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Internet Archive Celebrates 1927 Works' Arrival in Public Domain with Short Film Contest (archive.org)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (EditorDavid) from the free-at-last dept.)

To celebrate this year's "Public Domain Day," the Internet Archive "asked people to submit [1]short films highlighting anything that was going to be made available in the Public Domain in 2023 ."

> For the contest, vintage images and sounds were woven into creative films of 2-3 minutes. Many of the films were abstract while others educational, they all showcased the possibility when public domain materials are made openly available and accessible for download. "The Internet Archive has spent 24 years collecting and archiving content from around the world...now is the time to see what people can do with it," said Amir Saber Esfahani, director of special arts projects at the Internet Archive.

The counsel from Creative Commons helped judged [2]all 47 entries , with winners finally chosen "based on creativity, technique, engagement, and variety of content."

The winning entries include " [3]The Public Domain Race ," a montage of newly-uncopyrighted 1927 film clips and cartoons. And the honorable mentions include short films showing, among other things, 2023 filmmaker Sam Dody [4]serenading a lovestruck silent film star from 1927 — and [5]the story of why Mae West once spent eight days in jail .

But the big first-place prize of $1,500 went to Gnats Gonzales for reciting a poem that was [6]emblazoned over the artwork and title pages of 1927 works that have finally entered the public domain. "... Let not kings nor selective texts decide what is known among you. Ignore the temptation of hippocampal decay. Plunge into the dark depths. And feel the warmth of mortal creation at its purest."

That last quote appears over a 1927 movie poster showing a woman smashing pies into the face of Oliver Hardy.



[1] https://blog.archive.org/2023/01/21/public-domain-day-film-contest-highlights-works-of-1927/

[2] https://archive.org/details/2023-public-domain-day-film-contest

[3] https://archive.org/details/the_public_domain_race

[4] https://archive.org/details/publicdomainfilm_SamD

[5] https://archive.org/details/1927-the-drag-and-the-padlock

[6] https://archive.org/details/echo-echo



Proposed Linux Patch Allows Disabling CPU Security Mitigations at Build-Time (phoronix.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (EditorDavid) from the patch-possibilities dept.)

Phoronix reports:

> A proposed Linux kernel patch would provide a new Kconfig build time option of "CONFIG_DEFAULT_CPU_MITIGATIONS_OFF" to [1]build an insecure kernel if wanting to avoid the growing list of CPU security mitigations within the kernel and their associated performance overhead.

>

> While risking system security, booting the Linux kernel with the "mitigations=off" option has been popular for avoiding the performance costs of Spectre, Meltdown, and the many other CPU security vulnerabilities that have come to light in recent years. Using mitigations=off allows run-time disabling of the various in-kernel security mitigations for these CPU problems.

>

> A patch proposed this week would provide CONFIG_DEFAULT_CPU_MITIGATIONS_OFF as a Kconfig switch that could optionally be enabled to have the same affect as mitigations=off but to be applied at build-time to avoid having to worry about setting the "mitigations=off" flag.



[1] https://www.phoronix.com/news/Linux-Default-Mitigations-Off



Disney Explores the Sale of More Films and TV Series To Rivals (bloomberg.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (BeauHD) from the digital-hoarders dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg:

> Walt Disney Co. is [1]exploring more licensing of its films and television series to rival media outlets as pressure grows to curb the losses in its streaming TV business. The Burbank, California-based entertainment giant is seeking to earn more cash from its content library, according to people familiar with the discussions who asked not to be identified as the talks are private. The move would represent a shift in strategy, as Disney has in recent years tried to keep much of its original programming exclusively on its Disney+ and Hulu streaming services. [CEO Bob Iger], 71, will share more of his plans when the company reports financial results on Feb. 8, but he has already taken steps to reverse decisions made by his predecessor. He offered free photos and more lower-price tickets to theme-park guests irked by rising fees.

>

> Although Disney already licenses some titles to other platforms including Amazon's Prime streaming service, it began to hoard content with the launch of Disney+ in 2019. Disney curtailed licensing of its own programs to third parties to boost that service. A deal that had Disney films running on Netflix was phased out, and the company touted how much of its new programming came from its own in-house studios. Wall Street cheered at the time because it meant the company was entirely focused on building out the streaming business. The shift was costly, however, as Disney surrendered billions of dollars from home video sales and licensing deals with other networks.



