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31/01/2023 00:02:11  

Sports fashion retailer JD Sports has confirmed miscreants broke into a system that contained data on a whopping 10 million customers, but no payment information was among the mix. The Register reports: In a post to investors this morning, the London Stock Exchange-listed business said the intrusion related to infrastructure that housed data for online orders from sub-brands including JD, Size? Millets, Blacks, Scotts and MilletSport between November 2018 and October 2020. The data accessed consisted of customer name, billing address, delivery address, phone number, order details and the final four digits of payment cards "of approximately 10 million unique customers." The company does "not hold full payment card details" and said that it has "no reason to believe that account passwords were accessed." As is customary in such incidents, JD Sports has contacted the relevant authorities such as the Information Commissioner's Office and says it has enlisted the help of "leading cyber security experts." The chain has stores across Europe, with some operating in North America and Canada. It also operates some footwear brands including Go Outdoors and Shoe Palace. "We want to apologize to those customers who may have been affected by this incident," said Neil Greenhalgh, chief financial officer at JD Sports. "We are advising them to be vigilant about potential scam emails, calls and texts and providing details on now to report these." He added: "We are continuing with a full review of our cyber security in partnership with external specialists following this incident. Protecting that data of our customers is an absolute priority for JS."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

30/01/2023 23:02:10  

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet, written by Jack Wallen: PikaOS is very similar to that of Nobara Linux, which opts for a Fedora base. But what are these two Linux distributions? Simply put, they are Linux for gamers. [...] So, what does PikaOS do that so many other distributions do not? The most obvious thing is that it makes it considerably easier to install the tools needed to play games. Upon first logging in, you're greeted with a Welcome app. In the First Steps tab, you have quick access to tools for updating the system, installing patented codecs and libraries, installing propriety Nvidia drivers, installing apps from the Software Manager, and installing WebApps. Next comes the Recommended Additions, where you can install the likes of: PikaOS Game Utilities is a meta package that installs Steam, Lutris, GOverlay, MangoHud, Wine, Winetricks, vkBasalt, and other gaming-centric tools; Microsoft TrueType fonts for better Windows font emulation; Blender for creating 3D images; OBS Studio for streaming; Kdenlive for non-linear video editing; Krita for painting; and LibreOffice for productivity. In the Optional Steps tab, you can add AMD proprietary drivers, ROCm drivers, Xone drivers, and Proton GE (for Steam and Wine compatibility). Finally, the Look And Feel tab allows you to customize themes, layouts, and extensions. The layouts section is pretty nifty, as it allows you to configure the GNOME desktop to look and feel like a more traditional desktop, a MacOS-like desktop, a Windows 11 layout, a throwback GNOME 2 desktop, and even a Ubuntu Unity-like desktop. As far as pre-installed software goes, it's pretty bare bones (until you start adding titles from the Recommended Additions tab in the Welcome App). You'll find Firefox (web browser), Geary (email), Pidgin (messaging), Weather, Calculator, Cheese (web camera software), Rhythmbox, Contacts, a few utilities, and basic games. However, installing new apps is quite simple via the Software Manager app. Of course, the focus of PikaOS is games. When you install the PikaOS Game Utilities, you'll get Steam installed, which makes it easy to play an endless array of games on the Linux desktop. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that when you launch the PikaOS Game Utilities installation, it opens a terminal window to run the installation. Give this plenty of time to complete and, in the end, you can launch Steam, log in to your Steam account, and start playing. Just remember, the first time you launch the Steam app, it will take a moment to update and configure. But once it's up and running... let the games begin.

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30/01/2023 23:02:09  

Impossible Foods, which makes plant-based nuggets, burgers and patties, is reportedly laying off 20% of its staff, Bloomberg reported first. TechCrunch reports: According to the story, the 12-year-old company currently employs about 700 workers, which could then affect over 100 employees. This comes as the company made a 6% reduction in its workforce last October. While we know layoffs can happen anytime, it seems like the company was doing well. Earlier this month, the Redwood City, California-based company reported a year of record sales that included over 50% dollar sales growth in 2022. The company also touted that its Impossible Beef product was "the best-selling product by volume of any plant-based meat brand in the U.S." Months before that, CEO Peter McGuinness said in an interview with Bloomberg Technology that the company had a strong balance sheet, good cash flow and growth of between 65% to 70%. In total, Impossible raised $1.9 billion in venture capital, according to Crunchbase data. The last time the company raised capital was a $500 million Series H round in November 2021, and it was at that time that the company was valued at $7 billion. [...] Impossible is not the only plant-based meat alternative company to make layoffs in recent months. In a regulatory filing made last October, Beyond Meat said it planned to lay off about 200 employees, or 19% of its workforce, as part of cost-saving measures as sales were slumping.

