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Accenture aims for the metaverse

Accenture’s Brian Smyth and Jefferson Wang spoke to at MWC 2022 about the company’s latest developments in metaverse and Open RAN technology.

“There’s going to be a lot more momentum around metaverse in the coming months.”

That’s according to Brian Smyth, Accenture’s innovation lead for the communications and media industry, who I spoke to at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

MWC is an influential event attended by global mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers and vendors. While the latest telecoms developments in areas such as 5G took centre stage, a lot of the discussion at the event of 61,000 attendees also focused on the metaverse – an online world of augmented and virtual reality.

The concept of the metaverse has been growing in popularity since Facebook changed its name to Meta last October and bet its future on developments in AI, AR and VR. Last November, a report by EmergenResearch said the market value for the metaverse was more than $47bn in 2020 and is expected to be worth nearly $829bn by 2028.

Accenture’s own research found that in 2021, businesses were doubling down on virtual and augmented reality, with 88pc of global organisations saying they had invested in technologies to create virtual environments. Nearly all (91pc) of those organisations said they are planning to invest further.

Accenture has taken its own step into the metaverse, creating a digital location called the Nth Floor where employees from around the world can meet for presentations, socialise and participate in immersive training. The company is in the process of deploying 60,000 VR headsets to its staff in multiple countries.

‘Even as things open up more, we have team meetings and events in these virtual worlds’

Smyth said this development was heightened by a desire to have employees connect with each other and the company during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is a new space where our new joiners can connect and collaborate and get a sense of place of Accenture and a sense of our culture, in a way that they couldn’t get when they couldn’t come to the office,” he explained. “So historically, people used to meet in offices, in our training centres. When that was not possible, this was a really great way to bring people together.

“And we’re continuing to work in this space. So even as things open up more, we have team meetings and events in these virtual worlds. And it enables people to have this sense of presence and a sense of team that you don’t always get in a 2D screen,” he added.

Smyth said Accenture has seen benefits from using this technology among its staff, such as a greater feeling of connection and a “sense of occasion” when a large group of employees are brought together this way.

“I think it’s incredibly important, particularly as a global organisation, to be able to do that. And by bringing in new technology and new ways of working, it’s really beneficial for us. And more importantly then, how we bring that to our clients in new ways.”

The future of metaverse

Smyth said Accenture is seeing huge demand for metaverse technology among its clients across multiple industries.

“We’re helping travel companies reinvent the travel experience. We’re doing immersive learning and worker safety training for utilities companies. We’re building out online retail experiences for fashion brands, on platforms like Roblox and Decentraland.”

One collaboration Accenture is working on is with Touchcast, a company developing ‘metaverse-as-a-service’. Last January it launched MCity, which it described as the “world’s first enterprise metaverse”, where companies can register their own metaverse domain name and set up a virtual campus.

“It’s really around building these engaging experiences that look like professional conference presentations, but can be done from your home office using your camera,” Smyth explained. “So we’ve used it before for the launch of our Tech Vision, which is our annual report on what’s happening in tech and future trends.

“What it enables you to do is create this experience that looks like an amphitheatre, or looks like a conference hall or an event. And you have giant screens and you have a podium and a speaker, but the speaker is actually just on their webcam at home.

“But it recreates it into a 3D world. And then you pan and zoom cameras across and you can see attendees, so it really gives this sense of occasion on an event,” he said.

This technology could make investor events and conferences “really compelling”, Smyth noted, but there are other applications down the line such as being able to create a virtual retail experience, where users can get a more tangible feel of what a product looks and feels like before they make a purchase online.

For metaverse developments in the future, Smyth pointed to the importance of being able to have both people on VR devices and those using devices like their mobile phone or laptop. One example he shared was Microsoft’s plans to incorporate mixed-reality technology into its Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft first revealed Mesh last year, a virtual platform to help people feel like they are in the same room as each other. Last November, the company shared its plans to integrate this technology into Teams for 2022, where users will be able to represent themselves in a meeting using customised 2D and 3D avatars, or continue to show themselves in a video format.

Smyth said that Accenture sees the metaverse as the “next evolution of the internet”, focusing on immersive experiences. With the company’s own ventures with metaverse technology and its collaborations with industry partners, Smyth seems confident about the future of this concept.

“There’s going to be a lot more momentum around metaverse in the coming months,” Smyth said. “Certainly from Accenture in terms of how we go to market.”

Open RAN

Another topic that is growing in popularity is around open radio access networks, or Open RAN. This differs from traditional radio access networks by allowing different parts of the network’s infrastructure to be built by different vendors, and allows service providers to speed up 5G network development through the use of open architecture.