[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-02-03/disney-explores-the-sale-of-more-films-tv-series-to-rivals



Blobs of Human Brain Planted In Rats Offer New Treatment Hope

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (BeauHD) from the lab-grown dept.)

Blobs of human brain tissue have been [1]transplanted into the brains of rats in work that could pave the way for new treatments for devastating brain injuries. The Guardian reports:

> The groundbreaking study showed that the "human brain organoids" -- sesame seed-sized balls of neurons -- were able to integrate into the rat brain, linking up with their blood supplies and communicating with the rat neurons. The team behind the work suggest that eventually doctors might be able to grow blobs of brain tissue from a patient's own cells in the lab and use them to repair brain injuries caused by stroke or trauma.

>

> Chen and colleagues grew human brain organoids in a dish until they were about 1.5mm in diameter. The balls of tissue were then transplanted into the brains of adult rats that had sustained injuries to their visual cortex. Within three months, the grafted organoids had integrated with their host's brain, hooking up with the blood supply, expanding to several times the initial volume and sending out projections that linked up with the rat's neurons, according to the study [2]published in Cell Stem Cell . The scientists did not assess whether the implants improved how well the rats were able to function, but tests showed that the human neurons fired off electrical signals when the rats were exposed to flashing lights.



[1] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2023/feb/03/blobs-of-human-brain-planted-in-rats-offer-new-treatment-hope

[2] https://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/fulltext/S1934-5909(23)00004-8



Google Is Working On Blink-Based iOS Browser, Contrary To Apple's WebKit Rule (theregister.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (BeauHD) from the internal-testing-purposes-only dept.)

Longtime Slashdot reader [1]Dotnaught writes:

> "Google's Chromium developers have begun work on an experimental web browser for Apple's iOS [2]using the search giant's Blink engine ," reports The Register. "That's unexpected because the current version of Chrome for iOS uses Apple's WebKit rendering engine under the hood. Apple requires every iOS browser to use WebKit and its iOS App Store Review Guidelines [3]state , 'Apps that browse the web must use the appropriate WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript.'"

>

> Google [4]insists this is an experiment and isn't intended for release. But the stripped-down, Blink-based browser could be preparation for European competition rules that look like they will require Apple to stop requiring that other browser makers use its WebKit engine.

"This is an experimental prototype that we are developing as part of an open source project with the goal to understand certain aspects of performance on iOS," said a Google spokesperson. "It will not be available to users and we'll continue to abide by Apple's policies."



[1] https://slashdot.org/~Dotnaught

[2] https://www.theregister.com/2023/02/03/googles_chromium_ios/

[3] https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/

[4] https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=1411704



Australia To Allow Prescription of MDMA and Psilocybin For Medical Use (theguardian.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (BeauHD) from the failed-war-on-drugs dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian:

> After decades of "demonization", psychiatrists will be [1]able to prescribe MDMA and psilocybin in Australia from July this year . The Therapeutic Goods Administration made the surprise announcement on Friday afternoon. The drugs will only be allowed to be used in a very limited way, and remain otherwise prohibited, but the move was described as a "very welcome step away from what has been decades of demonization" by Dr David Caldicott, a clinical senior lecturer in emergency medicine at Australian National University.

>

> 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) is commonly known as ecstasy, while psilocybin is a psychedelic commonly found in so-called magic mushrooms. Both drugs were used experimentally and therapeutically decades ago, before being criminalized. Specifically authorized psychiatrists will be able to prescribe MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder, and psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression.

Caldicott said it had become "abundantly clear" that a controlled supply of both MDMA and psilocybin "can have dramatic effects on conditions often considered refractory to contemporary treatment" and would particularly benefit returned service men and women from the Australian defense force. "The safe 're-medicalization' of certain historically illicit drugs is a very welcome step away from what has been decades of demonization," he said.

"In addition to a clear and evolving therapeutic benefit, it also offers the chance to catch up on the decades of lost opportunity [of] delving into the inner workings of the human mind, abandoned for so long as part of an ill-conceived, ideological "war on drugs.'"



