Tech News Feed

Long-Term Support For Linux Kernel To Be Cut As Maintenance Remains Under Strain

SlashDot - Wed, 2023-09-20 06:00
Steven Vaughan-Nichols writes via ZDNet: BILBAO, Spain: At the Open Source Summit Europe, Jonathan Corbett, Linux kernel developer and executive editor of Linux Weekly News, caught everyone up with what's new in the Linux kernel and where it's going from here. Here's one major change coming down the road: Long-term support (LTS) for Linux kernels is being reduced from six to two years. Currently, there are six LTS Linux kernels -- 6.1, 5.15, 5.10, 5.4, 4.19, and 4.14. Under the process to date, 4.14 would roll off in January 2024, and another kernel would be added. Going forward, though, when the 4.14 kernel and the next two drop off, they won't be replaced. Why? Simple, Corbett explained: "There's really no point to maintaining it for that long because people are not using them." I agree. While I'm sure someone out there is still running 4.14 in a production Linux system, there can't be many of them. Another reason, and a far bigger problem than simply maintaining LTS, according to Corbett, is that Linux code maintainers are burning out. It's not that developers are a problem. The last few Linux releases have involved an average of more than 2,000 programmers -- including about 200 new developers coming on board -- working on each release. However, the maintainers -- the people who check the code to see if it fits and works properly -- are another matter.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Nikon's Zf full-frame camera puts speed and video power in a retro body

Engadget - Wed, 2023-09-20 05:20

Nikon has unveiled its latest full-frame camera, the 24.5-megapixel Zf with retro style and technology borrowed from the company's high-end Z8 and Z9 cameras. With a new sensor and processor, it promises powerful features like 14-fps max shooting speeds, advanced AI autofocus and 4K 60p video. At the same time, it's a highly manual camera with a lot of old-school touches and multiple colorways, all designed to touch that vintage-loving nerve. 

The body and handling emphasizes manual controls, with no less than five dials on top to control shooting mode, video/photo/B&W, aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation. It also has a pair of shooting dials front and back and a D-pad style controller, but no joystick. The "grip" is just a small ridge. With all that, the Zf really does look like a an old school Nikon film camera — right down to the chrome-plated shutter release button.

Nikon's Zf has speed and video power in a retro packageNikon

The Zf's magnesium-alloy body is smallish, but not very light at 710 grams (Sony's A7 IV is 659 grams). It does offer "high dust- and drip-resistance" though, Nikon says. 

The high-resolution 2.1-million-dot vari-angle touch display fully articulates for vlogging and selfies, while allowing touch function controls and focus point selection. For astro shooters, it has a "Starlight view mode" that boosts display brightness in dark scenes. Meanwhile, the OLED viewfinder has a decent 3.68-million dot resolution and 0.8 times magnification.

It has two card slots, but with a serious caveat. One is a high-speed UHS-II card slot, but the other is a UHS-I microSD slot — the only model with that combo as far as I know. The battery is a weak point, offering only 380 shots on a charge, compared to 580 for the Sony A7 IV. Other features include a USB 3.2 Gen1 port with charging support, mic/headphone ports and a micro HDMI connector. 

Nikon's Zf has speed and video power in a retro packageDIXIE_DIXON2022 for Nikon

Inside, it has a backside-illuminated (BSI) 24.5-megapixel sensor and Expeed 7 processor borrowed from the high-end Z models. That gives it autofocus powers akin to the Z8, including Nikon's 3-D tracking plus AI-powered subject detection that can find people, dogs, cats, birds, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, trains and planes. It'll even detect far-away faces that take up as little as 3 percent of the frame's longest side. 

As for image quality, the standard ISO range of 100 to 64,000 promises good low-light capability, and it has a pixel shifting mode that boosts resolution up to 96-megapixels for static scenes. In line with the retro styling, Nikon has a dedicated black & white mode (with its own dial setting), that enables multiple monochromatic settings ranging from flat to high-contrast "Deep Tone Monochrome." 

It can hit 11fps shooting speeds in RAW mode (14fps with JPEGs) in electronic shutter mode (Nikon doesn't list specs for mechanical shutter) and offers a reduced-quality 30fps JPEG-only mode with a pre-burst option to ensure you won't miss a shot. The five-axis IBS (or vibration reduction, as Nikon calls it) reduces shake by up to 8 stops with a supported lens. Stabilization can be linked to the focus point, rather than just the center of the image as with most systems. 

