tardigrada

joined 2 years ago
 
  • Vital Metals to sell materials stockpile to Saskatchewan group
  • Deal supersedes agreement with China’s Shenghe Resources

Canada’s government will buy stockpiled rare earth materials from Vital Metals Ltd. in a deal that prevents the company from selling its production to a Chinese buyer.

The small Australian firm, which mines rare earths in Canada’s Northwest Territories, will sell its stockpiled rare earth material to the Saskatchewan Research Council for C$3 million ($2.2 million). The arrangement, facilitated by Canada’s federal government, keeps Vital from moving forward on a plan it started in December to sell that same stockpile to China’s Shenghe Resources Holding Co. for C$2.4 million ($1.7 million).

Canada recognizes the rare earths mine as a “strategic asset that contributes to the country’s prosperity and critical mineral goals,” Vital Metals said Monday.

The intervention is part of a wider push to block Chinese firms from delving further into Canada’s critical minerals sector. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has warned it will closely scrutinize transactions between domestic mining companies and Chinese government-linked firms and only approve deals “on an exceptional basis.” In 2022, it ordered three Chinese investors to sell their stakes in a trio of Canadian lithium firms.

In May, Canadian copper miner Solaris Resources Inc. dropped a financing deal with a Chinese firm after the arrangement was subject to a lengthy national security review from the federal government.

Vital’s stockpiled material will go toward a rare earths processing facility being built by the Saskatchewan Research Council, which has made similar purchases. The government-run council previously signed an agreement to import rare earth carbonate from Hung Thinh Group, a Vietnamese minerals producer.

 

Facial recognition startup Clearview AI reached a settlement Friday in an Illinois lawsuit alleging its massive photographic collection of faces violated the subjects’ privacy rights, a deal that attorneys estimate could be worth more than $50 million.

But the unique agreement gives plaintiffs in the federal suit a share of the company’s potential value, rather than a traditional payout. Attorneys’ fees estimated at $20 million also would come out of the settlement amount.

It’s unclear how many people would be eligible to join the settlement. The agreement language is sweeping, including anyone whose images or data are in the company’s database and who lived in the U.S. starting in July 1, 2017. A national campaign to notify potential plaintiffs is part of the agreement.

A national campaign to notify potential plaintiffs is part of the agreement.

Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman, of the Northern District of Illinois, gave preliminary approval to the agreement Friday.

The case consolidated lawsuits from around the U.S. filed against Clearview, which pulled photos from social media and elsewhere on the internet to create a database it sold to businesses, individuals and government entities.

The company settled a separate case alleging violation of privacy rights in Illinois in 2022, agreeing to stop selling access to its database to private businesses or individuals. That agreement still allowed Clearview to work with federal agencies and local law enforcement outside Illinois, which has a strict digital privacy law.

Clearview does not admit any liability as part of the latest settlement agreement.

"Clearview AI is pleased to have reached an agreement in this class action settlement,” James Thompson, an attorney representing the company in the suit, said in a written statement Friday.

The lead plaintiffs’ attorney Jon Loevy said the agreement was a “creative solution” necessitated by Clearview’s financial status.

“Clearview did not have anywhere near the cash to pay fair compensation to the class, so we needed to find a creative solution,” Loevy said in a statement. “Under the settlement, the victims whose privacy was breached now get to participate in any upside that is ultimately generated, thereby recapturing to the class to some extent the ownership of their biometrics.”

It’s not clear how many people would be eligible to join the settlement. The agreement language is sweeping, including anyone whose images or data are in the company’s database and who lived in the U.S. starting in July 1, 2017.

A national campaign to notify potential plaintiffs is part of the agreement.

The attorneys for Clearview and the plaintiffs worked with Wayne Andersen, a retired federal judge who now mediates legal cases, to develop the settlement. In court filings presenting the agreement, Andersen bluntly writes that the startup could not have paid any legal judgment if the suit went forward.

“Clearview did not have the funds to pay a multi-million-dollar judgment,” he is quoted in the filing. “Indeed, there was great uncertainty as to whether Clearview would even have enough money to make it through to the end of trial, much less fund a judgment.”

