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posted by hubie on Monday September 19, @11:38PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the we-pay-this-fine-and-we-may-or-may-not-have-done-anything dept.

SEC Charges VMware with Misleading Investors by Obscuring Financial Performance:

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said on Monday it has charged cloud computing company VMware Inc. with misleading investors by obscuring its financial performance.

The company was charged with misleading investors about its order backlog management practices, which the agency said enabled it to push revenue into future quarters by delaying product deliveries to customers, thereby concealing the company's slowing performance relative to its projections.

Without admitting or denying the findings in the SEC's order, VMware consented to a cease-and-desist order and will pay an $8 million penalty, the SEC said. VMware confirmed in a statement of its own that it reached a settlement with the SEC and agreed to pay the penalty without admitting or denying the SEC's findings.

[...] "The SEC Staff has confirmed that it does not intend to recommend enforcement action against any current or former VMware officers or other member of management in connection with the investigation, and this settlement concludes the matter," VMware said in its statement on Monday.

See also: Broadcom to Acquire VMware in Massive $61B Deal

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday September 19, @08:55PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the turning-green-into-greenbacks dept.

New study shows a fast transition to clean energy is cheaper than slow or no transition:

Transitioning to a decarbonised energy system by around 2050 is expected to save the world at least $12 trillion, compared to continuing our current levels of fossil fuel use, according to a peer-reviewed study today by Oxford University researchers, published in the journal Joule.

The research shows a win-win-win scenario, in which rapidly transitioning to clean energy results in lower energy system costs than a fossil fuel system, while providing more energy to the global economy, and expanding energy access to more people internationally.

The study's 'Fast Transition' scenario, shows a realistic possible future for a fossil-free energy system by around 2050, providing 55% more energy services globally than today, by ramping up solar, wind, batteries, electric vehicles, and clean fuels such as green hydrogen (made from renewable electricity).

[...] 'There is a pervasive misconception that switching to clean, green energy will be painful, costly and mean sacrifices for us all – but that's just wrong,' says Doyne Farmer, the Professor of Mathematics who leads the team that conducted the study at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School. 'Renewable costs have been trending down for decades. They are already cheaper than fossil fuels, in many situations, and our research shows they will become cheaper than fossil fuels across almost all applications in the years to come. And, if we accelerate the transition, they will become cheaper faster. Completely replacing fossil fuels with clean energy by 2050 will save us trillions.'

[...] Professor Farmer continues, 'The world is facing a simultaneous inflation crisis, national security crisis, and climate crisis, all caused by our dependence on high cost, insecure, polluting, fossil fuels with volatile prices. This study shows ambitious policies to accelerate dramatically the transition to a clean energy future, as quickly as possible, are not only urgently needed for climate reasons, but can save the world trillions in future energy costs, giving us a cleaner, cheaper, more energy secure future.'

Journal Reference:
Rupert Way, Matthew C. Ives, Penny Mealy, J. Doyne Farmer, Empirically grounded technology forecasts and the energy transition [open], Joule, 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2022.08.009

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday September 19, @06:13PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the dropped-like-a-Google-beta-product dept.

There will be no more Pentium, Pentium Gold, Pentium Silver, Celeron, etc. branded mobile/laptop CPUs starting in 2023:

"Intel Processor" Replaces Pentium & Celeron Brands

The new "Intel Processor" branding is intended to "simplify" their offerings for users. Intel's premium Core, Evo, and vPro branding, among others will remain. But for the basic CPUs, they will now be known as Intel Procesor.

The change may also apply to desktop and embedded product lines, but Intel hasn't announced that yet.

Over at Team Red: AMD's new naming scheme for its mobile CPUs seems purposefully confusing

AMD has announced that next year's mobile processors will use a new naming scheme. The new system is difficult to understand and may confuse customers - maybe on purpose.

[...] So now, there will be the new Mendocino series, which are 2020's Zen2 chips brought back to life as Ryzen 7x20. Barcelo (Ryzen 7x30) and Rembrandt (Ryzen 7x35) will also continue on. Zen4, the hotly anticipated new CPUs, are relegated to the high-end as Ryzen 7x40 (Phoenix) and Ryzen 7x45 (Dragon Range).

The problem: The most important part of the model number, the CPU generation, is the third digit. Logically, the first two digits in a four digit number should be the most important ones.

