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What was highest label on your first car speedometer?

  • 80 mph
  • 88 mph
  • 100 mph
  • 120 mph
  • 150 mph
  • it was in kph like civilized countries use you insensitive clod
  • Other (please specify in comments)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:67 | Votes:254

posted by janrinok on Friday February 23, @08:46PM   Printer-friendly

Cops have alternative means to access encrypted messages, court says:

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that weakening end-to-end encryption disproportionately risks undermining human rights. The international court's decision could potentially disrupt the European Commission's proposed plans to require email and messaging service providers to create backdoors that would allow law enforcement to easily decrypt users' messages.

This ruling came after Russia's intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSS), began requiring Telegram to share users' encrypted messages to deter "terrorism-related activities" in 2017, ECHR's ruling said. A Russian Telegram user alleged that FSS's requirement violated his rights to a private life and private communications, as well as all Telegram users' rights.

The Telegram user was apparently disturbed, moving to block required disclosures after Telegram refused to comply with an FSS order to decrypt messages on six users suspected of terrorism. According to Telegram, "it was technically impossible to provide the authorities with encryption keys associated with specific users," and therefore, "any disclosure of encryption keys" would affect the "privacy of the correspondence of all Telegram users," the ECHR's ruling said.

For refusing to comply, Telegram was fined, and one court even ordered the app to be blocked in Russia, while dozens of Telegram users rallied to continue challenging the order to maintain Telegram services in Russia. Ultimately, users' multiple court challenges failed, sending the case before the ECHR while Telegram services seemingly tenuously remained available in Russia.

[...] Seemingly most critically, the government told the ECHR that any intrusion on private lives resulting from decrypting messages was "necessary" to combat terrorism in a democratic society. To back up this claim, the government pointed to a 2017 terrorist attack that was "coordinated from abroad through secret chats via Telegram." The government claimed that a second terrorist attack that year was prevented after the government discovered it was being coordinated through Telegram chats.

[...] In the end, the ECHR concluded that the Telegram user's rights had been violated, partly due to privacy advocates and international reports that corroborated Telegram's position that complying with the FSB's disclosure order would force changes impacting all its users.

Originally spotted on Schneier on Security.

Ruling: CASE OF PODCHASOV v. RUSSIA, (javascript required)

Related: There is No 'Going Dark:' Law Enforcement Spent Months Intercepting, Reading Encrypted Message

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday February 23, @06:11PM   Printer-friendly

It might seem that things are a bit quiet at the moment - but that belies the work going on behind the scenes. It has been a while since we have updated you on our progress and also I would also like to give you a flavour of what else is happening that you might not have noticed.

A New Site - Same As The Old Site

As I hope most of you are aware by now we are planning to create a new company that can assume responsibility for the this site's assets so that NCommander and Matt Angel can relinquish their current responsibilities. After 10 years they quite understandably wish to move on to other projects and activities. We are aiming to purchase the domain(s) that the site uses, the database and its accounts, and to keep the community intact. You should not see any immediate difference in the site - you will log in as you do today, all your comments will still be there and, with perhaps the exception of a few teething problems during the actual transfer from one set of servers to another, it will appear unchanged. However, there will be a new board structure made up of volunteers from the community, and you will all have a far greater say in how the site is managed and the topics that we will discuss in the future. Most of the staff have been involved in this process over the last 8 months or so.

I decided that one of my New Years resolutions was to get the new site back on track again. So I spent about a month sorting out the problems that we had identified with the structure that had been last discussed by the Governance Committee. The main problem was that it would require members of the Board and other posts to waive their anonymity and this was unpopular. There is no simple solution to maintaining anonymity of the Board members and something had to change. So I identified a different structure that would only require 3 people to have to give up their anonymity (Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer). This subsequently required that the by-laws be rewritten to reflect the new structure. Various other members of staff were already busy with real-world issues so that really left it up to me. It is not a thing that I would recommend to anyone. These were presented to the community as Draft 8.

I finished that task but I was running out of steam (like another community member, I am facing possible non-trivial surgery). Fortunately, fliptop (who had been absent for a while in order to sit the electricians' examination) returned and he agreed to take on the next phase of the work, for which I am most grateful. Trying to create a business in the US while living in France is not an easy matter. Fliptop has created several businesses in the past and knows far more about it than I do. We also discovered that Delaware was not the best place to create a business of the type we wanted and we have opted to do so in West Virginia for several practical reasons. Perhaps not surprisingly, each US State has different requirements for creating a business and they use different terminology for certain aspects of the creation process. Combined with the requirements to change from my UK spelling (en-GB) to American spelling (en-US) this required yet more work on the by-laws. The subsequent work does not change the structure specified in Draft 8 or the rules that are declared in the by-laws, but they have required a continuing rolling process to get everything in compliance with the requirements of West Virginia. Thanks are due also to the volunteers for the initial Board and Community Representatives who have assisted in this task.

Fliptop has applied for IRS approval for the appropriate desired status and, when we have that reply, we can formally apply to create the new company. We are now waiting for the inevitable bureaucracy to do their stuff. How long this will take is unknown but we are optimistic that it will not be too long.

