Microsoft says humans will still transcribe Cortana and Skype audio

The company amended its privacy policy and other pages to make it clear human workers are listening to recorded conversations and commands to improve the services. “We realized, based on questions raised recently, that we could do a better job specifying that humans sometimes review this content,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Motherboard, which spotted the policy tweaks.

“Our processing of personal data for these purposes includes both automated and manual (human) methods of processing,” the updated policy reads. Before the change, it wasn’t clear from the policy or Skype Translator FAQ that people were listening in — Skype only records voice conversations when translation features are enabled.

The company states on several pages that it uses voice data and recordings to improve speech recognition, translation, intent understanding and more across Microsoft products and services. “This may include transcription of audio recordings by Microsoft [...]  read more

Humans are listening to some of your Skype calls and Cortana interactions

Some of our worst assumptions about smart speakers, digital assistants and internet phone services are coming true, as Microsoft has admitted that both Microsoft employees and contractors may listen to your Skype calls and voice interactions with its Cortana digital assistant.

The confirmation comes a week after Vice’s Motherboard discovered that Microsoft has hired contractors to listen to the calls and voice interactions of Skype and Cortana users, respectively. The details gathered, according to Motherboard, include “sensitive and personal conversations of Microsoft customers.”

“We realized, based on questions raised recently, that we could do a better job specifying that humans sometimes review this content,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Motherboard.

Prior to this change, Microsoft’s privacy policies did not make this distinction clear. Now, [...]  read more

Microplastics Are Blowing Into the Pristine Arctic

Welcome to the year of the plastic menace, a nonstop flow of terrible news about how the ocean and its organisms are choking on macroplastic, while microplastic particles—bits less than 5 millimeters long—are wafting their way to supposedly pristine mountaintops in Europe. It seems nowhere is safe from microplastic pollution, not even Monterey Bay in California, which otherwise is one of the greatest conservation success stories in history.

Now there’s yet another reckoning over humanity’s hopeless addiction to plastic. Researchers and citizen scientists collected snow from two dozen locations, ranging from remote Arctic ice floes (floating chunks of ice, essentially) and the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard to northern Germany and the Bavarian Alps. The results are devastating: In its highest concentrations in Bavarian snow, microplastic particles numbered 150,000 per liter. In Arctic snow, the highest sampling was less at 14,000 per liter, but perhaps even more horrifying [...]  read more

Comune, lotta allo smog: nuovi contributi ai privati per risparmio energetico e tetti verdi

Abbattimento del 45% delle concentrazioni di Pm 10 e NOx, riduzione del CO2 entro il 2030 e azzeramento entro il 2050 attraverso la progressiva eliminazione dei combustibili fossili per Milano `Carbon neutral´. Sono gli obiettivi che l’Amministrazione comunale intende raggiungere anche attraverso la concessione di contributi ai privati sempre più mirati ed efficaci per il cambiamento. Per questo nei giorni scorsi sono state rinnovate e ulteriormente semplificate le linee di indirizzo del bando `Be 2018´ per la concessione di finanziamenti a favore di opere di miglioramento dell’efficienza energetica degli edifici privati. Fra le novità più importanti, il rinnovo del bando prevede il raddoppio del contributo economico per chi passa da un impianto di riscaldamento alimentato da carbone fossile a sistemi di teleriscaldamento, pompe di calore o pannello solare `Carbon neutral´. Seconda novità la promozione interventi di depavimentazione di aree esterne [...]  read more

A mysterious AMD Threadripper CPU appears in leaked Geekbench result

We’ve been sitting, waiting for 3rd Generation Threadripper processors to appear, but we might have finally seen one of these HEDT Castle Lake processors appear in a leaked Geekbench result.

This leak was spotted by the folks over at TechPowerUp, and it references a mysterious ‘Sharkstooth’ processor. Now, previously we’ve heard these chips referenced as Castle Peak, but because this is a 32-core chip with a 3.6 GHz boost, it doesn’t match any of the recently-announced Epyc processors. So, if this chip is actually a real thing, it would have to be Threadripper. 

As for how this alleged Threadripper 3rd Generation processor performed in this leaked benchmark, it scored a whopping 94,772 points in the GeekBench multi-core test. For comparison’s sake, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX scores 82,678 points, as noted by  [...]  read more