Tech News Feed

Bill Gates Predicts 'The Age of AI Has Begun'

SlashDot - 2 hours 51 min ago
Bill Gates calls the invention of AI "as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone," predicting "Entire industries will reorient around it" in an essay titled "The AI Age has Begun." In my lifetime, I've seen two demonstrations of technology that struck me as revolutionary. The first time was in 1980, when I was introduced to a graphical user interface — the forerunner of every modern operating system, including Windows.... The second big surprise came just last year. I'd been meeting with the team from OpenAI since 2016 and was impressed by their steady progress. In mid-2022, I was so excited about their work that I gave them a challenge: train an artificial intelligence to pass an Advanced Placement biology exam. Make it capable of answering questions that it hasn't been specifically trained for. (I picked AP Bio because the test is more than a simple regurgitation of scientific facts — it asks you to think critically about biology.) If you can do that, I said, then you'll have made a true breakthrough. I thought the challenge would keep them busy for two or three years. They finished it in just a few months. In September, when I met with them again, I watched in awe as they asked GPT, their AI model, 60 multiple-choice questions from the AP Bio exam — and it got 59 of them right. Then it wrote outstanding answers to six open-ended questions from the exam. We had an outside expert score the test, and GPT got a 5 — the highest possible score, and the equivalent to getting an A or A+ in a college-level biology course. Once it had aced the test, we asked it a non-scientific question: "What do you say to a father with a sick child?" It wrote a thoughtful answer that was probably better than most of us in the room would have given. The whole experience was stunning. I knew I had just seen the most important advance in technology since the graphical user interface. Some predictions from Gates: "Eventually your main way of controlling a computer will no longer be pointing and clicking or tapping on menus and dialogue boxes. Instead, you'll be able to write a request in plain English...." "Advances in AI will enable the creation of a personal agent... It will see your latest emails, know about the meetings you attend, read what you read, and read the things you don't want to bother with." "I think in the next five to 10 years, AI-driven software will finally deliver on the promise of revolutionizing the way people teach and learn. It will know your interests and your learning style so it can tailor content that will keep you engaged. It will measure your understanding, notice when you're losing interest, and understand what kind of motivation you respond to. It will give immediate feedback." "AIs will dramatically accelerate the rate of medical breakthroughs. The amount of data in biology is very large, and it's hard for humans to keep track of all the ways that complex biological systems work. There is already software that can look at this data, infer what the pathways are, search for targets on pathogens, and design drugs accordingly. Some companies are working on cancer drugs that were developed this way." AI will "help health-care workers make the most of their time by taking care of certain tasks for them — things like filing insurance claims, dealing with paperwork, and drafting notes from a doctor's visit. I expect that there will be a lot of innovation in this area.... AIs will even give patients the ability to do basic triage, get advice about how to deal with health problems, and decide whether they need to seek treatment."

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Some Apple Employees Fear Its $3,000 Mixed-Reality Headset Could Flop

SlashDot - 4 hours 15 min ago
An anonymous reader shares this report from AppleInsider: Apple has allegedly demonstrated its mixed reality headset to its top executives recently, in an attempt to generate excitement for the upcoming platform launch. While executives are keen on the product, others within Apple are not sure it's a home run hit. Eight anonymous current and former employees told the New York Times that they are skeptical about the headset, despite Apple's apparent glossy demonstration of the technology. Manufacturing has already begun for a June release of the $3,000 headset, insiders say in the Times' article: Some employees have defected from the project because of their doubts about its potential, three people with knowledge of the moves said. Others have been fired over the lack of progress with some aspects of the headset, including its use of Apple's Siri voice assistant, one person said.Even leaders at Apple have questioned the product's prospects. It has been developed at a time when morale has been strained by a wave of departures from the company's design team, including Mr. Ive, who left Apple in 2019 and stopped advising the company last year.... Because the headset won't fit over glasses, the company has plans to sell prescription lenses for the displays to people who don't wear contacts, a person familiar with the plan said. During the device's development, Apple has focused on making it excel for videoconferencing and spending time with others as avatars in a virtual world. The company has called the device's signature application "copresence," a word designed to capture the experience of sharing a real or virtual space with someone in another place. It is akin to what Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder, calls the "metaverse...." But the road to deliver augmented reality has been littered with failures, false starts and disappointments, from Google Glass to Magic Leap and from Microsoft's HoloLens to Meta's Quest Pro. Apple is considered a potential savior because of its success combining new hardware and software to create revolutionary devices. Still, the challenges are daunting.