Nikon's Zf has speed and video power in a retro packageNikon

On the video side, the Zf can record full-frame 4K at 30p from a supersampled 6K image, or 4K60p with a DX (1.5 times) crop, along with 1080p/120p. Video can be captured with 10-bit H.265 recording, which will give users better color fidelity and more options in post. However, H.265 files require a powerful computer, meaning you might have to convert them to another format for editing. 

Based on the specs, the Nikon Zf looks like a solid camera that can compete against models like Panasonic's S5 II and Sony's A7 IV. However, it sets itself apart from those models based on its retro styling and manual controls, which should appeal to a certain segment of buyers. The Nikon Zf arrives in October 2023 at a competitive $2,000 price for the body only, or $2,240 with the retro-styled Nikkor Z40 f/2.0 SE lens. If you want one of the other colors (Indigo Blue, Sepia Brown, Bordeaux Red, Sunset Orange, Moss Green, StoneGray), you'll pay $2,100 for the body only. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Space Drugs Factory Denied Reentry To Earth

SlashDot - Wed, 2023-09-20 03:00
After manufacturing crystals of an HIV drug in space, the first orbital factory is stuck in orbit after being denied reentry back to Earth due to safety concerns. Gizmodo reports: The U.S. Air Force denied a request from Varda Space Industries to land its in-space manufacturing capsule at a Utah training area, while the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not grant the company permission to reenter Earth's atmosphere, leaving its spacecraft hanging as the company scrambles to find a solution, TechCrunch first reported. A spokesperson from the FAA told TechCrunch in an emailed statement that the company's request was not granted at this time "due to the overall safety, risk and impact analysis." Gizmodo reached out to Varda Space to ask which regulatory requirements have not been met, but the company responded with a two-word email that ominously read, "no comment." The California-startup did provide an update on its spacecraft through X (formerly Twitter). "We're pleased to report that our spacecraft is healthy across all systems. It was originally designed for a full year on orbit if needed," Varda Space wrote on X. "We look forward to continuing to collaborate w/ our gov partners to bring our capsule back to Earth as soon as possible." Varda Space Industries launched its first test mission on June 12, "successfully sending a 200-pound (90-kilogram) capsule designed to carry drug research into Earth's orbit," reported CNN. "The experiment, conducted in microgravity by simple onboard machines, aims to test whether it would be possible to manufacture pharmaceuticals in space remotely."

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RNA Has Been Recovered From an Extinct Species For the First Time

SlashDot - Tue, 2023-09-19 23:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A new study shows the isolation and sequencing of more than a century-old RNA molecules from a Tasmanian tiger specimen preserved at room temperature in a museum collection. This resulted in the reconstruction of skin and skeletal muscle transcriptomes from an extinct species for the first time. The researchers note that their findings have relevant implications for international efforts to resurrect extinct species, including both the Tasmanian tiger and the wooly mammoth, as well as for studying pandemic RNA viruses. The findings have been published in the journal Genome Research.

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Schneider Electric Warns That Existing Datacenters Aren't Buff Enough For AI

SlashDot - Tue, 2023-09-19 22:02
The infrastructure behind popular AI workloads is so demanding that Schneider Electric has suggested it may be time to reevaluate the way we build datacenters. The Register reports: In a recent white paper [PDF], the French multinational broke down several of the factors that make accommodating AI workloads so challenging and offered its guidance for how future datacenters could be optimized for them. The bad news is some of the recommendations may not make sense for existing facilities. The problem boils down to the fact that AI workloads often require low-latency, high-bandwidth networking to operate efficiently, which forces densification of racks, and ultimately puts pressure on existing datacenters' power delivery and thermal management systems. Today it's not uncommon for GPUs to consume upwards of 700W and servers to exceed 10kW. Hundreds of these systems may be required to train a large language model in a reasonable timescale. According to Schneider, this is already at odds with what most datacenters can manage at 10-20kW per rack. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that training workloads benefit heavily from maximizing the number of systems per rack as it reduces network latency and costs associated with optics. In other words, spreading the systems out can reduce the load on each rack, but if doing so requires using slower optics, bottlenecks can be introduced that negatively affect cluster performance. The situation isn't nearly as dire for inferencing -- the act of putting trained models to work generating text, images, or analyzing mountains of unstructured data -- as fewer AI accelerators per task are required compared to training. Then how do you safely and reliably deliver adequate power to these dense 20-plus kilowatt racks and how do you efficiently reject the heat generated in the process? "These challenges are not insurmountable but operators should proceed with a full understanding of the requirements, not only with respect to IT, but to physical infrastructure, especially existing datacenter facilities," the report's authors write. The whitepaper highlights several changes to datacenter power, cooling, rack configuration, and software management that operators can implement to mitigate the demands of widespread AI adoption.

