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  • Binance Founder Ordered to Remain in U.S. Before Sentencing
    by David Yaffe-Bellany on Dec 8, 2023 at 5:14 am

    Changpeng Zhao, better known as CZ, faces as much as 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to federal money-laundering violations.

  • ‘Den of Wolves’ Will Be a Sci-Fi Heist—With a ‘Power Fantasy’ Soundtrack
    by Reece Rogers on Dec 8, 2023 at 4:00 am

    Announced at the 2023 Game Awards, Den of Wolves is a new kind of co-op heist game from the minds behind PayDay.

  • Meta Publicly Launches AI Image Generator Trained On Your Facebook, Instagram Photos
    by BeauHD on Dec 8, 2023 at 3:30 am

    An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Quest VR headsets and creator of leading open source large language model Llama 2 — is getting into the text-to-image AI generator game. Actually, to clarify: Meta was already in that game via a text-to-image and text-to-sticker generator that was launched within Facebook and Instagram Messengers earlier this year. However, as of this week, the company has launched a standalone text-to-image AI generator service, “Imagine” outside of its messaging platforms. Meta’s Imagine now a website you can simply visit and begin generating images from: You’ll still need to log in with your Meta or Facebook/Instagram account (I tried Facebook, and it forced me to create a new “Meta account,” but hey — it still worked). […] Meta’s Imagine service was built on its own AI model called Emu, which was trained on 1.1 billion Facebook and Instagram user photos, as noted by Ars Technica and disclosed in the Emu research paper published by Meta engineers back in September. An earlier report by Reuters noted that Meta excluded private messages and images that were not shared publicly on its services. When developing Emu, Meta’s researchers also fine-tuned it around quality metrics. As they wrote in their paper: “Our key insight is that to effectively perform quality tuning, a surprisingly small amount — a couple of thousand — exceptionally high-quality images and associated text is enough to make a significant impact on the aesthetics of the generated images without compromising the generality of the model in terms of visual concepts that can be generated. ” Interestingly, despite Meta’s vocal support for open source AI, neither Emu nor the Imagine by Meta AI service appear to be open source. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • FTC Tries Again To Stop Microsoft’s Already-Closed Deal For Activision
    by BeauHD on Dec 8, 2023 at 2:02 am

    U.S. antitrust regulators told a federal appeals court Wednesday that a federal judge got it wrong when she allowed Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of Activision to close. Reuters reports: Speaking for the Federal Trade Commission, lawyer Imad Abyad argued that the lower-court judge held the agency to too high a standard, effectively requiring it to prove that the deal was anticompetitive. He told a three-judge appeals court panel in California that the FTC had only to show that Microsoft had the ability and incentive to withhold Activision’s games from rival game platforms to prove the agency’s case. He said the FTC “showed that in the past that’s what Microsoft did,” referring to allegations that Microsoft made some Zenimax games exclusive after buying that company. Speaking for Microsoft, lawyer Rakesh Kilaru called the FTC case “weak” and said that the agency had asked the lower-court judge for too much leeway. “It is also clear that the standard can’t be as low as the FTC is suggesting,” he said. “It can’t be kind of a mere scintilla of evidence.” He argued that the agency failed to show that Microsoft had an incentive to withhold “Call of Duty” from rival gaming platforms. The judges actively questioned both attorneys, with Judge Daniel Collins pressing the FTC’s attorney on how concessions that Microsoft gave British antitrust enforcers affect the U.S. market. He also appeared to take issue with Abyad’s assertions that more analysis of the deal was necessary, especially since Microsoft had struck agreements with rivals recently, including one with Sony this past summer. “This was not a rush job on the part of the FTC,” he said. Two antitrust scholars who listened to the arguments said the FTC faced a tough slog to prevail. A finding of “clear error” by a lower court judge is “really stark,” said Alden Abbott, a former FTC general counsel, comparing it to the idea that a court ignored key evidence from a witness. Abbott said the appeals court noted that the trial judge had considered “a huge amount of record evidence.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Fairphone 5 Scores a Perfect 10 From iFixit For Repairability
    by BeauHD on Dec 8, 2023 at 1:25 am