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Germany Urges Loophole for EU Ban on Fossil-Fuel Cars: Synthetic Carbon-Captured Fuels

SlashDot - 5 hours 15 min ago
CNN reports: When EU lawmakers voted to ban the sale of new combustion engine cars in the bloc by 2035, it was a landmark victory for climate. In February, the European Parliament approved the law. All that was needed was a rubber stamp from the bloc's political leaders. Then Germany changed its mind. In a reversal that stunned many EU insiders, the German government decided to push for a loophole that would allow the sale of combustion engine cars beyond the 2035 deadline — as long as they run on synthetic fuels. It's an exception that could put the European Union's green credentials at risk. The bloc is legally obliged to become carbon-neutral by 2050. With cars and vans responsible for around 15% of its total greenhouse gas emissions, a phase-out of polluting vehicles is a key part of EU climate policy.... Other European countries, including Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic, have joined Germany in demanding the exception. The case for synthetic fuels: they're made from hydrogen and carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere, so burning them only releases air pollutants that have already been offset. CNN got this quote from the transport minister of the liberal FDP (which part of Germany's current governing coalition). "The goal is climate neutrality, which is also an opportunity for new technologies. We need to be open to different solutions."

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How Greenland Solved the Daylight Saving Time Debate

SlashDot - 6 hours 15 min ago
The island nation of Greenland — population 56,000 — has "sprung forward" for the very last time, reports Bloomberg: On March 25, Greenland will move its clocks forward one hour to UTC -2 time zone for the summer, just as it has done in the past. Except starting this year, it will stay in that time zone for good. No more suffering through twice-yearly clock changes; come October, Greenland won't roll back to standard time like they will in the rest of Europe and the US.... For residents in areas of the island that are below the Arctic Circle, it will mean one hour of light later in the day — although as a tourist you're not likely to notice the difference given the seasonal extremes of sunrise and sunset. The capital city, Nuuk, may see up to 20 hours of sunlight in summer, but only gets about four hours of sunlight in the winter, for instance....The main argument in Greenland in favor of the change: It's a chance to be closer to European business hours, which would benefit the economy, explains Tanny Por, head of international relations at Visit Greenland.

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Developer Builds a ChatGPT Client for MS-DOS

SlashDot - 7 hours 15 min ago
"With the recent attention on ChatGPT and OpenAI's release of their APIs, many developers have developed clients for modern platforms to talk to this super smart AI chatbot," writes maker/retro coding enthusiast yeokm1 . "However I'm pretty sure almost nobody has written one for a vintage platform like MS-DOS." They share a blog post with all the details — including footage of their client ultimately running on a vintage IBM PC from 1984 (with a black and orange monitor and those big, boxy keys). "3.5 years ago, I wrote a Slack client to run on Windows 3.1," the blog post explains. "I thought to try something different this time and develop for an even older platform as a challenge." One challenge was just finding a networking API for DOS. But everything came together, with the ChatGPT-for-DOS app written using Visual Studio Code text editor (testing on a virtual machine running DOS 6.22), parsing the JSON output from OpenAI's Chat Completion API. "And before you ask, I did not use ChatGPT for help to code this app in any way," the blog post concludes. But after the app was working, he used it to ask ChatGPT how one would build such an app — and ChatGPT erroneously suggested breezily that he just try accessing OpenAI's Python API from the DOS command line. "What is the AI smoking...?"