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Google Wants To Map More of the World's Roads With Expansion of 'Road Mapper' Volunteer Community

SlashDot - Tue, 2023-09-19 21:25
Google announced today that it is opening access to more contributors to participate in Road Mapper, a tool where you can add missing roads to Google Maps in areas of the world that need it most. TechCrunch reports: Road Mapper is an invite-only platform where people participate in challenges, drawing roads located in areas with a large population, yet have a significant amount of road network missing from Google Maps. Users draw road geometry using satellite images. The drawings then go through a review process and, if accepted, will be live on Google Maps in a few days. Those interested in joining Road Mapper can fill out Google's online form. Plus, top contributors that have mapped the most roads can now refer up to five contributors via the Road Mapper Referral form. Google's blog post notes that its contributors have mapped more than 1.5 million kilometers of roads, enabling more than 200 million people to navigate with Google Maps. That's pretty impressive considering Road Mapper only launched two years ago.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

FTX Sues Sam Bankman-Fried's Parents

SlashDot - Tue, 2023-09-19 20:45
Bankrupt crypto exchange FTX is looking to claw back luxury property and "millions of dollars in fraudulently transferred and misappropriated funds" from the parents of Sam Bankman-Fried, the exchange's disgraced ex-CEO and founder. CNBC reports: In a Monday court filing, lawyers representing the bankruptcy estate of the failed exchange alleged that Allan Joseph Bankman and his wife, Barbara Fried, "exploited their access and influence within the FTX enterprise to enrich themselves, directly and indirectly, by millions of dollars." The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, goes on to claim that "despite knowing or blatantly ignoring that the FTX Group was insolvent or on the brink of insolvency," Bankman and Fried discussed with their son the transfer of a $10 million cash gift and a $16.4 million luxury property in The Bahamas. The suit alleges that as early as 2019, Sam's father also directly participated in efforts to cover up a whistleblower complaint which threatened to "expose the FTX Group as a house of cards." The filing also details emails written by Bankman in which he complained to the FTX US Head of Administration that his annual salary was $200,000, when he was "supposed to be getting $1M/yr." That grievance was ultimately elevated to his son in an email, according to the lawsuit: "Gee, Sam I don't know what to say here. This is the first [I] have heard of the 200K a year salary! Putting Barbara on this." The filing characterizes the correspondence as Bankman lobbying his son to "massively increase his own salary." Within two weeks, the suit claims that Bankman-Fried had collectively gifted his parents $10 million in funds coming from Alameda, and within three months, the couple was deeded the $16.4 million property in The Bahamas. According to the partially-redacted filing, Bankman-Fried's parents also "pushed for tens of millions of dollars in political and charitable contributions, including to Stanford University, which were seemingly designed to boost Bankman's and Fried's professional and social status." Fried is also accused of encouraging her son and others within the company to avoid, if not violate, federal campaign finance disclosure rules by "engaging in straw donations or otherwise concealing the FTX Group as the source of the contributions."

