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Pepsi is suing four Indian farmers for growing a proprietary “Lays” potato, seeking $150,000 each in damages

Pepsi is suing four Indian farmers for growing a proprietary “Lays” potato, seeking $150,000 each in damages

Pepsi has confirmed that it has files lawsuits against four farmers in India who grew a variety of potato that was registered as being for the exclusive production of the company’s Lay’s potato chips.

Activists say that the company sent private investigators after the farmers, and that they posed as buyers for the proprietary lifeform.

It’s not clear what the cause of action is: all the news stories on places like The Hill and The Daily Beast source their reports to this CNN Business article, which calls the potatoes both “trademarked” and “copyrighted” (it is more common for lawsuits over proprietary crops to be brought on patent grounds).

Unnamed food sovereignty activists quoted in the CNN Business article said that India’s law protects “farmers’ rights to grow and sell trademarked crops.”

“We believe that the intimidation and legal harassment of farmers is happening because farmers are not fully aware of [their] rights,” the letter said. The letter also claims PepsiCo sent private detectives to the accused farmers posing as potential buyers, secretly recording video of them and taking samples of the potatoes.

PepsiCo did not comment on those allegations.

PepsiCo is suing farmers in India for growing the potatoes it uses in Lays chips [Rishi Iyengar/CNN Business]

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Deepfakes may ruin the world. And they can come for you, too – CNET

Deepfakes may ruin the world. And they can come for you, too – CNET

A woman pulls a eerily lifelike mask off her face

Getty Images

Thinking about deepfakes tends to lead to philosophical head-scratchers. Here’s one: How much should you worry about your face being grafted into hardcore pornography, if before that happens, deepfakes topple public trust in global democracies?

Deepfakes are video forgeries that make people appear to be doing or saying things they never did. Similar to the way Photoshop made doctoring images a breeze, deepfake software has made this kind of manipulated video not only accessible but also harder and harder to detect as fake.

And chances are, unless you’ve scrupulously kept your image off the internet, a deepfake starring you is possible today.

“All of those images that you put of yourself online have exposed you,” said Hany Farid, a Dartmouth researcher who specializes in media forensics to root out things like deepfakes.  “And you gave it up freely. Nobody forced you to do it, it wasn’t even stolen from you — you gave it up.”

Facial recognition: Your face, your password

This is part of a CNET special report exploring the benefits and pitfalls of facial recognition.


Deepfakes represent a different, more malicious kind of facial recognition. Traditional facial recognition already plays a growing role in your life: It’s the technology that helps you find all the snapshots of a specific friend in Google Photos. But it also could scan your face at an airport or concert without your knowledge.

Unlike most facial recognition, which essentially turns the features of your face into a unique code for computers, deepfake software aims to mash up identity so well you don’t even question its truth. It poses a nightmare scenario not just of ruining your life, but also of manipulating the public’s perception of heads of states, powerful CEOs or political candidates.

That’s why media forensics experts like Farid, and even researchers for the Pentagon, are racing to find methods to detect deepfakes.

Deepfake technology figures out how various points of a human face interact on camera to convincingly fabricate a moving, speaking human — think a photorealistic digital puppet. Artificial intelligence has fueled the rapid development of deepfakes, but it’s a technology that must also be fed a diet of facial images to produce a video.

Unfortunately, the rise of deepfakes has arrived after more than a decade of online social sharing put almost everyone’s face on the internet. But staying out of the public eye doesn’t inoculate anyone from deepfakes, because in today’s world, almost everyone is exposed.

Face swap

Here’s another fun deepfake headscratcher: How bad does something have to be for Reddit and Pornhub both to ban it?

Deepfakes come in different shapes, sizes and degrees of stomach-sinking monstrosity. There are three main types, but the simplest and most widely known is a face swap.

Face-swapping deepfakes can be harmless fun. One meme plasters actor Nicolas Cage‘s face into a potpourri of movies and shows he’s never starred in, with him as Indiana Jones or every actor on Friends. Tweets sticking Steve Buscemi’s mug on Jennifer Lawrence go viral for their weirdness.

