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What do the elements sound like?
In chemistry, we have He, Fe and Ca—but what about do, re and mi? Hauntingly beautiful melodies aren't the first things that come to mind when looking at the periodic table of the elements. However, using a technique called data sonification, a recent college graduate has converted the visible light given off by the elements into audio, creating unique, complex sounds for each one. Today, the researcher reports the first step toward an interactive, musical periodic table.


Exclusive: Australia space scientist made up data, probe finds
Joachim Schmidt

A space scientist formerly based at the University of Sydney made up data in an unpublished manuscript, an investigation by the institution has found. 

The researcher, Joachim Schmidt, "utilised Adobe Photoshop to make up results," according to a letter dated Feb. 15, 2023, from Emma Johnston, deputy vice-chancellor of research at the University of Sydney, to scientists at the University of Michigan who reported complaints in late 2019 about work by Schmidt and his former professor Iver Cairns to the Australian institution. 

"Given the above, the Panel found there had been breaches of the Research Code on the part of Dr Schmidt. The breaches were viewed as serious, and the Panel considered them to be sufficiently serious to warrant a finding of research misconduct as defined in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research," the letter, obtained by Retraction Watch, stated. 

The fabricated image appears in a manuscript about the effects of weather in space Schmidt wrote with Cairns. The paper has yet to be published. 

Sydney has also launched a probe into all the images published in papers Schmidt co-authored in the last five years, according to the letter. 

In November 2020, Sydney was named the Academic Institution of the Year at the Australian Space Awards, and Cairns was one of the scientists who accepted the award. According to his LinkedIn page, Schmidt was a lecturer at Sydney's School of Physics from November 2010 to March 2021. 

Schmidt could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Sydney told Retraction Watch that Schmidt had not been dismissed from the university; instead, he left the institution after his fixed-term contract expired. 

Gábor Toth, one of the scientists at the University of Michigan whose model Schmidt used, noticed the fishy image in the manuscript when Cairns emailed it to him and asked if he wanted to be a co-author. 

According to a redacted version of a Jan. 2023 report on the case obtained by Retraction Watch, the investigation panel determined that Schmidt used Photoshop "to alter or create" a figure in the 2019 manuscript that was purported to be the output of Toth's model. Neither Schmidt nor digital forensics experts could reproduce the image with the model. 

The panel concluded that Schmidt alone produced the Photoshopped figure. 

"At interview, Professor Cairns explained that he has no experience with Photoshop, confirmed that he did not make any amendments, and could not recall asking Dr Schmidt to make any adjustments using Photoshop," the report stated. It noted that the creation or alteration of the figure "amounted to fabrication and falsification on the part of Dr Schmidt."

"​​The cheating is so obvious that it can be understood by anyone, no scientific knowledge is needed," Toth told Retraction Watch. 

Richard de Grijs, a physicist at MacQuarie University in Australia, and Rob Wittenmyer, an astrophysicist at the University of South Queensland, who carried out the investigation, wrote in the report that if one were to accept Schmidt's claim that he used Photoshop to make the internal structures of the image brighter and more visible, there would need to be an explanatory note in the paper. 

"This should have been done at the draft stage so that Professor Cairns and other prospective authors were made aware of the adjustments for the purposes of their consideration of the draft paper," they wrote.

The report exonerated Cairns of any wrongdoing, noting that he had no involvement in producing the figure in question and wasn't aware that Schmidt had fabricated and falsified the image. 

But Toth isn't satisfied. He said Cairns deserves some blame and that clearing him of wrongdoing is "completely irresponsible". 

Cairns declined to comment, citing confidentiality agreements. Wittenmyer and de Grijs also declined to comment on their report, citing confidentiality. 

Toth has claimed nobody in the community believes the results described in Schmidt and Cairns' other papers. 

In a rebuttal he published on another of Schmidt and Cairns' preprints last month, Toth wrote the results were so outlandish they had "only one reasonable explanation": that they "were most likely not obtained by reproducible numerical simulations." Previous papers by the duo using the same technique are "similarly questionable," Toth wrote.  

