Software

AI + ML

One whole day: That's how long Facebook's COVID-19 content moderation went without a mess

AI flagged good content as bad content – and it took the founder of Godwin's Law to point it out


One whole day after telling the world it was going to do its very best to ensure that only high-quality COVID-19 content from proper sources would spread on Facebook, The Social Network has mistakenly identified just such content as violating its community standards.

This one seemingly started with Mike Godwin, a US-based lawyer and activist who coined Godwin’s Law: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

Godwin was footling on Facebook and tried to share a story titled Updated every minute, 17-year-old whiz kid’s coronavirus site used by millions from the Times of Israel.

The story has been very widely read as it details a minute-by-minute account of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

But when Godwin tried to share it on Facebook, here’s what happened.

Other Facebook users have reported similar issues.

Enter Alex Stamos, formerly Facebook’s chief security officer and now an infowar researcher at Stanford.

Next up: Guy Rosen, Facebook’s VP of integrity, who tweeted “We're on this - this is a bug in an anti-spam system, unrelated to any changes in our content moderator workforce. We're in the process of fixing and bringing all these posts back. More soon.”

That prediction was accurate: less than two hours after the above exchanges, Rosen was back with the following.

This one could spawn a thousand utterly unoriginal and/or bleeding obvious LinkedIn posts, because Facebook has sent its moderation workforce to work from home and increased its use of automated filtering. And as Rosen admitted, the bots flubbed the job. ®

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Meta trains data2vec neural network to understand speech, images, text so it can 'understand the world'

Whatever it takes, Mark

Researchers at Facebook parent's Meta have trained a single AI model capable of processing speech, images, and text in the hope that these so-called multi-modal systems will power the company’s augmented reality and metaverse products.

The model, known as data2vec, can perform different tasks. Given an audio snippet, it can recognize speech. If it’s fed an image, it can classify objects. And when faced with text, it can check the grammar or analyse the writing’s tone and emotions.

AI algorithms are typically trained on one type of data, though data2vec is trained on three different modalities. It still, however, processes each form, whether its speech, images, and text, separately.

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Apple preps fix for Safari's web-history-leaking IndexedDB privacy bug

Disclosure of WebKit flaw appears to have prodded iBiz to undertake repairs

Apple is preparing to repair a bug in its WebKit browser engineer that has been leaking data from its Safari 15 browser at least since the problem was reported last November.

Updates made available on Thursday to Apple developers – iOS 15.3 RC and macOS 12.2 RC – reportedly fix the flaw, an improper implementation of IndexedDB API that allows websites to track users and potentially identify them.

The bug affects Apple's Safari 15 browser on macOS, and all browsers on iOS and iPadOS 15 – because Apple requires all browsers on iOS to be based upon its WebKit engine, instead of alternatives like Chromium's Blink or Mozilla's Gecko.

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Nvidia pushes crowd-pleasing container support into AI Enterprise suite

As long as you're running on VMware

Nvidia has rolled out the latest version of its AI Enterprise suite for GPU-accelerated workloads, adding integration for VMware's vSphere with Tanzu to enable organisations to run workloads in both containers and inside virtual machines.

Available now, Nvidia AI Enterprise 1.1 is an updated release of the suite that GPUzilla delivered last year in collaboration with VMware. It is essentially a collection of enterprise-grade AI tools and frameworks certified and supported by Nvidia to help organisations develop and operate a range of AI applications.

That's so long as those organisations are running VMware, of course, which a great many enterprises still use in order to manage virtual machines across their environment, but many also do not.

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Wolfing down ebooks during lockdown? You might want to check out Calibre, the Swiss Army ebook tool

When audiobooks just take too darn long...

Friday FOSS Fest In this week's edition of our column on free and open-source software, El Reg takes a look at Calibre, which converts almost any file type into almost any other file type, so you can read whatever you want, wherever you want, no matter what format it's in.

It's free and runs on Windows, Linux and Mac.

There's more to ebooks than the Kindle, of course, with devices such as the Kobo, Nook, and Onyx Boox. The author's own Sony Reader still worked fine when I gave it to a friend a year ago.

