Ben Shepard
Ben Shepard

World News

Find out what’s happening in Science & Society around the world. Discover changes to science policy and law, new scientific study results, Supreme Court rulings, debates about nature versus nurture, and news about the sharing of genetic information.

Fri, Jun 14

DJI Drones Could Be Banned in the US Soon – Here’s What You Need to Know

Drone brand DJI could soon be banned from operating in the United States. According to a report from The New York Times (NYT), a bill called the Countering CCP Drones Act “passed unanimously by the House Energy and Commerce Committee” last month.

The legislation will move on to a floor vote in the House of Representatives within the next two months. If it passes there, it’ll continue onward to the Senate and potentially the President of the United State’s desk. DJI has now furiously condemned the potential ban, with a spokesperson calling it “a dangerous precedent for allowing baseless allegations and xenophohic fears”.

There seem to be two main motivations behind this ban. One of the bill’s sponsors, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, claims “DJI presents an unacceptable security risk” pointing to the company’s connection to the Chinese government. The NYT mentions how vulnerabilities were discovered back in 2020 that CCP officials could’ve utilized to access the personal information of American users. Although these vulnerabilities have since been patched, that hasn’t stopped the US Department of Defense from prohibiting its armed forces from buying the drones.

Mon, Jun 03

BBC Presenter’s Likeness Used In Advert After Firm Tricked By AI-generated Voice

There was something strange about her voice, they thought. It was familiar but, after a while, it started to go all over the place.

Science presenter Liz Bonnin’s accent, as regular BBC viewers know, is Irish. But this voice message, ostensibly granting permission to use her likeness in an ad campaign, seemed to place her on the other side of the world.

The message, it turns out, was a fake – AI-generated to mimic Bonnin’s voice. Her management team got hold of it after they saw the presenter’s face on online ads for an insect repellant spray this week, something for which she did not sign up.

“At the very beginning it does sound like me but then I sound a bit Australian and then it’s definitely an English woman by the end. It’s all fragmented and there’s no cadence to it,” said Bonnin, best known for presenting Bang Goes the Theory and Our Changing Planet.

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Mon, May 13

When Grief And AI Collide: These People Are Communicating With The Dead

CNN — 

When Ana Schultz, a 25-year-old from Rock Falls, Illinois, misses her husband Kyle, who passed away in February 2023, she asks him for cooking advice.

She loads up Snapchat My AI, the social media platform’s artificial intelligence chatbot, and messages Kyle the ingredients she has left in the fridge; he suggests what to make.

Or rather, his likeness in the form of an AI avatar does.

“He was the chef in the family, so I customized My AI to look like him and gave it Kyle’s name,” said Schultz, who lives with their two young children. “Now when I need help with meal ideas, I just ask him. It’s a silly little thing I use to help me feel like he’s still with me in the kitchen.”

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Fri, May 10

Microsoft Blocks Police Use of OpenAI for Facial Recognition Cameras

Microsoft has updated the list of acceptable uses of its Azure OpenAI Service, barring law enforcement from using it in facial recognition cameras.

The Azure OpenAI Services provides Microsoft’s cloud customers with access to models like GPT-4 Turbo and DALL-E from OpenAI.

Microsoft has now barred U.S. police departments from accessing the OpenAI models for “facial recognition purposes.”

While facial recognition systems rely on visual data inputs, OpenAI models like GPT-4 could be used to augment related processes. For example, a large language model could be used to improve user interfaces for facial recognition systems, generate natural language responses to queries or produce usage reports.

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Sun, May 05

Why Drake Had to Take Down His Song That Featured AI-Tupac Vocals

Drake almost found himself in legal trouble after he released a Kendrick Lamar diss track titled “Taylor Made Freestyle” with an AI-generated version of Tupac Shakur’s voice earlier this month.

On Thursday, the song, which was originally released on April 19, was scrubbed from Drake’s Instagram page and from his X account. An attorney with Tupac’s estate, Howard King, sent a cease-and-desist letter on Wednesday threatening legal action if the rapper, whose real name is Aubrey Drake Graham, did not take down the track from all public platforms, King said in a statement to Billboard.

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