AI in Art: What Does It Mean?

Far from being distant, the points of encounter and collaboration between art and artificial intelligence are increasingly numerous. In addition to changing the concept of who can produce art and providing new ways to practice it, artificial intelligence is indeed a new way to approach and study the aesthetic experience, making it even more engaging and participatory. 

Emotional Intelligence
At Stanford University a team of researchers has taught computers to recognize not only what objects are present in an image, but how those same images make people feel, creating algorithms with “emotional intelligence”. The group of scientists has developed an algorithm called ArtEmis, which is based on 81 thousand WikiArt paintings, supported by 440 thousand responses collected from over 6,500 participants who have evaluated each painting based on the emotion felt in the fruition, also providing a brief explanation of the emotional reaction chosen.
Using these responses, the team trained the algorithm to classify a painting into one of eight emotional categories – from astonishment to amusement, from fear to sadness. The algorithm, trained in this way, can analyze a new image that it has never seen, classifying it based on the emotion a viewer might feel in front of it. Moreover, it doesn’t just capture the full emotional experience of an image, it can also decipher different emotions within the painting.

When AI is the artist
In the field of computer learning, we define Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN), a couple of neural networks that are trained to compete against each other. One is called generator and has the task of producing new data, the other discriminator and learns how to distinguish them from those artificially created.
Through this dialogue, a GAN is able to process an impressive amount of data, escaping human control, with completely unexpected results. It is possible to use GANs, for example, to create absolutely realistic photographs of people who do not exist, starting from an adequate number of real images. 
In October 2018, for example, an artwork by Edmond de Belamy, created with the help of an AI algorithm, sold at auction for $432,500 at Christie’s auction house. According to Christie’s, the portrait had been created through the use of Artificial Intelligence. To create a portrait of Edmond de Belamy 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th and 20th centuries were entered into the system. The two networks did the rest.
Moreover, there are several experimental platforms – such as Artbreeder, for example – that make this process possible for anyone who wants to try their hand at it. A sort of “collaborative” artistic tool, open source and accessible to anyone, to create new images by themselves through algorithms made available to users. 

Works classification
But artificial intelligence can also be useful in classifying works by artist, genre, and style. As more and more works of art become digitized, teaching computers to classify art is enough to assist museum staff in performing these tasks.
Researchers at Zhejiang University of Technology, in China, recently published a paper on this topic, testing seven different algorithm models on three different groups of artworks and comparing the performance of individuals, in classifying the works, when using such a tool or not. According to the article, the neural network models and computer vision techniques used provided state-of-the-art and highly refined results. 

Netflix reports first loss in subscribers in more than a decade

Recently the news of the streaming giant Netflix recording a 200k subscribers’ loss in the first quarter of 2022 hit the public, and it caused a storm of opinions and forecasts for the future of the company. 

Along with the drop in subscribers, Netflix’s stock fell 35%, revealing the uneasiness of shareholders regarding the halt in growth. The company justified the issue stating that the root of the problem was that users shared their password with non-paying viewers. 

It was hinted at a possible strategy to minimize the harm caused by free riders through new paid sharing plans, currently implemented in Chile, Peru and Costa Rica.

It’s no secret that the market for streaming in the latest years has been pretty much saturated: Prime Video, Disney, Apple, Hulu are among the biggest; it is now harder for Netflix to penetrate new markets due to their presence, and many users may choose to switch no newer platforms or those that satisfy their needs best.

It’s relevant to remember that Netflix also had to cut the service in Russia because of the war against Ukraine: this factor contributed to the negative figure. 

However, Netflix still counts 221.64 million subscribers, a figure that is predicted to grow in the long run.

So What About The Metaverse?

Few things have gone as viral lately as the word “metaverse”. The beginning was made by Facebook and its renaming to Meta, with Mark Zuckerberg clearly saying that the future of social media is in the metaverse, while a little later Microsoft followed with its announcements. However, the concept of the metaverse is not new, nor is it something that Facebook introduced, it just made the term popular. So what exactly is metaverse?

If the internet is something we look at on a screen, the metaverse is a version of the internet in which we are inside. There can be thousands or millions of different metaverse worlds. The idea is that we can move inside the metaverse as an avatar, a digital version of ourselves – in which we give characteristics of our liking – which we control as we explore the metaverse.

The metaverse is a spatial structure, a digital space of three dimensions, in contrast to the previous (current) version of the internet which is linear and 2D. But this does not necessarily mean that we have to talk about virtual reality, since it can also exist on a phone or a computer.

