Tesla Cybertruck Wade Mode lifts the truck, pressurizes battery for water


Tesla’s Cybertruck has more surprises. X user Nic Cruz Patane posted on a feature he found in the pickup’s Off-Road Baja settings called "Wade Mode." Wait a minute — before we get into that, can we discuss how unusual (putting it mildly) it was for Tesla to leave so much out of its presentation on the most anticipated pickup of the last five years? We had to go to the web site to get specs. We had to wait until the next day for real info on accessories. A week later, the Cybertruck page doesn’t contain information on the Off-Road Modes that include two we can see in the picture in the X post — Overland and Baja. A slider lower down on the same page marked "Handling Balance" changes the distribution of some unknown quantity from front to rear. What appears to be fine-grained in-cabin operator control of some aspect of handling balance in a pickup is novel, potentially fascinating, and maybe even useful. As one commenter said in response to Patane’s post, "Why didn’t they show this at the Cybertruck event!"

Back to Wade Mode, which appears at the bottom of said page. The explanatory sentence under the selector reads, "Raises ride height and pressurizes battery when driving through water." At the moment, nothing more is known about the mode. 

Anyone who remembers Tesla CEO Elon Musk pitching the Cybertruck as a personal watercraft. In an X post from September 29, 2022, he wrote, "Cybertruck will be waterproof enough to serve briefly as a boat, so it can cross rivers, lakes & even seas that aren’t too choppy." In a second post from the same day, Musk wrote, "Needs be able to get from Starbase to South Padre Island, which requires crossing the channel."

Starbase is in Boca Chica, Texas. The channel is the Brazos Santiago Pass, which Wikipedia says is 42 feet deep, a quarter of a mile wide between parallel jetties forming a breakwater, and 1.14 miles at its greatest point. Even though Musk said the Cybertruck will float, given no obvious air tanks or sealable voids to create buoyancy and no obvious means of propulsion once in the water, we have no idea how the 6,000-pound Cybertruck could safely and intentionally navigate a body of water 1,320 feet across and 42 feet deep. That’s not to say this is impossible. In October 2022, Musk posted again on the subject, "You’d need an electric propeller mounted on the tow hitch to go faster than a few knots." Or, who knows, Tesla could unveil a $23,000 Cyberbeast Airboat Package. Which could be pretty effing cool.

Wading is what we were talking about, though. Tesla hasn’t uploaded off-road specs to its retail site, so we don’t know what the Cybertruck’s relevant trail angles are. We aren’t aware of any production vehicle, pickup or not, that needs to prepare itself to ford water, though, so we’re hoping the wading spec gets our attention.

We’re just as lost as everyone else about pressurizing the battery pack, so we turned to Patrick Durham, the engineer and fire department captain whose video helped make sense of the Tesla Model X that burned underwater next to a Florida boat ramp. When we asked a general question about the water-resistance of a battery pack and the idea of pressurizing a pack, he told us, "Your question is challenging to answer because each battery pack is uniquely constructed…  All battery packs should be watertight, but they also require mechanisms to cope with atmospheric pressure changes. Each pack employs a slightly different strategy, with some being more robust than others. At this time I have not seen a mechanism for pressurizing the battery compartment in any other vehicle." When we asked how the idea of watertight is reconciled with the necessity of dealing with pressure changes, he wrote that there are various methods to plug pack openings and allow the pack to breathe, but that ultimately, "watertight would be normal circumstances." As in, everyday weather. "Being fully submerged," he added, "would likely be outside of the design specifications." Except in the case of the Cybertruck. Maybe.

We have a feeling the Cybertruck has a lot more Easter eggs and surprises for us, especially when owners start uploading videos of testing the Cybertruck’s limits since Tesla won’t tell us yet what those limits are.

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December 8, 2023 at 07:51AM

Jailbroken AI Chatbots Can Jailbreak Other Chatbots


December 6, 2023

3 min read

Jailbroken AI Chatbots Can Jailbreak Other Chatbots

AI chatbots can convince other chatbots to instruct users how to build bombs and cook meth

By Chris Stokel-Walker

Illustration of symbolic representations of good and evil AI morality

Today’s artificial intelligence chatbots have built-in restrictions to keep them from providing users with dangerous information, but a new preprint study shows how to get AIs to trick each other into giving up those secrets. In it, researchers observed the targeted AIs breaking the rules to offer advice on how to synthesize methamphetamine, build a bomb and launder money.

