Tech News

Huge Google Search Document Leak Reveals Inner Workings of Ranking Algorithm

technology - Posted On:2024-05-28 21:45:00 Source: slashdot

Danny Goodwin reports via Search Engine Land: A trove of leaked Google documents has given us an unprecedented look inside Google Search and revealed some of the most important elements Google uses to rank content. Thousands of documents, which appear to come from Google's internal Content API Warehouse, were released March 13 on Github by an automated bot called yoshi-code-bot. These documents were shared with Rand Fishkin, SparkToro co-founder, earlier this month. What's inside. Here's what we know about the internal documents, thanks to Fishkin and [Michael King, iPullRank CEO]: Current: The documentation indicates this information is accurate as of March. Ranking features: 2,596 modules are represented in the API documentation with 14,014 attributes. Weighting: The documents did not specify how any of the ranking features are weighted -- just that they exist. Twiddlers: These are re-ranking functions that "can adjust the information retrieval score of a document or change the ranking of a document," according to King. Demotions: Content can be demoted for a variety of reasons, such as: a link doesn't match the target site; SERP signals indicate user dissatisfaction; Product reviews; Location; Exact match domains; and/or Porn. Change history: Google apparently keeps a copy of every version of every page it has ever indexed. Meaning, Google can "remember" every change ever made to a page. However, Google only uses the last 20 changes of a URL when analyzing links. Other interesting findings. According to Google's internal documents: Freshness matters -- Google looks at dates in the byline (bylineDate), URL (syntacticDate) and on-page content (semanticDate). To determine whether a document is or isn't a core topic of the website, Google vectorizes pages and sites, then compares the page embeddings (siteRadius) to the site embeddings (siteFocusScore). Google stores domain registration information (RegistrationInfo). Page titles still matter. Google has a feature called titlematchScore that is believed to measure how well a page title matches a query. Google measures the average weighted font size of terms in documents (avgTermWeight) and anchor text. What does it all mean? According to King: "[Y]ou need to drive more successful clicks using a broader set of queries and earn more link diversity if you want to continue to rank. Conceptually, it makes sense because a very strong piece of content will do that. A focus on driving more qualified traffic to a better user experience will send signals to Google that your page deserves to rank." [...] Fishkin added: "If there was one universal piece of advice I had for marketers seeking to broadly improve their organic search rankings and traffic, it would be: 'Build a notable, popular, well-recognized brand in your space, outside of Google search.'" Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Instead of 'Auth,' We Should Say 'Permissions' and 'Login'

technology - Posted On:2024-05-28 20:15:00 Source: slashdot

The term "auth" is ambiguous, often meaning either authentication (authn) or authorization (authz), which leads to confusion and poor system design. Instead, Nicole Tietz-Sokolskaya, a software engineer at AI market research platform Remesh, argues that the industry adopt the terms "login" for authentication and "permissions" for authorization, as these are clearer and help maintain distinct, appropriate abstractions for each concept. From their blog post: We should always use the most clear terms we have. Sometimes there's not a great option, but here, we have wonderfully clear terms. Those are "login" for authentication and "permissions" for authorization. Both are terms that will make sense with little explanation (in contrast to "authn" and "authz", which are confusing on first encounter) since almost everyone has logged into a system and has run into permissions issues. There are two ways to use "login" here: the noun and the verb form. The noun form is "login", which refers to the information you enter to gain access to the system. And the verb form is "log in", which refers to the action of entering your login to use the system. "Permissions" is just the noun form. To use a verb, you would use "check permissions." While this is long, it's also just... fine? It hasn't been an issue in my experience. Both of these are abundantly clear even to our peers in disciplines outside software engineering. This to me makes it worth using them from a clarity perspective alone. But then we have the big benefit to abstractions, as well. When we call both by the same word, there's often an urge to combine them into a single module just by dint of the terminology. This isn't necessarily wrong -- there is certainly some merit to put them together, since permissions typically require a login. But it's not necessary, either, and our designs will be stronger if we don't make that assumption and instead make a reasoned choice. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine Under DDoS Cyberattack

