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California First State To Ban Natural Gas Heaters and Furnaces

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-09-25 12:16
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: A new proposal passed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) cements the state as the first to ban natural gas heaters and furnaces. The decision, which was passed unanimously, aims to phase out sales of the space heater and water heater appliances by 2030. The commitment is part of a broader range of environmental efforts passed by the board this week to meet the federal 70 parts per billion, 8-hour ozone standard over the next 15 years. Residential and commercial buildings in California account for approximately five percent of the state's total nitrogen oxide emissions due to natural gas combustion, according to the originally proposed plan (PDF), released in August 2022. In addition, space and water heating make up nearly 90 percent of all building-related natural gas demand. When burned, natural gas does emit less carbon dioxide than oil or coal. However, natural gas leaks pose health risks to homeowners, as they contain varying levels of volatile chemicals linked with cancer. The new regulations will rely on adoption of heat pump technologies, which are being sold to electrify new and existing homes. Although the proposal does not include gas stoves, several cities and towns in the state currently ban or discourage use of gas stoves in new buildings. California's Public Utilities Commission also eliminated subsidies for new natural gas hookups last week, marking the first state to do so. The move will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower utility bills for consumers. "While this strategy will clean the air for all Californians, it will also lead to reduced emissions in the many low-income and disadvantaged communities that experience greater levels of persistent air pollution," said CARB Chair Liane Randolph in a statement. "California needs more federal action to clean up harmful diesel pollution from primarily federally controlled sources, from locomotives and ocean-going vessels to aircraft, which are all concentrated in communities that continue to bear the brunt of poor air quality. We simply cannot provide clean air to Californians without the federal government doing its part."

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Bengals vs. Jets Livestream: How to Watch NFL Week 3 From Anywhere in the US - CNET

CNET News - Sun, 2022-09-25 11:55
Looking to watch the Cincinnati Bengals against New York Jets? Here's everything you need to watch Sunday's 1 p.m. ET game that airs on CBS.

Apple Pay Later may not arrive until next year due to 'technical and engineering' setbacks

Engadget - Sun, 2022-09-25 11:48

Apple Pay Later may not arrive until next spring, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. As you may recall, Apple announced the buy now, pay later feature at WWDC 2022 and said, at the time, that it would arrive alongside iOS 16. Well, the latest version of the company’s mobile operating is here and Apple Pay Later is nowhere to be found.

A footnote on Apple’s website states the feature will arrive “in a future update.” As Gurman notes, other previously announced iOS 16 features that aren’t available yet are listed as coming “later this year.” Gurman believes the discrepancy is due to the fact Apple doesn’t know when Pay Later will be ready, and the feature may not arrive until iOS 16.4 ships in 2023. “I’m hearing there have been fairly significant technical and engineering challenges in rolling out the service, leading to delays,” he notes.

It’s interesting to learn Apple is encountering technical challenges implementing a Pay Later service. Based on Gurman’s previous reporting, the company has been working on such a feature for more than a year. It even went out of its way to create a subsidiary called Apple Financing to conduct credit checks and customer approvals. All those moves suggest the company sees financial services as a significant part of its future. 

Bills vs. Dolphins Livestream: How to Watch NFL Week 3 From Anywhere in the US - CNET

CNET News - Sun, 2022-09-25 11:35
Looking to watch the Miami Dolphins take on the Buffalo Bills? Here's everything you need to watch Sunday's 1 p.m. ET game that airs on CBS.

James Earl Jones Signs Off on Using Recordings to Recreate Darth Vader's Voice with AI

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-09-25 11:15
James Earl Jones is stepping away from the role of Darth Vader after nearly 40 years. According to Vanity Fair, he has signed off on using archival voice recordings to recreate the iconic voice with artificial intelligence. From a report: "He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character," Matthew Wood, a Lucasfilm veteran of 32 years, told the outlet. "So how do we move forward?" The company has enlisted the assistance of Respeecher, a Ukrainian startup that uses AI technology to craft new conversations from revitalized old voice recordings. Respeecher's relationship with Lucasfilm began with the Disney+ series "The Book of Boba Fett," for which they recreated the voice of young Luke Skywalker. The two also teamed for the voice performance of Darth Vader on the series "Obi-Wan Kenobi," which debuted on Disney's streamer this summer. Bogdan Belyaev, the 29-year-old speech artist, was tasked with delivering the new recordings to Lucasfilm, but tragedy struck on Feb. 24 when Russia invaded the country. As air raid sirens powered through the city of Lviv, Belyaev hurried to finish the project and send his work back to Skywalker Sound in Northern California. "If everything went bad, we would never make these conversions delivered to Skywalker Sound," he says. Following the debut of "Obi-Wan Kenobi," Jones' family informed Wood that they were pleased with the result of the synthesis between the actor's voice and Respeecher's technical work. Jones is credited for "guiding the performance" of Darth Vader in the Disney+ series, with Wood describing the actor as a "benevolent godfather."