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Toyota Reveals Its Plan To Catch Up On EV Battery Technology

SlashDot - Tue, 2023-09-19 20:02
An anonymous reader writes: Toyota, the world's largest automaker, has a problem. Although the company is famous for pioneering lean methods of manufacturing and being an early pioneer of hybrid electric powertrains, the switch to battery electric vehicles caught it somewhat unprepared. As rivals locked up contracts for critical minerals and formed joint ventures with battery makers (or built their own), Toyota has appeared to fall behind. Now, it has released a new roadmap showing how it will regain competitiveness and sell 3.5 million EVs by 2030. After some early experiments with electric-converted RAV4s (including a partnership with Tesla), Toyota has finally released a modern BEV, the bZ4x. The car had a difficult launch -- a recall for wheels falling off will lead to that -- but a week's test of a bZ4x exceeded our low expectations. A look at the car's specs makes clear Toyota's problem, though: There are different battery packs for the single-motor and dual-motor versions, made by Panasonic and CATL, respectively. [...] "We will need various options for batteries, just like we have different variations of engines. It is important to offer battery solutions compatible with a variety of models and customer needs," said Takero Kato, president of BEV Factory. To that end, Toyota is working on four different solutions. Three of these will use liquid electrolytes and are meant for different applications. A performance-focused liquid electrolyte lithium-ion battery is slated to be the first to appear in 2026. Toyota says it's targeting a 20-minute fast-charging time and wants these cells to be 20 percent cheaper than the cells used in the bZ4x. The company plans to use this in a BEV that can travel almost 500 miles (800 km) on a single charge. For lower-cost vehicles, Toyota is looking at lithium iron phosphate cells, a chemistry that's already extremely popular in China and is being used by Tesla. Toyota plans to construct these as bipolar batteries, where the active materials for the anode and cathode are on either side of a common electrode carrier rather than having separate electrodes for each. (Toyota already uses this approach for the nickel metal hydride batteries it uses in many of its hybrid models.) LFP cells are targeting a 40 percent cost reduction compared to the bZ4x battery and 20 percent more range. LFP cells don't charge as fast, but Toyota wants a 10-80 percent DC fast-charging time of 30 minutes. If it pans out, the company expects these cells in 2026 or 2027. There's also a high-performance lithium-ion chemistry in development, though it may not be ready until 2028. Toyota wants to combine its bipolar electrode structure with a high percentage of nickel in the cathode to create a pack with extremely long range -- up to 621 miles (1,000 km). But it's also targeting a 10 percent cost reduction compared to the performance-focused pack mentioned earlier. The fourth battery technology is one that Toyota has talked about a lot in the past -- solid state. Both electrodes and electrolytes in a solid state battery are solid, which means the battery can be smaller and lighter than a cell with liquid electrodes. The technology is tantalizing, but it's troubled by the formation of dendrites -- spikes of lithium crystals that can grow and puncture the cathode. Toyota says it has made a breakthrough in durability for lithium-ion solid state cells -- it's being coy as to exactly what -- that has allowed it to switch to putting these batteries into mass production, with commercial use scheduled for 2027 or 2028. Interestingly, Toyota was originally planning to use solid state cells in its hybrids only, but it appears to have revised that idea and will put them in BEVs, with a target range of more than 600 miles and a fast-charging time of just 10 minutes.

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Google Bard AI Dips into Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2023-09-19 19:54
New capabilities for the tech giant's chatbot that span across the Google platform may make Bard more helpful.

TikTok Ban: Montana's Attempt Backed by Group Representing 18 States - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2023-09-19 19:20
The Treasure State isn't alone in its attempts to prohibit the Chinese-founded social media app.

Google Bard Extensions Brings More AI Power To Maps, YouTube, Gmail, and More

SlashDot - Tue, 2023-09-19 19:20
Google Bard is getting support for Extensions today, incorporating essential apps like Google Maps, YouTube, Hotels, and Flights to simplify data retrieval and accelerate the creative process. Android Police reports: This integration ensures that users can seamlessly amalgamate data from myriad sources, thereby accelerating your creative process or just making it easier to accomplish basic tasks across the board. These tools were originally teased at I/O before their wider release today. The company posted an excellent explainer of how this works on its YouTube channel. With today's update, you can now sync Bard with your Gmail, Docs, and Drive. This capability ensures that the AI collaborates with your personal content, making data retrieval and summarization more fluid. With the enhancement of the Google It button, Bard's responses can be cross-checked with Google Search, instilling greater trust in AI-generated data. Additionally, conversations initiated by others via Bard can be continued in your account, emphasizing collaborative creativity. You can learn more about Google Bard Extensions here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple Watch Data Now Works With Natural Cycles, the Birth Control App - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2023-09-19 18:45
Natural Cycles is the only cycle-tracking app cleared by the FDA as birth control, and it continues to integrate itself with data collected from wearables.

