I Tried Augustinus Bader’s Very Expensive Face Cream (and It Rocks)

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 14:33

Social media is replete with stories of clueless boyfriends slathering themselves with handfuls of their girlfriends’ exorbitantly expensive serums and lotions, ignorant as to the fact that each pump of La Prairie Skin Caviar or SkinCeuticals vitamin C serum costs more than a lobster roll. The jars and bottles deplete suspiciously rapidly, only for the girlfriends to eventually discover, with horror, their partners’ liberal usage of these precious products. Now that I have joined the cult of German skin-cell doctor turned skincare mogul Augustinus Bader, I admit that I would absolutely lose my shit if I were to walk into the bathroom and find some jabroni—even one I habitually invite to sleep in my bamboo sheets—slathering The Rich Cream on his elbows. 

See, Augustinus Bader’s fancy skincare line has been super, super cult-favey for a while now—and we’ve been taking notes over here. The eponymous creator of these expensive, award-winning products (the most famous of which are The Cream and The Rich Cream; more on both of those in a sec) is Dr. Augustinus Bader, an accomplished biomedical scientist with 30 years of research in stem cell and skin regeneration who parlayed that expertise into making moisturizers for rich people, and frankly, that’s cool with me. He did his 30 years of (science) time, and now he can come up with some really cool patented formulas, charge a premium for them, kick back, and partner with Victoria Beckham on serums for people like Kim Kardashian (and me), who really don’t want to be ugly. 

Why is Augustinus Bader’s skincare so popular?

So, what sets Bader’s stuff apart from the absolute clusterfuck of skincare products on the market right now? The crown jewel ingredient of the line is TFC8, a clinical-trial-supported blend of amino acids, high-grade vitamins, and synthesized molecules naturally found in skin that, in addition to protecting and moisturizing, encourage cell turnover and renewal (TFC stands for “Trigger Factor Complex”).

So, to answer the question you may have had in your brain ever since the first mention of stem cells: No, there are absolutely no ground-up fetuses or anything like that in these skincare products. Much of Bader’s 30 years of research was focused on developing products that could assist with healing burns and other skin traumas (in 2008, he created a groundbreaking Wound Gel), and it’s those same principles and formulas that informed his signature skincare. Augustinus Bader also recently launched a line of haircare and hair restoration products that use the same fancy scientific technology to help people keep and care for the hair they’ve got and encourage growth for the hair they’ve lost—the clinical trials and before-after photos are impressive. 

The Rich Cream is the line’s most popular product, and when I was given the opportunity to try it, it was obviously a resounding “hell yes” from me. If this stuff is good enough for Kim Kardashian, Margot Robbie, Alexa Chung, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Aniston—all fans of Bader’s line—it’s absolutely good enough for me.

First impressions

The bottle itself feels luxurious and beautiful, that shade of almost glowing dark cerulean that is an instant identifier of Bader’s products.

Augustinus Bader Rich Cream, in the boxPhoto by the author

I’m a big label-reader—it’s very revealing to see what you’re actually paying for, especially with skincare—and in addition to the signature TFC8 complex, other notable ingredients in the Rich Cream include squalane (known for its detoxifying and moisturizing capabilities), argan oil (shown to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, help to heal burns, and fight visible signs of aging), evening primrose oil (great for skin health, backed by science), shea butter (simply the GOAT), and “Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract,” which I happen to recognize as a fancier way of saying green tea. Interestingly, it also contains Sisymbrium irio seed oil—this plant is also known as London rocket and is a weed “found in abandoned fields, waste places, roadsides, and orchards,” according to the California Invasive Plant Council. However, after some quick Googling, I discovered that oil from the cabbage-like plant’s seeds is actually rich in fatty acids that promote cell renewal and actually has purported anti-aging and eczema-fighting capabilities. (The more you know, folks!!!)

Augustinus Bader Rich Cream, just out of the boxPhoto by the author

For clarification, The Rich Cream is the newer, upgraded version of The Cream (the line’s flagship product), with the addition of hydrolyzed rice protein, hyaluronic acid, and other ingredients that increase efficacy and moisture absorption.

How does it feel?

