Microsoft Needs So Much Power to Train AI That It's Considering Small Nuclear Reactors

An anonymous reader shares this report from Futurism:

Training large language models is an incredibly power-intensive process that has an immense carbon footprint. Keeping data centers running requires a ludicrous amount of electricity that could generate substantial amounts of greenhouse emissions — depending, of course, on the energy’s source. Now, the Verge reports, Microsoft is betting so big on AI that its pushing forward with a plan to power them using nuclear reactors. Yes, you read that right; a recent job listing suggests the company is planning to grow its energy infrastructure with the use of small modular reactors (SMR)…

But before Microsoft can start relying on nuclear power to train its AIs, it’ll have plenty of other hurdles to overcome. For one, it’ll have to source a working SMR design. Then, it’ll have to figure out how to get its hands on a highly enriched uranium fuel that these small reactors typically require, as The Verge points out. Finally, it’ll need to figure out a way to store all of that nuclear waste long term…

Other than nuclear fission, Microsoft is also investing in nuclear fusion, a far more ambitious endeavor, given the many decades of research that have yet to lead to a practical power system. Nevertheless, the company signed a power purchase agreement with Helion, a fusion startup founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman earlier this year, with the hopes of buying electricity from it as soon as 2028.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Microsoft Needs So Much Power to Train AI That It’s Considering Small Nuclear Reactors

Elvis Is Back in the Building, Thanks to Generative AI – and U2

U2’s inaugural performance at the opening of Las Vegas’s Sphere included a generative AI video collage projected hundreds of feet into the air — showing hundreds of surreal renderings of Elvis Presley.

An anonymous reader shares this report from Time magazine:

The video collage is the creation of the artist Marco Brambilla, the director of Demolition Man and Kanye West’s “Power” music video, among many other art projects. Brambilla fed hours of footage from Presley’s movies and performances into the AI model Stable Diffusion to create an easily searchable library to pull from, and then created surreal new images by prompting the AI model Midjourney with questions like: “What would Elvis look like if he were sculpted by the artist who made the Statue of Liberty…?”

While Brambilla’s Elvises prance across the Sphere’s screen — which is four times the size of IMAX — the band U2 will perform their song “Even Better Than The Real Thing,” as part of their three-month residency at the Sphere celebrating their 1991 album Achtung Baby… Earlier this year, U2 commissioned several artists, including Brambilla and Jenny Holzer, to create visual works that would accompany their performances of specific songs. Given U2’s love for the singer and the lavish setting of the Sphere, Brambilla thought a tribute to Elvis would be extremely fitting. He wanted to create a maximalist work that encapsulated both the ecstatic highs and grimy lows of not only Elvis, but the city of Las Vegas itself. “The piece is about excess, spectacle, the tipping point for the American Dream,” Brambilla said in a phone interview.

Brambilla was only given three-and-a-half months to execute his vision, less than half the time that he normally spends on video collages. So he turned to AI tools for both efficiency and extravagance. “AI can exaggerate with no end; there’s no limit to the density or production value,” Brambilla says. And this seemed perfect for this project, because Elvis became a myth; a larger-than-life character…” Brambilla transplanted his MidJourney-created images into CG (computer graphics) software, where he could better manipulate them, and left some of the Stable Diffusion Elvis incarnations as they were. The result is a kaleidoscopic and overwhelming video collage filled with video clips both historical and AI-generated, that will soon stretch hundreds of feet above the audience at each of U2’s concerts.

“I wanted to create the feeling that by the end of it,” Brambilla says, “We’re in a place that is so hyper-saturated and so dense with information that it’s either exhilarating or terrifying, or both.”

Brambilla created an exclusive video excerpting from the larger collage for TIME. The magazine reports that one of the exact prompts he entered was:

“Elvis Presley in attire inspired by the extravagance of ancient Egypt and fabled lost civilizations in a blissful state. Encircling him, a brigade of Las Vegas sorceresses, twisted and warped mid-chant, reflect the influence of Damien Hirst and Andrei Riabovitchev, creating an atmosphere of otherworldly realism, mirroring the decadence and illusion of consumption.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Elvis Is Back in the Building, Thanks to Generative AI – and U2

Today’s NYT Connections Hints (and Answer) for Sunday, October 1, 2023

If you’re looking for the Connections answer for Sunday, October 1, 2023, read on—I’ll share some clues, tips, and strategies, and finally the solutions to all four categories. Beware, there are spoilers below for October 1, NYT Connections #112! Read on if you want some hints (and then the answer) to today’s…

Read more…

Source: LifeHacker – Today’s NYT Connections Hints (and Answer) for Sunday, October 1, 2023

Will EVs Send OPEC Into a Death Spiral?

