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Self-driving truck company TuSimple to use Nvidia chips for autonomous computing

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TuSimple Holdings Inc on Tuesday said it has partnered with Nvidia Corp to use the company’s vehicle chips to design and build an advanced autonomous driving computer for its self-driving trucks.

The computer, known as a domain controller in the automotive industry, will be specifically engineered for TuSimple’s commercial self-driving trucks, and will power sensor perception and vehicle operation.

Nvidia will provide artificial intelligence expertise and its Drive Orin hardware, a chip specifically designed for autonomous driving capabilities.

The controller powered by Nvidia’s chip will be installed in the autonomous trucks TuSimple is currently developing in partnership with manufacturer Navistar, targeted for production in 2024.

“We believe this move provides us a significant competitive advantage in speeding time to market,” TuSimple Chief Executive Officer Cheng Lu said in a statement.

TuSimple said it will own usage rights to the controller’s design, adding that it planned to work with an unnamed third party manufacturer to produce it.

Considered crucial in the development of self-driving, controllers allow automakers to centralize compute-intensive instruments such as cameras, radars and lidar sensors.

Instead of each sensor being equipped with an individual electronic control unit, the domain controller handles computing tasks centrally, saving cost and space and allowing software updates to take place remotely.

Other chipmakers, including Qualcomm Inc, Intel Corp’s Mobileye and NXP are also offering domain controller chips for the automotive industry.

Self-driving freight trucks, while still operating largely in pilot projects, have become a focus of the autonomous industry in recent years, facing fewer regulatory and technological hurdles and potentially offering a faster way to generate returns than passenger robotaxis.


(Reuters)

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Gates, French Gates offer post-divorce philanthropic plans

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Gates, French Gates offer post-divorce philanthropic plans

Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates say they will still work with the Giving Pledge, the campaign they co-founded with Warren Buffett in 2010 to encourage billionaires to donate the majority of their wealth through philanthropy.

But following their divorce earlier this year, the two will do it separately and in their own ways.

In individual letters posted Tuesday by Giving Pledge, Gates and French Gates outlined their differing philosophies to giving.

“I recognize the absurdity of so much wealth being concentrated in the hands of one person, and I believe the only responsible thing to do with a fortune this size is give it away — as thoughtfully and impactfully as possible,” wrote French Gates.

She added that that it is “important to acknowledge that giving away money your family will never need is not an especially noble act.”

French Gates, whose net worth is an estimated $6.2 billion according to Forbes, said she plans to focus on “fighting poverty and advancing equality — for women and girls and other marginalized groups — in the United States and around the world” through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and her own Pivotal Ventures.

She also noted the importance of trusting nonprofit partners.

“Philanthropists are generally more helpful to the world when we’re standing behind a movement rather than trying to lead our own,” she wrote.

For his part, Gates, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder worth more than $138 billion according to Forbes, wrote that he plans to keep the Gates Foundation as his primary outlet for his giving.

“No child should lack access to life-saving medicines or a quality education simply because of where he or she lives, and the foundation was created to address deeply unfair inequities around the globe,” Gates wrote. “The foundation’s mission has grown over time, but it remains focused on expanding opportunity for the world’s poorest people and improving education in the United States.”

The Giving Pledge now includes 226 billionaires from 27 countries who have promised to donate more than half of their wealth to charitable causes.


The Associated Press receives support from the Lilly Endowment for coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits. The AP is solely responsible for all content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

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Amazon-sponsored artwork that ‘learns’ debuts at Smithsonian

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Amazon-sponsored artwork that 'learns' debuts at Smithsonian

The artificial intelligence at the heart of a new art exhibit, “me + you,” does not judge you necessarily, but it does analyze and interpret what you have to say.

Sponsored by Amazon Web Services, the sculpture by artist Suchi Reddy listens to what you have to say about the future and renders your sentiment in a display of colored lights and patterns.

The artwork is a centerpiece of a new exhibit at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, which is opening to the public for the first time in 20 years. The exhibition, called Futures, opens Nov. 20.

Viewers are invited to interact with the sculpture, which listens for the words “My future is …” at several circular listening posts integrated into the sculpture.

The words and the sentiments behind them are then reinterpreted as a pattern of colored lights. On a very basic level, positive emotions tend to translate into soothing blends of blue, green and purple. Words that suggest anger might prompt a cascade of colors on the opposite spectrum of the color wheel. If you use a swear word, the lights will turn red.

No matter the sentiment, Reddy said, “I want to show all human emotion as beautiful.”

And the interpretations will evolve and become more nuanced over time as the artificial intelligence progresses. Swami Sivasubramanian, vice president of Amazon Machine Learning at Amazon Web Services, said the artwork incorporates sentiment analysis that not only decodes the meaning of words but a speaker’s sentiment behind the words.

Sivasubramanian said Amazon contributed 1,200 hours of programming to serve as the backbone of the artwork’s machine learning.

“Machine learning is one of our most transformative technologies,” he said. “I’m excited for people to engage with machine learning in an artistic setting.”

The artwork utilizes various aspects of machine learning, including basic speech-to-text technology.

A companion website lets people enter their thoughts over the internet and receive a visual interpretation of their sentiment that is also added to the archive.

In an era of deep skepticism over the data collected by Big Tech, Reddy and her team were careful to avoid data collection of any kind other than people’s thoughts about the future. No video is recorded and there is nothing that tracks people’s expressions back to them, Reddy said.

Other highlights in the exhibition include costumes from the Marvel Studios film “Eternals,” part of an interactive exhibit that shows how movies help us imagine our future, and objects including an experimental Alexander Graham Bell telephone and the first full-scale Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome built in North America.

“In a world that feels perpetually tumultuous, there is power in envisioning the future we want, not the future we fear,” said Rachel Goslins, director of the Arts and Industries Building.