it - Posted On:2024-05-28 19:00:00 Source: slashdot

The Internet Archive is "currently in its third day of warding off an intermittent DDoS cyber-attack," writes Chris Freeland, Director of Library Services at Internet Archive, in a blog post. While library staff stress that the archives are safe, access to its services are affected, including the Wayback Machine. From the post: Since the attacks began on Sunday, the DDoS intrusion has been launching tens of thousands of fake information requests per second. The source of the attack is unknown. "Thankfully the collections are safe, but we are sorry that the denial-of-service attack has knocked us offline intermittently during these last three days," explained Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive. "With the support from others and the hard work of staff we are hardening our defenses to provide more reliable access to our library. What is new is this attack has been sustained, impactful, targeted, adaptive, and importantly, mean." Cyber-attacks are increasingly frequent against libraries and other knowledge institutions, with the British Library, the Solano County Public Library (California), the Berlin Natural History Museum, and Ontario's London Public Library all being recent victims. In addition to a wave of recent cyber-attacks, the Internet Archive is also being sued by the US book publishing and US recording industries associations, which are claiming copyright infringement and demanding combined damages of hundreds of millions of dollars and diminished services from all libraries. "If our patrons around the globe think this latest situation is upsetting, then they should be very worried about what the publishing and recording industries have in mind," added Kahle. "I think they are trying to destroy this library entirely and hobble all libraries everywhere. But just as we're resisting the DDoS attack, we appreciate all the support in pushing back on this unjust litigation against our library and others." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Russia Mulling Charging Companies To Use Foreign Software

technology - Posted On:2024-05-28 16:15:00 Source: slashdot

Russia may charge domestic companies to use foreign software, the TASS news agency quoted Digital Development Minister Maksut Shadaev as saying on Tuesday, as Moscow seeks to cut dependency on foreign technology and bolster its own. From a report: President Vladimir Putin has made achieving technological independence a key goal, as Western sanctions over the war in Ukraine seek to hamstring Moscow's ability to acquire technology and equipment from abroad that could help it on the battlefield. As part of that push, Putin signed a decree in early May which stated that at least 80% of Russian companies in key economic sectors should transition to using Russian-made software by 2030. Many Russian companies still use foreign software in their daily operations, although an EU sanctions package passed last December prohibits companies from supplying enterprise and design-related software to Russia. Shadaev said that introducing a levy on Russian firms would "equalise" foreign and Russian software. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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How China's 1980s PC Industry Hacked Dot-Matrix Printers

it - Posted On:2024-05-28 14:15:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares a report: Commercial dot-matrix printing was yet another arena in which the needs of Chinese character I/O were not accounted for. This is witnessed most clearly in the then-dominant configuration of printer heads -- specifically the 9-pin printer heads found in mass-manufactured dot-matrix printers during the 1970s. Using nine pins, these early dot-matrix printers were able to produce low-resolution Latin alphabet bitmaps with just one pass of the printer head. The choice of nine pins, in other words, was "tuned" to the needs of Latin alphabetic script. These same printer heads were incapable of printing low-resolution Chinese character bitmaps using anything less than two full passes of the printer head, one below the other. Two-pass printing dramatically increased the time needed to print Chinese as compared to English, however, and introduced graphical inaccuracies, whether due to inconsistencies in the advancement of the platen or uneven ink registration (that is, characters with differing ink densities on their upper and lower halves). Compounding these problems, Chinese characters printed in this way were twice the height of English words. This created comically distorted printouts in which English words appeared austere and economical, while Chinese characters appeared grotesquely oversized. Not only did this waste paper, but it left Chinese-language documents looking something like large-print children's books. When consumers in the Chinese-Japanese-Korean (CJK) world began to import Western-manufactured dot-matrix printers, then, they faced yet another facet of Latin alphabetic bias. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Global Sales of Polluting SUVs Hit Record High in 2023, Data Shows

