Member of Congress Reads AI-Generated Speech On House Floor

U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss read a speech on the floor of the U.S. House that was generated by AI chatbot ChatGPT. “Auchincloss said he prompted the system in part to ‘write 100 words to deliver on the floor of the House of Representatives’ about the legislation,” reports the Associated Press. “Auchincloss said he had to refine the prompt several times to produce the text he ultimately read. His staff said they believe it’s the first time an AI-written speech was read in Congress.” From the report: The bill, which Auchincloss is refiling, would establish a joint U.S.-Israel AI Center in the United States to serve as a hub for AI research and development in the public, private and education sectors. Auchincloss said part of the decision to read a ChatGPT-generated text was to help spur debate on AI and the challenges and opportunities created by it. He said he doesn’t want to see a repeat of the advent of social media, which started small and ballooned faster than Congress could react. “I’m the youngest parent in the Democratic caucus, AI is going to be part of my life and it could be a general purpose technology for my children,” said Auchincloss, 34.

The text generated from Auchincloss’s prompt includes sentences like: “We must collaborate with international partners like the Israeli government to ensure that the United States maintains a leadership role in AI research and development and responsibly explores the many possibilities evolving technologies provide.” “There were probably about a dozen of my colleagues on the floor. I bet none of them knew it was written by a computer,” he said. Lawmakers and others shouldn’t be reflexively hostile to the new technology, but also shouldn’t wait too long before drafting policies or new laws to help regulate it, Auchincloss said. In particular, he argued that the country needs a “public counterweight” to the big tech firms that would help guarantee that smaller developers and universities have access to the same cloud computing, cutting edge algorithms and raw data as larger companies.

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Symbolic Wyoming Proposal Urges Voluntary Phase-out of EV Purchases by 2035

Though the state of Wyoming is home to one of America’s largest wind farms, “Wyoming’s legislature is considering a resolution that calls for a phaseout of new electric vehicle sales by 2035,” reports Engadget:

In the proposed resolution, a group of lawmakers led by Senator Jim Anderson says Wyoming’s “proud and valued” oil and gas industry has created “countless” jobs and contributed revenue to the state’s coffers. They add that a lack of charging infrastructure within Wyoming would make the widespread use of EVs “impracticable” and that the state would need to build “massive amounts of new power generation” to “sustain the misadventure of electric vehicles.” SJ4 calls for residents and businesses to limit the sale and purchase of EVs voluntarily, with the goal of phasing them out entirely by 2035.

If passed, the resolution would be entirely symbolic. In fact, it’s more about sending a message to EV advocates than banning the vehicles altogether. To that point, the final section of SJ4 calls for Wyoming’s Secretary of State to send President Biden and California Governor Gavin Newsom copies of the resolution. “One might even say tongue-in-cheek, but obviously it’s a very serious issue that deserves some public discussion,” Senator Boner, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, told the Cowboy State Daily. “I’m interested in making sure that the solutions that some folks want to the so-called climate crisis are actually practical in real life. I just don’t appreciate when other states try to force technology that isn’t ready.”

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US To Launch ‘Labeling’ Rating Program For Internet-Connected Devices In 2023

The Biden administration said it will launch a cybersecurity labeling program for consumer Internet of Things devices starting in 2023 in an effort to protect Americans from “significant national security risks.” TechCrunch reports: Inspired by Energy Star, a labeling program operated by Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to promote energy efficiency, the White House is planning to roll out a similar IoT labeling program to the “highest-risk” devices starting next year, a senior Biden administration official said on Wednesday following a National Security Council meeting with consumer product associations and device manufacturers. Attendees at the meeting included White House cyber official Anne Neuberger, FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, National Cyber Director Chris Inglis and Sen. Angus King, alongside leaders from Google, Amazon, Samsung, Sony and others.

The initiative, described by White House officials as “Energy Star for cyber,” will help Americans to recognize whether devices meet a set of basic cybersecurity standards devised by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Though specifics of the program have not yet been confirmed, the administration said it will “keep things simple.” The labels, which will be “globally recognized” and debut on devices such as routers and home cameras, will take the form of a “barcode” that users can scan using their smartphone rather than a static paper label, the administration official said. The scanned barcode will link to information based on standards, such as software updating policies, data encryption and vulnerability remediation.

