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    - YouTube Removes Videos of Robots Fighting For 'Animal Cruelty'
    YouTuber and robot enthusiast Anthony Murney noticed YouTube has removed hundreds of videos showing robots battling other robots after claiming they are in breach of its rules surrounding animal cruelty. He's blaming a new algorithm introduced by YouTube to detect instances of animal abuse. The Independent reports: Several other channels dedicated to robot combat have also produced videos pointing out the issue in an effort to get YouTube to restore the content. Channels posting robot combat videos saw their content removed and received a notice from YouTube explaining that the videos were in breach of its community guidelines. Each notice cited the same section of these guidelines, which states: "Content that displays the deliberate infliction of animal suffering or the forcing of animals to fight is not allowed on YouTube." It goes on to state: "Examples include, but are not limited to, dog fighting and cock fighting."

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    - Walmart Sues Tesla Over Fires At Stores Fitted With Its Solar Panels
    Walmart filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Tesla accusing the company of supplying solar panels that were responsible for fires at about seven of its stores. Reuters reports: The fires destroyed significant amounts of store merchandise and required substantial repairs, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket losses, Walmart said in the lawsuit. As of November 2018, no fewer than seven Walmart stores, including in Denton, Maryland and Beavercreek, Ohio, had experienced fires due to Tesla's solar systems, according to the lawsuit. The world's largest retailer started using solar panels made by SolarCity in 2010 and the roofs of around 240 of its stores were fitted with solar panels made by the company. "This is a breach of contract action arising from years of gross negligence and failure to live up to industry standards by Tesla with respect to solar panels that Tesla designed, installed, and promised to operate and maintain safely on the roofs of hundreds of Walmart stores," Walmart said in the court filing.

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    - Former Siri Chief Is Leaving Apple To Join Microsoft's AI Division
    Bill Stasior, the former head of Apple's Siri division, is leaving the company after nearly a decade to join Microsoft's artificial intelligence division, reports The Information. "Although Stasior left Apple in May, he's only joining Microsoft later this month as a corporate vice president, reporting to Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott," reports The Verge. "Stasior worked at Apple for more than seven years, joining back in 2012." From the report: After Giannandrea took a more hands-on role in the Siri division upon being hired last summer, he was subsequently promoted to a senior vice president role at Apple in December. That meant he was reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook, and he was also responsible for all machine learning and general AI projects at Apple. According to The Information, that promotion resulted in Stasior walking away from day-to-day duties running the Siri team. Prior to Giannandrea joining, Stasior had the responsibility of running Siri, who was vice president of the division for more than seven years. But Apple effectively tossed executive leadership of the product around like a hot potato. It was initially former iOS software chief Scott Forstall's job to oversee Siri, but after he left the company unceremoniously over the controversial Apple Maps fiasco, the role went to services chief Eddy Cue and then eventually VP of software engineering Craig Federighi. Finally, when Giannandrea joined, Siri had a proper executive to oversee it, but that seems to have resulted in Stasior's departure for reasons unknown. The Information notes that Stasior will not be working on Cortana. Instead, he'll be leading up an AI group, although it's unclear what exactly he'll be working on.

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    - Solar Power Is Now As Inexpensive As Grid Electricity In China
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum: Solar power now costs the same as, or less than, electricity from the grid in many of China's cities, a new study finds. This research may encourage broader adoption of industrial and commercial solar power there. Advances in solar technology have helped bring solar within reach of grid parity sooner than expected in China. Whereas the cost of solar photovoltaic electricity there was up to 15.1 Chinese yuan per kilowatt-hour in 2000, it was only up to 0.79 Chinese yuan per kilowatt-hour in 2018. In addition, in 2018, the Chinese government dramatically cut subsidies to the solar photovoltaic industry to drive it to compete with coal without government aid. To see where Chinese solar energy stood now, scientists in Sweden and China analyzed the net costs and profits associated with building and operating industrial and commercial solar energy projects in 344 prefecture-level cities in China. They found in all 344 cities, solar photovoltaic systems were capable of generating and selling electricity at lower prices than the grid without subsidies, and in 22 percent of those cities, they could also produce electricity at lower prices than coal. The scientists detailed their findings in the 12 August edition of the journal Nature Energy.

