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Worth Rises — FCC VOTES UNANIMOUSLY TO SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER PHONE AND VIDEO COMMUNICATION COSTS AFTER DECADES OF EXPLOITATION BY PRISON TELECOMS

FCC VOTES UNANIMOUSLY TO SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER PHONE AND VIDEO COMMUNICATION COSTS AFTER DECADES OF EXPLOITATION BY PRISON TELECOMS

WASHINGTON, D. C. — Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unan­i­mously to dra­mat­i­cally limit the rates that prison tele­coms charge for phone and video calls from pris­ons and jails. The new or­der more than halves the per-minute rate caps for all prison and jail phone calls across the coun­try. It also es­tab­lishes in­terim per-minute rate caps for video calls, mark­ing the first time the FCC has set rules for prison com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­yond phone calls. Finally, it pro­hibits all fees, in­clud­ing de­posit fees. Worth Rises es­ti­mates that the new rules will im­pact 83% of in­car­cer­ated peo­ple (about 1.4 mil­lion) and save im­pacted fam­i­lies at least $500 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

Impact sum­mary:Im­proves the well-be­ing and reen­try suc­cess of in­car­cer­ated peo­ple who will have more ac­cess to their sup­port sys­tem­sIn­creases the the fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity of mil­lions of Americans with in­car­cer­ated loved ones and strength­ens their fam­i­lies­Reins in and right-sizes the prison tele­com in­dus­try that has preyed on in­car­cer­ated peo­ple and their loved ones for decadesRe­verses the mass sur­veil­lance pro­ject that cor­rec­tional agen­cies and their in­dus­try part­ners have ex­panded rapidly in re­cent years

The reg­u­la­tions adopted to­day mark the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act, which es­tab­lished the FCCs au­thor­ity to reg­u­late in-state phone and video calls from cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties, in ad­di­tion to out-of-state phone calls that it had al­ready reg­u­lated. The dis­cus­sion dur­ing to­day’s vote will re­sult in only mi­nor changes to the draft rules re­leased on June 27, and be re­leased in the com­ing days.

For far too long, fam­i­lies around the coun­try have strug­gled to af­ford to stay con­nected to their in­car­cer­ated loved ones. Too many have gone into debt just to keep in touch or been cut off en­tirely. Relief is fi­nally on the hori­zon,” said Bianca Tylek, Executive Director of Worth Rises. We ex­tend enor­mous grat­i­tude to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and the other com­mis­sion­ers for rec­og­niz­ing the toll that preda­tory com­mu­ni­ca­tion costs take on in­car­cer­ated peo­ple, their fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties, and the pub­lic. It’s im­pos­si­ble to cal­cu­late the mag­ni­tude of the im­pact that this will have on the mil­lions of fam­i­lies with in­car­cer­ated loved ones, but we know that it will save them more than $500 mil­lion an­nu­ally.”

The pri­mary fac­tors dri­ving the FCCs lower rate caps is the ex­clu­sion of se­cu­rity and sur­veil­lance costs as well as the ex­clu­sion of com­mis­sions. For decades, the cost of an ever-ex­pand­ing suite of in­va­sive sur­veil­lance ser­vices has been passed on to in­car­cer­ated peo­ple and their loved ones. With to­day’s new rules, prison tele­coms will be barred from re­cov­er­ing the cost of the ma­jor­ity of such ser­vices from ratepay­ers. This comes af­ter years of ad­vo­cacy from Worth Rises on the is­sue.

Tylek con­tin­ued, “We’re thrilled that the FCC has agreed that in­car­cer­ated peo­ple and their fam­i­lies should not have to pay for their own harm­ful and in­va­sive sur­veil­lance. Surveillance ser­vices are sep­a­rate and dis­tinct from com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices with a sep­a­rate and dis­tinct con­sumer — cor­rec­tional agen­cies — and now they’ll be treated as such. Under the new rules, pris­ons and jails will have to pay for the sur­veil­lance ser­vices they wish to use. Should they chose not to, as the prison tele­com in­dus­try fears, that’s a busi­ness prob­lem for it to solve, not the FCC. Beyond the in­cred­i­ble sav­ings the new rules will cre­ate, we hope that they will also re­verse the grow­ing sur­veil­lance ap­pa­ra­tus that the cor­rec­tional agen­cies and the in­dus­try use to spy on our com­mu­ni­ties.”

Below are the new rate caps re­quired to go into ef­fect in early 2025. Immediately, the 24 state prison sys­tems and roughly 90% of jails that cur­rently charge more will be forced to re­duce rates. However, the ex­clu­sion of se­cu­rity and sur­veil­lance costs and com­mis­sions from rates, will force rate re­duc­tions across the board.

The new rules will im­pact the prison tele­com in­dus­try deeply. Loss of rev­enue is ex­pected to be in the hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars (though not equal to the sav­ings to in­car­cer­ated peo­ple and their fam­i­lies as the in­dus­try’s busi­ness model shifts and cor­rec­tional agen­cies pur­chase se­cu­rity and sur­veil­lance ser­vices di­rectly). This comes as the two largest mar­ket play­ers, Aventiv and ViaPath, each nav­i­gate fi­nan­cial crises. Aventiv re­cently ef­fec­tively de­faulted on its $1.3 bil­lion debt af­ter a year of failed re­fi­nanc­ing ef­forts. ViaPath was re­port­edly clos­ing in on a $1.5 bil­lion re­fi­nanc­ing deal un­til news of the reg­u­la­tions killed the deal.

