ArsTechnica

  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
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Updated: 6 min 39 sec ago

Algorithms shouldn’t be protected by Section 230, Facebook whistleblower tells Senate

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 8:39am
Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on October 5, 2021. Haugen left Facebook in May and provided internal company documents about Facebook to journalists and others, alleging that Facebook consistently chooses profit over safety.

Enlarge / Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on October 5, 2021. Haugen left Facebook in May and provided internal company documents about Facebook to journalists and others, alleging that Facebook consistently chooses profit over safety. (credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before a Senate panel yesterday, recommending a slate of changes to rein in the company, including a Section 230 overhaul that would hold the social media giant responsible for its algorithms that promote content based on the engagement it receives in users' news feeds.

“If we had appropriate oversight, or if we reformed [Section] 230 to make Facebook responsible for the consequences of their intentional ranking decisions, I think they would get rid of engagement-based ranking,” Haugen said. “Because it is causing teenagers to be exposed to more anorexia content, it is pulling families apart, and in places like Ethiopia, it’s literally fanning ethnic violence.”

Haugen made sure to distinguish between user-generated content and Facebook’s algorithms, which prioritize the content in news feeds and drive engagement. She suggested that Facebook should not be responsible for content that users post on its platforms but that it should be held liable once its algorithms begin making decisions about which content people see.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Amazon wins record US tax breaks to expand delivery network

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 7:26am
Amazon wins record US tax breaks to expand delivery network

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto | Amazon)

Amazon has won a record amount of tax breaks this year as local officials try to lure the online shopping giant to expand its one-day or same-day delivery networks in their areas.

According to data from Good Jobs First, an economic development watchdog based in Washington, DC, Amazon has so far secured about $650 million in sweeteners from local and state governments in 2021, a mixture of grants, tax exemptions, and other incentives. This was likely to be a conservative estimate, the group said, because of the secrecy around some of the deals.

With three months still to go, 2021 already has the largest yearly tally since Good Jobs First began collecting the data in 2000, excluding incentives for non-logistics projects, such as filmmaking and office development, and the more than $750 million package Amazon was awarded in 2019 to build its “second” headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Amazon gives Alexa some more patience

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 7:13am

It may be common for your kids, partner, and coworkers to tune you out, but shouldn’t your virtual assistant be different? Amazon Alexa will now practice a bit more patience with users, thanks to a Tuesday update that makes the service wait longer for a person to finish speaking commands before it stops listening.

As reported by Forbes, the feature is optional. It could certainly come in handy for those who speak slowly or just need more time to process their thoughts. But it’s really intended as an accessibility feature that makes it easier for people with speech impairments to use Amazon’s virtual assistant. Amazon added the new behavior after some customers told the company that “they just need a bit more time before Alexa responds to their requests,” Shehzad Mevawalla, head of Alexa Speech Recognition at Amazon, told Forbes.

Giving people more time to speak with Alexa could make the product more appealing to millions. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that more than 3 million Americans stutter, and almost 7% of Americans have a language impairment of some sort, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Switch OLED review: Nintendo’s nicest, most nonessential upgrade yet

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 6:00am

For all the portable game systems Nintendo has launched, including mid-generation revisions, few have included cutting-edge upgrades to a key element: the screen.

Historically, Nintendo has been in the back of the pack when compared to competitors' screens. The Game Boy's panels suffered heavy ghosting and lacked backlighting, for instance; they were handily surpassed in their time by the likes of the Game Gear and the Lynx. Only now, with no other dedicated handheld console to beat (for at least two months, anyway), has Nintendo offered a screen that made me say "wow."

Read 45 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Metroid Dread review: The best Switch-exclusive game of 2021

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 6:00am
Thanks to one of Nintendo's slowest game-release eras in its modern history, this week's Metroid Dread stands out as arguably the company's biggest new first-party game of 2021.

Most of the Japanese game maker's usual suspects arrived this year as ports or undercooked affairs (sorry, New Pokemon Snap, but you know it's true). This left fans yearning for galactic bounty hunter Samus Aran to redeem Nintendo's weird game-launch calendar. The best thing I can say about Metroid Dread is that it absolutely stands up to that kind of pressure. This is the 2D sequel anyone who's played old-school Metroid could have hoped for.

