Say hello to Radeon’s long-awaited answer to Nvidia’s DLSS technology. AMD finally took the wraps off its FidelityFX Super Resolution feature during its Computex 2021 keynote on Monday night. The company promised up to twice your GPU’s native performance when you need extra gaming firepower (like when you activate ray tracing, for example) and the ability to make most recent graphics cards even faster in supported games—even if you’re running a GeForce GPU. Better yet, it’s coming soon, on June 22.
If you, like me, have ever desperately plugged your charger into any outlet available for even a few minutes to prevent your phone from dying, then you will also be impressed with Xiaomi’s new charging technology. The company claims that its new chargers, dubbed HyperCharge, have broken the global records for wired…
Colorado legislators are considering a bill to fix a hole in the state’s first-in-the-nation cap on insulin prices and to create a new program for people left out by that cap.
House Bill 1307 clarifies that the $100 cap applies to all insulin prescriptions. A previous bill limited copays, but didn’t specify that patients couldn’t be charged separately for each prescription, meaning some people who need multiple types of insulin continued to pay more.
The $100 cap only applies to commercial health insurance plans regulated by the state’s Division of Insurance. That means if your employer offers an insurance plan based in another state, or takes on the risk of insuring employees itself, there’s no limit on how much you could pay out-of-pocket for insulin.
The bill also would create a program allowing people who aren’t covered by the $100 cap to get one emergency 30-day supply of insulin each year for $35, and to join a program providing insulin for a full year for $50 per month.
“We wanted a way for folks to have access to an emergency supply because of the dire nature of running out of insulin. Then, they’ll have the option to enroll in an ongoing program for a slightly higher price once the emergency period has passed,” said Rep. Dylan Roberts, a Democrat representing Eagle and Routt counties, who is the bill’s main sponsor.
The price of a vial of insulin, before any discounts, has risen from about $20 in 1990 to more than $300 today, Roberts said. The first medical insulin was created 100 years ago, and while there have been some improvements since then, they don’t justify increases far above the rate of inflation for a drug that people with diabetes need to survive, he said.
“For them, it’s like oxygen,” he said.
The bill passed the House, 45 to 19, with one representative excused. It passed out of committee in the Senate on Thursday, and has a good chance of passing before the end of the session, said Senate Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat.
If the bill passes the Senate and Gov. Jared Polis signs it, the new insulin program would start Jan. 1. People covered by insurance plans subject to the $100 cap, Medicare, or Medicaid aren’t eligible. The emergency supply would only be available to people who have less than a seven-day supply of insulin left.
Insulin manufacturers would have to reimburse pharmacies for the difference between the wholesale cost of any insulin they distributed through the program and the $50 copay, or provide the same amount of insulin. The rule doesn’t apply if the loss is less than $24, which is the estimated cost to produce and ship a three-milliliter vial of insulin, Roberts said.
Brian Warren, director of government affairs for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a trade group that includes pharmaceutical companies, said the bill ignores recommendations that would do more to lower insulin prices, and is illegal under the Fifth Amendment, because it would require companies to give away their product.
The Fifth Amendment forbids taking private property without compensation, among other things. Roberts said a similar program in Minnesota survived a court challenge.
Warren, who was the only witness testifying against the bill in a committee hearing on May 19, said pharmaceutical companies already provide assistance to patients who would pay the “sticker price” for insulin, and that most patients pay a discounted rate.
“There’s the list price for insulin… then there’s the actual price paid,” he said.
Gail deVore, who has Type 1 diabetes and has spoken in favor of previous bills to limit insulin costs, countered that patient assistance programs aren’t reliable enough for a medication that patients need to survive. She said she once went into a coma after going 12 hours without insulin, and significant numbers of Coloradans put their health at risk by rationing insulin when they can’t afford another bottle, which can cost $300 or more.
“Those manufacturers’ programs are not consistent, and they’re not guaranteed month to month,” she said.
