Connect with us


Banks across America test facial recognition cameras ‘to spy on staff, customers’ • The Register

Voice Of EU



In brief Banks in America are reportedly rolling out cameras with machine-learning software to surveil people, claiming it’ll help reduce fraud, provide a better service to reduce wait times, and monitor homeless people sleeping near ATMs.

Top names like JP Morgan to Wells Fargo are deploying facial-recognition technology to observe staff and customers on a wide scale, according to Reuters this week.

Some banks, such as City National Bank of Florida, are testing software to identify customers and employees at its branches for security purposes. Others, such as Southern Bank, use cameras backed up by AI tech to detect any suspicious activity around ATMs and can transmit audio messages telling people hanging around the machines to move away. Chase said the software it installed is not designed to recognize people’s identity, race, or gender.

These software-enabled cameras aren’t welcome in branches in some regions in the US, however. For example, some cities, such as Portland in Oregon, have banned the use of facial-recognition cameras in public places.

“We are always reviewing potential new technology solutions that are on the market,” a bank known as The Charlotte in North Carolina, said.

Enormous processor chip just got more powerful

AI hardware startup Cerebras launched its second-generation chip packing in a whopping 2.6 trillion transistors on a silicon die measuring about 46,000mm2 – about the size of a tablet.

The new Wafer Scale Engine (WSE-2) seems a lot more powerful than its predecessor. Cerebras has jumped from 16nm to a 7nm TSMC fabrication node, and said its processor contains 850,000 AI cores plus a total of 40GB of onboard SRAM memory with a memory bandwidth of 20PB per second.

Having that much memory on a single die aids the training of large AI models, we’re told, though how well Cerebras’s hardware performs compared to its competitors with smaller chips is difficult to say.

“WSE-2 doubles the performance across all characteristics of the chip – the transistor count, core count, memory, memory bandwidth and fabric bandwidth, but we haven’t shared performance at different precisions,” a spokesperson told The Register.

The WSE-2 consumes up to 17kW of power and requires custom liquid cooling.

Watch your AI algorithms, or the FTC will do that for you

America’s Federal Trade Commission issued a warning that companies must be careful to deploy machine-learning algorithms that are fair and unbiased against race, gender, age, religion – you name it – or face legal repercussions.

“Keep in mind that if you don’t hold yourself accountable, the FTC may do it for you,” Elisa Jillson, an attorney at the regulator, warned in a public memo, this week. She reminded organizations that it had the power to prosecute them under the FTC Act, and algorithms applied in particularly high-risk areas, such as determining people’s employment, credit, housing, and insurance, should be thoroughly scrutinized.

Jillson urged businesses to be transparent about how their algorithms use data to arrive at decisions, and to audit their software. “In a rush to embrace new technology, be careful not to over promise what your algorithm can deliver,” she warned. For example, a facial-recognition algorithm boasting a high accuracy rate when it, in fact, struggles to identify people of darker skin may be deceptive and attract FTC enforcement action.

You can read Jillson’s blog post here.

AI robot simulations across different rooms

Researchers over at the Allen Institute of AI have updated their ManipulaTHOR physics engine environment to allow roboticists to train virtual agents to move objects across different rooms using software.

“Imagine a robot being able to navigate a kitchen, open a refrigerator and pull out a can of soda. This is one of the biggest and yet often overlooked challenges in robotics and AI2-THOR is the first to design a benchmark for the task of moving objects to various locations in virtual rooms, enabling reproducibility and measuring progress,” the research lab’s CEO Oren Etzioni said.

The Allen Institute of AI (AI2) focuses on natural language processing, and is working to build robots that can one day interact and communicate effectively with humans. “After five years of hard work, we can now begin to train robots to perceive and navigate the world more like we do, making real-world usage models more attainable than ever before,” Etzioni added.

You can get ManipulaTHOR version 3.0 from GitHub, and learn more about the software, here. ®

Source link


Flight Simulator says Windows 11 has been downloaded on Xbox • The Register

Voice Of EU



Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, designed to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, will not fly until the first half of next year at the earliest, as the manufacturing giant continues to tackle an issue with the spacecraft’s valves.

Things have not gone smoothly for Boeing. Its Starliner program has suffered numerous setbacks and delays. Just in August, a second unmanned test flight was scrapped after 13 of 24 valves in the spacecraft’s propulsion system jammed. In a briefing this week, Michelle Parker, chief engineer of space and launch at Boeing, shed more light on the errant components.

