Walmart Employees Are Out To Show Its Anti-Shoplifting AI Doesn't Work

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In January, my coworker received a peculiar email. The message, which she forwarded to me, was from a handful of corporate Walmart employees calling themselves the “Concerned Home Office Associates.” (Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, is often referred to as the Home Office.) While it’s not unusual for journalists to receive anonymous tips, they don’t usually come with their own slickly produced videos. The employees said they were “past their breaking point” with Everseen, a small artificial intelligence firm based in Cork, Ireland, whose technology Walmart began using in 2017. Walmart uses Everseen in thousands of stores to prevent shoplifting at registers and self-checkout kiosks. But the workers claimed it misidentified innocuous behavior as theft and often failed to stop actual instances of stealing.

They told WIRED they were dismayed that their employer — one of the largest retailers in the world — was relying on AI they believed was flawed. One worker said that the technology was sometimes even referred to internally as “NeverSeen” because of its frequent mistakes. WIRED granted the employees anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press. The workers said they had been upset about Walmart’s use of Everseen for years and claimed colleagues had raised concerns about the technology to managers but were rebuked. They decided to speak to the press, they said, after a June 2019 Business Insider article reported Walmart’s partnership with Everseen publicly for the first time. The story described how Everseen uses AI to analyze footage from surveillance cameras installed in the ceiling and can detect issues in real time, such as when a customer places an item in their bag without scanning it. When the system spots something, it automatically alerts store associates. A video from the Concerned Home Office Associates “purports to show Everseen’s technology failing to flag items not being scanned in three different Walmart stores,” adds the report. “Set to cheery elevator music, it begins with a person using self-checkout to buy two jumbo packages of Reese’s White Peanut Butter Cups. Because the packages are stacked on top of each other, only one is scanned, but both are successfully placed in the bagging area without issue.”

“The same person then grabs two gallons of milk by their handles and moves them across the scanner with one hand. Only one is rung up, but both are put in the bagging area. They then put their own cell phone on top of the machine, and an alert pops up saying they need to wait for assistance — a false positive.”

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Source: Slashdot – Walmart Employees Are Out To Show Its Anti-Shoplifting AI Doesn’t Work

Photos: Thousands Peacefully March in D.C. in Response to Police Crackdown on Protests

A massive crowd assembled outside the White House on Tuesday, one day after authorities used jaw-dropping force there to clear one of the many peaceful protests against systemic police brutality and racism triggered by the May 25 police killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd.

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Source: Gizmodo – Photos: Thousands Peacefully March in D.C. in Response to Police Crackdown on Protests

What's on TV this week: 'Jaws' 4K, Bruce Lee and 'The Outer Worlds'

This week, after the launch of Valorant on PC, gamers can get a taste of The Outer Worlds on Switch as well as new eco-friendly DLC for The Sims 4. While Outer Worlds was slightly delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, a port is ready to go this we…

Source: Engadget – What’s on TV this week: ‘Jaws’ 4K, Bruce Lee and ‘The Outer Worlds’

Apple Warns Looters With Stolen iPhones: You Are Being Tracked

Following the rioting and looting from the death of George Floyd, Apple has a message for those who power on a stolen iPhone: “This device has been disabled and is being tracked. Local authorities will be alerted.” Forbes reports: Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a message to his employees as those protests escalated, saying that “there is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions. To stand together, we must stand up for one another, and recognize the fear, hurt, and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism.” Cook went on to say that “at Apple, our mission has and always will be to create technology that empowers people to change the world for the better. We’ve always drawn strength from our diversity, welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world, and strived to build an Apple that is inclusive of everyone.”

These words were being digested as the tech giant made the decision to close the majority of its U.S. stores for the safety of those staff and its customers, stores that had only just reopened after the COVID-19 shutdown. Apple has unsurprisingly become a favored target of looters, given the likely spoils on offer, and the decision was taken to remove stock from shop floors and shutter locations. It has long been known that Apple operates some form of proximity software that disables a device when it is taken illegally from a store. Until now, though, little had been seen of that technology in action. Well, thanks to social media, we can now see the message that greets a looter powering up their new device: “This device has been disabled and is being tracked,” it says. “Local authorities will be alerted.”

