Latest News

Last updated 29 May, 02:03 PM

BBC News

Starmer says 'not true' that Abbott barred from standing for Labour - The Labour leader's comments come hours after Diane Abbott texted the BBC to say she was banned from standing for the party.

ITV to host first general election leaders' debate - Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer will face each other in a head-to-head debate hosted by ITV on 4 June.

Junior doctors call five-day strike just before election - Ministers accuse doctors' union of "cynical" tactics with walkout due to start on 27 June in England.

Jury to begin deliberations in Trump's hush-money trial - The jury will soon leave the courtroom to consider its verdict, following a marathon day of closing arguments on Tuesday.

North Korea uses hundreds of white balloons to drop rubbish bags on South - The balloons, which were found across South Korea, carried toilet paper, batteries and suspected poo.

The Register

AI smartphones must balance promise against hype and privacy concerns - Color us shocked: 66% of Apple users said they wouldn't switch for any reason A coming wave of AI-capable smartphones may let vendors distinguish their devices via unique features and user experience, but it also poses challenges for privacy and potential user disillusion if there is too much hype.…

Why RISC-V must get its messaging right on open standard vs open source - It's the difference between export limits on specific chips – and a problematic blanket ban Feature The possibility of America placing sanctions on RISC-V has increased the pressure on RV's governing body and its partners to get their messaging right about what this technology really is.…

North Korea building cash reserves using ransomware, video games - Microsoft says Kim’s hermit nation is pivoting to latest tools as it evolves in cyberspace A brand-new cybercrime group that Microsoft ties to North Korea is tricking targets using fake job opportunities to launch malware and ransomware, all for financial gain.…

Evidence mounts that Venus has multiple active volcanoes - Data from 1990s adds to previous modelling to show lava-spewers widespread on second planet from Sun New research on data collected in the 1990s shows that on Venus, volcanoes are likely to be both more active and widespread than scientists previously understood.…

LLMs can write and answer quizzes – but aren't quite ready to disrupt trivia night - Feed AutoQuizzer a URL and it will use LLaMa-3 to make a decent multiple-choice test A developer has put large language models (LLMs) to the test, literally, by creating AutoQuizzer – a tool that creates quizzes from text on web pages.…

New Scientist - News

Can Google fix its disastrous new AI search tool? - Google's AI Overviews tool can offer impressive answers to search queries, but it will also make up facts and tell people to eat rocks. Can it be fixed, or will it have to be scrapped?

Ancient Egyptian skull shows oldest known attempt at treating cancer - Cut marks on a 4000-year-old skull suggest ancient Egyptian doctors tried to treat a man with nasopharyngeal cancer

Hackers are using AI to find software bugs - but there is a downside - Artificial intelligence models similar to ChatGPT are able to identify errors in computer code, letting people claim rewards for finding them - but others are using the same tools to report bugs that don't actually exist

Can seaweed provide the minerals we need for clean energy? - Mining for minerals needed for wind turbines and other clean energy technologies has a high environmental cost, but some kinds of seaweed could offer an alternative source

Quantum 'arrow of time' suggests early universe had no entanglement - One way to explain why time only moves forward is the quantum arrow of time, and it has major implications for both the universe's early period and its eventual demise

Hacker News

AI headphones let you listen to a single person in crowd, by looking at them - Comments

