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posted by martyb on Tuesday October 12, @09:42PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Microsoft and Nvidia create 105-layer, 530 billion parameter language model that needs 280 A100 GPUs, but it's still biased

Nvidia and Microsoft have teamed up to create the Megatron-Turing Natural Language Generation model, which the duo claims is the "most powerful monolithic transformer language model trained to date".

The AI model has 105 layers, 530 billion parameters, and operates on chunky supercomputer hardware like Selene. By comparison, the vaunted GPT-3 has 175 billion parameters.

"Each model replica spans 280 NVIDIA A100 GPUs, with 8-way tensor-slicing within a node, and 35-way pipeline parallelism across nodes," the pair said in a blog post.

[...] However, the need to operate with languages and samples from the real world meant an old problem with AI reappeared: Bias. "While giant language models are advancing the state of the art on language generation, they also suffer from issues such as bias and toxicity," the duo said.

Related: OpenAI's New Language Generator GPT-3 is Shockingly Good
A College Student Used GPT-3 to Write a Fake Blog Post that Ended Up at the Top of Hacker News
A Robot Wrote This Entire Article. Are You Scared Yet, Human?
OpenAI's Text-Generating System GPT-3 Is Now Spewing Out 4.5 Billion Words a Day

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday October 12, @06:54PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the squeeze dept.

Putin slashes Russia’s space budget and says he expects better results:

Russia plans to slash funding for spaceflight activities during the coming three-year period, from 2022 to 2024. The cuts will come to about 16 percent annually, several Russian publications, including, report. (These Russian-language articles were translated for Ars by Rob Mitchell.)

For 2022, the state budget for space activities will be set at 210 billion rubles ($2.9 billion), a cut of 40.3 billion rubles ($557 million) from the previous year. Similar cuts will follow in subsequent years. The most significant decreases will be in areas such as "manufacturing-technological activities" and "cosmodrome development." Funding for "scientific research and development" was zeroed out entirely.

[...] Putin has reportedly told the Russian space corporation, Roscosmos, that it must increase the reliability of Russian rockets and "master" the next generation of launch vehicles. This directive has come in response to growing competition in the global space launch business, particularly from US-based SpaceX.

I guess Russia is throwing in the towel as far as space is concerned?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday October 12, @04:14PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

These Virtual Obstacle Courses Help Real Robots Learn to Walk:

The virtual robot army was developed by researchers from ETH Zurich in Switzerland and chipmaker Nvidia. They used the wandering bots to train an algorithm that was then used to control the legs of a real-world robot.

In the simulation, the machines—called ANYmals—confront challenges like slopes, steps, and steep drops in a virtual landscape. Each time a robot learned to navigate a challenge, the researchers presented a harder one, nudging the control algorithm to be more sophisticated.

From a distance, the resulting scenes resemble an army of ants wriggling across a large area. During training, the robots were able to master walking up and down stairs easily enough; more complex obstacles took longer. Tackling slopes proved particularly difficult, although some of the virtual robots learned how to slide down them.

When the resulting algorithm was transferred to a real version of ANYmal, a four-legged robot roughly the size of a large dog with sensors on its head and a detachable robot arm, it was able to navigate stairs and blocks but suffered problems at higher speeds. Researchers blamed inaccuracies in how its sensors perceive the real world compared to the simulation,

Similar kinds of robot learning could help machines learn all sorts of useful things, from sorting packages to sewing clothes and harvesting crops. The project also reflects the importance of simulation and custom computer chips for future progress in applied artificial intelligence.

"At a high level, very fast simulation is a really great thing to have," says Pieter Abbeel, a professor at UC Berkeley and cofounder of Covariant, a company that is using AI and simulations to train robot arms to pick and sort objects for logistics firms. He says the Swiss and Nvidia researchers "got some nice speed-ups."

A 2m21s video is available on YouTube.

