Gadgets, Game & Mobile News

Lawsuit accuses Meta executives of taking bribes from OnlyFans

Engadget - Wed, 2022-10-12 17:02

A lawsuit accusing Meta of conspiring with OnlyFans is now known to include some serious allegations against top executives. Thanks to an accidentally unredacted court document, Gizmodo has learned that adult entertainers accused Meta global affairs President Nick Clegg, VP Nicola Mendelsohn and European safety director Cristian Perrella of taking bribes to give OnlyFans an unfair advantage over rivals. To support the allegations, the plaintiffs shared anonymously supplied wire transfers that were supposedly sent to execs through an OnlyFans subsidiary. The authenticity of the transfers hasn't been verified.

The adult stars maintain that OnlyFans sought to hinder competitors by placing content on a terrorist database, leading to a major drop in traffic. A lawsuit from FanCentro, an alternative to OnlyFans, made similar claims.

In a statement, a spokesperson told Engadget the bribery accusations were "baseless." You can read the full response below. The Facebook and Instagram owner already filed a motion to dismiss the suit over a lack of plausibility, and argued that it can't be held liable even if the plaintiffs succeed. Content decisions like these are protected by both First Amendment free speech rights and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Meta said in its motion.

OnlyFans noted in a follow-up filing that it "inadvertently" left the Meta leaders' names unredacted. It asked the court to delete the relevant document. This comes more than a little late, of course. While the lawsuit certainly isn't guaranteed to survive close scrutiny, it's now clear just how serious the allegations really are.

"As we make clear in our motion to dismiss, we deny these allegations as they lack facts, merit, or anything that would make them plausible. The allegations are baseless."

NASA's Webb Space Telescope Reveals 'Fingerprint' of a Rare Star System - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-10-12 16:59
Some 5,000 light-years away, 17 rings of dust represent more than a century of starry congregation.

Apple is reportedly withholding new benefits from unionized retail workers

Engadget - Wed, 2022-10-12 16:32

Apple is reportedly declining to offer new benefits to employees at its only unionized retail store. According to Bloomberg, the unionized workers at the store in Towson, Maryland, will need to negotiate for benefits with Apple as they hash out a collective bargaining agreement. The perks in question haven't been announced publicly as yet, but they're said to include additional health plan benefits in some jurisdictions, funds to take educational classes and a free Coursera membership.

The report suggests that by withholding benefits from the unionized workers, who have organized Apple may be dissuading workers at other retail stores from attempting to form a union. Workers at an Oklahoma City location are set to vote in a union election this week. Apple has faced labor tensions on other fronts, with some staff resisting a mandate to return to the company's offices (a stance that Apple eventually backed down from). The company has also been accused of union busting.

Withholding perks from unionized workers or those who plan to organize is not exactly a new issue. Starbucks has provided some benefits to non-union cafes, and claimed it couldn't offer them to unionized locations in one fell swoop. In April, Activision Blizzard said workers who were organizing at Raven Software (they've since voted to form a union) were ineligible for raises due to its legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act. The National Labor Relations Board determined last month that the company withheld raises due to the workers' union activity.

The workers at Apple's Towson store will soon start formal union contract negotiations with Apple. Engadget has contacted the company for comment. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers' Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (I AM CORE) provided the following statement to Engadget:

“Despite the news from Apple today, our goal is still the same. We are urging Apple to negotiate in good faith so we can reach an agreement over the next few weeks. The IAM CORE negotiating committee is dedicated to securing a deal that gives our IAM CORE members the proper respect and dignity at work and sets the standard in the tech industry.”

Get the Roku Express 4K Plus, Our Favorite Streamer, for $25 - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-10-12 16:06
While this streaming device offers 4K viewing, those looking for Dolby Vision can grab the Roku Streaming Stick 4K for just $2 more.

The Polestar 3 electric SUV will start at $85,300 when it arrives in late 2023

Engadget - Wed, 2022-10-12 15:37

Polestar has finally taken the wraps off its first electric SUV. The newly official Polestar 3 is now set to reach customers in the fourth quarter of 2023 with a starting price of $85,300 in the US. Pre-orders are available now. While that places the EV firmly in luxury territory, there will be a few advantages that could help it stand out.

To begin, the Polestar 3 will promise solid performance. The Volvo offshoot is touting an early estimate of 379 miles of range (using WLTP testing methods) thanks to the 111kWh battery pack. We'd expect a more modest EPA rating in the US, but that still suggests the vehicle could beat the 305 miles of Mercedes' more expensive EQS SUV. Polestar also claims a 0-62MPH time of 5 seconds from the 483HP dual motor system (4.7 seconds and 510HP with the $6,000 Performance Pack), a 130MPH top speed and 250kW fast charging support.

More importantly, there's plenty of technology on deck. The standard Polestar 3 comes with a host of cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors to offer safety features borrowed from Volvo, including interior radar to warn when children are still in the back seats. You can also order an as yet unpriced Pilot Pack with LiDAR that lays the groundwork for self-driving features.

You'll find significantly more processing power inside, too. The 14.5-inch infotainment display will take advantage of a "next-generation" Snapdragon Cockpit Platform, and this is Polestar's first model to use an NVIDIA Drive computer to power driver assist features. The Plus Pack and regular Pilot Pack will be included with this initial model year, bringing features like a 25-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system (complete with Dolby Atmos), a heads-up display and driver aids for highways and parking.

Polestar 3 interiorPolestar

The Polestar 3 may not hit its stride until mid-2024, when the brand expects to start US production in South Carolina. However, it already signifies the start of a new chapter. Polestar has been a one-EV car company until now — there was no reason to bother if you wanted anything other than a Model 3-rivalling sedan. Between this, the upscale Polestar 5 sedan and Polestar 6 convertible, the badge is targeting a considerably wider (if still well-off) audience.