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Hitting the Books: How Southeast Asia's largest bank uses AI to fight financial fraud

Engadget - Sun, 2022-09-25 11:00

Yes, robots are coming to take our jobs. That's a good thing, we should be happy they are because those jobs they're taking kinda suck. Do you really want to go back to the days of manually monitoring, flagging and investigating the world's daily bank transfers in search of financial fraud and money laundering schemes? DBS Bank, Singapore's largest financial institution, certainly doesn't. The company has spent years developing a cutting-edge machine learning system that heavily automates the minutia-stricken process of "transaction surveillance," freeing up human analysts to perform higher level work while operating in delicate balance with the antique financial regulations that bound the industry. It's fascinating stuff. Working with AI by Thomas H. Davenport and Steven M. Miller is filled with similar case studies from myriad tech industries, looking at commonplace human-AI collaboration and providing insight into the potential implications of these interactions. 

Working with AI coverMIT Press

Excerpted from Working with AI: Real Stories of Human-Machine Collaboration by Thomas H. Davenport and Steven M. Miller. Reprinted with permission from The MIT Press. Copyright 2022.

DBS Bank: AI-Driven Transaction Surveillance

Since the passage of the Bank Secrecy Act, also known as the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, in the US in 1970, banks around the world have been held accountable by governments for preventing money laundering, suspicious cross-border flows of large amounts of money, and other types of financial crime. DBS Bank, the largest bank in Singapore and in Southeast Asia, has long had a focus on anti-money laundering (AML) and financial crime detection and prevention. According to a DBS executive for compliance, “We want to make sure that we have tight internal controls within the bank so the perpetrators, money launderers, and sanctions evaders do not penetrate into the financial system, either through our bank, through our national system, or internationally.”

The Limitations of Rule-Based Systems for Surveillance Monitoring

As at other large banks, the area of DBS that focuses on these issues, called “transaction surveillance,” has taken advantage of AI for many years to do this type of work. The people in this function evaluate alerts raised by a rule-based system. The rules assess transaction data from many different systems across the bank, including those for consumers, wealth management, institutional banking, and their payments. These transactions all flow through the rule-based system for screening, and the rules flag transactions that match conditions associated with an individual or entity doing suspicious transactions with the bank—those involving a potential money laundering event, or another type of financial fraud. Rule-based systems—in the past known as “expert systems” — are one of the oldest forms of AI, but they are still widely used in banking and insurance, as well as in other industries.

At DBS and most other banks across the world, rule-based financial transaction surveillance systems of this sort generate a large number of alerts every day. The primary shortcoming of rule-based surveillance systems is that most — up to 98 percent — of the alerts generated are false positives. Some aspect of the transaction triggers a rule that leads the transaction to be flagged on the alert list. However, after follow-up investigation by a human analyst, it turns out that the alerted transaction is actually not suspicious.

The transaction surveillance analysts have to follow up on every alert, looking at all the relevant transaction information. They must also consider the profiles of the individuals involved in the transaction, their past financial behaviors, whatever they have declared in “know your customer” and customer due diligence documents, and anything else the bank might know about them. Following up on alerts is a time-intensive process.

If the analyst confirms that a transaction is justifiably suspicious or verified as fraud, the bank has a legal obligation to issue a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) to the appropriate authorities. This is a high-stakes decision, so it is important for the analyst to get it right: if incorrect, law-abiding bank customers could be incorrectly notified that they are being investigated for financial crimes. On the other side, if a “bad actor” is not detected and reported, it could lead to problems related to money laundering and other financial crimes.

For now at least, rule-based systems can’t be eliminated because the national regulatory authorities in most countries still require them. But DBS executives realized there are many additional sources of internal and external information available to them that, if used correctly, could be applied to automatically evaluate each alert from the rule-based system. This could be done using ML, which can deal with more complex patterns and make more accurate predictions than rule-based systems.

