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    Microsoft offers legal protection for AI copyright infringement challenges / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 22:40

A man in an armor helmet sitting at a desk with a protective glowing field around him.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images / Benj Edwards )

On Thursday, Microsoft announced that it will provide legal protection for customers who are sued for copyright infringement over content generated by the company's AI systems. This new policy, called the Copilot Copyright Commitment, is an expansion of Microsoft's existing intellectual property indemnification coverage, Reuters reports .

Microsoft's announcement comes as generative AI tools like ChatGPT have raised concerns about reproducing copyrighted material without proper attribution. Microsoft has heavily invested in AI through products like GitHub Copilot and Bing Chat that can generate original code, text, and images on demand. Its AI models have gained these capabilities by scraping publicly available data off of the Internet without seeking express permission from copyright holders.

By offering legal protection, Microsoft aims to give customers confidence in deploying its AI systems without worrying about potential copyright issues. The policy covers damages and legal fees, providing customers with an added layer of protection as generative AI sees rapid adoption across the tech industry.

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    Teen’s death after eating a single chip highlights risks of ultra-spicy foods / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 22:16

Teen’s death after eating a single chip highlights risks of ultra-spicy foods

Enlarge (credit: Sarah Dussault/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images )

Harris Wolobah, a healthy 14-year-old from Worcester, Massachusetts, tragically died last Friday, hours after eating a single ultra-spicy tortilla chip seasoned with two of the hottest peppers in the world.

The teen's mother, Lois Wolobah, reportedly picked up her son from school that day after getting a call from the nurse that he was sick. She arrived to see him clutching his stomach and took him home. About two hours later, he lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital, where he died.

The teen had told his mother that he had eaten a Paqui chip—The 2023 Paqui One Chip Challenge chip, to be exact. Each chip is sold individually, wrapped in a foil pouch and packaged in a coffin-shaped box adorned with a skull, snakes, and a Grim Reaper. The box contains the challenge rules, which dare consumers to eat the whole chip and "wait as long as possible before drinking or eating anything"—and, of course, post reactions on social media.

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    Godzilla roars his way onto Apple TV+ in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters teaser / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 21:53 · 1 minute

Apple TV+'s new original series, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters , picks up where 2014's Godzilla left off.

Major film franchises expanding into streaming television is officially a trend: Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Universe, and now Legendary Entertainment's MonsterVerse , which brought together Godzilla, King Kong, and various other monsters ( kaiju ) created by Toho Co., Ltd into the same fold. There have been four feature films thus far, with a fifth slated for a 2024 release, plus the animated series Skull Island , which debuted on Netflix earlier this year.  And now we've got the first teaser for Apple TV+'s Monarch: Legacy of Monsters , which picks up where the 2014 film Godzilla left off.

Set 15 years after a nuclear disaster in Japan, the 2014 Godzilla reimagined the classic monster's origins and featured the titular beast battling giant winged parasitic creatures called MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) that feed off nuclear energy and waste (and also warheads). San Francisco suffered quite a bit of major property damage as a result. That film also introduced us to Project Monarch, a secret organization established in the 1950s to study Godzilla and other kaiju —after attempts to kill Godzilla with nuclear weapons failed.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters will further explore the history and aftermath of those events. Per the official premise:

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    X sues Calif. to avoid revealing how it makes “controversial” content decisions / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 21:45

X sues Calif. to avoid revealing how it makes “controversial” content decisions

Enlarge (credit: Bloomberg / Contributor | Bloomberg )

Today, Elon Musk's X Corp. sued to block California's content moderation law, AB 587. In its complaint, filed a US district court in California, X Corp. is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction stopping California Attorney General Robert Bonta from enforcing the law.

AB 587 passed in September 2022, requiring social media platforms to submit a "terms of service report" semi-annually to California's attorney general, providing "a detailed description of content moderation practices used" and "information about whether, and if so how, the social media company defines and moderates" hate speech or racism, extremism or radicalization, disinformation or misinformation, harassment, and foreign political interference. Under the law, social media platforms must also provide information and statistics on any content moderation actions taken in those categories.

In X's complaint, the company accused California of trying to dictate X's terms of service and compel "controversial disclosures about how X Corp. moderates content on its platform."

