Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley pioneer who co-founded Intel, dies at 94

Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley pioneer who co-founded Intel, dies at 94

Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon E. Moore, whose innovations in the design and manufacture of semiconductor chips helped launch Silicon Valley and transform the computer into the ubiquitous, defining tool of modern life, died March 24 at his home in Hawaii. He was 94.

Intel announced the death but did not provide further details.

A central figure in the history of electronics, Dr. Moore famously predicted in 1965 that computer power would double each year for a decade, a forecast he modified in the mid-1970s to every two years. His prophecy that computing capacity would grow exponentially — and with decreasing costs — was dubbed Moore’s Law and became the standard that scientists for decades raced successfully to meet.

Making computers smaller, faster and cheaper meant integrating ever more circuitry onto slivers of silicon. Dr. Moore envisioned that these integrated circuits would “lead to such wonders as home computers — or at least terminals connected to a central computer — automatic controls for automobiles and personal portable communications equipment,” as he put it in the 1965 magazine article where he made his signature prediction.

Moore’s Law became the driving force in computer technology for the next half-century. “It’s what made Silicon Valley,” Carver Mead, the retired California Institute of Technology computer scientist who coined the phrase “Moore’s Law,” told the Associated Press on the law’s 40 anniversary.

“Innovation in electronics has as much to do with vision as it does with tinkering, and Gordon Moore saw the future better than anyone in the last 50 years,” said Michael S. Malone, author of “The Intel Trinity,” a 2014 history of the company. “The industry didn’t measure its performance by Moore’s Law. It designed and targeted its goals based on it, turning the law into a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Intel led the rapid advance. In 1971, it introduced the first integrated circuit so powerful it could be called a “general-purpose programmable processor” — or microprocessor — the brain of a computer on a single chip. It had 2,300 transistors on a 12-square-millimeter piece of silicon, or a fraction of the size of a thumbnail.

“We are really the revolutionaries in the world today — not the kids with the long hair and beards who were wrecking the schools a few years ago,” Dr. Moore told a reporter at the time. (Today, Intel, still an industry leader, can put about 1.2 billion transistors in the same space.)

Dr. Moore knew that increases in computer power achieved by cramming more transistors into smaller chips eventually would run up against the laws of physics, with the size of an atom limiting the ability to shrink the silicon pathways on which electrons travel. But he cautioned against predicting “the end of progress” because scientists, he said, would continue to find ever more ingenious solutions.

“Every time someone declares Moore’s Law dead,” Malone said, “there’s some breakthrough.”

Dr. Moore started Intel in 1968 with physicist Robert Noyce. He was also a founder, with Noyce and six others, of Fairchild Semiconductor, established in 1957. Of Fairchild’s many inventions, two stand out as having revolutionized computing, and Dr. Moore had a significant hand in each.

The first was a chemical printing process to produce computer chips in batches rather than one at a time. The other, Noyce’s idea, was to place on one patch of silicon not just one transistor — the on-off switch of computers — but many, along with the wires to connect them. This was the integrated circuit, which evolved at Intel into the microprocessor. (A Texas Instruments scientist, Jack Kilby, simultaneously and independently invented the integrated circuit.)

Integrated circuits and the means to mass produce them set off the scientific and corporate race whose pace was set by Moore’s Law.

Fairchild, headquartered southeast of San Francisco, didn’t give stock options to its staff, and many scientists left to form new companies. Labeled “Fairchildren,” the companies included Advanced Micro Devices, National Semiconductor, LSI Logic and Intel.

The exodus from Fairchild transformed the surrounding countryside’s fruit orchards into Silicon Valley, a mecca for high-technology start-ups. An exhibit at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View has a “family tree” of dozens of the valley’s companies with roots in Fairchild.

“It seemed like every time we had a new product idea, we had several spinoffs,” Dr. Moore said in a 2015 interview done for the Chemical Heritage Foundation. “Most of the companies around here even today can trace their lineage back to Fairchild. It was really the place that got the engineer-entrepreneur really moving.”

At Intel, Dr. Moore focused on moving products quickly from drawing board to customer. He fostered an entrepreneurial mind-set and streamlined operations, practices that became essential traits of Silicon Valley.

“When we set up Intel,” Dr. Moore told PBS talk show host Charlie Rose, “very specifically we did not set up a separate laboratory. We told the development people to do their work right in the production facility. … So we eliminated a step.”

Arthur Rock, who raised the initial financing for Intel and became its first chairman, described Dr. Moore to Fortune magazine in 1997 as a brilliant scientist who “more than anyone else set his eyes on a goal and got everybody to go there.” By contrast, Noyce, Intel’s first chief executive, “had strokes of genius, but he couldn’t stick to anything,” Rock said.