Accenture has described Open RAN is one of the most “hotly debated topics in the industry” currently. An industry survey by last November found that almost half of respondents have already deployed Open RAN or plan to do so soon. Last year, Vodafone and Dell Technologies announced a partnership to build the first Open RAN in Europe.

Jefferson Wang, Accenture’s cloud-first networks and 5G lead, said Open RAN is accelerating in certain regions like Europe faster than others, which he believes is for three key reasons.

“One is the ability to try and look for a lower way to actually drive the cost down,” Wang said. “The second is also dependent upon the geopolitical situation, the need to replace other equipment providers is another reason why. And then the third one is to try and create more of that competitive landscape so that you could actually generate more innovation on a quicker level.

“So Open RAN, I think, in the end is one of those things where you’ll start to see it come out in waves, with Europe absolutely taking the lead, but then Latin America is picking up and you’ll see other geographies around Open RAN,” he added.

‘Open RAN is one of those things where you’ll start to see it come out in waves, with Europe absolutely taking the lead’

Wang said Accenture is working to help new operators that have an interest in Open RAN, while also figuring out how to work with legacy networks. “We formed a new group called Accenture Cloud First Networks,” he explained. “The entire goal of that is to help situations like this, where there’s a new technology that comes out for those reasons that we talked about.

The disaggregation of hardware and software can create a lot of choice, which is good in terms of competition. “The downside is there’s more disaggregation,” Wang noted. While competition is positive for lowering prices, he said there are also benefits for a more tightly integrated hardware and software network, such as the ability to better optimise the power network for energy management.

“So I think that while you’ll see new feature development accelerate in certain areas, in terms of the radio or other parts of the network, there has to be somebody also focused on when you glue these disparate pieces together that have been disaggregated, who’s working on those pieces around power management, around efficiency and those things.

“A group of companies needs to work very closely on that to make sure that we’re not increasing our power consumption at a data centre somewhere else because of these disaggregated pieces,” Wang said.

Overall, he believes Open RAN is going to be successful in certain areas “and is needed”. But change is going to come in phases.

“I think in geographies that are basically still slow to adopt, you might see Open RAN show up in things like a private wireless scenario, something that isn’t touching the macro network with millions and millions of consumers, but more so these more targeted, more surgical deployments where they’re actually trying it, testing, iterating it and then actually working it into the broader network.”

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Congratulations, Privacy Just Took A Great Leap Out the Window!

Your Data Is Being Used Without Your Permission And Knowledge

The Voice Of EU | In the heart of technological innovation, the collision between intellectual property rights and the development of cutting-edge AI technologies has sparked a significant legal battle. The New York Times has taken legal action against OpenAI and Microsoft, filing a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court. This legal maneuver aims to address concerns surrounding the unauthorized use of the Times’ content for the training of AI models, alleging copyright infringements that could potentially result in billions of dollars in damages.


This legal tussle underlines the escalating tension between technological advancements and the protection of intellectual property. The crux of the lawsuit revolves around OpenAI and Microsoft allegedly utilizing the Times’ proprietary content to advance their own AI technology, directly competing with the publication’s services. The lawsuit suggests that this unauthorized utilization threatens the Times’ ability to offer its distinctive service and impacts its AI innovation, creating a competitive landscape that challenges the publication’s proprietary content.

Amidst the growing digital landscape, media organizations like the Times are confronting a myriad of challenges. The migration of readers to online platforms has significantly impacted traditional media, and the advent of artificial intelligence technology has added another layer of complexity. The legal dispute brings to the forefront the contentious practice of AI companies scraping copyrighted information from online sources, including articles from media organizations, to train their generative AI chatbots. This strategy has attracted substantial investments, rapidly transforming the AI landscape.

Exhibit presented by the New York Times’ legal team of ChatGPT replicating a article after being prompted

The lawsuit highlights instances where OpenAI’s technology, specifically GPT-4, replicated significant portions of Times articles, including in-depth investigative reports. These outputs, alleged by the Times to contain verbatim excerpts from their content, raise concerns about the ethical and legal boundaries of using copyrighted material for AI model training without proper authorization or compensation.

The legal action taken by the Times follows attempts to engage in discussions with Microsoft and OpenAI, aiming to address concerns about the use of its intellectual property. Despite these efforts, negotiations failed to reach a resolution that would ensure fair compensation for the use of the Times’ content while promoting responsible AI development that benefits society.

In the midst of this legal battle, the broader questions surrounding the responsible and ethical utilization of copyrighted material in advancing technological innovations come to the forefront.

