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Huawei’s ‘Wolf Culture’ Helped It Grow, and Got It Into Trouble

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SHENZHEN, China — Earthquakes, terrorist attacks and low oxygen levels on Mount Everest could not hold them back.

As the Chinese tech giant Huawei expanded around the globe, supplying equipment to bring mobile phone and data service to the planet’s farthest reaches, its employees were urged on by a culture that celebrated daring feats in pursuit of new business.

They worked grueling hours. They were encouraged to bend certain company rules, as long as doing so enriched the company and not employees personally, according to Huawei workers interviewed by The New York Times.

Employees at the company and people who have studied it have a name for its hard-charging corporate spirit: “wolf culture.”

Now, the company’s aggressive ways have been cast in a new light. The United States has accused Meng Wanzhou, a top Huawei executive and daughter of its founder, of committing bank fraud to help the company’s business in Iran.

It is not clear precisely how Huawei’s culture shaped its dealings in Iran. But an intense will to get ahead, which helped propel it to the head of the global market for telecom network equipment, seems to have informed employees’ actions in previous cases that put the company under scrutiny.

Huawei workers have been accused of bribing government officials to win business in Africa, copying an American competitor’s source code and even stealing the fingertip of a robot in a T-Mobile lab in Bellevue, Wash. In 2015, Huawei’s founder and chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, said that as part of a company amnesty program, thousands of employees had admitted to violations ranging from fraudulent reporting of financial information to bribery.

In an emailed statement, a spokesman said that Huawei requires all employees to study and sign guidelines on business conduct every year. “At the heart of the guidelines is the principle of acting in accordance with all local laws and regulations,” said the spokesman, Joe Kelly. “Where employees are found to have acted outside these guidelines, the company takes decisive action which can include immediate termination of employment.”

Mr. Ren said in 2015 that Huawei had toughened its safeguards against employee misconduct. But the following year, in a speech that was emailed to employees, he acknowledged that many workers did not pay attention to internal rules and controls — perhaps, he said, because Huawei used to evaluate staff solely according to how much business they won.

More recently, in remarks that were emailed to employees, Mr. Ren said that it was important to enforce internal standards, but that this should not become a hindrance.

“If it blocks the business from producing grain, then we all starve to death,” he said, according to a transcript of his comments on a Huawei website.

Ms. Meng’s arrest this month has darkened China’s relations with the United States, scrambling efforts by the two nations to ease a tense economic conflict. Washington has worked for years to undermine Huawei, regarding its products as potential vehicles for espionage and sabotage — something the company denies.

Security concerns about Huawei and other Chinese equipment providers are mounting among traditional allies of the United States.

At the annual meeting of spy chiefs of the so-called Five Eyes countries, Huawei was among the topics discussed by senior intelligence officers from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, including Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, according to current and former officials. There was no formal agreement to seek a ban of Huawei, but the discussion shows the loose coordination Western security officials have pursued as they try to push the Chinese company out of agreements to build the next-generation mobile broadband networks, known as 5G, some of the officials said.

The pressure on the business is building. In Germany last week, Deutsche Telekom said it was taking seriously the “global discussion about the security of network elements from Chinese manufacturers.” On Monday, the Czech intelligence agency warned against the country working with Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese technology company.

Huawei was founded in the late 1980s, during the tumultuous early years of China’s capitalist revival. Mr. Ren was an engineer in the People’s Liberation Army for nearly a decade before starting Huawei, and military values — tenacity, dedication, drive — have long suffused the company.

In the early years, squads of Huawei salesmen crisscrossed China in sport utility vehicles peddling the company’s telephone switches to post offices. Employees were given mattresses so they could nap while working late nights.

Company lore, as recounted in employee publications and admiring books by business professors, is heavy on stories of dogged staff members enduring physical hardship. They worked to keep telecom services running despite a terrorist attack in Mumbai and an earthquake in Algeria. They braved cold and sleeplessness to provide mobile coverage to climbers on Mount Everest.

Today, the working hours are still long at Huawei, although folding beds at work are more likely to be used for midday shut-eye than for all-nighters, according to three employees. Several Huawei staff members spoke to The New York Times on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals.

New hires at Huawei take part in a boot camp-style training course that involves morning jogs and classes on the company’s culture. Employees also compose and perform skits that illustrate how they would persevere and serve their customers in difficult environs, such as war zones, according to three Huawei employees.

