Federation, Defederation, and You - FAQ and Megathread
*Regarding Beehaw defederating from and, [this]( post goes into detail on the why and the philosophy behind that decision. Additionally, there is an update specific to [here](* For now, let's talk about what federation is and what defederation means for members of Beehaw or the above two communities interacting with each other, as well as the broader fediverse. *Federation is not something new on the internet*. Most users use federated services every day (for instance, the url used to access instances uses a federated service known as DNS, and email is another system that functions through federation.) Just like those services, you elect to use a service provider that allows you to communicate with the rest of the world. That service provider is your window to work with others. When you federate, you mutually agree to share your content. This means that posting something to a site can be seen by another and all comments are shared. Even users from other sites can post to your site. Now when you defederate, this results in content to be no longer shared. It didn't reverse any previous sharing or posts, it just stops the information from flowing with the selected instance. This only impacts the site's that are called out. What this means to you is when a user within one instance (e.g. Beehaw) that's chosen to defederate with another (e.g., they can no longer interact with content on another instance, and vice versa. Other instances can still see the content of both servers as though nothing has happened. - A user is not limited to how many instances they can join (technically at least - some instance have more stringent requirements for joining than others do) - A user can interact with Lemmy content without being a user of any Lemmy instance - e.g. Mastodon (UI for doing so is limited, but it is still possible.) Considering the above, it is important to understand just how much autonomy we, as users have. For example, as the larger instances are flooded with users and their respective admins and mods try to keep up, many, smaller instances not only thrive, but emerge, regularly (and even single user instances - I have one for just myself!) The act of defederation does not serve to lock individual users out of anything as there are multiple avenues to constantly maintain access to, if you want it, the entirety of the unfiltered fediverse. On that last point, another consideration at the individual level is - what do you want out of Lemmy? Do you want to find and connect with like-minded people, share information, and connect at a social and community level? Do you want to casually browse content and not really interact with anyone? These questions and the questions that they lead to are critical. There is no direct benefit to being on the biggest instance. In fact, as we all deal with this mass influx, figure out what that means for our own instances and interactions with others, I would argue that a smaller instance is actually much better suited for those who just want to casually browse everything. Lastly, and tangential, another concern I have seen related to this conversation is people feeling afraid of being locked out of the content and conversation from the "main" communities around big topics starting to form across the Lemmiverse (think memes, gaming, tech, politics, news, etc.) Over time, certain communities will certainly become a default for some people just given the community size (there will *always* be a biggest or most active - it's just a numbers game.) This, again though, all comes down to personal preference and what each individual is looking to get from their Lemmy experience. While there may, eventually, be a “main” sub for <topic xyz> (again, by the numbers), there will also always be quite a few other options for targeted discussions on <topic xyz>, within different communities, on different instances, each with their own culture and vibe. This can certainly feel overwhelming and daunting (and at the moment, honestly it is.) Reddit and other non-federated platforms provided the illusion of choice, but this is what actual choice looks and feels like. [edit: grammar and spelling]

Site to track Subreddit’s as they go dark
Hopefully I'm posting this in the right place, but I see Reddit developments as Tech news right now. Wanted to share a website that is tracking Subreddits that have/will be going dark. It even has a sound notification for when they change their status. Edit: Adding the stream

Here is the study: [Power Hungry Processing: Watts Driving the Cost of AI Deployment?]( **There’s a big problem with generative AI, says Sasha Luccioni at Hugging Face, a machine-learning company. Generative AI is an energy hog.** “Every time you query the model, the whole thing gets activated, so it’s wildly inefficient from a computational perspective,” she says. Take the Large Language Models (LLMs) at the heart of many Generative AI systems. They have been trained on vast stores of written information, which helps them to churn out text in response to practically any query. “When you use Generative AI… it’s generating content from scratch, it’s essentially making up answers,” Dr Luccioni explains. That means the computer has to work pretty hard. A Generative AI system might use around 33 times more energy than machines running task-specific software, according to a recent study by Dr Luccioni and colleagues. The work has been peer-reviewed but is yet to be published in a journal. It’s not your personal computer that uses all this energy, though. Or your smartphone. The computations we increasingly rely on happen in giant data centres that are, for most people, out of sight and out of mind. “The cloud,” says Dr Luccioni. “You don’t think about these huge boxes of metal that heat up and use so much energy.” The world’s data centres are using ever more electricity. In 2022, they gobbled up 460 terawatt hours of electricity, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects this to double in just four years. Data centres could be using a total of 1,000 terawatts hours annually by 2026. “This demand is roughly equivalent to the electricity consumption of Japan,” says the IEA. Japan has a population of 125 million people. At data centres, huge volumes of information are stored for retrieval anywhere in the world – everything from your emails to Hollywood movies. The computers in those faceless buildings also power AI and cryptocurrency. They underpin life as we know it. But some countries know all too well how energy hungry these facilities are. There is currently a moratorium preventing the construction of new data centres in Dublin. Nearly a fifth of Ireland’s electricity is used up by data centres, and this figure is expected to grow significantly in the next few years – meanwhile Irish households are reducing their consumption. The boss of National Grid said in a speech in March that data centre electricity demand in the UK will rise six-fold in just 10 years, fuelled largely by the rise of AI. National Grid expects that the energy required for electrifying transport and heat will be much larger in total, however. Utilities firms in the US are beginning to feel the pressure, says Chris Seiple at Wood Mackenzie, a consultancy. “They’re getting hit with data centre demands at the exact same time as we have a renaissance taking place – thanks to government policy – in domestic manufacturing,” he explains. Lawmakers in some states are now rethinking tax breaks offered to data centre developers because of the sheer strain these facilities are putting on local energy infrastructure, according to reports in the US. Mr Seiple says there is a “land grab” going on for data centre locations near to power stations or renewable energy hubs: “Iowa is a hotbed of data centre development, there’s a lot of wind generation there.” Some data centres can afford to go to more remote locations these days because latency – the delay, usually measured in milliseconds, between sending information out from a data centre and the user receiving it – is not a major concern for increasingly popular Generative AI systems. In the past, data centres handling emergency communications or financial trading algorithms, for example, have been sited within or very near to large population centres, for the absolute best response times. There is little doubt that the energy demands of data centres will rise in the coming years, but there is huge uncertainty over how much, stresses Mr Seiple. Part of that uncertainty is down to the fact that the hardware behind generative AI is evolving all the time. Tony Grayson is general manager at Compass Quantum, a data-centre business, and he points to Nvidia’s recently launched Grace Blackwell supercomputer chips (named after a computer scientist and a mathematician), which are designed specifically to power high-end processes including generative AI, quantum computing and computer-aided drug design. Nvidia says that, in the future, a company could train AIs several times larger than the largest AI systems currently available in 90 days using 8,000 of the previous generation of Nvidia chips. This would need a 15 megawatt electricity supply. But the same work could be carried out in the same time by just 2,000 Grace Blackwell chips, and they would need a four megawatt supply, according to Nvidia. That still ends up as 8.6 gigawatt hours of electricity consumed – roughly the same amount that the entire city of Belfast uses in a week. “The performance is going up so much that your overall energy savings are big,” says Mr Grayson. But he agrees that power demands are shaping where data centre operators site their facilities: “People are going to where cheap power’s at.” Dr Luccioni notes that the energy and resources required to manufacture the latest computer chips are significant. Still, it is true that data centres have got more energy efficient over time, argues Dale Sartor, a consultant and affiliate of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US. Their efficiency is often measured in terms of power usage effectiveness, or PUE. The lower the number, the better. State-of-the-art data centres have a PUE of around 1.1, he notes. These facilities do still create significant amounts of waste heat and Europe is ahead of the US in finding ways of using that waste heat – such as warming up swimming pools – says Mr Sartor. Bruce Owen, UK managing director at Equinix, a data centre firm, says, “I still think that the demand is going to grow further than that efficiency gain that we see.” He predicts that more data centres will be built with on-site power-generating facilities included. Equinix was denied planning permission for a gas-powered data centre in Dublin last year. Mr Sartor adds that costs may ultimately determine whether Generative AI is worth it for certain applications: “If the old way is cheaper and easier then there’s not going to be much of a market for the new way.” Dr Luccioni stresses, though, that people will need to clearly understand how the options in front of them differ in terms of energy efficiency. She is working on a project to develop energy ratings for AI. “Instead of picking this GPT-derivative model that is very clunky and uses a lot of energy, you can pick this A+ energy star model that will be a lot more lightweight and efficient,” she says.

