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Japan Earmarks $107 Billion for Developing Hydrogen Energy To Cut Emissions, Stabilize Supplies

Japan's government on Tuesday adopted a revision to the country's plans to use more hydrogen as fuel as part of the effort to reduce carbon emissions. From a report: The plan sets an ambitious target to increase the annual supply by six times from the current level to 12 million tons by 2040. It also pledges 15 trillion yen ($107 billion) in funding from both private and public sources to build up hydrogen-related supply chains over the next 15 years. Japan's decarbonization strategy centers on using so-called clean coal, hydrogen and nuclear energy to bridge its transition to renewable energy. Russia's war on Ukraine has deepened concerns over energy security and complicated that effort, but other advanced Western nations are pushing for faster adoption of renewable energy, such as solar, wind and geothermal. So far, Japan is relying on hydrogen mainly produced using fossil fuels.

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Apple Accidentally Releases iOS 17 Developer Beta To the Public

Apple is supposed to release an iOS 17 public beta in July, but the company inadvertently gave users an early peek. From a report: As AppleInsider explains, Connor Jewiss and other users have noticed that the iOS 17 developer beta was available to install in the Beta Updates section of Settings whether or not you paid for the necessary account. The macOS Sonoma and watchOS 10 previews have been available this way, too. We wouldn't count on any of the developer betas being available as we write this. As it is, you likely won't want to install them. These are the first pre-release versions available to people outside of Apple, and they're the most likely to include bugs and app compatibility issues. That could cause problems if you install them on must-have devices. Unless you're a developer who wants to start preparing app updates, you're probably better off waiting until either the public beta or the finished version releases this fall.

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CNET is Overhauling Its AI Policy and Updating Past Stories

Months after news broke that tech outlet CNET had quietly begun producing articles with generative AI systems, the site is clarifying how it will -- and won't -- use the tools in the future. From a report: Among its promises: stories will not be written entirely using an AI tool, and hands-on reviews and testing of products will be done by humans. CNET will also not publish images and videos generated using AI "as of now." But the outlet says it will "explore leveraging" AI tools to sort and analyze data and to create outlines for stories, analyze existing text, and generate explanatory content. The in-house tool CNET is using is called Responsible AI Machine Partner, or RAMP, according to the memo. CNET has also gone back and updated the dozens of previously published stories generated using AI systems that triggered backlash in January. Of the more than 70 stories published over the course of several months, CNET eventually issued corrections on more than half. Some contained factual errors, while others were updated to replace "phrases that were not entirely original," suggesting they may have contained plagiarized material. Stories now include an editor's note reading, "An earlier version of this article was assisted by an AI engine. This version has been substantially updated by a staff writer."

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Blatant Tech Frauds Run Amok on the Biggest Online Marketplaces

Online retailers that host third-party sellers, like Amazon and Walmart, have extensive, competitively priced electronics selections. But for years, they have also served as playgrounds for fraudulent sellers, who list products with inflated or deceptive performance claims. Worse, some of these products pose a physical threat to customers. ArsTechnica: The problem has become so widespread that by the end of this month, the federal government will require online retailers to do a much better job of vetting seller credentials, courtesy of the Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act. But scammers are persistent, and workarounds seem inevitable. So what more should we demand from these giant retailers, and what can shoppers, including the less tech-savvy, do to take matters into their own hands? To paint a picture of how prominent scammy tech is online, imagine you're in the market for a roomy portable SSD. You eventually land at Walmart.com, where there's a 60TB drive selling for under $39. The only downside? It's obviously not a real 60TB SSD. In reality, even a 2TB portable SSD will run you three figures. But for years, this scam has run amok on popular online marketplaces. Review Geek recently showed that the scheme includes selling a much lower-capacity microSD card instead of a large-capacity SSD (the site received a 64GB card instead of the advertised 16TB SSD). Fake SSDs are just one example of counterfeit tech scams on huge online retailers, though. Consumers also have to look out for fake Apple chargers, cables that don't meet the advertised specs, and counterfeit batteries that threaten serious physical harm. Despite their considerable resources, these marketplaces have failed to properly vet sellers and their products. Without outside pressure, shoppers will continue to pay the price.