I have been able, as a result of fliptop's help, to assist with the daily preparation of stories to the front page and other tasks that I will come to in a moment.


Community members sometimes ask for details of our community size and the level of activity that they create. I have collected some statistics which might be of interest. It is important to note that these are a very small snapshot of our overall activity but they are typical of the last few weeks.

Each week there are around 250-300 unique UIDs logging on to the site with occasional peaks just above 300. These are people who actually log in using their username and so represent only a portion of those who read the stories that we produce. Interestingly perhaps, they use around 7500 different IP addresses indicating perhaps that VPN use is increasing from what it was a few years ago and, equally likely, that they are logging in using different devices and perhaps from different locations (work, home, laptop, smartphone etc). But this is only those logging in by name. Others prefer to use our RSS feeds and dedicated software so that they can see the output of several different sites in a single display. Finally, there is the group who never log in but who read our front page content without making comments or joining in by moderating. Nothing can be done to identify their numbers. Elsewhere on the site there are an unknown number of Anonymous Cowards who participate in the discussions in journals. The current statistics do not include journal discussions as far as I can tell.

The daily figures indicate that we receive somewhere between 60 and 180 comments per day. This varies considerably from day to day. Some only log in at weekends, others only log in during the working week, and of course it also depends on the actual stories themselves. Some stories can attract over 50 comments or more alone whereas others, which are there to inform but not necessarily require a response from anyone, might only gather a few comments. But a better picture can be gathered by looking at the page hits. The average number of article hits per day is over 2500. Each week we serve almost 250,000 pages but because we use a simple text format with virtually no graphics, adverts or anything else distracting it appears to only amount to single digit GBs. Again there is a significant daily variation. There is also a variation of course during the 24 hour period with the site receiving between 2 and 5 hits per second. This is not as clear to see as you might think it would be and it seems to suggest that either people keep very unusual hours or that our readership is spread far more evenly around the world.

As an aside, it was possible to see the breaks during the SuperBowl transmission as, on that particular day, the activity levels peaked significantly at those times.

We Are Not a Linux Only Site

Some comments have been critical that we are including stories about Microsoft Windows. Why shouldn't we? We always have done so. We are not limited to a single OS. We can discuss any OS, or indeed any software whatsoever. Some of our community have chosen Windows because it is what they like, others use it because it is necessary to have it to control a specific item of equipment or produce a specific data format, and for others it is forced upon them by work or contractual obligations. I realise that we have far more Linux users than any other OS but that is because our community includes many who have the technical ability to manage it and an interest in open source software. Like it or not, Windows is included in STEM. Just because we don't all choose to use it doesn't mean it no longer exists.

Remember, it is YOU who provide the submissions. The editors' job is to prepare them for publication while maintaining as much variety as possible in discussions. So let us hear your praise or gripes about BSD variants, Linux variants (e.g. including TAILS, recovery thumb-drives etc) or any other OS that you use today or have used in the past. If you are using it today then tell us why you chose that particular OS.


We have had a couple of dormant accounts suddenly spring into life and start spamming. They had been created weeks or months ago but had been inactive since being created. If you see any similar activity please let the staff know - there could be many more. It is easy to stop it but with over 30,000 fake accounts it is a monumental task to watch them all. The standard Spammers ban (for 10+ years) was applied to both accounts. As it was, they were spamming where they were unlikely to be seen by many people

Spamming continues to be a problem but it is being managed and that tends to keep it away from the main pages. We have our own local spammers of course. At the time of writing, one of them has posted the same message (beginning with "We don't hate you, my dear soft and fluffy khallow") a total of 97 times since 05 February. It had already been posted many times before that but now we have new software that makes spamming easier to identify and a method to remove it from view. However, there is a copy of every comment that is 'removed'. The same person has posted 258 spam comments in total in the same time period including a doxxing attempt. The site Policy document details the action that we can take against spammers. It refers to a graduated system. We have tried polite requests, (from 2021 onwards), followed by firmer requests, marking as Spam and recently we have increased that to the next level. The comments are removed from view. This is an exceptional measure and not one that is taken lightly. I do not expect that this will change anything but it does clean up a lot of the discussions in the poll and the journals and does take away the spammers 'voice' significantly. He is, of course, already permanently banned. That he is complaining many times a day makes me suspect it is also working as well as we could have expected.

There is another local spammer who seems to be confused as to the method to be employed when making complaints but I am hoping that we can remedy this. Which brings me on to the next topic...

Complaints About Staff or Policy

It is no good complaining about how staff are managing the site or your own particular views of any individual staff member by making comments in a journal as an Anonymous Coward. Firstly, we are not responsible for the contents of journals so there is no guarantee that we will actually look at them (but we are responsible to our community for ensuring that the site is not abused, and that individuals are not harassed in attempts to try to silence them).

Secondly, as an Anonymous Coward, you are welcome to participate on this site but you do not have much say in how it is run or managed. That privilege comes only with an account.

