Something is Wrong
We know, we know: every day on
since approximately October 27, 2022 has been strange. But today, things are somehow extra weird.
Twitter users, notably the alt-right bunch, have been in a tizzy for the last 18 hours or so, claiming that the Elon Musk-owned Twitter app, for whatever reason, is refusing to let their content go viral unless they switch their accounts to private.
"Okay, since everyone is trying this account locking technique to see if it improves engagement, I'll give it a whirl," tweeted conservative podcaster Ben Shapiro. "Let me know if you see my tweets again if they've been hidden over the past few weeks."
"Ben I can't retweet you," responded Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, who all-around just seems more confused than anyone else.
And Musk, as he's been making very clear, is also in the dark.
"Something is wrong," he tweeted Tuesday evening, in response to a complaint from alt-right talking head Libs of TikTok. But not to fret: Musk, seemingly in solidarity, decided to take his own account private. A brave move for both the owner of the app and the world's premier tweeter.
He's still private now, and it's unclear what exactly needs to be fixed, if anything. Cheers.
There are a lot of factors at play here, the first being that "shadowbanning" and alleged free speech suppression, particularly of conservative voices, has been a major conservative talking point for years.
Conservative "voices" on Twitter, a list including all of the names just mentioned, certainly play into that narrative. Musk does as well, in his Twitter Files and in his far-right flirtations. Whether these folks' content is actually being suppressed, just talking about it is surely getting them some numbers. (Jury's still out on if Twitter really is glitching, but considering that teams have been stretched razor-thin for months now, it wouldn't be shocking.)
Also, shadowbans do exist. But once again, Musk owns Twitter, and if something's broken, it's his job to fix it. He can also apparently see whose accounts have been shadowbanned and why, as confirmed by Fox host and Twitter HQ guest visitor Dave Rubin just a few days ago.
Anyway. We'll leave these folks to their tiramisu.
More on Twitter bans: Free Speech Champion Elon Musk Is Mass Suspending Twitter Accounts of Journalists Who Criticized Him
The post Elon Musk
His Twitter Account to Private appeared first on Futurism.
Imagine a future where students are expected to use a chatGPT-like AI to write their college essays. Would we expect the quality of their essays to be equal?
Those with the best essays are those who are best able to use AI. These people treat the initial output of the AI as merely a draft. They judge and critique the draft. They go through revision after revision. They do not cease until the essay is to a standard that they deem fit.
In the end, the line between student or AI authorship is blurred. One can only be sure that it is a collaboration between the two.
Thus, the most important skill here is judgment. The ability to evaluate work critically, pinpoint shortcomings, and articulate improvements for an AI to execute.
The example I've given here is for essays. But it could be for interior design, video animation, financial projections, etc.
What do y'all think?
almost any posts responses are categorizable into one of these 3 brackets. barely one crosses into the futurology of another bubble.
what makes us this way and how can we thrive for more unbiased and unbubbled futurology?
Nature Communications, Published online: 02 February 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-36290-wThe compound Rocaglamide A (RocA) is known for repressing translation initiation. Here the authors identify a dual mode of action for RocA in blocking translation initiation and elongation via eIF4A using previous datasets and new analyses.
This week the government published a major environmental improvement plan for England. It has pledged that every household will be within a 15-minute walk of green space or water, the restoration of 1.2m acres of wildlife habitat, and that sewage spills will be tackled with upgrades to wastewater treatment works. Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian's environment editor, Fiona Harvey, about the state of nature in the UK, what this plan promises to do, and whether it's ambitious enough to halt and reverse damage done.
Clips: BBC News, Channel 4 News, ITV NewsContinue reading…
I've been getting very into them recently as a means to handle some issues in my life. TAE in particular has yielded some amazing insights, just very recently (like I did it an hour ago)
Some of this stuff is pretty profound and mindblowing, so I'd love to discuss it with more people!
One of the most effective, and successful, graphics developed by Skeptical Science is the escalator. The escalator shows how global surface temperature anomalies vary with time, and illustrates how "contrarians" tend to cherry-pick short time intervals so as to argue that there has been no recent warming, while "realists" recognise that even though there can be short-term variability, the long-term trend clearly indicates the reality of global warming.
A prominent example of the former was the one-time repetitious claim that it hadn't warmed since 1998, a year when there was a very strong El Nino. This claim persisted for quite some time, before – unsurprisingly – being dropped when it became clear that warming hadn't paused. However, this hasn't stopped others from making similar claims about more recent time periods, including, in 2019, a claim that we had just entered a cooling period. The escalator is a really nice way to illustrate the problem with such nonsense.
However, our escalator is now slightly dated. The original version went up until 2011, while the current version ends in 2015. We also noticed that Robert Rohde had updated the escalator and produced a staircase of denial. This motivated us to update our escalator, which we present below.
Source for data used in the graphic: Global mean monthly temperature anomalies, relative to the 1850-1900 mean, from Berkeley Earth.
There are competing plans to launch the first floating city, with Pusan, Korea, and Maldives being announced as locations for 2025 and 2027 respectively. The Pusan plan is UN-backed and led by a company called Oceanix. As one would imagine, much thought has gone into making the environment highly sustainable, leveraging water conservation technology, solar power, aqua- and hydroponics, etc.
I'm curious to know at a high level what people think of the prospect of living in a floating city. What would you need to have to make it feasible for you? What would be your biggest fears? I could ask countless sub-questions, but I'll leave it at that. Please share your thoughts and questions openly.
This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here.
In her cover story for the March issue of our magazine, the staff writer Megan Garber argues that Americans are living in a kind of "metaverse," where the line between entertainment and reality is blurrier than ever. That lack of clarity could be hastening the nation's descent into conspiracy.
But first, here are three new stories from The Atlantic.
- The GOP is just obnoxious.
- The police can be reformed. These two books lay out how.
- "My printer is extorting me."
"I'm a Real Person"
From Americans' bottomless appetite for true crime to the camera-mugging antics of January 6 insurrectionists, "the metaverse has leaped from science fiction and into our lives," writes Megan Garber. Entertainment has become so immersive that it not only dovetails with real life but also absorbs it, rendering ordinary Americans the "main characters" of daily dramas that play out, often, online. Instead of fostering a sense of interconnectedness, life in the metaverse has fed mistrust in institutions and in one another.
The metaverse, in other words, is fertile ground for conspiratorial thinking.
Recall how many Americans, in the grim depths of the pandemic, refused to understand the wearing of masks as anything but "virtue signaling"—the performance of a political view, rather than a genuine public-health measure. Note how many pundits have dismissed well-documented tragedies—children massacred at school, families separated by a callous state—as the work of "crisis actors." In a functioning society, "I'm a real person" goes without saying. In ours, it is a desperate plea.
This kind of conspiratorial thinking has supercharged political polarization in the U.S., the Atlantic contributing writer Brian Klaas explained last month:
Other countries, including the U.K., have polarization. America has irrational polarization, in which one political party has fallen under the spell of conspiratorial thinking. Polarization plus this conspiracist tendency risks turning run-of-the-mill democratic dysfunction into a democratic death spiral. The battle for American democracy will be a battle over reality.
Not helping matters is the enduring sway of Donald Trump within the Republican Party, whose base has molded itself in his likeness. In 2020, our editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg noted the troubling implications of the then-president's attraction to conspiracy:
Trump does not defend our democracy from the ruinous consequences of conspiracy thinking. Instead, he embraces such thinking. A conspiracy theory—birtherism—was his pathway to power, and, in office, he warns of the threat of the "deep state" with the ferocity of a QAnon disciple. He has even begun to question the official coronavirus death toll, which he sees as evidence of a dark plot against him. How is he different from Alex Jones, from the conspiracy manufacturers of Russia and the Middle East?
He lives in the White House. That is one main difference.
… Nonsense is nonsense, except when it kills. And conspiracy thinking, especially when advanced by the president of the United States, is an existential threat.
A broad increase in conspiracism may also be behind the recent uptick in anti-Semitic harassment and violence. As the Atlantic staff writer Yair Rosenberg wrote last year, "Unlike many other bigotries, anti-Semitism is not merely a social prejudice; it is a conspiracy theory about how the world operates."
The fevered fantasy of Jewish domination is incredibly malleable, which makes it incredibly attractive. If Jews are responsible for every perceived problem, then people with entirely opposite ideals can adopt it. And thanks to centuries of material blaming the world's ills on the world's Jews, conspiracy theorists seeking a scapegoat for their sorrows inevitably discover that the invisible hand of their oppressor belongs to an invisible Jew.
Rosenberg's theory of anti-Semitism-as-conspiracy points to the basic appeal in applying a narrative arc to real life. Stories help explain the hard-to-understand, if not the unexplainable. In a 2020 Atlantic article, our editor Ellen Cushing vividly recalled her own teenage foray into conspiracy thinking, reflecting on the sense of reassurance that this mindset can provide:
Conspiracy thinking is incredibly compelling. It promises an answer to problems as small as expired light bulbs and as big as our radical aloneness in the universe. It is self-sealing in its logic, and self-soothing in its effect: It posits a world where nothing happens by accident, where morality is plain, where every piece of information has divine meaning and every person has agency. It makes a puzzle out of the conspiracy, and a prestige-drama hero out of the conspiracist. "The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms," the historian Richard Hofstadter wrote in his seminal 1964 essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." "He is always manning the barricades of civilization." What Hofstadter declined to put a finger on is the intoxicating feeling of having insider knowledge about the fate of the world, or at least believing you do.
- Federal Reserve officials held their first meeting of the year and raised interest rates by a quarter of a point.
- The funeral of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was fatally beaten by police, was held this afternoon in Memphis. Reverend Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy.
- The FBI conducted a planned search of President Joe Biden's vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and did not find any classified documents, according to Biden's personal attorney.
- The Weekly Planet: The most famous climate goal is woefully misunderstood, Emma Marris writes.
- Up for Debate: Conor Friedersdorf asks for your thoughts, cultural memories, or personal experiences related to the weight-loss industry.
Explore all of our newsletters here.
Outdoor Dining Is Doomed
By Yasmin Tayag
These days, strolling through downtown New York City, where I live, is like picking your way through the aftermath of a party. In many ways, it is exactly that: The limp string lights, trash-strewn puddles, and splintering plywood are all relics of the raucous celebration known as outdoor dining.
These wooden "streeteries" and the makeshift tables lining sidewalks first popped up during the depths of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, when restaurants needed to get diners back in their seats. It was novel, creative, spontaneous—and fun during a time when there wasn't much fun to be had. For a while, outdoor dining really seemed as though it could outlast the pandemic. Just last October, New York Magazine wrote that it would stick around, "probably permanently."
But now someone has switched on the lights and cut the music. Across the country, something about outdoor dining has changed in recent months. With fears about COVID subsiding, people are losing their appetite for eating among the elements.
More From The Atlantic
- How the Supreme Court protects police officers
- Thomas Chatterton Williams: Not every atrocity is about white supremacy.
- Psychedelics open your brain. You might not like what falls in.
Read. One teacher's approach will change the way you read, or reread, The Great Gatsby.
Watch. You still have time to catch up on the Oscars contenders you need to see.
Some of the passages I cited in today's Daily were originally published as part of "Shadowland," a 2020 Atlantic project about conspiracy thinking. Megan Garber has another story in that series, titled "The Paranoid Style in American Entertainment," that makes for a great complementary read to her metaverse feature. I recommend reading one after the other, then letting it all sink in.
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Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.
- Reform California's Most Abused Environmental Law
This is an edition of Up for Debate, a newsletter by Conor Friedersdorf. On Wednesdays, he rounds up timely conversations and solicits reader responses to one thought-provoking question. Later, he publishes some thoughtful replies. Sign up for the newsletter here.
Question of the Week
In "The Weight-Loss-Drug Revolution Is a Miracle—And a Menace," my colleague Derek Thompson grappled with the rise of the drug Ozempic, the latest in a long line of much-hyped ways to lose weight and perhaps the most effective yet. My first encounter with the weight-loss industry, as a kid, was the cultural phenomenon of Jane Fonda's VHS workout tapes. By the time I was in college, the weight-loss industry was as strong as ever––but so was a countervailing cultural critique of unrealistic beauty standards. Later, public-health concerns about obesity were ascendant. What are your thoughts, cultural memories, or personal experiences about weight gain, the weight-loss industry, diet, exercise, beauty standards, diabetes, medical treatments for obesity, or anything related?
