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In its decision last month to strike down their state’s anti-spam statute, the Virginia Supreme Court also threw out the criminal conviction of Jeremy Jaynes, one of the Internet’s most prolific spammers.

As it turns out, neither event will make much difference to the amount of spam you’ll receive today, tomorrow, or at any time in the near future. But to my way of thinking, it is just another reminder of how difficult it is to get the judiciary to understand Internet issues.

In a unanimous decision, Justice G. Steven Agee wrote that, “the right to engage in anonymous speech, particularly anonymous political or religious speech, is ‘an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment,’ citing a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court case.

“By prohibiting false routing information in the dissemination of e-mails,” the court held, Virginia’s anti-spam law, “infringes on that protected right.”

The problem with the Virginia law boiled down to the fact that lawmakers were overly broad in drafting the statute, writing it in such a way that the prohibitions covered not just commercial email, but those with political or religious content as well.

Under well-established constitutional tests, restrictions on non-commercial speech are judged under a far stricter level of scrutiny than purely commercial speech.

Virginia prosecutors argued the spam law wasn’t about speech, rather it was a trespass law focused on protecting the private property – the email servers of companies such as AOL – from the harmful acts of unauthorized users.

The Virginia Supreme Court rejected that argument, drawing a distinction between false and fraudulent header information, saying that false header information doesn’t necessarily mean the information is fraudulent. By equating the two, the law’s prohibition against falsifying email headers took away the ability of email senders to be anonymous.

While I understand the court’s reasoning, and I can even get behind their holding that the statutory language was an overreach – something I actually complained about to Virginia lawmakers back in 2003 when the law was drafted – I found the court’s analogy of the Federalist Papers to be both ill-conceived and offensive to the reasons why we have a First Amendment.

There is no record of our founding fathers taking copies of their articles door-to-door, shoving them unwanted in people’s faces, forcing their way onto private property to paste copies on people’s doors. Yet that’s what Justice Agee seems to think they’d be doing.

In my estimation, spam would probably have been the least likely mode of publication. That’s because our Founding Fathers were actually much savvier than today’s Virginia Supreme Court Justices in understanding the appropriate and effective use of what was then the cutting edge of 18th century technology.

The Virginia court got lost in the IP address mumbo-jumbo and lost sight of an important reality: if a communications channel is driven to the brink of collapse by abuse, that channel is unavailable for anyone’s free speech. Moreover, when talking about a network made up of the private property of others, speech is never “free” in terms of the costs as they are borne by those providing the medium.

Ultimately, the simple-minded judgment of the court – that free speech requires an “anything goes” mentality – doesn’t properly consider that if the cacophony renders communication impossible, no one’s interests are well-served.

As one famous judge once wrote, the Constitution isn’t a suicide pact. Hopefully future courts will consider Virginia’s exercise in silliness to be an outlier case and look more critically at both the technology, and the practicality, when weighing the rights of spammers against the need to protect the email medium.

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Twitter Free Speech Enthusiast Suspends Journalists, Blocks Mastodon Links, Closes Spaces

Chief Twitter free speech enthusiast Elon Musk has suspended the accounts of a number of prominent journalists reporting on him, blocked links to rival social media service Mastodon, and closed the group audio feature Twitter Spaces, after facing awkward questions there.

Musk has described himself as a free speech absolutist, arguing that anyone should be allowed to say anything …

Twitter free speech enthusiast Musk suspends accounts

Musk last month gave an example of the depth of his commitment to this principle:

My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk

This was a reference to the @ElonJet account – which has now been suspended, along with the personal account of the man who ran it, Jack Sweeney. The account used publicly available flight-tracking information to tweet the location of Musk’s private jet each time it took off and landed. This data is automatically transmitted by transponders fitted to all commercial aircraft and many private ones.

Musk has also said that he is taking legal action against Sweeney. He explained the U-turn by referencing an alleged “crazy stalker” incident, in which he said that his son’s car had been followed. Los Angeles Police Department said that no crime report has been received in reference to this.

