Technology

A Friar Serves as the A.I. Ethics Whisperer for the Vatican and Italy
Technology

A Friar Serves as the A.I. Ethics Whisperer for the Vatican and Italy

Before dawn, Paolo Benanti climbed to the bell tower of his 16th-century monastery, admired the sunrise over the ruins of the Roman forum and reflected on a world in flux.“It was a wonderful meditation on what is going on inside,” he said, stepping onto the street in his friar robe. “And outside too.”There is a lot is going on for Father Benanti, who, as both the Vatican’s and the Italian government’s go-to artificial intelligence ethicist, spends his days thinking about the Holy Ghost and the ghosts in the machines.In recent weeks, the ethics professor, ordained priest and self-proclaimed geek, has joined Bill Gates at a meeting with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, presided over a commission seeking to save Italian media from ChatGPT bylines and general A.I. oblivion, and met with Vatican ...
Apple Vision Pro Review: First Headset Lacks Polish and Purpose
Technology

Apple Vision Pro Review: First Headset Lacks Polish and Purpose

About 17 years ago, Steve Jobs took the stage at a San Francisco convention center and said he was introducing three products: an iPod, a phone and an internet browser.“These are not three separate devices,” he said. “This is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.”At $500, the first iPhone was relatively expensive, but I was eager to dump my mediocre Motorola flip phone and splurge. There were flaws — including sluggish cellular internet speeds. But the iPhone delivered on its promises.Over the last week, I’ve had a very different experience with a new first-generation product from Apple: the Vision Pro, a virtual reality headset that resembles a pair of ski goggles. The $3,500 wearable computer, which was released Friday, uses cameras so you can see the outside world while juggling app...
Google’s Once Happy Offices Feel the Chill of Layoffs
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Google’s Once Happy Offices Feel the Chill of Layoffs

When Diane Hirsh Theriault’s co-worker returned from lunch to Google’s Cambridge, Mass., office one afternoon in October, his work badge couldn’t open a turnstile. He quickly realized it was a sign that he had been laid off.Dr. Hirsh Theriault soon learned that most of her fellow Google News engineers in Cambridge had also lost their jobs. More than 40 people in the news division were cut, a union at the company said, though a number of them were later offered jobs elsewhere inside Google.Dr. Hirsh Theriault’s experience is increasingly common at Google, where rolling job cuts in recent months, after a year of significant layoffs, have employees on edge. The layoffs have slowed down projects and prompted employees to spend working hours trying to learn which work groups have been hit and w...
How A.I. Is Remodeling the Fantasy Home
Technology

How A.I. Is Remodeling the Fantasy Home

I was scrolling through Instagram recently when I found a new page slipped into my feed through a suggested post: @tinyhouseperfect. It seemed designed to poke at my frustrated longings for a space of my own. I want to own a house; I cannot currently buy a house. But what if the house were very small? Very small, and also perfect?Soon I was navigating the reading nooks and chef’s kitchens of an elfin cottage, a gothic coastal A-frame, a cozy “loch house” in the Scottish Highlands. I had projected my future self to the Scottish seaside, wondering how much the house might cost to rent for a weekend, when I realized that price was no object because the house did not exist. Each of these teensy homes had been rendered by A.I. software and smoothed with an assist from more A.I. software. I had ...
He’s Lost His Marriage, His Followers and His Lamborghini
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He’s Lost His Marriage, His Followers and His Lamborghini

With its streamlined curves and glow-in-the-dark sound system, the silver Lamborghini Huracán Performante was the stuff of teenage fantasy: $350,000 of aerodynamic metals and lightweight upholstery, packed into a taut and powerful body. Ben Armstrong loved it dearly.When he started shopping for a Lamborghini, Mr. Armstrong, a cryptocurrency evangelist with more than one million YouTube subscribers, worried that he’d have to spend months searching. “I think I have to go to Italy to get the Lambo I want,” he texted a business partner. “I don’t want to compromise.” But fate smiled on him. In the fall of 2021, a car dealership in Charlotte, N.C., shipped the Huracán to Mr. Armstrong’s production studio in an Atlanta suburb.As the Lamborghini was lowered from a delivery truck, Mr. Armstrong, be...
Senators Denounce Tech Companies Over Child Sex Abuse Online
Technology