Microsoft Accidentally Reveals New Disc-Less Xbox Series X Design With a Lift-To-Wake Controller

SlashDot - Tue, 2023-09-19 18:40
Microsoft is planning to refresh its Xbox Series X console in 2024 with an all-new design and features. The Verge reports: Codenamed Brooklin, the unannounced console refresh has been accidentally revealed in new FTC v. Microsoft documents this week. The new Xbox Series X design looks a lot more cylindrical than the existing console and will ship without a disc drive. Internal confidential Microsoft documents reveal it has 2TB of storage (up from 1TB), a USB-C front port with power delivery, and an "all-new, more immersive controller." The new controller, codenamed Sebile, is set to be announced early next year for $69.99 and will include an accelerometer which should let you merely lift it to wake the gamepad. It has a two-tone color scheme and will support a direct connection to cloud, Bluetooth 5.2, and a presumably updated âoeXbox Wireless 2â connection. Microsoft also lists "precision haptic feedback" and "VCA haptics double as speakers" as specs for the controller. It will also have quieter buttons and thumbsticks, a rechargeable and swappable battery, and modular thumbsticks. Inside the new Xbox Series X design, Microsoft is also adding Wi-Fi 6E support, a Bluetooth 5.2 radio, and the company is shrinking the existing die to 6nm "for improve efficiency." The PSU power will be reduced by 15 percent, according to Microsoft's document. Microsoft is targeting the same $499 launch price of the Xbox Series X. Microsoft lists a roadmap for this new Xbox Series X console and controller, alongside a refreshed Xbox Series S with 1TB of storage. Microsoft just launched a refreshed Xbox Series S in black, but there could be another refresh on the way in 2024 with Wi-Fi 6E support and Bluetooth 5.2. It will also include this new Xbox controller. [...] Microsoft is tentatively planning to launch this new Xbox Series S refresh next September, with the Xbox Series X refresh in November.

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Xbox head Phil Spencer responds to a day of massive leaks

Engadget - Tue, 2023-09-19 18:03

After a day of leaks comprising an all-digital Xbox Series X, an advanced controller, a "cloud-hybrid" console, fruitless Nintendo acquisition plans and some very mean words about Baldur's Gate 3, Xbox head Phil Spencer has spoken publicly — and semi-privately — about the situation for the first time.

On X, Spencer said, "It is hard to see our team's work shared in this way because so much has changed and there's so much to be excited about right now, and in the future." He added that the company "will share the real plans when we are ready."

We've seen the conversation around old emails and documents. It is hard to see our team's work shared in this way because so much has changed and there's so much to be excited about right now, and in the future. We will share the real plans when we are ready.

— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) September 19, 2023

In an internal memo sent to employees at Microsoft's gaming division, and published in full by The Verge, Spencer went further. The full note reads:


Today, several documents submitted in the court proceedings related to our proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard were unintentionally disclosed. I know this is disappointing, even if many of the documents are well over a year old and our plans have evolved.

I also know we all take the confidentiality of our plans and our partners’ information very seriously. This leak obviously is not us living up to that expectation. We will learn from what happened and be better going forward. We all put incredible amounts of passion and energy into our work, and this is never how we want that hard work to be shared with the community. That said, there’s so much more to be excited about, and when we’re ready, we’ll share the real plans with our players.

In closing, I appreciate all of the work that you pour into Team Xbox to surprise and delight our players. In the days and weeks ahead, let’s stay focused on what we can control: continuing the amazing success of Starfield, the upcoming launch of the incredible and accessible Forza Motorsport, and continuing to build games, services and devices that millions of players can enjoy.


Undoubtedly, it's been a long day for everyone at Xbox. Spencer is doing his best in both missives to downplay the significance of the leaked documents by suggesting that Xbox's hardware plans have changed since they were first internally shared in 2022. The original slides outline a plan to debut a disc-less, cylindrical, 2TB version of the Xbox Series X in 2024, as well as an updated controller with "precision haptic feedback" (like PlayStation's DualSense) and direct-to-cloud capabilities (like Stadia's controller). Looking even further ahead, the documents included plans for a 10th-gen Xbox console with a focus on "cloud-hybrid games," penciled in for a 2028 release. 