technology - Posted On:2024-05-28 11:30:00 Source: slashdot

Sales of SUVs hit a new record in 2023, making up half of all new cars sold globally, data has revealed. Experts warned that the rising sales of the large, heavy vehicles is pushing up the carbon emissions that drive global heating. From a report: The analysis, by the International Energy Agency, found that the rising emissions from SUVs in 2023 made up 20% of the global increase in CO2, making the vehicles a major cause of the intensifying climate crisis. If SUVs were a country, the IEA said, they would be the world's fifth-largest emitter of CO2, ahead of the national emissions of both Japan and Germany. Climate-fuelled extreme weather is increasing, with urgent cuts in emissions needed. But emissions from the global transport sector have risen fast in recent years, outside of the Covid pandemic. SUV sales rose 15% in 2023, compared with a 3% rise for conventional cars. There were more than 360m SUVs on the roads worldwide in 2023, producing 1bn tonnes of CO2 emissions, up about 10% on 2022. As a result, global oil consumption rose by 600,000 barrels a day, more than a quarter of total growth in oil demand, the IEA said. SUVs weigh 200-300kg more than an average medium-sized car and emit about 20% more CO2. In rich countries, almost 20m new SUVs were sold in 2023, surpassing a market share of 50% for the first time. Globally, 48% of new cars were SUVs and, including older cars, one in four cars on the road today are SUVs, according to the IEA. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Ransomware Group Claims Responsibility for Christie's Hack

it - Posted On:2024-05-28 01:30:00 Source: slashdot

A hacker group called RansomHub said it was behind the cyberattack that hit the Christie's website just days before its marquee spring sales began, forcing the auction house to resort to alternatives to online bidding. From a report: In a post on the dark web on Monday, the group claimed that it had gained access to sensitive information about the world's wealthiest art collectors, posting only a few examples of names and birthdays. It was not immediately possible to verify RansomHub's claims, but several cybersecurity experts said they were a known ransomware operation and that the claim was plausible. Nor was it clear if the hackers had gained access to more sensitive information, including financial data and client addresses. The group said it would release the data, posting a countdown timer that would reach zero by the end of May. At Christie's, a spokesman said in a statement, "Our investigations determined there was unauthorized access by a third party to parts of Christie's network." The spokesman, Edward Lewine, said that the investigations "also determined that the group behind the incident took some limited amount of personal data relating to some of our clients." He added, "There is no evidence that any financial or transactional records were compromised." Hackers said that Christie's failed to pay a ransom when one was demanded. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Intel Removes Knights Mill and Knights Landing Xeon Phi Support In LLVM 19

it - Posted On:2024-05-27 22:45:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares a report: Similar to the GCC compiler dropping support for the Xeon Phi Knights Mill and Knights Landing accelerators a few days ago, Intel has also gone ahead and seen to the removal of Xeon Phi support for the LLVM/Clang 19 compiler. Since earlier this year in LLVM/Clang 18 the Xeon Phi Knights Mill and Knights Landing support was treated as deprecated. Now for the LLVM 19 release due out around September, the support is removed entirely. This aligns with GCC 14 having deprecated Xeon Phi support too and now in GCC 15 Git having the code removed. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Microsoft's Automatic Super Resolution Arrives To Improve Gaming Performance

it - Posted On:2024-05-27 19:00:01 Source: slashdot

Microsoft has announced Auto SR, an AI-powered image upscaling solution for Windows 11 on Arm devices. The feature, exclusive to Qualcomm's Snapdragon X CPUs, aims to enhance gaming performance on ARM-based systems. Auto SR, however, comes with notable restrictions, including compatibility limitations with certain DirectX versions and the inability to work simultaneously with HDR. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Harris Announces Plans To Help 80% of Africa Gain Access To the Internet

