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Setback For Hopes of Life As NASA Says Less Oxygen On Jupiter Moon Than Thought

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: New research suggests there's less oxygen on the icy surface of Jupiter's moon Europa than thought -- and that could affect what if any life might be lurking in Europa's underground ocean. Even with little or no oxygen, microbes might still be bustling around in the ocean believed to exist miles beneath Europa's frozen crust. As for what else, "who knows," said the Nasa scientist Kevin Hand, who was not involved in the study published on Monday in Nature Astronomy. More work is needed to confirm these findings, which are contrary to earlier telescope observations of condensed oxygen in Europa's ice, indicating a higher oxygen concentration, said Hand. The new study is based on data collected by Nasa's Juno spacecraft during a particularly close flyby of Europa in 2022 -- a distance of just 219 miles (353km). A US-European team calculated that between 13 and 39lbs (6 and 18kg) of oxygen are produced every second at Europa's surface. Previous estimates had a much wider spread, with as much as 2,245 pounds (1,100 kilograms) of oxygen produced per second. So "unless Europa's oxygen production was significantly higher in the past," the new measurements provide "a narrower range to support habitability," the researchers wrote. This oxygen is formed, along with hydrogen, as Jupiter's radiation blasts Europa's global shell of frozen water. It is unknown how much oxygen escapes into the moon's atmosphere, how much remains in the ice and how much might find its way to the subterranean sea. The report notes that NASA plans to launch the Europa Clipper this fall. "The spacecraft will make dozens of close flybys of Europa -- nearly the size of our moon -- while orbiting the giant gas planet."

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Qualcomm Launches First True 'App Store' For AI With 75 Free Models

Wayne Williams reports via TechRadar: Qualcomm has unveiled its AI Hub, an all-inclusive library of pre-optimized AI models ready for use on devices running on Snapdragon and Qualcomm platforms. These models support a wide range of applications including natural language processing, computer vision, and anomaly detection, and are designed to deliver high performance with minimal power consumption, a critical factor for mobile and edge devices. The AI Hub library currently includes more than 75 popular AI and generative AI models including Whisper, ControlNet, Stable Diffusion, and Baichuan 7B. All models are bundled in various runtimes and are optimized to leverage the Qualcomm AI Engine's hardware acceleration across all cores (NPU, CPU, and GPU). According to Qualcomm, they'll deliver four times faster inferencing times. The AI Hub also handles model translation from the source framework to popular runtimes automatically. It works directly with the Qualcomm AI Engine direct SDK and applies hardware-aware optimizations. Developers can search for models based on their needs, download them, and integrate them into their applications, saving time and resources. The AI Hub also provides tools and resources for developers to customize these models, and they can fine-tune them using the Qualcomm Neural Processing SDK and the AI Model Efficiency Toolkit, both available on the platform.

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Linux Passes 4% Desktop Market Share

"Linux gained from 3% to 4% in 8 months," writes longtime Slashdot reader bobdevine. Linuxiac reports: According to the latest data from StatCounter, a leading web traffic analysis tool, Linux's market share has reached 4.03%. At first glance, the number might seem modest, but it represents a significant leap. Let's break it down. It took Linux 30 years to secure a 3% share of desktop operating systems, a milestone reached last June. Impressively, the open-source operating system has surged by an additional 1% in the last eight months.

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San Francisco Police Make Arrest In Waymo Chinatown Arson Case

According to the San Francisco police department, police have made the first arrest in relation to several recent vehicle arsons, including the crowd attack of a Waymo robotaxi last month in Chinatown. The San Francisco Standard reports: Police say officers arrested a man meeting the description of a person suspected of lighting several vehicles on fire. That man was arrested on Feb. 27 near Union Square. The department did not share the suspect's name because it said the case is open and remains under investigation. Nor did the department comment on which other vehicle fires the suspect may have been suspected of starting. Several Teslas were set alight in the weeks after the Waymo arson. The suspect was also found to have had methamphetamine on them.

