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Radar trends to watch: February 2022



Perhaps the most interesting theme from the last month has been discussions of what can be done with NFTs and other Web3 technologies aside from selling links to bored apes. Chris Anderson points out that NFTs are a new kind of link that includes history, and that’s a fascinating idea. We’re also seeing a lot of debate around the metaverse; an increasing number of companies are lining up in opposition to Facebook/Meta’s vision.


  • The Algorithmic Justice League has proposed paying “bug bounties” for algorithmic harms, similar to the way security researchers are paid bounties for finding vulnerabilities in software.
  • OpenAI has released a new version of GPT-3 that is less toxic–less prone to reproducing racist, sexual, or violent language, though it can still do so when asked. This is not the end of the story, but it’s a big step forward. The new model, InstructGPT, is also much smaller: 1.3 billion parameters, as opposed to 175 billion.
  • How do humans learn to work with AI systems?  When should a human co-worker accept an AI’s predictions? Researchers at MIT are working on training methods that help human experts to understand when an AI is, or is not, likely to be accurate.
  • It’s no surprise that AI systems can also discriminate on the basis of age, in addition to race and gender. While bias in AI is much discussed, relatively little work goes into building unbiased systems.
  • Facebook/Meta has developed a new AI algorithm that can be used for image, text, and speech processing, and that performs better than current specialized algorithms.
  • Yake! is an open source system for extracting keywords from texts.  It’s an important tool for automatically summarizing large bodies of research, developing indexes, and other research tasks.
  • GPT-J, an open source language model similar to GPT-3, now has a “playground” that is open to the public.


  • Researchers have discovered more efficient ways to model and render moving human images in real time. This could lead to 3D avatars for your metaverse, better deep fakes, or animations that are truly lifelike.
  • Blueprint is a new approach to teaching children to code.  It starts with reading (rather than writing) code; new programmers modify and build objects in a metaverse, using a stripped-down version of JavaScript and HTML.
  • Graph technologies (including graph neural networks) are becoming increasingly important to AI research.
  • The title pretty much says it: is Rust the future of JavaScript infrastructure? It’s a faster, safer, and more memory-efficient language for building the tools in the JavaScript ecosystem. Whether Rust will replace JavaScript for web development is anyone’s guess, but it is a better tool for creating software like transpilers and other elements of the JavaScript toolchain.
  • Memory-efficient parallelism for functional programs: Parallelism has been a difficult problem for functional programming, in part because of memory requirements. But as we approach the end to Moore’s Law, parallelism may be the only possible way to improve software performance. This paper suggests a memory management strategy that may solve this problem.
  • The return of Y2K: January 1, 2022 (represented as 2022010001) overflows a signed 32-bit integer. This caused many Microsoft Exchange servers to crash on New Year’s Day. Are more 32-bit overflow bugs hiding?
  • Computer-generated code from systems like Copilot also generates bugs and vulnerabilities. This isn’t surprising; Copilot is essentially just copying and pasting code from sources like GitHub, with all of that code’s features and failures.


  • Democratizing cybersecurity with low-code tools that enable non-professionals to detect and fix vulnerabilities? This is a great goal; it remains to be seen whether it can be done.
  • Access management is the key to zero-trust security. Zero trust means little without proper authentication and access control. Many organizations are starting to get on board with stronger authentication, like 2FA, but managing access control is a new challenge.
  • The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has warned US organizations to prepare themselves for the kind of data-wiping attacks that have been used against the government of Ukraine.
  • Open Source is a national security issue; all software is, and open source is no better or worse. We knew that all along. But the vulnerabilities in the widely used Log4J library have brought it into the public eye. Google is proposing a marketplace for open source maintainers to match volunteers to projects.
  • Detecting viruses without installing software: This Raspberry Pi-based system detects viruses on other computers by analyzing RF signals emitted by the processor. Typical obfuscation techniques used by virus creators aren’t effective against it, because it is not examining code.
  • The developer of the open source color.js and faker.js libraries intentionally pushed broken versions of the libraries to GitHub, apparently in a protest against corporate use of the libraries without compensation.
  • Norton Antivirus installs a cryptocurrency miner on your computer that mines Ethereum when you’re not using the computer. Antivirus? Or a new cryptojacking scheme?  It’s opt-in, but difficult to uninstall. And, in addition to other fees, Norton takes a significant commission. Norton has done the same thing with Avira, another AV product they own.
  • Confidential Computing could become a breakout technology as corporations struggle with privacy legislation and security. It encompasses many different technologies, including homomorphic encryption, differential privacy, and trusted execution environments.


