Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest
 

Contents

  1. Amazon Retaliated After Employee Walkout Over Return-to-Office Policy, Says NLRB
  2. Framework Laptop 13 is Getting a Drop-In RISC-V Mainboard Option
  3. Why Washington’s Mount Rainier Still Makes Volcanologists Worry
  4. Apple Might Partner with Meta on AI
  5. Michigan Lawmakers Advance Bill Requiring All Public High Schools To At Least Offer CS
  6. Longtime Linux Wireless Developer Passes Away. RIP Larry Finger
  7. OpenAI’s ‘Media Manager’ Mocked, Amid Accusations of Robbing Creative Professionals
  8. Tuesday SpaceX Launches a NOAA Satellite to Improve Weather Forecasts for Earth and Space
  9. Foundation Honoring ‘Star Trek’ Creator Offers $1M Prize for AI Startup Benefiting Humanity
  10. EFF: New License Plate Reader Vulnerabilties Prove The Tech Itself is a Public Safety Threat
  11. Our Brains React Differently to Deepfake Voices, Researchers Find
  12. Multiple AI Companies Ignore Robots.Txt Files, Scrape Web Content, Says Licensing Firm
  13. America’s Used EV Price Crash Keeps Getting Deeper
  14. Launch of Chinese-French Satellite Scattered Debris Over Populated Area
  15. Walmart Announces Electronic Shelf Labels They Can Change Remotely

Alterslash picks up to the best 5 comments from each of the day’s Slashdot stories, and presents them on a single page for easy reading.

Amazon Retaliated After Employee Walkout Over Return-to-Office Policy, Says NLRB

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
America’s National Labor Relations Board “has filed a complaint against Amazon…” reports the Verge, “that alleges the company ‘unlawfully disciplined and terminated an employee’ after they assisted in organizing walkouts last May in protest of Amazon’s new return-to-work [three days per week] directives, issued early last year.”
[T]housands of Amazon employees signed petitions against the new mandate and staged a walkout several months later. Despite the protests and pushback, according to a report by Insider, in a meeting in early August 2023, Jassy reaffirmed the company’s commitment to employees returning to the office for the majority of the week.

The NLRB complaint alleges Amazon “interrogated” employees about the walkout using its internal Chime system. The employee was first put on a performance improvement plan by Amazon following their organizing efforts for the walkout and later “offered a severance payment of nine weeks’ salary if the employee signed a severance agreement and global release in exchange for their resignation.” According to the NLRB’s lawyers, all of that was because the employee engaged in organizing, and the retaliation was intended to discourage "…protected, concerted activities....”

The NLRB’s general counsel is seeking several different forms of remediation from Amazon, including reimbursement for the employee’s “financial harms and search-for-work and work related expenses,” a letter of apology, and a “Notice to Employees” that must be physically posted at the company’s facilities across the country, distributed electronically, and read by an Amazon rep at a recorded videoconference.
Amazon says their actions were entirely unrelated to the workers activism against their return-to-work policies. An Amazon spokesperson told the Verge that instead, the employee “consistently underperformed over a period of nearly a year and repeatedly failed to deliver on projects she was assigned. Despite extensive support and coaching, the former employee was unable to improve her performance and chose to leave the company.”

Re:The fuck?

By phantomfive • Score: 4, Insightful Thread
Striking over working conditions is a protected activity. You can’t be retaliated against for it. Also, retaliation against organizers is illegal. (There are a lot of details that vary.)

Workers have rights.

Re:What the heck?

By phantomfive • Score: 5, Insightful Thread
It’s been legal for workers to protest working conditions for a long time.

Company owners are not monarchs.

Re: What the heck?

By PeopleAquarium • Score: 4, Insightful Thread
The situation you described is called “constructive dismissal”. If the employer changes the job without your input you can still be fired but they must pay unemployment. Amazon tried to avoid that cost, maybe illegally, but making up some bullshit. If it weren’t this way every two bit crook would hire people, get them used to the salary, then drop it so the employee was stuck working for slightly less than they need to survive knowing that they can’t afford a week off to find new work. That’s just slavery, basically. Amazon tried to do slavery and got caught. I’m not feeling bad that they’re having a bad day

Re: The fuck?

By reanjr • Score: 4, Insightful Thread

But they did it as a group. That makes it protected. According to the NLRB: “Employees have the right “to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”

Re: The fuck?

By reanjr • Score: 4, Insightful Thread

If you get your whole team to do it, yes.

Framework Laptop 13 is Getting a Drop-In RISC-V Mainboard Option

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
An anonymous reader shared this report from the OMG Ubuntu blog:
Those of you who own a Framework Laptop 13 — consider me jealous, btw — or are considering buying one in the near future, you may be interested to know that a RISC-V motherboard option is in the works. DeepComputing, the company behind the recently-announced Ubuntu RISC-V laptop, is working with Framework Computer Inc, the company behind the popular, modular, and Linux-friendly Framework laptops, on a RISC-V mainboard.

This is a new announcement; the component itself is in early development, and there’s no tentative price tag or pre-order date pencilled in… [T]he Framework RISC-V mainboard will use soldered memory and non-upgradeable eMMC storage (though it can boot from microSD cards). It will ‘drop into’ any Framework Laptop 13 chassis (or Cooler Master Mainboard Case), per Framework’s modular ethos… Framework mentions DeepComputing is “working closely with the teams at Canonical and Red Hat to ensure Linux support is solid through Ubuntu and Fedora”, which is great news, and cements Canonical’s seriousness to supporting Ubuntu on RISC-V.
“We want to be clear that in this generation, it is focused primarily on enabling developers, tinkerers, and hobbyists to start testing and creating on RISC-V,” says Framework’s announcement. “The peripheral set and performance aren’t yet competitive with our Intel and AMD-powered Framework Laptop Mainboards.” They’re calling the Mainboard “a huge milestone both for expanding the breadth of the Framework ecosystem and for making RISC-V more accessible than ever… DeepComputing is demoing an early prototype of this Mainboard in a Framework Laptop 13 at the RISC-V Summit Europe next week, and we’ll be sharing more as this program progresses.”

And their announcement included two additional updates:

“We’re eager to continue growing a new Consumer Electronics industry that is grounded in open access, repairability, and customization at every level.”