[1] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/feb/03/australia-to-allow-prescription-of-mdma-and-psilocybin-for-treatment-resistant-mental-illnesses



Startups Capture CO2 and Store It In Concrete

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (BeauHD) from the gotta-start-somewhere dept.)

A California startup using rocks to soak up carbon dioxide from the air has [1]teamed up with a Canadian company to mineralize the gas in concrete , a technological tie-up that is a first and they say could provide a model for fighting climate change globally. Reuters reports:

> Heirloom Carbon Technologies delivered about 30 kg (66 lb) of CO2 collected from the air around its San Francisco Bay Area headquarters to neighboring Central Concrete, a Vulcan Materials' (VMC.N) subsidiary that on Wednesday incorporated the gas into new concrete. That's equivalent to tailpipe emissions of driving about 75 miles (120 km) in a car. The joint effort was the first time that carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere using such Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology had been secured in concrete, where the CO2 will stay put for centuries, several scientists said.

>

> Heirloom heats crushed limestone to release naturally absorbed CO2, then puts the CO2-starved rock on columns of huge trays, where they act like sponges, soaking up close to half their weight in the gas over three days. The rock is then heated to release the collected ambient carbon dioxide, and the cycle repeats. Canada's CarbonCure, the concrete technology company, mixes CO2 with concrete ingredients, turning it into a mineral that strengthens the concrete, cutting the need for cement -- the part of concrete with the biggest carbon footprint.



[1] https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/concrete-traps-co2-soaked-air-climate-friendly-test-2023-02-03/



Dashlane Publishes Its Source Code To GitHub In Transparency Push (techcrunch.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (BeauHD) from the nothing-to-hide dept.)

Password management company Dashlane has [1]made its mobile app code available on GitHub for public perusal , a first step it says in a broader push to make its platform more transparent. TechCrunch reports:

> The Dashlane Android app code is [2]available now alongside [3]the iOS incarnation , though it also appears to include the codebase for its Apple Watch and Mac apps even though Dashlane hasn't specifically announced that. The company said that it eventually plans to make the code for its web extension available on GitHub too. Initially, Dashlane said that it was planning to make its codebase "fully open source," but in response to a handful of questions posed by TechCrunch, it appears that won't in fact be the case.

>

> At first, the code will be open for auditing purposes only, but in the future it may start accepting contributions too --" however, there is no suggestion that it will go all-in and allow the public to fork or otherwise re-use the code in their own applications. Dashlane has released the code under a [4]Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 license , which technically means that users are allowed to copy, share and build upon the codebase so long as it's for non-commercial purposes. However, the company said that it has stripped out some key elements from its release, effectively hamstringing what third-party developers are able to do with the code. [...]

>

> "The main benefit of making this code public is that anyone can audit the code and understand how we build the Dashlane mobile application," the company wrote. "Customers and the curious can also explore the algorithms and logic behind password management software in general. In addition, business customers, or those who may be interested, can better meet compliance requirements by being able to review our code." On top of that, the company says that a benefit of releasing its code is to perhaps draw-in technical talent, who can inspect the code prior to an interview and perhaps share some ideas on how things could be improved. Moreover, so-called "white-hat hackers" will now be better equipped to earn bug bounties. "Transparency and trust are part of our company values, and we strive to reflect those values in everything we do," Dashlane continued. "We hope that being transparent about our code base will increase the trust customers have in our product."



[1] https://techcrunch.com/2023/02/02/dashlane-publishes-its-source-code-to-github-in-transparency-push/

[2] https://github.com/Dashlane/android-apps

[3] https://github.com/Dashlane/apple-apps

[4] https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/



Think Twice Before Using Google To Download Software, Researchers Warn (arstechnica.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (BeauHD) from the heads-up dept.)

Searching Google for downloads of popular software has always come with risks, but over the past few months, [1]it has been downright dangerous , according to researchers and a pseudorandom collection of queries. Ars Technica reports:

> "Threat researchers are used to seeing a moderate flow of malvertising via Google Ads," volunteers at Spamhaus [2]wrote on Thursday. "However, over the past few days, researchers have witnessed a massive spike affecting numerous famous brands, with multiple malware being utilized. This is not "the norm.'"