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30/01/2023 22:02:11  

Dutch health technology company Philips will scrap another 6,000 jobs worldwide as it tries to restore its profitability and improve the safety of its products following a recall of respiratory devices that knocked off 70% of its market value. From a report: Half of the job cuts will be made this year, the company said on Monday, adding that the other half will be realised by 2025. The new reorganisation brings the total amount of job cuts announced by new Chief Executive Roy Jakobs in recent months to 10,000, or around 13% of Philips' current workforce.

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30/01/2023 21:02:08  

An anonymous reader shares a report: In May last year Fortum India, a subsidiary of a Finnish solar developer, won the bid for a solar power project in the state of Gujarat. The project was due to be completed three months ago and would have generated enough electricity for 200,000 homes. But like many other solar power projects in the country, it's been delayed as Fortum India struggles to source and pay for necessary components. "For the last six months, we have not been able to finish developing any new projects," said Manoj Gupta, who oversees Fortum India's solar projects in India. Gupta said solar panels and cells have become obstructively expensive because of protective taxes the Indian federal government implemented in April last year. The basic customs duty imposes a levy of 40% on imported solar modules and 25% on solar cells. The government says it wants to encourage the domestic manufacture of components required to produce solar power and reduce the country's reliance on imports. But solar developers say homegrown producers, while rapidly growing and being pushed along by policy initiatives, are still too fledgling to meet demand. Current cell and module manufacturing capacity in India is around 44 gigawatts per year, just a fraction of what's needed to meet India's renewable aims. In 2022, India had a target to install 100 gigawatts of solar energy as part of goal to add 175 gigawatts of clean electricity to its grid. But only 63 gigawatts of solar power were ultimately installed last year, according to Indian federal government data. India missed its 2022 renewable energy target by just nine gigawatts. "Without these duties we would have easily achieved our targets for larger solar projects, at least," said Jyoti Gulia of the renewable energy research and advisory firm JMK Research. Most solar developers in India and around the world rely on China, with the nation producing more than 80% of the world's solar components, according to the International Energy Agency.

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30/01/2023 21:02:08  

Coal in the US is now being economically outmatched by renewables to such an extent that it's more expensive for 99% of the country's coal-fired power plants to keep running than it is to build an entirely new solar or wind energy operation nearby, a new analysis has found. From a report: The plummeting cost of renewable energy, which has been supercharged by last year's Inflation Reduction Act, means that it is cheaper to build an array of solar panels or a cluster of new wind turbines and connect them to the grid than it is to keep operating all of the 210 coal plants in the contiguous US, bar one, according to the study. "Coal is unequivocally more expensive than wind and solar resources, it's just no longer cost competitive with renewables," said Michelle Solomon, a policy analyst at Energy Innovation, which undertook the analysis. "This report certainly challenges the narrative that coal is here to stay." The new analysis, conducted in the wake of the $370bn in tax credits and other support for clean energy passed by Democrats in last summer's Inflation Reduction Act, compared the fuel, running and maintenance cost of America's coal fleet with the building of new solar or wind from scratch in the same utility region. On average, the marginal cost for the coal plants is $36 each megawatt hour, while new solar is about $24 each megawatt hour, or about a third cheaper. Only one coal plant -- Dry Fork in Wyoming -- is cost competitive with the new renewables. "It was a bit surprising to find this," said Solomon. "It shows that not only have renewables dropped in cost, the Inflation Reduction Act is accelerating this trend."

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30/01/2023 20:02:09  

Japan's government is making arrangements to launch a new unit next year that deals with the spread of disinformation. From a report: Experts say disinformation spread through social media networks could influence public opinion and cause social turmoil. Some analysts say Russia has employed such methods against Ukraine and that China has done so against Taiwan. Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu says spreading fake information not only threatens universal values but could also affect security.

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30/01/2023 19:02:07  

After a decade of frantic growth, China's smartphone market is hitting a speed bump as COVID-19 roils the world's second-largest economy. From a report: The country's smartphone shipments dropped 14% year-over-year in 2022, reaching a ten-year low, according to research firm Counterpoint. It was also the first time that China's handset sales had slid below 300 million units in ten years, according to Canalys. Even in December, which has historically seen seasonal jumps in sales, China recorded a 5% quarter-to-quarter decline in smartphone shipments. The three-year-long stringent "zero-COVID" policy that disrupted businesses and dampened consumer confidence, coupled with global macroeconomic headwinds, spelled an end to China's years of double-digit growth. Troubles mounted when the abrupt relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in early December resulted in a surge in cases, further adding pressure to the waning economy. Last year, China's GDP grew 3%, its lowest in decades other than 2020.

