Merriam-Webster’s Word For 2023 Is ‘Authentic’
On Monday, Merriam-Webster announced its word of the year is “authentic — the term for something we’re thinking about, writing about, aspiring to, and judging more than ever.” The Associated Press reports:
Authentic cuisine. Authentic voice. Authentic self. Authenticity as artifice. Lookups for the word are routinely heavy on the dictionary company’s site but were boosted to new heights throughout the year, editor at large Peter Sokolowski told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview. “We see in 2023 a kind of crisis of authenticity,” he said ahead of Monday’s announcement of this year’s word. “What we realize is that when we question authenticity, we value it even more.”
Sokolowski and his team don’t delve into the reasons people head for dictionaries and websites in search of specific words. Rather, they chase the data on lookup spikes and world events that correlate. This time around, there was no particularly huge boost at any given time but a constancy to the increased interest in “authentic.” […] “Can we trust whether a student wrote this paper? Can we trust whether a politician made this statement? We don’t always trust what we see anymore,” Sokolowski said. “We sometimes don’t believe our own eyes or our own ears. We are now recognizing that authenticity is a performance itself.”
There’s “not false or imitation: real, actual,” as in an authentic cockney accent. There’s “true to one’s own personality, spirit or character.” There’s “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact.” There’s “made or done the same way as an original.” And, perhaps the most telling, there’s “conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features.”
Michigan Installs First Wireless EV Charging Road In US
The first wireless charging public roadway in the United States has been installed in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. Electrek reports:
Wireless charging provider Electreon provided inductive-charging copper coils that were installed below the road’s surface. The coils will charge EVs equipped with Electreon receivers as they drive over the road. The road’s charging segments transfer electricity wirelessly through a magnetic field, which is then transferred as energy to the vehicle’s battery, charging it. Detroit’s wireless charging roadway is a pilot that will test and aim to perfect the wireless charging technology in a real-world environment. Researchers are using a Ford E-Transit equipped with an Electreon receiver.
The plan is to open it up to the public in the next few years. MDOT and Electreon have entered a five-year commitment to develop and pilot the electric road system on Michigan roads. The pilot is on a quarter-mile stretch on 14th Street between Marantette and Dalzelle Streets in Detroit’s historic Corktown. It runs alongside the Newlab at Michigan Central Building, home to more than 60 tech and mobility startups, where the wireless charging tech will be further tested and developed beginning in early 2024. In 2024, MDOT will begin seeking bids to rebuild part of Michigan Avenue (US-12) and will install additional inductive charging.
Researchers Quantify the Carbon Footprint of Generating AI Images
Researchers at the AI startup Hugging Face and Carnegie Mellon University discovered (PDF) that generating an image using artificial intelligence has a carbon footprint equivalent to charging a smartphone. Meanwhile, AI-generated text takes up as much energy as charging a smartphone to about 16 percent full. Engadget reports:
The study didn’t just look into image and text generation by machine learning programs. The researchers examined a total of 13 tasks, ranging from summarization to text classification, and measured the amount of carbon dioxide produced per every 1000 grams. For the sake of keeping the study fair and the datasets diverse, the researchers said they ran the experiments on 88 different models using 30 datasets. For each task, the researchers ran 1,000 prompts while gathering the “carbon code” to measure both the energy consumed and the carbon emitted during an exchange.
The findings highlight that the most energy-intensive tasks are those that ask an AI model to generate new content, whether it be text generation, summarization, image captioning, or image generation. Image generation ranked highest in the amount of emissions it produced and text classification was classified as the least energy-intensive task. The researchers urge machine learning scientists and practitioners to “practice transparency regarding the nature and impacts of their models, to enable better understanding of their environmental impacts.”
Meta Will Enforce Ban On AI-Powered Political Ads In Every Nation, No Exceptions
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet:
Meta says its generative artificial intelligence (AI) advertising tools cannot be used to power political campaigns anywhere globally, with access blocked for ads targeting specific services and issues. The social media giant said earlier this month that advertisers will be barred from using generative AI tools in its Ads Manager tool to produce ads for politics, elections, housing, employment, credit, or social issues. Ads related to health, pharmaceuticals, and financial services also are not allowed access to the generative AI features. This policy will apply globally, as Meta continues to test its generative AI ads creation tools, confirmed Dan Neary, Meta’s Asia-Pacific vice president.