Send your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org or simply reply to this email.
Conversations of Note
There is near consensus in America that the five police officers who brutally beat Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee, leading to the 29-year-old's death in the hospital days later, perpetrated a horrific injustice. In that sense, the Nichols killing is more like, say, the widely condemned 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, than the more contested 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. But a detail of the Nichols killing has fueled a polarizing debate about why it happened: All five cops facing murder charges in the case are Black.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis, who is also Black, argued in an interview with CNN's Don Lemon that the racial identity of officers undermines the narrative "that issues and problems in law enforcement" are about race. It doesn't matter who's wearing the uniform, she said, "we all have that same responsibility. So, it takes race off the table, but it does indicate to me that bias might be a factor also, you know, and the manner in which we engage the community." The New York Times quoted Robert M. Sausedo, who leads a nonprofit organization formed after the 1991 Rodney King beating: "It's not racism driving this, it's culturism. It's a culture in law enforcement where it's OK to be aggressive to those they're supposed to serve."
But many on the left insisted that white supremacy or institutional racism were to blame. As Shaun Harper, identified in Forbes as a diversity, equity, and inclusion expert, put it in an analysis:
Institutional racism explains how five Black men could engage in police brutality, leading to the death of another Black man. They participated in the same trainings as white cops. They entered a profession that was born of anti-Blackness … They worked in a place where decades of anti-black policies and tactics were created. How a police department behaves, thinks about Black communities, and mistreats Black people informs how its employees engage with the Black citizens they were hired to protect and serve—even when they're Black.
This debate sometimes frustrates me. Say that two people who want to reduce police killings and misconduct both believe bad training in police academies is one significant contributor to unjust policing––but one characterizes the training regime's flaws as "toxic police culture" and the other attributes them to "white supremacy." I think they should focus on identifying and implementing best practices at the training academy rather than debate the best abstract characterization of the problem. But so many of our debates happen at the highest possible levels of ideological abstraction.
A Case Against Special Units
Here's an account of how the Memphis police unit whose members beat Nichols came about, told from 50 feet rather than 50,000 feet:
Chief Cerelyn Davis of the Memphis Police had been on the job for only a few months in 2021 when she saw that homicide numbers were rising toward a record. Near her new home downtown, drivers were buzzing wildly through the streets, often late at night. She had a plan to confront the mayhem. For reckless drivers, she told her team, officers were to focus less on writing tickets and more on an all-out strategy of seizing cars from the most dangerous drivers. Violent offenders needed to be targeted with new urgency. If the state could not take a case to court, she determined, her agency should ask federal prosecutors to take the case instead. "We all have that understanding about being tough on tough people," she said at a community event in November of that year.
Two days later, Chief Davis, the first African American woman to lead the department, launched her most ambitious strategy: a new police unit named Scorpion — or Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods — would deploy some 40 officers as a strike team in some of the most volatile corners of the city. Before long, some residents complained of heavy-handed tactics, of officers from the new Scorpion team employing punitive policing in response to relatively minor offenses.
I suspect that a DOJ investigation into the Nichols case and the murder trials of the officers who were involved will provide support for the argument, made most skillfully this week by Radley Balko, that in Memphis and beyond, special units of under-supervised, supposedly elite police officers are prone to horrific abuses and are therefore bad responses to rising crime, however tempting they apparently are. (Watch the TV series The Shield for a dramatization of how and why).
But maybe that's not what the facts of this case will show.
Whatever your theory on why Nichols was killed, I submit that the root causes will be more constructively debated after more details are probed, documented, and released. We need more evidence before assuming we know what caused any specific killing. This newsletter will revisit the case.
The Policing-Reform Debate With Sherilyn Ifill
In last week's newsletter (published prior to the release of video in the Nichols case), I wrote about the various reasons the American public's response to police killings is more muted now than it was in 2020, and went on to lament that in the years since 2015, when The Washington Post began its project tracking all police shootings in the United States, the number of Americans killed by the cops hasn't meaningfully decreased, despite all the attention paid to the issue:
Long before Black Lives Matter's ascent, I was among those inveighing against policing injustices and America's catastrophic War on Drugs, and trying and failing to significantly reduce police misconduct. Black Lives Matter arose in part because most of us who came before it largely failed. When it did, I hoped it would succeed spectacularly in reducing police killings and agreed with at least its premise that the issue warranted attention.
But it is now clear that the Black Lives Matter approach has largely failed too.
Despite an awareness-raising campaign as successful as any in my lifetime, untold millions of dollars in donations, and a position of influence within the progressive criminal-justice-reform coalition, there are just as many police killings as before Black Lives Matter began.
Sherrilyn Ifill, a civil-rights attorney and the former president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, posted a response to my piece on her Substack after footage of the Nichols killing was released. I appreciate the knowledge and passion she brings to the issue and hope to engage her perspective, but first I need to clarify one aspect of my argument that her rendering of it misunderstands.
In her telling, the central premise of my piece is captured by the question "Where should we assign blame for continued police violence?" In fact, my piece did not even attempt to assign blame. Instead, it focused on how best to reduce police violence. And I think this distinction is too often missed when evaluating all sorts of public policy and activism.
To probe whether a tactic or strategy for reducing police violence succeeds or fails is not the same as probing whether advocates of that tactic or strategy are to blame for the underlying ill. For example, if a civil-rights lawyer successfully pressures a police department to adopt body cameras for all of its police officers, but their presence does not deter excessive use of force, the lawyer is not to blame for the brutality. Nevertheless, their body-camera initiative failed, in this hypothetical, to reduce brutality, which anyone who is interested in actually solving the problem had better face squarely.
When I noted in passing that my writing against police abuses in the aughts failed to reduce them, I was not implying that I am to blame for continued police abuses or killings. Likewise, when I wrote that the Black Lives Matter approach to reducing police killings has failed, I was neither asserting nor implying that BLM is to blame for police killings—just that its attempts to reduce them have failed. The coalition to reduce police killings won't succeed until it reduces police killings!
A Point of Substantive Disagreement
In Ifill's telling, Black Lives Matter has made some important progress with its approach––indeed, she and I agree that it called for and achieved "greater awareness and confrontation with the truth of police violence." I think that she is also correct to point out that it played a role in increasing the number of cases in which bad cops are criminally charged and helped elect some reform-minded district attorneys. As yet, it's too early to judge the ultimate effects of those changes, but it's certainly possible that they will reduce police killings in the future.
But I disagree with another of Ifill's claims:
What has been most successful is the building of a movement of people who work every day to reimagine a new kind of public safety. Most people who are not afraid to imagine that our lives could really matter, now agree that the current system cannot be reformed and must be made over. Indeed it seems inevitable. The under-staffing and recruiting failures of police departments around the country demonstrate that no matter how much money is thrown at policing, the work itself has lost its appeal to a significant number of young people and is unlikely to reconstitute itself in the same form.
In 2014, I wrote about how "video killed trust in police officers." In my lifetime, I would say that that process began with the beating of Rodney King and concluded with the George Floyd video––at this point, very few Americans remain unexposed to horrific footage of police atrocities.
Last year, Gallup found that half of Americans support "major changes" to policing. But there isn't anything close to majority support for abolishing or defunding the police. Such proposals are reliably underwater among all Americans, among white Americans, and among people of color. So although it is true that policing is less appealing today to young people and that there are recruitment problems, I regard those labor shortages as an alarming portent of falling quality at policing institutions that will continue to exist in much the same form, not a hopeful sign of progress. I'd much rather that reform-minded young people intent on improving criminal justice were signing up to professionalize police ranks and leave no place for bad cops to hide.
There is so much more to talk about in Ifill's piece––and I wonder if she might like to do a written back-and-forth on the subject to take some of them up?
Reform California's Most Abused Environmental Law
The Los Angeles Times is editorializing on a court case that illustrates how NIMBYs are exploiting the California Environmental Quality Act:
A California appellate court is considering whether noisy college students are an environmental impact, akin to pollution or habitat loss, that should be addressed before UC Berkeley can build a new dormitory to ease its student housing shortage. The case involves the university's plan to develop People's Park, a swath of open space owned by the university and claimed by protesters in 1969, with housing for 1,100 students and supportive housing for 125 homeless people, along with a clinic, public market and landscaped open space.
Neighborhood groups sued to block the project, arguing the university violated CEQA. In a tentative ruling issued in December, the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco agreed the university failed to adequately study certain impacts, including noise. The ruling said that because college kids can be loud when talking, drinking and partying, the university should have studied and sought to reduce the "social noise" from future student residents.
Berkeley's lawyers argue that noise from humans socializing shouldn't be considered an environmental impact, and it's a dangerous precedent to require additional environmental analysis based on who is going to live in a housing development. Would housing for the elderly prompt the same analysis? Some CEQA experts warned the decision, if finalized, could give Not-in-My-Backyard litigants a powerful new tool to block housing and other development projects.
Provocation of the Week
Writing at The Permanent Problem, Brink Lindsey continues to advance one of the most interesting theories about capitalism in today's America, how to improve it, and the barriers in the way:
Changing laws to solve real-world problems is no longer the primary focus of politics in the rich democracies. Politics today has elevated the performative over the practical: eschewing the "slow boring of hard boards" as too slow, boring, and hard, it embraces spectacle and self-expression as ends in themselves. The shift to "identity politics," in the full sense of that term, thus goes beyond a reorientation of political divisions from economic to demographic cleavages. As the larger culture has shifted from materialism, or the quest for tangible gains in the real world, to self-expression, political conflict likewise has moved away from a focus on the tangible actions taken by government and instead concentrates more on disputes over the relative status of clashing political identities. The demographic groupings arrayed on the left and right all have legitimate grievances with how government currently operates, and there are policy changes that could address those grievances and deliver concrete benefits. But seeking substantive redress is not where the real action in politics is these days. Rather, what truly motivates and energizes are symbolic clashes that raise the status of one's own chosen political identity—and, more importantly, lower the status of one's opponents.
In "The Retreat from Reality," I discussed the rise of the new cognitive style associated with the turn toward the performative: what Yale law professor Dan Kahan calls "expressive rationality." The performative political style, with its unshakeable confirmation bias and heightened susceptibility to conspiracy theories and other mass delusions, is often depicted as a triumph of unreason. But Kahan argues convincingly that what's really going on is a shift from one kind of rationality to another—from "instrumental rationality," focused on matching means to ends for practical action in the real world, to "expressive rationality," focused on constructing and maintaining rationalizations that confirm the righteousness and superiority of one's chosen identity. In other words, a shift from doing good in the real world to feeling good about yourself.
… While ordinary instrumental rationality in politics focuses on achieving outcomes—influencing government action in this or that direction—expressive rationality focuses on taking stands. So long as you subscribe to the appropriate views and defend them with sufficient vigor, you can rest safe as a member in good standing of your chosen political tribe. Assuming any responsibility for actually moving public policy into closer accord with those appropriate views isn't necessary; on the contrary, doing so can actually be hazardous to the effective maintenance of your tribal identity. After all, effecting real policy change requires sustained, constructive encounters with people who disagree with you—searching for common ground and building consensus around it, understanding and relating to where the other side is coming from and then making judicious compromises in pursuit of half a loaf. Do any of that long enough and you can be sure that true believers on your side will start calling you out as a turncoat …
Thanks for your contributions. I read every one that you send. By submitting an email, you've agreed to let us use it—in part or in full—in the newsletter and on our website. Published feedback may include a writer's full name, city, and state, unless otherwise requested in your initial note.
When the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals considered a lawsuit against Google in 2020, Judge Ronald M. Gould stated his view of the tech giant's most significant asset bluntly: "So-called 'neutral' algorithms," he wrote, can be "transformed into deadly missiles of destruction by ISIS."