Why Washington’s Mount Rainier Still Makes Volcanologists Worry

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
It’s been a 1,000 years since there was a significant volcanic eruption from Mount Rainier, CNN reminds readers. It’s a full 60 miles from Tacoma, Washington — and 90 miles from Seattle. Yet “more than Hawaii’s bubbling lava fields or Yellowstone’s sprawling supervolcano, it’s Mount Rainier that has many U.S. volcanologists worried.”

“Mount Rainier keeps me up at night because it poses such a great threat to the surrounding communities, said Jess Phoenix, a volcanologist and ambassador for the Union of Concerned Scientists, on an episode of CNN’s series “Violent Earth With Liv Schreiber.”
The sleeping giant’s destructive potential lies not with fiery flows of lava, which, in the event of an eruption, would be unlikely to extend more than a few miles beyond the boundary of Mount Rainier National Park in the Pacific Northwest. And the majority of volcanic ash would likely dissipate downwind to the east away from population centers, according to the US Geological Survey. Instead, many scientists fear the prospect of a lahar — a swiftly moving slurry of water and volcanic rock originating from ice or snow rapidly melted by an eruption that picks up debris as it flows through valleys and drainage channels.

“The thing that makes Mount Rainier tough is that it is so tall, and it’s covered with ice and snow, and so if there is any kind of eruptive activity, hot stuff … will melt the cold stuff and a lot of water will start coming down,” said Seth Moran, a research seismologist at USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington. “And there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people who live in areas that potentially could be impacted by a large lahar, and it could happen quite quickly.” The deadliest lahar in recent memory was in November 1985 when Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupted. Just a couple hours after the eruption started, a river of mud, rocks, lava and icy water swept over the town of Armero, killing over 23,000 people in a matter of minutes… Bradley Pitcher, a volcanologist and lecturer in Earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University, said in an episode of CNN’s “Violent Earth”… said that Mount Rainier has about eight times the amount of glaciers and snow as Nevado del Ruiz had when it erupted. “There’s the potential to have a much more catastrophic mudflow....”

Lahars typically occur during volcanic eruptions but also can be caused by landslides and earthquakes. Geologists have found evidence that at least 11 large lahars from Mount Rainier have reached into the surrounding area, known as the Puget Lowlands, in the past 6,000 years, Moran said.
Two major U.S. cities — Tacoma and South Seattle — “are built on 100-foot-thick (30.5-meter) ancient mudflows from eruptions of Mount Rainier,” the volcanologist said on CNN’s “Violent Earth” series.

CNN’s article adds that the US Geological Survey already set up a lahar detection system at Mount Rainier in 1998, “which since 2017 has been upgraded and expanded. About 20 sites on the volcano’s slopes and the two paths identified as most at risk of a lahar now feature broadband seismometers that transmit real-time data and other sensors including trip wires, infrasound sensors, web cameras and GPS receivers.”

Lahars move lots of material very quickly

By david.emery • Score: 5, Informative Thread

Here’s a good discussion with animations of Lahars on Rainier: https://www.usgs.gov/programs/…

I don’t think they’re quite as fast as pyroclastic flows, but it’s not clear to me that you’d be able to outrun one, particularly not in a congested urban area with everyone else trying to escape.

if it does

By FudRucker • Score: 3, Funny Thread
maybe it will bury Microsoft headquarters and offices & campus like Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii, and it happens right when Bill Gates just happens to be visiting

Re:Volcanologist Needs a Vacation

By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

Problem is, we (western Washington residents) also had lots of warning about Mount St. Helens back in 1980. There were sensors placed all over that mountain. No internet obviously, but there were updates pretty much every day on the local news. And, when the PhDs decided something was imminent, they gave people plenty of warning. Yet some chose to ignore those warnings, and some of those died unnecessarily.

Fortunately the area threatened by St. Helens was mostly rural and only sparsely populated. Mt. Rainier has many, many more people living in the paths of its historic lahar flows - thousands and thousands of homes around South Prairie, Orting, etc. - not to mention Sumner, Puyallup, and maybe even Tacoma being within reach of a lahar. If a non-trivial percentage of those people ignore the “hey you should probably stay elsewhere for a few weeks, just in case”, all those sensors and the internet aren’t going to save them. If they think they can get out with an hours lead time, they should recall what typical morning traffic is like on the Orting Highway.

Re:Lahars move lots of material very quickly

By cusco • Score: 4, Interesting Thread

The reason why Renton is so flat is because it’s built on the last lahar from Rainier, and it’s a major population/industrial center.

Apple Might Partner with Meta on AI

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
Earlier this month Apple announced a partnership with OpenAI to bring ChatGPT to Siri.

“Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple and Facebook’s parent company Meta are in talks around a similar deal,” according to TechCrunch:
A deal with Meta could make Apple less reliant on a single partner, while also providing validation for Meta’s generative AI tech. The Journal reports that Apple isn’t offering to pay for these partnerships; instead, Apple provides distribution to AI partners who can then sell premium subscriptions… Apple has said it will ask for users’ permission before sharing any questions and data with ChatGPT. Presumably, any integration with Meta would work similarly.

Pluggable LLMs

By david.emery • Score: 4, Interesting Thread

Apple was pretty clear they wanted to be able to plug in multiple LLM products. I’m sure Apple will have very specific terms for the LLM interface and for what the LLM provider can do with the data.

This also goes back to China, because I’m sure Apple wanted to make sure they could plug in a Chinese-approved LLM. It also might be relevant to the EU with their rules and restrictions on “gatekeeper companies.” (I express no opinion here on the EU’s policies.)

is Apple struggling to develop in-house AI

By FudRucker • Score: 3 Thread
because Apple keeps reaching out to find partners to get AI working for them

Michigan Lawmakers Advance Bill Requiring All Public High Schools To At Least Offer CS

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
Michigan’s House of Representatives passed a bill requiring all the state’s public high schools to offer a computer science course by the start of the 2027-28 school year. (The bill now goes to the Senate, according to a report from Chalkbeat Detroit.)

Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes:
Michigan is also removing the requirement for CS teacher endorsements in 2026, paving the way for CS courses to be taught in 2027 by teachers who have “demonstrated strong computer science skills” but do not hold a CS endorsement. Michigan’s easing of CS teaching requirements comes in the same year that New York State will begin requiring credentials for all CS teachers.

