‘Silent Brexit’, Italy’s political crisis and the robot that will do your mascara
Planet Business: In other news, Papua New Guinea takes Facebook break we all deserve
Something in my AI: L’Oréal’s robot zooms in with some mascara at the VivaTech trade fair in Paris. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty
In numbers: Bans and bots
Number of months for which Facebook will be banned in Papua New Guinea. Its government plans to spend the time identifying fake profiles, works out how to prosecute those violating its cyber-crime law and considers setting up its own social network.
Percentage of people who have internet access in Papua New Guinea, where Denis O’Brien’s Digicel is active in the mobile market.
Number of fake Facebook accounts worldwide taken down by the company in its past two quarters. Most of them were bots “with the intent of spreading spam or conducting illicit activities such as scams”.
Image of the week: Beauty school robots
Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s the robot-applied mascara. French cosmetics giant L’Oréal is big into robotics, which it uses throughout its manufacturing process to help get the formulae of its many gloops spot-on. This one, preparing to wave a mascara wand through a dummy’s lashes, was on display at the VivaTech trade fair in Paris this week and is a prototype used by the company to help it work out how its products will look on human faces. So the good news is that there is, as yet, no terrifying fleet of robot beauticians armed and ready to descend upon stalls, stores and salons on heavy-duty contouring missions to make everyone look the same. But who did her hair?
Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP Photo
The lexicon: Silent Brexit
Another entry in the Brexicon: well ahead of Brexit Day, a “silent Brexit” is already taking place, with companies focusing their expansions in Dublin rather than the UK, according to Kevin Nowlan, chief executive of “super-landlord” property group Hibernia Reit. “We’re seeing what I call a silent Brexit, or latent Brexit, whereby companies are looking to grow here rather than in the UK,” he told Bloomberg. “We think the concern is around visas and ease of getting into the UK over the next few years.” Tech companies, which are leading the growth, can easily access a European talent pool from Dublin, he said. Next week: Covert Brexit.
Getting to know: Martin Sutherland
Martin Sutherland, boss of UK passports and banknotes printer De La Rue, isn’t having a good Brexit. In March, he let his feelings be known about a British government decision to award production of Brexiteer-cherished, post-EU blue passports to Gemalto, a French-Dutch company, which won the contract after undercutting De La Rue, maker of the current Brexiteer-hated burgundy passports. “Come to my factory and explain to my dedicated workforce why they think this is a sensible decision to offshore the manufacture of a British icon,” he challenged Theresa May. She did not take him up on the offer. This week, De La Rue said its full-year adjusted operating profit fell 11 per cent, in part because of a €4.2 million write-off on the failed bid for Brexit passport glory. Sutherland now says he has “no regrets” about his very public effort to get the decision overturned.
The list: Italian crisis cheat sheet
A political stalemate in Italy – 89 days without a government – could trigger the end of the euro zone, screamed the news headlines on Tuesday night. That escalated fast. Here are five things to know about what’s going on in Rome.
1: Presidential veto. An effort to form a coalition by two different populist parties – the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League – fell apart on Sunday after president Sergio Mattarella vetoed the proposed finance minister, Eurosceptic economist Paolo Savona.
2: Eurosceptic election. The fears on financial markets, in Brussels and elsewhere, is that fresh Italian elections could serve as a de facto referendum on Italy’s role in Europe and that the Eurosceptics will win a more decisive slice of the vote next time.
3: “Italexit” doom. Given that Italy is the third-biggest economy in the euro zone, an “Italexit” would be big, tumultuous news. Indeed, two years ago Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz dubbed it a “cataclysmic” prospect.
4: Financial gloom. Even if this doesn’t happen, the ongoing political limbo in “ungovernable” Italy isn’t exactly helpful for its sluggish, debt-laden economy, where debt is about 132 per cent of GDP, while policymakers in Brussels aren’t exactly reassured by the economic stance of its populist parties.
5: Far-right ascent. The League came third in the last election on a xenophobic, anti-immigrant platform. (They’re keen on building new detention centres in every region of Italy.) It won’t exactly help Europe’s open-border project, or anyone much, if they do better next time.