The dispute between the Times, OpenAI, and Microsoft serves as a significant case study in navigating the intricate intersection of technological progress and safeguarding intellectual property rights in the digital age.

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‘The Bill Gates Problem’ – The Case Against World’s Richest Man

The Case Against World’s Richest Man

When Clinton assumed the presidency of the United States, there was eager anticipation from the Chinese, not for Clinton himself, but for Bill Gates. This was during the late 1990s, a period when the internet was still in its nascent stages, and the digital boom of the early 2000s had not yet reached its peak. The enigmatic persona that captivated the attention of the burgeoning Asian powerhouse is now portrayed in “The Bill Gates Problem” as a “domineering, brusque figure” whose demeanor is likened to “a cauldron of passions that freely erupts.” According to a former employee cited in the book, Gates was perceived as “a complete and utter jerk to people 70% of the time,” while the remaining 30% saw him as a “harmless, enjoyable, exceptionally intelligent nerd.”

The 1990s were also the decade of the conflict between Microsoft and the now defunct Netscape browser, which challenged what was already being openly described as the former’s monopolistic practices. Gates was investigated and accused in Congress for such practices; he ultimately won the battle, but the case harmed his reputation, and in 2000 he resigned as CEO of his company. From there he undertook an expansion of the foundation that he had established with his wife and to which he has dedicated his main efforts in the last two decades. In 2006, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation received the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.

With a personal fortune of $100 billion and tens of billions more in his private foundation, Gates has been one of the richest men in the world for decades, and the foundation has been the most generous organization of its kind, specializing above all in health aid, education and child nutrition, with a large presence in Africa and India among other regions of what was formerly known as the Third World. Tim Schwab, a contributor to the weekly left-wing newspaper The Nation, undertook a detailed investigation to denounce something that in truth was already known: that American foundations are largely a way for billionaires to avoid taxes.

To prove this, he thoroughly looked into the accounts and procedures of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the failures and occasional successes of its philanthropic policies, and came to the conclusion that behind this facade of help to the needy hides an operation of power. He is ruthless in his criticism, although accurate in his analysis of the growing inequality in the world. Absorbed by the revolutionary rhetoric, he laments that the Gates Foundation has remained “deadly silent” regarding movements such as Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter, which demand social change in the face of the “excess wealth and ‘white savior’ mentality that drives Bill Gates’ philanthropic work.” He does attribute some good intentions, but his criticism is merciless, sometimes even coarse, while the absence of solutions for the problems he denounces — other than the calls for do-goodism — is frustrating.

His abilities as an investigative journalist are thus overshadowed by a somewhat naive militancy against the creative capitalism that Gates promotes and an evident intention to discredit not only his work but, above all, him. The demands he makes for transparency and the accusations of obscurity are dulled by the author himself in the pages he dedicates to Gates’ relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the famous corruptor of minors at the service of the international jet set. Gates has explained his meetings and interviews with him on countless occasions, and in no case has any type of relationship, other than their commercial relations or some confusing efforts to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, been proved. Still, Schwab raises, with no evidence whatsoever, the possibility that their relationship “could have had something to do with Epstein’s principal activities in life: sexual gratification and the exercise of power.” The book is full of this kind of opinions and speculations, to the detriment of a more serious analysis of Gates’ mistakes in the management of his foundation, the problems of shielding the intellectual property of vaccines in the hands of the pharmaceutical industries and, ultimately, the objective power that big technology companies have in global society.

He signed a collaboration agreement with the RAE to improve Microsoft’s grammar checker and was interested in the substantial unity of the Spanish language in all the countries where almost 600 million people speak it. That man was very far from the sexist, arrogant, miserable predator that Schwab portrays. Nor did we deduce — and this can be applied to the personal adventure of Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos — that his life’s goal was world domination, as suggested by this book. If they have achieved it, or may achieve it, it is due to the dynamics of digital civilization and the objective difficulties in governing it. The deregulation of financial capitalism, which has increased inequality among humankind, is due to the incompetence of obsolete political institutions and to leaders who care more about their own fates than those of their people. The criticism against “lame and wasteful government bureaucracies” might be part of the propaganda promoted by the world’s wealthy, but lately we have also heard it from small-scale farmers across Europe.

In conclusion, we found the book to be more entertaining than interesting. It provides a lot of information — we’re not sure if it’s entirely verified — and plenty of cheap ideology. Above all, one can see the personal crusade of the author, determined to prove that Bill Gates is a problem for democracy and that millionaire philanthropists are a bunch of swindlers. The world needs their money; maybe managed by party bureaucracies, that much is not clear. Bill Gates’ money, that is, but not Bill Gates himself.