With lobbyist Julia Wynn from the tech giant-backed nonprofit Code.org sitting at her side, Michigan State Rep. Carol Glavnille introduced the CS bill (HB5649) to the House in May (hearing video, 16:20). “This is not a graduation requirement,” Glavnille emphasized in her testimony. Code.org’s Wynn called the Bill “an important first step” — after all, Code.org’s goal is “to require all students to take CS to earn a HS diploma" — noting that Code.org has also been closely collaborating with Michigan’s Education department “on the language and the Bill since inception.” Wynn went on to inform lawmakers that “even just attending a high school that offers computer science delivers concrete employment and earnings benefits for students,” citing a recent Brookings Institute article that also noted “30 states have adopted a key part of Code.org Advocacy Coalition’s policy recommendations, which require all high schools to offer CS coursework, while eight states (and counting) have gone a step further in requiring all students to take CS as a high school graduation requirement.”

Minutes from the hearing report other parties submitting cards in support of HB 5649 included Amazon (a $3+ million Code.org Platinum Supporter) and AWS (a Code.org In-Kind Supporter), as well as College Board (which offers the AP CS A and CSP exams) and TechNet (which notes its “teams at the federal and state levels advocate with policymakers on behalf of our member companies").

Not sure this is going in the right direction

By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 3 Thread

“Michigan is also removing the requirement for CS teacher endorsements in 2026, paving the way for CS courses to be taught in 2027 by teachers who have “demonstrated strong computer science skills” but do not hold a CS endorsement.”

A lot of us oldsters here were at least partially self-taught - so I want to be careful to qualify this. But I’d like to know who is determining whether a person’s “strong computer science skills” are “demonstrated”. Because, in my experience, many non-technical types of people far too readily assume that any random person who knows the right buzzwords is a bonafide computer genius. A non-trivial amount of the end user support my group has to do involves cleaning up messes created due to errant sage advice given by these sorts of “geniuses”.

Longtime Linux Wireless Developer Passes Away. RIP Larry Finger

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
Slashdot reader unixbhaskar shared this report from Phoronix:
Larry Finger who has contributed to the Linux kernel since 2005 and has seen more than 1,500 kernel patches upstreamed into the mainline Linux kernel has sadly passed away. His wife shared the news of Larry Finger’s passing this weekend on the linux-wireless mailing list in a brief statement.
Reactions are being shared around the internet. LWN writes:
The LWN Kernel Source Database shows that Finger contributed to 94 releases in the (Git era) kernel history, starting with 2.6.16 — 1,464 commits in total. He will be missed… In part to his contributions, the Linux wireless hardware support has come a long way over the past two decades.
Larry was a frequent contributor to the Linux Wireless and Linux Kernel mailing lists. (Here’s a 2006 discussion he had about Git with Linus Torvalds.) Larry also answered 54 Linux questions on Quora, and in 2005 wrote three articles for Linux Journal. And Larry’s GitHub profile shows 122 contributions to open source projects just in 2024.

In Reddit’s Linux forum, one commenter wrote, “He was 84 years old and was still writing code. What a legend. May he rest in peace.”

Rest in peace, Larry.

By Subsentient • Score: 5, Informative Thread
I never knew the guy but the name rings a bell in all the kernel mailing list parts of my brain. Thank you, Larry. I am old enough to remember when Linux wifi support was the butt of jokes. Probably in no small part thanks to you, that’s no longer the case. Rest in peace, dude. Thanks for your service to free software.

I’m just slightly disappointed

By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 3 Thread

I was kind of hoping he was the guy who developed the “finger” command. But alas…

In any case, thank you for your contributions Larry Finger.

Re:I’m just slightly disappointed

By dsgrntlxmply • Score: 5, Funny Thread
Eerily, my WiFi connection experienced a moment of silence as I was about to click on this article.

OpenAI’s ‘Media Manager’ Mocked, Amid Accusations of Robbing Creative Professionals

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
OpenAI’s ‘Media Manager’ Mocked, Amid Accusations of Robbing Creative Professionals “Amid the hype surrounding Apple’s new deal with OpenAI, one issue has been largely papered over,” argues the Executive Director of America’s writer’s advocacy group, the Authors Guild.

OpenAI’s foundational models "are, and have always been, built atop the theft of creative professionals’ work.”
[L]ast month the company quietly announced Media Manager, scheduled for release in 2025. A tool purportedly designed to allow creators and content owners to control how their work is used, Media Manager is really a shameless attempt to evade responsibility for the theft of artists’ intellectual property that OpenAI is already profiting from.

OpenAI says this tool would allow creators to identify their work and choose whether to exclude it from AI training processes. But this does nothing to address the fact that the company built its foundational models using authors’ and other creators’ works without consent, compensation or control over how OpenAI users will be able to imitate the artists’ styles to create new works. As it’s described, Media Manager puts the burden on creators to protect their work and fails to address the company’s past legal and ethical transgressions. This overture is like having your valuables stolen from your home and then hearing the thief say, “Don’t worry, I’ll give you a chance to opt out of future burglaries … next year....”

AI companies often argue that it would be impossible for them to license all the content that they need and that doing so would bring progress to a grinding halt. This is simply untrue. OpenAI has signed a succession of licensing agreements with publishers large and small. While the exact terms of these agreements are rarely released to the public, the compensation estimates pale in comparison with the vast outlays for computing power and energy that the company readily spends. Payments to authors would have minimal effects on AI companies’ war chests, but receiving royalties for AI training use would be a meaningful new revenue stream for a profession that’s already suffering…

We cannot trust tech companies that swear their innovations are so important that they do not need to pay for one of the main ingredients — other people’s creative works. The “better future” we are being sold by OpenAI and others is, in fact, a dystopia. It’s time for creative professionals to stand together, demand what we are owed and determine our own futures.
The Authors Guild (and 17 other plaintiffs) are now in an ongoing lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft. And the Guild’s executive director also notes that there’s also “a class action filed by visual artists against Stability AI, Runway AI, Midjourney and Deviant Art, a lawsuit by music publishers against Anthropic for infringement of song lyrics, and suits in the U.S. and U.K. brought by Getty Images against Stability AI for copyright infringement of photographs.”

They conclude that “The best chance for the wider community of artists is to band together.”

Oh Please

By The Cat • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

Surely at this late date, it is clear to even the most stubborn skeptic that Big Tech’s ultimate purpose is to shut off every “revenue stream” for individuals?

They’ve bought up and locked down resumes, dating, payment processors, email, images, video, the web, books, comics, blogs, discussion groups, classified ads, journalism, mobile apps, animation and games.