The FCCs new rules also come as an in­creas­ing num­ber of states move to make prison and jail com­mu­ni­ca­tion free. In 2023, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado each passed leg­is­la­tion to make prison calls free. California made prison calls free in 2022 and Connecticut in 2021. Campaigns are cur­rently un­der­way in more than a dozen other states.

Former FCC Acting Chairwoman of the FCC and mem­ber of the Board of Directors of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Mignon Clyburn said, “To­day marks a ma­jor mile­stone on the long road to right a mar­ket dys­func­tion that has wronged in­car­cer­ated per­sons and their loved ones for decades.  I have noth­ing but praise for Chairwoman Rosenworcel and her fel­low Commissioners who moved this item for­ward, and the hard-work­ing FCC staff for craft­ing force­ful rules that are faith­ful to the goals of the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act.”

Today, we cross a ma­jor mile­stone in the decades-long quest to pre­vent gaug­ing of fam­i­lies when they pay to com­mu­ni­cate with their in­car­cer­ated loved ones. With the Federal Communications Commission vote to­day, prices are drop­ping be­tween 8 and 14 cents per minute from ex­ist­ing voice call­ing caps, and video com­mu­ni­ca­tion will ben­e­fit from rate pro­tec­tions for the first time. Lower cost com­mu­ni­ca­tion means more mem­o­ries and tighter bonds, it means more op­por­tu­ni­ties to say I love you’ and I miss you’ at the mo­ment they can make a huge dif­fer­ence in a child’s life. It brings peo­ple to­gether in­stead of break­ing them apart un­der the weight of im­pos­si­ble fi­nan­cial bur­dens,” said Cheryl A. Leanza, pol­icy ad­vi­sor to the United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry. The jour­ney to this day has been decades in the mak­ing, from Mrs. Martha Wright-Reed, who was will­ing to put her name on a law­suit more than 20 years ago, to bi-par­ti­san cham­pi­ons in Congress, hard-work­ing agency lead­ers and staff, fel­low ad­vo­cates, and most im­por­tant: the count­less fam­ily mem­bers and in­car­cer­ated peo­ple who took the time to tell their sto­ries, write post­cards, con­tact their leg­is­la­tors or at­tend a Federal Communications Commission lis­ten­ing ses­sion. It all re­ally does make a dif­fer­ence.”

Today, 18 months from the pas­sage of the Marta Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act of 2022, the Federal Communications Commission took ac­tion to end preda­tory prison phone rates. After a decade of ad­vo­cacy, in­car­cer­ated in­di­vid­u­als and their loved ones will be able to com­mu­ni­cate with each other with­out the bar­rier of bur­den­some fees. The ab­sence of these preda­tory rates is life-chang­ing, po­ten­tially low­er­ing rates of de­pres­sion, iso­la­tion, and lone­li­ness in­car­cer­ated in­di­vid­u­als ex­pe­ri­ence while in prison and help­ing them suc­ceed when reen­ter­ing their com­mu­ni­ties,” said Koustubh K.J.” Bagchi, Vice President of the Center for Civil Rights and Technology at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Incarcerated peo­ple and their loved ones have paid an un­con­scionably high price for the greed of the com­pa­nies who pro­vide tele­com ser­vices to pris­ons, jails and de­ten­tion cen­ters. Thankfully, that’s about to change,” said Heather Franklin, Internet Campaign Director at Free Press. The abil­ity for in­car­cer­ated peo­ple to main­tain reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion with loved ones, le­gal coun­sel and clergy is a hu­man-rights is­sue. Incarcerated peo­ple should be able to con­nect and com­mu­ni­cate with­out be­ing sub­ject to ex­tor­tion­ate rates. We’re grate­ful for the work of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the other com­mis­sion­ers, agency staff, and decades of work by ad­vo­cates across the coun­try who’ve made to­day’s strides pos­si­ble.”

The FCCs ac­tion to­day will help to en­sure that fam­i­lies no longer have to pay in­flated, preda­tory rates to speak to their in­car­cer­ated loved ones,” said Ariel Nelson, staff at­tor­ney at the National Consumer Law Center, who leads its Criminal Justice Debt & Reintegration Project. We are grate­ful the Commission has also put a stop to two en­dur­ing ar­eas of con­sumer abuse–out­ra­geous fees and site com­mis­sions–bring­ing mean­ing­ful fi­nan­cial re­lief and con­nec­tion to fam­i­lies across the coun­try.”

With to­day’s or­der, the FCC af­firmed what our move­ment has been say­ing for decades: The fam­i­lies of in­car­cer­ated peo­ple should not be shoul­der­ing the costs of their loved ones’ in­car­cer­a­tion,” said Peter Wagner, Executive Director of the Prison Policy Initiative. Capping the costs of all phone and video calls, as the FCC has done, will bring re­lief to mil­lions of fam­i­lies, and other pro­vi­sions in its or­der will pre­vent the ex­ploita­tion of con­sumers through fees and de­cep­tive pric­ing. We are glad to see the FCC take these steps to­ward true con­sumer pro­tec­tion for in­car­cer­ated peo­ple.”