So, of course you’re wondering how it feels on your face—like, did I instantly feel like a multi-millionaire with my own line of loungewear the moment this ambrosia made contact with my visage? This I can tell you: it melts into your skin like a dream, and yes, my face instantly felt smoother and plumper with the power of German science. I followed the instructional video on the product page for how-to application, and that also provided a very pleasant quick face massage. I was expecting a fancy fragrance for some reason but The Rich Cream smells like nothing, which is probably strategic to avoid irritation and focus on the efficacy of the more important ingredients. 

Does it work?

After a few weeks of regular use, I feel like I have seen improvement in some dry patches of my face (mainly on my forehead and cheeks) as well as a reduction in the appearance of some fine lines around my eyes, although, of course, it’s hard to very specifically quantify these things without before and after photos, which I would have taken if I wasn’t currently in witness protection after my father left a life in organized crime. I can tell you this: If given the option and means to use this stuff every day for the rest of my life, I absolutely would. 

Just how expensive is this stuff?

So much will The Rich Cream set you back? If you just want to try it out, you can do so for under a hundo—no, it’s not even remotely “cheap,” but you can get the smallest size (15 milliliters) for $92. For the big container (50 milliliters, which should last about six weeks if you use two pumps a day), be ready to drop $290. Of course, I am now emotionally attached to The Rich Cream but cannot afford to spend $2,500 a year on moisturizer, no matter how hot it promises to make me, so I have been rationing mine and using it every other day so that I can at least enjoy three months of feeling like an anthropomorphized Erewhon smoothie. 


The Augustinus Bader line has won a ton of awards, including being named THE GREATEST SKINCARE OF ALL TIME (!!!) by a panel of hundreds of experts and “beauty insiders” at WWD Inc. and while that’s really wild, frankly, I’m not surprised. Elle, Marie Claire, InStyle, Essence, Harper’s Bazaar, and a ton of other publications have also showered accolades on this stuff. Needless to say, there’s a lot of hype—and now, I’m among its many cheerleaders. If only I had a giant Scrooge McDuck swimming pool of gold coins… gonna work on that until my 50-milliliter bottle runs out. Praying that in the meantime, a man doesn’t spot it in my bathroom and put nine pumps of it all over his hands and face. God help me. 

The Rich Cream is available at Augustinus Bader.

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

What to expect at WWDC 2023: Reality Pro, iOS 17, and new MacBooks

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 14:05
Futuristic glass-walled building permits views of surrounding forest.

Enlarge / Inside the Steve Jobs Theater building at Apple's headquarters. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple's 2023 Worldwide Developer Conference is just a few days away—it kicks off with a keynote on Monday, June 5. That keynote will be livestreamed (we'll liveblog it, too), and it's expected to be a doozy.

The WWDC keynote isn't always the most exciting for non-developers, as it usually focuses on iOS updates rather than exciting new hardware. There have been exceptions, though, and next week's event will surely be one of them. Apple is expected to finally unveil its rumored mixed reality headset, which has taken a long and winding path to market.

That will be the main focus, but there will be interesting new developments on the iPhone, Mac, and Watch. Here's what to expect from the WWDC keynote next week.

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Categories: Tech News

Daily Horoscope: May 31, 2023

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 14:00

The moon in Libra squares off with Venus in Cancer at 10:53 AM, inspiring an affectionate atmosphere. Fun may be the main priority, but people are in a more serious mood as the moon enters Scorpio at 7:45 PM and squares off with Pluto in Aquarius at 8:02 PM. Big changes can take place, ones that might push us to let go of old ways of doing things.

All times ET.

Read your monthly horoscope for May!

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Aries glyph Aries: March 20, 2023 - April 20, 2023

Your focus is on finances as the moon enters Scorpio. You may be resolving a tax issue, debt, or a financial issue with a partner. The moon squares off with Pluto in Aquarius, which could find you rethinking which groups and communities you want to be part of.

Taurus glyphs Taurus: April 20, 2023 - May 21, 2023

You may be inspired to write a love song as the moon in Libra squares off with your ruling planet Venus in Cancer. The moon enters Scorpio today, too, encouraging connection. An important shift can take place in your work as the moon squares off with Pluto in Aquarius.

Gemini glyph Gemini: May 21, 2023 - June 21, 2023

Be careful with your spending as the moon in fellow air sign Libra squares off with Venus in Cancer. The moon enters Scorpio and squares off with Pluto in Aquarius, which can find you ready to break an old habit or switch up your routine in some big way.