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30/01/2023 18:02:08  

Satellite navigation systems for lunar settlements will require local atomic clocks. Scientists are working out what time they will keep. From a report: It's not obvious what form a universal lunar time would take. Clocks on Earth and the Moon naturally tick at different speeds, because of the differing gravitational fields of the two bodies. Official lunar time could be based on a clock system designed to synchronize with UTC, or it could be independent of Earth time. Representatives of space agencies and academic organizations worldwide met in November 2022 to start drafting recommendations on how to define lunar time at the European Space Research and Technology Centre of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. Decisions must be made soon, says Patrizia Tavella, who leads the time department at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sevres, France. If an official lunar time is not established, space agencies and private companies will come up with their own solutions, she says. "This is why we want to raise an alert now, saying let's work together to take a common decision." The most pressing need for lunar time comes from plans to create a dedicated global satellite navigation system (GNSS) for the Moon, similar to how GPS and other satellite navigation networks enable precise location tracking on Earth. Space agencies plan to install this lunar GNSS from around 2030. ESA approved a lunar satellite navigation project called Moonlight at its ministerial council meeting on 22 and 23 November 2022 in Paris, and NASA established a similar project, called Lunar Communications Relay and Navigation Systems, last January. Until now, Moon missions have pinpointed their locations using radio signals sent to large antennas on Earth at scheduled times. But with dozens of missions planned, "there's just not enough resources to cover everybody," says Joel Parker, an engineer who works on lunar navigation at the Goddard Center.

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30/01/2023 18:02:08  

The European Union is weighing a proposal to make technology companies that use the most bandwidth, like Netflix and Alphabet, to help pay for the next generation of internet infrastructure, according to a draft document seen by Bloomberg. From the report: The suggestions are part of a "fair-share" vision from the EU's executive arm that could require large tech businesses, which provide streaming videos and other data-heavy services, to help pay for the traffic they generate. The draft document, which is part of a consultation with the industry, suggested firms might contribute to a fund to offset the cost of building 5G mobile networks and fiber infrastructure, as well as the creation of a mandatory system of direct payments from tech giants to telecom operators. The commission also asked companies whether there should be a threshold that would qualify a company to be a "large traffic generator," the document showed. That could be similar to the European governing body's rules designating some tech companies "gatekeepers" and "very large online platforms" in its recent competition and online content rules.

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30/01/2023 17:02:10  

An anonymous reader shares a report: Jonathan Kanter has been one of Google's main legal foes for nearly 15 years. Last week, as the nation's top antitrust cop, he delivered a threat to break up the internet company. Mr. Kanter, the Justice Department's assistant attorney general for antitrust, filed a lawsuit alleging that Google is an illegal monopolist in the market for brokering ads on the internet. Some of the complaints trace back to early 2000s, when Mr. Kanter started questioning Google's role in the digital economy on behalf of his then-legal clients, including Microsoft. The 140-page lawsuit, which Google, a unit of Alphabet, has said includes untrue allegations and misstatements about its business, embraces charges the government once wrote off as far-fetched. In 2008, the Federal Trade Commission, which also polices threats to competition, said Google wouldn't be able to smother rivals in the digital-advertising world and declined to block its purchase of DoubleClick, an ad broker that the Justice Department now says Google should be forced to sell. The DOJ's lawsuit alleges that threats the FTC dismissed actually came to pass. The company built a moat around its business matching web publishers' supply of ad space with advertisers' demand, according to the DOJ's lawsuit. When new companies tried to compete or customers sought better deals, Google responded by blocking rivals from its platform or buying them outright and forcing them to work only with its products, the lawsuit alleges. Mr. Kanter, 49 years old, is one of the leaders of a movement that sees big technology companies including Google, Amazon.com, Facebook parent Meta Platforms and Apple as monopolists in the tradition of the 19th-century railroad and oil companies that inspired the original antitrust laws. "Today there is nobody in the world who knows more about that business and the antitrust issues surrounding it than Jonathan," said Charles "Rick" Rule, who worked with Mr. Kanter in private practice. "He has been confronting Google for 15 years." Mr. Kanter has spent most of his legal career in private practice, sometimes defending corporate clients from government investigations, but also representing companies in pressing law enforcers to go after rivals that have grown dominant. He began looking into Google during the 2000s decade on behalf of Microsoft, which the DOJ in 1998 alleged was an illegal monopolist in the personal-computer market in a lawsuit settled in 2001.