For years, in­car­cer­ated peo­ple un­able to af­ford ex­or­bi­tant call rates have been de­nied the abil­ity to eas­ily com­mu­ni­cate with their loved ones, their com­mu­ni­ties, and even their at­tor­neys. These ex­ces­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tions costs hurt in­car­cer­ated peo­ple as well as their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. By re­quir­ing just and rea­son­able rates, the FCC is work­ing to keep fam­i­lies to­gether and to ease the re­turn to so­ci­ety of in­car­cer­ated peo­ple. We com­mend Chairwoman Rosenworcel for her lead­er­ship in keep­ing in­car­cer­ated peo­ple con­nected and ap­plaud the FCC for re­quir­ing rea­son­able rates for these vi­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions,” said Al Kramer, se­nior fel­low at Public Knowledge.

We ap­plaud the lead­er­ship of Chairwoman Rosenworcel and the Federal Communications Commission for tak­ing this im­por­tant and mon­u­men­tal ac­tion. The FCCs or­der serves as a trans­for­ma­tive win for in­car­cer­ated peo­ples and their loved ones who for far too long have had to grap­ple with out­ra­geous rates,” said Rebekah P. Goodheart, Jenner & Block LLP, pro bono coun­sel to the Wright Petitioners. Thanks to the tire­less ad­vo­cacy of var­i­ous groups and civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, much-needed re­lief will be pro­vided.”

It’s ex­cit­ing to see that the Federal Communications Commission is tak­ing steps to en­act the Martha Wright-Reed leg­is­la­tion to lower the cost of prison phone calls,” said Bran­don Tucker, Senior Policy Director at Color Of Change. This is a ma­jor step in prison jus­tice. Phone call costs have been preda­tory and it has never made sense for fam­i­lies of in­car­cer­ated peo­ple to pay high amounts of money to stay in con­tact with their loved ones. The sys­tem was rooted in cor­po­rate greed and not re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. It is un­ac­cept­able that fam­i­lies have gone into debt ac­cept­ing phone calls from jails and prison. Thank you to Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and other com­mis­sion­ers for rec­ti­fy­ing this mis­step in our ju­di­cial sys­tem.“Worth Rises is a non-profit ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to dis­man­tling the prison in­dus­try and end­ing the ex­ploita­tion of those it tar­gets. Follow @WorthRises on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

WORTH RISES TESTIFIES IN HEARING ON OVERCRIMINALIZATION BEFORE SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE OF HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

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Global IT chaos triggered by software glitch eases slightly

In what will go down as the most spec­tac­u­lar IT fail­ure the world has ever seen, a botched soft­ware up­date from cy­ber­se­cu­rity firm CrowdStrike Holdings crashed count­less Microsoft Windows com­puter sys­tems glob­ally.

Microsoft and CrowdStrike rolled out fixes and sys­tems were be­ing re­stored, though it’s ex­pected to take time to com­pletely re­cover from the dis­rup­tions.

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The Nationwide Vision-Zero Map

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NetBlocks (@netblocks@mastodon.social)

To use the Mastodon web ap­pli­ca­tion, please en­able JavaScript. Alternatively, try one of the na­tive apps for Mastodon for your plat­form.

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Bangladesh imposes curfew after dozens killed in anti-government protests

NEW DELHI — Bangladesh an­nounced a na­tion­wide cur­few on Friday evening af­ter clashes be­tween po­lice and var­i­ous stu­dent groups killed dozens of peo­ple amid a vi­o­lent back­lash to a new pol­icy to re­serve a por­tion of gov­ern­ment jobs for de­scen­dants of the na­tion’s free­dom fight­ers. In the cap­i­tal, Dhaka, pro­test­ers at­tacked the state tele­vi­sion head­quar­ters and set fire to po­lice booths Thursday as they called for a complete shut­down” of the coun­try. Running street bat­tles be­tween se­cu­rity forces us­ing rub­ber bul­lets and tear gas and crudely armed pro­test­ers forced life in sev­eral neigh­bor­hoods to a halt, with streets emp­ty­ing of traf­fic and even the cab­i­net can­cel­ing its meet­ings, Bangladeshi me­dia re­ported.

More than 150 stu­dents were be­ing treated at a Dhaka hos­pi­tal for in­juries af­ter be­ing hit by rub­ber bul­lets, Agence France-Presse re­ported. There were also re­ports of clashes be­tween pro­test­ers ag­i­tat­ing against the job quo­tas and the stu­dent wing of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s rul­ing party, the Awami League.

Nayeemul Islam Khan, a spokesper­son for Hasina, told AFP on Friday that the mil­i­tary will also be de­ployed to en­force the cur­few, which be­gan im­me­di­ately. Hasina has backed the new pol­icy on gov­ern­ment jobs.

Schools and uni­ver­si­ties have been closed in­def­i­nitely since be­fore the cur­few, and au­thor­i­ties have cut mo­bile in­ter­net ser­vices na­tion­wide, cit­ing the need to curb dis­in­for­ma­tion. NetBlocks, an in­ter­net mon­i­tor­ing group, said live net­work data showed the coun­try plunged into a near-to­tal in­ter­net shut­down late Thursday. The web­sites for sev­eral lead­ing Bangladeshi news­pa­pers were ei­ther not up­dated since Thursday or al­to­gether in­ac­ces­si­ble. Television chan­nels have also been taken off the air.