AMD has not announced any concrete model numbers yet, but it is easy to imagine how confusing these number-games can be for regular consumers. For example, a customer may have the choice between a Ryzen 7 7730U and a Ryzen 7 7740U - one is based on Zen3 from 2021 and is still paired with old Vega-GPUs, while the other is a chip of the newest Zen4 generation, even though only the third digit of the model number is different. Transparent for customers? Not at all!

Some processor names had already leaked before the naming scheme announcement, such as the AMD Athlon Gold 7220U, which would be a "Mendocino" APU using the Zen 2 microarchitecture.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday September 19, @03:25PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the hope-is-the-beat-in-the-oldest-heart dept.

Oldest vertebrate fossil heart ever found tells a 380 million-year-old story of evolution:

In the limestone ranges of Western Australia's Kimberley region, near the town of Fitzroy Crossing, you'll find one of the world's best-preserved ancient reef complexes.

Here lie the remnants of myriad prehistoric marine animals, including placoderms, a prehistoric class of fish that represents some of our earliest jawed ancestors.

Placoderms were the rulers of the ancient seas, rivers and lakes. They were the most abundant and diverse fishes of the Devonian Period (419–359 million years ago)—but died out at the end in a mass extinction event.

Studying placoderms is important as they provide insight into the origins of the jawed vertebrate body plan (vertebrates are animals with backbones). For instance, placoderms have revealed when the first jaws, teeth, paired skull bones and paired limbs evolved. They've also taught us about the origins of internal fertilization and live birth in vertebrate evolution.

Now, in a paper published in Science, we detail our findings of the oldest three-dimensionally preserved heart from a vertebrate—in this case a jawed vertebrate. This placoderm heart is about 380 million years old, and 250 million years older than the previous oldest vertebrate heart.

Fish fossils from near Fitzroy Crossing were first reported from Gogo Station in the 1940s. But it wasn't until the 1960s that beautiful 3D preservations were revealed, using a technique that removes rock from bones with weak acetic acid.

However, this technique proved to be a double-edged sword. While the fine details of the bony skeleton were uncovered, soft tissues in the fossils dissolved away. It wasn't until 2000 that the first pieces of fossilized muscle were identified in placoderms.

With the advent of an X-ray method called "synchrotron microtomography"—first used on the Gogo fossils in 2010—more muscles were revealed from the Gogo placoderms, including neck and abdominal muscles.

Our work used this same technology to show, for the first time, the presence of a liver, stomach and intestines in a Devonian fish. Some of the specimens even showed remnants of their last meal: a crustacean.

We found the soft organs fossilized in an order of placoderms called arthrodires. These were the most common and diverse of all known placoderms, characterized by a unique joint between their head and trunk armor.

The most exciting find for us was the heart. We found our first placoderm heart using synchrotron imagining.

Then while experimenting with a technology called neutron imaging, we discovered a second heart within a different specimen.

[...] Today, 99% of all living vertebrates have jaws. Arthrodires provide the first anatomical evidence to support the hypothesis that, in jawed vertebrates, the repositioning of the heart to a more forward position was linked to the evolution of jaws and a neck.

Journal Reference:
Kate Trinajstic, John A. Long, Sophie Sanchez, et al., Exceptional preservation of organs in Devonian placoderms from the Gogo lagerstätte, Science, 377, 2022. DOI: 10.1126/science.abf3289

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday September 19, @12:39PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Russia May Have Just Put Elon Musk's Starlink On Notice:

It seems like Elon Musk's Starlink initiative might have been given a stern warning by Russia in a statement that could come with grave implications. The Starlink map shows that its coverage had spread out to most parts of the globe, with support in some countries already planned for years ahead. However, Russia appears to be the biggest country not on Starlink's waiting list, and that might not change any time soon. In March, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov asked Musk to give his country access to Starlink's services amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

The SpaceX founder later responded to Ukraine's pleas in an expeditious and amicable manner. Within just two days, Ukraine received satellite internet access, but not without Musk warning users of the potential dangers of utilizing Starlink in wartime. While this might not have directly placed SpaceX in Russia's crosshairs, Musk's swift compliance might have exacerbated the issue even further. The question now is, does Russia see Musk's indirect involvement in aiding its opposition as somewhat of a military threat that needs to be addressed, or is it all simply water under the bridge?

