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IGEA, AMTA, and John Deere use intellectual property arguments to bash right to repair

ZDNet

The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), and machinery manufacturer John Deere have once again pushed back on the proposal that any right to repair changes need to be introduced in Australia. In its response to the Productivity Commission's right-to-repair draft report, IGEA knocked back support for several of the recommendations that were put forward. These include enabling the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop and publish estimates of the minimum expected durability for products, such as video game consoles and devices, and requiring manufacturers to include additional mandatory warranty text that state entitlements to consumer guarantees under Australian Consumer Law (ACL) do not require consumers to use authorised repair services or spare parts. It repeatedly cited in its latest submission [PDF] that making changes would "cause confusion for consumers", pointing out for instance that additional text may "erroneously cause consumers to believe that their entitlements under the voluntary warranty (as opposed to the guarantees) do not require consumers to use authorised repair services or spare parts (which may not necessarily be true)". As part of providing additional information to the Productivity Commission, IGEA added that if manufacturers were required to make additional repair information available where they could bypass Trusted Platform Modules, it would open up the potential for the information to be "weaponised" by malicious actors, particularly as there are no licensing or certification schemes for electronic repairers that would help manufacturers discern between legitimate and illegitimate repairers. IGEA also took the opportunity to defend video game console manufacturers saying that it is in the "financial interest" of console makers that customers have "well-functioning and reliable devices that last for years".


DeepMind's XLearn trains AI agents to complete complex tasks

#artificialintelligence

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. DeepMind today detailed its latest efforts to create AI systems capable of completing a range of different, unique tasks. By designing a virtual environment called XLand, the Alphabet-backed lab says that it managed to train systems with the ability to succeed at problems and games including hide and seek, capture the flag, and finding objects, some of which they didn't encounter during training. The AI technique known as reinforcement learning has shown remarkable potential, enabling systems to learn to play games like chess, shogi, Go, and StarCraft II through a repetitive process of trial and error. But a lack of training data has been one of the major factors limiting reinforcement learning–trained systems' behavior being general enough to apply across diverse games.


The 16th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment

Interactive AI Magazine

There were three workshops held at AIIDE-20, held virtually October 19-23, 2020, including Experimental AI in Games, Intelligent Narrative Technologies, and Artificial Intelligence for Strategy Games. For more information the AIIDE conference, please see aiide.org. INT returned for its 12th meeting in 2020 with two excellent keynote talks and a wide variety of topics on applying AI to games and other interactive stories. The 12th workshop on Intelligent Narrative Technologies was held this year as part of the AAAI international conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment. INT brings together a multidisciplinary team of researchers interested in artificial intelligence, narrative theory, game development, psychology, social justice, and many other topics. This year's workshop featured two keynotes.


This robot made a 100,000-domino 'Super Mario Bros.' mural in 24 hours

Engadget

A new robot known as the Dominator has set a Guinness World Record for placing 100,000 dominos in just over 24 hours. Created by YouTuber and former NASA engineer Mark Rober, the Dominator is the result of more than five years of work. Rober had help from two freshmen from Stanford University and a Bay Area software engineer in creating the googly-eyed robot. The group programmed more than 14,000 lines of code, and outfitted it with components like omnidirectional wheels and 3D-printed funnels to create what Rober says is a "friendly robot that's super good at only one thing: setting up a butt-ton of dominos really, really fast." Up against professional domino artist Lily Hevesh, the Dominator used its ability to lay down 300 tiles all at once to work about 10 times faster than a human. It took the robot about two hours to put down over 9,000 dominos.


AADS: Augmented autonomous driving simulation using data-driven algorithms

#artificialintelligence

Simulation systems have become essential to the development and validation of autonomous driving (AD) technologies. The prevailing state-of-the-art approach for simulation uses game engines or high-fidelity computer graphics (CG) models to create driving scenarios. However, creating CG models and vehicle movements (the assets for simulation) remain manual tasks that can be costly and time consuming. In addition, CG images still lack the richness and authenticity of real-world images, and using CG images for training leads to degraded performance. Here, we present our augmented autonomous driving simulation (AADS). Our formulation augmented real-world pictures with a simulated traffic flow to create photorealistic simulation images and renderings. More specifically, we used LiDAR and cameras to scan street scenes. From the acquired trajectory data, we generated plausible traffic flows for cars and pedestrians and composed them into the background. The composite images could be resynthesized with different viewpoints and sensor models (camera or LiDAR). The resulting images are photorealistic, fully annotated, and ready for training and testing of AD systems from perception to planning. We explain our system design and validate our algorithms with a number of AD tasks from detection to segmentation and predictions. Compared with traditional approaches, our method offers scalability and realism. Scalability is particularly important for AD simulations, and we believe that real-world complexity and diversity cannot be realistically captured in a virtual environment. Our augmented approach combines the flexibility of a virtual environment (e.g., vehicle movements) with the richness of the real world to allow effective simulation.


