Technology

Happy Puppies and Silly Geese: Pushing the Limits of A.I. Absurdity
Technology

Happy Puppies and Silly Geese: Pushing the Limits of A.I. Absurdity

What is the happiest dog you can imagine? Is it beaming with joy on a celestial plane or frolicking in a field of psychedelic flora?If those images are hard to conjure, have no fear, or perhaps a healthy dose of it: Artificial intelligence can vivify even the most absurd scenarios in vibrant color, and on social media, some are seeing how far it can be pushed.Though A.I.-generated images can often unsettle with their uncanny realism — think the pope in a Balenciaga puffer jacket — many are finding joy in a new form of low-stakes image tinkering. This fall, ChatGPT released an update that allowed people to enter prompts for more detailed images than before, and it wasn’t long before some began to push the chatbot to its limits.In November, Garrett Scott McCurrach, the chief executive of Pip...
A 9-Month Cruise Is TikTok’s Favorite New ‘Reality Show’
Technology

A 9-Month Cruise Is TikTok’s Favorite New ‘Reality Show’

In the last few months, Beth Fletcher, a 39-year-old photographer in Derbyshire, England, built a small following on TikTok by recapping and analyzing the British reality show “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!” When the latest season ended in early December, Ms. Fletcher was at a loss for content because, she said, “we don’t have another good reality TV show on until summer.”Then the TikTok algorithm delivered: a video of Brooklyn Schwetje, a graduate student and influencer, sharing a day in her life on the Ultimate World Cruise, a nine-month-long, round-the-world voyage with Royal Caribbean. Ms. Fletcher was instantly rapt. “I’ve never been on a cruise, and the idea of a nine-month cruise blew my mind,” she said. After finding more videos from other passengers on the cruise, somethin...
Asian American Officials Cite Unfair Scrutiny and Lost Jobs in China Spy Tensions
Technology

Asian American Officials Cite Unfair Scrutiny and Lost Jobs in China Spy Tensions

When Thomas Wong set foot in the United States Embassy in Beijing this summer for a new diplomatic posting, it was vindication after years of battling the State Department over a perceived intelligence threat — himself.Diplomatic Security officers had informed him when he joined the foreign service more than a decade ago that they were banning him from working in China. In a letter, he said, they wrongly cited the vague potential for undue “foreign preference” and suggested he could be vulnerable to “foreign influence.”Mr. Wong had become a U.S. diplomat thinking that China was where he could have the greatest impact. He had grown up in a Chinese-speaking household and studied in the country. And as a graduate of West Point who had done an Army tour in the Balkans, he thought he had experi...
Un estudiante mantuvo en secreto una criptomina de 6 millones de dólares
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Un estudiante mantuvo en secreto una criptomina de 6 millones de dólares

Jerry Yu reúne las características de lo que los chinos llaman un rico de segunda generación. Estudió en una escuela preparatoria de Connecticut. Vive en un condominio de Manhattan que le vendió Jeffrey R. Immelt, exdirector ejecutivo de General Electric, en 8 millones de dólares. Y es el dueño mayoritario de una mina de bitcóin en Texas, que fue adquirida por más de 6 millones de dólares el año pasado.Yu, un estudiante de 23 años de la Universidad de Nueva York, también se ha convertido —sin querer— en un caso de estudio sobre cómo los ciudadanos chinos pueden mover dinero de China a Estados Unidos sin llamar la atención de las autoridades de ninguno de los dos países.El sitio de Texas, un gran centro de cómputo, no se compró con dólares sino con criptomonedas, las cuales ofrecen anonimat...
The First Secret Asteroid Mission Won’t Be the Last
Technology

The First Secret Asteroid Mission Won’t Be the Last

For generations, Western space missions have largely occurred out in the open. We knew where they were going, why they were going there and what they planned to do. But the world is on the verge of a new era in which private interests override such openness, with big money potentially on the line.Sometime in the coming year, a spacecraft from AstroForge, an American asteroid-mining firm, may be launched on a mission to a rocky object near Earth’s orbit. If successful, it will be the first wholly commercial deep-space mission beyond the moon. AstroForge, however, is keeping its target asteroid secret.The secret space-rock mission is the latest in an emerging trend that astronomers and other experts do not welcome: commercial space missions conducted covertly. Such missions highlight gaps in...
Tesla Strike in Sweden Highlights a Culture Clash
Technology