Also, Spencer really wanted to buy Nintendo at one point, apparently (but it seems Microsoft is settling for Activision-Blizzard instead, which is how we ended up in this leaky mess to begin with). We've rounded up all the news from today's document dump right here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

You May Be One of the 45 Million US Households Eligible to Choose a New Energy Provider - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2023-09-19 18:00
Depending on where you live, you may have the power to shop around for a new energy provider to see if you can get a better price. We will walk you through how to know if you're eligible.

Most US Adults Don't Believe Benefits of AI Outweigh the Risks, New Survey Finds

SlashDot - Tue, 2023-09-19 18:00
The majority of U.S. adults don't believe the benefits of artificial intelligence outweigh the risks, according to a new Mitre-Harris Poll released Tuesday. From a report: 54% of the 2,063 adults in a Mitre-Harris Poll survey in July said they were more concerned about the risks of AI than they were excited about the potential benefits. At the same time, 39% of adults said they believed today's AI technologies are safe and secure -- down 9 points from the previous survey in November 2022. AI operators and the tech industry are eyeing new regulations and policy changes to secure their models and mitigate the security and privacy risks associated with them. The new survey data is some of the first to highlight the growing support for these regulatory efforts. "While the public has started to benefit from new AI capabilities such as ChatGPT, we've all watched as chatbots have spread political disinformation and shared dangerous medical advice," said Douglas Robbins, vice president of engineering and prototyping at the nonprofit security research and development firm Mitre, in a statement. "Strengthening existing government regulation and increasing public and private investments in AI assurance can play a critical role in addressing these concerns," he added.

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Neuralink opens enrollment for its first human BCI implants

Engadget - Tue, 2023-09-19 17:58

Elon Musk's Neuralink company, purveyors of the experimental N1 brain-computer interface (BCI), announced on Tuesday that it has finally opened enrollment for its first in-human study, dubbed Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface (PRIME, not PRIBCI). The announcement comes nearly a year after the company's most recent "show and tell" event, four months beyond the timeframe Musk had declared the trials would start, and nearly a month after rival Synchron had already beaten them to market.

Per the company's announcement, the PRIME study "aims to evaluate the safety of our implant (N1) and surgical robot (R1) and assess the initial functionality of our BCI for enabling people with paralysis to control external devices with their thoughts." As such, this study is looking primarily for "those who have quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)," despite Musk's repeated and unfounded claims that the technology will be useful as vehicle for transhumanistic applications like learning Kung Fu from an SD card, uploading your consciousness to the web and controlling various household electronics with your mind.

Actually, that last one is a real goal of both the company and the technology. BCIs operate as a bridge between the human mind and machines, converting the analog electrical signals of our brains into digital signals that machines understand. The N1 system from Nueralink leverages a high-fidelity Utah Array of hair-thin probes that, unlike Synchron's Stentrode, must be installed via robotic keyhole surgery (performed by Nerualink's sewing machine-like R1 robot surgeon). This array will be fitted onto the patient's motor cortex where it will record and wirelessly transmit electrical impulses produced by the region to an associated app which will interpret them into actionable commands for the computer. "The initial goal of our BCI is to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone," the release reads.

Neuralink has been working on the N1 system since 2017, one of the first companies in the industry to begin publicly developing a commercial BCI. However, Neuralink's efforts were waylaid last year after the company was credibly accused of causing the needless suffering and death of dozens of animal test subjects, which led to both a USDA investigation on animal cruelty charges and instigated the FDA to deny the company's request to fasttrack human trials. The PRIME study is being conducted under the auspices of the investigational device exemption (IDE), which the FDA awarded Neuralink this past May.   