As of late Thursday, be­fore com­mu­ni­ca­tions were fully sev­ered, news out­lets re­ported con­flict­ing num­bers of ca­su­al­ties, al­though most put the num­ber of dead in the dozens. The lead­ing news­pa­per, Prothom Alo, re­ported 29 killed and 1,500 in­jured Thursday, while AFP put the day’s death toll at 32, cit­ing a po­lice spokesman.

The protests, which have sim­mered for weeks but ratch­eted sharply in re­cent days, rep­re­sent the most se­ri­ous chal­lenge to Hasina, 76, and her Awami League in years. Hasina’s fa­ther, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, helped form the Awami League in 1949, which led the coun­try’s bloody in­de­pen­dence strug­gle against Pakistan in 1971. Hasina has ar­gued that fam­i­lies who par­tic­i­pated in the lib­er­a­tion war should be com­pen­sated with jobs, but her crit­ics say the pro­gram un­fairly ben­e­fits fam­i­lies close to the Awami League at a time of eco­nomic dis­tress.

Although Hasina has been cred­ited with boost­ing Bangladesh’s tex­tile ex­port in­dus­try and im­prov­ing pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture over her more than two decades in power, the coun­try has re­cently been racked by in­fla­tion top­ping 9 per­cent and stag­nant growth. Government po­si­tions are of­ten seen as the most se­cure and cov­eted op­tion by young job­seek­ers, but more than half of the slots are re­served for var­i­ous groups, in­clud­ing res­i­dents in re­mote ar­eas and women.

The 30 per­cent quota for the de­scen­dants of free­dom fight­ers ex­isted un­til 2018, when it was can­celed by the Hasina gov­ern­ment amid vi­o­lent protests. Last month, a Bangladeshi court re­in­stated the pol­icy, and Hasina con­tin­ued to ar­gue in its fa­vor.

At a news con­fer­ence Sunday, Hasina said she was open to low­er­ing the quota but ar­gued that some form of the pol­icy should ex­ist. She used a po­lit­i­cally charged term — razakar,” re­fer­ring to the vi­o­lent mobs that col­lab­o­rated with the Pakistani army in 1971 — in a com­ment that re­ver­ber­ated around the coun­try and led to stu­dent groups hit­ting the streets in anger.

Why do they have so much re­sent­ment to­ward the free­dom fight­ers?” Hasina asked. If the grand­chil­dren of free­dom fight­ers don’t get quota ben­e­fits, should the grand­chil­dren of raza­kars get them?”

Hasina has won every elec­tion since 2009, in­clud­ing sev­eral that have been crit­i­cized as un­fair, and has come un­der crit­i­cism for her in­creas­ingly heavy-handed lead­er­ship style. (She also led the coun­try from 1996 to 2001.) In the run-up to the most re­cent elec­tion in January, her gov­ern­ment jailed thou­sands of op­po­si­tion fig­ures and won un­op­posed af­ter ri­val par­ties boy­cotted the polls.

The Supreme Court has tem­porar­ily sus­pended the quota pol­icy and said it would make a rul­ing on its le­gal­ity on Aug. 7. During her last pub­lic ap­pear­ance Wednesday, Hasina pleaded for patience” and said she be­lieved our stu­dents will get jus­tice from the court.”

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Ryanair – when every page is a dark pattern

Ryanair is a prime ex­am­ple of a com­pany that em­ploys var­i­ous ma­nip­u­la­tive tech­niques, known as dark pat­terns,” to in­crease its prof­its.

One such tac­tic is their de­fault sign-up for pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als, which is con­sid­ered a form of privacy zuck­er­ing.”

Throughout the book­ing process, the Ryanair web­site em­ploys var­i­ous misdirection” dark pat­terns to up­sell cus­tomers on ad­di­tional ser­vices.

For ex­am­ple, they use promi­nent but­tons to pro­mote fast track” op­tions, which can be eas­ily clicked on as they are lo­cated in the mid­dle of the page, mak­ing it easy to ac­ci­den­tally se­lect them while scrolling down to skip the of­fer.

Even if a cus­tomer de­clines the up­sell of­fer on the pre­vi­ous step, Ryanair will con­tinue to use misdirection” dark pat­terns by dis­play­ing an­other popup with a promi­nent but­ton.

This time, they may even change the color of the but­ton and the ti­tle to de­ceive cus­tomers fur­ther and make it ap­pear as a dif­fer­ent of­fer, trick­ing the cus­tomer’s at­ten­tion and mak­ing it less ev­i­dent that it’s the same page as be­fore.

The Ryanair web­site em­ploys var­i­ous dark pat­terns” through­out its book­ing process to up­sell cus­tomers on ad­di­tional ser­vices and ma­nip­u­late their at­ten­tion.

One such ex­am­ple is us­ing misdirection” tech­niques, such as at­tempt­ing to up­sell cus­tomers on ad­di­tional fea­tures and strate­gi­cally plac­ing pri­mary but­tons to en­cour­age ac­ci­den­tal clicks. This type of ma­nip­u­la­tive de­sign is preva­lent on nearly every web­site page.