If you wish to complain about a member of staff there are several actions that you can take. Send an email to our usual Admin email address (with an email address life expectancy of more than a few minutes, but we will accept emails from secure email sites such as Proton or Tuta Mail) to our usual Admin address. It does not only go to a single admin but goes to every admin. It will get read and, if the complaint requires it, it will be investigated and the appropriate action taken. If we cannot contact you then your complaint may be ignored. More serious complaints can be sent by mail to the site's formal address which you can find by looking at the business records of the site. That will go directly to the Board which, as you know, has the ultimate power on this site.

If you wish to complain about the site's policy then the first action should again be to send an email (with an address life expectancy of more than a few minutes) to our usual Admin address with your reason for wanting a policy change and also submit a draft of what you would like the actual policy to be. It can then be presented to the community for further discussion and a vote. If we cannot contact you then it is unlikely that any action will be taken. If you do not provide at least a suggested solution then you cannot reasonably expect anyone to action your anonymous request.

There are a couple of community members who have been looking at policy issues for several years now. I think they will agree that we always give what they say serious consideration and implement what they suggest if it is possible. We learn a lot from each other. When the new site has been created then you will all be invited to make your suggestions as to future policy.

Finally, complaints like "I don't like what you are doing - close the site down now!" will be carefully studied before we all roll around laughing and throw it in the trash can. If you do not like this site then you are free to go elsewhere. We do not have to close the site down simply because you are unhappy.

Nobody on the staff has a problem with receiving a genuine complaint if it is intended to improve the site or the community's enjoyment of it. But that enjoyment has to be applicable to the majority of the site, not simply to one or two individuals or even a significant minority.

posted by hubie on Friday February 23, @03:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the leaf-on-the-wind dept.

Strong high-altitude winds over the Mid-Atlantic sped up sky traffic on Saturday night, getting passengers on at least two commercial planes to their destinations early, after both aircraft hit supersonic speeds topping 800 mph.
"Although its ground speed — a measure that combines the plane's actual speed and the additional push from the wind — was greater than the speed of sound, it was still moving through the surrounding air at its ordinary cruise speed. It just so happened that the surrounding air was moving unusually fast," the Post reported.

Another 787, a United Airlines flight from Newark, N.J., to Lisbon, Portugal, that took off at 8:35 p.m. on Saturday, reached a peak ground speed of 838 mph, shaving 20 minutes off the scheduled flight time.

Certainly not the first time as Wired's UK site reported on a similar event in 2019.
Wired UK article: The wild physics of the passenger plane that just hit 800 mph - 20190221

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Friday February 23, @01:00PM   Printer-friendly

After half-century absence, U.S. returns to moon as lunar lander Odysseus touches down:

America has returned to the moon after a 52-year absence. The unmanned Odysseus spacecraft touched down on the lunar surface shortly before 6:30 p.m. EST Thursday.

"We can confirm without a doubt that our equipment is on the surface and we are on the moon. Odysseus has found a new home," said Dr. Tim Crain, mission director of the IM-1, the first American private venture to send a module to the moon.

It's the first time the United States has had a new presence on the lunar surface since NASA's Apollo 11 in July 1969.

The Intuitive Machines Odysseus lunar lander, nicknamed "Odie" or "IM-1," settled on the moon's surface after a day's long trek but immediately began experiencing communication problems, preventing the transmission of data.

The general tone of this story here and elsewhere seems to be that this heralds a new era of a commercial space industry, but until one can show that there is any commercial value to being on the Moon besides directly supporting NASA/ESA/etc., is this a watershed moment, or is this just slightly expanding the potential NASA/ESA/etc. contractor pool? --hubie

Previously: Private US Moon Lander Successfully Launches 24 Hours After Flight Was Delayed

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Friday February 23, @11:12AM   Printer-friendly

OpenAI teases an amazing new generative video model called Sora []:

OpenAI has built a striking new generative video model called Sora that can take a short text description and turn it into a detailed, high-definition film clip up to a minute long.

Based on four sample videos that OpenAI shared with MIT Technology Review ahead of today's announcement, the San Francisco–based firm has pushed the envelope of what's possible with text-to-video generation (a hot new research direction that we flagged as a trend to watch in 2024).

"We think building models that can understand video, and understand all these very complex interactions of our world, is an important step for all future AI systems," says Tim Brooks, a scientist at OpenAI.

[...] Impressive as they are, the sample videos shown here were no doubt cherry-picked to show Sora at its best. Without more information, it is hard to know how representative they are of the model's typical output.

It may be some time before we find out. OpenAI's announcement of Sora today is a tech tease, and the company says it has no current plans to release it to the public. Instead, OpenAI will today begin sharing the model with third-party safety testers for the first time.

In particular, the firm is worried about the potential misuses [] of fake but photorealistic video []. "We're being careful about deployment here and making sure we have all our bases covered before we put this in the hands of the general public," says Aditya Ramesh, a scientist at OpenAI, who created the firm's text-to-image model DALL-E [].

