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ICYMI Google AI Image Creation Via Gemini, Pauses Image Creation Of People

by Paul Arnote (parnote)

Restroom Sign
Image by OpenIcons from Pixabay

Have you ever been out in “public” and just had to go to the restroom … like REALLY bad? That fear is warranted in the U.S., where there are just eight public toilets per 100,000 residents, according to a 2021 report from bathroom-supply company QS Supplies, says an article from Time. That's a public-health issue that acutely affects IBD patients but spares no one, says Michael Osso, CEO of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation.

The Anatsa banking trojan has been targeting users in Europe by infecting Android devices through malware droppers hosted on Google Play, according to an article from Bleeping Computer. Over the past four months, security researchers noticed five campaigns tailored to deliver the malware to users in the UK, Germany, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic.

How common are false positive rapid Covid tests? Persistent false positives are more common in women, and those with autoimmune disorders, according to an article from MedPage Today. False negative results are known to occur fairly frequently with rapid antigen COVID-19 tests and, to a lesser extent, with the more accurate RT-PCR tests. False positives are thought to be much less common. Among a large cohort of over 11,000 people, 1.7% had at least one false-positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test despite concurrent negative molecular tests, according to a brief report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Wet Phone
Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

You dropped your phone in water, and now it won't turn on. If you're like most of us living in 2024, your first instinct (other than to panic) is to drop it in a bag of rice to soak up all that insidious liquid. The rice trick is just an accepted tactic at this point. Except: We're all collectively wrong on this one. While there have been reports criticizing this go-to method for years now, it's Apple that has all the anti-rice headlines buzzing this week, according to an article from Lifehacker.

Less than a month after releasing image creation to the general public with its Gemini AI, Google is pausing its AI tool that creates images of people following inaccuracies in some historical depictions generated by the model, the latest hiccup in the Alphabet-owned company's efforts to catch up with rivals OpenAI and Microsoft, according to an article from Reuters. Google started offering image generation through its Gemini AI models earlier this month, but over the past few days some users on social media had flagged that the model returns historical images which are sometimes inaccurate. “We're aware that Gemini is offering inaccuracies in some historical image generation depictions,” Google had said in late February.

UPDATE: Just a few days after pausing image creation of people by Google Gemini, Google has expounded on “what happened” with Gemini that led to the search giant “pausing” the creation of AI-generated images of people, in a blog entry. From the blog: “So what went wrong? In short, two things. First, our tuning to ensure that Gemini showed a range of people failed to account for cases that should clearly not show a range. And second, over time, the model became way more cautious than we intended and refused to answer certain prompts entirely — wrongly interpreting some very anodyne prompts as sensitive.”

Baltic Sea Findings

In the fall of 2021, Jacob Geersen, a marine geologist now at the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research, was teaching a one-week field course at the University of Kiel, says an article from NPR. The class was conducted entirely aboard a research vessel on the Baltic Sea. During the night shift each evening, students mapped the shape of the seafloor at high resolution. One night, in the Bay of Mecklenburg, off the coast of northern Germany, the students fired up the echosounders and mapped a swath of seafloor. When they reviewed the data they had collected, they saw that there was something special on the seafloor. They didn't know it at the time, but not quite 70 feet below the surface, they'd stumbled upon a stone wall more than half a mile long that dated back to the Stone Age — one of the oldest such megastructures on the planet. In research published in PNAS, the team speculates that this piece of ancient hunting architecture may have been used to corral and hunt reindeer, adding a level of sophistication to the prehistoric hunter-gatherers who lived 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. A year later, Geersen, his colleagues and a new batch of students returned to that same site. They lowered a camera down, and confirmed this ridge was made up of thousands of rocks that formed a kind of wall, standing about 1.5 feet tall on average. Geersen didn't know how such a structure, which the researchers dubbed the "Blinkerwall" after a nearby underwater mound called Blinker Hill, could have formed naturally. “It was only when we went to the archaeologists that they said, 'You may have found something very significant,'” he says.

