2021-01-01 06:28:29 ..
2021-02-22 12:23:31 UTC
2021-02-22 15:50:43 UTC --martyb
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Toshiba this week announced the industry's first hard drive featuring flux-control microwave-assisted magnetic recording (FC-MAMR) technology. The new MG09-series HDDs are designed primarily for nearline and enterprise applications, they offer an 18 TB capacity along with an ultra-low idle power consumption.
The Toshiba MG09-series 3.5-inch 18 TB HDD are based on the company's 3rd generation nine-platter helium sealed platform that features 18 heads with a microwave-emitting component which changes magnetic coercivity of the platters before writing data. The HD disks are made by Showa Denko K.K. (SDK), a long-time partner of Toshiba. Each aluminum platter is about 0.635 mm thick, it features an areal density of around 1.5 Tb/inch2 and can store up to 2 TB of data. The MG09 family also includes a 16 TB model which presumably features a lower number of platters (based on the same performance rating).
Toshiba Will Adopt Western Digital's Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording Approach for Hard Drives
Toshiba Roadmap Includes Both MAMR and HAMR Hard Drives, as Well as TDMR and Shingles
Western Digital Releases New 18TB, 20TB EAMR Drives
Two months after the jarring departure of a well-known artificial intelligence researcher at Google, a second A.I. researcher at the company said she was fired after criticizing the way it has treated employees who were working on ways to address bias and toxicity in its artificial intelligence systems.
Margaret Mitchell, known as Meg, who was one of the leaders of Google's Ethical A.I. team, sent a tweet on Friday afternoon saying merely: "I'm fired."
Google confirmed that her employment had been terminated. "After conducting a review of this manager's conduct, we confirmed that there were multiple violations of our code of conduct," read a statement from the company.
The statement went on to claim that Dr. Mitchell had violated the company's security policies by lifting confidential documents and private employee data from the Google network. The company said previously that Dr. Mitchell had tried to remove such files, the news site Axios reported last month.
[...] Dr. Mitchell's post on Twitter comes less than two months after Timnit Gebru, the other leader of the Ethical A.I. team at Google, said that she had been fired by the company after criticizing its approach to minority hiring as well as its approach to bias in A.I. In the wake of Dr. Gebru's departure from the company, Dr. Mitchell strongly and publicly criticized Google's stance on the matter.
[...] Google announced in a blog post yesterday that an executive at the company, Marian Croak, who is Black, will oversee a new group inside the company dedicated to responsible A.I.
Apart from the sanitized press statements, does anybody know why this is happening at Google?
February 20, 2021, the 30th anniversary of Python, finds the programming language at the top of its game but not without challenges. "I do believe that Python just doesn't have the right priorities these days," said Armin Ronacher, director of engineering at software monitoring biz Sentry and creator of Flask, the popular Python web app framework, in an email interview with The Register. Ronacher, a prolific Python contributor, remains a fan of the language. He credits Python's success to being both easy to learn and having an implementation that was easy to hack. And in its early years, Python didn't have a lot of competitors with those same characteristics, he said
[...] The shortcomings of Python's software packaging tools – the software used to set up Python environments and to download, install, and manage libraries – have been an issue for years. It was bad enough that cartoonist Randall Munroe, on April 30, 2018, penned an xkcd comic on the subject.
Things have improved somewhat since then. In 2019, the Python Software Foundation awarded the Packaging Working Group $407,000, courtesy of Mozilla and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, to renovate the pip package management tool in 2020.
[...] For the Python community, bringing new people in so others can step back or delegate may help mitigate that sense of siege. Jodlowska credits efforts by Python core developers to keep the community vital. "A lot of the current core developers, for example, on their own time mentor others who are interested in becoming core developers," she said. "And there's definitely a steady stream of new incomers that way."
[...] Thirty years on, Python deserves recognition for what it has accomplished but it can't rest on its laurels. Rival programming languages like Julia and R in data science, and Go in cloud-native applications, have been turning heads. And the need for greater memory safety, to reduce security risks, has helped push TypeScript and Rust into the spotlight. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
What's your take on this ?
Tucked under the belly of the Perseverance rover that will be landing on Mars in just a few days is a little helicopter called Ingenuity. Its body is the size of a box of tissues, slung underneath a pair of 1.2m carbon fiber rotors on top of four spindly legs. It weighs just 1.8kg, but the importance of its mission is massive. If everything goes according to plan, Ingenuity will become the first aircraft to fly on Mars.