technology - Posted On:2024-05-27 16:45:00 Source: slashdot

Vice President Kamala Harris has announced the formation of a new partnership to help provide internet access to 80% of Africa by 2030, up from roughly 40% now. From a report: The announcement comes as follow-through on Harris' visit to the continent last year and in conjunction with this week's visit to Washington by Kenyan President William Ruto. Harris and the Kenyan leader had a public chat on Friday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about how public-private partnerships can increase economic growth. "Many could rightly argue that the future is on the continent of Africa," said Harris, noting that the median age in Africa is 19, a sign of the potential for economic growth. "It is not about, and simply about aid, but about investment and understanding the capacity that exists." Africa has struggled to obtain the capital needed to build up its industrial and technological sectors. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Microsoft: Windows 24H2 Will Remove Cortana and WordPad Apps

technology - Posted On:2024-05-27 13:15:01 Source: slashdot

Microsoft says the Cortana, Tips, and WordPad applications will be automatically removed on systems upgraded to the upcoming Windows 11 24H2 release. From a report: This was shared in a Thursday blog announcing that Windows 11, version 24H2 (Build 26100.712) is now available for Insiders in the Release Preview Channel. The company removed the Cortana standalone app from Windows 11 in preview build 25967 for Insiders, released in the Canary Channel in early October. It first announced that it would end support for Cortana in a support document published in June and deprecated it in another Canary build in August. In September, Microsoft announced that it would deprecate WordPad -- automatically installed on Windows systems for 28 years, since 1995, and an optional Windows feature since the Windows 10 Insider Build 19551 release in February 2020 -- with a future Windows update. In November, the company also informed users that the Tips app was deprecated and would be removed in a future Windows release. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google's AI Feeds People Answers From The Onion

technology - Posted On:2024-05-27 11:15:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares a report: As denizens of the Internet, we have all often seen a news item so ridiculous it caused us to think, "This seems like an Onion headline." But as real human beings, most of us have the ability to discern between reality and satire. Unfortunately, Google's newly launched "AI Overview" lacks that crucial ability. The feature, which launched less than two weeks ago (with no way for users to opt-out), provides answers to certain queries at the top of the page above any other online resources. The artificial intelligence creates its answers from knowledge it has synthesized from around the web, which would be great, except not everything on the Internet is true or accurate. Obviously. Ben Collins, one of the new owners of our former sister site, pointed out some of AI Overview's most egregious errors on his social media. Asked "how many rocks should I eat each day," Overview said that geologists recommend eating "at least one small rock a day." That language was of course pulled almost word-for-word from a 2021 Onion headline. Another search, "what color highlighters do the CIA use," prompted Overview to answer "black," which was an Onion joke from 2005. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Company will Convert GM's Electric Vans into Speedy Mobile Superchargers for Fleets

technology - Posted On:2024-05-27 07:45:01 Source: slashdot

Nashville-based Yoshi Mobility launched in 2015 to deliver gasoline to vehicle owners, reports Forbes. But this week the company announced they'll begin converting GM electric delivery vans into "mobile EV superchargers" — fast, battery-powered 240 kw DC chargers — for corporate fleets of electric cars. "There's kind of this critical grid problem and so we think that we can accelerate towards an EV future and this is a unique way that we can do it," said [cofounder/CEO Bryan] Frist in an interview. "The mobile charger can charge and then it can multiplex all the spots. So we tell people, it can electrify every spot in your parking lot." Each mobile supercharger can service between five and seven vehicles according to Frist. With perhaps two superchargers operating on a fleet operator's lot, one would service a vehicle while the other supercharger would replenish its own charge off the grid and they would alternate, according to Frist. "What we say is we can do that same charge instead of three and a half hours, we can do in 10 minutes, and we can move around your lot," Frist says. "You don't have to put in all the infrastructure. You don't have to build it out. You just contract with us." The company plans to begin with a "handful" of mobile superchargers in [GM's] BrightDrop vans but expects to ramp up production and begin commercializing more widely during the first quarter of 2025... The mobile superchargers will complement Yoshi Mobility's existing offering of high-capacity mobile generators that sit on a fleet operator's lot putting out as much as a megawatt of power and can service a larger number of vehicles than the mobile units. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Pew Research Finds 64% of Americans Live Within Two Miles of a Public EV Charger