But some privacy advocates and people pursuing other legal action called the agreement a disappointment that won’t change the company’s operations.

Sejal Zota is an attorney and legal director for Just Futures Law, an organization representing plaintiffs in a California suit against the company. Zota said the agreement “legitimizes” Clearview.

“It does not address the root of the problem,” Zota said. “Clearview gets to continue its practice of harvesting and selling people’s faces without their consent, and using them to train its AI tech.”

 

Facial recognition startup Clearview AI reached a settlement Friday in an Illinois lawsuit alleging its massive photographic collection of faces violated the subjects’ privacy rights, a deal that attorneys estimate could be worth more than $50 million.

But the unique agreement gives plaintiffs in the federal suit a share of the company’s potential value, rather than a traditional payout. Attorneys’ fees estimated at $20 million also would come out of the settlement amount.

It’s unclear how many people would be eligible to join the settlement. The agreement language is sweeping, including anyone whose images or data are in the company’s database and who lived in the U.S. starting in July 1, 2017. A national campaign to notify potential plaintiffs is part of the agreement.

A national campaign to notify potential plaintiffs is part of the agreement.

Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman, of the Northern District of Illinois, gave preliminary approval to the agreement Friday.

The case consolidated lawsuits from around the U.S. filed against Clearview, which pulled photos from social media and elsewhere on the internet to create a database it sold to businesses, individuals and government entities.

The company settled a separate case alleging violation of privacy rights in Illinois in 2022, agreeing to stop selling access to its database to private businesses or individuals. That agreement still allowed Clearview to work with federal agencies and local law enforcement outside Illinois, which has a strict digital privacy law.

Clearview does not admit any liability as part of the latest settlement agreement.

"Clearview AI is pleased to have reached an agreement in this class action settlement,” James Thompson, an attorney representing the company in the suit, said in a written statement Friday.

The lead plaintiffs’ attorney Jon Loevy said the agreement was a “creative solution” necessitated by Clearview’s financial status.

“Clearview did not have anywhere near the cash to pay fair compensation to the class, so we needed to find a creative solution,” Loevy said in a statement. “Under the settlement, the victims whose privacy was breached now get to participate in any upside that is ultimately generated, thereby recapturing to the class to some extent the ownership of their biometrics.”

It’s not clear how many people would be eligible to join the settlement. The agreement language is sweeping, including anyone whose images or data are in the company’s database and who lived in the U.S. starting in July 1, 2017.

A national campaign to notify potential plaintiffs is part of the agreement.

The attorneys for Clearview and the plaintiffs worked with Wayne Andersen, a retired federal judge who now mediates legal cases, to develop the settlement. In court filings presenting the agreement, Andersen bluntly writes that the startup could not have paid any legal judgment if the suit went forward.

“Clearview did not have the funds to pay a multi-million-dollar judgment,” he is quoted in the filing. “Indeed, there was great uncertainty as to whether Clearview would even have enough money to make it through to the end of trial, much less fund a judgment.”

But some privacy advocates and people pursuing other legal action called the agreement a disappointment that won’t change the company’s operations.

Sejal Zota is an attorney and legal director for Just Futures Law, an organization representing plaintiffs in a California suit against the company. Zota said the agreement “legitimizes” Clearview.

“It does not address the root of the problem,” Zota said. “Clearview gets to continue its practice of harvesting and selling people’s faces without their consent, and using them to train its AI tech.”

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 day ago

I suppose that's the mechanism they're using to centrally manage the economy, by controlling fund transfers to lower levels of government.

I would agree with this view. The local governments are responsible for the majority of spendings (including pensions, health care), but they can barely raise funds themselves.

The central government has already said that the new debt will be forwarded to the local government, and that it will be 'off-budget', meaning the money goes to LGFVs. The future will tell us how this ends up, but the risks are high imo given the country's debt burden is so much higher than in most other countries as you suggested.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 day ago

Competition aka market economy only works if every player respects the same rules. It's obvious that this isn't the case here. TikTok -the 'Western' version of ByteDance's product- isn't allowed even in China as you will know. So why does TikTok complain if it gets banned in the West, while it seems fine to be banned in China? Isn't that a double standard?

