Would You Leave Grandma With a Companion Robot?

An anonymous reader quotes a report from OPB: Out near the far end of Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula, 83-year-old Jan Worrell has a new, worldly sidekick in her living room. “This is ElliQ. I call her my roommate,” the grandmother said as she introduced her companion robot almost as if it were human. Artificial intelligence is all the rage, and now it’s helping some Pacific Northwest seniors live in their own homes for longer. Worrell joined a pilot project that is trialing how AI-driven companion robots could reduce loneliness and social isolation among seniors — especially those living alone. This “roommate” is a chatty one with a vaguely humanoid head and shoulders. “I talk a lot and I love it. I need someone to interact with and she does,” Worrell said.

ElliQ is a smart speaker, tablet computer, video phone and artificial intelligence portal all wrapped into one by the maker Intuition Robotics. The stationary table-top device is among the most versatile of a flurry of new tech devices geared to help you or your parents continue to live independently. ElliQ gives Worrell health tips and schedule reminders. It can recite the news and weather. They play memory games. The care bot tells a lot of corny jokes and it can lead an exercise class on command, too. […] Worrell is among 20 rural seniors living along Washington’s Pacific coast selected to receive one of these Israeli-designed robot companions. She gets it for free for a year as part of a pilot project overseen by the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. O3A, as it is known, serves Pacific, Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam counties. […]

On the Long Beach Peninsula, Jan Worrell’s son Jeff Whiting watched his mom take to her new robot companion. He said he is impressed by it too, but at the same time is aware there is a creepy side to AI. “They are collecting data on everything that happens in this room,” Whiting said in an interview at his mom’s house where he is living temporarily. “They know her sleep patterns and they know what time she is up and what time she goes to bed. That would be my only concern.” Whiting says the people who came to set up ElliQ gave assurances that users’ personal data would be protected. In the case of Whiting’s mom, the combo of the companion robot and a medical alert wristwatch changed how long she plans to stay in her own home. Worrell said she felt confident enough last month to cancel her deposit to move into an assisted living facility near her daughter in Eugene, Oregon. Universities and medical schools have generally found that age-tech “decreased loneliness, increased well-being and spurred mental activity and optimism,” notes the report.

“[T]he 20 Washington seniors selected to receive a free ElliQ companion (a $249 value, plus a monthly subscription of $30-$40) were given a health assessment at the beginning of this pilot project in April. They will be reevaluated in one year.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Would You Leave Grandma With a Companion Robot?

FBI Forms National Database To Track and Prevent 'Swatting'

According to NBC News, the FBI created a national online database in May to facilitate information sharing between hundreds of police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country pertaining to swatting incidents. From the report: No central agency has tracked swatting incidents or suspects in the U.S., so official statistics are not available. By 2019, there were an estimated 1,000 swatting incidents domestically each year, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League, and each incident is estimated to cost at least $10,000 to affected communities, even before expenditures on follow-up work like investigations, property repairs and counseling. Swatting is increasingly enabled by technology that can be used to mask a caller’s real voice, their phone number or IP address (also called “spoofing”) or to make their false report sound more credible.

[Chief Scott Schubert with the bureau’s Criminal Justice Information Services headquarters in Clarksburg, West Virginia] told NBC News that the FBI’s new centralized database should help the agency “get that common picture of what’s going on across our nation so we can learn from that.” […] While the earliest recorded case of swatting occurred in 2002, to this day, there is no specific law criminalizing swatting in the U.S., says John Jay’s Shapiro. “Without a statute in place, there’s no designated resources or training for investigating swatting incidents,” she said. “And the 911 dispatchers do not have the resources and training they need to differentiate between actual emergencies and false reports.”