>

> The surge is coming from numerous malware families, including AuroraStealer, IcedID, Meta Stealer, RedLine Stealer, Vidar, Formbook, and XLoader. In the past, these families typically relied on phishing and malicious spam that attached Microsoft Word documents with booby-trapped macros. Over the past month, Google Ads has become the go-to place for criminals to spread their malicious wares that are disguised as legitimate downloads by impersonating brands such as Adobe Reader, Gimp, Microsoft Teams, OBS, Slack, Tor, and Thunderbird.

>

> On the same day that Spamhaus published its report, researchers from security firm Sentinel One [3]documented an advanced Google malvertising campaign pushing multiple malicious loaders implemented in .NET. Sentinel One has dubbed these loaders MalVirt. At the moment, the MalVirt loaders are being used to distribute malware most commonly known as XLoader, available for both Windows and macOS. XLoader is a successor to malware also known as Formbook. Threat actors use XLoader to steal contacts' data and other sensitive information from infected devices. The MalVirt loaders use obfuscated virtualization to evade end-point protection and analysis. To disguise real C2 traffic and evade network detections, MalVirt beacons to decoy command and control servers hosted at providers including Azure, Tucows, Choopa, and Namecheap.

"Until Google devises new defenses, the decoy domains and other obfuscation techniques remain an effective way to conceal the true control servers used in the rampant MalVirt and other malvertising campaigns," concludes Ars. "It's clear at the moment that malvertisers have gained the upper hand over Google's considerable might."



[1] https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2023/02/until-further-notice-think-twice-before-using-google-to-download-software/

[2] https://www.spamhaus.com/resource-center/a-surge-of-malvertising-across-google-ads-is-distributing-dangerous-malware/

[3] https://www.sentinelone.com/labs/malvirt-net-virtualization-thrives-in-malvertising-attacks/



GitHub CEO On Why Open Source Developers Should Be Exempt From the EU's AI Act (techcrunch.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (BeauHD) from the foundation-of-AI dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch:

> GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke says that open source developers [1]should be made exempt from the European Union's (EU) proposed new artificial intelligence (AI) regulations , saying that the opportunity is still there for Europe to lead on AI. "Open source is forming the foundation of AI in Europe," Dohmke said onstage at the EU Open Source Policy Summit in Brussels. "The U.S. and China don't have to win it all." The regulations in question come via [2]The Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act), first proposed [3]back in April 2021 to address the growing reach of AI into our every day lives. The rules would govern AI applications based on their perceived risks, and would effectively be the first AI-centric laws introduced by any major regulatory body. The European Parliament is set to vote on a draft version of the AI Act in the coming months, and depending on what discussions and debates follow, it could be adopted by the end of 2023.

>

> As many will know, open source and AI are intrinsically linked, given that collaboration and shared data are pivotal to developing AI systems. As well-meaning as the AI Act might be, critics argue that it [4]could have significant unintended consequences for the open source community, which in turn could hamper the progress of AI. The crux of the problem is that the Act would likely create legal liability for general purpose AI systems (GPAI), and bestow more power and control to the big tech firms given that independent open source developers don't have the resources to contend with legal wrangles. [...] "The AI act is so crucial," Dohmke said onstage. "This policy could well set the precedent for how the world regulates AI. It is foundationally important. It is important for European technological leadership, and for the future of the European economy itself. It must be fair and balanced to the open source community."

>

> Dohmke said that the AI Act can bring "the benefits of AI according to the European values and fundamental rights," adding that lawmakers have a big part to play in achieving this. "This is why I believe that the open source developers should be exempt from the AI act," he said. "Because ultimately this comes down to people. The open source community is not a community of entities. It's a community of people and the compliance burden should fall on entities, it should fall on companies that are shipping products. OSS developers are often just volunteers, many of them are working two jobs. They are hobbyists and scientists, academics and doctors, professors and university students all alike, and they don't usually stand to profit from their contributions. They certainly don't have big budgets, or their own compliance department."



