Posts with «author_name|sean buckley» label

FCC makes its first rule to block scam robotexts official

Last month, the FCC proposed a new set of rules designed to combat the nuisance of robotext scams. Those rules are now official: not only will carriers be required to block messages that are likely to be illegal, but the new order also takes the first steps toward closing a loophole that allows scammers to dodge Do-Not-Call Registry protections.

Specifically, the rule targets text messages that come from numbers that are "unlikely to transmit text messages," citing unallocated, unused or invalid numbers, as well as numbers for government agencies and other "well-known entities" that don't send text messages. The order also hopes to close the "lead generator loophole," that allows companies to interpret a consumer's "consent" to a call as permission for other marketers to add them to a robocall list.

The announcement makes a point of saying that while these kinds of robotexts already fall under the Telephone Consumer Protection act, the new rules will give carriers more tools to help them actively block scammers. Even so, the best way to prevent being scammed is to protect yourself.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear steps down as CEO

After 16 years with Twitch, company co-founder Emmett Shear is stepping down from his role as CEO. Shear was there at the beginning, when the popular entertainment platform was still called, a live video site designed to host a 24/7 reality show about the life of co-founder Justin Kan. When the company spun the platform's growing gaming category into its own brand, Twitch was born. Shear shepherded the company through that transition, through Amazon's $970 million acquisition of the company in 2014, and beyond. Now, he says he says fatherhood has inspired him to step down from his leadership role. "I want to be fully there for my son as he enters this world," he wrote in a farewell blog. "I will continue to work at Twitch in an advisory role."

In October 2006 we started working on live video for the internet. That became Twitch. More than 16 years later, I'm now a father and ready to move to my next phase of life. I wrote a blog post, but the short version is: thank you so much to everyone who built this with me.

— Emmett Shear (@eshear) March 16, 2023

Dan Clancy will be taking over as CEO. Originally hired in 2019 as the executive VP of creator and community experience, Clancy soon rose to the role of President at Twitch. When streaming partners raised concerns over Twitch's revenue split with creators, Clancy was the one who put the issue to bed — explaining in a letter to streamers that the share would remain at 50/50 and premium 70/30 splits given to the platforms biggest stars would be subject to new limitations. As the face of this decision, Clancy bore the brunt of much of the backlash.

As for Shear, his exit letter exudes confidence for the new CEO. "He cares deeply about the Twitch community, its streamers and our staff and understands what makes Twitch, Twitch," he wrote. Dan Clancy will step into his role as CEO effective immediately.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

SpaceX is getting ready to test its Starlink satellite-to-cell phone service

Last summer, Elon Musk and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert announced "Coverage Above and Beyond," a joint initiative that aimed to bring Starlink satellite coverage compatible T-Mobile devices. Now, SpaceX is getting ready to begin testing its satellite-to-cellular service.

During a panel at the Satellite Conference and Exhibition 2023, SpaceX VP of Starlink enterprise sales Jonathan Hofeller said the company had plans to "start getting into testing" its satellite-to-cell service this year. "We're going to learn a lot by doing — not necessarily by overanalyzing — and getting out there, working with the telcos."

Hofeller: SpaceX plans to "start getting into testing" its Starlink satellite-to-cell service "this year."

— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) March 13, 2023

Hofeller didn't specifically say which Telco SpaceX was working with, but the timeline certainly lines up with Musk's original vision for the T-Mobile partnership. In August, he promised that Starlink V2 would launch in 2023 and would "transmit direct to mobile phones, eliminating dead zones worldwide." At the time T-Mobile said the service would give the carrier "near complete coverage" of most of the United States, specifically highlighting areas that are notoriously difficult to find a signal: National Parks, mountain ranges, deserts and other remote locations.

Either way, the panel seemed optimistic about the future of sat-to-cell technology. Lynk Global CEO Charles Miller said that satellite cellular service has the potential to be the "biggest category in satellite," and Iridium CEO Matt Desch sees cellular satellite service as just the beginning. "Satellite should connect everything everywhere," he said at the event, imagining the technology connecting to computers, vehicles and more.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The final trailer for 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie' looks more like a game than ever

There was a time when movies based on video games tried to distance themselves from their source material. "This ain't no game," bragged the poster for the 1993's live-action Super Mario Bros. film. Times have changed: The final trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie by Illumination leans hard into its origins. This is absolutely a game, it says. See? Here's a scene that looks like New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, and another one that looks just like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

If you were hoping to hear more of Chris Pratt's Mario voice, you won't find it here — but the final trailer does give viewers a clear look at the tone the movie is going for. We watch Bowser list off an army of familiar video game enemies. We watch Mario and Donkey Kong use power mushrooms and fire flowers as they run through a training course that looks like a traditional Mario level. We see Mario and Peach race through a brightly rendered Rainbow Road. It looks familiar. It looks fun. And it looks like a game, but with better graphics.