So what can you do in the metaverse? Exactly what you can do on the internet, just with a more immersive experience. You can work with colleagues at work, you can travel to exotic destinations, can play games, go out with your friends in a virtual bar; Activities have no limits.

There are already companies that sell user-customized avatars, which you can buy and explore on metaverse. The metaverse economy is already an existing concept and we are not only talking about buying and selling digital goods but also services. In an immersive environment such as that of the metaverse, there are needs for the avatar, such as a stylist for its appearance or even a decorator for its house. Companies are already selling branded clothes for avatars, while plots and houses are being bought for millions of dollars through cryptocurrencies.

Microsoft is developing a working environment in the metaverse, a version of Teams called Mesh, which is designed to work with a variety of different devices, taking collaboration to other levels. Colleagues can be in the same digital space, even if they are actually at home. Through the digital tools at their disposal they will be able to complete a task, seeing the same things in real-time.

The next step for the metaverse is to focus on the human senses. Companies are already developing accessories through which you can feel the digital world around you. Meta for example is developing a glove that will allow you to feel the object holding your avatar. Sensors measure the user’s movements and air below the surface of the glove inflates the fabric to create the illusion of touch.

In any case, the metaverse is here. This is not a science-fiction scenario, as the huge investments made by technology giants prove that it is not something ephemeral and that the future of the internet will be real. Are we ready for this future?

SpaceX: Space Economy Ventures and Interplanetary Spaceflight

The most common Idea has always been that governments and public institution were the only one who could implement explore and improve our knowledge and presence in Space but in the last decade, some other actor have started to take a leading role in the exploration of space and the discovery of new business opportunity as it’s documented today by the report of the “Space Foundation” which states that the global space economy, as of today, is estimated to be worth 420 billion dollars with an expansion of more than 70% since 2010.

One of the leading company in this area is SpaceX, an American aerospace manufacturer and a provider of space transportation services, it was founded in 2002 to revolutionize access to space and enable a multi-planetary society. 

CEO Elon Musk felt that in order to even consider creating a market for space travel and all the possible venture linked to Satellite and space, there was the need to dramatically reduce the cost of production of spacecraft. That’s when he decided to create SpaceX in order to design much cheaper but still reliable and efficient spacecraft that were able to leave the earth orbit, to do that he realized that he needed to reinvent what had been done before so he choose to take care of all of the stages of the production process inside of the company by applying vertical integration.

Today, SpaceX performs routine missions to space with its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles for a diverse set of customers, it provides support to NASA with the Dragon spacecraft by conducting cargo resupply and return missions to and from the International Space Station (ISS) and transporting crew to the ISS.

To offer competitive launch and resupply services, SpaceX has incorporated reusability into the Falcon and Dragon systems, which improves vehicle reliability while reducing cost. 

These are some of the spacecraft in Production: 

  • Falcon 9 is a reusable, two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond, it is the world’s first orbital class reusable rocket. Reusability allows SpaceX to refly the most expensive parts of the rocket, which in turn drives down the cost of space access.
  • The Dragon spacecraft is capable of carrying up to 7 passengers to and from Earth orbit, and beyond. It is the only spacecraft currently flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth, and is the first private spacecraft to take humans to the space station. In 2020, SpaceX returned America’s ability to fly NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station on American vehicles for the first time since 2011. In addition to flying astronauts to space for NASA, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft can also carry commercial astronauts to Earth orbit, the ISS or beyond like it did on the 9th of April 2022 when it took four civilians to the ISS, it was a breakthrough experience for which all of the crew member paid 55 million dollars.
  • SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket (collectively referred to as Starship) represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond. Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit.

STARLINK

One of the most ambitious project that is taking place at the company is the Starlink project, which is designed to deliver high-speed, broadband internet, even to places where access has been unreliable, too expensive, or completely unavailable using advanced satellites in a low orbit.

Starlink is ideally suited for areas where connectivity has been completely unavailable as it enables access to essential online services and resources for rural communities that have historically gone unserved by traditional internet service providers.

People across the globe are using Starlink to gain access to education, health services and even communications support during natural disasters or in case of emergency situations like we’ve witnessed during the war between Russia and Ukraine. It works by sending information through the vacuum of space, where it travels much faster than in fiber-optic cable and can reach far more people and places.

