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  1. Microsoft Patent Shows Plans To Revive Dead Loved Ones As Chatbots - Microsoft has been granted a patent that would allow the company to make a chatbot using the personal information of deceased people. The Independent reports: The patent describes creating a bot based on the "images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages," and more personal information. "The specific person [who the chat bot represents] may correspond to a past or present entity (or a version thereof), such as a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a celebrity, a fictional character, a historical figure, a random entity etc," it goes on to say. "The specific person may also correspond to oneself (e.g., the user creating/training the chat bot)," Microsoft also describes -- implying that living users could train a digital replacement in the event of their death. Microsoft has even included the notion of 2D or 3D models of specific people being generated via images and depth information, or video data. The idea that you would be able, in the future, to speak to a simulation of someone who has passed on is not new. It is famously the plot of the Black Mirror episode "Be Right Back," where a young woman uses a service to scrape data from her deceased partner to create a chatbot -- and eventually a robot.

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  2. Elon Musk To Offer $100 Million Prize For 'Best' Carbon Capture Tech - Elon Musk on Thursday took to Twitter to promise a $100 million prize for development of the "best" technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions. He said more details would be coming "next week." Reuters reports: Capturing planet-warming emissions is becoming a critical part of many plans to keep climate change in check, but very little progress has been made on the technology to date, with efforts focused on cutting emissions rather than taking carbon out of the air. The International Energy Agency said late last year that a sharp rise in the deployment of carbon capture technology was needed if countries are to meet net-zero emissions targets. Newly-sworn-in U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged to accelerate the development of carbon capture technology as part of his sweeping plan to tackle climate change. On Thursday, he named Jennifer Wilcox, an expert in carbon removal technologies, as the principal deputy assistant secretary for fossil energy at the U.S. Department of Energy.

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  3. Prostate Cancer Can Be Precisely Diagnosed Using a Urine Test With AI - An anonymous reader Phys.Org: The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) announced that the collaborative research team led by Dr. Kwan Hyi Lee from the Biomaterials Research Center and Professor In Gab Jeong from Asan Medical Center developed a technique for diagnosing prostate cancer from urine within only 20 minutes with almost 100% accuracy. The research team developed this technique by introducing a smart AI analysis method to an electrical-signal-based ultrasensitive biosensor. As a noninvasive method, a diagnostic test using urine is convenient for patients and does not need invasive biopsy, thereby diagnosing cancer without side effects. However, as the concentration of cancer factors is low in urine, urine-based biosensors are only used for classifying risk groups rather than for precise diagnosis thus far. Dr. Lee's team at the KIST has been working toward developing a technique for diagnosing disease from urine with an electrical-signal-based ultrasensitive biosensor. An approach using a single cancer factor associated with a cancer diagnosis was limited in increasing the diagnostic accuracy to over 90%. However, to overcome this limitation, the team simultaneously used different kinds of cancer factors instead of using only one to enhance the diagnostic accuracy innovatively. The team developed an ultrasensitive semiconductor sensor system capable of simultaneously measuring trace amounts of four selected cancer factors in urine for diagnosing prostate cancer. They trained AI by using the correlation between the four cancer factors, which were obtained from the developed sensor. The trained AI algorithm was then used to identify those with prostate cancer by analyzing complex patterns of the detected signals. The diagnosis of prostate cancer by utilizing the AI analysis successfully detected 76 urinary samples with almost 100 percent accuracy. The results of the study have been published in the journal ACS Nano.

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  4. Google Agrees To Pay French News Sites To Send Them Traffic - Timothy B. Lee reports via Ars Technica: French news sites have prevailed in negotiations with Google over "neighboring rights," a new legal right granted by the 2019 EU Copyright Directive. An agreement between Google and the French news industry "establishes a framework within which Google will negotiate individual licensing agreements" with individual news organizations, according to Google. Under these deals, French news articles will be featured in a new Google product called News Showcase. "The remuneration that is included in these licensing agreements is based on criteria such as the publisher's contribution to political and general information, the daily volume of publications, and its monthly internet traffic," according to the announcement. The agreement is particularly significant because it offers a model for other European countries that want to force Google to fork over cash to their own news sites. In the past, Google's hardball tactics deterred most European countries from trying to force Google to pay up. But with the passage of the EU copyright directive, European countries formed a united front against Google, making it much harder for Google to resist. Google's capitulation in France will weaken its bargaining position as other European countries pass their own versions of the French law and news organizations in other countries line up for their share of Google cash.

