Gmail Launches Pilot To Keep Campaign Emails Out of Spam

Google is launching a pilot program to keep emails from political campaigns from going to users’ spam folders this week, the company told Axios. From the report: Google asked the Federal Election Commission in June if a program that would let campaigns emails bypass spam filters, instead giving users the option to move them to spam first, would be legal under campaign finance laws. Despite hundreds of negative comments submitted to the FEC arguing against it, the FEC approved the program in August. Eligible committees, abiding by security requirements and best practices as outlined by Google, can now register to participate.

Google has come under fire that its algorithms unfairly target conservative content across its services, and that its Gmail service filters more Republican fundraising and campaign emails to spam. This is partly based on a study from North Carolina State University, though its authors say it has been misconstrued. “We expect to begin the pilot with a small number of campaigns from both parties and will test whether these changes improve the user experience, and provide more certainty for senders during this election period,” Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, told Axios. “We will continue to listen and respond to feedback as the pilot progresses.” He added: “During the pilot, users will be in control through a more prominent unsubscribe button.”

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Bipedal Robot Sets Guinness World Record For Robotic 100-Meter Sprint

A droid named Cassie has set a Guinness World Record for the 100-meter dash by a bipedal robot, “an impressive demonstration of robotics and engineering,” reports New Atlas. From the report: Cassie is the brainchild of Agility Robotics, a spin-off company from Oregon State University, and was introduced in 2017 as a type of developmental platform for robotics research. And Cassie has continued to come along in leaps and bounds since then, in 2021 demonstrating some impressive progress by completing a 5-km (3.1-mile) jog in just over 53 minutes. This achievement involved the use of machine learning algorithms to equip the robot with an ability to run, overcoming its unique biomechanics and knees that bend like an ostrich to remain upright. With this capability, Cassie joined a group of running bipedal robots that include the Atlas humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics and Mabel, billed as the world’s fastest knee-equipped bipedal robot. But in optimizing Cassie for the 100-meter sprint, the researchers had to head back to the drawing board.

The team spent a week fast-tracking Cassie through a year’s worth of simulated training designed to determine the most effective gait. But it wasn’t simply a matter of speed. For the Guinness World Record to stand, Cassie had to start in a standing pose, and then return to that pose after crossing the finish line rather than simply tumble over. This meant Cassie had to use two neural networks, one for running fast and one for standing still, and gracefully transition between the two. Ultimately, Cassie completed the 100-meter sprint in 24.73 seconds, establishing a Guinness World Record for a bipedal robot. This is a great deal slower than the sub-10-second times run by the world’s best sprinters, but the researchers believe progress will only accelerate from here. You can watch Cassie’s record-setting dash here.

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EU Proposes Rules Making It Easier To Sue Drone Makers, AI Systems

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed rules making it easier for individuals and companies to sue makers of drones, robots and other products equipped with artificial intelligence software for compensation for harm caused by them. Reuters reports: The AI Liability Directive aims to address the increasing use of AI-enabled products and services and the patchwork of national rules across the 27-country European Union. Under the draft rules, victims can seek compensation for harm to their life, property, health and privacy due to the fault or omission of a provider, developer or user of AI technology, or for discrimination in a recruitment process using AI.

The rules lighten the burden of proof on victims with a “presumption of causality”, which means victims only need to show that a manufacturer or user’s failure to comply with certain requirements caused the harm and then link this to the AI technology in their lawsuit. Under a “right of access to evidence,” victims can ask a court to order companies and suppliers to provide information about high-risk AI systems so that they can identify the liable person and the fault that caused the damage.

The Commission also announced an update to the Product Liability Directive that means manufacturers will be liable for all unsafe products, tangible and intangible, including software and digital services, and also after the products are sold. Users can sue for compensation when software updates render their smart-home products unsafe or when manufacturers fail to fix cybersecurity gaps. Those with unsafe non-EU products will be able to sue the manufacturer’s EU representative for compensation. The AI Liability Directive will need to be agreed with EU countries and EU lawmakers before it can become law.