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Instead of Banning TikTok, Should We Regulate It Aggressively?

SlashDot - 8 hours 15 min ago
"TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday about safety and national security concerns surrounding his social media behemoth," writes MSNBC, adding "He was not well received." Given what we know about how Big Tech abuses data, about how China's authoritarian government systematically embraces surveillance as a tool of social control, and about the increasingly adversarial geopolitical relationship between the U.S. and China, it's not sinophobic to ask questions about how to guard against TikTok's misuse. It's common sense. While a ban is probably too drastic and may fail to solve all the issues at hand, regulating the company is sensible. Fortunately, one of the key ways to address some of the concerns posed by TikTok — restricting all companies' capacity to collect data on Americans — could help us solve problems with online life that extends well beyond this social media platform.... [Evan Greer, the director at Fight for the Future, a digital rights organization], believes members of Congress laser focused on TikTok are "on a sidequest" in the scheme of a bigger crisis of surveillance of online life; Greer points to the American Data Privacy and Protection Act as a potential solution. That law would put in place strong data minimization policies, strictly limiting how and how much data companies can collect on people online. It also would deal a huge blow to the power of the algorithms of TikTok and other social media apps because their content recommendation relies on collecting huge amounts of data about its users. The passage of that act would force any company operating in the U.S., not just TikTok, to collect far less data — and reduce all social media companies' capacities to shape the flow of information through algorithmic amplification. In addition to privacy legislation, the Federal Trade Commission could play a more aggressive role in creating and enforcing rules around commercial surveillance, Greer pointed out. TikTok raises legitimately tricky questions about national security. But it's not the only social media company that does, and national security concerns aren't the only reason to rethink the freedom we've given to social media companies in our society. Any time a powerful actor has vast control over the flow of information, it should be scrutinized as a possible source of exploitation, censorship and manipulation — and, when appropriate, regulated. TikTok should serve as the springboard for that conversation, not the beginning and ending of it. CNN points out that TikTok isn't the only Chinese-owned platform finding viral success in America. "Of the top 10 most popular free apps on Apple's U.S. app store, four were developed with Chinese technology." Besides TikTok, there's also shopping app Temu, fast fashion retailer Shein and video editing app CapCut, which is also owned by ByteDance. Duncan Clark, chairman and founder of investment advisory BDA China, tells CNN that these apps could be next. But writing in the New York Times, the executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia argues that "it's difficult to see how a ban could survive First Amendment review." The Supreme Court and lower courts have held repeatedly that the mere invocation of national security is insufficient to justify the suppression of First Amendment rights. In court, the government will have to introduce evidence that the threats it is addressing are real, not merely conjectural, and that the proposed ban would address those threats. The evidence assembled so far is not likely to be sufficient. All of this will no doubt be frustrating to some policymakers, including to some who are commendably focused on the very real risks that social media companies' practices pose to Americans' privacy and security. But the legitimacy of our democracy depends on the free trade of information and ideas, including across international borders.

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Should Schools Makes CS/Cybersecurity a High School Graduation Requirement?

