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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Thursday briefing: Chinese spies compete with U.S. spies

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China’s Ministry of State Security is deploying artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies to compete with the CIA. At the same time, the CIA is pouring resources into monitoring Chinese companies developing tools such as AI and quantum computing.

The department’s main source of information used to be gossip at embassy dinners. But it has built itself up through widespread recruitment, including U.S. citizens. We have also sharpened ourselves through better training, bigger budgets, and the use of advanced technology.

AI is key to that goal. The MSS has the technology to produce instant documents on key figures in Beijing, including American spies. It is stepping up intelligence gathering on U.S. companies developing technology for both military and civilian applications.

Since the Biden administration took office, the CIA’s spending on China has doubled. Gathering detailed information about commercial trade secrets was once the type of espionage the United States shunned, but now information about China’s emerging technological developments has become a secret of traditional military forces and the machinations of its leaders. It is considered as important as fortune-telling.

context: Beijing’s most serious concern is that the United States and its allies could lock out technological know-how essential to economic and military growth.


The New York Times yesterday sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement, opening a new front in the legal battle over unauthorized use of published works to train artificial intelligence techniques.

The lawsuit alleges that millions of Times articles were used to train automated chatbots that are now competing with news organizations. The complaint cites several examples in which the chatbot provided users with near-verbatim excerpts from Times articles that would otherwise require a paid subscription to view.

This apparently follows stalled negotiations involving the Times, Microsoft and OpenAI. The Times is the first major U.S. media organization to sue the company that created ChatGPT over copyright issues related to written works.

explanation: The chatbot can generate answers that answer questions about events and news based on Times journalism. The paper said its readers, satisfied with the response, may deny access to the paper’s website, resulting in a decline in web traffic and revenue.


Police are investigating the death of Lee Sung-kyun, who played the role of the head of a wealthy family in “Parasite,” as a suicide. According to police sources, the 48-year-old actor left behind what appeared to be a note.

The award-winning actor was recently investigated by police for suspected illegal drug use. He denies the charges and, after a 19-hour interrogation, he told reporters that he was the target of extortion.

context: Since President Yoon Seok-yeol declared a “war on drugs,” the number of drug arrests has sharply increased from about 10,400 in 2019 to 17,000 this year, with criminals being sentenced to six months or more. He could be sentenced to 14 years in prison. The country’s entertainment industry has recently been rocked by drug abuse scandals.

Deadheads, ballerinas, and Mick Jagger: As 2023 comes to a close, it’s time to revisit 59 memorable photos that captured a year of arts and culture.

Every year, my colleague Kim Severson tries to predict upcoming food trends. She scours forecasts from major food companies, PR firms, restaurant groups, and more to predict next year’s cuisine. Here are some of the things she found.

  • In 2023, so will food. Next year will be all about snacks. One forecaster called it “the ultimate in sleazy cool.”

  • But there will also be meal-flavored cocktails. Savor the umami-rich drinks made with chicken and capri.

  • Water and hydration are still in vogue. Look for ‘wearable hydration sensors’, flavored syrups and water management for conservation-conscious consumers.

  • Soba is a rising star. Rich in protein and fiber, it’s found in everything from foie gras to hot chocolate to monkfish.

Soup, floral, AI, naturally fermented, and many more. Read Kim’s full review here.



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