The Magic Wand Still Has the Biggest Buzz of Any Vibrator

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 12:29

Before we landed on the moon, we landed on the Magic Wand. In 1968, the now-iconic vibrator first appeared as an, ahem, “overall body massager” from the Hitachi company, and was swiftly—and stealthily—employed as a moonlighting clitoral vibrator by people with vaginas long before there was a viable sex toy market, let alone Pornhub and X-Tube, and the world has never been the same since. Now, the iconic sex toy has been given a tantalizing, mini-me vibrator accomplice.  

The new Magic Wand Mini features a powerful motor, three easily navigable speeds, and a rechargeable battery with 2.5 hours of run time. And, as the latest member of the Magic Wand fam, this iteration of the vibrator is one of the most compact and affordable yet. But what makes the Magic Wand and its smaller, portable, new sibling so damn special, after all this time? In a sea of increasingly swish sexual wellness companies including Dame, Maude, and LELO, only the Magic Wand has the inimitable, powerful reputation as the sex toy that started the modern sex toy industry. Not only is the vibrator beloved by beginners and seasoned sex toy users alike, but its history and pedigree allow it to say, “Look dude, I got here first, and I know what I’m doing.” 

Screen Shot 2022-04-01 at 1.02.29 PM.pngPhoto: Magic Wand

“[It’s] a household name for a reason,” wrote one reviewer on Babeland about its gift of intense, direct clitoral stimulation. The vibe has amassed a 4.5-star review on the site, with many reviewers saying, “The [motor] that this wand packs is unrivaled. The versatility, its size, design, and [the] power it affords makes it [a worthy] investment”; while another simply signed-off with “Level up.” 

Whatever your sex toy preferences, the Magic Wand, which has been owned by Vibratex since 2000, has never stopped being a part of the conversation in sex-positive communities. There are over 83,000 views for the #HitachiMagicWand hashtag on TikTok, and seemingly endless Magic Wand stan accounts on Instagram, including our favorite, @thehitachibandit_, the Banksy of sex toy aficionados. (Plus, as a 12-inch long massager—most vibes are half that size—it’s also easy to use the classic Magic Wand for its intended purpose—working out the kinks in your neck, your back, your [redacted], and anywhere else you please.)

Simply put, the Magic Wand buzzed so that today’s vibrators could blast off. Whether you’re curious about how to start using sex toys or hankering for an orgasm that will launch you into space, the new and improved Magic Wand Mini is ready to rock your world, as it always has been. And if you want to learn more about what it was like to spank the bank before the days of the internet and readily available sex toys, tune into Sex Before The Internet on Tuesdays at 9PM on VICE TV.

The Magic Wand Mini can be purchased at Babeland and Good Vibrations.

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Categories: Tech News

Self-Expression Alert: This Brand Wants Its Earbuds To Be 'Audio Couture'

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 12:22

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Animorphs. Every David Cronenberg film. Morphing is a very important part of our culture (especially if you lived through the 90s). Is it because of the internet and technology? Or because it’s in our nature as human beings to change? Now, there’s an audio tech company taking the idea of “morphing” into its 2023 incarnation, which is apparently about self-expression through headphones.

See, there’s nothing wrong with AirPods—in fact, they rock—but doesn’t that white plastic casing sometimes feel a little… boring? Morph makes personalized, high-performance audio gear, which isn’t just intended for wearing on the subway, but for being “a statement,” its website explains. “It’s a statement against what’s out there in the mass market: the inflexible, the hyped, the overpriced, the inaccessible.” Later in its manifesto (which seems to have been written by Allen Ginsberg), Morph coins the phrase “Audio Couture” and encourages users to find configurations that suit them. Moloch!

Configurations?, you might be thinking. I just want to listen to the new Big Thief album and look cool while doing it. Hell yeah, brother, and should you desire to do so while outfitted in “Audio Couture," you can customize your earbuds for each ‘fit thanks to Morph’s unique earbuds and removable faceplates. If you love Depeche Mode but also Swarovski crystals, you might enjoy the OG Blue Roses faceplate; but if you’re feeling moody while mainlining New Order, the OG White Roses option might be more up your alley (Power, Corruption & Lies vibes). Obsessed with watching Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times and want everyone to know? The Steampunk faceplate is for you. Still standing behind 808s and Heartbreak? Bold choice—try the Love Stoned series.

But flashy bud-covers are just the beginning; the super popular Lithium Series package comes with removable faceplates, earbuds, and a choice of case; and the InfiniConnect Internal Module option includes a fucking carabiner, which truly takes you to a time and place. Most importantly, though, the Lithium Series is, “inspired by the music and fashion of 90s grunge bands like Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins” and “showcases an ultra cool angsty melted smiley faceplate.” Now, speaking as someone who cherishes Siamese Dream in a cosmic and profound way, does the Lithium Series evoke that music for me? Not at all, but I’m sure they do for many cherub rockers and teen spirits out there, so why would I yuck a fellow fan’s yum? Long live the new flesh!

Ultimately, each earbud package has its own vibe, and Morph offers endless options for personalization. You might be feeling your beautiful Sakura Edition one day, but Dragon Eyes (aka LOTR-core) the next. Naturally, the earbuds themselves offer all of the amenities of today’s best high-quality listening devices, like TrueWireless Mirroring, ambient mode passthrough, and Qualcomm processing (which removes all the background noise, so nothing can distract you from rocking out). In fact, there are hundreds of five-star reviews for the earbuds, praising both the aesthetic flair and the audio quality.