This week the UK’s conservative Daily Telegraph newspaper published an interesting perspective from their world economy editor.

“Saudi and OPEC officials self-evidently do not believe their own claim that world oil demand will keep growing briskly for another generation as if electric vehicles had never been invented, and there was no such thing as the Paris Accord.”
OPEC had to slash output last October in order to shore up prices. It had to cut again in April. The Saudis then stunned traders with a unilateral cut of one million barrels a day (b/d) in June. All told, the OPEC-Russia cartel has had to take 2m b/d of production off the table at a high point in the economic cycle, after China’s post-Covid reopening and at a time when the US economy has been running hot with a fiscal expansion roughly equal to Roosevelt’s world war budget.

That 2m b/d figure happens to be more or less the amount of crude currently being displaced by EV sales worldwide, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Yet the mood was all defiance and plucky insouciance at the 24th World Petroleum Congress in Calgary this month… This skips over the awkward detail that EVs are already on track to reach 60pc of total car sales in the world’s biggest car market within two years (not a misprint). The cartel is being hit from two sides. Petrol and diesel cars are becoming more efficient, gradually displacing 1.4bn vintage models disappearing into the scrap yard. BP says that alone will cut up to a tenth global oil demand by 2040. With a lag, EVs are now starting to take a material bite, with an S-curve trajectory likely to go parabolic this decade.

China’s EVs sales hit 38pc this summer, even though subsidies have mostly been scrapped. This is far ahead of schedule under Beijing’s New Energy Vehicle Industry Development Plan. China’s Chebai think tank says the emerging consensus is that EV sales will hit 17m or 60pc of total Chinese share by 2025, rising to 90pc by 2030, assuming that the grid can keep up… Vietnam is a few years behind but with similar ambitions. Its EV start-up, VinFast Auto, became the world’s third most valuable carmaker after it launched on Nasdaq last month, briefly worth as much as the German car industry before the share price came back down to earth…

OPEC’s central premise has long been that the rise of a billion-strong middle class in emerging Asia will more than offset declining oil use in the OECD bloc. That notion is ‘withering under scrutiny’… The International Energy Agency (IEA) says global oil demand will peak at 105.5m b/d in 2028 and then flatten for a few years before going into decline… The IEA pulls its punches. The Rocky Mountain Institute argues in its latest report — End of the ICE Age — that half of global car sales could be EVs by 2026, reaching 86pc later this decade.
The article closes by citing “the breathtaking pace of global electrification. The decline of oil in car and bus transport may be closer than almost anybody imagined. OPEC as we know it may be on the cusp of a death spiral.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Will EVs Send OPEC Into a Death Spiral?

The US Is Among the Most Expensive Countries For Mobile Data Plans, Israel the Cheapest

Slashdot reader jjslash writes: The average cost of a gigabyte of mobile data in the U.S. is $6, while the most expensive data plan in the country offers a gig for $83.33. That makes the U.S. one of the most expensive countries in the world for mobile data, even though some plans can still get you a gig for as low as $0.75. The situation in Canada isn’t much better, with an average price of $5.37 per GB, but it’s much cheaper to surf mobile internet in the U.K., thanks to an average price of $0.62 for a gig.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – The US Is Among the Most Expensive Countries For Mobile Data Plans, Israel the Cheapest

Wolfi: Revolutionizing Containerized Workloads With Rapid Updates, Robust Security

Wolfi’s rolling release cadence enables Wolfi-based containers to address security issues as soon as they’re spotted. Learn more here.

The post Wolfi: Revolutionizing Containerized Workloads With Rapid Updates, Robust Security appeared first on Linux Today.

Source: Linux Today – Wolfi: Revolutionizing Containerized Workloads With Rapid Updates, Robust Security

Microsoft To Excel Users: Be Careful With That Python

Long-time Slashdot reader theodp spotted a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) this week with the Microsoft engineering team that created Python in Excel, a new feature that makes it possible to natively combine Python and Excel analytics in Excel workbooks. (Copilot integration is coming soon).

Redditors expressed a wish to be able to run Python in environments other than the confines of the locked down, price-to-be-determined Microsoft Azure cloud containers employed by Python in Excel. But “There were three main reasons behind starting with the cloud (as a GDPR Compliant Microsoft 365 Connected experience) first,” MicrosoftExcelTeam explained:

1. Running Python securely on a local machine is a difficult problem. We treat all Python code in the workbook as untrusted, so we execute it in a hypervisor-isolated container on Azure that does not have any outbound network access. Python code and the data that it operates on is sent to be executed in the container. The Microsoft-licensed Python environment in the container is provided by Anaconda and was prepared using their stringent security practices as documented here.