Also, if we're talking about competition, then this doesn't work in a centrally planned economy like China's. The competition argument coming from a Chinese perspective isn't valid, as it is the Chinese government itself which rejects exactly this very competition for itself.

[–] [email protected] 6 points 1 day ago

The real change in retail pricing might be discrimination pricing (or 'surveillance pricing' as it is now called sometimes). Simply speaking, it uses personal data to personalize prices not just for each customer, but also for each customer depending on actual circumstances such as day time, weather, an individual's pay day, and other data, collected through apps, loyalty cards, ...

As one article says, there is One Person One Price:

"If I literally tell you, the price of a six-pack is $1.99, and then I tell someone else the price of a six-pack for them is $3.99, this would be deemed very unfair if there was too much transparency on it,” [University of Chicago economists Jean-Pierre] Dubé said. “But if instead I say, the price of a six-pack is $3.99 for everyone, and that’s fair. But then I give you a coupon for $2 off [through your app] but I don’t give the coupon to the other person, somehow that’s not as unfair as if I just targeted a different price.”

The linked article is a very long read but worth everyone's time. Very insightful.

 

TikTok says it offered the US government the power to shut the platform down in an attempt to address lawmakers' data protection and national security concerns.

It disclosed the "kill switch" offer, which it made in 2022, as it began its legal fight against legislation that will ban the app in America unless Chinese parent company ByteDance sells it.

The law has been introduced because of concerns TikTok might share US user data with the Chinese government - claims it and ByteDance have always denied.

TikTok and ByteDance are urging the courts to strike the legislation down.

"This law is a radical departure from this country’s tradition of championing an open Internet, and sets a dangerous precedent allowing the political branches to target a disfavored speech platform and force it to sell or be shut down," they argued in their legal submission.

They also claimed the US government refused to engage in any serious settlement talks after 2022, and pointed to the "kill switch" offer as evidence of the lengths they had been prepared to go.

TikTok says the mechanism would have allowed the government the "explicit authority to suspend the platform in the United States at the US government's sole discretion" if it did not follow certain rules.

A draft "National Security Agreement", proposed by TikTok in August 2022, would have seen the company having to follow rules such as properly funding its data protection units and making sure that ByteDance did not have access to US users' data.

The "kill switch" could have been triggered by the government if it broke this agreement, it claimed.

In a letter - first reported by the Washington Post - addressed to the US Department of Justice, TikTok's lawyer alleges that the government "ceased any substantive negotiations" after the proposal of the new rules.

The letter, dated 1 April 2024, says the US government ignored requests to meet for further negotiations.

It also alleges the government did not respond to TikTok's invitation to "visit and inspect its Dedicated Transparency Center in Maryland".

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hold oral arguments on lawsuits filed by TikTok and ByteDance, along with TikTok users, in September.

Legislation signed in April by President Joe Biden gives ByteDance until January next year to divest TikTok's US assets or face a ban.

It was born of concerns that data belonging to the platform's 170 million US users could be passed on to the Chinese government.

TikTok denies that it shares foreign users' data with China and called the legislation an "unconstitutional ban" and affront to the US right to free speech.

It insists that US data does not leave the country, and is overseen by American company Oracle, in a deal which is called Project Texas.

However, a Wall Street Journal investigation in January 2024 found that some data was still being shared between TikTok in the US and ByteDance in China.

In May, a US government official told the Washington Post that "the solution proposed by the parties at the time would be insufficient to address the serious national security risks presented."

They added: "While we have consistently engaged with the company about our concerns and potential solutions, it became clear that divestment from its foreign ownership was and remains necessary."

 

TikTok says it offered the US government the power to shut the platform down in an attempt to address lawmakers' data protection and national security concerns.

It disclosed the "kill switch" offer, which it made in 2022, as it began its legal fight against legislation that will ban the app in America unless Chinese parent company ByteDance sells it.