Cancer glyph Cancer: June 21, 2023 - July 22, 2023

The moon in Libra squares off with Venus in your sign, Cancer, making this a lovely time to reflect on everything you’re grateful for in your personal life. Romance and creativity come your way as the moon enters Scorpio!

Leo glyph Leo: July 22, 2023 - August 23, 2023

Your focus may be on your home and family life as the moon enters Scorpio, and you’re ready to make a big shift in your relationships as the moon squares off with Pluto in Aquarius. Change can be scary, but if you’re making choices that come from the heart, it’s worthwhile!

Virgo glyph Virgo: August 23, 2023 - September 23, 2023

The moon enters Scorpio, lighting up the communication sector of your chart. A deep, intense discussion could take place as the moon squares off with Pluto in Aquarius. You may learn a secret or some special information.

Libra glyph Libra: September 23, 2023 - October 23, 2023

The moon in your sign, Libra, squares off with your ruling planet Venus in Cancer, which can find you enjoying quite a bit of attention! Your focus turns to finances as the moon enters Scorpio.

Scorpio glyph Scorpio: October 23, 2023 - November 22, 2023

Create time to connect with yourself and your needs as the moon enters Scorpio. The moon squares off with your ruling planet Pluto, now in Aquarius, which could find you making important changes in your home, family, or personal life.

Sagittarius glyph Sagittarius: November 22, 2023 - December 21, 2023

Make time to slow down, rest, and relax as the moon enters Scorpio. A communication breakthrough may take place as the moon squares off with Pluto in Aquarius—but the discussion could be quite intense!

Capricorn glyph Capricorn: December 21, 2023 - January 20, 2024

Your focus can turn to your social life as the moon enters Scorpio, and you could be making important decisions about how you want to invest your time, energy, and money as the moon squares off with Pluto in Aquarius.

Aquarius glyphs Aquarius: January 20, 2023 - February 18, 2023

Your attention can turn to your career or life in the public eye as the moon enters Scorpio. The moon squares off with Pluto in your sign, Aquarius, which could find you ready to make a big change regarding your future plans, how you interact with fans, or the legacy you want to leave behind.

Pisces glyph Pisces:  February 18, 2023 - March 20, 2023

The moon enters fellow water sign Scorpio today, lighting up the sector of your chart that rules travel, adventure, and higher learning. You may discover something that radically changes your worldview as the moon squares off with Pluto in Aquarius.

Categories: Tech News

Arm announces the Cortex X4 for 2024, plus a 14-core M2-fighter

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 13:29

Over the weekend, Arm showed off its vision for the next generation of flagship CPUs. As usual, these designs include CPUs in various sizes for different workloads. The 'big' chip this year is the Arm Cortex X4, the 'medium' chip is the Cortex A720, and the 'small' chip is the Cortex A520. The new chips should arrive in Android phones and Windows laptops in 2024.

Arm claims the big Cortex X3 chip will have 15 percent higher performance than this year's X3 chip, and "40 percent better power efficiency." The company also promises a 20 percent efficiency boost for the A700 series and a 22 percent efficiency boost for the A500.

The new chips are all built on the new 'Armv9.2' architecture, which adds a "new QARMA3 algorithm" for Arm's Pointer Authentication memory security feature. Pointer authentication assigns a cryptographic signature to memory pointers and is meant to shut down memory corruption vulnerabilities like buffer overflows by making it harder for unauthenticated programs to create valid memory pointers. This feature has been around for a while, but Arm's new algorithm reduces the CPU overhead of all this extra memory work to just 1 percent of the chip's power, which hopefully will get more manufacturers to enable it.

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Categories: Tech News

AI, extinction, nuclear war, pandemics ... That's expert open letter bingo!

