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Hackers spread 23andMe stolen data two months ago

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After hackers advertised a trove of alleged stolen user data on a hacking forum last week, 23andMe is investigating a security incident. However, the stolen data may have circulated longer than previously thought.

Hackers on Hydra, a cybercrime forum, advertised 23andMe user data that matched some of the data leaked on BreachForums last week on August 11.

In an earlier Hydra post, the hacker claimed to have 300 terabytes of 23andMe user data and contacted 23andMe, “but instead of taking the matter seriously, they asked irrelevant questions.” The hacker demanded $50 million for the data and said they would only sell it once, but did offer to sell a subset for $1,000–10,000.

At least one person saw the Hydra post and shared it online before the leak was reported last week. An unofficial 23andMe subreddit user reported the breach the same day as the Hydra forum post.

The hacker posted the alleged genetic data of a senior Silicon Valley executive in Hydra, which contained the same user profile and genetic data as one of BreachForums’ datasets featured last week. The two datasets are structured differently. The datasets advertised on BreachForums allegedly contain one million Jewish Ashkenazi and 100,000 Chinese 23andMe users.

23andMe has repeatedly refused to verify the leaked data. The company declined to comment on this story, including whether it knew about this two-month-old hacking forum post.

Compared some of the allegedly stolen data to public genealogy records published online by hobbyists and genealogists. The allegedly stolen data matches several dozen user profiles and genetic information from public genealogy records, according . This supports 23andMe’s claim that credential stuffing was used to steal data from “certain accounts” by trying passwords for one service that have already been leaked or published online on another service in hopes that the victim re-used a password.

23andMe blames users for reusing passwords and claims hackers broke into their accounts and stole their data, including their relatives.

The company also cited a feature that may explain how hackers collected so much data. 23andMe’s DNA Relatives opt-in feature lets users appear in other users’ accounts.

It’s unclear if all advertised data is real or how much hackers have. Hackers often exaggerate their data to sell it on hacking forums.

Meanwhile, 23andMe has advised users to reset and change their passwords and enable multi-factor authentication. The 23andMe password reset email recipient and non-recipient were interviewed. When logging into 23and me, the latter had to change their password.

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

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Boston Dynamics’ Atlas humanoid robot has transitioned to electric power

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Atlas is immobile, lying face down on a stack of connected gym mats. The only audio accompaniment is the humming of an electric motor. While it may not be completely silent, the noise level is significantly lower compared to the abrupt movements of its predecessors.

While the camera rotates, the robot’s legs flex at the knees. Initially, it is a spontaneous motion that gradually transitions into an eerie domain, reminiscent of scenes from a Sam Raimi film. The robot has successfully changed its position by cleverly rotating its legs, appearing as if it is lying on its back.

Atlas is positioned with its back facing the camera. Currently, the head rotates in a complete 180-degree motion, and subsequently, the torso mimics this movement. The object pauses briefly, allowing the camera to get a clear picture of its head—a circular screen with a ring-shaped light surrounding it. Once again, the torso rotates in alignment with the head’s 180-degree turn as Atlas moves away from the camera and exits the frame.

Boston Dynamics has recently announced that their humanoid robot, Atlas, has transitioned from a hydraulic system to an electric one, following in the footsteps of Bob Dylan.

The pace is rapid, with the steps still somewhat abrupt, although noticeably smoother than many of the recent commercial humanoids that have been introduced in the past few years. If anything, the gait evokes the bold self-assurance of Spot, a relative of Atlas who diverged from the humanoid lineage a few generations ago.

Brand new Atlas

The latest iteration of the robot is nearly indistinguishable. The top-heavy torso, bowed legs, and plated armor have been eliminated. There are no visible cables present on the sleek and slender new mechanical framework. The company, which has successfully defended against reactionary concerns about robopocalypse for many years, has chosen a more compassionate and considerate design compared to both the original Atlas and more modern robots such as the Figure 01 and Tesla Optimus.

