Tech News Feed

Google Allows Truth Social on Google Play Store - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-10-12 18:10
The Trump social media app had been in limbo over its content moderation policies.

Lab-Grown Brain Cells Play Video Game Pong

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-10-12 18:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Researchers have grown brain cells in a lab that have learned to play the 1970s tennis-like video game, Pong. They say their "mini-brain" can sense and respond to its environment. Writing in the journal Neuron, Dr Brett Kagan, of the company Cortical Labs, claims to have created the first ''sentient'' lab-grown brain in a dish. Other experts describe the work as ''exciting'' but say calling the brain cells sentient is going too far. "We could find no better term to describe the device,'' Dr Kagan says. ''It is able to take in information from an external source, process it and then respond to it in real time." The research team: grew human brain cells grown from stem cells and some from mouse embryos to a collection of 800,000; connected this mini-brain to the video game via electrodes revealing which side the ball was on and how far from the paddle. In response, the cells produced electrical activity of their own. They expended less energy as the game continued. But when the ball passed a paddle and the game restarted with the ball at a random point, they expended more recalibrating to a new unpredictable situation. The mini-brain learned to play in five minutes. It often missed the ball -- but its success rate was well above random chance. Although, with no consciousness, it does not know it is playing Pong in the way a human player would, the researchers stress. Dr Kagan hopes the technology might eventually be used to test treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. "When people look at tissues in a dish, at the moment they are seeing if there is activity or no activity. But the purpose of brain cells is to process information in real time," he says. "Tapping into their true function unlocks so many more research areas that can be explored in a comprehensive way." Next, Dr Kagan plans to test the impact alcohol has on the mini-brain's ability to play Pong. If it reacts in a similar way to a human brain, this would underscore just how effective the system might be as an experimental stand-in. As the "mini-brains" become more complex, Dr Kagan's team says they'll be working with bioethicists to ensure they do not accidentally create a conscious brain. "We have to see this new technology very much like the nascent computer industry, when the first transistors were janky prototypes, not very reliable -- but after years of dedicated research, they led to huge technological marvels across the world," he says.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Alex Jones owes victims of Sandy Hook $965 million, jury finds

Engadget - Wed, 2022-10-12 17:24

After nearly a decade of peddling baseless conspiracy theories and outright lies about the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a Connecticut jury has awarded nearly a billion dollars in damages to families of the victims and an FBI agent whose lives were further upended by Jones’ claims the shooting was a hoax. Jones, who was deplatformed from most major social media and podcast platforms years ago, said on his show he would appeal the ruling.

Jurors in the weeks-long trial were tasked with deciding how much the Inforwars host should pay in damages to 15 plaintiffs after previously being found guilty of defamation. According to CNN, prosecutors had sought at least $500 million in damages to represent “the more than 550 million online impressions Jones’ Sandy Hook lie allegedly received online.” Jurors ultimately awarded $965 million, an amount that doesn't include punitive damages.

Though Jone and several accounts and pages associated with him have been banned from Facebook, YouTube and other platforms for years, his reach on social media prior to those bans was raised in court. At one point during the trial, prosecutors displayed Jones’ Facebook engagement in 2016, indicating he had more than 4.1 billion impressions on the platform at the time.

This is Infowars' Facebook engagement from 2016, shown in court. It's, uh, staggering.

— Anna Merlan (@annamerlan) September 14, 2022

Jones and InfoWars were kicked off Facebook and Instagram for good in 2019, following earlier bans from Spotify and Apple’s podcast platforms. Though his deplatforming made him less relevant on mainstream social media, Infowars actually made more money after the ban, according to evidence raised in the trial. A forensic economist testified Jones’ net worth could be as high as $270 million.

Just how much money Jones’ victims will actually receive is another matter. In addition to an expected appeal, Jones has also been accused of using shell companies and other techniques to shield his wealth from lawsuits.

Netflix Ads: Everything to Know - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-10-12 17:21
Netflix will launch a cheaper subscription with advertising for the first time soon. Here's everything to know so far.

Mark Zuckerberg Says He Enjoys 'Being Doubted'

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-10-12 17:21
Mark Zuckerberg said he enjoys "being doubted" in a new interview. From a report: The Meta CEO talked about where the company is now, and what's new for the metaverse, the big pivot he's currently leading his company through. Compared to building Facebook from the ground up, which he noted reached a billion users 10 years ago, growing the metaverse on top of an already built platform is "a lot easier." "I enjoy being doubted," Zuckerberg said, talking about building something over time. When Heath asked Zuckerberg how he still enjoys being doubted and why, Zuckerberg said he thinks "it gets a little comfortable" if "too many people get or think what you're doing is obviously going to happen." Zuckerberg said getting hate is different from being doubted, and that one of the difficult things about running his company and being a public person on the internet is separating constructive criticism and "people who are just haters." But, he said, listening to criticism can be useful. "If you tune out everyone who thinks that you're not doing something right, then you're going to miss a lot of really valuable signals to do stuff better than you're doing it today," Zuckerberg said. "So you want to not ignore critique, but at the same time, I just think that there are a lot of people who actually aren't trying to help and aren't trying to make things better." Further reading: Mark Zuckerberg Says Waking Up Every Day as CEO of Meta is Like Getting Punched in the Stomach.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Best Prime Day Deals Under $50: Fashion, Tech, Home and More - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-10-12 17:11
Don't miss out on affordable products under $50 before this Prime Day ends.

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.

Microsoft's Edge Browser Gets Shared Workspaces, New Security Features

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-10-12 16:40
Microsoft today announced a few user-facing updates to its Edge browser. The most important of these is likely Edge Workspaces, a new feature (currently in preview) that will allow teams to share browser tabs. From a report: Microsoft argues that this feature can be useful when bringing on new team members to an existing project. Instead of sharing lots of links and files, the team can simply share a single like to an Edge Workspace (which will then likely consist of lots of links and files, but hey, at least it's just one link to share). As the project evolves, the tabs are updated in real time. I guess that's a use case. We've seen our share of extensions that do similar things, none of which ever get very popular. Meanwhile, teams share these links and files in other ways (think Confluent, etc.). On the security front, Microsoft is bringing typo protection for website URLs to the browser, promising to protect "users from accidentally navigating to online fraud sites after misspelling the website address by suggesting the website that the user intended." Nothing too complicated here, and a useful feature for sure.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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.

CNN Accused of Rug Pull as It Abandons Its NFT Project

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-10-12 16:01
CNN has ended its big Web3 project by announcing, "we have decided that it's time to say goodbye to the Vault by CNN." From a report: You may have already forgotten about it, but Vault by CNN launched in the summer of 2021 as a marketplace for its own NFTs (non-fungible tokens) that would "offer collectors the opportunity to own a piece of history." Sort of like NBA Top Shot except for media nerds instead of basketball nerds, it minted CNN reports of key events or artistic interpretations inspired by them, creating digital collectibles that owners could show off somehow or trade with others, like baseball cards. This idea apparently seemed more reasonable while cryptocurrency prices were sky-high, and headlines about NFTs didn't include phrases like "trading volumes collapse 97 percent since January peak." Things have obviously changed as the "crypto winter" settled in, although an April report by the Press Gazette said CNN had pulled in more than $300,000 from the sales. Reactions from the community included shock, disappointment, and a few posters saying they planned to contact their lawyers while accusing CNN of a "rug pull," which in crypto terms applies when a development team unexpectedly yanks support -- and funds -- from a project, leaving the people who bought in with nothing.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.