"It also seems likely that several published papers with questionable content have slipped through the peer review process," Toth continued. "Readers and reviewers who only rely on the manuscript and published papers may or may not be able to distinguish genuine science from the type of content presented by [Schmidt and Cairns]."

Like Retraction Watch? You can make a tax-deductible contribution to support our work, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, or subscribe to our daily digest. If you find a retraction that's not in our database, you can let us know here. For comments or feedback, email us at



I saw this story of a 50 year old Japanese man who facewapped his face with a young women's face. His followers didn't suspect anything of the photos he posted until he came clean and revealed his identity.

Another story I found was of a South Korean youtuber/influencer who became popular, amassed millions of views and then reveled she was deepfaked by a company called dob world.

Do you think deepfakes are realistic enough that people can't tell they're looking at a deepfake unless told? The celebrity deepfakes seem obvious since we know the celebrity and can usually know what content they're actually in. But if not told, and looking at an non-famous person, are deepfakes obvious when you see them? Especially if made by a company that has high quality large dataset for both faces

It makes me wonder how many influencers are deepfaked or edited heavily that they look completely different in person. And I don't just mean photoshopping to look skinny but their face/identity isn't the same in anyway.

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Neurexin-2 restricts synapse numbers and restrains the presynaptic release probability by an alternative splicing-dependent mechanism
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume 120, Issue 13, March 2023.
Overharvesting in human patch foraging reflects rational structure learning and adaptive planning
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume 120, Issue 13, March 2023.
The Guardian view on how Covid began: look to the future | Editorial
Is this article about Foreign Policy?

The row over whether the pandemic started with a lab leak is growing. But the most important question is what we do now

We may never know for certain how a disease that brought the world to a standstill and has killed almost 7 million people emerged. While many experts believe that 


-19 arose through human contact with infected animals, most likely via a wet market in Wuhan, China, a significant number believe it probably escaped from the city's Institute of Virology. Others retain an open mind. But politics has turbocharged a scientific question. Donald Trump hyped the lab leak theory without evidence; yet some scientists fear that, in the haste to challenge xenophobic buck-passing that was fuelling anti-Asian hate crime, others may have been too quick to dismiss entirely a genuine possibility.

The simmering, rancorous debate began heating up again late last month when it emerged that the US Department of Energy had concluded, though with "low confidence", that a lab escape was probably to blame. The FBI agrees, while four other US agencies blame natural spillover and two – including the CIA – remain undecided. Then, a new analysis of gene sequences taken from swabs from the market showed that some Covid-positive samples were rich in DNA from raccoon dogs, bolstering the case that it began through infected animals sold at the site. As the row gathers pace, Joe Biden has ordered the release of intelligence on the pandemic's origins.

Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a response of up to 300 words by email to be considered for publication in our letters section, please click here.

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Trump Begins the 'Retribution' Tour

You'd think that, by now, Donald Trump's fans would be tired of all this. The long lines and the self-indulgent speeches and the relentless blasting of Laura Branigan's "Gloria" as they stand outside exposed to the elements. But they aren't. Not at all.

After six years, the former president's rallies still have summer-camp vibes—at least at first. At last night's event in Waco, Texas—the first rally of his 2024 presidential campaign—Trump's thousands of supporters seemed delighted simply to be together at the Waco airport hangar, wearing their ULTRA MAGA T-shirts and drinking lemonade in the hot sun. Sure, the vendors ran out of water at one point, and there was no shade to speak of, but nobody really complained. They were too busy singing along to the Village People and bonding with new friends over their shared interests (justice, freedom, theories about a ruling Deep State cabal).

But the sunny mood of Trump's supporters contrasted with his 2024 campaign message, which is different this time around—darker, more vengeful, and, if such a thing is possible, even more self-absorbed. "The abuses of power that we are witnessing at all levels of government will go down as among the most shameful, corrupt, and depraved chapters" in history, Trump told the crowd in a clear reference to a potential indictment he's facing related to hush-money payments to the porn actor Stormy Daniels—and probably also to the three other main legal cases against him. He spent 30 minutes soliloquizing about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the corrupt "thugs" in America's justice system, and the apparent threat to his attorney-client privilege. Behind Trump, supporters held up WITCH HUNT signs that had been given out by the campaign.