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30/01/2023 17:02:09  

Arrival, an electric vehicle startup based in the UK, said it was laying off 50 percent of its employees in a bid to reduce costs. The company also named a new CEO, Igor Torgov, who previously served as executive vice president of digital at the company. From a report: Arrival, which announced last year that it was winding down its UK operations in favor of refocusing its business in the US, became a publicly traded company in March 2021 after merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Founded in 2015, Arrival was developing electric delivery vans for UPS as a customer, as well as ridehailing cars for Uber and public buses. It also has backing from Hyundai and Kia. Arrival's layoffs will bring the company down to a workforce of 800 employees. The company claims that it expects to halve its ongoing cost of operating the business to approximately $30 million per quarter when accounting for reductions in real estate and other third-party costs. Arrival says it currently has $205 million in cash on hand.

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30/01/2023 16:02:06  

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told lawmakers Monday it had made a series of changes to prevent a repeat of a key computer system outage that forced a nationwide Jan. 11 ground stop disrupting more than 11,000 flights. From a report: The FAA said it has implemented "a one-hour synchronization delay for one of the backup databases. This action will prevent data errors from immediately reaching that backup database." The FAA also said it "now requires at least two individuals to be present during the maintenance of the (messaging) system, including one federal manager."

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30/01/2023 15:02:07  

Apple could be on track to release a foldable iPad as early as next year, according to supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. From a report: "I'm positive about the foldable iPad in 2024 and expect this new model will boost shipments and improve the product mix," he tweeted early Monday. Kuo expects it to be joined by a revamped iPad Mini, due to enter mass production in early 2024. Kuo didn't offer many new details on the rumored iPad foldable, but said that it will feature a "carbon fiber" kickstand produced by Chinese component manufacturer Anjie Technology.

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30/01/2023 15:02:06  

Baidu is planning to roll out an artificial intelligence chatbot service similar to OpenAI's ChatGPT potentially China's most prominent entry in a race touched off by the tech phenomenon. From a report: China's largest search engine company plans to debut a ChatGPT-style application in March, initially embedding it into its main search services, said the person, asking to remain unidentified discussing private information. The tool, whose name hasn't been decided, will allow users to get conversation-style search results much like OpenAI's popular platform. Baidu has spent billions of dollars researching AI in a years-long effort to transition from online marketing to deeper technology. Its Ernie system -- a large-scale machine-learning model that's been trained on data over several years -- will be the foundation of its upcoming ChatGPT-like tool, the person said. ChatGPT, OpenAI's artificial intelligence tool, has lit up the internet since its public debut in November, amassing more than a million users within days and touching off a debate about the role of AI in schools, offices and homes. Companies including Microsoft are investing billions to try and develop real-world applications, while others are capitalizing on the hype to raise funds. Buzzfeed's shares more than doubled this month after it announced plans to incorporate ChatGPT in its content.

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30/01/2023 13:02:04  

The New York Times looks at the AbbVie's anti-inflammatory drug Humira and their "savvy but legal exploitation of the U.S. patent system." Though AbbVie's patent was supposed to expire in 2016, since then it's maintained a monopoly that generated $114 billion in revenue by using "a formidable wall of intellectual property protection and suing would-be competitors before settling with them to delay their product launches until this year." AbbVie did not invent these patent-prolonging strategies; companies like Bristol Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca have deployed similar tactics to maximize profits on drugs for the treatment of cancer, anxiety and heartburn. But AbbVie's success with Humira stands out even in an industry adept at manipulating the U.S. intellectual-property regime.... AbbVie and its affiliates have applied for 311 patents, of which 165 have been granted, related to Humira, according to the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge, which tracks drug patents. A vast majority were filed after Humira was on the market. Some of Humira's patents covered innovations that benefited patients, like a formulation of the drug that reduced the pain from injections. But many of them simply elaborated on previous patents. For example, an early Humira patent, which expired in 2016, claimed that the drug could treat a condition known as ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that causes inflammation in the joints, among other diseases. In 2014, AbbVie applied for another patent for a method of treating ankylosing spondylitis with a specific dosing of 40 milligrams of Humira. The application was approved, adding 11 years of patent protection beyond 2016. AbbVie has been aggressive about suing rivals that have tried to introduce biosimilar versions of Humira. In 2016, with Amgen's copycat product on the verge of winning regulatory approval, AbbVie sued Amgen, alleging that it was violating 10 of its patents. Amgen argued that most of AbbVie's patents were invalid, but the two sides reached a settlement in which Amgen agreed not to begin selling its drug until 2023. Over the next five years, AbbVie reached similar settlements with nine other manufacturers seeking to launch their own versions of Humira. All of them agreed to delay their market entry until 2023. A drug pricing expert at Washington University in St. Louis tells the New York Times that AbbVie and its strategy with Humira "showed other companies what it was possible to do." But the article concludes that last year such tactics "became a rallying cry" for U.S. lawmakers "as they successfully pushed for Medicare to have greater control over the price of widely used drugs that, like Humira, have been on the market for many years but still lack competition."