The law has been introduced because of concerns TikTok might share US user data with the Chinese government - claims it and ByteDance have always denied.

TikTok and ByteDance are urging the courts to strike the legislation down.

"This law is a radical departure from this country’s tradition of championing an open Internet, and sets a dangerous precedent allowing the political branches to target a disfavored speech platform and force it to sell or be shut down," they argued in their legal submission.

They also claimed the US government refused to engage in any serious settlement talks after 2022, and pointed to the "kill switch" offer as evidence of the lengths they had been prepared to go.

TikTok says the mechanism would have allowed the government the "explicit authority to suspend the platform in the United States at the US government's sole discretion" if it did not follow certain rules.

A draft "National Security Agreement", proposed by TikTok in August 2022, would have seen the company having to follow rules such as properly funding its data protection units and making sure that ByteDance did not have access to US users' data.

The "kill switch" could have been triggered by the government if it broke this agreement, it claimed.

In a letter - first reported by the Washington Post - addressed to the US Department of Justice, TikTok's lawyer alleges that the government "ceased any substantive negotiations" after the proposal of the new rules.

The letter, dated 1 April 2024, says the US government ignored requests to meet for further negotiations.

It also alleges the government did not respond to TikTok's invitation to "visit and inspect its Dedicated Transparency Center in Maryland".

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hold oral arguments on lawsuits filed by TikTok and ByteDance, along with TikTok users, in September.

Legislation signed in April by President Joe Biden gives ByteDance until January next year to divest TikTok's US assets or face a ban.

It was born of concerns that data belonging to the platform's 170 million US users could be passed on to the Chinese government.

TikTok denies that it shares foreign users' data with China and called the legislation an "unconstitutional ban" and affront to the US right to free speech.

It insists that US data does not leave the country, and is overseen by American company Oracle, in a deal which is called Project Texas.

However, a Wall Street Journal investigation in January 2024 found that some data was still being shared between TikTok in the US and ByteDance in China.

In May, a US government official told the Washington Post that "the solution proposed by the parties at the time would be insufficient to address the serious national security risks presented."

They added: "While we have consistently engaged with the company about our concerns and potential solutions, it became clear that divestment from its foreign ownership was and remains necessary."

 

Scientists described their “detective work” in the forests of Uganda - observing animals that appeared injured or sick to work out whether they were self-medicating with plants.

When an injured animal sought out something specific from the forest to eat, the researchers collected samples of that plant and had it analysed. Most of the plants tested turned out to have antibacterial properties.

The scientists, who published their findings in the journal PLOS One, think the chimps could even help in the search for new medicines.

"We can't test everything in these forests for their medicinal properties, lead researcher Dr Elodie Freymann, from the University of Oxford, said. “So why not test the plants that we have this information about - plants the chimps are seeking out?”

Over the past four years, Dr Freymann has spent months at a time following and carefully observing two communities of wild chimpanzees in Budongo Central Forest Reserve.

As well as looking for signs of pain - an animal limping or holding its body in an unusual way - she and her colleagues collected samples of droppings and urine to check for illness and infection.

They paid particular attention when an injured or ill chimpanzee sought out something they do not normally eat - such as tree bark or fruit skin.

“We were looking for these behavioural clues that the plants might be medicinal,” Dr Freymann explained.

She described one particular chimp - a male - that had a badly wounded hand.

"He wasn't using the hand to walk, he was limping,” she recalled. While the rest of this animal’s group were sitting around eating, the injured chimp limped away looking for ferns. “He was the only chimp to seek out and eat these ferns.”

The researchers collected and analysed the fern - a plant called Christella parasitica, which turned out to have potent anti-inflammatory properties.

In total, the researchers collected 17 samples from 13 different plant species and sent them to be tested by Dr Fabien Schultz, at the Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany.

That revealed that almost 90% of the extracts inhibited bacterial growth, and a third had natural anti-inflammatory properties, meaning they could reduce pain and promote healing.

