MIT Removes Huge Dataset That Teaches AI Systems To Use Racist, Misogynistic Slurs

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register MIT has taken offline its highly cited dataset that trained AI systems to potentially describe people using racist, misogynistic, and other problematic terms. The database was removed this week after The Register alerted the American super-college. MIT also urged researchers and developers to stop using the training library, and to delete any copies. “We sincerely apologize,” a professor told us. The training set, built by the university, has been used to teach machine-learning models to automatically identify and list the people and objects depicted in still images. For example, if you show one of these systems a photo of a park, it might tell you about the children, adults, pets, picnic spreads, grass, and trees present in the snap. Thanks to MIT’s cavalier approach when assembling its training set, though, these systems may also label women as whores or bitches, and Black and Asian people with derogatory language. The database also contained close-up pictures of female genitalia labeled with the C-word. Applications, websites, and other products relying on neural networks trained using MIT’s dataset may therefore end up using these terms when analyzing photographs and camera footage.

The problematic training library in question is 80 Million Tiny Images, which was created in 2008 to help produce advanced object-detection techniques. It is, essentially, a huge collection of photos with labels describing what’s in the pics, all of which can be fed into neural networks to teach them to associate patterns in photos with the descriptive labels. So when a trained neural network is shown a bike, it can accurately predict a bike is present in the snap. It’s called Tiny Images because the pictures in library are small enough for computer-vision algorithms in the late-2000s and early-2010s to digest. Today, the Tiny Images dataset is used to benchmark computer-vision algorithms along with the better-known ImageNet training collection. Unlike ImageNet, though, no one, until now, has scrutinized Tiny Images for problematic content.

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Source: Slashdot – MIT Removes Huge Dataset That Teaches AI Systems To Use Racist, Misogynistic Slurs

Google discontinues its affordable Pixel 3a and 3a XL phones

Google has officially discontinued its Pixel 3a and 3a XL phones, it has confirmed in a statement sent to Android Police. It was previously marked “Out of Stock” on the US Google Store, but now its listing says it’s already “Unavailable.” Google’s sp…

Source: Engadget – Google discontinues its affordable Pixel 3a and 3a XL phones

People Testing Negative For COVID-19 Antibodies May Still Have Some Immunity, Study Suggests

Thelasko shares a report from the BBC: For every person testing positive for antibodies, two were found to have specific T-cells which identify and destroy infected cells. This was seen even in people who had mild or symptomless cases of Covid-19. But it’s not yet clear whether this just protects that individual, or if it might also stop them from passing on the infection to others.

Researchers at the Karolinksa Institute in Sweden tested 200 people for both antibodies and T-cells. Some were blood donors while others were tracked down from the group of people first infected in Sweden, mainly returning from earlier affected areas like northern Italy. This could mean a wider group have some level of immunity to Covid-19 than antibody testing figures, like those published as part of the UK Office for National Statistics Infection Survey, suggest. It’s likely those people did mount an antibody response, but either it had faded or was not detectable by the current tests. And these people should be protected if they are exposed to the virus for a second time.

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Source: Slashdot – People Testing Negative For COVID-19 Antibodies May Still Have Some Immunity, Study Suggests

Firefox 78: Protections Dashboard, New Developer Features, and the End of the Line For Older MacOS Versions

williamyf shares a report from The Register: Mozilla has released Firefox 78 with a new Protections Dashboard and a bunch of updates for web developers. This is also the last supported version of Firefox for macOS El Capitan (10.11) and earlier. Firefox is on a “rapid release plan,” which means a new version every four to five weeks. This means that major new features should not be expected every time. That said, Firefox 78 is also an extended support release (ESR), which means users who stick with ESR get updates from this and the previous 10 releases. The main new user-facing feature in Firefox 78 is the Protections Dashboard, a screen which shows trackers and scripts blocked, a link to the settings, a link to Firefox Monitor for checking your email address against known data breaches, and a button for password management.

Developers get a bunch of new features. The Accessibility inspector is out of beta — this is a tab in the developer tools that will check a page for accessibility issues when enabled. Source maps are a JavaScript feature that map minified code back to the original code to make debugging easier. Firefox has a Map option that lets you use source maps in the debugger, and this now works with logpoints, a type of breakpoint that writes a message to the console rather than pausing execution, so that you see the original variable names. Mozilla has also worked on debugging JavaScript promises, so you can see more detail when exceptions are thrown.