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  5. Pebble Founder Says His New App Brings iMessage To Android With a Little 'Trickery' - Beeper is a forthcoming app from the founder of Pebble that claims to be a hub for all your messaging services, including support for iMessage on Android. Gizmodo reports: Instead of managing half a dozen apps for keeping in touch with friends, family, and co-workers, Beeper allows you to funnel everything to one interface. According to its website, the app supports 14 external messaging platforms as well as its own Beeper network. But the company's claim that it brings iMessage to Android, Windows, or Linux devices could be a killer feature for anyone who's suffered through the embarrassment of the green bubble. Apple likes to keep its in-house products exclusive to its own hardware, so this claim is a bit surprising, but Beeper says it's figured out a workaround. On its website, it explains: "Beeper has two ways of enabling Android, Windows and Linux users to use iMessage: we send each user a Jailbroken iPhone with the Beeper app installed which bridges to iMessage, or if they have a Mac that is always connected to the internet, they can install the Beeper Mac app which acts as a bridge. This is not a joke, it really works!" Okay, the part about using an always-connected Mac as a bridge is not unprecedented, but the idea of sending users jailbroken upcycled iPhones is a little bonkers. Eric Migicovsky, founder of the Pebble smartwatch company and partner at Beeper, took to Twitter to insist that the jailbreak plan is legit and that he currently has 50 iPhone 4s ready for the task. In an update, Migicovsky tells Gizmodo that "Beeper encrypts all messages on the client before they reach our servers. We cannot decrypt any message contents." The services compatible with Beeper include: Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, Android Messages (SMS), Telegram, Twitter, Slack, Hangouts, Instagram, Skype, IRC, Matrix, Discord, Signal, and Beeper network.

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  6. Twitter's Decentralized Social Network Project Takes a Baby Step Forward - Bluesky, Twitter's decentralized social networking effort, has announced its first major update since 2019. The Verge reports: The Bluesky team released a review of the decentralized web ecosystem and said it's hoping to find a team lead in the coming months. The review follows Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey discussing Bluesky earlier this month, when he called it a "standard for the public conversation layer of the internet." The review outlines a variety of known decentralized systems. It includes ActivityPub, known for powering the social network Mastodon; the messaging standard XMPP, which powers WhatsApp and the now-defunct Google Talk; and Solid, a decentralization project led by World Wide Web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee. The report covers how these systems handle key social network elements like discoverability, moderation, and privacy, as well as how services based on them can scale up, interoperate, and make money. This doesn't tell us how Bluesky itself might operate. If it results in a protocol, that system might be created from scratch, or it might build on an existing standard like ActivityPub â" a possibility Dorsey mentioned in 2019 upon unveiling the initiative. [...] However, the report offers a snapshot of who's been working on Bluesky. It was authored by Jay Graber, creator of event-organizing platform Happening. Other contributors include Mastodon developer Eugen Rochko, peer-to-peer Beaker Browser co-creator Paul Frazee, ActivityPub standard co-editor Christopher Lemmer Webber, and InterPlanetary File System project lead Molly Mackinlay. It also hints at the fact that decentralization often isn't profitable. The report focuses on monetization options like membership fees and cryptocurrency microtransactions, but it also notes that "many decentralized projects run on volunteer work and donations" -- something that isn't ideal for a platform supporting commercial networks like Twitter.

