AuthorTopic: Things That Make Me Say, "Dafuq?"  (Read 5616 times)

Offline Surly1

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The Purge of AI-Assisted Fake Porn Has Begun
« Reply #75 on: January 31, 2018, 11:21:29 AM »
Who knew this was even a thing?

The Purge of AI-Assisted Fake Porn Has Begun

The Purge of AI-Assisted Fake Porn Has Begun

Photo: Getty

It was only a matter of time before more sophisticated fake porn videos surfaced online. But a crackdown on this super-realistic fake porn is already beginning.

Reddit and Gfycat, two popular platforms where users have been uploading the fake porn, have begun to eradicate the manipulated smut, which is often so convincing that it blurs the contours of reality itself.

 

This type of fake porn, also referred to as deepfakes, involves mapping someone else’s face onto a porn star’s body. While fake porn has existed for years, free and more powerful tools using artificial intelligence now afford trolls a way to create more realistic videos, given they have enough images of their victim to recreate a scene. The Deepfakes subreddit dedicated to this type of content has thousands of users who often use celebrity faces, though the practice has also evolved to include classmates and former partners. These are often done without the person’s permission.

As the Next Web pointed out on Wednesday, some of these videos and GIFs are being removed from some of the more popular sites hosting them after news outlets began reporting on the trend. “I just noticed that […] my upload yesterday was deleted, could be a copyright issue,” a Reddit user wrote, according to the Next Web. “I don’t think it’s copyright since random Japanese idols with little to minimal presence in the West have been removed,” another redditor reportedly wrote, “[e]ven the botched ones that have no resemblance to any human being are gone. That suggests someone from [G]fycat proactively removed all the gifs linked here.”

Another Redditor posted in Deepfakes last night, noting that older Gfycat links had been removed from the site. “Seems like a targeted purge, so people should avoid using the website,” they wrote. “Anyone who posted a link before should try and rehost as well.”

In a statement emailed to Gizmodo, Gfycat confirmed that it is proactively purging its platform of deepfakes. Gfycat’s terms of service doesn’t have an explicit policy on revenge porn, but it does prohibit any content that is “unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, excessively violent, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable.” The company’s spokesperson said deepfakes clearly violate the site’s rules.

“Our terms of service allow us to remove content we find objectionable,” the Gyfcat spokesperson said. “We find this content objectionable and are actively removing it from our platform.”

Reddit hasn’t yet responded to our request for comment, but deepfakes are likely a violation of the site’s terms of service as well. Reddit clearly states that unwelcome content includes “the posting of photographs, videos, or digital images of any person in a state of nudity or engaged in any act of sexual conduct, taken or posted without their permission.” Of course, the whole matter is complicated by the fact that the naked bodies in deepfake porn do not belong to the people whose faces are attached to them.

Fake porn videos aren’t just harassing and a gross invasion of privacy—they likely violate copyright laws. To create deepfakes, someone will need hundreds of images of their victim. To collect these, they can use an open-source photo-scraping tool that will grab photos of their victim that are available online. But that victim can request the removal of those images if they are posted without their permission, citing copyright infringement. Both Reddit and Gfycat have copyright infringement policies that state they’ll remove offending content.

Just as advanced fake porn was a predictable outcome of our trollish reality, so was the inevitable backlash and policing. And trolls are already trying to figure out which platforms they can flock to next, posting alternative sites like Russian social networks vk.com and ok.ru for those worried about their videos being deleted. It’s a vicious cycle—and entirely unsurprising.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Eddie

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Re: The Purge of AI-Assisted Fake Porn Has Begun
« Reply #76 on: January 31, 2018, 12:41:41 PM »
Who knew this was even a thing?

The Purge of AI-Assisted Fake Porn Has Begun

The Purge of AI-Assisted Fake Porn Has Begun

Photo: Getty

It was only a matter of time before more sophisticated fake porn videos surfaced online. But a crackdown on this super-realistic fake porn is already beginning.

Reddit and Gfycat, two popular platforms where users have been uploading the fake porn, have begun to eradicate the manipulated smut, which is often so convincing that it blurs the contours of reality itself.

This type of fake porn, also referred to as deepfakes, involves mapping someone else’s face onto a porn star’s body. While fake porn has existed for years, free and more powerful tools using artificial intelligence now afford trolls a way to create more realistic videos, given they have enough images of their victim to recreate a scene. The Deepfakes subreddit dedicated to this type of content has thousands of users who often use celebrity faces, though the practice has also evolved to include classmates and former partners. These are often done without the person’s permission.