***- Attacks against water provider’s websites aren’t new, but now attackers are increasingly targeting utilities’ operations*** ***- Officials did not say how many cyber incidents have occurred in recent years, and the number of attacks known to be successful so far is few*** ***- Experts believe attackers to have been infiltrating critical infrastructure for years planting malware that could be triggered to disrupt basic services*** ***- Drinking water and wastewater systems are seen as an attractive target for cyberattacks because they are a lifeline critical infrastructure sector but often lack the resources and technical capacity to adopt rigorous cybersecurity practices***-- Cyberattacks against water utilities across the country are becoming more frequent and more severe, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned Monday as it issued an enforcement alert urging water systems to take immediate actions to protect the nation’s drinking water. About 70% of utilities inspected by federal officials over the last year violated standards meant to prevent breaches or other intrusions, the agency said. Officials urged even small water systems to improve protections against hacks. Recent cyberattacks by groups affiliated with Russia and Iran have targeted smaller communities. Some water systems are falling short in basic ways, the alert said, including failure to change default passwords or cut off system access to former employees. Because water utilities often rely on computer software to operate treatment plants and distribution systems, protecting information technology and process controls is crucial, the EPA said. Possible impacts of cyberattacks include interruptions to water treatment and storage; damage to pumps and valves; and alteration of chemical levels to hazardous amounts, the agency said. “In many cases, systems are not doing what they are supposed to be doing, which is to have completed a risk assessment of their vulnerabilities that includes cybersecurity and to make sure that plan is available and informing the way they do business,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. Attempts by private groups or individuals to get into a water provider’s network and take down or deface websites aren’t new. More recently, however, attackers haven’t just gone after websites, they’ve targeted utilities’ operations instead. Recent attacks are not just by private entities. Some recent hacks of water utilities are linked to geopolitical rivals, and could lead to the disruption of the supply of safe water to homes and businesses. EPA did not say how many cyber incidents have occurred in recent years, and the number of attacks known to be successful so far is few. McCabe named China, Russia and Iran as the countries that are “actively seeking the capability to disable U.S. critical infrastructure, including water and wastewater.” Late last year, an Iranian-linked group called “Cyber Av3ngers” targeted multiple organizations including a small Pennsylvania town’s water provider, forcing it to switch from a remote pump to manual operations. They were going after an Israeli-made device used by the utility in the wake of Israel’s war against Hamas. Earlier this year, a Russian-linked “hacktivist” tried to disrupt operations at several Texas utilities. A cyber group linked to China and known as Volt Typhoon has compromised information technology of multiple critical infrastructure systems, including drinking water, in the United States and its territories, U.S. officials said. Cybersecurity experts believe the China-aligned group is positioning itself for potential cyberattacks in the event of armed conflict or rising geopolitical tensions. “By working behind the scenes with these hacktivist groups, now these (nation states) have plausible deniability and they can let these groups carry out destructive attacks. And that to me is a game-changer,” said Dawn Cappelli, a cybersecurity expert with the industrial cybersecurity firm Dragos Inc. The world’s cyberpowers are believed to have been infiltrating rivals’ critical infrastructure for years planting malware that could be triggered to disrupt basic services. The enforcement alert is meant to emphasize the seriousness of cyberthreats and inform utilities the EPA will continue its inspections and pursue civil or criminal penalties if they find serious problems. “We want to make sure that we get the word out to people that ‘Hey, we are finding a lot of problems here,’ ” McCabe said. Preventing attacks against water providers is part of the Biden administration’s broader effort to combat threats against critical infrastructure. In February, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to protect U.S. ports. Health care systems have been attacked. The White House has pushed electric utilities to increase their defenses, too. EPA Administrator Michael Regan and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan have asked states to come up with a plan to combat cyberattacks on drinking water systems. “Drinking water and wastewater systems are an attractive target for cyberattacks because they are a lifeline critical infrastructure sector but often lack the resources and technical capacity to adopt rigorous cybersecurity practices,” Regan and Sullivan wrote in a March 18 letter to all 50 U.S. governors. Some of the fixes are straightforward, McCabe said. Water providers, for example, shouldn’t use default passwords. They need to develop a risk assessment plan that addresses cybersecurity and set up backup systems. The EPA says they will train water utilities that need help for free. Larger utilities usually have more resources and the expertise to defend against attacks. “In an ideal world … we would like everybody to have a baseline level of cybersecurity and be able to confirm that they have that,” said Alan Roberson, executive director of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators. “But that’s a long ways away.” Some barriers are foundational. The water sector is highly fragmented. There are roughly 50,000 community water providers, most of which serve small towns. Modest staffing and anemic budgets in many places make it hard enough to maintain the basics — providing clean water and keeping up with the latest regulations. “Certainly, cybersecurity is part of that, but that’s never been their primary expertise. So, now you’re asking a water utility to develop this whole new sort of department” to handle cyberthreats, said Amy Hardberger, a water expert at Texas Tech University. The EPA has faced setbacks. States periodically review the performance of water providers. In March 2023, the EPA instructed states to add cybersecurity evaluations to those reviews. If they found problems, the state was supposed to force improvements. But Missouri, Arkansas and Iowa, joined by the American Water Works Association and another water industry group, challenged the instructions in court on the grounds that EPA didn’t have the authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act. After a court setback, the EPA withdrew its requirements but urged states to take voluntary actions anyway. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires certain water providers to develop plans for some threats and certify they’ve done so. But its power is limited. “There’s just no authority for (cybersecurity) in the law,” said Roberson. Kevin Morley, manager of federal relations with the American Water Works Association, said some water utilities have components that are connected to the internet — a common, but significant vulnerability. Overhauling those systems can be a significant and costly job. And without substantial federal funding, water systems struggle to find resources. The industry group has published guidance for utilities and advocates for establishing a new organization of cybersecurity and water experts that would develop new policies and enforce them, in partnership with the EPA. “Let’s bring everybody along in a reasonable manner,” Morley said, adding that small and large utilities have different needs and resources.