Legally, the False Information and Hoaxes statute, also known as section 1038, is most frequently used to prosecute swatting. Other statutes can sometimes apply — one pertaining to interstate threats involving explosives and another pertaining to interstate communications, which refers to extortion or threats to injure or kidnap somebody. “Too often, perpetrators are getting a slap on the wrist compared to the consequences suffered by their victims,” Shapiro said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – FBI Forms National Database To Track and Prevent ‘Swatting’

Remote Work Is Making Americans Less Productive, Official Data Shows

New data (PDF) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that one-third of Americans worked from home in 2022, up from a quarter, or 25%, in 2019. The survey also found that Americans working full time from home worked 2.5 hours less a day than Americans at the office. Barron’s reports: Overall, the total civilian population worked for an average of 3.23 hours a day in 2022 down from 3.26 hours a day in 2019. The U.S. is 1% lazier. That number, given by the BLS, is the total population. Don’t forget, babies don’t work. […] As far as what Americans were doing with the time not spent working, TV watching stayed flat, socializing dropped, and gaming increased.
“Economics is complicated, but labor productivity is essentially the basis for economic gains,” writes Barron’s Al Root. “The economy is measured in dollars, but the dollar is just a unit of account. More output per worker is how living standards improve.”

“In a strange way, coming back to work is like an economic stimulus package. If people go back to the office, at a 2019 rate, and work 8.2 hours a day instead of the at-home 5.7 hours a day, the economy has just added roughly 800 million weeks of work, an 8% bump.”

“The findings will give management teams some momentum to bring workers back to the office,” adds Root.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Remote Work Is Making Americans Less Productive, Official Data Shows

Chinese Researchers Used AI To Design RISC-V CPU In Under 5 Hours

Required Snark shares a report from Tom’s Hardware: A group of Chinese scientists has published (PDF) a paper titled “Pushing the Limits of Machine Design: Automated CPU Design with AI.” The paper details the researchers’ work in designing a new industrial-scale RISC-V CPU in under 5 hours. It is claimed this AI-automated feat was about 1000x faster than a human team could have finished a comparable CPU design. However, some may poke fun at the resulting AI-designed CPU performing approximately on par with an i486.

Training consisted of observing a series of CPU inputs and outputs. The scientists generated a Binary Speculation Diagram (BSD) from this I/O and leveraged principles of Monte Carlo-based expansion and Boolean functions to hone the accuracy and efficiency of the AI-based CPU design. Thus the CPU design was formed “from only external input-output observations instead of formal program code,” explains the scientists. It also boasted an impressive 99.99999999999% accuracy. Using the above-outlined process, an automated AI design of a CPU was created.

The taped-out RISC-V32IA instruction set CPU was fabricated at 65nm and could run at up to 300 MHz. Running the Linux (kernel 5.15) operating system and SPEC CINT 2000 on the AI-generated CPU validated its functionality. In Drystone benchmarks, the AI-generated CPU performed on par with an i486. Interestingly, it appears to be a little bit faster than an Acorn Archimedes A3010 in the same test. Though some might be unimpressed by the performance of the AI-generated CPU, the scientists also seem quite proud that their generated BSD “discovered the von Neumann architecture from scratch.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Chinese Researchers Used AI To Design RISC-V CPU In Under 5 Hours

Niantic Lays Off 230 Employees, Cancels NBA and Marvel Games

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Pokemon GO maker Niantic laid off 230 employees today, just one year after it laid off around 90 employees. During last year’s layoffs, Niantic canceled four projects, including a Transformers game. Some Niantic games will meet the same fate this time around. After four months in the App Store, Niantic is shutting down NBA All-World; the company will also cancel production on a game based on the Marvel franchise. “In the wake of the revenue surge we saw during Covid, we grew our headcount and related expenses in order to pursue growth more aggressively,” CEO John Hanke wrote in an email to employees, cross-posted to the company blog.