As the Next Web pointed out on Wednesday, some of these videos and GIFs are being removed from some of the more popular sites hosting them after news outlets began reporting on the trend. “I just noticed that […] my upload yesterday was deleted, could be a copyright issue,” a Reddit user wrote, according to the Next Web. “I don’t think it’s copyright since random Japanese idols with little to minimal presence in the West have been removed,” another redditor reportedly wrote, “[e]ven the botched ones that have no resemblance to any human being are gone. That suggests someone from [G]fycat proactively removed all the gifs linked here.”

Another Redditor posted in Deepfakes last night, noting that older Gfycat links had been removed from the site. “Seems like a targeted purge, so people should avoid using the website,” they wrote. “Anyone who posted a link before should try and rehost as well.”

In a statement emailed to Gizmodo, Gfycat confirmed that it is proactively purging its platform of deepfakes. Gfycat’s terms of service doesn’t have an explicit policy on revenge porn, but it does prohibit any content that is “unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, excessively violent, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable.” The company’s spokesperson said deepfakes clearly violate the site’s rules.

“Our terms of service allow us to remove content we find objectionable,” the Gyfcat spokesperson said. “We find this content objectionable and are actively removing it from our platform.”

Reddit hasn’t yet responded to our request for comment, but deepfakes are likely a violation of the site’s terms of service as well. Reddit clearly states that unwelcome content includes “the posting of photographs, videos, or digital images of any person in a state of nudity or engaged in any act of sexual conduct, taken or posted without their permission.” Of course, the whole matter is complicated by the fact that the naked bodies in deepfake porn do not belong to the people whose faces are attached to them.

Fake porn videos aren’t just harassing and a gross invasion of privacy—they likely violate copyright laws. To create deepfakes, someone will need hundreds of images of their victim. To collect these, they can use an open-source photo-scraping tool that will grab photos of their victim that are available online. But that victim can request the removal of those images if they are posted without their permission, citing copyright infringement. Both Reddit and Gfycat have copyright infringement policies that state they’ll remove offending content.

Just as advanced fake porn was a predictable outcome of our trollish reality, so was the inevitable backlash and policing. And trolls are already trying to figure out which platforms they can flock to next, posting alternative sites like Russian social networks vk.com and ok.ru for those worried about their videos being deleted. It’s a vicious cycle—and entirely unsurprising.


That really made me wish I was able to use Photoshop  so I could paste Melanie Ehrenkranz's head on a pornstar body. Just too tempting.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline luciddreams

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Re: The Purge of AI-Assisted Fake Porn Has Begun
« Reply #77 on: January 31, 2018, 02:15:32 PM »
Who knew this was even a thing?

The Purge of AI-Assisted Fake Porn Has Begun

The Purge of AI-Assisted Fake Porn Has Begun

Photo: Getty

It was only a matter of time before more sophisticated fake porn videos surfaced online. But a crackdown on this super-realistic fake porn is already beginning.

Reddit and Gfycat, two popular platforms where users have been uploading the fake porn, have begun to eradicate the manipulated smut, which is often so convincing that it blurs the contours of reality itself.

This type of fake porn, also referred to as deepfakes, involves mapping someone else’s face onto a porn star’s body. While fake porn has existed for years, free and more powerful tools using artificial intelligence now afford trolls a way to create more realistic videos, given they have enough images of their victim to recreate a scene. The Deepfakes subreddit dedicated to this type of content has thousands of users who often use celebrity faces, though the practice has also evolved to include classmates and former partners. These are often done without the person’s permission.

As the Next Web pointed out on Wednesday, some of these videos and GIFs are being removed from some of the more popular sites hosting them after news outlets began reporting on the trend. “I just noticed that […] my upload yesterday was deleted, could be a copyright issue,” a Reddit user wrote, according to the Next Web. “I don’t think it’s copyright since random Japanese idols with little to minimal presence in the West have been removed,” another redditor reportedly wrote, “[e]ven the botched ones that have no resemblance to any human being are gone. That suggests someone from [G]fycat proactively removed all the gifs linked here.”