James Webb Telescope captures unique dust rings surrounding two stars

Engadget - Wed, 2022-10-12 15:05

The James Webb Telescope has captured an unusual dust pattern around two stars that can track the passage of time similar to ring patterns on the inside of tree trunks. The image, detailed by the European Space Agency and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shows a pattern of 17 concentric rings made up of dust particles surrounding two stars known as Wolf-Rayet 140.

According to JPL, Wolf-Rayet stars are thought to be rare in our galaxy, and only 600 have been discovered so far. And Wolf-Rayet 140 is the only such system that’s been found to have this type of ring pattern, due to the peculiar shape of its orbit, which is “elongated” rather than circular. The rings some from a reaction that occurs when the two stars come close together, once every eight years, forming a kind of "fingerprint" around the stars.

“Each ring was created when the two stars came close together and their stellar winds (streams of gas they blow into space) met, compressing the gas and forming dust,” the European Space Agency explains. “The stars’ orbits bring them together about once every eight years; like the rings of a tree’s trunk, the dust loops mark the passage of time.”

The image also demonstrates the level of detail possible with James Webb’s instruments. Prior to this capture, scientists using ground-based telescopes could only see two dust rings around Wolf-Rayet 140.

You can read more about the discovery in Nature.

Samsung and Google are working to streamline setting up Matter smart home devices

Engadget - Wed, 2022-10-12 14:47

Following the official release of the Matter protocol earlier this month, today at its annual developer conference Samsung announced a deeper partnership with Google to make it easier for consumers to set up their smart home devices. 

Currently, users are often forced to choose between a specific smart home platform like Samsung's SmartThings or the Google Home app, and trying to get these systems to work with each other can often be quite difficult. Additionally, some devices are only supported on one (but not both) platforms, which means you have to switch between ecosystems to manage all of your gadgets. 

But in the future, thanks in part to Matter's multi-admin capabilities, Samsung says it's looking to streamline the smart home device onboarding process. For example, for SmartThing users, Samsung claims the app will notify users when it detects devices that have been already set up in the Google Home app and will then provide a simple way of syncing those devices in SmartThings (or vice versa).

This means users won't have to manually set up gadgets one-by-one on both platforms. And once a device has been onboarded, you'll be able to control it using both Google's and Samsung's smart home apps. And while there isn't an exact timetable for when this will happen, Samsung says Matter's multi-admin feature will roll out sometime in the "coming weeks."

As for the rest of the SmartThings ecosystem, Samsung says Bixby is also getting deeper integration into the company's smart home platform, which will allow developers to support a wider range of voice-based interface experiences. Meanwhile, on the security front, Samsung also announced a new blockchain-based platform called Knox Matrix that will allow eligible devices to create a "shield" designed to protect connected devices like TVs and appliances from outside hacks.

The company says Knox Matrix will employ mutli-layered mutual monitoring to prevent bad actors from gaining unauthorized access to your devices. Supported gadgets will also be able to share login info and other sensitive data directly with each other in order to simplify the login process between trusted devices. And while it's still a bit unclear how this system will actually work in the real world, it's nice to see Samsung thinking about ways to bolster security for a broader range of internet-connected devices that might not get regular security patches like you do on a phone or laptop. 

Scientists got lab-grown human brain cells to play 'Pong'

Engadget - Wed, 2022-10-12 14:28

Researchers who grew a brain cell culture in a lab claim that they taught the cells to play a version of Pong. Scientists from a biotech startup called Cortical Labs say it's the first demonstrated example of a so-called "mini-brain" being taught to carry out goal-directed tasks. ''It is able to take in information from an external source, process it and then respond to it in real time," Dr. Brett Kagan, lead author of a paper on the research that was published in Neuron, told the BBC.

The culture of 800,000 brain cells is known as DishBrain. The scientists placed mouse cells (derived from embryonic brains) and human cells taken from stem cells on top of an electrode array that was hooked up to Pong, as The Age notes. Electrical pulses sent to the neurons indicated the position of the ball in the game. The array then moved the paddle up and down based on signals from the neurons. DishBrain received a strong and consistent feedback signal (effectively a form of stimulus) when the paddle hit the ball and a short, random pulse when it missed.

The researchers, who believe the culture is too primitive to be conscious, noted that DishBrain showed signs of "apparent learning within five minutes of real-time gameplay not observed in control conditions." After playing Pong for 20 minutes, the culture got better at the game. The scientists say that indicates the cells were reorganizing, developing networks and learning.

“They changed their activity in a way that is very consistent with them actually behaving as a dynamic system,” Kagan said. “For example, the neurons’ ability to change and adapt their activity as a result of experience increases over time, consistent with what we see with the cells’ learning rate.”

Future research into DishBrain will involve looking at how medicines and alcohol affect the culture's ability to play Pong, to test whether it can effectively be treated as a stand-in for a human brain. Kagan expressed hope that DishBrain (or perhaps future versions of it) can be used to test treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's.

Meanwhile, researchers at Stanford University cultivated stem cells into human brain tissue, which they transplanted into newborn rats. These so-called brain organoids integrated with the rodents' own brains. After a few months, the scientists found that the organoids accounted for around a third of the rats' brain hemispheres and that they were engaging with the rodents' brain circuits. As Wired notes, these organoids could be used to study neurodegenerative disorders or to test drugs designed to treat neuropsychiatric diseases. Scientists may also look at how genetic defects in organoids can affect animal behavior.

Live Brain Cells in Dish Quickly Learn to Play Pong - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-10-12 14:19
And those gaming cells could teach us a lot about "synthetic biological intelligence."