Rep. Mark Baisley, a Republican representing Douglas and Teller counties, asked whether the bill could lead pharmaceutical companies to stop selling insulin in Colorado. Christine Fallabel, mountain region director of state government affairs for the American Diabetes Association, said pharmaceutical supply chains aren’t set up to cut out states.
Baisley and several other Republicans said they were reluctant to support more government intervention, but the market hasn’t produced affordable insulin prices.
“It’s an awkward solution to an awkwarder problem,” Baisley said.
Social media ads sometimes seem to know a little too much about you — where you shop, the products you buy or what websites you’ve been frequenting.
Big tech companies store this information about consumers, and it’s long been fueling a debate about how to balance data privacy with letting businesses cater to their customers.
Colorado lawmakers decided to tackle the issue again this year with SB21-190, which unanimously passed the Senate last week. If it makes it to Gov. Jared Polis, Colorado would be the third state to pass a data privacy law, following California and Virginia.
It wouldn’t take effect, though, until July 2023. And even then, some data privacy experts worry it doesn’t go far enough, while businesses worry about complying with various regulations in different states.
With 26 states also considering what to do about data privacy this year, Colorado lawmakers have looked around for the policies they believed would work best. Washington state’s is the main model, Democratic Sen. Robert Rodriguez of Denver said, because it balances consumer and business rights. (Washington has not been able to pass it yet.)
“We’re just trying to figure out good controls and giving people access,” he said. “I think young people assume they have no privacy and old people have no idea how much privacy they don’t have.”
Fellow bill sponsor Sen. Paul Lundeen, a Monument Republican, is concerned that smartphones store information about people “that defines who you are,” which gets shared with various companies.
The bill “is an effort to thread that needle, protect our privacy, and at the same time, give all the businesses we rely on, all the providers that we rely on, the ability to do their job without stealing our future, without stealing our identity, without stealing the representation of who we want ourselves actually to be,” he said.
Colorado consumers would be able to opt out of having companies collect certain information — like which websites they’re visiting — and could decide whether to deny a company access to sensitive data like a health condition. The current version also calls for a “global privacy control,” a browser setting that Rodriguez said would be available in 2024 to all Colorado users to stop data collection on any website they visit.
Not every company would come under the proposed rules, only those that process personal data of 100,000 or more consumers per year or make money or get discounts from selling personal data of 25,000 or more consumers. Companies also would have to make clear the type of data they collect, what they do with it and how long they store it.
Banks and other financial institutions are exempt, and businesses will still have to comply with federal privacy rules for children. The attorney general’s office will have rule-making and enforcement authority, and the latter is also provided for district attorneys (which isn’t found in California or Virginia’s laws).
From federal to local
The issue is not new; Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser recalls working on it during the Obama administration. His office has been working with sponsors on the bill.
“The core part of the bill that really matters is consumers have the ability to control and dictate how their data is used,” he said. “Right now, all sorts of companies are collecting data about consumers that consumers don’t know about.”
There is a continued push to pass federal data privacy legislation as Europe has done, but without a central federal policy in the United States, individual states have had to take matters into their own hands. That could create a patchwork of regulations, said Dan Jaffe of the National Association of Advertisers.
“We generally believe that this is a growing trend, that there’s going to be numbers of different bills that are very inconsistent with each other and that’s going to start creating major hurdles for people in Colorado and around the country who are trying to do business on the internet,” Jaffe said.
His organization is against this bill, and he argues that it could be expensive to deal with different state regulations, leading businesses to potentially pass on the costs to consumers.
But Camila Tobón, a Denver-based privacy and data security attorney, says that Colorado’s proposal is similar enough to the others, which makes it easier to implement for the state and for businesses. Plus, the bill doesn’t take effect immediately and it gives businesses the opportunity to fix violations within 60 days until 2025.
“(Companies) are going to have to do a significant lift in order to get ready, just to figure out what they have, how they’re using it, who they’re sharing it with and putting all the specific compliance mechanisms in place … For companies that haven’t looked at these issues, it’s going to take some time,” she said.