If being yourself is as important to you as the music you listen to, bedazzled earbuds and Nirvana-inspired ear flair can elevate your listening experience. Or, you know, you could just get a bunch of face tattoos. Until then, rocking some White Roses will have to do, because nothing says “Leave Me Alone” like a pair of flashy earbuds.

Explore all of Morph’s headphone options here.

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Categories: Tech News

Fire of Love revisits tragedy of French volcanologists who died in 1991

ARS Technica - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 12:21
Vulcanologist Katia Krafft stands near a lava burst

Enlarge / Volcanologist Katia Krafft wears a heat suit for protection from an erupting volcano in Fire of Love. (credit: Image'Est)

French volcanologists Maurice and Katia Krafft carved out an illustrious career by daring to go where most of their colleagues feared to tread: right to the edge of an erupting volcano. The photographs and video footage they recorded during the 1970s and 1980s contributed to significant breakthroughs in their chosen field. Alas, the couple's luck ran out on June 3, 1991, when they were killed by a massive pyroclastic flow from the eruption of Mount Unzen in Japan. The striking image above of Katia Krafft in a protective heat suit, dwarfed by a wall of fire, is just one of many powerful moments featured in Fire of Love, a 2022 National Geographic documentary about this extraordinary couple that is now streaming on Disney+.

Director Sara Dosa was scouring archival images of volcano imagery for one of the segments in her previous documentary (The Seer and the Unseen) set in Iceland when she came across the story of the Kraffts. "I became completely hooked on the nature of their relationship," she recalled. "It wasn't just Maurice and Katia in a relationship; it was almost a love triangle between the two of them and the volcanoes." Apart from a handful of new footage shot by cinematographer Pablo Alvarez-Mesa, the entire film is composed of archival footage.

Maurice and Katia (nee Conrad) Krafft met at the University of Strasbourg and married in 1970. Katia earned degrees in physics and chemistry, while Maurice studied geology. He had been fascinated by volcanoes since he was 7 years old during a family trip to Naples and Stromboli. Katia shared that fascination, and one of their first excursions as a couple was to Stromboli, where they photographed its eruption.

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Categories: Tech News

The Jean Sofa ('Jofa') Is 2023's Soon-to-Be 'It' Sofa

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 12:13

There’s nothing relaxing, let alone inspiring, about parking your peach on a sofa that smells like polyester and looks like a SimCity afterthought; (Pierre Paulin sofa dupe from The Sims 4: Dream Home Decorator, we must exempt you from this, obviously). You deserve a throne for your home that enchants your guests, cradles your behind, and puts you ahead of the home design curve. You deserve a jofa.

A “jofa,” or jean sofa, is the home decor equivalent of a Canadian tuxedo. When done right, it can feel chic and even subversive, like a dirty martini with five olives, or Julia Fox’s denim upcycle moment last year. A handsome, deep blue denim sofa can make you feel like the kind of person who reads a lot, throws great dinner parties, and actually knows how to do Shibori tie dye. There’s a reason the iconic Diana Vreeland said "blue jeans are the most beautiful thing since the gondola," and it’s due to denim’s visual versatility and effortless swag. Dress it up (add a personality throw pillow), dress it down (think, Japandi minimalism)—it will always look smashing.

If you want to buy a $500 art stool made out of actual jeans, go for it. The best denim sofas vary in price, size, material, and style, but you can rely on us, your aesthetic manservants, to find you the best high-performance fabrics and colorways. Maybe you’re feeling a more postmodern sofa in a robin’s egg hue, or a mid-century modern sectional with the silhouette of a Frank Lloyd Wright house, and the heart of a coal miner.

Hoist up those Levi’s, and let’s find your dream jofa.

This jofa is one of Amazon’s bestsellers

Rivet is one Amazon’s bestselling sofa brands, and its denim blue sectional has earned a 4.4-star average rating from over 2,000 (mostly glowing) reviews. It’s hard to find a sick modular sofa for around $1,000, and the dark blue jean colorway will also be very forgiving of queso stains.

The best denim sofa under $400

Once upon a 2005, there were True Religion jeans that cost more than this entire baby blue jofa from Wayfair, which is 22% off and the most affordable couch on our list. As one reviewer writes, “the blue color is so pretty [and] it only took me about 15 minutes to put it together.” If you need a comfy jofa in a pinch and a penny, it’s your savior.

One of the best pet-proof couches

We’ve penned an entire VICE guide to the best scratch- and pet-proof couches, and Burrow continues to make the list thanks to its high-performance fabrics and adult mid-century modern designs.  The navy blue colorway of this three-seater is as versatile as an IRL pair of jeans, and the geometric silhouette makes it worthy of Don Draper’s tuchus.

If a hug was a couch

We can feel the squish of this blue modular boy the same way we could feel our tails tingle while watching the new Avatar. The Apt2B sectional gives us all the comfort and deep cranial nostalgia of coming from school in 1997, slamming a Gogurt, and listening to mom complain about “replacing the VHS collection with those [redacted] DVDs.” Were we ever so young? This couch knows so.

A postmodern small space jofa

HAY’s slightly overstuffed denim sofa is postmodern enough to look like it belongs in a Marni boutique, and comfortable enough to actually pull its own weight (even as a two-seater) during Netflix binges.

