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Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The Obtain: spying keyboard software program, and why boring AI is greatest

That is right this moment’s version of The Obtain, our weekday e-newsletter that gives a every day dose of what’s happening on this planet of know-how.

How ubiquitous keyboard software program places lots of of hundreds of thousands of Chinese language customers in danger

For hundreds of thousands of Chinese language folks, the primary software program they obtain onto gadgets is all the time the identical: a keyboard app. But few of them are conscious that it could make every part they sort susceptible to spying eyes

QWERTY keyboards are inefficient as many Chinese language characters share the identical latinized spelling. Consequently, many change to sensible, localized keyboard apps to save lots of time and frustration. As we speak, over 800 million Chinese language folks use third-party keyboard apps on their PCs, laptops, and cellphones. 

However a latest report by the Citizen Lab, a College of Toronto–affiliated analysis group, revealed that Sogou, probably the most widespread Chinese language keyboard apps, had a large safety loophole. Learn the complete story

—Zeyi Yang

Why we must always all be rooting for boring AI

Earlier this month, the US Division of Protection introduced it’s establishing a Generative AI Activity Drive, aimed toward “analyzing and integrating” AI instruments resembling giant language fashions throughout the division. It hopes they may enhance intelligence and operational planning. 

However these may not be the proper use circumstances, writes our senior AI reporter Melissa Heikkila. Generative AI instruments, resembling language fashions, are glitchy and unpredictable, they usually make issues up. Additionally they have large safety vulnerabilities, privateness issues, and deeply ingrained biases. 

Making use of these applied sciences in high-stakes settings may result in lethal accidents the place it’s unclear who or what must be held accountable, and even why the issue occurred. The DoD’s greatest guess is to use generative AI to extra mundane issues like Excel, electronic mail, or phrase processing. Learn the complete story

This story is from The Algorithm, Melissa’s weekly e-newsletter supplying you with the within observe on all issues AI. Join to obtain it in your inbox each Monday.

The ice cores that can allow us to look 1.5 million years into the previous

To raised perceive the function atmospheric carbon dioxide performs in Earth’s local weather cycles, scientists have lengthy turned to ice cores drilled in Antarctica, the place snow layers accumulate and compact over lots of of 1000’s of years, trapping samples of historic air in a lattice of bubbles that function tiny time capsules. 

By analyzing these cores, scientists can join greenhouse-gas concentrations with temperatures going again 800,000 years. Now, a brand new European-led initiative hopes to finally retrieve the oldest core but, relationship again 1.5 million years. However that spectacular feat remains to be solely step one. As soon as they’ve carried out that, they’ll have to determine how they’re going to extract the air from the ice. Learn the complete story.

—Christian Elliott

This story is from the most recent version of our print journal, set to go dwell tomorrow. Subscribe right this moment for as little as $8/month to make sure you obtain full entry to the brand new Ethics concern and in-depth tales on experimental medicine, AI assisted warfare, microfinance, and extra.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to seek out you right this moment’s most enjoyable/vital/scary/fascinating tales about know-how.

1 How AI received dragged into the tradition wars
Fears about ‘woke’ AI essentially misunderstand the way it works. But they’re gaining traction. (The Guardian
+ Why it’s inconceivable to construct an unbiased AI language mannequin. (MIT Know-how Assessment)
2 Researchers are racing to grasp a brand new coronavirus variant 
It’s unlikely to be trigger for concern, however it reveals this virus nonetheless has loads of tips up its sleeve. (Nature)
Covid hasn’t completely gone away—right here’s the place we stand. (MIT Know-how Assessment)
+ Why we will’t afford to cease monitoring it. (Ars Technica)
3 How Hilary grew to become such a monster storm
A lot of it’s all the way down to unusually sizzling sea floor temperatures. (Wired $)
+ The period of simultaneous local weather disasters is right here to remain. (Axios)
Individuals are donning cooling vests to allow them to work via the warmth. (Wired $)
4 Mind privateness is ready to turn into vital 🧠
Scientists are getting higher at decoding our mind knowledge. It’s certainly solely a matter of time earlier than others need a peek. (The Atlantic $)
How your mind knowledge could possibly be used in opposition to you. (MIT Know-how Assessment)
5 How Nvidia constructed such a giant aggressive benefit in AI chips
As we speak it accounts for 70% of all AI chip gross sales—and a good larger share for coaching generative fashions. (NYT $)
The chips it’s promoting to China are much less efficient because of US export controls. (Ars Technica)
+ These easy design guidelines may flip the chip business on its head. (MIT Know-how Assessment)
6 Contained in the complicated world of dissociative id dysfunction on TikTok 
Lowering stigma is nice, however docs worry persons are self-diagnosing and even imitating the dysfunction. (The Verge)
7 What TikTok might need to surrender to maintain working within the US
This reveals simply how hole the authorities’ purported data-collection issues actually are. (Forbes)
8 Troopers in Ukraine are enjoying World of Tanks on their telephones
It’s eerily much like the warfare they’re themselves preventing, however they are saying it helps them to dissociate from the horror. (NYT $)
9 Conspiracy theorists are sharing mad concepts on what causes wildfires
But it surely’s all only a convoluted technique to attempt to keep away from having to deal with local weather change. (Slate $)
10 Christie’s by chance leaked the situation of tons of beneficial artwork 🖼📍
Seemingly due to the metadata that usually routinely attaches to smartphone pictures. (WP $)

Quote of the day

“Is it going to take folks dying for one thing to maneuver ahead?”

—An nameless air site visitors controller warns that staffing shortages of their business, plus different components, are beginning to threaten passenger security, the New York Instances stories.

The large story

Inside efficient altruism, the place the far future counts much more than the current

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October 2022

Since its start within the late 2000s, efficient altruism has aimed to reply the query “How can these with means have probably the most affect on the world in a quantifiable manner?”—and equipped strategies for calculating the reply.

It’s no shock that efficient altruisms’ concepts have lengthy confronted criticism for reflecting white Western saviorism, alongside an avoidance of structural issues in favor of summary math. And as believers pour even larger quantities of cash into the motion’s more and more sci-fi beliefs, such expenses are solely intensifying. Learn the complete story.

—Rebecca Ackermann

We will nonetheless have good issues

A spot for consolation, enjoyable and distraction in these bizarre instances. (Received any concepts? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ Watch Andrew Scott’s electrifying studying of the 1965 graduation tackle ‘Select Certainly one of 5’ by Edith Sampson.
+ Right here’s how Metallica makes positive its dwell performances ROCK. ($)
+ Can’t take care of this completely ludicrous wood car
+ Find out about a extraordinary new instrument known as a harpejji.

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