Tech News Feed

AI Learns To Write Computer Code In 'Stunning' Advance

SlashDot - Thu, 2022-12-08 20:25
DeepMind's new artificial intelligence system called AlphaCode was able to "achieve approximately human-level performance" in a programming competition. The findings have been published in the journal Science. Slashdot reader sciencehabit shares a report from Science Magazine: AlphaCode's creators focused on solving those difficult problems. Like the Codex researchers, they started by feeding a large language model many gigabytes of code from GitHub, just to familiarize it with coding syntax and conventions. Then, they trained it to translate problem descriptions into code, using thousands of problems collected from programming competitions. For example, a problem might ask for a program to determine the number of binary strings (sequences of zeroes and ones) of length n that don't have any consecutive zeroes. When presented with a fresh problem, AlphaCode generates candidate code solutions (in Python or C++) and filters out the bad ones. But whereas researchers had previously used models like Codex to generate tens or hundreds of candidates, DeepMind had AlphaCode generate up to more than 1 million. To filter them, AlphaCode first keeps only the 1% of programs that pass test cases that accompany problems. To further narrow the field, it clusters the keepers based on the similarity of their outputs to made-up inputs. Then, it submits programs from each cluster, one by one, starting with the largest cluster, until it alights on a successful one or reaches 10 submissions (about the maximum that humans submit in the competitions). Submitting from different clusters allows it to test a wide range of programming tactics. That's the most innovative step in AlphaCode's process, says Kevin Ellis, a computer scientist at Cornell University who works AI coding. After training, AlphaCode solved about 34% of assigned problems, DeepMind reports this week in Science. (On similar benchmarks, Codex achieved single-digit-percentage success.) To further test its prowess, DeepMind entered AlphaCode into online coding competitions. In contests with at least 5000 participants, the system outperformed 45.7% of programmers. The researchers also compared its programs with those in its training database and found it did not duplicate large sections of code or logic. It generated something new -- a creativity that surprised Ellis. The study notes the long-term risk of software that recursively improves itself. Some experts say such self-improvement could lead to a superintelligent AI that takes over the world. Although that scenario may seem remote, researchers still want the field of AI coding to institute guardrails, built-in checks and balances.

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'Dead Cells' is getting Castlevania crossover DLC in early 2023

Engadget - Thu, 2022-12-08 20:23

Dead Cells developers Motion Twin and Evil Empire are getting a chance to pay tribute to Castlevania, the series that inspired their game, with the roguelike's next DLC. Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania is said to be the game's biggest expansion to date, and it will be available on the PC and console versions in early 2023.

An animated trailer that debuted at The Game Awards gave a sense of what's in store, though it didn't provide a look at any actual gameplay just yet. You'll be able to team up with Castlevania heroes Richter Belmont and Alucard as you battle throngs of monsters, including werewolves, in an attempt to reach the Dark Lord's throne room. The DLC includes 14 Castlevania weapons and items, including the Vampire Killer, Cross and Holy Water. They've all been reworked to fit in with the fast-paced combat of Dead Cells.

The DLC includes two new biomes, including Dracula's Castle. You'll get to fight Death and Dracula as you make your way toward "Dead Cells’ most epic and ambitious boss battle yet," according to a press release. On top of all that, the soundtrack features 51 original Castlevania tracks. Twelve of them are getting a Dead Cells-style makeover, including "Vampire Killer," "Bloody Tears" and "Divine Bloodlines."

PS5 hit 'Returnal' is coming to PC early 2023

Engadget - Thu, 2022-12-08 20:15

You won't need to pick up a PlayStation 5 to understand the fuss over Returnal. Housemarque has announced that a PC version of the sci-fi roguelite will be available in early 2023. There aren't many details of what's new at this stage, but it's safe to presume there will be plenty of visual splendor like in the PS5 release.

Apart from its graphics, Returnal is best known for its merciless third-person action. You're not only going to face seemingly impossible odds, you're practically expected to die frequently (as you do in many roguelites). It's integral to the story — you play Selene, a woman stranded on an alien planet trying to find answers every time she comes back to life. While the difficulty is at times frustrating, the mechanics are solid enough that you might enjoy repeating an extra-challenging segment.