Do organ transplants cause personality changes? That's what one article from MedPage Today explores. Anecdotal evidence suggests a real possibility, but more research is needed. The article illustrates the phenomena with the reports from one patient in her 40s, after receiving a heart transplant. The patient had been experiencing recurrent, intrusive memories of being hit by a car. In these "memories," she was a pedestrian, and she not only saw herself being struck by the car, but she felt the impact as the car struck her torso, sending her airborne. The problem was, this patient had never been hit by a car.

Is the 100-year-old BCG TB vaccine a new weapon against Alzheimer's? That's the question that an article from The Guardian explores. While more research is needed, evidence is pointing towards the BCG vaccine's protective properties for other respiratory infections, as well as playing a role in helping to defeat bladder cancer.

Cyber Attack
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A new version of the XLoader Android malware was discovered that automatically executes on devices it infects, requiring no user interaction to launch, according to an article from Bleeping Computer. XLoader, aka MoqHao, is an Android malware operated and likely created by a financially motivated threat actor named 'Roaming Mantis,' previously seen targeting users in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The malware can execute a wide array of commands (20 in total) received from its command and control (C2) server via the WebSocket protocol. XLoader can transmit all photos to the control server, send all SMS messages to the control server, allow the malware to send SMS messages, export the entire contacts list to the control server, collect device identifiers (to allow tracking), and sending HTTP requests for downloading malware, data exfiltration, or C2 communication.

The DVD's new cousin can store more than a petabit of data, according to an article from IEEE Spectrum. The new discs contain more data than the entire Internet can transmit in a second. A petabit is equivalent to 1 million gigabits. The new discs can store 1.6 petabits of data. That gives these new optical discs some 4,000 times as much data density as a Blu-ray disc, and 24 times as much as the currently most advanced hard disks.

Do you think floppy disks are “dead?” Well, not so fast … maybe not. According to an article from The Verge, floppy disks are still “breathing” with some life. While floppy disks are facing extinction, musicians are still pumping out DIY music projects on them, thanks to Floppy Kick. Floppy Kick is a one-man operation run by Mark Windisch in Debrecen, Hungary. Each disk is numbered as part of a limited run. While floppy disk music arguably peaked in the 2010s, but in the 2020s, it's still going strong.

Evil Google

The historically inaccurate images and text generated by Google's Gemini AI have “offended our users and shown bias,” CEO Sundar Pichai told employees in an internal memo obtained (and published) by The Verge. During the last weeks of February, Google paused Gemini's ability to generate images after it was widely discovered that the model generated historically inaccurate images of historical figures and situations.

Any Linux user trying to send the highest-resolution images to a display at the fastest frame rate is out of luck for the foreseeable future, at least when it comes to an HDMI connection, according to an article from Ars Technica. The licensing group that controls the HDMI standard, the HDMI Forum, has reportedly told AMD that it does not allow an open source implementation of the HDMI 2.1 (or HDMI 2.1+) specification, blocking tools such as AMD's FreeSync from working over HDMI connections at resolution/rate combinations like 4K at 120 Hz, or 5K at 240 Hz. Alex Deucher, an AMD engineer who has long contributed to the company's open source offerings, has kept a related bug thread alive for at least two years, only to deliver the negative outcome on February 28, 2024.

Elon Musk sued OpenAI and its chief executive, Sam Altman, accusing them of breaching a contract by putting profits and commercial interests in developing artificial intelligence ahead of the public good, according to an article from the New York Times. A multibillion-dollar partnership that OpenAI developed with Microsoft, Mr. Musk said, represented an abandonment of a founding pledge to carefully develop A.I. and make the technology publicly available. The 35-page lawsuit is the latest chapter in a fight between the former business partners that has been simmering for years, and it homes in on unresolved questions in the A.I. community: Will artificial intelligence improve the world or destroy it, and should it be tightly controlled or set free? Mr. Musk helped found OpenAI in 2015 as a response to A.I. work being done at the time by Google. Mr. Musk believed Google and its co-founder, Larry Page, were dismissive of the risks A.I. presented to humanity. Mr. Musk left OpenAI's board during a power struggle in 2018. The company went on to become a leader in the field of generative A.I. and created ChatGPT, a chatbot that can produce text and respond to queries in humanlike prose. Mr. Musk, who founded his own A.I. company last year called xAI, said OpenAI was not focused enough on the technology's risks.