technology - Posted On:2024-05-26 21:45:00 Source: slashdot

"64% of Americans live within 2 miles of a public charging station," Pew Research reported this week, citing a survey paired with an analysis of U.S. Energy Department data that found over 61,000 publicly accessible charging stations. And those who live closest to public chargers "view EVs more positively." The vast majority of EV charging occurs at home, but access to public infrastructure is tightly linked with Americans' opinions of electric vehicles themselves. Our analysis finds that Americans who live close to public chargers view EVs more positively than those who are farther away. Even when accounting for factors like partisan identification and community type, Americans who live close to EV chargers are more likely to say they: - Already own an electric or hybrid vehicle - Would consider buying an EV for their next vehicle - Favor phasing out production of new gasoline cars and trucks by 2035 - Are confident that the U.S. will build the necessary infrastructure to support large numbers of EVs on the roads The number of EV charging stations has more than doubled since 2020. In December 2020, the Department of Energy reported that there were nearly 29,000 public charging stations nationwide. By February 2024, that number had increased to more than 61,000 stations. Over 95% of the American public now lives in a county that has at least one public EV charging station. EV charging stations are most accessible to residents of urban areas: 60% of urban residents live less than a mile from the nearest public EV charger, compared with 41% of those in the suburbs and just 17% of rural Americans. California is home to about 25% of all of America's charging stations, according to the report. But this means EV-owning Californians "might also have a harder time than residents of many states when it comes to the actual experience of finding and using a charger." Despite having the most charging stations of any state, California's 43,780 individual public charging ports must provide service for the more than 1.2 million electric vehicles registered to its residents. That works out to one public port for every 29 EVs, a ratio that ranks California 49th across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. At the other end of the spectrum, Wyoming (one-to-six), North Dakota (one-to-six) and West Virginia (one-to-eight) have the most ports relative to the much smaller number of EVs registered in their respective states. Another interesting finding? "Attitudes toward EVs don't differ that much based on how often people take long car trips. "In fact, those who regularly drive more than 100 miles are slightly more likely to say they currently own an electric vehicle or hybrid — and also to say they'd consider purchasing an EV in the future — when compared with those who make these trips less often." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Could Sea Explosions Finally Locate the 2014 Crash Site of Flight MH370?

technology - Posted On:2024-05-26 15:15:00 Source: slashdot

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished in 2014 — and efforts continue to find it. In 2018 a UK-based video producer claimed to have discovered the crashed aircraft on Google Maps — but Newsweek pointed out the same wreckage "is visible in imagery dating back to January 1, 2004 — more than a decade before MH370 disappeared." Marine robotics company Ocean Infinity also failed to find the aircraft after a five-month search in 2018 — but has returned to the headlines this March, writes the Independent, "claiming that they have scientific evidence" for the flight's final resting place. (The company's CEO says the last six years they've been "innovating with technology and robotics to further advance our ocean search capabilities.") And this week Indian Express reported that researchers from the UK's Cardiff University investigating the mystery "have come up with a novel plan to unravel it — sea explosions." More from the Economic Times: Scientists have said that airplanes crashing over oceans create unique acoustic signatures that can travel more than 3,000km through water. These acoustic signatures can be recorded by a network of 11 hydroacoustic stations worldwide that are dotted along the seabed. Researchers at Cardiff University have said that a series of controlled underwater explosions or air gunfire along the 7th arc [where the plane last communicated] can be done to see whether they can isolate a more precise location for MH370. More details from NDTV: "[W]ithin the time frame and location suggested by the official search, only a single, relatively weak signal was identified,'' Dr Kadri said... ''Similar exercises were performed in the search and rescue mission for the ARA San Juan, a submarine that vanished off the coast of Argentina in 2017. This shows us that it is relatively straightforward and feasible and could provide a means to determine the signal's relevance to MH370, prior to resuming with another extensive search. If found to be related, this would significantly narrow down, almost pinpoint, the aircraft's location,'' Dr Kadri added... Despite the largest search in aviation history, the plane has never been found. An announcement from Cardiff University adds that "The experiments would also help develop the use of hydroacoustic technology as a tool for authorities to draw upon when narrowing down potential crash locations for airplanes in the future." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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How Internet Pioneers Celebrated 50 Years of the Internet