Another Redditor posted in Deepfakes last night, noting that older Gfycat links had been removed from the site. “Seems like a targeted purge, so people should avoid using the website,” they wrote. “Anyone who posted a link before should try and rehost as well.”

In a statement emailed to Gizmodo, Gfycat confirmed that it is proactively purging its platform of deepfakes. Gfycat’s terms of service doesn’t have an explicit policy on revenge porn, but it does prohibit any content that is “unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, excessively violent, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable.” The company’s spokesperson said deepfakes clearly violate the site’s rules.

“Our terms of service allow us to remove content we find objectionable,” the Gyfcat spokesperson said. “We find this content objectionable and are actively removing it from our platform.”

Reddit hasn’t yet responded to our request for comment, but deepfakes are likely a violation of the site’s terms of service as well. Reddit clearly states that unwelcome content includes “the posting of photographs, videos, or digital images of any person in a state of nudity or engaged in any act of sexual conduct, taken or posted without their permission.” Of course, the whole matter is complicated by the fact that the naked bodies in deepfake porn do not belong to the people whose faces are attached to them.

Fake porn videos aren’t just harassing and a gross invasion of privacy—they likely violate copyright laws. To create deepfakes, someone will need hundreds of images of their victim. To collect these, they can use an open-source photo-scraping tool that will grab photos of their victim that are available online. But that victim can request the removal of those images if they are posted without their permission, citing copyright infringement. Both Reddit and Gfycat have copyright infringement policies that state they’ll remove offending content.

Just as advanced fake porn was a predictable outcome of our trollish reality, so was the inevitable backlash and policing. And trolls are already trying to figure out which platforms they can flock to next, posting alternative sites like Russian social networks vk.com and ok.ru for those worried about their videos being deleted. It’s a vicious cycle—and entirely unsurprising.


This is a perfect example to illustrate why you cannot be sure that any video you watch is depicting reality.  Video is proof of nothing now.  Talk about fake news.  Just about the only reality you can believe is the reality you are able to determine with your senses...and even then only half of that can be believed these days. 

Take Dump for instance.  Just a few short years ago Dump as president was fiction on the Simpsons, not it's reality, and I'm still having a hard time believing it. 

Reality has managed to become stranger then fiction. 

Offline Surly1

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I guess it's a tough gig to be a fox in a henhouse.

Scott Pruitt Says He Had to Spend So Much on First Class Flights Since Backlash to Him Is So 'Toxic'

Scott Pruitt Says He Had to Spend So Much on First Class Flights Since Backlash to Him Is So 'Toxic'

Photo: AP

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, who either denies climate change or thinks it might be good, actually depending on how he feels that day, has done his very best to decimate the agency’s ranks at the same time he’s spent hundreds of thousands in taxpayer money on elaborate security measures like 24-hour guards and biometric office locks. Now, per the New Hampshire Union Leader, Pruitt has an explanation for the $90,000-plus he spent flying on largely-first class seats in June 2017.

It’s that people hate him so much he requires extra security, lest randos jump him in coach or whatever.

“Unfortunately ... we’ve had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe,” Pruitt told the Union Leader on Tuesday. “We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment.”

“We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace and it’s created, you know, it’s created some issues and the (security) detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat,” Pruitt continued. “I’m not involved in any of those decisions ... Those are all made by the (security) detail, the security assessment in addition to the chief of staff.”

As the Huffington Post noted, the EPA has defended Pruitt’s lavish flight expenditures as legitimate government spending, and CNN reported he’s received numerous death threats:

The EPA defended Pruitt’s travel in an interview with The Washington Post on Sunday, saying ethics officials had approved the expenses. Federal regulations state that government employees must “consider the least expensive class of travel” for their needs, but security concerns do allow for more expensive bookings.

CNN reported in October that Pruitt gets at least “four to five times the number of threats” as his predecessor. He’s also the first person in the role to have a full-time security detail at a cost of about $2 million a year.

More threats than his predecessors may not exactly be a Code Red situation, though, as prior agency chiefs did not request anywhere near the same level of security as Pruitt. Former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, a vocal Pruitt critic herself controversial from her tenure under President George W. Bush, told CNN that she felt no need to install elaborate security systems in her office and that cleaning staff could enter and exit with no restrictions.

It’s pretty obvious that sending Pruitt death threats is bad, extremely dumb, and absolutely will not do anything to make him think twice about his relentless crusade against the environmental mission of his own agency. But at the same time, something tells me he’s been reading a little too much about “antifa supersoldiers.”