Journalist accounts suspended

Following this, the Twitter accounts of a number of prominent journalists were suspended. NBC News reports:

The accounts of Ryan Mac of The New York Times, Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, Matt Binder of Mashable, Micah Lee of The Intercept, Steve Herman of Voice of America and independent journalists Aaron Rupar, Keith Olbermann and Tony Webster had all been suspended as of Thursday evening.

Each of these journalists had either recently reported on the suspension of the @ElonJet account, or written other pieces critical of Musk.

CNN reports that one of the journalists had queried Musk’s posting of video footage of the alleged stalker.

Aaron Rupar, a Substack writer who was also suspended Thursday, said he’s dumbfounded by his suspension.

“I have no idea what rules I purportedly broke,” Rupar wrote on Substack. “I haven’t heard anything from Twitter at all.”

Twitter Spaces closed down

A number of journalists participated in a Twitter Spaces group audio discussion of the events. Musk himself briefly joined the conversation, then abruptly left it after being questioned.

TechCrunch notes that Twitter Spaces was closed down shortly afterward.

Twitter has apparently pulled its Spaces group audio feature, at least temporarily, after Elon Musk joined a group conversation that included journalists that had been banned from the platform.

9to5Mac editor-in-chief Chance Miller noted that Twitter is also blocking links to rival service Mastodon.

Elon Musk is also blocking users from adding Mastodon links to their Twitter profile. chúng tôi Chance Miller (@ChanceHMiller) December 16, 2023

This is fine

The chief Twitter free speech enthusiast later tweeted something on which he saw widespread agreement.

ی تنه داری میرینی توش chúng tôi حضرت (@IAM4ryn) December 16, 2023

Photo: The Ian/Unsplash

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Gmail Glitch Sending Newsletters To Spam, Mailchimp Confirms

An ongoing issue with Google’s Gmail is disrupting the normal functioning of email newsletter services.

The issue is causing many emails to be redirected to subscribers’ spam folders instead of their primary inboxes.

This problem came to light at Search Engine Journal in early June when our email newsletter open rates nosedived from our usual average.

A MailChimp representative confirms this isn’t an isolated incident.

The popular email marketing platform has been grappling with Gmail-specific delivery issues for an undisclosed number of clients.

“The issue is occurring within Google and the Gmail platform. We are working directly with them to aid our users in getting campaigns directed in the inboxes,” the MailChimp spokesperson stated.

However, MailChimp has had to admit the challenges of addressing this issue, given that it occurs outside its platform. “It’s hard to say when it will be fixed,” admitted the spokesperson. Despite this, it ensures it’s working directly with Google on a fix.

What Does This Mean For Publishers?

While delivery reports show that MailChimp campaigns are accepted by Gmail, it’s miscategorizing them as Spam.

This unusual sorting is a thorn for publishers, who rely on email newsletters to engage with their readers and distribute content.

So, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

If this issue impacts you as a subscriber, consider following the steps below to ensure you’re not missing your favorite newsletters.

How To Ensure You’re Not Missing Email Newsletters

There will be a prompt confirming moving it to the inbox.

Note that images will be downloaded once you check your inbox, and you can view the entire email.

More Details To Come

While we confirmed the Gmail disruption with MailChimp, it’s currently unclear whether this issue impacts other email newsletter platforms.

While the resolution seems to be in sight, it highlights the urgency of effective communication channels between tech platforms and their users.

Google and MailChimp haven’t provided a specific timeline for resolving the problem but have reiterated their commitment to resolving it as quickly as possible.

Are you experiencing any similar issues? If so, please share your feedback and join the conversation with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Featured image generated by the author using Midjourney. 

Is Claude Free To Use? Exploring The Features And Limitations

Yes, Claude is currently free to use during its beta period.

In the realm of artificial intelligence, there exists a multitude of language models that strive to offer intelligent and engaging conversational capabilities. Among these is Claude, a language model created by Anthropic. This article will explore whether Claude is available for free usage, as well as its features and limitations.

Claude, developed by Anthropic, is a language model that provides users with the ability to engage in interactive conversations. While it is a remarkable creation, it is essential to understand its accessibility and any potential costs involved.