[David A. Graham: The most disturbing part of Trump's latest rant]

At his rallies in 2016, Trump used to tell his supporters, "I am your voice." Last night, he offered something more sinister. "I am your warrior. I am your justice," he told them. "For those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution."

Choosing Waco for his first campaign rally of the season was a little on the nose even for Trump, a man who has always relished a chance to say the quiet part out loud. In the spring of 1993, federal law-enforcement agents laid siege to the Branch Davidian compound, where a leader had bound his followers to him with apocalyptic warnings. Thirty years later, here was Trump, whipping up his own supporters with claims of similar law-enforcement overreach—which, in Trump's case, may mean being charged with crimes related to his dealings with a star of Porking With Pride 2.

At times over the past week, Trump has seemed almost giddy at the prospect of an indictment, reportedly musing with aides about how he might behave during a potential perp walk. The past few days have also been anxious ones for Trump, according to the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, but also according to anyone reading Trump's frantic social-media posts. On Truth Social, in between site ads for mole and skin-tag removal, the former president has been Truthing and Retruthing with the all-caps enthusiasm of a middle schooler hopped up on Pixy Stix. "EVERYBODY KNOWS I'M 100% INNOCENT," he wrote last week. "OUR COUNTRY IS BEING DESTROYED, AS THEY TELL US TO BE PEACEFUL!" Trump predicted an imminent arrest, and urged Americans to "PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!" On Thursday, presumably while pacing the gilded halls of Mar-a-Lago, Trump amped up his rhetoric by warning—or maybe, threatening—about the "death & destruction" that could occur if he is eventually charged.

[Tim Naftali: Indicting a former president should always have been fair game]

Trump was not indicted last week, but it could happen this week—as early as tomorrow, when the grand jury is due to reconvene. If Trump is arrested, he might be booked the same as any other suspect. Americans may get to see his mug shot. We may also see the kind of turbulent protests that he's clearly agitating for. His supporters, predictably, think the whole Stormy Daniels situation is hogwash. "We laugh at it all, because the liberal side is just trying to throw everything at the wall to see if something sticks," Ron Weldon, a helicopter pilot from Keller, told me at Waco. Texan rally goers I spoke with forecast that, if Trump is indicted, there will be protests, but they will be peaceful, and nothing major. They'd really like to avoid another January 6 situation, which, they reminded me, was caused by FBI plants. An indictment, they said, will only make them love Trump more. "If they do that, they might as well seal their fate: He's gonna win," Janet Larson, a retiree from Temple, told me.

Last night, though, no one acted as if their leader was about to be indicted. People sucked on Bomb Pops and danced and got sunburned. They carried around their tiny dogs and booed the press at all the right times. When Trump's jet landed, an hour later than scheduled, a vendor abandoned her ice-cream truck to take a video. Zany conspiracy theories ran rampant: A woman named Stephanie Tatar wearing a hot-pink pantsuit told me that she's starting a business that allows people to fax her handwritten letters to Trump; she'll deliver them personally to Mar-a-Lago, to avoid censorship by the postal service. Priscilla Patterson, a 50-something woman from Waco, said that she wasn't worried about Trump winning in 2024, because he'd be installed as the rightful president well before then. Her husband, Ricky Patterson, suggested that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is currently Trump's main presumptive rival in the Republican primary race, was himself a puppet of the elite ruling cabal.

[Brian Klaas: Rule by law in Florida]

Recent stories about Trump's supporters have suggested that they're bored with him, or flirting with the idea of switching candidates. But the fans still showing up at his rallies—at least the estimated 10,000 of them last night in Waco—seem more bullish than ever. Maybe it was a good thing, they said, that Trump had been away for a couple of years—America got to see what it was missing: low gas prices, no wars in Europe. And they are not considering other candidates: DeSantis is too establishment, too fake, not ready for prime time. It's Trump, all the way, baby. No one else even comes close.