All the injured and ill chimps reported in this study fully recovered, Dr Freymann was happy to report. “The one who ate ferns was using his hand again within the next few days,” she explained.

“Of course, we can't 100% prove that any of these cases were a direct result of eating these resources,” she told BBC News.

“But it highlights the medicinal knowledge that can be gained from observing other species in the wild and underscores the urgent need to preserve these ‘forest pharmacies’ for future generations.”

[–] [email protected] 12 points 4 days ago (1 children)

I am thinking the same. Must be some sort of Streisand effect :-)

 

China’s economy is buried under a great wall of debt and Xi Jinping’s answer is to add more bricks. The president has sanctioned an extraordinary programme of borrowing by the central government to steer the $18 trillion behemoth to “high quality development”. In doing so, he is piling risk onto the country’s last decent balance sheet.

There is nothing new in the Chinese central government taking on more debt in a time of crisis. But the latest plan, outlined in March by the State Council, to sell special sovereign bonds with maturities of up to 50 years is a departure from a tested formula.

Such debts used to be indeed special, with only three new issuances by the People’s Republic before last month. All had a one-off policy goal or specific emergency to deal with, such as bailing out insolvent state-owned banks in 1998. This time, the government will sell 1 trillion yuan ($138 billion) in ultra-long-dated, special sovereign bonds. These issues will continue over “each of the next several years”, and the policy goals are broad.

Much of the proceeds will be used for investment to support “major national strategies”, per the State Council. Beijing would help finance the construction cost of schools and hospitals in grain-producing counties, for instance, to reinforce food security and thereby China’s self-sufficiency. Additionally, new industries such as semiconductors, electric vehicles and artificial intelligence will be prioritised as China races to establish a growth model led by domestic consumption, a green economy and innovation, rather than one that depends on infrastructure, land and labour.

Taking on more borrowing at the central government also will consolidate Xi’s grip on economic planning and resource allocation, potentially helping China to reduce wasteful investments. Crucially, expanding the central government’s balance sheet will ease the future burden on cash-strapped local governments that are responsible for most spending.

Heavy lifting

Xi’s borrowing plan addresses a problem created by a tax-sharing system introduced in the 1990s which allows Beijing to take a lion’s share of the national tax revenues. By 2022, per Ministry of Finance data, local governments were responsible for nearly 90% of total government expenditure but they needed to make do with about 50% of total government revenue.

The squeeze gave rise to local government financing vehicles, known as LGFVs, and prompted municipalities to lean on property market income including land sales to balance their books. Property incomes accounted for more than 40% of local government income in 2020. It dwindled quickly thereafter due to Xi’s “three red lines”, a deleveraging campaign that ultimately led a Hong Kong court to order the liquidation of Evergrande, the world’s most indebted real estate developer.

Borrowing binge

The additional borrowing is riskier this time. In 1998 China was on the verge of joining the World Trade Organization. Powered by robust exports and a youthful workforce, its trajectory was firmly on the up. Geopolitical tension, however, has taken steam out of the world’s second largest economy. Its sheer size and its existing indebtedness are an issue too.

The central government’s balance sheet remains tidy for now. Its outstanding borrowings amounted to 24% of GDP at the end of 2023, the International Monetary Fund estimates, among the lowest of major economies. If all else remains equal and China issues special sovereign bonds to the tune of 1 trillion yuan each year for the next decade, its borrowings would rise nearly 8 percentage points to almost 32% of last year’s GDP, Breakingviews calculates.

The problems stack up elsewhere, however. Explicit local government debt amounted to another 31% of GDP by the end of 2023, per the IMF, LGFVs account for a further 48%, and other government funds another 13%, bringing the augmented debt up to 116 trillion yuan, about $16 trillion, or 116% of GDP – a 35% increase on 2018, the IMF calculates.

Corporate debt adds another 123% of GDP, much of it issued by state banks and owed by state-owned enterprises, plus there’s household debt at 61% of GDP, per Fidelity which calculates gross debt at over 300% of GDP.