In any case, perhaps the reason the EPA is suddenly attracting so much negative publicity over the course of the past year is things like Pruitt suggesting that it would be “arrogant” for humans to predict what temperatures are ideal for the continued survival of the species at the turn of the century, or his efforts to deregulate major polluters, or raise radiation safety limits, and various stuff of that nature. Not sure it says that in How to Make Friends and Influence People, though hey, there’s a lot of reading Pruitt should probably catch up on.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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Re: Things That Make Me Say, "Dafuq?"
« Reply #79 on: February 24, 2018, 08:47:26 AM »
Hypocrisy is only a word.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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Re: Things That Make Me Say, "Dafuq?" Another Astonishing Coincidence.
« Reply #80 on: March 02, 2018, 09:51:46 AM »
Trump confidant dumped millions in steel-related stock last week



Carl Icahn has impeccable timing.

Chairman of Icahn Enterprises Carl Icahn participates in a panel discussion at the New York Times 2015 DealBook Conference at the Whitney Museum of American Art on November 3, 2015 in New York City.  (CREDIT: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for New York Times)

CHAIRMAN OF ICAHN ENTERPRISES CARL ICAHN PARTICIPATES IN A PANEL DISCUSSION AT THE NEW YORK TIMES 2015 DEALBOOK CONFERENCE AT THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART ON NOVEMBER 3, 2015 IN NEW YORK CITY. (CREDIT: NEILSON BARNARD/GETTY IMAGES FOR NEW YORK TIMES)

Billionaire investor and longtime Trump confidant Carl Icahn dumped $31.3 million of stock in a company heavily dependent on steel last week, just days before Trump announced plans to impose steep tariffs on steel imports.

In a little-noticed SEC filing submitted on February 22, 2018, Icahn disclosed that he systematically sold off nearly 1 million shares of Manitowoc Company Inc. Manitowoc is a “is a leading global manufacturer of cranes and lifting solutions” and, therefore, heavily dependent on steel to make its products.

The filing came just seven days before a White House event where Trump announced his intention of imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports.

Trump’s announcement rattled the markets, with steel-dependent stocks hardest hit. Manitowoc stock plunged, losing about 6 percent of its value. Reuters attributed the drop to the fact that Manitowoc is a “major consumer of steel.” As of 10:20 a.m. Friday, the stock had lost an additional 6 percent, trading at $26.21.

Icahn was required to make the disclosure because of the large volume of his sale. The filing reveals that he began systematically selling the stock on February 12, when he was able to sell the stock for $32 to $34

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross publicly released a report on February 16 calling for a 24 percent tariff. But, as the chart in the SEC filing indicates, Icahn started selling his Manitowoc stock on February 12, prior to the public release of that report. Moreover, the sharp drop in steel-related stocks did not occur until Trump announced he would accept the Commerce Department’s recommendations.

Before February, Icahn was not actively trading Manitowoc stock. According to regulatory filings, he did not buy or sell any shares of Manitowoc between January 17, 2015 and February 11, 2018. The February 22 filing was required because his ownership stake dropped below 5 percent. Now that he owns less than 5 percent of the company, he is not required to make another disclosure about his holdings until May. So while the latest filing shows him still retaining some stock in Manitowoc, Icahn could have continued selling the stock. If Manitowoc is not listed on the eventual May filing — called a Schedule 13F — that would mean he has liquidated all his holdings.

Icahn, a billionaire investor with far-flung holdings, is a close associate of Trump — who invoked Icahn’s name repeatedly on the campaign trail. Once in office, Trump installed Icahn as a “special adviser,” although Icahn did not not unwind his business entanglements before accepting the position.

Icahn resigned in August, in advance of a New Yorker article which detailed how he used his position in the White House and his connection to Trump to protect his investments:

One day in August, 2016, the financier Carl Icahn made an urgent phone call to the Environmental Protection Agency. Icahn is one of the richest men on Wall Street, and he has thrived, in no small measure, because of a capacity to intimidate. A Texas-based oil refiner in which he had a major stake was losing money because of an obscure environmental rule that Icahn regarded as unduly onerous. Icahn is a voluble critic of any government regulation that constrains his companies. So he wanted to speak with the person in charge of enforcing the policy: a senior official at the E.P.A. named Janet McCabe.