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30/01/2023 09:02:03  

What happens when Stack Overflow's senior research analyst delves more deeply into results from their annual Developer Survey? Rust, Elixir, Clojure, Typescript, and Julia are at the top of the list of Most Loved Programming Languages. However, in looking at the last three years, we see a bit of movement. [While Rust has remained #1 since 2020, Elixir has risen to #2, while Clojure and TypeScript have dropped.] In 2022, we added a drill-down to specifically show popularity amongst those learning to code. Because Stack Overflow is a learning resource, I would expect that popularity amongst those specifically learning would be a good indicator of current and future programming language popularity. There is an interesting pattern in comparing Most Loved and Learning to Code Popularity: people learning to code aren't using the most loved languages.... Less than 1% of those learning responded they were using either Clojure or Elixir. 1.2% are using Julia 7.1% are using Rust and 15.1% are using Typescript. The article still tries to tease out ways to predict future popular programming languages (by, for example, the number of questions being asked about languages, especially by new programmers learning to code). But along the way, they uncover other surprising statistical truths about the limits of their data: "Stack Overflow questions are more susceptible to the preferences of those using the site as a learning tool rather than those of more advanced developers." "[B]eing loved (via the Developer Survey) is not related to generating more questions on Stack Overflow. And this makes sense: posting questions most likely speaks to friction with coding, a friction that may lead to loving a programming language less." "Our latest Developer Survey showed us that ~32% of programmers have been professionally coding for four years or less, a significant amount of people who are most likely involved in learning programming languages. That is, beginner-friendly languages get the most questions and popularity, but the Most Loved languages make veteran developers happy."

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30/01/2023 06:02:03  

segaboy81 shares a report from Neowin: What do you get when the world's largest CRM breaks into the research industry and leverages AI to build their products? You get ProGen, a new AI system that can make artificial enzymes from scratch that can work just as well as real ones found in nature. ProGen was made by Salesforce Research (yes, that Salesforce) and uses language processing to learn about biology. In short, ProGen takes amino acid sequences and turns them into proteins.... "The artificial designs are better than ones made by the normal process," said James Fraser, a scientist involved in the project. "We can now make specific types of enzymes, like ones that work well in hot temperatures or acid." To make ProGen, the scientists at Salesforce fed the system amino acid sequences from 280 million different proteins. The AI system quickly made a staggering one million protein sequences, of which 100 were picked to test. Out of these, five were made into actual proteins and tested in cells. That's just 0.0005% of the generated results.... The code for ProGen is available on Github for anyone who wants to try it (or add to it) The project shows "how generative AI can lead to potential solutions for addressing challenges in human disease and the environment," argues a statement form Salesforce. More details from New Scientist: The AI, called ProGen, works in a similar way to AIs that can generate text. ProGen learned how to generate new proteins by learning the grammar of how amino acids combine to form 280 million existing proteins. Instead of the researchers choosing a topic for the AI to write about, they could specify a group of similar proteins for it to focus on. In this case, they chose a group of proteins with antimicrobial activity. The researchers programmed checks into the AI's process so it wouldn't produce amino acid "gibberish", but they also tested a sample of the AI-proposed molecules in real cells. Of the 100 molecules they physically created, 66 participated in chemical reactions similar to those of natural proteins that destroy bacteria in egg whites and saliva. This suggested that these new proteins could also kill bacteria. The researchers selected the five proteins with the most intense reactions and added them to a sample of Escherichia coli bacteria. Two of the proteins destroyed the bacteria. The researchers then imaged them with X-rays. Even though their amino acid sequences were up to 30% different from any existing proteins, their shapes almost matched naturally occurring proteins. James Fraser at the University of California, San Francisco, who was part of the team, says it was not clear from the outset that the AI could work out how to change the amino acid sequence so much and still produce the correct shape.... He was surprised to have found a well-functioning protein in the first relatively small fraction of all the ProGen-generated proteins that they tested.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