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Kindle Scribe Brings Writing To Amazon’s Popular E-Reader

[T]he Scribe brings something altogether new to the line: writing. For the first time since the first Kindle was introduced in late-2007, Amazon’s added the ability to write on-device with a stylus. TechCrunch reports: Amazon’s entry in the space has a 10.2-inch screen and a design partially reminiscent of the premium Kindle Oasis, include a large side bezel (no page turn buttons, unfortunately) you can hold onto while reading. It has a battery the company rates at “weeks,” keeping in line with its fellow readers. At 433 grams, it’s (predictably) the heaviest Kindle, which could put a bit of a crimp in those bedtime reading marathons. The device ships with its own stylus, which magnetically snaps on the side — similar to what you see on a lot of tablets. The stylus doesn’t requiring charging, and instead relies on EMR (electro-magnetic resistance) — that means, among other things, that other styli will likely work with the Scribe, though the company cautions against that (naturally), stating that their own is tuned specifically for work on the Kindle.

A more premium model will also be made available with a built-in button for quick actions. These styli allow for a variety of different line styles, though the tips are permanent, so that’s happening through the on-board software accessible via a software toolbar. The company says it specifically designed the display/stylus combo to mimic the feel of a pen on paper. […] Strangely, handwriting recognition will be missing at launch, though the feature is almost certainly on the company’s roadmap. It will, however, have a newly Streamlined software offering, allowing files to be shared off the device through the Kindle app, a web browser or email. The company also says it has updated the notoriously outdated Send to Kindle feature to help remove some of the friction from the process. Meanwhile, a deal with Microsoft will bring Word functionality to the product at some point early next year. […] Preorders for the $340 device start today, with shipping expected before the holidays (think November). Amazon announced more than ten new products at their event, including four new Echo devices, a new TV, and sleep tracker. CNBC highlights the biggest announcements in their report.

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All 50 States Get Green Light To Build EV Charging Stations

The U.S. Transportation Department on Tuesday said it approved electric vehicle charging station plans for all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico covering roughly 75,000 miles of highways. CNBC reports: Earlier this year, the Biden administration allocated $5 billion to states to fund EV chargers over five years along interstate highways as part of the bipartisan infrastructure package. Under the plan, entitled the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, states provided their EV infrastructure deployment proposals to the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. States are now approved to construct a network of EV charging stations along designated alternative fuel corridors on the national highway system and have access to more than $1.5 billion to help build the chargers.

It’s unclear how many charging stations the funds will support, and states have not yet shared specific charger locations. Transportation Department officials have said that states should install stations every 50 miles and ensure each station is located within one mile of an interstate highway. “We have approved plans for all 50 States, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia to help ensure that Americans in every part of the country — from the largest cities to the most rural communities — can be positioned to unlock the savings and benefits of electric vehicles,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

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Tim Cook: ‘No Good Excuse’ For Lack of Women In Tech

AmiMoJo shares a report from the BBC: Apple chief executive Tim Cook says there are still “not enough women at the table” at the world’s tech firms — including his own. He said there were “no good excuses” for the lack of women in the sector. Apple has just launched its founders’ development program for female founders and app creators in the UK. “I think the the essence of technology and its effect on humanity depends upon women being at the table,” Mr Cook says. “Technology’s a great thing that will accomplish many things, but unless you have diverse views at the table that are working on it, you don’t wind up with great solutions.”

Apple had 35% female staff in the US in 2021, according to its own diversity figures. It launched its original Apple Health Kit in 2014 without a period tracker — which led to accusations that this was an oversight due to male bias among its developers. One challenge facing the sector is the lack of girls choosing to pursue science, tech, engineering and maths subjects at school. “Businesses can’t cop out and say ‘there’s not enough women taking computer science — therefore I can’t hire enough,'” says Mr Cook. “We have to fundamentally change the number of people that are taking computer science and programming.” His view is that everybody should be required to take some sort of coding course by the time they finish school, in order to have a “working knowledge” of how coding works and how apps are created. According to Deloitte Global, large global tech firms will reach nearly 33% overall female representation in their workforces in 2022 on average — with 25% occupying technical roles.