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After Signing US Climate Bill, Biden Plans More Executive Actions to Cut Emissions

Senior White House officials say even more action is coming on climate change. They’re telling the New York Times that U.S. President Joe Biden plans “a series of executive actions to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help keep the planet from warming to dangerous temperatures.”

Biden is on track to deploy a series of measures, including new regulations on emissions from vehicle tailpipes, power plants and oil and gas wells, the officials said.

In pushing more executive action, Mr. Biden is trying to make up for the compromises his party made on climate measures to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes the largest single American investment to slow global warming. Democrats had to scale back some of their loftiest ambitions, including by agreeing to fossil fuel and drilling provisions, as concessions to Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, a holdout from a conservative state that is heavily dependent on coal and gas. Gina McCarthy, the White House climate adviser, said that regulatory moves, combined with the new legislation and action from states, could help Mr. Biden meet his promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent, compared to 2005 levels, by the end of the decade. The climate bill, she said, was “a starting point.”

“The president has not chosen to just look at Congress, he’s chosen to recognize that he has presidential authorities and responsibilities under the law to keep moving this forward,” she said. “And he’s going to continue to use those.” […] Ms. McCarthy noted the E.P.A. still has “broad authority” to regulate emissions from electricity generation. She also said the government is forging ahead with new regulations on soot and other traditional air pollutants, which will have the side benefit of cutting carbon emissions…. Mr. Biden has the executive authority to issue regulations through federal agencies, and under the Clean Air Act of 1970 can establish rules to address air pollution.

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Drought-Stricken States To Get Less From Colorado River

For the second year in a row, Arizona and Nevada will face cuts in the amount of water they can draw from the Colorado River as the West endures an extreme drought, federal officials announced Tuesday. The Associated Press reports: The cuts planned for next year will force states to make critical decisions about where to reduce consumption and whether to prioritize growing cities or agricultural areas. The cuts will also place state officials under renewed pressure to plan for a hotter, drier future and a growing population. Mexico will also face cuts. “We are taking steps to protect the 40 million people who depend on the Colorado River for their lives and livelihoods,” said Camille Touton, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation.

The river provides water across seven states and in Mexico and helps feed an agricultural industry valued at $15 billion a year. Cities and farms are anxiously awaiting official estimates of the river’s future water levels that will determine the extent and scope of cuts to their water supply. That’s not all. In addition to those already-agreed-to cuts, the Bureau of Reclamation said Tuesday that states had missed a deadline to propose at least 15% more cuts needed to keep water levels at the river’s storage reservoirs from dropping even more. For example, officials have predicted that water levels at Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, will plummet further. The lake is currently less than a quarter full. “The states collectively have not identified and adopted specific actions of sufficient magnitude that would stabilize the system,” Touton said.

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Ransomware Causes ‘Major’, Long-Lasting Outage for UK Health Service’s Patient Notes

The Independent reports that the UK’s National Health System is experiencing a major outage “expected to last for more than three weeks” after a third-party supplying the NHS’s “CareNotes” software was hit by ransomware.

Unfortunately, this leaves doctors unable to see their notes on patients, and the mental health trusts that provide care “across the country will be left unable to access patient notes for weeks, and possibly months.”

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust has declared a critical incident over the outage, which is believed to affect dozens of trusts, and has told staff it is putting emergency plans in place. One NHS trust chief said the situation could possibly last for “months” with several mental health trusts, and there was concern among leaders that the problem is not being prioritised.

In an email to staff, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Nick Broughton, said: “The cyberattack targeted systems used to refer patients for care, including ambulances being dispatched, out of hours appointment bookings, triage, out of hours care, emergency prescriptions and safety alerts. It also targeted the finance system used by the trust…. An NHS director said: “The whole thing is down. It’s really alarming…we’re carrying a lot of risk as a result of it because you can’t get records and details of assessments, prescribing, key observations, medical mental health act observations. You can’t see any of it…Staff are going to have to write everything down and input it later.”

They added: “There is increased risk to patients. We’re finding it hard to discharge people, for example to housing providers, because we can’t access records.”

“‘Weeks’ is an unreasonable period,” argues Slashdot reader Bruce66423, wondering why it couldn’t be resolved with a seemingly simple restore from backups?

And Alan Woodward, a professor of cybersecurity at Surrey University, warns the Guardian that “Even if it was ransomware … that doesn’t mean data was not stolen.”

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