In his resignation letter, Icahn acknowledged discussing regulation of the refining industry with Trump, although he denied seeking to benefit any of his specific holdings. Icahn claimed that, despite being named an adviser, he “had no duties whatsoever.”

In an interview on CNBC on Thursday, Icahn appeared to acknowledge at least occasional ongoing conversations with Trump, saying the two had not had “much” interaction in the last four to five months.

The White House and a representative for Icahn did not immediately respond to request for comment.

This story has been updated with more information from regulatory filings. 

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Eddie

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Re: Things That Make Me Say, "Dafuq?" Another Astonishing Coincidence.
« Reply #81 on: March 02, 2018, 10:44:05 AM »
Trump confidant dumped millions in steel-related stock last week



Carl Icahn has impeccable timing.

Chairman of Icahn Enterprises Carl Icahn participates in a panel discussion at the New York Times 2015 DealBook Conference at the Whitney Museum of American Art on November 3, 2015 in New York City.  (CREDIT: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for New York Times)

CHAIRMAN OF ICAHN ENTERPRISES CARL ICAHN PARTICIPATES IN A PANEL DISCUSSION AT THE NEW YORK TIMES 2015 DEALBOOK CONFERENCE AT THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART ON NOVEMBER 3, 2015 IN NEW YORK CITY. (CREDIT: NEILSON BARNARD/GETTY IMAGES FOR NEW YORK TIMES)

Billionaire investor and longtime Trump confidant Carl Icahn dumped $31.3 million of stock in a company heavily dependent on steel last week, just days before Trump announced plans to impose steep tariffs on steel imports.

In a little-noticed SEC filing submitted on February 22, 2018, Icahn disclosed that he systematically sold off nearly 1 million shares of Manitowoc Company Inc. Manitowoc is a “is a leading global manufacturer of cranes and lifting solutions” and, therefore, heavily dependent on steel to make its products.

The filing came just seven days before a White House event where Trump announced his intention of imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports.

Trump’s announcement rattled the markets, with steel-dependent stocks hardest hit. Manitowoc stock plunged, losing about 6 percent of its value. Reuters attributed the drop to the fact that Manitowoc is a “major consumer of steel.” As of 10:20 a.m. Friday, the stock had lost an additional 6 percent, trading at $26.21.

Icahn was required to make the disclosure because of the large volume of his sale. The filing reveals that he began systematically selling the stock on February 12, when he was able to sell the stock for $32 to $34

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross publicly released a report on February 16 calling for a 24 percent tariff. But, as the chart in the SEC filing indicates, Icahn started selling his Manitowoc stock on February 12, prior to the public release of that report. Moreover, the sharp drop in steel-related stocks did not occur until Trump announced he would accept the Commerce Department’s recommendations.

Before February, Icahn was not actively trading Manitowoc stock. According to regulatory filings, he did not buy or sell any shares of Manitowoc between January 17, 2015 and February 11, 2018. The February 22 filing was required because his ownership stake dropped below 5 percent. Now that he owns less than 5 percent of the company, he is not required to make another disclosure about his holdings until May. So while the latest filing shows him still retaining some stock in Manitowoc, Icahn could have continued selling the stock. If Manitowoc is not listed on the eventual May filing — called a Schedule 13F — that would mean he has liquidated all his holdings.

Icahn, a billionaire investor with far-flung holdings, is a close associate of Trump — who invoked Icahn’s name repeatedly on the campaign trail. Once in office, Trump installed Icahn as a “special adviser,” although Icahn did not not unwind his business entanglements before accepting the position.

Icahn resigned in August, in advance of a New Yorker article which detailed how he used his position in the White House and his connection to Trump to protect his investments:

One day in August, 2016, the financier Carl Icahn made an urgent phone call to the Environmental Protection Agency. Icahn is one of the richest men on Wall Street, and he has thrived, in no small measure, because of a capacity to intimidate. A Texas-based oil refiner in which he had a major stake was losing money because of an obscure environmental rule that Icahn regarded as unduly onerous. Icahn is a voluble critic of any government regulation that constrains his companies. So he wanted to speak with the person in charge of enforcing the policy: a senior official at the E.P.A. named Janet McCabe.

In his resignation letter, Icahn acknowledged discussing regulation of the refining industry with Trump, although he denied seeking to benefit any of his specific holdings. Icahn claimed that, despite being named an adviser, he “had no duties whatsoever.”