It consist in a constellation of multiple satellites that orbit the planet really close to Earth, at about 550km, and cover the entire globe.

Because of the fact that satellites are in a low orbit, the round-trip data time between the user and the satellite – also known as latency – is much lower than with satellites in geostationary orbit. 

This enables Starling to deliver services that are usually not provided due to the speed of the net on other satellite broadband systems.

As well as the high end quality of the Satellites it was possible to create such an effective service thanks to the technology that allowed some part of the spacecraft to be reused for several launch in order to be able to replace and update the satellites.

This is ultimately a game-changing technology as it will give to people who live in undeveloped country the possibility to be connected to the rest of the world and consequently have access to all the powerful tools related to the Internet, giving them an ulterior instrument to establish a regular and sustained growth from an Economic and Technological point of view

IN-EARTH TRAVEL

SpaceX is also getting serious about building “Ocean-based Spaceports” which can be used for a variety of missions.

Moreover they are essential in order to realize one of the next project of the company which is Intra-Earth Travel which sets as its goal to make it possible for people to travel anywhere on earth in less than one hour, as it is shown on the SpaceX website. 

This could drastically reshape humanity’s concepts of time and space.

LOS ANGELES TO NEW YORK3,983 km5 hours, 25 min.25 min
TOKYO TO SINGAPORE5,350 km7 hours, 10 min.28 min.
LONDON TO HONG KONG9,648 km11 hours, 50 min.34 min.

These flight will be supposed to take place on the Starship Rocket and they will be able to hold 1000 people, making it possible, according to “Space Review”, to book one of the spacecraft ticket for 1200$ which is not that much if you consider the price of  a similar  plane tickets nowadays.

INTERPLANETARY TRAVEL

First Private Lunar Mission “Dearmoon”In 2018, Billionaire Japanese entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa, announced the world’s first private passenger mission fly by the moon aboard starship.

Known as dearMoon, this mission is an important step toward enabling access for people who dream of traveling to space. 

The Japanese Billionaire purchased 9 seats for an undisclosed amount of money, he decided to keep one for himself  while giving away the 8 spots left to whoever wanted to take part in this mission for free. 

Applications were open to anyone and in order to decide who to take with him he made all the potential  applicant take a video of themselves while explaining the reason they wanted to go on this one week journey.

Unfortunately applications are now closed but we still don’t know who will take part to the mission.

The launch is expected to take place in 2023 and the member of the space-crew will become the first civilian on a lunar Starship mission, featuring a fly-by of the Moon during their week-long journey.

Artemis Program in Partnership with NASA

On April 16 2021 NASA announced that they had selected Starship to land the first astronauts on the lunar surface since the Apollo program. 

SpaceX is scheduled to land NASA’s Artemis 3 mission on the lunar surface in 2025 or 2026

Only 24 humans have been to the Moon, and no one has been back since 1972. 

Being able to reach for the moon and land astronauts on the moon surface might be one of the first step throughout a progressive accumulation of knowledge needed to be able to really make it possible for humans to become a multi-planetary species

In fact using the technology and research developed during the Artemis spaceflights, NASA intends to launch a future crewed mission to Mars. This ambitious NASA ‘Moon to Mars’ plan involves building a new space station in lunar orbit and, eventually, a habitable Moon base. NASA is not simply aiming to repeat the feats of the Apollo missions with Artemis, but rather to go to the Moon ‘and stay there’. That means investigating the possibility of establishing bases both in lunar orbit and on the Moon’s surface, although the primary goal for now still involves returning humans to the Moon by the middle of the decade.

Artemis 3 will land a crew at thMoon’s South Polar region, it is planned to have two astronauts on the surface of the Moon for about one week. Flying between lunar orbit and the surface of the Moon, Starship will carry crew and all of the supplies, equipment, and science payloads needed for extensive surface exploration

Becoming an Interplanetary Species

Central to the plan is the Starship Spacecraft, this fully-reusable rocket it will enable SpaceX to send humans and cargo to Mars. The ship will be capable of launching over 100 tons or 100 people into space at a time.

Its use of liquid oxygen and methane as fuel, rather than the rocket propellant used in the Falcon 9, means explorers can fly to Mars, refuel using resources found on the planet, and fly back to Earth. The astronauts could even venture out further into space, building a planet-hopping network of refueling stations along the way.