You can’t get a job. You can’t start a business. Hell you can’t even talk to anyone online without fear of being blocked and banned. How the fuck are you going to make a living if you can’t even TALK to anyone?

So spare us the stories about “new revenue streams.”

Re: Good!

By unami • Score: 4, Informative Thread
Nope, you don’t have to register for copyright, this has never been standard. As soon as you create an original work, itt’s automatically copyrighted (at least here in Europe). You have to register patents or brands, and obviously you have to proove that you got copyright on something. so if you can register it somewhere, that’s good. In case of music, if you register it, you can claim royalties, but again, you don’t have to. Imho, training an AI doesn’t fall under copyright-protection and if you put your works on the internet for free, that’s your fault.

Re:Good!

By jonbryce • Score: 5, Informative Thread

For patents, you have to register them.
For Trademarks, you have to register and actively protect them.
But for Copyright, you get that automatically. In the US, you have to register it before you take legal action, but you can do that after the infringement takes place.

Naturally, that leads to this.

By McFortner • Score: 3 Thread
And of course, those same authors NEVER read another author’s book and learned how to craft narratives and dialog from those same books.

Nope. Never. Not even once. I’m positive they never read a book or an article before writing their own works.

What f**king hypocrites.

Last gasp of a dying industry

By WaffleMonster • Score: 3 Thread

In the US copyright regimes protect only the reproduction or public performances of works and their derivatives.

Copyright holders have no right to tell anyone else what they can’t or can’t do or how others may or may not profit profit from their works beyond making copies and performances. Copyright regimes are not exclusive grants to information, “styles” or anything beyond the works themselves.

I do not support expansions of copyright regimes to grant rights holders the ability to control how their works may be used by others. Neither do I support patenting styles. This would be a disaster.

Tuesday SpaceX Launches a NOAA Satellite to Improve Weather Forecasts for Earth and Space

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
Tuesday a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch a special satellite — a state-of-the-art weather-watcher from America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It will complete a series of four GOES-R satellite launches that began in 2016. Space.com drills down into how these satellites have changed weather forecasts:
More than seven years later, with three of the four satellites in the series orbiting the Earth, scientists and researchers say they are pleased with the results and how the advanced technology has been a game changer. “I think it has really lived up to its hype in thunderstorm forecasting. Meteorologists can see the convection evolve in near real-time and this gives them enhanced insight on storm development and severity, making for better warnings,” John Cintineo, a researcher from NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory , told Space.com in an email.

“Not only does the GOES-R series provide observations where radar coverage is lacking, but it often provides a robust signal before radar, such as when a storm is strengthening or weakening. I’m sure there have been many other improvements in forecasts and environmental monitoring over the last decade, but this is where I have most clearly seen improvement,” Cintineo said. In addition to helping predict severe thunderstorms, each satellite has collected images and data on heavy rain events that could trigger flooding, detected low clouds and fog as it forms, and has made significant improvements to forecasts and services used during hurricane season. “GOES provides our hurricane forecasters with faster, more accurate and detailed data that is critical for estimating a storm’s intensity, including cloud top cooling, convective structures, specific features of a hurricane’s eye, upper-level wind speeds, and lightning activity,” Ken Graham, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service told Space.com in an email.

Instruments such as the Advanced Baseline Imager have three times more spectral channels, four times the image quality, and five times the imaging speed as the previous GOES satellites. The Geostationary Lightning Mapper is the first of its kind in orbit on the GOES-R series that allows scientists to view lightning 24/7 and strikes that make contact with the ground and from cloud to cloud. “GOES-U and the GOES-R series of satellites provides scientists and forecasters weather surveillance of the entire western hemisphere, at unprecedented spatial and temporal scales,” Cintineo said. “Data from these satellites are helping researchers develop new tools and methods to address problems such as lightning prediction, sea-spray identification (sea-spray is dangerous for mariners), severe weather warnings, and accurate cloud motion estimation. The instruments from GOES-R also help improve forecasts from global and regional numerical weather models, through improved data assimilation.”
The final satellite, launching Tuesday, includes a new sensor — the Compact Coronagraph — “that will monitor weather outside of Earth’s atmosphere, keeping an eye on what space weather events are happening that could impact our planet,” according to the article.

“It will be the first near real time operational coronagraph that we have access to,” Rob Steenburgh, a space scientist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, told Space.com on the phone. “That’s a huge leap for us because up until now, we’ve always depended on a research coronagraph instrument on a spacecraft that was launched quite a long time ago.”

Foundation Honoring ‘Star Trek’ Creator Offers $1M Prize for AI Startup Benefiting Humanity

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
The Roddenberry Foundation — named for Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry — “announced Tuesday that this year’s biennial award would focus on artificial intelligence that benefits humanity,” reports the Los Angeles Times:
Lior Ipp, chief executive of the foundation, told The Times there’s a growing recognition that AI is becoming more ubiquitous and will affect all aspects of our lives. “We are trying to … catalyze folks to think about what AI looks like if it’s used for good,” Ipp said, “and what it means to use AI responsibly, ethically and toward solving some of the thorny global challenges that exist in the world....”

Ipp said the foundation shares the broad concern about AI and sees the award as a means to potentially contribute to creating those guardrails… Inspiration for the theme was also borne out of the applications the foundation received last time around. Ipp said the prize, which is “issue-agnostic” but focused on early-stage tech, produced compelling uses of AI and machine learning in agriculture, healthcare, biotech and education. “So,” he said, “we sort of decided to double down this year on specifically AI and machine learning....”

Though the foundation isn’t prioritizing a particular issue, the application states that it is looking for ideas that have the potential to push the needle on one or more of the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals, which include eliminating poverty and hunger as well as boosting climate action and protecting life on land and underwater.
The Foundation’s most recent winner was Sweden-based Elypta, according to the article, “which Ipp said is using liquid biopsies, such as a blood test, to detect cancer early.”

“We believe that building a better future requires a spirit of curiosity, a willingness to push boundaries, and the courage to think big,” said Rod Roddenberry, co-founder of the Roddenberry Foundation. “The Prize will provide a significant boost to AI pioneers leading these efforts.” According to the Foundation’s announcement, the Prize “embodies the Roddenberry philosophy’s promise of a future in which technology and human ingenuity enable everyone — regardless of background — to thrive.”

