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AI

Google is releasing an open source harassment filter for journalists

Google’s Jigsaw unit is releasing the code for an open source anti-harassment tool called Harassment Manager. The tool, intended for journalists and other public figures, employs Jigsaw’s Perspective API to let users sort through potentially abusive comments on social media platforms starting with Twitter. It’s debuting as source code for developers to build on, then being launched as a functional application for Thomson Reuters Foundation journalists in June.

Harassment Manager can currently work with Twitter’s API to combine moderation options — like hiding tweet replies and muting or blocking accounts — with a bulk filtering and reporting system. Perspective checks messages’ language for levels of “toxicity” based on elements like threats, insults, and profanity. It sorts messages into queues on a dashboard, where users can address them in batches rather than individually through Twitter’s default moderation tools. They can choose to blur the text of the messages while they’re doing it, so they don’t need to read each one, and they can search for keywords in addition to using the automatically generated queues.

A picture of the Harassment Manager dashboard as described in the post

Google

Harassment Manager also lets users download a standalone report containing abusive messages; this creates a paper trail for their employer or, in the case of illegal content like direct threats, law enforcement. For now, however, there’s not a standalone application that users can download. Instead, developers can freely build apps that incorporate its functionality and services using it will be launched by partners like the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Jigsaw announced Harassment Manager on International Women’s Day, and it framed the tool as particularly relevant to female journalists who face gender-based abuse, highlighting input from “journalists and activists with large Twitter presences” as well as nonprofits like the International Women’s Media Foundation and the Committee To Protect Journalists. In a Medium post, the team says it’s hoping developers can tailor it for other at-risk social media users. “Our hope is that this technology provides a resource for people who are facing harassment online, especially female journalists, activists, politicians and other public figures, who deal with disproportionately high toxicity online,” the post reads.

A screenshot of the reporting option in Jigsaw’s Harassment Manager

Google has harnessed Perspective for automated moderation before. In 2019 it released a browser extension called Tune that let social media users avoid seeing messages with a high chance of being toxic, and it’s been used by many commenting platforms (including Vox Media’s Coral) to supplement human moderation. But as we noted around the release of Perspective and Tune, the language analysis model has historically been far from perfect. It sometimes misclassifies satirical content or fails to detect abusive messages, and Jigsaw-style AI can inadvertently associate terms like “blind” or “deaf” — which aren’t necessarily negative — with toxicity. Jigsaw itself has also been criticized for a toxic workplace culture, although Google has disputed the claims.

Unlike AI-powered moderation on services like Twitter and Instagram, however, Harassment Manager isn’t a platform-side moderation feature. It’s apparently a sorting tool for helping manage the sometimes overwhelming scale of social media feedback, something that could be relevant for people far outside the realm of journalism — even if they can’t use it for now.

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Categories
Computing

AMD FSR Uses the Same Tech as Nvidia’s Sharpening Filter

AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution is an image upscaling algorithm made to improve gaming performance. It was meant to be the company’s response to Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technology. While AMD FSR was supposed to be entirely new, digging through the source code showed that it is, in fact, based on the same technology as Nvidia’s old sharpening filter.

AMD previously claimed that the algorithm used in FSR was built entirely in-house, but @VideoCardz on Twitter found that to be untrue. A deeper look into the source code revealed that FidelityFX Super Resolution was based on the Lanczos resampling algorithm which has been around for several decades. What’s perhaps more interesting is the fact that it is also in use by Nvidia.

AMD makes big claims about FSR, but even if they don’t play out, the fact anyone can use it is more important.

The same algorithm that AMD made use of in the creation of FSR is utilized by Nvidia for its upscaling and sharpening filter. It was released with Nvidia drivers several years ago. As such, it’s been available to Nvidia users within the GeForce control panel for quite some time. However, AMD has obviously done much more legwork than to simply reuse Lanczos resampling.