Now, it appears that the Russian Delegation is giving SpaceX a similar treatment by addressing its actions indirectly in a warning against the use of private satellites and their intervention. In a translated statement earlier this week, the Russian Delegation spoke out regarding the "extremely dangerous trend" of using civilian and commercial space technologies for military purposes, claiming that this had "become apparent during the events in Ukraine." Although the statement didn't mention any space company in particular, it did remind the "United States and its allies" about the repercussions of having the privatize sector involved in the country's military activities.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Monday September 19, @09:55AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the accidents-are-why-pencils-have-erasers dept.

Intel Accidentally Confirms Specs of Raptor Lake Launch CPUs - ExtremeTech:

So far, all the information we've received about Intel's 13th generation Raptor Lake CPUs has been through leaks. An engineering sample benchmark here, a leaked sales deck there, and so on. Now Intel has joined in on the fun by leaking the specs for its launch CPUs, though it didn't mean to. [...]

The slip-up was caught by noted Twitter leaker Momomo_us, who snapped a screenshot (below). If you go to the page where it was found, Intel has swapped the info out with specs for its Alder Lake CPUs. There are no big surprises in Intel's slip-up. However, it does confirm the info in the leaked sales decks from a few days ago. It'll be launching with three CPUs, and the boost clocks are confirmed as well. [...]

[...] So overall, nothing mind-blowing here, but at least we have confirmation. Intel will launch Raptor Lake with six SKUs total, as previously reported. Each CPU will be offered in both K and KF variants, with the latter lacking an integrated GPU. Intel is holding an "Innovation" event on Sept. 27 and 28, according to PCMag, so we assume the CPUs will debut there. That's also the same day AMD's Zen 4 CPUs will be available to the public, so it seems these two companies are at it again. Also, since AMD has already released its pricing for Zen 4, it'll be very interesting to see how Intel responds. We also wonder if it'll use the event to launch its Arc GPUs. After all, it said a week ago the launch would be "very soon."

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Monday September 19, @07:07AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the bursting-their-bubble dept.

Nasa reveals bursting habitat that created boom in Houston in July

On 9 July, a loud boom resounded around the Houston Texas area around Johnson Space Center, and Nasa has now released footage of the test that caused the sound.

In a post on the social media network Twitter, Johnson Space Center revealed footage of a burst pressure test of an inflatable habitat prototype, an armoured membrane that could be inflated in Earth orbit to serve as a space station module, or on the Moon as part of a future Moon base.

In a burst pressure test, engineers inflate a pressure vessel to the point where it bursts. This helps them understand both the extreme safety limits of the pressure vessel and may help in the design process.

In this case, the pressure vessel was a prototype of the Large Integrated Flexible Environment, or Life habitat being developed by Colorado-based Sierra Space. Life habitats are constructed of the same tough, Vectran fibers used in the landing airbags for Nasa's Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, and at 27-feet in diameter, offer about 984 cubic feet of interior volume[*], according to the Sierra Space Website.

During the July pressure burst test, a one-third scale Life habit was inflated to an internal pressure of 192 pounds per square inch (PSI), according to a Sierra Space tweet about the test. That exceeded the safety requirement of 182.4 PSI, the company noted.

[*] 300 cubic meters of pressurized volume (about 1/3 the pressurized volume on the international space station)

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Monday September 19, @04:19AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the yeah-well-I'm-going-to-build-my-own-chips dept.

GM's Cruise is making its own chips for self-driving vehicles to save on costs:

GM's Cruise division doesn't want to rely on third-party manufacturers for the chips powering its autonomous vehicles — so, it's making its own. Based on what Carl Jenkins, the company's VP for Hardware Engineering, told Reuters, the main motivator for the switch is the lofty costs associated with paying for other companies' chips.

"Two years ago, we were paying a lot of money for a GPU from a famous vendor," Jenkins told the news organization, referring to NVIDIA. He explained that Cruise couldn't negotiate because it wasn't mass manufacturing autonomous vehicles just yet. [...]

Jenkins has revealed that Cruise had already developed four chips at this point, starting with Horta, which was designed to become the main brains of the vehicle. Dune will process data from sensors, while another chip will process information from the radar. Yet another one will be announced at a later date. These components will power the Cruise Origin, the self-driving electric shuttle the company first announced back in 2020. The Cruise Origin will have no steering wheel or pedals and will instead have four seats inside facing each other. It's intended to be used as a shareable vehicle that's on the road at all times, shuttling passengers to their destinations.