Borrowing more doesn’t sound like “a basket of comprehensive measures” to resolve risks stemming from local government debts, as the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo called for last year. The potential costs of bailing out those authorities and making the shift to the new growth model is why Moody’s and Fitch, two of the three major rating agencies, have put China’s sovereign rating on negative outlook since December.

More than two decades ago Zhu Rongji reacted indignantly to Hong Kong newspapers’ assessment that he was China’s “deficit premier” when his government started selling long-term construction bonds at smaller amounts. He insisted his cabinet was investing in quality assets, for future generations of the People’s Republic. This gamble paid off and the projects, including a power grid and an extensive mobile telecommunication network, laid the foundation for decades of growth.

By the time the new wave of sovereign debt matures, the People’s Republic would be celebrating its 100th anniversary and, if all goes well according to Xi’s plan, it will be a “strong and modern socialist country”. Long before then, however, it will be clear whether China can defy a debt crisis, as it has done so for decades, and simultaneously revive growth. There will be even less room to borrow its way out of problems next time.

 

Archived version

Apple has a long-running history of guarding their walled garden by not allowing much interoperability with other standards that are the current norm in the industry, while also going on to reinvent, giving features a novel-sounding name.

Of course, the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA) has been successful in making Apple do things that they wouldn't ever do, if it weren't the law to do so.

However, Apple still does its best to gate keep developers who aren't their own, and one such recent incident caught my attention that involves their typical “my way or the highway” approach to things.

Apple Loves to Gatekeep: When Will They Stop?

Posted on X by the UTM project, they revealed that Apple rejected their application for publishing the UTM SE app after a two-month-long review process, citing that “Rule 4.7” of their App Review Guidelines didn't apply to it.

That rule is meant to allow game emulators, mini apps, chatbots, plugins, etc. to be published on the App Store.

The developers of UTM mention that Apple even went the extra step, and disallowed the publishing of UTM SE on third-party marketplaces. They added that:

The App Store Review Board determined that “PC is not a console” regardless of the fact that there are retro Windows/DOS games for the PC that UTM SE can be useful in running.

If you are not familiar, UTM is a QEMU-powered open-source emulator/virtual machine host for iOS and macOS, a popular tool to run alternative operating systems (such as ones based on Linux, or even Windows) on Apple devices.

There's more information in the linked article.

 

Archived version

Apple has a long-running history of guarding their walled garden by not allowing much interoperability with other standards that are the current norm in the industry, while also going on to reinvent, giving features a novel-sounding name.

Of course, the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA) has been successful in making Apple do things that they wouldn't ever do, if it weren't the law to do so.

However, Apple still does its best to gate keep developers who aren't their own, and one such recent incident caught my attention that involves their typical “my way or the highway” approach to things.

Apple Loves to Gatekeep: When Will They Stop?

Posted on X by the UTM project, they revealed that Apple rejected their application for publishing the UTM SE app after a two-month-long review process, citing that “Rule 4.7” of their App Review Guidelines didn't apply to it.

That rule is meant to allow game emulators, mini apps, chatbots, plugins, etc. to be published on the App Store.

The developers of UTM mention that Apple even went the extra step, and disallowed the publishing of UTM SE on third-party marketplaces. They added that:

The App Store Review Board determined that “PC is not a console” regardless of the fact that there are retro Windows/DOS games for the PC that UTM SE can be useful in running.

If you are not familiar, UTM is a QEMU-powered open-source emulator/virtual machine host for iOS and macOS, a popular tool to run alternative operating systems (such as ones based on Linux, or even Windows) on Apple devices.

There's more information in the linked article.

 

On March 7, 2024, Google inexplicably downranked the website of Tuta Mail in its search results. While Tuta Mail is a prominent provider of encrypted email services, focusing on security and privacy, our website was deranked for terms like “secure email” and “encrypted email” completely. The search results for our website was limited exclusively to so called “branded” search terms, e.g. search terms that included our brand name like Tuta, Tutanota, or Tutamail. In consequence, only people who already knew that Tuta existed were able to find our website via Google Search – any new potential customers were not able to find our encrypted email solution.

