• As Children in US Study Online, Apps Watch Their Every Move 

    For New York teacher Michael Flanagan, the pandemic was a crash course in new technology — rushing out laptops to stay-at-home students and shifting hectic school life online. Students are long back at school, but the technology has lived on, and with it has come a new generation of apps that monitor the pupils online, sometimes round the clock and even on down days shared with family and friends at home. The programs scan students’ online activity, social media posts and more — aiming to keep them focused, detect mental health problems and flag up any potential for violence. “You can’t unring the bell,” said Flanagan, who teaches social studies and economics. “Everybody has a device.” The new trend for tracking, however, has raised fears that some of the apps may target minority pupils, while others have outed LGBT+ students without their consent, and many are used to instill discipline …

    29/01/2023

  • US, EU Launch Agreement on Artificial Intelligence

    The United States and European Union announced Friday an agreement to speed up and enhance the use of artificial intelligence to improve agriculture, health care, emergency response, climate forecasting and the electric grid.  A senior U.S. administration official, discussing the initiative shortly before the official announcement, called it the first sweeping AI agreement between the United States and Europe. Previously, agreements on the issue had been limited to specific areas such as enhancing privacy, the official said.   AI modeling, which refers to machine-learning algorithms that use data to make logical decisions, could be used to improve the speed and efficiency of government operations and services.   “The magic here is in building joint models [while] leaving data where it is,” the senior administration official said. “The U.S. data stays in the U.S. and European data stays there, but we can build a model that talks to the European and the U.S. …

    28/01/2023

  • US Dismantles Ransomware Network Responsible for More Than $100 Million in Extortion

    An international ransomware network that extorted more than $100 million from hundreds of victims around the world has been brought down following a monthslong infiltration by the FBI, the Department of Justice announced Thursday. The group known as Hive targeted more than 1,500 victims, including hospitals, school districts and financial firms in more than 80 countries, the Justice Department said. Officials say the most recent victim in Florida was targeted about two weeks ago. In a breakthrough, FBI agents armed with a court order infiltrated Hive’s computer networks in July 2022, covertly capturing its decryption keys and offering them to victims, saving the targets $130 million in ransom payments, officials said. “Cybercrime is a constantly evolving threat. But as I have said before, the Justice Department will spare no resource to identify and bring to justice, anyone, anywhere, who targets the United States with a ransomware attack,” Attorney General Merrick …

    27/01/2023

  • Trump Reinstated to Facebook After 2-Year Ban

    Facebook parent Meta is reinstating former President Donald Trump’s personal account after a two-year suspension following the January 6, 2021, insurrection.  The company said in a blog post Wednesday it is adding “new guardrails” to ensure there are no “repeat offenders” who violate its rules.  “In the event that Mr. Trump posts further violating content, the content will be removed and he will be suspended for between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the violation,” said Meta, which is based in Menlo Park, California.  Trump, in a post on his own social media network, blasted Facebook’s decision to suspend his account as he praised his own site, Truth Social.  “FACEBOOK, which has lost Billions of Dollars in value since “deplatforming” your favorite President, me, has just announced that they are reinstating my account. Such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody …

    26/01/2023

  • Olive Pits Fuel Flights in Spain

    The war in Ukraine has exposed Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and is spurring the development of new, cleaner-burning biofuels. Spain is emerging as a leader in this effort, with the introduction late last year of airplane fuel made from olive pits. Marcus Harton narrates this report from Alfonso Beato in Seville. …

    26/01/2023

  • Microsoft Reports Outage for Teams, Outlook, Other Services

    Microsoft said it’s seeing some improvement to problems with its online services including the Teams messaging platform and Outlook email system after users around the world reported outages Wednesday.  In a status update, the tech company reported “service degradation” for a number of its Microsoft 365 services.  Thousands of users reported problems with Teams, Outlook, the Azure cloud computing service and XBox Live online gaming service early Wednesday on the Downdetector website, which tracks outage reports. Many users also took to social media to complain that services were down.  By later in the morning, Downdetector showed the number of reports had dropped considerably.  “We’re continuing to monitor the recovery across the service and some customers are reporting mitigation,” the Microsoft 365 Status Twitter account said. “We’re also connecting the service to additional infrastructure to expedite the recovery process.”  It tweeted earlier that it had “isolated the problem to a networking …

    25/01/2023

  • ChatGPT Bot Passes US Law School Exam

    A chatbot powered by reams of data from the internet has passed exams at a U.S. law school after writing essays on topics ranging from constitutional law to taxation and torts. ChatGPT from OpenAI, a U.S. company that this week got a massive injection of cash from Microsoft, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate streams of text from simple prompts. The results have been so good that educators have warned it could lead to widespread cheating and even signal the end of traditional classroom teaching methods. Jonathan Choi, a professor at Minnesota University Law School, gave ChatGPT the same test faced by students, consisting of 95 multiple-choice questions and 12 essay questions. In a white paper titled “ChatGPT goes to law school” published on Monday, he and his coauthors reported that the bot scored a C+ overall. While this was enough for a pass, the bot was near the bottom …

    25/01/2023

  • US, 8 States Sue Google on Digital Ad Business Dominance

    The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Alphabet’s GOOGL.O Google on Tuesday over allegations that the company abused its dominance of the digital advertising business, according to a court document. “Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies,” the government said in its antitrust complaint. The Justice Department asked the court to compel Google to divest its Google Ad manager suite, including its ad exchange AdX. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The lawsuit is the second federal antitrust complaint filed against Google, alleging violations of antitrust law in how the company acquires or maintains its dominance. The Justice Department lawsuit filed against Google in 2020 focuses on its monopoly in search and is scheduled to go to trial in September. Eight states joined the department in the lawsuit filed on …

    25/01/2023

  • AI Tools Can Create New Images, But Who Is the Real Artist?