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Dog forgets all about risk of drowning in a marsh as soon as drone dangles a sausage

It's not the wurst idea in the world

Man's best friend, though far from the dumbest animal, isn't that smart either. And if there's one sure-fire way to get a dog moving, it's the promise of a snack.

In another fine example of drones being used as a force for good, this week a dog was rescued from mudflats in Hampshire on the south coast of England because it realised that chasing a sausage dangling from a UAV would be a preferable outcome to drowning as the tide rose.

Or rather the tantalising treat overrode any instinct the pet had to avoid the incoming water.

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Almost there: James Webb Space Telescope frees its mirrors and prepares for insertion

Freed of launch restraints, mirror segments can waggle at will

NASA scientists have deployed mirrors on the James Webb Space Telescope ahead of a critical thruster firing on Monday.

With less than 50,000km to go until the spacecraft reaches its L2 orbit, the segments that make up the primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) are ready for alignment. The team carefully moved all 132 actuators lurking on the back of the primary mirror segments and secondary mirror, driving the former 12.5mm away from the telescope structure.

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Arm rages against the insecure chip machine with new Morello architecture

Prototypes now available for testing

Arm has made available for testing prototypes of its Morello architecture, aimed at bringing features into the design of CPUs that provide greater robustness and make them resistant to certain attack vectors. If it performs as expected, it will likely become a fundamental part of future processor designs.

The Morello programme involves Arm collaborating with the University of Cambridge and others in tech to develop a processor architecture that is intended to be fundamentally more secure. Morello prototype boards are now being released for testing by developers and security specialists, based on a prototype system-on-chip (SoC) that Arm has built.

Arm said that the limited-edition evaluation boards are based on the Morello prototype architecture embedded into an Armv8.2-A processor. This is an adaptation of the architecture in the Arm Neoverse N1 design aimed at data centre workloads.

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Multi-level marketing corporation that sells weightloss products sues ex-exec over 'fraudulent' Dell deal

Alleges he had an off-the-books agreement with reseller

MLM firm Herbalife, which sells diet-linked products but styles itself as a "nutrition company", has accused one of its former execs of cutting a "fraudulent" $20m deal with a Dell reseller.

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'95% original' film star Spitfire could be yours for a mere £4.5m (or 0.05 Pogbas)

Freshly overhauled, several careful owners

Fancy buying an almost-original and flyable Second World War Supermarine Spitfire? If you've got £4.5m gathering dust in the bank, today might be your lucky day.

Spitfire LF Mk.IXB MH415 is up for sale, with various news outlets reporting its sale price as around £4.5m.

Built in 1943, the veteran of two wars and several decades of airshow flying was fully refurbished over the last few years and has just six flying hours on its newly reset clock. Its pristine Rolls-Royce Merlin 66 engine has just 11 hours, meaning the Spitfire can fly for months or years before needing another total overhaul.

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You might want to consider the cost of not upgrading legacy tech, UK's Department for Work and Pensions told

Processes relying on 1980s ICL mainframe contributed to £1bn pension black hole

Brit MPs have told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) it should factor in the cost of not upgrading a 34-year-old legacy system when reviewing tech investments after it contributed to a £1bn pension shortfall.

The department should consider whether there are "cost-effective ways to upgrade its IT systems and enhance its administrative processes to ensure the quality and timeliness of management information and reduce the risk of repeated errors," a report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said.

This follows a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) which found that a legacy ICL-era mainframe was one of the causes behind the failure to pay more than £1bn in state pensions.

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Joint European Torus celebrates 100,000 pulses: Neither Brexit nor middle age has stopped '80s era experiment

Fusion energy projects nearing 40th anniversary

A milestone was reached this week by the Joint European Torus (JET): the 100,000th pulse of the fusion energy experiment.

JET, which is located at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in the English county of Oxfordshire, has a history going back to 1975. The Culham site was chosen in 1977 and the doughnut-shaped tokamak achieved its first plasma in 1983 (the Queen did the official switching on duties the following year.)

In 1991 JET performed the world's first deuterium-tritium experiment and by 1997 it achieved 22.5 megajoules of fusion energy (and 16 megawatts of fusion power) in a dedicated deuterium-tritium run of experiments. In 2021 it completed a second full-power run using deuterium and tritium.

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