Portland Approves 10% Cap On Fees That Food Delivery Apps Can Charge Restuarants

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Oregon Live: The Portland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to make it illegal for third-party food delivery services like DoorDash and Grubhub to collect more than 10% in commission fees from city restaurants amid the coronavirus pandemic. Portland joins other cities, including Seattle, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, that have instituted similar caps in recent months. Those cities have limits at 15%. New Jersey last week put a 10% service fee cap that applies to all restaurants in the state. Food delivery company fees can be as high as 30%.

The new rule also makes it illegal for DoorDash, Uber Eats and other companies to decrease payments to delivery workers in order to make up lost money from restaurant fees, the ordinance said. The city council approved an amendment to the order Wednesday to also include a 5% limit if the delivery service allows a restaurant to transport their own food or if a customer orders through the app and picks up their items at the business. The restrictions would end 90 days after Portland’s state of emergency order lifts. No date has been set to lift the order, which has been in place since March 12. Delivery app companies would be liable for up to $500 in civil penalties if the order is violated and the fine would accrue every day and for every restaurant overcharged. The restaurant would have to sue the company involved if they aren’t given refunds.

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AI Researchers Create Testing Tool To Find Bugs in NLP From Amazon, Google, and Microsoft

AI researchers have created a language-model testing tool that discovers major bugs in commercially available cloud AI offerings from Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Yesterday, a paper detailing the CheckList tool received the Best Paper award from organizers of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) conference. From a report: NLP models today are often evaluated based on how they perform on a series of individual tasks, such as answering questions using benchmark data sets with leaderboards like GLUE. CheckList instead takes a task-agnostic approach, allowing people to create tests that fill in cells in a spreadsheet-like matrix with capabilities (in rows) and test types (in columns), along with visualizations and other resources. Analysis with CheckList found that about one in four sentiment analysis predictions by Amazon’s Comprehend change when a random shortened URL or Twitter handle is placed in text, and Google Cloud’s Natural Language and Amazon’s Comprehend makes mistakes when the names of people or locations are changed in text. “The [sentiment analysis] failure rate is near 100% for all commercial models when the negation comes at the end of the sentence (e.g. ‘I thought the plane would be awful, but it wasn’t’), or with neutral content between the negation and the sentiment-laden word,” the paper reads.

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Unreal’s new iPhone app does live motion capture with Face ID sensors

Unreal Engine developer Epic Games has released Live Link Face, an iPhone app that uses the front-facing 3D sensors in the phone to do live motion capture for facial animations in 3D projects like video games, animations, or films.

The app uses tools from Apple’s ARKit framework and the iPhone’s TrueDepth sensor array to stream live motion capture from an actor looking at the phone to 3D characters in Unreal Engine running on a nearby workstation. It captures facial expressions as well as head and neck rotation.

Live Link Face can stream to multiple machines at once, and “robust timecode support and precise frame accuracy enable seamless synchronization with other stage components like cameras and body motion capture,” according to Epic’s blog post announcing the app. Users get a CSV of raw blendshape data and an MOV from the phone’s front-facing video camera, with timecodes.

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Source: Tech – Ars Technica

Chrome and Firefox Are Getting Support For the New AVIF Image Format

The new lightweight and royalty-free AVIF image format is coming to web browsers. Work is almost complete on adding AVIF support to Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. From a report: The new image format is considered one of the lightest and most optimized image compression formats, and has already gained praise from companies such as Netflix, which considers it superior to existing image formats such as JPEG, PNG, and even the newer WebP. The acronym of AVIF stands for AV1 Image File Format. As its name hints, AVIF is based on AV1, which is a video codec that was developed in 2015, following a collaboration between Google, Cisco, and Xiph.org (who also worked with Mozilla). At the time, the three decided to pool their respective in-house video codecs (VPX, Thor, and Daala) to create a new one (AV1) that they planned to offer as an open-source and royalty-free alternative to all the commercial video codecs that had fragmented and clogged the video streaming market in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

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TikTok Traders Are Pumping Joke Cryptocurrency Dogecoin — and the Price is Up 95%

Day traders on viral video app TikTok are encouraging people to speculate on a joke cryptocurrency called Dogecoin. Based on an old Internet meme — an overly sincere and whimsically grammar-challenged Shiba Inu dog — the digital coin was developed as a Bitcoin-spinoff in 2013, after which it quickly rose to prominence as a gag. From a report: The shenanigans of the cryptocurrency-pumpers appear to be working, at least for now. The price of Dogecoin has nearly doubled since July 6th, rising 95% to $0.00448 from $0.0023, according to data from OnChainFX, a cryptocurrency data tracker. The price of Dogecoin peaked in January 2018 at $0.013 before promptly crashing. It appears a flood of stuck-at-home market hypers is behind the push to hype the cryptocurrency. “Go invest in Dogecoin, make me rich,” wrote one pumper. “They cant stop us all,” encouraged another. Yet one more: “worth it. i swear #stocks #coins #dogecoin #money”