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Reddit on New Pricing Plan: Company 'Needs To Be Fairly Paid'

A number of Reddit forums plan to go dark for two days later this month to protest the company's decision to increase prices for third-party app developers. From a report: One developer, who makes a Reddit app called Apollo, said that under the new pricing policy he would have to pay Reddit $20 million a year to continue running the app as-is. Reddit's move comes after Twitter announced in February that the company would no longer support free access to its application programming interface, or API. Twitter instead now offers pricing tiers based on usage. Reddit spokesman Tim Rathschmidt said the company is trying to clear up confusion about the change on the platform, and stressed that Reddit spends millions on hosting. "Reddit needs to be fairly paid to continue supporting high-usage third-party apps," Rathschmidt said. "Our pricing is based on usage levels that we measure to be comparable to our own costs." The company said it is committed to supporting a developer ecosystem. In a post on its platform, Reddit laid out some of its pricing plans for businesses and said the changes would begin July 1.

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SEC Sues Coinbase Over Exchange and Staking Programs

The Securities and Exchange Commission sued crypto exchange Coinbase in New York federal court on Tuesday morning, alleging that the company was acting as an unregistered broker and exchange and demanding that the company be "permanently restrained and enjoined" from continuing to do so. From a report: Coinbase's flagship prime brokerage, exchange and staking programs violate securities laws, the regulator alleged in its complaint. The company "has for years defied the regulatory structures and evaded the disclosure requirements" of U.S. securities law. The SEC has alleged that at least 13 crypto assets available to Coinbase customers were considered "crypto asset securities" by the regulator. Those assets include Solana's SOL token, Cardano's token and Protocol Labs' Filecoin token. "We allege that Coinbase, despite being subject to the securities laws, commingled and unlawfully offered exchange, broker-dealer, and clearinghouse functions," said SEC chair Gary Gensler said in a statement.

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More Than 2,000 Families Suing Social Media Companies Over Kids' Mental Health

schwit1 shares a report from CBS News: When whistleblower Frances Haugen pulled back the curtain on Facebook in the fall of 2021, thousands of pages of internal documents showed troubling signs that the social media giant knew its platforms could be negatively impacting youth, and were doing little to effectively change it. With around 21 million American adolescents on social media, parents took note. Now, families are suing social media. Since we first reported this story last December, the number of families pursuing lawsuits has grown to over 2,000. More than 350 lawsuits are expected to move forward this year against TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Roblox and Meta -- the parent company to Instagram and Facebook. Kathleen Spence: They're holding our children hostage and they're seeking and preying on them. Sharyn Alfonsi: Preying on them? Kathleen Spence: Yes. The Spence family is suing social media giant Meta. Kathleen and Jeff Spence say Instagram led their daughter Alexis into depression and to an eating disorder at the age of 12. [...] Attorney Matt Bergman represents the Spence family. He started the Social Media Victims Law Center after reading the Facebook papers and is now working with more than 1,800 families who are pursuing lawsuits against social media companies like Meta. Matt Bergman: Time and time again, when they have an opportunity to choose between safety of our kids and profits, they always choose profits. This summer, Bergman and his team plan on starting the discovery process for the federal case against Meta and other social media companies, a multi-million dollar suit that he says is more about changing policy than financial compensation. This summer, Bergman and his team plan on starting the discovery process for the federal case against Meta and other social media companies, a multi-million dollar suit that he says is more about changing policy than financial compensation. Matt Bergman: They have intentionally designed a product that is addictive. They understand that if children stay online, they make more money. It doesn't matter how harmful the material is.

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Crypto Catastrophe Strikes Some Atomic Wallet Users, Over $35 Million Thought Stolen

The Atomic Wallet app has suffered a large-scale attack resulting in the potential theft of up to $35 million worth of cryptocurrency, with losses possibly exceeding $50 million. The Register reports: The Atomic Wallet app's makers first reported June 3 that some folks were complaining some crypto had been taken from their wallets and deposited in strangers' accounts, with others saying their wallets had been emptied completely. The biz tweeted Monday that less than one percent of their monthly active users had reported they were affected, though that number could grow with more reports coming in. "Security investigation is ongoing. We report victim addresses to major exchanges and [use] blockchain analytics to trace and block the stolen funds," the company wrote, adding that the "last drained transaction was confirmed over 40h ago." A Twitter user with the handle ZachXBT, who describes themselves as an "on-chain sleuth," suggested over the weekend that the losses traced have added up to more than $35 million, with the largest victim having $7.95 million swiped. The five largest losses seen by ZachXBT added up to $17 million, almost half of the known total. "Think it could surpass $50 million. Keep finding more and more victims sadly," was the message. Crypto security researcher Tay tweeted that the first report of stolen funds came in late on June 2. Since then reports of the stolen assets began rolling in, with some users reporting that their entire crypto portfolios were hijacked. [...] Atomic Wallet is collecting information from victims to try to get a better gauge on how the cyber-theft happened. In a Google Docs form, the company is asking users for such information as the operating system on their devices, the online app store they used to buy the Atomic Wallet app, the amount of lost funds coins and when the coins were withdrawn, where they stored the backup phrase, and when the last time was that they used their wallet before they saw that the coins were stolen. It's unclear how the miscreants were able to steal the funds from users' wallets and Atomic Wallet said it is working with third-party security vendors to investigate. If there really is a low number of users affected, it may be some kind of credential stuffing, phishing, or brute-force attack, or a malware infection on the victims' devices. As if the stolen funds weren't enough of a problem, users also have to deal with the scams that typically crop up in the wake of such heists. ZachXBT tweeted that phishing scammers are already spamming fake Atomic Wallet refund efforts on Twitter in hopes of roping in some victims whose money was stolen.