Using the New Generation of AI Capabilities to Enhance Surveillance

A few years ago, DBS started a project to apply the new generation of AI/ML capabilities in combination with the existing rule-based screening system. The combination would enable the bank to prioritize all the alerts generated by the rule-based system according to a numerically calculated probability score indicating the level of suspicion. The ML system was trained to recognize suspicious and fraudulent situations from recent and historical data and outcomes. At the time of our interviews, the new ML-based filtering system had been in use for just over one year. The system reviews all the alerts generated by the rule-based system, assigns each alert a risk score, and categorizes each alert into higher-, medium-, and lower-risk categories. This type of “post-processing” of the rule-based alerts enables the analyst to decipher which ones to prioritize immediately (those in the higher- and medium-risk categories) and which ones can wait (those in the lowest-risk category). An important capability of this ML system is that it has an explainer that shows the analyst the evidence used in making the automated assessment of the probability that the transaction is suspicious. The explanation and guided navigation given by the AI/ML model helps the analyst make the right risk decision.

DBS also developed other new capabilities to support the investigation of alerted transactions, including a Network Link Analytics system for detecting suspicious relationships and transactions across multiple parties. Financial transactions can be represented as a network graph showing the people or accounts involved as nodes in the network and any interactions as the links between the nodes. This network graph of relationships can be used to identify and further assess suspicious patterns of financial inflows and outflows.

In parallel, DBS has also replaced a labor-intensive approach to investigation workflow with a new platform that automates for the analyst much of the support for surveillance-related investigation and case management. Called CRUISE, it integrates the outputs of the rule-based engine, the ML filter model, and the Network Link Analytics system.

Additionally, the CRUISE system provides the analyst with easy and integrated access to the relevant data from across the bank needed to follow up on the transactions the analyst is investigating. Within this CRUISE environment, the bank also captures all the feedback related to the analyst’s work on the case, and this feedback helps to further improve DBS’s systems and processes.

Impact on the Analyst

Of course, these developments make analysts much more efficient in reviewing alerts. A few years ago, it was not uncommon for a DBS transaction surveillance analyst to spend two or more hours looking into an alert. This time included the front-end preparation time to fetch data from multiple systems and to manually collate relevant past transactions, and the actual analysis time to evaluate the evidence, look for patterns, and make the final judgment as to whether or not the alert appeared to be a bona fide suspicious transaction.

After the implementation of multiple tools, including CRUISE, Network Link Analytics, and the ML-based filter model, analysts are able to resolve about one-third more cases in the same amount of time. Also, for the high-risk cases that are identified using these tools, DBS is able to catch the “bad actors” faster than before. 

Commenting on how this differs from traditional surveillance approaches, the DBS head of transaction surveillance shared the following:

Today at DBS, our machines are able to gather the necessary support data from various sources across the bank and present it on the screen of our analyst. Now the analyst can easily see the relevant supporting information for each alert and make the right decision without searching through sixty different systems to get the supporting data. The machines now do this for the analyst much faster than a human can. It makes the life of the analysts easier and their decisions a lot sharper.

In the past, due to practical limitations, transaction surveillance analysts were able to collect and use only a small fraction of the data within the bank that was relevant to reviewing the alert. Today at DBS, with our new tools and processes, the analyst is able to make decisions based on instant, automatic access to nearly all the relevant data within the bank about the transaction. They see this data, nicely organized in a condensed manner on their screen, with a risk score and with the help of an explainer that guides them through the evidence that led to the output of the model.

DBS invested in a skill set “uplift” across the staff who were involved in creating and using these new surveillance systems. Among the staff benefiting from the upskilling were the transaction surveillance analysts, who had expertise in detecting financial crimes and were trained in using the new technology platform and in relevant data analytics skills. The teams helped design the new systems, beginning with the front-end work to identify risk typologies. They also provided inputs to identify the data that made most sense to use, and where automated data analytics and ML capabilities could be most helpful to them.

When asked how the systems would affect human transaction analysts in the future, the DBS compliance executive said:

Efficiency is always important, and we must always strive for higher levels of it. We want to handle the transaction-based aspects of our current and future surveillance workload with fewer people, and then reinvest the freed- up capacity into new areas of surveillance and fraud prevention. There will always be unknown and new dimensions of bad financial behavior and bad actors, and we need to invest more time and more people into these types of areas. To the extent that we can, we will do this through reinvesting the efficiency gains we achieve within our more standard transaction surveillance efforts.