Company executives didn't say how much they spent on the chips' development, but they believe they could recoup their investment once Cruise starts scaling up production. [...] GM chief Mary Barra announced at CES this year that the automaker wants to sell personal autonomous vehicles by the middle of the decade.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Monday September 19, @01:31AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the troubled-waters-pay-me-no-mind dept.

The Isle of Jean Charles in Louisiana is slowly being submerged in water:

Joann Bourg stands in front of her new home, about an hour's drive from the low-lying Louisiana island where she grew up — an area gradually sinking into the Gulf of Mexico.

[...] Ms Bourg is one of about a dozen Native Americans from the Isle de Jean Charles who have been relocated to Schriever, less than 60 kilometres to the north-west — the maiden beneficiaries of a federal resettlement grant awarded in 2016.

They are the first so-called "climate refugees" in the United States, forced from their homes due to the consequences of climate change.

[...] Residents are mainly of Native American descent — several tribes sought shelter on the island from rampant government persecution in the 1800s.

But climate change has transformed the island into a symbol of the scourge that plagues much of hurricane-prone Louisiana — coastal erosion.

[...] "This is the first project of its kind in our nation's history," state governor John Bel Edwards, who was on site to see the residents close on their new properties, told AFP.

"We've had people over the years that we would buy their homes out and move them. But we've not done whole communities like this and moved them to one place before because of climate change."

Since the 1930s, Isle de Jean Charles has lost "about 90 per cent" of its surface area to the encroaching bayou waters, explains Alex Kolker, an associate professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.

The island was already fragile, but climate change heightens the risks, he says — sea levels are rising, the ground is sinking and erosion is rampant. More frequent and fiercer storms intensify the problem.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Sunday September 18, @10:43PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the ENCOM-International dept.

An Australian company is trialing glow in the dark road markings to improve road safety. The trial is a part of a $4 million government program installing new innovative treatments across regional Victoria. Describing it as a "photo-luminescent delineation treatment" the government hoped it would provide drivers with a stronger visual signal to follow in low light.

The 'smarter path' line markings use the natural science of photoluminescence – similar to the process used in glow-in-the-dark childrens' stickers, toys or watches.

When it's dark, the coating emits light it has absorbed and stored through the day, so that the lines and pavement markings can be better seen.

[...] Mr Emanuelli said while overcast days may affect the light's longevity, they usually last "most of the night" after sunny days.

It only took 40 years to get TRON in real life. How soon can we expect the T1000?

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Sunday September 18, @05:57PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the do-not-meddle-in-the-affairs-of-wizards dept.

Wizards of the Coast files lawsuit to stop publication of tabletop game, alleging trademark violation and 'reprehensible content':

Renton, Wash.-based gaming company Wizards of the Coast filed a preliminary injunction in Seattle last week that seeks to prevent the release of a Wisconsin company's upcoming tabletop game, citing conflicts over both intellectual property rights and allegedly "racist and transphobic content."

Wizards of the Coast, owned by conglomerate Hasbro, is the current publisher of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, the audience for which has been growing steadily over the course of the last several years.

The company's injunction, filed on Sept. 8 in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington, aims to stop the publication of Star Frontiers: New Genesis, a tabletop space opera role-playing game that's currently under development at TSR LLC, headquartered in Lake Geneva, Wisc.

TSR LLC (a.k.a. "TSR3.5" or "NuTSR") is the latest company to lay claim to the name and legacy of the defunct TSR Inc., which is best known for publishing the original version of Dungeons & Dragons in 1973 and was acquired by Wizards in 1997.

TSR LLC was founded in June 2021 by Ernie Gygax, son of late D&D creator Gary Gygax; Stephen Dinehart; and Justin LaNasa, the owner and operator of the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum in Lake Geneva. The Museum is located on the site of the first office that Gary Gygax opened for TSR Inc. in 1976.

New Genesis, by TSR LLC, is an attempt to revive the original Star Frontiers, which TSR Inc. published from 1980 to 1986. While Star Frontiers never found the success that D&D did, it's maintained a cult fanbase up to the present day. Several features of its universe were later recycled into the D&D spacefaring setting Spelljammer.