Dr. Moore succeeded Noyce as chief executive in 1975. For the company, critical days lay ahead, when Dr. Moore and his own hard-driving successor, Andrew S. Grove, refocused the company on making microchips that stored information (memory chips) rather than chips that processed information (logic chips). It proved to be a multibillion-dollar success story for Intel.

A friend’s chemistry set

Gordon Earle Moore was born in San Francisco on Jan. 3, 1929. He grew up in Pescadero, Calif., a farming community in San Mateo County. His father was an assistant county sheriff, and his mother helped run her family’s general store.

He was 10 when his family moved to Redwood City, not far from Menlo Park and Palo Alto. A neighborhood friend got a chemistry set for Christmas and invited young Gordon over to blow things up.

“Most people who knew me then would have described me as quiet,” he once quipped, “except for the bombs.”

Dr. Moore, the first person in his family to attend college, received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1950 from the University of California at Berkeley. Four years later, he received a doctorate in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, and he began working at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

In 1956, physicist William Shockley recruited Dr. Moore to Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory near Stanford University. That year, Shockley and two other scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics for work they had done at Bell Laboratories, including the invention of the transistor. A smaller, more reliable way to regulate electric currents, transistors would replace bulky, easily broken vacuum tubes in computers and other devices.

Within a year, Shockley’s overbearing management style — and a tendency to claim other people’s work as his own — prompted Dr. Moore and seven other scientists to bolt.

The “traitorous eight,” as Shockley called them, set out to be hired as a group to study and make semiconductors. They were rejected by more than two dozen companies. Finally, Sherman Fairchild, an inventor whose father was a founder of IBM, invested $1.5 million to start Fairchild Semiconductor with the rogue engineers.

Fairchild’s successes were so numerous that by the time the enterprise outgrew its first facility, Dr. Moore wrote in an essay, the tiles in the coffee room ceiling “were peppered with the imprints of all these champagne corks.”

After a management shake-up at Fairchild, Dr. Moore partnered with Noyce to found Intel. He stepped down as chief executive in 1987 and a decade later was named chairman emeritus. He relinquished that role in 2006.

Dr. Moore was a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and a past board chairman of Caltech. His honors included the National Medal of Technology, awarded in 1990. A decade later he and his wife, the former Betty Whitaker, created a foundation with an endowment of more than $6 billion to support grants in conservation, science research and education.

In addition to his wife, whom he married in 1950, survivors include two sons, Kenneth and Steven, and four grandchildren.

Because of his stature in Silicon Valley, Dr. Moore was often called on to prognosticate about the future of science and technology. He liked to say he was not especially well suited for the role, having once dismissed the concept of the personal computer as “something of a joke.”

“The importance of the Internet surprised me,” he told the New York Times in 2015. “It looked like it was going to be just another minor communications network that solved certain problems. I didn’t realize it was going to open up a whole universe of new opportunities, and it certainly has. I wish I had predicted that.”

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TikTok admits it banned former NBA player critical of China

TikTok admits it banned former NBA player critical of China


Enes Kanter Freedom, the former NBA player known for his outspoken political activism against China, was banned from TikTok for 12 days before being reinstated Thursday, when lawmakers were grilling the Chinese-owned company’s chief, the company confirmed Friday.

Freedom’s account was banned on March 11 following several warnings that his past videos had broken the app’s “community guidelines,” he told The Washington Post.

Freedom appealed the ban shortly after but was told that TikTok reviewers had determined his account would not be restored. On Thursday, TikTok reinstated the account while CEO Shou Zi Chew was on Capitol Hill to argue that Americans’ TikTok feeds are unaffected by China’s censorship rules.

A TikTok representative called the ban an error by the company’s U.S.-based moderators and said TikTok does not remove content at the request of the Chinese government. They declined to say how the error occurred or what rules Freedom’s videos had allegedly violated.

Since being reinstated, Freedom has used his TikTok account, where he has 362,000 followers and more than 6 million likes, to post about the episode. He said he intended to continue posting on TikTok, which he said China uses to “brainwash our people,” because he wanted to use “their own weapon against them.”

Freedom shared screenshots and a screen recording to substantiate his claims. TikTok did not dispute the ban but said such mistakes are the natural consequence of an app with more than 150 million U.S. accounts.

TikTok faces uncertain future after 5-hour congressional thrashing

Rep. August Pfluger (R-Tex.), who spoke with Freedom before the congressional hearing, asked Chew about the ban during a heated line of questioning in which Pfluger also asked whether Chew supported genocide. (Chew said he did not.)

