The Mystery of AI Gunshot-Detection Accuracy Is Finally Unraveling

Liz González’s neighborhood in East San Jose can be loud. Some of her neighbors apparently want the whole block to hear their cars, others like to light fireworks for every occasion, and occasionally there are gunshots.

In February 2023, San Jose began piloting AI-powered gunshot detection technology from the company Flock Safety in several sections of the city, including Gonzalez’s neighborhood. During the first four months of the pilot, Flock’s gunshot detection system alerted police to 123 shooting incidents. But new data released by San Jose’s Digital Privacy Office shows that only 50 percent of those alerts were actually confirmed to be gunfire, while 34 percent of them were confirmed false positives, meaning the Flock Safety system incorrectly identified other sounds—such as fireworks, construction, or cars backfiring—as shooting incidents. After Flock recalibrated its sensors in July 2023, 81 percent of alerts were confirmed gunshots, 7 percent were false alarms, and 12 percent could not be determined one way or the other.

For two decades, cities around the country have used automated gunshot detection systems to quickly dispatch police to the scenes of suspected shootings. But reliable data about the accuracy of the systems and how frequently they raise false alarms has been difficult, if not impossible, for the public to find. San Jose, which has taken a leading role in defining responsible government use of AI systems, appears to be the only city that requires its police department to disclose accuracy data for its gunshot detection system. The report it released on May 31 marks the first time it has published that information.

The false-positive rate is of particular concern to communities of color, some of whom fear that gunshot detection systems are unnecessarily sending police into neighborhoods expecting gunfire. Nonwhite Americans are more often subjected to surveillance by the systems and are disproportionately killed in interactions with police. “For us, any interaction with police is a potentially dangerous one,” says Gonzalez, an organizer with Silicon Valley De-Bug, a community advocacy group based in San Jose.

San Jose did not attempt to quantify how many shooting incidents in the covered area the Flock System failed to detect, also known as the false-negative rate. However, the report says that “it is clear the system is not detecting all gunshots the department would expect.”

Flock Safety says its Raven gunshot detection system is 90 percent accurate. SoundThinking, which sells the ShotSpotter system, is the most popular gunshot detection technology on the market. It claims a 97 percent accuracy rate. But the data from San Jose and a handful of other communities that used the technologies suggest the systems—which use computer algorithms, and in SoundThinking’s case, human reviewers, to determine whether the sounds captured by their sensors are gunshots—may be less reliable than advertised.

Last year, journalists with CU-CitizensAccess obtained data from Champaign, Illinois, showing that only 8 percent of the 64 alerts generated by the city’s Raven system over a six-month period could be confirmed as gunfire. In 2021, the Chicago Office of Inspector General reported that over a 17-month period only 9 percent of the 41,830 alerts with dispositions that were generated by the city’s ShotSpotter system could be connected to evidence of a gun-related crime. SoundThinking has criticized the Chicago OIG report, saying it relied on “incomplete and irreconcilable data.”

via Wired Top Stories

June 25, 2024 at 06:06AM

Hands-on: Steam’s game recording beta is already incredible

Recording your video game sessions isn’t exactly a new idea. It’s the entire basis of Twitch and its countless game streamers, both professional and aspirational. But game streaming requires a collection of special tools and techniques if you want to stand out.

Or, at least, it used to. Now, with its latest beta update, Steam will basically do it all for you. Steam has long been able to take screenshots and stream game sessions around a local network, but this new feature is laser-focused on recording and sharing your experiences.

With Nvidia’s Shadowplay now on the outs, this new one by Steam is probably the tool that’s most likely to be installed on gamers’ PCs already (or it will be once it moves from beta to full release). This should make Steam the most prolific game recording software in the world, even before most users are aware of the capability.

I tried out the tool with a few sessions of Hades II and found it remarkable how well the tool runs without even thinking about it.

Set it up to work in the background—shaving a bit of performance off your GPU, but not anything I particularly noticed—and your game sessions will just appear in your recordings and screenshots folder. (You can always navigate to the non-DRM files in Windows Explorer, but Steam includes a video player within its own interface, too.)

From this view, you can clip and export sections of your session, grab a screenshot, or send it to other PCs or even your phone, all without leaving the player window.

Here’s a quick snippet I grabbed in just a few seconds with no editing. Note how the tool preserves my ultrawide monitor’s 21:9 aspect ratio, something a lot of similar software struggle to do.

By default, Steam saves sessions in 120-minute chunks and at 12Mbps video (which was about the level of a YouTube stream for me), and it asks just under 11GB of space to keep the buffer running.