But they can be insidious too, like the face of an unwitting victim grafted onto graphic pornography. This weaponized form of face swap has violated famous women, like Scarlett Johansson and Gal Gadot. But it’s also made victims of others who aren’t celebrities. This involuntary pornography is what’s prohibited by both Reddit and Pornhub.

The main asset that somebody needs to create a deepfake of you is a collection of a few hundred images of your face. Because deepfake software uses machine learning, it needs data sets of your face and another face in a destination video in order to swap them convincingly. That’s one reason celebrities and public figures are such easy targets: The internet is packed with source photos and videos to build these image stockpiles.

Your best protection against becoming the star of a deepfake depends on the lengths to which you’re willing to go to keep your image out of anyone else’s hands — including keeping it off the internet. (So, yeah, good luck with that.)

Scarlett Johansson

Actress Scarlett Johansson has characterized her fight against malicious deepfakes as a “lost cause,” telling the Washington Post: “Nothing can stop someone from cutting and pasting my image or anyone else’s onto a different body and making it look as eerily realistic as desired.”

Jay Maidment/Marvel

A few hundred images of you may sound like a lot to gather, but these don’t need to be individual still shots or selfies. Multiple frames pulled from one or more videos can fill in the gaps. Everytime an iPhone shot a video of you, it was capturing at least 30 frames per second.

And quality trumps quantity in a deepfake dataset. The ideal is a wide selection of facial images without blurring or obstructions, from a variety of angles and with a range of facial expressions. The quantity needed can decrease if the angles and facial expressions are well coordinated with the desired destination video.

These quirks of the data sets can yield bizarre advice about how to reduce your exposure. Wearing heavy makeup is good protection, especially if you change it up a lot.

Obstructions in front of a face, even brief ones, are particularly tricky for deepfake technology to work around. But the defenses that exploit that weakness aren’t necessarily helpful. Farid once joked about a potential defensive strategy with a politician. “When you’re talking with everyone around, every once and a while just wave your hand in front of your face to protect yourself,” he recounted telling him. The politician indicated that wasn’t a helpful idea.

Grim horizons

Deepfake programs for face-swapping are readily available free online, making the technology relatively accessible for anyone with motivation, some simple technological know-how and a powerful computer.

Other types of deepfake are more sophisticated. Thankfully, that means you’re less exposed to being a victim. Unfortunately, these are the ones that harbor more dangerous possibilities.

Comedian and filmmaker Jordan Peele publicized one of these kinds of deepfakes, called an impersonation or “puppet master” fake, by posing as President Barack Obama in a deepfake video a year ago. Peele impersonates Obama’s voice, but the deepfake video synthesized a new Obama mouth and jaw to be consistent with the audio track.

However, the creation of that video actually required a reassuring degree of practiced skill. Peele’s script was designed so his speech would match the ebbs and flow of Obama’s original head movements and gestures. And the success of the vocals was rooted in Peele’s well-honed Obama impersonation.

But a higher level of sophistication, termed deep video portraits, are like deepfakes on steroids. While most manipulation in deepfake videos is limited to facial expressions, an international team of researchers transferred three-dimensional head position and rotation, eye gaze and eye blinking from one source actor to another target actor. 

Max Planck Institute for Informatics/University of Bath

The result is a bit like a motion-capture sequence, without actually needing to capture motions when the videos were shot. With two ordinary videos, the researchers’ program synchronized the movements, blinks and eye direction onto somebody else’s face.

But the ultimate threat of deepfakes isn’t how sophisticated they can get. It’s how willingly the public will accept what’s fake for the truth — or believe somebody’s false denial because who even knows what’s true anymore?

“The public has to be aware that this stuff exists … but understand where we are with technology, what can and cannot be faked —  and just slow the hell down,” Farid said. “People get outraged in a nanosecond and start going crazy. Everybody’s got to just slow the fuck down.”

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Victoria Beckham Is Launching Her Own Beauty Brand

Victoria Beckham Is Launching Her Own Beauty Brand

Victoria Beckham is officially launching her own beauty brand, which means 2019 could be the poshest year ever for your beauty routine.  On Feb. 13, the celeb-turned-fashion-designer’s clothing label, announced that Victoria Beckham Beauty will arrive this fall.