Faced with this immense problem with Google Search and a drop in visibility of the Tuta website by ~90% in Google's search results, we tried to get in touch with Google, both through official channels and on social media, but in vain. So on April 24, we submitted a formal complaint to the EU so that the EU could investigate whether Google’s actions in downranking a direct competitor violates the newly issued Digital Markets Act (DMA). We welcome the fact that the EU has already started an investigation against Google, Apple, and Meta in regards to whether these big tech companies are sufficiently complying with the DMA regulation. Not being legal experts here, but what Google has been doing to our website and what Apple is doing with their new App store policy for app developers, seem like obvious examples of malicious compliance.

 

On March 7, 2024, Google inexplicably downranked the website of Tuta Mail in its search results. While Tuta Mail is a prominent provider of encrypted email services, focusing on security and privacy, our website was deranked for terms like “secure email” and “encrypted email” completely. The search results for our website was limited exclusively to so called “branded” search terms, e.g. search terms that included our brand name like Tuta, Tutanota, or Tutamail. In consequence, only people who already knew that Tuta existed were able to find our website via Google Search – any new potential customers were not able to find our encrypted email solution.

Faced with this immense problem with Google Search and a drop in visibility of the Tuta website by ~90% in Google's search results, we tried to get in touch with Google, both through official channels and on social media, but in vain. So on April 24, we submitted a formal complaint to the EU so that the EU could investigate whether Google’s actions in downranking a direct competitor violates the newly issued Digital Markets Act (DMA). We welcome the fact that the EU has already started an investigation against Google, Apple, and Meta in regards to whether these big tech companies are sufficiently complying with the DMA regulation. Not being legal experts here, but what Google has been doing to our website and what Apple is doing with their new App store policy for app developers, seem like obvious examples of malicious compliance.

 

An artificial intelligence-powered chatbot created by New York City to help small business owners is under criticism for dispensing bizarre advice that misstates local policies and advises companies to violate the law.

But days after the issues were first reported last week by tech news outlet The Markup, the city has opted to leave the tool on its official government website. Mayor Eric Adams defended the decision this week even as he acknowledged the chatbot’s answers were “wrong in some areas.”

Launched in October as a “one-stop shop” for business owners, the chatbot offers users algorithmically generated text responses to questions about navigating the city’s bureaucratic maze.

It includes a disclaimer that it may “occasionally produce incorrect, harmful or biased” information and the caveat, since-strengthened, that its answers are not legal advice.

In responses to questions posed Wednesday, the chatbot falsely suggested it is legal for an employer to fire a worker who complains about sexual harassment, doesn’t disclose a pregnancy or refuses to cut their dreadlocks. Contradicting two of the city’s signature waste initiatives, it claimed that businesses can put their trash in black garbage bags and are not required to compost.

At times, the bot’s answers veered into the absurd. Asked if a restaurant could serve cheese nibbled on by a rodent, it responded: “Yes, you can still serve the cheese to customers if it has rat bites,” before adding that it was important to assess the “the extent of the damage caused by the rat” and to “inform customers about the situation.”

A spokesperson for Microsoft, which powers the bot through its Azure AI services, said the company was working with city employees “to improve the service and ensure the outputs are accurate and grounded on the city’s official documentation.”

At a press conference Tuesday, Adams, a Democrat, suggested that allowing users to find issues is just part of ironing out kinks in new technology.

“Anyone that knows technology knows this is how it’s done,” he said. “Only those who are fearful sit down and say, ‘Oh, it is not working the way we want, now we have to run away from it all together.’ I don’t live that way.”

Stoyanovich called that approach “reckless and irresponsible.”

Scientists have long voiced concerns about the drawbacks of these kinds of large language models, which are trained on troves of text pulled from the internet and prone to spitting out answers that are inaccurate and illogical.

But as the success of ChatGPT and other chatbots have captured the public attention, private companies have rolled out their own products, with mixed results. Earlier this month, a court ordered Air Canada to refund a customer after a company chatbot misstated the airline’s refund policy. Both TurboTax and H&R Block have faced recent criticism for deploying chatbots that give out bad tax-prep advice.