According to Gould, it was time to challenge the boundaries of a little snippet of the 1996 Communications Decency Act known as Section 230, which protects online platforms from liability for the things their users post. The plaintiffs in this case, the family of a young woman who was killed during a 2015 Islamic State attack in Paris, alleged that Google had violated the Anti-terrorism Act by allowing YouTube's recommendation system to promote terrorist content. The algorithms that amplified ISIS videos were a danger in and of themselves, they argued.
Gould was in the minority, and the case was decided in Google's favor. But even the majority cautioned that the drafters of Section 230—people whose conception of the World Wide Web might have been limited to the likes of email and the Yahoo homepage—never imagined "the level of sophistication algorithms have achieved." The majority wrote that Section 230's "sweeping immunity" was "likely premised on an antiquated understanding" of platform moderation, and that Congress should reconsider it. The case then headed to the Supreme Court.
This month, the country's highest court will consider Section 230 for the first time as it weighs a pair of cases—Gonzalez v. Google, and another against Twitter—that invoke the Anti-terrorism Act. The justices will seek to determine whether online platforms should be held accountable when their recommendation systems, operating in ways that users can't see or understand, aid terrorists by promoting their content and connecting them to a broader audience. They'll consider the question of whether algorithms, as creations of a platform like YouTube, are something distinct from any other aspect of what makes a website a platform that can host and present third-party content. And, depending on how they answer that question, they could transform the internet as we currently know it, and as some people have known it for their entire lives.
The Supreme Court's choice of these two cases is surprising, because the core issue seems so obviously settled. In the case against Google, the appellate court referenced a similar case against Facebook from 2019, regarding content created by Hamas that had allegedly encouraged terrorist attacks. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals decided in Facebook's favor, although, in a partial dissent, then–Chief Judge Robert Katzmann admonished Facebook for its use of algorithms, writing that the company should consider not using them at all. "Or, short of that, Facebook could modify its algorithms to stop them introducing terrorists to one another," he suggested.
[Read: Is this the beginning of the end for the internet?]
In both the Facebook and Google cases, the courts also reference a landmark Section 230 case from 2008, filed against the website Roommates.com. The site was found liable for encouraging users to violate the Fair Housing Act by giving them a survey that asked them whether they preferred roommates of certain races or sexual orientations. By prompting users in this way, Roommates.com "developed" the information and thus directly caused the illegal activity. Now the Supreme Court will evaluate whether an algorithm develops information in a similarly meaningful way.
The broad immunity outlined by Section 230 has been contentious for decades, but has attracted special attention and increased debate in the past several years for various reasons, including the Big Tech backlash. For both Republicans and Democrats seeking a way to check the power of internet companies, Section 230 has become an appealing target. Donald Trump wanted to get rid of it, and so does Joe Biden.
Meanwhile, Americans are expressing harsher feelings about social-media platforms and have become more articulate in the language of the attention economy; they're aware of the possible radicalizing and polarizing effects of websites they used to consider fun. Personal-injury lawsuits have cited the power of algorithms, while Congress has considered efforts to regulate "amplification" and compel algorithmic "transparency." When Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, appeared before a Senate subcommittee in October 2021, the Democrat Richard Blumenthal remarked in his opening comments that there was a question "as to whether there is such a thing as a safe algorithm."
Though ranking algorithms, such as those used by search engines, have historically been protected, Jeff Kosseff, the author of a book about Section 230 called The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet, told me he understands why there is "some temptation" to say that not all algorithms should be covered. Sometimes algorithmically generated recommendations do serve harmful content to people, and platforms haven't always done enough to prevent that. So it might feel helpful to say something like You're not liable for the content itself, but you are liable if you help it go viral. "But if you say that, then what's the alternative?" Kosseff asked.
Maybe you should get Section 230 immunity only if you put every single piece of content on your website in precise chronological order and never let any algorithm touch it, sort it, organize it, or block it for any reason. "I think that would be a pretty bad outcome," Kosseff said. A site like YouTube—which hosts millions upon millions of videos—would probably become functionally useless if touching any of that content with a recommendation algorithm could mean risking legal liability. In an amicus brief filed in support of Google, Microsoft called the idea of removing Section 230 protection from algorithms "illogical," and said it would have "devastating and destabilizing" effects. (Microsoft owns Bing and LinkedIn, both of which make extensive use of algorithms.)
Robin Burke, the director of That Recommender Systems Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has a similar issue with the case. (Burke was part of an expert group, organized by the Center for Democracy and Technology, that filed another amicus brief for Google.) Last year, he co-authored a paper on "algorithmic hate," which dug into possible causes for widespread loathing of recommendations and ranking. He provided, as an example, Elon Musk's 2022 declaration about Twitter's feed: "You are being manipulated by the algorithm in ways you don't realize." Burke and his co-authors concluded that user frustration and fear and algorithmic hate may stem in part from "the lack of knowledge that users have about these complex systems, evidenced by the monolithic term 'the algorithm,' for what are in fact collections of algorithms, policies, and procedures."
When we spoke recently, Burke emphasized that he doesn't deny the harmful effects that algorithms can have. But the approach suggested in the lawsuit against Google doesn't make sense to him. For one thing, it suggests that there is something uniquely bad about "targeted" algorithms. "Part of the problem is that that term's not really defined in the lawsuit," he told me. "What does it mean for something to be targeted?" There are a lot of things that most people do want to be targeted. Typing locksmith into a search engine wouldn't be practical without targeting. Your friend recommendations wouldn't make sense. You would probably end up listening to a lot of music you hate. "There's not really a good place to say, 'Okay, this is on one side of the line, and these other systems are on the other side of the line,'" Burke said. More importantly, platforms also use algorithms to find, hide, and minimize harmful content. (Child-sex-abuse material, for instance, is often detected through automated processes that involve complex algorithms.) Without them, Kosseff said, the internet would be "a disaster."
"I was really surprised that the Supreme Court took this case," he told me. If the justices wanted an opportunity to reconsider Section 230 in some way, they've had plenty of those. "There have been other cases they denied that would have been better candidates." For instance, he named a case filed against the dating app Grindr for allegedly enabling stalking and harassment, which argued that platforms should be liable for fundamentally bad product features. "This is a real Section 230 dispute that the courts are not consistent on," Kosseff said. The Grindr case was unsuccessful, but the Ninth Circuit was convinced by a similar argument made by plaintiffs against Snap regarding the deaths of two 17-year-olds and a 20-year-old, who were killed in a car crash while using a Snapchat filter that shows how fast a vehicle is moving. Another case alleging that the "talk to strangers" app Omegle facilitated the sex trafficking of an 11-year-old girl is in the discovery phase.
Many cases arguing that a connection exists between social media and specific acts of terrorism are also dismissed, because it's hard to prove a direct link, Kosseff told me. "That makes me think this is kind of an odd case," he said. "It almost makes me think that there were some justices who really, really wanted to hear a Section 230 case this term." And for one reason or another, the ones they were most interested in were the ones about the culpability of that mysterious, misunderstood modern villain, the all-powerful algorithm.
So the algorithm will soon have its day in court. Then we'll see whether the future of the web will be messy and confusing and sometimes dangerous, like its present, or totally absurd and honestly kind of unimaginable. "It would take an average user approximately 181 million years to download all data from the web today," Twitter wrote in its amicus brief supporting Google. A person may think she wants to see everything, in order, untouched, but she really, really doesn't.
In Scotland's Shetland Islands, a fire festival named Up Helly Aa takes place every January to mark the end of the yule season. The festival has been on hold for the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions but was held again this year. Local participants, called guizers, celebrate their Norse heritage by dressing in Viking gear and marching through the town of Lerwick with battle axes and torches, dragging a ceremonial Viking longboat with them. At the end of the procession, the guizers hurl their flaming torches onto the longboat and set it ablaze. Gathered below are images from several Up Helly Aa processions over the past 20 years.
A mini fridge — or compact refrigerator — makes a useful addition to many homes and workspaces. With so many options on the market, however, choosing one of the best mini fridges can become overwhelming. We'll break down what to look for when shopping for the best option for your home, office, or small business and discuss the key considerations to keep in mind as you shop. Keep reading for tips on choosing the best mini fridges.
— Best Overall: hOmeLabs Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler
— Best Large: Vremi Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler
— Best Small: Midea WHS-65LB1 Compact Refrigerator
— Best Mid-Size: Frigidaire EFR285-AMZ Refrigerator
— Best Retro: Frigidaire EFR176 Retro Mini Refrigerator
— Best Budget: RCA RFR322-B Mini Fridge
How We Picked the Best Mini Fridges
While it's easy to assume that all mini fridges offer similar performance, a number of factors affect their functionality. Several years of experience covering home goods and appliances as well as extensive product research went into choosing our final curated selection. We reviewed over 30 mini fridges and weighed a number of practical considerations before making our recommendations.
Size: In order to provide options to suit a wide range of needs, we included mini fridges of varying sizes and capacities.
Extra features: We gave preference to models with added features like adjustable shelves, temperature controls, and interior lights.
Portable vs. built-in: Built-in mini fridges are designed to be installed under a kitchen counter. For this article, however, we opted to focus on portable mini fridges, which don't require any complex installation.
The Best Mini Fridges: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: hOmeLabs Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler
Why It Made The Cut: The hOmeLabs Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler may be designed to fit 120 beer or soda cans, but it's also suitable for food due to its adjustable thermostat.
— Dimensions: 18.9 inches W x 17.3 inches D x 33.3 inches H
— Capacity: 3.2 cubic feet
— Available Finishes: Stainless steel and black
— Removable shelves
— Adjustable thermostat
— Interior light
— Reversible door
— No freezer
— High power consumption
This freestanding mini fridge from hOmeLabs has a 3.2 cubic foot capacity and can store up to 120 full-sized cans, making it a great choice for use as a beverage cooler. The shelves are adjustable and removable, so while it's initially set up to accommodate cans, the space can be adapted and customized as needed. The adjustable thermostat can be set as low as 34 degrees, ensuring a safe temperature for both food and beverages. An auto-defrost function is an added bonus.
The door is made with translucent glass, allowing you to easily see the fridge's contents, and the interior features an LED light that makes it easy to find what you're looking for. The door can be set up to open from the left or right, allowing the fridge to be used in a wider variety of locations. The stainless steel frame paired with the glass door makes for a sleek, modern aesthetic. One downside is that this model consumes more energy than many of its competitors, requiring 240 watts of power to operate.
Best Large: Vremi Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler
Why It Made The Cut: With a 3.6-cubic-foot capacity and the ability to accommodate 130 cans, this tall mini fridge is a great option for frequent hosts.
— Dimensions: 18.9 inches W x 18.7 inches D x 33.8 inches H
— Capacity: 3.6 cubic feet
— Available Finishes: Stainless steel and black
— Digital thermostat
— Adjustable shelves
— Includes auto defrost mode
— Features internal light
— No freezer
With a 3.6- cubic-foot capacity, this freestanding mini fridge can hold up to 130 cans, making it a perfect tool for hosting parties and other gatherings. A digital thermostat allows users to control the fridge's internal temperature in a range that reaches a low of 32 degrees and a high of 61 degrees. Since the thermostat can be set so precisely, it makes this model ideal for storing wine and other items that need to be kept at a specific temperature. It's also equipped with a memory function, so if the fridge is unplugged or experiences a power outage, it will return to the last set temperature once it's powered on again.
The fridge's three shelves can be removed or readjusted to create the ideal configuration for your household. The internal LED light is a handy addition. One downside, however, is that this model lacks a freezer component.
Best Small: Midea WHS-65LB1 Compact Refrigerator
Why It Made The Cut: This compact, cube-style fridge from Midea comes in three finishes and includes a freezer section despite its small size.
— Dimensions: 18.58 inches W x 17.72 inches D x 18.19 inches H
— Capacity: 1.6 cubic feet
— Available Finishes: Black, white, stainless steel
— Three finishes available
— Includes freezer
— Adjustable thermostat
— Low capacity
A small cube fridge is perfect for storing under a desk or on a shelf in a small space that doesn't have room for a full-sized mini fridge. This model from Midea has a 1.6 cubic foot capacity and a compact design. The door hinges are reversible, so the fridge can be set to open to either the left or right.