The Next Phase of Transaction Surveillance

The bank’s overall aspiration is for transaction surveillance to become more integrated and more proactive. Rather than just relying on alerts generated from the rule-based engine, executives want to make use of multiple levels of integrated risk surveillance to monitor holistically from “transaction to account to customer to network to macro” levels. This combination would help the bank find more bad actors, and to do so more effectively and efficiently. The compliance executive elaborated:

It is important to note that money launderers and sanctions evaders are always finding new ways of doing things. Our people need to work with our technology and data analytics capabilities to stay ahead of these emerging threats. We want to free up the time our people have been spending on the tedious, manual aspects of reviewing alerts, and use that time to keep pace with the emerging threats.

Human analysts will continue to play an important role in AML transaction surveillance, though the way they use their time and their human expertise will continue to evolve.

The compliance executive also shared a perspective on AI: “It’s really augmented intelligence, rather than automated AI in risk surveillance. We do not think we can remove human judgment from the final decisions because there will always be a subjective element to evaluations of what is and is not suspicious in the context of money laundering and other financial crimes. We cannot eliminate this subjective element, but we can minimize the manual work that the human analyst does as part of reviewing and evaluating the alerts.”

Lessons We Learned from This Case
  • An automated system that generates large numbers of alerts most of which turn out to be false positives does not save human labor.

  • Multiple types of AI technology (in this case, rules, ML, and Network Link Analytics) can be combined to improve the capabilities of the system.

  • Companies may not reduce the number of people doing a job even when the AI system substantially improves the efficiency of doing it. Rather, employees can use the freed-up time to work on new and higher-valued tasks in their jobs.

  • Because there will always be subjective elements in the evaluation of complex business transactions, human judgment may not be eliminated from the evaluation process.

1-Day Woot Deal Saves You $340 On a 2020 iMac - CNET

CNET News - Sun, 2022-09-25 11:00
Pick up a 21.5-inch Apple desktop for just $960 today only at Woot.

Mozilla Reaffirms That Firefox Will Continue To Support Current Content Blockers

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-09-25 10:14
Martin Brinkmann writes via gHacks: From next year onward, extensions for Google Chrome and most other Chromium-based browsers, will have to rely on a new extension manifest. Manifest V3 defines the boundaries in which extensions may operate. Current Chromium extensions use Manifest V2 for the most part, even though the January 2023 deadline is looming over the heads of every extension developer. Google is using its might to push Manifest v3, and most Chromium-based browsers, including Microsoft Edge, will follow. [...] Mozilla announced early on that it will support Manifest v3 as well, but that it would continue to support important APIs that Google limited in Manifest v3. Probably the most important of them all is the WebRequest API. Used by content blockers extensively to filter certain items, it has been replaced by a less powerful option in Manifest v3. While Manifest v3 does not mean the end for content blocking on Chrome, Edge and other Chromium-based browsers, it may limit abilities under certain circumstances. Users who install a single content blocker and no other extension that relies on the same relevant API may not notice much of a change, but those who like to add custom filter lists or use multiple extensions that rely on the API, may run into artificial limits set by Google. Mozilla reaffirmed this week that its plan has not changed. In "These weeks in Firefox: issue 124," the organization confirms that it will support the WebRequst API of Manifest v2 alongside Manifest v3. Again, a reminder that Mozilla plans to continue support for the Manifest v2 blocking WebRequest API (this API powers, for example, uBlock Origin) while simultaneously supporting Manifest v3.

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Amazon Hires Unsafe Trucking Firms Twice As Often As Peers, WSJ Finds

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-09-25 09:13
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: For years, people in cars stuck behind blue delivery trucks in traffic have echoed media reports criticizing Amazon for clogging American roadways. It's well-known that the Amazon drivers steering these fleets of trucks and vans don't actually work for Amazon but are hired by companies contracted by Amazon, and Amazon has repeatedly denied liability for any dangerous driving reported, though. Because Amazon has contracts with more than 50,000 firms, just how dangerous Amazon's contracted drivers really are remains a question that is hard to track. However, The Information reported last year that horrific car crashes are part and parcel of Amazon's culture of convenience. And then more recently, The Wall Street Journal provided another window into how deadly America's favorite speedy delivery service can be. Since 2015, WSJ reported this week, "Trucking companies hauling freight for Amazon have been involved in crashes that killed more than 75 people." To arrive at this number, WSJ partnered with Jason Miller -- a Michigan State University professor who researches transportation safety -- to analyze various sources of government data from "3,512 trucking companies that were inspected by authorities three or more times while hauling trailers for Amazon since February 2020." The resulting report, WSJ said, "for the first time showed how the safety performance of Amazon's trucking contractors compared with their peers." And their results didn't appear good for Amazon. For example, a review of Department of Transportation data on unsafe driving scores of more than 1,300 Amazon trucking contractors from February 2020 to early August 2022 found that contractors who worked the most with Amazon were "more than twice as likely as all other similar companies to receive bad unsafe driving scores." WSJ also found evidence of dozens of companies that Amazon contracted that had "conditional" ratings, which is like DOT putting them on probation -- a black mark that typically alienates most firms from contracting them. One Illinois-based company contracted by Amazon "scored worse than the level DOT officials consider problematic" every month of WSJ's review period. "First and foremost, the insinuation that Amazon puts more value on meeting deadlines than on human lives is categorically false," said Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel. "Any accident involving one of our partners or community members is a tragedy, and we always work with our contractors to prevent accidents or learn from them, so they don't happen again." The safety director of Amazon's freight unit, Steve DasGupta, noted that Amazon contractors had "a rate of fatalities per vehicle mile about 7 percent lower than the industry average in 2020." The company also told said it has "suspended all contractors involved in car crashes described in WSJ's report, suspended or terminated 80 percent of contracts where WSJ found unsafe driving scores, and made changes to its screening process," reports Ars.