Casey Fiesler researches technology ethics, internet law and policy and online communities data privacy and ethics as a fellow at the Silicon Flatirons Institute at the University of Colorado Law School, and has found people tend to develop an attitude of learned helplessness — “why would I bother to try to protect my privacy when there’s so little that I have control over and all these companies are going to do whatever they want with my data?”
The “opt-out” portion of Colorado’s bill also may not “have as much of an impact except for the people who really do care a lot about this stuff,” Fiesler said, noting that, often, people will accept terms of agreement without fully reading or understanding them.
“I feel like there’s a big gap between the people who are really paying attention to this and really care about their privacy and are going to all of this extra work to protect their privacy,” she said, “ … and the average person who’s just like, ‘I want to go on Facebook, I want to go use Amazon, and, oh I have to click through a thing.’”
That’s why privacy proponents like the Colorado Public Interest Research Group prefer an “opt-in” method — information would remain private unless a person asked a company to collect it, campaign organizer Allison Conwell said.
Her group is also pushing for the bill to include a “private right of action,” which would allow individuals to sue companies for violations, rather than just leave it in the hands of the AG’s office. Rodriguez also prefers an opt-in method like in Europe and the right to sue, but said it would be a transformative change for companies to make in the U.S. and not one he thought could pass the statehouse this year.
Intel announced its first 5GHz 11th-gen Tiger Lake-U Core chip for notebook PCs on Sunday night, complementing it with the company’s first 5G module designed specifically to work with its existing Wi-Fi 6E technology. The announcement was tied to Computex, the Taiwan hardware showcase, which has been replaced by a virtual event for the second straight year.
Specifically, Intel announced two new processors, the 2.9GHz Core i7-1195G7 and the 2.5GHz Core i5-1155G7. After boosting the i7-1195G7 using Intel’s Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0, the chip can reach a clock speed of 5GHz.
Both new chips fall into what Intel is calling its “UP3” category—what was known previously as “U” series of chips that are designed for general-purpose notebooks. Intel said that more than sixty designs based on the Intel Core i7-1195G7 and Intel Core i5-1155G7 are expected by this holiday season, with laptops from Acer, Asus, Lenovo, and MSI available this summer. Nearly 250 designs powered by 11th-gen Intel Core U-series processors are expected by this holiday season, Intel said in a statement.
LOS ANGELES — Gavin MacLeod, the veteran supporting actor who achieved fame as sardonic TV news writer Murray Slaughter on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and stardom playing cheerful Capt. Stubing on “The Love Boat,” has died. He was 90.
MacLeod died early Saturday at his home in Palm Desert, California, said Stephanie Steele Zalin, his stepdaughter. She attributed his death to his age, saying he had been well until very recently.
“He had one of the most amazing, fun blasts of a life of anybody I know. He enjoyed every minute of it,” Steele Zalin said. “I don’t even think in his wildest dreams he dreamt of the life that he ended up having and creating.”
She called him the “best, sweetest, purest guy.”
Ed Asner, who played opposite MacLeod on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” said on Twitter that “my heart is broken. Gavin was my brother, my partner in crime (and food) and my comic conspirator.”
Known to sitcom fans for his bald head and wide smile, MacLeod toiled in near anonymity for more than a decade, appearing on dozens of TV shows and in several movies before landing the part of Murray in 1970.
He had originally tested for Moore’s TV boss, Lou Grant, the role that went to Asner. Realizing he wasn’t right for playing the blustery, short-tempered TV newsroom leader, MacLeod asked if he could try instead for the wisecracking TV news writer, his jokes often at the expense of the dimwitted anchorman Ted Baxter.
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was a smash from the start and remains a classic of situation comedies. It produced two spinoffs, “Rhoda” and “Phyllis,” starring Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman, respectively, who had portrayed Mary’s neighbors.
It was still top-rated when Moore, who played news producer Mary Richards, decided to end it after seven seasons.
MacLeod moved on to “The Love Boat,” a romantic comedy in which guest stars, ranging from Gene Kelly to Janet Jackson, would come aboard for a cruise and fall in love with one another.