SlashDot - 9 hours 15 min ago
Long-time Slashdot reader theodp notes Microsoft's friendly relationship with North Dakota, pointing out that in 2017 Microsoft's president Brad Smith said the company would provide the state "cash grants, technology, curriculum and resources to nonprofits" and also "partner with schools to strengthen their ability to offer digital skills and computer science education to the youth they serve." "We just have such a good relationship with the community. We were also excited about Doug Burgum's election as governor. We had confidence that Doug, as governor, would bring a real focus on innovation that would focus on both changes in government and changes in technology." Before being elected Governor in 2016 (with the endorsement of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and financial backing from Bill Gates), former Microsoft exec Burgum sold his Fargo-based Great Plains Software business to Microsoft in 2002 for $1.1 billion and joined the software giant, where he reported directly to Steve Ballmer (a college friend) and managed Nadella (who became chief of Microsoft Business Solutions after Burgum's 2007 departure). "We need a national movement for coding and computer science in our public schools [...] We need to influence, we need to support, we need to reform public policy as we're seeing here in North Dakota," Microsoft's Smith exhorted to TEDxFargo attendees in his return to North Dakota. "We need to make sure that computer science counts towards high school graduation." Mission accomplished. On Friday, North Dakota's governor Doug Burgum and School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler celebrated the governor's signing of HB1398, the Microsoft-supported bill which requires the teaching of computer science and cybersecurity and the integration of these content standards into school coursework from kindergarten through 12th grade. (Two of the ten members of North Dakota's K-12 CS and Cybersecurity Standards Review Committee were from Microsoft). The superintendent said North Dakota is the first state in the nation to approve legislation requiring cybersecurity education. "Today is the culmination of years of work by stakeholders from all sectors to recognize and promote the importance of cybersecurity and computer science education in our elementary, middle and high schools," superintendent Baesler said at Friday's bill signing ceremony. Baesler said EduTech, a division of bill supporter North Dakota Information Technology that provides IT support and professional development for K-12 educators, will be developing examples of cybersecurity and computer science education integration plans that may be used to assist local schools develop their own plans. EduTech is a Regional Partner of tech-backed nonprofit, which also voiced its support for HB1398.'s Board of Directors include Microsoft President Brad Smith and CTO Kevin Scott. Burgum, who joined's Governors Partnership for K-12 Computer Science in 2017, was also among 45 of the nation's State Governors who last July signed a Compact To Expand K-12 Computer Science Education in their states in response to a public letter from the CEOs for CS (including Microsoft's Nadella and Smith), part of a campaign organized by that called for state governments and education leaders to bring more CS to K-12 students to meet the future demands of the American workforce. has set a goal to make CS a high school graduation requirement for every student in all 50 states by the end of the decade.

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The Tinder Car Heist and the Plot For Revenge

SlashDot - 10 hours 15 min ago
Slashdot reader DevNull127 writes: Is there a dark side to online dating apps like Tinder? "According to the FTC, reports of fraud losses from romance scams topped $1.3 billion in 2022," reports the Verge. The head of the FBI's Portland field office tells them that "Technology gives you this false sense of trust." But the co-founder of the nonprofit Advocating Against Romance Scammers argues it's more than that — that technology "gives criminals a crucial tool to find new victims, and they are definitely getting more brazen overall." And then the Verge tells the story of a 32-year-old technology entrepreneur and self-proclaimed multimillionaire who didn't see the red flags when a mysterious date on Tinder asked him what kind of car he owned — and told him that when he paid for their hotel room, bring cash... Yes, he ends up being carjacked at gunpoint in a Tinder car-theft scheme by a largely transient con artist. But then he posts to his 245,000 followers on Instagram — hiring a marketing company to manage a car-recovery campaign. He hears from fences who offer to sell back his car for $30,000 — along with an alleged police informant. There's good luck and bad luck in this wild tale of car chases, police scanners, a neighborhood they call "Methville," and an attempt to bring accountability to a 21-year-old catfisher and her two 18-year-old acomplices. But the story ends with the 32-year-old self-proclaimed multimillionaire back on Tinder, looking for another date.

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Become a Microsoft Excel Whiz With This $10 Comprehensive Training Course - CNET

CNET News - 10 hours 48 min ago
Get lifetime access to this online course for $289 off and master everything from the basics to advanced functions like programming.

This Is the Key to Maintaining Weight Loss - CNET

CNET News - 10 hours 49 min ago
If you want to keep the weight off, these are the most important factors to consider.