As for its features, Claude boasts an array of impressive abilities. It is designed to comprehend and generate human-like text, making it proficient in understanding context, answering questions, and engaging in meaningful conversations. With its vast training data and language processing capabilities, Claude can provide insightful responses, offer suggestions, and assist users in various tasks.

See More : Claude 2 Pricing: A Comprehensive Overview

During its beta period, Claude is indeed free to use. Anthropic provides users with full access to the system without any limitations or additional charges. This allows users to explore the capabilities of Claude, provide feedback, and help improve its performance before the official launch.

To begin using Claude, users can create a free Slack account and workspace. Once the workspace is set up, they can add the Claude app and start interacting with it. The seamless integration with Slack makes it convenient for users to access and utilize Claude’s capabilities within their existing workflows.

While Claude offers a compelling conversational experience, it’s important to understand its limitations and potential drawbacks. Here are some factors to consider:

Also Read : How to Use Claude API: A Next-Generation AI Assistant Integration

Like other language models, Claude is not without its flaws. It shares some of the limitations and biases present in ChatGPT, another popular language model. For example, Claude may occasionally provide answers that do not align with its programmed constraints. Furthermore, it may struggle with complex mathematical calculations and exhibit subpar programming skills compared to ChatGPT.

Certain types of questions may pose difficulties for Claude. These include:

Claude’s performance in solving complex mathematical problems may not be as robust as desired.

Claude’s knowledge is primarily derived from pre-existing text data and may not have real-time internet access to provide up-to-date information.

Claude’s responses are based on the data it has been trained on, and it may struggle to answer questions that go beyond its training set.

If a question does not provide enough context or information, Claude may not be able to provide a meaningful response.

It is important to keep these limitations in mind while using Claude to ensure accurate and reliable results.

When comparing Claude to ChatGPT, some notable differences emerge. Claude tends to answer a few more trivia questions correctly, particularly in the domains of entertainment, geography, history, and basic algebra. However, it is important to note that ChatGPT outperforms Claude in certain areas, such as mathematics and programming skills.

In conclusion, Claude is currently free to use during its beta period. Anthropic does not impose any limitations or additional charges for accessing Claude. However, it is essential to consider the limitations and potential flaws associated with Claude. While it offers an impressive conversational experience, it may struggle with certain question types and exhibit flaws similar to ChatGPT. Users should keep these aspects in mind while utilizing Claude’s capabilities.

Q: Can I use Claude without any charges?

A: Yes, Claude is currently free to use during its beta period. There are no limitations to using Claude during this period, and Anthropic does not charge anything additional to access it.

Q: What are the limitations of Claude?

A: Claude may struggle with complex arithmetic, reasoning questions, and those requiring general internet access. It may also have difficulty answering questions outside of its programmed constraints or questions lacking sufficient information.

Q: How does Claude compare to ChatGPT?

A: Claude and ChatGPT have their own strengths and weaknesses. Claude tends to answer more trivia questions correctly in certain domains, while ChatGPT performs better in mathematics and programming-related inquiries.

Q: Is Claude reliable?

A: While Claude offers an engaging conversational experience, it is important to acknowledge its limitations and potential flaws. Users should exercise caution and verify the accuracy of its responses when using Claude.

Q: Will Anthropic charge for Claude in the future?

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How To Report Hate Speech Content To Microsoft

It won’t be overkill to call the Internet the innovation of the century – but that doesn’t mean that it is necessarily a charming place. The Internet, just like all the other things in this world, has its dark side, including haters, trolls, abusers, and also cybercriminals, just like how one would go and report abusive behavior to a cop in the actual world, the same can also be done on the Internet. Microsoft has launched a new initiative to make it easier for internet users to report such unruly behavior. But before that, we need to understand what exactly does hate speech constitutes and how we can report the same to the authorities.