The best Pottery Barn denim sofa alternative

Long have we coveted our neighbor’s Pottery Barn denim sofa without paying around $3,000, and this bestseller from Amazon is 1) just as squishy,  2) a third of the price, and 3) offers three times the seating. As one reviewer writes, the material feels durable ““[is] all removable to wash.”

A customizable MCM jofa

Floyd is really good at giving the people what they want, from its trademark Japandi bed sled to its highly-customizable sofa, which can be mix-and-matched with various wood frames such as walnut and birch and upholstered in a jofa spectrum colors such as Mist and Ocean Dive.

The best vintage and designer jofas

1stDibs is the unofficial outfitter of our favorite Architectural Digest celebrity home tours, and it’s home to some swoon-worthy jofas. Next to this specific leather couch/milk butterchew sofa from West Elm, this vintage Moooi (!!!) brand double-seater is the most delicious couch we’ve ever seen, and it makes us love Nordic design all the more.

This denim croissant was designed in the 60s by Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini, and Franco Teodoro for the Italian design house Zanotta, and is the perfect blob accomplice for your beloved Togo sofa. Pair it with a Noguchi floor lamp, and enjoy your new status as an interior mage.

Enjoy your jofa, cowboy.

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.

Categories: Tech News

Nearly 300 MSI motherboards will run any code in Secure Boot, no questions asked

The Register - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 12:01
'I believe they made this change deliberately' claims researcher

The Secure Boot process on almost 300 different PC motherboard models manufactured by Micro-Star International (MSI) isn't secure, which is particularly problematic when "Secure" is part of the process description.…

Categories: Tech News

Google plans AirTag clone, will track devices with 3 billion Android phones

ARS Technica - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 11:55
Apple introduced AirTags alongside several different kinds of accessories to enhance their flair and attach-ability.

Enlarge / Apple introduced AirTags alongside several different kinds of accessories to enhance their flair and attach-ability. (credit: Apple)

Following in the footsteps of Tile, Apple, and Samsung, it sounds like Google will be the latest Big-Tech company to make a Bluetooth tracker. Android researcher Kuba Wojciechowski has spotted code for a Google first-party Bluetooth tracker codenamed—just in time for The Mandalorian season 3—"Grogu."

Wojciechowski has found references that check nearly every major box you would want in a Bluetooth tracker. It has a speaker, UWB compatibility, and supports Bluetooth LE. Wojciechowski also notes it's being built by the Nest team. If you don't want the tracker to play a ringtone to reveal its location, UWB or "Ultra Wide Band" is a radio technology that can physically locate an item. You'll need UWB to be built into your phone, but it will let you find a nearby device via a compass-like interface. UWB has been built into the Pixel 6 Pro, 7 Pro, and other high-end Android devices, though it isn't used for much.

Another interesting wrinkle is that Esper's Mishaal Rahman recently posted about a "locator tag" option landing in Google's Fast Pair developer console. Fast Pair is Google's API for quickly detecting and pairing to nearby Bluetooth devices—it shows a pop-up on the screen rather than making people dig through the settings menu. Google's Fast Pair developer console is for third-party devices, though, so seeing a "locator tag" category pop up at the same time as Grogu would be an awfully big coincidence. It suggests that Google is planning to build a Bluetooth tracker ecosystem for Grogu and let third-party hardware join the party. Why else would it add Bluetooth tracker emulation options to its public developer tools? Google handles the Fast Pair functionality for the host OS (Android), so the dev console is only for third-party Bluetooth devices.

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Categories: Tech News

The physics behind building an enduring soap bubble

ARS Technica - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 11:41
Image of a cluster of soap bubbles.

Enlarge (credit: Mark Mawson)

Blowing soap bubbles, besides being a favorite pastime for children, also happens to be an art form and a subject of interest for physicists. Emmanuelle Rio, François Boulogne, Marina Pasquet, and Frédéric Restagno from the Laboratory of Solid State Physics at the University of Paris-Saclay have been studying bubbles for years, trying to understand the different processes at play in these innocuous-looking structures.

“Bubbles are important as they appear in many places, including washing products, cosmetics, building materials, and also in nature. For example, sea foam plays a role in terms of the exchanges between the atmosphere and the sea,” Boulogne said.

Now, the team has described a key event in the life of bubbles: when they pop.

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Categories: Tech News

Scientists Controlled Lightning With Lasers Aimed at the Sky In Breakthrough

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 11:22

For the first time in history, scientists have used lasers to harness lightning bolts and guide them into new trajectories, a breakthrough that could lead to enhanced protection from these dangerous strikes from the sky, reports a new study. 

The idea of diverting lightning with lasers dates back decades, but the newly reported experiment, which took place on Switzerland's Säntis Mountain in the summer of 2021, is the first to finally demonstrate this process in the field.

There’s nothing quite like the primal fear and awe evoked by the ominous flashes and booms of a thunderstorm, and for good reason. Though the odds of getting struck by lightning are very low, the consequences of these freak accidents are catastrophic: Thousands of people have been killed by lightning strikes, and countless more have suffered permanent injuries. 

The advent of metal lightning rods has reduced the risk of lightning-related casualties in many regions, but the protective range of these devices is limited to their immediate vicinity. Shooting laser pulses into the sky, in contrast, could theoretically extend a virtual shield around much larger areas, but attempts to pioneer this technology have fallen short—until now. 