Pfluger told The Post that he suspected that TikTok was “hiding information” and that the reinstatement had been ordered by the Chinese Communist Party, which the company disputed. The lawmaker said the episode underscored the national security risks of allowing a company based in China to own one of America’s most popular apps.

If Chinese authorities are “the arbiter of what can and can’t be shown,” he said, “they have the capability to shape messages. So what are those messages, and how do they relate to the undermining of the U.S.A.?”

China lashes out at Western businesses as it tries to cut support for Hong Kong protests

Freedom, a Turkish American player who changed his last name after becoming a U.S. citizen in 2021, has become a popular figure on the right because of his vocal criticism of China and the businesses that he argues have not stood up to its authoritarian government, including Nike and the NBA.

While playing in the NBA for more than a decade, he drew attention for wearing shoes with such slogans as “Free Tibet,” “No Beijing” and “Stop Genocide,” a reference to China’s mass detention of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. In 2021, he was traded from the Boston Celtics and then released from playing, which he has argued was in retaliation for his China criticism.

Freedom has often used his social media accounts to criticize the Chinese state. After a Facebook post in 2021 calling President Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator” for his government’s oppression of Tibet, China blocked all Celtics games from its internet.

Freedom has used his TikTok account in much the same way. One TikTok video from April, showing strict coronavirus-control measures in Shanghai, remains online on the platform and has more than 200,000 views.

This dissident uses Chinese-owned TikTok to criticize China’s government

TikTok, like other social networks, uses an account-enforcement system to track rule violations and penalize repeat offenders. Instead of a “three-strike” policy, TikTok’s system applies different weights to violations based on their severity and bans accounts that surpass a certain threshold.

The TikTok representative said some of Freedom’s past violations were correctly determined but would not specify them and said the moderation error had improperly knocked his account over the line.

Freedom told The Post that he had received warnings in previous months and did not know which video triggered the ban. His most recent visible TikTok video before the ban, on March 9, did not break any obvious rules and showed only female protesters in Afghanistan.

He shared with The Post a screenshot of his TikTok account showing how a video he’d posted last year — of pets from covid-positive people that were tied up and awaiting slaughter in China — had been removed for an unspecified violation of community guidelines. TikTok restored the video after questions from The Post.

Since being reinstated, Freedom has posted TikTok videos criticizing the company and calling Chew a “liar” and the Communist Party’s “puppet.” The videos have been viewed thousands of times.

Americans deserve a better message than ‘Trust us, TikTok is bad.’

Freedom said that he is in Washington for meetings with members of Congress who are critical of China’s influence and that he attended a dinner Wednesday with lawmakers and Silicon Valley figures to discuss TikTok’s alleged national security risks.

Freedom said he had meetings scheduled Friday with members of the House committee on China. Pfluger said that Freedom was invited into a markup session of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which hosted the Chew hearing, and that he received a standing ovation.

TikTok’s moderation system has been accused of a “haphazard” approach to account suspensions even beyond political or China-related issues.

Freedom’s ban parallels other TikTok enforcement actions, including the suspension in 2019 of Feroza Aziz, a 17-year-old user who had criticized China’s detention camps.

TikTok also restored that account, blaming a moderation error. Aziz’s 164,000-follower account features videos about the Uyghur camps that have been viewed millions of times.

The TikTok platform in the United States features many videos discussing issues the Chinese government censors inside its borders, including #Uyghur treatment (278 million views), the pro-democracy protests of #TiananmenSquare (18 million views) and #FreeTibet (13 million views).

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Blue Origin pinpoints reason for September rocket failure

Blue Origin pinpoints reason for September rocket failure


Six months after its New Shepard rocket suffered a failure during flight, Blue Origin said Friday its review of the incident pinpointed a problem with its engine nozzle and that it is expecting to return to flight “soon.”

In September, the rocket lifted off and flew for just over a minute before bright flames flashed from the booster and the capsule’s emergency abort system kicked in, jettisoning it away from the rocket. The mission carried only science experiments; no one was on board, and no one was injured on the ground.

In a statement Friday, Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon executive chairman Jeff Bezos, said that it would refly the mission, again carrying scientific payloads. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.) A flight with people could come later. The vehicle is designed to carry as many as six people to the edge of space and back on suborbital tourist trips that allow passengers to experience weightlessness and view the earth from above.

In the statement, Blue Origin said its investigation, which was overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration and included members of the National Transportation Safety Board, concluded that the problem was caused by a failure of the engine nozzle, which experienced “temperatures that exceeded the expected and analyzed values of the nozzle material.”