ASML and TSMC Can Remotely Disable Chip Machines If China Invades Taiwan
ASML Holding NV and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. have ways to disable the world’s most sophisticated chipmaking machines in the event that China invades Taiwan, according to people familiar with the matter. Officials from the US government have privately expressed concerns to both their Dutch and Taiwanese counterparts about what happens if Chinese aggression escalates into an attack on the island responsible for producing the vast majority of the world’s advanced semiconductors, two of the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity. ASML reassured officials about its ability to remotely disable the machines when the Dutch government met with the company on the threat, two others said. The Netherlands has run simulations on a possible invasion in order to better assess the risks, they added. Spokespeople for ASML, TSMC and the Dutch trade ministry declined to comment. Spokespeople for the White House National Security Council, US Department of Defense and US Department of Commerce didn’t respond to emailed requests for comment. The remote shut-off applies to Netherlands-based ASML’s line of extreme ultraviolet machines, known within the industry as EUVs, for which TSMC is its single biggest client. EUVs harness high-frequency light waves to print the smallest microchip transistors in existence — creating chips that have artificial-intelligence uses as well as more sensitive military applications. China has long claimed that the island of Taiwan is its territory, with President Xi Jinping both advocating for peaceful unification and refusing to rule out a military intervention. While US officials have warned that China is seeking the capability to invade Taiwan by 2027, Taiwanese officials have downplayed the threat of an imminent invasion and officials in Beijing have said the American warnings of a timeline are baseless. The People’s Liberation Army isn’t massing troops on the coast and Xi has been primarily focused on steadying China’s economy to hit long-term development goals. Global Chip War About the size of a city bus, an EUV requires regular servicing and updates. As part of that, the company can remotely force a shut-off which would act as a kill switch, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Veldhoven-based company is the world’s only manufacturer of these machines, which sell for more than €200 million ($217 million) apiece. ASML’s technology has long been subject to government interventions aimed at preventing it from falling into the wrong hands. The Netherlands prohibits the company from selling EUV machines to China, for instance, because of US fears they could lend its rival an edge in the global chip war. It was at the behest of the US that the Dutch began this year to halt exports of ASML’s next-most sophisticated chipmaking machines. Even before that ban took effect, US officials had asked ASML to cancel some previously scheduled shipments to Chinese customers, Bloomberg News reported. The company expects as much as 15% of this year’s sales to China will be affected by the latest export-control measures. Evidence suggests the restrictions may have come too late to stem Chinese advances. Huawei Technologies Co. last year produced a smartphone to rival Apple Inc.’s iPhone using chips made with older ASML printers in combination with tools from two US suppliers, Bloomberg News reported in October after conducting a break-down of the phone. Beijing has made technological self-sufficiency a national priority and Huawei’s efforts to advance domestic chip design and manufacture have received government backing. The Biden administration is also looking to boost semiconductor production on American soil, promising $39 billion in grants to chipmakers to hedge against any future supply-chain disruption. The stakes are high, with around 90% of the world’s most advanced chips made in Taiwan. On May 20, Taiwan inaugurated Lai Ching-te as president in the global chip hub, putting in power a man Beijing has branded an “instigator of war.” Read More: Taiwan’s New President Calls On China to End Threat of War The EUV machine has helped turn ASML into Europe’s most valuable tech stock with a market capitalization topping $370 billion — more than double that of its client Intel Corp. ASML has shipped more than 200 of these machines to clients outside China since they were first developed in 2016, with TSMC snatching up more of them than any other chipmaker. EUVs require such frequent upkeep that without ASML’s spare parts they quickly stop working, the people said. On-site maintenance of the EUVs poses a challenge because they’re housed in clean rooms that require engineers to wear special suits to avoid contamination. ASML offers certain customers joint service contracts where they do some of the routine maintenance themselves, allowing clients like TSMC to access their own machines’ system. ASML says it can’t access its customers’ proprietary data. TSMC Chairman Mark Liu hinted in a September interview with CNN that any invader of Taiwan would find his company’s chipmaking machines out of order.