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Military Whistleblower Claims US Has Retrieved Craft of Non-Human Origin

A former intelligence official turned whistleblower, David Charles Grusch, has provided extensive classified information to Congress and the Intelligence Community Inspector General about covert programs involving the retrieval of intact and partially intact vehicles of non-human origin. Grusch alleges that this information has been illegally withheld from Congress, and he has filed a complaint claiming illegal retaliation for his disclosures. Other intelligence officials, both active and retired, have independently corroborated similar information about these programs. The Debrief reports: The whistleblower, David Charles Grusch, 36, a decorated former combat officer in Afghanistan, is a veteran of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). He served as the reconnaissance office's representative to the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force from 2019-2021. From late 2021 to July 2022, he was the NGA's co-lead for UAP analysis and its representative to the task force. The task force was established to investigate what were once called "unidentified flying objects," or UFOs, and are now officially called "unidentified anomalous phenomena," or UAP. The task force was led by the Department of the Navy under the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security. It has since been reorganized and expanded into the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office to include investigations of objects operating underwater. Grusch said the recoveries of partial fragments through and up to intact vehicles have been made for decades through the present day by the government, its allies, and defense contractors. Analysis has determined that the objects retrieved are "of exotic origin (non-human intelligence, whether extraterrestrial or unknown origin) based on the vehicle morphologies and material science testing and the possession of unique atomic arrangements and radiological signatures," he said. In filing his complaint, Grusch is represented by a lawyer who served as the original Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG). "We are not talking about prosaic origins or identities," Grusch said, referencing information he provided Congress and the current ICIG. "The material includes intact and partially intact vehicles." In accordance with protocols, Grusch provided the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review at the Department of Defense with the information he intended to disclose to us. His on-the-record statements were all "cleared for open publication" on April 4 and 6, 2023, in documents provided to us.

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Fungi Stores a Third of Carbon From Fossil Fuel Emissions, New Study Reveals

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Mycorrhizal fungi have been supporting life on land for at least 450 million years by helping to supply plants with soil nutrients essential for growth. In recent years, scientists have found that in addition to forming symbiotic relationships with nearly all land plants, these fungi are important conduits to transport carbon into soil ecosystems. In a meta-analysis published June 5 in the journal Current Biology, scientists estimate that as much as 13.12 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) fixed by terrestrial plants is allocated to mycorrhizal fungi annually -- roughly equivalent to 36% of yearly global fossil fuel emissions. Because 70% to 90% of land plants form symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizal fungi, researchers have long surmised that there must be a large amount of carbon moving into the soil through their networks. Mycorrhizal fungi transfer mineral nutrients to and obtain carbon from their plant partners. These bi-directional exchanges are made possible by associations between fungal mycelium, the thread-like filamentous networks that make up the bulk of fungal biomass, and plant roots. Once transported underground, carbon is used by mycorrhizal fungi to grow a more extensive mycelium, helping them to explore the soil. It is also bound up in soil by the sticky compounds exuded by the fungi and can remain underground in the form of fungal necromass, which functions as a structural scaffold for soils. The scientists know that carbon is flowing through fungi, but how long it stays there remains unclear. The paper is part of a global push to understand the role that fungi play in Earth's ecosystems. "We know that mycorrhizal fungi are vitally important ecosystem engineers, but they are invisible," says senior author Toby Kiers, a professor of evolutionary biology at Vrije University Amsterdam and co-founder of the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks (SPUN). "Mycorrhizal fungi lie at the base of the food webs that support much of life on Earth, but we are just starting to understand how they actually work. There's still so much to learn." But there's a race against time to understand and protect these fungi. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization warns that 90% of soils could be degraded by 2050, and fungi are left out of most conservation and environmental policy. Without the fertility and structure that soil provides, the productivity of both natural and crop plants will rapidly decline.