What is Hate Speech

Hate speech in the online world is very similar to the real world except for the fact that the identities of the abuser might not be revealed. Hate speech attacks a group or an individual based on attributes like religion, sex, race, disability, and sexual orientation. A website that uses hate speech is commonly referred to as a hate site. If you find abuses hurled at you or a video trying to target a community, in general, it’s time you report the same. Extremist groups & Terror organizations have been leveraging this very hate speech to lure the people into their organizations. While most online services, including Twitter and Facebook, are fighting in unison to end this menace, it is far from over.

Report Hate Speech to Microsoft

Microsoft seems to have taken it upon itself to make the world wide web a better place and, as a result, has launched a new dedicated web form for the complaints. Tha is what folks at Microsoft had to say about the new initiative.

“Microsoft is committed to creating safe online communities where our customers can learn, play, grow and interact without the threat of violence or hatred. That’s why for many years we’ve sought to protect our customers by prohibiting hate speech and removing such content from our hosted consumer services. While neither our principles nor our policies are changing, we are refining some of our processes to make it easier for customers to report hate speech. We’re also simplifying requests to reinstate content that customers feel was removed in error”

Microsoft already has a solid guideline for taking down hate speech. In all likelihood, the company is just fine-tuning the entire process and making it more efficient. Further, Microsoft says it will retain the “notice and takedown” approach for removing prohibited content found on hosted consumer services.

However, all content that you may find offensive or consider hate speech will be reviewed thoroughly before it is finally removed from the website.

You need to fill in this web form with all the details asked for and try to be as contextual as possible. Once the request is sent, it will be queued for review, and the findings will be communicated via e-mail.

So it’s time for us as netizens to sweep the Internet clean of hate speeches and inflammatory content.

Speech To Text Conversion In Python – A Step

This article was published as a part of the Data Science Blogathon.

When it comes to our interactions with machines, things have gotten a lot more complicated. We’ve gone from large mechanical buttons to touchscreens. However, hardware isn’t the only thing that’s changing. Throughout the history of computers, the text has been the primary method of input. But thanks to developments in NLP and ML (Machine Learning), Data Science, we now have the means to use speech as a medium for interacting with our gadgets in the near future.

Virtual assistants are the most common use of these tools, which are all around us. Google, Siri, Alexa, and a host of other digital assistants have set the bar high for what’s possible when it comes to communicating with the digital world on a personal level.

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For the first time in the history of modern technology, the ability to convert spoken words into text is freely available to everyone who wants to experiment with it.

When it comes to creating speech-to-text applications, Python, one of the most widely used programming languages, has plenty of options.

History of Speech to Text

Before diving into Python’s statement to text feature, it’s interesting to take a look at how far we’ve come in this area. Listed here is a condensed version of the timeline of events:

Audrey,1952: The first speech recognition system built by 3 Bell Labs engineers was Audrey in 1952. It was only able to read numerals.

IBM Shoebox (1962): Coils can distinguish 16 words in addition to numbers in IBM’s first voice recognition system, the IBM Shoebox (1962). Had the ability to do basic mathematical calculations and publish the results.

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Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA) (1970): Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) (1970): DARPA supported Speech Understanding Research, which led to the creation of Harpy’s ability to identify 1011 words.

Hidden Markov Model(HMM), the 1980s: Problems that need sequential information can be represented using the HMM statistical model. This model was used in the development of new voice recognition techniques.

Voice search by Google,2001: It was in 2001 that Google launched its Voice Search tool, which allowed users to search by speaking. This was the first widely used voice-enabled app.

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Siri,2011: A real-time and convenient way to connect with Apple’s gadgets was provided by Siri in 2011.

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Alexa,2014 & google home,2024: Voice-activated virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Home, which have sold over 150 million units combined, entered the mainstream in 2014 and 2024, respectively.

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Problems faced in Speech to Text

Speech-to-text conversion is a difficult topic that is far from being solved. Numerous technical limitations render this a substandard tool at best. The following are some of the most often encountered difficulties with voice recognition technology:

1. Imprecise interpretation

Speech recognition does not always accurately comprehend spoken words. VUIs (Voice User Interfaces) are not as proficient at comprehending contexts that alter the connection between words and phrases as people are. Thus, machines may have difficulty comprehending the semantics of a statement.