The Register - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 13:14
'We need to prepare now'

There's another doomsaying open letter about AI making the rounds. This time a wide swath of tech leaders, ML luminaries, and even a few celebrities have signed on to urge the world to take the alleged extinction-level threats posed by artificial intelligence more seriously. …

Categories: Tech News

Pegasus-pusher NSO gets new owner keen on the commercial spyware biz

The Register - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 12:15
Investors roll the dice against government sanctions and lawsuits

Spyware maker NSO Group has a new ringleader, as the notorious biz seeks to revamp its image amid new reports that the company's Pegasus malware is targeting yet more human rights advocates and journalists.…

Categories: Tech News

Elizabeth Holmes has reported to prison in Texas to start her 11-year sentence

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 12:03
Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos Inc., center, arrives at Federal Prison Camp Bryan in Bryan, Texas, US, on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. Holmes surrendered to authorities on Tuesday to begin her 11 1/4-year sentence after she was convicted by a jury last year of defrauding investors in the blood-testing startup. Photographer: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Enlarge / Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos Inc., center, arrives at Federal Prison Camp Bryan in Bryan, Texas, US, on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. Holmes surrendered to authorities on Tuesday to begin her 11 1/4-year sentence after she was convicted by a jury last year of defrauding investors in the blood-testing startup. Photographer: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Disgraced biotech entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes has arrived at a federal prison in Texas to begin her 11-year, three-month sentence for defrauding investors of her defunct blood-testing start-up, Theranos.

Press and photographers stationed outside the women's prison camp in Bryan, Texas, captured what appeared to be Holmes exiting a gray SUV with New York state plates and making her way into the facility flanked by facility staff at around 12:30 pm local time. Shortly afterward, the Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed to the Associated Press that Holmes was indeed in custody at the facility, FPC Bryan, which is about 100 miles northwest of Houston, Texas.

(credit: YouTube | Sky News)

The facility houses about 655 female inmates who are required to work in the cafeteria or a manufacturing facility, with pay starting at $1.15 per hour, according to The New York Times. Like other inmates, Holmes will don prison-issued khaki pants and shirts in pastel green, gray, or white during her stay. She will have no Internet access but can buy a radio or an MP3 player from the prison commissary and listen to "non-explicit" music. When she's not working or listening to prison-approved music, she can partake in leisure activities such as "table games" and arts and crafts.

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Categories: Tech News

Lawyer cited 6 fake cases made up by ChatGPT; judge calls it “unprecedented”

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 11:52
Robotic hand points to a line on a document while a human signs it with a pen. A judge's gavel is in the background.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Andrey Popov)

A lawyer is in trouble after admitting he used ChatGPT to help write court filings that cited six nonexistent cases invented by the artificial intelligence tool.

Lawyer Steven Schwartz of the firm Levidow, Levidow, & Oberman "greatly regrets having utilized generative artificial intelligence to supplement the legal research performed herein and will never do so in the future without absolute verification of its authenticity," Schwartz wrote in an affidavit on May 24 regarding the bogus citations previously submitted in US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Schwartz wrote that "the use of generative artificial intelligence has evolved within law firms" and that he "consulted the artificial intelligence website ChatGPT in order to supplement the legal research performed."

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Categories: Tech News

Employee Non-Compete Agreements Are Illegal, NLRB Lawyer Says

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 11:38

The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board issued a memo on Tuesday stating that overly broad non-compete agreements violate the National Labor Relations Act by barring workers from opportunities to get new jobs. The memo is the latest of multiple governmental actions to address the problem of non-competes, including a proposed ruling by the Federal Trade Commission earlier this year to ban them completely

Non-compete agreements are common clauses in contracts that workers sign when they first get hired. They usually state that when the worker leaves the company, they cannot start or join a competing company for a set time range or within a specific geographic region. Nominally, this is supposed to prevent the worker from sharing company secrets or contributing too much to competition for their former employer. 

In practice, they are used to control workers, keep wages down by limiting workers' employment options, and can be a tool of collusion between companies. Researchers estimate that roughly 30 million Americans have signed such clauses (about 1 in 5 workers), and say that most people don't remember signing them as they are often buried in employment contracts.

NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, however, has now stated that such agreements are “overbroad” and, with a few exceptions, violate Sections 7 and 8 of the National Labor Relations Act specifically because of how they impact unionization efforts. 

The memo is the second major determination made by Abruzzo this year. Earlier this year, she declared that nondisclosure agreements and nondisparagement clauses tied to worker severance are illegal and are retroactively void. 

Sections 7 and 8 of the National Labor Relations Act are most frequently associated with organizing. They guarantee workers’ rights “to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection,” and that an employer cannot punish their employees for doing so. 

