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Ernst & Young Report: Quadriga CX Owes More Than It Owns

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EY said that Quadriga has more debts than assets.

The interesting tale involving that Canada-based crypto exchange company, Quadriga CX, continues after the government-nominated monitor Ernst and Young (EY) has published a report on the assets and liabilities of the company saying that it owes much more money than it actually has.

According to the recent report by the monitor, which was dated May 1st but only published a few days ago, there are three different sources of assets and independent entities that the Quadriga CX’s fund are connected – Quadriga Fintech Solutions Corp., Whiteside Capital Corporation and 0984750 B.C. Ltd. The three companies are each presented as its bankrupt firm, which means each of the company has its list of assets and liability, notwithstanding any form of overlap.

The data produced by EY as of April 12th shows that Quadriga Fintech Solutions had CAD 254,180 (USD 189,345) in total assets, but the firm owes a total of CAD 214,873,113 (USD 160,051,461). In Quadriga Fintech Solutions alone, the company has a total deficit of $214,618,933 CAD ($159,862,116 USD).

While some may hope that there are still two other business entities that could cover up the deficit, one is mistaken as the scenario does not go far from Quadriga Fintech Solutions. Whiteside Capital corporations has no assets at all but owed $214,618,937 CAD ($159,875,011 USD) and 0984750 B.C. Ltd had $28,649,542 CAD ($21,343,192 USD) and owed $215,697,147 CAD ($160,688,982 USD).

In total, the company has a deficit of $616,285,475 CAD ($459,082,917 USD).

According to George Kinsman, the EY employee acting as the monitor and trustee, the fact that there are numerous estates, creditors, and known assets, causes a “material discrepancy between the reported fiat and cryptocurrency obligations.” He also noted that the careless bookkeeping posed a challenge in pulling together the said numbers.

It can be remembered that Quadriga CX was previously put into the limelight when its founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Gerald Cotten, died last year under mysterious circumstances leaving the company with mountains of debts from its customers. On January, Quadriga entered a civil rehabilitation process when Jennifer Robertson, the widow of Cotten, wrote in an affidavit that the company could not access the cold crypto wallets of Quadriga because Cotten brought all the digital assets with him to the grave.

Nonetheless, the Ernst and Young, through the course of its investigation was still unable to find the said cold wallets listed by Quadriga in a document submitted to them. Interestingly, 103 bitcoin was accidentally transferred from a hot wallet that was allegedly part of the original Quadriga fund.

“A complete and fulsome review of Quadriga’s financial affairs will take considerable time and effort to pursue and may not be possible or cost-effective to complete given the lack of available information, the volume of transactions processed and the number of [third-party payment processors] and cryptocurrency exchanges involved, many of whom to date, have not fully cooperated with the Monitor’s investigation,” said Kinsman as his explanation why EY was not able to locate the funds in the given cold wallet addresses.

Even so, Ernst and Young hold about $500,000 in cryptocurrency recovered from Quadriga’s hot wallets and “various other sources.” EY holds 61 bitcoin, 33 bitcoin cash, 2,661 bitcoin gold, 851 litecoin, and 960 ether. The report did not address what progress, if any, EY has made in locating the exchange’s other missing cryptos.

Whether or not the funds will be returned to the clients of Quadriga remains a question. Initially, through the assistance of Robertson, authorities were able to approximate more than 115,000 claimants; however, only 76,319 claims were validated by Miller Thomson, the court-appointed legal counsel to help the victims in litigation purposes and to recover their lost funds.

Aside from the independent users of the crypto exchange, other claimants go after the funds of Quadriga. According to Robertson, the company also owes a secured creditor CAD 300,000 (USD 223,500), and Costodian, a payment processing company for Quadriga is also claiming CAD 774,214 (USD 557,200) in unpaid processing fees, though this claim is yet to be resolved in court.

While EY is hopeful that they can also go after the assets from Cotten’s estate that he left to his widow, the “preserving parties” of the estate estimate that only CAD 12 million (about USD 9 million) is left, and even if they were able to collect all of it successfully, it would still be insufficient to cover up the deficit.