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Discord Leaker Jack Teixeira Pleads Guilty, Seeks Light 11-Year Sentence

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Jack Teixeira, the National Guard airman who leaked confidential military documents on Discord, agreed Monday to plead guilty, promising to cooperate with officials attempting to trace the full extent of government secrets leaked. Under the plea deal, Teixeira will serve a much-reduced sentence, The Boston Globe reported, recommended between 11 years and 16 years and eight months. Previously, Teixeira had pleaded not guilty to six counts of "willful retention and transmission of national defense information," potentially facing up to 10 years per count. During a pretrial hearing, prosecutors suggested he could face up to 25 years, The Globe reported. By taking the deal, Teixeira will also avoid being charged with violations of the Espionage Act, The New York Times reported, including allegations of unlawful gathering and unauthorized removal of top-secret military documents. According to prosecutors, it was clear that Teixeira, 22, was leaking sensitive documents -- including national security secrets tied to US foreign adversaries and allies, including Russia, China, Ukraine, and South Korea -- just to impress his friends on Discord -- some of them teenage boys. Investigators found no evidence of espionage. US District Judge Indira Talwani will decide whether or not to sign off on the deal at a hearing scheduled for September 27.

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Opus 1.5 Gets a Serious Machine Learning Upgrade

Longtime Slashdot reader jmv writes: After more than two years of work, Opus 1.5 is out. It brings many new features that can improve quality and the general audio experience through machine learning, while maintaining fully-compatibility with previous releases. See this release page demonstrating all the new features, including: Significant improvement to packet loss robustness using Deep Redundancy (DRED)Improved packet loss concealment through Deep PLCLow-bitrate speech quality enhancement down to 6 kb/s widebandImproved x86 (AVX2) and Arm (Neon) optimizationsSupport for 4th and 5th order ambisonics

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Roku Disables Devices Until Users Agree To New Arbitration Rules

ZipK writes: Cord Cutters New reports that Roku has rolled out new terms of service that require users to accept individual arbitration. To gain acceptance, Roku devices pop up a dialog box that can only be dismissed if you accept the new terms or turn off your Roku and stop using it. As expected, much discussion has ensued in the Roku community. Per the Roku Dispute Resolution Terms, users can opt out within 30 days of being subject to the new terms by sending a surface mail request to General Counsel, Roku Inc., 1701 Junction Court, Suite 100, San Jose, CA 95112. One poster in the community forum noted that the effective date of the change was Feb 20th, which may shorten the 30 day period for opting out. Longtime Slashdot reader blastard also shared the news.

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Nintendo Switch Emulator Yuzu To Shut Down, Pay $2.4 Million To Settle Lawsuit

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Liliputing: Yuzu is a free and open source emulator that makes it possible to run Nintendo Switch games on Windows, Linux, and Android devices. First released in 2018, the software has been under constant development since then (the Android port was released less than a year ago). But last week Nintendo sued the developers, claiming that the primary purpose of the software is to circumvent Nintendo Switch encryption and allow users to play pirated games. Rather than fight the case in court, Tropic Haze (the developers behind Yuzu) have agreed to a settlement which involves paying $2.4 million in damages to Nintendo and basically shutting down Yuzu. As part of a permanent injunction, Tropic Haze has agreed to stop distributing, advertising, or promoting Yuzu or any of its source code or features or any other "software or devices that circumvent Nintendo's technical protection measures." The court is also ordering the developers to turn over the website to Nintendo and bars them "from supporting or facilitating access" to any other related websites, social media, chatrooms, or apps. In one of the more bizarre parts of the court order, the Yuzu team is told to delete all "circumvention devices," which includes any tools used for development of Yuzu and "all copies of Yuzu."

