DoNotPay’s new tool makes your photos undetectable to facial recognition software

AI systems are trained to analyze pictures by looking at the pixel-level data, and adversarial examples can trick them by changing the pixel colors in a subtle enough way that the human eye doesn’t notice anything different but a computer fails to categorize the image as it usually would or interprets it as a wholly different image.

ANTI-CREEP SOFTWARE — There are various reasons why you might want to use Photo Ninja. Before joining a dating service like Bumble, you could run your pictures through Photo Ninja so that weirdos can’t upload them to Google’s reverse image search and find your social media profiles without getting your consent, for instance.

This kind of tool can only go places if it’s automated at the OS/app level when sharing, thus remaining invisible to the user. I can see that happening at some point. As long as the originals on my end stay intact of course.

How a Twitter hoax gave false hope for a Metal Gear Solid remaster

Nitroid hasn’t responded to a request for comment from Ars, but McDonald said Nitroid told him that “it was funny to watch how the rumor mill works.” That lines up with a Twitter thread Nitroid shared last year, describing how a misreported story of a Metal Gear fan’s suicide led Nitroid to “[lose] faith in journalism as an institution.”

“If so many professionals can get one small incident this horribly wrong, what does that say for the myriad news reports that are made on a daily basis?” Nitroid asked in the thread.

Nitroid isn’t wrong to ask this. Everything’s about speed these days though. It will be tough for both journalists/reporters and readers to accept that getting things right is more important than getting them quickly. Good luck with that though.

As Nintendo’s entertainment kingdom expands, it’s still about the games

Endearing though its products tend to be, Nintendo is on a capitalistic roll of its own. After 2012’s Wii U console never quite caught on, pundits—who have a long history of prematurely writing the company off during its periodic downturns—helpfully told it that it should exit the hardware business and focus on designing games for other companies’ devices.

Has there ever been a time when, after a system having failed in market, journalists and pundits thought of any other solution than a market exit?

However post-pandemic life pans out, Nintendo’s own vision of its future is not entirely dependent on keeping people glued to Switch screens. For years, it’s been quietly fleshing out a plan to extend core intellectual property such as Mario, Animal Crossing, and The Legend of Zelda beyond games. The company defines its four new investment areas as merchandising expansion, mobile expansion, theme park activation, and visual content.

Merchandising is, well, merch—not just kid-oriented stuff such as Mario Hot Wheels sets and Zelda dolls, but also collaborations with Levi’s, Puma, ColourPop, and other notable brands. Mobile is smartphone apps. Theme parks are the company’s Super Nintendo World areas at Universal Studios parks, the first of which opened on March 18 in Osaka, though it closed again on April 25 as coronavirus cases surged in Japan. And visual content encompasses the Super Mario movie that Nintendo is currently working on with Minions purveyor Illumination, scheduled for release next year.

Amazingly, as Sony seems to be after a similar approach, in the age of PlayStation Studios especially, Nintendo has already been at it from earlier on and is possibly further along this level of IP appeal diversification. Even more amazingly, Microsoft has tried something along those lines before, more than once, and nothing ever got out of the gate. Not even when Steven Spielberg was to get involved.

That’s a lot of activity outside of Nintendo’s traditional comfort zone. But when Furukawa talks about Nintendo’s ambition to deploy its intellectual property across new media, he goes out of his way to stress that there’s still one thing at the heart of the company’s mission: Nintendo video games running on Nintendo hardware.

The company’s focus remains the same.

Furukawa’s concern about the possibility of Nintendo’s game protagonists getting boxed in by their new extracurricular activities is visceral. Speaking of offshoots from Nintendo games in general, he underlines that “we must make sure that the results are true to the players’ experiences, and that they would never prevent Nintendo’s developers from making another unique game featuring the same characters.”

Said focus is better underlined here. The one thing that expansion is not to compromise is creative freedom in games. I’m very curious about how Nintendo may handle a huge success anywhere other than in games and how that can shape people’s expectation about future games. This cookie is tough.

Furukawa acknowledges that as Nintendo’s ambitions expand, the company could spread itself too thin. As much as it cares about quality control, “something we really made sure to avoid was that when being engaged in this IP expansion outside of game development, that we don’t cut into the game development resources on our side,” he says. “And to realize that, we made sure that although people who deeply understand the characters and deeply understand the game are involved, that we keep the number of people involved to a minimum.”

I can practically taste the discipline required.

Resetting the App Store

Back to the higher-level question, though – who cares? Where is the money, where might it go and what new things might become possible? The cynical view might be that this is ultimately just a big wealth transfer from Apple to a pretty small number of big companies – mostly, games companies.

It’s sort of amazing that of all those that stand to gain by challenging Apple, games companies seem to be at the forefront as they are responsible for the greater part of any app store’s (including the App Store’s) revenue. Ironically, despite Epic Games having started a ruckus, iOS is definitely at the bottom of the platform list in terms of Fortnite revenue contribution. And not because of Apple’s commission either.

$10-15bn is real money, even for Apple, but it’s much more interesting to ask what else might change. There’s a small number of businesses where Apple’s payment rules were prohibitive, in Steve’s words, or at least made things very difficult – most obviously, ebooks and music. What other businesses do use Apple’s payment but would be fundamentally different if they had that extra margin? And what never happened at all? What products could not be built because of the ways that Apple’s sandbox works, that now might change? How significant are the changes in payment models I suggested above?

One could say that this is the classic unanswerable counter-factual – we don’t know what doesn’t exist. But a partial answer is to look at Google’s Android, which has always been run with much looser controls. Name ten really big, important, widely used Android apps that don’t exist on iOS. The obvious one is Chrome (there is an iOS Chrome app but it has to use Apple’ webkit rendering engine), but what else? No, not something that you use, but something with hundreds of millions of users – that’s what scale means in consumer tech today.

This isn’t about a percentage or any other number. It is about those questions and more.

Epic Games v. Apple Lawsuit: Fortnite removed from App Store – Protocol — The people, power and politics of tech

This case is about how to read the Sherman Act. The biggest question for this specific case is not about app stores or Fortnite, but about how to define a monopoly. That’s the biggest issue facing enforcers in general right now, really: how to approach digital markets and separate vigorous competitors from those damaging the whole process to maintain their dominance, even as would-be reformers push to go beyond the long-held “consumer harm” readings of the Sherman Act and toward a definition that makes more sense for huge internet platforms.

If Tim Sweeney’s ideological fervour is anything to go by, this is at the core of Epic Games’ moves. Everything else might as well be gravy.

Matthew Weissinger, VP of marketing — Called as a witness by both Apple and Epic to testify on “marketing and promotional support services offered by video game consoles and mobile operating system providers, including Apple.”

Lori Wright, Microsoft’s VP of Xbox business development — Called as a witness by both Apple and Epic to testify on “the Microsoft Store; Xbox video game console business and operations; Xbox cloud gaming; distribution of apps on the App Store.”

If you’re a gamer or a games journalist and think this trial will only be juicy for gaming because Epic is involved, think again. Console makers are notoriously cryptic on many fronts. It’s no surprise to me that we’re getting someone from Xbox, not from PlayStation or Sony mixed in this, as Microsoft tends to be a bit more open about such things. It is interesting thought that there’s no one from Sony at all, seeing as Epic Games and Sony have been getting chummy lately, with Unreal Engine 5’s promotion, Fortnite marketing, Sony buying and then extending a small stake in Sweeney’s company etc.