Abruzzo’s memo continues to say that non-compete agreements chill employees from engaging in union organizing because they know they would have “greater difficulty replacing their lost income if they are discharged for exercising their statutory rights to organize.” Abruzzo also says that workers likely won’t meet former colleagues at their new workplace, which means they can’t “leverage their prior relationships—and the communication and solidarity engendered thereby—to encourage each other to exercise their rights to improve working conditions in their new workplace.” Any organizing effort to improve the workplace and protect workers’ rights would have to start from scratch. 

“In addition, non-compete provisions that could reasonably be construed by employees to deny them the ability to quit or change jobs” the memo reads, referring specifically to workers’ rights to resign or threaten resignation to demand better working conditions—because of their non-compete provision, they wouldn’t have anywhere else to go. 

“Not all non-compete agreements necessarily violate the NLRA,” the memo states, giving as examples, “provisions that clearly restrict only individuals’ managerial or ownership interests in a competing business,” or “circumstances in which a narrowly tailored non-compete agreement’s infringement on employee rights is justified by special circumstances.” 

Abruzzo wrote that, “unless the provision is narrowly tailored to special circumstances justifying the infringement on employee rights,” an overbroad non-compete agreement violates labor law, and wanting to avoid competition is “not a legitimate business interest” for these purposes. Employers concerned about proprietary trade secrets can protect them with “narrowly tailored workplace agreements.”

This is the second major announcement regarding non-compete agreements this year, the first being the Federal Trade Commission’s proposal in January to ban them entirely. The FTC stated that non-compete clauses harm healthy competition in the labor and product markets and block entrepreneurship, and estimated that the rule could increase workers’ earnings by almost $300 billion per year. Such a ruling has not yet gone into effect. 

Categories: Tech News

Dallas airport will demo this cute little mobile EV charging robot

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 10:52
A mobile EV charger recharges a white BMW iX

Enlarge / Ziggy is a battery-powered EV charger on wheels that can come visit individual parking spaces to recharge EVs where they park. (credit: EV Safe Charge)

There are a few things we need to work on if we're going to properly embrace the electric vehicle revolution. More batteries, for one—tight supplies mean automakers can only build enough EVs to satisfy some of the pent-up demand. Cheaper EVs would be helpful, too, considering that by the end of 2022 the average cost of a new EV was more than $61,000. And charging infrastructure needs to improve, too. Now, a new mobile EV charger called Ziggy might help with that last one.

Installing EV chargers usually isn't too difficult if you're a homeowner with a garage or carport, but things can get more complicated for multifamily dwellings and commercial parking premises. Permitting is often a big problem, and there can also be lengthy waits to get electrical infrastructure upgraded, particularly if the plan is to install level 3 DC fast chargers, which can suck up 100s of kWs of electricity from the grid.

Ziggy is the work of the company EV Charge Safe, and it flips the idea of EV charging on its head. Instead of a driver parking by the EV charger, Ziggy is mobile and can come to the car instead.

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Categories: Tech News

Archaeologists Discover Dozens of Mysterious Ancient Stone Carvings Hidden Under Moss

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 10:43

Archaeologists have discovered about 40 stunning rock carvings of ships, people, and animals that were etched into the granite cliffs of a Swedish island some 2,700 years ago. The Bronze Age carvings, which are known as petroglyphs, were found earlier this May in Bohuslän, a province in western Sweden that is famous for its abundant rock art, according to the public television broadcaster SVT.

The newly identified petroglyphs were spotted near the town of Kville by a team of researchers conducting fieldwork for the Foundation for Documentation of Bohuslän's Rock Carvings. The team erected a platform to uncover the images, which were hidden under a bed of moss on a steep outcrop. Today, this rock face is located in the middle of a grassy field, but it would have been on an island cliffside 2,700 years ago.

"What makes the rock carving completely unique is that it is located 3 meters above today's ground level on a steep rock surface which, during the Late Bronze Age, was located on a small island,” the Foundation said in a Facebook post announcing the find. “The rock carving must have been made from a boat when the sea level was approximately 12 meters above today's sea level."

Bohuslän is home to thousands of ancient rock carvings, distinguishing the region as an archeological hotspot, a tourist attraction, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From about 4,000 to 2,500 years ago, the area was occupied by skilled craftspeople and mariners who used rock art to document many aspects of their daily lives. The immense trove of carvings includes images of birds, whales, livestock, maritime vessels, hunting scenes, and mysterious ritual acts, which collectively open a valuable window into the Nordic Bronze Age.