Engineers are “implementing corrective actions, including design changes to the combustion chamber and operating parameters,” the statement said. “Additional design changes to the nozzle have improved structural performance under thermal and dynamic loads.”

The FAA said in a statement that it is reviewing Blue Origin’s mishap report but that the investigation remains open. “FAA approval is required to close the investigation and for the New Shepard system to return to flight.” It was unclear how long that could take.

While the booster was lost, the capsule and the 36 payloads it was carrying landed safely under parachutes and can fly again, Blue Origin said. The booster, which under normal circumstances falls back to Earth and touches down softly on a landing pad so that it can be reused, was a total loss. The company was able to recover all the debris from the rocket within the designated hazard area, it said.

Bezos flew on the first flight with people in 2021. It had since flown five other missions with people on board, including one with Star Trek actor William Shatner and television commentator Michael Strahan.

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For China, embattled TikTok chief is hero defying bullying U.S.

For China, embattled TikTok chief is hero defying bullying U.S.


After a five-hour thrashing in a U.S. congressional hearing, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has emerged in China as a lone hero fighting an uphill battle against American anti-Chinese paranoia.

On Friday, Chinese internet users, commentators and officials rallied around Chew who before Thursday’s hearing was a little-known figure among the general Chinese public. State media described the hearings as a farce and an “embarrassment” for the United States while China’s Foreign Ministry said the process amounted to the “unreasonable suppression” of TikTok.

The ubiquitous short-video app is caught in a worsening U.S.-China rivalry that has reached new levels of mutual suspicion in recent months over allegations of espionage involving the app. The Biden administration, citing national security risks, is pushing TikTok’s Chinese owners to sell their stakes in the company. Beijing has said it would oppose any forced sale on the grounds that it involves the export of Chinese technology that would need government approval.

TikTok faces uncertain future after 5-hour congressional thrashing

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Friday that China “has not and will not ask companies or individuals to collect or provide data information and intelligence located in foreign countries for the Chinese government in a manner that violates local laws.”

“The U.S. government has so far provided no evidence that TikTok is a threat to U.S. national security, but has repeatedly made presumptions of guilt and unreasonably suppressed the companies involved,” Mao said.

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, has bristled at any potential divestment. And in Washington, senior administration officials doubt they have the legal authority to ban TikTok — as some are calling for — without an act of Congress, a person with knowledge of internal government discussions told the Washington Post.

On the micro-blogging website Weibo, Chew drew sympathy from the netizens who called him a “lonely hero” and a “courageous gentleman,” applauding his grace under pressure. (Many also hailed him for his good looks and pitied his bad luck.) Others ridiculed American lawmakers and the polarized U.S. political environment.

“TikTok’s hearing shows that the two parties can find common ground — as long as they have the CEO of a social media platform to serve as their punching bag,” read one popular comment on the microblog Weibo.

“Poor Shou Zi Chew. He’s really a sheep among wolves. Any excuse will serve a tyrant,” wrote Fan Yongpeng, deputy director of the China Institute at Fudan University, in comment on the hearing.

America’s online privacy problems are much bigger than TikTok

Chinese internet users deplored how U.S. lawmakers aggressively questioned Chew, interrupting him and attempted to catch him in verbal traps.

An editorial from state-run Global Times said the hearings made America look like a bully in front of the world. It criticized what it called “political persecution” of TikTok and U.S. attempts to “force it to pledge allegiance to the United States.”

Influential commentator and former Global Times editor Hu Xijin, meanwhile, wrote that banning TikTok would be like “detonating a nuclear bomb in Times Square” in terms of the damage to the United States’ reputation.

Still, Chinese censors and platform regulators made attempts to contain the outrage online. Several hashtags about the TikTok hearings appeared to have been removed. Despite the heated discussion online, no TikTok-related hashtags were among the top 50 trending topics on Weibo. One Weibo user complained that the videos posted about Chew had been deleted by the platform.

As concerns about TikTok’s future in the United States mount, some Chinese e-commerce owners that had planned to do business in the American market via TikTok are having second thoughts. According to Chinese tech media outlet Huxiu, several have said they are turning their focus to Southeast Asia.

Some Chinese experts worried that TikTok’s current ordeal foreshadows what other Chinese companies in the West may soon face. Among the top 10 most downloaded apps on Apple’s App Store in the U.S., four of them were made by Chinese companies, including TikTok, online marketplace Temu owned by China-based PDD holdings, fast-fashion giant Shein, and video editor CapCut, which is also owned ByteDance.

