The Race to Save Our Secrets From the Computers of the Future

from NYTs They call it Q-Day: the day when a quantum computer, one more powerful than any yet built, could shatter the world of privacy and security as we know it. It would happen through a bravura act of mathematics: the separation of some very large numbers, hundreds of digits long, into their prime factors. That might sound like a meaningless division problem, but it would fundamentally undermine the encryption protocols that governments and corporations have relied on for decades. Sensitive information such as military intelligence, weapons designs, industry secrets and banking information is often transmitted or stored under digital […]

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When Facts Don’t Matter: The Climate Case

from Forbes If one had to choose a false spring in Americans’ attitudes toward climate change, the year 1999 would rank high. That March, climate change researchers published a paper containing the now-famous “hockey stick” graph, showing that air temperatures in modern times were rising rapidly, to levels higher than at any time in recent history. Weeks later, in early May, an F5 tornado with winds reaching 300 miles per hour —the highest wind speed ever recorded globally—carved a 38-mile-long path of death and destruction through Oklahoma. More here.

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A Chatbot Encouraged Him to Kill the Queen. It’s Just the Beginning

from Wired ON DECEMBER 25, 2021, Jaswant Singh Chail entered the grounds of Windsor Castle dressed as a Sith Lord, carrying a crossbow. When security approached him, Chail told them he was there to “kill the queen.” Later, it emerged that the 21-year-old had been spurred on by conversations he’d been having with a chatbot app called Replika. Chail had exchanged more than 5,000 messages with an avatar on the app—he believed the avatar, Sarai, could be an angel. Some of the bot’s replies encouraged his plotting. More here.

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The Five-Day Office Week Is Dead

from NYTs Working from home is here to stay. I can prove it with data — lots and lots of data showing that returning to the office (R.T.O.) is D.O.A. A telling data point is the number tracking how many Americans swiped and tapped electronic cards to gain entry into their offices. This month, occupancy rates were at 50 percent of February 2020 levels. That is shocking — only half as many days are spent in the office compared with prepandemic times. That number has flatlined not only in office buildings in San Francisco and New York but also in […]

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What if We Could All Control A.I.?

from NYTs One of the fiercest debates in Silicon Valley right now is about who should control A.I., and who should make the rules that powerful artificial intelligence systems must follow. Should A.I. be governed by a handful of companies that try their best to make their systems as safe and harmless as possible? Should regulators and politicians step in and build their own guardrails? Or should A.I. models be made open-source and given away freely, so users and developers can choose their own rules? A new experiment by Anthropic, the maker of the chatbot Claude, offers a quirky middle […]

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Every Year Like Clockwork The Telecom Industry Lies And Claims Broadband Prices Are Dropping

from techdirt Once a year like clockwork, the telecom industry trade association releases a study claiming that if you squint just right–broadband prices have dropped year after year. It’s their annual attempt to pretend (and to help the politicians that coddle them pretend) that the U.S. broadband market isn’t heavily monopolized and woefully uncompetitive. Last week, AT&T-backed telecom trade org US Telecom released a new study once again claiming that the U.S. broadband market is secretly super competitive and that consumers have seen amazing price reductions over the last decade in the cost of broadband service. So amazing, that the […]

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Apple Airtags Stalking Led To Ruin And Murders, Lawsuit Says

from ars technica This month, more than three dozen victims allegedly terrorized by stalkers using Apple AirTags have joined a class-action lawsuit filed in a California court last December against Apple. They alleged in an amended complaint that, partly due to Apple’s negligence, AirTags have become “one of the most dangerous and frightening technologies employed by stalkers” because they can be easily, cheaply, and covertly used to determine “real-time location information to track victims.” Since the lawsuit was initially filed in 2022, plaintiffs have alleged that there has been an “explosion of reporting” showing that AirTags are frequently being used […]

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Elon Has To Pay The Legal Fees Of Former Execs He Fired

from techdirt Elon Musk really seems to hate paying legal bills (or, really, any bills), but now he’s got a few more to cover. Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Kathaleen McCormick, Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery (who is quite familiar with Elon Musk and Twitter) has ruled that exTwitter has to cover the legal fees of former CEO Parag Agrawal and former legal boss Vijaya Gadde. At issue was that their contracts required that the company would cover their legal fees, and that should have covered legal work that was associated with the company even after they […]

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Linkedin’s Top Career Tips, Now Brought To You By Ai

from Fast Company LinkedIn Learning users will soon have access to an AI coach, sharing advice backed by lessons from the platform’s thousands of human expert instructors. The business education platform has traditionally focused on video instruction, with experts offering lessons on everything from cultivating business relationships to understanding JavaScript. Its new AI-powered system will let users ask for advice on particular business questions, starting with leadership and management topics, and will give responses tailored to their particular job and situation, based on insights from the video library. “We know your current role—we know the skills you follow [on LinkedIn],” […]

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The Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Content Moderation Cases That Could Reshape Social Media

from Fast Company The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases that stand to have sweeping consequences on First Amendment rights of online platforms and their ability to moderate content. The cases—NetChoice v. Paxton and Moody v. NetChoice—challenge the constitutionality of two separate laws passed in Florida and Texas, both of which sought to limit the type of content that online platforms could remove or downrank. In Florida, the law specifically prohibits these companies from “deplatforming” politicians or prioritizing or deprioritizing posts “by or about” political candidates, among other things. In Texas, the law bans platforms from moderating […]