See also: Robots can now skateboard, thanks to researchers from Caltech

A research team at The California Institute of Technology has built a robot with hybrid walking and flying movement. The robot can carry out manoeuvres such as flying to avoid stairs and skateboarding.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday October 12, @01:30PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Dubbed Bernardinelli-Bernstein, it is thousands of times more massive than an average comet. Its close approach is a rare chance to learn more about how Earth and its neighbors were born:

Seven years ago, a pair of scientists scouring high-resolution images of space caught fleeting glimpses of a bright round object peeking from a vast cloud of icy objects more than 2 billion miles from Earth.

As if that whole scene wasn’t exciting enough, the object appeared to be a huge comet. Thought to be between 60 and 100 miles wide, it was the biggest comet a human being had ever witnessed. And it seemed to be heading toward us, very loosely speaking.

[...] Because it’s so much bigger than other known comets—the famous Hale-Bopp comet, which itself is on the larger side, measures just 37 miles across—Bernardinelli-Bernstein possesses enough gravity to hold itself together as it lazily loops through space. It’s harder to break apart.

The comet’s extreme distance from the sun also helped preserve it. “It spends most of its time in the deep freeze of the outer solar system,” Mainzer explained. Models of the megacomet’s orbit indicate it last entered our part of the solar system around 5 million years ago and got no closer than Uranus. From that distance, the sun’s heat hardly touched it.

Mainzer says that as a result, the comet she affectionately calls “BB” probably resembles the original chemical state of the nebula of gas and dust that formed our solar system about 4.5 billion years ago.

[...] It’s highly unlikely NASA or some other space agency building a probe to intercept and collect samples from Bernardinelli-Bernstein (which is ironically what NASA is currently doing with the asteroids surrounding Jupiter).

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday October 12, @10:45AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the slow-grind dept.

Cloudflare doesn’t have to cut off copyright-infringing websites, judge rules:

Cloudflare is not liable for the copyright infringement of websites that use its content-delivery and security services, a federal judge ruled yesterday.

Cloudflare was sued in November 2018 by Mon Cheri Bridals and Maggie Sottero Designs, two wedding dress manufacturers and sellers that alleged Cloudflare was guilty of contributory copyright infringement because it didn't terminate services for websites that infringed on the dressmakers' copyrighted designs. The companies sought a jury trial, but Judge Vince Chhabria yesterday granted Cloudflare's motion for summary judgment in a ruling in US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Chhabria noted that the dressmakers have been harmed "by the proliferation of counterfeit retailers that sell knock-off dresses using the plaintiffs' copyrighted images" and that they have "gone after the infringers in a range of actions, but to no avail—every time a website is successfully shut down, a new one takes its place."

[...] While the ruling resolves the lawsuit's central question in Cloudflare's favor, the judge scheduled a case management conference for October 27 "to discuss what's left of the case."

[...] A defendant is liable for contributory copyright infringement if it has knowledge of another's infringement and materially contributes to or induces that infringement, the judge noted in his ruling against the dressmakers. "Simply providing services to a copyright infringer does not qualify as a 'material contribution,'" he wrote. "Rather, liability in the Internet context follows where a party 'facilitate[s] access' to infringing websites in such a way that 'significantly magnif[ies]' the underlying infringement."

Although a defendant can be found to materially contribute to copyright infringement if it acts as "an essential step in the infringement process," this should not be interpreted too broadly, the judge wrote.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday October 12, @08:00AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Winter-swimming Scandinavian men can teach us how the body adapts to extreme heat and cold:

"Our data underscore that BAT in adult humans is part of the collective body temperature regulation system in collaboration with skeletal muscle and blood flow," says senior study author Camilla Scheel of the University of Copenhagen. "Regular winter swimming combining cold dips with hot sauna might be a strategy to increase energy expenditure, which could result in weight loss if compensatory increase in food intake can be avoided."

In the Denmark-based study, Scheele and her collaborators examined whether the Scandinavian practice of winter swimming is associated with changes in body temperature, resulting in acclimation to both cold and hot challenges. They also looked for differences in brown fat tissue, given its role in producing heat in response to exposure to cold environments.