That doesn't make it a 10/10 game, either for hardened Metroid fans or anyone new to the series. Both sides of that divide will have to make their peace with certain weirdness and concessions. But after decades of so many game makers putting their own stamps on the well-trodden "seek adventure" concept, it's good to see the series that started it all show up with fresh ideas and improvements that'll have you giddily back-and-forthing through a substantial and satisfying 2D world.

Meet me at the ZDR

If you are oblivious to all things Metroid, the newest entry to the series (technically Metroid 5) wastes no time strapping you into a Varia Suit full of obtuse lore. As the announced conclusion to the series's traditional timeline (not the same as the Metroid Prime series, which will continue), Dread opens by recapping years of Samus' adventures against a variety of Very Evil Aliens. Long after their 1986 debut on Famicom, the series's titular monsters have seemingly been wiped from the galaxy, as were an even nastier alien species called X that metroids were originally created to kill. Dread opens with a tip: somehow, a single X survived and was seen on a faraway system known as ZDR. (Try saying that sentence out loud on a first date and see where it gets you.)

Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Russia tells its space reporters to stop reporting on the space program

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 5:56am
Russia President Vladimir Putin and former Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin shake hands during a meeting at the Konstantin Palace.

Enlarge / Russia President Vladimir Putin and former Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin shake hands during a meeting at the Konstantin Palace. (credit: Mikhail MetzelTASS via Getty Images)

It is safe to say that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not a fan of independent media. In the run-up to elections last month, Putin declared almost every independent media organization operating inside the country a "foreign agent" to stifle dissent and criticism. The intent seems to be to destroy independent media in Russia.

Now, this campaign has been extended to coverage of space activities in Russia.

The country already prohibits reporting on space activities containing classified information, but a new law extends to coverage of a variety of other space news. Essentially, any person in Russia who now reports on anything that might be even tangentially related to Russia's military activities or space activities will be labeled as a foreign agent.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

D-Wave announces new hardware, compiler, and plans for quantum computing

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 3:45pm
Image of a large black metal cabinet with orange logos.

Enlarge / The current generation of hardware. (credit: D-Wave)

Because quantum computing has been attempted via multiple approaches, those approaches can be a bit confusing to follow. Most quantum computing efforts go toward what are called gate-based computers, which allow you to perform logical operations on individual qubits. These are well understood theoretically and can perform a variety of calculations. But it's possible to make gate-based systems out of different types of qubits, including photons, ions, and electronic devices called transmons, and companies have grown up around each of these hardware options.

A separate form of computing, called quantum annealing, also involves manipulating collections of interconnected qubits. Annealing hasn't been as worked out in theory, but it appears to be well matched to a class of optimization problems. And, when it comes to annealing hardware, there's only a single company, called D-Wave.

Now, things are about to get more confusing still. On Tuesday, D-Wave released its roadmap for upcoming processors and software for its quantum annealers. But D-Wave is also announcing that it's going to be developing its own gate-based hardware, which it will offer in parallel with the quantum annealer. We talked with company CEO Alan Baratz to understand all the announcements.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Company that routes SMS for all major US carriers was hacked for five years

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 3:27pm
A woman's hand holding a smartphone.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | d3sign)

Syniverse, a company that routes hundreds of billions of text messages every year for hundreds of carriers including Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T, revealed to government regulators that a hacker gained unauthorized access to its databases for five years. Syniverse and carriers have not said whether the hacker had access to customers' text messages.

A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week said that "in May 2021, Syniverse became aware of unauthorized access to its operational and information technology systems by an unknown individual or organization. Promptly upon Syniverse's detection of the unauthorized access, Syniverse launched an internal investigation, notified law enforcement, commenced remedial actions and engaged the services of specialized legal counsel and other incident response professionals."

Syniverse said that its "investigation revealed that the unauthorized access began in May 2016" and "that the individual or organization gained unauthorized access to databases within its network on several occasions, and that login information allowing access to or from its Electronic Data Transfer ('EDT') environment was compromised for approximately 235 of its customers."

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

A civil war is brewing for the Iron Throne in House of the Dragon teaser

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 2:40pm

HBO has released the first teaser for House of the Dragon, giving us our first real look at this spinoff prequel series to Game of Thrones. Set 200 years before the events of its predecessor, the series will chronicle the beginning of the end for the reign of House Targaryen, culminating in civil war. In addition to co-creators George R.R. Martin and Ryan J. Condal, Miguel Sapochnik—who filmed some of the most eye-popping, complicated battles on Game of Thrones—will serve as co-showrunner and direct the pilot and several other episodes. The series began filming in April.