Although scorned by critics, the series proved immensely popular, lasting 11 seasons and spinning off several TV movies, including two in which MacLeod remained at the cruise ship’s helm. It also resulted in his being hired as a TV pitchman for Princess Cruise Lines.
“The critics hated it. They called it mindless TV, but we became goodwill ambassadors,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2013.
Among his final TV credits were “Touched by An Angel,” “JAG” and “The King of Queens.”
MacLeod’s lighthearted screen persona was in contrast to his private life. In his 2013 memoir, “This Is Your Captain Speaking,” MacLeod acknowledged that he had struggled with alcoholism in the 1960s and 1970s. He also wrote that losing his hair at an early age made it hard for him to find work as an actor.
“I went all over town looking for an agent, but no one was interested in representing a young man with a bald head,” he wrote. “I knew what I needed to do. I needed to buy myself a hairpiece.” A toupee changed his luck “pretty quickly.” By middle age, he didn’t need the toupee.
In a 2013 interview with The Associated Press, MacLeod frequently invoked the word “grateful” as he reflected on his born-again Christian faith, surviving two heart attacks and his robust life.
“That’s a big word in my life. I’m just so grateful I’ve had another day, another day, another day, and that my kids are doing so well,” he said.
MacLeod, whose given name was Allan See, took his first name from a French movie and his last from a drama teacher at New York’s Ithaca College who had encouraged him to pursue an acting career.
After college, the native of Mount Kisco, New York, became a supporting player in “A Hatful of Rain” and other Broadway plays, and in such films as “I Want to Live!” and “Operation Petticoat.”
He made guest appearances on TV shows throughout the 1960s, including “Hogan’s Heroes,” “Hawaii Five-O” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” He also appeared on “McHale’s Navy” from 1962 to 1964 as seaman Joseph “Happy” Haines.
One major role he auditioned for: Archie Bunker in “All in the Family.” But he quickly realized that the character, immortalized by Carol O’Conner, was wrong for him. “Immediately I thought, ‘This is not the script for me. The character is too much of a bigot.’ I can’t say these things,” MacLeod wrote in his memoir.
Other movie credits included “Kelly’s Heroes,” “The Sand Pebbles” and “The Sword of Ali Baba.”
MacLeod had four children with his first wife, Joan Rootvik, whom he divorced in 1972. He was the son of an alcoholic, and his drinking problems helped lead to a second divorce, to actor-dancer Patti Steele. After MacLeod quit drinking, he and Steele remarried in 1985.
Raised Catholic, he credited Steele for their shared born-again faith. The couple hosted a Christian radio show called “Back on Course: A Ministry for Marriages.”
Besides his wife, MacLeod’s survivors include his children, three stepchildren, 10 grandchildren and his first great-grandchild, who arrived in December, Steele Zalin said.
The late AP Entertainment Writer Bob Thomas contributed biographical material to this story.
KAMLOOPS, British Columbia — The remains of 215 children, some as young as 3 years old, have been found buried on the site of what was once Canada’s largest Indigenous residential school — one of the institutions that held children taken from families across the nation.
Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation said in a news release that the remains were confirmed last weekend with the help of ground-penetrating radar.
More bodies may be found because there are more areas to search on the school grounds, Casimir said Friday.
In an earlier release, she called the discovery an “unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.”
From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society. They were forced to convert to Christianity and not allowed to speak their native languages. Many were beaten and verbally abused, and up to 6,000 are said to have died.
The Canadian government apologized in Parliament in 2008 and admitted that physical and sexual abuse in the schools was rampant. Many students recall being beaten for speaking their native languages; they also lost touch with their parents and customs.
Indigenous leaders have cited that legacy of abuse and isolation as the root cause of epidemic rates of alcoholism and drug addiction on reservations.
A report more than five years ago by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission said at least 3,200 children had died amid abuse and neglect, and it said it had reports of at least 51 deaths at the Kamloops school alone between 1915 and 1963.