Crypto, NFTs, and Web3

  • is an attempt to implement a service like AWS Lambda that is decentralized. It uses “blockchain-related” technologies (though not a blockchain itself), and is tied to the Aleph token (a cryptocurrency).
  • What’s important about NFTs isn’t the “artwork” that they reference; it’s that they’re a new kind of link, a link that contains history.  This history makes possible a new kind of community value.
  • A stack for getting started with Web3: This is a far cry from LAMP, but it’s a way to start experimenting. The IPFS protocol plays a key role, along with Agoric (a smart contract framework) and the Cosmos network (blockchain interoperability).


  • SecondLife’s creator has returned to Linden Labs, and wants to build a metaverse that “doesn’t harm people.”  That metaverse won’t have surveillance advertising or VR goggles.
  • NVidia talks about their plans for the metaverse; it’s less of a walled garden, more like the Web. Companies are increasingly wary of a metaverse that is essentially Facebook’s property.


  • Autonomous battery-powered freight cars could travel by themselves, eliminating long freight trains.  However, the outdated US rail safety infrastructure, which requires trains to maintain large distances between themselves, presents a problem.
  • Open Infrastructure Map: All the world’s infrastructure (just about) in one map: the power lines, generation plants, telecom, and oil, gas, and water pipelines. (It doesn’t have reservoirs.) Fascinating.
  • Entrepreneurs like Elon Musk have tried to develop solar cells that can be used as shingles, rather than being installed over them. GAF, a company that really knows roofing, now has a solar shingles product on the market. They can be installed similarly to regular shingles, and have similar warranties.

Quantum Computing

  • Researchers have developed a new way of building qubits that is a factor of 100 smaller than current technologies allow, and that appear to have less interference between qubits. While this doesn’t mean we’ll have personal quantum computers, it will make it easier to build quantum computers large enough to do reasonable work.
  • Twist is a new language for programming quantum computers. It has a type system that helps programmers reason about entanglement as a means to improve correctness and accuracy.
  • Microsoft Azure is expanding its quantum computing offerings by adding hardware from Rigetti, one of the leading Quantum startups.


  • James Governor talks about the transition from distributed systems to distributed work.


  • Automating the farm: tractors that can be controlled by smartphone, robots that can weed fields, and many other technologies at the intersection of GPS, AI, and computer vision are now commercially available.

Learn faster. Dig deeper. See farther.

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Paytm, whose share price has dropped 57% so far this year, reports Q4 revenue of ~$200M, up 89% YoY, and a net loss of ~$98M, up 72% YoY due to higher expenses (Reuters)




Paytm, whose share price has dropped 57% so far this year, reports Q4 revenue of ~$200M, up 89% YoY, and a net loss of ~$98M, up 72% YoY due to higher expenses  —  India’s One 97 Communications Ltd (PAYT.NS), the parent of fintech firm Paytm, on Friday reported a wider fourth-quarter loss due …

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Doctor Strange 2 Surpasses 800 Million at the Box Office



Image for article titled Doctor Strange 2 Surpasses 800 Million at the Box Office

Image: Marvel Studios

As the weekend winds down, news has come out from The Wrap that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, directed by Sam Raimi, has earned over 800 million dollars officially passing The Batman’s theatrical runs, the last big superhero flick to hit the theaters. Doctor Strange 2 is still a decent chunk of change away from the last Marvel outing–Spider-Man: No Way Home earned 1.89 billion dollars during its release.

