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    AI-generated child sex imagery has every US attorney general calling for action / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 6 September - 21:48 · 1 minute

A photo of the US Capitol in Washington, DC.

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On Wednesday, American attorneys general from all 50 states and four territories sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to establish an expert commission to study how generative AI can be used to exploit children through child sexual abuse material (CSAM). They also call for expanding existing laws against CSAM to explicitly cover AI-generated materials.

"As Attorneys General of our respective States and territories, we have a deep and grave concern for the safety of the children within our respective jurisdictions," the letter reads. "And while Internet crimes against children are already being actively prosecuted, we are concerned that AI is creating a new frontier for abuse that makes such prosecution more difficult."

In particular, open source image synthesis technologies such as Stable Diffusion allow the creation of AI-generated pornography with ease, and a large community has formed around tools and add-ons that enhance this ability. Since these AI models are openly available and often run locally, there are sometimes no guardrails preventing someone from creating sexualized images of children, and that has rung alarm bells among the nation's top prosecutors. (It's worth noting that Midjourney, DALL-E, and Adobe Firefly all have built-in filters that bar the creation of pornographic content.)

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    Vaccines ready, but no distribution? Operation Warp Speed meets speed bumps / ArsTechnica · Friday, 18 December, 2020 - 15:59 · 1 minute

Vaccines ready, but no distribution? Operation Warp Speed meets speed bumps

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

As we're waiting for word on the authorization of a second vaccine for use in the US, glitches have been striking the distribution of the first through the federal government's "Operation Warp Speed." This week, the US saw the first use of the vaccine developed by a Pfizer/BioNTech collaboration. But immediately afterwards, many states started saying that orders for shipments in the ensuing weeks were being cut. After some in the federal government had indicated that the problem might be in production, Pfizer issued a statement indicating that it had doses in its warehouse ready to ship out, but no indication of where to ship them too.

All in all, about what you'd expect in the first weeks of a massive undertaking like this.

State of denial

One of the first states to report problems was Illinois, where its governor, J.B. Pritzker, said that it had indications it would only be receiving half the expected doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine next week. Since then, over a dozen states have indicated that they'll be receiving fewer doses than planned in the second week ( this article seems to have a fairly comprehensive list).

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    US government built secret iPod with Apple’s help, former engineer says / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 20 August, 2020 - 20:07

US government built secret iPod with Apple’s help, former engineer says

An Apple engineer who helped launch the iPod said he helped the US government build a secret version of the device that could covertly collect data.

David Shayer, the second software engineer hired for the iPod project in 2001, said he first learned of the project in 2005, when he received an office visit from his boss’s boss.

“He cut to the chase,” Shayer recounts in a post published on Monday by TidBITS , an online newsletter covering all things Apple. “‘I have a special assignment for you. Your boss doesn’t know about it. You’ll help two engineers from the US Department of Energy build a special iPod. Report only to me.’”

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