“By empowering entrepreneurs to dream bigger and innovate valiantly, the Roddenberry Prize seeks to catalyze the development of AI solutions that promote abundance and well-being for all.”

Interesting timing

By quonset • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

Just so everyone is aware.

For all?

By drinkypoo • Score: 3 Thread

“By empowering entrepreneurs to dream bigger and innovate valiantly, the Roddenberry Prize seeks to catalyze the development of AI solutions that promote abundance and well-being for all.”

AI is based on increasing resource use at a time when increased resource use is threatening our societies and indeed our lives (say goodbye to food security, never mind any of the other effects of AGW.) I love technology, but we really need to figure out how to not let our ambitions exceed our ability to execute them sustainably before we wildly increase our need for energy.

Good luck with that

By RitchCraft • Score: 3 Thread

Tech companies have only one goal … to use AI to disrupt as much as they can to make as much money as they can. “For the good of” is not even in their vocabulary. Until people like this cease to exist (looking at you Zuck, Bezos, Pichai, Nadella, etc..) “For the good of” is a long, long, way off, like the Star Trek universe itself.

Re:Good luck with that

By crow • Score: 4, Interesting Thread

It can be both.

Self-driving cars have the potential to save many lives. Robots can free us from menial labor (but that may require some uncomfortable shifting of how society functions). As cited in the article, AI can produce huge medical advances.

An emergency holographic doctor may not be as good as the real thing, but if it provides basic medical services for the millions who currently have no medical service at all, that’s huge.

EFF: New License Plate Reader Vulnerabilties Prove The Tech Itself is a Public Safety Threat

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
Automated license plate readers “pose risks to public safety,” argues the EFF, “that may outweigh the crimes they are attempting to address in the first place.”
When law enforcement uses automated license plate readers (ALPRs) to document the comings and goings of every driver on the road, regardless of a nexus to a crime, it results in gargantuan databases of sensitive information, and few agencies are equipped, staffed, or trained to harden their systems against quickly evolving cybersecurity threats. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, released an advisory last week that should be a wake up call to the thousands of local government agencies around the country that use ALPRs to surveil the travel patterns of their residents by scanning their license plates and “fingerprinting” their vehicles. The bulletin outlines seven vulnerabilities in Motorola Solutions’ Vigilant ALPRs, including missing encryption and insufficiently protected credentials…

Unlike location data a person shares with, say, GPS-based navigation app Waze, ALPRs collect and store this information without consent and there is very little a person can do to have this information purged from these systems… Because drivers don’t have control over ALPR data, the onus for protecting the data lies with the police and sheriffs who operate the surveillance and the vendors that provide the technology. It’s a general tenet of cybersecurity that you should not collect and retain more personal data than you are capable of protecting. Perhaps ironically, a Motorola Solutions cybersecurity specialist wrote an article in Police Chief magazine this month that public safety agencies “are often challenged when it comes to recruiting and retaining experienced cybersecurity personnel,” even though “the potential for harm from external factors is substantial.” That partially explains why, more than 125 law enforcement agencies reported a data breach or cyberattacks between 2012 and 2020, according to research by former EFF intern Madison Vialpando. The Motorola Solutions article claims that ransomware attacks “targeting U.S. public safety organizations increased by 142 percent” in 2023.

Yet, the temptation to “collect it all” continues to overshadow the responsibility to “protect it all.” What makes the latest CISA disclosure even more outrageous is it is at least the third time in the last decade that major security vulnerabilities have been found in ALPRs… If there’s one positive thing we can say about the latest Vigilant vulnerability disclosures, it’s that for once a government agency identified and reported the vulnerabilities before they could do damage… The Michigan Cyber Command center found a total of seven vulnerabilities in Vigilant devices; two of which were medium severity and 5 of which were high severity vulnerabilities…

But a data breach isn’t the only way that ALPR data can be leaked or abused. In 2022, an officer in the Kechi (Kansas) Police Department accessed ALPR data shared with his department by the Wichita Police Department to stalk his wife.
The article concludes that public safety agencies should “collect only the data they need for actual criminal investigations.

“They must never store more data than they adequately protect within their limited resources-or they must keep the public safe from data breaches by not collecting the data at all.”

I have experience with this

By Baron_Yam • Score: 5, Informative Thread

Can’t say where or who of course, but I was involved in the implementation of a regional ALPR system.

It started as a program to catch wanted individuals by checking for plates linked to people with active warrants or prohibited drive orders. Then they added checking for expired plates or insurance. Then they added checks for known associates of people of interest.

The one they hadn’t implemented by the time I left was the complete data hoover - adding permanent cameras at major intersections and doing regular patrols of mall parking lots with mobile units and recording everything, then keeping it basically forever so they could mine the database for any vehicle’s movements as far back as the records went.

The justification was to look for vehicles present at multiple crimes. The potential for abuse was so great I assure you I risked my career resisting it. It’s not hackers getting access, it’s cops stalking people you should be afraid of. The ones who have a beef with someone and want to settle it extrajudicially, the ones who can’t take no for an answer from the object of their romantic interests, the ones who want to our somebody for going to the ‘wrong’ store or social gatherings.

Without very tight rules, strict enforcement, and draconian punishments… You should not allow cops to collect this kind of data. It is only a matter of time before you regret it.

Re: I have experience with this

By Impy the Impiuos Imp • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

The only way around this is for private citizens to set up license plate readers, then broadcast the locations politicians go to.

No, government politicians. If you’re gonna do a panopticon, which is a tool dictatorships use (someone should write a book about that!) then you suffer from it, too.

Re:Storage

By sunderland56 • Score: 4, Informative Thread

This. Look up plate, if no match then discard.

There are not only privacy concerns here; a ‘gargantuan database’ costs the taxpayers money.

Re: I have experience with this

By ArchieBunker • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

Oh they will pass a law overnight making that illegal. Just like they did after Elon and Taylor Swift jet tracker gained popularity.

Re:How long before people take off license plates?

By crunchygranola • Score: 4, Insightful Thread

Civil disobedience has been used with considerable success in the past to get change from government when applied widely enough. If automated license plate readers start posing enough of a hassle and hazard to people then people will just remove their plates and accept the consequences of being caught without a plate.

“Will just” is doing a helluva lot of work there. The consequences are being busted the very first time they pass a cop on traffic duty (highway patrol are always on traffic duty). In California that is a $197 fine plus court costs for the first offense. Continued infractions and you will lose your license.