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    - IFTTT Warns Its Users Not To Migrate To Google Accounts
    Back in May Google announced it was phasing out its Work With Nest program in favor of a Works With Google Assistant framework, frustrating many users as it will break IFTTT tie-ins. Thankfully, IFTTT has some good news for concerned users: IFTTT applets designed for the Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect and Nest Cam will continue to work after August 31st, when Google plans on shutting down the Works With Nest Program. Engadget reports: But, there's some bad news. IFTTT's applets won't work at all if users move their Nest accounts to Google accounts. This is fine for now, obviously, but in the future it means users could miss out on new features only available through a Google account. Google has said it's working on a system that will allow IFTTT users to migrate, but whether the company will integrate the comprehensive features that made IFTTT so popular in the first place is another question entirely.

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    - 'Matrix 4' Officially a Go With Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss
    Lana Wachowski is set to write and direct a fourth film set in the world of "The Matrix," with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity, respectively. Variety reports: Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures will produce and globally distribute the film. In addition to Wachowski, the script was also written by Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell. Wachowski is also producing with Grant Hill. Sources say the film is eyed to begin production at the top of 2020. Warner Bros. has been trying for the last of couple years to find a way to get back into "The Matrix" universe, but a hold-up over producing rights slowed the project down. Over the past couple of months, the studio saw an opportunity to ramp up development, with Reeves boasting a strong summer that included box office hits "John Wick 3"; and "Toy Story 4" and a script from Wachowski that drummed up excitement. Plot details are currently unknown, as is how the role of Morpheus will be handled, originally played by Laurence Fishburne. Some sources say the role may be recast for a younger take. Further reading: Was 'The Matrix' Part of Cinema's Last Gear Year?

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    - Man Sued For Using Bogus YouTube Takedowns To Get Address For Swatting
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: YouTube is suing a Nebraska man the company says has blatantly abused its copyright takedown process. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act offers online platforms like YouTube legal protections if they promptly take down content flagged by copyright holders. However, this process can be abused -- and boy did defendant Christopher L. Brady abuse it, according to YouTube's legal complaint (pdf). Brady allegedly made fraudulent takedown notices against YouTube videos from at least three well-known Minecraft streamers. In one case, Brady made two false claims against a YouTuber and then sent the user an anonymous message demanding a payment of $150 by PayPal -- or $75 in bitcoin. "If you decide not to pay us, we will file a 3rd strike," the message said. When a YouTube user receives a third copyright strike, the YouTuber's account gets terminated. A second target was ordered to pay $300 by PayPal or $200 in Bitcoin to avoid a third fraudulent copyright strike. A third incident was arguably even more egregious. According to YouTube, Brady filed several fraudulent copyright notices against another YouTuber with whom he was "engaged in some sort of online dispute." The YouTuber responded with a formal counter-notice stating that the content wasn't infringing -- a move that allows the content to be reinstated. However, the law requires the person filing the counter-notice to provide his or her real-world name and address -- information that's passed along to the person who filed the takedown request. This contact information is supposed to enable a legitimate copyright holder to file an infringement lawsuit in court. Shortly after filing a counter-notice, the targeted YouTuber "announced via Twitter that he had been the victim of a swatting scheme." YouTube says it doesn't have hard proof that Brady was responsible for the swatting call -- even though it "appears" that way, but it does have compelling evidence that Brady was responsible for the fraudulent takedown notices, which are against the law.

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    - Google Launches Android Studio 3.5 With Improved Memory Settings, Build Speed, and Apply Changes
    Google today launched Android Studio 3.5, the latest version of its integrated development environment (IDE), with a specific focus on "product quality." From a report: This release is the last one under Project Marble, a fancy name for an initiative Google announced late last year to improve Android Studio. For eight months, the team focused "on making the fundamental features and flows of Android Studio & Emulator rock-solid." All the improvements were either to system health, feature polish, or bug fixes. To improve system health, Google created a new set of infrastructure and internal dashboards to better detect performance problems. The team ultimately fixed over 600 bugs, 50 memory leaks, and 20 IDE hangs, and improved XML & Kotlin typing latency. For the Android Emulator, the team decreased the CPU and memory impact. The team also took a look at app deployment flow to a device, replacing Instant Run with Apply Changes. The new system no longer modifies an APK during your build. Instead, it uses runtime instrumentation to redefine classes on the fly.