Scientists led by Aurélien Houard, a researcher at ENSTA Paris at the Ecole Polytechnique, provide “the first field-result that experimentally demonstrates lightning guided by lasers” which represents “an important step forward in the development of a laser based lightning protection for airports, launchpads, or large infrastructures,” according to a study published on Monday in Nature Astronomy.   

Houard and his colleagues successfully guided four “upward” lightning discharges, which are bolts that strike up from the ground, with laser pulses shot into the sky over Säntis Mountain. High-speed cameras recorded one of these intercepts, revealing that the lasers were able to guide a lightning strike for over 50 meters (164 feet). The findings suggest that laser-based lightning rods could potentially protect infrastructure over a half-mile radius, at elevations of several hundred meters.

“Lightning has fascinated and terrified humankind since time immemorial. Based on satellite data, the total lightning flash rate worldwide—including cloud-to-ground and cloud lightning—is estimated to be between 40 and 120 flashes per second , causing considerable damage and casualties,” the researchers said in the study.

“Here we present the first demonstration that laser-induced filaments—formed in the sky by short and intense laser pulses—can guide lightning discharges over considerable distances,” the team added. “We believe that this experimental breakthrough will lead to progress in lightning protection and lightning physics.”

The researchers achieved this milestone by installing a laser near a telecommunications tower on the mountain that is a hotspot for lightning strikes. During thunderstorms, the device shot laser pulses into the sky, a process that transforms particles and molecules in the air into plasma structures. 

Houard and his colleagues used a variety of techniques to show that this plasma can attract and guide lightning discharges, though the team was only able to redirect upward strikes, which are far more common at Säntis Mountain than the more familiar downward sky-to-ground strikes. To that end, the team hopes that future experiments will finetune this promising technology so that it can be implemented over critical infrastructure. 

“The results of the Säntis experimental campaign in the summer of 2021 provide circumstantial evidence that filaments formed by short and intense laser pulses can guide lightning discharges over considerable distances,” the team concluded in the study. “These preliminary results should be confirmed by additional campaigns with new configurations.”

Categories: Tech News

Wyoming's would-be ban on sale of electric vehicles veers off road

The Register - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 11:01
Like crude oil and water, cowboys and EVs don't mix

No, Wyoming lawmakers didn't get their bill backwards. A group of them led by Republican state senator Jim Anderson actually introduced a resolution last week to ban the sale of electric vehicles in the Cowboy State by 2035.…

Categories: Tech News

Scientists Are Getting Eerily Good at Using WiFi to 'See' People Through Walls in Detail

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 10:50

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University developed a method for detecting the three dimensional shape and movements of human bodies in a room, using only WiFi routers.

To do this, they used DensePose, a system for mapping all of the pixels on the surface of a human body in a photo. DensePose was developed by London-based researchers and Facebook’s AI researchers. From there, according to their recently-uploaded preprint paper published on arXiv, they developed a deep neural network that maps WiFi signals’ phase and amplitude sent and received by routers to coordinates on human bodies.

Researchers have been working on “seeing” people without using cameras or expensive LiDAR hardware for years. In 2013, a team of researchers at MIT found a way to use cell phone signals to see through walls; in 2018, another MIT team used WiFi to detect people in another room and translate their movements to walking stick-figures.

The Carnegie Mellon researchers wrote that they believe WiFi signals “can serve as a ubiquitous substitute” for normal RGB cameras, when it comes to “sensing” people in a room. Using WiFi, they wrote, overcomes obstacles like poor lighting and occlusion that regular camera lenses face.

Interestingly, they position this advancement as progress in privacy rights; “In addition, they protect individuals’ privacy and the required equipment can be bought at a reasonable price,” they wrote. “In fact, most households in developed countries already have WiFi at home, and this technology may be scaled to monitor the well-being of elder people or just identify suspicious behaviors at home.”

They don’t mention what “suspicious behaviors” might include, if this technology ever hits the mainstream market. But considering companies like Amazon are trying to put Ring camera drones inside our houses, it’s easy to imagine how widespread WiFi-enabled human-detection could be a force for good—or yet another exploitation of all of our privacy.

Categories: Tech News

RNC loses complaint claiming Gmail spam filter is biased against Republicans

ARS Technica - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 10:16
A woman sits at a desk in front of a computer but her head is hidden because she is covered by a massive pile of envelopes labeled

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has rejected a Republican National Committee (RNC) complaint claiming that Google violated US law by using Gmail's spam filter on Republican campaign emails. Republicans had claimed Gmail's spam filtering amounted to "illegal in-kind contributions made by Google to Biden For President and other Democrat candidates."

But an FEC decision last week, which Google provided to Ars today, said the commission found "no reason to believe" that Google made prohibited in-kind corporate contributions. The FEC, an independent agency of the US government, also found no evidence that the Biden for President campaign committee knowingly accepted illegal in-kind contributions in the form of spam filtering preference.

The FEC told Google in a letter that it has "closed its file in this matter" and that documents related to the case will be placed on the public record within 30 days.