The Orange Pi 5: a Fast Alternative To The Raspberry Pi 4

SlashDot - 11 hours 15 min ago
"With an 8-core Rockchip RK3588S SoC, the Orange Pi 5 is leaps and bounds faster than the aging Raspberry Pi 4," writes Phoronix: With up to 32GB of RAM, the Orange Pi 5 is also capable of serving for a more diverse user-base and even has enough potential for assembling a budget Arm Linux developer desktop. I've been testing out the Orange Pi 5 the past few weeks and it's quite fast and nice for its low price point. The Orange Pi 5 single board computer was announced last year and went up for pre-ordering at the end of 2022.... When it comes to the software support, among the officially available options for the Orange Pi 5 are Orange Pi OS, Ubuntu, Debian, Android, and Armbian. Other ARM Linux distributions will surely see varying levels of support while even the readily available ISO selection offered by Orange Pi is off to a great start.... Granted, the Orange Pi developer community isn't as large as that of the Raspberry Pi community or the current range of accessories and documentation, but for those more concerned about features and performance, the Orange Pi 5 is extremely interesting. The article includes Orange Pi 5 specs: A 26-pin headerHDMI 2.1, Gigabit LAN, M.2 PCIe 2.0, and USB3 connectivityA Mali G510 MP4 graphics processor, "which has open-source driver hope via the Panfrost driver stack."Four different versions with 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB of RAM using LPDDR4 or LPDDR4X. "The Orange Pi 4GB retails for ~$88, the Orange Pi 5 8GB version retails for $108, and the Orange Pi 5 16GB version retails for $138, while as of writing the 32GB version wasn't in stock." In 169 performance benchmarks (compared to Raspberry Pi 4 boards), "this single board computer came out to delivering 2.85x the performance of the Raspberry Pi 400 overall." And through all this the average SoC temperature was 71 degrees with a peak of 85 degrees — without any extra heatsink or cooling.

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Save Up to 72% on Spring Cleaning Essentials at Amazon - CNET

CNET News - 11 hours 49 min ago
Shop big savings on soaps, detergents, disinfectants and everything else you need to freshen up the house this spring.

VR Is Revolutionizing Therapy. Why Aren't More People Using It? - CNET

CNET News - 13 hours 48 min ago
VR therapy has been studied since the 1990s. But as of 2023, we're still talking about its potential.

How Razer Is Bringing Vibration 'Soundtracks' to Tomorrow's Games and Movies - CNET

CNET News - 13 hours 48 min ago
New software lets developers automatically add vibrations synced to the action on screen.

'X-Ray Vision' Could Be the Next Superpower You Get With Augmented Reality - CNET

CNET News - 13 hours 48 min ago
With Microsoft's HoloLens and a special application developed by MIT researchers, AR can be used to find hidden objects.

Make Your FaceTime Calls Sound Better With This Trick - CNET

CNET News - 13 hours 49 min ago
This feature can help other people hear you clearly.