“I want to take care of women inside and out, providing them with the must-have items in makeup, skin care, fragrance and wellness that I feel I need in my own life,” Beckham said in a statement. 

RELATED: Victoria Beckham Is Launching Her Own Skincare Line 

Victoria Beckham Beauty will be an online-only brand, with products available exclusively at Beckham herself embraced the brand’s digital focus by personally sharing the announcement on Instagram. 

The news of Beckham’s beauty brand is exciting, but her fans new it was coming. Beckham hinted that she was developing color cosmetics and skincare products during a Facebook Live with New Beauty in May 2018

Her upcoming namesake brand isn’t the first time Beckham’s had her hand in the beauty industry. Beckham launched two widely successful makeup collaborations with Estée Lauder and her husband David Beckham has House 99, a men’s grooming line in partnership with L’Oréal Paris. 

VIDEO: Right Now: Victoria Beckham 2018 People’s Choice Awards

Beckham has yet to reveal any information about specific products in the line, but we’ll keep you posted as soon as we get the details. 

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10 Ways The Star Trek Spinoffs Are Better Than Original Series (And 10 Ways TOS Takes The Cake)

10 Ways The Star Trek Spinoffs Are Better Than Original Series (And 10 Ways TOS Takes The Cake)

Space. The Final Frontier. The vastness of space has been explored by many different science fiction shows and movies. Star Wars was a space opera, yet placed the audience in a time period long, long ago. The film 2001: A Space Odyssey falsely predicted where our society would be at the beginning of the 21st century and also gave us a cryptic understanding of our relationship to the universe. The Stargate television series had explorers traveling the cosmos thanks to alien technology, and it became less about exploration and more about defending the Earth from the evil Goa’uld. Then came Star Trek. The Original Series premiered in 1966 and gave audiences one of the most human explorations of space we’d ever see. Roddenberry’s idea was that humans would explore space not thanks to alien technology or gifts from gods, but through ingenuity and scientific curiosity.

Star Trek went off the air in 1969, just 47 days before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. However, years later, Star Trek would re-emerge with a variety of spinoffs. Deep Space Nine explored life on a space station near a stable wormhole, whereas Voyager followed a Federation vessel’s 70,000 light year journey back home. Although set in the Star Trek universe, the spinoffs were quite different in tone and approach to the material created by Roddenberry back in the 1960s. But which Trek is king? Is the Original Series the show that will always be considered the best of the best, or is it too dated to outdo the more modern incarnations of the series? Which version of Star Trek do you prefer? Discovery? Enterprise? Which shows travel at Warp 10 and which ones can’t break orbit?

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Gene Roddenberry was the big boss man. He would often rewrite scripts and make producing decisions that angered people. He even had some ideas that (fortunately) didn’t make it, such as lyrics to the opening theme song of the Original Series. Maybe now you won’t complain when you watch Star Trek: Enterprise.

Star Trek owes a great debt to Roddenberry, but shows like Deep Space Nine and Discovery were created not under Roddenberry’s guidance and had elements he would never allow: character conflict and expansive story arcs. It’s these un-Roddenberry things that makes the spinoffs so very much Trek.


Why was the Original Series so good? Possibly due to Roddenberry’s vision of it being basically a Western in outer space. If you think about it, Star Trek treated the 23rd century like the wild, wild west. Roddenberry pitched Star Trek as a “Wagon Train to the stars” which makes the Enterprise one big wagon.

It also makes the show more grounded. Whereas sci-fi can get a little too cerebral and inaccessible, the Original Series was a great balance of action, philosophy and character drama. Other Trek spinoffs got caught up in politics and wars, but TOS stayed true to its “western” roots.


Now that everything is in high definition, sharp-eyed viewers have spotted some strange things in films from the past. There are some rumors floating about regarding hidden and inappropriate messages planted in Disney animated movies that are now visible thanks to HD, but we’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Apologies to the Original Series, but we could tell even back in the 1960s that the panel of blinking lights was just that. The subject material and characters from TOS were fantastic, but everything else feels dated. Even Discovery and Enterprise, shows that take place before TOS, look sleek and modern.