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Categories: Tech News

Bringing the original native OS for Arm back from the brink

The Register - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 10:11
Steve Revill of RISC OS Open chats to us about taking the project into the future

Retro Tech Week  The mid-1980s codebase for RISC OS, the original native OS for the Arm processor, is still run on present-day hardware and actively maintained and developed. We spoke to RISC OS Open MD Steve Revill about its 26-bit origins, working to bring it to newer 32-bit Arm chips, and efforts to update its BSD-based network stack.…

Categories: Tech News

Din Djarin seeks forgiveness for his sins in The Mandalorian S3 trailer

ARS Technica - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 10:03

Pedro Pascal reprises his role as a bounty hunter who befriends a youngling powerful with the Force in The Mandalorian.

The Mandalorian returns in March for a much-anticipated third season. We had a brief teaser last fall during Disney's annual D23 Expo, but the Mouse House debuted the full trailer last night during the halftime show of the NFL Super Wild Card matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

(Spoilers for the first two seasons and The Book of Boba Fett below.)

The series takes place a few years after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. In the first season, Pedro Pascal's titular lone bounty hunter was tasked with delivering a youngling, Grogu (aka Baby Yoda) to a shady client who wanted to perform experiments on the child. Mando ended up rescuing Grogu instead, and the two formed a strong bond. In the second season, the Mandalorian reluctantly worked to reunite Grogu with his own kind—or at least with a Jedi so the youngling could grow stronger in the Force. Mark Hamill made a surprise cameo as a (digitally de-aged) Luke Skywalker in the season 2 finale, taking Grogu with him to complete his Jedi training. There wasn't a dry eye in the house as Grogu and the Mandalorian made their farewells.

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Categories: Tech News

CNET Defends Use of AI Blogger After Embarrassing 163-Word Correction: ‘Humans Make Mistakes, Too’

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 09:54

The tech-focused journalism outfit CNET is dealing with the unfortunate consequences of leaning on artificial intelligence too heavily. An article written by an “AI engine” explaining compound interest now includes an addendum at the bottom that lists five errors contained within the original post: 

Correction, 1:55 p.m. PT Jan. 16: An earlier version of this article suggested a saver would earn $10,300 after a year by depositing $10,000 into a savings account that earns 3% interest compounding annually. The article has been corrected to clarify that the saver would earn $300 on top of their $10,000 principal amount. A similar correction was made to the subsequent example, where the article was corrected to clarify that the saver would earn $304.53 on top of their $10,000 principal amount. The earlier version also incorrectly stated that one-year CDs only compound annually. The earlier version also incorrectly stated how much a consumer would pay monthly on a car loan with an interest rate of 4% over five years. The earlier version also incorrectly stated that a savings account with a slightly lower APR, but compounds more frequently, may be a better choice than an account with a slightly higher APY that compounds less frequently. In that example, APY has been corrected to APR.

CNET began generating explainers using artificial intelligence to generate explainers for the site  in November, the company’s editor-in-chief said on Monday. (Given that the purpose of such stories is essentially to make a play for search-engine traffic, you could fairly describe the whole scheme as assigning robots to write stories for other robots to read.) But the decision didn’t generate much notice until last week, when Frank Landymore at Futurism wrote a story noting that the company had “quietly” instituted the practice. The story gained significant traction online and led to questions about the future role of artificial intelligence in journalism and whether it was too early to lean so heavily on the technology. 

Is your company using artificial intelligence in questionable ways? We want to hear from you. We want to hear from you. From a non-work device, contact our reporter at or via Signal at 310-614-3752 for extra security.

CNET editor-in-chief Connie Guglielmo addressed the concerns on Monday in a post in which she described the use of AI to write “basic explainers” as an “experiment” in line with CNET’s history of “testing new technologies  and separating the hype from reality.” She hoped the shift would free up staff to focus their time and energy on creating “even more deeply researched stories, analyses, features, testing and advice work we're known for.”  

In the post, Guglielmo said that each AI-generated article was reviewed by a human editor before publication. In an attempt to make that process more transparent, she said, CNET had altered the bylines on the AI-generated articles to make clear a robot wrote them, as well as clearly list the editor who reviewed the copy, and would continue to review AI’s place on the site.

Less than an hour after Guglielmo’s post went live, CNET updated the compound interest explainer with a 167-word correction, fixing errors so elementary that a distracted teenager could catch them, like the incorrect idea that someone who puts $10,000 in a savings account that earns compound interest at a 3 percent annual rate would earn $10,300 the first year. Other articles produced by the AI engine also now include a note at the top that reads: “Editors' note: We are currently reviewing this story for accuracy. If we find errors, we will update and issue corrections.”

Motherboard reached out to CNET to ask whether the site would further alter its approach to AI-created journalism moving forward considering the correction. In a statement sent through a generic press email account with no human name attached, the site seemed to throw the editor assigned to the story under the bus, saying they “are actively reviewing all our AI-assisted pieces to make sure no further inaccuracies made it through the editing process, as humans make mistakes, too.” Several humans have definitely made mistakes here, but the one tasked with the miserable job of babysitting the robot is probably least among them.

Categories: Tech News

Bin, app, and subscription combo pledges a cleaner kitchen, environment

ARS Technica - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 09:33
Image of a white plastic trash can with the lid open.

Enlarge / Thanks to its wireless connection, the Mill can alert you when it needs emptying. (credit: Mill)

A new subscription-based service launched today, but instead of bringing a box of meat or Japanese treats to your door, this one promises to take away your food waste. The creators of the service, called Mill, hope that it will reduce carbon emissions and help keep kitchens free of nasty smells and flies—all while feeding chickens with your trash.