Do you have a Reddit account, and dislike the changes Reddit has made over the past year to year and a half? You're probably not alone, according to an article from Lifehacker. Reddit is feeding all user comments and posts into Google's virtual wood chipper, meaning the reconstituted goop of your conversations is going to be spat out by Google's AI language models. The move, as reported by Reuters, is worth $60 million a year for the social network. You might, after reading this, want to delete your Reddit account and everything on it. Reddit, after all, isn't much fun anymore — and not just because they killed off "reddit is fun" last year when they killed off all the good Reddit clients. The truth is that the older Reddit gets the less vital it feels, in part because last year the company seemed outright hostile to the moderators and posters who power the site. The company's upcoming IPO, if the history of other social networks is anything to go by, probably isn't going to make matters any better.

A new White House report (PDF) focuses on securing computing at the root of cyber attacks — in this case, reducing the attack surface with memory-safe programming languages like Python, Java and C# and promoting the creation of standardized measurements for software security, according to an article from TechRepublic. The report urges tech professionals to implement memory-safe programming languages, and to develop and support new metrics for measuring hardware security. This report, titled Back to the Building Blocks: A Path Toward Secure and Measurable Software, is meant to convey to IT pros and business leaders some of the U.S. government's priorities when it comes to securing hardware and software at the design phase. The report is a call to suggested action, with advice and loose guidelines.

You are probably not alone in thinking that things at Google have become ROYALLY screwed up in recent years. If so, you're going to like the article at Pirate Wires about how Google employees are speaking up at the mass confusion happening at the search giant. The employees are talking about a “culture of fear” that is prevalent currently within the company. Hmmm … maybe they should go back to “do no evil.” But then, that all hinges on who is defining “evil” in today's divisive society, where no one can decide or agree on anything.

Image by Arek Sacha from Pixabay

In a collaborative study, researchers from Kyushu University and Harvard Medical School have identified proteins that can turn or "reprogram" fibroblasts — the most commonly found cells in skin and connective tissue — into cells with similar properties to limb progenitor cells, according to an article from Medical Xpress. Publishing in Developmental Cell, the researchers' findings have enhanced our understanding of limb development and have set the stage for regenerative therapy in the future. Many researchers are studying the process of limb development, with the aim of bringing regenerative therapy, or natural tissue replacement, one step closer as a potential treatment.

Unless you're unbelievably rich (and most of us using Linux are not), we all have to “do laundry.” Unfortunately, we have some bad news for you: You're probably doing your laundry all wrong, according to an article from the Huffington Post. The “experts” definitely advise against using the infamous “pods” (think of those Tide Pods that the youngsters were ingesting just a few years years ago), due to the lack of ability to control the amount of laundry soap you use per laundry load. You'll be surprised: the amount of laundry soap you need is far, far less than the manufacturers would have you believe. But then, they are in the “business” of selling laundry soap, so there's that.

From the “things that make you ask “why?” department… A 62-year-old German man has received 217 injections of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine over a course of 29 months, according to a report from The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. Throughout the entire hyper-vaccination schedule, the patient did not report any vaccination-related side effects.

Hijacking the Brain
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

‘It is hijacking my brain' – a team of experts found ways to help young people addicted to social media to cut the craving, according to an article from The Conversation. Many people have compared the addictive nature of social media to cigarettes. Checking your likes, they say, is the new smoke break. Others say the unease over social media is just the next round of moral panic about new technologies. A pair of researchers investigate how social media affects the mental health of young people. More than 75% of teens check their phone hourly, and half say they feel like they're addicted to their devices.