[1] https://techcrunch.com/2023/02/03/github-ceo-on-why-open-source-developers-should-be-exempt-from-the-eus-ai-act/

[2] https://artificialintelligenceact.eu/

[3] https://yro.slashdot.org/story/21/04/21/2030211/europe-proposes-strict-rules-for-artificial-intelligence

[4] https://news.slashdot.org/story/22/09/06/152248/the-eus-ai-act-could-have-a-chilling-effect-on-open-source-efforts-experts-warn



Meta Soars by Most in Decade, Adding $100 Billion in Value (nytimes.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (BeauHD) from the brightening-mood dept.)

Meta's stock surged on Thursday after the company [1]reported better-than-expected earnings , said it would buy back billions of dollars in its stock, and [2]overcame a court challenge to its ambitions in the so-called metaverse. The New York Times reports:

> Shares of the tech giant, the owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, climbed more than 23 percent, its biggest daily gain in nearly 10 years. And it was a huge move for a company its size, adding nearly $100 billion in market value in a single day, or about as much as Citigroup's entire market capitalization.

>

> After ending last year with a loss of more than 60 percent, Meta's stock is up more than 50 percent this year, as the mood among tech investors has brightened. The Nasdaq Composite, an index that includes many tech companies, including Meta, has risen nearly 20 percent this year.

The report notes that plenty of challenges remain for the company. "Meta faces setbacks in digital advertising as clients rein in spending because of higher interest rates and inflation," reports The New York Times. "The company is also fighting to retain users drawn to newer apps like TikTok, the short-form video app that Mr. Zuckerberg considers one of his most formidable rivals. The billions that Meta is spending pursuing its founder's vision of the metaverse may not pay off."

In November, Meta laid off [3]more than 11,000 employees in what was the most significant job cuts since its founding in 2004.



[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/02/technology/meta-stock.html

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2023/02/01/ftc-loses-attempt-to-block-meta-acquisition-of-within.html

[3] https://tech.slashdot.org/story/22/11/09/1137210/meta-cuts-11000-jobs



YouTube Contractors To Strike Over Forced Return To Office (axios.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (BeauHD) from the post-pandemic-world dept.)

A group of YouTube contractors in Texas [1]are currently on strike today "in protest of rules requiring such workers -- even those who have always worked remotely -- to report to the office," reports Axios. From the report:

> All of the 43-person team of contractors for YouTube Music voted to strike, following an edict that they report to an office in Austin starting on Monday. The workers, who are technically employed by Cognizant, were notified of the Feb. 6 return to office date in November. That came after workers had filed the prior month for union recognition, leading some to conclude the move was being made in retaliation. The workers are also seeking to have Google and Cognizant recognized as joint employers. The vast majority of the contractors were hired during the pandemic -- and have always worked remotely. Nearly a quarter of them live somewhere other than Austin. Workers say their pay, which starts at around $19 per hour, isn't enough to cover the costs of relocating to -- and living in -- Austin. Some also care for a child, spouse or parent, which complicates a shift to the office.

>

> Cognizant says that the workers' contracts have always stated that the jobs were in-office jobs and that it communicated to workers since Dec. 2021 that it would provide 90 days notice when employees were expected back in the office. "Cognizant respects the right of our associates to disagree with our policies, and to protest them lawfully," the company said in a statement to Axios. "However, it is disappointing that some of our associates have chosen to strike over a return to office policy that has been communicated to them repeatedly since December 2021."

>

> "My goal is to keep my friends employed," said Katie Marschher, who has worked at Cognizant on YouTube Music for nearly two years. Like many on her team, Marschher said she works more than one job to make ends meet. Although she lives in Austin, one of her other jobs is helping bands on tour, which requires her to travel. That works well remotely but she would have to scale back if required to be in office. "Our hope is we can actually have a dialogue where we are listened to," said Neil Gossell, who joined the YouTube/Cognizant team last year. He took the job specifically because it allowed him to work from home close to his spouse, who has post-traumatic stress disorder.

The YouTube Music STRIKE press conference has been [2]shared on Facebook and [3]Twitter .