“This approach will allow us to better understand potential risks and build the right safeguards for the use of generative AI in ads that relate to potentially sensitive topics in regulated industries,” said Neary.
PlayStation To Delete A Ton Of TV Shows Users Already Paid For
Sony is about to delete tons of Discovery shows from PlayStation users’ libraries even if they already “purchased” them. Why? Because most users don’t actually own the digital content they buy thanks to the mess of online DRM and license agreements. Some of the soon-to-be-deleted TV shows include Mythbusters and Naked and Afraid. Kotaku reports:
The latest pothole in the road to an all-digital future was discovered via a warning Sony recently sent out to PlayStation users who purchased TV shows made by Discovery, the reality TV network that recently merged with Warner Bros. in one of the most brutal and idiotic corporate maneuvers of our time. “Due to our content licensing arrangements with content providers, you will no longer be able to watch any of your previously purchased Discovery content and the content will be removed from your video library,” read a copy of the email that was shared with Kotaku.
It linked to a page on the PlayStation website listing all of the shows impacted. As you might imagine, given Discovery’s penchant for pumping out seasons of relatively cheap to produce but popular reality TV and documentary-based shows, there are a lot of them. They include, but are not limited to, hits such as: Say Yes to the Dress, Shark Week, Cake Boss, Long Island Medium, Deadly Women, and many, many more. […] Now, essentially anything you buy on PSN, whether a PS5 blockbuster or, uh, Police Women of Cincinnati, is essentially just on indefinite loan until such time as the PlayStation servers die or the original copyright owner decides to pull the content.
OpenAI Delays Launch of Custom GPT Store Until Early 2024
According to Axios, OpenAI is delaying the launch of a GPT store until early next year. The store was expected to open last month. From the report:
OpenAI’s announcement of custom GPTs and the accompanying store was a highlight of last month’s DevDay conference. “We are now planning to launch the GPT Store early next year,” OpenAI said in the memo. “While we had expected to release it this month, a few unexpected things have been keeping us busy!”
For now the custom GPTs can be shared directly via a link. With the store, developers will be able to distribute them more broadly and OpenAI has also said it plans to share some revenue it gets from ChatGPT Plus subscriptions with those who create popular GPTs, though it has yet to release details. “In the meantime, we will have some other great updates to ChatGPT soon,” the company told developers. “Thank you for investing time to build a GPT.”
Brazilian City Enacts an Ordinance That Was Secretly Written By ChatGPT
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Associated Press:
City lawmakers in Brazil have enacted what appears to be the nation’s first legislation written entirely by artificial intelligence — even if they didn’t know it at the time. The experimental ordinance was passed in October in the southern city of Porto Alegre and city councilman Ramiro Rosario revealed this week that it was written by a chatbot, sparking objections and raising questions about the role of artificial intelligence in public policy. Rosario told The Associated Press that he asked OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT to craft a proposal to prevent the city from charging taxpayers to replace water consumption meters if they are stolen. He then presented it to his 35 peers on the council without making a single change or even letting them know about its unprecedented origin.
“If I had revealed it before, the proposal certainly wouldn’t even have been taken to a vote,” Rosario told the AP by phone on Thursday. The 36-member council approved it unanimously and the ordinance went into effect on Nov. 23. “It would be unfair to the population to run the risk of the project not being approved simply because it was written by artificial intelligence,” he added. […] Keeping the proposal’s origin secret was intentional. Rosario told the AP his objective was not just to resolve a local issue, but also to spark a debate. He said he entered a 49-word prompt into ChatGPT and it returned the full draft proposal within seconds, including justifications.
“I am convinced that … humanity will experience a new technological revolution,” he said. “All the tools we have developed as a civilization can be used for evil and good. That’s why we have to show how it can be used for good.” And the council president [Hamilton Sossmeier], who initially decried the method, already appears to have been swayed. “I changed my mind,” Sossmeier said. “I started to read more in depth and saw that, unfortunately or fortunately, this is going to be a trend.”
China is Building Nuclear Reactors Faster Than Any Other Country
An anonymous reader shares a report:
To wean their country off imported oil and gas, and in the hope of retiring dirty coal-fired power stations, China’s leaders have poured money into wind and solar energy. But they are also turning to one of the most sustainable forms of non-renewable power. Over the past decade China has added 37 nuclear reactors, for a total of 55, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a un body. During that same period America, which leads the world with 93 reactors, added two.