That's no surprise. According to directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, Illumination has worked closely with Nintendo to make sure the film feels right. The directors also say that Illumination has improved its lighting and rendering technology to help push Super Mario Bros. Movie to the next level "beyond anything Illumination has ever done."

As for that Mario voice? You'll finally be able to hear the full performance when the film hits theaters next month. The Super Mario Bros. Moviereleases on April 5, 2023.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

YouTube reverses course on controversial swearing and monetization policy

The new profanity rules YouTube introduced late last year are being relaxed — with an update outlining a less restrictive policy that will allow the use of moderate and strong profanity to be used without risking demonetization. The original policy, first introduced in November, would flag any video that used rude language in the first several seconds as ineligible for advertising, with little delineation between "strong" or "moderate" swearing. The policy also seemed to apply retroactively, with many creators claiming that videos they published before the updated policy had lost their monetization status. Now, YouTube is reversing course with a tweaked set of rules that allows some swearing.

Now, creators who use colorful language in the first seven seconds of a video are still eligible for advertising, with some conditions. If the profanity is "moderate," the video won't face any restrictions — but strong profanity in those opening seconds could result in a video only receiving "limited ads." Under the original rules, the update notes, both of these scenarios would have caused a video to be completely demonetized. Creators will be able swear more frequently after the first seven seconds without fear of losing advertising revenue, though YouTube notes that excessive swearing will still put content at risk of being demonetized or limited.

The update also clarifies that strong language in background, outro or intro music should not affect monetization status.

The new language policy goes into effect starting on March 7th — and while it doesn't address every concern creators had about the November ruleset, it should make it easier for most YouTubers to continue to monetize their videos without significantly changing their content or style.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Legislation to ban government use of facial recognition hits Senate for the third time

Biometric technology may make it easy to unlock your phone, but democratic lawmakers have long cautioned against the use of facial recognition and biometrics by law enforcement. Not only have researchers documented instances of racial and gender bias in such systems, false positives have even led to real instances of wrongful arrest. That's why lawmakers have re-introduced the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Act. This actually marks the third time the bill was introduced to the Senate — despite being introduced in 2020 and 2021, the act was never advanced to a vote.

If passed, the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Act would outright ban any use of facial recognition or biometric surveillance by the federal government unless that use is explicitly approved by an Act of Congress. That approval itself would be pretty limited: It would need to define who was allowed to use biometric surveillance, the exact type of biometric surveillance they would be using and the specific purpose it would be used for. Approval would also have the burden of further restrictions, such as adhering to minimum accuracy rates that would hopefully avoid false positives in the rare instances when use of the technology is approved.

The bill also hopes to encourage local and state governments to follow its lead, including a clause that would tie some federal funding for local law enforcement to complying with a "substantially similar" ban on facial recognition and biometrics.

While the bill hasn't had much luck making it to the floor of either chamber of congress, some states and local governments have been banning facial recognition technology on their own. In 2020, Portland Oregon put strict guardrails on the use of facial recognition technology. New York State and Massachusetts have also put restrictions on the use of biometrics. Even the IRS walked back plans to use facial recognition for identity verification purposes.

That sounds encouraging for the re-introduced bill, but that momentum isn't universal: Law enforcement still sees biometrics as a useful tool for investigating crime, and the TSA has been testing systems that compare travelers to the photo on their passport or driver's license.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Researchers are using sound-waves and holograms to instantly mold tiny 3D shapes

The idea of growing organs or tissues for medical use still sounds like science fiction — and indeed, it's an incredibly difficult thing to do. 3D-printing technology has shown some promise in the field of biofabrication, but the process is too slow, and often damages the tissue it's working with. Researchers in Germany may have a solution: using holograms and sound fields to rapidly assemble matter in 3D.

The process uses acoustic pressure to mold silica gel microspheres and other materials into complex 3D shapes. Pulling that off isn't easy. The team first had to learn how to create complex, layered holographic shapes that were formed from sound, rather than light — and that takes an incredible amount of computational power. "The digitization of an entire 3D object into ultrasound hologram fields is computationally very demanding and required us to come up with a new computation routine," one of the team's researchers told FastCompany.

Once the hologram is complete, however, it can be used to mold various materials. The shapes the team has made so far aren't very large — measuring less than an inch at the largest — but they are fairly complex. Even more impressive, the fabrication process happens quite quickly: One video included with the published study shows a clear cube with a cloudy liquid made of silica gel microspheres. Moments later, that cloud condenses into the shape of a helix.