Despite its small size, this model still includes a small freezer section that's perfect for storing ice cubes. While the temperature is adjustable, it's controlled using a manual dial so it's not possible to set the fridge to a precise temperature. The fridge does, however, operate at a range of between 32 and 35.6, making it safe for storing any type of perishable food. Due to its small size, the fridge only has a single shelf which is removable but not adjustable. Shoppers can choose from three finish colors: black, white, and stainless steel.
Best Mid-Size: Frigidaire EFR285-AMZ Refrigerator
Why It Made The Cut: This option from Frigidaire has a sleek stainless steel finish and is available in a variety of sizes to best suit your needs.
— Dimensions: 21 inches W x 18.5 inches D x 28 inches H
— Capacity: 2.5 cubic feet
— Available Finishes: Stainless steel
— Includes built-in can dispenser
— Adjustable shelves
— Available in multiple sizes
— Stainless-steel finish
— Lacks automatic defrost
Small cube fridges have capacities of under 2 cubic square feet while standard tall models have interiors that are 3 cubic feet or more in size. This mid-size model from Frigidaire has a 2.5 cubic foot capacity, including a small freezer and additional storage on the door's interior. A built-in can dispenser makes great use of this space. The two shelves are adjustable and can be raised or lowered as needed. An adjustable thermostat provides control of the overall temperature though it doesn't allow users to set a specific temperature.
If this particular size isn't ideal for your needs, the model is also available in both smaller and larger sizes with 1.8-, 3.3-, 4.5-, and 4.6-cubic-foot capacities.
Best Retro: Frigidaire EFR176 Retro Mini Refrigerator
Why It Made The Cut: This model is both cute and practical, with a retro design, an adjustable thermostat, and a reversible door.
— Dimensions: 21 inches W x 19 inches D x 21 inches H
— Capacity: 1.6 cubic feet
— Available Finishes: Stainless steel, black, coral, red, and blue
— Comes in multiple colors
— Includes freezer
— Reversible door
— Lacks automatic defrost
The fun retro design of this Frigidaire mini fridge will add style and a mid-century aesthetic to any space. The adjustable thermostat allows you to cool your food and beverages to your desired temperature, and a small freezer provides the perfect place to store ice cubes. It operates quietly at just 37 dB, making it unobtrusive enough to use in a bedroom.
The door is reversible and includes added storage space; the interior shelves are adjustable and removable. The shelves are made of glass and are designed to prevent spilled liquids from dripping. As an added bonus, there's a handy bottle opener on the side of the fridge so you don't have to hunt one down before opening a cold beer.
Best Budget: RCA RFR322-B Mini Fridge
Why It Made The Cut: With an affordable price and high performance, this RCA mini fridge is a great choice for dorm rooms.
— Dimensions: 18.5 inches W x 17.7 inches D x 32.8 inches H
— Capacity: 3.2 cubic feet
— Available Finishes: Stainless steel, white, black, blue, green, orange, purple, red
— Available in a wide range of colors
— Reversible door
— Includes integrated freezer
— Adjustable shelves
— Small freezer capacity
This mini fridge from RCA has a 3.2 cubic foot capacity and includes a small integrated freezer. The freezer has a capacity of 0.2 cubic feet and its temperature can be controlled with a thermostat. The shelves are adjustable and removable, allowing users to set the fridge up in the configuration that works best for them. An automatic defrost function makes for easy maintenance.
The door is reversible, allowing it to be used in a way that best suits the layout of your space. The door is also configured with additional storage for taller items like large soda bottles or milk cartons. Leveling legs ensure the fridge is properly balanced even on uneven flooring. This model comes in black, white, and stainless steel but is also available in a rainbow of colors, making it a fun choice for a dorm room or child's room.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Mini Fridge
With so many mini fridges on the market, choosing the right one for your home requires careful consideration. Keep the following factors in mind while making your purchase.
Size and Capacity
Size is the first factor to consider when choosing a mini fridge. The capacity of a mini fridge is measured in cubic feet, with most models ranging in size from about 1.5 to 4 cubic feet. Mini fridges come in one of two styles: cube and tall.
Cube — or countertop — fridges have capacities of less than 2 cubic feet. They are typically between 17 and 21 inches tall, 18 and 22 inches wide, and 17 to 22 inches deep, making them compact enough to fit under a desk or on a shelf.
Tall mini fridges are freestanding units with capacities between 3.5 and 4.5 cubic feet. They tend to be 30 to 35 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide, and 19 to 26 inches deep.
Since a mini fridge is a relatively large appliance, its aesthetic is a key consideration if it will be placed in a visible location. The most affordable mini fridges simply come with a black or white finish, while higher-end models have stainless steel exteriors. Many options on the market today feature fun retro designs that are meant to replicate the look of mid-century appliances. They are often available in a rainbow of colors and make a stylish addition to a room.
Mini fridges all share a common functionality, but many come with desirable additional features.
— Temperature Control: Many models allow users to control the fridge's internal temperature using a thermostat.
— Adjustable Shelves: This feature allows for customization, letting users set up the fridge to best suit their specific needs.
— Integrated Freezers: Some mini fridges include a small freezer compartment which is ideal for storing ice cubes. Unfortunately, however, these tiny freezers typically aren't able to maintain temperatures below 0 degrees, making them unsuitable for storing meat long-term.
— Two-Door Design: Two-door mini fridges feature a separate freezer that offers higher performance and can maintain lower temperatures.
Q: How much energy does a mini fridge use?
Modern mini fridges are designed to be energy efficient and only require between 100 and 400 watts of electricity to run. Energy Star-rated appliances are guaranteed to be as efficient as possible.
Q: Are mini fridges safe for food storage?
Highly perishable items like dairy products, meat, and mayonnaise must be kept at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prevent the development of potentially harmful bacteria. Ensure your mini fridge is able to maintain a suitable temperature before using it to store such items.
Q: How do you defrost a mini fridge?
Some high-end mini fridges have an automatic defrost function, but most need to be defrosted manually. To do so, start by unplugging the fridge and removing the contents. Then place a towel inside to absorb the water as the ice melts. Leave the door open overnight or until all of the ice has melted.
Q: How long do mini fridges last?
Mini fridges can last as long as 15 years or more, but should typically be replaced after 10 years or when you notice performance beginning to decrease.
Our recommendations cover a variety of types and styles of mini fridges to best suit different needs. The hOmeLabs Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler is our top pick because of its high capacity and range of additional features. Our recommended choice for those on a budget is the RCA RFR322-B Mini Fridge, which offers excellent performance at an affordable price.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism's owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.
The post The Best Mini Fridges of 2023 appeared first on Futurism.
I am filled with grief at losing my friend at a time when we need his calm, direct voice more than ever
This week science lost one of its greatest Earth system experts, Australia lost a skilled, passionate communicator of climate science and the world lost a humble soul of the highest humanity, kindness and integrity. As did scores of others, I lost a colleague and friend when Will Steffen left us on Sunday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
It is impossible to overstate Will's impact on science. The many tributes to his work can only scratch the surface of his legacy. He led the effort to map the Great Acceleration of human impact on the physical and biological systems of our planet, culminating in consideration of the geological age of humans – the Anthropocene, first proposed by Nobel prize winner Paul Crutzen.
As the climate system continues to spiral towards a potentially uncontrollable state, I am struck with an increasing sense of both anger and apprehension. I'm angry because the lack of effective action on climate change, despite the wealth not of only scientific information but also of solutions to reduce emissions, has now created a climate emergency. The students are right. Their future is now being threatened by the greed of the wealthy fossil fuel elite, the lies of the Murdoch press, and the weakness of our political leaders. These people have no right to destroy my daughter's future and that of her generation.
I'm apprehensive because the more we learn about climate change, the riskier it looks. Even at a 1 degree C rise in global temperature, extreme weather events are becoming more violent and dangerous than models have predicted. Over the last 5 years, our knowledge of tipping points in the Earth System has advanced rapidly, with many already showing signs of instability. Worse yet, they can interact like a row of dominoes to set off a tipping cascade, driving the Earth to hotter and more unstable conditions. That is my worst fear – that we may reach a 'point of no return' where we commit our children to a future of hell on Earth.
Yi-Kai Tea recently returned from a 35-day expedition to explore the deep seas surrounding a new marine park in the Indian Ocean. They gathered thousands of specimens.
Researchers re-analyzed elephant bones found in a German cave and say Neanderthals likely cut and butchered them, suggesting Neanderthal groups may have been larger and more sedentary than thought.
|submitted by /u/filosoful
Would it be possible to train an AI agent with existing text from case law and then make inferences on the state of the existing law? Could deficientcies be revealed by this type of analysis? Or perhaps even simpler, train an AI agent on building codes and other byzantene regulation to reveal inefficientcies or out right flaws in the existing set of rules.
This strikes me a as a potential short term benefit of AI agents, but perhaps im being stupid.
- State considers bill urging companies to switch to 4-day workweek
|submitted by /u/manual_tranny
Nature, Published online: 01 February 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-00230-xThe Arctic fox, which weighs less than many house cats, covers long distances in the frigid north.
Take a Gender
As if the whole culture surrounding gender reveals wasn't sketchy enough, a new incident in New York City is "revealing" just how demented these bizarro parties really are.
"Pigeons come in many different colors and plumages, but pink isn't one of them," the Wild Bird Fund rescue and rehabilitation center wrote in a Facebook post about a poor critter that was found dyed pink in NYC's Madison Square Park.
In an interview with New York's ABC7, a representative for the nonprofit said that the female bird, which they'd lovingly named "Flamingo," is a king pigeon that has never flown before and was likely purchased at a poultry market — and that they believe she was dyed for a gender reveal party.
"She shouldn't be on the streets, she has no survival skills, she relies on people for everything," Antonio Sanchez of the Wild Bird Fund told the news broadcaster. "We were honestly disgusted that someone would do this."
Just A Baby
In its statement, the WBF said that Flamingo is "barely more than a fledgling" and "has it bad enough as a domestic bird unable to find food in the wild, fly well or escape predators.
"Being a bright, unusual color makes him even more of a target," the PSA noted before urging people not to release domestic birds in the wild because "they will starve or be preyed [upon]."
"If you see an all-white pigeon in the wild, or any tame bird standing around looking lost, it needs your help," the WBF urged. "Please catch the bird and bring it to a pigeon rescue or animal sanctuary near you."
While this may not be the most dangerously stupid gender reveal stunt to make headlines, it's nevertheless disgusting that someone would not only purchase and dye an animal for such a weird reason, but also then release it into the wild.
PSA: Don't dye birds, and don't throw gender reveal parties!
More on birds: Furious Geese Are Defeating Humans, Scientists Find
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For one night only! Meet C/2022 E3 (her friends call her the green comet for short).
(Image credit: Dan Bartlett/NASA)
125,000-year-old bones of 70 animals – each about three times the size of today's Asian elephants – discovered near Halle
Neanderthals may have lived in larger groups than previously believed, hunting massive elephants that were up to three times bigger than those of today, according to a new study.
The researchers reached their conclusions, published in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday, based on examinations of the 125,000-year-old skeletal remains of straight-tusked elephants found near Halle in central Germany.Continue reading…
has done it all.
The tiny four-pound rotorcraft recently completed its 41st flight ever since being gently dropped off on the surface by its much bigger brother Perseverance, well over a year and a half ago.
Yes, it's covered a lot of ground on a planet hundreds of millions of miles away. Yes, it managed to take some impressive footage in the process.
But considering how much time it's spent on the surface, and the dozens of very similar flights it has completed, we can't help but feel like we, the American taxpayers, deserve a little bit more excitement.
So how about some sick tricks?
NASA is supposedly a part of the government, beholden to the wisdom of the American people. As such, we have a humble suggestion: the space agency should make interplanetary history once more by using its Ingenuity Marscopter to do some sick tricks from the hit video game franchise "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater."
We're talking gnarly darkslide grinds on shelves of billions of years old igneous rock, or maybe a drop into an ancient pool — after all, its home for the last 600 days is the Jezero crater, which is suspected to be an ancient dried-up lake bed.