[1] https://www.axios.com/2023/02/03/youtube-contractors-strike-return-office-google

[2] https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=917192873060803

[3] https://twitter.com/AlphabetWorkers/status/1621558458549178368?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1621559435884896257%7Ctwgr%5E9812eb628513a2769f9bbb5d2dbeecae3520a9cf%7Ctwcon%5Es2_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.engadget.com%2Fyoutube-music-strike-austin-union-awu-cwa-184713199.html



Judge Uses ChatGPT To Make Court Decision (vice.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (BeauHD) from the just-the-beginning dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard:

> A judge in Colombia [1]used ChatGPT to make a court ruling , in what is apparently the first time a legal decision has been made with the help of an AI text generator -- or at least, the first time we know about it. Judge Juan Manuel Padilla Garcia, who presides over the First Circuit Court in the city of Cartagena, said he used the AI tool to pose legal questions about the case and included its responses in his decision, according to a [2]court document (PDF) dated January 30, 2023.

>

> "The arguments for this decision will be determined in line with the use of artificial intelligence (AI)," Garcia wrote in the decision, which was translated from Spanish. "Accordingly, we entered parts of the legal questions posed in these proceedings." "The purpose of including these AI-produced texts is in no way to replace the judge's decision," he added. "What we are really looking for is to optimize the time spent drafting judgments after corroborating the information provided by AI."

>

> The case involved a dispute with a health insurance company over whether an autistic child should receive coverage for medical treatment. According to the court document, the legal questions entered into the AI tool included "Is an autistic minor exonerated from paying fees for their therapies?" and "Has the jurisprudence of the constitutional court made favorable decisions in similar cases?" Garcia included the chatbot's full responses in the decision, apparently marking the first time a judge has admitted to doing so. The judge also included his own insights into applicable legal precedents, and said the AI was used to "extend the arguments of the adopted decision." After detailing the exchanges with the AI, the judge then adopts its responses and his own legal arguments as grounds for its decision.



[1] https://www.vice.com/en/article/k7bdmv/judge-used-chatgpt-to-make-court-decision

[2] https://www.diariojudicial.com/public/documentos/000/106/904/000106904.pdf



Replika, a 'Virtual Friendship' AI Chatbot, Hit With Data Ban in Italy Over Child Safety (techcrunch.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (msmash) from the tussle-continues dept.)

An anonymous reader shares a report:

> San Francisco-based AI chatbot maker, Replika -- which operates a freemium 'virtual friendship' service based on customizable digital avatars whose "personalized" responses are powered by artificial intelligence (and designed, per its pitch, to make human users feel better) -- has been ordered by Italy's privacy watchdog to [1]stop processing local users' data . The Garante said it's concerned Replika's chatbot technology poses risks to minors -- and also that the company lacks a proper legal basis for processing children's data under the EU's data protection rules.

>

> Additionally, the regulator is worried about the risk the AI chatbots could pose to emotionally vulnerable people. It's also accusing Luka, the developer behind the Replika app, of failing to fulfil regional legal requirements to clearly convey how it's using people's data. The order to stop processing Italians' data is effective immediately. In a press release announcing its intervention, the watchdog said: "The AI-powered chatbot, which generates a 'virtual friend' using text and video interfaces, will not be able to process [the] personal data of Italian users for the time being. A provisional limitation on data processing was imposed by the Italian Garante on the U.S.-based company that has developed and operates the app; the limitation will take effect immediately."



[1] https://techcrunch.com/2023/02/03/replika-italy-data-processing-ban/



Wikipedia Blocked in Pakistan Over 'Sacrilegious' Content (bloomberg.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @11:34AM (msmash) from the growing-concern dept.)

Pakistan has [1]blocked Wikipedia services in the South Asian nation after the platform failed to remove "sacrilegious" content. From a report:

> The action was taken because some of the content is still available on Wikipedia after the expiry of [2]a 48-hour deadline , Malahat Obaid, spokesperson for Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, said by phone.



[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-02-03/wikipedia-is-blocked-in-pakistan-over-sacrilegious-content

[2] https://news.slashdot.org/story/23/02/01/1638216/pakistan-degrades-wikipedia-warns-of-complete-block-over-sacrilegious-content



Google To Unveil Its ChatGPT Rival Next Week (arstechnica.com)

(Friday February 03, 2023 @10:30PM (msmash) from the up-next dept.)