technology - Posted On:2024-05-25 17:45:00 Source: slashdot

Founded in 1963, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers held a special event Sunday that they said would be "inspiring engineering for the next 50 years." The event featured talks on the origins of the internet from 80-year-old "father of the internet" Vint Cerf, along with John Shoch (who helped develop the Ethernet and internetwork protocols at Xerox PARC), Judith Estrin (who worked with Cerf on the TCP project), and Robert Kahn (who with Cerf first proposed the IP and TCP protocols). Ethernet co-inventor Bob Metcalfe also spoke at the end of the event. Long-time Slashdot reader repett0 was an onsite volunteer, and shares that "it was incredible to meet and greet such a wonderful mix of people making technology happen... [T]he event celebrated many key technologies and innovators from the past 50 years and considerations of what is to come in the next 50 years." Video streams are available and more are coming online (including interviews with key innovators, society leadership, and more). If you could not make this event event, follow-on activities continue, including the People-Centered Internet Imagine Workshop where a mix of society is working together to consider how to improve humanity's intersection with ever-expanding abilities thanks to technology. They add that the event was made possible "through the collaboration of many professional computing societies" including the IEEE, People-Centered Internet, Google, Internet Society, IEEE Computer Society, GIANT Protocol, IEEE Foundation — and volunteers from the SF Bay Area ACM and Internet Society. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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American Radio Relay League Confirms Cyberattack Disrupted Operations

technology - Posted On:2024-05-25 16:45:00 Source: slashdot

Roughly 160,000 U.S.-based amateur radio enthusiasts belong to the American Radio Relay League, a nonprofit with 100 full-time and part-time staff members. Nine days ago it announced "that it suffered a cyberattack that disrupted its network and systems," reports BleepingComputer, "including various online services hosted by the organization." "We are in the process of responding to a serious incident involving access to our network and headquarters-based systems. Several services, such as Logbook of The World and the ARRL Learning Center, are affected," explained ARRL in a press release... [T]he ARRL took steps to allay members' concerns about the security of their data, confirming that they do not store credit card information or collect social security numbers. However, the organization confirmed that its member database contains some private information, including names, addresses, and call signs. While they do not specifically state email addresses are stored in the database, one is required to become a member of the organization. "The ARRL has not specifically said that its member database has been accessed by hackers," Security Week points out, "but its statement suggests it's possible." The site adds that it has also "reached out to ARRL to find out if this was a ransomware attack and whether the attackers made any ransom demand." Thanks to Slashdot reader AzWa Snowbird for sharing the news. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Robotaxis Face 'Heightened Scrutiny' While the Industry Plans Expansion