Boeing believes the valves malfunctioned due to weather issues, we were told. Florida, home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where the Starliner is being assembled and tested, is known for hot, humid summers. Parker explained that the chemicals from the spacecraft’s oxidizer reacted with water condensation inside the valves to form nitric acid. The acidity corroded the valves, causing them to stick.

Source link

Continue Reading


NUI Galway part of global team that detected giant collision in space

Voice Of EU



The joint study between NUI Galway, MIT and Cambridge used the ALMA telescope to provide a ‘window to the composition of young planets’.

An astronomer from NUI Galway is part of an international team that for the first time found evidence of a planet’s atmosphere being stripped away by a giant collision in a nearby star system.

At just 95 light years from Earth, the young star named HD172555 was witness to a massive collision between two newly-formed planets in its planetary system which are estimated to be about the size of Earth.

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile, the joint study between NUI Galway, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Cambridge University, studied the collision and unexpectedly detected a ring of carbon monoxide gas in the dust produced.

“This, for the first time, indicates that impacts can release large amounts of gas as well as dust, and that this gas can survive long enough to be detected,” said Dr Luca Matrà, an advisor for the study and lecturer at NUI Galway’s Centre for Astronomy.

Based on the amount of gas detected, the team was able to estimate that the size of the impact was likely massive and dated it to around 200,000 years ago. “This has the potential to revolutionise our understanding and observability of giant impacts,” Matrà added.

‘Window to composition of planets’

Findings of the study were published yesterday (20 October) in the journal Nature. It solves years of mystery around the unusual composition of dust observed by scientists in the region – indicating the aftermath of a planetary impact like the one that led to the formation of the moon.

The ALMA observatory used for the study consists of 66 radio telescopes working in unison. Ireland gained access to it after joining the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in 2018. In July, it was used in a study to understand how moons are formed.

Carbon monoxide gas was found orbiting in large amounts in the outer terrestrial planet region of the solar system. Matrà said that the amount of gas discovered is 10 to 20pc of the mass of Venus’ atmosphere, which “goes on to show the incredible sensitivity of the obersvations”.

“This puts forward gas observations as a viable detection method of terrestrial planet-forming collisions, and as a window to the composition of young planets,” she said.

Lead author Tajana Schneiderman of MIT said that this the first time scientists have detected the phenomenon of protoplanetary atmosphere being stripped away in a giant impact.

“Everyone is interested in observing a giant impact because we expect them to be common, but we don’t have evidence in a lot of systems for it. Now we have additional insight into these dynamics.”

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.

Source link

Continue Reading


Netflix employees join wave of tech activism with walkout over Chappelle controversy | Netflix

Voice Of EU



Employees at Netflix halted work on Wednesday and staged a protest outside the company’s Los Gatos, California, headquarters to condemn the streaming platform’s handling of complaints against Dave Chappelle’s new special.

The actions – which hundreds participated in – are the latest in a string of highly visible organizing efforts in the tech sector, as workers increasingly take their grievances about company policies and decisions public.

“Three years ago, a worker walkout at a major tech company would have been unthinkable,” said Veena Dubal, a labor law professor at the University of California, Hastings. “White-collar workers across the world now understand their labor power, and their ability to change the unethical practices of their employer by withholding their labor.”

On Monday, the transgender employee resources group behind the walkout released a list of specific demands of Netflix, including more funding for trans creators, recruiting more diverse employees and flagging anti-trans content on the platform.

Tensions at Netflix started in early October, when Netflix leaders doubled down on their support for the comedian Dave Chappelle following criticism from viewers, the queer media watchdog Glaad as well as some employees that Chappelle’s new show contained jokes that were anti-trans.

As internal criticism grew, Netflix leaders continued to defend the special. Reed Hastings, the co-chief executive, reportedly said on an internal message board: “I do believe that our commitment to artistic expression and pleasing our members is the right long-term choice for Netflix, and that we are on the right side, but only time will tell.”

Ted Sarandos, the other co-CEO, claimed in an email obtained by Variety: “While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.” He added: “Adults can watch violence, assault and abuse – or enjoy shocking standup comedy – without it causing them to harm others.”

The Sarandos memo in particular fueled the walkout, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “The memo was very disrespectful,” a staffer told the outlet on the condition of anonymity. “It didn’t invite a robust conversation about this hard topic, and that’s normally how things go.”

Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix.
Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix. Photograph: Vickie Flores/EPA

Meanwhile, Netflix temporarily suspended Terra Field, a trans employee, who had tweeted that Chappelle “attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness” and tied such comments to real-world violence. The company said Field was suspended because she had attended a meeting she was not invited to, but it later conceded she had “no ill intent”.

