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Irish Actor Ray Stevenson, Of ‘Rome’ And ‘Thor’ Movies, Dies At 58




Ray Stevenson, the Irish actor most known for his roles as the wicked British governor in “RRR,” an Asgardian warrior in the “Thor” movie, and a member of the 13th Legion in HBO’s “Rome,” has died. He was 58.

Stevenson’s representatives told The Associated Press that he died on Sunday but had no additional facts to give on Monday.

Stevenson was born in 1964 in Lisburn. After completing the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and working in British television for several years, he made his film debut in Paul Greengrass’ 1998 feature “The Theory of Flight.” In 2004, he played a knight of the round table in Antoine Fuqua’s “King Arthur,” he later played the protagonist in the pre-Disney Marvel adaptation “Punisher: War Zone.”

Though “Punisher” received mixed reviews, he’d get another taste of Marvel in the first three “Thor” films when he played Volstagg. Other notable film roles include “Divergent,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” and “The Transporter: Refuelled.”

Stevenson, a 6-foot-4 imposing presence who has portrayed his share of soldiers past and present, once stated in an interview, “I guess I’m an old warrior at heart.”

On television, he played the roguish Titus Pullo in “Rome,” a role that launched his career in the United States and earned him a SAG card at 44. The popular series aired between 2005 and 2007.


Representatives told The Associated Press that he died on Sunday but had no additional facts to give on Monday.

That was one of the major years of my life,” Stevenson recalled in an interview. “It forced me to sit in my own skin and say, just do the job.” “The job is sufficient.”

According to Brian Lowery’s Variety review of “Rome,” “the imposing Stevenson certainly stands out as a brawling, whoring, and none-too-bright warrior — a force of nature who, despite his excesses, somehow keeps landing on his feet.”

He played Blackbeard in Starz’s “Black Sails,” Commander Jack Swinburne in Germany’s “Das Boot,” and Othere in “Vikings.”

Stevenson also appeared as Gar Saxon in “Star Wars Rebels” and “The Clone Wars,” and will play Baylan Skoll in the upcoming Star Wars live-action series “Ahsoka.” The eight-episode season is scheduled to premiere on Disney+ in August.

Stevenson told Backstage in 2020 that his acting idols were “the likes of Lee Marvin (and) Gene Hackman.”

“Never a bad performance, and brave and fearless within that calibre,” observed Stevenson. “It was never the young, hot leading man; it was men who I could identify with.”

Stevenson has three boys with Elisabetta Caraccia, an Italian anthropologist whom he met while working on “Rome.”


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2023: Nvidia Signals How Artificial Intelligence Could Reshape Technology Sector




WASHINGTON — The U.S. Shares of Nvidia, already one of the most valuable businesses in the world, soared Thursday after the chipmaker forecasted a massive increase in revenue, indicating how dramatically the expanding use of artificial intelligence might transform the computer sector.

After a 25% rise in early trade, the California corporation is on its way to joining the exclusive club of $1 trillion companies like Alphabet, Apple, and Microsoft.

The developer of graphics chips for gaming and artificial intelligence posted a quarterly profit of more than $2 billion and revenue of $7 billion late Wednesday, above Wall Street projections.

However, Wall Street was caught off stride by its projections for $11 billion in sales this quarter. It’s a 64% increase over the same period last year and far above the $7.2 billion industry analysts predicted.

“It appears that the new gold rush has begun, and NVIDIA is selling all the picks and shovels,” wrote Susquehanna Financial Group’s Christopher Rolland and Matt Myers on Thursday.

Chipmakers throughout the world were dragged along. Taiwan Semiconductor increased by 3.5%, while SK Hynix in South Korea rose by 5%. ASML, situated in the Netherlands, increased by 4.8%.


The U.S. Shares of Nvidia are already one of the most valuable businesses in the world.

Jensen Huang, creator and CEO of Nvidia, stated that the world’s data centers require a makeover due to the transformation that AI technology will bring.

“The world’s $1 trillion data center is nearly entirely populated by (central processing NVIDIA units) today,” Huang remarked. “And $1 trillion, $250 billion a year, it’s growing, but over the last four years, call it $1 trillion in infrastructure installed, and it’s all based on CPUs and dumb NICs.” It is essentially unaccelerated.”