In an interview on CNBC on Thursday, Icahn appeared to acknowledge at least occasional ongoing conversations with Trump, saying the two had not had “much” interaction in the last four to five months.

The White House and a representative for Icahn did not immediately respond to request for comment.

This story has been updated with more information from regulatory filings.


Boy would I love to see that rat bastard nailed for insider trading, which is exactly what this is. Probably won't happen though.

To me Icahn is the poster boy for all the bad things about Wall Street and the predatory practices brought on by guys like him being able to borrow endless amounts of nearly free money.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Surly1

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Re: Things That Make Me Say, "Dafuq?" Another Astonishing Coincidence.
« Reply #82 on: March 02, 2018, 10:58:52 AM »

Boy would I love to see that rat bastard nailed for insider trading, which is exactly what this is. Probably won't happen though.

To me Icahn is the poster boy for all the bad things about Wall Street and the predatory practices brought on by guys like him being able to borrow endless amounts of nearly free money.

The odds of Icahn being nailed for insider trading are the same as Devin Nunes being stripped of his House Committee chair by Paul Ryan.
Don't bet the pot stocks.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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National Weather Service Forecast: Cloudy, With A Chance Of Budget Cuts
« Reply #83 on: March 03, 2018, 09:23:55 AM »
Given that storms have been a keen topic of conversation is the last 24, this seems an idea extremely ill-considered. The Trump administration wants to eliminate 355 jobs, and $75 million from the National Weather Service budget. Related: There were 16 “climate disaster events,” according to government figures last year.

National Weather Service Forecast: Cloudy, With A Chance Of Budget Cuts

 
 
 

Forecasters at the National Weather Service office monitor Hurricane Irma on Sept. 9, 2017, at the hurricane center in Miami.

Andy Newman/AP

Last year, according to government figures, there were 16 "climate disaster events" with losses exceeding $1 billion each in the U.S.

So the weather is something to keep an eye on, and since 1870 what's now known as the National Weather Service has been doing that. But for the last several years, it's been doing so with serious staff shortages.

Now, it faces the prospect of permanent job losses.

The Trump administration wants to eliminate 355 jobs, and $75 million from the weather service budget.

"The straw is close to breaking the camel's back right now," says Daniel Sobien, president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization. "That will break the camel's back."

Sobien says there are vacant positions across the board. "Tsunami warning centers are understaffed; the weather forecast centers are understaffed," he says, and places like the hurricane center and storm predictions center "are having big vacancy problems, too."

The employees organization represents some 2,500 weather service workers. And Sobien says right now, 10 percent of the jobs at the service are vacant.

The weather service has offices covering "a quarter of the globe," Sobien says, from Guam and American Samoa to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Caribou, Maine.

Mark Pellerito, a meteorologist and union shop steward at the Binghamton, N.Y., office, says they're down five positions out of 18 total jobs. Weather doesn't take a day off, he notes. The office needs to be staffed 24/7, meaning long hours, a lot of overtime and a family-work balance that is out of whack. "As much as we love our job, which we really do," Pellerito says, "this is something we've been passionate about since kindergarten." But, he says, "we love our families, too, and not seeing them makes it pretty difficult."

Overworked meteorologists can also put the public at risk. Tired people make mistakes, and Pellerito says the National Weather Service is no different. "Perhaps we're stretched thin and we miss a warning. If you're the one who didn't quite get to your basement in time because of that one- to two-minute delay, it dramatically impacts your life."

Gary Szatkowski, now retired, was the meteorologist in charge at the Mount Holly, N.J., office, which provided forecasts for the Philadelphia area, and compares the staffing shortage to driving down the highway with bald tires. "I couldn't tell you whether you're going to get a flat tire in the next mile or you might drive another 500 or a thousand miles on bald tires and not have a problem," he says. "But it's a risky behavior and that's unfortunately the place the operations staff for the National Weather Service has been put in for a number of years."

The Commerce Department, which oversees the National Weather Service, declined to provide a spokesperson for an interview. But in an email, an official said the service plans to hire 80 additional meteorologists by April 1 to address the current staff shortage, and it is working to speed the hiring process, including expedited background checks.