2. Sharing Excel workbooks with others is a really important scenario. We wanted to ensure that the Python code in a workbook you share behaves the same when your teammates open it â” without requiring them to install and manage Python.

3. We need to ensure that the Python in Excel feature always works for our customers. The value of Python is in its ecosystem of libraries, not just in providing a Python interpreter. But managing a local Python environment is challenging even for the most experienced developers. By running on Azure, we remove the need for users or their systems administrators to maintain a local installation of Python on every machine that uses the feature in their organization…

So, how does one balance tradeoffs between increased security and ease-of-maintenance with the loss of functionality and increased costs when it comes to programming language use? Is it okay to just give up on making certain important basic functionality available, as Microsoft is doing here with Python and has done in the past by not supporting Excel VBA in the Cloud and no longer making BASIC available on PCs and Macs?

Microsoft’s team added at one point that “For our initial release, we are targeting data analytics scenarios, and bringing the power of Python analytics libraries into Excel.

“We believe the approach weâ(TM)ve taken will appeal to analysts who use both Excel and Python Notebooks in their workflows. Today, these users need to import/export data and have no way of creating a self-contained artifact that can be easily and securely shared with their colleagues.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Microsoft To Excel Users: Be Careful With That Python

Mosquitoes Are a Growing Public Health Threat, Reversing Years of Progress

The New York Times reports that a “squadron of young scientists and an army of volunteers” are “waging an all-out war on a creature that threatens the health of more people than any other on earth: the mosquito.”
They are testing new insecticides and ingenious new ways to deliver them. They are peering in windows at night, watching for the mosquitoes that home in on sleeping people. They are collecting blood — from babies, from moto-taxi drivers, from goat herders and from their goats — to track the parasites the mosquitoes carry. But Eric Ochomo, the entomologist leading this effort on the front lines of global public health, stood recently in the swampy grass, laptop in hand, and acknowledged a grim reality: “It seems as though the mosquitoes are winning.”

Less than a decade ago, it was the humans who appeared to have gained the clear edge in the fight — more than a century old — against the mosquito. But over the past few years, that progress has not only stalled, it has reversed. The insecticides used since the 1970s, to spray in houses and on bed nets to protect sleeping children, have become far less effective; mosquitoes have evolved to survive them. After declining to a historic low in 2015, malaria cases and deaths are rising… This past summer, the United States saw its first locally transmitted cases of malaria in 20 years, with nine cases reported, in Texas, Florida and Maryland. “The situation has become challenging in new ways in places that have historically had these mosquitoes, and also at the same time other places are going to face new threats because of climate and environmental factors,” Ochomo said…

Malaria has killed more people than any other disease over the course of human history. Until this century, the battle against the parasite was badly one-sided. Then, between 2000 and 2015, malaria cases dropped by one-third worldwide, and mortality decreased by nearly half, because of widespread use of insecticides inside homes, insecticide-coated bed nets and better treatments. Clinical trials showed promise for malaria vaccines that might protect the children who make up the bulk of malaria deaths. That success lured new investment and talk of wiping the disease out altogether.

But malaria deaths, which fell to a historic low of about 575,000 in 2019, rose significantly over the next two years and stood at 620,000 in 2021, the last year for which there is global data.
Thanks to antdude (Slashdot reader #79,039) for sharing the article.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Mosquitoes Are a Growing Public Health Threat, Reversing Years of Progress

Saw X Was So Gnarly, Its Editor Had the Cops Called on Him

Watching the Saw movies isn’t for everyone—across the now 10-movie franchise, audiences have seen people mutilate themselves in order to stay alive or die trying in some pretty grisly fashion. For those who loves these movies or to see people get messed up, that’s part of the appeal. But when you’re the one involved…

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Source: Gizmodo – Saw X Was So Gnarly, Its Editor Had the Cops Called on Him

Knights of the Old Republic Remake's Status in Question After Trailer Pruning

BioWare’s 2003 game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is one of the most well-known video games to bear the franchise’s name, and players were delighted to hear it would be coming to the current gaming generation. But much like Star Wars Eclipse, whose existence had to be reconfirmed by developer Quantic Dream…

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Source: Gizmodo – Knights of the Old Republic Remake’s Status in Question After Trailer Pruning

Intel Core i5 14600K Benchmarks Leak And It Overclocks To 5.7GHz

Intel Core i5 14600K Benchmarks Leak And It Overclocks To 5.7GHz
Intel’s next desktop CPU release is going to be the 14th-gen Raptor Lake Refresh, and likely the last generation of processors in the current line of “Core i” family CPUs. As you could guess from the name, these will be essentially (if not literally) the exact same silicon as we’re already using in the 13th-gen CPUs, but Intel will be sprinkling

Source: Hot Hardware – Intel Core i5 14600K Benchmarks Leak And It Overclocks To 5.7GHz

RMS’s Cancer, Linux’s Shrinking Support, Goog’s ‘Privacy Sandbox’, Naming OpenSUSE, and More

Also included in this week’s FOSS Week in Review: Gnome’s new due date, reader’s say Red Hat’s changed for the worse under IBM, and a new poll asks how you like your distros released.