A consumer tech and cybersecurity journalist who does content marketing while daydreaming about having unlimited coffee for life and getting a pet llama. I also own a cybersecurity blog called Zero Day.

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DoorDash Is Stealing Their Workers’ Tips To Pay For Their Wages

Instead of adding tips on top of their wages, DoorDash kicks off its wages by the amount of the tips their dashers received.

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Photo: DoorDash Website

The culture of tipping could be of significant help to workers, especially those who are earning a meager income. However, the culture is now exploited by capitalists and has become predatory more specifically in service-based industries. This predatory practice now extends to delivery apps, where companies are using tips to kick off a certain amount from the worker’s base salary.

To give you a short fact check, this kind of practice has been present since time immemorial. However, new reports reveal that delivery app, DoorDash, is also doing this and essentially stealing the tips their customers are giving their workers, thinking that it would maximize their profits.

DoorDash is a delivery app that connects users to different food establishments as a substitute for the native delivery service. They are “a technology company that connects people with the best in their cities,” the company claims.

“We do this by empowering local businesses and in turn, generate new ways for people to earn, work, and live. We started by facilitating door-to-door delivery, but we see this as just the beginning of connecting people with possibility — easier evenings, happier days, bigger savings accounts, wider nets, and stronger communities.”

However, it seems like DoorDash has been tricking users and exploiting their workers. Recent reports revealed that the company is using their delivery person’s tips as a basic wage, instead of topping it off their salary.

In a report penned by Andy Newman, DoorDash is said to offer a minimum pay for each delivery. However, it appears that even if a tip is given to the rider, the rider will still receive the same amount as the minimum pay for each delivery.

“For my first order, the guarantee was $6.85 and the customer, a woman in Boerum Hill who answered the door in a colorful bathrobe, tipped $3 via the app. But I still received only $6.85. Here’s how it works: If the woman in the bathrobe had tipped zero, DoorDash would have paid me the whole $6.85. Because she tipped $3, DoorDash kicked in only $3.85. She was saving DoorDash $3, not tipping me,” Newman wrote.

But as mentioned earlier, this is not a new practice at all. What DoorDash is doing is the app version of “tipped wages,” where employers are paying their workers below minimum wage and relying on tips to cover up the rest of what they owe from their laborers.

What DoorDash is doing is practically extending a bad labor practice that steals workers off of their hard-earned money to the tech space.

And DoorDash isn’t the only one doing it as well.

Reports from different news outlets have earlier revealed that Instacart and Amazon Flex do the same practice — they also use tips for their workers as part of the base salary. Consumer and labor advocates have since called out companies for this “completely deceptive” policies, resulting in Instacart scrapping its tipped wages policy down the drain and promised to compensate their workers retroactively.

But AmazonFlex and DoorDash are still doing it, regardless. And what’s worse is that these platforms aren’t even transparent to their workers on whether the salary they receive is compensated by their supposed tips, making it hard for them to understand what exactly is going on.

Thankfully, other companies said that they are not doing the same predatory practice. Postmates, Grubhub, Seamless, and Uber Eats all confirmed that they are not using their workers’ tips to pay for their salary. But, they are just the tip of the iceberg.

As long as there are companies who follow this “disgusting” salary and labor practices, workers will still be in the dark on their earnings. Not to mention that the tech space is also enabling companies to take advantage of their users and their workers.

The problem with labor is not necessarily all about tips. It is the environment that is nurtured by corrupt labor practices that need to be changed. Many advocates have called for regulations against tipped wages and have since echoed their concerns in protecting labor rights.

However, as technology progresses, these legislations and regulations also have to translate to the progress businesses are making, especially in the tech world. Without an updated ordinance that encompasses the tech space, workers, employees, and laborers will continue to become the prey of this massive exploit.

