Ubisoft Montreal went through a terrifying experience this Friday after a major police incident. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported and no threat has been found.
On Friday afternoon, news of a potential hostage situation at Ubisoft Montreal hit Twitter after the police advised people to stay clear of developer’s offices. In an initial tweet, the department tweeted:
There is an ongoing police operation at the corner of Saint-Laurent and St-Viateur. We ask people to avoid the area. The #SPVM is currently validating information and more details will follow. pic.twitter.com/44PjWzsCOh
— Police Montréal (@SPVM) November 13, 2020
A major police operation took place at 1:30 PM, with the area cordoned off from the public. Several employees were seen on the roof of the building with the door barricaded. Eventually, the premises were evacuated while officers inspected the scene.
After the investigation, it was concluded that there were no injuries and no threat was found. The Montreal Police said in a statement, “The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) deployed a large number of resources to answer a call for a hostage situation in a Saint-Laurent Boulevard office building. The perimeter was quickly secured and the SPVM confirms that no threat has been detected and no injuries are reported.”
The police department then added that “an investigation will follow regarding the call behind this important police force deployment.”
Ubisoft Montreal then corroborated the reports, thanking the composure of their employees during the situation. The developer tweeted a statement saying:
— Ubisoft Montréal (@UbisoftMTL) November 14, 2020
Thankfully this situation appeared under-control from the start, and what looks to be a bogus call ended without incident. Hopefully, investigators can get to the bottom of the origin of the call and the intention behind it.
FIFA 21 PS4 Vs. PS5 Graphics Comparison – Forbes
FIFA 21 is available a day early on next-gen systems for fans who purchased the game on the current-gen version. There are a number of gameplay videos surfacing, but most of them aren’t exactly capturing the beauty of 4K gameplay due to system limitations.
Operation Sports’ YouTube channel has not only found the right settings for 4K capture on the PlayStation 5, it has also put together a video that compares the game side-by-side to the PlayStation 4 version.
Take a look in the video below:
Early Impressions: The Biggest Differences
The haptic feedback in the PS5 controller continues to be a game-changer, and that’s especially the case in sports games. In FIFA on PS5, in addition to some resistance in the triggers when you’re controller a tiring player, you can feel a rumble from the eruption of a large crowd in one of the game’s massive stadiums.
It might be one of the most immersive usages of the technology I’ve felt in almost three weeks of gameplay.
The visual differences aren’t quite as noticeable. Closeups of players generate some stunning detail, but from the playable cameras, it’s tougher to see the upgrades. Quite honestly, with a game like world football, this is to be expected.
The gameplay feels solid, but I cannot say that I’m feeling a major difference on that front as of yet.
However, I will hone in on the areas of the game that were said to have be upgraded, and that will be my focus areas in my upcoming review.
Review is in Process
Expect to see a full review of the PS5 version of FIFA 21 by Monday, December 7.
Federal COVID Alert app wasn't working for some users for much of November – CBC.ca
The developers of Canada’s COVID Alert app fixed a glitch last week that left some users without exposure notifications for much of November.
An update to the app released on Nov. 23 said it would fix a “bug causing gaps in exposure checks for some users.” Without the patch, some Canadians running the app would not have been notified if they came in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
It’s unclear how many people missed exposure notifications due to the glitch. But it does raise the prospect that certain users weren’t advised to self-isolate or seek a COVID-19 test in a timely manner, potentially delaying diagnosis.
“For two weeks, the app basically didn’t work” for those users, said Urs Hengartner, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Waterloo.
He and others on social media said their devices had not performed any exposure checks from Nov. 9 to 23. The process — when a smartphone receives codes from a central server and verifies whether the user was potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19 — is supposed to take place several times a day.
WATCH | How the COVID Alert app works
The problem appears to have first been reported by commenters in the Google Play Store as early as Nov. 12. That’s 11 days before it was fixed.
“I noticed today that COVID Alert has done no exposure checks for the last two weeks,” a user wrote in Apple’s App Store on Nov. 20. “What good is this?”
Users are urged to check their app store (the Google Play Store for people with Android devices and Apple’s App Store for those with iPhones) to ensure their app is now up to date. Users who haven’t installed the latest update — version 1.1.2 — could still be missing exposure checks.
COVID Alert is designed to take note when two users spend at least 15 minutes less than two metres apart. If a user later tests positive for COVID-19, they can use the app to anonymously notify contacts of potential exposure.