But OpenAI is eyeing a product launch sometime in the future. As well as safety testers, the company is also sharing the model with a select group of video makers and artists to get feedback on how to make Sora as useful as possible to creative professionals. "The other goal is to show everyone what is on the horizon, to give a preview of what these models will be capable of," says Ramesh.

[...] OpenAI is well aware of the risks that come with a generative video model. We are already seeing the large-scale misuse of deepfake images []. Photorealistic video takes this to another level.

[...] The OpenAI team plans to draw on the safety testing it did last year for DALL-E 3. Sora already includes a filter that runs on all prompts sent to the model that will block requests for violent, sexual, or hateful images, as well as images of known people. Another filter will look at frames of generated videos and block material that violates OpenAI's safety policies.

OpenAI says it is also adapting a fake-image detector developed for DALL-E 3 to use with Sora. And the company will embed industry-standard C2PA tags, metadata that states how an image was generated, into all of Sora's output. But these steps are far from foolproof. Fake-image detectors are hit-or-miss. Metadata is easy to remove, and most social media sites strip it from uploaded images by default.

OpenAI Unveils A.I. That Instantly Generates Eye-Popping Videos:

In April, a New York start-up called Runway AI unveiled technology that let people generate videos, like a cow at a birthday party or a dog chatting on a smartphone, simply by typing a sentence into a box on a computer screen.

The four-second videos were blurry, choppy, distorted and disturbing. But they were a clear sign that artificial intelligence technologies would generate increasingly convincing videos in the months and years to come.

Just 10 months later, the San Francisco start-up OpenAI has unveiled a similar system that creates videos that look as if they were lifted from a Hollywood movie. A demonstration included short videos — created in minutes — of woolly mammoths trotting through a snowy meadow, a monster gazing at a melting candle and a Tokyo street scene seemingly shot by a camera swooping across the city.

OpenAI, the company behind the ChatGPT chatbot and the still-image generator DALL-E, is among the many companies racing to improve this kind of instant video generator, including start-ups like Runway and tech giants like Google and Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram. The technology could speed the work of seasoned moviemakers, while replacing less experienced digital artists entirely.

VideoThis video's A.I. prompt: "Beautiful, snowy Tokyo city is bustling. The camera moves through the bustling city street, following several people enjoying the beautiful snowy weather and shopping at nearby stalls. Gorgeous sakura petals are flying through the wind along with snowflakes."CreditCredit...Video by OpenAI

It could also become a quick and inexpensive way of creating online disinformation, making it even harder to tell what's real on the internet.

OpenAI introduces Sora, its text-to-video AI model:

OpenAI is launching a new video-generation model, and it's called Sora. The AI company says Sora "can create realistic and imaginative scenes from text instructions." The text-to-video model allows users to create photorealistic videos up to a minute long — all based on prompts they've written.

Sora is capable of creating "complex scenes with multiple characters, specific types of motion, and accurate details of the subject and background," according to OpenAI's introductory blog post. The company also notes that the model can understand how objects "exist in the physical world," as well as "accurately interpret props and generate compelling characters that express vibrant emotions."

The model can also generate a video based on a still image, as well as fill in missing frames on an existing video or extend it. The Sora-generated demos included in OpenAI's blog post include an aerial scene of California during the gold rush, a video that looks as if it were shot from the inside of a Tokyo train, and others. Many have some telltale signs of AI — like a suspiciously moving floor in a video of a museum — and OpenAI says the model "may struggle with accurately simulating the physics of a complex scene," but the results are overall pretty impressive.

[...] Earlier this month, OpenAI announced it's adding watermarks to its text-to-image tool DALL-E 3, but notes that they can "easily be removed." Like its other AI products, OpenAI will have to contend with the consequences of fake, AI photorealistic videos being mistaken for the real thing.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Friday February 23, @06:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the this-was-once-a-solved-problem dept.

'It's all preventable': Measles cases at South Florida school concern pediatricians

A local pediatrician is emphasizing the importance of parents vaccinating their kids as Manatee Bay Elementary School confirmed five cases of the infectious disease.

Broward County Public Schools announced late on Monday afternoon that there are now five confirmed cases of measles at Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston. [...] infectious disease experts said as of Friday, when this outbreak became public knowledge, that it's highly likely the kids are not vaccinated.

Most children get the MMR — or measles, mumps and rubella — vaccine, but with a disease as contagious as measles, doctors say it only takes a few holdouts to fuel an outbreak. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Florida among the states in which parents using a religious exemption to opt their children out of traditional childhood vaccinations is trending upward.

"Definitely, parents today are much more hesitant than ever. We actually are struggling in our pediatric practices to get kids completely immunized, to complete their series by the time they enter kindergarten because parents are scared, they're kind of feeding into this misinformation," said Dr. Lisa Gwynn, a pediatrician who teaches pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "It is extremely unfortunate because it's all preventable, and the measles vaccine has been around a long time and it's safe and effective, so the fact that we are still seeing this in modern times is really unfortunate, it's also dangerous for the community, measles is an extremely infectious and contagious virus."

