At the center of our galaxy, there's a black hole party

At the center of our galaxy, there's a black hole party
Twelve black hole low-mass binaries orbiting Sgr A* at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, appear in this illustration provided by Columbia University, April 5, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 09 April 2018

At the center of our galaxy, there's a black hole party

At the center of our galaxy, there's a black hole party
  • Chuck Hailey of Columbia University has a picture pinned above his desk showing a bright orange and yellow blob
  • Astronomers captured this glow using X-rays

WASHINGTON: The Milky Way’s Center Is A Cornucopia of Black Holes — The Atlantic
Astronomers have long predicted the presence of black holes at the center of the Milky Way, which they said could number in the thousands, and now scientists have found the first evidence of them.
Chuck Hailey of Columbia University has a picture pinned above his desk showing a bright orange and yellow blob — the glow of cosmic gas as it gets devoured by the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. Astronomers captured this glow using X-rays, a versatile type of radiation that is good for seeing through galactic gas as well as human bodies.
Some of the X-ray emissions astronomers detect coming from the galactic center come from this black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, but not all. The rest come from a population of other, smaller black holes clustered in the region.
Hailey and a team of scientists led by Columbia used archival data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, a telescope orbiting earth. Their findings were published in Nature magazine last Wednesday.

 


Alibaba facial recognition tech specifically picks out China’s Muslim Uighur minority

Alibaba facial recognition tech specifically picks out China’s Muslim Uighur minority
Updated 18 December 2020

Alibaba facial recognition tech specifically picks out China’s Muslim Uighur minority

Alibaba facial recognition tech specifically picks out China’s Muslim Uighur minority
  • Alibaba itself said it was “dismayed” a unit developed software which can tag ethnicity in videos
  • Alibaba is the biggest cloud computing vendor in China and the fourth worldwide

SHANGHAI: Technology giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has facial recognition technology which can specifically pick out members of China’s Uighur minority, surveillance industry researcher IPVM said in a report.
Alibaba itself said it was “dismayed” a unit developed software which can tag ethnicity in videos, and that the feature was never intended to be deployed to customers.
The report comes as human rights groups accuse China of forcing over 1 million Muslim Uighurs into labor camps in the region of Xinjiang, and call out firms suspected of complicity.
China has repeatedly denied forcing anyone into what it has called vocational training centers, and has also said Xinjiang is under threat from Islamist militants.
Still, sensitivities have prompted caution among Chinese Internet firms which often self-censor to avoid running afoul of a government which strictly controls online speech, and which last month published draft rules to police livestreaming.
US-based IPVM in a report published on Wednesday said software capable of identifying Uighurs appears in Alibaba’s Cloud Shield content moderation service for websites.
Alibaba describes Cloud Shield as a system that “detects and recognizes text, pictures, videos, and voices containing pornography, politics, violent terrorism, advertisements, and spam, and provides verification, marking, custom configuration and other capabilities.”
An archived record of the technology https://perma.cc/9ZUV-UD2F shows it can perform such tasks as “glasses inspection,” “smile detection,” whether the subject is “ethnic” and, specifically, “Is it Uighur.”
Consequently, if a Uighur livestreams a video on a website signed up to Cloud Shield, the software can detect that the user is Uighur and flag the video for review or removal, IPVM researcher Charles Rollet told Reuters.
IPVM said mention of Uighurs in the software disappeared near the time it published its report.
Alibaba in a statement said it was “dismayed” that Alibaba Cloud developed facial recognition software that includes ethnicity as an attribute for tagging video imagery, and that it never intended the software to be used in this manner. The feature was “trial technology” not intended for customers.
Alibaba did not mention Uighurs in its statement.
“We have eliminated any ethnic tag in our product offering,” an Alibaba spokeswoman told Reuters.
Alibaba is listed on both the New York and Hong Kong stock exchanges. It is the biggest cloud computing vendor in China and the fourth worldwide, showed data from researcher Canalys.
Earlier this month, US lawmakers sent letters to Intel Corp. and Nvidia Corp. following reports of their computer chips being used in the surveillance of Uighurs.