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OpenAI Open-Sources Whisper, a Multilingual Speech Recognition System

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-09-25 06:10
Speech recognition remains a challenging problem in AI and machine learning. In a step toward solving it, OpenAI today open-sourced Whisper, an automatic speech recognition system that the company claims enables "robust" transcription in multiple languages as well as translation from those languages into English. TechCrunch reports: Countless organizations have developed highly capable speech recognition systems, which sit at the core of software and services from tech giants like Google, Amazon and Meta. But what makes Whisper different, according to OpenAI, is that it was trained on 680,000 hours of multilingual and "multitask" data collected from the web, which lead to improved recognition of unique accents, background noise and technical jargon. "The primary intended users of [the Whisper] models are AI researchers studying robustness, generalization, capabilities, biases and constraints of the current model. However, Whisper is also potentially quite useful as an automatic speech recognition solution for developers, especially for English speech recognition," OpenAI wrote in the GitHub repo for Whisper, from where several versions of the system can be downloaded. "[The models] show strong ASR results in ~10 languages. They may exhibit additional capabilities ... if fine-tuned on certain tasks like voice activity detection, speaker classification or speaker diarization but have not been robustly evaluated in these area." Whisper has its limitations, particularly in the area of text prediction. Because the system was trained on a large amount of "noisy" data, OpenAI cautions Whisper might include words in its transcriptions that weren't actually spoken -- possibly because it's both trying to predict the next word in audio and trying to transcribe the audio itself. Moreover, Whisper doesn't perform equally well across languages, suffering from a higher error rate when it comes to speakers of languages that aren't well-represented in the training data. Despite this, OpenAI sees Whisper's transcription capabilities being used to improve existing accessibility tools.

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NASA Waves Off Next Artemis I Launch Attempt Due To Tropical Storm

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-09-25 03:07
The Artemis I rocket will not have its third launch attempt on Tuesday as planned due to concerns over Tropical Storm Ian making its way toward Cuba and Florida. CNN reports: After meeting on Saturday morning, NASA's Artemis team decided to forgo the September 27 launch opportunity and is now preparing the mega moon rocket stack for rollback. "On Tuesday, Tropical Storm Ian is forecast to be moving north through the eastern Gulf of Mexico as a hurricane, just off the southwest coast of Florida. A cold front will also be draped across northern Florida pushing south," said CNN Meteorologist Haley Brink. "The combination of these weather factors will allow for increased rain chances across much of the Florida peninsula on Tuesday, including the Cape Canaveral area. Showers and thunderstorms are forecast to be numerous and widespread across the region. Tropical storm-force winds from Ian could also arrive as early as Tuesday night across central Florida." Meanwhile, the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft continue to sit on the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Team members continue to monitor the weather as they make a decision about when to roll the rocket stack back into the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy. NASA will receive information from the US Space Force, the National Hurricane Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to inform their decision. [...] The rocket stack can remain at the pad and withstand winds up to 85 miles per hour (74.1 knots). If the stack needs to roll back into the building, it can handle sustained winds less than 46 miles per hour (40 knots). On Friday, the Artemis team said that October 2 was a backup launch date. But it's unlikely that a new launch date will be set until the rollback decision has been made.