“Fixed bug causing gaps in exposure checks for some users.” Not the kind of bug you want to see in an exposure notification app. If you use COVID Alert and don’t have automatic updates, you should update right away. My phone hadn’t checked for exposures for two weeks.
COVID Alert has been downloaded more than 5.5 million times and is touted by federal officials as a tool to help slow the spread of the virus. The app is active in the Northwest Territories and all provinces except Alberta and B.C.
During the two-week period in November when some users reported the malfunction, 1,182 people used the app to report a positive test in Ontario alone, according to provincial data.
COVID-19 infection rates continued to rise across much of the country during that time. Ontario, for example, announced lockdown measures in its two most populous regions, and P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador both announced on Nov. 23 they would withdraw from the Atlantic bubble due to increasing case counts elsewhere in the region.
Bianca Healy, a spokesperson for the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, which houses the app’s development team, confirmed in an email Thursday evening that “on some devices, if the app was not opened by the user for an extended period of time, COVID Alert would stop checking in the background for the random codes that would trigger a notification that a user may have been exposed to COVID-19. This bug has now been fixed.”
Healy said the app’s built-in privacy features prevent federal officials from knowing how many users may have been affected.
“We encourage Canadians to update COVID Alert as soon as possible,” she wrote. “They can also open the app to ensure that COVID Alert is checking for potential exposures.”
Hengartner, the computer science professor, said it is “a little concerning that it took two weeks to fix this bug.” He said both he and his wife experienced the same issue.
He called it “a fatal bug for this kind of system,” as it defeats the purpose of the app entirely.
It’s unknown what caused the glitch, but Hengartner said he suspects it was an error in a previous COVID Alert update.
Users weren’t immediately warned
Smartphone users can choose to automatically receive app updates or download them manually. Apple’s App Store lists 14 updates for COVID Alert since its initial release in July.
The Canadian Digital Service, the federal agency responsible for developing the app, tweeted a message on Nov. 26 asking users to make sure they have the latest COVID Alert update. “This will ensure your app is doing what it’s supposed to do, and you’re not missing any checks or notifications,” the message read.
Important reminder: go into your app store, and check that your <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVIDAlert?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVIDAlert</a> app has the latest update.<br><br>This will ensure your app is doing what it’s supposed to do, and you’re not missing any checks or notifications. <a href=”https://t.co/nrMSItWvcj”>pic.twitter.com/nrMSItWvcj</a>
The tweet did not mention that the scenario it described was real and posed a potential risk to some users. It’s unclear what other steps the federal agency took to alert users of the importance of the latest update.
Hengartner stressed the problem should not discourage Canadians from installing COVID Alert.
However, Kelly Bronson, a Canada Research Chair in science and society, said the episode does highlight how the app could provide users with a “false sense of security.” She pointed to “automation bias,” a human tendency to rely on automated decision-making, which can reduce personal vigilance.
Bronson, who serves on the Global Pandemic App Watch program at the University of Ottawa, which tracks the uptake of similar tools around the world, warned the apps “are not a panacea.”
“I think it’s really important that people know the limitations of these technologies,” she said.
Google Scientist's Abrupt Exit Exposes Rift in Prominent AI Unit – BNN
(Bloomberg) — Google’s decision to part ways with a prominent researcher laid bare divisions within the company’s artificial intelligence unit and subjected its leader, the lauded software engineer Jeff Dean, to widespread scorn.
Timnit Gebru, a renowned scientist and one of the few Black women in AI, said Wednesday she was fired over an email she authored expressing dismay with management and the way it handled a review of her research. Gebru had been co-head of the team examining the ethical ramifications of AI.
What followed was a torrent of criticism of Google’s AI division, much of it aimed at Dean. “The termination is an act of retaliation against Dr. Gebru, and it heralds danger for people working for ethical and just AI — especially Black people and People of Color — across Google,” a group of hundreds of academics and researchers, many of them Google employees, wrote in an open letter. Among its demands: that Dean and his colleagues explain their decision-making around Gebru’s research.
The fallout threatens to tarnish the reputation of one of the industry’s leading research shops, a division of Alphabet Inc.’s Google that not only aids development of lucrative products but also contributes significantly to the world’s understanding of AI. And in a company brimming with computer scientists, few have been as revered as Dean. He oversees a sprawling research empire and has publicly championed more diverse hiring in AI and computer science. His programming prowess became the subject of corporate lore and glowing press coverage, including one article that called him the “Chuck Norris of the internet.”