The new robot’s appearance is more similar to that of Agility’s Digit and Apptronik’s Phoenix. The traffic-light-headed robot features a gentler and more whimsical design. According to the video, it is referred to as the “All New Atlas.” Boston Dynamics has deviated from its usual practice by retaining the research name for a product that it intends to market commercially. SpotMini was renamed Spot. The handle was transformed into a stretch. Currently, Atlas remains unchanged and is still referred to as Atlas.

“We may reconsider this when we are fully prepared to construct and distribute on a large scale,” states Boston Dynamics CEO Robert Playter in an interview with. “However, I believe that at present, it is beneficial to preserve the branding.”

The executive’s statement reveals the project is still in its initial phases. Boston Dynamics intends to start pilot testing of the electric Atlas at Hyundai facilities soon, with full-scale production following in a few years.

“Starting next year, we will be conducting on-site experiments with Hyundai,” states Playter. “We currently possess Hyundai equipment at our location.” We have been engaged in this task for a considerable period of time. In order to achieve success, it is imperative to possess a plethora of attributes beyond merely possessing innovative technology. In order to justify the investment in a robot, it is crucial to fully comprehend the use case and ensure that there is enough productivity to make it worthwhile.

Performing a complete reversal

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The most remarkable aspect of the 40-second “All New Atlas” teaser is the robot’s motions. They serve as a reminder that constructing a humanoid robot does not necessitate maximizing its human-like qualities. Despite billions of years of evolution, as one investor pointed out in the past, humans have not yet perfected themselves as machines. If we are going to design machines that resemble us, why not construct ones that possess capabilities beyond our own?

“We have constructed a collection of bespoke actuators that are powerful and adaptable, installed at the majority of joints,” states Playter. “The range of motion is extensive.” The compact design of this robot effectively harnesses the strength and agility of an exceptional athlete, allowing us to utilize its capabilities in various applications.

It is important to remember that Boston Dynamics has built its reputation through a series of popular videos over the course of many years. New additions to the canon are equally likely to feature a robot’s dance moves as they are to offer anything truly practical in an industrial environment. Therefore, it is challenging to separate the features that the company considers genuinely functional from those that are merely intended to impress.

Commencing in the prone position, for example, provides an opportunity to demonstrate the impressive reverse crab leg maneuver while also serving a practical purpose. Boston Dynamics proudly demonstrated in the farewell video of the hydraulic Atlas that falling down is an inherent aspect of its function, as is the ability to recover and stand up again. In reality, the majority of the current generation of industrial robots necessitates human intervention in the event of a failure. Conversely, a robot that can autonomously remove dust from its surface and resume its tasks is highly advantageous for enhancing productivity.

The system’s agility significantly enhances its potential for productivity. It reminds me of Agility’s Digit demonstrations (the company is notably the only one of its kind demonstrating systems at this magnitude), in which a robot walks to a shelf, rotates, walks to the conveyor belt, rotates again, and walks back. When you multiply that task by hundreds, or even thousands, per day, you start to realize the importance of saving valuable seconds.

“It will possess a range of movements that surpass human capabilities,” Playter explains. “There will be highly utilitarian applications for that.”

Minimizing the robot’s turning radius is crucial in confined areas. These machines are intended to be brownfield solutions, meaning they are specifically designed to be seamlessly integrated into pre-existing workflows within existing spaces. Enhanced maneuverability could ultimately determine whether one can effectively operate in a particular environment or if the layout needs to be redone.

Cranium and upper extremities

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The hands featured in the video are not newly created, as they have previously been used on the hydraulic model. However, they also signify the company’s choice to not strictly adhere to human design as a guiding principle. The distinction lies in the choice of using three fingers instead of four on the end effectors.