Ryanair re­peat­edly pre­sents cus­tomers with up­sell of­fers for the same fea­tures, ask­ing mul­ti­ple times in case the cus­tomer changes their mind or falls for one of the ma­nip­u­la­tive dark pat­terns” preva­lent through­out the web­site. This per­sis­tent ap­proach in­creases the like­li­hood of the cus­tomer mak­ing an im­pulse pur­chase or ac­ci­den­tally click­ing on an of­fer.

Ryanair has in­te­grated ma­nip­u­la­tive dark pat­terns” into nearly every as­pect of their book­ing process and it ap­pears that they have no plans to stop us­ing them.

It is im­por­tant to be cau­tious and vig­i­lant when us­ing the Ryanair web­site, as these tech­niques are de­signed to de­ceive cus­tomers and in­crease prof­its for the com­pany.

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Want to spot a deepfake? Look for the stars in their eyes

In an era when the cre­ation of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) im­ages is at the fin­ger­tips of the masses, the abil­ity to de­tect fake pic­tures — par­tic­u­larly deep­fakes of peo­ple — is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant.

So what if you could tell just by look­ing into some­one’s eyes?

That’s the com­pelling find­ing of new re­search shared at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Hull, which sug­gests that AI-generated fakes can be spot­ted by analysing hu­man eyes in the same way that as­tronomers study pic­tures of galax­ies.

The crux of the work, by University of Hull MSc stu­dent Adejumoke Owolabi, is all about the re­flec­tion in a per­son’s eye­balls.

If the re­flec­tions match, the im­age is likely to be that of a real hu­man. If they don’t, they’re prob­a­bly deep­fakes.

The re­flec­tions in the eye­balls are con­sis­tent for the real per­son, but in­cor­rect (from a physics point of view) for the fake per­son,” said Kevin Pimbblet, pro­fes­sor of as­tro­physics and di­rec­tor of the Centre of Excellence for Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Modelling at the University of Hull.

Researchers analysed re­flec­tions of light on the eye­balls of peo­ple in real and AI-generated im­ages. They then em­ployed meth­ods typ­i­cally used in as­tron­omy to quan­tify the re­flec­tions and checked for con­sis­tency be­tween left and right eye­ball re­flec­tions.

Fake im­ages of­ten lack con­sis­tency in the re­flec­tions be­tween each eye, whereas real im­ages gen­er­ally show the same re­flec­tions in both eyes.

To mea­sure the shapes of galax­ies, we analyse whether they’re cen­trally com­pact, whether they’re sym­met­ric, and how smooth they are. We analyse the light dis­tri­b­u­tion,” said Professor Pimbblet.

We de­tect the re­flec­tions in an au­to­mated way and run their mor­pho­log­i­cal fea­tures through the CAS [concentration, asym­me­try, smooth­ness] and Gini in­dices to com­pare sim­i­lar­ity be­tween left and right eye­balls.

The find­ings show that deep­fakes have some dif­fer­ences be­tween the pair.”

The Gini co­ef­fi­cient is nor­mally used to mea­sure how the light in an im­age of a galaxy is dis­trib­uted among its pix­els. This mea­sure­ment is made by or­der­ing the pix­els that make up the im­age of a galaxy in as­cend­ing or­der by flux and then com­par­ing the re­sult to what would be ex­pected from a per­fectly even flux dis­tri­b­u­tion.

A Gini value of 0 is a galaxy in which the light is evenly dis­trib­uted across all of the im­age’s pix­els, while a Gini value of 1 is a galaxy with all light con­cen­trated in a sin­gle pixel.

The team also tested CAS pa­ra­me­ters, a tool orig­i­nally de­vel­oped by as­tronomers to mea­sure the light dis­tri­b­u­tion of galax­ies to de­ter­mine their mor­phol­ogy, but found it was not a suc­cess­ful pre­dic­tor of fake eyes.

It’s im­por­tant to note that this is not a sil­ver bul­let for de­tect­ing fake im­ages,” Professor Pimbblet added.

There are false pos­i­tives and false neg­a­tives; it’s not go­ing to get every­thing. But this method pro­vides us with a ba­sis, a plan of at­tack, in the arms race to de­tect deep­fakes.”

Caption: In this im­age, the per­son on the left is real, while the per­son on the right is AI-generated. Their eye­balls are de­picted un­der­neath their faces. The re­flec­tions in the eye­balls are con­sis­tent for the real per­son, but in­cor­rect (from a physics point of view) for the fake per­son.

Caption: A se­ries of deep­fake eyes show­ing in­con­sis­tent re­flec­tions in each eye.

Caption: A se­ries of real eyes show­ing largely con­sis­tent re­flec­tions in both eyes.

The NAM 2024 con­fer­ence is prin­ci­pally spon­sored by the Royal Astronomical Society, the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the University of Hull.

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, en­cour­ages and pro­motes the study of as­tron­omy, so­lar-sys­tem sci­ence, geo­physics and closely re­lated branches of sci­ence.