Facing an ever-growing demand for energy, China isn’t letting up. It aims to install between six and eight nuclear reactors each year. Some officials seem to think that target is low. The country’s nuclear regulator says China has the capacity to add between eight and ten per year. The State Council (China’s cabinet) approved the construction of ten in 2022. All in all, China has 22 nuclear reactors under construction, many more than any other country. The growth of nuclear power has stalled in Western countries for a number of reasons. Reactors require a large upfront investment and take years to construct. The industry is heavily regulated.
China, though, has smoothed the path for nuclear power by providing state-owned energy companies with cheap loans, as well as land and licences. Suppliers of nuclear energy are given subsidies known as feed-in tariffs. All of this has driven down the price of nuclear power in China to around $70 per megawatt-hour, compared with $105 in America and $160 in the European Union, according to the International Energy Agency, an official forecaster. China is not immune to the safety concerns that have turned many in the West against nuclear power. After the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in 2011, China temporarily put its construction programme on hold. It has maintained a ban on inland nuclear plants, which have to use river water for cooling. Earlier this year China reacted angrily when Japan began releasing treated and totally harmless wastewater from the Fukushima plant into the ocean.
Mystery Customer For Palmer Luckey’s Aircraft-Killing Drone Is US Special Forces
U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has paid over ten million dollars for a new autonomous aircraft made by Anduril, the defense startup run by Palmer Luckey, which is capable of carrying explosive warheads and taking down other aircraft, or re-landing itself if it doesn’t engage in an attack, 404 Media has found.
On Friday, Anduril announced the existence of the person-size drone called “Roadrunner.” In his own Twitter thread, Luckey said Roadrunner has been “operationally validated with an existing U.S. government customer,” but did not name the agency. Multiple publications which appeared to have the news under embargo, including Bloomberg and Defense One, added that the company is not allowed to say which customer bought the technology. It took 404 Media around 25 seconds to find the customer is likely USSOCOM.
Vanishing Graduate Tech Jobs Worsen Modi’s Headache Before Elections
For years, India’s tech graduates could bank on a job offer from one of the country’s IT giants. Now those starting positions are suddenly waning, leaving hundreds of thousands in peril and creating a fresh headache for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. From a report:
Infosys and Wipro were among companies that shocked students nationwide last month, saying they were cutting college recruitment as demand for their services cooled across the globe. […] The unusual pullback from the $245 billion industry risks exacerbating youth unemployment in the world’s most populous nation, a potential scar on Modi’s ambitious plan to keep India growing at a fast clip and make it the third-biggest economy during his reign. The high-profile problem of youth joblessness also gives the opposition another rallying point ahead of next year’s elections, in which Modi is trying to snag a third term that would extend his tenure to 15 years.
The tech-services industry is one of the largest employers in India, and accounts for 7.5% of the South Asian country’s more than $3 trillion economy. The biggest tech companies have each traditionally hired tens of thousands of tech graduates every year, then rigorously trained them for tasks such as writing software for some of the world’s biggest enterprises ranging from Apple to PepsiCo. The IT companies hired particularly aggressively in the past two years as the pandemic prompted customers to spend on services and technologies enabling remote working. The top two IT companies, Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, hired more than 284,000 graduates over that period combined. Now the uncertainty caused by Russia’s attack on Ukraine as well as high global inflation and interest rates are causing customers around the world to hold off on spending. Meanwhile, technologies such as artificial intelligence are increasingly performing tasks previously handled by entry-level IT workers.
Meta Says There’s Been No Downside To Sharing AI Technology
Meta executives said there’s been no major drawbacks to openly sharing its AI technology, even as many peers take the opposite approach. From a report:
Over the past few months, Meta has been releasing open-source versions of its large language models — the technology behind AI chatbots like ChatGPT. The idea is to keep those models free and then gain an advantage by building products and services on top of them, executives said at an event for the company’s AI research Lab FAIR. “There is really no commercial downside to also making it available to other people,” said Yann LeCun, Meta’s chief AI scientist. Meta has joined most of the world’s biggest technology companies in embracing generative AI, which can create text, images and even video based on simple prompts. But they aren’t taking the same path.
Many of the top AI developers, including OpenAI and Google’s DeepMind, don’t currently open-source their large language models. Companies are often fearful of opening up their work because competitors could steal it, said Mike Schroepfer, Meta’s senior fellow and former chief technology officer. “I feel like we’re approaching this world where everyone is closing down as it becomes competitively important,” he said. But staying open has its advantages. Meta can rely on thousands of developers across the world to help enhance its AI models.