A report from Fudan Development Institute that analyzed Twitter posts from U.S. lawmakers concluded many were “using TikTok as a tool” to warn the American public about the threat of foreign interference as well as “create a sense of crisis.”

The report concluded that if the current trend continues, all parts of American society will risk falling prey to collective Sinophobia.

“U.S.-China competition will only worsen,” it said. “For Chinese companies going abroad, the difficulties encountered by TikTok may be just the beginning.”

Lyric Li in Seoul and Pei-Lin Wu in Taipei contributed to this report.

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Christopher Judge is blazing a new trail

Christopher Judge is blazing a new trail

Christopher Judge, photographed in his living room in Moorpark, CA. (Christina Gandolfo for The Washington Post)

The celebrated actor talks fatherhood, God of War and being outspoken as a Black leading man


Christopher Judge has had an enormous impact on sci-fi television and blockbuster video games — dwarfed only, perhaps, by Judge’s actual proportions. The former college football player has portrayed his fair share of big guys: a goon working for Tom Hardy’s Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” (his role was made smaller because he outsized Hardy on screen), Teal’c, a politician and revolutionary on “Stargate SG-1,” and most famously, Kratos, God of War, from the video game series of the same name.

So it’s a shock to see Judge contained on a small screen, in a Zoom call. When I joined our remote meeting, he was already leaning forward into the camera, laughing with a pair of PR people. As we started talking, he nodded earnestly as we went on about families and Christmas plans. Judge’s, in fact, had fallen apart.

“We were gonna rent a motor home, like in the old days. We were gonna take a road trip,” Judge said, lamenting the vacation that never was. Fresh off overwhelming critical praise for his performance in “God of War Ragnarok” — including a Best Performance win at the 2022 Game Awards — Judge was mostly concerned about the family trip.

In the corner of the modest office space he spoke from, a poster from 2018’s “God of War” and a painting of Frederick Douglass hung on opposite walls.

A Los Angeles native, Judge entered the world of acting after a couple of successful seasons playing defensive back for the University of Oregon. (An old Oregon stat book puts him at 6′2″). But football was always meant to be a steppingstone to an acting career, and that career began with stints on shows like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “21 Jump Street,” and “MacGyver.” It wasn’t until 1997 that Judge would find his place in the cosmos as Teal’c of Chulak on the sci-fi series “Stargate SG-1.”

Teal’c was a fully realized Black man in a sci-fi epic, not an amorphous blob or barbaric alien. But in 2007, the series was suddenly canceled, stunning fans of the 10-year journey that saw the scripted show reach 200 episodes — no small feat. Judge’s role in that series, and his career since then, is evidence of a larger truth about Black men in science fiction and fantasy: That if given the room, we could be the leads.

At his core, Judge is a family man. But there’s a broader community he’s also deeply concerned for: Black actors working in a space where the lead doesn’t often look like Judge.

“We — and when I say ‘we,’ I’m talking about the sci-fi, fantasy, gaming community — are supposed to be the most inclusive, open-minded, educated genre of fans that there is,” Judge said. “But behind the scenes, it’s still the same people and the same structure that are making the decisions.”

Allowing Black creatives to flourish starts with honestly discussing the state of the entertainment industry. Last year, Judge hosted a panel titled Elevating Black Voices in Sci-Fi, featuring standout talent in the fields of writing, content creation and acting. He got real with the panel when asked about the hostility Black people face in the field.

“I knew when I got the gig what was coming with it,” Judge said.

As recently as September 2021, Matt Sophos, God of War’s narrative director, called out a “vocal sliver” of players bemoaning the addition of a Black character to “Ragnarok”: Angrboda, known as the “mother of monsters” in Norse mythology. Critiquing the casting of a Black actor for the role, some on social media used overtly racist language. (Despite this, Laya DeLeon Hayes turned in a stellar performance.)

Black game developers: Diversity push is lots of talk, little progress

Judge takes personal responsibility for opening doors and addressing racial disparities in the industry.

“One of the things I feel guiltiest about [is that] I haven’t made it easier for anyone else,” he said. Of course, that’s not entirely true. I reminded Judge of his place among the stars — more specifically, among those Black stars who have paved the way: Avery Brooks as Benjamin Lafayette Sisko, LeVar Burton’s Lt. Commander La Forge, the late, great Nichelle Nichols as Nyota Uhura.

Still, Judge said he hasn’t always been outspoken enough. “I haven’t been honest enough about what goes on in rooms and on sets,” he said. “I haven’t protected any of these younger people.”

He’s trying to fix that.

