Commercial Spaceship Set for Lunar Touchdown, in Test for US Industry

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WASHINGTON — A company from Texas is poised to attempt a feat that until now has only been accomplished by a handful of national space agencies but could soon become commonplace for the private sector: landing on the moon. If all goes to plan, Houston-based Intuitive Machines will guide its spaceship named Odysseus to a gentle touchdown near the lunar south pole on Thursday at 2249 GMT, then run experiments for NASA that will help pave the way for the return of astronauts later this decade. A previous effort by another U.S. company last month ended in failure, raising the stakes to demonstrate private industry has what it takes to put an American lander on Earth's cosmic companion for the first time since the Apollo era. "Accepting risk was a challenge…
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Britain, US, EU, Allies Take Down Lockbit Cybercrime Gang

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LONDON — Lockbit, a notorious cybercrime gang that holds its victims' data for ransom, has been disrupted in a rare international law enforcement operation by Britain’s National Crime Agency, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Europol and a coalition of international police agencies, according to a post on the gang’s extortion website on Monday. “This site is now under the control of the National Crime Agency of the UK, working in close cooperation with the FBI and the international law enforcement task force, ‘Operation Cronos,’” the post said. An NCA spokesperson confirmed that the agency had disrupted the gang and said the operation was "ongoing and developing." A representative for Lockbit did not respond to messages from Reuters seeking comment but did post messages on an encrypted messaging app saying it…
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Media Creators Worry About New AI-Video Tool by Maker of ChatGPT

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paris — A new artificial intelligence tool that promises to create short videos from simple text commands has raised concerns along with questions from artists and media professionals.  OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT and image generator DALL-E, said Thursday it was testing a text-to-video model called "Sora" that can allow users to create realistic videos with simple prompts.  The San Francisco-based startup says Sora can "generate complex scenes with multiple characters, specific types of motion, and accurate details of the subject and background," but admits it still has limitations, such as possibly "mixing up left and right."  Here are early reactions from industries that could be affected by the new generative artificial intelligence (AI) tool:    Examples of Sora-created clips on OpenAI's website range widely in style and subject, from seemingly real…
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Japan’s New Flagship H3 Rocket Reaches Orbit in Key Test

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TOKYO — Japan's flagship H3 rocket reached orbit and released two small observation satellites in a key second test following a failed debut launch last year, buoying hope for the country in the global space race. The H3 rocket blasted off from the Tanegashima Space Center on time Saturday morning, two days after its originally scheduled liftoff was delayed by bad weather. The rocket successfully reached orbit at an altitude of about 670 kilometers (about 420 miles) and released two satellites, said the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA. “We feel so relieved to be able to announce the good results," JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa told a news conference. The H3's main missions are to secure independent access to space and be competitive as international demand for satellite launches grows. “We…
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US Justice Department Says It Disrupted Russian Intelligence Hacking Network

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Washington — The U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday it disrupted a Russian intelligence hacking network. "For the second time in two months, we've disrupted state-sponsored hackers from launching cyber-attacks behind the cover of compromised U.S. routers," U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement. The Justice Department said that a January 2024 court-authorized operation neutralized the network of hundreds of small office/home office (SOHO) routers controlled by Russian intelligence and used "to conceal and otherwise enable a variety of crimes."   "In this case, Russian intelligence services turned to criminal groups to help them target home and office routers, but the Justice Department disabled their scheme," Attorney General Merrick Garland added. Garland said the Justice Department was accelerating efforts to disrupt the Russian government's cyber campaigns against the…
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China’s VPN Usage Nearly Doubles Amid Internet Censorship

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WASHINGTON — Last year, VPN usage in China nearly doubled, according to data from IT education news outlet Techopedia, this despite the country’s strict regime of internet controls of everything from overseas websites to online games. China’s “Great Firewall” is one of the world’s most comprehensive internet censorship regimes, preventing citizens from accessing websites like Instagram, Wikipedia and YouTube, as well most major news organizations including VOA. VPNs are outlawed in China because they allow users to jump the “Great Firewall” and securely connect to the internet outside the country while blocking their IP address. Rob Binns, a journalist with Techopedia, said China’s increasingly strict censorship policies may explain the rise in VPN usage there. “Looking at VPN usage versus what it’s combating, which is online censorship, we are seeing online…
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Biden is on TikTok Despite Security Concerns

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In an effort to connect to younger voters, the Biden campaign has joined TikTok. But while many users have welcomed the move, security experts and even legislators have expressed disapproval amid long-standing privacy concerns surrounding the use of the Chinese-owned app. VOA’s Veronica Balderas Iglesias has details from Washington. (Produced by: Veronica Balderas Iglesias) ...
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Biden Campaign Joins TikTok, Despite Security Concerns 

