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Mark Zuckerberg wanted Facebook to ‘inflict pain’ on Apple: report

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Mark Zuckerberg wanted Facebook to 'inflict pain' on Apple: report

Apple’s public jabs at Facebook rankled CEO Mark Zuckerberg so much that he once said the social network needed “to inflict pain” on the iPhone maker, according to a report.

The reported comment was a harbinger of a bitter feud between the two tech titans that’s recently burst into public view after simmering behind the scenes for years.

Zuckerberg expressed his desire for vengeance after Apple chief Tim Cook panned Facebook’s data collection practices amid the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

Asked how he would respond to the revelation that the political consulting firm had misused data from millions of Facebook users, Cook simply said he “wouldn’t be in this situation.”

In his public retort, Zuckerberg called Cook’s comment “glib” and “not at all aligned with the truth.” But he later seethed in a private meeting that Facebook needed to strike back at Apple for treating the social media giant so poorly, the Journal reported Saturday, citing people familiar with the exchange.

It’s unclear when exactly that meeting took place and what its purpose was. But it was just one episode in a battle over privacy, commerce and corporate responsibility that’s heated up over Apple’s efforts to prevent apps from secretly tracking people’s data.

Apple has said it will roll out changes to its iOS 14 software this spring requiring app developers to explicitly ask users for permission to track their data. Facebook has aggressively fought the move with an ad campaign arguing that the changes could hurt small businesses and kill the “free internet.”

Zuckerberg even criticized them on Facebook’s earnings call last month, saying they “clearly track [Apple’s] competitive interests.”

Facebook spokeswoman Dani Lever dismissed the idea that the spat was personal, saying it was in fact about “the future of the free internet.”

“Apple is creating two sets of rules — one for themselves and one for small businesses, app developers, and consumers who lose out,” Lever said in a statement. “Apple claims this is about privacy, but it’s about profit, and we’re joining others to point out their self-preferencing, anti-competitive behavior.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

With Post wires

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Twitch gamer Sodapoppin quits fake GTA jobs: ‘It’s too much’

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Twitch gamer Sodapoppin quits fake GTA jobs: 'It’s too much'

Sometimes being a fake fast-food restaurant manager can be as taxing as being a real one.

This is especially true when you also have pretend side gigs managing a virtual casino and a vineyard while engaging in a wide range of criminal activities and violent altercations – including bribing law enforcement and fighting aliens who want to control your mind — that exist only in the all-consuming Grand Theft Auto (GTA for short) role-playing game.

The multitasking streamer in question, Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris, whose game-name is Kevin Whipaloo, announced Sunday that he is quitting his fake jobs and forsaking his imaginary life of crime.

“It got overwhelming to the point I don’t enjoy it anymore,” the 27-year-old said via livestream on Twitch, a streaming platform made popular by gamers. “I overestimated myself, and I don’t like it anymore.”

To those in the GTA world, Sodapoppin’s departure is a big deal. He has an enormous online presence thanks to his over-the-top personality, mad gaming skills and a willingness to do stupid things (twerking, being bullied by his dog, peeing on himself and getting yelled at by his dad, and writing all over his face with a Sharpie). There are 570,000 Twitter followers who hang on his every post. He has one of the largest Twitch fan bases out there — 6.2 million strong, with some 350 million views — and his YouTube channel subscribers top 1 million.

He made a name for himself as a topflight World of Warcraft player who began streaming his play on Twitch in 2012. Then, he showed off his blackjack prowess (or lack thereof) by gambling via online casinos and once dropping $5,000 on one hand as 43,000 fans stood witness through Twitch. Most recently, he handled his array of Grand Theft jobs and cackled his way through role-playing sessions on Twitch.

The problem, as he announced Sunday, is that all the fake jobs began to seem too much like real work. Maybe he was gamed by the game, but as reported on Kotaku, Sodapoppin has tendered his resignation (for real).