30/01/2023 06:02:02  

Amazon is "selling a vacant Bay Area office complex purchased about 16 months ago," reports Bloomberg, "the company's latest effort to unwind a pandemic-era expansion that left it with a surfeit of warehouses and employees." Amazon in October 2021 paid $123 million for the 29-acre property in Milpitas, California, part of a strategy to lock up real estate near big cities that could be used for new warehouses and facilitate future growth.... Amazon is expected to take a loss on the sale of the Metro Corporate Center, according to one person familiar with the terms of the deal, who spoke on condition of anonymity.... Amazon last year began its biggest-ever round of job cuts that will ultimately affect 18,000 workers around the globe. The world's largest e-commerce company, which is scheduled to report earnings on Feb. 2, warned investors that fourth-quarter sales growth would be the slowest in its history. SFGate writes that the possible sale "is indicative of broader trends in Bay Area corporate real estate, which has struggled with remote work, tech layoffs and broader economic shifts." "According to a report by commercial real estate firm Kidder Mathews, direct office vacancies in San Francisco rose to more than 18.4% in the fourth quarter of 2022, while a Kastle Systems report found that office occupancy rates rose to 41.8%, just 1% higher than the rates in September 2022."

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30/01/2023 03:01:59  

When Google laid off 6% of its workforce — some of whom had worked for the company for decades — employees "got the news in their inbox," writes Gawker's founding editor in a scathing opinion piece in the New York Times: That sting is becoming an all-too-common sensation. In the last few years, tens of thousands of people have been laid off by email at tech and digital media companies including Twitter, Amazon, Meta and Vox. The backlash from affected employees has been swift.... It's not just tech and media. Companies in a range of industries claim this is the only efficient way to do a lot of layoffs. Informing workers personally is too complicated, they say — and too risky, as people might use their access to internal systems to perform acts of sabotage. (These layoff emails are often sent to employees' personal email; by the time they check it, they've been locked out of all their employer's own platforms.) As someone who's managed people in newsrooms and digital start-ups and has hired and fired people in various capacities for the last 21 years, I think this approach is not just cruel but unnecessary. It's reasonable to terminate access to company systems, but delivering the news with no personal human contact serves only one purpose: letting managers off the hook. It ensures they will not have to face the shock and devastation that people feel when they lose their livelihoods. It also ensures the managers won't have to weather any direct criticism about the poor leadership that brought everyone to that point.... Future hiring prospects will be reading all about it on Twitter or Glassdoor. In a tight labor market, a company's cruelty can leave a lasting stain on its reputation.... The expectation that an employee give at least two weeks notice and help with transition is rooted in a sense that workers owe their employers something more than just their labor: stability, continuity, maybe even gratitude for the compensation they've earned. But when it's the company that chooses to end the relationship, there is often no such requirement. The same people whose labor helped build the company get suddenly recoded as potential criminals who might steal anything that's not nailed down.... Approval of unions is already at 71 percent. Dehumanizing workers like this is accelerating the trend. Once unthinkable, unionization at large tech companies now seems all but inevitable. Treating employees as if they're disposable units who can simply be unsubscribed to ultimately endangers a company's own interests. It seems mistreated workers know their value, even if employers — as they are increasingly prone to demonstrate — do not.