The service is based on a trash can with Wi-Fi capabilities. Its creators say that while there are emissions associated with the bin's creation and operation, the life-cycle assessment they ran on it shows that users still come out ahead when it comes to their carbon footprint.

Lots of waste

By some counts, around 119 billion pounds of food are wasted each year in the United States. This takes a toll on the environment, considering the energy that goes into growing, harvesting, packing, and transporting food. According to the World Wildlife Fund, between 6 and 8 percent of human-made greenhouse gas emissions could be eliminated by cutting down on this waste. Not including methane—which is considered 80 times worse than carbon dioxide—food waste and loss accounts for around 170 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year in the US alone.

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Categories: Tech News

Artists Are Suing Over Stable Diffusion Stealing Their Work for AI Art

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 09:31

Three artists have teamed up in a class action lawsuit against Stability AI, DeviantArt, and Midjourney, alleging that the text-to-image AI tools have infringed the rights of thousands of artists and other creatives “under the guise of ‘artificial intelligence.’” 

The lawsuit, announced on Saturday, claims that the Stable Diffusion tool used by Stability AI, DeviantArt, and Midjourney was trained on billions of copyrighted images scraped from the internet and contained within the LAION-5B dataset, which were downloaded and used by the companies “without compensation or consent from the artists.” 

Artists Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, and Karla Ortiz have teamed up with The Joseph Saveri Law Firm and Matthew Butterick, the same team that filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Github programmers against GitHub, Microsoft, and OpenAI for using their code without permission to train Microsoft’s latest AI tool, GitHub Copilot. 

“If Stable Diffusion and similar products are allowed to continue to operate as they do now, the foreseeable result is they will replace the very artists whose stolen works power these AI products with whom they are competing,” the law firm wrote in a press release. “AI image products are not just an infringement of artists' rights; whether they aim to or not, these products will eliminate ‘artist’ as a viable career path. In addition to obtaining redress for the wrongful conduct, this lawsuit seeks to prevent that outcome and ensure these products follow the same rules as any other new technology that involves the use of massive amounts of intellectual property. If streaming music can be accomplished within the law, so can AI products.” 

Stability AI, Midjourney, and DeviantArt did not immediately respond to Motherboard’s request for comment. The Joseph Saveri Law Firm also did not immediately respond.

Since text-to-image generators have increased in popularity in the past year—with Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion, DeviantArt’s DreamUp, and Midjourney being among the most popular—many artists have been vocalizing their opposition to AI art after seeing their own mangled signatures appear in AI art and finding out that their work was used to train the tools without their permission

Not only are many artists furious at the possible copyright violations of AI art, but they have also been frustrated by how AI tools are able to sidestep the labor and art processes they are required to go through. As a result, many artists have been trying to ban AI art from art-sharing platforms, including ArtStation, an art portfolio website that saw a protest against AI art from users that were unhappy with the platform’s promotion of AI art next to their human-created work. 

Artists aren't the only ones suing over Stable Diffusion. According to The Verge, Getty Images announced on Tuesday that it is also suing Stability AI over copyright violation. In a press release, Getty claimed that Stability AI did not seek any licenses from Getty Images and “copied and processed millions of images protected by copyright and the associated metadata owned or represented by Getty Images.” 

As AI innovation continues at a rapid speed, it seems that artists and lawmakers are trying to put a break on further developments before it's too late.

Many tech enthusiasts are still rallying around the promise of AI tools to create detailed images cheaply and quickly—anonymous tech supporters have already published a response to Butterick and Joseph Saveri’s class-action lawsuit on a site called, using the “fair use” clause as the basis for why copyrighted images could be used by the tool. Fair use, a legal doctrine that allows for a limited usage of copyrighted materials without permission by the original creators for purposes such as teaching and news sharing, is what a lot of generative model creators claim that their training data is covered by. However, since fair use applies differently to each case, it’s hard to make a blanket statement about all work in a dataset as being applicable.

Categories: Tech News

Woman Who Died Due to ‘Alcohol Poisoning’ Was Actually Murdered

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 09:07

MEXICO CITY — Federal investigators in Mexico confirmed Monday that the death of a young woman, initially declared accidental alcohol poisoning, was actually murder, and the result of head injuries.

The latest development adds further intrigue to the case of 27-year-old Ariadna López, in which a top state investigator may have colluded in covering up the murder of the woman.

López reportedly went to a bar with friends in late October, then along with a few of them, to the apartment of a man only identified as Rautel N., due to Mexican privacy laws. The next day, López’s body was found on a highway connecting Mexico City with the neighboring state of Morelos on Oct. 31st. Morelos authorities declared that she died from alcohol poisoning and may have been left there “by a group of people.”

At her funeral, Rautel., told reporters that she left her apartment alone later that night and was unaware of what happened to her after. But surveillance video of the apartment building released by the government showed a man, believed to be Rautel, carrying her limp body and placing it into his car.

Mexico City authorities quickly conducted a second autopsy on López’s body and determined that she died from multiple blows with an unspecified object, contradicting the findings of the Morelos authorities. Authorities then arrested Rautel and his girlfriend, identified as Vanessa N., who was also at the apartment that night.

The case quickly took another twisted turn when Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said Morelos Attorney General Uriel Carmona may have had a connection to Rautel.

“In this case it is evident that the Attorney General of the State of Morelos wanted to hide the femicide of Ariadna [López] presumably for his links with the probable woman killer [feminicida],” she said.