Naturally, all of that is adjustable within the Game Recording menu, as are the shortcuts to add specific markers. You can even bind a shortcut to a controller button—those back-mounted “paddle” buttons showing up on more and more gamepads seem like a perfect fit here.

Valve says that game developers will be able to automatically add markers and snippet sections to these recording sessions at some point, though I’m not seeing them at the moment. Other features include an easy-to-share QR code link generator and temporary links for “Hey, look at this!” shares with your friends. Oh, and it works on the Steam Deck.

All of this reminds me of the social tools baked into the PlayStation and Xbox, but with more options available for modern tech-savvy users. Valve’s continual work to make Steam the de facto platform for PC gaming seems to be paying off.

You can try out the tool by enabling the Steam beta and then checking out the Game Recording tab in the Steam Settings menu.

via PCWorld

June 27, 2024 at 09:19AM

Five men face jail time for running the illegal streaming service Jetflicks

The illegal streaming service Jetflicks once boasted on its website that visitors could watch just about any TV show or movie “Anytime. Anywhere.” Now the five people behind the bootleg streaming service are facing some serious jail time.

A jury found Kristopher Dallman, Douglas Courson, Felipe Garcia, Jared Jaurequi and Peter Huber guilty in a Las Vegas federal court on Friday for conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. Dallmann was also found guilty on two counts of money laundering and three counts of misdemeanor criminal copyright infringement for leading the Jetflicks operation, according to court documents and a US Department of Justice press release.

Jetflicks used computer scripts and software to scour the internet for illegal copies of movies and television shows and posted hundreds of thousands of illegal copies as far back as 2007 from torrent and Usenet sites. The defendants created a catalog of bootleg shows and movies bigger than the combined collections of streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, Vudu and Amazon Prime, according to the Department of Justice.

Users could pay a subscription fee to access the site on pretty much any media streaming device with a web browser. Jetflicks claimed to “offer more than 183,200 television episodes and have more than 37,000 subscribers,” according to the initial indictment filed in the Eastern District of Virginia in 2019.

Dallmann, the leader of the group, and his co-conspirators “made millions of dollars streaming and distributing this catalog of stolen content,” according to the press release.

At one point, operators and employees of Jetflicks were making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from its subscription service. Dallman wrote in an online chat that his site made $750,000 in one year, according to the indictment.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) took notice of Jetflicks in 2012 and sent cease and desist letters to the site’s operators. Four years later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) started its undercover operation of the site by paying for a six-month subscription. Undercover agents recorded multiple instances of illegal uploads of shows like Shameless, Ray Donovan, The OA and SyFy’s 12 Monkeys alongside charges for accessing them. Then the agents traced those charges back to the defendants’ bank accounts, according to court records.

A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled. The Department of Justice says Dallman could face up to 48 years in prison and the four remaining defendants could each face five years in prison.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

via Engadget

June 21, 2024 at 03:37PM

Tesla owners say they’ve been trapped in their cars. Here’s how to manually open a Tesla door

A retracting door handle on a Tesla.Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
  • Numerous Tesla owners say they have been trapped inside their EVs after they lost power.
  • Teslas come with manual door releases, but they can be hard to find without the owner’s manual.
  • Business Insider has compiled a guide on how to find them in a range of different Tesla models.

Numerous Tesla owners have said they’ve been stuck inside their EVs after the cars suddenly lost power.

Firefighters recently had to rescue a toddler from a locked Tesla after the car’s battery died.

Renee Sanchez told reporters at On Your Side, a segment in the local outlet Arizona’s Family, that her EV’s battery died after she put her 20-month-old granddaughter in the car and went to get in the front seat.

When the firefighters arrived on the scene, they used an ax to break the car’s window to rescue the child, the report said.

YouTuber Tom Exton claimed back in 2022 that his Tesla Model Y ordered him to pull over before it suddenly lost power and left him unable to exit.

Exton said he followed the instructions for the manual release to open the door, but that this "somehow broke the driver’s window."

Another Tesla driver, Rick Meggison, told Arizona-based TV station ABC 15 last summer that he got trapped inside his Model Y vehicle for around 20 minutes on a 100-degree day. He said he couldn’t open the doors or windows as the battery had died.

Meggison, who was 73 years old at the time, said he called his sister who was able to open the passenger door using the Tesla app — but that also cracked the car’s window, he said.

The manual door release can be tricky to find unless you’ve combed through your car’s owner’s manual.

To help Tesla owners avoid getting into the same situation, here is a short guide on how to locate and activate the manual door releases in the Model S, 3, X, and Y.