We'd expect some technical features to carry over from the PS5 edition, such as 4K ray-traced graphics and 3D audio. It's not clear if features like the DualSense-oriented haptic feedback will make the cut. However, there's little doubt that Returnal will shine on a sufficiently powerful PC.

'Street Fighter 6' lands June 2nd, 2023

Engadget - Thu, 2022-12-08 20:10

You'll have to wait a while longer to give Street Fighter 6 a spin. Capcom revealed at The Game Awards that its modernized brawler will be available June 2nd, 2023 for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC (via Steam). Pre-orders are available now.

The new title includes favorite series characters like Ryu and Chun-Li as well as relative newcomers like Luke, a DLC addition from Street Fighter 5 who's a "key player" in the expanding storyline. SF6 will add new modes like World Tour and Battle Hub, and promises to be more accessible to newcomers with a "modern" control mode. You can expect new mechanics like the Drive Gauge, and real-time commentary from experts in the fighting game scene to help explain what's happening in matches.

Just announced, @StreetFighter 6 launches on June 2, 2023! Watch the trailer for more glimpses at World Tour and a first look at Dee Jay, Manon, Marisa, and JP.

Pre-order now -

— The Game Awards (@thegameawards) December 9, 2022

It's too soon to say if SF6 will please hardcore fighting game fans. However, it's clear that Capcom is eager to court players who've felt intimidated by the sometimes steep learning curve of fighting games. In theory, you'll enjoy yourself enough to stick around for the long term.

Ex-Twitter Employees Speak Out About 'Inhumane' Layoffs as Legal Woes Mount - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-12-08 19:51
The latest lawsuit against Twitter alleges the company's layoffs targeted women.

'Vampire Survivors' got a surprise (and free) iOS and Android release

Engadget - Thu, 2022-12-08 19:50

Although it only snagged a single nomination at The Game Awards, Vampire Survivors is a true game of the year contender. It arrived on Steam in early access a year ago and it recently landed on Xbox. Now, you'll no longer need a Steam Deck or Xbox Cloud Gaming access to play it anywhere or at any time. 

As spotted by Polygon, Vampire Survivors has suddenly arrived on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Unlike the myriad clones that have popped up on both stores throughout the year, this is the real deal. What's more, the mobile versions are free — Vampire Survivors costs $5 on Steam and it's included with Game Pass. 

The timing suggests that the mobile release was going to be a surprise announcement at The Game Awards. Perhaps we'll hear word of PlayStation and Nintendo Switch versions soon too.

For the uninitiated, Vampire Survivors asks you to choose a character with a locked starter weapon and perk, then sends you out into the Castlevania-inspired world to face an endless stream of enemies (but no vampires, oddly) and stay alive as long as you can. Your weapons auto-fire and all you have control over is your movement and the ability to choose a weapon, perk or upgrade when you level up. It's immensely enjoyable, and you can download it on your phone, gratis, right now. In addition, you can play the mobile versions in vertical or horizontal mode.

Meanwhile, developer Poncle will release the first paid Vampire Survivors expansion on December 15th. Legacy of Moonspell will cost $2 on Steam and Xbox. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the DLC pop up on the iOS and Android versions as well.

Windows 11 Is Finally Getting a Built-In Screen Recording Tool

SlashDot - Thu, 2022-12-08 19:45
Microsoft is finally bringing a built-in screen recorder to Windows. The Verge reports: The Snipping Tool in Windows 11 will soon be updated to include screen recording, meaning Windows users won't have to rely on the Xbox Game Bar or third-party tools just to record their screens. Windows 11 testers will start getting access to the updated Snipping Tool today, and the new record option will allow you to record an entire screen or even a section that gets cropped. The update comes more than four years after Microsoft first introduced a new screenshot experience for Windows. [...] Microsoft has only just started testing this with Windows 11 testers in the Dev Channel, so it's likely some weeks or months before this Snipping Tool is released to everyone using Windows 11.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Cyberattack On Top Indian Hospital Highlights Security Risk