AdFlush - Comments

TTE: Terminal Text Effects - Comments

Runtime code generation and execution in Go - Comments

Show HN: Slipshow – A presentation tool not based on slides - Comments

Slashdot

Former FTX Executive Ryan Salame Sentenced To 7.5 Years In Prison - Former FTX executive Ryan Salame has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison, "the first of the lieutenants of failed cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried to receive jail time for their roles in the 2022 collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange," reports the Associated Press. From the report: Salame, 30, was a high-ranking executive at FTX for most of the exchange's existence and, up until its collapse, was the co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets. He pleaded guilty last year to illegally making unlawful U.S. campaign contributions and to operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. The sentence of 7 1/2 years in prison, plus three years of supervised release, was more than the five to seven years prosecutors had asked Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to impose on Salame in their pre-sentencing memo. While Salame was a high-level executive at FTX, he was not a major part of the government's case against Bankman-Fried at his trial earlier this year and did not testify against him. In a bid for leniency, Salame said during the sentencing hearing that he cooperated and even provided documents that aided prosecutors in their cross examination of Bankman-Fried, as well as in his own prosecution. Along with helping Bankman-Fried hide the holes in FTX's balance sheet that ultimately led to the exchange's failure, Salame was used as a conduit for Bankman-Fried to make illegal campaign contributions to help shape U.S. policy on cryptocurrencies. On the surface, Bankman-Fried mostly gave political contributions to Democrats and liberal-leaning causes, while Salame gave contributions to Republicans and right-leaning causes. But ultimately the funds that Salame used for those contributions came from Bankman-Fried. The judge also chastised Salame for pulling $5 million in cryptocurrencies out of FTX as the exchange was failing. "You tried to withdraw tens of millions more," Kaplan said. "It was me first. I'm getting in the lifeboat first. To heck with all those customers." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New Tech May Help Find Missing People In the Backcountry Within Minutes - A new tool called Lifeseeker could help search and rescue teams find missing people in minutes using their cellphones. The technology acts as a miniature cellphone tower, allowing rescuers to pinpoint cellphone locations within a 3-mile radius, significantly improving the efficiency and success rate of search missions in challenging terrains. The Colorado Sun reports: "As we detect the phone, basically a blotch shows up on the map and as we fly around that area, that blotch gets smaller and smaller and smaller until we can see exactly where they are," said Dr. Tim Durkin, a search and rescue program coordinator for Colorado Highland Helicopters. "That process of detecting, focusing on one specific location takes about a minute -- not really very long at all." Depending on the situation, search and rescue teams can then send in ground crews with the person's location or land the helicopter if there's a clearing nearby and conditions allow for a safe landing, Durkin said. During a test mission in La Plata Canyon northwest of Durango, search crews found the two people they were looking for within two minutes and 14 seconds, Durkin said. The technology, called Lifeseeker, was developed by Spain-based company CENTUM research & technology and is in the process of being approved by the Federal Communications Commission before it can be sold to the state or counties hoping to use it for their SAR efforts, he said. [...] The radio-based technology needs a clear view of the terrain without interference to pick up the signal of the cellphone. If the conditions and terrain are favorable, it can detect a cellphone up to nearly 20 miles away. It takes about three minutes to attach the Lifeseeker unit inside a helicopter when needed for a search and rescue mission, Durkin said. SAR can also use the tool to send text messages to the missing person, for example, advising them to stay in one area if they are hurt or move to a clearing for a helicopter to pick them up. The tool also has a broadcast function that allows SAR to send out a message to a group of people within a certain range, similar to an Amber Alert for a missing child, to warn them of a wildfire or flood, Durkin said. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Earthcare Cloud Mission Launches To Resolve Climate Unknowns - An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: A sophisticated joint European-Japanese satellite has launched to measure how clouds influence the climate. Some low-level clouds are known to cool the planet, others at high altitude will act as a blanket. The Earthcare mission will use a laser and a radar to probe the atmosphere to see precisely where the balance lies. It's one of the great uncertainties in the computer models used to forecast how the climate will respond to increasing levels of greenhouse gases. "Many of our models suggest cloud cover will go down in the future and that means that clouds will reflect less sunlight back to space, more will be absorbed at the surface and that will act as an amplifier to the warming we would get from carbon dioxide," Dr Robin Hogan, from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, told BBC News. The 2.3-tonne satellite was sent up from California on a SpaceX rocket. The project is led by the European Space Agency (ESA), which has described it as the organization's most complex Earth observation venture to date. Certainly, the technical challenge in getting the instruments to work as intended has been immense. It's taken fully 20 years to go from mission approval to launch. Earthcare will circle the Earth at a height of about 400km (250 miles). It's actually got four instruments in total that will work in unison to get at the information sought by climate scientists. The simplest is an imager -- a camera that will take pictures of the scene passing below the spacecraft to give context to the measurements made by the other three instruments. Earthcare's European ultraviolet laser will see the thin, high clouds and the tops of clouds lower down. It will also detect the small particles and droplets (aerosols) in the atmosphere that influence the formation and behavior of clouds. The Japanese radar will look into the clouds, to determine how much water they are carrying and how that's precipitating as rain, hail and snow. And a radiometer will sense how much of the energy falling on to Earth from the Sun is being reflected or radiated back into space. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Lawyers To Plastic Makers: Prepare For 'Astronomical' PFAS Lawsuits - An anonymous reader quotes a report from the New York Times: The defense lawyer minced no words as he addressed a room full of plastic-industry executives. Prepare for a wave of lawsuits with potentially "astronomical" costs. Speaking at a conference earlier this year, the lawyer, Brian Gross, said the coming litigation could "dwarf anything related to asbestos," one of the most sprawling corporate-liability battles in United States history. Mr. Gross was referring to PFAS, the "forever chemicals" that have emerged as one of the major pollution issues of our time. Used for decades in countless everyday objects -- cosmetics, takeout containers, frying pans -- PFAS have been linked to serious health risks including cancer. Last month the federal government said several types of PFAS must be removed from the drinking water of hundreds of millions of Americans. "Do what you can, while you can, before you get sued," Mr. Gross said at the February session, according to a recording of the event made by a participant and examined by The New York Times. "Review any marketing materials or other communications that you've had with your customers, with your suppliers, see whether there's anything in those documents that's problematic to your defense," he said. "Weed out people and find the right witness to represent your company." A wide swath of the chemicals, plastics and related industries are gearing up to fight a surge in litigation related to PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of nearly 15,000 versatile synthetic chemicals linked to serious health problems. [...] PFAS-related lawsuits have already targeted manufacturers in the United States, including DuPont, its spinoff Chemours, and 3M. Last year, 3M agreed to pay at least $10 billion to water utilities across the United States that had sought compensation for cleanup costs. Thirty state attorneys general have also sued PFAS manufacturers, accusing the manufacturers of widespread contamination. But experts say the legal battle is just beginning. Under increasing scrutiny are a wider universe of companies that use PFAS in their products. This month, plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit against Bic, accusing the razor company for failing to disclose that some of its razors contained PFAS. Bic said it doesn't comment on pending litigation, and said it had a longstanding commitment to safety. The Biden administration has moved to regulate the chemicals, for the first time requiring municipal water systems to remove six types of PFAS. Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency also designated two of those PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund law, shifting responsibility for their cleanup at contaminated sites from taxpayers to polluters. Both rules are expected to prompt a new round of litigation from water utilities, local communities and others suing for cleanup costs. "To say that the floodgates are opening is an understatement," said Emily M. Lamond, an attorney who focuses on environmental litigation at the law firm Cole Schotz. "Take tobacco, asbestos, MTBE, combine them, and I think we're still going to see more PFAS-related litigation," she said, referring to methyl tert-butyl ether, a former harmful gasoline additive that contaminated drinking water. Together, the trio led to claims totaling hundreds of billions of dollars. Unlike tobacco, used by only a subset of the public, "pretty much every one of us in the United States is walking around with PFAS in our bodies," said Erik Olson, senior strategic director for environmental health at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "And we're being exposed without our knowledge or consent, often by industries that knew how dangerous the chemicals were, and failed to disclose that," he said. "That's a formula for really significant liability." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Huge Google Search Document Leak Reveals Inner Workings of Ranking Algorithm - Danny Goodwin reports via Search Engine Land: A trove of leaked Google documents has given us an unprecedented look inside Google Search and revealed some of the most important elements Google uses to rank content. Thousands of documents, which appear to come from Google's internal Content API Warehouse, were released March 13 on Github by an automated bot called yoshi-code-bot. These documents were shared with Rand Fishkin, SparkToro co-founder, earlier this month. What's inside. Here's what we know about the internal documents, thanks to Fishkin and [Michael King, iPullRank CEO]: Current: The documentation indicates this information is accurate as of March. Ranking features: 2,596 modules are represented in the API documentation with 14,014 attributes. Weighting: The documents did not specify how any of the ranking features are weighted -- just that they exist. Twiddlers: These are re-ranking functions that "can adjust the information retrieval score of a document or change the ranking of a document," according to King. Demotions: Content can be demoted for a variety of reasons, such as: a link doesn't match the target site; SERP signals indicate user dissatisfaction; Product reviews; Location; Exact match domains; and/or Porn. Change history: Google apparently keeps a copy of every version of every page it has ever indexed. Meaning, Google can "remember" every change ever made to a page. However, Google only uses the last 20 changes of a URL when analyzing links. Other interesting findings. According to Google's internal documents: Freshness matters -- Google looks at dates in the byline (bylineDate), URL (syntacticDate) and on-page content (semanticDate). To determine whether a document is or isn't a core topic of the website, Google vectorizes pages and sites, then compares the page embeddings (siteRadius) to the site embeddings (siteFocusScore). Google stores domain registration information (RegistrationInfo). Page titles still matter. Google has a feature called titlematchScore that is believed to measure how well a page title matches a query. Google measures the average weighted font size of terms in documents (avgTermWeight) and anchor text. What does it all mean? According to King: "[Y]ou need to drive more successful clicks using a broader set of queries and earn more link diversity if you want to continue to rank. Conceptually, it makes sense because a very strong piece of content will do that. A focus on driving more qualified traffic to a better user experience will send signals to Google that your page deserves to rank." [...] Fishkin added: "If there was one universal piece of advice I had for marketers seeking to broadly improve their organic search rankings and traffic, it would be: 'Build a notable, popular, well-recognized brand in your space, outside of Google search.'" Read more of this story at Slashdot.