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Source: Slashdot – Apple Warns Looters With Stolen iPhones: You Are Being Tracked

'Cyberpunk 2077' Night City Wire livestream delayed to June 25th

The Cyberpunk 2077 Night City Wire livestream will now occur June 25th in light of recent anti-racism protests. Scheduled as part of Summer Game Fest, the event was originally set for June 11th and would have given fans a new look at CD Projekt Red’s…

Source: Engadget – ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ Night City Wire livestream delayed to June 25th

Google Faces $5 Billion Lawsuit In US For Tracking 'Private' Internet Use

Google was sued on Tuesday in a proposed class action accusing the internet search company of illegally invading the privacy of millions of users by pervasively tracking their internet use through browsers set in “private” mode. Reuters reports: The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion, accusing the Alphabet unit of collecting information about what people view online and where they do their browsing, despite using what Google calls Incognito mode. The complaint said Google surreptitiously collects data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads. This helps the Mountain View, California-based company learn details about users’ friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search for online, the complaint said.

Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,” the complaint said. The complaint said the proposed class likely includes “millions” of Google users who since June 1, 2016 browsed the internet in “private” mode. It seeks damages per user of $5,000 or three times actual damages, whichever is greater, for violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.

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Source: Slashdot – Google Faces Billion Lawsuit In US For Tracking ‘Private’ Internet Use

A Look At AI Benchmarking For Mobile Devices In a Rapidly Evolving Ecosystem

MojoKid writes: AI and Machine Learning performance benchmarks have been well explored in the data center, but are fairly new and unestablished for edge devices like smartphones. While AI implementations on phones are typically limited to inferencing tasks like speech-to-text transcription and camera image optimization, there are real-world neural network models employed on mobile devices and accelerated by their dedicated processing engines. A deep dive look at HotHardware of three popular AI benchmarking apps for Android shows that not all platforms are created equal, but also that performance results can vary wildly, depending on the app used for benchmarking.
Generally speaking, it all hinges on what neural networks (NNs) the benchmarks are testing and what precision is being tested and weighted. Most mobile apps that currently employ some level of AI make use of INT8 (quantized). While INT8 offers less precision than FP16 (Floating Point), it’s also more power-efficient and offers enough precision for most consumer applications. Typically, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 powered devices offer the best INT8 performance, while Huawei’s Kirin 990 in the P40 Pro 5G offers superior FP16 performance. Since INT8 precision for NN processing is more common in today’s mobile apps, it could be said that Qualcomm has the upper hand, but the landscape in this area is ever-evolving to be sure.

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Source: Slashdot – A Look At AI Benchmarking For Mobile Devices In a Rapidly Evolving Ecosystem

Senators Introduce COVID-19 Contact-Tracing Privacy Bill

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: A group of U.S. senators on Monday introduced a bill to regulate contact-tracing apps, aiming to protect user privacy as technology is used to track the spread of the novel coronavirus. The proposal is called the Exposure Notification Privacy Act and seeks to ensure that people couldn’t be forced to use the technology. It also would make sure that the data isn’t used for advertising or commercial purposes and that people can delete their data. The bill seeks to require that notification systems only rely on “an authorized diagnosis” that came from medical organization.

“Public health needs to be in charge of any notification system so we protect people’s privacy and help them know when there is a warning that they might have been exposed to COVID-19,” Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington and one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a comment provided to CNET. Cantwell’s co-sponsor on the bill is Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, also has given her support. “We need to regulate apps that provide COVID-19 exposure notification to protect a user’s privacy, prevent data misuse and preserve our civil rights — and this bill offers a roadmap for doing all three,” Public Knowledge Policy Counsel Sara Collins said in a statement. “The bill marks a valuable first step in the long road ahead to protecting Americans’ data.”

