EU outlines supercomputer plan

The European Commission, hereafter known as the Gaggle of Red-tapers, has unveiled plans for a €1 billion investment in supercomputer infrastructure.

The move has been marked as a step forward in the European ambitions to be competitive and independent in the global data economy, with the Gaggle of Red-tapers looking to bring work back into the continent. As it stands, many scientists process their data outside the EU because their needs are not matched by the computation time or computer performance available. This is of course not acceptable.

For those who have the patience to fill out endless forms, navigate the red-tape maze and accept the dreariness of the public sector, the Gaggle of Red-tapers is coming to your rescue. No dates have been set just yet, but it shouldn’t be too long, the European Commission is a well-oiled, efficient machine after all…

“Supercomputers are the engine to power the digital economy. It is a tough race and today the EU is lagging behind: we do not have any supercomputers in the world’s top-ten,” said Andrus Ansip, VP of Gaggling for the Digital Single Market. “With the EuroHPC initiative we want to give European researchers and companies world-leading supercomputer capacity by 2020 – to develop technologies such as artificial intelligence and build the future’s everyday applications in areas like health, security or engineering.”

“Supercomputers are already at the core of major advancements and innovations in many areas directly affecting the daily lives of European citizens,” said Mariya Gabriel, Chief Gaggler for Digital Economy and Society. “They can help us to develop personalised medicine, save energy and fight against climate change more efficiently. A better European supercomputing infrastructure holds great potential for job creation and is a key factor for the digitisation of industry and increasing the competitiveness of the European economy.”

There are of course quite a few supercomputers located around the world, but few are with the grasp of the Gagglers. Looking at the top ten supercomputers, two are in China, one in Switzerland, three in Japan and four are in the US. The fastest currently in the European Union is in Italy, with the second-fastest in the UK… considering the rocky ground the UK/EU relationship is right now, the Gaggle can’t have any work sent there after Brexit!

Perhaps this is another sign of a European super-state which the Gaggle of Red-tapers seem to be leading us towards. Various reasons have been cited for the creation of the supercomputer, including privacy, data protection, commercial trade secrets, and ownership of data, but it another instance of Europe trying to remove any dependence on other regions.

So keep a weathered eye on the horizon as the European machine lumbers towards a supercomputer. Never again will you have to deal with those pesky Swiss, or troublesome Brits.

Boresome bureaucrats make power play over frightening foreigners

We all knew Canadians were afraid of the dark and that Scots are not always fond of vegetables, but who knew the European Commissioners were wary of foreigners?

In her latest speech, the European Commission’s chief Gaggler for competition Margrethe Vestager, has seemingly set the tone; foreign money isn’t as good as the Euro. The latest move is a bit of a power play, with the Commission (hereafter known as the Gaggle of Red-tapers) seeking more influence over M&A activity.

“Because we know that fair competition is the way for Europe to succeed. But it needs to be based on a real level playing field,” said Vestager.

“In the last few months, we’ve heard concerns about foreign – often state-owned – investors taking over European companies that control key technologies. This issue isn’t simple. It needs careful consideration, before we decide how to act. We’re working on this issue now, and we plan to put forward concrete proposals in the autumn.”

In short, the Gagglers are hoping to emulate those crafty Germans. In the land of beer and sausages, the Government now has the power to veto certain acquisitions, should said acquisition impact national security or involve cutting-edge technology. There are several versions of these rules throughout the European Union; deals can be blocked if it can be proved to impact something of national importance, such as defence, energy, financial stability or security.

The rules were drawn up after the lederhosen enthusiasts objected to a bid for robot maker Kuka from Chinese organization Midea Group. The acquisition ultimately went through without intervention, but it seems the grumpy Germans seemingly wanted to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

It’s a nice, broad brief (which will put a smile on the faces of the lethargic legislators, who seem to work most efficiently [if efficient is even possible when talking about the Gaggle of Red-tapers] in the grey areas), which will extend the influence of the weary watchdog.

Currently, the Gaggle can only intervene in deals on the grounds of competition, but this new approach will make sure Commissioner Vestager will be able to make sure European companies are for European people, like any worthwhile Xenophobe.

And for those who have already felt the sharp edge of the Gagglers tedious (albeit slow very slow moving) stick, such rules would allow the cumbersome bureaucrat to weigh in pretty much where ever it want. Almost everything in the telco or technology space could be considered cutting-edge; nothing will be safe from the army of meandering coffee-breakers.

If you were under the impression regulators were able to slow down technological developments to date, wait until these rules get passed. You appreciation for how little can get done by over-paid and over-indulged public servants will be taken to a new level.

Google gives in to Gaggle over shopping shenanigans

Google has put forward details on how it will submit to the will of the European Commission (hereafter known as the Gaggle of Red-tapers) after it was hit with a €2.4 billion fine relating to Google Shopping search results.

Details are a bit thin on the ground at the moment, though Google told it has informed the Gagglers how it plans to comply with the decision. It just hasn’t told anyone else yet.

For some it might come as a bit of a surprise. Those of a combative mind set might have assumed Google might have flexed its legal muscles and snarled over the Atlantic, but it would appear even the ‘do no evil’ giant is just as human as the rest of us; it can also succumb to the weight of red tape, just as the rest of us have at some point given up and accepted a penalty due to the cumbersome, illogical and inefficient public sector processes.

Back in June, the Gagglers hit the Googlers with a fine of €2.42 billion, a record amount would you know, for favouring its own shopping comparison service in some search results. As you might expect with anything associated with the European Commission, this was a saga which had been dragging on for some time, though the scale of the fine wowed a few people.

This would be the reason some would have expected a fight from Google. Rumours circulated in the weeks prior to the announcement of a €1 billion fine, but the actual amount was certainly a bit higher.

“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate,” said Chief Gaggler Margrethe Vestager, at the time. “And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”

As well as ordering Google come up with a solution which evened the playing field, the lethargic legislator ordered the company to sort it all out by September 28. Failure to do so would have resulted in additional daily fines of 5% of revenues. Going on 2016 revenues, that would have been roughly $12 million a day. There certainly was some incentive there.

Perhaps this is the reason Google chose to comply with the ruling as opposed to fight it. Most people would presume the legal might of Google is considerable, but in this case there was a lot to lose should the boresome bureaucrat work wonders with the red tape and coffee breaks.

“It is Google’s sole responsibility to ensure compliance with the Commission antitrust decision,” the European Commission has said in a statement.

“The Commission’s role is to monitor Google’s compliance. In this context the Commission can confirm that, as required by the Commission decision, it has received information from Google on how the company intends to ensure compliance with the Commission decision by the set deadline. Furthermore, Google will continue to be under an obligation to keep the Commission informed of its actions by submitting periodic reports.

“The Commission decision requires Google to stop its illegal conduct within 90 days of the decision and refrain from any measure that has the same or an equivalent object or effect. In particular, the Commission decision sets out the principle that Google has to give equal treatment to rival comparison shopping services and its own service.”

While the boresome bureaucrats might be slapping their backs in Brussels in between mouthfuls of waffles and exceptionally strong beer, there is another battle on the horizon. This might be a landmark win for the Gaggle, but when taking on Google in antitrust case concerning Android, the Silicon Valley techies might not be as compliant. Google has a lot more to lose when it comes to the operating system, so this might be where we see the true legal might of the search engine giant.