The ancient Swedish carvings “include lively scenes and complex compositions of elaborate motifs from travel, status, power, warfare, and cult” that create “an exceptional testimony to the culture of the European Bronze Age,” according to UNESCO.  

The newest haul of petroglyphs includes a sprawling 13-foot carving of a ship, as well as depictions of people, chariots, ships, and horses. The purpose of the striking rock art remains unclear, though some researchers have speculated that the images may be intended to mark property, tell stories, or share knowledge across generations.

"On the basis of the repetition of the motifs, it is possible that this collection of figures forms a narrative," James Dodd, an archaeologist at Aarhus University, told LiveScience, though he added that the exact meaning of the carving remains a mystery. 

Categories: Tech News

AI CEOs Say AI Poses ‘Risk of Extinction,’ Are Trying to Find the Guy Who Did This

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 10:42

Hundreds of AI researchers, CEOs, and engineers signed a statement warning that AI has as much of a possibility to cause extinction as pandemics and nuclear war.

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” the statement reads. It was signed by top AI executives including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, OpenAI Co-founder and Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, Google’s DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, and Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei, among hundreds of others.

“AI experts, journalists, policymakers, and the public are increasingly discussing a broad spectrum of important and urgent risks from AI. Even so, it can be difficult to voice concerns about some of advanced AI’s most severe risks,” an introduction to the statement says. “The succinct statement […] aims to overcome this obstacle and open up discussion. It is also meant to create common knowledge of the growing number of experts and public figures who also take some of advanced AI’s most severe risks seriously.”

Other notable signatories include Geoffrey Hinton, the professor known as the “godfather of AI,” and Yoshua Bengio, a professor at the University of Montreal, who was a top signatory of a previous open letter calling for a six-month pause on the development of AI.

Since being shared, a number of AI researchers and ethicists have pointed out that the statement deepens a hypothetical existential fear and detracts from the very real problems of AI, many of which were created and remain unaddressed by the people who signed this very statement.

“Putting existential AI risk on the same level as climate change and pandemics is misleading, since both of these are very concrete, current risks (which millions of people are being affected by at this very moment), whereas the risk of AI destroying humanity is very hypothetical,” Sasha Luccioni, a Research Scientist and Climate Lead at Hugging Face, told Motherboard. Luccinoi tweeted charts showing how Google’s emission types went up between 2020 and 2021, with electricity-related emissions more than doubling, and wondered if this is correlated to Google’s widescale deployment of Large Language Models (LLMs) like Bard.

“I see this as a way for companies like Open AI to control the narrative and move public attention away from things like data consent, the legality of their systems, and the false and misleading information that they produce (and how all of these can impact our livelihoods). Essentially, it is a misdirection of public attention away from what matters towards that which suits their narrative and business model,” Luccioni added.

“The whole thing looks to me like a media stunt, to try to grab the attention of the media, the public, and policymakers and focus everyone on the distraction of scifi scenarios,” Emily M. Bender a Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Washington, told Motherboard. “This would seem to serve two purposes: it paints their tech as way more powerful and effective than it is and it takes the focus away from the actual harms being done, now, in the name of this technology. These include the pollution of the information ecosystem, the reinforcement and replication of biases at scale, exploitative labor practices and further gigification of the economy, enabling oppressive surveillance such as the ‘digital border wall’ and theft of data and creative work.”

In late March, a group of public figures and leading AI researchers, including people such as Elon Musk and Andrew Yang, signed an open letter calling for a six-month pause on training AI systems more powerful than GPT-4. That open letter took a longtermist view to AI. Longtermism is an outlook that many Silicon Valley tech elite have embraced and is what drives them to seek hoards of wealth to solve problems for humans in the far future, rather than focus on issues in the present.

Similarly, Tuesday’s brief statement is a fear-mongering prediction about the future that detracts from the very real problems AI is creating today. It's also made by the exact same people who are financially benefiting from their own development and investment in AI; it takes for granted that there is simply nothing that can be done to slow or stop the pace of AI development.

“Why should something need to be framed as an ‘existential risk’ in order to matter? Is extinction status that necessary for something to be important?” Deborah Raji, a computer scientist and fellow at Mozilla, tweeted. “The need for this ‘saving the world’ narrative over a ‘let's just help the next person’ kind of worldview truly puzzles me.”