Modern chatbots have the power to adopt personas by feigning specific personalities or acting like fictional characters. The new study took advantage of that ability by asking a particular AI chatbot to act as a research assistant. Then the researchers instructed this assistant to help develop prompts that could “jailbreak” other chatbots—destroy the guardrails encoded into such programs.

The research assistant chatbot’s automated attack techniques proved to be successful 42.5 percent of the time against GPT-4, one of the large language models (LLMs) that power ChatGPT. It was also successful 61 percent of the time against Claude 2, the model underpinning Anthropic’s chatbot, and 35.9 percent of the time against Vicuna, an open-source chatbot.

“We want, as a society, to be aware of the risks of these models,” says study co-author Soroush Pour, founder of the AI safety company Harmony Intelligence. “We wanted to show that it was possible and demonstrate to the world the challenges we face with this current generation of LLMs.”

Ever since LLM-powered chatbots became available to the public, enterprising mischief-makers have been able to jailbreak the programs. By asking chatbots the right questions, people have previously convinced the machines to ignore preset rules and offer criminal advice, such as a recipe for napalm. As these techniques have been made public, AI model developers have raced to patch them—a cat-and-mouse game requiring attackers to come up with new methods. That takes time.

But asking AI to formulate strategies that convince other AIs to ignore their safety rails can speed the process up by a factor of 25, according to the researchers. And the success of the attacks across different chatbots suggested to the team that the issue reaches beyond individual companies’ code. The vulnerability seems to be inherent in the design of AI-powered chatbots more widely.

OpenAI, Anthropic and the team behind Vicuna were approached to comment on the paper’s findings. OpenAI declined to comment, while Anthropic and Vicuna had not responded at the time of publication.

“In the current state of things, our attacks mainly show that we can get models to say things that LLM developers don’t want them to say,” says Rusheb Shah, another co-author of the study. “But as models get more powerful, maybe the potential for these attacks to become dangerous grows.”

The challenge, Pour says, is that persona impersonation “is a very core thing that these models do.” They aim to achieve what the user wants, and they specialize in assuming different personalities—which proved central to the form of exploitation used in the new study. Stamping out their ability to take on potentially harmful personas, such as the “research assistant” that devised jailbreaking schemes, will be tricky. “Reducing it to zero is probably unrealistic,” Shah says. “But it’s important to think, ‘How close to zero can we get?’”

“We should have learned from earlier attempts to create chat agents—such as when Microsoft’s Tay was easily manipulated into spouting racist and sexist viewpoints—that they are very hard to control, particularly given that they are trained from information on the Internet and every good and nasty thing that’s in it,” says Mike Katell, an ethics fellow at the Alan Turing Institute in England, who was not involved in the new study.

Katell acknowledges that organizations developing LLM-based chatbots are currently putting lots of work into making them safe. The developers are trying to tamp down users’ ability to jailbreak their systems and put those systems to nefarious work, such as that highlighted by Shah, Pour and their colleagues. Competitive urges may end up winning out, however, Katell says. “How much effort are the LLM providers willing to put in to keep them that way?” he says. “At least a few will probably tire of the effort and just let them do what they do.”

via Scientific American https://ift.tt/gYQOoRc

December 6, 2023 at 06:28AM

Google’s Gemini Turns Pixel 8 Pro Into a True AI Phone


If you’re the proud owner of a Google Pixel 8 Pro—or are soon to be one this holiday season—you’re about to be the latest guinea pig for the company’s big AI experiment. Google’s flagship Android phone is going to be held aloft in a sweeping round of new AI capabilities thanks to the company’s new Gemini AI model. The company says several AI features will start to run directly on users’ devices starting Wednesday.

“Even AI Rappers are Harassed by Police” | AI Unlocked

Google revealed Wednesday its new powerful AI Gemini Pro and Gemini Ultra, but the runt of the litter also shown is called Gemini Nano. It’s the smallest version of the company’s latest AI release built for “on-device tasks” while running directly on the Pixel 8 Pro’s Tensor G3 processor, according to Dave Burke, the vice president of engineering on Android. He stressed this means that each phone is its own contained silo of AI and that users’ data won’t end up leaving their device to get processed by a foreign server. It also means you can access the AI features without needing to connect to the internet.