In a research lab in Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters, a piece of framed calligraphy on the wall reads: “Sacrifice is a soldier’s highest cause. Victory is a soldier’s greatest contribution.”

This intense work environment is not universally admired in China. Internet users savaged Huawei after a 25-year-old employee died of encephalitis in 2006. A spate of employee suicides led to more outrage in the Chinese media.

When it comes to staff conduct at Huawei, there are “red lines” that cannot be crossed under any circumstances, four employees told The Times. These include disclosing company secrets and breaking laws and sanctions.

But in company parlance, there are also “yellow lines,” employees say. They say they are encouraged to ignore certain internal rules, such as a ban on using gifts or other inducements to win customers, if it benefits the firm to do so.

For some people at Huawei, these lines may have become blurred as the company grew rapidly around the globe.

In 2002, Iraq’s government submitted to the United Nations a 12,000-page declaration on its weapons program, and Huawei was reported to have been named as one of dozens of foreign companies that broke an embargo and sold technology to Saddam Hussein’s regime. The company denied at the time that it had supplied equipment to Iraq. It said it had bid on two telecom projects in the country in 1999, but withdrew for commercial reasons.

Another test came in 2003, when Huawei was sued by Cisco Systems, the American maker of computer network equipment, for allegedly copying its software and even language from its instruction manuals. The two sides settled out of court.

A decade later, T-Mobile said that Huawei employees had photographed and stolen a piece of a smartphone-testing robot named Tappy to help Huawei produce its own robot. Huawei acknowledged the transgressions and said the employees had been fired. A jury later awarded T-Mobile $4.8 million in damages.

Allegations of impropriety of other kinds trailed Huawei’s expansion into Africa. In Ghana, an anticorruption group said in 2012 that the company had sponsored the governing party’s election campaign in exchange for tax breaks. That year, a Huawei executive was also convicted in Algeria of bribing an official from a state-run telecom operator.

Huawei did not comment on the accusation in Ghana at the time. After the Algerian court ruling, the company said it took the court’s decision “seriously” and was reviewing the outcome.

In a 2013 New Year’s message that was published in an employee newspaper, Guo Ping, Huawei’s chief executive at the time, acknowledged that rapid growth had created problems and risks.

“Not long ago, high-speed growth was Huawei’s priority,” Mr. Guo said. “This helped Huawei mature quickly, but it also caused Huawei’s management to become negligent.”

Now, he said, “we must control the impulse to expand, and hold to account managers who spread themselves too thin.”

By then, Huawei had said it had halted expansion in one particularly sensitive market: Iran. Still, United States investigators now say the company broke the law in connection with its business there.

Huawei entered the Iranian market in 1999. Within a decade, the Chinese Embassy in Tehran was boasting that 130 cities in the country were connected to Huawei’s fiber optic network.

“The Iranian telecom market’s reliance on Huawei’s products is growing day by day,” a 2009 article on the embassy’s website said. “Huawei has become the Iranian telecom market’s main hardware supplier.”

Soon thereafter, the United Nations and the United States imposed new sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. In 2011, Huawei said it would not sign new contracts in the country, citing the “complicated” situation there. It also said it would limit its business with existing customers.

The accusations against Ms. Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer, stem from events in 2013.

According to an affidavit that was made public during Ms. Meng’s bail hearing, Huawei used a company called Skycom as an unofficial subsidiary for doing business in Iran. The filing, which contains information provided by the United States, says that Ms. Meng concealed Skycom’s link to Huawei to reassure HSBC and other banks that Huawei was not violating American sanctions against Iran.

As a result, HSBC and its American subsidiary had cleared more than $100 million in transactions with Skycom in Iran by 2014, the affidavit says.

Huawei still has a presence in Iran. At a cellphone bazaar in Tehran is a store that specializes in the company’s devices.

Inside, a shopkeeper, Hamed Hajipour, says Huawei’s phones are popular in Iran. Mr. Hajipour, 29, has even had his name tattooed in Chinese characters on his arm.

“I love everything about China,” he said. “It’s a great and powerful country.”

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Trudeau Government Should Turn to Sustainable Floor Heating In Its New Deal

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A consortium has been chosen by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to manage the $1.1-billion overhaul of five heating and cooling plants in the National Capital Region. However, this decision has been met with a lot of disapproval by the country’s largest federal public service union.

Early June, the department announced that Innovate Energy has been awarded the 30-year contract “to design, retrofit, maintain and operate the plants,”winning the bid over a rival group that included SNC-Lavalin.