To explore these ideas, first author Susanna Søberg of the University of Copenhagen recruited eight young male winter swimmers who had alternated several swims or dips in cold water with hot sauna sessions every week for at least two years. For the purposes of this study, winter swimming was loosely defined as swimming or sitting in open water and wearing only swim trunks or nothing. By contrast, the eight control participants did not use any cold or heat therapies during the study and had no history of winter swimming.

"We expected winter swimmers to have more brown fat than the control subjects, but it turned out that they instead had better thermoregulation," Søberg says. In preliminary tests, the participants submerged one hand in cold water for three minutes. While both groups responded to the cold exposure, the swimmers displayed signs of cold tolerance, with a lower increase in pulse and blood pressure. They also had higher skin temperature, pointing to greater heat loss as a potential adaptation to frequent sauna exposure. In another preliminary test, the researchers used an adjustable system consisting of two water-perfused blankets to control and lower the participants' body temperature. Here, the swimmers also showed a higher increase in skin temperature in response to cooling.

Journal Reference:
Susanna Søberg, et al. Altered brown fat thermoregulation and enhanced cold-induced thermogenesis in young, healthy, winter-swimming men Cell Reports Medicine, 2021 (DOI: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2021.100408)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday October 12, @05:17AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the really-cleaning-up dept.

A rare feat: Material protects against both biological and chemical threats:

A Northwestern University research team has developed a versatile composite fabric that can deactivate both biological threats, such as the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and chemical threats, such as those used in chemical warfare. A material that is effective against both classes of threats is rare.

The material also is reusable. It can be restored to its original state after the fabric has been exposed to threats by a simple bleach treatment.The promising fabric could be used in face masks and other protective clothing.

"Having a bifunctional material that has the ability to deactivate both chemical and biological toxic agents is crucial since the complexity to integrate multiple materials to do the job is high," said Northwestern's Omar Farha, an expert in metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs[*], which is the basis for the technology.

[...] The MOF/fiber composite builds on an earlier study in which Farha's team created a nanomaterial that deactivates toxic nerve agents. With some small manipulations, the researchers were able to also incorporate antiviral and antibacterial agents into the material.

MOFs are "sophisticated bath sponges," Farha said. The nano-sized materials are designed with a lot of holes that can capture gases, vapors and other agents the way a sponge captures water. In the new composite fabric, the cavities of the MOFs have catalysts that can deactivate toxic chemicals, viruses and bacteria. The porous nanomaterial can be easily coated on textile fibers.

[*] MOF: Wikipedia

Journal Reference:
Yuk Ha Cheung, Kaikai Ma, Hans C. van Leeuwen, et al. Immobilized Regenerable Active Chlorine within a Zirconium-Based MOF Textile Composite to Eliminate Biological and Chemical Threats, Journal of the American Chemical Society (DOI: 10.1021/jacs.1c08576)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday October 12, @02:36AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Israeli archaeologists discover ancient winemaking complex:

Israeli archaeologists on Monday said they have unearthed a massive ancient winemaking complex dating back some 1,500 years.

The complex, discovered in the central town of Yavne, includes five wine presses, warehouses, kilns for producing clay storage vessels and tens of thousands of fragments and jars, they said.

Israel's Antiquities Authority said the discovery shows that Yavne was a wine-making powerhouse during the Byzantine period. Researchers estimate the facility could produce some 2 million liters (over 520,000 gallons) of wine a year.

Jon Seligman, one of the directors of the excavation, said the wine made in the area was known as "Gaza" wine and exported across the region.

[...] Seligman said wine was not just an important export and source of enjoyment in ancient times. "Beyond that, this was a major source of nutrition and this was a safe drink because the water was often contaminated, so they could drink wine safely," he said.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Monday October 11, @09:47PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Futurism has done an interview over e-mail with Alexandra Elbakyan who founded Sci-Hub ten years ago. Over that time, it has become both widely used and well-stocked, having picked up momentum in 2016. There are now over 87 million research articles in its database, though not evenly distributed over academic disciplines.