Only a massive coordinated campaign for a lot of people to do this at once would work.

Most passive civil disobedience of this sort is not the glaringly obvious in public sort that gets you instantly busted. Now civil disobedience demonstrations are like that, but they depend on lots of people getting together at once.

Our Brains React Differently to Deepfake Voices, Researchers Find

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
“University of Zurich researchers have discovered that our brains process natural human voices and “deepfake” voices differently,” writes Slashdot reader jenningsthecat.

From the University’s announcement:
The researchers first used psychoacoustical methods to test how well human voice identity is preserved in deepfake voices. To do this, they recorded the voices of four male speakers and then used a conversion algorithm to generate deepfake voices. In the main experiment, 25 participants listened to multiple voices and were asked to decide whether or not the identities of two voices were the same. Participants either had to match the identity of two natural voices, or of one natural and one deepfake voice.

The deepfakes were correctly identified in two thirds of cases. “This illustrates that current deepfake voices might not perfectly mimic an identity, but do have the potential to deceive people,” says Claudia Roswandowitz, first author and a postdoc at the Department of Computational Linguistics.

The researchers then used imaging techniques to examine which brain regions responded differently to deepfake voices compared to natural voices. They successfully identified two regions that were able to recognize the fake voices: the nucleus accumbens and the auditory cortex. “The nucleus accumbens is a crucial part of the brain’s reward system. It was less active when participants were tasked with matching the identity between deepfakes and natural voices,” says Claudia Roswandowitz. In contrast, the nucleus accumbens showed much more activity when it came to comparing two natural voices.
The complete paper appears in Nature.

Because

By YetAnotherDrew • Score: 3 Thread

Because people sound like people but deepfakes sound like Scarlett Johansson for some reason?

Maybe one day science will explain it.

Multiple AI Companies Ignore Robots.Txt Files, Scrape Web Content, Says Licensing Firm

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
Multiple AI companies are ignoring Robots.txt files meant to block the scraping of web content for generative AI systems, reports Reuters — citing a warning sent to publisher by content licensing startup TollBit.
TollBit, an early-stage startup, is positioning itself as a matchmaker between content-hungry AI companies and publishers open to striking licensing deals with them. The company tracks AI traffic to the publishers’ websites and uses analytics to help both sides settle on fees to be paid for the use of different types of content… It says it had 50 websites live as of May, though it has not named them. According to the TollBit letter, Perplexity is not the only offender that appears to be ignoring robots.txt. TollBit said its analytics indicate “numerous” AI agents are bypassing the protocol, a standard tool used by publishers to indicate which parts of its site can be crawled.

“What this means in practical terms is that AI agents from multiple sources (not just one company) are opting to bypass the robots.txt protocol to retrieve content from sites,” TollBit wrote. “The more publisher logs we ingest, the more this pattern emerges.”

The article includes this quote from the president of the News Media Alliance (a trade group representing over 2,200 U.S.-based publishers). “Without the ability to opt out of massive scraping, we cannot monetize our valuable content and pay journalists. This could seriously harm our industry.”

Reuters also notes another threat facing news sites:
Publishers have been raising the alarm about news summaries in particular since Google rolled out a product last year that uses AI to create summaries in response to some search queries. If publishers want to prevent their content from being used by Google’s AI to help generate those summaries, they must use the same tool that would also prevent them from appearing in Google search results, rendering them virtually invisible on the web.

Just a contract

By devslash0 • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

robots.txt is just a good-will contract between the client and a web server. Since AI companies (in fact all companies) go for profit and hardly ever show any good will, why would you expect them to obey by rules outlined in robots.txt? If you want access control over your content, implement actual access control.

Re:Just a contract

By buck-yar • Score: 5, Informative Thread
From Google:

A robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers which URLs the crawler can access on your site. This is used mainly to avoid overloading your site with requests; it is not a mechanism for keeping a web page out of Google. To keep a web page out of Google, block indexing with noindex or password-protect the page.

https://developers.google.com/…

Re:Killing the deal

By DewDude • Score: 4, Insightful Thread

That worked…for a while. The problem is the ad networks, being the capitalists they are, took the “neutral” approach of “whatever you pay for”. This resulted in legitiate businesses being used for the illicit distribution of malware.

The next problem is that ad networks did nothing. They knew they were serving malicious ads; they knew they were selling to bad actors; but they knew they had legal protection and continued to willingly sell malicious adspace under the guise of “we’re too big to check”.

So now come ad-blockers. It was one thing when they were just annoying; but it’s another when there’s actual risk of getting hacked. It didn’t go over well when the local newspaper infected 2500 local readers from a bad ad. Did they blame the ad? The paper did. Know who the readers blamed? They blamed the newspaper. “You should have taken more responsibility,” is what they screamed as they were canceling subscriptions. The same for a local TV station’s website when their ad network was serving malicious ads. They could point the finger all they wanted…but everyone was pointing it at the station.

That’s the other problem; no one places the blame where the blame should be placed. Rather than blame the adnetworks with no morals; they blame the website operators.

So now we have the ad-blocker wars; and to combat that…more anti-adblock stuff.

The fact is…ad revenue isn’t enough anymore. The lack of privacy laws and no oversight on any of this has meant the biggest export is American user data; sold by American companies, to the highest bidder. They don’t care about us…we’re just a product to profit off of.

Yawn

By nicolaiplum • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

Remember back in the late 2000s when companies were all about “Reinventing Search” (of the WWW)? It turned out most of them were trying to get juicier results than Google by ignoring robots.txt so they were not actually better and did irritate a lot of people when they ended up recursing indefinitely down programmatically-generated websites whose robots.txt specifically said “don’t go here”.

It’s not news that ignoring robots.txt gets you access to more content on the web. It’s also not news that this is usually not going to get you any better content.

Yet another bunch of tech bros are deciding they can succeed by ignoring all of rules, laws, social conventions, and the learnings of the past because they’re the superior, innovative people. Instead they will just burn money until they run out, then go around and start another company and get some more money without ever generating anything useful or profitable.

It’s almost as is

By Rosco P. Coltrane • Score: 4, Insightful Thread

Gigantic quasi-monopolies don’t respect anyone or any laws, or bother to behave with any sort of decency anymore, since they made themselves untouchable and it does nothing for their shareholders anyway.