Minister of Environment, Catherine McKenna, said the federal government was “leading by example” in its bid to drastically reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions across the country. McKenna noted that by supporting this project, they’re utilizing heating and cooling infrastructure to promote a more environmentally friendly option.

“We’re very proud that our government is working with partners like Innovate Energy to modernize this critical infrastructure,” she said during the announcement at one of the facilities that will be upgraded, the Cliff Heating and Cooling Plant in downtown Ottawa.

The plants would be known as the district energy system and would heat 80 buildings in the area with steam. It is also expected to cool 67 of these buildings with chilled water through more than 14 kilometres of underground pipes.

Under the Energy Services Acquisition Program, PSPC will be tasked with modernizing the outdated technology in the plants to lower emissions and supportgrowth in the eco-friendly technology sector.

During the first stage of the overhaul, the system would be converted from steam to low temperature hot water and then switched from steam to electric chillers—with the estimated completion date being 2025. PSPC notes that the project will reduce current emissions by 63 per cent, the equivalent of removing 14,000 non-eco-friendly cars off the road.

Afterwards, the natural gas powering the plant will then be replaced by carbon-neutral fuel sources, which according to estimated will reduce emissions by a further 28 per cent. The renovation project is bound to save the government an estimated fee of more than $750 million in heating and cooling costs in the next 40 years.

Furthermore, the implementation of radiant floor heating in Ottawa by the federal government would be an additional step in driving its agenda for a more eco-friendly state.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website, radiant floor heating has a lot of benefits and advantages over alternate heat systems and can cut heating costs by 25 to 50 per cent.

“It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts,” the website states.

Radiant floor heating provides an equal amount of heat throughout a building, including areas that are difficult to heat, such as rooms with vaulted ceilings, garages or bathrooms. Consideringit warms people and objects directly—controlling the direct heat loss of the occupant—radiant floor heating provides comfort at lower thermostat settings.

“Radiators and other forms of ‘point’ heating circulate heat inefficiently and hence need to run for longer periods to obtain comfort levels,” reports the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNet).

Radiant heating is a clean and healthy option—a perfect choice for those with severe allergies—as it doesn’t rely on circulating air, meaning there are no potentially irritating particles blowing around the room. Additionally, it is more energy efficient, aesthetically pleasing with wall radiators or floor registers and virtually noiseless when in operation.

“They draw cold air across the floor and send warm air up to the ceiling, where it then falls, heating the room from the top down, creating drafts and circulating dust and allergens.”

It is important for the leadership in Ottawa to equally drive the adoption of radiant floor heating as doing this would lead to increased usage in residential buildings—and even government-owned buildings.

However, in October, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), a representative body of employees of the plants,began a campaign target at the government against their decision to use a public-private partnership (P3) for the retrofitting project, citing concerns about costs and safety.

According to the union, outside employees won’t be bound to the same health and safety standards of government workers and that typically P3 projects cost a lot more than traditional public financing deals.

The union demands that the government scraps the proposed project and meet PSAC members and experts to brainstorm on a new way forward that would ensure federal employees continue to operate and maintain the plants.

However, parliamentary secretary to public services and procurement minister, Steve MacKinnon said that the union officials have consulted him but that after conducting an analysis, the P3 option was still the best for the job.

“We didn’t have (to) sacrifice on safety or health — we didn’t have to sacrifice on job security,” he said.

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Steps to becoming a Data Scientist

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Data science has become one of the most in-demand career paths in this century, according to Business Insider. With the amount of information being circulated online, it has created a huge demand for storing, interpreting and implementing big data for different purposes—hence the need for a data scientist.

Today, there too much information flying around for regular people to process efficiently and use. Therefore, it has become the responsibility of data scientists to collect, organize and analyze this data. Doing this helps various people, organizations, enterprise businesses and governments to manage, store and interpret this data for different purposes.

Though data scientists come from different educational backgrounds, a majority of them need to have a technical educational background. To pursue a career in data science, computer-related majors, graduations and post graduations in maths and statistics are quite useful.

Therefore, the steps to becoming a data scientist are quite straightforward.  After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in an IT related field—such as computer science, maths or physics—you can also further your education by obtaining a master’s degree in a data science or any other related field of study. With the necessary educational background, you can now search for a job and obtain the required experience in whichever filed you choose to invest your acquired skills.