AI chips are intended to conduct artificial intelligence NVIDIA tasks more quickly and efficiently. While general-purpose processors, such as CPUs, can be utilized for lesser AI activities, they are “becoming less and less useful as AI advances,” according to 2020 research from Georgetown University’s Centre for Security and Emerging Technology.

“Because of their unique features, AI chips are tens or even thousands of times faster and more efficient than CPUs for training and inference of AI algorithms,” the paper continues, saying that AI chips can also be more cost-effective than CPUs because of their higher efficiency.

According to analysts, Nvidia could be an early indicator of how AI will impact the tech sector.

“Last night, Nvidia gave jaw-dropping robust guidance that will be heard around the world and shows the historical demand for AI happening now in the enterprise and consumer landscape,” stated Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. “We would point any investor calling this an AI bubble to this Nvidia quarter, particularly guidance, which cements our bullish thesis around AI and speaks to the 4th Industrial Revolution now on the horizon with AI.”


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China Defends Ban On US Chipmaker Micron in 2023




BEIJING, China – The Chinese government defended its restriction on using components from US memory chipmaker Micron Technology Inc. in some computer systems on Wednesday after Washington raised concern, escalating tensions over technology and security.

The security examination of Micron products was “conducted in accordance with the law,” according to Mao Ning, a foreign ministry official.

On Sunday, the Chinese Cyberspace Administration stated that Micron goods pose unspecified security threats but provided no further details. It barred them from using computers that handled sensitive data.

This came after the United States, Japan, and the Netherlands barred China’s access to advanced processor chip technology on security grounds, at a time when the governing Communist Party is threatening to attack Taiwan and is becoming more belligerent towards its Asian neighbors.

China’s cybersecurity review does not target any specific countries or regions,” Mao explained. “We do not exclude technologies and products from any country.”

Supply disruptions and missed sales revenue have harmed businesses on both sides.

Washington and its allies’ restrictions on access to chips and methods for making them deter China’s ambitions to create its semiconductor sector. Potential sales to Chinese smartphone makers, chip foundries, and other clients have cost US vendors billions.


The Chinese government defended its restriction on using components from US memory chipmaker Micron Technology Inc.

Mao said the US had put security limitations on over 1,200 Chinese enterprises “without any factual basis.” She accused Washington of exploiting national security to “unreasonably suppress Chinese companies.”

“This is economic coercion, and it is unacceptable,” Mao declared.

According to State Department spokeswoman Matthew Miller, the US administration is “engaging directly” with Beijing to “make our view clear” on the Micron embargo.

“We have very serious concerns,” Miller added. He stated of China, “This action appears inconsistent with the PRC’s assertions that it is open for business and committed to a transparent regulatory framework.”

According to Micron’s chief financial officer, Mark Murphy, the company would work with the Chinese authorities to assess the ban’s impact.

“We remain unclear as to what security concerns exist,” Murphy said during a JP Morgan technology industry conference call. “We have received no customer complaints about the security of our products.”

According to Murphy, Micron expects to lose sales similar to a single-digit percentage of total revenue, but the exact figure will depend on which customers and products are affected.


The Chinese government defended its restriction on using components from US memory chipmaker Micron Technology Inc.

Foreign Minister Qin Gang urged his Dutch counterpart on Tuesday for access to chipmaking technology that has been restricted for security reasons.

China requires a machine that uses ultraviolet light to etch minuscule circuits on next-generation chips and is only available from one Dutch manufacturer, ASML Holding NV. Without it, the ruling party’s aspirations to build semiconductors for cellphones, artificial intelligence, and other cutting-edge applications will be hampered.

“China has serious concerns about this,” Qin said. “We should work together to jointly protect the normal trade order between us” and “keep global industrial and supply chains stable.”

Wopke Hoekstra, the Dutch minister, stated that he “shared our national security concerns” but provided no indication that his government’s position had altered.