So, what are those features? Burke says Nano will be able to provide text summarization, smart replies, and AI-enhanced spell check. For example, Nano will summarize users’ audio files in the Recorder app. It will also power the Smart Reply feature on Gboard for Pixel 8 Pro users. That system is also interoperable with other apps, and Google says that Smart Reply is going to be available in WhatsApp to start. All this should be available on Pixel 8 Pro phones, and even more apps should also get access to AI replies next year.

Most AI like ChatGPT is so intensive it needs to operate on separate servers rather than on-device. While chatbot responses aren’t exactly slow, they sometimes take a few seconds to respond to more intense prompts. Running on-device could potentially speed up those wait times, though Gizmodo has yet to test out all its capabilities.

Android 14 is also getting upgrades to handle all these background AI tasks. Part of this is the Android AICore that connects with Gemini Nano, a backend support platform meant to enable more Google AI and app integration. Google touted how it should make use of newer, non-Tensor chip’s like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. Other Android-based phones like the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S24 will likely include that company’s own AI chatbot, coding bot, and image generator.

Google’s own Pixel 8 phone was supposed to be the first real “AI phone,” or at the very least the smartphone designed to facilitate the Mountain View tech giant’s big generative AI push. Only, both the phone and the Android 14 release were rather light on AI capabilities at launch. The phone came with a simple, heavily restricted generative desktop wallpaper maker as well as some AI-enabled photo enhancement tech. Other features like Bard chatbot integration with Google Assistant were kept restricted to a few early testers.

So we still have yet to get the full impression of an AI-enabled assistant on most phones, though Brian Rakowski, Google’s VP of product management for Pixel, said Gemini will power Assistant with Bard “early next year.” Smart reply and article summaries have already been present in Gmail, Docs, YouTube and more through Chrome extensions for close to half a year. Google says Bard will get better thanks to Gemini, but the big search with AI experiment remains in a closed beta under the company’s Search Generative Experience banner.

The AI-enabled assistant may be the next big use-case for AI, especially if it runs natively on users’ devices. Microsoft has its GPT-4-enabled Copilot AI, but that is tied to software like Windows or Bing rather than native hardware. Imagine talking to your phone to get it to copy text or navigate through some fiddly apps. It could prove a sea change in how users operate their phones, so long as it works as advertised.

Despite all the hubbub about the biggest, most capable AI models, natively running AI might be the next big benchmark for user-end AI. Most of the major chipmakers are touting the AI processing power of their new CPUs, though in reality the next-gen chips like the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 don’t offer many unexpected upgrades over the previous generation. Instead, making AI on mobile is a process of paring down these models to fit on limited hardware, and every company wants a piece of that pie. While it hasn’t made much mention of AI this past year, the company is reportedly working on an open-source AI model engineered to work best on the company’s own M-series desktop chips.

via Gizmodo https://gizmodo.com

December 6, 2023 at 09:21AM

Innovation-Killing Noncompete Agreements Are Finally Dying


One of the most stunning twists in the recent five-day crisis at ChatGPT creator OpenAI came when some 95 percent of the company’s hundreds of employees threatened to quit. The staff planned to follow CEO Sam Altman to develop successors to ChatGPT at Microsoft instead. The threat appeared to mark a turning point in Altman’s ultimately successful attempt to return to OpenAI—it was also a scenario that businesses have the legal power to block in most US states.

California, home to OpenAI’s San Francisco HQ, is one of a handful states that bar the enforcement of noncompete agreements in employment contracts, which can forbid employees from hopping jobs to a competitor, often for years. That picture is now set to change, as a raft of new legislation aims to make more places like California.

Until this year, Oklahoma and North Dakota were the only states besides California that outlawed the enforcement of noncompetes. Over the past several months, more states began to follow suit, motivated in part by new research revealing the negative impact of NCAs on innovation and wages.

So far during the 2023 legislative session, 38 states have introduced a whopping 81 bills aimed at banning or curtailing NCA enforcement, according to the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), a public policy organization founded by Napster cofounder Sean Parker. The proposed laws range from industry-specific prohibitions to more sweeping bans. In total, 10 states have enacted some form of limitation on the agreements this year.

According to research from the Universities of Maryland and Michigan, nearly one of five US workers are subject to noncompete agreements, and a third of those are presented after the worker has accepted a job offer. In tech, that number is significantly higher: 35 percent of people working in computer- and math-related vocations and 36 percent of engineers work under noncompetes, the highest share of workers in all industries alongside architects, according to the paper. If not for California’s ban, that number would surely be higher. More than half of US states even allow companies to use NCAs to bind employees after they have been laid off, according to an analysis by the law firm Beck Reed Riden.