In March 2019, Musk wrote on Twitter that “it’s possible to make a self-sustaining city on Mars by 2050, if we start in 5 years & take 10 orbital synchronizations” 

One important factor to keep into consideration is the fact that Mars and Earth are at their closest around once every 26 months. The distance between the two at this time reduces to around 33.9 million miles, that would mean it would take around 22 years at a minimum to build the city so this is quiet a long term goal to achieve but set to start pretty soon in fact in March 2022 Musk suggested that a possible date for humanity to witness first human on Mars would be 2029.

Musk claimed that a return ticket could cost around $500,000 initially, dropping to $100,000 over time. He has moreover set himself an ambitious deadline of a self-sustaining Mars city with 1 million people by 2050 he would turn 79 years old that year.

The idea is to first build small cities on the surface of Mars were people could live protected from all kind on danger that the Mars environment and atmosphere involve, but as time goes by trying to make the planet more habitable for the human specie. This process would be called terraformation of Mars which is a hypothetical procedure that would consist of a planetary engineering project, with the goal of transforming Mars from a planet hostile to terrestrial life to one that can sustainably host humans and other lifeforms free of protection or mediation.

Despite the fact that to many people this kind of project and venture might seem not achievable or even crazy I believe that this is the right time and we have quiet the right technology to push ourself over the boundaries of space. When you think about it, most of the things that changed the world we live in right now were regarded as impossible or unrealistic before someone turned them into our reality.

We need to take into account the fact that it’s not going to be easy and it surely is not going to be fast but I believe that we need to consider the progress that are being made and the rising interest that these new ideas are captivating.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”

-Elon Musk

The impact of drones: Flying to the Future

Drone, the common name for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), has been around for decades since they were initially designed for military use. However, in the last decades, drones became commercially available and gained popularity, due to their manifold applications: agriculture, civil defence, energy, construction, real estate, logistics, media production and security tasks.

As drones are becoming more versatile and cheaper to manufacture, many industries such as the e-commerce ones now understand their capabilities, including being a delivery machine. Several major companies such as Wing Aviation, Walmart, Amazon Prime Air and UPS Flight Forward are piloting drone package delivery. If companies move towards a drone delivery system, then last-mile delivery will be simpler and even faster than moving trucks full of goods over hundreds of miles for hours.

Drones generally use propellers and rechargeable batteries to attach packages underneath the drone’s body. Delivery drones are operated autonomously or remotely through a ground-controlled station. The drone operators potentially oversee multiple flying drones at once, keeping track of every package delivered via wireless network links to each drone. These advanced machines rely on GPS systems and satellite technology to follow paths to deliver packages to the customer’s location. The design of delivery drones appears in all shapes and sizes. Most commercial drones are rotary drones, which can fly because of the rotating propellers that, along with stabilization technology, maintains the drone’s position in the air and give drones the ability to move, stop and turn to avoid obstacles or change course. The built-in sensors and cameras enable the drone to identify a nearby object’s proximity and speed, enabling the drone to take a responsive action to avoid the obstacle. Drones can be as small as backpacks or as large as small aeroplanes. More significant packages require a more robust and efficient performance drone to carry out the delivery operation.

The introduction of delivery drones has stimulated discussion of what the technology can accomplish in terms of reduced vehicle travel. This brings us to the benefits of the drone delivery system over the traditional vehicle delivery system. Thanks to drone deliveries, many retailers such as Amazon now offer same-day delivery. Another good thing is that drones have greater route flexibility than conventional vehicles: they can travel over congested areas and reach far off rural areas where cars and trucks may have difficulty getting to, due to bad or narrow roads. Free from the constraints of vehicle traffic, a drone could make those deliveries in a matter of minutes, without wasted time and risks of accidents. Drone deliveries will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions as it delivers packages without increasing emissions, so it has significantly less impact on the environment than fossil fuel-powered trucks.

Although drone deliveries have many benefits, they have some limitations. Researchers are constantly working to make drones lighter, stronger and faster and confront security concerns. One of the main limitations is cost. For now, only a handful of companies outside China produce drones capable of commercial deliveries. Another limitation is the noise. The FAA recommends the aircraft noise in residential areas stay below an average of 65 decibels at any given 24 hours period and a commercial delivery drone clocks in between 75 and 90 decibels. Constant commercial delivery drone noise would exceed the faa recommendations for safe levels of noise pollution. Many people are nervous about the privacy risk posed by drones flying over their homes. As package theft is an issue that customers will face with regular delivery and drone delivery, some e-commerce companies have patented an anti-hacking technology for their future drone delivery programs. With the technology, the drone will halt its delivery and look for a safe place to land if it stops receiving a specific signal, but many people aren’t sure how effective this technology is.