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Saul Kripke, Philosopher Who Found Truths In Semantics, Dies At 81

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-09-25 01:05
Saul Kripke, a math prodigy and pioneering logician whose revolutionary theories on language qualified him as one of the 20th century's greatest philosophers, died on Sept. 15 in Plainsboro, N.J. He was 81. The New York Times reports: His death, at Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center, was caused by pancreatic cancer, according to Romina Padro, director of the Saul Kripke Center at the City University of New York, where Professor Kripke had been a distinguished professor of philosophy and computer science since 2003 and had capped a career exploring how people communicate. Professor Kripke's classic work, "Naming and Necessity," first published in 1972 and drawn from three lectures he delivered at Princeton University in 1970 before he was 30, was considered one of the century's most evocative philosophical books. "Kripke challenged the notion that anyone who uses terms, especially proper names, must be able to correctly identify what the terms refer to," said Michael Devitt, a distinguished professor of philosophy who recruited Professor Kripke to the City University Graduate Center in Manhattan. "Rather, people can use terms like 'Einstein,' 'springbok,' perhaps even 'computer,' despite being too ignorant or wrong to provide identifying descriptions of their referents," Professor Devitt said. "We can use terms successfully not because we know much about the referent but because we're linked to the referent by a great social chain of communication." The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch, writing in The New York Times Magazine in 1977, said Professor Kripke had "introduced ways to distinguish kinds of true statements -- between statements that are 'possibly' true and those that are 'necessarily' true." "In Professor Kripke's analysis," he continued, "a statement is possibly true if and only if it is true in some possible world -- for example, 'The sky is blue' is a possible truth, because there is some world in which the sky could be red. A statement is necessarily true if it is true in all possible worlds, as in 'The bachelor is an unmarried man.'"

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Cybersickness Could Spell an Early Death For the Metaverse

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-09-24 23:33
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Daily Beast: Luis Eduardo Garrido couldn't wait to test out his colleague's newest creation. Garrido, a psychology and methodology researcher at Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra in the Dominican Republic, drove two hours between his university's campuses to try a virtual reality experience that was designed to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and different types of phobias. But a couple of minutes after he put on the headset, he could tell something was wrong. "I started feeling bad," Garrido told The Daily Beast. He was experiencing an unsettling bout of dizziness and nausea. He tried to push through but ultimately had to abort the simulation almost as soon as he started. "Honestly, I don't think I lasted five minutes trying out the application," he said. Garrido had contracted cybersickness, a form of motion sickness that can affect users of VR technology. It was so severe that he worried about his ability to drive home, and it took hours for him to recover from the five-minute simulation. Though motion sickness has afflicted humans for thousands of years, cybersickness is a much newer condition. While this means that many of its causes and symptoms are understood, other basic questions -- like how common cybersickness is, and whether there are ways to fully prevent it -- are only just starting to be studied. After Garrido's experience, a colleague told him that only around 2 percent of people feel cybersickness. But at a presentation for prospective students, Garrido watched as volunteers from the audience walked to the front of an auditorium to demo a VR headset -- only to return shakily to their seats. "I could see from afar that they were getting sweaty and kind of uncomfortable," he recalled. "I said to myself, 'Maybe I'm not the only one.'" As companies like Meta (nee Facebook) make big bets that augmented reality and virtual reality technology will go mainstream, the tech industry is still trying to figure out how to better recruit users to the metaverse, and get them to stay once there. But experts worry that cybersickness could derail these plans for good unless developers find some remedies soon. "The issue is actually something of a catch-22: In order to make VR more accessible and affordable, companies are making devices smaller and running them on less powerful processors," adds the report. "But these changes introduce dizzying graphics -- which inevitably causes more people to experience cybersickness." "At the same time, a growing body of research suggests cybersickness is vastly more pervasive than previously thought -- perhaps afflicting more than half of all potential users." When Garrido conducted his own study of 92 people, the results indicated that more than 65 percent of people experienced symptoms of cybersickness -- a sharp contrast to the 2 percent estimate Garrido had been told. He says that these results should be concerning for developers. "If people have this type of bad experience with something, they're not going to try it again," Garrido said.

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Newsom Vetoes 'Premature' Crypto Oversight Bill For California

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-09-24 22:02
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would require crypto financial-service businesses to get a special license to operate, calling it premature and costly. Bloomberg reports: Newsom on Friday declined to sign the legislation known as the Digital Financial Assets Law, which was passed by the state assembly and senate last month. While the governor said he shares the bill's intent to protect Californians from financial harm and provide clear rules for the industry, his administration has been conducting research and gathering input on the right approach. The bill would require a loan of "tens of millions of dollars" from the general fund during the first several years, a "significant" commitment that needs to be accounted for in the state's annual budget process, Newsom added. "It is premature to lock a licensing structure in statute without considering both this work and forthcoming federal actions," Newsom said in a statement. "A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm."

