The Obtain: spying keyboard software program, and why boring AI is greatest

That is right now’s version of The Obtain, our weekday publication that gives a day by day dose of what’s occurring on the earth of expertise.

How ubiquitous keyboard software program places a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of Chinese language customers in danger

For thousands and thousands of Chinese language folks, the primary software program they obtain onto gadgets is at all times the identical: a keyboard app. But few of them are conscious that it could make every part they sort susceptible to spying eyes. 

QWERTY keyboards are inefficient as many Chinese language characters share the identical latinized spelling. Because of this, many change to sensible, localized keyboard apps to avoid wasting time and frustration. At this time, over 800 million Chinese language folks use third-party keyboard apps on their PCs, laptops, and cell phones. 

However a latest report by the Citizen Lab, a College of Toronto–affiliated analysis group, revealed that Sogou, some of the in style Chinese language keyboard apps, had an enormous safety loophole. Learn the complete story. 

—Zeyi Yang

Why we should always all be rooting for boring AI

Earlier this month, the US Division of Protection introduced it’s establishing a Generative AI Process Drive, geared toward “analyzing and integrating” AI instruments akin to giant language fashions throughout the division. It hopes they may enhance intelligence and operational planning. 

However these won’t be the correct use circumstances, writes our senior AI reporter Melissa Heikkila. Generative AI instruments, akin to language fashions, are glitchy and unpredictable, they usually make issues up. In addition they have large safety vulnerabilities, privateness issues, and deeply ingrained biases. 

Making use of these applied sciences in high-stakes settings may result in lethal accidents the place it’s unclear who or what needs to be held accountable, and even why the issue occurred. The DoD’s greatest guess is to use generative AI to extra mundane issues like Excel, e mail, or phrase processing. Learn the complete story. 

This story is from The Algorithm, Melissa’s weekly publication providing you with the within monitor on all issues AI. Enroll to obtain it in your inbox each Monday.

The ice cores that may allow us to look 1.5 million years into the previous

To higher perceive the function atmospheric carbon dioxide performs in Earth’s local weather cycles, scientists have lengthy turned to ice cores drilled in Antarctica, the place snow layers accumulate and compact over a whole bunch of hundreds of years, trapping samples of historical air in a lattice of bubbles that function tiny time capsules. 

By analyzing these cores, scientists can join greenhouse-gas concentrations with temperatures going again 800,000 years. Now, a brand new European-led initiative hopes to finally retrieve the oldest core but, courting again 1.5 million years. However that spectacular feat remains to be solely step one. As soon as they’ve finished that, they’ll have to determine how they’re going to extract the air from the ice. Learn the complete story.

—Christian Elliott

This story is from the most recent version of our print journal, set to go dwell tomorrow. Subscribe right now for as little as $8/month to make sure you obtain full entry to the brand new Ethics challenge and in-depth tales on experimental medication, AI assisted warfare, microfinance, and extra.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to seek out you right now’s most enjoyable/essential/scary/fascinating tales about expertise.

1 How AI acquired dragged into the tradition wars
Fears about ‘woke’ AI essentially misunderstand the way it works. But they’re gaining traction. (The Guardian) 
+ Why it’s unattainable to construct an unbiased AI language mannequin. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)
2 Researchers are racing to know a brand new coronavirus variant 
It’s unlikely to be trigger for concern, nevertheless it reveals this virus nonetheless has loads of tips up its sleeve. (Nature)
Covid hasn’t totally gone away—right here’s the place we stand. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)
+ Why we are able to’t afford to cease monitoring it. (Ars Technica)
three How Hilary turned such a monster storm
A lot of it’s all the way down to unusually scorching sea floor temperatures. (Wired $)
+ The period of simultaneous local weather disasters is right here to remain. (Axios)
Persons are donning cooling vests to allow them to work by way of the warmth. (Wired $)
four Mind privateness is ready to turn into essential 🧠
Scientists are getting higher at decoding our mind knowledge. It’s absolutely solely a matter of time earlier than others need a peek. (The Atlantic $)
How your mind knowledge could possibly be used towards you. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)
5 How Nvidia constructed such a giant aggressive benefit in AI chips
At this time it accounts for 70% of all AI chip gross sales—and a fair larger share for coaching generative fashions. (NYT $)
The chips it’s promoting to China are much less efficient because of US export controls. (Ars Technica)
+ These easy design guidelines may flip the chip business on its head. (MIT Expertise Evaluate)
6 Contained in the advanced world of dissociative identification dysfunction on TikTok 
Decreasing stigma is nice, however docs concern individuals are self-diagnosing and even imitating the dysfunction. (The Verge)
7 What TikTok might need to surrender to maintain working within the US
This reveals simply how hole the authorities’ purported data-collection issues actually are. (Forbes)
Eight Troopers in Ukraine are enjoying World of Tanks on their telephones
It’s eerily just like the battle they’re themselves preventing, however they are saying it helps them to dissociate from the horror. (NYT $)
9 Conspiracy theorists are sharing mad concepts on what causes wildfires
However it’s all only a convoluted option to attempt to keep away from having to sort out local weather change. (Slate $)
10 Christie’s by accident leaked the placement of tons of beneficial artwork 🖼📍
Seemingly due to the metadata that always robotically attaches to smartphone photographs. (WP $)

Quote of the day

“Is it going to take folks dying for one thing to maneuver ahead?”

—An nameless air site visitors controller warns that staffing shortages of their business, plus different elements, are beginning to threaten passenger security, the New York Occasions reviews.

The large story

Inside efficient altruism, the place the far future counts much more than the current

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October 2022

Since its start within the late 2000s, efficient altruism has aimed to reply the query “How can these with means have essentially the most affect on the world in a quantifiable means?”—and equipped strategies for calculating the reply.

It’s no shock that efficient altruisms’ concepts have lengthy confronted criticism for reflecting white Western saviorism, alongside an avoidance of structural issues in favor of summary math. And as believers pour even larger quantities of cash into the motion’s more and more sci-fi beliefs, such expenses are solely intensifying. Learn the complete story.

—Rebecca Ackermann

We will nonetheless have good issues

A spot for consolation, enjoyable and distraction in these bizarre occasions. (Bought any concepts? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ Watch Andrew Scott’s electrifying studying of the 1965 graduation tackle ‘Select One among 5’ by Edith Sampson.
+ Right here’s how Metallica makes positive its dwell performances ROCK. ($)
+ Can not cope with this completely ludicrous picket automobile. 
+ Find out about a bizarre new instrument known as a harpejji.

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