When AMD FSR was announced, there was a lot of hope for AMD fans who wanted to utilize the same technology that Nvidia has already been providing for some time. FidelityFX Super Resolution was said to offer up to twice the performance in 4K gaming with ray tracing enabled. It comes with adjustments that make it run faster and prevent the halo effect from appearing during sharpening. All in all, it stands a chance at becoming a real competitor to Nvidia’s DLSS, although AMD will not be optimizing it for the users of the best graphics cards by Nvidia.

While FSR is still new, AMD’s open-source approach has already started picking up pace. The technology has already been adopted by close to 30 games as well as Unreal Engine and Unity Engine. The technology is supposed to be applied to 3D rendered content, meaning it’s only meant to be visible in games. If used properly, it can turn a 1080p title into 1440p as long as it’s supported. However, when used on flat elements such as the game UI, it can make the text difficult to read or blurry.

An AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT graphics card placed in front of a black background.

The main benefit of this technology lies in its accessibility. While Nvidia users can only benefit from DLSS if they have an RTX graphics card, AMD’s FSR is meant to work on any GPU. According to the Steam Hardware Survey, only 17.6% of all PCs have an RTX-based graphics card. This is where AMD pulls ahead, allowing FidelityFX SR to be used on each and every GPU out there.

Although it turns out that FSR is not quite the 100% made-from-scratch technology that AMD claimed it to be, it presents a solid option for Radeon card users. Previously excluded by Nvidia’s RTX-only DLSS, owners of AMD GPUs can now benefit from this image upscaling technology too. All that remains now is to hope that the technology will continue to spread across different brands and game studios.

Editors’ Choice






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Categories
AI

Today I learned about Intel’s AI sliders that filter online gaming abuse

Last month during its virtual GDC presentation Intel announced Bleep, a new AI-powered tool that it hopes will cut down on the amount of toxicity gamers have to experience in voice chat. According to Intel, the app “uses AI to detect and redact audio based on user preferences.” The filter works on incoming audio, acting as an additional user-controlled layer of moderation on top of what a platform or service already offers.

It’s a noble effort, but there’s something bleakly funny about Bleep’s interface, which lists in minute detail all of the different categories of abuse that people might encounter online, paired with sliders to control the quantity of mistreatment users want to hear. Categories range anywhere from “Aggression” to “LGBTQ+ Hate,” “Misogyny,” “Racism and Xenophobia,” and “White nationalism.” There’s even a toggle for the N-word. Bleep’s page notes that it’s yet to enter public beta, so all of this is subject to change.

Filters include “Aggression,” “Misogyny” …
Credit: Intel

… and a toggle for the “N-word.”
Image: Intel

With the majority of these categories, Bleep appears to give users a choice: would you like none, some, most, or all of this offensive language to be filtered out? Like choosing from a buffet of toxic internet slurry, Intel’s interface gives players the option of sprinkling in a light serving of aggression or name-calling into their online gaming.

Bleep has been in the works for a couple of years now — PCMag notes that Intel talked about this initiative way back at GDC 2019 — and it’s working with AI moderation specialists Spirit AI on the software. But moderating online spaces using artificial intelligence is no easy feat as platforms like Facebook and YouTube have shown. Although automated systems can identify straightforwardly offensive words, they often fail to consider the context and nuance of certain insults and threats. Online toxicity comes in many, constantly evolving forms that can be difficult for even the most advanced AI moderation systems to spot.

“While we recognize that solutions like Bleep don’t erase the problem, we believe it’s a step in the right direction, giving gamers a tool to control their experience,” Intel’s Roger Chandler said during its GDC demonstration. Intel says it hopes to release Bleep later this year, and adds that the technology relies on its hardware accelerated AI speech detection, suggesting that the software may rely on Intel hardware to run.

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Categories
Tech News

The Winston Privacy Filter crushes the ads, trackers, and data theft that’s strangling your home WiFi

TLDR: The Winston Privacy Filter cloaks all your home WiFi traffic, blocking ads, trackers and other data collection while encrypting all your web activity to make you virtually invisible online.