As of September, Sci-Hub has officially existed for 10 years — a milestone that came as a lawsuit to determine if the website infringed on copyright laws sits in India’s Delhi High Court. Just a few months prior, Elbakyan tweeted that she was notified of a request from the FBI to access her data from Apple. And before that, the major academic publisher Elsevier was awarded $15 million in damages after the Department of Justice ruled that Sci-Hub broke copyright law in the U.S.

But that ruling can’t seem to touch Sci-Hub. And Elbakyan remains absolutely unrepentant. She advocates for a future in which scientific knowledge is shared freely, and she’s confident that it’s coming.

Futurism caught up with Elbakyan to hear what’s next. Over email, she explained her vision for the site’s future, her thoughts on copyright law, and more. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The article goes on to report that she had expected copyright law to be corrected long before so much time had passed. In many ways Sci-Hub can be seen as a form of push back against the academic publishing houses which are infamous for abusive practices and pricing. The cost of research, writing, editing, peer-review, and more are all borne by the researchers and their institutions with little beyond distribution borne by the publisher. The big publishing houses then sell access back to the same researchers and institutions at rates that a small and decreasing number can afford.

posted by martyb on Monday October 11, @05:07PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the what-a-wicked-web-we-weave... dept.

Key witness in Assange case jailed in Iceland after admitting to lies and ongoing crime spree

Sigurdur Thordarson, a key witness for the FBI against Julian Assange, has been jailed in Iceland. The notorious alleged hacker and convicted pedophile was remanded to custody in Iceland's highest security prison, Litla Hraun, on September 24. Þórðarson´s lawyer, Húnbogi J. Andersen, confirms that he is in custody. Thordarson was given immunity by the FBI in exchange for testimony against Julian Assange.

Thordarson was arrested the same day he arrived back in Iceland from a trip to Spain, and was subsequently brought before a judge after police requested indefinite detention intended to halt an ongoing crime spree. The judge apparently agreed that Thordarson's repeated, blatant and ongoing offences against the law put him at high risk for continued re-offending.

[...] Thordarson is a key witness for the United States Justice Department according to documents presented to a UK court in an effort to secure the extradition of Julian Assange. He was recruited by US authorities to build a case against Assange after misleading them to believe he was previously a close associate of his. In a recent interview with Stundin he admitted to fabricating statements to implicate Assange and contradicted what he was quoted as saying in US court documents. In fact he had volunteered on a limited basis to raise money for Wikileaks in 2010 but was found to have used that opportunity to embezzle more than $50,000 from the organization. Julian Assange was visiting Thordarson's home country of Iceland around this time due to his work with Icelandic media and members of parliament in preparing the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a press freedom project that produced a parliamentary resolution supporting whistleblowers and investigative journalism.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Monday October 11, @12:22PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the "chip"ed-beef dept.

Intel Not Considering UK Chip Factory After Brexit

Intel not considering UK chip factory after Brexit:

The boss of Intel says the US chipmaker is no longer considering building a factory in the UK because of Brexit.

Pat Gelsinger told the BBC that before the UK left the EU, the country "would have been a site that we would have considered".

[...] Intel wants to boost its output amid a global chip shortage that has hit the supply of cars and other goods.

[...] "I have no idea whether we would have had a superior site from the UK," he said. "But we now have about 70 proposals for sites across Europe from maybe 10 different countries.

UK Public Now Eating Significantly Less Meat

UK public now eating significantly less meat:

[...] The new study, published in the journal the Lancet Planetary Health, revealed that while most people are eating less red and processed meat compared to a decade ago, they are eating more white meat.

High consumption of red and processed meat can increase the risk of health problems including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers.

Meat production also has a higher environmental impact - producing more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions - than other types of agriculture and food production.

Journal Reverence:
Cristina Stewart, Carmen Piernas, Brian Cook, et al. Trends in UK meat consumption: analysis of data from years 1–11 (2008–09 to 2018–19) of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey rolling programme The Lancet Planet Health [Open] (DOI:

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by mrpg on Monday October 11, @08:00AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the too-late-now-we-have-masks dept.