    The iFixit team pulled apart the newest Fairphone 5 smartphone and awarded its highest score for repairability: 10 out of 10. With the exception of one or two compromises, the Fairphone 5 is just as repairable as its predecessors. The Register reports: As before, opening the phone is a simple matter of popping off the back of the case. The beefier battery — 4200 mAh instead of the previous 3905 mAh — remains easy to remove, although the bigger size has implications elsewhere in the device. Replacing the USB-C port remains simple thanks to a metal lip that allows it to be removed easily. Individual cameras can also be replaced, a nice upgrade from the all-in-one unit of the preceding phone. However, rather than something along the lines of the Core Module of the previous phone, the iFixit team found a motherboard and daughterboard more akin to other Android handsets. According to Fairphone, the bigger battery made the change necessary, but it’s still a little disappointing. Still, the teardown team noted clear labeling to stop cables from being accidentally plugged into the wrong places. It said: “That’s what intuitive repair design is all about: it should be easy to do the right thing and complicated to do the wrong thing.” According to iFixit co-founder and CEO Kyle Wiens: “Fairphone’s promise of five Android version upgrades and over eight years of security updates with the Fairphone 5 is a bold statement in an industry that leans towards fleeting product life cycles. This is a significant stride towards sustainability and sets a new benchmark for smartphone lifespan.” “At iFixit, we believe in tech that lasts, and Fairphone is making that belief a reality. Fairphone’s effort to attain a 10-year lifespan is not just impressive; it’s unparalleled.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • A Massive Repair Lawsuit Against John Deere Clears a Major Hurdle
    by BeauHD on Dec 8, 2023 at 12:45 am

    Jason Koebler reports via 404 Media: A judge rejected John Deere’s motion to dismiss a landmark class action lawsuit over the agricultural giant’s repair monopolies, paving the way for a trial that will determine whether the company’s repair practices are illegal. The case will specifically examine whether Deere has engaged in a “conspiracy” in which Deere and its dealerships have driven up the cost of repair while preventing independent and self-repair of tractors that farmers own. In a forceful, 89-page memorandum, U.S. District Court Judge Iain Johnson wrote that the founder of John Deere “was an innovative farmer and blacksmith who — with his own hands — fundamentally changed the agricultural industry.” Deere the man “would be deeply disappointed in his namesake corporation” if the plaintiffs can ultimately prove their antitrust allegations against Deere the company, which are voluminous and well-documented. Reuters first reported on Johnson’s memo. At issue are the many tactics Deere has used to make it more difficult and often impossible for farmers to repair their own tractors, from software locks and “parts pairing” that prevent farmers from replacing parts without the authorization of a Deere dealership. “Only Deere and Dealer authorized technicians have access to the Repair Tools, and Deere withholds these resources from farmers and independent repair shops,” Johnson wrote. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Meta Defies FBI Opposition To Encryption, Brings E2EE To Facebook, Messenger
    by BeauHD on Dec 8, 2023 at 12:02 am