“Stargate SG-1’s” cancellation in 2007 was followed closely by the Writers Guild of America strike and the Great Recession. It was an inflection point, and a shock to the industry. For Judge, the realization of his resume’s deflating value quickly became clear.

“When things did pick back up, the whole landscape had changed,” Judge said. “Your quotes meant nothing, what you had just come off of meant nothing, because everyone needed to work.

“My agent sent me this [“God of War”] script and first I was offended,” Judge said, laughing. From the script, he assumed it was a blockbuster movie, way out of his league. “Finally, she admitted it was a video game. Then I was even madder.”

Judge was also worried about voice acting. He had never done it before.

“I didn’t have that capability of those wonderful voice actors who have a million voices and could break into them and dazzle you,” Judge said. “I have one voice. And that’s deep. Maybe two voices; [the other] is deeper.

Still, his agent encouraged him to go to the audition. When she called after to ask how it went, he could only reply: “I don’t know?”

The evolution of Kratos: Brutality, fatherhood and redemption

At the audition, Judge also participated in a chemistry test alongside a ten-year-old, Sunny Suljic. (A “little shrimp,” Judge joked). Dwarfed by Judge’s massive frame, Suljic was surprisingly unafraid of his deep voice and massive presence. The two immediately clicked, with Judge leaning on his experience as a father.

“I’ve had ten-year-olds,” he said, describing the process of wrapping his head around the project. Kratos is also a father, a fact that animates some of the key tensions of both most recent God of War games — and inextricably links the character to Judge.

Kratos, fatherhood, and self-love

Kratos, the vengeful demigod and main character of the God of War series, spends much of his time seeking retribution for the death of his family in the earlier titles. We learn that his father, Zeus, had betrayed him. The two engage in multiple battles — and they are brutal.

Kratos debuted in 2005’s “God of War”; Judge didn’t portray the character until the game’s second “era,” which began in 2018. But the demigod’s backstory has parallels to Judge’s relationship with his father.

“My father was an evil, violent man,” Judge said. “I say that the only two things he ever gave me were a love of golf, and alcoholism.” (On the bright side, he credits his mother with his love of language and learning).

Judge has been vocal over the years about his struggles with alcohol and sobriety; he’s said before that getting a second DUI saved his life.

“In the course for your first DUI [they ask,] do you think you’ll drink again?” Judge said. “I was like, ‘Yea, I’ll just be more careful about it,’ because I hadn’t admitted to myself yet that I was an alcoholic.”

It was Dorothy Perkins, Judge’s addiction counselor, who he says “wouldn’t stand for all my tricks” after he coasted through the first course he was required to take after his DUI. When it came time to take a second course, Perkins didn’t let him avoid the task of addressing his addiction — and the way it damaged his sense of self and personal relationships — head on.

“She cut me to the quick, [and it] was painful,” Judge said. “I adored that woman for that.”

Judge said there was a lot he had to come to grips with about his relationship with his father. One thing became crystal clear, though: He didn’t ever want to have that kind of relationship with his own children.

“[Kratos is] so representative of all men of a certain age that we’re not taught how to father,” Judge said. “Playing Kratos opened the conversation to [that dynamic], and when I hear someone say they’ve been estranged from their father but this [game] opened the door to conversations, that’s the most rewarding thing there is.”

‘God of War Ragnarok’ director talks about managing team burnout

In the context of that kind of relationship, Judge says it absolutely matters that he’s a Black man.

“I learned at a very early age that violence was the answer to everything,” Judge said. “If I was called n—–, somebody was gonna get an a– beating.”

But he says he learned all the wrong lessons back then. Punching first and talking later left bruises on him that he’d carry into his adulthood.

“This conversation is so important for Black fathers to have with their Black sons, because the thing that we’re given is survive,” Judge said. “We’re not taught to be loving, to be accepting, to be someone else’s hero.”

A lot of Kratos’ journey centers on forgiveness and self-love; it’s territory Judge says he’s long worked at cultivating.

“The first game wasn’t easy, emotionally, but it was healing,” Judge said. “So, to have the relationship I have with my children now is so fulfilling. [The first “God of War”] was a thank you to them for letting me be better.”

“Ragnarok,” though, was different. “This was about my s—,” Judge said.

When “God of War” released in 2018 for the PlayStation 4, Judge’s Kratos was a reimagining — albeit one that alluded to his rage-filled past. Players met his son Atreus, portrayed by Suljic, and learned that his mother, Kratos’s wife, recently died. The two embark on a journey to scatter her ashes. At first, Kratos is a cold and abrasive presence in Atreus’s life.