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Apple Announces iOS 17 With StandBy Charging Mode, Better Autocorrect

At WWDC today, Apple debuted iOS 17. "Highlights include new safety features, a built-in journaling app, a new nightstand mode, redesigned contact cards, better auto-correct and voice transcription, and live voicemail," reports The Verge. "And you'll be able to drop the 'hey' from 'Hey Siri.'" From the report: Your contact book is getting an update with a new feature called posters, which turns contact cards into flashy marquee-like images that show up full-screen on your recipient's iPhone when you call them. They use a similar design language as the redesigned lock screens, with bold typography options and the ability to add Memoji, and will work with third-party VoIP apps. There's also a new live transcription feature for voicemail that lets you view a transcript of the message a caller is leaving in real time. You can choose to ride it out or pick up the call, and it's all handled on-device. You'll also be able to leave a message on FaceTime, too. Some updates to messages include the ability to filter searches with additional terms, a feature that jumps to the most recent message so you can catch up more easily, transcriptions of voice messages -- similar to what the Pixel 7 series introduced -- and a series of new features called Check In that shares your live location and status with someone else. It can automatically send a message to a friend when you've arrived home, and it can share your phone's battery and cell service status to help avoid confusion if you're in a dead zone. Stickers are getting an overhaul, too, with the ability to add any emoji or photo cutout as a "sticker" positioned on iMessages or anywhere within the system. Live photos can be turned into animated stickers, too, and you can now add effects to stickers. AirDrop gets an update to send contact information -- cleverly called NameDrop -- which will send your selected email addresses and phone numbers (and your poster) just by bringing two iPhones near each other. It also works between an iPhone and an Apple Watch. Photos can be shared the same way, and if the file is a big one, it's now possible to move out of range while continuing the download. iOS 17 also includes keyboard updates, including enhancements to autocorrect. It now relies on a new language model for better accuracy, plus an easier shortcut to revert to the original word you wrote if necessary. There's now in-line predictive typing and sentence-level autocorrections to correct more grammatical mistakes. It'll finally learn your favorite cuss words, too; Apple's Craig Federighi even made a "ducking" joke onstage. Dictation uses a new AI model, too, that's more accurate. A new app called Journal automatically suggests moments that you might want to commemorate in a journal entry. Your entries can include photos, music, and activities, and you can schedule reminders for yourself to start writing. It's end-to-end encrypted, too, to keep things private. StandBy is a new mode for charging that turns the screen into a status display with the date and time. It can show information from Live Activities, widgets, and smart stacks and automatically turns on when your phone is in landscape mode while charging. You can swipe to the right to see some of your highlighted photos, and it comes with customizable clockfaces. Siri will surface visual results in StandBy, and the display shifts to a red tone at night to avoid disrupting sleep. Last but not least, Siri gets a boost, too, and finally lets you drop the "hey" from "Hey Siri." It will also recognize back-to-back commands. iOS 17 is available to developers today, with a public beta released next month.

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Stack Overflow Moderators Stop Work in Protest of Lax AI-Generated Content Guidelines

Moderators of Stack Overflow have announced a strike in protest of the company's ban on moderating AI-generated content, claiming that this policy allows incorrect information and plagiarism to proliferate on the platform. Gizmodo reports: Last week in a post -- which has been downvoted at least 283 times -- Stack Overflow announced its new moderation policy that will only remove AI-generated content in specific instances, claiming that over-moderation of posts made with artificial intelligence was turning away human contributors. The company also said in its post that a strict standard of evidence needed to be used moving forward in order to manage AI content, and that that standard of evidence hasn't applied to most suspensions issued by moderators thus far. This directive was also communicated to the platform's moderation team privately before being posted publicly. The moderators of the website are claiming that this directive will allow AI content, which can frequently be incorrect, to run rampant on the forum while expressing discontent with Stack Overflow for not communicating this new policy more effectively. "Stack Overflow, Inc. has decreed a near-total prohibition on moderating AI-generated content in the wake of a flood of such content being posted to and subsequently removed from the Stack Exchange network, tacitly allowing the proliferation of incorrect information ("hallucinations") and unfettered plagiarism on the Stack Exchange network. This poses a major threat to the integrity and trustworthiness of the platform and its content," the mods write in their letter to Stack Overflow. "Stack Overflow, Inc. has decreed a near-total prohibition on moderating AI-generated content in the wake of a flood of such content being posted to and subsequently removed from the Stack Exchange network, tacitly allowing the proliferation of incorrect information ("hallucinations") and unfettered plagiarism on the Stack Exchange network. This poses a major threat to the integrity and trustworthiness of the platform and its content," the mods write in their letter to Stack Overflow. Stack Overflow moderators, like those at Wikipedia, are volunteers tasked with maintaining the integrity of the platform. The moderators say that they tried to express their concerns with the company's new policy through proper channels, but their anxieties fell on deaf ears. The mods plan to strike indefinitely, and will cease all actions including closing posts, deleting posts, flagging answers, and other tasks that help with website upkeep until AI policy has been retracted.

