iPhone 8 Plus production halted after unauthorized components discovered

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iPhone 8 Plus Waterproof

Apple has reportedly halted iPhone production for some two weeks at Wistron, one of the Asian suppliers that assemble the devices for the company, after discovering that that unauthorized components may have been used during manufacturing.

The components in question concern waterproofing the device, a report said, and they came from a supplier that Apple has not certified.

Wistron did issue a statement on the matter, which isn’t a full denial. Per Digitimes, Wistron on Wednesday said in a filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange that the company will not comment on matters specific to its clients. But it also added that there was not a “two-week production suspension as reported and operations remain completely normal.”

Does that mean the suspension lasted more or less than two weeks? Why is Wistron choosing to quote the period of time in its denial? Saying that iPhone production wasn’t halted for exactly two-weeks isn’t like saying there was no production halt, leaving room for speculation.

Chinese-language Commercial Times was the first to publish a report that said Apple ordered its supplier to stop production at a plant in Kunshan, China for two weeks, pending a probe. The same report says Wistron has penalized several mid- and high-level executives hoping to regain Apple’s trust.

Wistron isn’t the main iPhone assembler, as Foxconn remains the big winner of Apple’s iPhone contracts. But a report earlier this week in the same Digitimes said that Wistron forecasts better profits this year. The company announced that profit margin decreased in 2017 as a result of increased operating expenses, which market watchers believer are related to Apple’s iPhone orders. With that in mind, it doesn’t seem likely for Apple to drop Wistron from its iPhone supply line.

Following Wistron’s disclosures to the Taiwan Stock Exchange, Wistron shares dropped by more than 5% in early trading, Digitimes says, but regained ground by close time.

Should iPhone 8 Plus buyers be worried? I don’t expect Apple to comment on the matter, at least until there’s reason to do it. And it’s not like there’s a surge of reports detailing unexpected water-related accidents for the iPhone 8 Plus.

Apple – BGR

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Google acquisition of HTC could be announced tomorrow as trading halted in Taiwan

Rumors began to percolate early this month that Google and HTC were on the verge of agreeing to a deal that would let Google take over the struggling smartphone maker. Now that rumor is sounding all but inevitable as HTC has halted trading of its shares on the Taiwan Stock Exchange pending a major announcement. However, the acquisition may not be as complete as the Moto deal in 2011.

It’s late in the day on Wednesday in Taipei right now, and HTC shares won’t begin trading on Thursday due to the upcoming announcement.

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Google acquisition of HTC could be announced tomorrow as trading halted in Taiwan was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Facebook AI project halted after bots invent new language

facebook ai negotiation

Facebook has closed down two bots as part of a project teaching AI negotiation skills. The chatbots developed a new shorthand and began to communicate in sentences that researchers could not understand. 

Researchers at Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) are training AI bots to negotiate. The technology could eventually be used in a number of ways, both online and in the real world.

Negotiation is, on the face of it, a simple skill: I’ll give you this on condition of you giving me that. However, whether you’re picking a TV channel or talking down a trader at the market, these interactions require complex communication and reasoning skills, as well as an awareness of context.

As the FAIR team says in a blog post, current chatbots are capable of providing general information and performing simple tasks such as making reservations. The step towards a more meaningful conversation will require negotiation skills that take external information and aims into consideration.

The Facebook AI negotiation project

The stated purpose of Facebook’s AI negotiation research is to prove that it’s “possible for dialog agents with differing goals (implemented as end-to-end-trained neural networks) to engage in start-to-finish negotiations with other bots or people while arriving at common decisions or outcomes.”

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facebook ai shutdown negotiation training
Facebook’s AI negotiation platform

However, in the process of testing, the researchers found that the two AIs had started to deviate from standard English. Instead, they were attempting to carry out a negotiation – deciding how to split a selection of ordinary household objects – in a form of shorthand:

  1. Bob: i can i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  2. Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to
  3. Bob: you i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  4. Alice: balls have a ball to me to me to me to me to me to me to me
  5. Bob: i i can i i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  6. Alice: balls have a ball to me to me to me to me to me to me to me
  7. Bob: i . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  8. Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to
  9. Bob: you i i i i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  10. Alice: balls have 0 to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to
  11. Bob: you i i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  12. Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to

It’s easy to read this interaction as the start of something sinister. We’ve all seen enough dystopian movies in which artificial intelligence forces its will upon its human creators. However, this is simply a negotiation for some balls – even if it did take an unexpected turn.

“Agents will drift off understandable language and invent codewords for themselves,” FAIR visiting researcher Dhruv Batra said. “Like if I say ‘the’ five times, you interpret that to mean I want five copies of this item. This isn’t so different from the way communities of humans create shorthands.”

The conversation was halted, but not because researchers feared they had empowered a nefarious interaction. Instead, as FAIR researcher Mike Lewis told FastCo, the team decided that their “interest was having bots who could talk to people.”

Communicating efficiently with each other is all well and good, but a customer facing support bot needs to be able to write in ways that anyone can understand.

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Facebook AI research raises questions

Facebook’s research into AI and the aptitude its bots have for developing new languages raises interesting questions. Namely, should computers be left to their own devices to communicate as they wish?

The fear is that humans would lose an element of control over devices chattering away in their own language. But in reality, it could be that it results in improvements in how well chatbots understand the complexity of our communication and intentions. An algorithm able to develop and learn languages could be capable of churning through complex data, such as a human conversation, more effectively.

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