technology - Posted On:2024-05-25 13:45:00 Source: slashdot

Besides investigations into Cruise and Waymo, America's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also announced it's examining two rear-end collisions between motorbikes and Amazon's steering wheel-free Zoox vehicles being tested in San Francisco, Seattle, and Las Vegas. This means all three major self-driving vehicle companies "are facing federal investigations over potential flaws linked to dozens of crashes," notes the Washington Post, calling it "a sign of heightened scrutiny as the fledging industry lays plans to expand nationwide." The industry is poised for growth: About 40 companies have permits to test autonomous vehicles in California alone. The companies have drawn billions of dollars in investment, and supporters say they could revolutionize how Americans travel... Dozens of companies are testing self-driving vehicles in at least 10 states, with some offering services to paying passengers, according to the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association. The deployments are concentrated in a handful of Western states, especially those with good weather and welcoming governors. According to a Washington Post analysis of California data, the companies in test mode in San Francisco collectively report millions of miles on public roads every year, along with hundreds of mostly minor collisions. An industry association says autonomous vehicles have logged a total of 70 million miles, a figure that it compares with 293 trips to the moon and back. But it's a tiny fraction of the almost 9 billion miles that Americans drive every day. The relatively small number of miles the vehicles have driven makes it difficult to draw broad conclusions about their safety. Key quotes from the article: "Together, the three investigations opened in the past year examine more than two dozen collisions potentially linked to defective technology. The bulk of the incidents were minor and did not result in any injuries..." "But robotic cars are still very much in their infancy, and while the bulk of the collisions flagged by NHTSA are relatively minor, they call into question the companies' boasts of being far safer than human drivers..." "The era of unrealistic expectations and hype is over," said Matthew Wansley, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law in New York who specializes in emerging automotive technologies. "These companies are under a microscope, and they should be. Private companies are doing an experiment on public roads." "Innocent people are on the roadways, and they're not being protected as they need to be," said Cathy Chase, the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Satya Nadella Says Microsoft's AI-Focused Copilot+ Laptops Will Outperform Apple's MacBooks

technology - Posted On:2024-05-25 12:45:00 Source: slashdot

"Apple's done a fantastic job of really innovating on the Mac," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told the Wall Street Journal in a video interview this week. . Then he said "We are gonna outperform them" with the upcoming Copilot+ laptops from Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung that have been completely reengineered for AI — and begin shipping in less than four weeks. Satya Nadella: Qualcomm's got a new [ARM Snapdragon X] processor, which we've optimized Windows for. The battery lab, I've been using it now — I mean, it's 22 hours of continuous video playback... [Apple also uses ARM chips in its MacBooks]. We finally feel we have a very competitive product between Surface Pro and the Surface laptops. We have essentially the best specs when it comes to ARM-based silicon and performance or the NPU performance. WSJ: Microsoft says the Surfaces are 58% faster than the MacBook Air with M3, and has 20% longer battery life. The video includes a demonstration of local live translation powered by "small language models" stored on the device. ("It can translate live video calls or in-person conversations from 44 different languages into English. And it's fast.") And in an accompanying article, the Journal's reporter also tested out the AI-powered image generator coming to Microsoft Paint. As a longtime MS Paint stick-figure and box-house artist, I was delighted by this new tool. I typed in a prompt: "A Windows XP wallpaper with a mountain and sky." Then, as I started drawing, an AI image appeared in a new canvas alongside mine. When I changed a color in my sketch, it changed a color in the generated image. Microsoft says it still sends the prompt to the cloud to ensure content safety. Privacy was also touched on. Discussing the AI-powered "Recall" search functionality, the Journal's reporter notes that users can stop it from taking screenshots of certain web sites or apps, or turn it off entirely... But they point out "There could be this reaction from some people that this is pretty creepy. Microsoft is taking screenshots of everything I do." Nadella reminds them that "it's all being done locally, right...? That's the promise... That's one of the reasons why Recall works as a magical thing: because I can trust it, that it is on my computer." Copilot will be powered by OpenAI's new GPT-4o, the Journal notes — before showing Satya Nadella saying "It's kind of like a new browser effectively." Satya Nadella: So, it's right there. It sees the screen, it sees the world, it hears you. And so, it's kind of like that personal agent that's always there that you want to talk to. You can interrupt it. It can interrupt you. Nadella says though the laptop is optimized for Copilot, that's just the beginning, and "I fully expect Copilot to be everywhere" — along with its innovatively individualized "personal agent" interface. "It's gonna be ambient.... It'll go on the phone, right? I'll use it on WhatsApp. I'll use it on any other messaging platform. It'll be on speakers everywhere." Nadella says combining GPT-40 with Copilot's interface is "the type of magic that we wanna bring — first to Windows and everywhere else... The future I see is a computer that understands me versus a computer that I have to understand. The interview ends when the reporter holds up the result — their own homegrown rendition of Windows XP's default background image "Bliss." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Meta, Activision Sued By Parents of Children Killed in Last Year's School Shooting