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30/01/2023 01:01:55  

segaboy81 shares a report from Neowin: What do you get when the world's largest CRM breaks into the research industry and leverages AI to build their products? You get ProGen, a new AI system that can make artificial enzymes from scratch that can work just as well as real ones found in nature. ProGen was made by Salesforce Research (yes, that Salesforce) and uses language processing to learn about biology. In short, ProGen takes amino acid sequences and turns them into proteins.... "The artificial designs are better than ones made by the normal process," said James Fraser, a scientist involved in the project. "We can now make specific types of enzymes, like ones that work well in hot temperatures or acid." To make ProGen, the scientists at Salesforce fed the system amino acid sequences from 280 million different proteins. The AI system quickly made a staggering one million protein sequences, of which 100 were picked to test. Out of these, five were made into actual proteins and tested in cells. That's just 0.0005% of the generated results.... The code for ProGen is available on Github for anyone who wants to try it (or add to it) The project shows "how generative AI can lead to potential solutions for addressing challenges in human disease and the environment," argues a statement form Salesforce. More details from New Scientist: The AI, called ProGen, works in a similar way to AIs that can generate text. ProGen learned how to generate new proteins by learning the grammar of how amino acids combine to form 280 million existing proteins. Instead of the researchers choosing a topic for the AI to write about, they could specify a group of similar proteins for it to focus on. In this case, they chose a group of proteins with antimicrobial activity. The researchers programmed checks into the AI's process so it wouldn't produce amino acid "gibberish", but they also tested a sample of the AI-proposed molecules in real cells. Of the 100 molecules they physically created, 66 participated in chemical reactions similar to those of natural proteins that destroy bacteria in egg whites and saliva. This suggested that these new proteins could also kill bacteria. The researchers selected the five proteins with the most intense reactions and added them to a sample of Escherichia coli bacteria. Two of the proteins destroyed the bacteria. The researchers then imaged them with X-rays. Even though their amino acid sequences were up to 30% different from any existing proteins, their shapes almost matched naturally occurring proteins. James Fraser at the University of California, San Francisco, who was part of the team, says it was not clear from the outset that the AI could work out how to change the amino acid sequence so much and still produce the correct shape.... He was surprised to have found a well-functioning protein in the first relatively small fraction of all the ProGen-generated proteins that they tested.

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30/01/2023 00:01:52  

When you share your email, "you're sharing a lot more," warns the New York Times' lead consumer technology writer: [I]t can be linked to other data, including where you went to school, the make and model of the car you drive, and your ethnicity.... For many years, the digital ad industry has compiled a profile on you based on the sites you visit on the web.... An email could contain your first and last name, and assuming you've used it for some time, data brokers have already compiled a comprehensive profile on your interests based on your browsing activity. A website or an app can upload your email address into an ad broker's database to match your identity with a profile containing enough insights to serve you targeted ads. The article recommends creating several email addresses to "make it hard for ad tech companies to compile a profile based on your email handle... Apple and Mozilla offer tools that automatically create email aliases for logging in to an app or a site; emails sent to the aliases are forwarded to your real email address." Apple's Hide My Email tool, which is part of its iCloud+ subscription service that costs 99 cents a month, will create aliases, but using it will make it more difficult to log in to the accounts from a non-Apple device. Mozilla's Firefox Relay will generate five email aliases at no cost; beyond that, the program charges 99 cents a month for additional aliases. For sites using the UID 2.0 framework for ad targeting, you can opt out by entering your email address [or phone number] at https://transparentadvertising.org.

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29/01/2023 22:01:53  

To detect AI-generated text, Stanford researchers are proposing a new methodology "that leverages the unique characteristics of text generated by large language models (LLMs)," reports the tech-news site Neowin: "DetectGPT" is based around the idea that text generated by LLMs typically hover around specific regions of the negative curvature regions of the model's log probability function.... This method, called "zero-shot", allows DetectGPT to detect machine written text without any knowledge of the AI that was used to generate it.... As the use of LLMs continues to grow, the importance of corresponding systems for detecting machine-generated text will become increasingly critical. DetectGPT is a promising approach that could have a significant impact in many areas, and its further development could be beneficial for many fields. The article also includes its obligatory amazing story about the current powers of ChatGPT. "I asked it how to build an obscure piece of Linux software against a modern kernel, and it told me how. It even generated code blocks with the bash commands needed to complete the task." Then to test something crazier, Neowin asked ChatGPT to generate "a fictional resume for Hulk Hogan where he has no previous IT experience but wants to transition into a role as an Azure Cloud Engineer. "It did that, too." Thanks to Slashdot reader segaboy81 for sharing the story.