The Northman continues to draw audiences, although its release to VOD has made it so that there will likely be little more movement after this weekend. To date the Robert Eggers-directed historical action film earned about 64 million. The film stars Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy as they attempt to seek revenge and escape the clutches of a dismal fate.

This weekend also saw the first returns for Downton Abbey: A New Era, which brought in 16 million after its opening weekend. Universal Pictures, a specialty production from Universal Studios, released the sequel to 2019’s Downton Abbey, which in turn was a follow-up to the hit television series that ran from 2010 to 2015 and became an international phenomenon. The show follows the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic help across six seasons and fifty-two episodes.

Alex Garland’s horror film of “toxic masculinity,” aptly titled Men, had a solid opening weekend as well (Entertainment Weekly). While 3.3 million might seem modest compared to the big releases, the film is a challenging and divisive watch distributed by the indie darling A24. For a better comparison we can look at the opening numbers for Everything Everywhere All at Once, another A24-distributed film, which netted 3.2 million on its opening weekend.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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Your iPhone Pro Has LiDAR: 7 Cool Things You Can Do With It



Tim Brookes

Some high-end iPhone and iPad models have a LiDAR scanner integrated into the camera module on the back of the device. This effectively gives your device 3D scanning abilities with a few unique and interesting applications.

RELATED: What Is LiDAR, and How Will It Work on the iPhone?

What Does the LiDAR Scanner Do?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection And Ranging, but it may also be commonly referred to as “3D laser scanning” or some variation thereon. The technology works by bouncing light waves at surfaces and measuring the reaction time to determine the shape and distance of objects in the area.

Think of it like RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging) but for light waves. Unlike RADAR imaging, LiDAR can provide more detailed and crisper scans with smaller equipment. LiDAR uses signals that work in the nanometer range, whereas RADAR requires the use of antennas that produce radio waves at much lower frequencies.

Coupled with the software on your iPhone, the LiDAR scanner can be used to create 3D representations of objects and their surroundings. To do this you’ll need the appropriate software which you can download from the App Store. Some core iPhone features, like the Camera app, will use LiDAR in other ways.

At present, only the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro, iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd and 3rd generation), and iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th and 5th generation) are equipped with LiDAR scanners. If you look at the camera array on your device, the LiDAR scanner looks like a small round black circle.

RELATED: How to Use the iPhone Camera App: The Ultimate Guide

Create 3D Scans of Places You Love

Imagine if you had an interactive 3D model of your childhood home or a treehouse you built when you were young. Most of us keep photographs to remind us of places we once lived and loved, but what if instead of flat images we were able to take 3D scans instead?

Well if you have an iPhone or an iPad with a LiDAR scanner on the back, you can do exactly that. Having a 3D space to navigate is a lot more immersive than simply looking at a 2D image. Photographs and videos still have their place, but why not augment your memory bank with something you can experience in three dimensions instead?

This is possible with apps like Polycam, RoomScan LiDAR, and Canvas: Pocket 3D Room Scanner. Most of these apps are free to use, though there are paid upgrades that remove certain restrictions and improve the quality of the scans that you make. You can see LiDAR scanning in action in a YouTube video published by Polycam.

RELATED: How to See 3D Walking Directions in Google Maps

Buying a House? Redecorating? Scan First

Capturing a 3D model of a room or building has some very practical uses. If you’re currently looking to rent or buy a house, taking a scan of the building can help you make up your mind whether or not the place is for you. The process is very similar to taking a walk-through video or series of photographs, both of which are common practices in the real estate world.

Not only is a 3D scan more immersive, but it’s also easier to compare sizes, layout, practical space, and potential for renovation and other major work. We’d recommend taking detailed photos and videos in addition to your scan, which works best with apps like Polycam and RoomScan LiDAR.

If you’re planning major work in a home you already own, a 3D scan can give you a base from which to work in a 3D modeling app like Blender (if you’re comfortable working in such an app). Alternatively, it can provide a nice “before and after” comparison to look back on.

And lastly, selling your house without a real estate agent is surging in popularity. These apps allow you to provide 3D environment scans to potential buyers while still cutting down on expensive agent fees.

