Clean Power Push Set To Upend The Geopolitics Of Energy

The global push for clean power generation and increased electrification in transportation is creating a new world order in energy where new winners and losers may emerge.

If the world moves toward predominantly renewable energy sources, the influence of a small number of oil-producing petrostates concentrated in a conflict-prone region is set to wane. At the same time, new power players will emerge, analysts say. These will be the countries holding reserves of the key energy transition minerals or hosting sites for the production of batteries, solar panels, and such with interconnectors for export and import of electricity.

In a world described by the International Energy Agency’s bombshell report from last week—in which it was explained that no new investment in oil and gas is needed, ever, if we are to achieve net-zero emissions in 2050—the energy warfare and the war for resources could shift from large-scale conflicts about oil to potential conflicts about electricity supply, including via cyber warfare. 

Cyberattacks On Electricity Grids Could Intensify

America just got a glimpse of what a cyberattack could do to its energy supply. Although no electricity grids were targeted in the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, the cyberattack on computer systems cut off supply of the main fossil-fuel product used in the United States as it stopped gasoline shipments to the Eastern Seaboard.

As the share of electricity in the global energy mix is set to grow exponentially in the coming decades, along with digitalization of operations and asset monitoring, the new threat to energy supply may not be a skirmish or a full-blown conflict near the Strait of Hormuz in the Middle East. It could be state-sponsored cyberattacks on electricity grids, Amy Myers Jaffe, a research professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, argues in an article in The Wall Street Journal.

The higher the digitalization and the adoption of the Internet of Things and Industrial Internet of Things in electricity grids and supply, the more chances hackers—including such backed by governments—could get to target parts of the networks,…


Internal docs reveal project ‘Columbus’, Apple’s huge push to improve App Review

New internal documents filed as part of the Epic Games vs Apple trial have revealed Apple made a huge push in 2015 to improve its app review process for the App Store dubbed project ‘Columbus’.

Apple’s Trystan Kosmynka was asked about Columbus during day five of the trial, describing it as a move to “heavily invest in App Review automation and efficiency.”

In a presentation from late 2015 seen by iMore, Apple spoke about to the need to automate app review, making the process more efficient. The presentation begins with a quote from Pinterest’s Mike Beltzner that states anything Apple could do to reduce review times “would be perhaps the single most impactful change to our ability to ship great apps.”

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Apple highlighted that at the time it was receiving more than 60,000 submissions a week from 155 different countries and 24 different app categories. Apple listed a staggering 910 different types of rejection reasons given for apps. Notes from the presentation state:

Here’s the problem, the volume is immense and continues to grow. The complexity is insane… 155 countries and 910 different types rejection reasons today. They are looked at manually everytime starting from scratch and by different people (inconsistent). And all of this results in an SLA longer than developers should expect and even worse creates a great deal of anxiety and ill will between Apple and developers.

The presentation notes that in 2015 Apple recognized there were a “ton of scam apps” in the App Store, as noted by reviews. The goal of Columbus was to tackle this, reducing the number of manual reviews and the perceived review time for developers whilst improving quality and consistency.

The presentation highlights some big impact areas such as the top ten reasons for rejection. For example, 14% of apps were rejected because more information was needed, the biggest single reason for rejection. Apps were also rejected for exhibiting bugs (10%), having poor interfaces, crashing, and more.

The notes reveal 60% of app review submissions were updates rather than new apps, and that 20% were the stock ‘bug fixes and performance’ updates that really…


Government and industry push bitcoin regulation to fight ransomware

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Government and industry officials confronting an epidemic of ransomware, where hackers freeze the computers of a target and demand a payoff, are zeroing in on cryptocurrency regulation as the key to combating the scourge, sources familiar with the work of a public-private task force said.

In a report on Thursday, the panel of experts is expected to call for far more aggressive tracking of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. While those have won greater acceptance among investors over the past year, they remain the lifeblood of ransomware operators and other criminals who face little risk of prosecution in much of the world.

Ransomware gangs collected almost $350 million last year, up threefold from 2019, two members of the task force wrote this week. Companies, government agencies, hospitals and school systems are among the victims of ransomware groups, some of which U.S. officials say have friendly relations with nation-states including North Korea and Russia.

“There’s a lot more that can be done to constrain the abuse of these pretty amazing technologies,” said Philip Reiner, chief executive of the Institute for Security and Technology, who led the Ransomware Task Force. He declined to comment on the report before its release.

Just a week ago, the U.S. Department of Justice established a government group on ransomware. Central bank regulators and financial crime investigators worldwide are also debating if and how cryptocurrencies should be regulated.

The new rules proposed by the public-private panel, some of which would need Congressional action, are mostly aimed at piercing the anonymity of cryptocurrency transactions, the sources said. If implemented, they could temper enthusiasm among those who see the cryptocurrencies as a refuge from national monetary policies and government oversight of individuals’ financial activities, having surged past $1 trillion in total capitalization.

The task force included representatives from the FBI and the United States Secret Service as well as major tech and security companies. It will recommend steps such as extending “know-your-customer” regulations to currency exchanges; imposing tougher licensing requirements for those processing…


BILL CRAWFORD — Biloxi legislators push innovative learning in schools | MS Business Journal

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Incessant innovation is the key to economic growth suggested Martin Wolf in The Financial Times. “Historical experience confirms that growth is a race to the top,” he wrote. “It means exploiting new opportunities that generate enduring advantages in high-productivity sectors and so high wages.”

Could this have meaning for Mississippi? And what role, if any, should government play?

Yes. And government does have a role Wolf said, drawing from “Windows of Opportunity” by David Sainsbury.

“There are four possible strategies towards innovation: leave it to the market; support the supply of relevant factors of production (science and skilled people); support key industries and technologies; and pick specific firms/technologies/products.” According to Sainsbury Wolf said, “that governments should do the second and third, but not the last.”

They may not have read Wolf’s essay or Sainsbury’s book, but two Biloxi legislators have bought into the notions that Mississippi needs science and skilled people to spur innovative economic growth and that government has a role in providing that.

Sen. Scott Delano and Rep. Kevin Felsher introduced bills to require “the study of computers, algorithmic processes, coding and logical thinking, including computer principles, their hardware and software designs, their implementation and their impact on society” in all K-12 schools. The House and Senate both passed similar versions of the Mississippi Computer Science And Cyber Education Equality Act. Felsher said he expected the House to concur with a Senate technical amendment which would assure final passage. The bill would then go to the Governor for final approval.