Jevin West, a professor at the University of Washington and co-founder of the Center for an Informed Public, said the stakes are especially high when the models are promoted by the public sector.

“There’s a different level of trust that’s given to government,” West said. “Public officials need to consider what kind of damage they can do if someone was to follow this advice and get themselves in trouble.”

Experts say other cities that use chatbots have typically confined them to a more limited set of inputs, cutting down on misinformation.

Ted Ross, the chief information officer in Los Angeles, said the city closely curated the content used by its chatbots, which do not rely on large language models.

The pitfalls of New York’s chatbot should serve as a cautionary tale for other cities, said Suresh Venkatasubramanian, the director of the Center for Technological Responsibility, Reimagination, and Redesign at Brown University.

“It should make cities think about why they want to use chatbots, and what problem they are trying to solve,” he wrote in an email. “If the chatbots are used to replace a person, then you lose accountability while not getting anything in return.”

[–] [email protected] 2 points 6 days ago

Yeah, and not to forget:

One interviewee admitted to paying for access to a data set. “I bought access to an official archive and altered the data to support my hypotheses.”

[–] [email protected] 0 points 1 week ago* (last edited 1 week ago) (1 children)

... it's actually about confidence in asking for more upfront

I think this is a good point. I'm wondering whether one reason why men still earn more than women could be that men negotiate more assertively for themselves than.women do because of gender roles that are deeply ingrained in our society.

It could be that girls are still expected (and brought up) to be accommodating, concerned with the well-being of others, while boys are taught how to.compete and being profit-oriented. Are girls and women still considered to be relationship-oriented from an early age, while boys and men are expected to be assertive?

If so, women may feel more uncomfortable negotiating their salaries forcefully over fears of some sort of 'social backlash' in the labour market and in the workplace.

I say 'could' and 'may' and conclude that I don't know whether that's reasonable. I don't know of any research in this field but I am not an expert on gender studies.

(But, yes, I would also assume that pay gaps exist within male and female groups for similar reasons. Not all women and men are alike.)

Addition: To whom it may concern: Just stumbled upon the Institute for Women's Policy Research in the U.S., they seem to have a lot of research.

[–] [email protected] 4 points 1 week ago

After the Trump verdict, most Republicans say they're OK with having a criminal as president

Last week, Donald Trump was convicted on 34 felony charges in the hush-money case against him. Compared to before the verdict, the biggest changes we found in a post-conviction poll conducted between May 31 and June 2 are in Republicans' positions on felony, crime in general, and the presidency. They have shifted in a way that puts the verdict in a more favorable light and keeps Trump's candidacy viable. For example, fewer Republicans think it should be illegal to pay hush money for the purposes of influencing an election than did a year ago, and more now say felons should be allowed to become president than did a few months ago.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 2 weeks ago

Myanmar soldiers cut off tattoos and gave detainees urine to drink, witnesses say

Eyewitnesses told the BBC the village [in the Rakhine State] was subjected to two-and-half days of terror as soldiers blindfolded and beat them up, poured burning petrol on their skin and forced some of them to drink their urine.

Warning: You may find some of the details in this piece disturbing

[–] [email protected] 0 points 2 weeks ago (2 children)

You can't make such a decision based on simple financial calculations, not in the least as there is no way to make reasonable predictions in our current market environments. Ask any investment advisor, and they will tell you to buy your home if you can afford it.

This is off-topic: Why is the NYT accessing the camera when going to the linked article?

[–] [email protected] 0 points 3 weeks ago (2 children)

Trump had 4 years to seriously do it, but nothing happened. It's just a footnote in his election campaign.

[–] [email protected] 0 points 3 weeks ago

What would we use it for? There aren't too many use cases imho.

[–] [email protected] 2 points 3 weeks ago (1 children)

I deleted the most part of the text.

Just a question: Should longer texts not be posted as a principal or is it because it crashes some Lemmy apps?

view more: next ›