In the interview with the BBC, Cook also commented on the future of augmented reality, saying: “in the future, people will wonder how we lived without AR.” He added: “we’re investing a ton in that space.” Earlier this year, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple could announced its long-rumored mixed-reality headset as soon as January 2023.

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The Latest iPadOS 16 Beta Brings Stage Manager To Older iPad Pro Models

Apple is bringing Stage Manager, a new multitasking system exclusive to iPads with the M1 chip, to a number of older devices. Engadget reports: Probably the biggest change Apple announced with iPadOS 16 earlier this year is Stage Manager, a totally new multitasking system that adds overlapping, resizable windows to the iPad. That feature also works on an external display, the first time that iPads could do anything besides mirror their screen on a monitor. Unfortunately, the feature was limited to iPads with the M1 chip — that includes the 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro released in May of 2021 as well as the M1-powered iPad Air which Apple released earlier this year. All other older iPads were left out.

That changes with the latest iPadOS 16 developer beta, which was just released. Now, Apple is making Stage Manager work with a number of older devices: it’ll work on the 11-inch iPad Pro (first generation and later) and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (third generation and later). Specifically, it’ll be available on the 2018 and 2020 models that use the A12X and A12Z chips rather than just the M1. However, there is one notable missing feature for the older iPad Pro models — Stage Manager will only work on the iPad’s build-in display. You won’t be able to extend your display to an external monitor. Apple also says that developer beta 5 of iPadOS 16. is removing external display support for Stage Manager on M1 iPads, something that has been present since the first iPadOS 16 beta was released a few months ago. It’ll be re-introduced in a software update coming later this year.

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A 20 Year Old Chipset Workaround Has Been Hurting Modern AMD Linux Systems

AMD engineer K Prateek Nayak recently uncovered that a 20 year old chipset workaround in the Linux kernel still being applied to modern AMD systems is responsible in some cases for hurting performance on modern Zen hardware. Fortunately, a fix is on the way for limiting that workaround to old systems and in turn helping with performance for modern systems. Phoronix reports: Last week was a patch posted for the ACPI processor idle code to avoid an old chipset workaround on modern AMD Zen systems. Since ACPI support was added to the Linux kernel in 2002, there has been a “dummy wait op” to deal with some chipsets where STPCLK# doesn’t get asserted in time. The dummy I/O read delays further instruction processing until the CPU is fully stopped. This was a problem with at least some AMD Athlon era systems with a VIA chipset… But not a problem with newer chipsets of roughly the past two decades.

With this workaround still being applied to even modern AMD systems, K Prateek Nayak discovered: “Sampling certain workloads with IBS on AMD Zen3 system shows that a significant amount of time is spent in the dummy op, which incorrectly gets accounted as C-State residency. A large C-State residency value can prime the cpuidle governor to recommend a deeper C-State during the subsequent idle instances, starting a vicious cycle, leading to performance degradation on workloads that rapidly switch between busy and idle phases. One such workload is tbench where a massive performance degradation can be observed during certain runs.”

At least for Tbench, this long-time, unconditional workaround in the Linux kernel has been hurting AMD Ryzen / Threadripper / EPYC performance in select workloads. This workaround hasn’t affected modern Intel systems since those newer Intel platforms use the alternative MWAIT-based intel_idle driver code path instead. The AMD patch evolved into this patch by Intel Linux engineer Dave Hansen. That patch to limit the “dummy wait” workaround to old systems is already queued into TIP’s x86/urgent branch. With it going the route of “x86/urgent” and for fixing a overzealous workaround that isn’t needed on modern hardware, it’s likely this patch will be submitted this week still for the Linux 6.0 kernel rather than needing to wait until the next (v6.1) merge window.

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