In July, a preview copy of New Genesis leaked online and was met with immediate controversy due to allegedly containing explicitly racist and transphobic content. "A 'negro' race is described as a 'Subrace' in the game and as having 'average' intelligence with a maximum intelligence rating of 9, while the 'norse' race has a minimum intelligence rating of 13," the preliminary injunction notes, citing an example from the New Genesis playtest.

[...] In the injunction, Wizards' counsel writes that it "would be irreparably harmed by the publication and distribution of the game using its trademarks because consumers may mistakenly associate Wizards with the reprehensible content of the game, damaging its reputation and goodwill and undermining its efforts to foster a culture that embraces diversity."

[...] The Sept. 8 injunction marks the latest step in an ongoing legal fight between TSR LLC and Wizards. They had previously filed suit against one another in December over the rights to the TSR name and to Star Frontiers.

I didn't know TSR had been revived!

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Sunday September 18, @01:14PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

GeForce GPUs are 80% of EVGA's revenue—but it's cutting ties with Nvidia anyway

Graphics card manufacturer EVGA has made a name for itself manufacturing and selling Nvidia's GeForce GPUs for two decades, including some of the more attractively priced options on the market. But according to the YouTubers at Gamers Nexus, analyst Jon Peddie, and an EVGA forum post, EVGA is officially terminating its relationship with Nvidia and will not be manufacturing cards based on the company's RTX 4000-series GPUs.

EVGA's graphics cards have exclusively used Nvidia GPUs since its founding in 1999, and according to Gamers Nexus, GeForce sales represent 80 percent of EVGA's revenue, making this a momentous and arguably company-endangering change. But EVGA CEO Andrew Han told Gamers Nexus that the decision was about "principle" rather than financials—Han complained about a lack of communication from Nvidia about new products, including information about pricing and availability.

Nvidia's pricing strategy was apparently another sore point for EVGA. Nvidia's first-party Founders Edition cards could often undercut the pricing of cards offered by EVGA and other vendors, forcing them to either lower prices or lose sales as a result.

Nvidia may not be entirely at fault here—the wider dynamics of the GPU market are also tough to navigate. As Peddie also points out, even as GPU costs have gone up, profit margins for the board partners that manufacture Nvidia GPUs have gone down. Modern high-end GPUs have massively higher power, cooling, and PCI Express signaling requirements than cards from just a few years ago, making them more expensive to design and manufacture, and reporting about the RTX 4000 series indicates that that trend is only going to continue.

EVGA also makes power supplies, motherboards, keyboards, mice, etc.

Also at Tom's Hardware, The Verge, and Notebookcheck.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Sunday September 18, @08:29AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the totally-not-creepy-at-all dept.

No one can really agree on what makes each of us laugh, so designing an artificial intelligence (AI) system with a sense of humor is enormously challenging:

Since at least the time of inquiring minds like Plato, philosophers and scientists have puzzled over the question, "What's so funny?" The Greeks attributed the source of humor to feeling superior at the expense of others. German psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud believed humor was a way to release pent-up energy. US comedian Robin Williams tapped his anger at the absurd to make people laugh.

It seems no one can really agree on the question of "What's so funny?" So imagine trying to teach a robot how to laugh. But that's exactly what a team of researchers at Kyoto University in Japan are trying to do by designing an AI that takes its cues through a shared laughter system. The scientists describe their innovative approach to building a funny bone for the Japanese android 'Erica' in the latest issue of the journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI.

[...] In the shared-laughter model, a human initially laughs and the AI system responds with laughter as an empathetic response. This approach required designing three subsystems – one to detect laughter, a second to decide whether to laugh, and a third to choose the type of appropriate laughter.

[...] The type of laughter is also important, because in some cases a polite chuckle may be more appropriate than a loud snort of laughter. The experiment was limited to social versus mirthful laughs.

There are still plenty of other laughing styles to model and train Erica on before she is ready to hit the stand-up circuit. "There are many other laughing functions and types which need to be considered, and this is not an easy task. We haven't even attempted to model unshared laughs even though they are the most common," Inoue noted.

Of course, laughter is just one aspect of having a natural human-like conversation with a robot.

"Robots should actually have a distinct character, and we think that they can show this through their conversational behaviors, such as laughing, eye gaze, gestures and speaking style," Inoue added. "We do not think this is an easy problem at all, and it may well take more than 10 to 20 years before we can finally have a casual chat with a robot like we would with a friend."