This time around, the source material is Martin's 2018 epic fantasy Fire and Blood, a fictional history of the Targaryen kings. It begins with Aegon I's conquest of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, thanks to the family's advanced weaponry in the form of dragons, followed by a period of relative peace. Part three focuses on Aegon I's sons, King Aenys I and King Maegor I. When the latter dies, the son of Aenys, Jaehaerys I, ascends to the Iron Throne. Jaehaerys I had two sons, but they both died before their regal father, thereby triggering a succession crisis.

The final two sections of Fire and Blood deal with the fallout of that crisis and seem to be the primary source material for this new series. Essentially, a council of lords selects King Viserys I Targaryen to succeed Jaehaerys I, passing over Princess Rhaenys Velaryon, a dragonrider known as "the Queen Who Never Was." Viserys I has no sons by his first wife and decides his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, will succeed him. But this is Westeros, so there are others scheming for the Iron Throne, most notably Ser Otto Hightower, Hand of the King—whose daughter Alicent becomes the king's second wife—and Prince Daemon Targaryen, the king's younger brother.

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Report: Amazon-designed fridge will use the same tech as Amazon Go stores

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 2:27pm
A sensor from inside one of the refrigerators in Amazon's stores. The home fridge would use similar technology.

Enlarge / A sensor from inside one of the refrigerators in Amazon's stores. The home fridge would use similar technology. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

According to sources cited by Insider, Amazon is working on a smart fridge that will track the food you're storing and help you quickly order replacements when supplies run low. The fridge would use some of the same technology seen in Amazon Go stores.

Codenamed Project Pulse, the refrigerator is being built by the same team as Amazon Go, with additional assistance from members of the Amazon Lab126 and Amazon Fresh teams. Amazon has reportedly been working on the product for two years and has spent $50 million per year on its development.

The appliance will include multiple cameras and use computer vision technology to track what is stored inside it. The basic tech is the same as that seen in Amazon Go's "Just Walk Out" feature, which allows customers to simply pluck items off physical store shelves and walk out the door, confident that their Amazon accounts will be charged appropriately.

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Windows 11: The Ars Technica review

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 1:00pm
 The Ars Technica review

(credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft wanted everyone to use Windows 10.

Faced with slow adoption of Windows 8 and the stubborn popularity of Windows 7, Microsoft made Windows 10 a free upgrade for anyone using either version—the offer technically expired years ago, but to this day, old Windows 7 and 8 product keys still activate Windows 10 without protest. The OS was billed as a return to form that would appeal to people put off by Windows 8's divisive touchscreen-oriented interface while still retaining touch-friendly features for people who had bought a PC tablet or a laptop with a touchscreen.

Windows 10 would be long-lived, too. Some in the company billed it as "the last version of Windows"—one big, stable platform that would simultaneously placate change-averse users, huge IT shops that would have kept using Windows XP forever if they had been allowed to, and software developers who would no longer need to worry about supporting multiple wildly different generations of Windows at once. Windows could still change, but a new twice-a-year servicing model would keep that change coming at a slow-but-consistent pace that everyone could keep up with.

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Physics Nobel goes to complexity, both general and climatic

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 12:04pm
The output of a modern climate model allows us to detect trends despite the chaotic nature of the underlying system.

Enlarge / The output of a modern climate model allows us to detect trends despite the chaotic nature of the underlying system. (credit: NOAA)

Complex behavior is all around us. Think of something like the economy. It has many components, each with its own set of rules and all of them interacting in complicated ways. Trying to follow what's going on from the ground up is nearly impossible. Yet some reasonably consistent behaviors emerge from that complexity, allowing us to understand some general rules for it.

This mix of complexity and emergent behavior shows up in many other systems involving aggregate human behavior, as well as in areas of physics, chemistry, and biology. This year's Nobel in Physics is split evenly between two aspects of studying these systems. Half of the award goes to Giorgio Parisi, who helped find methods for understanding complex systems that can be applied more generally. And the other half is split between two climate modelers, Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann, who helped developed systems that we now use to understand how the climate's behavior emerges from the complicated interaction of its components and influences—including the growing influence of greenhouse gases.

