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Andrej Karpathy’s introduction to Large Language Models (LLM)

This is a 1 hour introduction to Large Language Models (LLM), the core technical component behind systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and Google’s Bard.

What they are, where they are headed, comparisons and analogies to present-day operating systems, and some of the security-related challenges of this new computing paradigm.

[1hr Talk] Intro to Large Language Models

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How a small plane’s 16-day trip from Vermont to Florida might foreshadow a new era of battery-powered air

NY Times »

Chris Caputo stood on the tarmac at Burlington International Airport in Vermont in early October and looked to the clouds in the distance. He had piloted military and commercial aircraft over a long career, racking up thousands of flight hours, but the trip he was about to take would be very different.

That’s because the airplane Mr. Caputo would fly runs on batteries. Over the next 16 days, he and his colleagues flew the plane, a CX300 built by their employer, Beta Technologies, down the East Coast. They would make nearly two dozen stops to rest and recharge, flying through congested airspace over Boston, New York, Washington and other cities.

U.S. dietary guidelines may soon warn against ultraprocessed foods

Washington Post »

In recent years, dozens of studies have found that people who consume a lot of ultra-processed foods have higher rates of weight gain, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

Nutrition experts say that highlighting ultra-processed foods in the upcoming guidelines could have a significant effect on the country’s diet and national food programs. The dietary guidelines help determine which foods can be served to the approximately 30 million American children who participate in the National School Lunch Program. The guidelines influence the food industry, food assistance programs, and agricultural production.

How Industrially Produced Edible Substances took over your shopping basket, and what are they doing to us?

It’s cheap, attractive and convenient, and we eat it every day – it’s difficult not to. But is ultra-processed food making us ill and driving the global obesity crisis?

Bee Wilson, via The Guardian »

Ultra-processed foods (or UPF) now account for more than half of all the calories eaten in the UK and US, and other countries are fast catching up. UPFs are now simply part of the flavour of modern life. These foods are convenient, affordable, highly profitable, strongly flavoured, aggressively marketed – and on sale in supermarkets everywhere.

You might say that ultra-processed is just a pompous way to describe many of your normal, everyday pleasures. It could be your morning bowl of Cheerios or your evening pot of flavoured yoghurt. It’s savoury snacks and sweet baked goods. It’s chicken nuggets or vegan hotdogs, as the case may be. It’s the doughnut you buy when you are being indulgent, and the premium protein bar you eat at the gym for a quick energy boost. It’s the long-life almond milk in your coffee and the Diet Coke you drink in the afternoon. Consumed in isolation and moderation, each of these products may be perfectly wholesome. With their long shelf life, ultra-processed foods are designed to be microbiologically safe. The question is what happens to our bodies when UPFs become as prevalent as they are at the moment.

Evidence now suggests that diets heavy in UPFs can cause overeating and obesity. Consumers may blame themselves for overindulging in these foods, but what if it is in the nature of these products to be overeaten?

Listen to the podcast version of this article »

UN Secretary-General António Guterres expresses concern over ‘clear violations of international law’ in Gaza [Updated]

via The Guardian »

UN chief expresses concern over 'clear violations of international law' in Gaza

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Speaking at the UN on 24 October, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres alleges “clear violations of international law” in Gaza and urges an immediate ceasefire as Israel pounds the Palestinian territory in response to Hamas attacks.

Appeals for a cease-fire dominated a UN Security Council meeting yesterday.

Israel has legal obligations under international law to abide by during its campaign against Hamas. Israel must not use starvation of Palestinian civilians as a weapon of war or for any reason.

Yet, Israeli officials called on the UN chief to resign after he said that Israel is responsible for “clear violations of international law” and that the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7 “did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.”

More » Financial Times

The UN chief Antonio Guterres’ unedited and full addresses to the Security Council on situation in the Middle East is also available.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said Palestinian civilians ‘must be protected’ during a speech to the UN security council on Tuesday.

Palestinian civilians must be protected, says Antony Blinken

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Updated 2023.10.25

UN secretary general António Guterres said he was shocked by ‘misrepresentations’ of the speech he made on Tuesday at the UN security council in which he said Hamas’s attack on Israel ‘did not happen in a vacuum’. Israel called for his resignation after he made the speech and its ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, accused him of ‘justifying terrorism’.

UN's António Guterres says he is shocked by 'misrepresentations' of his comments on Israel

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Women Peace Security Index for 2023

Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) seeks to promote a more stable, peaceful, and just world by focusing on the important role women play in preventing conflict and building peace, growing economies, and addressing global threats like climate change and violent extremism.