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washington — President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign Monday defended its new TikTok account as a vital way to boost its appeal with young voters, even as his administration continued to raise security concerns about whether the popular social media app might be sharing user data with China’s communist government. The campaign's inaugural post featured the president being quizzed on Sunday's Super Bowl — and included a reference to the latest political conspiracy theory centering on pop superstar Taylor Swift. “The president’s TikTok debut last night — with more than 5 million views and counting — is proof positive of both our commitment and success in finding new, innovative ways to reach voters in an evolving, fragmented and increasingly personalized media environment,” Biden reelection deputy campaign manager Rob Flaherty said in a…
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Oversight Board Urges Meta to Rethink Policy on Manipulated Media

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NEW YORK — An oversight board is criticizing Facebook owner Meta's policies regarding manipulated media as "incoherent" and insufficient to address the flood of online disinformation that already has begun to target elections across the globe this year.  The quasi-independent board on Monday said its review of an altered video of President Joe Biden that spread on Facebook exposed gaps in the policy. The board said Meta should expand the policy to focus not only on videos generated with artificial intelligence, but on media regardless of how it was created. That includes fake audio recordings, which already have convincingly impersonated political candidates in the U.S. and elsewhere.  It also said Meta should clarify the harm it is trying to prevent and should label images, videos and audio clips as manipulated instead…
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Deepfake Scam Video Cost Company $26 Million, Hong Kong Police Says

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Hong Kong — Scammers tricked a multinational firm out of some $26 million by impersonating senior executives using deepfake technology, Hong Kong police said Sunday, in one of the first cases of its kind in the city. Law enforcement agencies are scrambling to keep up with generative artificial intelligence, which experts say holds potential for disinformation and misuse — such as deepfake images showing people mouthing things they never said. A company employee in the Chinese finance hub received "video conference calls from someone posing as senior officers of the company requesting to transfer money to designated bank accounts," police told AFP. Police received a report of the incident on January 29, at which point some HK$200 million ($26 million) had already been lost via 15 transfers. "Investigations are still ongoing…
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China Launches Rocket as Commercial Missions Pick Up Pace

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BEIJING — A small but powerful Chinese rocket capable of carrying payloads at competitive costs delivered nine satellites into orbit Saturday, Chinese state media reported, in what is gearing up to be another busy year for Chinese commercial launches.  The Jielong-3, or Smart Dragon-3, blasted off from a floating barge off the coast of Yangjiang in southern Guangdong province, the second launch of the rocket in just two months.  Developed by China Rocket Company, a commercial offshoot of a state-owned launch vehicle manufacturer, Jielong-3 made its first flight in December 2022.  President Xi Jinping has called for the expansion of strategic industries including the commercial space sector, deemed key to building constellations of satellites for communications, remote sensing and navigation.  Also Saturday, Chinese automaker Geely Holding Group launched 11 satellites to…
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Beheading Video Gone from YouTube, But Questions Remain

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NEW YORK — A graphic video from a Pennsylvania man accused of beheading his father that circulated for hours on YouTube has put a spotlight yet again on gaps in social media companies' ability to prevent horrific postings from spreading across the web. Police said Wednesday that they charged Justin Mohn, 32, with first-degree murder and abusing a corpse after he beheaded his father, Michael, in their Bucks County home and publicized it in a 14-minute YouTube video that anyone, anywhere could see. News of the incident — which drew comparisons to the beheading videos posted online by the Islamic State militants at the height of their prominence nearly a decade ago — came as the CEOs of Meta, TikTok and other social media companies were testifying in front of federal…
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Lunar Night Puts Japan’s Lander Back to Sleep

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TOKYO — After a brief awakening, Japan's Moon lander is out of action again but will resume its mission if it survives the two-week lunar night, the space agency said Thursday. The unmanned Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) touched down last month at a wonky angle that left its solar panels facing the wrong way. As the sun's angle shifted, it came back to life for two days this week and carried out scientific observations of a crater with its high-spec camera. "After completing operation from 1/30 (to) 1/31, #SLIM entered a two-week dormancy period during the long lunar night," space agency JAXA said on X, formerly Twitter. "Although SLIM was not designed for the harsh lunar nights, we plan to try to operate again from mid-February, when the Sun…
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History of AI

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From counting machines to neural networks, the development of artificial intelligence has paralleled emerging brain science. Writer, Matt Dibble; graphic designer, Kateryna Stepchenko; motion designer, Valeryia Rusak; narrator, Hayde Fitzpatrick. ...
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Remote Washington State Town Becomes Hub for EV Battery Production

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Moses Lake, Washington — It’s mid-winter in east Washington state, yet despite the chilly fog, two construction sites in the town of Moses Lake are brimming with activity. Several hundred workers are on an ambitious timeline to complete two new factories slanted to begin production of the next-generation components for electric vehicle batteries later this year. Two American start-ups, backed by $100 million in federal grants each, in addition to commercial partnerships, are racing to secure the domestic supply chain with the next-generation battery materials for EV automakers. “That's going to go into everything from electric vehicles to IoT [Internet of Things] devices to smartphones and wearables and a lot of battery-based applications that we don't even know exist yet,” explains Nik Anderson, director of program management with Group 14 Technologies,…
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