Last week, Altman was threatening that OpenAI might “cease operations” in the EU due to his concerns over the EU AI Act, which would require “summaries of copyrighted data for training.” OpenAI has become increasingly closed-source and secretive with the release of its models. Revealing its training data and other information behind the model would open the company up to a lot more competition and perhaps even lawsuits from those whose copyrighted work can be found in the training dataset.

“That sounds to me like the regulators are not falling for the AI hype and asserting the right of elected governments to protect the interests of people against overreach by corporations. In such a context, it's no wonder that the corporations profiting off of a business model based on data theft and labor exploitation would want to try to reframe the discussion,” Bender told Motherboard.

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft drops Surface Pro X webcam quality to get broken cameras working again

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 10:40
Surface Pro X

Enlarge / The Microsoft Surface Pro X. (credit: Jeff Dunn)

Microsoft has issued a workaround for broken Surface Pro X cameras following user reports that the integrated webcams stopped working on May 23. The tech giant says it's working with OEM partners to fix the problem permanently.

Microsoft debuted the Surface Pro X in 2019. The tablet, focusing on battery life and mobility, opted for a Microsoft-branded SQ1 processor, based off Qualcomm's first-generation Snapdragon 8cx. An SQ2 version succeeded. In October 2022, Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 9, which includes Arm options and, thus, essentially absorbs the Surface Pro X.

But there are still plenty of people with a Surface Pro X (Microsoft doesn't disclose Surface sales numbers specifically, but the Surface business overall brought in $6.7 billion in revenue last fiscal year), and as of May 23, all of their built-in webcams stopped working.

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Categories: Tech News

Windows driver woes trip AMD GPU owners, blind Arm-powered cameras

The Register - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 10:27
Rollbacks and workarounds abound

Microsoft is dealing with a couple of unrelated processor driver problems that are causing headaches for some Windows users.…

Categories: Tech News

OpenAI execs warn of “risk of extinction” from artificial intelligence in new open letter

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 10:12
An AI-generated image of

Enlarge / An AI-generated image of "AI taking over the world." (credit: Stable Diffusion)

On Tuesday, the Center for AI Safety (CAIS) released a single-sentence statement signed by executives from OpenAI and DeepMind, Turing Award winners, and other AI researchers warning that their life's work could potentially extinguish all of humanity.

The brief statement, which CAIS says is meant to open up discussion on the topic of "a broad spectrum of important and urgent risks from AI," reads as follows: "Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war."

High-profile signatories of the statement include Turing Award winners Geoffery Hinton and Yoshua Bengio, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, OpenAI Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI CTO Mira Murati, DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei, and professors from UC Berkeley, Stanford, and MIT.

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Categories: Tech News

COVID outbreak at CDC gathering infects 181 disease detectives

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 10:03
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters stands in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, March 14, 2020.

Enlarge / The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters stands in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, March 14, 2020. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

The tally of COVID-19 cases linked to a conference of disease detectives hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April has reached at least 181, the agency reported.

Roughly 1,800 gathered in person for this year's annual Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Conference, which was held on April 24 to 27 in a hotel conference facility in Atlanta where the CDC's headquarters are located. It was the first time the 70-year-old conference had in-person attendees since 2019. The CDC agency estimates an additional 400 attended virtually this year.

By the last day of the event, a number of in-person attendees had reported testing positive for COVID-19, causing conference organizers to warn attendees and make changes to reduce the chance of further spread. That reportedly included canceling an in-person training and offering to extend the hotel stays of sick attendees who needed to isolate.

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Categories: Tech News

Activision says UK was “irrational” in blocking Microsoft purchase

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 09:47
A small selection of the characters that would be part of Microsoft if its proposed Activision/Blizzard merger is allowed to go through.

Enlarge / A small selection of the characters that would be part of Microsoft if its proposed Activision/Blizzard merger is allowed to go through. (credit: Activision Blizzard King)

Activision isn't pulling any punches in its fight against the UK's regulatory attempts to block its merger with Microsoft. In a "motion to intervene" recently filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal (and recently summarized on the tribunal's website), Activision excoriates the UK's Competition and Markets Authority for a "flawed conclusion" that was variously "unlawful, irrational, and/or disproportionate" and "arrived at in a procedurally unfair manner."

