Leading AI researchers boycott Korean university over its work on ‘killer robots’

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<em>An unmanned military robot operates on a beach during a training exercise organized by the US Navy.</em>

More than 50 leading AI and robotics researchers have joined a boycott of South Korea’s KAIST university over the institute’s plans to help develop AI-powered weapons. The boycott was announced ahead of a UN meeting set in Geneva next week to discuss international restrictions on so-called “killer robots.” It marks an escalation in tactics from the part of the scientific community actively fighting for stronger controls on AI-controlled weaponry.

The boycott was organized by Professor Toby Walsh of the University of New South Wales, who warned in a press statement that the race to build autonomous weapons had already begun. “We can see prototypes of autonomous weapons under development today by many nations including the US, China,…

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Google will no longer accept Chrome extensions that mine cryptocurrency

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Starting today, Google’s Chrome Web Store will no longer accept extensions that mine cryptocurrency. The company says there had been a rise in “malicious extensions” over the past few months which appear to be useful, but are actually embedding hidden cryptocurrency mining scripts that run in the background without consent, consuming valuable computing resources. Google says existing extensions will be delisted from the Chrome Web Store in late June, though extensions with blockchain-related purposes “other than mining” will still be permitted.

Google had previously allowed cryptocurrency mining in extensions as long as it was the extension’s single purpose and the user was informed about the process. However, Google said that around 90…

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OnePlus will let users hide the notch on the OnePlus 6

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OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has taken to the company’s forums to offer fans some reassurance about the upcoming OnePlus 6 and its controversial notched display. In response to a loud and passionate negative reaction, Lau says that OnePlus will now offer the option to black out the sides of the screen around the notch and thereby hide it, much as Huawei has done with the P20. I’ve been using the latter phone since its announcement in Paris last week, and I’ve never felt the need to hide its notch, but it’s good to have the option for people suffering from notch allergies.

The OnePlus 6 will get the notch-hiding tweak in a software update after release, Lau says, which again indicates the imminent arrival of his company’s next flagship phone….

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Snapchat lets Giphy back onto its platform after racist GIF incident

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Snapchat has allowed Giphy back onto its platform after it was removed when users found a racist GIF on the database earlier this month, Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. confirmed to The Verge. Instagram and Snapchat had both pulled Giphy from their platforms, but Instagram reinstated Giphy last week, with stricter moderation. Snapchat confirmed today that it would bring Giphy back since it has upgraded its moderation.

The GIF initially appeared when users searched “crime” on the Giphy database, and it showed a white announcer celebrating the death of people of color while using a racial slur. Giphy has since apologized for the slip-up, and the company says it has combed through its database several times to detect any other problematic…

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OnePlus CEO confirms key OnePlus 6 specs

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In a forum post melodramatically titled “Our Pursuit of Burdenless Speed,” OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has confirmed some key specs for the company’s upcoming flagship phone. The OnePlus 6 will have a Snapdragon 845 processor, as you’d expect from a high-end Android phone in 2018, along with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

These specs have been rumored before, and wouldn’t be too surprising in any case. But the options for more memory suggest that the typically value-minded OnePlus is likely to charge more than ever for at least some SKUs of the 6, considering the current state of flash pricing and that the OnePlus 5T only went up to 128GB.

The OnePlus 6 may still be months away, but between Lau’s announcement and the recent exclusive…

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Facebook says it will not extend GDPR privacy protections beyond EU

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Facebook has no plans to extend the user privacy protections put in place by the far-reaching General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, law to users of its social network around the globe, according to Reuters. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the news agency in an interview that Facebook would like to make such privacy guarantees “in spirit,” but would make exceptions. Zuckerberg declined to explain those exceptions, according to Reuters.

“We’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing,” Zuckerberg said of which GDPR protections Facebook would not apply worldwide. He added that many of the protections provided by the GDPR are already part of his company’s privacy settings, including the…

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Facebook suspends 273 accounts and pages linked to Russian misinformation agency

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Facebook says it has suspended 70 Facebook accounts, 138 Facebook pages, and 65 Instagram accounts controlled by the Internet Research Agency. Chief security officer Alex Stamos announced the news today, posting a handful of sample ads and pages that it says were run by the Russia-linked disinformation outfit. “The IRA has consistently used inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people,” writes Stamos. “It’s why we remove every account we find that is linked to the organization — whether linked to activity in the US, Russia or elsewhere.” Facebook has also removed any ads linked to these accounts.

According to Stamos, finding the pages took “months of work” by Facebook. Around 95 percent of the pages with language-specific…

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Apple hires Google’s former AI boss to help improve Siri

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John Giannandrea, Google’s former head of search and artificial intelligence, is joining Apple. The hire, first reported by The New York Times, comes one day after the executive announced he was stepping down from his role at Google, itself a surprise move amid a broader executive reshuffle that now makes much more sense in hindsight.

Giannandrea, a machine learning expert who joined Google back in 2010, is a huge get for Apple, which has struggled for years to make progress in fast-moving and increasingly important AI fields like computer vision and natural language processing. Giannandrea will report directly to CEO Tim Cook as the leader of “machine learning and AI strategy,” according to the Times.

Both Facebook and Google, and to…

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Facebook launches bulk app removal tool to clean up your privacy settings

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Facebook now lets you bulk remove third-party apps, and any and all posts those apps may have published on your behalf, a welcome privacy change that should make it easier to strip access to your profile from services you no longer use. The change, precipitated by the ongoing Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, is part of a series of sudden changes Facebook is making to mitigate fallout from the revelation that third-party developers have had generous access to users’ data and could use it in ways Facebook had little to no control over. Facebook confirmed the bulk removal option to TechCrunch today, after The Next Web’s Matt Navarra publicly commented on the policy change on Twitter.

Now, when you go to the Apps portion of your…

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