Worried about plastic pollution in your tap water? Try boiling in it, a new study suggests, according to an article from The Hill. Boiling tap water can destroy at least 80 percent of three of the most common plastic compounds that can be found in your water, according to findings published Wednesday in Environmental Research Letters. This means drinking tap water that has been boiled, something commonly done in East Asian kitchens already, may be a safer bet than drinking bottled water. Columbia researchers found last month that bottled water can contain up to a quarter-million fragments of nanoplastics per liter.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second-most common cause of cancer among males and females combined. Colon cancer is the third leading cause of death among males and the fourth among females. The ACS estimates that 53,010 Americans will die of colorectal cancers this year. A new study finds that a polyphenol found in a plant used in Chinese medicine known as schisandra or “magnolia berry” could help treat colon cancer, particularly in the disease's later stages, says an article from MedicalNewsToday.

LDF Colors
Image by christophe tixier from Pixabay

According to an article from CNN, a clinical trial's encouraging results won US Food and Drug Administration breakthrough therapy status for an LSD formulation to treat generalized anxiety disorder, Mind Medicine Inc. announced Thursday. The biopharmaceutical company is developing the drug. A single dose of MM120 (lysergide d-tartrate) led to a 48% rate of remission from generalized anxiety disorder at 12 weeks following the drug's administration, according to MindMed. The MM120 drug also significantly improved clinical signs of generalized anxiety disorder for 65% of patients within three months, according to results of the phase 2b trial designed to test dosage levels, the company said.

Are you still among the roughly three million people across the planet who are still using Google search and haven't moved on to another/better search engine (/exaggeration)? If so, an article from Lifehacker gives the low-down on how to improve the search results from the beleaguered search giant. To be honest, I was a bit surprised that people are still using Google as their primary search engine.

If you had any doubts about out-of-control data collection, then this next article from the New York Times should erase any doubts. Modern cars are internet-enabled, allowing access to services like navigation, roadside assistance and car apps that drivers can connect to their vehicles to locate them or unlock them remotely. In recent years, automakers, including G.M., Honda, Kia and Hyundai, have started offering optional features in their connected-car apps that rate people's driving. Some drivers may not realize that, if they turn on these features, the car companies then give information about how they drive to data brokers, who in turn, sell it to automobile insurance companies. So, if you're wondering WHY your car insurance rates might have jumped an inordinate amount, this could have something to do with it.

Adobe logo

Firefly, Adobe's AI image creation tool, repeats some of the same controversial mistakes that Google's Gemini made in inaccurate racial and ethnic depictions, illustrating the challenges tech companies face across the industry, according to an article from Semafor. Google shut down its Gemini image creation tool last month after critics pointed out that it was creating historically inaccurate images, depicting America's Founding Fathers as Black, for instance, and refusing to depict white people. CEO Sundar Pichai told employees the company “got it wrong”. The tests done by Semafor on Firefly replicated many of the same things that tripped up Gemini. The two services rely on similar techniques for creating images from written text, but they are trained on very different datasets. Adobe uses only stock images or images that it licenses. Just wait until you read Adobe's response to the erroneous creation of AI images (included at the Semafor site). SMH! History DOES repeat itself, even if the images created are historically inaccurate.

Meanwhile, this next “news” item seems to have jumped straight from the movie set of 2004's blockbuster film “I, Robot”, starring Will Smith. Robotics developer Figure made waves on Wednesday when it shared a video demonstration of its first humanoid robot engaged in a real-time conversation, thanks to generative AI from OpenAI, according to an article from Decrypt. “With OpenAI, Figure 01 can now have full conversations with people,” Figure said on Twitter, highlighting its ability to understand and react to human interactions instantly. The company explained that its recent alliance with OpenAI brings high-level visual and language intelligence to its robots, allowing for “fast, low-level, dexterous robot actions.” I swear that the “robot” depicted looks uncannily like the robot “Sonny” from the film. Let's hope he doesn't go awry like “his kind” did in the movie.