“This really resurfaces the issue of residential schools and the wounds from this legacy of genocide towards Indigenous people,” Terry Teegee, Assembly of First Nations regional chief for British Colombia, said Friday.
British Columbia Premier John Horgan said he was “horrified and heartbroken” to learn of the discovery, calling it a tragedy of “unimaginable proportions” that highlights the violence and consequences of the residential school system.
The Kamloops school operated between 1890 and 1969, when the federal government took over operations from the Catholic Church and operated it as a day school until it closed in 1978.
Casimir said it’s believed the deaths are undocumented, although a local museum archivist is working with the Royal British Columbia Museum to see if any records of the deaths can be found.
“Given the size of the school, with up to 500 students registered and attending at any one time, we understand that this confirmed loss affects First Nations communities across British Columbia and beyond,” Casimir said in the initial release issued late Thursday.
The leadership of the Tk’emlups community “acknowledges their responsibility to caretake for these lost children,” Casimir said.
Access to the latest technology allows for a true accounting of the missing children and will hopefully bring some peace and closure to those lives lost, she said in the release.
Casimir said band officials are informing community members and surrounding communities that had children who attended the school.
The First Nations Health Authority called the discovery of the remains “extremely painful” and said in a website posting that it “will have a significant impact on the Tk’emlúps community and in the communities served by this residential school.”
The authority’s CEO, Richard Jock, said the discovery “illustrates the damaging and lasting impacts that the residential school system continues to have on First Nations people, their families and communities,.”
Nicole Schabus, a law professor at Thompson Rivers University, said each of her first-year law students at the Kamloops university spends at least one day at the former residential school speaking with survivors about conditions they had endured.
She said she did not hear survivors talk about an unmarked grave area, “but they all talk about the kids who didn’t make it.”
By Cade Metz, The New York Times Company
It was seven years ago when Waymo discovered that spring blossoms made its self-driving cars get twitchy on the brakes. So did soap bubbles. And road flares.
New tests, in years of tests, revealed more and more distractions for the driverless cars. Their road skills improved, but matching the competence of human drivers was elusive. The cluttered roads of America, it turned out, were a daunting place for a robot.
The wizards of Silicon Valley said people would be commuting to work in self-driving cars by now. Instead, there have been court fights, injuries and deaths, and tens of billions of dollars spent on a frustratingly fickle technology that some researchers say is still years from becoming the industry’s next big thing.
Now the pursuit of autonomous cars is undergoing a reset. Companies like Uber and Lyft, worried about blowing through their cash in pursuit of autonomous technology, have tapped out. Only the deepest-pocketed outfits like Waymo, which is a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet; auto giants; and a handful of startups are managing to stay in the game.
Late last month, Lyft sold its autonomous vehicle unit to a Toyota subsidiary, Woven Planet, in a deal valued at $550 million. Uber offloaded its autonomous vehicle unit to another competitor in December. And three prominent self-driving startups have sold themselves to companies with much bigger budgets over the past year.
The tech and auto giants could still toil for years on their driverless car projects. Each will spend an additional $6 billion to $10 billion before the technology becomes commonplace — sometime around the end of the decade, according to estimates from Pitchbook, a research firm that tracks financial activity. But even that prediction might be overly optimistic.
“This is a transformation that is going to happen over 30 years and possibly longer,” said Chris Urmson, an early engineer on the Google self-driving car project before it became the Alphabet business unit called Waymo. He is now chief executive of Aurora, the company that acquired Uber’s autonomous vehicle unit.
So what went wrong? Some researchers would say nothing — that is how science works. You cannot entirely predict what will happen in an experiment. The self-driving car project just happened to be one of the most hyped technology experiments of this century, occurring on streets all over the country and run by some of its highest-profile companies.
That hype drew billions of dollars of investments, but it set up unrealistic expectations. In 2015, the electric carmaker Tesla’s billionaire boss, Elon Musk, said fully functional self-driving cars were just two years away. More than five years later, Tesla cars offered simpler autonomy designed solely for highway driving. Even that has been tinged with controversy after several fatal crashes (which the company blamed on misuse of the technology).