In order for this to work, Ingenuity has to survive frigid temperatures, manage merciless power constraints, and attempt a series of 90 second flights while separated from Earth by 10 light minutes. Which means that real-time communication or control is impossible. To understand how NASA is making this happen, below is our conversation with Tim Canham, Mars Helicopter Operations Lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
It's important to keep the Mars Helicopter mission in context, because this is a technology demonstration. The primary goal here is to fly on Mars, full stop. Ingenuity won't be doing any of the same sort of science that the Perseverance rover is designed to do. If we're lucky, the helicopter will take a couple of in-flight pictures, but that's about it. The importance and the value of the mission is to show that flight on Mars is possible, and to collect data that will enable the next generation of Martian rotorcraft, which will be able to do more ambitious and exciting things.
[...] With all this in mind, getting Ingenuity to Mars in one piece and having it take off and land even once is a definite victory for NASA, JPL's Tim Canham tells us. Canham helped develop the software architecture that runs Ingenuity. As the Ingenuity operations lead, he's now focused on flight planning and coordinating with the Perseverance rover team. We spoke with Canham to get a better understanding of how Ingenuity will be relying on autonomy for its upcoming flights on Mars.
[...] With a technology demo, JPL is willing to try new ways of doing things. So we essentially went out and used a lot of off-the-shelf consumer hardware.
There are some avionics components that are very tough and radiation resistant, but much of the technology is commercial grade. The processor board that we used, for instance, is a Snapdragon 801, which is manufactured by Qualcomm. It's essentially a cell phone class processor, and the board is very small. But ironically, because it's relatively modern technology, it's vastly more powerful than the processors that are flying on the rover. We actually have a couple of orders of magnitude more computing power than the rover does, because we need it. Our guidance loops are running at 500 Hz in order to maintain control in the atmosphere that we're flying in. And on top of that, we're capturing images and analyzing features and tracking them from frame to frame at 30 Hz, and so there's some pretty serious computing power needed for that. And none of the avionics that NASA is currently flying are anywhere near powerful enough. In some cases we literally ordered parts from SparkFun [Electronics]. Our philosophy was, "this is commercial hardware, but we'll test it, and if it works well, we'll use it."
[...] We use a cellphone-grade IMU[*], a laser altimeter (from SparkFun), and a downward-pointing VGA camera for monocular feature tracking. A few dozen features are compared frame to frame to track relative position to figure out direction and speed, which is how the helicopter navigates. It's all done by estimates of position, as opposed to memorizing features or creating a map.
We also have an inclinometer that we use to establish the tilt of the ground just during takeoff, and we have a cellphone-grade 13 megapixel color camera that isn't used for navigation, but we're going to try to take some nice pictures while we're flying.
[...] This the first time we'll be flying Linux on Mars. We're actually running on a Linux operating system. The software framework that we're using is one that we developed at JPL for cubesats and instruments, and we open-sourced it a few years ago. So, you can get the software framework that's flying on the Mars helicopter, and use it on your own project. It's kind of an open-source victory, because we're flying an open-source operating system and an open-source flight software framework and flying commercial parts that you can buy off the shelf if you wanted to do this yourself someday. This is a new thing for JPL because they tend to like what's very safe and proven, but a lot of people are very excited about it, and we're really looking forward to doing it.
See, also, the NASA Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Animations on YouTube.
[*] IMU: Inertial measurement unit.
An interdisciplinary team of biologists and mathematicians at the University of California, Irvine has developed a new tool to help decipher the language cells use to communicate with one another.
In a paper published today in Nature Communications, the researchers introduce CellChat, a computational platform that enables the decoding of signaling molecules that transmit information and commands between the cells that come together to form biological tissues and even entire organs.
"To properly understand why cells do certain things, and to predict their future actions, we need to be able to listen to what they are saying to one another; mathematical and machine learning tools enable the translation of such messages," said co-senior author Qing Nie, UCI Chancellor's Professor of mathematics and developmental & cell biology.
"Just like in our world, where we are constantly bombarded with information, all cells experience a lot of molecular words coming at them simultaneously," added co-senior author Maksim Plikus, UCI professor of developmental & cell biology, "What they choose to do is dependent on this steady flow of molecular information and on what words and sentences are being heard the loudest."