    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Meta has started enabling end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by default for chats and calls on Messenger and Facebook despite protests from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies that oppose the widespread use of encryption technology. “Today I’m delighted to announce that we are rolling out default end-to-end encryption for personal messages and calls on Messenger and Facebook,” Meta VP of Messenger Loredana Crisan wrote yesterday. In April, a consortium of 15 law enforcement agencies from around the world, including the FBI and ICE Homeland Security Investigations, urged Meta to cancel its plan to expand the use of end-to-end encryption. The consortium complained that terrorists, sex traffickers, child abusers, and other criminals will use encrypted messages to evade law enforcement. Meta held firm, telling Ars in April that “we don’t think people want us reading their private messages” and that the plan to make end-to-end encryption the default in Facebook Messenger would be completed before the end of 2023. Meta also plans default end-to-end encryption for Instagram messages but has previously said that may not happen this year. Meta said it is using “the Signal Protocol, and our own novel Labyrinth Protocol,” and the company published two technical papers that describe its implementation (PDF). “Since 2016, Messenger has had the option for people to turn on end-to-end encryption, but we’re now changing personal chats and calls across Messenger to be end-to-end encrypted by default. This has taken years to deliver because we’ve taken our time to get this right,” Crisan wrote yesterday. Meta said it will take months to implement across its entire user base. A post written by two Meta software engineers said the company “designed a server-based solution where encrypted messages can be stored on Meta’s servers while only being readable using encryption keys under the user’s control.” “Product features in an E2EE setting typically need to be designed to function in a device-to-device manner, without ever relying on a third party having access to message content,” they wrote. “This was a significant effort for Messenger, as much of its functionality has historically relied on server-side processing, with certain features difficult or impossible to exactly match with message content being limited to the devices.” The company says it had “to redesign the entire system so that it would work without Meta’s servers seeing the message content.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Lawmakers Press Biden Administration for Tougher Curbs on China Tech
    by Ana Swanson on Dec 7, 2023 at 11:57 pm

    Republican legislators argue that the Biden administration has been ill-equipped and unmotivated in a technology fight with Beijing.

  • Apple Launches MLX Machine-Learning Framework For Apple Silicon
    by BeauHD on Dec 7, 2023 at 11:40 pm

    Apple has released MLX, a free and open-source machine learning framework for Apple Silicon. Computerworld reports: The idea is that it streamlines training and deployment of ML models for researchers who use Apple hardware. MLX is a NumPy-like array framework designed for efficient and flexible machine learning on Apple’s processors. This isn’t a consumer-facing tool; it equips developers with what appears to be a powerful environment within which to build ML models. The company also seems to have worked to embrace the languages developers want to use, rather than force a language on them — and it apparently invented powerful LLM tools in the process. MLX design is inspired by existing frameworks such as PyTorch, Jax, and ArrayFire. However, MLX adds support for a unified memory model, which means arrays live in shared memory and operations can be performed on any of the supported device types without performing data copies. The team explains: “The Python API closely follows NumPy with a few exceptions. MLX also has a fully featured C++ API which closely follows the Python API.” Apple has provided a collection of examples of what MLX can do. These appear to confirm the company now has a highly-efficient language model, powerful tools for image generation using Stable Diffusion, and highly accurate speech recognition. This tallies with claims earlier this year, and some speculation concerning infinite virtual world creation for future Vision Pro experiences. Ultimately, Apple seems to want to democratize machine learning. “MLX is designed by machine learning researchers for machine learning researchers,” the team explains. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Notepad On Windows 11 Is Finally Getting a Character Count
    by BeauHD on Dec 7, 2023 at 11:20 pm

    Microsoft’s Notepad app on Windows 11 is getting a character count at the bottom of the window. “When text is selected, the status bar shows the character count for both the selected text and the entire document,” explains Microsoft’s Windows Insider team in a blog post. “If no text is selected, the character count for the entire document is displayed, ensuring you always have a clear view of your document’s length.” The Verge reports: This is the latest addition in a line of changes to Notepad this year, with the app recently getting a new autosave option that lets you close it without seeing the pop-up save prompt every time. Microsoft has also added tabs to Notepad, a dark mode, and even a virtual fidget spinner. Alongside the Notepad changes in this latest Windows 11 test build, the widgets section of the OS is also getting some improvements. You’ll soon be able to just show widgets and hide the feed of news and articles that appear inside the widgets screen. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Who’s Who Behind the Dawn of the Modern Artificial Intelligence Movement
    by J. Edward Moreno on Dec 7, 2023 at 11:06 pm

    Before chatbots exploded in popularity, a group of researchers, tech executives and venture capitalists had worked for more than a decade to fuel A.I.