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

UK Parliament Passes Online Safety Bill

SlashDot - Tue, 2023-09-19 17:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Controversial UK legislation that brings in a new regime of content moderation rules for online platforms and services -- establishing the comms watchdog Ofcom as the main Internet regulator -- has been passed by parliament today, paving the way for Royal Assent and the Online Safety Bill becoming law in the coming days. Speaking during the bill's final stages in the House of Lords, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay reiterated that the government's intention for the legislation is "to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online, particularly for children." Following affirmative votes as peers considered some last stage amendments he added that attention now moves "very swiftly to Ofcom who stand ready to implement this -- and do so swiftly." The legislation empowers Ofcom to levy fines of up to 10% (or up to 18 million pounds whichever is higher) of annual turnover for violations of the regime. The Online Safety (nee Harms) Bill has been years in the making as UK policymakers have grappled with how to response to a range of online safety concerns. In 2019 these efforts manifested as a white paper with a focus on rules for tackling illegal content (such as terrorism and CSAM) but also an ambition to address a broad sweep of online activity that might be considered harmful, such as violent content and the incitement of violence; encouraging suicide; disinformation; cyber bullying; and adult material being accessed by children. The effort then morphed into a bill that was finally published in May 2021. [...] In a brief statement the UK's new web content sheriff gave no hint of the complex challenges that lie ahead -- merely welcoming the bill's passage through parliament and stating that it stands ready to implement the new rulebook. "Today is a major milestone in the mission to create a safer life online for children and adults in the UK. Everyone at Ofcom feels privileged to be entrusted with this important role, and we're ready to start implementing these new laws," said Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom's CEO. "Very soon after the Bill receives Royal Assent, we'll consult on the first set of standards that we'll expect tech firms to meet in tackling illegal online harms, including child sexual exploitation, fraud and terrorism." Beyond specific issues of concern, there is over-arching general worry over the scale of the regulatory burden the legislation will apply to the UK's digital economy -- since the rules apply not only to major social media platforms; scores of far smaller and less well resourced online services must also comply or risk big penalties.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is building a massive GPU cluster to ‘cure, prevent or manage all diseases’

Engadget - Tue, 2023-09-19 16:54

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), the philanthropic organization created in 2015 by Priscilla Chan and her husband Mark Zuckerberg, announced a bold new generative AI initiative today. The group is funding and building a high-end GPU cluster that will use AI to create predictive models of healthy and diseased cells; it hopes they’ll help researchers better understand the human body’s cells and cellular reactions. The group believes the collection of computers will help it achieve its incredibly lofty goal of helping to “cure, prevent, or manage all diseases by the end of this century.”

“Researchers are gathering more data than ever before about the trillions of cells within our bodies, and it’s too complex for our brains to grapple with,” Jeff MacGregor, CZI vice president of communications, wrote in an emailed statement to Engadget. He lists an example of imaging one cell at nanometer resolution, which would use the same amount of data as 83,000 photos on a smartphone. Sifting through the finer details of a cache of cellular models like that is where generative AI could play a role.

The system will use a cluster of over 1,000 GPUs to train AI large language models (LLMs) on human cells. “LLMs have done an impressive job at helping us understand protein structure, and we think they will be equally great at helping us understand more complex structures like cells,” MacGregor said. He expects the AI models to draw insights and conclusions beyond even the capabilities of a team of human experts. “But also, it’s about the speed at which they can do this. It would take that team of experts years to draw the types of insights rather than weeks that it will take for the models to do so.”

Chan lists other examples of how LLMs could tackle biomedicine’s problems. “AI models could predict how an immune cell responds to an infection, what happens at the cellular level when a child is born with a rare disease, or even how a patient’s body will respond to a new medication,” the co-founder and co-CEO said. “We hope that this collaborative effort will generate new insights about the fundamental characteristics of our cells.”

The group describes the GPU clusters as one of the first to power “openly available” models of human cells, suggesting the investment could yield dividends for under-funded researchers with bright ideas. Examples of data the models will train on include those integrated into the Chan Zuckerberg Cell by Gene tool (with its existing database of over 50 million cells), resources from CZ Science research institutes and publicly available datasets. CZI Head of Science Stephen Quake describes one of the project’s goals as creating a “virtual biology simulator.”

“AI is creating new opportunities in biomedicine, and building a high-performance computing cluster dedicated to life science research will accelerate progress on important scientific questions about how our cells work,” said Zuckerberg. “Developing digital models capable of predicting all cell types and cell states from the genome will help researchers better understand our cells and how they behave in health and disease.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at