SlashDot - Thu, 2022-12-08 19:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Associated Press: The leading hospital in India's capital limped back to normalcy on Wednesday after a cyberattack crippled its operations for nearly two weeks. Online registration of patients resumed Tuesday after the hospital was able to access its server and recover lost data. The hospital worked with federal authorities to restore the system and strengthen its defenses. It's unclear who conducted the Nov. 23 attack on the All India Institute of Medical Sciences or where it originated. The attack was followed by a series of failed attempts to hack India's top medical research organization, the Indian Council of Medical Research. This raised further concerns about the vulnerability of India's health system to attacks at a time when the government is pushing hospitals to digitize their records. More than 173,000 hospitals have registered with a federal program to digitize health records since its launch in September 2021. The program assigns patients numbers that are linked to medical information stored by hospitals on their own servers or in cloud-based storage. Experts fear that hospitals may not have the expertise to ensure digital security. "Digitizing an entire health care system without really safeguarding it can pretty much kill an entire hospital. It suddenly stops functioning," said Srinivas Kodali, a researcher with the Free Software Movement of India. That is what happened to the hospital in New Delhi. Healthcare workers couldn't access patient reports because the servers that store laboratory data and patient records had been hacked and corrupted. The hospital normally treats thousands of people a day, many of whom travel from distant places to access affordable care. Always crowded, queues at the hospital grew even longer and more chaotic. Sandeep Kumar, who accompanied his ill father, said the digital attack meant that appointments couldn't be booked online, and that doctors could do little when they saw patients because they couldn't access their medical history.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

One of NASA's First Webb Telescope Images Gets Its Long-Awaited Lore - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-12-08 18:40
The Southern Ring Nebula: brought to you by a star's messy, and explosive, demise.

What to Remember About 'Avatar' Before Watching 'Way of Water' - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-12-08 18:34
Refresh your memory of the original 2009 film as Avatar 2 nears.

Vivaldi Integrates Mastodon In Its Desktop Browser

SlashDot - Thu, 2022-12-08 18:20
Vivaldi recently became the first browser to have its own Mastodon instance, Vivaldi Social. Now, the new version on the desktop is the first to integrate Mastodon into the browser itself, along with the ability to pin tab groups and other UI improvements. From a blog post: We believe in providing alternatives to Big Tech while putting your privacy first and launched Vivaldi Social, our Mastodon instance. And today we are integrating Vivaldi Social into the sidebar of our desktop browser becoming the first browser to offer this functionality. The new version -- Vivaldi 5.6 -- also allows you to pin your tab stacks. We've added a new private search engine for select countries, helping to broaden your choices for searching the web. Vivaldi's sidebar of icons links to a number of utility functions. And now it integrates Vivaldi Social, our Mastodon instance.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Company Offers a Free Month of Psychedelic Therapy to People Who've Lost Their Jobs - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-12-08 18:09
For those who qualify, Field Trip is offering one free month of ketamine-assisted therapy while services are available this December.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Hacked Again On Second Day of Pwn2Own

SlashDot - Thu, 2022-12-08 18:00
Contestants hacked the Samsung Galaxy S22 again during the second day of the consumer-focused Pwn2Own 2022 competition in Toronto, Canada. They also demoed exploits targeting zero-day vulnerabilities in routers, printers, smart speakers, and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices from HP, NETGEAR, Synology, Sonos, TP-Link, Canon, Lexmark, and Western Digital. BleepingComputer reports: Security researchers representing the vulnerability research company Interrupt Labs were the ones to demonstrate a successful exploit against Samsung's flagship device on Wednesday. They executed an improper input validation attack and earned $25,000, 50% of the total cash award, because this was the third time the Galaxy S22 was hacked during the competition. On the first day of Pwn2Own Toronto, the STAR Labs team and a contestant known as Chim demoed two other zero-day exploits as part of successful improper input validation attacks against the Galaxy S22. In all three cases, according to the contest rules, the devices ran the latest version of the Android operating system with all available updates installed. The second day of Pwn2Own Toronto wrapped up with Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative awarding $281,500 for 17 unique bugs across multiple categories. This brings the first two days of Pwn2Own total to $681,250 awarded for 46 unique zero-days, as ZDI's Head of Threat Awareness Dustin Childs revealed. The full schedule for Pwn2Own Toronto 2022's second day and the results for each challenge are available here. You can also find the complete schedule of the competition here.