The popular artificial intelligence image-generator Midjourney has started blocking its users from creating fake images of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump ahead of the upcoming U.S. presidential election, according to tests of the AI tool by The Associated Press, according to an article from the Associated Press. With the election in full swing, it's time to “put some foots down on election-related stuff for a bit,” Midjourney CEO David Holz told several hundred members of the service's devoted user base in a digital office hours event Wednesday. Declaring that “this moderation stuff is kind of hard,” Holz didn't outline exactly what policy changes were being made but described the clampdown as a temporary measure to make it harder for people to abuse the tool. The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Attempts by AP journalists to test Midjourney's new policy on Wednesday by asking it to make an image of “Trump and Biden shaking hands at the beach” led to a “Banned Prompt Detected” warning. A second attempt escalated the warning to: “You have triggered an abuse alert.” The tiny company — which has just 11 employees, according to its website — has largely kept silent in the public debate over how generative AI tools could fuel election misinformation around the world. Midjourney was the only maker of a leading image-generating tool that didn't join a voluntary tech industry pact in February to combat AI-generated deep-fakes that deliberately trick voters.

Silhoutette of men golfing
Image by Vicki Hamilton from Pixabay

A new study from Michigan Medicine shows that what men do recreationally may have some bearing on developing ALS, according to an article from the New York Post (and widely reported by other media outlets). If you golf, garden, or are a woodworker, you may be at an increased risk of developing ALS. The link for golfers and gardeners is most likely related to an increased exposure to pesticides, while the link for woodworkers is most likely related to an increased exposure to formaldehyde. Some women were included in the study, but their numbers were insufficient to be able to discern any links between recreational activities and the development of ALS.

Elon Musk open-sourced the computer code behind his version of an artificial intelligence chatbot on March 17, 2024, an escalation by one of the world's richest men in a battle to control the future of A.I., according to an article from the New York Times. Grok, which is designed to give snarky replies styled after the science-fiction novel “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,” is a product from xAI, the company Mr. Musk founded last year. While xAI is an independent entity from X, its technology has been integrated into the social media platform and is trained on users' posts. Users who subscribe to X's premium features can ask Grok questions and receive responses. By opening the code up for everyone to view and use, Mr. Musk waded further into a heated debate in the A.I. world over whether doing so could help make the technology safer, or simply open it up to misuse. In February 2023, Meta also open-sourced its A.I. technology, known as LLaMA.

Are you wondering what kind of income that college education is going to net you? Well, CNBC has an article that lays out the worst and best paying careers within five years of graduation. Leading the list for the lowest paying degrees is Liberal Arts, followed by Performing Arts, Theology + religion, and Leisure + hospitality. They all pay less than the $40,480 median wage in the U.S. The highest paying jobs, as you might expect, are within the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Computer engineers lead the pack with the best pay among those with STEM degrees.

Solar System
CC BY-NC-SA 4.0, Thibaut Roger/NCCR PlanetS

Late last year, astronomers discovered a fascinating star system only 100 light-years away from us, according to an article from Its six sub-Neptune planets circle very close to their host star in mathematically perfect orbits, piquing the interest of scientists searching for alien technology, or technosignatures, which they argue would offer compelling evidence of advanced life beyond Earth. To be clear, no such evidence was found in the system, dubbed HD 110067. However, the researchers say they're not done looking yet. HD 110067 remains an interesting target for similar observations in the future.

Google just can't help themselves. They are BOUND AND DETERMINED to keep the website alive. After killing off 17 features for Google Assistant in January 2024, Google is also taking one of the best features of its phone app to the chopping block — the ability to search for nearby businesses, according to an article from Lifehacker. Google first announced this upcoming change back in February, stating that “we've found a very small number of people use this feature, and the vast majority of users go to Google Search or Maps when seeking business-related phone numbers.” Now, though, it has finally pulled the plug: 9to5Google reports that the feature has officially vanished from the Google phone app.

The “missteps” by Google's AI just keep coming. Now, according to an article from Bleeping Computer, Google's new AI search results promote sites pushing malware and scams. Google's new AI-powered 'Search Generative Experience' algorithms recommend scam sites that redirect visitors to unwanted Chrome extensions, fake iPhone giveaways, browser spam subscriptions, and tech support scams. Earlier this month, Google began rolling out a new feature called Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) in its search results, which provides AI-generated quick summaries for search queries, including recommendations for other sites to visit related to the query.

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