Explosive Activision Blizzard lawsuit could set California labor law precedent, lawyers say

Washington Post - Technology News

Historically, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has been highly selective in pursuing its own lawsuits. In California, individuals must lodge their complaint with the agency before filing a lawsuit against their employer. Typically the DFEH immediately grants them this right and reviews complaints for potential investigation, but it seldom pursues the cases itself. In 2019, the agency received 22,584 total complaints and filed four of its own cases. It filed 29 in 2018, following 20,822 complaints.


Microsoft's Ultimate Game Sale will save you some serious cash on Xbox games and accessories

Mashable

TL;DR: You can save up to 90% on select Xbox games, up to 80% on select PC titles, and up to 30% on Xbox accessories during the Microsoft Store's Ultimate Game Sale, which runs through Aug. 5. It's like Microsoft snuck a peek at the Playstation Store's Summer Sale and said, "Hold my beer." The former just kicked off an Ultimate Game Sale that covers hundreds of Xbox titles in addition to select PC games and a handful of Xbox accessories, with savings of up to 90% up for grabs in the Microsoft Store and Xbox.com now through Aug. 5. (Not to pit two queens against each other, but the Playstation Store's rival sale only features PS4 and PS5 games -- there are no accessory deals to be found -- and its discounts top off at 75%.) Whatever you do, don't sleep on Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War or Hitman 3 (one of our favorite video games of 2021 so far) -- the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S versions of both games are half off as part of the sale; the Game of the Year Edition of 2015's The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is also pretty hard to resist at only $10. And for anyone brave enough to venture back into the patched-up world of Night City, Cyberpunk 2077 will currently run you $48 (a 20% savings). If you need some new gear for your console, you can shave $10 off the price of a new Xbox Wireless Controller or upgrade to a pro-grade Razer model for $40 cheaper than usual. Xbox-licensed headsets, meanwhile, start at just $25 (normally $40) for some comfy HyperX earphones featuring 40mm drivers with bass that's optimized for console gaming.


Ryan Reynolds grapples with video game lingo in hilarious 'Free Guy' clip

Mashable

Guy doesn't know he's in a video game -- at least, not yet. In an exclusive new clip from Free Guy, the non-player character or "NPC" played by Ryan Reynolds has a run-in with game moderators. A police officer and a bunny, played by Joe Keery and Utkarsh Ambudkar, confront Guy as he's walking down the street in their open-world video game "Free City." But the programmers aren't interrogating Guy because he's unexpectedly gone off his coded path. No, they're more curious about where he got his "skin."


The shine of Nintendo's new Zelda remake for Switch is dulled by awkward controls

Mashable

It's very weird to review a remake. Most of what could be said about a remade game has already been said years ago, and the time that has passed since the original game's release can have a massive impact on how the game is received in its second wind. For example: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is a high definition remaster of a 2011 Wii game about which much has been said, debated, and lamented, but in the 10 years since its release the Zelda franchise produced one of the most successful console video games of all time. Though it is unfair to compare The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with its upgraded predecessor, there is enough connective tissue between both games to make the comparison automatic in a way that only enhances the weirdness of reviewing it at all. Should Skyward Sword HD's faulty stamina wheel, annoyingly breakable shields, and limited potion system be judged on their own merits?


Is it even OK to play Call of Duty anymore?

Mashable

For those who might have missed it, Activision Blizzard is the video game industry's latest out-of-control dumpster fire. The Call of Duty and World of Warcraft publisher is the focus of a new lawsuit spearheaded by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). It caps off a two-year investigation which found, according to the filing, that female employees -- who make up roughly one-fifth of the company's workforce -- operate in a toxic, hostile working environment. Ubisoft and League of Legends publisher Riot Games have both been outed as havens for harmful workplace behavior -- including sexual misconduct -- in the past. Rockstar Games basically bullied Red Dead Redemption 2 into existence.