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      AI-generated child sex imagery has every US attorney general calling for action

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 6 September, 2023 - 21:48 · 1 minute

    A photo of the US Capitol in Washington, DC.

    Enlarge (credit: Getty Images )

    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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      New Biden executive order makes science, evidence central to policy

      John Timmer · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 28 January, 2021 - 22:39 · 1 minute

    Image of a man seated at a desk, with a man and woman standing behind him.

    Enlarge / U.S. President Joe Biden signs an executive order in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (credit: Bloomberg / Getty Images )

    Yesterday, US President Joe Biden signed three executive orders. The order with the widest scope was focused on climate policy , and it received the most attention. But the other two, while more narrowly focused, may also have a profound impact, because they seek to reorient the entire federal government's approach to science itself. That includes both protecting scientists from political interference and ensuring that government decisions are based on the evidence produced by science as often as possible.

    PCAST is back

    One of the two executive orders officially starts off the Biden administration's President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, or PCAST. The organization is typically set up by an executive order and runs for two years before being renewed by a second. It dates back to the George H.W. Bush administration and has a broad remit to identify the current consensus in relevant fields of science and technology as well as to advise the entire executive branch regarding them.

    The importance of PCAST isn't just limited to science agencies; for example, an Obama-era council issued a report on forensic science that was relevant to everything from research-funding bodies to federal law enforcement agents.

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      In a parting gift, EPA finalizes rules to limit its use of science

      John Timmer · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 5 January, 2021 - 23:52 · 1 minute

    A bird stands on a tube snaking through the water.

    Enlarge / BARATARIA BAY, Lousiana - JULY 14: A young seagull rests on a boom used to contain the oil spill July 14, 2010. In the future, should this bird be killed by the oil, nobody could be held responsible. (credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images )

    With the days counting down to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, the Trump administration has been undertaking a series of actions that will make it more difficult for its replacements to reverse any of its policies or pursue new ones. This is especially true in the area of environmental regulations, where both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior have recently issued decisions.

    Over the last few days, Interior has issued new rules that will allow industries to kill migratory birds with impunity, and the department has moved ahead with plans to lease portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling tomorrow. Meanwhile, the EPA has finally pushed through a new rule that could severely limit the ability of the agency to establish future regulations. The only small bit of consolation is that the EPA's final rule is less awful than some earlier drafts.

    Only the science we like

    The EPA's new rule , which will be formally published tomorrow, is an attempt to set additional standards for the evidence it considers when establishing new regulations for pollutants. In principle, the rule sounds great: it wants the data behind the scientific papers it uses to be made publicly available before it can be used to support regulatory decisions. In reality, the rule is problematic, because many of these studies rely on patient records that need to be kept confidential. In other cases, the organizations with the best information on some environmental hazards are the companies that produce or work with them, and they may not be interested in sharing proprietary data.

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