2. Time

At times, speech recognition systems require an excessive amount of time to process. This might be due to the fact that humans possess a wide variety of vocal patterns. Such difficulties with voice recognition can be overcome by speaking slower or more precisely, but this reduces the tool’s convenience.

3. Accents

VUIs may have difficulty comprehending dialects that are not standard. Within the same language, people might utter the same words in drastically diverse ways.

4. Background noise and loudness

In a perfect world, these would not be an issue, but that is not the case, and hence VUIs may struggle to operate in noisy surroundings (public spaces, big offices, etc.).

How does Speech recognition work?

A complete description of the method is beyond the scope of this blog.А соmрlete desсriрtiоn оf the met in this blog. This is accomplished using the “Speech Recognition” API and the “PyAudio” library.

ownload the Python packages listed below

pip install SpeechRecognition

My audio (pip install Pyaudio)

Portaudio (pip install Portaudio)

Convert an audio file into text

Steps

Import library for speech recognition

Initializing the recognizer class in order to do voice recognition. We аre utilizing Gооgle’s sрeeсh reсоgnitiоn teсhnоlоgy.

The following audio formats are supported by speech recognition: wav, AIFF, AIFF-C, and FLAC. In this example, I utilized a ‘wav’ file.

I’ve utilized an audio clip from a ‘stolen’ video that states “I have no idea who you are or what you want, but if you’re seeking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have any money.”

Code

#import library import speech_recognition as sr #Initiаlize reсоgnizer сlаss (fоr reсоgnizing the sрeeсh) r = sr.Recognizer() # Reading Audio file as source # listening the аudiо file аnd stоre in аudiо_text vаriаble with sr.AudioFile('I-dont-know.wav') as source: audio_text = r.listen(source) # recoginize_() method will throw a request error if the API is unreachable, hence using exception handling try: # using google speech recognition text = r.recognize_google(audio_text) print('Converting audio transcripts into text ...') print(text) except: print('Sorry.. run again...')

Output:

Speech is nothing more than a sound wave at its most basic level. In terms of acoustics, amplitude, peak, trough, crest, and trough, wavelength, cycle, and frequency are some of the characteristics of these sound waves or audio signals.

Due to the fact that these audio signals are continuous, they include an endless number of data points. To convert such an audio signal to a digital signal capable of being processed by a computer, the network must take a discrete distribution of samples that closely approximates the continuity of an audio signal.

Once we’ve established a suitable sample frequency (8000 Hz is a reasonable starting point, given the majority of speech frequencies fall within this range), we can analyze the audio signals using Python packages such as LibROSA and SciPy. On the basis of these inputs, we can then partition the data set into two parts: one for training the model and another for validating the model’s conclusions.

At this stage, one may use the Conv1d model architecture, a convolutional neural network with a single dimension of operation. After that, we may construct a model, establish its loss function, and use neural networks to prevent the best model from converting voice to text. We can modify statements to text using deep learning and NLP (Natural Language Processing) to enable wider applicability and acceptance.

Applications of Speech Recognition

There are more tools accessible for operating this technological breakthrough because it is mostly a software creation that does not belong to anyone company. Because of this, even developers with little financial resources have been able to use this technology to create innovative apps.

The following are some of the sectors in which voice recognition is gaining traction

Evolution in search engines: Speech recognition will aid in improving search accuracy by bridging the gap between verbal and textual communication.

Impact on the healthcare industry: The impact on the healthcare business is that voice recognition is becoming a more prevalent element in the medical sector, as it speeds up the production of medical reports. As VUIs improve their ability to comprehend medical language, clinicians will gain time away from administrative tasks by using this technology.

Service providers: Telecommunications companies may rely even more on speech-to-text technology that may help determine callers’ requirements and lead them to the proper support.

Conclusion

A speech-to-text conversion is a useful tool that is on its way to becoming commonplace. With Python, one of the most popular programming languages in the world, it’s easy to create applications with this tool. As we make progress in this area, we’re laying the groundwork for a future in which digital information may be accessed not just with a fingertip but also with a spoken command.

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