The exhibition is scheduled to remain open through July 6. Eventually, the “me + you” sculpture will be relocated to Amazon’s new HQ2 headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.


WASHINGTON (AP)

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Charities see more crypto donations. Who is benefiting?

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Charities see more crypto donations. Who is benefiting

As the biggest cryptocurrencies flirt with record high values, they’re increasingly becoming bigger sources of revenue for charities. However, the number of charities accepting the virtual currencies, known for their volatility, remains limited.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, hit nearly $69,000 for the first time in its history last week, roaring back after sinking below $30,000 during the summer. The value of ethereum, the second biggest cryptocurrency, also hit a record high.

Both cryptocurrencies have dropped from their record levels after helping push the overall market cap of cryptocurrencies past $3 trillion, according to CoinGecko pricing. As of Monday morning, CoinMarketCap, another popular measure, listed the market cap at $2.8 trillion.

So far this year, Fidelity Charitable, the nation’s largest grantmaker, has received more than $274 million in cryptocurrency contributions — nearly quadruple its prior record of $69 million in 2017, according to a company spokesperson. And the cryptocurrency donation platform Engiven said last month it accepted what it called the largest single Bitcoin donation known to date: a $10 million Bitcoin gift to an undisclosed faith-based organization.

Many large charities and international aid agencies, like The American Red Cross and Save the Children, have set up mechanisms to accept cryptocurrencies or are using platforms that help them convert them into cash right away. But smaller organizations — who make up the vast majority of registered nonprofits in the country — are attempting to figure out how to accept these currencies, or if it even makes sense for them to do so, said Rick Cohen, the chief communications and operating officer at the National Council on Nonprofits.

“For a lot of organizations, it feels a little bit scary because it’s not the contribution of dollars that they’re used to,” Cohen said.

“It’s not something that’s free and easy” to set up, he said. “And they need to figure out if there’s even demand from their current donors to be able to do it.”

The global humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger started accepting cryptocurrency donations last year after a group of donors approached them about taking the assets, said Aron Flasher, who manages corporate partnerships for the organization. Since then, he says they’ve raised more than $1 million from virtual currencies.

“We feel like we’ve brought our issues to a very diverse cohort of supporters that we may not be reaching otherwise,” Flasher said. “And so far, all of our projections show it’s just going to increase.”

A Pew Research Center survey released last week indicated 16% of Americans have invested, traded or otherwise used cryptocurrencies in some way. Driven by interest from millennials, the digital currencies have become more mainstream since Bitcoin’s creation in 2009 but skeptics say their use is just a passing fad.

Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said in September investors lacked enough protection in the cryptocurrency market, which he called “rife with fraud, scams and abuse” and compared it to the “Wild West.” Regulators have noted that the digital assets pose more risks for money laundering, terrorist financing and other crimes. And some countries have moved to outlaw the transactions.

Cryptocurrencies are an attractive asset to donate because they allow donors to bypass the capital gains tax. Donors would be subject to that tax if they convert the virtual currency into cash before giving it away, which means less money could go to their selected charity. Another bonus is an income tax deduction.

Tax savings, according to the small number of cryptocurrency owners who donated some of their holdings to charity, was a driving force behind their crypto gifts, Fidelity Charitable reported in October. Many of those investors also reported difficulty finding organizations that accepted the virtual currencies, which could be volatile for charities to hold.

When Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin donated $1 billion worth of Shiba Inu coin — known as a “meme” or joke coin — to the India COVID-Relief Fund in May, the disclosure of the transfer drove down the token’s price 50%. Two months later, Sandeep Nailwal, the aid group’s founder, indicated only $20 million had been used due to complexities with both converting the cryptocurrency and complying with government regulations in India regarding the assets. (The value of Shiba Inu has since surged in price ).

The volatility in the crypto world is the reason why some giving platforms and donor-advised fund sponsors, like Fidelity Charitable, convert them into cash right away. Pat Duffy, the co-founder of the popular cryptocurrency donation platform The Giving Block, said though it’s rare, some nonprofits who use the platform choose to hold the assets.

Fidelity places the cash from crypto in a donor-advised fund, which allows donors to get tax deductions upfront before distributing any of the money to a working charity.

“You can have a situation where somebody donates cryptocurrency, and if we don’t sell it right away, it could lose 20% of its value in a day,” said Tony Oommen, a vice president and charity planning consultant at Fidelity Charitable.

“Or It could go the opposite direction,” Oommen added. “But we don’t try to speculate on that.”

Fluctuating prices aren’t the only concern. The environmental advocacy organization Greenpeace stopped taking Bitcoin earlier this year, citing environmental worries associated with mining the digital currency. Despite this pullback, James Lawrence, the CEO of the donation platform Engiven, says he believes the majority of nonprofits will begin accepting crypto donations within the next five years.

“By most estimates, there’s less than a few thousand that accept crypto,” he said. “There’s a lot of room for growth.”

Pete Howson, a senior lecturer at ​​England’s University of Northumbria who researches cryptocurrencies, says the use of the virtual currencies could, in some cases, increase what he calls “surveillance philanthropy.” For example, GiveTrack, a cryptocurrency crowdfunding website, uses blockchain technology as well as material from charities to send donors reports on how their crypto contributions were spent.

Connie Gallippi, the founder and executive director of The BitGive Foundation, which runs GiveTrack, says the report simplifies transactions recorded on the blockchain and shows donors what their contributions bought. She said the report also shows donors how a charity spends funds it converts into a local currency.

Gallippi said the software’s goal is to increase transparency in the nonprofit sector, adding any criticism of tracking is unwarranted because charities can decline to accept restricted donations.

“It’s transparency at its best when you have no control over the data that’s presented,” she said. “Other than your actions that are behind that data.”

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