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What Big Tech Knows About Your Body

from The Atlantic If you were seeking online therapy from 2017 to 2021—and a lot of people were—chances are good that you found your way to BetterHelp, which today describes itself as the world’s largest online-therapy purveyor, with more than 2 million users. Once you were there, after a few clicks, you would have completed a form—an intake questionnaire, not unlike the paper one you’d fill out at any therapist’s office: Are you new to therapy? Are you taking any medications? Having problems with intimacy? Experiencing overwhelming sadness? Thinking of hurting yourself? BetterHelp would have asked you if you were […]

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OpenAI’s New AI Image Generator Pushes The Limits In Detail And Prompt Fidelity

from ars technica On Wednesday, OpenAI announced DALL-E 3, the latest version of its AI image-synthesis model that features full integration with ChatGPT. DALL-E 3 renders images by closely following complex descriptions and handling in-image text generation (such as labels and signs), which challenged earlier models. Currently in research preview, it will be available to ChatGPT Plus and Enterprise customers in early October. More here.

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This Texas Building Has Self-Cooling Walls

from Fast Company When Houston hit 109 degrees in late August—tying an all-time temperature record for the city—26 of the previous 27 days had been over 100 degrees. As the hot city gets even hotter because of climate change, it also keeps using more energy for air conditioning. But in the suburb of Conroe, one new building is pioneering a strategy to stay cooler: “self-cooling” concrete walls with a scalloped shape that helps repel heat. The deep grooves in the corrugated pattern give more surface area for heat to move away from the wall “In a way, the wall is […]

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Life and Death in America’s Hottest City

from The New Yorker The record-setting heat wave in Phoenix this summer, thirty-one consecutive days of temperatures exceeding a hundred and ten degrees, finally broke on Monday, July 31st. But, by the following Friday, August 4th, the thermometer was creeping up toward a hundred and fifteen degrees. Residents liked to joke that anything below the “teens” was comfortable. Jessica Lindstrom, who was thirty-four, was no longer a resident. She and her husband, Daniel, had bought a house in Central Point, Oregon, in 2015. But she had grown up in greater Phoenix and, that week, had brought her expanding family to […]

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NYPD Using Drones To Check Out Noisy Backyard Parties Over Labor Day Weekend

from ars TECHNICA The New York City Police Department said it will use drones to check out backyard parties when neighbors call to complain about large crowds this weekend. “The drones are going to be responding to non-priority calls and priority calls,” NYPD Assistant Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said at a press conference yesterday. “For example, if we have any 311 calls on our non-emergency line where if a caller states there’s a large crowd, a large party in the backyard, we’re going to be utilizing our assets to go up, to go check on the party, to make sure if […]

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Court Tosses Arkansas Age Verification Law For Violating The 1st Amendment

from TechDirt Just after a judge granted an injunction against Texas’ adult content age verification law on 1st Amendment grounds, a judge in Arkansas did the same to that state’s social media age verification law. Trade organization NetChoice had challenged the law, and the court basically gave them a complete and total victory. Just like the ruling in Texas, the opinion here is a good read. As with Texas, Arkansas relied on Tony Allen, who represents the age verification providers, to claim that the technology works great and the laws are fine. As in Texas, the court here is not […]

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Once-Suspended Twitter User Argues California Violated His First Amendment Rights

from SCOTUSblog Last week the federal government encouraged the justices to review a pair of petitions involving two nearly identical laws in Florida and Texas that seek to regulate how large social media platforms can block, remove, or demonetize user content. Lawmakers in both states passed the bills to address what they perceive as censorship of conservative viewpoints; the platforms countered that the laws violate their own First Amendment rights. This week, we highlight cert petitions that ask the court to consider, among other things, a First Amendment challenge against efforts by another populous state, California, to regulate online content. […]

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X (née Twitter) Wants To Collect Your Biometric Data And Employment History

from ars TECHNICA X, the social network that you can access at twitter.com, is planning to collect users’ biometric information, employment history, and educational history, according to an updated privacy policy. “Based on your consent, we may collect and use your biometric information for safety, security, and identification purposes,” the new policy says. X posted the new version of its privacy policy yesterday, saying it will go into effect on September 29. The current privacy policy that doesn’t include collecting biometric data and employment history will remain in effect until September 29. More here.

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Microsoft Cut A Key AI Ethics Team

from ars technica An entire team responsible for making sure that Microsoft’s AI products are shipped with safeguards to mitigate social harms was cut during the company’s most recently layoff of 10,000 employees, Platformer reported. Former employees said that the ethics and society team was a critical part of Microsoft’s strategy to reduce risks associated with using OpenAI technology in Microsoft products. Before it was killed off, the team developed an entire “responsible innovation toolkit” to help Microsoft engineers forecast what harms could be caused by AI—and then to diminish those harms. More here.

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Why China Could Dominate the Next Big Advance in Batteries

from NYTs In Changsha, deep in China’s interior, thousands of chemists, engineers and manufacturing workers are shaping the future of batteries. The city’s Central South University churns out the graduates who are advancing the technology, much as Stanford University molded the careers of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who pioneered microchips. Across the Xiang River, vast factories mix minerals into the highly processed compounds that make rechargeable batteries possible. These batteries, mostly made of lithium, have powered the rise of cellphones and other consumer electronics. They are transforming the auto industry and could soon start doing the same for solar panels and […]

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