Xbox Talking To Partners for Mobile Store, CEO Spencer Says
Microsoft is talking to partners to help launch a mobile gaming store that will take on Apple and Google’s dominant position in the business, according to Phil Spencer, who leads the company’s Xbox video-game division. From a report:
“It’s an important part of our strategy and something we are actively working on today not only alone, but talking to other partners who’d also like to see more choice for how they can monetize on the phone,” Spencer said in an interview in Sao Paulo during the CCXP comics and entertainment convention.
The executive declined to give a specific date for a launch of the online store, which earlier reports suggested could be next year. “I don’t think this is multiple years away, I think this is sooner than that,” he said. Microsoft earlier this year expanded its Game Pass subscription service for players on personal computers to 11 new Latin American countries, leading to a 7% increase in customers. Peru and Costa Rica are the standouts in terms of customer interest, accounting for almost half of new signups, Spencer said. Globally Brazil is the second-biggest market for the PC Game Pass. “In many ways Brazil leads a lot of the trends that we see globally,” Spencer said.
Lucid Dream Startup Says Engineers Can Write Code In Their Sleep
An anonymous reader writes:
People spend one-third of their lives asleep. What if employees could work during that time … in their dreams? Prophetic, a venture-backed startup founded earlier this year, wants to help workers do just that. Using a headpiece the company calls the “Halo,” Prophetic says consumers can induce a lucid dream state, which occurs when the person having a dream is aware they are sleeping. The goal is to give people control over their dreams, so they can use that time productively. A CEO could practice for an upcoming board meeting, an athlete could run through plays, a web designer could create new templates — “the limiting factor is your imagination,” founder and CEO Eric Wollberg told Fortune.
Halos will cost around $1,500 to $2,000 each.
Consumer devices claiming to induce lucid dream states aren’t new. Headbands, eye masks, and boxes with electrodes that stick to the forehead all populate the market. Even some supplements claim to do the trick. But there’s still an appetite for new technologies, since the potential for creativity and problem-solving is so great and since many on the market don’t work to the extent they promise, a dreaming expert told Fortune. The potential of lucid dreaming is less about conquering specific problems and more about finding new, creative ways to approach topics that a sleeper couldn’t previously fathom. For example, a mathematician might not reach a specific, numerical answer to a math problem while asleep, but the lucid dream allows them to explore new strategies to tackle the equation while awake.
Valve Launches Official Steam Link PC VR Streaming App On Quest
An anonymous reader quotes a report from UploadVR:
Valve just launched a free official Steam Link app on Meta Quest. The app, which is on the official Quest Store and approved by Meta, lets you wirelessly play SteamVR games like Half-Life: Alyx on your Quest 2, Quest Pro, or Quest 3 by streaming from your gaming PC over your home Wi-Fi network. You can also play your traditional non-VR Steam games on a giant virtual screen.
Rolls-Royce Exits Electric Propulsion To Focus On Core Businesses
Rolls-Royce announced plans to sell its electric flight division to focus on its core businesses. AeroTime reports:
The sale of the electric business division could bring in between 1 and 1.5 billion pounds to Rolls-Royce coffers. In this regard, Rolls-Royce is betting on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as the main driver of decarbonization for the aviation industry. All of Rolls-Royce’s in-production engine types will be able to run on 100% SAF. The engine maker is optimistic about its new UltraFan, an improved efficiency engine technology which was successfully tested earlier in 2023. Rolls-Royce expects UltraFan engines to power both widebody and narrowbody aircraft in the future. Rolls-Royce also noted that it sees opportunities in the executive aviation segment and is targeting 8-9% growth in Pearl engine deliveries.
New submitter HammerOn1024 comments: “They are SELLING not shutting down, so keep the harping to a dull roar please.”
Rolls-Royce is currently in the middle of a restructuring program to turn itself around and boost profitability. The pandemic had a strong impact on the engine maker, as the company’s service revenues depend heavily on the number of hours engines are in use. [CEO Tufan Erginbilgic] said he expected the group to increase its profits to the 2.5-2.8 billion pound range, up from the 0.65 billion pound profit it reported in 2022. The civilian aerospace division is expected to make the largest contribution to this turnaround and reach profit margins of 15 to 17% by 2027 (compared to the group’s goal of 13-15%), up from the meagre 2.5% it reported for the last fiscal year.