Senators Denounce Tech Companies Over Child Sex Abuse Online

Lawmakers on Wednesday denounced the chief executives of Meta, TikTok, X, Snap and Discord, accusing them of creating “a crisis in America” by willfully ignoring the harmful content against children on their platforms, as concerns over the effect of technology on youths have mushroomed.In a highly charged 3.5-hour hearing, members of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee raised their voices and repeatedly castigated the five tech leaders — who run online services that are very popular with teenagers and younger children — for prioritizing profits over the well-being of youths. Some said the companies had “blood on their hands” and that users “would die waiting” for them to make changes to protect children. At one point, lawmakers compared the tech companies to cigarette makers.“Every par...
G.M. Profits Hurt by Unsold Electric Vehicles and Strike
Technology

G.M. Profits Hurt by Unsold Electric Vehicles and Strike

General Motors said on Tuesday that its profit in the final three months of 2023 was depressed by losses stemming from unsold electric vehicles and the cost of a 40-day strike at some of its U.S. plants.The automaker, which has been banking on a rapid rise in sales of battery-powered models, earned $2.1 billion in the fourth quarter, it said, up from $2.0 billion a year earlier. G.M.’s revenue jumped about 10 percent, to $171.8 billion.“The pace of E.V. growth has slowed, which has created some uncertainty,” the company’s chief financial officer, Paul Jacobson, said in a conference call.G.M. took a charge of $1.6 billion related to unsold electric vehicles. The strike, by the United Automobile Workers union, cost the company $1.1 billion, and G.M. spent $800 million on a settlement with LG...
Ring to Stop Allowing Police to Request Videos From Security Cameras
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Ring to Stop Allowing Police to Request Videos From Security Cameras

Ring, a home security camera company owned by Amazon, said that it would stop letting police departments request users’ footage in its app amid longstanding concerns from privacy advocates about the company’s relationship with law enforcement.Eric Kuhn, the general manager of subscriptions and software for the Ring app Neighbors, announced on Wednesday that the company was shutting down a feature that allowed the police to request and receive videos from users of the app, a social platform similar to Nextdoor and Citizen where people can share alerts about crime near their home.Mr. Kuhn did not say why Ring was eliminating the app feature, which allowed the police to ask the public for help with active investigations under a special category of posts called “Request for Assistance.”People ...
23andMe Breach Targeted Jewish and Chinese Customers, Lawsuit Says
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23andMe Breach Targeted Jewish and Chinese Customers, Lawsuit Says

The genetic testing company 23andMe is being accused in a class-action lawsuit of failing to protect the privacy of customers whose personal information was exposed last year in a data breach that affected nearly seven million profiles.The lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in federal court in San Francisco, also accused the company of failing to notify customers with Chinese and Ashkenazi Jewish heritage that they appeared to have been specifically targeted, or that their personal genetic information had been compiled into “specially curated lists” that were shared and sold on the dark web.The suit was filed after 23andMe submitted a notification to the California Attorney General’s Office that showed the company was hacked over the course of five months, from late April 2023 through Sept...
The Sleepy Copyright Office in the Middle of a High-Stakes Clash Over A.I.
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The Sleepy Copyright Office in the Middle of a High-Stakes Clash Over A.I.

For decades, the Copyright Office has been a small and sleepy office within the Library of Congress. Each year, the agency’s 450 employees register roughly half a million copyrights, the ownership rights for creative works, based on a two-centuries-old law.In recent months, however, the office has suddenly found itself in the spotlight. Lobbyists for Microsoft, Google, and the music and news industries have asked to meet with Shira Perlmutter, the register of copyrights, and her staff. Thousands of artists, musicians and tech executives have written to the agency, and hundreds have asked to speak at listening sessions hosted by the office.The attention stems from a first-of-its-kind review of copyright law that the Copyright Office is conducting in the age of artificial intelligence. The t...