Those numbers now look set to shift. In July, Minnesota became the first state in over a century to enact a near-total ban on NCA enforcement. (All the bans allow for a narrow list of exceptions, such as permitting an entrepreneur who sells their business from immediately starting a competitor.) Meanwhile, the EIC, labor groups, and antitrust advocates are pressuring New York governor Kathy Hochul to sign a ban that the state assembly passed this summer.

Expanding Bans

At the federal level, the National Labor Relations Board declared this year that noncompetes violate the National Labor Relations Act, and the Federal Trade Commission proposed a rule that would ban the practice nationwide. Bloomberg Law reported that the agency is expected to finalize the rule in April, although business groups are likely to challenge it. In February, lawmakers reintroduced the bipartisan Workforce Mobility Act into the Senate, which would outlaw noncompetes in all but a few scenarios. California even strengthened its ban this year, outlawing the enforcement of noncompete agreements signed in other states and making it illegal to require an NCA.

California’s noncompete laws have famously been credited with helping birth Silicon Valley. “The traitorous eight,” a group of employees of Shockley Semiconductor, a pioneer of silicon-based semiconductors, decamped to found rival Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957, then some of them left to start Intel a decade later. Steves Jobs and Wozniak left posts at Atari and HP in the mid-1970s and started Apple. In 2011, Eric Yuan quit Cisco after the company rejected his idea for a video conferencing system. That same year he founded Zoom. The list goes on. A national ban on noncompetes could open the door for new startups in states like Texas and Florida where tech companies have flocked in recent years.

via Wired Top Stories https://www.wired.com

December 4, 2023 at 06:09AM

Meta Sues FTC, Says it Has No Constitutional Right to Stop Facebook From Profiting Off of Kids’ Data


Meta is working all the angles it can to ensure it will still be able to profit from children’s Facebook data. After a recent loss in court, the company has now sued the Federal Trade Commission, arguing the agency doesn’t have the constitutional authority to change a 2020 $5 billion settlement over the company’s alleged lack of privacy protections.

“Even AI Rappers are Harassed by Police” | AI Unlocked

The complaint, filed late Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, calls out FTC chairperson Lina Khan and other commissioners for exceeding the inherent powers of their agency. Meta has simmered for more than six months over the FTC’s claims the company violated that original privacy agreement.

Back in May, the FTC claimed Meta violated a 2020 settlement agreement and proposed it should cut the company off from monetizing the data for users under 18 years old. Meta contested the FTC’s plans in court, but on Monday Washington D.C. federal Judge Timothy Kelly kicked Meta’s hopes for a new court ruling out the window. Kelly was the same judge who approved the original 2020 settlement.

Yet Meta has continued to claim the FTC’s attempts to enforce new privacy protections were “without merit.” The company has already appealed the court’s decision, but this new lawsuit puts the onus on the constitutionality of the FTC’s powers to take any major overarching enforcement action.

The tech giant argued that the FTC was overstepping its bounds and infringing on its property rights under the 2020 order. Meta complained that commissioners “exercise executive authority while being unconstitutionally insulated from removal by the president” and further whined that Congress has allowed the agency far more authority beyond the original Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914, which first established the agency.

Meta needs to respond to the FTC’s demands by Dec. 11. The agency has routinely slapped Meta upside the head for allegedly breaking the terms of the settlement agreement multiple times. After Meta responds to the FTC, the agency could decide to ban the company from using any kind of facial recognition tech, as well as keep it from making cash off kids’ data.

But Meta claims it’s been a good little tech giant and has “accommodated the FTC for over a decade in connection with the FTC Proceeding that the FTC abruptly reopened.” The company claims it invested “billions of dollars” in implementing changes to its privacy policies required by the 2020 settlement. The company said the FTC’s new push to punish Meta is a “power grab.”

The FTC allegations came after Meta tried to draw more children into its grand Metaverse project Horizon Worlds. Some U.S. senators also complained about Meta’s attempts to draw youngsters into its big metaverse SNAFU. The new proposed order on Meta would force it to get approval from a third-party assessor to launch any new products, services, or features.

via Gizmodo https://gizmodo.com

November 30, 2023 at 03:51PM

Cicadas Are So Loud, Fiber Optic Cables Can ‘Hear’ Them


One of the world’s most peculiar test beds stretches above Princeton, New Jersey. It’s a fiber optic cable strung between three utility poles that then runs underground before feeding into an “interrogator.” This device fires a laser through the cable and analyzes the light that bounces back. It can pick up tiny perturbations in that light caused by seismic activity or even loud sounds, like from a passing ambulance. It’s a newfangled technique known as distributed acoustic sensing, or DAS.