“GTA RP [role-play], in the position Kevin was in, was a true job,” he said during the livestream. “It was an actual job. It was brutal. It was ‘manager this, manager that,’ f–kin’ ‘employee this, cop problem that.’ I can think of five scenarios I actually got to do whatever I felt like, and that was going on the alien hunt and the couple of times I got to go to the police station. But the only reason I got to go to the police station was because I told my managers, ‘Hey, handle it. Handle the shop while I’m gone.’”

Being a fake wage-slave became such a drag that Sodapoppin hoped to have Kevin killed off in the game. But, as reported on Kotaku, that opportunity never availed itself. So Sodapoppin took virtual matters into his real hands.

“The fault is mainly on me,” said the social-media titan, who made enough money to buy into the esports league Northern Gaming (now owned by the much larger NRG Esports) and shot up his net worth with his own merch. “I simply put myself in a position of serious obligations. It’s too much. I like doing stupid things. I like dumb RP [role-playing]. I like playing with a lot of my friends outside of RP. But when I play Kevin, I’m not in a position to be able to do that because I have employees. I have f–king customers. I can’t just be like, ‘Hey, I feel like going on a bike ride.’ I can’t do that.”

Despite his popularity, Sodapoppin is not alone in realizing the emotional rigors of online gaming. As The Post reported Monday, Snoop Dogg also threw in the towel — but he did it after just 14 minutes of playing EA Sports’ Madden NFL ’21 live on Twitch. His session ended in a “rage quit” after the beloved stoner found himself losing 21-0 in no time. “Look at this s- -t. F- -k,” he is seen venting from the bottom-right corner of the frame (apparently not realizing he was still going out on Twitch). “I came in this room and everything went bad.”

Maybe Snoop Dogg is just figuring out something that Sodapoppin gleefully opined in a 2019 doc about him: “Twitch is a giant, glorified mental hospital.”

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AI panel urges US to boost tech skills amid China’s rise

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AI panel urges US to boost tech skills amid China's rise

An artificial intelligence commission led by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is urging the US to boost its AI skills to counter China, including by pursuing “AI-enabled” weapons – something that Google itself has shied away from on ethical grounds.

Schmidt and current executives from Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Amazon are among the 15 members of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, which released its final report to Congress on Monday.

“To win in AI we need more money, more talent, stronger leadership,” Schmidt said Monday.

The report says that machines that can “perceive, decide and act more quickly” than humans and with more accuracy are going to be deployed for military purposes — with or without the involvement of the US and other democracies. It warns against unchecked use of autonomous weapons but expresses opposition to a global ban.

It also calls for “wise restraints” on the use of AI tools such as facial recognition that can be used for mass surveillance.

“We have to develop technology that preserves our Western values, but we have to be prepared for a world in which not everyone is doing that,” said Andrew Moore, a commissioner and the head of Google Cloud AI.

The group has the ear of top lawmakers from both parties but has attracted criticism for including many members who work for tech companies with big government contracts and who thus have a lot at stake in federal rules on emerging technology.

The report calls for a “White House-led strategy” to defend against AI-related threats, to set standards on how intelligent machines can be used responsibly and to boost US research and development to maintain the nation’s technological advantage over China.

“We believe we are one or two years ahead of China, not five or 10,” Schmidt told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. He clarified Monday that that he was expressing his personal opinions and not necessarily those of the commission.

It’s not yet clear whether President Joe Biden’s administration is on board with the commission’s approach. It’s still awaiting confirmation of a new director for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which Biden has elevated to a Cabinet-level position.

“AI policy tends to be very bipartisan,” said Michael Kratsios, who was US chief technology officer under President Donald Trump and led a push to pump more resources into AI development across federal agencies. The greatest imperative, he said, is that “the next great AI technologies are developed in the West.”

One big difference between the two administrations is likely to be the approach to building AI talent. The commission recommends a more open immigration policy than what Trump favored.

Congress formed the AI panel in 2018 and appointed 12 of its 15 commissioners, with the others picked by Trump’s Defense and Commerce secretaries. A judge later compelled the commission to make its meetings and records more accessible to the public after a civil liberties group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, challenged its secrecy.