***- Adverts containing AI-manipulated images were submitted to Facebook by civil and corporate accountability groups*** ***- Adverts contained known slurs towards Muslims in India, such as “let’s burn this vermin” and “Hindu blood is spilling, these invaders must be burned”*** ***- One advert called for the execution of an opposition leader they falsely claimed wanted to “erase Hindus from India”***-- The Facebook and Instagram owner Meta approved a series of AI-manipulated political adverts during India’s election that spread disinformation and incited religious violence, according to a report shared exclusively with the Guardian. Facebook approved adverts containing known slurs towards Muslims in India, such as “let’s burn this vermin” and “Hindu blood is spilling, these invaders must be burned”, as well as Hindu supremacist language and disinformation about political leaders. Another approved advert called for the execution of an opposition leader they falsely claimed wanted to “erase Hindus from India”, next to a picture of a Pakistan flag. The adverts were created and submitted to Meta’s ad library – the database of all adverts on Facebook and Instagram – by India Civil Watch International (ICWI) and Ekō, a corporate accountability organisation, to test Meta’s mechanisms for detecting and blocking political content that could prove inflammatory or harmful during India’s six-week election. According to the report, all of the adverts “were created based upon real hate speech and disinformation prevalent in India, underscoring the capacity of social media platforms to amplify existing harmful narratives”. The adverts were submitted midway through voting, which began in April and would continue in phases until 1 June. The election will decide if the prime minister, Narendra Modi, and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) government will return to power for a third term. During his decade in power, Modi’s government has pushed a Hindu-first agenda which human rights groups, activists and opponents say has led to the increased persecution and oppression of India’s Muslim minority. In this election, the BJP has been accused of using anti-Muslim rhetoric and stoking fears of attacks on Hindus, who make up 80% of the population, to garner votes. During a rally in Rajasthan, Modi referred to Muslims as “infiltrators” who “have more children”, though he later denied this was directed at Muslims and said he had “many Muslim friends”. The social media site X was recently ordered to remove a BJP campaign video accused of demonising Muslims. The report researchers submitted 22 adverts in English, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, and Kannada to Meta, of which 14 were approved. A further three were approved after small tweaks were made that did not alter the overall provocative messaging. After they were approved, they were immediately removed by the researchers before publication. Meta’s systems failed to detect that all of the approved adverts featured AI-manipulated images, despite a public pledge by the company that it was “dedicated” to preventing AI-generated or manipulated content being spread on its platforms during the Indian election. Five of the adverts were rejected for breaking Meta’s community standards policy on hate speech and violence, including one that featured misinformation about Modi. But the 14 that were approved, which largely targeted Muslims, also “broke Meta’s own policies on hate speech, bullying and harassment, misinformation, and violence and incitement”, according to the report. Maen Hammad, a campaigner at Ekō, accused Meta of profiting from the proliferation of hate speech. “Supremacists, racists and autocrats know they can use hyper-targeted ads to spread vile hate speech, share images of mosques burning and push violent conspiracy theories – and Meta will gladly take their money, no questions asked,” he said. Meta also failed to recognise the 14 approved adverts were political or election-related, even though many took aim at political parties and candidates opposing the BJP. Under Meta’s policies, political adverts have to go through a specific authorisation process before approval but only three of the submissions were rejected on this basis. This meant these adverts could freely violate India’s election rules, which stipulate all political advertising and political promotion is banned in the 48 hours before polling begins and during voting. These adverts were all uploaded to coincide with two phases of election voting. In response, a Meta spokesperson said people who wanted to run ads about elections or politics “must go through the authorisation process required on our platforms and are responsible for complying with all applicable laws”. The company added: “When we find content, including ads, that violates our community standards or community guidelines, we remove it, regardless of its creation mechanism. AI-generated content is also eligible to be reviewed and rated by our network of independent factcheckers – once a content is labeled as ‘altered’ we reduce the content’s distribution. We also require advertisers globally to disclose when they use AI or digital methods to create or alter a political or social issue ad in certain cases.” A previous report by ICWI and Ekō found that “shadow advertisers” aligned to political parties, particularly the BJP, have been paying vast sums to disseminate unauthorised political adverts on platforms during India’s election. Many of these real adverts were found to endorse Islamophobic tropes and Hindu supremacist narratives. Meta denied most of these adverts violated their policies. Meta has previously been accused of failing to stop the spread of Islamophobic hate speech, calls to violence and anti-Muslim conspiracy theories on its platforms in India. In some cases posts have led to real-life cases of riots and lynchings. Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, recently described India’s election as “a huge, huge test for us” and said the company had done “months and months and months of preparation in India”. Meta said it had expanded its network of local and third-party factcheckers across all platforms, and was working across 20 Indian languages. Hammad said the report’s findings had exposed the inadequacies of these mechanisms. “This election has shown once more that Meta doesn’t have a plan to address the landslide of hate speech and disinformation on its platform during these critical elections,” he said. “It can’t even detect a handful of violent AI-generated images. How can we trust them with dozens of other elections worldwide?”

Under the slogan ‘Think of the children’, the European Commission tried to introduce total surveillance of all EU citizens. When the scandal was revealed, it turned out that American tech companies and security services had been involved in the bill, generally known as ‘Chat Control’ – and that the whole thing had been directed by completely different interests. Now comes the next attempt.

[Archived link]( YouTube has blocked at least three videos that show viewers how to evade military service after it received a request from the Russian authorities, the investigative news outlet Agentstvo reported Monday. Russia’s state media watchdog Roskomnadzor notified YouTube between December and February that the three videos violated Russia’s law on information technology and information protection, according to screenshots of the YouTube legal support team’s blocking notices. The website also notified the human rights watchdog OVD-Info that one of its YouTube channels may be blocked after it recently received a complaint from Roskomnadzor. According to an email YouTube forwarded to OVD-Info on May 6, Roskomnadzor restricted access to its channel “Kak Teper?” (“What Now?”), which it said could be restored if the channel “eliminated” unspecified violations. “As far as we know, this is the first case in Russia when Roskomnadzor is demanding to block the channel in its entirety rather than a specific video,” OVD-Info spokesman Dmitry Anisimov told Agentstvo. “We’re now in contact with Google and trying to explain that this demand to block our channel is illegal and represents politically motivated censorship,” he added. Removing content related to human rights at the request of the Russian government and not because it violates Google’s content policies marks a “new trend,” Agentstvo said, citing an unnamed cybersecurity expert. YouTube has deleted the channels of many pro-Kremlin media organizations since Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022, sparking accusations of censorship from the Kremlin. Russia has so far stopped short of banning YouTube like it has banned Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram, along with many independent media outlets. Before invading Ukraine, Russia threatened to punish Google and other Western tech companies if they failed to delete banned content, including posts supporting the late opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

