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UK Passport Images Database Could Be Used To Catch Shoplifters
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Britain's passport database could be used to catch shoplifters, burglars and other criminals under urgent plans to curb crime, the policing minister has said. Chris Philp said he planned to integrate data from the police national database (PND), the Passport Office and other national databases to help police find a match with the "click of one button." But civil liberty campaigners have warned the plans would be an "Orwellian nightmare" that amount to a "gross violation of British privacy principles". Foreign nationals who are not on the passport database could also be found via the immigration and asylum biometrics system, which will be part of an amalgamated system to help catch thieves. The measures have been deemed controversial by campaigners as the technology could get a match even if images are blurred or partially obscured. Speaking at a fringe event of the Conservative party conference hosted by the Policy Exchange thinktank, Philp said: "I'm going to be asking police forces to search all of those databases -- the police national database, which has custody images, but also other databases like the passport database -- not just for shoplifting but for crime generally to get those matches, because the technology is now so good that you can get a blurred image and get a match for it. "Operationally, I'm asking them to do it now. In the medium term, by which I mean the next two years, we're going to try and create a new data platform so you can press one button [and it] lets you search it all in one go. Until the new platform is created, he said police forces should search each database separately. [...] Philp said he has already ordered police forces that have access to the passport database to start searching it alongside the police national database, which stores custody images. Officers will be able to compare those facial images against CCTV, dashcam and doorbell technology to help find a match for criminals as prosecution rates are at record lows. He later added: "I would also just remind everyone that the wider public, including shop staff and security guards, do have the power of citizen's arrest and where it's safe to do so I would encourage that to be used. Because if you do just let people walk in and take stuff and walk out without proper challenge, including potentially a physical challenge, then it will just escalate."

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Can Generative AI Solve Computer Science's Greatest Unsolved Problem?
ZDNet calls it "a deep meditation on what can ultimately be achieved with computers" and "the single most important unsolved problem in computer science," with implications for both cryptography and quantum computing. "The question: Does P = NP?" "Now, that effort has enlisted the help of generative AI." In a paper titled "Large Language Model for Science: A Study on P vs. NP," lead author Qingxiu Dong and colleagues program OpenAI's GPT-4 large language model using what they call a Socratic Method, several turns of chat via prompt with GPT-4. (The paper was posted this month on the arXiv pre-print server by scientists at Microsoft, Peking University, Beihang University in Beijing, and Beijing Technology and Business University.) The team's method amounts to taking arguments from a prior paper and spoon-feeding them to GPT-4 to prompt useful responses. Dong and team observe that GPT-4 demonstrates arguments to conclude that P does not, in fact, equal NP. And they claim that the work shows that large language models can do more than spit back vast quantities of text, they can also "discover novel insights" that may lead to "scientific discoveries," a prospect they christen "LLMs for Science...." Through 97 prompt rounds, the authors coax GPT-4 with a variety of requests that get into the nitty-gritty of the mathematics of P = NP, prepending each of their prompts with a leading statement to condition GPT-4, such as, "You are a wise philosopher," "You are a mathematician skilled in probability theory" — in other words, the now familiar game of getting GPT-4 to play a role, or, "persona" to stylize its text generation. Their strategy is to induce GPT-4 to prove that P does not, in fact, equal NP, by first assuming that it does with an example and then finding a way that the example falls apart — an approach known as proof by contradiction... [T]he authors argue that their dialogue in prompts shows the prospect for large language models to do more than merely mimic human textual creations. "Our investigation highlights the potential capability of GPT-4 to collaborate with humans in exploring exceptionally complex and expert-level problems," they write.

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Here's What's New in Python 3.12
Monday will see the stable release of Python 3.12. Here's an article summarizing what the new version will include: - enhanced error messages — performance upgrades - the introduction of Immortal objects and sub interpreters - changes to F strings - modifications related to types and type annotations - the removal of certain modules - improvements in type implementations Modules from the standard library are now suggested as part of the error messages, making it easier for developers to troubleshoot and resolve issues... Another significant addition in Python 3.12 is the introduction of sub interpreters. Each sub interpreter has its own Global Interpreter Lock, enabling Python to better utilize multiple CPU cores. This feature can significantly enhance the performance of Python programs, especially those that are designed to take advantage of multi-core processors... The pathlib module now has a walk method, allowing for the exploration of directory trees. This new feature can make it easier for developers to work with file systems in their Python programs. Python 3.12 also supports the ability to monitor calls, returns, lines, exceptions, and other events using instrumentation. This feature can be very useful for debugging and performance tuning.

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