I don’t think they even bother to pretend to show restraint anymore. Like with the AI stuff infringing copyright on an unprecedented scale: they basically just went “Yeah, that’s how it goes now. You can’t stop us. Suck it up.” It’s quite staggering.

America’s Used EV Price Crash Keeps Getting Deeper

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
Long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 shares CNBC’s report on the U.S. car market:
Back in February, used electric vehicle prices dipped below used gasoline-powered vehicle prices for the first time ever, and the pricing cliff keeps getting steeper as car buyers reject any “premium” tag formerly associated with EVs.

The decline has been dramatic over the past year. In June 2023, average used EV prices were over 25% higher than used gas car prices, but by May, used EVs were on average 8% lower than the average price for a used gasoline-powered car in U.S. In dollar terms, the gap widened from $265 in February to $2,657 in May, according to an analysis of 2.2 million one to five year-old used cars conducted by iSeeCars. Over the past year, gasoline-powered used vehicle prices have declined between 3-7%, while electric vehicle prices have decreased 30-39%.

“It’s clear used car shoppers will no longer pay a premium for electric vehicles,” iSeeCars executive analyst Karl Brauer stated in an iSeeCars report published last week. Electric power is now a detractor in the consumer’s mind, with EVs “less desirable” and therefore less valuable than traditional cars, he said.
The article notes there’s been a price war among EV manufacturers — and that newer EV models might be more attractive due to “longer ranges and improved battery life with temperature control for charging.”

But CNBC also notes a silver lining. “As more EVs enter the used market at lower prices, the EV market does become available to a wider market of potential first-time EV owners.”

Well lucky you

By Viol8 • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

“Australia like America is mostly detached houses so we park on-site or immediately in front”

Guess what, I live in europe and a significant minority , possibly even a majority in some countries , live in flats/apartments or houses with no drive, only street parking, where there is no possibility of home charging.

Why do EV shills always assume everyone lives in some huge house where home charging is no problem?

Re:EVs are getting much cheaper

By Savage-Rabbit • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

So it turns out that the actual story here is that EVs are getting much much cheaper:
- New EVs are seeing prices fall while range etc improves, due to increased competition
- Used EVs are seeing prices fall as a second-order effect, and as supply volumes increase dramatically

The result of this is going to drive us to purchase cost parity much faster than would otherwise have happened, and that will drive faster adoption.

The thing that’s most likely to weaken all this is tariffs reducing the price signals.

It’s not just about supply volumes. The value of EVs falls rapidly because each new generation has far better range than the previous one which makes the previous generation far less interesting. I’d expect this to be less of a factor in countries with denser, more advanced and developed charging infrastructures than the USA but it is and will remain a factor. Another factor is anxiety over the expense of replacing the battery. Nobody is thrilled at the idea of buying a used EV whose battery is about to go out of warranty and then possibly being stuck with replacing the thing at a price tag well north of $10k because the battery pack is just worn out, because it is not rated for driving through puddles deeper than 20 cm (Tesla), because a rock dented the battery pack (Hyundai), the manufacturer did not fit the battery pack with a thermal management system and you can’t get a replacement battery pack at non-extortional prices except salvaged from a crashed vehicle (Nissan) etc, etc, ad nauseam. These are not such an issue on ICE cars who have benefitted from 100 years of development rooted in operational experience but none of these issues with EVs are an unsolvable problem either.

Same as with digital cameras in the 2000s

By dargaud • Score: 5, Insightful Thread
When digital cameras came on the market they were way more expensive than traditional film cameras and they certainly weren’t better but they had their niche. Then they improved very quickly, so quickly that some brand had a new model every 3 months, way better than the previous model (double the resolution, double the storage, half the speed, etc…), so much so that there was basically no used market at all, cameras were worthless after just 3 months, even if hardly used. This pissed off a lot of early adopters. It also depleted the film camera aftermarket. A used camera magazine I know stopped publishing their price estimates for a decade. And then, after a decade the technology matured, the prices stabilized, new models are only slight improvements over old ones and nobody uses film cameras anymore…
The same is happening to the EV market. It’s gonna be a rough decade.

Re:the freshest clickbait

By fluffernutter • Score: 5, Informative Thread
Ok so it’s good that we are warning people who just want a car what to expect. There will be people buying these who don’t understand all the downsides of an EV. Resale value is something a lot of people don’t think about until they try to sell it, and they shouldn’t have to find out when it is too late. Also the EV industry should understand what the problems are so that maybe capitalism can do what its supposed to and make EVs into something that are less risky for people to buy. I’m not sure what you mean by cheaper though, i guess the price has come down but they are still around 20% more than a comparable ICE. Combined with higher depreciation that is a bitter pill to swallow.

Good for potential buyers.

By couchslug • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

Most vehicle sales are used not new and the market requires discounted high end/new vehicles to percolate downwards so normals can afford them. The more high end vehicles sell at discounts the closer they are to the common driver who may never buy a new car (paying off my homes was for example far more rewarding and a new vehicle is almost always a financially unwise purchase absent a wealthy buyer who already has land paid off and retirement funds maxed out to provide their desired net income.

Not everyone is rich but nearly everyone needs a POV especially if they own a home and much more if they DIY to slash costs.

Launch of Chinese-French Satellite Scattered Debris Over Populated Area

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot Skip
“A Chinese launch of the joint Sino-French SVOM mission to study Gamma-ray bursts early Saturday saw toxic rocket debris fall over a populated area…” writes Space News:
SVOM is a collaboration between the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and France’s Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES). The mission will look for high-energy electromagnetic radiation from these events in the X-ray and gamma-ray ranges using two French and two Chinese-developed science payloads… Studying gamma-ray bursts, thought to be caused by the death of massive stars or collisions between stars, could provide answers to key questions in astrophysics. This includes the death of stars and the creation of black holes.

However the launch of SVOM also created an explosion of its own closer to home.A video posted on Chinese social media site Sina Weibo appears to show a rocket booster falling on a populated area with people running for cover. The booster fell to Earth near Guiding County, Qiandongnan Prefecture in Guizhou province, according to another post

A number of comments on the video noted the danger posed by the hypergolic propellant from the Long March rocket… The Long March 2C uses a toxic, hypergolic mix of nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH). Reddish-brown gas or smoke from the booster could be indicative of nitrogen tetroxide, while a yellowish gas could be caused by hydrazine fuel mixing with air. Contact with either remaining fuel or oxidizer from the rocket stage could be very harmful to individuals.
“Falling rocket debris is a common issue with China’s launches from its three inland launch sites…” the article points out.