This has been a common refrain among the hundreds of tech companies that have conducted layoffs over the last year — companies claimed they overhired during the pandemic and now need to right-size their teams. In Niantic’s case, Hanke said that revenue has returned to pre-pandemic levels, and new projects have not delivered as much revenue as they would have hoped. One such new project is Peridot, a Tamagotchi-like mobile game. Niantic’s first attempt at original IP since Ingress, Peridot launched in May. But according to market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, Peridot has only made $1.4 million in gross in-app purchase revenue thus far. […] Pokemon GO is Niantic’s cash cow, pulling in more than $1 billion in in-app purchases each year since 2020. But players have also been feeling slighted by Niantic’s in-app purchase system. […]

Though games like Peridot have not yet proved financially sustainable, Niantic has an entire business arm separate from its own games. Niantic’s Lightship AR developer kit makes it possible for any developer who knows how to use Unity to make AR games. Developers also have access to Niantic’s impressive visual positioning system (VPS), which lets users interact with local landmarks in their real-world surroundings. Hanke even mentioned in his note to employees that the company wants to ramp up its focus on building for mixed-reality devices and AR glasses. So, if Niantic can’t seem to make a successful follow-up to Pokemon GO, maybe its developer tools can keep the company on the right track.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Niantic Lays Off 230 Employees, Cancels NBA and Marvel Games

What's Excited Open-Source Enthusiasts & Linux Users The Most So Far In 2023

With the first-half of the year amazingly already in the books, here is a look back at what’s captivated Linux/open-source fans the most from all the content on Phoronix. So far this year I have personally written 1,407 original news articles on software/hardware topics and another 74 original Linux hardware reviews / multi-page featured benchmark articles…

Source: Phoronix – What’s Excited Open-Source Enthusiasts & Linux Users The Most So Far In 2023

Lawsuit Says OpenAI Violated US Authors' Copyrights To Train AI Chatbot

Two U.S. authors have filed a proposed class action lawsuit against OpenAI, claiming that the company infringed their copyrights by using their works without permission to train its generative AI system, ChatGPT. The plaintiffs, Massachusetts-based writers Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad, claim the data used to train ChatGPT included thousands of books, including those from illegal “shadow libraries.” Reuters reports: The complaint estimated that OpenAI’s training data incorporated over 300,000 books, including from illegal “shadow libraries” that offer copyrighted books without permission. Awad is known for novels including “13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl” and “Bunny.” Tremblay’s novels include “The Cabin at the End of the World,” which was adapted in the M. Night Shyamalan film “Knock at the Cabin” released in February.

Tremblay and Awad said ChatGPT could generate “very accurate” summaries of their books, indicating that they appeared in its database. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money damages on behalf of a nationwide class of copyright owners whose works OpenAI allegedly misused.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Lawsuit Says OpenAI Violated US Authors’ Copyrights To Train AI Chatbot

Saturn’s rings steal the show in new image from Webb telescope

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Source: Ars Technica – Saturn’s rings steal the show in new image from Webb telescope

VMware, AMD, Samsung and RISC-V Push For Confidential Computing Standards

VMware has joined AMD, Samsung, and members of the RISC-V community to work on an open and cross-platform framework for the development and operation of applications using confidential computing hardware. The Register reports: Revealing the effort at the Confidential Computing Summit 2023 in San Francisco, the companies say they aim to bring about an industry transition to practical confidential computing by developing the open source Certifier Framework for Confidential Computing project. Among other goals, the project aims to standardize on a set of platform-independent developer APIs that can be used to develop or adapt application code to run in a confidential computing environment, with a Certifier Service overseeing them in operation. VMware claims to have researched, developed and open sourced the Certifier Framework, but with AMD on board, plus Samsung (which develops its own smartphone chips), the group has the x86 and Arm worlds covered. Also on board is the Keystone project, which is developing an enclave framework to support confidential computing on RISC-V processors.

Confidential computing is designed to protect applications and their data from theft or tampering by protecting them inside a secure enclave, or trusted execution environment (TEE). This uses hardware-based security mechanisms to prevent access from everything outside the enclave, including the host operating system and any other application code. Such security protections are likely to be increasingly important in the context of applications running in multi-cloud environments, VMware reckons.