technology - Posted On:2024-05-25 10:45:01 Source: slashdot

Exactly one year after the fatal shooting of 19 elementary school students in Texas, their parents filed a lawsuit against the publisher of the videogame Call of Duty, against Meta, and against the manufacturer of the AR-15-style weapon used in the attack, Daniel Defense. The Washington Post says the lawsuits "may be the first of their kind to connect aggressive firearms marketing tactics on social media and gaming platforms to the actions of a mass shooter." The complaints contend the three companies are responsible for "grooming" a generation of "socially vulnerable" young men radicalized to live out violent video game fantasies in the real world with easily accessible weapons of war... Several state legislatures, including California and Hawaii, passed consumer safety laws specific to the sale and marketing of firearms that would open the industry to more civil liability. Texas is not one of them. But it's just one vein in the three-pronged legal push by Uvalde families. The lawsuit against Activision and Meta, which is being filed in California, accuses the tech companies of knowingly promoting dangerous weapons to millions of vulnerable young people, particularly young men who are "insecure about their masculinity, often bullied, eager to show strength and assert dominance." "To put a finer point on it: Defendants are chewing up alienated teenage boys and spitting out mass shooters," the lawsuit states... The lawsuit alleges that Meta, which owns Instagram, easily allows gun manufacturers like Daniel Defense to circumvent its ban on paid firearm advertisements to reach scores of young people. Under Meta's rules, gunmakers are not allowed to buy advertisements promoting the sale of or use of weapons, ammunition or explosives. But gunmakers are free to post promotional material about weapons from their own account pages on Facebook and Instagram — a freedom the lawsuit alleges Daniel Defense often exploited. According to the complaint, the Robb school shooter downloaded a version of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare," in November 2021 that featured on the opening title page the DDM4V7 model rifle [shooter Salvador] Ramos would later purchase. Drawing from the shooter's social media accounts, Koskoff argued he was being bombarded with explicit marketing and combat imagery from the company on Instagram... The complaint cites Meta's practice, first reported by The Washington Post in 2022, of giving gun sellers wide latitude to knowingly break its rules against selling firearms on its websites. The company has allowed buyers and sellers to violate the rule 10 times before they are kicked off, The Post reported. The article adds that the lawsuit against Meta "echoes some of the complaints by dozens of state attorneys general and school districts that have accused the tech giant of using manipulative practices to hook... while exposing them to harmful content." It also includes a few excerpts from the text of the lawsuit. It argues that both Meta and Activision "knowingly exposed the Shooter to the weapon, conditioned him to see it as the solution to his problems, and trained him to use it." The lawsuit also compares their practices to another ad campaign accused of marketing harmful products to children: cigarettes. "Over the last 15 years, two of America's largest technology companies — Defendants Activision and Meta — have partnered with the firearms industry in a scheme that makes the Joe Camel campaign look laughably harmless, even quaint." Meta and Daniel Defense didn't respond to the reporters' requests for comment. But they did quote a statement from Activision expressing sympathy for the communities and families impacted by the "horrendous and heartbreaking" shooting. Activision also added that "Millions of people around the world enjoy video games without turning to horrific acts." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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