BMW, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Volkswagen (VW) used parts made by a supplier on a list of firms banned over alleged links to Chinese forced labour, a US congressional report has said. At least 8,000 BMW Mini Cooper cars were imported into the US with components from banned Chinese firm Sichuan Jingweida Technology Group (JWD), according to the report by Senate Finance Committee chairman Ron Wyden's staff. "Automakers’ self-policing is clearly not doing the job," the Democrat Senator said. BMW said it had "strict standards and policies regarding employment practices, human rights, and working conditions, which all our direct suppliers must follow". It added it had taken steps to "halt the importation of affected products and will be conducting a service action with customer and dealer notification for affected motor vehicles". Jaguar Land Rover told the BBC it "takes human rights and forced labour issues seriously and has an active ongoing programme of human rights protection and anti-slavery measures". VW did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr Wyden also urged the US Customs and Border Protection agency to "supercharge enforcement and crack down on companies that fuel the shameful use of forced labour in China". The report added Jaguar Land Rover had imported spare parts which included components from JWD after the company was put on the banned list. JLR said it has now identified and is destroying any stock it holds around the world that include this component. In February, VW said thousands of its vehicles, including Porsches and Bentleys, had been held by authorities because they had a component in them that breached America's anti-forced labour laws. VW had voluntarily informed customs officials about the issue, the report said. Congress passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) into law in 2021. The legislation is intended to prevent the import of goods from China's north-western Xinjiang region that are believed to have been made by people from the Uyghur minority group in forced labour conditions. JWD was added to the UFLPA Entity List in December 2023, which means its products are presumed to be made with forced labour. China has been accused of detaining more than one million Uyghurs in Xinjiang against their will over the past few years. Authorities have denied all allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. “The so-called Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act by the US is not about forced labor but about creating unemployment. It does not protect human rights but, under the guise of human rights, harms the survival and employment rights of the people in Xinjiang," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said. "China strongly condemns and firmly opposes this. We will take measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.”

cross-posted from:

Minister suggests Canada is considering tariffs on Chinese EVs following U.S. move
Canada's industry minister says Ottawa is "considering all measures" after the U.S. announced it would be hiking tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and other related goods. François-Philippe Champagne wouldn't rule out Canada imposing similar tariffs during an interview with CBC News Network's Power &amp; Politics on Friday. "It's fair to say that everything is on the table to protect our industry and our workers," Champagne told host David Cochrane. "We're working in sync with the United States of America." President Joe Biden announced earlier this week that the U.S. would be slapping new tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), advanced batteries, solar cells, steel, aluminum and medical equipment. The tariffs are to be phased in over the next three years; those that take effect in 2024 are covering EVs, solar cells, syringes, needles, steel and aluminum and more. There are currently very few EVs from China in the U.S., but American officials worry that low-priced models made possible by Chinese government subsidies could soon start flooding the U.S. market. In a separate interview on Tuesday, Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, said "Canada has to" implement similar trade levies. "Now that the Americans have put up a tariff wall, we can't leave the side door open here," Volpe told guest host John Paul Tasker. Brian Kingston, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association, echoed Volpe's argument in a post on X, formerly Twitter. "Canada cannot be out of step with the U.S. on China. We need aligned policies that strengthen the North American auto supply chain," he wrote. Champagne insisted that Canada wouldn't be a route for China to gain access to the North American EV market. "Canada has never been and will never be a backdoor [for] China in the North American market and our U.S. friends understand that," he said. The federal government has partnered with provinces to attract investments from major automotive manufacturers to spur electric vehicle production in Canada. The same day the U.S. announced its new tariffs, Asahi Kasei Corp., in partnership with Honda, announced the construction of a $1.6-billion electric vehicle battery plant in Port Colborne, Ont. Volpe said domestic EV production could be held back if China floods the Canadian market with cheaper products. "There's no logic for Canada to force our market to electrify and then turn the market over to the Chinese," he said. China has maintained that the U.S. tariffs are a violation of international trade rules. It is not clear how the country will respond at this point. Volpe suggested Beijing could retaliate by implementing export controls on its critical minerals that are used in EV battery manufacturing. Champagne said it's important for Canada to shore up its own critical mineral production. On Thursday, Canada and the U.S. announced they would be co-investing in critical mineral producers for the first time as they work to boost regional supplies. Natural Resources Canada and the U.S. Department of Defense are together putting about $32.5 million into Fortune Minerals Ltd. — which is working on a project with bismuth and cobalt in the Northwest Territories — and Lomiko Metals Inc., focused on a graphite project in Quebec.

*By Tinglong Dai, Bernard T. Ferrari Professor of Business, Johns Hopkins University* In June 2019, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted: “Trump doesn’t get the basics. He thinks his tariffs are being paid by China. Any freshman econ student could tell you that the American people are paying his tariffs.” Fast-forward five years to May 2024, and President Biden has announced a hike in tariffs on a variety of Chinese imports, including a 100% tariff that would significantly increase the price of Chinese-made electric vehicles. For a nation committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, efforts by the U.S. to block low-cost EVs might seem counterproductive. At a price of around US$12,000, Chinese automaker BYD’s Seagull electric car could quickly expand EV sales if it landed at that price in the U.S., where the cheapest new electric cars cost nearly three times more. As an expert in global supply chains, however, I believe the Biden tariffs can succeed in giving the U.S. EV industry room to grow. Without the tariffs, U.S. auto sales risk being undercut by Chinese companies, which have much lower production costs due to their manufacturing methods, looser environmental and safety standards, cheaper labor and more generous government EV subsidies. **Tariffs have a troubled history** The U.S. has a long history of tariffs that have failed to achieve their economic goals. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 was meant to protect American jobs by raising tariffs on imported goods. But it backfired by prompting other countries to raise their tariffs, which led to a drop in international trade and deepened the Great Depression. Biden speaks at a podium with people standing behind him holding United Steelworkers signs. President George W. Bush’s 2002 steel tariffs also led to higher steel prices, which hurt industries that use steel and cost American manufacturing an estimated 200,000 jobs. The tariffs were lifted after the World Trade Organization ruled against them. The Obama administration’s tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels in 2012 blocked direct imports but failed to foster a domestic solar panel industry. Today, the U.S. relies heavily on imports from companies operating in Southeast Asia – primarily Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Many of those companies are linked to China. **Why EV tariffs are different this time** Biden’s EV tariffs, however, might defy historical precedent and succeed where the solar tariff failed, for a few key reasons: **1. Timing matters.** When Obama imposed tariffs on solar panels in 2012, nearly half of U.S. installations were already using Chinese-manufactured panels. In contrast, Chinese-made EVs, including models sold in the U.S. by Volvo and Polestar, have negligible U.S. market shares. Because the U.S. market is not dependent on Chinese-made EVs, the tariffs can be implemented without significant disruption or price increases, giving the domestic industry time to grow and compete more effectively. By imposing tariffs early, the Biden administration hopes to prevent the U.S. market from becoming saturated with low-price Chinese EVs, which could undercut domestic manufacturers and stifle innovation. **2. Global supply chains are not the same today.** The COVID-19 pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in global supply chains, such as the risk of disruptions in the availability of critical components and delays in production and shipping. These issues prompted many countries, including the U.S., to reevaluate their dependence on foreign manufacturers for critical goods and to shift toward reshoring – bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. – and strengthening domestic supply chains. The war in Ukraine has further intensified the separation between U.S.-led and China-led economic orders, a phenomenon I call the “Supply Chain Iron Curtain.” In a recent McKinsey survey, 67% of executives cited geopolitical risk as the greatest threat to global growth. In this context, EVs and their components, particularly batteries, are key products identified in Biden’s supply chain reviews as critical to the nation’s supply chain resilience. Ensuring a stable and secure supply of these components through domestic manufacturing can mitigate the risks associated with global supply chain disruptions and geopolitical tensions. **3. National security concerns are higher.** Unlike solar panels, EVs have direct national security implications. The Biden administration considers Chinese-made EVs a potential cybersecurity threat due to the possibility of embedded software that could be used for surveillance or cyberattacks. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has discussed espionage risks involving the potential for foreign-made EVs to collect sensitive data and transmit it outside the U.S. Officials have raised concerns about the resilience of an EV supply chain dependent on other countries in the event of a geopolitical conflict. **BYD targets EV sales in Mexico** While Biden’s EV tariffs might succeed in keeping Chinese competition out for a while, Chinese EV manufacturers could try to circumvent the tariffs by moving production to countries such as Mexico. This scenario is similar to past tactics used by Chinese solar panel manufacturers, which relocated production to other Asian countries to avoid U.S. tariffs. Chinese automaker BYD, the world leader in EV sales, is already exploring establishing a factory in Mexico to produce its new electric truck. Nearly 10% of cars sold in Mexico in 2023 were produced by Chinese automakers. Given the changing geopolitical reality, Biden’s 100% EV tariffs are likely the beginning of a broader strategy rather than an isolated measure. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai hinted at this during a recent press conference, stating that addressing vehicles made in Mexico would require “a separate pathway” and to “stay tuned” for future actions. **Is Europe next?** For now, given the near absence of Chinese-made EVs in the U.S. auto market, Biden’s EV tariffs are unlikely to have a noticeable short-term impact in the U.S. They could, however, affect decisions in Europe. The European Union saw Chinese EV imports more than double over a seven-month period in 2023, undercutting European vehicles by offering lower prices. Manufacturers are concerned. When finance ministers from the Group of Seven advanced democracies meet in late May, tariffs will be on the agenda. Biden’s move might encourage similar protective actions elsewhere, reinforcing the global shift toward securing supply chains and promoting domestic manufacturing.