The RAS or­gan­ises sci­en­tific meet­ings, pub­lishes in­ter­na­tional re­search and re­view jour­nals, recog­nises out­stand­ing achieve­ments by the award of medals and prizes, main­tains an ex­ten­sive li­brary, sup­ports ed­u­ca­tion through grants and out­reach ac­tiv­i­ties and rep­re­sents UK as­tron­omy na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. Its more than 4,000 mem­bers (Fellows), a third based over­seas, in­clude sci­en­tific re­searchers in uni­ver­si­ties, ob­ser­va­to­ries and lab­o­ra­to­ries as well as his­to­ri­ans of as­tron­omy and oth­ers.

The RAS ac­cepts pa­pers for its jour­nals based on the prin­ci­ple of peer re­view, in which fel­low ex­perts on the ed­i­to­r­ial boards ac­cept the pa­per as worth con­sid­er­ing. The Society is­sues press re­leases based on a sim­i­lar prin­ci­ple, but the or­gan­i­sa­tions and sci­en­tists con­cerned have over­all re­spon­si­bil­ity for their con­tent.

Keep up with the RAS on X, Face­book, LinkedIn and YouTube.

About the Science and Technology Facilities Council

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is part of UK Research and Innovation — the UK body which works in part­ner­ship with uni­ver­si­ties, re­search or­gan­i­sa­tions, busi­nesses, char­i­ties, and gov­ern­ment to cre­ate the best pos­si­ble en­vi­ron­ment for re­search and in­no­va­tion to flour­ish.

STFC funds and sup­ports re­search in par­ti­cle and nu­clear physics, as­tron­omy, grav­i­ta­tional re­search and as­tro­physics, and space sci­ence and also op­er­ates a net­work of five na­tional lab­o­ra­to­ries, in­clud­ing the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Daresbury Laboratory, as well as sup­port­ing UK re­search at a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional re­search fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing CERN, FERMILAB, the ESO tele­scopes in Chile and many more.

STFCs Astronomy and Space Science pro­gramme pro­vides sup­port for a wide range of fa­cil­i­ties, re­search groups and in­di­vid­u­als in or­der to in­ves­ti­gate some of the high­est pri­or­ity ques­tions in as­tro­physics, cos­mol­ogy and so­lar sys­tem sci­ence.

STFCs as­tron­omy and space sci­ence pro­gramme is de­liv­ered through grant fund­ing for re­search ac­tiv­i­ties, and also through sup­port of tech­ni­cal ac­tiv­i­ties at STFCs UK Astronomy Technology Centre and RAL Space at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. STFC also sup­ports UK as­tron­omy through the in­ter­na­tional European Southern Observatory and the Square Kilometre Array Organisation.

About the University of Hull’s E. A. Milne Centre

The E. A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Hull brings to­gether ex­perts who study the evo­lu­tion of struc­ture in the Universe rang­ing from stars through to galax­ies and galaxy clus­ters, right up to the largest struc­tures in the cos­mos.

The cen­tre em­ploys ob­ser­va­tions, the­ory and com­pu­ta­tional meth­ods in col­lab­o­ra­tion with in­ter­na­tional part­ners. Postgraduate and un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents work along­side staff to un­der­stand the won­ders of the Universe. Through a se­ries of out­reach ac­tiv­i­ties, the cen­tre also aims to share its pas­sion for as­tron­omy and as­tro­physics with the re­gion and be­yond.

...

Read the original on ras.ac.uk »

8 205 shares, 12 trendiness

AI paid for by Ads – the gpt-4o mini inflection point

AI paid for by Ads — the gpt-4o mini in­flec­tion pointOpe­nAI re­cently an­nounced their gpt-4o mini model, at a price of $0.15 per 1 mil­lion in­put to­kens, and $0.60 per 1 mil­lion out­put to­kens.

This ex­tremely low cost AI model has just passed an in­flec­tion point.

It’s now pos­si­ble to build dy­namic, AI gen­er­ated con­tent en­tirely sup­ported by ads.

Introducing GPT-4o mini! It’s our most in­tel­li­gent and af­ford­able small model, avail­able to­day in the API. GPT-4o mini is sig­nif­i­cantly smarter and cheaper than GPT-3.5 Turbo.https://​t.co/​sqJs­FEY­HWq pic.twit­ter.com/​g6jMttp1mF— OpenAI Developers (@OpenAIDevs) July 18, 2024

How much do pub­lish­ers earn from ad im­pres­sions?

The amount of money an ad im­pres­sion gen­er­ates varies sig­nif­i­cantly across dis­play medi­ums and con­tent cat­e­gories.

But we can get a good heuris­tic from Google’s AdSense es­ti­mated rev­enue cal­cu­la­tor.

The cal­cu­la­tor gives you an es­ti­mate for your an­nual ad rev­enue po­ten­tial based upon your con­tent cat­e­gory (Finance, Games, Health, etc…) and your monthly page views.

For ex­am­ple, putting in 50k page views a month, with a Finance cat­e­gory, gives a po­ten­tial yearly earn­ings of $2,000.

I’m go­ing to take the me­dian across all cat­e­gories, which is an es­ti­mated an­nual rev­enue of $1,550 for 50,000 monthly page views.

This is ap­prox­i­mately ~$0.0026 earned per page view.

How much does it cost to gen­er­ate AI con­tent?