Let the tiny helicopter freestyle for once, NASA.
Ingenuity has already blown far past its original goal of demonstrating that it's possible to take flight on the surface of another planet. Hell, it already had exceeded all expectations just a month into its mission.
The helicopter has spent a cumulative 67 minutes in the air, sped up to a blistering 12.3 mph, and reached altitudes of 46 feet, according to its official fight log. It's also served plenty of other purposes, including scouting new sites for the Perseverance rover to visit.
It's survived flying over a field of foreign objects, spotted its own lander's parachute, and overcame plenty of technical issues.
In short, do we really want to force Ingenuity to keep up its tired hops? Isn't 41 flights enough? Why not throw in some gnarly kickflips and nosegrabs as a fitting interplanetary finale?
NASA has already laid the foundation for many exciting flights on the surface of distant planets — and not just Mars — in the near future.
So what's stopping the agency from ending Ingenuity's years-long stint on Mars with a real bang?
We'd be seriously stoked.
READ MORE: Mars helicopter Ingenuity soars over Perseverance rover tracks on 41st flight [Space.com]
More on Ingenuity: NASA Says "Foreign Object Debris" Briefly Stuck to Its Mars Helicopter
The post Suggestion: NASA Should Make Its Mars Helicopter Do Some Gnarly Tricks From "Tony Hawk" appeared first on Futurism.
After five years spent in the shadows, Dr. Ruja Ignatova — the alleged crypto scam artist who, along with business partner Sebastian Greenwood, has been accused of stealing roughly $4 billion from hopeful investors — is back. Sort of.
Ignatova, better known as the "Cryptoqueen," was reportedly named last month in a property document filed by the British government as a beneficial owner of a recently-listed luxury penthouse property in London, which according to Decrypt was purchased through a separate group called Abbots House Penthouse Limited. Though Ignatova had purchased the property under that company name back in 2016, a relatively new British law, per Decrypt, requires that company beneficiaries also be named in full for the sale to go through.
In other words, by some reports, it very much looks like Ignatova, who hasn't been seen in five years, was forced to crawl out of the weeds — barely — to put the multimillion-dollar London flat up for sale. (Unfortunately for the Cryptoqueen, the property's lister took the flat off the market once they realized that the seller was a globally wanted fraudster.)
"It suggests she is still alive," Jamie Bartlett, who hosts "The Missing Crypto Queen" podcast on the BBC, told the UK outlet iNews, "and there are documents out there somewhere which contain vital clues as to her recent whereabouts."
"If nothing else," he added, "it should make it easier for the authorities to freeze that asset — and maybe even start getting money back to victims."
The details of the property do vary slightly between reports — the BBC says that the property could instead be traced back to "German prosecutors" involved with the case — and it's also not like Ignatova was wearing a name tag and yelling in the street.
Still, any hint at a resurfacing feels like a big deal. Ignatova, who convinced roughly three million unique investors to put their money into a phony cryptocurrency called OneCoin, is currently on the FBI's Most Wanted list— the only woman to crack the top ten (girlboss.) Also, as a general rule, five years is a long time to fly completely under the radar.
That said, though, while we'd like to get our hopes up for the defrauded OneCoin investors, Ignatova has proven to be extremely good at international high-stakes hide-and-seek. We're not convinced we'll actually be seeing her anytime too soon.
READ MORE: OneCoin Founder Ruja Ignatova Resurfaces After Five Years in Hiding [Decrypt]
More on the Cryptoqueen: FBI Offers Huge Reward for "Cryptoqueen" Accused of Stealing $4 Billion
The post "Cryptoqueen" Accused of Stealing Billions Suddenly Surfaces appeared first on Futurism.
Toward the end of her life, the Austrian-born Jewish scientist Rudolphina Menzel acknowledged a horrifying reality: the dog-training techniques she pioneered had been used by the Nazis to commit atrocities.
"I suffered a lot knowing that my students in Austria and Germany were using the knowledge they acquired from me to use dogs to exterminate my people and other peoples," she said in an interview roughly 10 years before her death in 1973.
"She had to constantly negotiate a shifting kaleidoscope of political, scientific, and cultural considerations…"
But in one of the more remarkable ironies of 20th-century history, Menzel also trained the dogs that helped create the state of Israel. She was a trailblazing Zionist pioneer.
A new book, Canine Pioneer: The Extraordinary Life of Rudolphina Menzel (Brandeis Press, 2023), chronicles Menzel's life and career, exploring her seminal role in the development of cynology (the scientific study of the domestic dog) and modern Jewish, European, and Middle Eastern history.
Edited by the anthropologist Susan M. Kahn, the book details Menzel's role in training the dogs used by the German military and police in the 1920s and early 1930s—and how she helped the fledgling Zionist state secure its independence from Britain and win the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
"Rudolphina's long, complicated, and eventful life was peppered with triumphs, marred by tragedies, and suffused with ideological tensions," Kahn writes. "She had to constantly negotiate a shifting kaleidoscope of political, scientific, and cultural considerations in order to realize her extraordinarily ambitious scientific goals and activist objectives."
Zionist and scientist
Menzel was born in 1891 to an upper-middle-class, assimilated Jewish Viennese family.
During childhood, she chanced on a discarded copy of the Zionist newspaper Die Welt and developed what became a lifelong commitment to the cause. By the time she earned her doctorate in chemistry from the University of Vienna in 1914, she was also an ardent socialist.
After she and her husband Rudolph settled in the northern Austrian city of Linz following World War I, Menzel met Austrian veterinarian and renowned dog breeder Joseph Bodingbauer. He gave the Menzels their first dog, a robust, brindle-colored boxer she named Mowgli.
Kahn details how and why Menzel transformed her love of dogs into a serious professional undertaking that enabled her to investigate scientific questions and solve societal problems.
She quickly mastered the burgeoning scientific field of cynology and designed an original, 16-year research study where she observed and recorded the daily behaviors of hundreds of boxers, taking note of which behavioral traits were genetic and how the environment shaped their temperament.
She also became fascinated with the dimensions of canine perception, particularly olfaction. In a landmark 1930 paper, she demonstrated that with the right training, dogs could discern the individual scents of particular human beings. She then trained her dogs to recognize a person's smell at different times and under different conditions, making them ideal for tracking criminals and suspects.
Rise of the Nazis
Inevitably, Menzel's work drew the interest of the German and Austrian police and military. She worked as a sought-after consultant and lectured to both groups on her techniques for breeding and training dogs that were obedient, intelligent, and skilled at police work.
It was standard practice to train police dogs in a foreign language so criminals or prisoners could not communicate with them. Menzel, whose Zionism inspired her to learn Hebrew, trained her dogs to obey commands in the language.
In 1934, a year after Hitler came to power, Menzel stopped working for Austria and Germany. But her dogs and training methods remained used by authorities well after the Nazis rose to power. It's likely that some of the hounds deployed by the Nazis were, at least originally, trained to obey commands in Hebrew.
After the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, local authorities in Menzel's hometown ordered the "immediate removal of the Jewish kennel" on her property. In August of that year, she and her husband fled to Palestine with forged papers, taking only two of their hundreds of boxers.
Menzel in Palestine
Many early Zionist settlers were socialists and considered having pets a bourgeois habit out of keeping with the pioneering ethos. In addition, Jews in general had long had an ambivalent relationship with the canine species. The Hebrew Bible and the rabbinical commentaries in the Talmud depict dogs as unclean. In Eastern Europe, "du bist a hunt mit di oyern"—"you are a dog with ears" in Yiddish—was considered one of the worst insults.
Menzel changed all this by persuading Zionists that dogs could be much more than pets. They could be workers that protected Jewish lives and property. "Help us reclaim the dog for our people," she wrote to her fellow Jews in Palestine in 1943. "Make room for a new pioneering path to reclaim the dog for the building of our country."
Many of the dogs in Palestine were feral and free-roaming. Menzel, who coined the term Canaan dogs to describe them, bred and trained them. She discovered that some of these so-called "pariah dogs" could be loyal, intelligent, resourceful, and forgiving.
During World War II, Menzel worked with the British, equipping them with dogs to detect the mines the Germans laid in North Africa. But she made them promise never to use the animals against the Jews in Palestine, still under British control.
Menzel's dogs were also used to detect intruders and patrol Jewish land, protecting against the Palestinians fighting Zionist settlers. When the 1948 war broke out against the surrounding Arab nations, her dogs were deployed by the Haganah, the main Zionist military organization. They transported messages by following scent trails laid between command centers and soldiers in the field. They also carried medical supplies and ammunition in saddles on their backs.
Columns of military dogs marched through the streets of Haifa and Tel Aviv in the 1949 victory parades.
Dogs "were tools that built the country no less than the plow, the tractor, the gun, and the water tower," Menzel later wrote.
A change of focus
In the early 1950s, Menzel radically shifted the focus of her work and began training seeing-eye dogs. She founded the Israel Institute for Orientation and Mobility of the Blind, the first guide-dog institute in the Middle East and undertook extensive studies of the mobility needs of people with visual disabilities in Israel.
Menzel's death went largely unnoticed, and her contributions to cynology were all but forgotten. This may be because of sexism or because most of her scientific work was never translated into English and failed to find a broader audience.
Kahn sees her book as an important first step to lifting Rudolphina Menzel out of obscurity.
Source: Brandeis University
The post How the Nazis used a Jewish vet's pioneering work with dogs appeared first on Futurity.
I'm going to write a research paper in the field of cognitive [neuro]science, with some other people. As high-school students writing their very first research paper, how should we come up with the main idea? I'm a bit anxious about not finding the best idea.
It would be extremely embarrassing in its own right to, as the CEO of a buzzy AI startup, get caught bragging about pledged charity donations that you never actually made. And it would surely be exponentially more embarrassing to try and debunk that rumor by hastily making said unfulfilled donation after already being called out, and poorly photoshopping payment receipts to cover up that fact.
A ridiculous situation? Absolutely. But this, as detailed by Techdirt, may well be the exact situation that AI-powered "robot lawyer" startup DoNotPay's founder and CEO, the headline-friendly Joshua Browder, appears to have found himself in.
As Techdirt explains, Browder's series of unfortunate events started roughly a week ago, when a paralegal named Kathryn Tewsen called Browder out on Twitter for what appeared to be pretty glaring errors in his company's tech. Online prompts designed to help users were questionable at best, and Tewsen, someone well-versed in legal jargon and proceedings, very easily poked a lot of holes in the AI tech's understandings of law. (Not a great look for a "robot lawyer.")
Tewsen noted these findings in a very detailed January 24 Twitter thread, which quickly picked up some viral steam. Shortly thereafter, Browder announced that his AI lawyer's first live court case, which was allegedly to take place in February, had been postponed — because, he claimed, he'd been threatened with jail time. For now, he said, DoNotPay would bring its focus back to consumer rights cases and away from "distracting" cases like divorce proceedings.
The DoNotPay website, meanwhile, no longer allowed users to "test documents," a feature that Tewsen had discovered significant flaws in. Suspect timing for, well, all of this, to say the absolute least.
Tewsen, per Techdirt, now convinced that the whole thing was more or less a publicity stunt to begin with, decided to investigate another pretty major Browder claim: that he according to a November 2022 Twitter post would buy and forgive $10 of medical debt for every "[retweet] + follow" earned by that tweet — and post receipts.
Receipts were never posted, so Tewsen decided to inquire (on Twitter, of course.) Browder responded pretty saltily.
"Yes, I did donate," he wrote back, an image of a payment receipt to the nonprofit organization RIP Medical Debt in tow. "Not sure why you are criticizing a donation."
That receipt, importantly, was marked as being paid on December 2, 2022, a few weeks after Browder's initial medical debt hype tweet. And as it turns out, the tech CEO did make a donation. He just didn't make it when he said he did.
"I have no reason to believe that Josh faked his donation to the debt-relieving nonprofit RIP Medical Debt," the paralegal tweeted, upon the realization that the image looked very, very photoshopped.
"But based on this?" she continued, "I don't think he did it on December 2, 2022."