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Source: Slashdot – Senators Introduce COVID-19 Contact-Tracing Privacy Bill

Influencers Reemerge, Worse Than Ever

A Santa Monica area influencer was caught borrowing a worker’s drill to stage a photo-op outside a boarded-up shop damaged by the previous night’s looting. Toting a photographer/boyfriend, the woman hands the drill back to a worker and climbs into a Mercedes-Benz and scurries away, pronouncing “Good job, guys, BLM!”

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Source: Gizmodo – Influencers Reemerge, Worse Than Ever

The BBC's Beeb voice assistant is ready for testing on PC

Last year the BBC announced it was working on its own voice assistant, called “Beeb,” designed to help customers take advantage of voice assistant technology regardless of their accent. Existing assistants still have issues understanding accents, and…

Source: Engadget – The BBC’s Beeb voice assistant is ready for testing on PC

New Leak Reveals How Google's Next Android TV Dongle Will Work

Earlier this year, clues indicated that Google was working on a new streaming video dongle that would both replace the Chromecast Ultra and run Android TV. But now, thanks a new round of leaks, we suddenly have a much better look of what that device could actually be.

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Source: Gizmodo – New Leak Reveals How Google’s Next Android TV Dongle Will Work

Fossilized Stomach Contents of Armored Dinosaur Reveal Its Last Meal

A 110-million-year-old fossil found nine years ago at an open pit mine in Alberta is providing fascinating new details about the dietary habits of plant-eating armored dinosaurs and the environments in which they lived.

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Source: Gizmodo – Fossilized Stomach Contents of Armored Dinosaur Reveal Its Last Meal

Instagram Users Flood the App With Millions of Blackout Tuesday Posts

Instagram users are flooding the platform with black squares in support of black victims of police violence as part of a Blackout Tuesday protest. CNBC reports: As of 11:45 a.m. ET, more than 14.6 million Instagram posts used the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday. Searches for “blackout tuesday image” and “blackout image” surged 400% Tuesday morning, according to Google Trends. The idea of an online movement was announced last week, when music executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang called on members of the music industry to pause business on Tuesday and take a stand against racism.

“We will not continue to conduct business as usual without regard for Black lives,” the founders wrote. Platforms, such as Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube Music, joined the movement and are using their apps to promote black artists. Additionally, media company ViacomCBS, which owns MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Pop, VH1, TV Land, among others, also joined this call to action. On Monday, the company’s networks all went off the air for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time that an officer in Minneapolis pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck. The movement has since spread to brands, organizations and individuals, who are using Instagram to post only a black square Tuesday to show a virtual moment of silence. Others are choosing to continue posting, but will only amplify voices of the black community.

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Source: Slashdot – Instagram Users Flood the App With Millions of Blackout Tuesday Posts

My Science Project, a Big Middle Finger, and Me

A middle finger coming out of the trunk of a car. That was literally my only memory of the 1985 sci-fi comedy My Science Project. For some reason—probably because I was very young when I first saw it—that image burned itself into my brain and for decades it was the only thing I’d associate with the film. Not the…

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Source: io9 – My Science Project, a Big Middle Finger, and Me

Amazon reportedly preps June 22nd sale to counter the pandemic slump

Amazon might push back Prime Day this year, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to go without other sales in the meantime. CNBC claims to have seen a document outlining plans for a “summer sale,” tentatively named “Biggest Sale in the Sky,” that would…

Source: Engadget – Amazon reportedly preps June 22nd sale to counter the pandemic slump

Family affairs: Everyone learns they can’t go home again in Killing Eve S3

Killing Eve burst onto the scene in 2018 to rave reviews, as viewers and critics alike were enthralled by the sexually charged cat-and-mouse game playing out between MI6 agent Eve (Sandra Oh) and expert assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Alas, while S2 had some powerful moments, overall it lacked the same taut, addictive focus. But the series came back strong for its third season, fleshing out the story in some fresh, fascinating ways. Small wonder it’s already been renewed for a fourth season.

