Leadership Academy.

Postma spoke to the 29 students about cognitive science and machine learning, starting with the history of AI and bringing it up to the modern-day challenges, such as how we can model trust in robots and the role empathy could play in AI.

“We have research where we are designing first-person games where people can experience the world from the perspective of an animal – not a very cuddly animal, it’s actually a beaver. That’s intentional,” she told me later that day.

Sentient AI

Her talk brought about a lot of discussion around AI and consciousness, a timely discussion following the news that Blake Lemione, a Google engineer, published an interview with the AI chatbot and claimed that it had become sentient.

Postma said much of the media coverage around this story had muddied the waters. “The way it was described in the media was more focused on the Turing test – interacting with an AI system that comes across as being human-like,” she said.

“But then at some point they mention consciousness, and consciousness is really a different story.”

Postma said that most people who research consciousness would agree that it’s based on a number of factors. Firstly it’s about having a perceptual basis, both the ability to perceive the world around us but also what’s happening inside us and being self-aware.

Secondly, the purpose of consciousness is being able to interpret yourself as someone who has feelings, needs, actionability in the world and a need to stay alive. “AI systems are not worried about staying alive, at least the way we construct them now, they don’t reflect on their battery life and think ‘oh no, I should go plug myself in’.”

Possibilities and limitations

While AI and robots don’t have consciousness, their ability to be programmed to a point where they can understand humans can be highly beneficial.

For example, Postma’s department has been conducting research that concerns brain-computer interaction, with a focus on motor imagery. “[This is] trying to create systems where the user, by focusing on their brain signal, can move objects in virtual reality or on computer screens using [electroencephalography].”

This has a lot of potential applications in the medical world for people who suffer from paralysis or in the advancements of prosthetic limbs.

Last year, researchers at Stanford University successfully implanted a brain-computer interface (BCI) capable of interpreting thoughts of handwriting in a 65-year-old man paralysed below the neck due to a spinal cord injury.

However, Postma said there is still a long way to go with this technology and it’s not just about the AI itself. “The issue with that is there are users who are able to do that and others who are not, and we don’t really know what the reasons are,” she said.

“There is some research that suggests that being able to do special rotation might be one of the factors but what we’re trying to discover is how we can actually train users so that they can use BCI.”

And in the interest of quelling any lingering fears around sentient AI, she also said people should not worry about this kind of technology being able to read their thoughts because the BCI is very rudimentary. “For the motor imagery BCI, it’s typically about directions, you know, right, left, etc.”

Other misconceptions about AI

Aside from exactly how smart the robots around us really are, one of the biggest falsehoods that Postma wants to correct is that the technology itself is not necessarily what causes the problems that surround it.

“What I repeat everywhere I go, is that the technology is not the problem, people are the problem. They’re the ones who create the technology solutions and use them in a certain way and who regulate them or don’t regulate them in a certain way,” she said.

“The bias in some AI solutions is not there because some AI solutions are biased, they’re biased because the data that’s used to create the solutions is biased so there is human bias going in.”

However, while bias in AI has been a major discussion topic for several years, Postma has an optimistic view on this, saying that these biased systems are actually helping to uncover biased data that would have previously been hidden behind human walls.

“It becomes explicit because all the rules are there, all the predictive features are there, even for deep learning architecture, we have techniques to simplify them and to uncover where the decision is made.”

While Postma is a major advocate for all the good AI can do, she is also concerned about how certain AI and data is used, particularly in how it can influence human decisions in politics.

“What Cambridge Analytica did – just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And I don’t think they’re the only company that are doing that,” she said.

“I’m [also] concerned about algorithms that make things addictive, whether it’s social media or gaming, that really try to satisfy the user. I’m concerned about what it’s doing to kids.”

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‘I’m buying Manchester United’: Elon Musk ‘joke’ tweet charges debate over struggling club’s future | Elon Musk

Voice Of EU



Tesla billionaire Elon Musk briefly electrified the debate about the future of Manchester United by claiming on Twitter that he is buying the struggling Premier League club – before saying that the post was part of a “long-running joke”.

He did not make clear his views on new coach Eric ten Hag’s controversial insistence on passing out from the back, or whether unhappy star striker Cristiano Ronaldo should be allowed to leave, but he did say that if he were to buy a sports team “it would be Man U. They were my fav team as a kid”.

With the team rooted to the bottom of the league after a humiliating 4-0 away defeat to Brentford, the outspoken entrepreneur’s tweet offered hope – however –briefly – to fans who want to see the back of current owners, the Florida-based Glazer family.

Also, I’m buying Manchester United ur welcome

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 17, 2022

Musk has a history of making irreverent tweets, and he later clarified the post by saying he was not buying sports teams.

No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports teams.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 17, 2022

Buying United, one of the biggest football clubs in the world, would have cost Musk at least £2bn, according to its current stock market valuation.

Manchester United’s recent on-pitch woes have led to increased fan protests against the Glazers, who bought the club in a heavily leveraged deal in 2005 for £790m ($955.51m).

The anti-Glazer movement gained momentum last year after United were involved in a failed attempt to form a breakaway European Super League.

But a takeover by Musk would have been a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire for the club, given the billionaire’s tendency for off-the-cuff remarks and falling foul of market regulators.

Many were quick to point out that Musk had also promised to buy Twitter for $44bn before the deal collapsed in July, and has also boasted about colonising Mars and boosting birthrates on Earth.

That’s what you said about Twitter.

— Sema (@_SemaHernandez_) August 17, 2022

Fans responded with a mixture of bafflement and optimism given the lowly status of a club used to occupying the top places in the league rather than the bottom.

Manchester United did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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