*Targeting posts boasting of personal wealth appears to be part of campaign to ‘purify the internet cultural environment’.* Chinese social media companies have launched a new crackdown on user content, targeting posts that show off personal wealth and financial extravagance. In a statement posted online on Wednesday, Weibo said it had spent this month carrying out special management work on “undesirable value-orientated content”, including content “showing off wealth and worshipping money”. The statement said it had targeted posts showing off luxury cars and expensive properties. Posts seen as bragging about wealth and the freedom that comes with being rich were also removed. Other social media companies, including Tencent, Douyin and Xiaohongshu, posted similar statements. The crackdown is a part of China’s campaign to create a “social-ecological environment that is civilised, healthy and harmonious”, Weibo’s statement said. It encouraged users to instead create or share high-quality, truthful and positive value-oriented content on the platform, to further create “a good community atmosphere of upward mobility and goodness”. Douyin said it had removed 4,701 messages and 11 accounts from 1 to 7 May. Xiaohongshu said it had cleaned up 4,273 “illegal” posts in the past two weeks and closed 383 accounts, and Weibo said it had removed more than 1,100 pieces of content, according to Chinese media outlet, The Cover. The stricter approach appears to be part of the Chinese authorities’ nationwide campaign to “purify the internet cultural environment”, which began in 2016. Despite the Chinese Communist party’s efforts to achieve a “common prosperity”, the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing. Data released from China’s National Bureau of Statistics showed the 2023 income gap in Beijing has reached its greatest value since data collection began in 1985. The share of China’s national income earned by the top 10% of the population has increased from 27% in 1978 to 41% in 2015, nearing the US’s 45% and surpassing France’s 32%, according to the Stanford Center on China’s Economy and Institutions. Policies and crackdowns on social behaviour that the ruling Chinese Communist party has deemed unacceptable have also been seen offline. In September 2023 Beijing amended laws to prohibit the comments, clothing and symbols that “hurt national sentiments”. In 2022, sports administrators said they would ban new tattoos for national football team members, and advised those with them already to have them removed or cover them up. In August 2020 the Chinese government launched “Operation empty plate”, a campaign to stop food and beverage waste and cultivate frugality. And in 2018 the government called for “comprehensive reform” of the wedding industry to end to “vulgar wedding practices” like expensive wedding gifts, lavish ceremonies and demands for increasingly high bride prices. In 2022 the Chinese National Radio and Television Administration attracted controversy when it said it was determined to crack down on the plastic surgery and “sissy” aesthetic on TV.

Need tech support (android bullshit) (resolved)
So, I want to add some files to a hidden directory, the only issue is I can't see the directory. Its a retroarch core that isn't avalibke in-app How do I force android to show hidden directories? (I don't think root is an option) It was a matter of wrong core, managed to install it in a public folder, will keep this here in case anyone wants this for future reference

  • hedge
  • English
  • 7d
Does a VPN used on a smartphone with Wi-Fi disabled (mobile data only enabled) provide any sort of protection?
I've never completely understood this, but I think the answer would probably be "no," although I'm not sure. Usually when I leave the house I turn off wifi and just use mobile data (this is a habit from my pre-VPN days), although I guess I should probably just keep it on since using strange Wi-Fi with a VPN is ok (unless someone at Starbucks is using the evil twin router trick . . . ?). I was generally under the impression that mobile data is harder to interfere with than Wi-Fi, but I could well be wrong and my notions out of date. So, if need be, please set me straight. 🙂

cross-posted from:

I was under the impression that [Privacy Badger wasn't considered useful any more]( . . . ? They should've just recommended using Firefox instead, yes? EDIT: They spoke to, but IMHO, did not give enough time to, Cory Doctorow and Brewster Kahle. They mentioned Mastodon 👍, and *described* the Fediverse while not actually calling it that! A bit frustrating.