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    - IBM is Moving OpenPower Foundation To The Linux Foundation
    IBM makes the Power Series chips, and as part of that has open sourced some of the underlying technologies to encourage wider use of these chips. The open source pieces have been part of the OpenPower Foundation. Today, the company announced it was moving the foundation under The Linux Foundation, and while it was at it, announced it was open sourcing several other important bits. From a report: Ken King, general manager for OpenPower at IBM, says that at this point in his organization's evolution, they wanted to move it under the auspices of the Linux Foundation. But IBM didn't stop there. It also announced that it was open sourcing some of the technical underpinnings of the Power Series chip to make it easier for developers and engineers to build on top of the technology. Perhaps most importantly, the company is open sourcing the Power Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). These are "the definitions developers use for ensuring hardware and software work together on Power," the company explained. King sees open sourcing this technology as an important step for a number of reasons around licensing and governance. "The first thing is that we are taking the ability to be able to implement what we're licensing, the ISA instruction set architecture, for others to be able to implement on top of that instruction set royalty free with patent rights," he explained. The company is also putting this under an open governance workgroup at the OpenPower Foundation.

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    - NASA Mission To Jupiter Moon Europa Moves Step Closer To Launch
    A NASA mission to explore the most tantalizing of Jupiter's 79 moons has been given the green light to proceed to the final stages of development. From a report: Europa -- which is slightly smaller than our own moon -- has long been considered a possible candidate in the hunt for alien life. Evidence suggests there is an ocean below the moon's thick, icy crust that might be tens of miles deep. Scientists believe this body of water could contain the right chemical cocktail for life and could even be home to some form of living organisms. Europa appears to have the hat-trick of conditions needed to kick off life: water, possibly chemistry, and energy in the form of tidal heating, a phenomenon arising from gravitational tugs acting on the moon. This could not only drive chemical reactions but also aid movement of chemical substances between rock, surface and ocean, possibly through hydrothermal vents. It is proposed that the NASA mission, named Europa Clipper, will make a number of close flybys -- it cannot orbit the moon as Jupiter's radiation belt would fry its electronics -- carrying cameras and intruments to measure the moon's magnetic field. The mission will look for subsurface lakes and provide data on the thickness of the moon's icy crust. The team also hope to confirm the presence of plumes of water, previously detected by NASA's Galileo spacecraft and the Hubble space telescope. If confirmed, it would mean scientists would not need to find a way of hacking through the moon's icy crust to explore the makeup of the ocean.

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    - Flawed Algorithms Are Grading Millions of Students' Essays
    Fooled by gibberish and highly susceptible to human bias, automated essay-scoring systems are being increasingly adopted, a Motherboard investigation has found. From a report: Every year, millions of students sit down for standardized tests that carry weighty consequences. National tests like the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) serve as gatekeepers to higher education, while state assessments can determine everything from whether a student will graduate to federal funding for schools and teacher pay. Traditional paper-and-pencil tests have given way to computerized versions. And increasingly, the grading process -- even for written essays -- has also been turned over to algorithms. Natural language processing (NLP) artificial intelligence systems -- often called automated essay scoring engines -- are now either the primary or secondary grader on standardized tests in at least 21 states, according to a survey conducted by Motherboard. Three states didn't respond to the questions. Of those 21 states, three said every essay is also graded by a human. But in the remaining 18 states, only a small percentage of students' essays -- it varies between 5 to 20 percent -- will be randomly selected for a human grader to double check the machine's work. But research from psychometricians -- professionals who study testing -- and AI experts, as well as documents obtained by Motherboard, show that these tools are susceptible to a flaw that has repeatedly sprung up in the AI world: bias against certain demographic groups. And as a Motherboard experiment demonstrated, some of the systems can be fooled by nonsense essays with sophisticated vocabulary. Essay-scoring engines don't actually analyze the quality of writing. They're trained on sets of hundreds of example essays to recognize patterns that correlate with higher or lower human-assigned grades. They then predict what score a human would assign an essay, based on those patterns.