RELATED: The Best DIY Home Improvement Apps for iPhone and Android

Create Your Own 3D Assets

Photogrammetry is the act of creating 3D objects from photographic data, and it’s a time-consuming process. While the assets that photogrammetry provides are often highly accurate and detailed, the process of taking an item from a series of photographs to a finished model you can use can take hundreds of hours.

By comparison, a scan made on an iPhone or iPad with an app like Polycam can take a matter of minutes. Scanning an object is a bit like taking a video, and when you’re finished you can export a file that can be used in 3D modeling apps like Blender. Once you’ve tidied up your scan you can import objects into 3D engines like Unity and Unreal.

These engines are used heavily in game development, film, and interactive media. Conor O’Kane is a game developer with a YouTube channel who has not only used this technique but created a tutorial showing how to do this and why small developers might be interested in the process.

Scan and Share Interesting or Cherished Items

Are you a collector? Whatever it is you collect—art, plants, games consoles, or even cars—you might get a kick out of exhibiting it online, in a 3D format. Polycam is perfect for this since it includes built-in model sharing with the rest of the Polycam community, or “polyworld” as the app refers to it.

Some people share ice cream or rock crystals, others share their extensive sneaker collection. Even if you don’t have a LiDAR scanner on your iPhone or iPad, Polycam may still be worth the download just to see what people are scanning and sharing.

It’s like Instagram but for 3D models with an interactive element that other forms of media don’t come close to. It’s easy too, even if you make a bit of a mess while scanning the app has intuitive crop controls that allow you to remove background or surface objects.

Tip: For best results, place your item on a stand, pedestal, or stool before scanning

Take Better Photos in the Dark

Your iPhone and iPad already do this, so you don’t need to activate anything to get the benefit. However, if you’re putting off taking photos in the dark since you don’t trust your device’s autofocus, you might want to reconsider if you have a LiDAR-equipped device.

Since LiDAR is capable of judging distances based on how long it takes the light waves to return to the sensor, autofocus in the dark can be better calculated.

While standard cameras and non-LiDAR equipped models use contrast and phase detection autofocus (what Apple calls “Focus Pixels”) which struggle in low light, your LiDAR-equipped model fares much better. Coupled with Night mode you should be better equipped to take photos in the dark.

Measure More Accurately

You may not have realized this but Apple includes an app called Measure with iOS by default. If you’ve previously discounted and deleted it you can download Measure again for free from the App Store.

The app uses augmented reality to measure real-world distances simply by pointing your phone at a surface. Tap the plus “+” icon to start the measurement and move your device to see it in action.

iPhone Measure app

With a LiDAR scanner, augmented reality is vastly improved on the iPhone and iPad. Measure has gone from being a fun party trick to surprisingly accurate. In our tests, the app was right most of the time, with a margin of error of around 1 cm. This may depend more on how shaky your hands are than anything.

RELATED: How to Measure Distances With Your iPhone

Get More From AR Apps

Measure is just one such AR app that performs better when paired with a LiDAR-equipped iPhone or iPad. Every other AR app can benefit from the sensor, which provides a more stable experience by gauging distance using light rays rather than estimations derived from a “flat” image.

LiDAR really helps to improve the AR experience across the board, like when you’re creating art in apps like World Brush, SketchAR, and Assemblr. Need to provide remote assistance for a real-world problem? Vuforia Chalk allows you to scribble on real-world objects to help relay the point.

Try out various bits of IKEA furniture in your house with IKEA Place, or bring your child’s LEGO sets to life with LEGO Hidden Side, as demonstrated in the above YouTube video published by the Brothers Brick. If you’d rather have a more educational AR experience, Playground AR provides a whole physics sandbox to play around with.

Of course, these experiences are available on just about any recent iPhone, but the experience is considerably more stable with a LiDAR scanner. Find even more apps to enjoy in Review Geek’s roundup of the best AR apps for iPhone and Android.

RELATED: The Best Augmented Reality Apps for iPhone and Android

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