“A hand contains a great deal of intricacy,” states Playter. When using actuators to interact with the world, it is essential to anticipate and ensure both reliability and robustness. Therefore, we intentionally designed these objects with less than five fingers in order to manage and reduce their level of complexity. We are currently investigating various generations of individuals. We desire a grasping mechanism that adheres to regulations and is capable of adjusting to various shapes while possessing advanced sensing capabilities to accurately detect contact.

Internally, the head is likely the most controversial element of the design. The large, circular screen bears resemblance to a vanity mirror.

“It was a design element that we were greatly concerned about,” says Playter. “All the other individuals possessed a humanoid form.” I desired it to be distinct. We desire a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. It offers a range of colors for a visual presentation. Undoubtedly, the object contains concealed sensors, but its design primarily aims to convey a sense of amicability. That knowledge will be crucial for effectively engaging with these entities in the future.

A Christmas Atlas

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The landscape has undergone significant changes in the past decade since the hydraulic Atlas was first introduced. There are several other companies, such as Figure, Apptronik, Tesla, and 1X, that also have humanoid robots like Electric Atlas.

There has been a significant increase in interest from our end. Three significant events, in my opinion, are what have caused the increase. Hyundai paid almost one billion dollars to acquire Boston Dynamics. That really caught everyone’s attention, making them realize there was a way out. Tesla’s expression of interest in manufacturing has confirmed the validity of our long-standing efforts. Furthermore, the rise of AI as a valuable tool in addressing general challenges is making all of this possible. We have taken our time to make this announcement, as we wanted to conduct thorough research to ensure that we can effectively address manipulation issues and have full confidence in our new generation of machines.

Despite Boston Dynamics’ significant advantage in the field of humanoids, Playter mentions that the company managed to assemble the initial version of the new robot around Christmas 2023. Prior to that, it was addressing numerous intricate issues in simulation.

This week, it appears that the company is prepared to showcase the capabilities of the robot, or at least provide a glimpse into its initial plans for the system.

Intelligence in a broad sense
One thing that can be said about Elon Musk is that he consistently makes ambitious commitments. During the initial stages of Optimus’ public debut, when the Tesla ‘bot seemed to resemble a human in spandex, the executive discussed a comprehensive system capable of performing various tasks. Imagine having an Optimus that can handle your factory work, run errands, and even prepare a delicious dinner for you. That’s the aspiration, isn’t it?

The reality is, of course, one that is built upon taking small steps forward. Robotics companies are currently engaged in discussions about “general-purpose humanoids,” but their systems are currently focused on scaling one task at a time. For many individuals, the primary objective is to transport payloads from one location to another. To fully leverage the form factor, a broader level of intelligence will be necessary.

The app store model seems to offer the most straightforward solution. Developer access has indeed played a significant role in expanding Spot’s range of features. According to Playter, Boston Dynamics has a different approach in mind for Atlas.

“We will focus on developing an application rather than creating a platform,” he states. In our experience, the key to making progress quickly is to prioritize a specific application and actively work towards solving any challenges that arise. We cannot rely on others to solve these problems for us. I believe that AI is a crucial component in this context. To ensure the efficiency of tasks, they will be enhanced with AI techniques.

Developers now have access to Spot’s reinforcement learning algorithm, thanks to the company’s recent decision. This work will be crucial for Atlas’ expanding skillset.

Thinking creatively

In order to achieve success, Playter emphasizes the importance of thinking outside the box.

“I believe there are numerous other robots capable of accomplishing that,” he remarks. Humanoids should be capable of handling a wide range of tasks. You have two hands. As a business owner, you need to be able to handle intricate and heavy geometric shapes that a basic box picker wouldn’t be able to manage. And you have to handle a massive volume of these shapes, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. I believe the era of the single-task robot is long gone. Stretch is a unique application where a robot can efficiently navigate and handle boxes.

What other responsibilities will the new Atlas have on the Hyundai show floor, similar to those of a business owner? The company shared a video in February that contains the solution. The video shows the hydraulic version of the robot interacting with the Hyundai parts that Playter previously mentioned.