Complex systems and emergent behavior

Giorgio Parisi's work has its roots in the earliest days of statistical mechanics, most notably the work of James Clerk Maxwell (of Maxwell's Demon fame) and Ludwig Boltzmann, who famously applied a statistical approach to the second law of thermodynamics (entropy). Finally, physicists had a mathematical tool capable of describing how properties on the macroscale—such as the temperature and pressure of a gas—emerge from the random, disordered movements of particles on the microscale. Parisi's work uncovered the hidden rules that govern these kinds of complex disordered systems and their emergent properties.

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Nintendo wraps Smash Bros. roster with Kingdom Hearts’ Sora

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 11:21am

Nintendo revealed on Tuesday that Kingdom Hearts' Sora will be the final addition to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's substantial roster of fighters—and the fan-favorite Square Enix-Disney action RPG series will be coming to the Switch via cloud gaming.

Announced in a final showcase hosted by director Masahiro Sakurai, Ultimate's Challenger Pack 11 DLC will feature Kingdom Hearts' hero, the twelfth new DLC fighter since Super Mario's Piranha Plant was added in January 2019. Sora employs his elemental magic attacks and his signature weapon, the Keyblade. The update will be available for download later this month.

Disney world(s)

If you're unfamiliar with Kingdom Hearts, picture a Ready Player One-style crossover between Final Fantasy and Disney characters—who all come from their individual "worlds" themed around their respective movies or cartoons, like Toy StoryNightmare Before Christmas, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Sora and his friends visit these worlds. (2002's original Kingdom Hearts launched a year before the company then known as Squaresoft merged with Enix, so the latter's Dragon Quest series has never been added to the universe.)

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Facebook misled investors about shrinking user base, ex-employee alleges

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 11:06am
A person using a smartphone in front of a TV screen displaying the Facebook logo.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Chesnot)

Facebook has been misleading investors about its "shrinking" teen and young-adult user bases and about the actual number of Facebook users, former employee Frances Haugen alleged in a whistleblower complaint filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. "For years, Facebook has misled investors and advertisers about [its] shrinking user base in important demographics, declining content production, and the true number of recipients of 'Reach & Frequency' advertising," the complaint said.

Noting that "Facebook's stock valuation is based almost entirely on predictions of future advertising revenue," the complaint cites "evidence showing that Facebook has, for years past and ongoing, violated US securities laws by making material misrepresentations and omissions in statements to investors and prospective investors, including... through filings with the SEC, testimony to Congress, online statements, and media stories."

"Facebook has misrepresented core metrics to investors and advertisers including the amount of content produced on its platforms and growth in individual users (especially in high-value demographics)," the complaint said. Facebook's advertising algorithms did not properly account for what the complaint calls Single Users with Multiple Accounts (SUMA), and the company thus "systematically overcharg[ed] advertisers" by misrepresenting the number of individual users, Haugen alleged.

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Vaccine holdouts are just 1.8% of NY’s largest health provider—now they’re fired

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 10:59am
A city-operated mobile pharmacy advertises the COVID-19 vaccine in a Brooklyn neighborhood on July 30, 2021, in New York City.

Enlarge / A city-operated mobile pharmacy advertises the COVID-19 vaccine in a Brooklyn neighborhood on July 30, 2021, in New York City. (credit: Getty | Spencer Platt)

Northwell Health, the largest health care provider in New York, announced Monday that it fired just a sliver of its staff for failing to comply with the state's COVID-19 vaccination mandate—and there will be no interruptions to patient care at the system's 23 hospitals and over 830 outpatient facilities.

In all, Northwell terminated only 1,400 of its more than 76,000-member workforce—that's roughly 1.8 percent.

"Northwell Health is proud to announce that our workforce—the largest in New York State—is 100 percent vaccinated," the company said in a statement. "This allows us to continue to provide exceptional care at all of our facilities without interruption and remain open and fully operational."

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The 12 best deals from Amazon’s early Black Friday event

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 10:27am
The 12 best deals from Amazon’s early Black Friday event

Enlarge

Amazon has created another mini tentpole event to get ahead of the holiday rush. This time, the company may be more justified than usual, as retailers and shippers across the country are warning of COVID-related shipping delays for the holiday season.

This isn't a massive event like Amazon Prime Day, but there are still a few good deals. Some offers will change daily, but savings are live now for core items like Amazon devices, data storage accessories, and Apple and Beats headphones.

You can also snag $100 off one of our favorite home office items, Flexispot's V9 Desk Bike, or go the more traditional route with a solid standing desk for just $220. Last on our list is the TRX Go Suspension Trainer, a versatile piece of exercise equipment for any home gym. It's a great piece, whether you're a beginner starting with mostly bodyweight exercises or an advanced trainer wanting to level-up your workouts with more dynamic activity.

