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News for nerds, stuff that matters

Netflix Doc Accused of Using AI To Manipulate True Crime Story

20 April 2024 @ 1:25 am

Earlier this week, Netflix found itself embroiled in an AI scandal when Futurism spotted AI-generated images used in the Netflix documentary What Jennifer Did.. The movie's credits do not mention any uses of AI, causing critics to call out the filmmakers for "potentially embellishing a movie that's supposed to be based on real-life events," reports Ars Technica. An executive producer of the Netflix hit acknowledged that some of the photos were edited to protect the identity of the source but remained vague about whether AI was used in the process. From the report: What Jennifer Did shot to the top spot in Netflix's global top 10 when it debuted in early April, attracting swarms of true crime fans who wanted to know more about why Pan paid hitmen $10,000 to murder her parents. But quickly the documentary became a source of controversy, as fans started noticing glaring flaws in images used in the movie, from weirdly mismatched earrings to her nose appearing to lack nostrils, the Daily Ma

Android Gets a New Software-Based AV1 Decoder

20 April 2024 @ 12:45 am

Ben Schoon reports via 9to5Google: Google's Arif Dikici confirmed on LinkedIn this week that Android is now using VideoLAN's (the makers of VLC) "dav1d" software decoder to allow AV1 to work on more devices. This is now available on all devices running Android 12 or higher via a software update. Mishaal Rahman points out that this started to roll out with the March 2024 Google Play system update. Dikici says that "most" devices can at least support 720p at 30 frames per second, but that apps will need to opt in "for now" to support AV1 via software decoding. One app that has opted in is YouTube, which now uses AV1 on all compatible devices (though it may have reverted this). This may result in increased power usage depending on your device, though. Improvements on that front may be coming, though, says VideoLAN on Twitter/X.

Firefox Nightly Expands To Linux On ARM64

20 April 2024 @ 12:02 am

BrianFagioli shares a report from BetaNews: Mozilla has announced Firefox Nightly for ARM64. This release will cater to the growing demand for support on ARM64 platforms, commonly referred to as AArch64. Feedback from the community has led Mozilla to expand the availability of Firefox Nightly. Users can now access the browser as both .tar archives and .deb packages, depending on their preference and requirements for installation. For those who favor traditional methods, the .tar.bz2 binaries are accessible through Mozilla's downloads page by selecting the option for Firefox Nightly for Linux ARM64/AArch64. Meanwhile, users looking to utilize updates and installation through Mozilla's APT repository can follow specific instructions to install the firefox-nightly package.

Dutch Privacy Watchdog Recommends Government Organizations Stop Using Facebook

19 April 2024 @ 11:20 pm

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The Dutch privacy watchdog AP on Friday said it was recommending that government organizations should stop using Facebook as long as it is unclear what happens with personal data of users of the government's Facebook pages. "People that visit a government's page need to be able to trust that their personal and sensitive data is in safe hands," AP chairman Aleid Wolfsen said in a statement. Junior minister for digitalization Alexandra van Huffelen said Facebook parent company Meta had to make clear before the summer how it could take away the government's concerns on the safety of data. "Otherwise we will be forced to stop using Facebook, in line with this advice," she said.

23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki Considers Taking Company Private

19 April 2024 @ 10:40 pm

Ashley Capoot reports via CNBC: Anne Wojcicki, the CEO of 23andMe, is considering a proposal to take the genetic testing company private after its stock price tumbled more than 95% from its 2021 highs. A late Wednesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said Wojcicki is working with advisors and plans to speak with possible financing sources and partners. She "wishes to maintain control" of the company and will "not be willing to support any alternative transaction," the filing said. [...] In November, 23andMe received a deficiency letter from the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Department, which said the company had 180 days to bring its share price back above $1. The company's board of directors formed a "Special Committee" in late March to help explore options that could juice the stock. A press release on Thursday said the committee was made aware of Wojcicki's interest in acquiring all of 23andMe's outstanding shares. Wojcicki owns shares that make up more than 20%