Taiwan's National Security Bureau (NSB) official Ko Cheng-heng said that Beijing’s campaign against Taiwan would spark a strong backlash from democracies around the world. Cyberattacks from China have surged to 2.5 million per day as it intensifies its “gray zone” activities ahead of president-elect William Lai’s (賴清德) inauguration on Monday next week, the National Security Bureau (NSB) said yesterday at a meeting of the legislatures’ Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee. An official in charge of the agency’s fifth division made the comments in response to questions from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) about possible Chinese activities that would coincide with the inauguration. China has increased disinformation operations and cyberattacks, the official said, adding that the latter more than doubled the average of 1 million hacks per day earlier this year. The attacks, which mainly targeted government agencies, are being countered by the bureau’s efforts to find and eliminate cybersecurity vulnerabilities before they could be exploited, they said. The bureau detected an uptick in Chinese “gray zone” warfare, but nothing unusual from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the months leading to the inauguration, NSB Deputy Director-General Ko Cheng-heng (柯承亨) said. Asked by DPP Legislator Michelle Lin (林楚茵) whether Wednesday’s sanctions against Taiwanese pundits by China threatened to “Hong Kongize” Taiwan, Ko said that Beijing’s campaign against the nation would spark a stronger backlash from the world’s democracies. Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Remus Chen (陳立國) said that China’s experiment with extraterritorial repression has angered democratic nations globally, which cannot tolerate infringement on their national sovereignty and their citizens’ rights. Meanwhile, a US Department of State spokesperson on Wednesday urged China to stop military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, calling for Beijing to conduct meaningful dialogue across the Taiwan Strait. The spokesperson made the remark in response to a request for comment from Central News Agency (CNA). On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Ministry of National Defense detected 51 PLA vessels operating near Taiwan. The US expresses its concern over China’s continued attempt at intimidating and pressuring Taiwan, as Beijing’s actions carry a risk of miscalculation harming regional peace, the US spokesperson said. Washington is to continue its opposition to any unilateral change of the “status quo” and support the peaceful resolution of the question concerning both sides of the Strait, positions that agree with the interests of Taiwanese, they said. The US would ensure that diplomatic and military communication channels with Beijing remain open during the sensitive period of Taiwan’s transfer of power, a US official separately told CNA. Likewise, Washington will maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan, they said. The American Institute in Taiwan has advised Lai’s incoming administration of Washington’s long-standing policy on affairs in the Strait, they added. The US cautions Taiwan that China would likely carry out coercive actions via “gray zone” tactics, they said, citing the example of China Coast Guard pressure near Kinmen County in February. These tactics are not new for Beijing, which has practiced them in the South China Sea and around the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), they said.

[ link]( Some highlights I found interesting: >After Tinucci had cut between 15% and 20% of staffers two weeks earlier, part of much wider layoffs, they believed Musk would affirm plans for a massive charging-network expansion. >Musk, the employees said, was not pleased with Tinucci’s presentation and wanted more layoffs. When she balked, saying deeper cuts would undermine charging-business fundamentals, he responded by firing her and her entire 500-member team. >The departures have upended a network widely viewed as a signature Tesla achievement and a key driver of its EV sales. >Despite the mass firings, Musk has since posted on social media promising to continue expanding the network. But three former charging-team employees told Reuters they have been fielding calls from vendors, contractors and electric utilities, some of which had spent millions of dollars on equipment and infrastructure to help build out Tesla’s network. >Tesla's energy team, which sells solar and battery-storage products for homes and businesses, was tasked with taking over Superchargers and calling some partners to close out ongoing charger-construction projects, said three of the former Tesla employees. >Tinucci was one of few high-ranking female Tesla executives. She recently started reporting directly to Musk, following the departure of battery-and-energy chief Drew Baglino, according to four former Supercharger-team staffers. They said Baglino had historically overseen the charging department without much involvement from Musk. >Two former Supercharger staffers called the $500 million expansion budget a significant reduction from what the team had planned for 2024 - but nonetheless a challenge requiring hundreds of employees. >Three of the former employees called the firings a major setback to U.S. charging expansion because of the relationships Tesla employees had built with suppliers and electric utilities.

I hate to go as cliche as "surprising absolutely no one," but really, this is not a surprise.

Several European consumer watchdogs file complaints against Chinese online platform Temu over “manipulative techniques” breaching EU’s Digital Services Act
According to the European consumer protection group BEUC, the Chinese online retailer Temu "fails to provide sufficient traceability of the traders that sell on its platform" and thereby fail "to ensure that the products sold to EU consumers conform to EU law", BEUC said in a release. "Temu is using manipulative practices such as dark patterns to get consumers, for example, to spend more than they might originally want to, or to complicate the process of closing down their account", BEUC adds, and it fails to "provide transparency about how it recommends products to consumers". As a result, BEUC filed a complaint with the European Commission, while several of BEUC’s national members filed the same complaint with their competent national authorities, namely Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Luxembourg. [Edit typo.]

[Canonical YouTube link](

The authors introduce and evaluate an open-source software package and methodological framework for detecting and analysing coordinated behaviour on social media, namely the Coordination Network Toolkit, utilising weighted, directed multigraphs to capture intricate coordination dynamics. To whom it may concern.

[Archived link]( On Jan. 6, 2021, QAnon conspiracy theorists played a significant role in inciting Donald Trump supporters to storm the Capitol building in D.C., hoping to overturn the 2020 election in favor of Trump. Days later, Twitter suspended tens of thousands of QAnon accounts, effectively banning most users who promote the far-right conspiracy theory. Now, a new study from Newsguard has uncovered that since Elon Musk acquired the company, QAnon has had a resurgence on X, formerly Twitter, over the past year. QAnon grows on X Tracking commonly used QAnon phrases like "QSentMe," "TheGreatAwakening," and "WWG1WGA" (which stands for "Where We Go One, We Go All"), Newsguard found that these QAnon-related slogans and hashtags have increased a whopping 1,283 percent on X under Musk. From May 1, 2023 to May 1, 2024, there were 1.12 million mentions of these QAnon supporter phrases on X. This was a huge uptick from the 81,100 mentions just one year earlier from May 1, 2022 to May 1, 2023. One of the most viral QAnon-related posts of the year, on the "Frazzledrip" conspiracy, has received more than 21.8 million views, according to the report. Most concerning, however, is that it was posted by a right-wing influencer who has specifically received support from Musk. The Jan. 2024 tweet was posted by @dom_lucre, a user with more than 1.2 million followers who commonly posts far-right conspiracy theories. In July 2023, @dom_lucre was suspended on then-Twitter. Responding to @dom_lucre's supporters, Musk shared at the time that @dom_lucre was "suspended for posting child exploitation pictures." Sharing child sexual abuse material or CSAM would result in a permanent ban on most platforms. However, Musk decided to personally intervene in favor of @dom_lucre and reinstated his account. Since then, @dom_lucre has posted about how he earns thousands of dollars directly from X. The company allows him to monetize his conspiratorial posts via the platform's official creator monetization program. Musk has also previously voiced his support for Jacob Chansely, a QAnon follower known as the "QAnon Shaman," who served prison time for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. The dangers of QAnon QAnon's adherents follow a number of far-right conspiracy theories, but broadly (and falsely) believe that former President Trump has been secretly battling against a global cabal of Satanic baby-eating traffickers, who just happen to primarily be made up of Democratic Party politicians and Hollywood elites. Unfortunately, these beliefs have too often turned deadly. Numerous QAnon followers have been involved in killings fueled by their beliefs. In 2022, one Michigan man killed his wife before being fatally shot in a standoff with police. His daughter said her father spiraled out of control as he fell into the QAnon conspiracies. In 2021, another QAnon conspiracy theorists killed his two young children, claiming that his wife had "Serpent DNA" and his children were monsters. Of course, QAnon never completely disappeared from social media platforms. Its followers still espoused their beliefs albeit in a more coded manner over the past few years to circumvent social media platforms' policies. Now, though, QAnon believers are once again being more open about their radical theories. The looming November 2024 Presidential election likely plays a role in the sudden resurgence of QAnon on X, as QAnon-believing Trump supporters look to help their chosen candidate. However, Musk and X have actively welcomed these users to their social media service, eagerly providing them with a platform to spread their dangerous falsehoods.