A big feature for debugging web applications when running on mobile is the ability to connect an Android phone with USB, and navigate and refresh mobile web pages from the desktop. Patience is required though, since this will only work with a forthcoming new version of Firefox for Android. Mozilla has been working on a new Regular Expression (RegExp) evaluator and this is included in SpiderMonkey (Mozilla’s JavaScript engine) in Firefox 78. This brings the evaluator up to date with the requirements of ECMAScript 2018.

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Source: Slashdot – Firefox 78: Protections Dashboard, New Developer Features, and the End of the Line For Older MacOS Versions

Dish Buys Prepaid Carrier Boost Mobile For $1.4 Billion

Today, Dish announced the $1.4 billion acquisition of Boost Mobile. With this purchase, Dish secures its place in the retail wireless market and will serve more than nine million customers. Engadget reports: The deal is the result of T-Mobile’s Sprint merger. In order to gain FCC approval and quell fears that the merger would hurt competition, T-Mobile and Sprint agreed to several demands, including divesting Boost Mobile, one of Sprint’s prepaid brands. Rumors circulated last year that Dish would buy Boost for $6 billion. Obviously, the final price is nowhere near that amount. “This marks an important milestone in DISH’s evolution as a connectivity company,” Dish CEO and president Erik Carlson said in a statement. “It positions us well as we continue to build out the first virtualized, standalone 5G network in America.”

Dish will continue to use the Boost brand, but it has unveiled a new logo. It’s also launching a new “$hrink-It!” plan, which starts at $45 for 15GB. If customers make three on-time payments, Dish will drop the monthly rate by $5. Dish will take off another $5 after six on-time payments. Another 10GB plan with unlimited talk and text will cost $35. Both plans will be available beginning July 2nd.

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Source: Slashdot – Dish Buys Prepaid Carrier Boost Mobile For .4 Billion

NBA 2K21 Has Two Cover Stars, And One Of Them Is Rookie Zion Williamson

Like previous years, NBA 2K21 will feature multiple cover stars. Current-gen versions will have the Blazer’s Dame Lillard on the front, while the next-gen editions will feature Zion Williamson, who in any other year would be coming up on his second season, but in this current hellscape is still a rookie.

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Source: Kotaku – NBA 2K21 Has Two Cover Stars, And One Of Them Is Rookie Zion Williamson

Tech's biggest CEOs agree to appear at House antitrust hearing

Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai have all reportedly agreed to testify at a House antitrust hearing in late July. According to Kara Swisher (The New York Times, Recode), Rep. David Cicilline…

Source: Engadget – Tech’s biggest CEOs agree to appear at House antitrust hearing

Multiple Service Providers Are Blocking DuckDuckGo In India

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Just a few days after India banned 59 Chinese apps, many users in the country are reporting that privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo is inaccessible to them. Users on Reddit have noticed they’re unable to access the site on their Airtel and Reliance Jio mobile network connections. While Some users on Twitter have further suggested multiple internet service providers (ISP) have blocked the site. There’s no clarity at the moment if there’s an order from India’s telecom authority to block the site. Meanwhile, DuckDuckGo confirmed on Twitter that it’s looking into the issue and suggested Android users change their DNS provider to get around the issue. It also added that there’s no issue on the server-side.

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Source: Slashdot – Multiple Service Providers Are Blocking DuckDuckGo In India

We Are Now Entering The "Animal Crossing Buttplug" Stage Of 2020

A lot of people around the world, especially in the US, are still stuck at home, away from friends and loved ones. Out of this isolation new ways of keeping in touch have emerged, including…buttplugs and vibrators that can sync with Animal Crossing and vibrate whenever the player swings a shovel.

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Source: Kotaku – We Are Now Entering The “Animal Crossing Buttplug” Stage Of 2020

Settle Down Beavis, and Come to Butt-Head: The Iconic '90s Animated Series Is Making a Return

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Mike Judge’s head-banging, couch-dwelling masters of snark, but the animated teens of Beavis and Butt-Head—one of MTV’s biggest hits of the 1990s that spawned a 1996 feature film which was also a huge hit—are returning to the airwaves thanks to Comedy Central.

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Source: io9 – Settle Down Beavis, and Come to Butt-Head: The Iconic ’90s Animated Series Is Making a Return

Apple Recloses More Than 25% of Its US Retail Stores Due To COVID-19 Spikes

Apple will close 30 additional stores in the United States by Thursday, the company said, bringing the total number of reclosures in the United States to 77 as Covid-19 cases rapidly rise in several regions around the country. CNBC reports: Stores in Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada and Oklahoma will close Thursday. Other stores in Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Utah are closed as of Wednesday. Apple has 271 stores in the United States. An Apple spokesman said in a statement: “Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas. We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible.” The closings announced on Wednesday include the last two remaining stores open in Florida, as well as a number of stores around the Los Angeles area.