[...] Beyond the purely fundamental research enterprise of interpreting these biological messages, Nie said CellChat can also be used to compare communication networks in different states of an organ, such as sickness and health. Calling it a "Google Translator for the lexicon of cells," Nie said one of tool's most significant capabilities is that it can be used to uncover molecular drivers in a broad spectrum of maladies including cancer and autoimmune disorders.
Suoqin Jin, Christian F. Guerrero-Juarez, Lihua Zhang, et al. Inference and analysis of cell-cell communication using CellChat [open], Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21246-9)
Last month the esteemed Oxford Internet Institute [(OII)] announced a major report on disinformation and "cyber troops" with a press release describing an "industrial-scale problem." Worldwide press coverage echoed claims that OII had revealed the "increasing role" private firms play in spreading computational propaganda. Actual evidence presented in the annual "survey" of social media manipulation, however, is much thinner than the hype.
While the report's website declares, "Cyber troop activity continues to increase around the world," inside the report, OII claim they show "publicly identified" cases of disinformation operations have "grow[n] in number over time." They point to their own studies counting public reporting as evidence of actual operations increasing since 2017. Citing OII's last report, which was based on similar evidence, The New York Times in 2019 heralded that "the number of countries with political disinformation campaigns more than doubled to 70 in the last two years."
The big problem here is the phrase "publicly identified."
[N.B. - This is an opinion piece from the Wired web site.]
As a longtime propaganda scholar, I know we struggled to get disinformation and propaganda reported on before the 2016 US election and Brexit, when journalistic interest suddenly grew. In 2015, a NexisUni search reveals, the Times mentioned disinformation in just 33 articles; there were 95 in 2016, 274 in 2017, 586 in 2018, and 684 in 2019. This is, of course, an indication of increased reporting of disinformation.
[...] OII's methodology also acknowledges that its findings may be impacted by "media bias." This is unacceptable in a study assessing disinformation. The problem is worse than they admit, because their evidence appears to hang on the hope that all the media reporting I describe above reflects the scale of disinformation, not reporters' sudden discovery of it.
Once one knows all this, numbers in the report come to seem largely meaningless. Take the claim that disinformation has increased to 76 out of the 81 countries they found using computational propaganda. If so, politicians in five of these countries apparently never lie online. Wherever that is, I'm going.
The problem is that figures are then presented as authoritative with colorful tables and charts. Statistics look more persuasive than anecdotal examples. And many journalists seem to have taken away from the press release a few impressive numbers without examining the methods.
It sparked a global outcry and sent users to rival apps Telegram and Signal, among others, prompting WhatsApp to delay the new policy launch to May and to clarify the update was focused on allowing users to message with businesses and would not affect personal conversations.
[...] In its latest blog bit.ly/3ufc9Eq, WhatsApp said it will start reminding users to review and accept updates to keep using the messaging platform.
"We've also included more information to try and address concerns we're hearing," it added.
This morning, Nvidia announced that it would artificially reduce the performance of its upcoming $329 GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card when it comes to one specific task: Ethereum cryptocurrency mining. As weird as that news might sound, it was music to the ears of some gamers — who have been trying and failing to get their hands on graphics cards for months due to the great GPU shortage, and blaming miners for part of that.
You might be wondering: what does this mean for other GPUs? Nvidia isn't talking about its plans for future graphics cards just yet, but the company tells The Verge (in no uncertain terms) that it won't nerf existing GPUs. "We are not limiting the performance of GPUs already sold," says a spokesperson.
Websites located on Tor use onion URL addresses that users can only access through the Tor network. For example, DuckDuckGo's Tor address is https://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/ and the New York Time's address is https://www.nytimes3xbfgragh.onion/.
To access Tor onion URLs, Brave added a 'Private Window with Tor' mode that acts as a proxy to the Tor network. When you attempt to connect to an onion URL, your request is proxied through volunteer-run Tor nodes who make the request for you and send back the returned HTML.
[...] However, a bug in Brave's 'Private window with Tor' mode is causing the onion URL for any Tor address you visit to also be sent as a standard DNS query to your machine's configured DNS server.
This issue is caused by Brave's CNAME decloaking ad-blocking feature that blocks third-party tracking scripts that use CNAME DNS records to impersonate a first-party script.