Perhaps no company experienced the turbulence of driverless car development more fitfully than Uber. After poaching 40 robotics experts from Carnegie Mellon University and acquiring a self-driving truck startup for $680 million in stock, the ride-hailing company settled a lawsuit from Waymo, which was followed by a guilty plea from a former executive accused of stealing intellectual property. A pedestrian in Arizona was killed in a crash with one of its driverless cars. In the end, Uber essentially paid Aurora to acquire its self-driving unit.
But for the deepest-pocketed companies, the science, they hope, continues to advance one improved ride at a time. In October, Waymo reached a notable milestone: It started the world’s first “fully autonomous” taxi service. In the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, anyone can now ride in a minivan with no driver behind the wheel. But that does not mean the company will immediately deploy its technology in other parts of the country.
Dmitri Dolgov, who recently took over as Waymo’s co-CEO after the departure of John Krafcik, an automobile industry veteran, said the company considers its Arizona service a test case. Based on what it has learned in Arizona, he said, Waymo is building a new version of its self-driving technology that it will eventually deploy in other places and other kinds of vehicles, including long-haul trucks.
The suburbs of Phoenix are particularly well suited to driverless cars. Streets are wide, pedestrians are few and there is almost no rain or snow. Waymo supports its autonomous vehicles with remote technicians and roadside assistance crews who can help get cars out of a tight spot, either via the internet or in person.
“Autonomous vehicles can be deployed today, in certain situations,” said Elliot Katz, a former lawyer who counseled many of the big autonomous vehicle companies before launching a startup, Phantom Auto, that provides software for remotely assisting and operating self-driving vehicles when they get stuck in difficult positions. “But you still need a human in the loop.”
Self-driving tech is not yet nimble enough to reliably handle the variety of situations human drivers encounter each day. It can usually handle suburban Phoenix, but it cannot duplicate the human chutzpah needed for merging into the Lincoln Tunnel in New York or dashing for an offramp on U.S. Route 101 in Los Angeles.
“You have to peel back every layer before you can see the next layer” of challenges for the technology, said Nathaniel Fairfield, a Waymo software engineer who has worked on the project since 2009, in describing some of the distractions faced by the cars. “Your car has to be pretty good at driving before you can really get it into the situations where it handles the next most challenging thing.”
Like Waymo, Aurora is now developing autonomous trucks as well as passenger vehicles. No company has deployed trucks without safety drivers behind the wheel, but Urmson and others argue that autonomous trucks will make it to market faster than anything designed to transport regular consumers.
Long-haul trucking does not involve passengers who might not be forgiving of twitchy brakes. The routes are also simpler. Once you master one stretch of highway, Urmson said, it is easier to master another. But even driving down a long, relatively straight highway is extraordinarily difficult. Delivering dinner orders across a small neighborhood is an even greater challenge.
“This is one of the biggest technical challenges of our generation,” said Dave Ferguson, another early engineer on the Google team who is now president of Nuro, a company focused on delivering groceries, pizzas and other goods.
Ferguson said many thought self-driving technology would improve like an internet service or a smartphone app. But robotics is a lot more challenging. It was wrong to claim anything else.
“If you look at almost every industry that is trying to solve really really difficult technical challenges, the folks that tend to be involved are a little bit crazy and little bit optimistic,” he said. “You need to have that optimism to get up every day and bang your head against the wall to try to solve a problem that has never been solved, and it’s not guaranteed that it ever will be solved.”
Uber and Lyft are not entirely giving up on driverless cars. Even though it may not help the bottom line for a long time, they still want to deploy autonomous vehicles by teaming up with the companies that are still working on the technology. Lyft now says autonomous rides could arrive by 2023.
“These cars will be able to operate on a limited set of streets under a limited set of weather conditions at certain speeds,” said Jody Kelman, an executive at Lyft. “We will very safely be able to deploy these cars, but they won’t be able to go that many places.”