The official said under the proposed budget, the National Weather Service would "begin implementing a series of operational reforms aimed at increasing staffing flexibility," which could mean "reducing operational hours at various offices while maintaining meteorological services through collaboration with other NWS offices," and "making better use of collaborative forecast processes, technological innovation, and a more efficient forecaster career path."

The official says that while the fiscal year 2019 budget would reduce positions by 355, this equates to 217 full-time employees.

Still, Sobien says some offices, including those in San Francisco and Tampa, will have to close on nights and weekends with the result there will be "really no coverage there." He added, "another office will look at the weather for them. It's a dangerous idea. They're risking peoples lives."

It's not clear what Congress will do with the proposed Trump budget. But weather service employees worry more cuts on top of current staff shortages will create the perfect storm at an agency that has been trusted and relied on.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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Re: Things That Make Me Say, "Dafuq?"
« Reply #84 on: April 18, 2018, 12:07:45 PM »
Maybe related to this other thread, maybe not... but it makes me say, "dafuq?"

This comes from a geek site I get push notifications from. Holy algorithm, Batman!


What's a Deepfake? The Scariest Fake News, Explained


by HENRY T. CASEY 

Imagine you could make the President of the United States say whatever you wanted, no matter how incendiary or volatile, on video. That's the new normal, thanks to the frightening world of Deepfakes, a new AI-assisted technology that's becoming ever-more available.

Credit: BuzzFeed/YouTube
Credit: BuzzFeed/YouTube

Yesterday (April 17) BuzzFeed and actor/director/writer Jordan Peele (Get Out) demonstrated the dangerous potential of Deepfakes, with a video where a man who looks just like former President Barack Obama says the following: "So, for instance, they could have me say things like 'Killmonger was right' or 'Ben Carson is in the Sunken Place,' or 'President Trump is a total and complete dipshit.'"

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Deepfake Obama says Ben Carson's in The Sunken Place

The video then reveals Peele as the voice behind the faux-bama, and the two explain that "this is a dangerous time" and that "we need to be more vigilant about what we trust from the internet."

Because, think about it, imagine some troll decides to use Deepfake technology to create a video like this, and uses it to upset or enrage some world leader or person in a seat of great power. The results could be catastrophic.

How do Deepfakes work?

Deepfakes require little more than a mammoth set of images of an individual, which are then processed using artificial intelligence technologies such as machine learning. Soon after the concept came to fruition, a user-friendly app, simply called FakeApp, took those ideas and made them easier for your average troll-next-door to use.

For example, Jordan Peele's production company Monkeypaw Productions put the Obama video together using FakeApp and Adobe's popular After Effects program for graphics editing. BuzzFeed reports it took 56 hours of automatic processing, overseen by a video effects profesional, to get the video right.

The team started by pasting Peele's mouth into an original video of Obama. BuzzFeed's Craig Silverman reports that the video looked clumsy at first, but got "remarkably better" once FakeApp had time to mash the mouth and face together.

MORE: Alexa vs. Siri vs. Google Assistant: Which Smart Assistant Wins?

How can you avoid getting fooled by Deepfakes?

The bad news is that we're only in the infancy of Deepfakes, and the technology can only become more convincing as more and more people work on its improvement.

How fast is this technology moving? Deepfakes first gained popularity last December when a subreddit popped up to show how miscreants were using FakeAdd to swap celebrity faces into adult films. and a Motherboard report documented how one clip wasn't "going to fool anyone who looks closely. Sometimes the face doesn't track correctly and there's an uncanny valley effect at play, but at a glance it seems believable." Adobe's even been developing a "photoshop for audio" dubbed VoCo, but it may never see the light of day.

But back to the Deepfakes of today. If you squint closely at the mouth of Deepfake Obama, you can see a blurred area, that might remind Star Wars fans of how the mouth of Grand Moff Tarkin looked in the film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, since the deceased actor Peter Cushing wasn't there, but reborn in CGI.

Aside from that blur, and Peele's voice not being Obama's, there's little in this video that signifies that it's a forgery (minus the confession at the end).

So, your best bet is to use an old bit of journalistic wisdom and "consider the source." Don't believe your eyes when you're watching social media. Rely less on short videos posted online, and more on the content from reliable publications like The New York Times.

As Peele and Obama say in the video, "It may sound basic, but how we move forward in the Age of Information is going to be the difference between whether we survive or whether we become some kind of f*cked up dystopia."

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"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

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