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  7. The DeLorean Might Be Coming Back As an Electric Car - An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electrek: The DMC DeLorean has been out of production for almost 40 years, but now we've learned that the iconic vehicle might be coming back as an electric car. In 1995, Stephen Wynne bought the company's old inventory and trademark to relaunch the brand based in Texas. At first, the plan was to bring back the same vehicle with more modern technology in low volume. For the past 5 years, the company pushed for the adoption of new rules for low volume vehicle production with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These new rules were finally recently adopted, but the delay was so long that it complicated DeLorean's plans. The engine that they plan to use is not going to be compliant with emission standards starting in 2022 and the landscape has changed significantly. In a new blog post, the company is now hinting that going electric with the DeLorean: "That said, with EV's becoming more mainstream, we've been considering switching to an all-electric as the future. It certainly makes for an easier path through emissions maze which still looms large over any internal combustion engine. While an electric Cobra or Morgan may be a little extreme for their potential market, we've already seen that an EV DeLorean -- as we displayed at the 2012 New York International Auto Show -- is not such an 'out there' idea." The company hints at being in the process of looking to secure financing to bring an electric DeLorean and says "stay tuned."

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  8. There's Still No Sign of Privacy Labels On Most Google iOS Apps - As of December 8, Apple has been requiring developers to provide privacy label information to their apps, outlining the data that each app collects from users when it is installed. Many app developers have included the labels, but there's one notable outlier -- Google. schwit1 shares a report from MacRumors: Google has not updated its major apps like Gmail, Google Maps, Chrome, and YouTube since December 7 or before, and most Google apps have to date have not been updated with the Privacy Label feature. The Google Translate, Google Authenticator, Motion Stills, Google Play Movies, and Google Classroom apps do include privacy labels even though they have not been updated recently, but Google's search app, Google Maps, Chrome, Waze, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Photos, Google Home, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Assistant, Google Sheets, Google Calendar, Google Slides, Google One, Google Earth, YouTube Music, Hangouts, Google Tasks, Google Meet, Google Pay, PhotoScan, Google Voice, Google News, Gboard, Google Podcasts, and more do not display the information. On January 5, Google told TechCrunch that the data would be added to its iOS apps "this week or the next week," but both this week and the next week have come and gone with no update. It has now been well over a month since Google last updated its apps. "To lightly paraphrase former Google CEO Eric Schmidt: If your data harvesting is something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place," adds schwit1.

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  9. Biden Names Jessica Rosenworcel Acting FCC Chair - President Joe Biden has named Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC's leading Democrat, as acting FCC chairwoman. She is replacing Ajit Pai, who concluded his four years as chairman yesterday. Engadget reports: Rosenworcel is known as defender of net neutrality policies, and as an advocate for closing the "homework gap," a reference to students who lack high-speed internet at home. As acting chair, Rosenworcel will lead the FCC until the Senate confirms a permanent replacement. With Pai's departure, there's currently one spot open at the FCC for Biden to fill.

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  10. US Panel Asks FBI To Review Role of Parler In Capitol Attack - An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday asked the FBI to investigate the role Parler, a social media website and app popular with the American far right, played a role in the violence at the U.S. Capitol. Representative Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the panel, cited press reports that detailed violent threats on Parler against state elected officials for their role in certifying the election results before the Jan. 6 attack that left five dead. She also noted numerous Parler users have been arrested and charged with threatening violence against elected officials or for their role in participating in the attack. Maloney asked the FBI to review Parler's role "as a potential facilitator of planning and incitement related to the violence, as a repository of key evidence posted by users on its site, and as a potential conduit for foreign governments who may be financing civil unrest in the United States." Maloney asked the FBI to review Parler's financing and its ties to Russia after she noted the company had re-emerged. Maloney cited Justice Department charges against a Texas man who used a Parler account to post threats regarding the riots that he would return to the Capitol on Jan. 19 "carrying weapons and massing in numbers so large that no army could match them." The Justice Department said the threats were viewed by other social media users tens of thousands of times. While Parler has reappeared online thanks to a cloud services company based in Russia, it doesn't appear to be hosted via Amazon Web Services anytime soon. According to NPR, a U.S. district judge sided with Amazon, arguing "that it is within Amazon's right to punish the company over its refusal [to remove posts that threatened public safety]." Slashdot reader fropenn first shared the story.

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