You might think most of your home WiFi bandwidth is eaten up by media consumption like streaming video, podcasts, or that 6-hour YouTube binge. It plays its part, but what’s actually taking up almost half of your home internet activity is junk you didn’t ask for and, in most cases, really don’t want.

Stuff like ads. And trackers. And cookies. And logging. And telemetry services. All this online stuff that website owners and marketers use to try and geo-target you and all your buying habits. They tax your device CPU, slow down the time it takes to render pages in your browser, and just create way more communication between your devices and the web than you need. In fact, you don’t need almost any of it.

Winston can save you. It’s the always-enthusiastic bouncer who stands guard over your entire home network, ready to lay the smack down on any and all ads, trackers, and other unnecessary data transfers that slow down your web connection and make users and their vital information vulnerable. Right now, the Winston Privacy Filter is available for $20 off the regular price at only $179 from TNW Deals.

Winston is a hardware device that installs between your home modem and ISP router, then throws a blanket of protection over every device in your network, blocking ads, trackers, and data transfers that slow your web access and steal your data. And Winston doesn’t just safeguard laptops and phones. It’s covering every web-enabled device in your house, including smart TV, smart thermostats, smart refrigerators…everything.

But Winston is more than just an ad blocker. The device goes a step further, not only knocking out marketer attempts to catalogue you, but fully encrypting all of the network web traffic, routing over a zero-logging, proprietary distributed Privacy Mesh network that cloaks your location and identity from anyone peeping on your network.

Winston is a beast, swatting back hidden first and third-party tracking cookies as well as sophisticated browser fingerprinting techniques that can track you even in incognito mode. Winston also protects against DNS rebinding attacks, blocks annoying popups, and monitors all incoming and outgoing traffic to help increase your browsing speed. 

The Winston Privacy Filter is also a one-time purchase, so unlike VPN services that don’t safeguard an entire network, Winston requires no subscription fees. Regularly $199, get protected now for only $179 while this offer lasts.

Prices are subject to change.

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Categories
Computing

How to Use a Blue Light Filter on Your PC or Mac

Researchers are continually releasing studies on the potential harm of blue light. When you stare at a screen all day and into the evening, it can affect your sleep and disrupt your body’s natural rhythms. For these reasons, blue light filters are incredibly important.

Whether you are spending your day on a Windows PC, Mac, or Chromebook, you should enable their blue light filter to help ease the strain on your eyes. Desktop screens and laptops typically have a built-in filter you can access, and there are downloadable options in case your computer doesn’t have this feature available.

If you’re looking for a blue light filter for your smartphone, however, there are plenty of great apps you can download from the Google Play Store or iOS App Store.

What’s the problem with blue light?

The reason blue light hurts is purely biological. Sleep is a part of the circadian rhythm, which is the cycle of biological processes that are determined in part by the levels of light and dark exposed to our bodies.

In the most natural setting, which is one where we’re only exposed to sunlight, our retinas sense when the sun descends and the environment grows darker. That induces our hypothalamus to start the process of producing melatonin and other sleep hormones and reducing our body temperature.

When we use artificial lighting to extend our day, however, our bodies get confused, and the various sleep signals are disrupted. Even worse is the blue light emitted by fluorescent and LED lights — like those on our various device displays — which cause us to be more alert and produce even less melatonin.

That’s why using a blue light filter is so important.

Windows 10

Microsoft added a blue light-limiting feature to Windows 10 in the Creators Update released in April 2017. Called Night Light, this feature shifts the Windows 10 display to show warmer colors that reduce the amount of emitted blue light. Turning the feature on is a simple process.

Step 1: Right-click on the Start button and select Settings on the Power User menu. Alternatively, you can press the Windows + X keys and then click Settings.

Step 2: Choose System in the pop-up window.

Step 3: The Display category opens by default. Scroll down on the right and toggle on the Night Light setting.

Windows 10 Night Light Setting
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

To configure the Night Light feature, click the Night Light Settings link located under the toggle. Here, you’ll find options for turning Night Light on immediately, adjusting the strength, and scheduling when it turns on and off.