Carmona denied having any sort of relationship with Rautel, or even knowing of him until this case, and alleged that “it’s an issue that has to do with politics.”

In recent years, Carmona has been involved in corruption investigations of the Morelos state governor, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, an ally of Sheinbaum and the ruling MORENA party.

The forensic science teams of both the Morelos and Mexico City authorities stood by their competing autopsy results, claiming the other was wrong. The federal attorney general’s office [FGR] was then tasked with conducting a new investigation and autopsy to give a definitive ruling. Federal authorities sided with the results of the Mexico City investigation on Monday, alleging that her death was the result of head injury, not alcohol poisoning.

Prominent Mexican newspaper El Universal reported that the FGR will open an investigation into the Morelos officials who potentially intervened in the case initially, including Carmona.

Mexico regularly ranks as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women in Mexico. 3,450 women were murdered in Mexico between January and November of 2022. While López’s case received a fair bit of national media attention, many other daily cases of femicide do not. 

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft locks door to default guest authentication in Windows Pro

The Register - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 09:01
Bringing OS version into sync with Enterprise and Education editions

Microsoft wants to bulk up the security in Windows Pro editions by ensuring the SMB insecure guest authentication fallbacks are no longer the default setting in the operating system.…

Categories: Tech News

UK lawmakers vote to jail tech execs who fail to protect kids online

ARS Technica - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 08:16
UK lawmakers vote to jail tech execs who fail to protect kids online

Enlarge (credit: ilkercelik | E+)

The United Kingdom wants to become the safest place for children to grow up online. Many UK lawmakers have argued that the only way to guarantee that future is to criminalize tech leaders whose platforms knowingly fail to protect children. Today, the UK House of Commons reached a deal to appease those lawmakers, Reuters reports, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government agreeing to modify the Online Safety Bill to ensure its passage. It now appears that tech company executives found to be "deliberately" exposing children to harmful content could soon risk steep fines and jail time of up to two years.

The agreement was reached during the safety bill's remaining stages before a vote in the House of Commons. Next, it will move on to review by the House of Lords, where the BBC reports it will “face a lengthy journey.” Sunak says he will revise the bill to include new terms before it reaches the House of Lords, where lawmakers will have additional opportunities to revise the wording.

Reports say that tech executives responsible for platforms hosting user-generated content would only be liable if they fail to take “proportionate measures” to prevent exposing children to harmful content, such as materials featuring child sexual abuse, child abuse, eating disorders, and self-harm. Some measures that tech companies can take to avoid jail time and fines of up to 10 percent of a company's global revenue include adding age verification, providing parental controls, and policing content.

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I Was a Porn Star During the Golden Age of Adult Entertainment

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 08:13

Before the internet illuminated the “open 24/7” sign on literally any desire you could hope to satisfy, there was the Golden Age of Porn. In the years between the rise of sexploitation films in the 60s and the mass distribution of hardcore home videos in the 90s, the porn industry had all the glamour and prosperity of Hollywood with none of the legality. 

The “porno chic” era of the 70s established a critical and commercial appetite for erotica with the release of films like Deep Throat and Last Tango In Paris, enabling adult actresses like Annette Haven and Vanessa Del Rio to cross over into the mainstream. In the 80s the industry shifted into turbo mode, transcending the “tasteful” cover of indie cinemas to become a booming market of its own.

Big budget productions, lucrative talent agencies like Jim South’s World Modeling and a flashy, live-fast lifestyle attracted young men and women alike, and by the mid-80s, adult entertainment had become as extravagant and in-your-face as everything else in pop culture. Mammoth studios like Vivid Entertainment became household names while newly minted ceremonies like the AVN Awards gave it a red carpet ritz, putting the sex into the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” mantra of 80s excess. 

Despite the champagne-and-cocaine veneer, many adult performers from that time describe the industry as having a family feel. Before the 90s made porn freely available online, flooding the market and slashing production budgets, the talent pool was small and sets were tight-knit. Though Vivid had a billboard of poster-girls on Sunset Boulevard and stars like Christy Canyon and Ginger Lynn were crossing over into the mainstream, there was an outlaw mentality and sense of camaraderie among casts and crew. All plastic-wrapped magazines and three-for-$50 Polaroids at meet and greets, it’s a far cry from today’s era of BJ gifs and Chaturbate tips – though certainly not without its controversies.

To reveal more about the highs and lows of the porn business in the 80s, veteran performer Ginger Lynn spoke to us about her life and career. This “as told to” essay has been condensed and shortened from an interview given to the producers of Sex Before the Internet, a new documentary from VICE.

I grew up in Rockford, Illinois, and this was a little porn theatre on the outskirts of town. I was 19 and my boyfriend and I went to see this movie. I remember sitting in the seats and Vanessa del Rio came on the screen and I got goosebumps. I've always been a sexual person, but watching someone else on film fucking was just amazing to me. I thought, ‘This is the coolest thing I have ever seen.’

I never thought I would get into the adult film industry, though. I grew up putting on plays in my garage and singing and dancing. My neighbours were the backup singers and we would charge a nickel to come see our shows. I always wanted to be in front of the camera. I wanted to live in California and I wanted to be a star, but when I saw Vanessa on film, I didn't think I wanted to be like her. I just got turned on by it.