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29/01/2023 21:01:51  

Fortune reports on what happened next: As questions piled up over the weekend, Google CEO Sundar Pichai addressed the entire company in a meeting on Monday to answer questions, and announced then that top executives would take a pay cut this year as part of the company's cost reduction measures, Business Insider reported. Pichai said that all roles above the senior vice president level will witness "very significant reduction in their annual bonus," adding that for senior roles the compensation was linked to company performance. It was not immediately clear how big Pichai's own pay cut would be. Reuters also points out that Pichai "received a massive hike in salary a few weeks before Google announced layoffs." But Fortune makes an interesting comparison: Pichai's move to cut the pay for senior executives comes only weeks after Apple's Tim Cook announced his compensation would be 40% lower amid shareholder pressure. The iPhone maker had a strong 2022 and remains one of the few tech behemoths that hasn't announced layoffs yet. Last year Apple's share price still dropped 27%, reports Forbes, and "According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is expected next month to report its first quarterly sales decline in over three years." Yet Apple seems to have avoided layoffs — which Forbes argues is because Apple didn't hire aggressively during the pandemic. Compared to the other Big Tech companies, Apple scaled its workforce at a relatively slow pace and has generally followed the same hiring rate since 2016. While there was a hiring surge in Silicon Valley during the pandemic, Apple added less than 7,000 jobs in 2020.... The tech companies undergoing layoffs right now hired fervently during their pandemic — and even before. Alphabet has consecutively expanded its workforce at least 10% annually since 2013, according to CNBC.... Since 2012, Meta has expanded its workforce by thousands each year. In 2020, Zuckerberg increased headcount by 30% — 13,000 workers. The following year, the social media platform added another 13,000 employees to its payroll. Those two years marked the biggest growth in the company's history. Amazon has initiated its plan to separate more than 18,000 white-collar professionals from its payroll. In 2021, the online retailer hired an estimated 500,000 employees, according to GeekWire, becoming the second-largest employer in the United States after Walmart. A year later, the company expanded its workforce by 310,000. Entrepeneur supplies some context about those layoffs at Google: Reports indicate qualifying staff who were let go will receive their full notification period salary plus a severance package beginning at 16 weeks' pay and two additional weeks for every year of employment. Also part of the package: bonuses, vacation time, and health care coverage for up to six months will be paid for, along with job placement and immigration support. Entrepreneur also notes reports that Google's latest round of layoffs "affected 27 massage therapists across Los Angeles and Irvine."

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29/01/2023 20:01:50  

"San Francisco is trying to slow the expansion of robotaxis," reports NBC News, "after repeated incidents in which cars without drivers stopped and idled in the middle of the street for no obvious reason, delaying bus riders and disrupting the work of firefighters." The city's transportation officials sent letters this week to California regulators asking them to halt or scale back the expansion plans of two companies, Cruise and Waymo, which are competing head-to-head to be the first to offer 24-hour robotaxi service in the country's best-known tech hub. The outcome will determine how quickly San Francisco and possibly other cities forge ahead with driverless technology that could remake the world's cities and potentially save some of the 40,000 people killed each year in American traffic crashes.... Neither vehicles from Cruise or Waymo have killed anyone on the streets of San Francisco, but the companies need to overcome their sometimes comical errors, including one episode last year in which a Cruise car with nobody in it slowly tried to flee from a police officer. In one recent instance documented on social media and noted by city officials, five disabled Cruise vehicles in San Francisco's Mission District blocked a street so completely that a city bus with 45 riders couldn't get through and was delayed for at least 13 minutes. Cruise's autonomous cars have also interfered with active firefighting, and firefighters once shattered a car's window to prevent it from driving over their firehoses, the city said.... "A series of limited deployments with incremental expansions — rather than unlimited authorizations — offer the best path toward public confidence in driving automation and industry success in San Francisco and beyond," three city officials wrote Thursday in a letter to the utilities commission, the state agency that decides if a company gets a robotaxi license. A second letter expressed concerns about Waymo.... Cruise has argued that its service is safer than the status quo. A Cruise spokesperson also provided letters of support "written by local San Francisco merchants associations, disability advocates and community groups." And U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Quartz last year that "it would be hard to do worse than human drivers when it comes to what we could get to theoretically with the right kind of safe autonomous driving." But in 2021 CBS reported that dozens and dozens of Waymo's robo-taxis kept mistakenly driving down the same dead-end street. And in 2018 a self-driving Uber test vehicle struck and killed a woman in Arizona. More stories from the Verge: In July, a group of driverless Cruise vehicles blocked traffic for hours after the cars inexplicably stopped working, and a similar incident occurred in September. Meanwhile, a driverless Waymo vehicle created a traffic jam in San Francisco after it stopped in the middle of an intersection earlier this month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into Cruise last December over concerns about the vehicles blocking traffic and causing rear-end collisions with hard braking... [San Francisco] city officials also express concern over the way driverless vehicles deal with emergency vehicles. Last April, officials say an autonomous Cruise vehicle stopped in a travel lane and "created an obstruction for a San Francisco Fire Department vehicle on its way to a 3 alarm fire...." Other incidents involve Cruise calling 911 about "unresponsive" passengers on three separate occasions, only for emergency services to arrive and find that the rider just fell asleep.... Officials say companies should be required to collect more data about the performance of the vehicles, including how often and how long their driverless vehicles block traffic.

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