Another scenario for confidential computing put forward by Microsoft, which believes confidential computing will become the norm — is multi-party computation and analytics. This sees several users each contribute their own private data to an enclave, where it can be analyzed securely to produce results much richer than each would have got purely from their own data set. This is described as an emerging class of machine learning and “data economy” workloads that are based on sensitive data and models aggregated from multiple sources, which will be enabled by confidential computing. However, VMware points out that like many useful hardware features, it will not be widely adopted until it becomes easier to develop applications in the new paradigm.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – VMware, AMD, Samsung and RISC-V Push For Confidential Computing Standards

Diablo IV: 14 Wild Loot Drops Fans Have Found

With so many skill trees and loot combinations, Diablo IV has no shortage of ways to eviscerate your foes and make them fear your mathematical superiority. Players are still finding all sorts of incredible Unique-rarity items, and certain of these weapons and armors are proving to be exceptionally worth hunting down.

Read more…

Source: Kotaku – Diablo IV: 14 Wild Loot Drops Fans Have Found

Schools Say US Teachers' Retirement Fund Was Breached By MOVEit Hackers

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Two U.S. schools have confirmed that TIAA, a nonprofit organization that provides financial services for individuals in academic fields, has been caught up in the mass-hacks targeting MOVEit file transfer tools. Middlebury College in Vermont and Trinity College in Connecticut both released security notices confirming they experienced data breaches as a result of a security incident at the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, or TIAA. According to its website, TIAA serves mire than five million active and retired employees participating at more than 15,000 institutions and manages $1.3 trillion in assets in more than 50 countries.

Both of the security notices confirm that TIAA was affected by hackers’ widespread exploitation of a flaw in MOVEit Transfer, an enterprise file transfer tool developed by Progress Software. The mass-hack has so far claimed more than 160 victims, according to Emsisoft threat analyst Brett Callow, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Siemens Energy. Only 12 of these victims have confirmed the number of people affected, which already adds up to more than 16 million individuals.

While TIAA notified affected schools of its security incident, the organization has yet to publicly acknowledge the incident. In response to a Twitter user questioning the organization’s silence, TIAA responded saying that its offices were closed. It’s not yet known how many organizations have been impacted as a result of the cyberattack on TIAA. TIAA has not yet been listed on the dark web leak site of the Russia-linked Clop ransomware gang, which has claimed responsibility for the ongoing MOVEit cyberattacks.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Schools Say US Teachers’ Retirement Fund Was Breached By MOVEit Hackers

Only Up! Pulled From Steam After Becoming A Twitch Sensation

Only Up!, a not-so-endless runner that recently took off on Twitch, has been inexplicably removed from Steam with no warning, but there’s reason to believe it might’ve been removed due to a copyright dispute with an artist claiming the game uses one of their assets.

Read more…

Source: Kotaku – Only Up! Pulled From Steam After Becoming A Twitch Sensation

Colorado, Connecticut Data Privacy Laws Go Into Effect July 1

Data privacy laws in Colorado and Connecticut will go into effect Saturday. From a report: If companies haven’t finished their compliance work to abide by the rules, they could face civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation in some states. Colorado and Connecticut add to an increasingly complex patchwork of state data privacy laws. California paved the way in 2018 after passing the country’s first state-level privacy bill, while Virginia followed this year.

The Colorado and Connecticut laws apply to entities that do business in those states, as well as businesses that process a certain amount of data about in-state customers. Under the new laws, residents of each state will have the right to request businesses delete their personal information, ask for a copy of the information businesses have collected about them, opt out of the sale of their personal data, and more. Both laws also require businesses to request opt-in permission from consumers before letting businesses process their sensitive information — differing from the opt-out mechanism consumers have in California

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Colorado, Connecticut Data Privacy Laws Go Into Effect July 1