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Google Campus Security Singled Out Black, Latinx Employees

Google’s campus security system subjected Black and Latinx workers to bias and prompted complaints to management, Bloomberg News reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the situation, leading the company to scrap a key part of the approach. From a report: The internet giant encouraged employees to check colleagues’ ID badges on campus, and asked security staff to do the same. This went beyond the typical corporate office system where workers swipe badges to enter. The policy was designed to prevent unauthorized visitors and keep Google’s open work areas safe. But some staffers told management that Black and Latinx workers had their badges checked more often than other employees, according to the people, who experienced this themselves or saw friends and colleagues go through it. As a result, these employees felt policed on campus in a similar way that they are under suspicion elsewhere in life, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the issue. It’s an example of the unconscious, or overlooked, biases that make working in Silicon Valley harder for minorities, the people added.

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Australia, UK Open Probe Into Clearview Over Data Privacy

Australian and British privacy regulators opened a joint probe into Clearview AI, saying they want to examine how the company’s facial-recognition technology uses people’s data, just days after the company suspended operations in Canada. From a report: The Australian Information Commissioner and the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office said they will focus on the company’s use of “scraped” data and biometrics of individuals. Clearview is facing growing scrutiny of the billions of images it has scraped from social media platforms and how the New York-based company shares those with law enforcement agencies. It suspended a contract with its last Canadian client, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, after regulators there said they were investigating allegations Clearview collected personal information without consent and shared it with police. Clearview will cooperate with the U.K. and Australian regulators, Chief Executive Officer Hoan Ton-That said in a statement. The company searches publicly available photos from the Internet in accordance with applicable laws, he said.

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Will Astronauts Ever Visit Gas Giants Like Jupiter?

Trying to get an up close and personal look at the solar system’s gas giants is a tricky and dangerous journey. From a report: Jupiter, like the other gas giants, doesn’t have a rocky surface, but that doesn’t mean it’s just a massive cloud floating through the vacuum of space. It’s made up of mostly helium and hydrogen, and as you move from the outer layers of the atmosphere toward the deeper parts, that gas grows denser and the pressures become more extreme. Temperatures quickly rise. In 1995, NASA’s Galileo mission sent a probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere; it broke up at about 75 miles in depth. Pressures here are over 100 times more intense than anything on Earth. At the innermost layers of Jupiter that are 13,000 miles deep, the pressure is 2 million times stronger than what’s experienced at sea level on Earth, and temperatures are hotter than the sun’s surface.

So clearly, no human is going to be able to venture too far down into Jupiter’s depths. But would it be safe to simply orbit the planet? Perhaps we could establish an orbital space station, right? Well, there’s another big problem when it comes to Jupiter: radiation. The biggest planet in the solar system also boasts its most powerful magnetosphere. These magnetic fields charge up particles in the vicinity, accelerating them to extreme speeds that can fry a spacecraft’s electronics in moments. Spaceflight engineers have to figure out an orbit and spacecraft design that will reduce the exposure to this radiation. NASA figured this out with the triple-arrayed, perpetually spinning Juno spacecraft, but it doesn’t look as if this would be a feasible design for a human spacecraft. Instead, for a crewed spacecraft to safely orbit or fly past Jupiter, it would have to keep a pretty significant distance away from the planet.

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Frontier misled subscribers about Internet speeds and prices, AG finds

A Frontier Communications service van parked in a snowy area.

Enlarge / A Frontier Communications service van. (credit: Mike Mozart / Flickr)

Frontier Communications misled thousands of customers about the prices it charges and about the speeds its broadband network can provide, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has found.

The state’s investigation of Frontier’s business practices found evidence of the telecom “failing to adequately disclose taxes and fees during sales of cable, Internet, and telephone services; failing to adequately disclose its Internet Infrastructure Surcharge fee in advertising; misleading consumers by implying that the Internet Infrastructure Surcharge and other fees are mandatory and/or government-related fees; and misleading consumers as to Internet speeds it could offer, and failing to deliver speeds and service as advertised.”

The findings are described in a settlement that will force Frontier Communications to pay a $900,000 fine and force the new owner of Frontier’s network in Washington state to change its business practices. Among other things, the settlement requires Frontier’s current owner in Washington to stop charging the $3.99-per-month Internet Infrastructure Surcharge. The company “neither admits nor denies the State’s findings.” The settlement still needs court approval before it can take effect.

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