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      NatGeo documents salvage of Tuskegee Airman’s lost WWII plane wreckage

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 4 days ago - 11:04 · 1 minute

    Michigan's State Maritime Archaeologist Wayne R. Lusardi takes notes underwater at the wreckage.

    Enlarge / Michigan's State Maritime Archaeologist Wayne R. Lusardi takes notes underwater at the Lake Huron WWII wreckage of 2nd Lt. Frank Moody's P-39 Airacobra. Moody, one of the famed Tuskagee Airmen, fatally crashed in 1944. (credit: National Geographic)

    In April 1944, a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen, Second Lieutenant Frank Moody, was on a routine training mission when his plane malfunctioned. Moody lost control of the aircraft and plunged to his death in the chilly waters of Lake Huron. His body was recovered two months later, but the airplane was left at the bottom of the lake—until now. Over the last few years, a team of divers working with the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum in Detroit has been diligently recovering the various parts of Moody's plane to determine what caused the pilot's fatal crash.

    That painstaking process is the centerpiece of The Real Red Tails , a new documentary from National Geographic narrated by Sheryl Lee Ralph ( Abbot Elementary ). The documentary features interviews with the underwater archaeologists working to recover the plane, as well as firsthand accounts from Moody's fellow airmen and stunning underwater footage from the wreck itself.

    The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military pilots in the US Armed Forces and helped pave the way for the desegregation of the military. The men painted the tails of their P-47 planes red, earning them the nickname the Red Tails. (They initially flew Bell P-39 Airacobras like Moody's downed plane, and later flew P-51 Mustangs.) It was then-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who helped tip popular opinion in favor of the fledgling unit when she flew with the Airmen's chief instructor, C. Alfred Anderson, in March 1941. The Airmen earned praise for their skill and bravery in combat during World War II, with members being awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations, 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 14 Bronze Stars, 60 Purple Hearts, and at least one Silver Star.

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      When did humans start social knowledge accumulation?

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 22:33

    Two worked pieces of stone, one an axe head, and one a scraper.

    Enlarge (credit: IURII BUKHTA )

    A key aspect of humans' evolutionary success is the fact that we don't have to learn how to do things from scratch. Our societies have developed various ways—from formal education to YouTube videos—to convey what others have learned. This makes learning how to do things far easier than learning by doing, and it gives us more space to experiment; we can learn to build new things or handle tasks more efficiently, then pass information on how to do so on to others.

    Some of our closer relatives, like chimps and bonobos, learn from their fellow species-members. They don't seem to engage in this iterative process of improvement—they don't, in technical terms, have a cumulative culture where new technologies are built on past knowledge. So, when did humans develop this ability?

    Based on a new analysis of stone toolmaking, two researchers are arguing that the ability is relatively recent, dating to just 600,000 years ago. That's roughly the same time our ancestors and the Neanderthals went their separate ways.

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      Lawsuit: Meta engineer told to resign after calling out sexist hiring practices

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 21:54

    Lawsuit: Meta engineer told to resign after calling out sexist hiring practices

    Enlarge (credit: Chesnot / Contributor | Getty Images Entertainment )

    Meta got hit Tuesday with a lawsuit alleging that the company knowingly overlooks sexist treatment of female employees. That includes an apparent practice of hiring and promoting less qualified men to roles over more qualified female applicants.

    The complaint was filed in a US district court in New York by Jeffrey Smith, an engineer who joined Meta in 2018. Smith alleged that Meta was on the brink of promoting him when suddenly his "upward trajectory stopped" after he started speaking up about allegedly misogynistic management practices at Meta.

    Smith claimed that instead of a promotion, his Meta manager, Sacha Arnaud, suggested that he resign shortly after delivering Smith's first-ever negative performance review, which reduced his bonus payout and impacted his company stock. Smith has alleged he suffered emotional distress and economic injury due to this alleged retaliation.

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      Runway’s latest AI video generator brings giant cotton candy monsters to life

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 21:41 · 1 minute

    Screen capture of a Runway Gen-3 Alpha video generated with the prompt

    Enlarge / Screen capture of a Runway Gen-3 Alpha video generated with the prompt "A giant humanoid, made of fluffy blue cotton candy, stomping on the ground, and roaring to the sky, clear blue sky behind them." (credit: Runway )

    On Sunday, Runway announced a new AI video synthesis model called Gen-3 Alpha that's still under development, but it appears to create video of similar quality to OpenAI's Sora , which debuted earlier this year (and has also not yet been released). It can generate novel, high-definition video from text prompts that range from realistic humans to surrealistic monsters stomping the countryside.

    Unlike Runway's previous best model from June 2023, which could only create two-second-long clips, Gen-3 Alpha can reportedly create 10-second-long video segments of people, places, and things that have a consistency and coherency that easily surpasses Gen-2. If 10 seconds sounds short compared to Sora's full minute of video, consider that the company is working with a shoestring budget of compute compared to more lavishly funded OpenAI—and actually has a history of shipping video generation capability to commercial users.

    Gen-3 Alpha does not generate audio to accompany the video clips, and it's highly likely that temporally coherent generations (those that keep a character consistent over time) are dependent on similar high-quality training material . But Runway's improvement in visual fidelity over the past year is difficult to ignore.

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      AT&T imposes $10 price hike on most of its older unlimited plans

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 21:03

    A man with an umbrella walking past a building with an AT&T logo.

    Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Ronald Martinez )

    AT&T is imposing $10 and $20 monthly price hikes on users of older unlimited wireless plans starting in August 2024, the company announced . The single-line price of these 10 "retired" plans will increase by $10 per month, while customers with multiple lines on a plan will be hit with a total monthly increase of $20.

    "If you have a single line of service on your plan, your monthly plan charge will increase by $10. If you have multiple lines on your plan, your monthly plan charge will increase by a total of $20. This is the total monthly increase, not per line increase," AT&T said.

    AT&T has offered a dizzying array of "unlimited" data plans over the years, all with different limits and perks. While unlimited plans let customers avoid overage fees, speeds can be slowed once customers hit their high-speed data limit. There are also limits on the usage of hotspot data.

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      Fisker is out of cash, not making cars, and filing for bankruptcy

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 20:53 · 1 minute

    Henrik Fisker, standing in front of the Fisker Ocean

    Enlarge / Car designer Henrik Fisker poses with a Fisker Ocean at the Salvation Army California South Division's annual Sally Awards in June 2022. (credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

    Fisker, the second EV firm started by legendary BMW and Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker, has filed for bankruptcy and intends to sell its assets and restructure its debt. The almost inevitable outcome comes months after it paused manufacturing amid cash flow shortages, safety probes , and devastating reviews of its only product, the Fisker Ocean SUV.

    Fisker's statement about the filing notes the firm's production of the Ocean "twice as fast as expected in the auto industry" and delivering "the most sustainable vehicle in the world." However, a Fisker spokesperson writes, "[L]ike other companies in the electric vehicle industry, we have faced various market and macroeconomic headwinds that have impacted our ability to operate efficiently."

    Rumors of Fisker's bankruptcy have been circulating since March when the company suspended production of its Ocean for initially six weeks and then indefinitely. A month earlier, the company reported $273 million in 2023 sales but more than $1 billion in debt. Fisker's stock was pulled from the New York Stock Exchange in late March. Amid what many saw as a generalized weakening of EV demand, Fisker was particularly vulnerable.

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      Men plead guilty to aggravated ID theft after pilfering police database

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 20:30 · 1 minute

    Men plead guilty to aggravated ID theft after pilfering police database

    Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

    Two men have pleaded guilty to charges of computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft tied to their theft of records from a law enforcement database for use in doxxing and extorting multiple individuals.

    Sagar Steven Singh, 20, and Nicholas Ceraolo, 26, admitted to being members of ViLE, a group that specializes in obtaining personal information of individuals and using it to extort or harass them. Members use various methods to collect social security numbers, cell phone numbers, and other personal data and post it, or threaten to post it, to a website administered by the group. Victims had to pay to have their information removed or kept off the website. Singh pled guilty on Monday, June 17, and Ceraolo pled guilty on May 30.

    Impersonating a police officer

    The men gained access to the law enforcement portal by stealing the password of an officer’s account and using it to log in. The portal, maintained by an unnamed US federal law enforcement agency, was restricted to members of various law enforcement agencies to share intelligence from government databases with state and local officials. The site provided access to detailed nonpublic records involving narcotics and currency seizures and to law enforcement intelligence reports.

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      Elon Musk rushes to debut X payments as tech issues hamper creator payouts

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 20:01 · 1 minute

    Elon Musk rushes to debut X payments as tech issues hamper creator payouts

    Enlarge (credit: eldadcarin | iStock / Getty Images Plus )

    Elon Musk is still frantically pushing to launch X payment services in the US by the end of 2024, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

    Launching payment services is arguably one of the reasons why Musk paid so much to acquire Twitter in 2022. His rebranding of the social platform into X revives a former dream he had as a PayPal co-founder who fought and failed to name the now-ubiquitous payments app X. Musk has told X staff that transforming the company into a payments provider would be critical to achieving his goal of turning X into a so-called everything app "within three to five years."

    Late last year, Musk said it would "blow" his "mind" if X didn't roll out payments by the end of 2024, so Bloomberg's report likely comes as no big surprise to Musk's biggest fans who believe in his vision. At that time, Musk said he wanted X users' "entire financial lives" on the platform before 2024 ended, and a Bloomberg review of "more than 350 pages of documents and emails related to money transmitter licenses that X Payments submitted in 11 states" shows approximately how close he is to making that dream a reality on his platform.

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      Ars Live Recap: Is SpaceX a launch company or a satellite communications company?

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 19:22 · 1 minute

    Produced by Michael Toriello and Billy Keenly. Click here for transcript .

    Last week, during our inaugural Ars Live event, Quilty Space director of research Caleb Henry joined Ars space editor Eric Berger for a discussion of SpaceX's Starlink and other satellite internet systems. We discussed Starlink's rapid road to profitability—it took just five years from the first launch of operational satellites—and the future of the technology.

    One of the keys to Starlink's success is its vertical integration as a core business at SpaceX, which operates the world's only reusable rocket, the Falcon 9. This has allowed the company not just to launch a constellation of 6,000 satellites—but to do so at relatively low cost.

    "At one point, SpaceX had publicly said that it was $28 million," Henry said of the company's target for a Falcon 9 launch cost. "We believe today that they are below $20 million per launch and actually lower than that... I would put it in the mid teens for how much it costs them internally. And that's going down as they increase the reuse of the vehicle. Recently, they've launched their 20th, maybe 21st, use of a first-stage rocket. And as they can amortize the cost of the booster over a greater number of missions, that only helps them with their business case."

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