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DOT To Map Out Nation's Time Zones After Report Shows No Official Map Exists

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-09-24 21:01
A person may take knowing the local time for granted, but an official review revealed that there is no single, accurate map showing the nation's time zones and local observance of Daylight Saving Time. CNN reports: Federal transportation officials are now at work creating an accurate map of the nation's time zones, according to a report by the inspector general for the Department of Transportation. The issue came up, the inspector general's office said, after the US Senate passed legislation this year to end the biannual time turn by making Daylight Saving Time permanent. Investigators found no single map accurately showing the boundaries nationwide and said several sources of time information on the DOT website contained errors, such as inaccurately noting the time practices in some localities. For example, one map incorrectly identifies a deviation in Nevada: "Elko County, NV is shown as the location that changed time zones rather than the correct location, the city of West Wendover." "The official boundaries are narratively described [in federal regulations] with various types of coordinates and geographic features such as lines of longitude, State or county lines, and rivers," the report stated. The inspector general report said the Transportation Department is responsible for keeping the clock because of the importance of time to travel. It said the original five time zones have expanded to nine.

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Is Plant-Based Meat Fizzling In the US?

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-09-24 19:23
Citing McDonald's shelved meat-free burger trial and a 70% dip in Beyond Meat's stock, The Guardian suggests plant-based meats may not interest Americans as much as investors thought. From the report: Getting meat eaters in the US to adopt plant-based alternatives has proven a challenge. Beyond Meat, which produces a variety of plant-based products, including imitations of ground beef, burgers, sausages, meatballs and jerky, has had a rough 12 months, with its stock dipping nearly 70%. Multiple chains that partnered with the company, including McDonald's, have quietly ended trial launches. In August, the company laid off 4% of its workforce after a slowdown in sales growth. Last week, its chief operating officer was reportedly arrested for biting another man on the nose during a road rage confrontation. It's a dramatic reversal of fortune. Just two years ago, Beyond Meat, its competitor Impossible Foods and the plant-based meat industry at large seemed poised to start a food revolution. For a time, Wall Street went vegetarian. In 2019 Beyond Meat was valued at over $10 billion, more than Macy's or Xerox. The most bullish investors believed that plant-based meat would make up 15% of all meat sales by 2030. But the reality of Americans' interest in plant-based meat has proven more complicated than investors thought, and the adoption of meat alternatives has been slower than what was once hoped. Today Beyond Meat is valued at just over $900 million. The sobering story is similar to those experienced by many new ventures that see exhilarating hype after a flood of Silicon Valley venture capital cash, fueled by excitement about innovation. Bill Gates backed Beyond Meat, and a number of venture capital firms that typically invest in tech startups funneled money to startups making plant-based meat. Even the meat industry's biggest players have, ironically, invested in companies coming up with plant-based meat. While eating plant-based meat (or no meat at all) has been shown to be the most effective thing individual consumers can do to fight climate change, "consumers seem hesitant to adapt their behavior when the environment -- not their health or wallets -- is the sole beneficiary," reports The Guardian. "Despite the increasing alarm over climate change, the number of Americans who are vegetarian or vegan has remained relatively stable over the last 20 years." "Even when participants in a study conducted at Purdue University in Indiana were given information about the carbon footprint of meat production, participants were more likely to go with regular meat over a plant-based alternative."

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AV1 Update Reduces CPU Encoding Times By Up To 34 Percent

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-09-24 18:22
According to Phoronix, Google has released a new AOM-AV1 update -- version 3.5, that drastically improves encode times when streaming, rendering, or recording from the CPU. At its best, the update can improve encoding times by up to 34%. Tom's Hardware reports: It is a fantastic addition to AV1's capabilities, with the encoder becoming very popular among powerful video platforms such as YouTube. In addition, we are also seeing significant support for AV1 hardware acceleration on modern discrete GPUs now, such as Intel's Arc Alchemist GPUs and, most importantly - Nvidia's RTX 40-series GPUs. Depending on the resolution, encoding times with the new update have improved by 20% to 30%. For example, at 1080P, encode times featuring 16 threads of processing are reduced by 18% to 34%. At 4K, render times improved by 18% to 20% with 32 threads. Google could do this by adding Frame Parallel Encoding to heavily multi-threaded configurations. Google has also added several other improvements contributing to AV1's performance uplifts in other areas - specifically in real-time encoding. In other words, CPU utilization in programs such as OBS has been reduced, primarily for systems packing 16 CPU threads. As a result, they are allowing users to use those CPU resources for other tasks or increase video quality even higher without any additional performance cost. If you are video editing and are rendering out a video in AV1, processing times will be vastly reduced if you have a CPU with 16 threads or more.