Other experiments formed shapes using mouse myoblast cells, and the study's lead author, Kai Melde, told FastCompany that the technology had potential to be used for bioprinting in the future. "Ultrasound is gentle and non-toxic to the cells," Melde explained. "And the remote assembly without contact helps keep things sterile and the cells happy." The study also explores the idea of using the technology for targeted drug delivery and rapid prototyping. For now though, the research stands as an interesting proof of concept for rapid-one-step assembly of 3D objects, and a potential, much faster alternative to 3D printing in the future.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Ford's new AI subsidiary wants to create hands-free, eyes-off driver assist systems

Hate sitting in rush hour traffic? Ford knows you do — and the company is doubling down on developing automated driving technology to help make traffic a little more tolerable. Today, Ford announced the creation of Latitude AI, a wholly owned subsidiary that aims to make driving less stressful, specifically in "bumper-to-bumper traffic or on long stretches of highway."

The idea seems to be to develop a more advanced version of Ford BlueCruise — but without sensors that warn drivers to pay attention if their eyes wander from the road. Ford's announcement instead imagines the system giving drivers an "eyes-off-the-road" experience that can give them "some of their day back."

This isn't the first time Ford has spun off part of its company to focus on automation. Back in 2018, it founded Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC to focus on developing self-driving car technology. Later, that group was placed under the umbrella of Ford Next, a unit formed in 2021 to help Ford manage startups, new mobility services and manage the company's stake in Argo AI. This new company seems to be a way to continue Argo AI's work following its closure last year: Ford says 550 of Latitude AI's new employees are former Argo AI workers.

Ford previously promised to invest $29 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles by 2025. Forming Latitude AI shows that the company is still serious about the investment, despite Argo AI's closure in 2022. “We believe automated driving technology will help improve safety while unlocking all-new customer experiences that reduce stress and in the future will help free up a driver’s time to focus on what they choose," Latitude AI CEO Sammy Omari said in a company statement. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

US intelligence report says Havana Syndrome probably wasn't caused by 'energy weapons'

Energy weapons are real. Military and weapons researchers have developed microwave guns and lasers that can be used to disable soldiers or shoot down drones — but a new report from the CIA and other intelligence agencies say that these kinds of weapons probably aren't responsible for the condition known as Havana Syndrome.

When US personnel overseas began suffering from unexplained headaches, nausea and hearing problems in 2016, many were quick to suspect foul play by a foreign adversary. A panel of experts concluded that the anomalous health incidents that came to be known as Havana Syndrome could plausibly have been caused by "pulsed electromagnetic energy," prompting some of those afflicted with the condition to blame their symptoms on a mysterious new energy weapon, possibly wielded by Russian operatives. Now, seven intelligence agencies say that panel got it wrong.

The Washington Post reports that even after reviewing about 1,000 cases across the world, the CIA and half a dozen agencies concluded that it was unlikely that the symptoms were caused by a foreign adversary. Not by energy weapons, not from electronic surveillance, and not from unintentional exposure to radio waves or ultrasonic beams. Analysts simply couldn't find any common pattern that linked the anomalous health incidents together that could suggest an intentional attack, noting that in some cases there wasn't even a direct line of sight from which an energy weapon could have been used.

So, what does cause Havana Syndrome? Officials say that the majority of the cases they reviewed could be linked to pre-existing medical conditions. Environmental factors, like poor building ventilation, could also contribute to some of the symptoms — but the report simply couldn't find a link to an intentional, external factor.

The report seems pretty confident that Russia isn't using an experimental energy weapon to cause nausea, hearing loss and headaches, but officials say that new information could change that assessment: If intelligence reports reveal that a foreign government has developed technology capable of causing these symptoms, they'll take another look and reassess.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The White House’s $39 billion chip-making giveaway starts today

When President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law in 2022, it put $52 billion in tax credits and funding on the table to help bolster the semiconductor industry in the US, with $39 billion specifically earmarked for semiconductor manufacturing incentives. Now, we're starting to see how that initiative is going to play out: The Biden Administration has officially launched the first CHIPS for America funding opportunity, laying out the application process for "projects to construct, expand or modernize commercial facilities for the production of leading-edge, current-generation and mature-node semiconductors."

The "first" in first funding opportunity is the key word here: At the start, CHIPS for America is specifically looking to fund projects that align with the program's "vision for success" that seeks to have a number of leading-edge logic fabrication facilities and DRAM chip manufacturers by the end of the decade, as well as hitting specific production capacity goals for "current-generation and mature-node" semiconductors. The program plans to offer more funding opportunities for R&D and manufacturing equipment facilities at a later date. Applications for those programs won't launch until late Spring and Fall of 2023, but the CHIPS Program Office is open to receiving statements of interest from hopeful applicants.

The program also includes strict guardrails for how funding is used. Applicants who are awarded CHIPS funding will be prohibited from using the payments for stock buybacks or to pay out dividends, and payments will be tied to meeting specific milestones. It'll be awhile before the first recipients of CHIPS funding are announced, but hopeful projects can begin submitting applications on March 31, 2023. Want all the details? Check out the full CHIPS for America announcement right here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at