I got into the industry when I was just about to turn 20. I was working 70 hours a week for way too little money. I worked at an aviation company in the mornings from like six till ten, and then from 11 till six I was assistant manager of a Musicland record store, and at night I worked in a bar. I was thinking: ‘I’m cute, I’m in California, I can do something. I can make more money.’ I got out the Orange County Register and there was an ad for figure modelling that paid $500 to $5,000 per day. I called up and a man by the name of Jim South answered, called me “darlin”, and told me to come on in the next day.

Jim South was the owner of World Modeling – he reminded me of a really bad Elvis impersonator, with the big sideburns and the pompadour hairdo. I walked into his office and he asked for my IDs. It was September of 1983. He said, “We need to take some Polaroids” and took me into the side room with the fake panel, wood walls and the shag carpet and this big wicker chair. He asked me to take my clothes off. I had no trouble doing that whatsoever. I was never ashamed or embarrassed. I was always comfortable with my body.

Jim took three or four Polaroids and we went back to his office and he put them in this big three-ring binder, full of pictures of all of these girls in alphabetical order. There were photographs of these beautiful women all around the office on the walls: Marilyn Chambers, Hyapatia Lee… though I didn’t know who they were at the time. Jim looked up and said, “Those are the wall girls” and I’m like, “I want to be a wall girl”. Those were the famous girls, and I wanted so badly to be famous.

One day I’m in Jim’s office and there was a woman sitting there in this long white flowing gown, kind of a Little House on the Prairie dress. She had a cigarette in a holder and a script on her lap, and she's licking her fingers and turning the pages and reading dialog out loud. I'm thinking, ‘This is the most beautiful, glamorous, intelligent, articulate woman I have ever seen’. I asked her if she did porn, and she said yes. I’m like okay, this isn’t anything like what I expected a porn star to be.

We went to lunch and I asked her every question: what's it like, what do you do, what don't you do, how much do you charge? She said: “I get $1,000 a day. I get script approval. I get cast approval. I only do girl/girl and boy/girl regular sex. If it's anything more, I charge more. I charge $5,000 for anal, if I’m not comfortable I’m not doing it.” I'm like, you know what? I can do this.

Ginger Lynn in a photo shoot by Suze RandallPhoto: Suze Randall

So I go back to Jim South and ask for all those things… and Jim is on the floor. He's laughing his ass off. He said, “Honey, no! You can't start there. Nobody starts there. This is one of the biggest porn stars in the industry.” And I'm like fine, then I won't do it. 

Two weeks later, a couple – [adult filmmakers] David and Svetlana Marsh – were in Jim's office and they were making two feature films on the island of Kauai with a $250,000 budget. They wanted me to play one of the female leads and I'm like, I'm in. They agreed to all my rules. I wasn't bitchy or snobby, I just had my comfort zone, and as long as I stayed there I knew I would be okay.

One of my favourite moments was before I made that first feature film. We were all on the plane and there were probably 30 of us, cast and crew. It was a big production and I remember looking around the plane and thinking, ‘I'm going to fuck that person, I'm going to fuck this person, I get to suck his dick, I get to eat her pussy’. And it was just this moment of freedom – to know that, sexually, I was going to be able to do anything that I wanted and it was okay.

The industry definitely felt like a family back then. There were 50 people in the entire industry and that included the cast and the crew. It was a wonderful relationship that developed between the cast members, the crew members, everybody. We were like outlaws at the time, because it was illegal to shoot. I remember being on a very minimal set having an orgy scene and there was a knock on the door. The police came in [but] they didn't shut us down. I just remember all 20 of us hiding behind this one little plant naked.

Charlie Sheen and Ginger Lynn at Saugus Speedway, 1990.Ginger Lynn with Charlie Sheen in 1990. Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

I was in the industry from September of 1983 until February 1986. I had always anticipated my scenes, my films, my partners, what I was going to do, my dialogue. I looked forward to everything; I woke up one day and I had bought my first house. It was in Beverly Hills: Madonna, Kelly Preston and Dolly Parton were my neighbours. I'm thinking: ‘I am the shit. This is amazing’. But I woke up one morning in this beautiful home that I bought up in the hills, and rather than going ‘yes! I'm going to suck dick today’, I woke up and went, ‘I don't want to do this anymore. I'm done.’ I remembered that girl in Jim South's office telling me never do anything you're not comfortable with, and I got the oogies.

I made a comeback in 1999 and the only insecurity I had wasn’t competition against girls that were much younger than me – it was competition with myself. How am I going to live up to what I was 13 years ago? 

One of my biggest fears when I came back to the industry was that it wasn't going to be as glamorous or as wonderful, because all this time had passed. Girls didn't make films anymore, they did scenes. I've done 483 scenes and there was a difference between the old school and the new school, but I still got the glamour. I had my own trailer, I was treated like Ginger Lynn was at big awards ceremonies back in the day, and everybody was wonderful. The passion was there, but the family element was missing.

The 80s were the golden age of porn. Everybody was treated so well and we were all so close, it was just beautiful. I’ve made 76 films and over 40 of them were shot on 35mm. They were these huge productions with big budgets and real cameras.

The internet took away the joy of watching porn for the first time; taking that VHS or DVD home and putting it in the player. All of a sudden you could watch anything you wanted, anywhere, any time. It became a business – and in the early parts of my career it was a business, but it was more fun than work, and [in the end] it became more work than fun.

Sex Before the Internet premieres today at 10PM on VICE TV.

Categories: Tech News