To prevent Tor URLs from being sent to configured DNS servers, Brave has disabled the CNAME adblocking feature when in the Tor browsing mode.
See the bug report on GitHub.
pretty big bug!
Apple's bitter legal dispute with Epic Games over the distribution of Fortnite on iOS has now managed to rope in Valve. Apple has subpoenaed the Steam maker for a wide range of PC game sales data it says is crucial to its case. But Valve is fighting back against that subpoena, saying its information is proprietary, not relevant to Apple's case, and would be costly and difficult to generate.
As discussed in a joint letter from Apple and Valve filed with the Northern District of California court this week, Apple's November subpoena seeks two large categories of information that Valve is refusing to provide:
[...] Valve argues that Steam is an unrelated sideshow in the battle between Apple and Epic. "Valve does not make or sell phones, tablets, or video games for mobile devices, or otherwise compete in the mobile market," the company writes. "Fortnite is not available on Steam, and Epic has publicly and unequivocally stated it will not offer Fortnite on Steam unless Valve changes its business model."
[...] "Valve does not disclose its sales and revenue information and projections, and Valve derives a significant value and edge from the confidentiality of such information, including by keeping it out of the hands of companies like Epic who also sell PC games."
upstart writes in with an IRC submission for Fnord666:
Word of warning, prepare to be rickrolled like you've never been rickrolled in the past. Thanks to AI software, you can now troll your friends with Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" in crisp UHD.
CNET spotted the video, which was uploaded by YouTube user Revideo at the end of January only to be recently discovered by the internet at large this week. Revideo said they used Topaz Video Enhance, an AI-powered program for upscaling video, to remaster the clip in 4K and RIFE (Flowframes) to smooth it out to 60 frames per second.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:
China is exploring limiting the export of rare earth minerals that are crucial for the manufacture of American F-35 fighter jets and other sophisticated weaponry, according to people involved in a government consultation.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology last month proposed draft controls on the production and export of 17 rare earth minerals in China, which controls about 80 percent of global supply.
Industry executives said government officials had asked them how badly companies in the US and Europe, including defense contractors, would be affected if China restricted rare earth exports during a bilateral dispute.
“The government wants to know if the US may have trouble making F-35 fighter jets if China imposes an export ban,” said a Chinese government adviser who asked not to be identified. Industry executives added that Beijing wanted to better understand how quickly the US could secure alternative sources of rare earths and increase its own production capacity.
Fighter jets such as the F-35, a Lockheed Martin aircraft, rely heavily on rare earths for critical components such as electrical power systems and magnets. A Congressional Research Service report said that each F-35 required 417kg of rare-earth materials.
[...] “China’s own rare earth security isn’t guaranteed,” said David Zhang, an analyst at Sublime China Information, a consultancy. “It can disappear when the US-China relationship deteriorates or Myanmar’s generals decide to shut the border.”
While China’s dominance in rare earth mining is under threat, it maintains a near monopoly in the refining process that turns ores into materials ready for manufacturers.
The country controls about four-fifths of global rare earth refining capacity. Ores mined in the US must be sent to China as the US has no refining capacity of its own yet.
Industry executives, however, said China’s strength in refining had more to do with its higher tolerance for pollution than any technological edge.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:
A group of researchers from the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin have found out that a semiconductor can be converted to a metal and back by light more easily and more quickly than previously thought. This discovery may increase the processing speed and simplify the design of many common technological devices.
[...] The scientists involved in this study have investigated the popular semiconductor zinc oxide and figured out that by illuminating it with a laser, the semiconductor surface can be turned into a metal—and back again. This "photo-doping" is achieved by photoexcitation: The light modifies the electronic properties such that electrons suddenly move freely and an electrical current can flow, as it would in metal. Once the light is switched back off, the material also quickly goes back to being a semiconductor.
"This mechanism is a completely new and surprising discovery," says Lukas Gierster, lead author and Ph.D. student in Stähler's group. "Three things in particular have surprised us: For one, photo- and chemical doping behave so much alike despite being fundamentally different mechanisms; two, gigantic changes can be reached with very low laser power; and three, switching the metal on and off happens quickly."