“With our extensive experience in the field of dynamic mobility, we possess the strength and expertise to handle substantial payloads while ensuring exceptional mobility,” he explains. Being able to handle heavy, complex, and massive objects will set us apart from the competition. The strut in the video likely weighs around 25 pounds. Acquiring wheels: we will be releasing a video later on as part of our comprehensive initiative, showcasing the various manipulation tasks we have been conducting with Atlas using real-world objects. I’m quite certain we have a good grasp on how to handle that aspect, and I haven’t observed anyone else attempting it thus far.

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Scaling up semiconductors: A new processor provides a significant increase in problem-solving speed

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Annealing processors were specifically made to deal with combinatorial optimization problems, such as finding the best solution from a small set of possible outcomes. These findings have practical consequences for handling logistics, allocating resources, and identifying medications and commodities.

Within the realm of CMOS, a specific category of semiconductor technology, it is imperative that the constituent elements of annealing processors exhibit complete interconnection. Nevertheless, the intricacy of this interconnection has a direct impact on the scalability of the processors.

Professor Takayuki Kawahara from Tokyo University of Science has conducted a recent study in IEEE Access. The researchers have successfully created and evaluated a scalable processor that distributes the calculation across numerous LSI chips. On January 25, 2024, the idea was also showcased at the IEEE 22nd World Symposium on Applied Machine Intelligence and Informatics (SAMI 2024).

The goal, according to Professor Kawahara, is to develop sophisticated information processing capabilities at the edge rather than relying on cloud-based systems or performing preprocessing at the edge for cloud-based operations. It was possible to create a fully connected Large Scale Integration (LSI) on a single chip using 28nm CMOS technology with the aid of the distinctive processing architecture that the Tokyo University of Science introduced in 2020. Additionally, a scalable strategy made use of parallel-operating chips, and the use of Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) in 2022 demonstrated its viability.

The team created a scalable annealing processor. A total of 36 22nm CMOS calculation LSI (Large Scale Integration) processors and one control FPGA were employed in the system. This technological advancement facilitates the fabrication of extensive, interconnected semiconductor systems according to the Ising model, a mathematical framework for magnetic systems, encompassing a total of 4096 spins.

 

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Bionics

Highly efficient in energy usage and exceptionally precise – A novel frequency comb has been developed by researchers at Stanford University

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Researchers at Stanford University have introduced a novel frequency comb, a highly accurate measurement tool. This device exhibits distinctive characteristics such as its compact size, great energy efficiency, and remarkable accuracy. Through ongoing advancements, this revolutionary “microcomb,”  as outlined in a paper published in Nature, has the potential to serve as the foundation for widespread implementation of these devices in common electronic gadgets.

Frequency combs are laser devices designed to produce lines of light that are uniformly distributed, resembling the teeth of a comb or, more accurately, the tick marks on a ruler. Over the course of around 25 years, these “rulers for light” have brought about significant advancements in several fields of precise measurement, ranging from timekeeping to molecule detection through spectroscopy. However, due to the need for huge, expensive, and energy-intensive equipment, the usage of frequency combs has primarily been restricted to laboratory environments.

The researchers found a solution to these problems by combining two distinct methods for reducing the size of frequency combs onto a single, readily manufactured, microchip-style platform. The researchers anticipate a range of uses for their adaptable technology, including the development of sophisticated handheld medical diagnostic gadgets and the implementation of ubiquitous greenhouse gas monitoring sensors.

According to Hubert Stokowski, a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Amir Safavi-Naeini and the primary author of the paper, the design of our frequency comb incorporates the most advantageous aspects of emerging microcomb technology within a single device. “Our new frequency microcomb has the potential to be scaled up for compact, low-power, and cost-effective devices that can be deployed in virtually any location.”

Safavi-Naeini, an associate professor in the Department of Applied Physics at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences and senior author of the study, expressed great enthusiasm regarding the recently showcased microcomb technology. This technology has shown promise in developing innovative precision sensors that are compact and highly efficient, potentially suitable for integration into mobile devices in the future.