This is the [alternative Invidious link]( for the embedded article. *By Mayank Kejriwal, Research Assistant Professor of Industrial &amp; Systems Engineering, University of Southern California.* Many people understand the concept of bias at some intuitive level. In society, and in artificial intelligence systems, racial and gender biases are well documented. If society could somehow remove bias, would all problems go away? The late Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, who was a key figure in the field of behavioral economics, argued in his last book that bias is just one side of the coin. Errors in judgments can be attributed to two sources: bias and noise. Bias and noise both play important roles in fields such as law, medicine and financial forecasting, where human judgments are central. In our work as computer and information scientists, my colleagues and I have found that noise also plays a role in AI. Noise in this context means variation in how people make judgments of the same problem or situation. The problem of noise is more pervasive than initially meets the eye. A seminal work, dating back all the way to the Great Depression, has found that different judges gave different sentences for similar cases. Worryingly, sentencing in court cases can depend on things such as the temperature and whether the local football team won. Such factors, at least in part, contribute to the perception that the justice system is not just biased but also arbitrary at times. Other examples: Insurance adjusters might give different estimates for similar claims, reflecting noise in their judgments. Noise is likely present in all manner of contests, ranging from wine tastings to local beauty pageants to college admissions. **Noise in the data** On the surface, it doesn’t seem likely that noise could affect the performance of AI systems. After all, machines aren’t affected by weather or football teams, so why would they make judgments that vary with circumstance? On the other hand, researchers know that bias affects AI, because it is reflected in the data that the AI is trained on. For the new spate of AI models like ChatGPT, the gold standard is human performance on general intelligence problems such as common sense. ChatGPT and its peers are measured against human-labeled commonsense datasets. Put simply, researchers and developers can ask the machine a commonsense question and compare it with human answers: “If I place a heavy rock on a paper table, will it collapse? Yes or No.” If there is high agreement between the two – in the best case, perfect agreement – the machine is approaching human-level common sense, according to the test. So where would noise come in? The commonsense question above seems simple, and most humans would likely agree on its answer, but there are many questions where there is more disagreement or uncertainty: “Is the following sentence plausible or implausible? My dog plays volleyball.” In other words, there is potential for noise. It is not surprising that interesting commonsense questions would have some noise. But the issue is that most AI tests don’t account for this noise in experiments. Intuitively, questions generating human answers that tend to agree with one another should be weighted higher than if the answers diverge – in other words, where there is noise. Researchers still don’t know whether or how to weigh AI’s answers in that situation, but a first step is acknowledging that the problem exists. Tracking down noise in the machine Theory aside, the question still remains whether all of the above is hypothetical or if in real tests of common sense there is noise. The best way to prove or disprove the presence of noise is to take an existing test, remove the answers and get multiple people to independently label them, meaning provide answers. By measuring disagreement among humans, researchers can know just how much noise is in the test. The details behind measuring this disagreement are complex, involving significant statistics and math. Besides, who is to say how common sense should be defined? How do you know the human judges are motivated enough to think through the question? These issues lie at the intersection of good experimental design and statistics. Robustness is key: One result, test or set of human labelers is unlikely to convince anyone. As a pragmatic matter, human labor is expensive. Perhaps for this reason, there haven’t been any studies of possible noise in AI tests. To address this gap, my colleagues and I designed such a study and published our findings in Nature Scientific Reports, showing that even in the domain of common sense, noise is inevitable. Because the setting in which judgments are elicited can matter, we did two kinds of studies. One type of study involved paid workers from Amazon Mechanical Turk, while the other study involved a smaller-scale labeling exercise in two labs at the University of Southern California and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. You can think of the former as a more realistic online setting, mirroring how many AI tests are actually labeled before being released for training and evaluation. The latter is more of an extreme, guaranteeing high quality but at much smaller scales. The question we set out to answer was how inevitable is noise, and is it just a matter of quality control? The results were sobering. In both settings, even on commonsense questions that might have been expected to elicit high – even universal – agreement, we found a nontrivial degree of noise. The noise was high enough that we inferred that between 4% and 10% of a system’s performance could be attributed to noise. To emphasize what this means, suppose I built an AI system that achieved 85% on a test, and you built an AI system that achieved 91%. Your system would seem to be a lot better than mine. But if there is noise in the human labels that were used to score the answers, then we’re not sure anymore that the 6% improvement means much. For all we know, there may be no real improvement. On AI leaderboards, where large language models like the one that powers ChatGPT are compared, performance differences between rival systems are far narrower, typically less than 1%. As we show in the paper, ordinary statistics do not really come to the rescue for disentangling the effects of noise from those of true performance improvements. Noise audits What is the way forward? Returning to Kahneman’s book, he proposed the concept of a “noise audit” for quantifying and ultimately mitigating noise as much as possible. At the very least, AI researchers need to estimate what influence noise might be having. Auditing AI systems for bias is somewhat commonplace, so we believe that the concept of a noise audit should naturally follow. We hope that this study, as well as others like it, leads to their adoption.

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