  • New systemd Update Will Bring Windows’ Infamous Blue Screen of Death To Linux
    by BeauHD on Dec 7, 2023 at 10:40 pm

    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Windows’ infamous “Blue Screen of Death” is a bit of a punchline. People have made a hobby of spotting them out in the wild, and in some circles, they remain a byword for the supposed flakiness and instability of PCs. To this day, networked PCs in macOS are represented by beige CRT monitors displaying a BSOD. But the BSOD is supposed to be a diagnostic tool, an informational screen that technicians can use to begin homing in on the problem that caused the crash in the first place; that old Windows’ BSOD error codes were often so broad and vague as to be useless doesn’t make the idea a bad one. Today, version 255 of the Linux systemd project honors that original intent by adding a systemd-bsod component that generates a full-screen display of some error messages when a Linux system crashes. The systemd-bsod component is currently listed as “experimental” and “subject to change.” But the functionality is simple: any logged error message that reaches the LOG_EMERG level will be displayed full-screen to allow people to take a photo or write it down. Phoronix reports that, as with BSODs in modern Windows, the Linux version will also generate a QR code to make it easier to look up information on your phone. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • The Extremely Large Telescope Will Transform Astronomy
    by msmash on Dec 7, 2023 at 10:00 pm

    The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) under construction in Chile’s Atacama Desert will be the world’s biggest optical telescope when completed in 2028. With a giant 39.3-meter main mirror and advanced adaptive optics, the ELT will collect far more light and achieve much sharper images than any existing ground-based telescope, revolutionizing the study of exoplanets, black holes, dark matter, and the early universe. Economist adds: But when it comes to detecting the dimmest and most distant objects, there is no substitute for sheer light-gathering size. On that front the ELT looks like being the final word for the foreseeable future. A planned successor, the “Overwhelmingly Large Telescope,” would have sported a 100-metre mirror. But it was shelved in the 2000s on grounds of complexity and cost. The Giant Magellan Telescope is currently being built several hundred kilometres south of the elt on land owned by the Carnegie Institution for Science, an American non-profit, and is due to see its first light some time in the 2030s. It will combine seven big mirrors into one giant one with an effective diameter of 25.4 metres. Even so, it will have only around a third the light-gathering capacity of the ELT. A consortium of scientists from America, Canada, India and Japan, meanwhile, has been trying to build a mega-telescope on Hawaii. The Thirty Meter Telescope would, as its name suggests, be a giant — though still smaller than the elt. But it is unclear when, or even if, it will be finished. Construction has been halted by arguments about Mauna Kea, the mountain on which it is to be built, which is seen as sacred by some. For the next several decades, it seems, anyone wanting access to the biggest telescope money can buy will have to make their way to northern Chile. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Actors Recorded Videos for ‘Vladimir.’ It Turned Into Russian Propaganda.
    by msmash on Dec 7, 2023 at 9:20 pm

    Internet propagandists aligned with Russia have duped at least seven Western celebrities, including Elijah Wood and Priscilla Presley, into recording short videos to support its online information war against Ukraine, according to new security research by Microsoft. From a report: The celebrities look like they were asked to offer words of encouragement — apparently via the Cameo app — to someone named “Vladimir” who appears to be struggling with substance abuse, Microsoft said. Instead, these messages were edited, sometimes dressed up with emojis, links and the logos of media outlets and then shared online by the Russia-aligned trolls, the company said. The point was to give the appearance that the celebrities were confirming that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was suffering from drug and alcohol problems, false claims that Russia has pushed in the past, according to Microsoft. Russia has denied engaging in disinformation campaigns. In one of the videos, a crudely edited message by Wood to someone named Vladimir references drugs and alcohol, saying: “I just want to make sure that you’re getting help.” Wood’s video first surfaced in July, but since then Microsoft researchers have observed six other similar celebrity videos misused in the same way, including clips by “Breaking Bad” actor Dean Norris, John C. McGinley of “Scrubs,” and Kate Flannery of “The Office,” the company said. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • How Tech Giants Use Money, Access To Steer Academic Research
    by msmash on Dec 7, 2023 at 8:40 pm