Do you like using your mobile phone? Enjoy talking to loved ones over great distances via video chat? These are all things that The Original Series predicted and possibly influenced in their creations. Heck, thanks to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, there’s actually such a thing as transparent aluminum!

Although Picard was in his Ready Room with something that looked like an iPad (it was also called PADD), are there other Trek shows that have influenced actual science? Any Emergency Medical Holograms appearing at your hospital? We didn’t think so.


Star Trek, although timeless, referenced what was happening in the 1960s. “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” reflected race relations in America and “The Way to Eden” commented on hippie culture. These were great for the time, but what about other generations?

Each Trek wonderfully captured what was going on at the time the show aired. After all, good science fiction should be a mirror to the world around it. Next Generation, Voyager and other spinoffs had great commentary on same sex relationships, AIDS, equality and other issue that relate better to the modern viewer.


Will and Grace, which originally aired in 1998, featured a gay character in a lead role. Transparent was a show that premiered in 2014 in which the lead character was a trans woman. There are still plenty of barriers to breakthrough on television now, but it seems like there have been barriers as long as there have been cinema.

The Original Series having an ethnically diverse bridge crew was as radical as it was inspiring. One of the big moments in TOS was the interracial kiss between Uhura and Kirk. Those were hard steps to follow by the spinoffs and arguably the future Trek shows haven’t broke as much ground as the original did.


Roddenberry was pretty insistent that Star Trek be a certain way. He wanted most episodes to end on a cheery note with everyone laughing for camera. He also wanted shows to be concise stories that didn’t have long, drawn out arcs. True, there were some reoccurring characters, but mostly things were self-contained shows.

After Roddenberry passed away, Next Generation had some longer arcs during some of the seasons. Deep Space Nine had several story arcs going on simultaneously that lasted for many episodes. Voyager and Enterprise would also feature plots that would last an entire season, something that Roddenberry would never have supported.


In Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager, problems were often solved with the help of technology. Thanks to the scientific knowledge of Data, Geordi, O’Brien and Seven of Nine, disasters were averted thanks to the push of a button.

The Original Series tended to solve their problems more dramatically. Sometimes it would be a karate chop from Kirk, but the results were more satisfying than uncoupling the Heisenberg Compensators. It was Kirk’s diplomacy and Spock’s logic that got the Enterprise out of most sticky situations.


One show can’t be everything, so as good as The Original Series was, the spinoffs could be the things that Star Trek could not. Deep Space Nine was about humanity surviving during a costly war. Voyager was about a crew struggling to adhere to their principles while being in uncharted space.

If you thought DS9 was too dark, you could always watch The Next Generation, which had more balance. Voyager was space exploration without the politics that appeared in Next Generation. Enterprise and Discovery were prequels that showed you how it all began. The spinoffs show there’s enough Trek for everyone!


Although the 50th anniversary of Star Trek was a time to celebrate, enough time has passed to have some frank conversations about Gene Roddenberry. He had made some amazing contributions to Star Trek, but also made some bad decisions and struggled with personal demons.

As complex as his issues may have been, his involvement with Star Trek is why the Original Series is probably the best of all of the Trek incarnations. It was his initial vision, his casting and assembly of writers and producers that made some of the best science fiction ever to appear on television.


If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, then you watched the show every week to see if your favorite character survived the season. Other shows like Oz and The Sopranos had no problem whatsoever with ditching main characters. The spinoffs of the Original Series had no problems with this either.

Discovery saw the passing of several main characters, including Dr. Culber, Captain Georgiou and even Captain Gabriel Lorca (at least the Mirror Universe version of him). In Next Generation, Yar would not get past the first season and Jadzia Dax wouldn’t get past season six.


When Ds9 came out, there was some controversy as to how close it was to Babylon 5. Also in the 1990s were such great hour long sci-fi shows as Stargate SG-1 (which would also produce a rich franchise of spinoffs), Farscape, Roswell and Earth: Final Conflict.

