The latest wave of the coronavirus in Europe appears to have crested in recent days, but not before setting records that prompted another series of shutdowns.

The rate of new cases reported across the continent quintupled between September and November to about 300,000 a day, before declining a bit. Deaths have shot up from about 700 a day to almost 5,000, and a clear pattern of receding has yet to emerge. Hospitalization numbers have begun to flatten, but at a level that is nearly as high as the spring peak.

As more countries return to shutdowns, governments are straining to find ways to support furloughed and unemployed workers, and to keep restaurants and other businesses from going bankrupt. This week, in an extraordinary move, the European Central Bank all but promised to unleash new relief measures by December at the latest.

There are now businesses that sell fake people. If you just need a couple fake people — for characters in a video game, or to make your company website appear more diverse — you can get their photos for free on a website. These simulated people are also used by spies to infiltrate the intelligence community, right-wing propagandists who hide behind fake profiles and online harassers who troll their targets with a friendly visage.

But they’re not quite perfect. Our A.I. system repeatedly made the same small mistakes as it generated new faces. Earrings, for example, might look similar but often may not exactly match. Abstract or blurry backgrounds are often giveaways.

“It was pretty interesting to set up our own A.I. system and generate hundreds of faces to see how it’s done,” Jeremy wrote. “This story explores how good the technology is getting and how you can spot the fakes.”


That’s it for this briefing. Wishing you a great start to the week.

— Natasha


Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the pandemic in a rural area of the U.S.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Place for books (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• A few contenders for Oxford’s 2020 Word of the Year: “Blursday” (which captures the way the week blends together), “covidiot” (you know who you are) and “doomscrolling” (who, me?).
• Because words with harmful connotations have been baked into tech communication, The Times is re-examining the language we use to describe our technology.

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