Trump and his supporters have been through a lot together since 2020: the stolen election; the FBI inside job on January 6, 2021; the long list of legal persecutions. These trials have served only to cement their devotion. So, for them, seeing Trump back on the campaign trail was like witnessing the long-awaited return of an exiled leader. That's why, they told me, this cycle's campaign will be different. "The other ones were 'Let's make America great! Let's clean it up, let's do things right!'" a Waco man named Brian, who declined to share his last name, told me. But he prefers to use Trump's word to describe this next iteration. "To me, this is retribution. We've got to get our country back, because it's been stolen from us." What would that retribution promised by Trump look like? I asked. "People who have done fraud and illegal stuff, they've gotta be perp walked. They need to face justice," he said. "There's a two-tier level of justice in this country."

The legal system is corrupt, the political system is rigged, and Joe Biden was never elected president, Ricky Patterson told me. Trump's campaign is a crusade for "redemption." Trump is a "new-age Moses," April Rickman, from Midland, Texas, told me. "He delivered the people from Egypt."

The prophet himself—after ranting about Bragg and corruption, and getting off a few good DeSantis barbs—offered a few moments of hope for such deliverance. To round after round of applause, he promised to close the border, unleash ICE, and deport gang members "with tattoos on their faces." He vowed to "settle" the war in Ukraine in just 24 hours, to keep trans girls out of girls' sports, and to prevent World War III. The crowd around me screamed its approval.

[Adam Serwer: Don't cut corners on indicting Trump]

But the high didn't last long. Suddenly, a somber string melody was playing through the loudspeakers, and Trump was speaking over it. An American flag rippled on the Jumbotrons behind him. "We are a nation in decline. We are a failing nation," he said to an audience that, hours before, had been beaming in the sun with Mountain Dew and stuffed pretzels. "We are a nation that in many ways has become a joke. And we are a nation that is hostile to liberty, freedom, and faith."

Then it was all over, and Trump's plane pulled out onto the runway to take him back to Florida. The hardcore fans who'd stuck around to watch his departure lined up along the fence to wave goodbye. As the plane sped down the tarmac, April Rickman held her hands up to the sky.

This Chipmaking Step Is Crucial to the Future of Computing—and Just Got 40x Faster Thanks to Nvidia
Is this article about Tech?

If computer chips make the modern world go around, then 


 and TSMC are flywheels keeping it spinning. It's worth paying attention when the former says they've made a chipmaking breakthrough, and the latter confirms they're about to put it into practice.

At Nvidia's GTC developer conference this week, CEO Jensen Huang said Nvidia has developed software to make a chipmaking step, called inverse lithography, over 40 times faster. A process that usually takes weeks can now be completed overnight, and instead of requiring some 40,000 CPU servers and 35 megawatts of power, it should only need 500 Nvidia DGX H100 GPU-based systems and 5 megawatts.

"With cuLitho, TSMC can reduce prototype cycle time, increase throughput and reduce the carbon footprint of their manufacturing, and prepare for 2nm and beyond," he said.

Nvidia partnered with some of the biggest names in the industry on the work. TSMC, the largest chip foundry in the world, plans to qualify the approach in production this summer. Meanwhile, chip designer, Synopsis, and equipment maker, ASML, said in a press release they will integrate cuLitho into their chip design and lithography software.

What Is Inverse Lithography?

To fabricate a modern computer chip, makers shine ultraviolet light through intricate "stencils" to etch billions of patterns—like wires and transistors—onto smooth silicon wafers at near-atomic resolutions. This step, called photolithography, is how every new chip design, from Nvidia to Apple to Intel, is manifested physically in silicon.

The machines that make it happen, built by ASML, cost hundreds of millions of dollars and can produce near-flawless works of nanoscale art on chips. The end product, an example of which is humming away near your fingertips as you read this, is probably the most complex commodity in history. (TSMC churns out a quintillion transistors every six months—for Apple alone.)

To make more powerful chips, with ever-more, ever-smaller transistors, engineers have had to get creative.