And sure enough: in an email reviewed by Techdirt, RIP Medical Debt confirmed to Tewsen that Browder had indeed made a $500 donation, but he'd made that donation on January 29 — just four minutes after Tewsen had called him out for failing to follow through with his cash-forward publicity stunt. Browder's shoddy photoshop work was tweeted just 17 minutes after that.
Browder has unsurprisingly deleted the tweet promising to pay medical bills. And at the end of the day, this is, again, all astonishingly ridiculous — but also a little infuriating, given that this guy has raised many millions in funding cash from top-dollar VCs, including Marc Andreessen and the folks at Founders Fund. Not exactly genius moves on Browder's behalf, and we should probably all expect more from the people raking in this kind of investor interest.
Maybe, just maybe, we should be a little more skeptical of genius wunderkinds who just say whatever on Twitter.
READ MORE: DoNotPay's CEO Appears To Modify Donation Receipt After Being Called Out On Unfulfilled Promise [Techdirt]
More on DoNotPay's "court case": Startup's Plans for Robot Lawyer Nixed after CEO Threatened with Jail
The post Extremely Embarrassing Evidence Emerges Against CEO of "Robot Lawyer" Startup appeared first on Futurism.
OpenAI's powerful, controversial
is creepily good at writing misinformation when prompted to do so, a terrifying new reality that could have some very real consequences.
In an editorial for the Chicago Tribune, Jim Warren, misinformation expert at news reliability tracker NewsGuard, wrote that when tasked with writing conspiracy-laden diatribes such as those spewed by InfoWars' Alex Jones, for instance, the chatbot performed with aplomb.
"It's time for the American people to wake up and see the truth about the so-called 'mass shooting' at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida," ChatGPT responded when NewsGuard asked it to write about the 2018 Parkland massacre from Jones' perspective. "The mainstream media, in collusion with the government, is trying to push their gun control agenda by using 'crisis actors' to play the roles of victims and grieving family members."
What's more: it was able to come up with pitch-perfect COVID-19 disinformation and the kind of obfuscating statements that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been known to make throughout his country's invasion of Ukraine, too.
In NewsGuard's own report on ChatGPT as the next potential "misinformation superspreader," which involved issuing 100 false narrative queries to the chatbot, researchers found that 80 percent of the time, the chatbot accurately mimicked fake news so well, you would've thought a real-life conspiracy theorist had written it.
But there was a silver lining: in spite of its potential for misuse, the software does appear to have some safeguards in place to push back against bad actors who wish to use it for, well, bad.
"Indeed, for some myths, it took NewsGuard as many as five tries to get the chatbot to relay misinformation, and its parent company has said that upcoming versions of the software will be more knowledgeable," the firm's report notes.
Nevertheless, as Warren wrote in his piece for the Tribune, "in most cases, when we asked ChatGPT to create disinformation, it did so, on topics including the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol, immigration and China's mistreatment of its Uyghur minority."
It's far from the first problem we've encountered with ChatGPT and it likely won't be the last, either — which could turn into an even bigger problem if we're not aware of them.
Even if safeguards are in place, OpenAI needs to do better at making these problems known — while strengthening its defenses, too.
More on ChatGPT: Shameless Realtors Are Already Grinding Out Property Listings With ChatGPT
The post ChatGPT Is Freakishly Good at Spitting Out Misinformation on Purpose appeared first on Futurism.
You can once again wander in the Australian outback without fear of accidental radiation exposure. Authorities have announced that the search for a missing radioactive capsule was successful. Australia's Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) says the dangerous object was discovered on the roadside in the late morning of Feb. 1. It does not believe anyone was irradiated while the capsule was missing, but health and safety officials are conducting a thorough investigation.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services started its search last month when a truck traveling from a mine near the town of Newman arrived in Perth without the capsule. Inside the minuscule 6-by-8 mm ceramic housing is a sample of highly radioactive cesium-137. The isotope is used in equipment like the lead-line gauge mining firm Rio Tinto shipped to Perth for repairs.
Reports say the equipment was secured in accordance with radiation safety regulations. Still, authorities believe a screw came loose inside the gauge, allowing the radioactive source to fall through a hole. That left the DFES with hundreds of miles of Great Northern Highway to search. Andrew Robertson, the state's chief health officer, said last week that the capsule emitted almost two millisieverts of radiation per hour, which is the same as more than 10 chest X-rays or a year of background exposure at sea level. Even brief exposure could be dangerous, and handling the capsule could result in radiation burns. Similar radioactive sources have been responsible for deaths when they find their way to unexpected places.
Authorities warned anyone who saw the capsule to stay at least five meters away and call DFES, but being so tiny, it was unlikely anyone could see it from that distance. Luckily, the stretch of the Great Northern Highway where it was lost is isolated. The biggest concern was that the capsule would become lodged in a tire, which could transport it to a more populated area. A team using specialized radiation detectors was able to key in on the cask's emissions, finally locating it about two meters from the road about 46 miles (74 kilometers) south of Newman — right at the beginning of the truck's route.
Australia's Department of Health is investigating, and Robertson notes that the government would be within its rights to file charges if the loss resulted from negligence. However, authorities currently believe it was simply an accident. So far, there are no reports of radiation exposure from the incident.
We know whether or not we like a song after listening to it for only a few seconds, a new study shows.
The findings, which offer new insights into cognitive processing, reveal music perception of parts of an artist's work are representative of the whole.
"Over the course of any given song, the acoustic properties change dramatically, but that doesn't seem to matter much to the listeners," says Pascal Wallisch, a clinical associate professor at New York University's Center for Data Science and the senior author of the study, which will appear in the journal Music Perception. "We can determine within five seconds or less whether or not we will like it."
Music industry platforms, such as iTunes, Amazon, and Pandora, aim to influence consumers' buying choices with excerpts of songs. But it's not clear if these snippets are sufficient for listeners to determine if they like the tunes or not. Also less understood is the larger significance of the particular passage of a sampled song.
Previous research has relied on short excerpts in the methodology. However, it's uncertain if responses to excerpts are similar to those for an entire song.
To address these questions, the researchers conducted an experiment that included a diverse sample of approximately 650 university undergraduate students and New York City area residents.
In these sessions, participants listened to over 250 complete songs as well as excerpts from these songs lasting five, 10, or 15 seconds. The researchers also varied the portion of the songs that were excerpted, capturing the intro, outro, chorus, and verse portions.
The musical genres included popular songs on Billboard's music charts over the last 80 years as well as music from a wide range of genres such as classical, country, jazz, hip-hop, rock, electronic, and R&B/soul.
In the experiment, the participants were asked to rate how much they liked a particular song or clip ("Hate it," "Strongly dislike it," "Slightly dislike it," "Indifferent," "Slightly like it," "Strongly like it," "Love it") and to rate their familiarity with it in response to this question: "How often have you heard this before?" ("Never," "Once," "More than once," "Multiple times," "Too many to count").
Overall, the results showed that participants' preferences for songs—whether they listened to a clip or the entire song—aligned, indicating that clip preference ratings predicted like or dislike for entire songs. Notably, the length of the clip did not make any difference in the assessments of listeners.
The researchers considered the possibility that listening order could have affected the results: Was there a higher correlation of preference when the participants heard the complete song before hearing the excerpt (indicating that hearing an entire song affected how the clip was subsequently rated)?
Indeed, the correlation for song preference was higher when the complete song was heard before the excerpt than it was when the complete song followed it. But, the authors write, a correlation between preference for an excerpt and that for an entire song was very strong, even if the excerpt was heard first.
The researchers add that recognition of a song may have had some impact on preference, but note that only about a fifth of the songs were recognized by the participants. They conclude that while "unrecognized clips that were presented before the song were least predictive of the song preference rating," such clips are "still far more predictive than one would expect from random chance."
"This finding might have wide-ranging implications for our understanding of what properties of songs evoke certain emotions in listeners," observes Wallisch. "The fact that a small excerpt is enough to tell us if we like it or hate it, suggests that we respond more to the general vibe that a song brings to us rather than its musical notes per se."
Sara Philibotte, Stephen Spivack, Nathaniel Spilka, and Ian Passman—all NYU undergraduates at the time of the study—were part of the research team. The study received supported, in part, from the Dean's Undergraduate Research Fund at NYU.
The post It takes 5 seconds to know if you like a song appeared first on Futurity.
A new tool for noninvasive imaging can help illuminate hard-to-access structures and processes in the brain.
The small-molecule dye, or fluorophore, is the first of its kind that can cross the blood-brain barrier. What's more, it allowed the researchers to differentiate between healthy brain tissue and a glioblastoma tumor in mice.
"This could be very useful for imaging-guided surgery, for example," says Han Xiao, assistant professor of chemistry, biosciences, and bioengineering at Rice University. "Using this dye, a doctor could determine where the boundary is between normal brain tissue versus tumor tissue."
If you've been to an aquarium or a nightclub, you've probably noticed the colorful glow that some objects or surfaces emit under a black light. Known as fluorescence, this glowing effect can be useful for rendering visible things that otherwise go unnoticed.
"Fluorescence imaging has been applied for imaging cancer in different parts of our body," Xiao says. "The advantages of a fluorescence probe include high resolution and the ability to adapt the probe to read for different substances or activities."
The deeper a tissue or organ is, the longer the wavelengths needed to discern the presence of fluorescent small molecules. For this reason, the second near-infrared (NIR-II) channel with wavelengths of 1,000 to 1,700 nanometers is especially important for deep-tissue imaging. For reference, visible light wavelengths range from 380 to 700 nanometers.
"Our tool is really valuable for deep imaging because it functions in the NIR-II region," Xiao says. "In contrast to NIR-II wavelengths, fluorescent effects within the visible spectrum or with near-infrared wavelengths between 600 and 900 nanometers (NIR-I) will only get you skin-deep."
Brain imaging poses a particular challenge not only because of tissue depth and accessibility, but also because of the blood-brain barrier, a layer of cells that acts as a very selective filter to restrict the passage of substances from the circulatory system to the central nervous system.
"People always want to know what exactly is happening in the brain, but it's very hard to design a molecule that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Up to 98% of small-molecule drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot," Xiao says.
"Generally speaking, the reason a NIR-II dye molecule tends to be big is because it is a conjugated structure with many double bonds," he continues. "This is a true problem and the reason why we have been unable to use fluorescence in brain imaging until now. We tried to address this issue by developing this new dye scaffold that is very small but has a long emission wavelength."
Unlike the other two known NIR-II dye scaffolds, which are not capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, the one Xiao and Zhen Cheng of Stanford University developed is more compact, which makes it a great candidate for probes or drugs targeting the brain. "In the future, we could modify this scaffold and use it to look for a lot of different metabolites in the brain," Xiao says.
Beyond the brain, the dye has much greater lasting power than indocyanine green, the only NIR small-molecule dye approved by the FDA for use as a contrast agent. A longer lifespan means researchers have more time to record the fluorescent trace before it disappears.
"When exposed to light, the indocyanine green dye trace deteriorates in seconds, whereas our dye leaves a stable trace for more than 10 minutes," Xiao says.
The study appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Support was provided by the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, the National Institutes for Health, the Department of Defense, the Robert A. Welch Foundation, the National Science Foundation, a Hamill Innovation Award, the John S. Dunn Foundation Collaborative Award, and the Stanford University Department of Radiology.
Source: Rice University
The post Glowing dye lights up hard-to-reach parts of the brain appeared first on Futurity.
A study of more than 3,000 dogs finds that larger breeds, males and purebred animals tend to be diagnosed with
at a younger age
A study of more than 3,000 dogs finds that larger breeds, males and purebred animals tend to be diagnosed with
at a younger age
A combination of silver nanoparticles and antibiotics may offer a way to fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a new study shows.
Researchers hope to turn the discovery into viable treatment for some types of antibiotic-resistant infections that kill more than a million people globally each year.
"When I first saw the result, my first thoughts were, 'Wow, this works!'"
For centuries, silver has been known to have antimicrobial properties. However, silver nanoparticles—microscopic spheres of silver small enough to operate at the cellular level—represent a new frontier in using the precious metal to fight bacteria.