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Netflix’s adaptation of 'The Three-Body Problem' will arrive in 2023

Engadget - Sat, 2022-09-24 17:37

At its Tudum event today, Netflix shared an update on its highly-anticipated adaptation of Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem. First announced in 2020, the upcoming live-action series from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will arrive sometime next year. Netflix shared a behind-the-scenes teaser showing off a few character moments.

First look at David Benioff, D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo’s new series ‘3-BODY PROBLEM’.

The series releases in 2023 on Netflix.

— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) September 24, 2022

Some of the actors set to star in the project include Benedict Wong (The Martian, Doctor Strange), Eiza González (Baby Driver), as well as John Bradley and Liam Cunningham of Game of Thrones fame. Considered a modern sci-fi masterpiece, The Three-Body Problem was first published in China in 2008. It took another six years before the novel arrived in the west, and it subsequently became the first Asian novel to win a Hugo Award. Cixin and Ken Liu, who translated two of the novels in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy into English, are consulting on the live-action adaptation.

Netflix signed Benioff and Weiss to a lucrative $200 million deal in 2019. The 3-Body Problem is the first project the duo is writing for the company – though they also produced a series with Sandra Oh. Netflix is likely to share more information about the 3-Body Problem in the coming months. 

Controversial Artist Matches Influencer Photos With Surveillance Footage

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-09-24 17:21
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Smithsonian Magazine: It's an increasingly common sight on vacation, particularly in tourist destinations: An influencer sets up in front of a popular local landmark, sometimes even using props (coffee, beer, pets) or changing outfits, as a photographer or self-timed camera snaps away. Others are milling around, sometimes watching. But often, unbeknownst to everyone involved, another device is also recording the scene: a surveillance camera. Belgian artist Dries Depoorter is exploring this dynamic in his controversial new online exhibit, The Followers, which he unveiled last week. The art project places static Instagram images side-by-side with video from surveillance cameras, which recorded footage of the photoshoot in question. To make The Followers, Depoorter started with EarthCam, a network of publicly accessible webcams around the world, to record a month's worth of footage in tourist attractions like New York City's Times Square and Dublin's Temple Bar Pub. Then he enlisted an artificial intelligence (A.I.) bot, which scraped public Instagram photos taken in those locations, and facial-recognition software, which paired the Instagram images with the real-time surveillance footage. Depoorter calls himself a "surveillance artist," and this isn't his first project using open-source webcam footage or A.I. Last year, for a project called The Flemish Scrollers, he paired livestream video of Belgian government proceedings with an A.I. bot he built to determine how often lawmakers were scrolling on their phones during official meetings. "On its face, The Followers is an attempt, like many other studies, art projects and documentaries in recent years, to expose the staged, often unattainable ideals shown in many Instagram and influencer photos posted online," writes Smithsonian's Molly Enking. "But The Followers also tells a darker story: one of increasingly worrisome privacy concerns amid an ever-growing network of surveillance technology in public spaces. And the project, as well as the techniques used to create it, has sparked both ethical and legal controversy." Depoorter told Vice's Samantha Cole that he got the idea when he "watched an open camera and someone was taking pictures for like 30 minutes." He wondered if he'd be able to find that person on Instagram.

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Crypto-Mixing Service Tornado Cash Code Is Back On GitHub

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-09-24 16:20
Code repositories for the Ethereum-based mixer Tornado Cash were relisted on GitHub on Thursday. CoinDesk reports: The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets (OFAC) banned Americans last month from using Tornado Cash, a decentralized privacy service that mixes cryptocurrencies together to obfuscate the original address. The mixer was blacklisted and designated under the Specially Designated National list because the North Korean hacking group Lazarus had used it in the past. GitHub is a centralized internet hosting service for software development often used by Ethereum developers. Within hours of the OFAC announcement, GitHub, along with other platforms, removed Tornado Cash from their sites in order to comply with the new U.S. regulation. Ethereum developers -- believing that computer code is protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution -- have called for platforms that host the Tornado Cash code to reverse their bans. In particular, Ethereum core developer Preston Van Loon asked for GitHub to relist the mixer's code on Sept. 13. Further reading: Treasury Says Sanctions On Tornado Cash Don't Stop People From Sharing Code

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