Because DAS can track seismicity, other scientists are increasingly using it to monitor earthquakes and volcanic activity. (A buried system is so sensitive, in fact, that it can detect people walking and driving above.) But the scientists in Princeton just stumbled upon a rather … noisier use of the technology. In the spring of 2021, Sarper Ozharar—a physicist at NEC Laboratories, which operates the Princeton test bed—noticed a strange signal in the DAS data. “We realized there were some weird things happening,” says Ozharar. “Something that shouldn’t be there. There was a distinct frequency buzzing everywhere.”

The team suspected the “something” wasn’t a rumbling volcano—not in New Jersey—but the cacophony of the giant swarm of cicadas that had just emerged from underground, a population known as Brood X. A colleague suggested reaching out to Jessica Ware, an entomologist and cicada expert at the American Museum of Natural History, to confirm it. “I had been observing the cicadas and had gone around Princeton because we were collecting them for biological samples,” says Ware. “So when Sarper and the team showed that you could actually hear the volume of the cicadas, and it kind of matched their patterns, I was really excited.”

Add insects to the quickly growing list of things DAS can spy on. Thanks to some specialized anatomy, cicadas are the loudest insects on the planet, but all sorts of other six-legged species make a lot of noise, like crickets and grasshoppers. With fiber optic cables, entomologists might have stumbled upon a powerful new way to cheaply and constantly listen in on species—from afar. “Part of the challenge that we face in a time when there’s insect decline is that we still need to collect data about what population sizes are, and what insects are where,” says Ware. “Once we are able to familiarize ourselves with what’s possible with this type of remote sensing, I think we can be really creative.”

DAS is all about vibrations, whether they be the sounds of a singing brood of cicadas or the shifting of a geologic fault. Fiber optic cables transmit information, like high-speed internet, by firing pulses of light. Scientists can use an interrogator device to shine a laser down a cable and then analyze the tiny amounts of light that bounce back to the source. Because the speed of light is a known constant, they can pinpoint where along the cable a given disturbance happens: If something jostles the cable 100 feet down, the light will take slightly longer to return to the interrogator than something that happens at 50 feet. “Every 1 meter of fiber, more or less, we can turn it into a kind of microphone,” says Ozharar.

via Wired Top Stories https://www.wired.com

November 30, 2023 at 09:03AM

Hyundai, Kia’s Uni Wheel electric drive system could revolutionize EV design


The massive worldwide focus on electric vehicle technology has already introduced noteworthy changes to automobile design, notably due to the flat floor design with one large battery pack popularized by Tesla and thereafter adopted by nearly every other major automaker. The reduction in size of drive components has made the term “frunk” part of our regular vernacular, as well. And now Hyundai and Kia have introduced the world to what they say is the next major paradigm shift in EV architecture: the Universal Wheel Drive System, or Uni Wheel for short.

Basically, the Korean automaker conglomerate has figured out a way to replace the standard constant velocity (CV) joint with an arrangement of gears that reside directly inside the wheel hub. We could do our best to explain the arrangement — the short version: a single sun gear transfers power through a pair of packaged pinion gear arms that can move independently to an outer ring gear in a unique and flexible planetary design — but it makes the most sense after looking at the pictures and especially the animated video that we’ve embedded just below.

Hyundai/Kia highlight many benefits to this Uni Wheel drive system. Claims include reduced packaging size, improved ride quality, greater durability and, importantly, increased efficiency. All of that means a smaller battery could provide similar range to today’s EVs, that a similarly sized battery could provide greater range, or even that the space that’s freed up by Uni Wheels would allow greater battery size and therefore range without requiring a larger vehicle platform.

In addition to electric cars and trucks, the automaker group says that Uni Wheels can be used for a large variety of mobility applications. These would include vehicles with fewer than four wheels, like scooters and motorcycles, and even wheelchairs and delivery robots. The automakers have reportedly applied for and registered eight patents related to Uni Wheel in South Korea as well as the United States and Europe.

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November 29, 2023 at 08:16AM