Windows 10 Night Light Strengh
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

To set the schedule, toggle the Schedule Night Light option to on. Then, you can either choose to let Night Light turn itself on at sunset and off at sunrise — automatically determined by your location — or you can set the time manually by clicking Set Hours and choosing when the feature should turn on and off.

When you first turn the feature on, you’ll notice the color shift immediately. After a while, your eyes will adjust to the change, and it should be less obvious. By reducing the amount of blue light, however, the Night Light feature will then limit the impact of using your Windows 10 PC late at night — you could find it easier to get to sleep, and your sleep might be deeper and more restful.

MacOS

MacOS 10
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

First introduced in iOS, Apple brought Night Shift to Macs in MacOS Sierra in March 2017. As with Windows 10, the feature is easy enough to turn on and configure to your tastes.

Step 1: Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner and select System Preferences on the drop-down menu. Alternatively, click the System Preferences icon on the Dock.

Step 2: Select Displays in the pop-up window.

Step 3:  Click the Night Shift tab in the following pop-up window.

Here, you can configure when Night Shift automatically runs, turn it on until the next sunrise, and set your preferred color temperature. For scheduling, you can let MacOS turn it on and off at sunset and sunrise based on your location, or you can set a custom schedule.

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

As with Windows 10’s Night Light feature, Apple’s Night Shift makes your display’s colors warmer and reduces the amount of emitted blue light. Give it a try to see if it improves your sleep habits and lets you be healthier, more productive, and generally a happier Mac user.

Chromebooks

Chromebook Turn Night Light On
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

Devices based on Google’s Chrome OS have a built-in blue light filter called Night Light. The simplest way to enable this feature is to click on the System Clock followed by the Night Light button on the pop-up menu. The screen is automatically washed with a dark amber hue.

For more control over Night Light, do the following:

Step 1: Click on the System Clock and select the Gear icon on the pop-up menu. This opens the Settings window.

Step 2: Select Device listed on the left.

Step 3: Select Displays listed on the right.

Chromebook Adjust Night Light
Kevin Parrish / Digital Trends

Step 4: Click on the toggle located to the right of Night Light to enable this feature.

Step 5: Move the slider between Cooler and Warmer to adjust the blue light level.

Step 6: Next to Schedule, click the Down Arrow to select Never, Sunrise to Sunset, or Custom.

Step 7: If you select Custom, a timeline appears from 6 p.m. to 6 p.m. Select the duration by moving the start and stop times accordingly.

External displays

Acer Display Blue Light Controls
Acer

While you can change the level of blue light on the software side, external monitors may include a blue light filter you can manage with integrated On Screen Display (OCD) controls.

For instance, press the OCD button on Acer’s SB220Q 21.5-inch display, and a control panel appears on the screen separate from the PC’s desktop. As shown above, it includes options for adjusting the brightness, sharpness, and blue light adjustment. You can manually switch between 50% to 80%. You will get more blue light as you increase this value.

Overall, directly adjusting the blue light level through your computer’s operating system will be more convenient than changing it on the monitor. However, altering the settings on the side of your monitor could be a far more straightforward approach if you’re using the same monitor for several different devices.

Third-party alternatives

F.lux

F.lux is an innovative third-party alternative to adjusting your monitor’s color levels. This tech carefully monitors the sunlight level in your area and adjusts your screen’s color temperature accordingly. It’s available for free for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. You can also pair this tool with a smart lighting system and use it to adjust the lights in your home. To opt-out of the feature, you can turn the app off whenever by toggling a switch.

Iris Mini

The Iris Mini is an impressive, ultra-lightweight blue-light filter application. It’s a streamlined option; there are no UI, buttons, or extra steps. The feature can automatically adjust the color on your monitor to prevent effects from glare or blue light. You can change settings manually or rely on Iris Mini’s automatic feature. The automatic mode evaluates the time of day and adjusts colors accordingly. There are versions available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Editors’ Choice




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