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Microsoft Bets $1 Billion On OpenAI’s Ambition To Harness The Human Brain In Tech

Microsoft is getting in bed with OpenAI, and the price tag is worth $1 billion.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash. on July 15, 2019. (Photography by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

Global market leader for computers and technology, Microsoft, bets $1 billion on OpenAI, Elon Musk’s, and Sam Altman’s brainchild that aims to establish a research laboratory focusing on developing a technology that would imitate and mimic human brain function.

OpenAI was conceived by the two billionaires three years ago, and since then, it has been gaining support from the tech community for its ambitious projects. According to a press release from Microsoft, the goal of the partnership is to “accelerate breakthroughs in AI and power OpenAI’s efforts to create artificial general intelligence (AGI).”

Furthermore, Microsoft aims to extend Microsoft Azure’s capabilities in large-scale AI systems, and they believe that the partnership will usher such advancement. The resulting enhancement of Azure’s capabilities will help their developers in creating and designing new generations of Artificially Intelligent applications.

Microsoft said that the partnership will see both Microsoft and OpenAI working hand-in-hand to build new Azure AI supercomputing technologies and that Azure will become OpenAI’s “preferred partner” to commercially distribute its AI applications.

“OpenAI will port its services to run on Microsoft Azure, which it will use to create new AI technologies and deliver on the promise of artificial general intelligence,” reads the press release.

“The companies will focus on building a computational platform in Azure of unprecedented scale, which will train and run increasingly advanced AI models, include hardware technologies that build on Microsoft’s supercomputing technology and adhere to the two companies’ shared principles on ethics and trust. This will create the foundation for advancements in AI to be implemented in a safe, secure, and trustworthy way and is a critical reason the companies chose to partner together.”

It is interesting to note that the partnership seems to imply that there will be an exclusive relationship between OpenAI and Microsoft amidst Musk’s intention for his company to“freely collaborate” among other AI researchers and to make his works and patents available to others.

Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch said that amidst this exciting development in OpenAI’s strategy, there are still several caveats. “OpenAI Inc. the non-profit organization, and its for-profit corporate subsidiary OpenAI LP, and that its current charter includes a provision that it may reduce the public publishing of its work as it moves forward out of “safety and security concerns,” he wrote.

The continuous development of technology and the effort of humankind to harness the power of human brains have brought upon generations of applications and have led to constant AI breakthroughs in areas such as vision, speech, language processing, translation, robotic control, and even gaming. And Microsoft said that artificial intelligence has since been solving world problems because “the hardest problems facing the world today will require generalization and deep mastery of multiple AI technologies.”

It is, according to Microsoft’s press release, the goal of both OpenAI and the tech giant to solve multidisciplinary problems that the world is facing right now such as climate change, more personalized healthcare, and education through accelerated advancement in AI research.

“AI is one of the most transformative technologies of our time and has the potential to help solve many of our world’s most pressing challenges,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “By bringing together OpenAI’s breakthrough technology with new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, our ambition is to democratize AI — while always keeping AI safety front and center — so everyone can benefit.”

Similarly, OpenAI believes that its partnership with Microsoft has the potential of reshaping the world. “The creation of AGI will be the most important technological development in human history, with the potential to shape the trajectory of humanity,” said Sam Altman, CEO, OpenAI.

“Our mission is to ensure that AGI technology benefits all of humanity, and we’re working with Microsoft to build the supercomputing foundation on which we’ll build AGI. We believe it’s crucial that AGI is deployed safely and securely and that its economic benefits are widely distributed. We are excited about how deeply Microsoft shares this vision.”

At its launch, OpenAI noted that it had $1 billion committed from Musk, Altman and co-founder and CTO Greg Brockman, as well as Reid Hoffman, Jessica Livingston, Peter Thiel, Amazon Web Services, Infosys and YC Research, though it did not anticipate spending that much in the ensuing few years.

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There’s A Flame-Throwing Drone You Can Buy, And It’s Completely Legal

The flame-throwing device can actually be used for industrial purposes other than burning people to the ground

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Throwflame

An American company from Ohio called Throwflame is selling a drone attachment that allows users to spew fire in the air; it may not be the safest idea, but it can serve a practical purpose.