The post RMS’s Cancer, Linux’s Shrinking Support, Goog’s ‘Privacy Sandbox’, Naming OpenSUSE, and More appeared first on FOSS Force.

Source: FOSS Force – RMS’s Cancer, Linux’s Shrinking Support, Goog’s ‘Privacy Sandbox’, Naming OpenSUSE, and More

GNU Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary

Wednesday the Free Software Foundation celebrated “the 40th anniversary of the GNU operating system and the launch of the free software movement,” with an announcement calling it “a turning point in the history of computing.

“Forty years later, GNU and free software are even more relevant. While software has become deeply ingrained into everyday life, the vast majority of users do not have full control over it… ”

On September 27, 1983, a computer scientist named Richard Stallman announced the plan to develop a free software Unix-like operating system called GNU, for “GNU’s not Unix.” GNU is the only operating system developed specifically for the sake of users’ freedom, and has remained true to its founding ideals for forty years. Since 1983, the GNU Project has provided a full, ethical replacement for proprietary operating systems. This is thanks to the forty years of tireless work from volunteer GNU developers around the world.

When describing GNU’s history and the background behind its initial announcement, Stallman (often known simply as “RMS”) stated, “with a free operating system, we could again have a community of cooperating hackers — and invite anyone to join. And anyone would be able to use a computer without starting out by conspiring to deprive his or her friends.”

“When we look back at the history of the free software movement — or the idea that users should be in control of their own computing — it starts with GNU,” said Zoë Kooyman, executive director of the FSF, which sponsors GNU’s development. “The GNU System isn’t just the most widely used operating system that is based on free software. GNU is also at the core of a philosophy that has guided the free software movement for forty years.”

Usually combined with the kernel Linux, GNU forms the backbone of the Internet and powers millions of servers, desktops, and embedded computing devices. Aside from its technical advancements, GNU pioneered the concept of “copyleft,” the approach to software licensing that requires the same rights to be preserved in derivative works, and is best exemplified by the GNU General Public License (GPL). As Stallman stated, “The goal of GNU was to give users freedom, not just to be popular. So we needed to use distribution terms that would prevent GNU software from being turned into proprietary software. The method we use is called ‘copyleft.'”

The free software community has held strong for forty years and continues to grow, as exemplified by the FSF’s annual LibrePlanet conference on software freedom and digital ethics.

Kooyman continues, “We hope that the fortieth anniversary will inspire hackers, both old and new, to join GNU in its goal to create, improve, and share free software around the world. Software is controlling our world these days, and GNU is a critique and solution to the status quo that we desperately need in order to not have our technology control us.”

“In honor of GNU’s fortieth anniversary, its organizational sponsor the FSF is organizing a hackday for families, students, and anyone interested in celebrating GNU’s anniversary. It will be held at the FSF’s offices in Boston, MA on October 1.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – GNU Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary

Heat Pumps Twice As Efficient As Fossil Fuel Systems In Cold Weather

Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo shared this report from the Guardian:
Heat pumps are more than twice as efficient as fossil fuel heating systems in cold temperatures, research shows. Even at temperatures approaching -30C, heat pumps outperform oil and gas heating systems, according to the research from Oxford University and the Regulatory Assistance Project thinktank…

Reports have spread that they do not work well in low temperatures despite their increasing use in Scandinavia and other cold climates. The research, published in the specialist energy research journal Joule, used data from seven field studies in North America, Asia and Europe. It found that at temperatures below zero, heat pumps were between two and three times more efficient than oil and gas heating systems.

The authors said the findings showed that heat pumps were suitable for almost all homes in Europe, including the UK, and should provide policymakers with the impetus to bring in new measures to roll them out as rapidly as possible.

“The Guardian and the investigative journalism organisation DeSmog recently revealed that lobbyists associated with the gas boiler sector had attempted to delay a key government measure to increase the uptake of heat pumps.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Heat Pumps Twice As Efficient As Fossil Fuel Systems In Cold Weather