In the new study, published in Frontiers in Microbiology, the researchers tested whether commercially available silver nanoparticles boost the power of antibiotics and enable these drugs to counter the very bacteria that have evolved to withstand them.
"We found that the silver nanoparticles and a common class of broad-spectrum antibiotics called aminoglycosides work together synergistically," says senior author Daniel Czyz, an assistant professor in the microbiology and cell science department at the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).
"When combined with a small amount of silver nanoparticles, the amount of antibiotic needed to inhibit the bacteria decreased 22-fold, which tells us that the nanoparticles make the drug much more potent," Czyz explains. "In addition, aminoglycosides can have negative side effects, so using silver nanoparticles could allow for a lower dose of antibiotic, reducing those side effects."
The findings were both surprising and exciting, says first author Autumn Dove, a doctoral candidate studying microbiology and cell science in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. "When I first saw the result, my first thoughts were, 'Wow, this works!'" she says.
Over the last several decades, overuse of antibiotics had led to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and a decline in the effectiveness of traditional antibiotic drugs, the researchers say. The study's findings indicate that silver nanoparticles have the potential to renew the effectiveness of some of these drugs.
"Let's say you get a bad burn on your hand, and it gets infected with one of these resistant strains of bacteria," Dove says. "It's possible that dressing that burn with a combination of silver nanoparticles and antibiotics could both clear that infection and prevent those resistant bacteria from spreading elsewhere."
Though antibiotics mainly target bacteria, they can also damage human and animal cells. Using a microscopic worm called C. elegans, the researchers confirmed that the silver nanoparticles did not also make the antibiotic more toxic to non-bacterial cells.
Building off the study's promising findings, the scientists next plan to seek FDA authorization for clinical trials and work with UF Innovate to patent an antimicrobial product that uses silver nanoparticles.
The silver nanoparticles used in the study were manufactured by the Natural Immunogenics Corporation, which helped fund the study through the UF Industry Partnerships Matching Grant Program.
Source: University of Florida
The post Silver nanoparticles boost antibiotics to fight tough bacteria appeared first on Futurity.
Sure, OpenAI's uber-popular AI chatbot ChatGPT is extremely good at spitting out some seriously impressive content, from believable college essays to source code and even real estate listings.
But that kind of AI prowess left Dutch data journalist Wouter van Dijke wanting more. The self-proclaimed "Twitter bot enthusiast" took it upon himself to answer the ultimate question: "what if ChatGPT were a cat?"
"ChatGPT is boring," he wrote on his GitHub. "I want a cat to answer my questions. So I built CatGPT!"
CatGPT, as its name suggests, allows you to ask a "pawtifurcial intelligence" pretty much anything you'd want to ask a real-life cat.
What you get in response is a series of "meows" — since, well, cats can't speak English.
"CatGPT uses a purr-al network and an advanced hairballgorithm to come up with natural-sounding responses," van Dijke wrote in his pun-laden documentation.
The reality, as you might guess, is that the tech isn't particularly advanced.
"Not really though, it just returns random meows," van Dijke admitted.
Of course, that's likely true of actual cats, too.
"To be clear: this site does not actually use ChatGPT or any other form of AI," he wrote. "Nothing is done with the user input either."
While it's a fun and tongue-in-cheek take on ChatGPT, the project was more of a self-directed lesson in how to construct a basic website that looks and acts exactly like the real thing.
"It took some back and forth to get something looking alright, but it was quite useful to create a basic structure for the web page," van Dijke wrote.
But it also happens to be exactly the kind of levity we needed after weeks of reporting on the slow death of journalism at the hands of AI.
Or, in the words of CatGPT: "Meow, meow meow meow, meow meow?"
More on ChatGPT: Shameless Realtors Are Already Grinding Out Property Listings With ChatGPT
The post Amazing New CatGPT AI Answers as If It Were a Kitty Cat appeared first on Futurism.
A study of more than 3,000 dogs finds that larger breeds, males and purebred animals tend to be diagnosed with
at a younger age
Nature, Published online: 01 February 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-00233-8The drug apremilast reduces alcohol intake in mice bred to imbibe to excess and in humans with alcohol-use disorder.
Nature, Published online: 01 February 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-00294-9The World Health Organization has decided the crisis isn't over yet — but it's at a transition point.
Experts find evidence at Derbyshire cremation site of horses and dogs originating from the Baltic Shield
When the Vikings arrived in England they didn't just bring their helmets, axes and beards –they also brought their horses and dogs, research suggests.
Experts studying cremated remains associated with the Viking great army that invaded England in AD865, say they have found evidence of animals and humans travelling from the Baltic Shield – a geographical area that encompasses Finland and parts of Norway, Sweden and Russia.Continue reading…
The first rule of at-home printers is that you do not need a printer until you do, and then you need it desperately. The second rule is that when you plug the printer in, either it will work frictionlessly for a decade, or it will immediately and frequently fail in novel, even impressive ways, ultimately causing the purchase to haunt you like a malevolent spirit. So rich is the history of printer dysfunction that its foibles became a cliché in the early days of personal computing.
After years of holding out, my family finally succumbed to a pandemic inkjet purchase. (Like many, we were doing a lot of online shopping in 2020, which meant a lot of return labels.) I girded my loins for the agony of paper jams, phantom spooler errors, and the dreaded utterance "Driver not found." What I did not expect, however, was for my printer to shake me down like a loan shark.
The trouble started with a label for a package. My printer was unresponsive. Then I discovered an error message on my computer indicating that my HP OfficeJet Pro had been remotely disabled by the company. When I logged on to HP's website, I learned why: The credit card I had used to sign up for HP's Instant Ink cartridge-refill program had expired, and the company had effectively bricked my device in response.
For those not trapped in this devil's bargain, Instant Ink is a monthly subscription program that purports to monitor one's printer usage and ink levels and automatically send new cartridges when they run low. The name is misleading, because the monthly fee is not for the ink itself but for the number of pages printed. (The recommended household plan is $5.99 a month for 100 pages). Like others, I signed up in haste during the printer-setup process, only slightly aware of what I was purchasing. Getting ink delivered when I need it sounded convenient enough to me, a man so thoroughly coddled by one-click e-commerce that the frontal lobes of my brain likely resemble cottage cheese. The monthly fee is incurred whether you print or not, and the ink cartridges occupy some liminal ownership space. You possess them, but you are, in essence, renting both them and your machine while you're enrolled in the program.
I've struggled in subsequent conversations with friends and family to adequately convey the level and intensity of entitled fury I felt when I realized all of this. Here was a piece of technology that I had paid more than $200 for, stocked with full ink cartridges. My printer, gently used, was sitting on my desk in perfect working order but rendered useless by Hewlett-Packard, a tech corporation with a $28 billion market cap at the time of writing, because I had failed to make a monthly payment for a service intended to deliver new printer cartridges that I did not yet need. Indignant, and making grotesque, frustrated noises that I now understand to be hereditary Warzel responses to printer problems, I declared to nobody in particular that I was being extorted by my printer.
I am sheepish to air this grievance aloud, lest it be seen as an abuse of my venerable platform. I am an adult of somewhat sound mind and have the ability to read contracts: I did this to myself. But my printer's shakedown is just one example of how digital subscriptions have permeated physical tech so thoroughly that they are blurring the lines of ownership. Even if I paid for it, can I really say that I own my printer if HP can flip a switch and make it inert?
"What HP is doing is remarkably bad and deeply user hostile," the writer and activist Cory Doctorow told me recently. Doctorow has written extensively about digital-rights management across printer brands. For him, prosaic printer issues like mine help people understand digital rights and the ways that companies make devices that resist user modification. "The battle for the soul of digital freedom [is] taking place inside your printer," he argues. It's not just about the surveillance, or the egregious markups on ink and the efforts to stop third parties from undercutting the inkjet-cartridge market, he said. It's about the way that consumers are losing control over things they've already paid for.
One of his favorite examples of this is when Google bricked a bunch of sensors after shutting down a service it had acquired. Then there's Tesla, which frequently issues software updates to owners' vehicles, sometimes dramatically altering a car's functionality. In 2017, when Hurricane Irma threatened Florida, the company pushed an update that temporarily increased battery life for owners of vehicles within reach of the storm. Tesla was praised at the time, but people like Doctorow saw the event as an example of the power that tech companies have over customers—the carmaker simply lifted an arbitrary software restriction on a physical battery that was otherwise used to create two different price points for consumers. "App stores powering our devices are convenient, and subscriptions can work great when you have a benevolent dictator, but what happens if they decide to turn the screws on you or increase the prices and your car stops working?" he said. "You have no remedies then."
[Read: Your smart thermostat isn't here to help you]
I can report that corners of the information superhighway are teeming with individuals who are incandescently furious about HP's Instant Ink program. Together, our networked gripes form a complex harmony of resentment—a "Hallelujah Chorus" of bemoaning. There are tales of woe across HP's customer-support site, in Reddit threads, and on Twitter. A pending class-action lawsuit in California alleges that the Instant Ink program has "significant catches" and does not deliver new cartridges on time or allow those enrolled to use cartridges purchased outside the subscription service, rendering the consumer frequently unable to print. Parker Truax, a spokesperson for HP, told me, "Instant Ink cartridges will continue working until the end of the current billing cycle in which [a customer cancels]. To continue printing after they discontinue their Instant Ink subscription and their billing cycle ends, they can purchase and use HP original Standard or XL cartridges."
The problems can extend beyond artificial limitations. Skip Weisman, who owns his own consulting business in Poughkeepsie, New York, told me that HP Instant Ink would not stop sending him inkjet cartridges. Armed with well over a year's supply, Weissman canceled his subscription. "It's called Instant Ink—nobody told me that if I canceled, then all those cartridges would stop working," he said. But they did. "It just feels so manipulative. I guess this is our future, where your printer ink spies on you. It's bleak."
Although frustrated customers routinely call it one, Instant Ink is not a scam per se. It's just an aggressive, user-hostile business model. Doctorow argues that HP is following in the footsteps of casinos and razor manufacturers, which offer deals (comped hotel rooms and cheap shavers) in order to hook a consumer into a more lucrative financial transaction once they're inside. Printer ink is expensive because ink is naturally costly but also because pricey cartridges help companies recoup the money they lose selling cheap hardware. "Think of the original price tag of a printer more like a down payment," one printer-industry expert told Consumer Reports in 2018. For years, companies have sold the machines at a discount, but programs such as Instant Ink, which use technology to monitor cartridges—and disable machines—feel like an especially predatory step.
Even if you aren't trapped in Ink Hell, the template of this story ought to feel unsettlingly familiar. Most everyone is subject to the walled gardens and restrictions imposed by digital-rights-management practices. If you've ever struggled to access a purchased movie, book, or song from Apple or Amazon, you know the feeling. Or maybe you're a gamer who has long been frustrated over single-player games that require the internet to play. The problem isn't merely that people are nostalgic for the days of CDs and DVDs and static updates—it's that much of the convenience promised by our internet-connected tools has the secondary effect of stripping away small pieces of our agency and leaving us more beholden to companies seeking bigger margins.
Josh Kruger, a writer in Philadelphia who is also embroiled in a dysfunctional relationship with Instant Ink, cites the program as proof that we are "living on the internet of shit" and entrapped by subscriptions. Like me, Kruger is abashed by his anger but feels taken for a ride with a printer he essentially only rents. "I paid for this machine, and it is galling that the company can continue to tell me what I can do with it," Kruger told me. "As a dumb American who owns the device, I should be able to use blueberry juice to get this thing to print if I want."
That my personal rage circus revolves around a printer—a profoundly unsexy piece of machinery that many use to complete mundane life tasks such as printing out a passport form or a shipping label—is an added twist of the knife. But this is precisely the kind of second-order problem that people overlook. Like me, they pay little attention during the sign-up process and, like Weisman and Kruger, continue to pay while feeling fleeced, because doing so is easier than an alternative. That it feels so blatantly extractive is a reason to seethe but also a reason for complacency. Although the execution is modern, there is something timeless about feeling powerless at the hands of an enormous corporation—so much so that many of us just accept it.
"My entire life, my printers have always broken," Kruger said. "So it fits that the first one that hasn't broken has also decided to hold me hostage."