Remember that stencil mentioned above? It's the weirdest stencil you've ever seen. Today's transistors are smaller than the wavelength of light used to etch them. Chipmakers have to use some extremely clever tricks to design stencils—or technically, photomasks—that can bend light into interference patterns whose features are smaller than the light's wavelength and perfectly match the chip's design.

Whereas photomasks once had a more one-to-one shape—a rectangle projected a rectangle—they've necessarily become more and more complicated over the years. The most advanced masks these days are more like mandalas than simple polygons.

"Stencils" or photomasks have become more and more complicated as the patterns they etch have shrunk into the atomic realm. Image Credit: Nvidia

To design these advanced photomask patterns, engineers reverse the process.

They start with the design they want, then stuff it through a wicked mess of equations describing the physics involved to design a suitable pattern. This step is called inverse lithography, and as the gap between light wavelength and feature size has increased, it's become increasingly crucial to the whole process. But as the complexity of photomasks increases, so too does the computing power, time, and cost required to design them.

"Computational lithography is the largest computation workload in chip design and manufacturing, consuming tens of billions of CPU hours annually," Huang said. "Massive data centers run 24/7 to create reticles used in lithography systems."

In the broader category of computational lithography—the methods used to design photomasks—inverse lithography is one of the newer, more advanced approaches. Its advantages include greater depth of field and resolution and should benefit the entire chip, but due its heavy computational lift, it's currently only used sparingly.

A Library in Parallel

Nvidia aims to reduce that lift by making the computation more amenable to graphics processing units, or GPUs. These powerful chips are used for tasks with lots of simple computations that can be completed in parallel, like video games and machine learning. So it isn't just about running existing processes on GPUs, which only yields a modest improvement, but modifying those processes specifically for GPUs.

That's what the new software, cuLitho, is designed to do. The product, developed over the last four years, is a library of algorithms for the basic operations used in inverse lithography. By breaking inverse lithography down into these smaller, more repetitive computations, the whole process can now be split and parallelized on GPUs. And that, according to Nvidia, significantly speeds everything up.

A new library of inverse lithography algorithms can speed up the process by breaking it down into smaller tasks and running them in parallel on GPUs. Image Credit: Nvidia

"If [inverse lithography] was sped up 40x, would many more people and companies use full-chip ILT on many more layers? I am sure of it," said Vivek Singh, VP of Nvidia's Advanced Technology Group, in a talk at GTC.

With a speedier, less computationally hungry process, makers can more rapidly iterate on experimental designs, tweak existing designs, make more photomasks per day, and generally, expand the use of inverse lithography to more of the chip, he said.

This last detail is critical. Wider use of inverse lithography should reduce print errors by sharpening the projected image—meaning chipmakers can churn out more working chips per silicon wafer—and be precise enough to make features at 2 nanometers and beyond.

It turns out making better chips isn't all about the hardware. Software improvements, like cuLitho or the increased use of machine learning in design, can have a big impact too.

Image Credit: Nvidia

Does the future of medicine lie in space?

Earth's gravity makes it harder to cultivate the proteins needed to study diseases and pathogens. And although the cost of space travel is high, private enterprise is stepping in

In a small lab, squeezed into the corner of a skyscraper in downtown Tel Aviv, Israeli entrepreneur Yossi Yamin is proudly holding what he calls "a little James Bond-style suitcase factory, powered by the sun".

As with many of 007's finest contraptions, initial impressions are inauspicious. But in the past four years, these little metal boxes, coated in solar panels, have repeatedly blasted into orbit on the back of a SpaceX rocket, bringing groundbreaking new insights back to Earth for things ranging from the behaviour of leukaemia cells to the best ways of generating lab-grown steak.

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Can we even design what is next for AI?

Half a million years ago, if a congress of primates had gotten together to design what was next, would they have designed humans? Humans are slower, weaker, and take far longer to mature to the point that they can take care of themselves. While in hindsight, the differences in brain structure and function that enabled human working memory, reasoning, reflective exploratory behavior, and overall intelligence are important, for the design sessions, they would have been very speculative. I suspect the congress would have focused on what was needed to perform better in the environment at that time, and so they would have designed faster, stronger, and more quickly maturing versions of themselves.

