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Bossing it: why the women of big tech are taking over the small screen | Television

In the jaw-dropping saga of disgraced health-tech entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, there was one aspect that attracted most of the public’s attention: her voice.

Despite lying about her “revolutionary” pin-prick blood test technology that failed to work, then duping her patients with false diagnoses (she was convicted of four counts of defrauding investors earlier this year) it was her appearance – the Steve Jobs-esque black turtleneck jumpers and signature red lipstick – and her deep baritone, masculine-affected voice that people really zoned in on. So when The Dropout, the TV adaptation of Holmes’s life story – based on Rebecca Jarvis’s 2019 podcast of the same name – was first announced with Amanda Seyfried in the lead role, the internet was abuzz. Would Seyfried do “the voice”?

Yes, as it turns out. But while this vocal affectation might have been a joke to social media, to Melissa, who has worked in the upper management of a big tech company for the past 20 years, it’s something that rings true.

“I have absolutely lived that,” Melissa – who, like all the women in tech interviewed for this article, asked for anonymity – says. “When I want to be heard at my work, I have to talk slower and deeper. If you hit too high of a pitch, they [the men] don’t hear you. If I don’t think my voice will be listened to, I’ll call a male colleague, one of my allies, prior to the meeting and say: ‘Hey, I’m going to ping you in the background, say this when I tell you to.’ They’ll be my voice.”

With the news agenda for the past decade being full of the ethically dubious behaviour of some of the male leaders of the tech world, scant attention has been paid to the women in the industry, who make up just 19% of the tech workforce in the UK. The same is true reflected in pop culture. While the Tech Bro villain is now a well-worn trope in everything from the recent Matrix reboot to Succession and the video game send-up Free Guy, and we’ve had multiple portrayals of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, there’s been hardly any representation of women in tech on the small screen. With a smattering of comedy roles of women working lower down the tech chain (the brilliantly sarky Dobby from Peep Show or blagger Jen from The IT Crowd) to women actually making power moves in the industry (riot grrrl programmer Cameron in Halt and Catch Fire or whistleblower coder Nanette in the Black Mirror episode USS Callister), stories of women in tech have historically been as rare as a female CEO in Palo Alto.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, subject of upcoming HBO drama Doomsday Machine.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, subject of upcoming HBO drama Doomsday Machine. Photograph: John Lee/The Guardian

However, this year, TV’s gaze is finally turning to the female power-players of Silicon Valley. Alongside The Dropout, dramatisations of Sheryl Sandberg’s role as COO of Facebook (to be played by Claire Foy in Doomsday Machine) and Arianna Huffington’s position on the board at Uber (Uma Thurman, in Showtime’s Super Pumped) will hit the screen later in 2022.

The onscreen depiction of these highly ambitious – some say ruthless – women will be drawn from the books that have inspired the series: Sandberg is “a master manager and delegator … who felt she was put on this planet to scale organisations” (from Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang’s An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination); while Huffington leads with “charm and persuasiveness” (as per Super Pumped’s author, Mike Isaac). But do these representations reflect what it’s really like for women working in Big Tech?

Ex-Spotify employee Simone explains: “I think what links these women – and most women in the industry – is that you’ve got to be smart, strategic and driven, as it’s a very tough environment.

“The big six [Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft] are where everyone wants to work and the returns are huge – you get a big salary and with all the equity … I feel like working in tech is the new banking, especially with all the shares – if you join a startup at the right time you can make millions.”

Therese, who works for Facebook (now rebranded Meta), agrees: “There are unbelievable benefits to working at Facebook, the salary for starters. But really, I’m interested in being part of something that’s connected to the future, however potentially damaging that future might be. There’s something very interesting about being part of that conversation.”

It has taken so long to tell the women’s stories, Simone believes, for the simple fact that it’s still an anomaly for women to be high up in big tech companies. Someone such as Holmes is a “unicorn” in a double meaning: both in the tech sense (her company Theranos became a startup with a potential valuation of $1bn); and because, as a female founder, she was as rare as the mythical beast. Her ability to talk the talk was proved by her – mainly older, male – investors, who included Rupert Murdoch, Larry Ellison and George Schultz, elevating her to a role few women have ever experienced in the industry.

“I’m not exactly sure why there are so few female founders,” Simone wonders. “But in this culture it’s all about risk. Building a product is a risk, joining a startup is a risk and maybe as women we want more safety in our careers?”

Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy in Succession.
Female-washing? … Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy in Succession. Photograph: HBO/David M Russell

Slogans such as “Move fast – break things!” and “Be brave!” line the walls at Facebook but, in reality, women are rarely permitted to exhibit those types of behaviour. To be seen as impulsive or demanding perfection as a man in big tech is to be lauded – creative genius at work here! – but they’re often seen as negative qualities in a woman, who would be thought of as unreliable and branded “bossy”.

In Simone’s experience, even in Spotify – a company founded in Sweden, where there is a big push for gender equality – women are still fighting to get a look in higher up the chain: “In most of the inner circles, it’s still always men who are CEO or CFO, and the token woman is head of HR or chief of operations. Women aren’t decision-making on company strategy or direction, they’re in nurturing, people-facing roles. Even Arianna [Huffington] came into Uber to clean up culture and operations.”

“Oh fuck, yes, it’s still a total boys’ club,” says Melissa. “The worst are the men who think they’re enlightened but when it comes down to it they’re not. It’s not my job to teach you how to be the good guy. Go and get training! Go and figure out your own unconscious bias!”

After #MeToo, there seems to have been a concerted effort by tech companies to put women in higher positions. This can sometimes come across as “female-washing” of problematic brands, says Francesca Sobande, a lecturer in digital media studies at Cardiff University. “That’s not to suggest that I think the appointment of women in certain roles in big tech is solely based on their gender identity in any way, but I do think that organisations are hyper-aware of what it means when a woman becomes a figurehead of a company that is typically associated with male-dominated spaces.”

Kerry Bishé and Mackenzie Davis in Halt and Catch Fire.
Tech savvy … Kerry Bishé and Mackenzie Davis in Halt and Catch Fire. Photograph: Tina Rowden/AMC

We have seen this on TV, she adds, through storylines such as Shiv Roy in Succession, brought in to chair a Waystar Royco conference to soothe shareholders’ worries about the company’s sexual misconduct issues, or when she obsequiously tries to be an ally to Gerri over those dick pics sent by her brother Roman, in what’s really a bid to take him down instead.

“[In] a show like Succession there is a risk sometimes that these sorts of conversations overlook the agency of women,” says Sobande. “A character like Shiv knows exactly what she’s doing when she’s making certain decisions that relate to the optics of gender and power.

“It’s important when thinking about these things to always acknowledge the agency of women within this, and what it means for a woman to sometimes knowingly participate in or be complicit in these types of power dynamics that oppress other women.”

This oppression of other women is seen offscreen, too, Therese says: “I’ve definitely experienced women trying to emulate the men of Silicon Valley. I’ve seen some terrible things, and it can really crush you.”

Therese remembers one senior woman who was manipulative and “should not have been in power”. “If I’m being kind about it, it was probably her reaction to the highly competitive system. The pressure of being constantly reviewed in the six-monthly 360 reviews – where overtime is encouraged and your bonus is based on it – it starts to affect how you feel about yourself, as a person, and it affects everything. It starts to influence your feelings about your self-identity and self-worth. It’s a massively, massively entrenched system.”

What is telling in previous TV representations of women in tech, says Sobande, is what is overlooked, from the fact that these stories are all solely focused on white women to them not including “a critique of the power dynamics and the often oppressive capitalist structure that they’re implicated in”.

For those few “unicorns’’ who make it through to the top in Silicon Valley, it might feel like a hollow victory, given the accusations that many of these companies are entrenched in ethically questionable behaviour – manipulating users’ emotions; allowing conspiracy theories to spread – in the name of profit. Sobande adds: “In some pop culture portrayals we see confusion for a representation of any woman in a position of power with it symbolising some form of feminism. With these upcoming series, I’m intrigued to what extent we’re going to see this ‘girlboss’ narrative coming through, and whether or not there’s going to be [an implication of] a feminist sentiment to any of what is depicted.”

Simone also wonders if we can ever square the dichotomy of working for certain corporations that appear to be morally bankrupt yet claim to empower women: “I’m so interested to see Doomsday Machine because of the juxtaposition of Facebook’s morals and Sheryl [Sandberg]’s heavy messaging about women ‘leaning in’ [the concept at the centre of Sandberg’s bestselling 2013 nonfiction book]. I want to get into her psyche about how you balance those two things: promoting women but in a company that does so much destruction. But it’s not just her. I think sometimes women are the ones who are expected to be the ethical ones in the industry.

“I’m fascinated by it.” As are those of us outside big tech, too.

Some names have been changed. The Dropout airs from 3 March on Disney+ in the UK and Hulu in the US. Super Pumped airs in the US from 27 February on Showtime, with a UK broadcaster still TBC.

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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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