Netflix fired another trans worker who had been involved in organizing the walkout on allegations of leaking internal documents to the press.

“We understand this employee may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix, but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company,” a Netflix spokesperson told the Guardian about that decision last week.

The employee on Tuesday identified themself as B Pagels-Minor in an interview with the New York Times and denied “leaking sensitive information to the press”.

Social media event pages for the walkout have advertised a rally outside the Netflix headquarters in Los Angeles featuring public figures and speakers.

Staffers participating in the virtual walkout have vowed to halt work and focus on efforts to support the trans community.

‘A wave of worker walkouts’

In this week alone, there are protests at Netflix, the grocery delivery platform Instacart and at Facebook by its content moderators. Uber drivers globally went on strike in 2019. Hundreds of Amazon workers walked out to protest against the company’s climate policies in 2019.

Walkouts have become an increasingly common tactic among tech employees. “We are seeing a wave of them,” said Jess Kutch, executive director of the Solidarity Fund, which raises money to support employees engaged in workplace organizing – including at Netflix.

Google employees were among the first to deploy the strategy on a large scale in 2018, when more than 20,000 workers around the world walked out over the news that the company had given a $90m severance package to an executive who was forced to step down over sexual misconduct allegations (which he has denied).

The incensed workers decried a culture of silence about sexual harassment and systemic racism and demanded Google make concrete changes to address such issues within the company. In particular, they targeted Google’s use of forced arbitration – a practice common in the tech industry in which workers settle legal disputes in a private forum, making it almost impossible for workers to sue their bosses in court and keep repeat offenders from being publicly recognized.

Google employees stage a walkout in Mountain View, California, in 2018.
Google employees stage a walkout in Mountain View, California, in 2018. Photograph: Stephen Lam/Reuters

The November 2018 action changed the way workers in the tech industry organize, experts said. “Workers are observing their peers to see what is effective in moving decision makers, and replicating that in their own companies,” Kutch said.

Kutch noted tech employees studied other protest movements to determine the most effective forms of action, learning, for example, to release specific demands tied to their walkouts. “There is a degree of depth, commitment and planning that was not present even just a few years ago,” she said.

Organizers have particularly taken aim at the tools tech companies had long used to keep dissent internal. Faced with employee pressure, companies such as Google, Airbnb, Facebook and eBay were compelled to end forced arbitration practices.

Employees have also fought companies’ use of non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs, which were initially meant to protect trade secrets, but later allowed companies to keep accusations of wrongdoing from becoming public.

Last month, California passed a law that makes it illegal for firms to prevent employees from speaking out about such issues through the use of NDAs.

Organizing gained another boost when the Black Lives Matter movement and protests laid bare some of the huge inequities in tech and revealed the power of protest to change them.

“Workers woke up at that moment to the fact that if employers are able to discriminate against any one part of the workforce, it hurts everyone,” said Anastasia Christman, senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project.

“There have been isolated examples of this kind of thing for years, but employees are increasingly using the leverage of their labor to stand up for diversity and equity,” she added.

The price of whistleblowing

For some employees, the price of speaking out has been steep. Leaked memos showed that in early 2020, Amazon discussed smearing a warehouse worker who spoke out against the company’s Covid-19 practices and was later fired. (Amazon said the employee was fired for putting other employees at risk of Covid-19.) In September 2021, Amazon reached a settlement with two other employees who said they had been fired over their climate activism within the company.

Other whistleblowers have narrated how their lives were upended by speaking out against major tech companies. The worker behind the walkouts at Google, Claire Stapleton, left the company after 12 years of working there, due to perceived retaliation for her role in organizing.

Netflix told the Guardian in an email that it “respect[s] the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out” and recognizes “we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content”.

“We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused,” the spokesperson said.

In a public blogpost, Field outlined much of the vitriol she has sustained for speaking out about the special. She said she did not necessarily want the show removed from the platform, but wanted accountability from Netflix to its workers and viewers.

“We’ve spent years building out the company’s policies and benefits so that it would be a great place for trans people to work,” she wrote. “A place can’t be a great place to work if someone has to betray their community to do so.”

Netflix CEO Sarandos told the Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday that he handled the situation poorly, but that he remains supportive of Chappelle’s work. He said that his previous memos “lacked humanity”, and did not acknowledge that “a group of our employees were in pain”, but said that his stance “hadn’t changed”.

Source link

Continue Reading


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!