Even now there’s a great wealth of science fiction, ranging from The Handmaid’s Tale to Black Mirror. Although there were some great shows around Star Trek‘s time, there simply weren’t as many shows out there competing for audience’s attention.


The Mirror Universe is a place that gives us alternate, often evil versions of our favorite characters. This alternate reality was established in the Original Series but explored in Ds9, Enterprise and even in Discovery. Hey, if something is good, why let it go to waste?

The spinoffs gave us a chance to let great ideas and characters breathe. Klingons, Romulans and Andorians all had their stories start in the Original Series and continue in the spinoffs that followed. Developing these characters and plots is what gave Star Trek such a phenomenal universe of stories.


Gene Roddenberry was fascinated with space. He knew that, mathematically speaking, there were millions of Earth-like planets in the galaxy. Roddenberry wrote a column entitled “Science Fiction Thing of Past” and in it he talked about the goals of Star Trek.

The Enterprise wouldn’t be a space ship, but a flying city. The more exploration the Enterprise did, the more we’d learn about our own humanity. Aliens became allegory, and the technology was so believable we’d emulate it in real life. Roddenberry knew this, and he made sure it hit home with the Original Series.


When the Original Series aired, producers were nervous about how audiences would perceive the character of Mr. Spock. There was a fear that the pointy-eared Science Officer might be mistaken for the Devil! Besides Spock, the cast featured an ethnically diverse crew.

In future versions of Trek, it would be unusual to not have an alien on the bridge. With each series, more aliens were added to the main cast, allowing for more storytelling opportunities, cool makeup and moments of drama. Odo, Tuvok and Saru are some of the great aliens to be in the main cast of their spinoff.


Wait, how many moons does Vulcan have? How far away is Qo’noS from Earth? Where exactly are the Borg in the Delta Quadrant? How do stardates work? The problem with the expansive Trek Universe? You need to keep track of it, because the history of the future is pretty darn important.

Whereas shows like Voyager and DS9 have suffered from continuity errors, the Original Series was making it up as they went along, and weren’t bogged down by the massive rules and history that was set up by all of the spinoffs. The Original Series didn’t have long arcs, but that made for easy viewing.


If you love Star Trek (in any form) you owe a lot to superfan Bjo Trimble. Bjo and her husband, John, were part of the successful letter-writing campaign that had the Original Series run a third season. The Trimbles also helped on the campaign to get a NASA shuttle to be named Enterprise.

Those fans were instrumental in a show’s success back in the day, but thanks to social media it’s quite easy to be a fan of a show and connect with others. Social media have allowed Trekkers and Trekkies to show off their fandom and connect around the globe, something impossible to do back in the 1960s.


If you look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they are constantly thinking about franchising. Films lead to toys that lead to television shows that lead to comic books that lead back to films. The Star Wars Universe thinks about franchising and so does Star Trek as well, but was it on their minds in the 1960s?

Over 50 years later we have a new Picard series coming out as well as a film being developed by Quentin Tarantino, but Roddenberry in the 1960s was just concerned with keeping his little show afloat. Any modern version of Trek is burdened with carrying the franchise and setting up the next show to come out after that.


Back in the 1960s, there were only three television channels to watch. In modern times, we’re virtually inundated with media, with hundreds of different channels, with each of those channels having hundreds of shows that have hundreds of episodes. New shows for new times.

Next Generation, instead of airing on a network, was syndicated. Discovery can be watched by paying to subscribe to CBS All Access. On All Access, Short Treks premiered, which featured 10 minute episodes spotlighting the Trek Universe. Fan films, VR games and more allow for the spinoffs to be experienced in ways never thought possible.


The Original Series still resonates with people over 50 years later, and with good reason. The show’s episodes tackled high concepts as well as offered complex characters that people could identify with and aspire to be. The Original Series came first and set the bar for other Treks (as well as other science fiction shows) to come.

As good as the Next Generation, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise and Discovery are, there will always be that little voice in the back of your head going: “But how is it better than the Original Series?” If Kirk, Spock and Bones already did it, why try a second time?

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Top 10 Fantasy Anime To Watch After Goblin Slayer

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