Journal Reference:
Koji Inoue, Divesh Lala and Tatsuya Kawahara, Can a robot laugh with you?: Shared laughter generation for empathetic spoken dialogue [open], Front. Robot. AI, 2022. DOI: 10.3389/frobt.2022.933261

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Sunday September 18, @03:42AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-can-out-cogitate-you-with-one-hand-tied-behind-my-back! dept.

Talk with your hands? You might think with them too!:

How do we understand words? Scientists don't fully understand what happens when a word pops into your brain. A research group led by Professor Shogo Makioka at the Graduate School of Sustainable System Sciences, Osaka Metropolitan University, wanted to test the idea of embodied cognition. Embodied cognition proposes that people understand the words for objects through how they interact with them, so the researchers devised a test to observe semantic processing of words when the ways that the participants could interact with objects were limited.

Words are expressed in relation to other words; a "cup," for example, can be a "container, made of glass, used for drinking." However, you can only use a cup if you understand that to drink from a cup of water, you hold it in your hand and bring it to your mouth, or that if you drop the cup, it will smash on the floor. Without understanding this, it would be difficult to create a robot that can handle a real cup. In artificial intelligence research, these issues are known as symbol grounding problems, which map symbols onto the real world.

[...] "It was very difficult to establish a method for measuring and analyzing brain activity. The first author, Ms. Sae Onishi, worked persistently to come up with a task, in a way that we were able to measure brain activity with sufficient accuracy," Professor Makioka explained.

In the experiment, two words such as "cup" and "broom" were presented to participants on a screen. They were asked to compare the relative sizes of the objects those words represented and to verbally answer which object was larger—in this case, "broom." [...]

During the tests, the participants placed their hands on a desk, where they were either free or restrained by a transparent acrylic plate. [...]

Brain activity was measured with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which has the advantage of taking measurements without imposing further physical constraints. [...]

The results showed that the activity of the left brain in response to hand-manipulable objects was significantly reduced by hand restraints. Verbal responses were also affected by hand constraints. These results indicate that constraining hand movement affects the processing of object-meaning, which supports the idea of embodied cognition. These results suggest that the idea of embodied cognition could also be effective for artificial intelligence to learn the meaning of objects. The paper was published in Scientific Reports.

Journal Reference:
Onishi, S., Tobita, K. & Makioka, S. Hand constraint reduces brain activity and affects the speed of verbal responses on semantic tasks [open]. Sci Rep 12, 13545 (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-17702-1

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday September 17, @10:56PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Meta, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter dodge questions on social media and national security:

Executives from four of the biggest social media companies testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee Wednesday, defending their platforms and their respective safety, privacy and moderation failures in recent years.

Congress managed to drag in a relatively fresh set of product-focused executives this time around, including TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas, who testified for the first time before lawmakers, and longtime Meta executive Chris Cox. The hearing was convened to explore social media's impact on national security broadly and touched on topics ranging from domestic extremism and misinformation to CSAM and China.

Committee Chair Sen. Gary Peters pressed each company to disclose the number of employees they have working full-time on trust and safety and each company in turn refused to answer — even though they received the question prior to the hearing. Twitter General Manager of Consumer and Revenue Jay Sullivan chipped in the only numerical response, noting that the company has 2,200 people working on trust and safety "across Twitter," though it wasn't clear if those employees also did other kinds of work.

It's no secret that social media moderation is patchy, reactive and uneven, largely because these companies refuse to invest more deeply in the teams that protect people on their platforms. "We've been trying to get this information for a long time," Peters said. "This is why we get so frustrated."

Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) steered the content moderation conversation in another important direction, questioning Meta Chief Product Officer Chris Cox about the safety efforts outside of the English language.

"[In] your testimony you state that you have over 40,000 people working on trust and safety issues. How many of those people focus on non English language content and how many of them focus on non U.S. users?" Padilla asked.

Cox didn't provide an answer, nor did the three other companies when asked the same question. Though the executives pointed to the total number of workers who touch trust and safety, none made the meaningful distinction between external contract content moderators and employees working full-time on those issues.

[...] "I'll be honest, I'm frustrated that... all of you [who] have a prominent seat at the table when these business decisions are made were not more prepared to speak to specifics about your product development process, even when you are specifically asked if you would bring specific numbers to us today," Peters said, concluding the hearing. "Your companies continue to avoid sharing some really very important information with us."

Original Submission