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America's Last Morse-Code Station

A group of radio enthusiasts known as the "radio squirrels" are keeping the legacy of Morse code alive at KPH Maritime Radio, the last operational Morse code radio station in North America. Located in Point Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco, the station transmits maritime news and weather reports every Saturday, using vintage equipment dating back to World War II, reads a fast-paced story on The Atlantic. Despite the obsolescence of Morse code, the radio squirrels, along with a 17-year-old newcomer, are determined to preserve this unique form of communication.

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Gartner Predicts Search Engine Volume Will Drop 25% by 2026, Due To AI Chatbots and Other Virtual Agents

Gartner: By 2026, traditional search engine volume will drop 25%, with search marketing losing market share to AI chatbots and other virtual agents, according to Gartner. "Organic and paid search are vital channels for tech marketers seeking to reach awareness and demand generation goals," said Alan Antin, Vice President Analyst at Gartner. "Generative AI (GenAI) solutions are becoming substitute answer engines, replacing user queries that previously may have been executed in traditional search engines. This will force companies to rethink their marketing channels strategy as GenAI becomes more embedded across all aspects of the enterprise." With GenAI driving down the cost of producing content, there is an impact around activities including keyword strategy and website domain authority scoring. Search engine algorithms will further value the quality of content to offset the sheer amount of AI-generated content, as content utility and quality still reigns supreme for success in organic search results. There will also be a greater emphasis placed on watermarking and other means to authenticate high-value content. Government regulations across the globe are already holding companies accountable as they begin to require the identification of marketing content assets that AI creates. This will likely play a role in how search engines will display such digital content.

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Anthropic Releases New Version of Claude That Beats GPT-4 and Gemini Ultra in Some Benchmark Tests

Anthropic, a leading artificial intelligence startup, unveiled its Claude 3 series of AI models today, designed to meet the diverse needs of enterprise customers with a balance of intelligence, speed, and cost efficiency. The lineup includes three models: Opus, Sonnet, and the upcoming Haiku. From a report: The star of the lineup is Opus, which Anthropic claims is more capable than any other openly available AI system on the market, even outperforming leading models from rivals OpenAI and Google. "Opus is capable of the widest range of tasks and performs them exceptionally well," said Anthropic cofounder and CEO Dario Amodei in an interview with VentureBeat. Amodei explained that Opus outperforms top AI models like GPT-4, GPT-3.5 and Gemini Ultra on a wide range of benchmarks. This includes topping the leaderboard on academic benchmarks like GSM-8k for mathematical reasoning and MMLU for expert-level knowledge. "It seems to outperform everyone and get scores that we haven't seen before on some tasks," Amodei said. While companies like Anthropic and Google have not disclosed the full parameters of their leading models, the reported benchmark results from both companies imply Opus either matches or surpasses major alternatives like GPT-4 and Gemini in core capabilities. This, at least on paper, establishes a new high watermark for commercially available conversational AI. Engineered for complex tasks requiring advanced reasoning, Opus stands out in Anthropic's lineup for its superior performance. Sonnet, the mid-range model, offers businesses a more cost-effective solution for routine data analysis and knowledge work, maintaining high performance without the premium price tag of the flagship model. Meanwhile, Haiku is designed to be swift and economical, suited for applications such as consumer-facing chatbots, where responsiveness and cost are crucial factors. Amodei told VentureBeat he expects Haiku to launch publicly in a matter of "weeks, not months."

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Apple Unveils New MacBook Air, Powered By M3 Chip

Apple has announced the launch of its new MacBook Air laptops powered by the company's latest M3 chip, offering up to 60% faster performance compared to the previous generation (M1-powered MacBook Air). The new 13-inch and 15-inch models feature a thin and light design, up to 18 hours of battery life, and a Liquid Retina display. The M3 chip, built using 3-nanometer technology, boasts an 8-core CPU, up to a 10-core GPU, and supports up to 24GB of unified memory. The laptops also offer enhanced AI capabilities, with a faster 16-core Neural Engine and accelerators in the CPU and GPU for improved on-device machine learning performance. This enables features such as real-time speech-to-text, translation, and visual understanding. The 13-inch MacBook Air with M3 starts at $1,099, while the 15-inch model starts at $1,299. Both models are available for order starting Monday and will begin arriving to customers and be available in stores on Friday, March 8. Apple also reduced the starting price of the 13-inch MacBook Air with M2 chip to $999.