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Pixel Fold 360-Degree Renders Show A Thin Foldable With Big Cameras - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-12-08 17:54
A new video claims to show a rotating render of Google's answer to the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

Former Twitter employees file class action gender discrimination lawsuit

Engadget - Thu, 2022-12-08 17:49

Elon Musk has yet another class action lawsuit to contend with over his handling of mass layoffs at Twitter. The latest comes from two former employees who allege “women were significantly affected more than men” in the November layoffs that cut nearly half its workforce.

According to the lawsuit, a total of 57% of women employees were laid off, compared with just 47 percent of men. It goes on to note that the disparity can’t be explained “based upon a justification that Musk intended to retain more employees in engineering-related roles” because women engineers were also cut at a higher rate than their male counterparts.

It states that “63% of females in engineering-related roles were laid off on November 4, 2022, while 48% of male employees in engineering-related [roles] were laid off.” For non-engineering roles, there was also a “great disparity” between men and women who lost jobs, with 51% of women and 42% of men affected by the cuts.

The lawsuit also cites numerous tweets from Musk that show his “discriminatory animus against women,” and claims that his requirements for employees to work up to 12-hour days as part of an “extremely hardcore” Twitter 2.0 is also has a “a disproportionate impact on women, who are more often caregivers for children and other family members, and thus not able to comply with such demands.”

The lawsuit is at least the fourth class action suit brought against the company following mass layoffs in November. Former employees and contractors are also suing the company over violations of the US Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which stipulates companies with more than 100 employees must provide at least 60 days notice ahead of mass job cuts. Another former employee has brought a suit against the company, alleging that Musk’s demand forcing all workers back to the office discriminates against people with disabilities.

Elsewhere, Musk is also facing an investigation from San Francisco city officials in the wake of reports that Twitter has set up hotel-like bedrooms inside of its offices for employees. 

FBI Calls Apple's Expansion of End-To-End Encryption 'Deeply Concerning'

SlashDot - Thu, 2022-12-08 17:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MacRumors: Apple yesterday announced that end-to-end encryption is coming to even more sensitive types of iCloud data, including device backups, messages, photos, and more, meeting the longstanding demand of both users and privacy groups who have rallied for the company to take the significant step forward in user privacy. iCloud end-to-end encryption, or what Apple calls "Advanced Data Protection," encrypts users' data stored in iCloud, meaning only a trusted device can decrypt and read the data. iCloud data in accounts with Advanced Data Protection can only be read by a trusted device, not Apple, law enforcement, or government entities. While privacy groups and apps applaud Apple for the expansion of end-to-end encryption in iCloud, governments have reacted differently. In a statement to The Washington Post, the FBI, the largest intelligence agency in the world, said it's "deeply concerned with the threat end-to-end and user-only-access encryption pose." Speaking generally about end-to-end encryption like Apple's Advanced Data Protection feature, the bureau said that it makes it harder for the agency to do its work and that it requests "lawful access by design": "This hinders our ability to protect the American people from criminal acts ranging from cyber-attacks and violence against children to drug trafficking, organized crime, and terrorism," the bureau said in an emailed statement. "In this age of cybersecurity and demands for 'security by design,' the FBI and law enforcement partners need 'lawful access by design.'" Former FBI official Sasha O'Connell also weighed in, telling The New York Times "it's great to see companies prioritizing security, but we have to keep in mind that there are trade-offs, and one that is often not considered is the impact it has on decreasing law enforcement access to digital evidence."

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UN passes resolution to curb space debris from anti-satellite missile tests

Engadget - Thu, 2022-12-08 17:30

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution today asking countries not to conduct direct-ascent anti-satellite tests (ASAT) that create space junk. The US spearheaded the measure after the International Space Station (ISS) had a close call last year with more than 1,500 pieces of debris from a Russian ASAT.