Let’s in­vent a blog that gen­er­ates con­tent in re­sponse to what­ever the user types in the search bar.

We’ll gen­er­ate the ar­ti­cle the user is look­ing for, on the fly. Will it be mostly non­sense? Probably. But let’s go for it any­way, just to il­lus­trate a point.

user: how to have my mac­book au­di­bly greet me when­ever I flip it open”

In or­der to fa­cil­i­tate this, we’ll wrap the user’s query around a prompt.

Below is the prompt we’ll use.

You are an ex­cel­lent blog writer. You write blogs that rank well in search en­gines be­cause you know about SEO and how to use highly rel­e­vant and pop­u­lar key­words. Your blog posts are in­for­ma­tive, and help users achieve what they are look­ing for.

You will re­ceive queries from users search­ing for blog posts. You will cre­ate blog posts that matches their query, that are help­ful, and that an­swer or are rel­e­vant to what­ever they are search­ing for.

Respond with only the blog post.

With this prompt, and the user query, we have 119 in­put to­kens ac­cord­ing to OpenAI’s Playground.

The re­sponse gen­er­ated by gp­t4o-mini, is only 829 out­put to­kens.

# How to Make Your MacBook Audibly Greet You When You Flip It Open

If you want your MacBook to greet you with a chime or a spe­cific sound every time you flip it open, it’s a fun way to per­son­al­ize your de­vice and make your daily in­ter­ac­tions a bit more ex­cit­ing. While ma­cOS does­n’t come with a built-in fea­ture to au­di­bly greet you im­me­di­ately upon open­ing the lid, there are a few cre­ative workarounds to achieve a sim­i­lar ef­fect. In this blog post, we will dis­cuss a cou­ple of meth­ods you can set up for your MacBook to greet you au­di­bly.

## Method 1: Setting Up a Startup Sound

1. **System Preferences:**

- Go to the Apple menu in the up­per-left cor­ner of your screen.

- Select **System Preferences**.

- Click on **Sound** and then nav­i­gate to the **Sound Effects** tab.

2. **Enable Startup Sound:**

- Make sure the op­tion Play sound on startup” is checked. This way, your MacBook will play the se­lected sound every time you start it up.

- Note: This method will only play sound when the MacBook is fully pow­ered down and then opened again.

While this method does not greet you specif­i­cally upon open­ing the lid from sleep mode, it’s ef­fec­tive for a full startup.

## Method 2: Create an Automator App for a Custom Greeting

For more cus­tomiza­tion, you can use the Automator app to cre­ate your own greet­ing sound that plays when the MacBook wakes from sleep.

### Steps to Create Your Greeting:

1. **Open Automator:**

- Search for **Automator** in Spotlight Search or find it in the Applications folder.

2. **Create New Document:**

- Choose **New Document** and se­lect **Application**.

3. **Use the Run Shell Script Action:**

- In the side­bar, find **Utilities** and drag the **Run Shell Script** ac­tion to the main area.

4. **Enter the AppleScript Command:**

- Replace the de­fault script with the fol­low­ing:

```bash

os­ascript -e tell app System Events” to say Welcome back!“’

5. **Choose Your Sound:**

- If you want a spe­cific sound file in­stead of a spo­ken greet­ing, use the fol­low­ing com­mand in­stead:

```bash

af­play /path/to/your/soundfile.mp3

- Make sure you re­place `/path/to/your/soundfile.mp3` with the ac­tual file path of your cho­sen au­dio file.

6. **Save Your Application:**

- Go to **File > Save**, and name it some­thing like Greeting Sound.” Ensure it is saved in the Applications folder.

### Automating the Greeting Sound:

1. **Open System Preferences:**

- Go to **System Preferences** and se­lect **Users & Groups**.

2. **Select Your User Account:**

- Click on your user­name and se­lect the **Login Items** tab.

3. **Add Your Automator App:**

- Click the **“+”** but­ton and nav­i­gate to the Greeting Sound app you cre­ated. Add it to the list.

Now, when­ever your MacBook wakes from sleep, your per­son­al­ized greet­ing sound will play.

## More Personalization Options

- **Use a Different Voice:** If you used the text-to-speech op­tion, you can change the voice in **System Preferences** > **Accessibility** > **Spoken Content**.

- **Add More Sounds:** You can re­peat the process for mul­ti­ple sounds or greet­ings by cre­at­ing sep­a­rate Automator apps.

## Conclusion

By us­ing the meth­ods out­lined above, you can add a per­sonal touch to your MacBook ex­pe­ri­ence. Whether you choose the sim­ple startup sound or get cre­ative with an Automator app, these op­tions al­low you to greet your MacBook (and your­self) every time you open it. So, go ahead and set it up, and en­joy your daily wel­come back!

Feel free to share your own unique greet­ing sounds or any ad­di­tional tips in the com­ments be­low!

Let’s cal­cu­late how much we paid for this ar­ti­cle.

The cost to gen­er­ate the ar­ti­cle was $0.00051525. And it was­n’t half-bad.

You can prob­a­bly see where I’m go­ing with this now.

For that blog post, we might earn ~$0.0026 for the sin­gle page im­pres­sion from the user that re­quested it.

Meanwhile, the blog post it­self, had a cost of $0.00051525 to gen­er­ate.