“Authorities are understood to issue warnings and evacuation notices for areas calculated to be at risk from launch debris, reducing the risk of injuries.

Re:Regrettable, but necessary

By timeOday • Score: 5, Funny Thread
One day maybe somebody will invent a booster that makes a controlled landing at a designated location

Re:Regrettable, but necessary

By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 5, Funny Thread

Come on now, that’s just crazy talk.

Re:Regrettable, but necessary

By test321 • Score: 5, Informative Thread

The reusable version will debut this year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…

Re:Regrettable, but necessary

By Rei • Score: 5, Funny Thread

China has no alternative but to accept this risk since they don’t seem to have any coastline on the eastern side of their country

*confusedly checks a map*

Re:Regrettable, but necessary

By Rei • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

To be clear: China’s choice of inland sites was baffling to western observers, not simply from a debris standpoint, but also because they’re so far north, whereas rockets benefit from southerly trajectories.

The decision dates back to Cold War politics. China was afraid of their rocket sites being attacked and felt that their coasts were too vulnerable. The modern Wenchang launch site however is coastal.

Walmart Announces Electronic Shelf Labels They Can Change Remotely

Posted by EditorDavid View on SlashDot
Walmart “became the latest retailer to announce it’s replacing the price stickers in its aisles with electronic shelf labels,” reports NPR.

“The new labels allow employees to change prices as often as every ten seconds.”
“If it’s hot outside, we can raise the price of water and ice cream. If there’s something that’s close to the expiration date, we can lower the price — that’s the good news,” said Phil Lempert, a grocery industry analyst…

The ability to easily change prices wasn’t mentioned in Walmart’s announcement that 2,300 stores will have the digitized shelf labels by 2026. Daniela Boscan, who participated in Walmart’s pilot of the labels in Texas, said the label’s key benefits are “increased productivity and reduced walking time,” plus quicker restocking of shelves…

As higher wages make labor more expensive, retailers big and small can benefit from the increased productivity that digitized shelf labels enable, said Santiago Gallino, a professor specializing in retail management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “The bottom line, at least when I talk to retailers, is the calculation of the amount of labor that they’re going to save by incorporating this. And in that sense, I don’t think that this is something that only large corporations like Walmart or Target can benefit from,” Gallino said. “I think that smaller chains can also see the potential benefit of it.”
Indeed, Walmart’s announcement calls the tech “a win” for both customers and their workers, arguing that updating prices with a mobile app means “reducing the need to walk around the store to change paper tags by hand and giving us more time to support customers in the store.” Professor Gallino tells NPR he doesn’t think Walmart will suddenly change prices — though he does think Walmart will use it to keep their offline and online prices identical.

The article also points out you can already find electronic shelf labels at other major grocers inlcuding Amazon Fresh stores and Whole Foods — and that digitized shelf labels “are even more common in stores across Europe.”
Another feature of electronic shelf labels is their product descriptions. [Grocery analyst] Lempert notes that barcodes on the new labels can provide useful details other than the price. “They can actually be used where you take your mobile device and you scan it and it can give you more information about the product — whether it’s the sourcing of the product, whether it’s gluten free, whether it’s keto friendly. That’s really the promise of what these shelf tags can do,” Lempert said.
Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader loveandpeace for sharing the article.

So what happens if the price changes after

By MeNeXT • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

I put it in my cart?

That would be illegal where I live making the product free if it was under $10.

Re: Savings will be minimal, IMHO

By ArmoredDragon • Score: 5, Informative Thread

Way back when I worked retail about 15 years ago, and this was what they call a medium box store, we changed the prices every week. Generally there were three of us, it took an hour to do, and it was outside of regular opening hours. But keep in mind, medium box is a LOT smaller than e.g. Walmart superstores; probably a lot more work there. The labels came from some corporate office and were distributed based on the planograms, I’d imagine Walmart does the same. For these labels, you likely don’t even need anybody to be in the store at all to change them unless the planogram changes, which isn’t often at all, in which case you’d just need somebody to reprogram maybe a handful of them once in a blue moon, which is likely only a tiny fraction of the work involved in planogram changes, which also includes moving the physical goods around.

So yeah, I’d imagine it saves a bit. More than that, you’re also less likely to end up with incorrect prices, which happens a fair bit because somebody inevitably misses something when a price changes, either up or down.

Legal speedbump

By reanjr • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

You can’t update prices in the middle of the day. At least you can’t raise them. You’ll run into legal issues with mislabeled pricing when someone picks something up for $1.19 and then gets charged $1.29.

Re:Savings will be minimal, IMHO

By taustin • Score: 5, Informative Thread

The scenario they offer, “surge” pricing with high demand, would actually be illegal in many states, criminal in some. Online, you can get away with it, because when you make the purchase, the price you’ve seen is the price you pay.

In a brick & mortar setting, if you see a price on the shelf, pick up the item, shop for a while longer, and get charged more at the register, that’s illegal. In California, it’s criminal, with steep fines. If the register price is $1 more than the posted price, it’s a felony, with steeper fines (granted, Walmart won’t care that much about that), followed by at least monthly inspections by Weights & Measures, that have to be attended by the store manager personally, and repeated fines for every violation. The record keeping requirements (the store is required to verify posted prices themselves daily are enough to make a measurable difference is payroll budgets. And, I suspect, if compliance is quick and effective, they could eventually force the closure of the store.

So, nobody who has actually dealt with that in the real world would ever believe it’s a good idea to raise prices for any reason in a store the size of a Walmart during business hours. Lower? Sure, no problem. Pleasant surprise for the customer, regulators don’t give a damn. Raise it? Be prepared to add court appearances to your schedule (and given that Walmart will almost certainly be controlling these from corporate, not at the store level, it won’t be just store managers getting served with subpoenas).

Re:Is this really necessary?

By taustin • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

Also, what happens if the price changes between the time you pick it up off the shelf and the time it gets scanned at checkout? False advertising? Fraud?

In California, criminal charges against the company if Weights & Measures catch it. If it’s more than $1 higher, felony charges. The fines wouldn’t be a big deal for Walmart, but the monthly (or more) inspections and brutal record keeping requirements for years afterwards would be.

No brick & mortar store of any size in their right mind would raise prices during business hours.