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YouTube Music continues glacial development pace, adds background playback

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 10:11am
Welcome to YouTube Music. Please swipe your credit card here.

Enlarge / Welcome to YouTube Music. Please swipe your credit card here. (credit: Jericho / Ron Amadeo)

October marks the first anniversary of the death of Google Play Music, leaving only the sad shadow of a replacement music service, YouTube Music, in Google's ecosystem. YouTube Music is showing just how far behind the streaming music wars it is with the announcement of a new feature: background music playback. Previously, playing a streaming song on the ad-supported YouTube Music app would only work if you had the app open—navigating to something else on your phone would stop the music. Now, five years after the service's launch and one year after the shutdown of Google Play Music, you can use YouTube Music like—well—a music app without paying for YouTube Premium.

One last detail: this extremely basic feature is only rolling out to Canada next month. For now, everyone else still can't use YouTube Music like a regular streaming music app without paying for the service. Google says that free background playback will be available to "listeners around the world" at some point, but it hasn't said when.

SoundCloud and Spotify offer free background streaming—as did Google Play Music before it was shut down—but YouTube Music hasn't been able to replicate that feature for the past five years. Subscribers to the $9.99 YouTube Music Premium have been able to play music in the background, and the feature is available for music you've uploaded yourself. But if you were listening to the ad-supported streaming catalog, the music just stopped in the background.

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Razer delivers new ultraportable and gaming PC options for Windows 11

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 9:58am
Razer Book.

Razer Book. (credit: Razer)

Windows 11 arrived yesterday, giving PC-makers everywhere an excuse to refresh their lineups. Razer announced new SKUs for its ultraportable Razer Book laptop and Razer Blade 15 Advanced gaming laptop today, and both are preloaded with Microsoft’s latest operating system. Of course, the new PCs also come with some fresh specs to consider.

New Razer Book

Razer’s roots are in PC gaming, but the Razer Book is the three-headed snake’s attempt at a more mainstream, portable PC. The clamshell’s silver aluminum unibody chassis starts at just 2.9 pounds and 0.6 inches of thickness, making it competitive with ultraportables like Dell’s XPS 13.

Today’s announcement lowers the Razer Book’s starting price to $1,000. That gets you a quad-core i5-1135G7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage, and a 1920×1200 resolution screen with a 60 Hz refresh rate. Razer also announced more powerful versions with a quad-core i7-1165G7, 16GB of RAM, 512GB for $1,500 or 1TB of storage, and a 3840×2100 screen for $1,800.

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Brain implant relieves patient’s severe depression in “landmark” US study

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 9:18am
Brain implant relieves patient’s severe depression in “landmark” US study

Enlarge (credit: Malte Mueller | Getty Images)

US researchers have successfully relieved a patient’s severe, long-term depression with an electronic implant that acts like a neural pacemaker, resetting the brain circuits associated with negative feelings.

The team at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) said the study was “a landmark success” in the scientific effort to treat psychiatric disorders through carefully targeted neural electronics. The study is published in the Nature Medicine journal.

“We’ve developed a precision medicine approach that has successfully managed our patient’s treatment-resistant depression by identifying and modulating the circuit in her brain that’s uniquely associated with her symptoms,” said Andrew Krystal, UCSF professor of psychiatry.

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New Yubico security keys let you use fingerprints instead of passwords

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 7:55am

Security experts have long abhorred passwords. They’re hackable, forgettable, and, sometimes, guessable (looking at you, password1). As companies like Microsoft and Google move to embrace password-less logins, Yubico thinks it has the key to keeping things simple. The YubiKey Bio Series announced today is the company’s first hardware security key to offer fingerprint logins.

Yubico’s Bio Series introduces biometric authentication to the hardware security key-maker’s lineup. The new keys support the latest FIDO2/WebAuthn and U2Fopen authentication standards to which Yubico contributes.

Fits either your USB-C (left) or USB-A (right) port.

Fits either your USB-C (left) or USB-A (right) port. (credit: Yubico)

The keys target desktop PCs, which are typically stationary, making it easy to leave the key in a USB Type-A or USB-C port, depending on the model you pick. Each key has a built-in fingerprint reader, so you can log in with the tap of a finger instead of having to remember your password. The key could also serve as a form of two-factor authentication. 

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