Next week Google is hosting what can only be described as an "emergency" event. From a report:

> According to an invite sent to The Verge, the event will revolve around "using the power of AI to [1]reimagine how people search for, explore and interact with information , making it more natural and intuitive than ever before to find what you need" -- in other words, Google's going to fire up its photocopier and stick OpenAI's ChatGPT onto the platen. The 40 minute event will, of course, be live on YouTube on February 8.

>

> Google's parent company, Alphabet, had its earnings call yesterday, and Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai promised that "very soon people will be able to interact directly with our newest, most powerful language models as a companion to Search in experimental and innovative ways." Earlier this year the company declared a "code red" over the meteoric rise of ChatGPT and even dragged co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin out of retirement to help.



[1] https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2023/02/it-sounds-like-google-will-unveil-its-chatgpt-clone-february-8/



Former Ubiquiti Employee Pleads Guilty To Attempted Extortion Scheme (theverge.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @05:00AM (msmash) from the do-crime,-face-time dept.)

A former employee of network technology provider Ubiquiti [1]pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges after posing as an anonymous hacker in an attempt to extort almost $2 million worth of cryptocurrency while employed at the company. From a report:

> Nickolas Sharp, 37, worked as a senior developer for Ubiquiti between 2018 and 2021 and took advantage of his authorized access to Ubiquiti's network to steal gigabytes worth of files from the company during an orchestrated security breach in December 2020.

>

> Prosecutors said that Sharp used the Surfshark VPN service to hide his home IP address and intentionally damaged Ubiquiti's computer systems during the attack in an attempt to conceal his unauthorized activity. Sharp later posed as an anonymous hacker who claimed to be behind the incident while working on an internal team that was investigating the security breach. While concealing his identity, Sharp attempted to extort Ubiquiti, sending a ransom note to the company demanding 50 Bitcoin (worth around $1.9 million at that time) in exchange for returning the stolen data and disclosing the security vulnerabilities used to acquire it. When Ubiquiti refused the ransom demands, Sharp leaked some of the stolen data to the public.

The FBI was prompted to investigate Sharp's home around March 24th, 2021, after it was discovered that a temporary internet outage had exposed Sharp's IP address during the security breach.

Further reading :

[2]Ubiquiti Files Case Against Security Blogger Krebs Over 'False Accusations' ;

[3]Former Ubiquiti Dev Charged For Trying To Extort His Employer .



[1] https://www.theverge.com/2023/2/3/23584414/ubiquiti-developer-guilty-extortion-hack-security-breach-bitcoin-ransom

[2] https://yro.slashdot.org/story/22/04/02/0559255/ubiquiti-files-case-against-security-blogger-krebs-over-false-accusations

[3] https://it.slashdot.org/story/21/12/03/0033238/former-ubiquiti-dev-charged-for-trying-to-extort-his-employer



Vaccine Makers Kept $1.4 Billion in Prepayments for Canceled Covid Shots for the World's Poor (nytimes.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @05:00AM (msmash) from the how-about-that dept.)

As global demand for Covid-19 vaccines dries up, the program responsible for vaccinating the world's poor has been urgently negotiating to try to get out of its deals with pharmaceutical companies for shots it no longer needs. From a report:

> Drug companies have so far [1]declined to refund $1.4 billion in advance payments for now-canceled doses, according to confidential documents obtained by The New York Times. Gavi, the international immunization organization that bought the shots on behalf of the global Covid vaccination program, Covax, has said little publicly about the costs of canceling the orders. But Gavi financial documents show the organization has been trying to stanch the financial damage. If it cannot strike a more favorable agreement with another company, Johnson & Johnson, it could have to pay still more.

>

> Gavi is a Geneva-based nongovernmental organization that uses funds from donors including the U.S. government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide childhood immunizations to lower-income nations. Early in the pandemic, it was charged with buying Covid vaccinations for the developing world -- armed with one of the largest-ever mobilizations of humanitarian funding -- and began negotiations with the vaccine makers. Those negotiations went badly at the outset. The companies initially shut the organization out of the market, prioritizing high-income countries that were able to pay more to lock up the first doses. [...] The vaccine makers have brought in more than $13 billion from the shots that have been distributed through Covax. Under the contracts, the companies are not obligated to return the prepayments Gavi gave them to reserve vaccines that were ultimately canceled.