Here are the necessary steps to be taken to become a data scientist.

Step 1: Obtain the necessary educational requirements

As earlier noted, different educational paths can still lead to a career in data science. However, it is impossible to begin a career in data science without obtaining a collegiate degree—as a four-year bachelor’s degree is really important. However, according to a report by Business Insider, over 73% of data scientist in existence today have a graduate degree and about 38% of them hold a Ph.D. Therefore, to rise above the crowd and get a high-end position in the field of data science, it is important to have a Master’s degree or a Ph.D.—and with various online data science masters program, obtaining one is quite easy.

Some institutions provide data science programs with courses that will equip students to analyze complex sets of data. These courses also involve a host of technical information about computers, statistics, data analysis techniques and many more. Completing these programs equips you with the necessary skills to function adequately as a data scientist.

Additionally, there are some technical—and computer-based degrees—that can aid you begin a career in data science. Some of them include studies in, Computer Science, Statistics, Social Science, Physics, Economics, Mathematics and Applied Math. These degrees will imbibe some important skills related to data science in you—namely, coding, experimenting, managing large amounts of data, solving quantitative problems and many others.

Step 2: Choose an area of specialization

There rarely exists an organization, agency or business today that doesn’t require the expertise of a data scientist. Hence, it is important that after acquiring the necessary education to start a career as a data scientist, you need to choose an area of specialization in the field you wish to work in.

Some of the specializations that exist in data science today include automotive, marketing, business, defence, sales, negotiation, insurance and many others.

Step 3: Kick start your career as a data scientist

After acquiring the necessary skills to become a data scientist, it is important to get a job in the filed and company of your choice where you can acquire some experience.

Many organizations offer valuable training to their data scientists and these pieces of training are typically centred around the specific internal systems and programs of an organization. Partaking in this training allows you learn some high-level analytical skills that were not taught during your various school programs—especially since data science is a constantly evolving field.

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Artificial intelligence pioneers win tech’s ‘Nobel Prize’

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Computers have become so smart during the past 20 years that people don’t think twice about chatting with digital assistants like Alexa and Siri or seeing their friends automatically tagged in Facebook pictures.

But making those quantum leaps from science fiction to reality required hard work from computer scientists like Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun. The trio tapped into their own brainpower to make it possible for machines to learn like humans, a breakthrough now commonly known as “artificial intelligence,” or AI.

Their insights and persistence were rewarded Wednesday with the Turing Award, an honor that has become known as technology industry’s version of the Nobel Prize. It comes with a $1 million prize funded by Google, a company where AI has become part of its DNA.

The award marks the latest recognition of the instrumental role that artificial intelligence will likely play in redefining the relationship between humanity and technology in the decades ahead.

Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest-growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society,” said Cherri Pancake, president of the Association for Computing Machinery, the group behind the Turing Award.

Although they have known each other for than 30 years, Bengio, Hinton and LeCun have mostly worked separately on technology known as neural networks. These are the electronic engines that power tasks such as facial and speech recognition, areas where computers have made enormous strides over the past decade. Such neural networks also are a critical component of robotic systems that are automating a wide range of other human activity, including driving.

Their belief in the power of neural networks was once mocked by their peers, Hinton said. No more. He now works at Google as a vice president and senior fellow while LeCun is chief AI scientist at Facebook. Bengio remains immersed in academia as a University of Montreal professor in addition to serving as scientific director at the Artificial Intelligence Institute in Quebec.

“For a long time, people thought what the three of us were doing was nonsense,” Hinton said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They thought we were very misguided and what we were doing was a very surprising thing for apparently intelligent people to waste their time on. My message to young researchers is, don’t be put off if everyone tells you what are doing is silly.” Now, some people are worried that the results of the researchers’ efforts might spiral out of control.

While the AI revolution is raising hopes that computers will make most people’s lives more convenient and enjoyable, it’s also stoking fears that humanity eventually will be living at the mercy of machines.

Bengio, Hinton and LeCun share some of those concerns especially the doomsday scenarios that envision AI technology developed into weapons systems that wipe out humanity.

But they are far more optimistic about the other prospects of AI empowering computers to deliver more accurate warnings about floods and earthquakes, for instance, or detecting health risks, such as cancer and heart attacks, far earlier than human doctors.

“One thing is very clear, the techniques that we developed can be used for an enormous amount of good affecting hundreds of millions of people,” Hinton said.

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