San Francisco, June 27 (AP/UNB) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company is evaluating how it should handle "deepfake" videos created with artificial intelligence and high-tech tools to yield false but realistic clips.
In an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado on Wednesday, Zuckerberg said it might make sense to treat such videos differently from other misinformation such as false news. Facebook has long held that it should not decide what is and isn't true, leaving such calls instead to outside fact-checkers.
But Zuckerberg says it's worth asking whether deepfakes are a "completely different category" from regular false statements. He says developing a policy on these videos is "really important" as AI technology grows more sophisticated.
Facebook, like other social media companies, does not have a specific policy against deepfakes, whose potential threat has emerged only in the last couple of years. Company executives have said in the past that it makes sense to look at them under the broader umbrella of false or misleading information. But Zuckerberg is signaling that this view might be changing, leaving open the possibility that Facebook might ban deepfakes altogether.
Doing so, of course, could get complicated. Satire, art and political dissent could be swept up in any overly broad ban, creating more headaches from Facebook.
Other false videos could still get a pass. For instance, the recent altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that made her sound like she was slurring her words does not meet the definition of a deepfake.
Dhaka, June 27 ( UNB) - Underneath the salty waters of the North Atlantic ocean, geologists have discovered a giant aquifer of freshwater, hidden from view just off the US coast, reports Science Alert.
While the vast size of this massive cache is surprising, it's not entirely unexpected. Signals of the water first showed up in the 1970s, but until now, nobody suspected that this huge reservoir trapped in porous rock might run almost the entire length of the US Northeast.
"We knew there was freshwater down there in isolated places, but we did not know the extent or geometry," says marine geologist Chloe Gustafson from Columbia University.
In 2015, some of Gustafson's fellow researchers conducted a pilot study off the coast of New Jersey and the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard.
Using an electromagnetic receiver deployed from the research vessel Marcus G. Langseth, the team was looking to survey offshore groundwater deposits buried in sediments below continental shelves.
Exploratory prospecting by oil companies as far back as the 1970s had occasionally discovered freshwater when drilling for the fossil fuel, so scientists knew something was down there; but data on the resource – and the size of the cache – was in short supply.
To rectify that, the research crew on the Marcus G. Langseth surveyed the two Northeast coast locations for 10 days, looking for signs of electrical conductivity in the waters below the vessel.
Salt water is a more effective conductor of electromagnetic (EM) waves than fresh water, so EM receivers deployed off the coast enabled the researchers to map the extent of the mysterious aquifer.
The results, published in a study detailing the first comprehensive attempt to map this giant reservoir, reveal a mostly "continuous submarine aquifer system spans at least 350 km [217 miles] of the US Atlantic coast and contains about 2,800 cubic kilometres of low-salinity groundwater".
Due to the nature of the EM mapping technique, the results remain somewhat interpretive for now, but the team infers that the aquifer's freshwater cache likely runs all the way from Delaware (at the south end) up past New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and all the way to Massachusetts.
As crazy as it sounds, the groundwater reservoir might even extend farther than that, the researchers hint.
"If we consider the potential northeast and southwest extensions beyond our profiles, there may be several times more groundwater underlying the northeast portion of the US Atlantic continental shelf, representing a freshwater resource that rivals the largest onshore aquifers," the authors explain.
As for how the aquifer got there, the researchers say it likely happened when vast amounts of fresh meltwater from the last Ice Age got trapped in rocky sediment.
To use the water for drinking purposes – if we were to one day decide to tap it, that is – it would first need to be desalinated, since parts of it would be brackish (slightly salty), especially the portions closest to the seawater periphery.
For now, nobody's suggesting we need to do that, but the existence of the giant aquifer suggests similar groundwater systems could easily be hidden in other hotter and drier parts of the world, like California, Australia, or the Middle East.
"It could turn out to be an important resource in other parts of the world," Gustafson says.
San Francisco, June 27 (AP/UNB) — San Francisco became the first major US city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes after supervisors gave the measure its second and final vote Tuesday.
Backers say they hope the legislation will curb underage use of e-cigarettes, but critics say the ban will make it harder for adults to purchase an alternative to regular cigarettes.
San Francisco is a city that celebrates its marijuana culture, but it appears deeply opposed to other vices. Last year, voters approved a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and in 2016, a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.
E-cigarette maker Juul Labs, which is based in San Francisco, says it is opposed to youth vaping.
The company is working on a ballot initiative that would regulate but not ban e-cigarette sales.
Paris, Jun 26 (AP/UNB) — A leading French consumer group has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing Google of violating the European Union's landmark 2018 privacy rules.
In its filing Wednesday, the UFC Que Choisir group is seeking 1,000 euros ($1,135) in damages for each one of the 200 Google users involved so far.
It's among the first cases challenging tech giants over their application of the EU's new rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR.
Google did not respond to requests for comment.
The complaint filed in Paris names Google Ireland and Google LLC. The consumer group says Google's confidentiality rules are more than 1,000 lines long, and do not meet GDPR requirements to make it easy for users to block Google from things like tracking user's location or sending targeted ads.
Paris, Jun 26 (AP/UNB) — Facebook is agreeing to help French police identify hate speech suspects, in what the French government is celebrating as a global first.
France's digital affairs minister, Cedric O, said that Facebook will provide authorities "IP addresses to help identify authors of hateful content." Speaking on broadcaster France-Info, he expressed hope that the cooperation could be expanded to other countries.
Facebook said in a statement that it will help provide "basic information in criminal hate speech cases" to French authorities but will "push back if (the request) is overbroad, inconsistent with human rights, or legally defective."
Like many countries, France has been battling violent and racist content online, and has been hit by deadly extremist attacks in recent years.
The move came after Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg came to Paris last month and met with French President Emmanuel Macron.