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Meta Fined Record $1.3 Billion And Ordered To Stop Sending European User Data To US




LONDON, England – The European Union smacked Meta with a record $1.3 billion privacy punishment on Monday and ordered it to stop sending customers’ personal information across the Atlantic by October, the latest salvo in a decade-long case started by concerns about US cyber snooping.

The 1.2 billion euro penalty is the largest since the EU’s rigorous data privacy law was enacted five years ago, exceeding Amazon’s 746 million euro charge for data protection infringement in 2021.

Meta, which had earlier warned that services for its European consumers could be cut off, has vowed to appeal and ask courts to halt the judgment immediately.

According to the business, “there is no immediate disruption to Facebook in Europe.” The decision pertains to user data such as names, email and IP addresses, messages, viewing history, geolocation data, and other information used by Meta and other internet behemoths such as Google for targeted online advertising.

“This decision is flawed, unjustified, and sets a dangerous precedent for the countless other companies transferring data between the EU and the U.S.,” said Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, and chief legal officer Jennifer Newstead, in a statement.

It’s the latest twist in a legal saga that began in 2013 when Austrian lawyer and privacy activist Max Schrems filed a complaint about Facebook’s handling of his data in the aftermath of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by US security agencies. This includes the revelation that Facebook gave agencies access to Europeans’ data.

The issue has highlighted the differences between Europe’s stringent approach to data protection and the more loose framework in the United States, which lacks federal privacy legislation. With a succession of legislation requiring them to police their platforms more closely and protect users’ personal information, the EU has been a global leader in limiting Big Tech’s power.

The EU’s top court threw down the Privacy Shield deal, which covered EU-US data transfers, in 2020, saying it didn’t do enough to shield people from the US government’s electronic probing. The judgment on Monday found that legal stock contracts, another instrument for governing data transfers, were also unconstitutional.

Last year, Brussels and Washington agreed on a revised Privacy Shield that Meta might utilize, but the agreement is awaiting a decision from European officials on whether it effectively safeguards data privacy.


EU authorities have reviewed the pact, and the bloc’s lawmakers this month urged for revisions, claiming that the safeguards are insufficient Meta.

The fine was imposed by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, which serves as Meta’s principal privacy regulator in the EU’s 27-nation bloc, due to the Silicon Valley tech giant’s European headquarters being in Dublin.

The Irish watchdog said it gave Meta five months to stop sending European user data to the US and six months to bring its data operations into compliance “by ceasing the unlawful processing, including storage, in the US” of personal data transferred in violation of the EU’s privacy rules.

In other words, Meta must remove all that data, which may be a greater concern than the punishment, according to Johnny Ryan, a senior fellow at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, a nonprofit rights organization focused on digital and data issues.

“This order to delete data is causing Meta a lot of grief,” Ryan explained. “It is very difficult to see how it will be able to comply with that order” if the business is required to scrub data for hundreds of millions of European Union users dating back ten years.

If a new transatlantic privacy agreement takes effect before the deadlines, “our services can continue as they do today without any disruption or impact on users,” according to Meta.

Schrems projected that Meta would have “no real chance” of having the verdict overturned. And according to him, a new privacy treaty may not be the last of Meta’s problems because it is likely to be overturned by the EU’s top court.

“Meta intends to rely on the new agreement for transfers in the future, but this is unlikely to be a long-term solution,” Schrems said. “Unless and until U.S. surveillance laws are changed, Meta will most likely have to keep EU data in the EU.”


Schrems suggested a “federated” social network in which European data is kept in Meta’s European data centers “unless users, for example, chat with a U.S. friend.”

In its most recent earnings report, Meta cautioned that if there is no legal basis for data transfers, it will be compelled to stop supplying its products and services in Europe, “which would materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.”

If the transfers are eventually halted, the social media business may undergo a costly and difficult overhaul of its processes. According to its website, Meta has a fleet of 21 data centers. However, 17 of them are in the United States. Denmark, Ireland, and Sweden are the other three European countries. Another is located in Singapore.

Other social media behemoths are under scrutiny for their data practices. TikTok has attempted to assuage Western concerns about the Chinese-owned short video-sharing app’s potential cybersecurity hazards by announcing a $1.5 billion proposal to store user data in the United States on Oracle servers.


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