How did a modern developed nation that first landed people on the moon come to this.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Friday February 23, @01:43AM   Printer-friendly
from the they-put-the-eye-in-OpenAI dept.

In a new report, Microsoft says Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have all used AI to improve their abilities:

Russia, China and other U.S. adversaries are using the newest wave of artificial intelligence tools to improve their hacking abilities and find new targets for online espionage, according to a report Wednesday from Microsoft and its close business partner OpenAI.

While computer users of all stripes have been experimenting with large language models to help with programming tasks, translate phishing emails and assemble attack plans, the new report is the first to associate top-tier government hacking teams with specific uses of LLM. It's also the first report on countermeasures and comes amid a continuing debate about the risks of the rapidly developing technology and efforts by many countries to put some limits on its use.

The document attributes various uses of AI to two Chinese government-affiliated hacking groups and to one group from each of Russia, Iran and North Korea, comprising the four countries of foremost concern to Western cyber defenders.

[...] Microsoft said it had cut off the groups' access to tools based on OpenAI's ChatGPT. It said it would notify the makers of other tools it saw being used and continue to share which groups were using which techniques.

Originally spotted on Schneier on Security, who comments:

The only way Microsoft or OpenAI would know this would be to spy on chatbot sessions. I'm sure the terms of service—if I bothered to read them—gives them that permission. And of course it's no surprise that Microsoft and OpenAI (and, presumably, everyone else) are spying on our usage of AI, but this confirms it.

Related: People are Already Trying to Get ChatGPT to Write Malware

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday February 22, @08:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the faster-than-a-speeding-radio-wave dept.

MIT engineers developed a tag that can reveal with near-perfect accuracy whether an item is real or fake. The key is in the glue on the back of the tag.

A few years ago, MIT researchers invented a cryptographic ID tag that is several times smaller and significantly cheaper than the traditional radio frequency tags (RFIDs) that are often affixed to products to verify their authenticity.

This tiny tag, which offers improved security over RFIDs, utilizes terahertz waves, which are smaller and travel much faster than radio waves [SIC - er, no] . But this terahertz tag shared a major security vulnerability with traditional RFIDs: A counterfeiter could peel the tag off a genuine item and reattach it to a fake, and the authentication system would be none the wiser.

The researchers have now surmounted this security vulnerability by leveraging terahertz waves to develop an antitampering ID tag that still offers the benefits of being tiny, cheap, and secure.

They mix microscopic metal particles into the glue that sticks the tag to an object, and then use terahertz waves to detect the unique pattern those particles form on the item's surface. Akin to a fingerprint, this random glue pattern is used to authenticate the item, explains Eunseok Lee, an electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) graduate student and lead author of a paper on the antitampering tag.

"These metal particles are essentially like mirrors for terahertz waves. If I spread a bunch of mirror pieces onto a surface and then shine light on that, depending on the orientation, size, and location of those mirrors, I would get a different reflected pattern. But if you peel the chip off and reattach it, you destroy that pattern," adds Ruonan Han, an associate professor in EECS, who leads the Terahertz Integrated Electronics Group in the Research Laboratory of Electronics.

[...] This research project was partly inspired by Han's favorite car wash. The business stuck an RFID tag onto his windshield to authenticate his car wash membership. For added security, the tag was made from fragile paper so it would be destroyed if a less-than-honest customer tried to peel it off and stick it on a different windshield.

But that is not a terribly reliable way to prevent tampering. For instance, someone could use a solution to dissolve the glue and safely remove the fragile tag.

Rather than authenticating the tag, a better security solution is to authenticate the item itself, Han says. To achieve this, the researchers targeted the glue at the interface between the tag and the item's surface.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday February 22, @04:13PM   Printer-friendly

Solar cell efficiency may get a bump from bumps. New research suggests that building tiny domes into the surface of organic solar cells could boost their efficiency by up to two-thirds, while capturing light from a wider angle.

Solar cells are usually flat, which maximizes how much of the surface is exposed to sunlight at any given time. This design works best when the Sun is within a certain angle, so the panels are usually tilted between 15 and 40 degrees to get the most out of the day.

Scientists have toyed with other shapes for the surface, including embedding spherical nanoshells of silica which trap and circulate sunlight to allow the device to capture more energy from it. For the new study, scientists at Abdullah Gül University in Türkiye ran complex simulations of how dome-shaped bumps might boost organic solar surfaces.

The team studied photovoltaic cells made with an organic polymer called P3HT:ICBA as the active layer, above a layer of aluminum and a substrate of PMMA, capped off with a transparent protective layer of indium tin oxide (ITO). This sandwich structure was kept through the whole dome, or "hemispherical shell" as the team calls it.
Compared to flat surfaces, solar cells dotted with bumps showed 36% and 66% improvements in light absorption, depending on the polarization of the light. Those bumps also allowed light to enter from a wider range of directions than a flat surface, providing an angular coverage of up to 82 degrees.

Journal Reference:
Dooyoung Hah, Hemispherical-shell-shaped organic photovoltaic cells for absorption enhancement and improved angular coverage, Journal of Photonics for Energy, Vol. 14, Issue 1, 018501 (February 2024).