Why America's Children Stopped Falling in Love with Reading

SlashDot - 14 hours 15 min ago
"A shrinking number of kids are reading widely and voraciously for fun," writes a New York-based children's book author in the Atlantic. But why? The ubiquity and allure of screens surely play a large part in this — most American children have smartphones by the age of 11 — as does learning loss during the pandemic. But this isn't the whole story. A survey just before the pandemic by the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that the percentages of 9- and 13-year-olds who said they read daily for fun had dropped by double digits since 1984. I recently spoke with educators and librarians about this trend, and they gave many explanations, but one of the most compelling — and depressing — is rooted in how our education system teaches kids to relate to books.... In New York, where I was in public elementary school in the early '80s, we did have state assessments that tested reading level and comprehension, but the focus was on reading as many books as possible and engaging emotionally with them as a way to develop the requisite skills. Now the focus on reading analytically seems to be squashing that organic enjoyment. Critical reading is an important skill, especially for a generation bombarded with information, much of it unreliable or deceptive. But this hyperfocus on analysis comes at a steep price: The love of books and storytelling is being lost. This disregard for story starts as early as elementary school. Take this requirement from the third-grade English-language-arts Common Core standard, used widely across the U.S.: "Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language...." [A]s several educators explained to me, the advent of accountability laws and policies, starting with No Child Left Behind in 2001, and accompanying high-stakes assessments based on standards, be they Common Core or similar state alternatives, has put enormous pressure on instructors to teach to these tests at the expense of best practices.... [W]e need to get to the root of the problem, which is not about book lengths but the larger educational system. We can't let tests control how teachers teach: Close reading may be easy to measure, but it's not the way to get kids to fall in love with storytelling. Teachers need to be given the freedom to teach in developmentally appropriate ways, using books they know will excite and challenge kids. "There's a whole generation of kids who associate reading with assessment now," librarian/public school teacher Jennifer LaGarde tells the Atlantic. And their article notes the problem doesn't end after grade school. "By middle school, not only is there even less time for activities such as class read-alouds, but instruction also continues to center heavily on passage analysis, said LaGarde, who taught that age group."

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The Best HDMI Cables for Your TV in 2023 - CNET

CNET News - 15 hours 48 min ago
If you've got a new 4K or 8K TV, or need to get new HDMI cables in general, here are the best ones to get in 2023.

Ask Slashdot: Can an Aging Project Manager Return to Coding Unpopular Legacy Codebases?

SlashDot - 18 hours 15 min ago
Anyone have career advice for this anonymous Slashdot reader? I've had a great career from 1992 to today. I've been a front line coder for most of that, but also a team lead, a supervisor, a project manager, a scrum master, etc.. My career has been marked by expediency — I did whatever needed doing at the time, in whatever tools necessary. However, now I'm 52, and I'm getting tired of leadership and project management, and I would like to return to that front line again. The legacy skills I have are no longer in demand. (They aren't Cobol.) Here's the rub: I am happy to do the work nobody else wants to do. Dead languages, abandoned codebases with little documentation, precariously built systems with rickety infrastructure... I've worked in them before, and I would be fine doing it again. I'm afraid of nothing, but I don't want to keep climbing the bleeding edge of the technical mountain. I'd be happy to be silently, competently keeping things moving. By 55 I would like to make that move. It's either that or retire, which is an option... but I love the technical work. They're soliciting suggestions from other Slashdot readers. ("Where to focus? How to prep?") So share your own best advice in the comments. How can an aging project manager return to coding on unpopular legacy codebases?

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Panera Bread Begins Scanning Its Customers' Palms

SlashDot - 21 hours 15 min ago
Slashdot reader quonset writes: In an effort to more personalize a customer's experience, the U.S. restaurant chain Panera Bread is rolling out palm-scanning technology which will link the palm print with the customer's loyalty program. According to Panera Bread CEO Niren Chaudhary, the move will allow a "frictionless, personalized, and convenient" evolution of Panera's loyalty program, which boasts 52 million members. The claim is this will allow the company to offer menu choices based on a customer's order history, allow staff to personally greet the customer, and offer further suggestions. Privacy advocates are not so sure. From the story: Panera says the technology will securely store its customers' biometric data. However, digital rights activists worry that information could be tapped by federal agencies or accessed by hackers. "Federal agencies like Customs and Border Protection have experienced devastating hacks where large databases of biometric information have been stolen," Fight for the Future told CBS MoneyWatch in an email. "Do we really expect Amazon, or Panera, to have better cybersecurity practices?" The scanners are already installed at locations in St. Louis, Panera announced Wednesday, and scanners will "expand to additional locations in the coming months." (Panera has 2,113 locations in 48 states.) "After a simple scan of the palm, Panera associates will be able to greet guests by name, communicate their available rewards, reorder their favorite menu items, or take another order of their choice," the announcement gushes, "extending the guest experience into a true and meaningful relationship. "When they are done ordering, guests can simply scan their palm again to pay."

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