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Category Archives: Government Documents

This Tiny Website Is Google’s First Line of Defense in the Patent Wars

Wired: “TDCommons is a free space for inventors to lay claim to breakthroughs without having to file a patent. Why is it so off the radar? A trio of Google engineers recently came up with a futuristic way to help anyone who stumbles through presentations on video calls. They propose that when algorithms detect a speaker’s pulse racing or “umms” lengthening, a generative AI bot that mimics their voice could simply take over. That cutting-edge idea wasn’t revealed at a big company event or in an academic journal. Instead, it appeared in a 1,500-word post on a little-known, free website called TDCommons.org that Google has quietly owned and funded for nine years. Until WIRED received a link to an idea on TDCommons last year and got curious, Google had never spoken with the media about its website. Scrolling through TDCommons, you can read Google’s latest ideas for coordinating smart home gadgets for better sleep, preserving privacy in mobile search results, and using AI to summarize a person’s activities from their photo archives. And the submissions aren’t exclusive to Google; about 150 organizations, including HP, Cisco, and Visa, also have posted inventions to the website. The website is a home for ideas that seem potentially valuable but not worth spending tens of thousands of dollars seeking a patent for. By publishing the technical details and establishing “prior art,” Google and other companies can head off future disputes by blocking others from filing patents for similar concepts. Google gives employees a $1,000 bonus for each invention they post to TDCommons—a tenth of what it awards its patent seekers—but they also get an immediately shareable link to gloat about otherwise secretive work. TDCommons adds to Google’s long-standing, and far more vocal, efforts to carve out greater space for freewheeling innovation in an industry where patents can be used to hobble or extract cash from competitors. The site may be dowdy and obscure, but it does the trick. “The beauty of defensive publications is that this website can be pretty simple,” says Laura Sheridan, Google’s head of patent policy. “It needs to establish a date. And it needs to have documents be accessible. There’s not much more we need to do.” In reality, the experiment has struggled to cut through government bureaucracy and overcome competition from more robust archives. Sheridan acknowledges it’s a work in progress. TDCommons needs a bigger flow of uploads to become less peculiar and more vital. It offers a unique hope of expanding public access to the technical creativity happening inside corporate walls—and shifting more resources toward that work.”

Mapping Soot and Smog Pollution in the United States

Earth Justice: “Under the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must set standards that protect public health from common air pollutants, such as fine particulate matter (also known as soot) and ground-level ozone (also known as smog). On Feb. 7, the EPA strengthened the annual particulate matter standard from 12 micrograms per cubic meter… Continue Reading

How the Smithsonian Is Helping Black Americans Trace Their Roots

Smithsonian Magazine – Free sessions hosted by the National Museum of African American History and Culture offer visitors advice on researching their genealogy..Genealogy researchers use military records, birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, wills, legal and court documents, and census records to help piece together the past. The resources referenced by NMAAHC’s team don’t currently… Continue Reading

OMB stands up first online database of all federal programs

Federal News Network: “It took 13 years — with some stops, starts and stumbles in between — but as of today, the federal government now has a single website designed to deliver detailed, searchable information about all federal programs. The Office of Management and Budget flipped the switch Thursday on the new Federal Program Inventory,… Continue Reading

The impact of generative AI in a global election year

Brookings – Valerie Wirtschafter: “The influence of the online ecosystem in shaping democratic discourse is well-documented, with the expanded reach of generative artificial intelligence (AI) representing a novel challenge in a historic election year. Generative AI enables the creation of realistic images, videos, audio, or text based on user-provided prompts. Given the potential exploitation of… Continue Reading

Digital Policy Alert – CLaiRK BETA

“CLaiRK is the latest initiative of the Digital Policy Alert team. Over the first half of 2024, we aim to build a comprehensive tool that will help you navigate the rapidly changing landscape of artificial intelligence rules. Our mission is to help policymakers, legal professionals, journalists and citizens better understand the nuances of digital regulations… Continue Reading

US patent office confirms AI can’t hold patents

The Verge: “The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) maintains that artificial intelligence systems cannot be named inventors, but humans can use AI tools in the process of creating patented inventions and must disclose if they do. The agency published its latest guidance following a series of “listening” tours to gather public feedback. It states… Continue Reading

US GPO Webinars – Health Stats and Govt Info

Webinar: Health Statistics on the Web; Date: Thursday, February 15, 2024; Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (EST) Register – https://secure.icohere.com/registration/register.cfm?reg=10482&evt=20240215-Health-Stats&t=1707829397055 Recording and closed captioning are available. All webinars are free of charge. Speakers: Katie Pierce Farrier, Data Science Strategist, Region 3, Network of the National Library of Medicine, Christine Nieman, Data Education Librarian, Region… Continue Reading

FCC gets tough: Telcos must now tell you when your personal info is stolen

The Register: “The FCC’s updated reporting requirements mean telcos in America will have just seven days to officially disclose that a criminal has broken into their systems. After releasing a proposed rule in early January and giving the industry 30 days to respond, the FCC’s final rule was published today. It solidifies what the agency… Continue Reading

American Local Government Elections Database

“The study of urban and local politics in the United States has long been hindered by a lack of centralized sources of election data. We introduce a new dataset of about 78,000 candidates in 57,000 electoral contests that encompasses races for seven distinct local political offices in most medium and large cities and counties in… Continue Reading

CISA Launches #Protect2024 Resources Webpage for State and Local Election Officials

“As part of its unwavering commitment to safeguarding the security and integrity of the nation’s elections infrastructure, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) launched its new #Protect2024 webpage today. Election security remains a paramount concern for CISA, the lead federal agency entrusted with securing the nation’s elections infrastructure. The agency continues to proudly stand… Continue Reading

Commonness of Races in Different Occupations

FlowingDate – Nathan Yau: “Some jobs are worked commonly by people of a certain race or ethnicity more than others. Farm managers are almost all white, postal service processors are half black, manicurists are 65% Asian, and drywall installers are 75% Hispanic. The chart below shows the percentage of employed persons 16 years and older… Continue Reading