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Apple Announces New Mac Pro With M2 Ultra, PCI Expansion Slots, and $6999 Price

At WWDC today, Apple announced a new Mac Pro powered by the M2 Ultra chip. 9to5Mac reports: The chassis design of the machine appears to be the same as the 2019 Intel Mac Pro. The Mac Pro features eight Thunderbolt ports and six PCI slots for modular expansion. The base model config Mac Pro starts at $6999. Mac Pro with M2 Ultra features a 24-core CPU, up to 76-core GPU and 192 GB RAM. It also features two HDMI ports, dual 10-gigabit Ethernet, and a 32-core Neural Engine for machine learning tasks. It also features the latest wireless connectivity with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. You'll be able to order the new Mac Pro today via Apple.com.

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UBI of Nearly $2,000 a Month To Be Trialed In England

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Thirty people in the U.K. could soon receive $1,983 each month if the trial (PDF) by independent think tank Autonomy secures funding. The basic income payments are estimated to cost 1.15 million pounds through the duration of the two-year project. During this time, researchers would assess the impact of the UBI cash on the lives of participants. A separate group who won't be receiving the money each month will be monitored through one on one interviews, focus groups and questionnaires to understand the difference in their experiences. The trial is two years in the making. Dialogue with local communities during that time found strong support for UBI and informed how the trial was planned. It focuses on two areas in the U.K., one in East Finchley in the capital of London, which is often associated with a higher cost of living, and one in central Jarrow in the northeast of the country. Local citizens would be able to put themselves forward to take part in the trial and participant selection would be random. Autonomy has said they would work to ensure the trial group is representative, however. "All the evidence shows that it would directly alleviate poverty and boost millions of people's wellbeing," said Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy. Stronge believes changes to the world we live in could also be a key driver in the adoption of UBI. "With the decades ahead set to be full of economic shocks due to climate change and new forms of automation, basic income is going to be a crucial part of securing livelihoods in the future," he said. A UBI could even impact the way people feel about work, some research suggests. In 2022, 19% of Americans said it would ease their frustrations with their jobs.

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Apple Announces macOS Sonoma With Desktop Widgets and Game Mode

At WWDC today, Apple announced macOS Sonoma, the latest version of its Mac operating system that includes new features like desktop widgets, aerial screensavers, a new Game mode, and enhancements to apps like Messages and Safari. MacRumors reports: The first feature that Apple detailed was new interactive widgets, which can now be placed right on your desktop. Widgets blend into your desktop wallpaper to not be obtrusive when you're working, and with Continuity you can use the same widgets from your iPhone on your Mac. macOS Sonoma also introduces enhanced video conferencing features, including Presenter Overlay to allow a user to display themselves in front of the content they are sharing. Reactions let users share how they feel within a video session, and Screen Sharing has been improved with a simplified process. As is usual with macOS updates, Safari is getting numerous new features within Sonoma. There's an update to Private Browsing that provides greater protection from trackers and from people who might have access to the user's device. Profiles within Safari offer a way to separate browsing between topics, like having one for work and one for personal browsing. There's also a new way to create web apps that work like normal apps and let you get to your favorite website faster. When you're not actively using macOS Sonoma, the new screen savers feature slow-motion videos of various locations worldwide. They shuffle between landscape, Earth, underwater, or cityscape themes, similar to what you'll see on tvOS. For gamers, there's a new Game Mode in macOS Sonoma that delivers an optimized gaming experience with smoother and more consistent frame rates. It dramatically lowers audio latency with AirPods and reduces input latency with game controllers, and it works with any game on Mac. A beta version of macOS Sonoma is now available via the Apple Developer Program, with a public beta launching next month. As Ars Technica notes, the macOS Sonoma update will only run on a couple generations of Intel Macs. "[I]f you're using anything made before 2018 or anything without an Apple T2 chip in it, you won't be able to run the new OS."

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