“Ragnarok” revealed a more emotional Kratos, willing to listen to Atreus in ways he rarely did in the 2018 title. It also explores the vulnerabilities of a father quickly realizing his missteps as a parent.

In one major scene toward the end of “Ragnarok,” Atreus tells his father that it’s time to let him go out on his own. After quietly taking the moment in, Kratos suddenly comes across a hidden triptych, one of several wooden murals that appear throughout the game, displaying a powerful prophecy wherein he’s revered rather than feared by the people around him.

“Especially because of my relationship with my father, I grew up [thinking] I wasn’t worthy of love, and that I couldn’t love anyone,” Judge said. “But that came from not knowing what love is to give anybody.”

Judge remembered looking in the mirror in his teens and not loving what he saw.

“You can’t love anybody until you love yourself, and that’s what ‘Ragnarok’ represented for me,” he said.

The scene broke him down emotionally. After he gathered himself, Eric Williams, the game’s director, came over and embraced him.

“Eric looks at me and says, ‘You okay?’ and I say ‘Yeah.’ Then he said ‘That was great … now give us one [take] we could use,’” Judge said, laughing.

Jamal Michel is a freelance journalist based in North Carolina. He’s written for NPR, Wired, Poynter, and focuses on culture in digital media.

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TikTok and you: Should you delete the app now?

TikTok and you: Should you delete the app now?


As calls to ban TikTok grow, should you quit the app?

For the average user, TikTok appears no more risky than Facebook. That’s not entirely a compliment.

I’ve been hearing from Washington Post readers concerned that the Chinese-owned app is handing our data to the Chinese Communist Party. So I looked under the hood at what TikTok knows about its 150 million U.S. users, and listened to the five hours of testimony its CEO Shou Zi Chew gave, under oath, to members of Congress.

My takeaway: Despite being branded a national-security threat, there’s still little evidence that TikTok poses an extra personal threat to you versus other social media apps.

There still may be good reasons you might want to take TikTok off your phone, including disliking how it uses your data or how it impacts your mental health. The best thing that could ​​come out of this scare is that Congress finally realizes we need privacy rules and guardrails for kids across all apps — not just the ones with Chinese owners.

To decide what’s right for your family, you have to weigh what’s the worst that could happen if the Chinese government did get your TikTok data. I can help you understand your risk. And whatever you decide, you should take steps to protect your data — see below for some actionable advice.

What’s all the fuss about?

TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance. In China, the government censors the internet and uses online surveillance to control people. The government also has a lot of control over how internet companies operate.

The American part of TikTok has been caught doing some things that hardly inspire trust, including spying on journalists (which it owned up to) and allowing employees based in China to access nonpublic information about American users (which it says is now tightly controlled).

How TikTok ate the internet

All of that has made TikTok a political target. It’s currently negotiating security practices with the Biden administration, which could force it to sell to an American owner if it wants to continue operating here. In Congress, there’s a growing bipartisan push to ban the app entirely.

“TikTok surveils us all, and the Chinese communist party is able to use this as a tool to manipulate America as a whole,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) at the March 23 hearing with Chew. “Your platform should be banned.”

(Video: Tatum Hunter via TikTok)

I don’t take that lightly. Many politicians who want to ban TikTok aren’t its users. (Of the 52 members of Congress at the hearing, it appeared only one has a public TikTok account.) But for millions of Americans — particularly Gen Z — TikTok is a hugely important venue for self-expression and exploration. Banning it could ignite intergenerational warfare.

So there had better be a really good reason to delete TikTok. Decisions about personal tech should be grounded in proof, not politics. Let’s zoom in on the two biggest concerns.

Concern 1: TikTok is giving your data to the Chinese government

Rogers said, “TikTok collects nearly every data point imaginable, from people’s location to what they type and copy, who they talk to, biometric data and more.”

Yes, TikTok gathers a lot of data. I made the list above with the help of Disconnect, a privacy software company that first helped me follow TikTok’s data trail in 2020. It found TikTok has followed Facebook’s lead and ratcheted up how much data it collects, particularly including tracking webpages you visit outside of TikTok.

But Facebook still collects more data than TikTok. Same goes for Google, which tries to record a history of where you go and all the pages you visit in its Chrome Web browser.

We did not find evidence that TikTok collects your precise location, an especially sensitive type of data that Facebook and Google do collect. Instead, TikTok collects information about your general city or town. During the hearing, Chew clarified that the app used to collect precise location in the U.S., but stopped doing so in 2020.

Chew also went on the record about two other types of sensitive data. He said TikTok’s ability to collect keystrokes in its app was used not to monitor users, but rather “to identify bots” for security purposes.