So, with drone deliveries quickly becoming a reality, the need for security coordination and proper logging is a must for the future. On the other hand, drones need to have a specific area which they can fly from to stick to the 30 minutes or less delivery time promised by most e-commerce companies. Therefore, the companies will need to have more warehouses or dispatch centres sprinkled worldwide, especially in urban and suburban areas.

CSR Between Misleading Information And Real Commitment: Some Corporate Cases of Greenwashing and Transparency

Today almost all companies boast internal CSR programs and a greater sensitivity to environmental and social issues. However, the reality of the facts is quite different, despite an undisputed generalized attention to these topics. There are virtuous examples of companies that have sustainability as part of their DNA and that are genuinely concerned about the impact of their work on the environment and society. On the other hand, there is also a widespread phenomenon of greenwashing, that concerns those companies that adopt specific communication strategies to emphasize an environmental and social sensitivity, which does not correspond to the reality of the facts. Sustainability is “fashionable” and useful to improve the reputation of the company and to attract more customers. For example, 4 major oil companies, the European BP and Shell and the US Chevron and ExxonMobil have been recently accused of greenwashing, based on research published in Plos One, which showed the inconsistency between their statements and course of action.

At the European level, there are still no ad hoc regulations to sanction cases of greenwashing, but several countries are autonomously adopting specific tools for the protection of citizens and businesses. At the court of Gorizia, at the end of 2021, the first civil sentence in Italy was issued, to sanction greenwashing.

In January 2022 the UK Competition and Markets Authority (Cma) officially included greenwashing among the issues to be tackled, in addition to the Green Claims Code, published at the end of 2021, containing guidelines for companies that make environmental declarations.

While on the one hand there are many companies guilty of greenwashing practices, for which sanctions are necessary, on the other many companies are working towards greater transparency and reporting of their work. Some multinationals in the beauty world, Henkel, L’Oréal, Lvmh, Natura & Co and Unilever have announced a new global collaboration, to form a super partisan consortium – therefore disconnected from the interests of brands – which provides clear, transparent and detailed information to consumers, over the entire life cycle of beauty products purchased or sought after, verified by third parties.

B Corps and Benefit Companies are further business models that enhance a real sustainable approach to the market. More and more companies are opting for B Corp certification. There are 4600 B Corps in the world and 140 B Corps in Italy. Some examples are Renovit, which has recently been certified, becoming the largest Italian B Corp in the energy efficiency sector, or Illycaffè certified since last year and which has obtained recognition from the World’s Most Ethical Companies as the only Italian company.

3D Printing: A Phenomenon Taking Its Place In High Fashion

In honor of fashion weeks around the world coming to an end for this season, the use of technology in the realm of fashion and luxury has increased in many facets of the industry. Particularly, looking at trends in the runway, one of the most prevalent topics is that of advanced textile and structural technology, created by 3D printing. It’s been nearly a decade since 3D printing became a production phenomenon that began to be used in fashion. However, in reality, even though 3D printing has been around since the 80’s, it isn’t until recently that fashion brands, particularly luxury brands, are starting to incorporate this technology into their runways. 

Some examples we have seen in the industry during the past years include Balenciaga’s 2018 Fall/Winter collection, where pieces were 3D printed considering each model’s measurements. Other luxury brands within LVMH have implemented this technology by using it to make their prototypes. In 2015, we saw one of the most iconic 3D printed fashion pieces debut the runway, a suit designed by Karl Lagerfeld. Rocio, a luxury handbag brand, also implemented 3D printing technology in their most recent collection at Paris Fashion week, vowing to support more sustainable production practices and manufacturing techniques. 

What is 3D printing in the case of luxury and textile? 3D printing can be used to create textiles and patterns that are more detailed and can speed up the process, while bringing more accuracy to the finished product and enhancing creative freedom. But there are even further benefits to 3D printed textiles, which is that they can be produced with more sustainable materials that would be difficult to handle if they were handmade. Not only this, but waste created during the production process in the fashion industry is largely diminished when each piece can be produced upon order, with short lead time, and completely customized in terms of size and any other modifications wanted by the client. So, why haven’t more luxury designers dived into this technology in their collections?