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday February 22, @11:28AM   Printer-friendly
from the when-the-cat's-away-the-mice-will-play dept.

The University at Buffalo reports on a recent School of Management study that correlated closings of local newspapers and c-suite salaries of nearby non-profits:

Forthcoming in the Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, the study found that when a newspaper goes out of business, total executive compensation at local nonprofits goes up by more than $38,000 on average — an increase of nearly 32%.

"Donors and volunteers expect their contributions to go to the execution of the nonprofits' mission, rather than leadership salaries, so unreasonably high compensation represents a serious problem for these organizations,"[...]

[...] the researchers ran a series of tests using financial information of nonprofits from 2008 to 2017 obtained from the IRS, as well as local newspaper closure data from previous research studies and from the University of North Carolina's Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media.

Their findings show that nonprofit executive spending increases the same year a local newspaper closes, and that persists over the next three years. They also observed a decline in residual cash and donations but did not find any changes in program spending or long-term investments, suggesting that the increased compensation is not due to increased performance, but rather the loss of the monitoring newspaper.

"We found declines in both endowments and donor contributions at nonprofits after a local paper closes," says Khavis. "This suggests that the executives' pay increases are funded by spending down endowments, and that donors react to the loss of external monitoring by withholding their donations — which is consistent with the findings of previous studies."

I'm a proud subscriber to my local dead trees newspaper. Yes, it costs through the nose these days, but I think it's the least I can do for my community.

First seen in a Buffalo News story (paywalled?) which ends with this:

Khavis said even in areas where newspapers didn't completely close, but downsized or merged to the point where "they were open in name only," they saw the same effect on nonprofit executive pay.

The number of papers closing does not bode well for "misbehavior" by institutions, Khavis said. Between 2004 and 2015, the U.S. newspaper industry lost more than 1,800 print outlets to closures and mergers. A study by Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism found that the rate of local newspaper closings accelerated to 2.5 per week in 2023.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday February 22, @06:46AM   Printer-friendly
from the data-hoovering dept.

The day after The New York Times sued OpenAI for copyright infringement, the author and systems architect Daniel Jeffries wrote an essay-length tweet arguing that the Times "has a near zero probability of winning" its lawsuit. As we write this, it has been retweeted 288 times and received 885,000 views.

"Trying to get everyone to license training data is not going to work because that's not what copyright is about," Jeffries wrote. "Copyright law is about preventing people from producing exact copies or near exact copies of content and posting it for commercial gain. Period. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or simply does not understand how copyright works."

[...] Courts are supposed to consider four factors in fair use cases, but two of these factors tend to be the most important. One is the nature of the use. A use is more likely to be fair if it is "transformative"—that is, if the new use has a dramatically different purpose and character from the original. Judge Rakoff dinged as non-transformative because songs were merely "being retransmitted in another medium."

In contrast, Google argued that a book search engine is highly transformative because it serves a very different function than an individual book. People read books to enjoy and learn from them. But a search engine is more like a card catalog; it helps people find books.

The other key factor is how a use impacts the market for the original work. Here, too, Google had a strong argument since a book search engine helps people find new books to buy.

[...] In 2015, the Second Circuit ruled for Google. An important theme of the court's opinion is that Google's search engine was giving users factual, uncopyrightable information rather than reproducing much creative expression from the books themselves.

[...] Recently, we visited Stability AI's website and requested an image of a "video game Italian plumber" from its image model Stable Diffusion.

[...] Clearly, these models did not just learn abstract facts about plumbers—for example, that they wear overalls and carry wrenches. They learned facts about a specific fictional Italian plumber who wears white gloves, blue overalls with yellow buttons, and a red hat with an "M" on the front.

These are not facts about the world that lie beyond the reach of copyright. Rather, the creative choices that define Mario are likely covered by copyrights held by Nintendo.

We are not the first to notice this issue. When one of us (Tim) first wrote about these lawsuits last year, he illustrated his story with an image of Mickey Mouse generated by Stable Diffusion. In a January piece for IEEE Spectrum, cognitive scientist Gary Marcus and artist Reid Southen showed that generative image models produce a wide range of potentially infringing images—not only of copyrighted characters from video games and cartoons but near-perfect copies of stills from movies like Black Widow, Avengers: Infinity War, and Batman v Superman.

In its lawsuit against OpenAI, the New York Times provided 100 examples of GPT-4 generating long, near-verbatim excerpts from Times articles

[...] Those who advocate a finding of fair use like to split the analysis into two steps, which you can see in OpenAI's blog post about The New York Times lawsuit. OpenAI first categorically argues that "training AI models using publicly available Internet materials is fair use." Then in a separate section, OpenAI argues that "'regurgitation' is a rare bug that we are working to drive to zero."

But the courts tend to analyze a question like this holistically; the legality of the initial copying depends on details of how the copied data is ultimately used.