'Women Who Code' Shuts Down Unexpectedly

19 April 2024 @ 10:02 pm

Women Who Code (WWC), a U.S.-based organization of 360,000 people supporting women who work in the tech sector, is shutting down due to a lack of funding. "It is with profound sadness that, today, on April 18, 2024, we are announcing the difficult decision to close Women Who Code, following a vote by the Board of Directors to dissolve the organization," the organization said in a blog post. "This decision has not been made lightly. It only comes after careful consideration of all options and is due to factors that have materially impacted our funding sources -- funds that were critical to continuing our programming and delivering on our mission. We understand that this news will come as a disappointment to many, and we want to express our deepest gratitude to each and every one of you who have been a part of our journey." The BBC reports: WWC was started 2011 by engineers who "were seeking connection and support for navigating the tech industry" in San Francisco. It became a nonprofit

A Chess Formula Is Taking Over the World

19 April 2024 @ 9:25 pm

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Atlantic: In October 2003, Mark Zuckerberg created his first viral site: not Facebook, but FaceMash. Then a college freshman, he hacked into Harvard's online dorm directories, gathered a massive collection of students' headshots, and used them to create a website on which Harvard students could rate classmates by their attractiveness, literally and figuratively head-to-head. The site, a mean-spirited prank recounted in the opening scene of The Social Network, got so much traction so quickly that Harvard shut down his internet access within hours. The math that powered FaceMash -- and, by extension, set Zuckerberg on the path to building the world's dominant social-media empire -- was reportedly, of all things, a formula for ranking chess players: the Elo system. Fundamentally, what an Elo rating does is predict the outcome of chess matches by assigning every player a number that fluctuates based purely on performance. If you beat a slightl

EPA Will Make Polluters Pay To Clean Up Two 'Forever Chemicals'

19 April 2024 @ 8:45 pm

An anonymous reader shares a report: The Biden administration is designating two "forever chemicals," man-made compounds that are linked to serious health risks, as hazardous substances under the Superfund law, shifting responsibility for their cleanup to polluters from taxpayers. The new rule announced on Friday empowers the government to force the many companies that manufacture or use perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOA, and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, known as PFOS, to monitor any releases into the environment and be responsible for cleaning them up. Those companies could face billions of dollars in liabilities. [...] The announcement follows an extraordinary move last week from the E.P.A. mandating that water utilities reduce the PFAS in drinking water to near-zero levels. The agency has also proposed to designate seven additional PFAS chemicals as hazardous waste. "President Biden understands the threat that forever chemicals pose to the health of families across the c

Linus Torvalds on 'Hilarious' AI Hype

19 April 2024 @ 8:05 pm

Linus Torvalds, discussing the AI hype, in a conversation with Dirk Hohndel, Verizon's Head of the Open Source Program Office: Torvalds snarked, "It's hilarious to watch. Maybe I'll be replaced by an AI model!" As for Hohndel, he thinks most AI today is "autocorrect on steroids." Torvalds summed up his attitude as, "Let's wait 10 years and see where it actually goes before we make all these crazy announcements." That's not to say the two men don't think AI will be helpful in the future. Indeed, Torvalds noted one good side effect already: "NVIDIA has gotten better at talking to Linux kernel developers and working with Linux memory management," because of its need for Linux to run AI's large language models (LLMs) efficiently. Torvalds is also "looking forward to the tools actually to find bugs. We have a lot of tools, and we use them religiously, but making the tools smarter is not a bad thing. Using smarter tools is just the next inevitable step. We have tools that do kernel rewri

Microsoft's VASA-1 Can Deepfake a Person With One Photo and One Audio Track

19 April 2024 @ 7:30 pm

Microsoft Research Asia earlier this week unveiled VASA-1, an AI model that can create a synchronized animated video of a person talking or singing from a single photo and an existing audio track. ArsTechnica: In the future, it could power virtual avatars that render locally and don't require video feeds -- or allow anyone with similar tools to take a photo of a person found online and make them appear to say whatever they want. "It paves the way for real-time engagements with lifelike avatars that emulate human conversational behaviors," reads the abstract of the accompanying research paper titled, "VASA-1: Lifelike Audio-Driven Talking Faces Generated in Real Time." It's the work of Sicheng Xu, Guojun Chen, Yu-Xiao Guo, Jiaolong Yang, Chong Li, Zhenyu Zang, Yizhong Zhang, Xin Tong, and Baining Guo. The VASA framework (short for "Visual Affective Skills Animator") uses machine learning to analyze a static image along with a speech audio clip. It is then able to generate a realistic