This fourth edition of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Index ranks and scores 177 countries on women’s status. The results show that countries where women are doing well are also more peaceful, democratic, prosperous, and better
prepared to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

This year, nine of the top ten best countries to be women are European, with Scandinavian countries leading the rankings. Denmark leads the 2023 rankings, scoring more than three times higher than Afghanistan.

1 Denmark
2 Switzerland
3 Sweden
4 Finland
4 Iceland
4 Luxembourg
7 Norway
8 Austria
9 Netherlands
10 New Zealand

Continue reading

The intelligence chiefs of the ‘Five Eyes’ security alliance join Dr. Condoleezza Rice on stage to discuss current threats facing democratic nations

The Five Eyes is a coalition of five countries » Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It grew from the 1946 BRUSA agreement, shortly after the end of World War II, to share intelligence and coordinate security efforts. The five member countries have a long history of trust and cooperation, and they share a commitment to common values.

More » FBI | Toronto Star | The Guardian | Globe & Mail | CBC | ABC (Australia) | AFR

Poland shows that autocracy is not inevitable

Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic »

After democratic coalitions failed to defeat nationalist-conservative ruling parties in Hungary last year and in Turkey last May, and after elections in Israel brought a coalition of extremists to power, plenty of people feared that democratic change in Poland, too, was impossible. Against the odds, yesterday’s election has proved them wrong.

Even if you don’t live in Poland, don’t care about Poland, and can’t find Poland on a map, take note: The victory of the Polish opposition proves that autocratic populism can be defeated, even after an unfair election. Nothing is inevitable about the rise of autocracy or the decline of democracy. Invest your time in political and civic organization if you want to create change, because sometimes it works. »

Proving it’s not too late » 72-year-old Sam Kaplan graduates from college while his 99-year-old mom cheers him on

Good News Network »

Sam Kaplan of Lawrenceville, Georgia has added many items to his resume over the years. But on May 11th, in his 72nd year of life, he added a particularly late line item—a college degree.

Alongside classmates 50 years his junior, Kaplan crossed the stage in cap and gown to receive an undergraduate degree in Cinema and Media Arts from George Gwinnett College. His 99-year-old mother was there to see it all and cheered as well as she could.

Kaplan, who graduated from high school in 1969, had not considered college. He went right into the workforce in various roles.

Media Release »

Mastercard should stop selling our personal data


Knowing where you shop, just by itself, can reveal a lot about who you are. Mastercard takes this a step further, as U.S. PIRG reported, by analyzing the amount and frequency of transactions, plus the location, date, and time to create categories of cardholders and make inferences about what type of shopper you may be. In some cases, this means predicting who’s a “big spender” or which cardholders Mastercard thinks will be “high-value”—predictions used to target certain people and encourage them to spend more money

Has Google banned the installation of popular performance benchmark apps like Geekbench and 3DMark on its new flagship Pixel 8 series smartphones [Updated]

Gadget Tendency »

The ban is not absolute, since benchmarks cannot be downloaded only from Google Play, but you can use a third-party marketplace or install them via an APK file. However, the very fact of restricting the freedom of buyers of expensive smartphones does not speak in favor of Google: it is clearly not up to the manufacturer to decide what the user installs on his smartphone.

Elsewhere » Forbes

Updated » 2023.10.16 » Google Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro benchmark block lifted

Cars are fast becoming all-seeing data-harvesting machines – a so-called “privacy nightmare on wheels”

The Conversation »

The researchers looked at the privacy terms of 25 car brands, which were found to collect a range of customer data, from facial expressions, to sexual activity, to when, where and how people drive.

They also found terms that allowed this information to be passed on to third parties. Cars were “the official worst category of products for privacy” they had ever reviewed, they concluded.

The economy has been strong. Why are economists so eager to predict it will tank?

Why are economists so consistently wrong?

LA Times »

El-Erian alluded in his column to the chronic unreliability of economic projections. “By my count,” he wrote, “this will be the sixth time in the past 15 months that conventional wisdom shifts for the world’s most influential economy.”

Why anyone would lend credence to economic projections that get revised on average nearly every other month is a mystery.

Taylor Swift re-recorded her songs into hits. It’s about to be done again.

Bloomberg »

In the four years since the sale, Swift has returned to the studio and released three out of the six albums, Fearless, Red and Speak Now, dubbing each “Taylor’s Version.” Her fourth release, 1989 (Taylor’s Version), comes out on Oct. 27. The success of her other re-recordings suggests this latest album will be a hit, too, because increasingly, when listeners stream Swift’s music, they opt for the new versions.

As of July, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) had earned 1.47 billion on-demand song streams since its release. In the same time, the original album received 680.4 million. Since its November 2021 release, Red (Taylor’s Version) had reached 2.86 billion on-demand song streams, while the non-Taylor version earned 476.5 million, per Billboard.

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