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Our Finger Prints May Not Be Unique, AI Suggests

Our Finger Prints May Not Be Unique, AI Suggests
Jan 19 2024 Share

Columbia University researchers have challenged the belief of uniqueness of fingerprints, revealing an AI tool’s ability to identify, with 75-90% accuracy, whether prints from different fingers belong to the same individual. 

The AI focused on ridge orientation in the finger’s centre, deviating from traditional minutiae-based methods. 

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While uncertain about the AI’s specific mechanism, the researchers, led by Prof Hod Lipson, suggest it could be examining curvature and swirl angles. Skeptical at first, Lipson and student Gabe Guo found the AI’s capabilities surprising.

This study could impact biometrics and forensic science, potentially connecting unidentified fingerprints from different crime scenes.

Although not court-ready, the tool aids forensic investigations by generating leads. Graham Williams from Hull University notes the historical uncertainty of fingerprint uniqueness. 

However, Dr. Sarah Fieldhouse of Staffordshire University questions the AI tool’s impact on casework, citing concerns about stability in markers and the researchers’ uncertainty about the AI’s functioning.

The study, peer-reviewed and set for publication in Science Advances, raises questions about fingerprint uniqueness and introduces an AI-driven tool for forensic leads, emphasising the need for further research and data diversity.

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3,888 Families Benefit From Government Energy Schemes In 3 Years

3,888 Families Benefit From Government Energy Schemes In 3 Years
Jan 19 2024 Share

Since 2021, a total of 3,888 families benefited from four government schemes to encourage their energy transition, receiving circa €10.5 million in financial support for renewable energy systems, solar water heaters and other green technologies.

This financial support was granted through four schemes administered by the Regulator for Energy and Water Services (REWS). They include the Solar Water Heaters Scheme, the Heat Pump Water Heater Scheme and the Roof Insulation and Double-Glazing Scheme, all of which have now been relaunched for 2024, as well as the Renewable Energy Sources Scheme for the installation of PV and battery storage systems, which will be reopened in coming months.

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Minister for the Environment, Energy and Regeneration of the Grand Harbour Miriam Dalli, REWS CEO Ing. Marjohn Abela and EWA CPO Ing. Charles Buttigieg announced these positive figures during a consultation meeting with stakeholders on Thursday.

The Minister emphasised the government’s determination towards sustainable use of energy, the transition towards cleaner energy and decreasing the dependency on fossil fuels. This also follows Malta’s commitment as part of the COP28 agreement reached last December, whereby countries were asked to begin transitioning away from fossil fuels to reach net-zero emissions by the year 2050.

The same goal forms part of the European Green Deal. “It is worth noting that the intermediate goal for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is at least 19% by 2030, compared to 1990. If, as a country, we continue to work together, we can reach this goal by looking at those sectors that can contribute the most, and we address them by encouraging families to go for grants and schemes in these sectors,” Minister Dalli said.

The Minister thanked families in Malta and Gozo for actively participating in this green transition by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency in their homes.

The government will be allocating €1 million for the three 2024 schemes relaunched this month, including the financial assistance for the installation of heat pump water heaters (HPWH), solar water heaters (SWH) and roof insulation and double glazing (RIDG).

Later this year, REWS will also be launching a multi-million scheme to support families investing in the installation of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) systems and household battery storage systems.

Ing. Marjohn Abela spoke about how these schemes are supporting families to be more sustainable and efficient in the use of energy. In fact, the government has allocated €26 million to these schemes and 3,888 families have benefited with an investment of more than €10 million in the last three years.

Through a separate initiative, the Energy and Water Agency also helps families to make their homes more energy efficient, providing free energy and water consultations. More than 3,900 households benefited from this service since it was launched several years ago. EWA also administers another scheme that assists vulnerable households replace their old appliances with more energy-efficient solutions, helping them reduce their carbon emissions, as well as their utility bills.

Ing. Charles Buttigieg stated, The free home visits are an initiative that is gaining popularity among the public and is contributing to an increased awareness of more efficient use of electricity and water in households. In fact, over 700 visits were conducted in 2023, a number that continues to grow year after year.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of SMEs, the Malta Developers’ Association (MDA), the Chamber of Engineers, the Malta Intelligent Energy Management Agency (MIEAA), and the Malta Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energies Association (MEEREA) were present for the meeting.

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Italian Influencers To Be Fined If Collaborations Not Labelled Properly

Italian Influencers To Be Fined If Collaborations Not Labelled Properly
Jan 19 2024 Share

Italian social media creators, particularly influencers with over one million followers, may soon be subject to regulations akin to traditional media outlets. 

The Italian Communications Authority (AGCOM) will oversee the activities of these influencers, imposing fines on prominent ones who fail to transparently disclose brand collaborations and commercial interests. The move is aimed at ending what AGCOM’s Giacomo Lasorella calls “The Wild West of influencers.”

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The proposed guidelines also prioritize protecting children, with strict penalties for influencers who don’t adequately disclose collaborations or commercial interests, including fines up to €250,000. 

AGCOM’s measures focus on commercial communication, fundamental rights, minors, and sporting values. Influencers must include warnings about the advertising nature of content, especially regarding product placement.

While some may link AGCOM’s decision to a recent scandal involving top Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni, Lasorella denies any direct connection. Ferragni, fined €1.075 million in December for misleading claims about a charity project, is now under formal investigation for fraud. 

This move aligns with a broader European trend, with France introducing legislation on influencer promotions in June, and the European Commission increasing scrutiny on influencers to ensure fair practices and transparent information for followers.

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Nicki Minaj & Stephen Colbert Talk Gladiator 2 Filming In Malta

Nicki Minaj & Stephen Colbert Talk Gladiator 2 Filming In Malta
Jan 19 2024 Share

Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, rapper and artist Nicki Minaj talks about how much she loves the movie Gladiator, to which Colbert says that the sequel is currently filming on the Mediterranean island. 

 

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The split second mention of Malta was broadcast to millions of viewers who follow the show, with the video of the interview on YouTube amassing 166K views. 

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Minaj expresses how much she loves Gladiator as well as the Black Panther movie, asking if the main actress Connie Nielsen, who played Lucilla, will be reappearing in the sequel (spoiler alert: IMDb says she will).

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