It’s been led by Schmidt, who was Google’s CEO and later the executive chairman of its parent company Alphabet. He previously helped lead the Defense Innovation Board, which advises the Pentagon on new technology.

That brought some conflict in 2018 when Google backed out of Project Maven, a US military initiative using AI-based computer vision technology to analyze drone footage in conflict zones. The company, responding to internal activism from employees, also pledged not to use AI in any weapons-related applications.

“I did not agree with the Google decisions on Maven,” Schmidt told senators last week, calling it an “aberration” compared to the tech industry as a whole, where he says there are plenty of companies that want to work with the military. He said AI and machine vision systems are particularly good at “watching for things,” which is something the military spends a lot of time doing.

The commission also includes executives like Safra Catz, the CEO of software giant Oracle and Amazon’s incoming CEO, Andy Jassy, who currently runs its cloud computing division, as well as top AI experts at Microsoft and Google. All four companies have competed against each other for federal cloud computing contracts. The representatives from Microsoft and Google joined other members in approving the final report Monday, but abstained from the section relating to government partnerships with the private sector.

Excluding human rights groups and rank-and-file tech experts from the commission has led the group to more easily frame this policy issue as a “democracy versus authoritarianism” competition against China while skirting more difficult topics, like the use of AI technologies on the US-Mexico border, said Jack Poulson, a former Google researcher who now directs industry watchdog Tech Inquiry.

“The nominal reason to have these tech CEOs on these committees is they’re experts in the technology. But they’re also, subject to shareholder requirements, acting in the interests of their companies,” Poulson said. “They don’t want significant regulation or antitrust enforcement.”

The government-industry partnership may be important for the US and its allies to help set standards for the responsible use of AI, said Megan Lamberth, a research associate at the Center for a New American Security.

“AI has the potential to really transform not only how militaries fight wars, but how economies operate and how societies and people interact with each other,” Lamberth said. “If there’s a gap in leadership, another country is going to fill that void.”

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement Monday that the commission made useful recommendations but it should have gone further by establishing civil rights protections now, before AI systems are widely deployed by intelligence agencies and the military.

The commission asked Congress to make new laws requiring federal agencies to conduct human rights assessments of new AI systems used on Americans. But it didn’t recommend the binding surveillance limits sought by activists.

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Russia launches satellite to monitor climate in Arctic

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Russia launches satellite to monitor climate in Arctic

MOSCOW – Russia launched its space satellite Arktika-M on Sunday on a mission to monitor the climate and environment in the Arctic amid a push by the Kremlin to expand the country’s activities in the region.

The Arctic has warmed more than twice as fast as the global average over the last three decades and Moscow is seeking to develop the energy-rich region, investing in the Northern Sea Route for shipping across its long northern flank as ice melts.

The satellite successfully reached its intended orbit after being launched from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur cosmodrome by a Soyuz rocket, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, said in a post on Twitter.

Russia plans to send up a second satellite in 2023 and, combined, the two will offer round-the-clock, all-weather monitoring of the Arctic Ocean and the surface of the Earth, Roscosmos said.

The Arktika-M will have a highly elliptical orbit that passes high over northern latitudes allowing it to monitor northern regions for lengthy periods before it loops back down under Earth.

At the right orbit, the satellite will be able to monitor and take images every 15-30 minutes of the Arctic, which can’t be continuously observed by satellites that orbit above the Earth’s equator, Roscosmos said.

The satellite will also be able to retransmit distress signals from ships, aircraft or people in remote areas as part of the international Cospas-Sarsat satellite-based search and rescue program, Roscosmos said.

“As more activity takes place in the Arctic and as it moves into higher latitudes, improving weather and ice forecasting abilities is crucial,” said Mia Bennett, a geographer at the University of Hong Kong.

“There is also an element of data nationalism that is feeding into all this. Countries, especially those that see themselves as space powers, want to be able to rely on their own satellites and data to inform their activities, whether commercial or military in nature,” she said.

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