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    FTC judge rules Intuit broke law, must stop advertising TurboTax as “free” / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 20:59

A United States tax filing form. A pen and a calculator sit on top of the form.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Sasirin Pamai)

The Federal Trade Commission's chief administrative law judge ruled that Intuit violated US law with deceptive advertising and should be forced to stop promoting TurboTax as "free" unless all conditions imposed on the free offer are immediately and conspicuously displayed to consumers.

The initial decision by Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell was released today and is subject to an automatic review by the full commission. The FTC commissioners will likely rule against Intuit, which issued a statement indicating that it will take the matter to federal court. The order would be in effect for 20 years if it survives appeal.

The response from Intuit noted that the administrative law judge is "an employee of the FTC" and "ruled in favor of the FTC in the agency's own lawsuit." The FTC filed an administrative complaint against Intuit in March 2022.

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    The AI-assistant wars heat up with Claude Pro, a new ChatGPT Plus rival / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 20:37

The Anthropic Claude logo on a purple background.

Enlarge / The Anthropic Claude logo. (credit: Anthropic / Benj Edwards)

On Thursday, AI-maker and OpenAI competitor Anthropic launched Claude Pro , a subscription-based version of its web-based AI assistant, which functions similarly to ChatGPT. It's available for $20/month in the US or 18 pounds/month in the UK, and it promises five-times-higher usage limits, priority access to Claude during high-traffic periods, and early access to new features as they emerge.

Like ChatGPT, Claude Pro can compose text, summarize, do analysis, solve logic puzzles, and more. is what Anthropic offers as its conversational interface for its Claude 2 AI language model, similar to how ChatGPT provides an application wrapper for the underlying models GPT-3.5 and GPT-4. In February, OpenAI chose a subscription route for ChatGPT Plus , which for $20 a month also gives early access to new features, but it also unlocks access to GPT-4, which is OpenAI's most powerful language model.

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    Record-breaking Super Mario Bros. speedrun approaches robotic perfection / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 20:17

Niftski making it look easy.

In 2021, when speedrunner Niftski became the first person to complete Super Mario Bros. in under 4 minutes, 55 seconds, we used the four-minute mile as a metaphor for the difficulty and importance of the achievement. But now that Niftski has pushed that time even lower—setting a new world record of 4:54.631 for a live, human-controlled full game run —we're left grasping for metaphors that accurately capture the performance.

Niftski's new record perfectly matches a "perfect" TAS of the game (i.e., a "tool-assisted speedrun" that uses frame-by-frame input recordings using an emulator) through seven of the run's eight levels. His best time is now running ahead of the "theory limit" of 4:54.798 that runner Bismuth set back in 2018 as the ideal human performance standard.

In the battle of man versus machine, Niftski is now just 0.35 seconds away from standing up, John Henry-style, against the standard of machine-made automation. Hey, I guess I did come up with a good metaphor after all.

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    Cisco security appliance 0-day is under attack by ransomware crooks / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 19:50 · 1 minute

Cisco Systems headquarters in San Jose, California, US, on Monday, Aug. 14, 2023. Cisco Systems Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on August 16. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Enlarge / Cisco Systems headquarters in San Jose, California, US, on Monday, Aug. 14, 2023. Cisco Systems Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on August 16. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cisco on Thursday confirmed the existence of a currently unpatched zero-day vulnerability that hackers are exploiting to gain unauthorized access to two widely used security appliances it sells.

The vulnerability resides in Cisco’s Adaptive Security Appliance Software and its Firepower Threat Defense, which are typically abbreviated as ASA and FTD. Cisco and researchers have known since last week that a ransomware crime syndicate called Akira was gaining access to devices through password spraying and brute-forcing. Password spraying, also known as credential stuffing, involves trying a handful of commonly used passwords for a large number of usernames in an attempt to prevent detection and subsequent lockouts. In brute-force attacks, hackers use a much larger corpus of password guesses against a more limited number of usernames.

Ongoing attacks since (at least) March

“An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by specifying a default connection profile/tunnel group while conducting a brute force attack or while establishing a clientless SSL VPN session using valid credentials,” Cisco officials wrote in an advisory . “A successful exploit could allow the attacker to achieve one or both of the following:

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