The process of manipulating light
An Integrated Frequency-Modulated Optical Parametric Oscillator, commonly referred to as FM-OPO, is a novel device.

The tool’s intricate nomenclature suggests that it integrates two methodologies for generating the spectrum of unique frequencies, or hues of light, that comprise a frequency comb. One approach, known as optical parametric oscillation, entails the reflection of laser light beams within a crystal medium, resulting in the formation of coherent and stable wave pulses. The second method uses laser light to enter a cavity, then modifies the phase of the light. This modulation is accomplished by applying radio-frequency signals to the device, resulting in the generation of frequency repetitions that function as light pulses.

The utilization of these two microcomb methods has been limited due to their inherent limitations. The aforementioned concerns encompass energy inefficiency, restricted capacity to modify optical parameters, and inferior comb “optical bandwidth” characterized by the gradual fading of comb-like lines as the distance from the comb’s center rises.

The researchers adopted a novel method to address the difficulty by focusing on a very promising optical circuit platform utilizing thin film lithium niobate as a material. The material possesses favorable characteristics in comparison to silicon, which is the prevailing material in the industry. Two advantageous characteristics of this material are its “nonlinearity,” which enables the interaction of light beams of different hues to produce new colors or wavelengths, and its ability to transmit a wide variety of light wavelengths.

The components of the new frequency comb were fabricated by the researchers through the utilization of integrated lithium niobate photonics. These technologies for controlling light are based on advancements made in the well-established field of silicon photonics, which focuses on the production of optical and electronic integrated circuits on silicon microchips. Both lithium niobate and silicon photonics have built upon the semiconductors used in traditional computer processors, which originated in the 1950s.

According to Safavi-Naeini, lithium niobate possesses distinct characteristics that are not present in silicon, rendering it indispensable for the fabrication of our microcomb device.

Remarkably exceptional performance
Subsequently, the researchers integrated components from optical parametric amplification and phase modulation methodologies. The researchers held specific performance expectations about the new frequency comb system on lithium niobate chips; nonetheless, the observed outcomes beyond their initial expectations.

In general, the comb generated a consistent output instead of brief pulses, allowing the researchers to decrease the necessary input power by roughly ten times. The device also produced a comb that was comfortably flat, indicating that the comb lines located further away from the center of the spectrum did not diminish in intensity. This characteristic enhances the accuracy and applicability of the device in many measurement applications.

Safavi-Naeini expressed astonishment at the comb’s unexpected nature. “Despite our initial intuition that we would observe comb-like behaviors, our intention was not to create a comb of this exact nature. It took us several months to create the simulations and theory that elucidated its primary characteristics.”

In order to get additional understanding of their surpassing device, the researchers sought the expertise of Martin Fejer, who holds the esteemed positions of J. G. Jackson and C. J. Wood Professor of Physics, as well as a professor of applied physics at Stanford University. Fejer, in collaboration with his colleagues at Stanford University, has made significant contributions to the advancement of contemporary thin film lithium niobate photonics technologies and the comprehension of the crystal characteristics of this material.

Fejer (year) established a significant correlation between the fundamental physical principles that underlie the microcomb and the concepts explored in scientific literature during the 1970s. This connection is particularly relevant to the ideas put forth by Stephen Harris, a retired professor of applied physics and electrical engineering at Stanford University.

With additional refinement, the novel microcombs may be easily produced at traditional microchip foundries and have numerous practical uses, including sensing, spectroscopy, medical diagnostics, fiber-optic communications, and wearable health-monitoring systems.

“Our microchip has the capability to be integrated into any device, and the overall size of the device is contingent upon the size of the battery,” stated Stokowski. “The technology we have showcased has the capability to be integrated into a compact personal device, comparable in size to a phone or even smaller, and can be utilized for various practical functions.”

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