    Countless artists have taken inspiration from “The Starry Night” since Vincent Van Gogh painted the swirling scene in 1889. Now artificial intelligence systems are doing the same, training themselves on a vast collection of digitized artworks to produce new images you can conjure in seconds from a smartphone app. The images generated by tools such as DALL-E, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion can be weird and otherworldly but also increasingly realistic and customizable — ask for a “peacock owl in the style of Van Gogh” and they can churn out something that might look similar to what you imagined. But while Van Gogh and other long-dead master painters aren’t complaining, some living artists and photographers are starting to fight back against the AI software companies creating images derived from their works. Two new lawsuits —- one this week from the Seattle-based photography giant Getty Images —- take aim at popular image-generating …

    21/01/2023

  • Google Parent Company To Lay Off 12,000 Workers Globally

    Alphabet Inc., the parent company of tech giant Google, announced Friday it is laying off 12,000 workers across the entire company — cuts reflecting six percent of the company’s total workforce. In an email to employees Friday, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said the company saw dramatic growth over the past two years and hired new employees “for a different economic reality than the one we face today.” He said he takes full responsibility for the decisions that led to where the company is today. In his email, Pichai said the layoffs come following “a rigorous review across product areas and functions” to ensure the company’s employees and their roles are aligned with Google’s top priorities. “The roles we’re eliminating reflect the outcome of that review,” he said. In the email, Pichai said U.S. employees to be laid off already have been notified, while it is going to take longer …

    20/01/2023

  • FBI Chief Says He’s ‘Deeply Concerned’ by China’s AI Program

    FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that he was “deeply concerned” about the Chinese government’s artificial intelligence program, asserting that it was “not constrained by the rule of law.” Speaking during a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wray said Beijing’s AI ambitions were “built on top of massive troves of intellectual property and sensitive data that they’ve stolen over the years.” He said that left unchecked, China could use artificial intelligence advancements to further its hacking operations, intellectual property theft and repression of dissidents inside the country and beyond. “That’s something we’re deeply concerned about. I think everyone here should be deeply concerned about,” he said. More broadly, he said, “AI is a classic example of a technology where I have the same reaction every time. I think, ‘Wow, we can do that?’ And then I think, ‘Oh God, they can do that.’” Such concerns …

    19/01/2023

  • Tech Layoffs Mount as Microsoft, Amazon Shed Staff

    Software giant Microsoft on Wednesday became the latest major company in the tech sector to announce significant job cuts when it reported it would lay off 10,000 employees, or about 5% of its workforce. Microsoft’s job cuts come just as e-commerce leader Amazon begins a fresh round of 18,000 layoffs, extending a wave of other major cuts at Twitter, Salesforce and dozens of smaller technology firms in recent weeks. The phenomenon of job losses in the tech sector has global reach but has been keenly felt in Silicon Valley and other West Coast tech hubs in the United States. The website layoffs.fyi, which tracks job cuts in the tech industry, has identified well over 100 tech firms announcing layoffs since January 1 across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In all, the website has counted more than 1,200 firms making layoffs since the beginning of 2022. Changing environment …

    19/01/2023

  • Biden Urges Netherlands to Back Restrictions on Exporting Chip Tech to China

    President Joe Biden hosted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday at the White House, where he urged the Netherlands to support new U.S. restrictions on exporting chip-making technology to China, a key part of Washington’s strategy in its rivalry against Beijing. During a brief appearance in front of reporters before their meeting, Biden said that he and Rutte have been working on “how to keep a free and open Indo-Pacific” to “meet the challenges of China.” “Simply put, our companies, our countries have been so far just lockstep in what we’ve done in our investment to the future. So today, I look forward to discussing how we can further deepen our relationship and securing our supply chains to strengthen our transatlantic partnership,” he said. ASML Holding NV, maker of the world’s most advanced semiconductor lithography systems, is headquartered in Veldhoven, making the Netherlands key to Washington’s chip push against …

    18/01/2023

  • SpaceX’s Starlink Becomes Crucial Tool in Ukrainian War Effort

    When Russia invaded Ukraine, the military and private citizens started using Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink, which eventually became key to Ukraine’s resistance. From Kyiv, Myroslava Gongadze tells the story of one Ukrainian engineer who volunteers to support the technology and the soldiers who use it. …

    17/01/2023

  • Israel’s Cognyte Won Tender to Sell Spyware to Myanmar Before Coup, Documents Show

    Israel’s Cognyte Software Ltd won a tender to sell intercept spyware to a Myanmar state-backed telecommunications firm a month before the Asian nation’s February 2021 military coup, according to documents reviewed by Reuters. The deal was made even though Israel has claimed it stopped defense technology transfers to Myanmar following a 2017 ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court, according to a legal complaint recently filed with Israel’s attorney general and disclosed Sunday. While the ruling was subjected to a rare gag order at the request of the state and media cannot cite the verdict, Israel’s government has publicly stated on numerous occasions that defense exports to Myanmar are banned. The complaint, led by high-profile Israeli human rights lawyer Eitay Mack who spearheaded the campaign for the Supreme Court ruling, calls for a criminal investigation into the deal. It accuses Cognyte and unnamed defense and foreign ministry officials who supervise such deals …

    15/01/2023