Considering the business model of luxury companies, where an inherent value comes from the history and production cycle of the piece itself, is it a good idea to sell and market 3D printed pieces? There are two important viewpoints to consider, which is that of sustainability vs. artisanship and craftsmanship, which also go hand in hand. Yes it is more sustainable in terms of waste and materials to use technologies such as 3D printing, but brands would lose the sustainability factor and value that ‘handmade’ brings. So then the real question is, how can brands create sustainable processes that take advantage of the benefits of technology while still incentivizing and protecting the art of craftsmanship? We must consider that what luxury brands want to avoid is to further dilute their brand by creating products that lose the genuine sense of high quality and could potentially be seen as mass produced. 

The answer then may be to create a synergy, a balance between the inherent benefits of 3D printing in regards to reduced waste and customization for the consumer, while at the same time ensuring handmade processes that add value to the product and the sustainability chain, while being able to justify the price points of these products. As many innovative advances and a further call for sustainable production, particularly regarding materials, it may be inevitable for companies, and even beneficial to move into the 3D printing textile market, while not completely leaving behind some handmade processes that make pieces unique and enhance quality, and at the same time support the essence the brand has built itself upon. 

Cyber-Attacks In The Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Why We Need A Fast Response

As Russian forces attacked Ukraine, the country was also target of a campaign of cyberattacks. 
In the weeks leading up to the Russian invasion, several of Ukraine government department and bank websites were taken offline and data wiping malware was unleashed on government systems. 

The physical attack to Ukraine may have been surprising, but the cyber-attack was not. Cyber weapons have been used against Ukraine for years. Paul Chichester, director of operations at the National Cyber Security Centre said: “Over several years, we have observed a pattern of malicious Russian behaviour in cyber space. Last week’s incidents in Ukraine bear the hallmarks of similar Russian activity we have observed before.” 

Ukraine is an appealing target since it has similar infrastructure as most Western European and North American countries, but with more limited resources to counterattack. 

Among the latest attacks against Ukraine, there has been a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. This type of attack deploys bots flood an online service, overwhelming it until it crashes and blocking legitimate users from accessing. Another recent account entailed Ukrainian citizens receiving fake messages saying that the ATM service had gone offline, causing bank runs, panic and uncertainty. 

Cyber-attacks have the potential to wipe out infrastructure, affecting telecommunication services, water and electricity supply. These kinds of attacks can be carried out more rapidly than standard weapon attacks and they can be carried out at a distance. While launching them is simple and inexpensive, defending from them is extremely hard and costly, which is further debilitating Ukraine while it attempts to defend from the Russian military aggression.

Six European countries (Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Croatia and Estonia) are supporting Ukraine’s cyber infrastructure and are sending cyber security experts to give assistance in dealing with this threat.

Although Russia successfully evaded most responsibility for the cyber-attack, its history of destructive cyber-attacks in Ukraine is currently rising more concerns about future cyberwars. This should alert private and public entities, who should update their security protocols, deploy new tools and enhance their processes. 
The private sector in particularly may be unprepared and vulnerable to disruptions.
To prepare for cyberattacks and to minimize potential damage companies should: 

  • Make sure they update software throughout the whole organization and patch previous vulnerabilities;
  • Ensure the presence of effective malware detection and antivirus software;
  • Frequently backup important data in case it gets destroyed;
  • Look for potential vulnerabilities in the cyber supply chain;
  • Testing incident response plan and carrying out scenario analysis.

Cyber-attacks are not confined to national boundaries, and they could become global due to spillover effect. A global cyberwar would shut down many sectors at the same time, due to the interdependence of critical infrastructure sectors like communications and electricity. 

Furthermore, there can be serious financial ramifications: the insurance market is already experiencing problems in pricing protection against them. Perhaps it is time for more government intervention in the area. 

While the conflict is still evolving, cyber operations do not seem to be playing a decisive role on the battlefield. These operations are a form of modern political warfare, not decisive battles and support subversion, espionage and propaganda efforts. With the right effort, well-resourced organizations can properly defend from cyber threats. 

SME: Can Ai Bring Italian SME Into The Future (Vedrai)

Today, the application of AI in companies represents a strategic and competitive lever.

AI in its various forms can improve the productivity and performance of companies thanks to the automation of processes and activities with lower margins of errors, also affecting economic results. AI tools are, therefore, becoming essential for companies to remain competitive.