He also denied TikTok was keeping biometric information from your face. Rep. Earl LeRoy “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.) also asked him whether the app uses the phone’s camera “to determine whether the content that elicits a pupil dilation should be amplified by the algorithm.” Chew denied this: “The only face data that we collect is when you use the filters to have, say, sunglasses on your face,” he said. “We do not collect body, face or voice data to identify our users.”

So does the Chinese government have access to any of what TikTok collects?

TikTok says it has not shared American user data with the Chinese government, nor would it do so if asked. Since last summer, it says it has routed all U.S. data to cloud services run by U.S. company Oracle and is in the process of moving older data there, too.

But TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is still compelled to comply with requests for user data under Chinese law, and it’s not clear how ByteDance would be able to resist.

“Once the data is collected we have no idea where it goes for sure,” said Patrick Jackson, Disconnect’s chief technology officer. “People jump to the worst-case scenario and maybe it’s healthy to think about the worst things that could happen.”

Chew, for his part, said that it wasn’t possible for him to prove that something isn’t happening.

Even without smoking-gun evidence, I understand some will think a Chinese app is inherently less trustworthy than an American app. “They haven’t done it yet. But my point is that you might have to and that’s where our concerns come from,” said Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX).

If that’s your view, security experts say you should still weigh any online risk based on your own personal exposure.

So if you’re a government worker, Chinese citizen overseas or other high-profile person, then your data getting into the government hands could be catastrophic and you should keep away. Similarly, some journalists I respect don’t keep TikTok on their phones because we know both the motive and capability is there for the company to abuse its access. (TikTok says the employees who tracked journalists went rogue and have been fired.)

For most people, however, it’s harder to see the individual risk for the data we know TikTok is collecting.

This might not make you feel any better, but China has been amassing data about Americans long before TikTok. China has been implicated in major personal data breaches, including the hack of Equifax that impacted nearly half of all Americans. Worse, China could also buy data about us from the data-broker industry that tracks and sells our personal information.

In that sense, deleting TikTok alone is like putting your pinkie finger in a very large leak.

Concern 2: The Chinese government decides what you see on TikTok

What if TikTok is a Chinese tool to spread its own propaganda?

Said Rogers of TikTok’s cultural influence: “It’s like allowing the Soviet Union the power to produce Saturday morning cartoons during the Cold War, but much more powerful and much more dangerous.”

The very thing that makes TikTok so popular — the “For You” algorithm that personalizes a different collection of videos for each user — makes it difficult to spot how its algorithms might be tilting the stage.

Rogers pressed Chew on whether TikTok had ever removed content about the 1989 Tiananmen massacre in Beijing. “We do not promote or remove content at the request of the Chinese government,” he said. Some dissidents do use the U.S. version of TikTok to criticize China.

To allay some of these concerns, TikTok has proposed that its content recommendation and moderation systems will be subject to review by Oracle and an additional independent third-party inspector.

But what if the real goal is more nefarious: To harm American youth? Critics including Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) have noted differences between the U.S. TikTok app and its Chinese equivalent, called Douyin. It limits users under 14 years old to 40 minutes per day, and emphasizes topics such as science in compliance with Chinese regulations to reduce time teenagers spend on social media and gaming. TikTok recently added a 60-minute time limit for U.S. teens, but left some easy workarounds.

I’ve not been able to find a comprehensive analysis of TikTok’s American video trends compared with Douyin’s, but I do see U.S. accounts such as The Science Channel rack up more than 50 million views for a video.

If that’s your concern, TikTok is hardly the only exploitative app you might want to delete.

If any of the above just sounds too risky for you, it’s time to delete TikTok. When you do, don’t just remove the app — also delete your account. Go to Settings → Account → Deactivate or delete account.

For everyone else, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure:

  • Do not give TikTok access to your contacts, some of the most intimate information on your phone. Tap Settings → Privacy → Sync Contacts and Facebook Friends and make sure both are switched off. If you’ve previously shared them, you can remove them here, too.
  • Set up a new and more anonymous TikTok account. Use a throwaway email address and don’t link it to your phone.
  • Block TikTok’s ability to track you outside of its app. On iOS and Android, say no when the app asks for permission to track you — or, even better, adjust the setting so no apps can do so. To further limit tracking, use an app such as Disconnect’s Do Not Track Kids, which blocks all trackers from reporting back to TikTok.
  • Use TikTok without an account. You can still watch TikTok videos on the open Web, though you won’t be able to follow specific accounts or upload videos of your own.

Assume a defensive posture. Just like Facebook and other apps, TikTok’s main goals are to gobble up your data and keep you hooked — not help you get better informed.

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