Previously on SoylentNews:
New York Times Sues Microsoft, ChatGPT Maker OpenAI Over Copyright Infringement - 20231228
Report: Potential NYT lawsuit could force OpenAI to wipe ChatGPT and start over - 20230821

Related stories on SoylentNews:
Microsoft in Deal With Semafor to Create News Stories With Aid of AI Chatbot - 20240206
AI Threatens to Crush News Organizations. Lawmakers Signal Change Is Ahead - 20240112
Writers and Publishers Face an Existential Threat From AI: Time to Embrace the True Fans Model - 20230415

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday February 22, @02:05AM   Printer-friendly

Widely used machine learning models reproduce dataset bias: Study:

Rice University computer science researchers have found bias in widely used machine learning tools used for immunotherapy research.

[...] HLA is a gene in all humans that encodes proteins working as part of our immune response. Those proteins bind with protein chunks called peptides in our cells and mark our infected cells for the body's immune system, so it can respond and, ideally, eliminate the threat.

Different people have slightly different variants in genes, called alleles. Current immunotherapy research is exploring ways to identify peptides that can more effectively bind with the HLA alleles of the patient.

The end result, eventually, could be custom and highly effective immunotherapies. That is why one of the most critical steps is to accurately predict which peptides will bind with which alleles. The greater the accuracy, the better the potential efficacy of the therapy.

But calculating how effectively a peptide will bind to the HLA allele takes a lot of work, which is why machine learning tools are being used to predict binding. This is where Rice's team found a problem: The data used to train those models appears to geographically favor higher-income communities.

Why is this an issue? Without being able to account for genetic data from lower-income communities, future immunotherapies developed for them may not be as effective.

"Each and every one of us has different HLAs that they express, and those HLAs vary between different populations," Fasoulis said. "Given that machine learning is used to identify potential peptide candidates for immunotherapies, if you basically have biased machine models, then those therapeutics won't work equally for everyone in every population."

Regardless of the application, machine learning models are only as good as the data you feed them. A bias in the data, even an unconscious one, can affect the conclusions made by the algorithm.

Machine learning models currently being used for pHLA binding prediction assert that they can extrapolate for allele data not present in the dataset those models were trained on, calling themselves "pan-allele" or "all-allele." The Rice team's findings call that into question.

"What we are trying to show here and kind of debunk is the idea of the 'pan-allele' machine learning predictors," Conev said. "We wanted to see if they really worked for the data that is not in the datasets, which is the data from lower-income populations."

Fasoulis' and Conev's group tested publicly available data on pHLA binding prediction, and their findings supported their hypothesis that a bias in the data was creating an accompanying bias in the algorithm. The team hopes that by bringing this discrepancy to the attention of the research community, a truly pan-allele method of predicting pHLA binding can be developed.

Ferreira, faculty advisor and paper co-author, explained that the problem of bias in machine learning can't be addressed unless researchers think about their data in a social context. From a certain perspective, datasets may appear as simply "incomplete," but making connections between what is or what is not represented in the dataset and underlying historical and economic factors affecting the populations from which data was collected is key to identifying bias.

"Researchers using machine learning models sometimes innocently assume that these models may appropriately represent a global population," Ferreira said, "but our research points to the significance of when this is not the case." He added that "even though the databases we studied contain information from people in multiple regions of the world, that does not make them universal. What our research found was a correlation between the socioeconomic standing of certain populations and how well they were represented in the databases or not."

More information: Anja Conev et al, HLAEquity: Examining biases in pan-allele peptide-HLA binding predictors, iScience (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.108613

Journal information:iScience

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday February 21, @09:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the ai-says-ai-is-not-taking-over dept.

Google Lays Off Thousands More Employees Despite Record Profits One Year After Laying off 12,000 Employees As Workers Begin Worrying AI is Slowly Replacing Them

Google has initiated significant layoffs across its various teams, [...] marking a continuation of the tech industry's trend towards reducing workforce expenses. The layoffs have affected hundreds of employees within the Voice Assistant unit; hardware teams responsible for Pixel, Nest and Fitbit products; and a considerable portion of the augmented reality (AR) team. This move is part of Google's broader effort to streamline operations and align resources with its most significant product priorities​​.

[....] This comes at a time when Google parent, Alphabet Inc., reported record profits in late January. The company reported $20.4 billion in net income in Q4.

[....] The layoffs have sparked widespread concern among Google employees, not just about job security but also about the ethical implications of their work, especially as the company continues to invest heavily in advancing AI technology.

What are the executive priorities that Google is trying to align resources with?

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday February 21, @04:26PM   Printer-friendly

Targeting 'undruggable' proteins promises new approach for treating neurodegenerative diseases:

Researchers led by Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have introduced a pioneering approach aimed at combating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

In a new study, researchers discovered a new way to enhance the body's antioxidant response, which is crucial for cellular protection against the oxidative stress implicated in many neurodegenerative diseases.

[...] Alzheimer's disease, characterized by the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques and tau protein tangles; Parkinson's disease, known for its loss of dopaminergic neurons and presence of Lewy bodies; and ALS, involving the degeneration of motor neurons, all share a common thread of oxidative stress contributing to disease pathology.