MEPs support curbing police use of facial recognition:

Police should be banned from using blanket facial-recognition surveillance to identify people not suspected of crimes. Certain private databases of people’s faces for identification systems ought to be outlawed, too.

That's the feeling of the majority of members in the European Parliament this week. In a vote on Wednesday, 377 MEPs backed a resolution restricting law enforcement’s use of facial recognition, 248 voted against, and 62 abstained.

“AI-based identification systems already misidentify minority ethnic groups, LGBTI people, seniors and women at higher rates, which is particularly concerning in the context of law enforcement and the judiciary,” reads a statement from the parliament.

“To ensure that fundamental rights are upheld when using these technologies, algorithms should be transparent, traceable and sufficiently documented, MEPs ask. Where possible, public authorities should use open-source software in order to be more transparent.”

MEP = Member of the European Parliament

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Monday October 11, @03:28AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the fossils! dept.

Rover images confirm Jezero crater is an ancient Martian lake: The findings include signs of flash flooding that carried huge boulders downstream into the lakebed.:

The first scientific analysis of images taken by NASA's Perseverance rover has now confirmed that Mars' Jezero crater -- which today is a dry, wind-eroded depression -- was once a quiet lake, fed steadily by a small river some 3.7 billion years ago.

The images also reveal evidence that the crater endured flash floods. This flooding was energetic enough to sweep up large boulders from tens of miles upstream and deposit them into the lakebed, where the massive rocks lie today.

[...] "We now have the opportunity to look for fossils," says team member Tanja Bosak, associate professor of geobiology at MIT. "It will take some time to get to the rocks that we really hope to sample for signs of life. So, it's a marathon, with a lot of potential."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Sunday October 10, @11:04PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-feel-the-need-for-speed! dept.

People in the U.S. pay more for slower internet than European, Canadian, and Asian counterparts, according to the Open Technology Institute:

A survey conducted earlier this year by the Pew Research Center found that 7% of Americans lack access to reliable broadband. One reason for this may be how expensive internet access is in the U.S.

"People in the U.S. pay more for slower internet than people abroad," Open Technology Institute policy analyst Claire Park said. "For many consumers, the cost of getting online right now is simply too high and also too complicated."

The Open Technology Institute has been studying the price and speed of internet services advertised within the United States as well as abroad. Its 2020 Cost of Connectivity Report found that the average advertised monthly cost of internet in the U.S. is $68.38, which is higher than the average price of internet access for all of North America, Europe and Asia.

Outdated infrastructure in the U.S. may also be impeding internet access to millions of Americans, and lawmakers have been debating how to increase internet availability and performance.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday October 10, @06:16PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

[Ed note: In observance of the US federal holiday which is observed on Monday October 11, 2021, I am inviting the editorial staff to run stories on a weekend schedule tomorrow. Please join me in thanking them for all their hard work and for the sacrifice of their spare time and energy! --martyb.]

Biden becomes first president to issue proclamation marking Indigenous Peoples' Day:

President Joe Biden issued a proclamation commemorating Indigenous Peoples' Day on Friday, becoming the first US president to do so, the White House said.

"The contributions that Indigenous peoples have made throughout history — in public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts, and countless other fields — are integral to our Nation, our culture, and our society," Biden wrote in the proclamation Friday. "Today, we acknowledge the significant sacrifices made by Native peoples to this country — and recognize their many ongoing contributions to our Nation."

Biden also marked a change of course from previous administrations in his proclamation marking Columbus Day, which honors the explorer Christopher Columbus. In that proclamation, the President acknowledged the death and destruction wrought on native communities after Columbus journeyed to North America in the late 1500s, ushering in an age of European exploration of the Western Hemisphere.

"Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities. It is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past — that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them," Biden wrote.

More than 100 cities -- including Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco -- and a number of states -- including Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont and Oregon -- have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, choosing instead to recognize the native populations that were displaced and decimated after Columbus and other European explorers reached the continent. Berkeley, California, was the first city to adopt Indigenous Peoples' Day, in 1992.

Also at Al Jazeera.

Original Submission