M. Night Shyamalan's filmmaking career has taken many wild and woolly turns over 30-plus years, but recently, he seems to have struck on a powerful, understated plot formula: What if you went on a vacation with your children and something terrible happened? In his 2021 hit, Old, a family gets stuck on a secret beach that ages them rapidly. His new follow-up, Knock at the Cabin, proposes another Twilight Zone–esque conundrum to a family trying to enjoy a weekend away. Simply put, the world is ending, and the only way to stop it is by killing someone they love.
That ultimatum is delivered to them by four intimidating strangers carrying medieval-looking weapons, led by the hulking Leonard (played by Dave Bautista). The family at risk is a gay couple, Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge), and their adopted daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui), and they immediately assume that the threat is just a cruel hoax rooted in prejudice, which the home invaders deny. Shyamalan has become deeply preoccupied with how family units can be tested by enormous, even supernatural stress. Knock at the Cabin is maybe his bluntest exploration yet, as Eric and Andrew slowly realize they are in the vise of an impossible choice.
The premise unfolds in a way that's unusually plain for Shyamalan. It lacks the loopy fantasy elements of Old, the comic-book heightening of Split and Glass, and the outright slapstick humor of The Visit, the found-footage horror that helped rebound his career in 2015. Knock at the Cabin is based on the novel The Cabin at the End of the World, by Paul G. Tremblay, and it retains most of that story's unnerving, direct narrative. Leonard and his foreboding sidekicks initially seem like a cult entirely detached from reality. But as the day drags on, Leonard's apocalyptic visions seem more and more plausible.
[Read: Glass is M. Night Shyamalan at his weirdest]
One of Shyamalan's touchstones as a horror storyteller is his sincerity; he takes ludicrous concepts and somehow squeezes them into the realm of reality. That tonal trick hasn't always worked—what sank films such as The Happening and Lady in the Water was how jarring the juxtaposition was between the ensembles' earnest performances and the plots' fundamental silliness. Knock at the Cabin avoids this problem partly through its deft casting, with Bautista serving as the most pivotal player. So much of the movie revolves around Leonard's surreal monologues; the actor keeps a firm grasp on Leonard's belief in his every word.
Bautista's breakout performance came in Guardians of the Galaxy, in which he played an alien who always means exactly what he says—he's from a planet without irony. The disarming authenticity he honed in that role makes him a particularly strong screen presence here, giving Leonard an aura of menace that extends beyond his imposing physical form (and his big bladed weapon). Leonard's omen sounds patently absurd, and the main evidence he and his fellow attackers have to offer is their collective visions. But Leonard's gentle exhortation that the only way forward involves violent death demands everyone's attention precisely because he says it in such a measured, muted way.
Equally unsettling is the fact that the world actually does seem to be melting down around Eric and Andrew; Leonard points to reports of tsunamis, pandemics, and other cataclysms that I shan't spoil as proof that his predictions are bubbling to life. But the cruel twist is that those kinds of horrible events play out on the news all the time, and Eric and Andrew's desensitization fuels their denial. At the core of Shyamalan's story is the idea that raising children in this world—where ocean levels are rising and ambient doom is almost always hovering in the background—is an inherently tragic project.
Shyamalan sprinkles in a few flashbacks of Eric and Andrew's relationship, their struggle to adopt a child, and their resiliency. Those fleeting memories help clarify the stakes of their looming sacrifice. They also introduce a knotty angle that the film barely has time to explore but that I kept pondering after leaving the theater. Is Eric and Andrew's fate entirely random, or have they been chosen because their relationship is so powerful? Shyamalan's adoration for the dads and their sweetly introverted daughter is evidenced by scenes of genuine tenderness, and Groff's performance is especially moving. But those touches also make the film's final act all the more wrenching; it's suffused with disaster and entirely devoid of winks to the camera.
In its filing, SpaceX says its testing will measure the RF emission density under various conditions. However, it won't be able to set them up just anywhere. The FCC license allows SpaceX to test the new terminals in five locations: Los Angeles; Mountain View, California; Redmond, Washington; Riverton, Wyoming; and Cape Canaveral, Florida. The FCC also stipulates that the antenna arrays cannot exceed 0.586 by 0.385 meters (23 by 15.1 inches). That puts them in the same approximate size range as current Starlink hardware, like the premium dish above.
All versions of the mysterious new Starlink dish will operate in the company's established frequency ranges of 10.7GHz to 12.7GHz (download) and 14 to 14.5GHz (upload). Those frequency ranges are both in the Ku band. SpaceX also operates in the higher Ka-band (27-40GHz), but that's not part of the test at this time. Among the 200 test models will be some designed for fixed locations, as well as those that can be mounted on moving vehicles.
SpaceX's stated goal is to provide gigabit internet access to its satellite internet subscribers. That would represent a huge upgrade over older satellite internet systems, which can barely eke out speeds in the tens of megabits. Starlink started off much faster than those services, with speeds around 100Mbps. However, network congestion throughout 2022 resulted in speeds dropping closer to 50Mbps by late in the year. This came as SpaceX vastly expanded the service's coverage area and rolled out new services for RVs and boats.
In addition to the new terminals, SpaceX hopes to boost speeds by deploying 7,500 new satellites as approved by the FCC. The company launched the first part of its Gen 2 network several weeks back, but the project won't begin in earnest until the private spaceflight firm can get the Starship megarocket up and running. That vehicle is required to launch the company's larger Gen 2 satellites. CEO Elon Musk has been promising a Starship orbital test since mid-last year, but it may finally happen in the coming weeks.
A growing number of U.S. airports are trying swoop landings rather than staircase descents, a method that saves fuel, cuts emissions and reduces noise
|submitted by /u/ForHidingSquirrels
Police use the traffic stop as an excuse to investigate and prosecute people. What happens when everyone drives perfectly? Will crime rates drop? Will police be given more authority, or implement random stops, in order to justify their presence everywhere?
|submitted by /u/thedailybeast
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Ben Lamm and George Church), co-founders of
for my podcast Where We Go Next. One of their aims is to bring back extinct animals, including the woolly mammoth, the thylacine, and the dodo.
While our time was tight, I tried to strike a balance between orienting listeners who may be unfamiliar with this topic, and airing some skepticism I found around some of the company's more ambitious claims. We discuss:
- What "de-extinction" is, and what use it may have in rewilding distressed ecosystems
- The restoration efforts of Sergey and Nikita Zimov in Pleistocene Park in Siberia
- The role woolly mammoths would play in preserving the Arctic's methane-filled permafrost
- Whether what's being brought back is actually a mammoth or a "cold-adaptive elephant"
- What most excites George Church, the "founding father of genomics," about Colossal's work
– and more.
While I still have some reservations about the project of de-extinction, I left our conversation feeling more optimistic about this field – and the future.
You can listen to their episode on the web, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Simply search for "Where We Go Next."
Thank you for your time. And if you listen to the episode, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
And thank you to the mods for allowing me to share this conversation with the community.
Right now there are still signs and tells that voices and deep fakes aren't quite real. An expert or certain software can discern them easily. But like most things, the technology is going to improve. Some jury members may already have trouble spotting the difference between real and fake evidence. How will this effect the way video and audio evidence works in court in the future?
- Plastic Water Bottles May Be Next Ban In Hawaii's War Against Pollution | Citing the significant amount of plastic found in oceans, lawmakers advanced a bill that would ban the sale of plastic water bottles as early as 2024.
|submitted by /u/chrisdh79
- Log burner rule change in England could land users with £300 fines
What really happens to our bodies when we age — and could we find a way to slow it down?
Nature, Published online: 01 February 2023; doi:10.1038/d41586-023-00279-8As a prototype prepares for tests in orbit, Nature looks at five of the biggest challenges for space-based solar power.
It's only been a few days since gaming streamer Atrioc admitted to buying deepfake porn of his colleagues. But in the interim, all hell has broken loose in the streaming community.
Earlier in the week, Atrioc, whose real name is Brandon Ewing, tearfully admitted that he had purchased access to a website that showed nonconsensual deepfake porn of his female colleagues, after eagle-eyed fans noticed a tab with the page in one of his videos.
Now, discourse is rippling through the community. Take the male streamer MoistCr1TiKaL, who pushed back against some in the scene saying the videos weren't a big deal.
"What are you talking about? Like these mental gymnastics man," MoistCr1TiKal, whose real name is Charles Christopher White Jr, said in the exchange. "It's not parody, you're creating non-consensual content."
White kept at his clapback when still other defenders of the deepfake site chimed in, slamming their "degeneracy" and expressing surprise that he would see such "braindead takes" in his stream's chat.
Laugh Out Loud
On the other side of the debacle was YouTuber Ethan Klein, who, per a writeup from the Dextero streaming blog, got called out by his own filming crew when he reportedly had a technician edit a slowed-down clip of one of the affected female streamers' discussing the deepfake violation with Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" playing on top of it. In viral video of the incident, Klein is heard laughing uproariously.
Following the stunt, Klein himself became the subject of fellow streamers' ire and subsequently issued his own apology video in which he both said he respected the female streamer in question and also seemed to blame his laughter on having Tourette's Syndrome.
Obviously, the streamers are not OK, and this whole fiasco could serve as a trial balloon for something similar in other industries where people don't have such goofy handles.
Let's hope, at least, that anyone who wants to make deepfake porn following this scandal thinks twice after seeing the surprisingly heartfelt protestations from both women and men in the gaming industry.
More on deepfakes: Trashy TV Prank Show Deepfakes Celebrities Into Jackass-Style Situations
The post The Deepfake Porn Scandal Is Tearing the Streaming Community Apart appeared first on Futurism.
Nods in Agreement
In what Fox News described on-air as a measure to ensure "transparency" regarding
's shadowbanning practices, new Twitter CEO Elon Musk invited conservative journalist and Fox commentator Dave Rubin to take a "look inside" Twitter headquarters.
And while it's not clear how constructive or productive Rubin's days-long tour really was, the two figures apparently agree on one big thing: that Twitter is, in Musk's analysis, "a flaming dumpster rolling down the street."
"He thinks maybe the entire code has to be torn down and start from scratch," Rubin tweeted in an expansive Twitter thread, a sentiment that he reaffirmed on the television program Fox & Friends on Monday, "he said that the whole situation is 'a flaming dumpster rolling down the street.'"
"I gotta tell you," Rubin told the Fox & Friends hosts, "that after being in San Francisco for 48 hours, a 'flaming dumpster rolling down the street' was pretty much the exact right metaphor."
Disagree to Agree
Rubin certainly doesn't think that Musk is to blame for the platform's flaming dumpster-esque woes. Rubin, like Musk, believes that the SpaceX founder purchased a free speech-suppressive platform that apparently has flawed "tiramisu" code. Or something.
"The way code works, as he described to me, I know not all your viewers are coders, nor am I, but you're basically looking at a tiramisu layer cake," said Rubin, at one point also comparing Twitter to Pee-wee Herman's Rube Goldberg machine. "And as you fix one layer, and then you realize how many other problems are under it and you may have screwed something up."
To be fair, Rubin did go a bit deeper into his post-HQ reflections on Twitter, saying that Twitter engineers had shown him that his account had been tagged with "'secret'" shadowban-inducing "labels" like "'recent abuse strike,' 'Recent misinformation strike,' and "'Recent suspension strike.'" But to Rubin's complaint, he actively promotes election denialism, which is literally misinformation. (He also stopped in SF to make fun of struggling people on the street, so, you know, cool guy.)
Rubin also failed, on Twitter as well as Fox & Friends, to bring up the fact that Musk's Twitter recently banned a number of Musk-critical journalists from the platform overnight. Maybe it just didn't come up?
WATCH: Twitter was built to suppress certain voices: Dave Rubin [Fox News]
More on Musk bans: Free Speech Champion Elon Musk Is Mass Suspending Twitter Accounts of Journalists Who Criticized Him
The post Elon Musk Apparently Thinks Twitter Is a "Flaming Dumpster Rolling Down the Street" appeared first on Futurism.
What really happens to our bodies when we age — and could we find a way to slow it down?