There are different sectors (banking, insurance, automotive, energy …), areas of application and advantages that a company derives from their application: automating repetitive activities, saving time, analyzing information, predicting results, reducing margins of error…

The implementation of AI in small to medium-sized enterprises represents a potentially winning investment. The first step for a company consists of understanding what to use Artificial Intelligence tools for and what it needs to develop and apply them correctly, identifying the scope, the area of ​​expertise and the aspects of the business to improve with AI. There are many sectors in which they resulted useful and successful and there are several initiatives in the AI ​​field that can be introduced, with different degrees of complexity and consequent need for costs and infrastructures. In order for them to be effective, the company must have specialized figures who deal with them adequately. In general, it’s important that the whole company is involved and aware of the functioning of the new technologies introduced, of their benefits and risks.

In the complex transition to an increasingly digitized ecosystem, it may therefore be necessary for small-medium enterprises to rely on external consultancy services in the collection, processing and interpretation of data through AI.

This is what Vedrai does. It’s the startup founded by Michele Grazioli in September 2020 and recognized by CIO Applications as one of the top 10 AI companies in Europe. Vedrai deals, through artificial intelligence and the development of virtual platforms, with helping companies in data collection and in predicting the impact of business decisions. Vedrai’s goal is, specifically, to bring artificial intelligence systems and forecasting tools to SMEs, to ensure their survival through an innovative tool. The startup’s software, accepting a large amount of data, compares the relevant variables to understand company performance and the impact of a decision on revenues, EBITDA, customer satisfaction …

Vedrai therefore wants to encourage SMEs to adopt cutting-edge tools, to reduce the risks of these companies in making decisions or certain investments. The startup wants to increase SMEs efficiency by finding the best strategy for them to achieve the objectives and by giving them a precise programming of the necessary resources, also to recover after the pandemic.

With adequate support, SMEs can therefore be successful and compete with the largest companies and make up for some structural and organizational differences that characterize big companies. The advantage is that AI technologies can be applied to any area, at any business level. By overcoming the prejudice of smaller companies on new technologies as a complex and expensive tool, structural rigidity, and the lack of propensity for innovative investments, the immense opportunities offered by AI can be seized. With adequate strategy and external support, this transition “towards the future” can take place.

The European Chips Act: An Illusion of Tech Sovereignty?

Semiconductors, such as microchips, are one of the most essential components of the digitization process and are employed in all the electronic devices and machines we use today. Since its invention their market has grown exponentially, especially within the last decade. Revenues reached US$440 billion in 2020, and is expected to reach US$50.9 billion in 2021. 

The global COVID-19 pandemic had negatively impacted the semiconductor market as supply chains were disrupted. This not only led to a global shortage of microchips, but posed an even bigger problem for European manufacturers as the region primarily outsourced their microchips from Asian suppliers. European car manufacturers bore the burden greatly, they incorrectly speculated the pandemic would result in a decline of sales, thus cancelled their chip orders. However, the unexpected recovery of demand meant that they were ill-equipped with supplies to satisfy them. The cancellation of orders meant that chip manufacturers had more commitments to IT sectors, reducing their capacity to supply car chips. The limited availability of new vehicles that resulted, matched with the rising prices of microchips, had a far-reaching impact on the affordability of new vehicles and consumer choice.

To address the chip shortage and in attempts to get Europe back in the tech race, the European Chips Act was announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the European Union address. The Chips Act covers three dimensions:

  1. A European Semiconductor Research Strategy to push research ambitions of Europe to the next level.
  2.  A collective plan to enhance European production capacity to ensure Europe is prepared to tackle any possible future disruptions to the semiconductors supply chain.
  3. A framework for international cooperation and partnership to reduce overdependence on a single country or region. 

The proposal of the European Chips Act ignites hope amongst the European market by creating a vision and compelling players to believe that tech sovereignty is within their reach.

Despite how convincing the Act is strategically, the Dutch are not convinced. They believe that the European Union should not decouple from the global semiconductor supply chain in efforts to be self-sufficient. A paper published on Netherland’s government website warned that decoupling would be a mistake and pointed towards the success of several Dutch companies as evidence. They illustrate their point further by stating that ‘European interests are best served by an open ecosystem that remains focused on attracting investment, accelerating innovation and adding market value. Diversification and mutual interdependence promote resilience and prevent one-sided dependencies.’ They instead proposed that instruments be put in place to prevent key takeovers of chipmakers that would negatively impact Europe and its manufacturers.

The contradictions presented by the Netherlands thus bring into question whether the European Chips Act is an illusion of success.