[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/01/health/covid-vaccines-covax-gavi-prepayments.html



Air Pollution Causes Chess Players To Make More Mistakes, Study Finds (theguardian.com)

(Friday February 03, 2023 @10:30PM (msmash) from the closer-look dept.)

Chess experts [1]make more mistakes when air pollution is high, a study has found. From a report:

> Experts used computer models to analyse the quality of games played and found that with a modest increase in fine particulate matter, the probability that chess players would make an error increased by 2.1 percentage points, and the magnitude of those errors increased by 10.8%. The paper, published in the [2]journal Management Science , studied the performance of 121 chess players in three seven-round tournaments in Germany in 2017, 2018, and 2019, comprising more than 30,000 chess moves.

>

> The researchers compared the actual moves the players made against the optimal moves determined by the powerful chess engine Stockfish. In the tournament venues, the researchers attached three web-connected air quality sensors to measure carbon dioxide, PM2.5 concentrations, and temperature. Each tournament lasted eight weeks, meaning players faced a variety of air conditions. Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, refers to tiny particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter, which are often expelled by burning matter such as that from car engines, coal plants, forest fires, and wood burners.

Further reading : [3]Study Reveals Links Between UK Air Pollution and Mental Ill-Health .



[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/02/air-pollution-causes-chess-players-to-make-bigger-mistakes-study-finds

[2] https://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/10.1287/mnsc.2022.4643

[3] https://news.slashdot.org/story/23/02/01/2336255/study-reveals-links-between-uk-air-pollution-and-mental-ill-health



The Newest Feature in the Microsoft Store is More Ads (arstechnica.com)

(Saturday February 04, 2023 @05:00AM (msmash) from the up-next dept.)

If your main problem with the Microsoft Store is that you get too many relevant results when you search for apps, good news: Microsoft is [1]officially launching Microsoft Store Ads , a way for developers to pay to get their apps in front of your eyes when you go to the store to look for something else. From a report:

> Microsoft's landing page for the feature says the apps will appear during searches and in the Apps and Gaming tabs within the app. Developers will be able to track whether and where users see the ads and whether they're downloading and opening the apps once they see the ads.

>

> Microsoft also provided an update on the health of the Microsoft Store, pointing to 2022 as "a record year," with more than 900 million unique users worldwide and "a 122% year-over-year increase in developer submissions of new apps and games." The company launched a "pilot program" of the Microsoft Store Ads back in September of 2022, and the look of the ads doesn't appear to have changed much since then. Ads will be served to Microsoft Store users on Windows 10 and Windows 11 and are only available to developers who have already published their apps to the store.



[1] https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2023/02/the-newest-feature-in-the-microsoft-store-is-more-ads/



Netflix Says Strict New Password Sharing Rules Were Posted in Error (appleinsider.com)

(Friday February 03, 2023 @05:40PM (msmash) from the change-of-heart dept.)

New Netflix rules that would have enforced a [1]limitation on users' sharing passwords are [2]reportedly a mistake and don't apply in the US -- for now. From a report:

> Netflix has long been planning to cut down on password sharing, or letting friends share one paid account. The company appeared to go further, however, with the inclusion in its help pages of a new set of rules.

>

> Broadly, anyone at a subscriber's physical address could continue using the service. But the paying subscriber would have to confirm every 31 days that a user away from their residence -- such as at college -- was part of the household. According to The Streamable, Netflix says it was all a mistake -- for the United States. "For a brief time yesterday, a help center article containing information that is only applicable to Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru, went live in other countries," a Netflix spokesperson told the publication. "We have since updated it."



[1] https://it.slashdot.org/story/23/02/01/1757236/netflix-unveils-plans-to-prevent-password-sharing

[2] https://appleinsider.com/articles/23/02/03/netflix-says-strict-new-password-sharing-rules-were-posted-in-error



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Q: What do you get when you cross a mobster with an international standard?
A: You get someone who makes you an offer that you can't understand!