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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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

That is right now’s version of The Obtain, our weekday e-newsletter that gives a day by day dose of what’s occurring on the earth of know-how.

How ubiquitous keyboard software program places tons of of thousands and thousands of Chinese language customers in danger

For thousands and 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 might make every thing they sort weak to spying eyes

QWERTY keyboards are inefficient as many Chinese language characters share the identical latinized spelling. Consequently, many swap to sensible, localized keyboard apps to avoid wasting time and frustration. Right this moment, 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, one of the vital in style Chinese language keyboard apps, had an enormous safety loophole. Learn the total story

—Zeyi Yang

Why we should always all be rooting for boring AI

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

However these won’t be the proper use circumstances, writes our senior AI reporter Melissa Heikkila. Generative AI instruments, akin to language fashions, are glitchy and unpredictable, and so they make issues up. In addition they have huge safety vulnerabilities, privateness issues, and deeply ingrained biases. 

Making use of these applied sciences in high-stakes settings might result in lethal accidents the place it’s unclear who or what needs to 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, e-mail, or phrase processing. Learn the total story

This story is from The Algorithm, Melissa’s weekly e-newsletter supplying you with the within observe on all issues AI. Enroll 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 position 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 tons of of hundreds 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 continues to be solely step one. As soon as they’ve achieved that, they’ll have to determine how they’re going to extract the air from the ice. Learn the total story.

—Christian Elliott

This story is from the newest version of our print journal, set to go reside tomorrow. Subscribe right now for as little as $8/month to make sure you obtain full entry to the brand new Ethics difficulty 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 now’s most enjoyable/essential/scary/fascinating tales about know-how.

1 How AI received dragged into the tradition wars
Fears about ‘woke’ AI basically misunderstand the way it works. But they’re gaining traction. (The Guardian
+ Why it’s unimaginable to construct an unbiased AI language mannequin. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)
2 Researchers are racing to know a brand new coronavirus variant 
It’s unlikely to be trigger for concern, however it exhibits this virus nonetheless has loads of methods up its sleeve. (Nature)
Covid hasn’t fully gone away—right here’s the place we stand. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)
+ Why we are able to’t afford to cease monitoring it. (Ars Technica)
3 How Hilary turned 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 by the warmth. (Wired $)
4 Mind privateness is about to change into essential 🧠
Scientists are getting higher at decoding our mind knowledge. It’s certainly solely a matter of time earlier than others desire a peek. (The Atlantic $)
How your mind knowledge could possibly be used towards you. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)
5 How Nvidia constructed such a giant aggressive benefit in AI chips
Right this moment it accounts for 70% of all AI chip gross sales—and a good better share for coaching generative fashions. (NYT $)
The chips it’s promoting to China are much less efficient resulting from US export controls. (Ars Technica)
+ These easy design guidelines might flip the chip business on its head. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)
6 Contained in the advanced world of dissociative identification dysfunction on TikTok 
Lowering stigma is nice, however medical doctors concern individuals are self-diagnosing and even imitating the dysfunction. (The Verge)
7 What TikTok may need to surrender to maintain working within the US
This exhibits simply how hole the authorities’ purported data-collection issues actually are. (Forbes)
8 Troopers in Ukraine are taking part in World of Tanks on their telephones
It’s eerily just like the struggle they’re themselves combating, however they are saying it helps them to dissociate from the horror. (NYT $)
9 Conspiracy theorists are sharing mad concepts on what causes wildfires
However it’s all only a convoluted solution to attempt to keep away from having to deal with local weather change. (Slate $)
10 Christie’s by chance leaked the placement of tons of worthwhile artwork 🖼📍
Seemingly due to the metadata that always robotically attaches to smartphone photographs. (WP $)

Quote of the day

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

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

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 delivery 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 means?”—and provided 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 better quantities of cash into the motion’s more and more sci-fi beliefs, such fees are solely intensifying. Learn the total story.

—Rebecca Ackermann

We are able to nonetheless have good issues

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

+ Watch Andrew Scott’s electrifying studying of the 1965 graduation deal with ‘Select One in all 5’ by Edith Sampson.
+ Right here’s how Metallica makes positive its reside performances ROCK. ($)
+ Can’t cope with this completely ludicrous picket automobile
+ Find out about a bizarre new instrument known as a harpejji.

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