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India Reverses AI Stance, Requires Government Approval For Model Launches

An anonymous reader shares a report: India has waded into global AI debate by issuing an advisory that requires "significant" tech firms to get government permission before launching new models. India's Ministry of Electronics and IT issued the advisory to firms on Friday. The advisory -- not published on public domain but a copy of which TechCrunch has reviewed -- also asks tech firms to ensure that their services or products "do not permit any bias or discrimination or threaten the integrity of the electoral process." Though the ministry admits the advisory is not legally binding, India's IT Deputy Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar says the notice is "signalling that this is the future of regulation." He adds: "We are doing it as an advisory today asking you to comply with it." In a tweet Monday, Chandrasekhar said the advisory is aimed at "untested AI platforms deploying on the India internet" and doesn't apply to startups. About-face from India's position on AI a year ago.

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JetBlue and Spirit Call Off Their Merger

JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines announced on Monday that they would walk away from their planned $3.8 billion merger after federal antitrust regulators successfully challenged the deal in court. JetBlue said it would pay Spirit $69 million to exit the deal. From a report: A federal judge in Boston blocked the proposed merger on Jan. 16, siding with the Justice Department in determining that the merger would reduce competition in the industry and give airlines more leeway to raise ticket prices. The judge, William G. Young of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, noted that Spirit played a vital role in the market as a low-cost carrier and that travelers would have fewer options if JetBlue absorbed it. "We are proud of the work we did with Spirit to lay out a vision to challenge the status quo, but given the hurdles to closing that remain, we decided together that both airlines' interests are better served by moving forward independently," JetBlue's chief executive, Joanna Geraghty, said in a statement on Monday. "We wish the very best going forward to the entire Spirit team." JetBlue and Spirit appealed Judge Young's decision. JetBlue filed an appellate brief last week arguing that the deal should be allowed to go through. But in a regulatory filing on Jan. 26, JetBlue said it might terminate the deal. Spirit said in its own filing the same day that it believed "there is no basis for terminating" the agreement.

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European Commission Confirms Apple's Anti-Competitive Behavior Is Illegal and Harms Consumers

The EU Commission on Monday fined Apple about $2 billion for stifling competition from rival music streaming services. In a blog post, Spotify writes: Apple's rules muzzled Spotify and other music streaming services from sharing with our users directly in our app about various benefits -- denying us the ability to communicate with them about how to upgrade and the price of subscriptions, promotions, discounts, or numerous other perks. Of course, Apple Music, a competitor to these apps, is not barred from the same behaviour. By requiring Apple to stop its illegal conduct in the EU, the EC is putting consumers first. It is a basic concept of free markets -- customers should know what options they have, and customers, not Apple, should decide what to buy, and where, when and how. While we appreciate the EC addressing this important case, we also know that the details matter. Apple has routinely defied laws and court decisions in other markets. So we're looking forward to the next steps that will hopefully clearly and conclusively address Apple's long-standing unfair practices. From the beginning, the foundational belief of the internet is that it should be a fair and open ecosystem. That belief has fueled growth, innovation and discovery around the world. Today the leading way people access the internet is via their mobile phones. So why should the same principles not apply? And while we are pleased that this case delivers some justice, it does not solve Apple's bad behaviour towards developers beyond music streaming in other markets around the world. Our work will not be done until we succeed in securing a truly fair digital marketplace everywhere and our commitment to helping to make this a reality remains unwavering. Further reading: Apple's response.

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