Tesla Strike in Sweden Highlights a Culture Clash

The Tesla technicians who walked off their jobs in Sweden say they still support the mission of the American company and its headline-grabbing chief executive. But they also want Tesla to accept the Swedish way of doing business.They call it the Swedish Model, a way of life that has defined the country’s economy for decades. At its heart is cooperation between employers and employees to ensure that both sides benefit from a company’s profit.Instead, four technicians who walked off their jobs on Oct. 27 said, they have been subjected to what they described as a “typical U.S. model”: six-day workweeks, unavoidable overtime and an unclear evaluation system for promotion.“Just work, work, work,” said Janis Kuzma, one of the technicians on strike.The union representing the Tesla workers, IF Met...
This N.Y.U. Student Owns a $6 Million Crypto Mine. His Secret Is Out.
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This N.Y.U. Student Owns a $6 Million Crypto Mine. His Secret Is Out.

Jerry Yu has the trappings of what the Chinese call second-generation rich. He boasts a Connecticut prep-school education. He lives in a Manhattan condominium bought for $8 million from Jeffrey R. Immelt, the former General Electric chief executive. And he is the majority owner of a Bitcoin mine in Texas, acquired last year for more than $6 million.Mr. Yu, a 23-year-old student at New York University, has also become — quite unintentionally — a case study in how Chinese nationals can move money from China to the United States without drawing the attention of authorities in either country.The Texas facility, a large computing center, was not purchased with dollars. Instead, it was bought with cryptocurrency, which offers anonymity, with the transaction routed through an offshore exchange, p...
Substack Says It Will Not Ban Nazis or Extremist Speech
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Substack Says It Will Not Ban Nazis or Extremist Speech

Under pressure from critics who say Substack is profiting from newsletters that promote hate speech and racism, the company’s founders said Thursday that they would not ban Nazi symbols and extremist rhetoric from the platform.“I just want to make it clear that we don’t like Nazis either — we wish no one held those views,” Hamish McKenzie, a co-founder of Substack, said in a statement. “But some people do hold those and other extreme views. Given that, we don’t think that censorship (including through demonetizing publications) makes the problem go away — in fact, it makes it worse.”The response came weeks after The Atlantic found that at least 16 Substack newsletters had “overt Nazi symbols” in their logos or graphics, and that white supremacists had been allowed to publish on, and profit...
New Jersey Deli Scheme Leads to Securities Fraud Guilty Plea
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New Jersey Deli Scheme Leads to Securities Fraud Guilty Plea

A man involved in a brazen plot to manipulate the stock price of a New Jersey deli’s parent company pleaded guilty to securities fraud on Wednesday.James T. Patten, 64, of North Carolina, admitted to orchestrating a series of misleading trades in an apparent bid to enrich himself and two co-defendants in U.S. District Court in Camden, N.J.Mr. Patten faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $5 million for securities fraud. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.Mr. Patten’s lawyer, Ira Lee Sorkin, said in an interview on Wednesday that attention on the case “was exaggerated beyond any perception — that this was some $100 million fraud involving a delicatessen...
NASA Streams Cat Video From Deep, Deep Space
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NASA Streams Cat Video From Deep, Deep Space

On Dec. 11, NASA engineers anxiously gathered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to view a cat video, wondering if it would be in the pristine high definition for which they had hoped.To their relief, it was. For the first time, high-definition video — this one of a lab employee’s cat named Taters — was streamed from 18.6 million miles away, or roughly 80 times the distance from the Earth to the moon, the farthest ever.The demonstration was part of NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications experiment, aimed at improving the infrastructure for communication beyond the Earth’s orbit. As one example, if humans are to go to Mars, the need exists for larger amounts of data to be transmitted over a longer distance. This demonstration marked another step toward such a possibilit...