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    - A Diet Based on Caloric Restriction Might Make You Live Longer. It'll Certainly Feel Like Longer.
    A diet based on caloric restriction might make you live longer. It'll certainly feel like longer. Called Prolon, it's a five-day, $250 meal kit which arrives in a white cardboard container a little bigger than a shoebox. It involves eating about 800 calories each day. The idea is that temporarily shifts your body into a starvation state, prompting your cells to consume years of accumulated cellular garbage before unleashing a surge of restorative regeneration. The idea that starving yourself while still taking in crucial nutrients will let you live longer is not new. The practice, called caloric restriction, is the only proven way to extend life in a wide variety of creatures. There are currently trials underway to see if the diet might help protect human patients from the ravages of chemotherapy, too. However, experiments have found that doing it for extended periods is a problem, and probably not practical for most people. Research on the "fast-mimicking diet" is still limited, but the Prolon diet has been sold in 15 countries and tried by more than 150,000 people. Read how Adam Piore got on when he tried it out.

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    - You Can Finally See All Of The Info Facebook Collected About You From Other Websites
    Facebook said Tuesday it's rolling out a long-awaited privacy feature that will let users see and clear information from apps and websites they browse outside of the social network. Some people in Ireland, South Korea, and Spain will gain access to this feature first, but the company plans to broaden the availability soon. From a report: Facebook collects information about its users in two ways: first, through the information you input into its website and apps, and second, by tracking which websites you visit while you're not on Facebook. That's why, after you visit a clothing retailer's website, you'll likely see an ad for it in your Facebook News Feed or Instagram feed. Basically, Facebook monitors where you go, all across the internet, and uses your digital footprints to target you with ads. But Facebook users have never been able to view this external data Facebook collected about them, until now. Facebook tracks your browsing history via the "Login with Facebook" button, the "like" button, Facebook comments, and little bits of invisible code, called the Facebook pixel, embedded on other sites. Today the company will start to roll out a feature called "Off-Facebook Activity" that allows people to manage that external browsing data -- finally delivering on a promise it made over a year ago when CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced at a company event that it would develop a feature then called "Clear History." The new tool will display a summary of those third-party websites that shared your visit with Facebook, and will allow you to disconnect that browsing history from your Facebook account. You can also opt out of future off-Facebook activity tracking, or selectively stop certain websites from sending your browsing activity to Facebook. Nearly a third of all websites include a Facebook tracker, according to several studies.

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    - Google's Clickless Era
    For the first time last month, a majority of all browser-based Google searches resulted in zero clicks, according to a new study from software company Sparktoro. From a report: The report's author notes that Google's functionality has changed to keep users within the Google ecosystem, not to always refer them outside of it. "We've passed a milestone in Google's evolution from search engine to walled-garden," he writes. On mobile, where the majority of search traffic takes place, organic searches have fallen about 20%, and have instead been replaced by paid searches and "zero click" searches, or search queries that result in snippets of information being presented, removing the need for a user to click into a link. In January 2016, the report notes, more than half of mobile searches ended without a click. Today, it's almost two-thirds.

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    - Bitbucket Dropping Support For Mercurial
    Bitbucket, once one of the largest Mercurial repository hosting sites, said Tuesday it plans to remove Mercurial features and repositories from its platform on June 1, 2020. In a blog post, Bitbucket wrote: As we surpass 10 million registered users on the platform, we're at a point in our growth where we are conducting a deeper evaluation of the market and how we can best support our users going forward. After much consideration, we've decided to remove Mercurial support from Bitbucket Cloud and its API. Bitbucket will stop letting users create new Mercurial repositories starting February 1, 2020, and start removing all the Mercurial repositories four months later. So you will want to backup your repositories and switch to a different platform in the coming months. A different user pointed out, "Another shitty aspect of bitbucket dropping mercurial support and deleting all the old repositories in 2020: all yt pull request discussions from before 2017 are going to be deleted. There's valuable context for how the code got written in those discussions." Several users have expressed their concerns over this decision. Sebastien Jodogne, CSO at Osimis, said, "This is an extremely concerning decision that endangers diversity in the computer science industry by pushing the de facto hegemony of git." For those of you affected by this, you can consider a number of platforms including SourceForge to host and manage your repositories.

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