[...] This discovery could be highly beneficial for high-frequency device applications and ultrafast optically controlled transistors by increasing processing speed and simplifying device design. "Our gadgets could become faster—and thus smarter," Julia Stähler says and adds: "Low-power, ultrafast switching of conduction properties will provide us with high speed and design flexibility." She and her group are convinced that the same will prove true for other semiconducting materials, so that their discovery will likely reach much further than just zinc oxide.
L. Gierster, S. Vempati, J. Stähler. Ultrafast generation and decay of a surface metal [open], Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21203-6)
No one here will be surprised by the size and reach of the data broker industry and the desire to identify and track individual users. From a data standpoint, the majority of human interaction now happens on mobile devices, and these devices end up collecting and storing a very large amount of our information. US privacy laws allow sharing and selling of anonymized data, which are those that do not contain Personally Identifying Information (PII), and the much ballyhooed GDPR imposes strict inform and consent requirements on collecting and using personal information. To comply with these laws many entities simply throw away all the personal information and keep the rest of the data, which sounds like a great thing until one realizes that it turns out to be relatively easy to deanonymize this data using otherwise innocuous data on the mobile device anyway.
The reason that so many apps report to third parties what other apps are installed on a phone is because these other apps create a remarkably unique fingerprint of each person. The aggregate of the installed apps and their relative usage turn out to be very unique for over 99% of people. So ad blockers can block cookies, and users can reset things like the Android Advertisement ID, but users can't reset or fake their app usage stats.
Some researchers looked at a data set of millions of people spanning 12 months and 33 countries and found that 91% of the people could be identified by looking at just the usage of four apps. They also looked at seasonal and cultural differences for identifying users. They found that people have more unique app fingerprints during summer months making them easier to identify then. They also saw significant variations in uniqueness across countries and found that American users are the easiest to identify while Finns have the least unique app fingerprints.
Sekara, V., Alessandretti, L., Mones, E. et al. Temporal and cultural limits of privacy in smartphone app usage [open]. Sci Rep 11, 3861 (2021).
Nowadays, individuals spend more and more time in artificially designed living spaces, in particular, humans spend up to 90% indoors. This tendency has led to an isolation of individuals from regular contact with nature which has a negative impact on their mental and physical health. Several studies have demonstrated that such artificial stimulation and being in purely human-generated environments can lead to mental fatigue as well as a loss of vitality and health.
These negative effects can be reduced by means engaging in interactions with nature. There is evidence to suggest that natural environments have a positive influence on human psychology, physiology, and cognition. According to the Attention Restoration Theory (ART), natural environments capture less cognitive resources, and therefore, allow an interruption of attention-grabbing tasks inherent in urban environments and thus, elicit attention restoration and recovery from mental fatigue. Natural elements such as green landscapes and flowing waters have a calming effect on physiological arousal. One of the long-term effects of access to nature is a positive attitude towards life and an increased satisfaction with one's own home, one's own work and generally one's own life.
Researchers from Germany subjected subjects to forest and urban scenes via a head-mounted display. They presented the scenes as pictures and as 360-degree videos. They found that forest scenes had a positive effect on cognition and urban scenes disturbed mood. Interestingly they found that the photos of either urban or forest environments were more effective in reducing physiological arousal compared to the immersive videos. So it seems it is less stressful to look at a forest than to be in the middle of one.
Mostajeran, F., Krzikawski, J., Steinicke, F. et al. Effects of exposure to immersive videos and photo slideshows of forest and urban environments [open]. Sci Rep 11, 3994 (2021).
A large number of studies have demonstrated the benefits of natural environments on people's health and well-being. For people who have limited access to nature (e.g., elderly in nursing homes, hospital patients, or jail inmates), virtual representations may provide an alternative to benefit from the illusion of a natural environment. For this purpose and in most previous studies, conventional photos of nature have been used. Immersive virtual reality (VR) environments, however, can induce a higher sense of presence compared to conventional photos. Whether this higher sense of presence leads to increased positive impacts of virtual nature exposure is the main research question of this study. Therefore, we compared exposure to a forest and an urban virtual environment in terms of their respective impact on mood, stress, physiological reactions, and cognition. The environments were presented via a head-mounted display as (1) conventional photo slideshows or (2) 360∘ videos. The results show that the forest environment had a positive effect on cognition and the urban environment disturbed mood regardless of the mode of presentation. In addition, photos of either urban or forest environment were both more effective in reducing physiological arousal compared to immersive 360∘ videos.