“Ousting Timnit for having the audacity to demand research integrity severely undermines Google’s credibility for supporting rigorous research on AI ethics,” said Joy Buolamwini, the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League who wrote a ground-breaking paper, with Gebru, on racism in facial recognition software. The widely cited 2018 study showed facial recognition software misidentified dark-skinned women as much as 35% of the time — compared with near precision in White men.
Dean and Google representatives didn’t respond to requests for comment. In an email to colleagues Thursday that was seen by Bloomberg, Dean defended his handling of the matter. He wrote in part that Gebru hadn’t followed company policy in submitting the paper for peer review, that it ignored “too much relevant research,” and that Gebru and colleagues made unrealistic demands when they were informed “that it didn’t meet our bar for publication.”
Under Dean, Google has assembled a diverse group of AI ethics scientists with backgrounds in tech and social science, but some of those employees are now wondering if they are free to do their jobs. Inside Google’s research unit, several people openly questioned their future at the company, while others felt compelled to apologize to recently hired researchers, according to a person who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.
“The egregiously aggressive retaliation from Jeff Dean and other senior leaders at Google is indicative of the lack of respect that they have both for Black women and academic freedom and integrity,” said Ifeoma Ozoma, a former Google policy associate.
The controversy came to a head Wednesday, when Gebru, the co-lead of Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence unit, posted on Twitter about her dismissal. She said that the company had demanded she retract a research paper she co-authored that criticized computer language models — including methods Google uses for its search engine and voice assistant.
In an email to colleagues earlier in the week that was also seen by Bloomberg, Gebru accused Dean’s division of not hiring enough women and silencing employees from marginalized groups. She told her colleagues to stop working “because it doesn’t make a difference.” In a subsequent message to Gebru, Google cited that email as a missive “inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager.”
In his Thursday email to staff, Dean said he had accepted Gebru’s resignation after declining to meet her demands about the unpublished research paper. He also mentioned her comments supporting a work stoppage. “Please don’t,” the executive pleaded.
Dean’s email didn’t go over well. On Twitter, Alex Hanna, a researcher on Google’s Ethical AI team, accused Dean of “spreading misinformation and misconstruals” in the email.
“I’m extremely disappointed in @JeffDean today,” Kelly Ellis, a former Google engineer who now works at MailChimp, wrote on Twitter. “Shame on you, @JeffDean. I naively expected more from you,” said Eddie Kay, another former Google engineer.
Dean joined Google in 1999 and climbed its ranks — he’s now one of select Senior Vice Presidents — largely on his software engineering ability. In 2018, he was named the head of Google’s AI unit, widely considered the global leader in cutting-edge efforts like speech detection and image recognition.
Soon, though, that job entailed dealing with controversies. That year, Google staff rebelled against the company’s work on an AI project for the Pentagon. Researchers at the company also spoke out about how bias in AI unfairly targeted people of color in several instances, from Google’s Photo app to the algorithms used in bank loans and police work.
Since then, Google released a set of ethical guidelines for its AI, including barring facial recognition for surveillance. The tech giant set up advisory counsels, which itself struggled to function. It also hired a handful of experts like Gebru, who had worked at Microsoft Corp., and paid them to research topics around AI and ethics.
Gebru was one of five Google staff listed on the research paper at the heart of her dismissal, along with two outside researchers. Emily M. Bender, a linguist from the University of Washington who co-authored the research, said she didn’t know about the issues Google had with the research. “[Gebru] is an incredibly respected leader in this field,” Bender said. “By pushing her out, Google is losing a major asset.”
In the past two years, several internal critics of Google’s approach to AI and ethics have left the company. On Thursday, staff on Dean’s unit referenced these departures as a sign of the low morale on the team. “The chilling effects of the decisions behind-the-scenes continue to haunt me,” Margaret Mitchell, co-head of the ethical AI team, wrote in an email viewed by Bloomberg News.
Dean took a more calibrated tone about the most recent exit. “I know we all genuinely share Timnit’s passion to make AI more equitable and inclusive,” he wrote in the email to his staff. “No doubt, wherever she goes after Google, she’ll do great work and I look forward to reading her papers and seeing what she accomplishes.”
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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