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Bans on deepfakes take us only so far—here’s what we really need

Rules that require all AI-generated content to be watermarked are impossible to enforce, and it’s also highly possible that watermarks could end up doing the opposite of what they’re supposed to do, Leufer says. For one thing, in open-source systems, watermarking and provenance techniques can be removed by bad actors. This is because everyone has access to the model’s source code, so specific users can simply remove any techniques they don’t want. If only the biggest companies or most popular proprietary platforms offer…

Algorithms are everywhere | MIT Technology Review

“The present is not a prison sentence, but merely our current snapshot,” they write. “We don’t have to use unethical or opaque algorithmic decision systems, even in contexts where their use may be technically feasible. Ads based on mass surveillance are not necessary elements of our society. We don’t need to build systems that learn the stratifications of the past and present and reinforce them in the future. Privacy is not dead because of technology; it’s not true that the only way to support journalism or book writing…

How Wi-Fi sensing became usable tech

“Even if your data is encrypted,” says Patwari, “somebody sitting outside of your house could get information about where people are walking inside of the house—maybe even who is doing the walking.” With time, skill, and the right equipment, they could potentially watch your keystrokes, read your lips, or listen to sound waves; with good enough AI, they might be able to interpret them. “I mean,” Patwari clarifies, “the current technology I think would work best is looking inside the window, right?”  Wherever there is…

China’s next cultural export could be TikTok-style short soap operas

Web novels are a unique form of literature that has been popular on the Chinese internet for much of the last two decades: long stories that are written and posted chapter by chapter every day. Each chapter can be read in less than 10 minutes, but installments will keep being added for months if not years. Readers become avid fans, waiting for the new chapter to come out every day and paying a few cents to access it. While some talented Chinese book authors got their big break by writing web novels, the majority of…

Conversational AI revolutionizes the customer experience landscape

I think the same applies when we talk about either agents or employees or supervisors. They don't necessarily want to be alt-tabbing or searching multiple different solutions, knowledge bases, different pieces of technology to get their work done or answering the same questions over and over again. They want to be doing meaningful work that really engages them, that helps them feel like they're making an impact. And in this way we are seeing the contact center and customer experience in general evolve to be able to meet…

The Download: Trump’s potential climate impact, and the end of cheap helium

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology. Trump wants to unravel Biden’s landmark climate law. Here is what’s most at risk. President Joe Biden’s crowning legislative achievement was enacting the Inflation Reduction Act, easily the nation’s largest investment into addressing the rising dangers of climate change. Yet Donald Trump’s advisors and associates have clearly indicated that…

Wikimedia’s CTO: In the age of AI, human contributors still matter

What Deckelmann means by “sustainability” is a pressing concern in the open-source space more broadly. When complex services or entire platforms like Wikipedia depend on the time and labor of volunteers, contributors may not get the support they need to keep going—and keep those projects afloat. Building sustainable pathways for the people who make the internet has been Deckelmann’s personal passion for years. In addition to working as an engineering and product leader at places like Intel and Mozilla and contributing to…

How Antarctica’s history of isolation is ending—thanks to Starlink

Helpful hams and secret codes By 1957,Admiral Byrd was recognized as the world’s foremost expert in Antarctic exploration and was leading America’s Operation Deep Freeze, a mission to build a permanent American presence on the continent. The US Naval Construction Battalions, known as the Seabees, were deployed to build McMurdo Station on the solid ground of Ross Island, close to the first hut built by Captain Robert Scott in 1901.  Deep Freeze brought a massive military presence to Antarctica, including the most…

Trump wants to unravel Biden’s landmark climate law. Here is what’s most at risk.

By some accounts, the law has helped spur hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment into projects that could create nearly 200,000 jobs—and get this: eight of the 10 congressional districts set to receive the biggest clean-energy investments announced in recent quarters are led by Republicans, according to one analysis (and backed up by others).  A disproportionate amount of the money is also flowing into low-income areas and “energy communities,” or regions that previously produced fossil fuels, according…

The era of cheap helium is over—and that’s already causing problems

A delicate balance The helium we use today formed from the breakdown of radioactive materials millions of years ago and has been trapped in rocks below Earth’s surface ever since.  Helium is usually extracted from these underground reservoirs along with natural gas, as John Mattill explained in an article from our January 1986 issue: “Helium can be readily separated from the gas before combustion, but the lower the helium concentration, the higher the cost of doing so.”  Generally speaking, helium concentrations must…