    Tech giants including Google and Facebook parent Meta have dramatically ramped up charitable giving to university campuses over the past several years — giving them influence over academics studying such critical topics as artificial intelligence, social media and disinformation. From a report: Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg alone has donated money to more than 100 university campuses, either through Meta or his personal philanthropy arm, according to new research by the Tech Transparency Project, a nonprofit watchdog group studying the technology industry. Other firms are helping fund academic centers, doling out grants to professors and sitting on advisory boards reserved for donors, researchers told The Post. Silicon Valley’s influence is most apparent among computer science professors at such top-tier schools as Berkeley, University of Toronto, Stanford and MIT. According to a 2021 paper by University of Toronto and Harvard researchers, most tenure-track professors in computer science at those schools whose funding sources could be determined had taken money from the technology industry, including nearly 6 of 10 scholars of AI. The proportion rose further in certain controversial subjects, the study found. Of 33 professors whose funding could be traced who wrote on AI ethics for the top journals Nature and Science, for example, all but one had taken grant money from the tech giants or had worked as their employees or contractors. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Particle Physicists Offer a Road Map For the Next Decade
    by Dennis Overbye and Katrina Miller on Dec 7, 2023 at 8:12 pm

    A “muon shot” aims to study the basic forces of the cosmos. But meager federal budgets could limit its ambitions.

  • Cable Lobby To FCC: Please Don’t Look Too Closely at the Prices We Charge
    by msmash on Dec 7, 2023 at 8:00 pm

    The US broadband industry is protesting a Federal Communications Commission plan to measure the affordability of Internet service. From a report: The FCC has been evaluating US-wide broadband deployment progress on a near-annual basis for almost three decades but hasn’t factored affordability into these regular reviews. The broadband industry is afraid that a thorough examination of prices will lead to more regulation of ISPs. An FCC Notice of Inquiry issued on November 1 proposes to analyze the affordability of Internet service in the agency’s next congressionally required review of broadband deployment. That could include examining not just monthly prices but also data overage charges and various other fees. […] Cable industry lobby group NCTA-The Internet & Television Association complained in a filing released Monday that the Notice of Inquiry’s “undue focus on affordability — or pricing — is particularly inappropriate.” The group, which represents cable providers such as Comcast and Charter, said that setting an affordability benchmark could lead to rate regulation. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • The 19 Best Movies on Apple TV+ Right Now
    by Angela Watercutter on Dec 7, 2023 at 8:00 pm

    From Fingernails to Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas, here’s everything you should be watching on Apple’s streaming service.

  • UK Accuses Russia of Yearslong Cyberattacks
    by Adam Satariano, Megan Specia and Glenn Thrush on Dec 7, 2023 at 7:21 pm

    The government said a group linked to Russia’s intelligence service carried out sustained operations to undermine trust in Britain’s political system.

  • Nintendo Cancels Japanese Esports Events Following Threats to Staff and Spectators
    by msmash on Dec 7, 2023 at 7:20 pm

    Nintendo has cancelled Nintendo Live 2024 Tokyo and postponed other Japanese esports events after persistent threats were made to both staff and spectators. From a report: A Japanese press release, shared by reliable translator Genki on X/Twitter, revealed the “all ages celebration of Nintendo fun,” which took place in the United States for the first time in 2023, has been cancelled and its main esports tournaments postponed. Nintendo said its employees have received relentless threats which have also recently targeted spectators, attendees, and staff at Nintendo Live 2024, forcing the cancellation in the interest of safety. It was due to take place from January 20 to 21. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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