The measure doesn’t ban the development or testing of ASAT systems, but it discourages conducting them in a way that creates space debris. Although since it came from the UN General Assembly and not the Security Council, it isn’t legally binding.

In addition to creating navigational hazards for astronauts, space junk also reflects sunlight to Earth’s surface, interfering with ground-based telescopes. Moreover, researchers expect orbital debris to increase by magnitudes over the next decade as internet-broadcasting mini-satellites, like SpaceX’s Starlink, grow in popularity.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who chairs the White House National Space Council, tweeted praise today for the passage. “Back in April, I announced the United States will not conduct destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missile tests, and I called on other nations to join us. Today, 155 countries voted in favor of a UN resolution, helping establish this as an international norm for space.”

Of the four countries that have conducted ASATs — United States, China, India and Russia — only the US voted in favor today. In addition to Russia and China, nations voting no included Belarus, Bolivia, the Central African Republic, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua and Syria. Nine more nations abstained: India, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Madagascar, Pakistan, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Togo and Zimbabwe.

Watch The Game Awards here at 7:30PM ET

Engadget - Thu, 2022-12-08 17:00

Get ready for two and a half hours of game trailers, announcements, gameplay and maybe even a few award acceptance speeches. The ninth edition of The Game Awards is upon us. We'll be covering all the big news from tonight's event, which you can also watch live below starting at 7:30PM ET.

Vying for the top prize of Game of the Year are God of War Ragarnok, Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West, Stray, A Plague Tale: Requiem and Xenoblade Chronicles 3. God of War Ragarnok has the most nominations with 10, while Elden Ring and Horizon Forbidden West have seven each. Among the other notable nominees are Marvel Snap, Immortality, Scorn, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, Splatoon 3, Tunic, Cult of the Lamb, Sifu, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, MultiVersus, Vampire Survivors, Diablo Immortal and Overwatch 2.

There's a new category this year called Best Adaptation, which recognizes TV shows, movies, podcasts, comic books and books that are based on games. Arcane: League of Legends, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, The Cuphead Show!, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Uncharted are the inaugural competitors.

While most of the awards are about honoring the past year in games, the ceremony looks toward the future with fresh reveals. You can expect news on dozens of games and expansions, including Among Us, Baldur's Gate 3, Destiny 2: Lightfall, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Tekken 8 and lots more we don't yet know about.

In addition to usual suspects YouTube and Twitch, the event will stream on dozens of other platforms. As a reminder, if you watch via Steam TV and you're eligible to win, you might get lucky and score a free Steam Deck. Valve is giving one away for every minute that the show runs. Otherwise, you can catch the livestream in glorious 4K right here:

MPs and Peers Do Worse Than 10-Year-Olds in Maths and English Sats

SlashDot - Thu, 2022-12-08 17:00
MPs and peers tasked with completing a year 6 Sats exam have scored lower results on average than the country's 10-year-olds. From a report: MPs including Commons education select committee chair Robin Walker took part in the exams, invigilated by 11-year-olds, at a Westminster event organised by More Than A Score, who campaign for the tests to be scrapped. Only 44% of the cross-party group of parliamentarians dubbed the Westminster Class of 2022 achieved the expected standard in maths and just 50% had achieved the expected standard in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Across the country, 59% of pupils aged 10 and 11 reached the expected standard in the Sats tests of maths, reading and writing this year, down from 65% in 2019, the previous time the tests were taken. Detailed figures published by the Department for Education in the summer revealed disadvantaged children had a steeper fall than their better-off peers. Walker took part in the Big SATS Sit-In Westminster alongside his Conservative colleagues Flick Drummond and Gagan Mohindra; Labour MPs Ian Byrne and Emma Lewell-Buck with the Green party's Lady Bennett to experience the high-stakes nature of the exams. More Than A Score hope the politicians will take the high-pressured experience away with them and realise that "the exams only judge schools but do not help children's learning" at that age.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.