(A couple of major spoilers below for first six episodes of S3—we’ll give you a heads-up when we get there—but no major reveals for the final two episodes.)

As S3 opened, we learned that Eve survived being shot by Villanelle in the S2 finale (duh). She keeping a low profile, working in the kitchen of a dumpling eatery in London, and living on a shocking amount of junk food in her dismal flat. Her long-suffering math teacher husband Niko (Owen McDonnell) also survived his encounter with Villanelle in S2 (although his fellow teacher, Gemma, did not). He is now an in-patient being treated for PTSD, and unreceptive to Eve’s efforts to reconnect.

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Source: Ars Technica – Family affairs: Everyone learns they can’t go home again in Killing Eve S3

What Did We Say About AT&T Being Allowed to Own HBO?

Remember when we said killing Net Neutrality could lead to internet service providers charging more for specific content? Paid-prioritization or internet ‘fast lanes’ were and still are a major concern for Net Neutrality supporters. With good reason, too. We’re starting to see that concern manifest into reality. As…

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Source: Gizmodo – What Did We Say About AT&T Being Allowed to Own HBO?

Rust Enters 'Top 20' Popularity Rankings For the First Time

Programming language Rust has entered the top 20 of the Tiobe popularity index for the first time, but it’s still five spots behind systems programming rival Go. ZDNet reports: There’s growing interest in the use of memory-safe Rust for systems programming to build major platforms, in particular at Microsoft, which is exploring it for Windows and Azure with the goal of wiping out memory bugs in code written in C and C++. Amazon Web Services is also using Rust for performance-sensitive components in Lambda, EC2, and S3. Rust has seen its ranking rise considerably on Tiobe, from 38 last year to 20 today. Tiobe’s index is based on searches for a language on major search engines, so it doesn’t mean more people are using Rust, but it shows that more developers are searching for information about the language.

Rust was voted for the fifth year straight the most loved programming language by developers in Stack Overflow’s 2020 survey. This year, 86% of developers said they are keen to use Rust, but just 5% actually use it for programming. On the other hand, it could become more widely used thanks to Microsoft’s public preview of its Rust library for the Windows Runtime (WinRT), which makes it easier for developers to write Windows, cross-platform apps and drivers in Rust.

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Source: Slashdot – Rust Enters ‘Top 20’ Popularity Rankings For the First Time

Zoom usage peaked at 300 million daily participants in April

As the response to the coronavirus pandemic pushed people out of offices and back into their homes, videoconferencing has taken center stage and one of the biggest beneficiaries of the switch is Zoom. Today the company reported its earnings for the f…

Source: Engadget – Zoom usage peaked at 300 million daily participants in April

Lawsuit Says Trump's Social Media Crackdown Violates Free Speech

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: President Trump’s crackdown on social media companies faced a new legal challenge on Tuesday, as a technology policy organization claimed in a lawsuit that he violated the companies’ right to free speech with his executive order aimed at curtailing their legal protections. The nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology says in the suit that Mr. Trump’s attempt to unwind a federal law that grants social media companies discretion over the content they allow on their platforms was retaliatory and would have a chilling effect on the companies.

The lawsuit — filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia — is indicative of the pushback that the president is likely to face as he escalates his fight with social media companies, which he has accused of bias against conservative voices. It asks the court to invalidate the executive order. […] “President Trump — by publicly attacking Twitter and issuing the order — sought to chill future online speech by other speakers,” its filing said. The center added, “The order clouds the legal landscape in which the hosts of third-party content operate and puts them all on notice that content moderation decisions with which the government disagrees could produce penalties and retributive actions, including stripping them of Section 230’s protections.”

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Source: Slashdot – Lawsuit Says Trump’s Social Media Crackdown Violates Free Speech