The dystopian future you’ve been expecting is here now, at least if you live in New York City, which unveiled a trio of technology solutions to the city’s crime woes this week. Surprisingly, the least terrifying one is “DigiDog,” which seems to be more or less an off-the-shelf Spot robot from Boston Dynamics. DigiDog’s job is to de-escalate hostage negotiation situations, and unarmed though it may be, we suspect that the mission will fail spectacularly if either the hostage or hostage-taker has seen Black Mirror. Also likely to terrify the public is the totally-not-a-Dalek-looking K5 Autonomous Security Robot, which is apparently already wandering around Times Square using AI and other buzzwords to snitch on people. And finally, there’s StarChase, which is based on an AR-15 lower receiver and shoots GPS trackers that stick to cars so they can be tracked remotely. We’re not sure about that last one either; besides the fact that it looks like a grenade launcher, the GPS tracker isn’t exactly covert. Plus it’s only attached with adhesive, so it seems easy enough to pop it off the target vehicle and throw it in a sewer, or even attach it to another car.
Many AI systems require huge training datasets in order to achieve their impressive feats. This applies whether or not you’re talking about an AI that works with images, natural language, or just about anything else. AI developers are starting to come under scrutiny for where they’re sourcing their datasets. Unsurprisingly, stock photo site Getty Images is at the forefront of this, and is now suing the creators of Stable Diffusion over the matter, as reported by The Verge.
Stability AI, the company behind Stable Diffusion, is the target of the lawsuit for one good reason: there’s compelling evidence the company used Getty Images content without permission. The Stable Diffusion AI has been seen to generate output images that actually include blurry approximations of the Getty Images watermark. This is somewhat of a smoking gun to suggest that Stability AI may have scraped Getty Images content for use as training material.
The copyright implications are unclear, but using any imagery from a stock photo database without permission is always asking for trouble. Various arguments will likely play out in court. Stability AI may make claims that their activity falls under fair use guidelines, while Getty Images may claim that the appearance of perverted versions of their watermark may break trademark rules. The lawsuit could have serious implications for AI image generators worldwide, and is sure to be watched closely by the nascent AI industry. As with any legal matter, just don’t expect a quick answer from the courts.
[Thanks to Dan for the tip!]
Unless you’ve completely unplugged from the news, you probably are aware that the long-running feud between Oracle and Google had a new court decision this week. An appeal court found that Google’s excuse of fair use wasn’t acceptable and that they did infringe on Oracle’s copyrights to Java. Oracle has asked for about $9 billion in damages, although the actual amount is yet to be decided. In addition, it is pretty likely Google will take it up to the Supreme Court before any actual judgment is levied.
The news is aimed at normal people, so it is pretty glossy about what exactly happened. We set out to try to make sense of it all. We found a pretty good article from [Michaela Barry] about what the courts previously found. There were three main parts:
- There were 37 API (Application Programming Interface) declarations taken verbatim from Java. This would be like a C header file if you aren’t familiar with Java.
- Google decompiled 8 security files and used them.
- The rangeCheck function — 9 lines of Java code — were exactly the same in Oracle’s Java and Android.
Since our last article covering the Arduino v. Arduino case, we’ve received a couple of tips, done some more digging, and learned a lot more about what’s going on. We thought it was time to share the story with you as it develops.
In short, there are two companies calling themselves “Arduino” at the moment. One, Arduino LLC was founded by [Massimo Banzi], [David Cuartielles], [David Mellis], [Tom Igoe] and [Gianluca Martino] in 2009, runs the website arduino.cc, and has been directing and releasing the code that makes it all work. Most of these folks had been working together on what would become the Arduino project since as early as 2005.
The other “Arduino” used to be called Smart Projects and was the manufacturing arm of the project founded and run by [Gianluca Martino]. Smart Projects changed their name to Arduino SRL in November 2014. (A “Società a responsabilità limitata” is one form of Italian limited-liability company.) They have been a major producer of Arduino boards from the very beginning and recently registered the domain arduino.org.
Around the time of the name change [Martino] sold his shares to a Swiss firm Gheo SA and [Federico Musto] was appointed CEO. Gheo SA is owned and directed by [Musto], who also runs a design consultancy based in the US and Taiwan called dog hunter, LLC.
dog hunter and [Musto] helped develop the Arduino Yun, a mashup of an Arduino with an OpenWRT-compatible WiFi router. dog hunter also runs the Linino.org website to support the Linux distribution that’s running on the router part of the Yun.
In short, on one side is Arduino LLC, run by the original Arduino Five and hosting arduino.cc. On the other is now called Arduino SRL, run by a former co-developer [Federico Musto] who bought out the largest producer of Arduino boards and opened up arduino.org.
[Andrew Ainsworth] has been making and selling costumes based on Star Wars character (some original, and some of his own creation) for several years. Lucasfilm sued him for $20 million back in 2004 claiming infringement of intellectual property rights. He stopped selling them in the US (as it was a US copyright) but now the UK Supreme Court has ruled in his favor, siding with his claim that the costumes are functional items and not works of art.
Good for him, but copyright issues aren’t what interests us here. The BBC clip showing him using a vacuum former to make the Stormtrooper helmet really caught our attention. A bit of further searching led us to find the thirteen minute video after the break showing the entire process, from sculpting the mold by hand, to forming the components, and the final assembly seen above. It’s a fascinating process that makes use want to build our own vacuum former (preferably on a larger scale than this one). It would come in handy whether it’s Star Wars, Daft Punk, or any number of other projects you’ve got in mind.
On April first Sony rolled out new firmware for the PlayStation 3 that removed the ability to install Linux on the system by blocking a feature called OtherOS. Now a class action lawsuit has been filed against the company for its actions. It doesn’t take an attorney to figure out that they removed features that were a major selling point for the system. As mentioned in our previous article, the ability to use an exploit to access the hardware doesn’t mean that every user installing Linux on the system plans to do so. The suit asserts that users had no opportunity to negotiate the System Software Licensing Agreement which is only presented to a purchase after the sale is made. The lawsuit is availble in PDF from from IGN.
Who knows where this one will end up. The suit seeks an injunction against the removal of the OtherOS feature as well as compensatory damages. No matter what happens, we still think the removal was a bad move on Sony’s part.
[Tanya Andersen], the defendant in Atlantic v. Andersen, has finally been paid $107,951 for reimbursement of legal fees. RIAA lawyers had appealed to get the amount reduced and originally offered $30,000 then $60,000, but [Andersen]’s lawyers convinced the judge to uphold the six-figure sum.
This is a significant setback for industry lawyers who often use illegal discovery techniques and have been criticized for using overly-litigious legal strategies to force defendants to settle. Sadly though, the payout only covers [Andersen]’s legal fees and doesn’t offer any compensation for damages, but a counter-suit filed in Portland, Oregon seeks exactly that. Here’s hoping her lawyers [Lory Lybeck] and [Ben Justus] continue to set favorable legal precedents for defendants of these lawsuits.
As far as the technical side of the discovery methods go, there are many ways to keep the RIAA off your back. The simplest is to disable your P2P client’s available file listing or turning off outbound traffic altogether. Other ways are to use encryption (although this is usually to get around ISP blocks) or download to an offsite machine. Hopefully, though, this judgment and eventual payout will make the recording companies reconsider the amount of lawsuits they file and to use less aggressive legal tactics.