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Conflicted History: ‘Oppenheimer’ And Its Impact On Los Alamos And New Mexico Downwinders

‘Oppenheimer’ And Its Impact On Los Alamos And New Mexico Downwinders

The Voice Of EU | In the highly anticipated blockbuster movie, “Oppenheimer,” the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man behind the first atomic bomb, is portrayed as a riveting tale of triumph and tragedy.

As the film takes center stage, it also brings to light the often-overlooked impacts on a community living downwind from the top-secret Manhattan Project testing site in southern New Mexico.

A Forgotten Legacy

While the film industry and critics praise “Oppenheimer,” a sense of frustration prevails among the residents of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin, who continue to grapple with the consequences of the Manhattan Project. Tina Cordova, a cancer survivor and founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, expresses their feelings, stating, “They invaded our lives and our lands and then they left,” referring to the scientists and military personnel who conducted secret experiments over 200 miles away from their community.

The Consortium, alongside organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, has been striving to raise awareness about the impact of the Manhattan Project on New Mexico’s population. Advocates emphasize the necessity of acknowledging the human cost of the Trinity Test, the first atomic blast, and other nuclear weapons activities that have affected countless lives in the state.

The Ongoing Struggle for Recognition

As film enthusiasts celebrate the drama and brilliance of “Oppenheimer,” New Mexico downwinders feel overlooked by both the U.S. government and movie producers. The federal government’s compensation program for radiation exposure still does not include these affected individuals. The government’s selection of the remote and flat Trinity Test Site, without warning residents in the surrounding areas, further added to the controversy.

Living off the land, the rural population in the Tularosa Basin had no idea that the fine ash settling on their homes and fields was a result of the world’s first atomic explosion.

The government initially attempted to cover up the incident, attributing the bright light and rumble to an explosion at a munitions dump. It was only after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan weeks later that New Mexico residents realized the magnitude of what they had witnessed.

Tracing the Fallout

According to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, large amounts of radiation were released into the atmosphere during the Trinity Test, with fallout descending over a vast area. Some of the fallout reached as far as the Atlantic Ocean, but the greatest concentration settled approximately 30 miles from the test site.

Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

The consequences of this catastrophic event have affected generations of New Mexicans, who still await recognition and justice for the harm caused by nuclear weapons.

A Tale of Contrasts: Los Alamos and the Legacy of Oppenheimer

As the film’s spotlight shines on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a contrasting narrative unfolds in Los Alamos, more than 200 miles north of the Tularosa Basin. Los Alamos stands as a symbol of Oppenheimer’s legacy, housing one of the nation’s premier national laboratories and boasting the highest percentage of people with doctorate degrees in the U.S.

Oppenheimer’s influence is evident throughout Los Alamos, with a street bearing his name and an IPA named in his honor at a local brewery. The city embraces its scientific legacy, showcasing his handwritten notes and ID card in a museum exhibit. Los Alamos National Laboratory employees played a significant role in the film, contributing as extras and engaging in enlightening discussions during breaks.

The “Oppenheimer” Movie

Director Christopher Nolan’s perspective on the Trinity Test and its profound impact is evident in his approach to “Oppenheimer.” He has described the event as an extraordinary moment in human history and expressed his desire to immerse the audience in the pivotal moment when the button was pushed. Nolan’s dedication to bringing historical accuracy and emotional depth to the screen is evident as he draws inspiration from Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

For Nolan, Oppenheimer’s story is a potent blend of dreams and nightmares, capturing the complexity and consequences of the Manhattan Project. As the film reaches global audiences, it also offers a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the downwinders in New Mexico, whose lives were forever altered by the legacy of nuclear weapons testing.

The Oppenheimer Festival and Beyond

Los Alamos is determined to use the Oppenheimer Festival as an opportunity to educate visitors about the true stories behind the film’s events. The county’s “Project Oppenheimer” initiative, launched in early 2023, encompasses forums, documentaries, art installations, and exhibits that delve into the scientific contributions of the laboratory and the social implications of the Manhattan Project.

A special area during the festival will facilitate discussions about the movie, fostering a deeper understanding of the community’s history. The county aims to continue revisiting and discussing the legacy of the Manhattan Project, ensuring that the impact of this pivotal moment in history is never forgotten.

As “Oppenheimer” takes audiences on an emotional journey, it serves as a reminder that every historical event carries with it complex and multifaceted implications. The movie may celebrate the scientific achievements of the past, but it also illuminates the urgent need to recognize and address the human cost that persists to this day.

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