The flame thrower attachment is called TF-19 Wasp and can easily sound like a nightmare waiting to happen. The TF-19 Wasp gets its name from nature’s very own venom-stinging insect that could inflict pain with a single poke.

Throwflame sees that their latest product responds to a growing market need and can serve as an industrial solution in many applicable ways other than the morbid idea of burning people randomly—still a possibility.

According to an interview with Quinn Whitehead, Throwflame’s founder, by Gizmodo, people can purchase the attachment for recreation, agricultural use, and lighting stuff with limited access.

Throwflame calls TF-19 Wasp a “game-changer for clearing vital infrastructure, igniting remote vegetation, and eliminating pests.” But the flying fire dispensers are also useful for “nest elimination” and to “clear debris from power lines” with the convenience and safety of “remote ignition of aerial and ground targets.”

The company even said that the drone attachment could be used in domestic settings such as lighting barbecues to clearing the garden of weeds or cats.

More significantly, people have been attaching flamethrowers to drones for years now, and power companies do use them to clear trash and debris off of high voltage wires. It’s safer and more efficient than sending a human up in a cherry picker to pull off the garbage, Gizmodo reports.

“It’s definitely a unique concept,” Whitehead says in an interview with Gizmodo. “But any new technology is a little bit scary at first. You think back to when drones first got commercialized and popularized—they were cheap enough for the average person to buy—there was a lot of concern about privacy issues and people flying them all over the place, and swarms of drones blocking out the sun. But in hindsight, it’s kind of an overreaction I think.”

Comparatively, Elon Musk’s The Boring Company started the idea of recreational flame throwers with its Not A Flamethrower, a handheld fire-spitting gun, that gained popularity among younger consumers and has made an appearance in popular YouTube channels such as David Dobrik’s and Jeffree Star.

According to Musk, all of the 20,000 Not A Flamethrower guns offered were sold out. Meaning, there are 20,000 people with flamethrowers in their homes but, so far, we haven’t heard anyone use it to harm others intentionally.

Meanwhile, Throwflame said that only half of its customers pick up their products for recreational purposes, while the other half use them for agricultural work or lighting stuff where access is limited by foot or vehicle.

Throwflame even assured customers that their product is federally legal and is not considered a weapon and users are still required to comply with the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in addition to local ordinances.

The company’s FAQ says that “Flamethrowers are legal and unregulated in most counties. Chances are, we can ship to you.”

As of the moment, the four-pound TF-19 Wasp flamethrower drone attachment is available for purchase to the general public for $1,500. According to the company, the device can easily hold up to a gallon of tank fuel that should last users 100 seconds of firing time with a 25-foot (7.62m) range.

It burns through a mixture of petrol and diesel, although the company also offers napalm thickener – one scoop per gallon of 50:50 petrol-diesel mixture.

The company also offers a napalm-compatible standalone flamethrower called XL18 for more intense tasks. It provides a 100-foot (30m) range and can carry up to 3.3 gallons (12.5 liters) in its tank but will come at a higher price tag amounting to $3,000.

Depending on the drone used, users can have a visual input on their remote controls for farther distances and other hard-to-reach locations.

Furthermore, the device can convert your existing drones into a flame thrower menace or purchase the company’s recommended drone, which is a DJI S1000, which the basic kit costs another $1,500 but can go as high as $5000 for a full kit.

Throwflame says it’ll soon begin selling fully-assembled drones for $1,000 to $10,000, depending on what customers are looking for.

Orders placed on Throwflame’s website will ship in 2-4 weeks. The company will also build customized drone packages but will take an extra 1-2 weeks to accommodate the customization for user requirements.

“The WASP will be available for purchase on July 18, which is the anniversary of the beginning of the Great Fire of Rome under Emperor Nero in [the year] 64,” Whitehead said.

And if you act fast, Throwflame’s throwing in a free shirt for the first few purchases.

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