Model S 

The Tesla Model S.
The Tesla Model S.Tesla

To manually open the front doors when a Model S loses power, you need to pull up the release tab that’s found in front of the window switches on the door panel, the Tesla owner’s manual says.

To open the rear doors, pull back the carpet below the back seats to expose the emergency door release cable, the manual says, adding that you then need to pull the cable "toward the center" of the car.

YouTuber @TeslaInventory, who posts videos about his experience with Teslas on his channel, said that the front doors of a Tesla Model S would still work even if the car lost power, but the rear doors would not.

He also says the manual release will override the car’s child lock.

Model 3 

Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model 3.Tesla

The Model 3 owner’s manual states that "only the front doors are equipped with a manual door release."

To open the front doors in the event that the car loses power, you need to pull up the manual release that’s located just in front of the window switch panel on the door.

Model X 

The Tesla Model X.
The Tesla Model X.Tesla

The front doors of the Model X can also be opened using a manual door release that you can find in front of the window buttons, the owner’s manual says.

If the power drops out, you can open the rear doors using a mechanical release found behind the speaker grille, which you need to remove from the vehicle’s door, the manual adds.

You then need to "pull the mechanical release cable down and towards the front of the vehicle" before lifting up the door to open it.

Model Y

The Tesla Model Y.
The Tesla Model YTesla

You can also find the manual door release for the Model Y’s front seats in front of the window switch panel, the owner’s manual says.

The manual makes it clear that not all Model Y cars come with a manual release for the rear seats. For those that do, it is located in the rear doors’ pockets.

You need to remove the mat from the pocket and press a red tab to reveal the manual release cable, which you need to pull forward to open the door.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment from BI.

via Autoblog

June 21, 2024 at 09:33AM

Feds Sue Adobe for ‘Trapping’ Customers in Long, Expensive Subscriptions

The U.S. government sued Adobe on Monday for allegedly “trapping” customers in its default, most lucrative subscription plan. In a complaint, the Department of Justice (DOJ) writes that Adobe locks customers into a year-long agreement that’s not effectively disclosed as such, and “ambushing” users with hefty hidden fees when they try to cancel.

Automation Never Tasted So Good

The DOJ specifically calls out the “Annual, Paid Monthly” or APM plan, which Adobe presents as the default option for several software products. The APM plan allows users to pay the lowest amount on the day they sign up. However, the complaint alleges Adobe hides an early termination fee (ETF) that can cost users hundreds of dollars depending on when they cancel.

“During enrollment, Adobe hides material terms of its APM plan in fine print and behind optional textboxes and hyperlinks, providing disclosures that are designed to go unnoticed and that most consumers never see,” reads the DOJ’s complaint. “Adobe then deters cancellations by employing an onerous and complicated cancellation process. As part of this convoluted process, Adobe ambushes subscribers with the previously obscured ETF when they attempt to cancel.”

To buy Creative Cloud, Adobe’s package of landmark software products, the APM (below it’s titled “Yearly, Billed monthly”) plan appears as $59.99/month. This allows customers to pay the lowest amount on sign-up day, compared to a “Monthly” plan of $89.99/month, or a “Yearly, Billed Upfront” plan of $659.88. The DOJ alleges that Adobe doesn’t do enough to disclose that this is a year-long contract with fees for early termination, and says the company puts up other roadblocks to canceling.

Adobe’s payment page to purchase Creative Cloud on Monday.
Screenshot: Adobe

Customers who cancel their APM plans will be charged 50% of the “remaining contract obligation.” according to Adobe’s terms and conditions. So if you cancelled your Creative Cloud subscription after one month of service, you’d lose access to Creative Cloud that month and have to pay roughly $330 to cancel.

The complaint cites testimonies from consumers who were confused by Adobe’s plan when they signed up. They were allegedly unaware that this plan had to continue for a year, despite the name, and that a cancellation fee existed. The DOJ alleges that Adobe was aware of this confusion, receiving multiple complaints from the Better Business Bureau and customers over the years. However, Adobe has continued offering the plan without much further clarification.

“We are transparent with the terms and conditions of our subscription agreements and have a simple cancellation process,” said Dana Rao, Adobe’s general counsel and chief trust officer, in a press release sent to Gizmodo. “We will refute the FTC’s claims in court.”

The lawsuit targets not only Adobe but also two executives allegedly responsible for these lock-in practices: Senior Vice President of Digital Go To Market & Sales, Maninder Sawhney, and President of Digital Media Business, David Wadhwani. This is part of an increased effort by the U.S. government to crack down on hidden fees. Last month, the DOJ sued to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation, one of the most public offenders in the war on hidden fees.

via Gizmodo

June 17, 2024 at 01:12PM