The study focuses on disrupting the Keap1/Nrf2 protein-protein interaction (PPI), which plays a role in the body's antioxidant response. By preventing the degradation of Nrf2 through selective inhibition of its interaction with Keap1, the research holds promise for mitigating the cellular damage that underlies these debilitating conditions.

"We established Nrf2 as a principal target for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases over the past two decades, but this novel approach for activating the pathway holds great promise to develop disease-modifying therapies," Jeffrey Johnson said.

The research team embarked on addressing one of the most challenging aspects of neurodegenerative disease treatment: the precise targeting of PPIs within the cell. Traditional methods, including small molecule inhibitors and peptide-based therapies, have fallen short due to lack of specificity, stability and cellular uptake.

The study introduces an innovative solution: protein-like polymers, or PLPs, are high-density brush macromolecular architectures synthesized via the ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) of norbornenyl-peptide-based monomers. These globular, proteomimetic structures display bioactive peptide side chains that can penetrate cell membranes, exhibit remarkable stability and resist proteolysis.

This targeted approach to inhibit the Keap1/Nrf2 PPI represents a significant leap forward. By preventing Keap1 from marking Nrf2 for degradation, Nrf2 accumulates in the nucleus, activating the Antioxidant Response Element (ARE) and driving the expression of detoxifying and antioxidant genes. This mechanism effectively enhances the cellular antioxidant response, providing a potent therapeutic strategy against the oxidative stress implicated in many neurodegenerative diseases.

PLPs [ protein-like polymers], developed by Gianneschi's team, could represent a significant breakthrough in halting or reversing damage offering hope for improved treatments and outcomes.

Focusing on the challenge of activating processes crucial for the body's antioxidant response, the team's research offers a novel solution. The team provides a robust, selective method enabling enhanced cellular protection and offering a promising therapeutic strategy for a range of diseases including neurodegenerative conditions.

"Through modern polymer chemistry, we can begin to think about mimicking complex proteins," Gianneschi said. "The promise lies in the development of a new modality for the design of therapeutics. This could be a way to address diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's among others where traditional approaches have struggled."

This approach not only represents a significant advance in targeting transcription factors and disordered proteins, but also showcases the PLP technology's versatility and potential to revolutionize the development of therapeutics. The technology's modularity and efficacy in inhibiting the Keap1/Nrf2 interaction underscore its potential for impact as a therapeutic, but also as a tool for studying the biochemistry of these processes.

More information: Kendal P. Carrow et al, Inhibiting the Keap1/Nrf2 Protein‐Protein Interaction with Protein‐Like Polymers, Advanced Materials (2024). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202311467

Journal information:Advanced Materials

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday February 21, @11:42AM   Printer-friendly

SETI Institute Employs SETI Ellipsoid Technique:

In a paper published in the Astronomical Journal, a team of researchers from the SETI Institute, Berkeley SETI Research Center and the University of Washington reported an exciting development for the field of astrophysics and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), using observations from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission to monitor the SETI Ellipsoid, a method for identifying potential signals from advanced civilizations in the cosmos. The SETI Ellipsoid is a strategic approach for selecting potential technosignature candidates based on the hypothesis that extraterrestrial civilizations, upon observing significant galactic events such as supernova 1987A, might use these occurrences as a focal point to emit synchronized signals to announce their presence.

In this work, researchers show that the SETI Ellipsoid method can leverage continuous, wide-field sky surveys, significantly enhancing our ability to detect these potential signals. By compensating for the uncertainties in the estimated time-of-arrival of such signals using observations that span up to a year, the team implements the SETI Ellipsoid strategy in an innovative way using state-of-the-arc technology.

[...] In examining data from the TESS continuous viewing zone, covering 5% of all TESS data from the first three years of its mission, researchers utilized the advanced 3D location data from Gaia Early Data Release 3. This analysis identified 32 prime targets within the SETI Ellipsoid in the southern TESS continuous viewing zone, all with uncertainties refined to better than 0.5 light-years. While the initial examination of TESS light curves during the Ellipsoid crossing event revealed no anomalies, the groundwork laid by this initiative paves the way for expanding the search to other surveys, a broader array of targets, and exploring diverse potential signal types.

[...] The SETI Ellipsoid method, combined with Gaia's distance measurements, offers a robust and adaptable framework for future SETI searches. Researchers can retrospectively apply it to sift through archival data for potential signals, proactively select targets, and schedule future monitoring campaigns.

"As Dr. Jill Tarter often points out, SETI searches are like looking for a needle in a 9-D haystack," said co-author Dr. Sofia Sheikh. "Any technique that can help us prioritize where to look, such as the SETI Ellipsoid, could potentially give us a shortcut to the most promising parts of the haystack. This work is the first step in searching those newly-highlighted parts of parameter space, and is an exciting precedent for upcoming large survey projects like LSST."

Journal Reference:
Bárbara Cabrales et al 2024 AJ 167 101 DOI 10.3847/1538-3881/ad2064

Original Submission