We made a net profit of $0.0026 - $0.00051525 = ~$0.002! We’re go­ing to be rich!

That’s 2 tenths of a penny. Don’t go spend­ing it all in one place.

Is this go­ing to ac­tu­ally hap­pen?

Will the fu­ture of the in­ter­net be en­tirely dy­nam­i­cally gen­er­ated AI blogs in re­sponse to user queries?

I don’t know. I hope not. But the in­ter­net has been on a down­ward trend for a while now.

Most of the in­ter­net is prob­a­bly al­ready SEO con­tent blogspam gen­er­ated by cheap copy­writ­ers.

Is any­one do­ing this now?

In a fun way, yes, check out Websim which uses LLMs to dy­nam­i­cally gen­er­ate an al­ter­na­tive in­ter­net. It’s a web sim­u­la­tor” brought to you by AI.

They’re not mak­ing money though. There aren’t any ads (yet).← How to get a 50% dis­count on the OpenAI API

...

Read the original on batchmon.com »

9 203 shares, 12 trendiness

- YouTube

...

Read the original on www.youtube.com »

10 195 shares, 8 trendiness

CrowdStrike fixes start at “reboot up to 15 times” and get more complex from there

Airlines, pay­ment proces­sors, 911 call cen­ters, TV net­works, and other busi­nesses have been scram­bling this morn­ing af­ter a buggy up­date to CrowdStrike’s Falcon se­cu­rity soft­ware caused Windows-based sys­tems to crash with a dreaded blue screen of death (BSOD) er­ror mes­sage.

We’re up­dat­ing our story about the out­age with new de­tails as we have them. Microsoft and CrowdStrike both say that the af­fected up­date has been pulled,” so what’s most im­por­tant for IT ad­mins in the short term is get­ting their sys­tems back up and run­ning again. According to guid­ance from Microsoft, fixes range from an­noy­ing but easy to in­cred­i­bly time-con­sum­ing and com­plex, de­pend­ing on the num­ber of sys­tems you have to fix and the way your sys­tems are con­fig­ured.

Microsoft’s Azure sta­tus page out­lines sev­eral fixes. The first and eas­i­est is sim­ply to try to re­boot af­fected ma­chines over and over, which gives af­fected ma­chines mul­ti­ple chances to try to grab CrowdStrike’s non-bro­ken up­date be­fore the bad dri­ver can cause the BSOD. Microsoft says that some of its cus­tomers have had to re­boot their sys­tems as many as 15 times to pull down the up­date.

If re­boot­ing mul­ti­ple times is­n’t fix­ing your prob­lem, Microsoft rec­om­mends restor­ing your sys­tems us­ing a backup from be­fore 4:09 UTC on July 18 (just af­ter mid­night on Friday, Eastern time), when CrowdStrike be­gan push­ing out the buggy up­date. Crowdstrike says a re­verted ver­sion of the file was de­ployed at 5:27 UTC.

If these sim­pler fixes don’t work, you may need to boot your ma­chines into Safe Mode so you can man­u­ally delete the file that’s caus­ing the BSOD er­rors. For vir­tual ma­chines, Microsoft rec­om­mends at­tach­ing the vir­tual disk to a known-work­ing re­pair VM so the file can be deleted, then reat­tach­ing the vir­tual disk to its orig­i­nal VM.

The file in ques­tion is a CrowdStrike dri­ver lo­cated at Windows/System32/Drivers/CrowdStrike/C-00000291*.sys. Once it’s gone, the ma­chine should boot nor­mally and grab a non-bro­ken ver­sion of the dri­ver.

Deleting that file on each and every one of your af­fected sys­tems in­di­vid­u­ally is time-con­sum­ing enough, but it’s even more time-con­sum­ing for cus­tomers us­ing Microsoft’s BitLocker drive en­cryp­tion to pro­tect data at rest. Before you can delete the file on those sys­tems, you’ll need the re­cov­ery key that un­locks those en­crypted disks and makes them read­able (normally, this process is in­vis­i­ble, be­cause the sys­tem can just read the key stored in a phys­i­cal or vir­tual TPM mod­ule).

This can cause prob­lems for ad­mins who aren’t us­ing key man­age­ment to store their re­cov­ery keys, since (by de­sign!) you can’t ac­cess a drive with­out its re­cov­ery key. If you don’t have that key, Cryptography and in­fra­struc­ture en­gi­neer Tony Arcieri on Mastodon com­pared this to a self-inflicted ran­somware at­tack,” where an at­tacker en­crypts the disks on your sys­tems and with­holds the key un­til they get paid.

And even if you do have a re­cov­ery key, your key man­age­ment server might also be af­fected by the CrowdStrike bug.

We’ll con­tinue to track rec­om­men­da­tions from Microsoft and CrowdStrike about fixes as each com­pa­ny’s re­spec­tive sta­tus pages are up­dated.

We un­der­stand the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion and are deeply sorry for the in­con­ve­nience and dis­rup­tion,” wrote CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz on X, for­merly Twitter. We are work­ing with all im­pacted cus­tomers to en­sure that sys­tems are back up and they can de­liver the ser­vices their cus­tomers are count­ing on.”

...

Read the original on arstechnica.com »

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