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Source: Slashdot – Apple Recloses More Than 25% of Its US Retail Stores Due To COVID-19 Spikes

Facebook shared user data with developers it shouldn't have — again

Facebook has disclosed yet another instance of developers receiving user data they shouldn’t have. According to the company, at least a few thousand developers were able to access some personal details from “inactive” users who hadn’t used their apps…

Source: Engadget – Facebook shared user data with developers it shouldn’t have — again

I Loved The Last Of Us 2 Except For All The Parts I Deeply Hated

I do not like The Last Of Us 2. I didn’t like the first one either (it kinda fell apart for me in the final act) and everything I’d heard about its sequel made it sound like a carnival of violence I’d feel okay about abstaining from. And yet, despite the foul taste left from others’ reviews, Naughty Dog’s childish…

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Source: Kotaku – I Loved The Last Of Us 2 Except For All The Parts I Deeply Hated

Cinemark Will Require Face Masks in Movie Theaters, After All

Cinemark will, in fact, require you to wear a face mask in its theaters after first releasing a murky policy that encouraged—but did not require—face coverings. That policy naturally received blowback as we have been, and continue to be, in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

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Source: Gizmodo – Cinemark Will Require Face Masks in Movie Theaters, After All

Kongregate No Longer Accepting New Games, Shutting Down Forums and Chat

Kongregate, a video game publisher and web gaming portal featuring over 128,000 titles, announced that many features on the site are going away. The site is no longer allowing uploads of new flash games, and will be shutting down forums and chat services. From a report: Previously, anyone who created a game was able to upload their title for anyone to play, which is why the website has “over 128,000 titles.” Another key feature hitting the chopping block is badges. Badges were achievements of varying difficulty, which were periodically added into popular games. Players were granted points upon earning a badge. Kongregate is also famous for its chat features. While playing a game, users can talk with each other in a “chat room.” On July 22, most chat rooms are closing down in addition to “non-gaming” forums.

It is worth noting that the company is still supporting Kartridge, a gaming platform where you can purchase titles — it operates like Steam and GOG. Kartridge has essentially the same features as Kongregate, such as chat rooms and badges; only, this is a curated platform that has downloadable games instead of Adobe Flash. Kongregate also continues to “focus on developing games,” according to the post. Most of these titles are on mobile, however, some can be found on Kartridge and Steam, like Realm Grinder.

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Source: Slashdot – Kongregate No Longer Accepting New Games, Shutting Down Forums and Chat

Rapid Antibody Testing Won’t Reliably Tell You If You’ve Had Coronavirus, Review Finds

A new review out Wednesday paints a sorry picture about the state of antibody tests meant to find out whether you’ve ever had covid-19. It suggests that these tests range wildly in accuracy from manufacturer to manufacturer, with tests that quickly return results at the doctor’s office faring so badly that they…

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Source: Gizmodo – Rapid Antibody Testing Won’t Reliably Tell You If You’ve Had Coronavirus, Review Finds

Race To Clear The Division 2's New Raid Marred By Cheating Accusations

The Division 2 received its second post-game raid, Operation Iron Horse, yesterday, setting off a mad dash by players and content creators to be the first in the world to finish the difficult mission. It took the eventual winners over eight hours to complete the raid, but what should have been a moment of celebration…

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Source: Kotaku – Race To Clear The Division 2’s New Raid Marred By Cheating Accusations

COVID-19 vaccine must protect 50% of people for approval, FDA says

A serious man in a business suit speaks into a microphone.

Enlarge / Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of Food and Drugs at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on June 30, 2020, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | Al Drago)

Any experimental COVID-19 vaccines aspiring to earn regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration will need to prevent or decrease the severity of disease in at least 50 percent of people, the agency announced Tuesday.

The criterium is part of a larger set of guidelines released by the agency for developing a vaccine to halt the spread of pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2—which causes COVID-19 and is now accelerating in much of the country after months of sustained devastation.

With the guidelines, the FDA tried to dispel fears that the rush to develop a COVID-19 vaccine may come at the expense of adequate safety testing. “We recognize the urgent need to develop a safe and effective vaccine to prevent COVID-19,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement. “While the FDA is committed to expediting this work, we will not cut corners in our decisions and are making clear through this guidance what data should be submitted to meet our regulatory standards.”

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Source: Ars Technica – COVID-19 vaccine must protect 50% of people for approval, FDA says