The appeal takes particular issue with the CMA's focus on cloud gaming in a vacuum, without taking into account competition from "native gaming" via games running on local hardware. The ability to easily switch from one type of game experience to the other means that cloud gaming should not be a "separate product market," Activision argues.

A source close to Activision's appeals process (who asked for anonymity to speak frankly about the appeal) put a finer point on this argument, saying that cloud gaming is a niche technology and that "most consumers continue to get games by download or physical disc because running the game on their local hardware gives them a much better experience."

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Categories: Tech News

A Teen Girl Set Her Dorm On Fire After Her Phone Was Confiscated. 19 Children Died.

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 09:40

A 15-year-old girl is being charged as an adult for the murder of 19 other children in Guyana after allegedly starting a fire in their dormitory as retaliation for having her cell phone confiscated by school officials.

The teen was identified as the principal suspect in the deadly blaze on May 21 at the Mahdia Secondary School that shocked the South American nation. The girl, who has not been publicly identified, allegedly deliberately started the fire in the dormitory bathroom around midnight after her cell phone was taken away by the “dorm mother” and a teacher, according to the Guyana Chronicle newspaper.

When the blaze began, there were reportedly 57 female students in the one-floor concrete building with iron bars over the windows where the girls lived. The fire quickly engulfed the entire structure.

Guyana National Security advisor Gerald Gouveia said that all the doors to the dormitory were locked at the time to prevent the teenage girls, aged between 12-18, from sneaking out at night, according to The Associated Press. The government boarding school primarily houses children from remote Indigenous villages in the country and is located in the mining town of Mahdia.

14 children were found dead at the scene, while another five died later in the hospital. One of the dead was a five-year-old boy who was reportedly the son of the dorm mother. Another 29 girls were injured during the attack, including a 13-year-old who was airlifted to New York in critical condition for specialized treatment.

On May 26, Guyana Independence Day, President Mohamed Irfaan Ali addressed children around the nation and asked them to “shoulder each other’s pains.”

“Never forget the fragility of life. Open yourself to good counsel. Be respectful. Pay tribute to your teachers. Reach for the most distraught among you and give them your hands of friendship,” said Ali. “Share from your abundance among those who least have; and always remember, this is your home in which you are gifted life.”

The president also met with the families of the victims of the fire, as well as the survivors, and announced plans to launch support programs and mental health initiatives to help those affected. At the meeting, the children spoke about wanting to return to school, but some hoped to do so in their own communities and closer to their families, the government said.

The girl accused of starting the fire was officially charged on 19 counts of murder on Monday during a virtual hearing and will be held in custody pending further proceedings. If she is found guilty of the charges as an adult, the defendant could face a life sentence in prison.

Categories: Tech News

Nvidia to power more supercomputers as AI frenzy kicks in

The Register - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 09:09
New beasts to take up residence in Israeli and Taiwanese DCs

Computex  Not content with unveiling its DGX GH200 AI supercomputer at Computex, Nvidia said it is involved in several other supercomputers targeting AI processing, including one in Israel and two based in Taiwan.…

Categories: Tech News

Diablo 4 review: Off to a hell of a good start

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/30/2023 - 09:00
Diablo 4 review: Off to a hell of a good start


When Diablo 3 released 11 years ago, it was a mess.

Put aside the action role-playing game’s infamous server problems at launch—a product of the series going online-only for the first time—the game itself had fundamental issues. At core was its ill-conceived and universally reviled real-money auction house, which changed the thrust of the series’ loot hunt from “look at this badass helm I got from killing an elite demon” to “look at these practical pants I bought from an in-game spreadsheet for $2.99 USD.” Difficulty and balance were all over the place, and, perhaps worst of all to long-time Diablo fans, the previous games’ dark horror aesthetic was replaced with a more colorful, cartoony vibe.

Two years and a management shakeup later, we got the Reaper of Souls expansion, which completely revamped Diablo 3’s loot and endgame, giving us the game we should have had from the beginning. Art direction notwithstanding, Diablo 3 ended up in a good place, and I played a ton of it, largely due to its genre-leading combat. (Lest we forget, Diablo 2 also had a game-changing expansion in Lord of Destruction.)

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