When I read about Artificial Intelligence, many of the articles seem to focus on the need to create a machine copy of the current human brain and its functions and then to extend/improve the copy to address the needs we see.

Like the congress mentioned above, is this a mistake? Does AI really need to start where we are and then be enhanced to solve the problems we see in front of us today? If we take (an admittedly big) step back, what problems can AI solve that we're simply not seeing that will have AI end up running the world?

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Government Working to Punish Companies That Make It Hard to Cancel Subscriptions
Feedly AI found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • That practice may become punishable by law, thanks to a new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule proposal that just dropped.
Tired of pesky subscriptions that make it near-impossible to cancel? That practice may become illegal, thanks to a new FTC rule proposal that just dropped.

Subscription Breakers

Tired of those pesky subscriptions that sound like a great deal, but make it incredible difficulty to cancel? That practice may become punishable by law, thanks to a new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule proposal that just dropped.

In a press release, the FTC said that its new "click to cancel" rule will require sellers to "make it as easy for consumers to cancel their enrollment as it was to sign up" — and will be applicable to gym memberships and subscription services, too.

"Some businesses too often trick consumers into paying for subscriptions they no longer want or didn't sign up for in the first place," FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said in the release. "The proposal would save consumers time and money, and businesses that continued to use subscription tricks and traps would be subject to stiff penalties."

Type Option Negative

Part of an ongoing update process to its Negative Option Rule that was signed into law in 1973, the "click to cancel" rule would not only change the game on aggressive subscription services, but would also have a provision that returns money to affected consumers, too.

This sort of tit-for-tat rule — which will need to undergo a review process and be signed into law — will require businesses to let consumers cancel their subscriptions in whichever medium they used to sign up, be it online, in-person, over the phone, or via snail mail, which apparently some people still do.

Repeat offenders would be subject to "stiff penalties," the press release states, although it didn't go into detail about what those penalties would be.

Pitch Perfect

While it won't outright bar the practice of customer service associates trying to dissuade consumers from canceling by offering discounts or other perks, it will severely limit it, the release notes.

"Before making such pitches, sellers must first ask consumers whether they want to hear them," the press release notes. "In other words, a seller must take 'no' for an answer and upon hearing 'no' must immediately implement the cancellation process."

As Ars Technica notes, there was one dissenting Republican on the four-person FTC board who suggested that some people "prefer and enjoy" having to haggle when ending their subscriptions — but thankfully, she was overruled.

More on government rules: Scientists Discover That Toilet Paper Contains Toxic "Forever" Chemicals

The post Government Working to Punish Companies That Make It Hard to Cancel Subscriptions appeared first on Futurism.

Researchers Pleasantly Surprised That Only One New Yorker Attacked Their Cute Trash-Collecting Robots
New Yorkers aren't exactly known for being nice, which was why it was so shocking that only a few were rude to some trash robots in Greenwich Village.

❤ New York

New Yorkers aren't exactly known for being warm and fuzzy, so researchers were pleasantly surprised when only a few were rude to some trash-collecting robots deployed in Greenwich Village.

The Cornell researchers behind the experiment — which featured robotic trash cans that zoomed about Astor Place — found that only some of the people they observed reacted violently or rudely.

Presented at the recent International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, this research aimed to see how people react now to "robots in public spaces," in order to "better understand the range of behaviors and norms that robots will need to manage autonomously in longer-term deployments," wrote Fanjan Bu, Ilan Mandel, Wen-Ying Lee, and Wendy Ju, the paper's authors.

Both trash bots had cameras attached to them, and in a video accompanying the research, a wide range of reactions can be observed, from the predictable middle-finger flip-off and assault on the robot that left it knocked over to — shockingly! — people feeding the robot trash and helping it out.

At one point, a little girl is even seen walking up to the robot, blowing it a kiss, and then waving goodbye.


Overall, you could do a lot worse in the Big Apple.

"In general, people welcomed the robots," the researchers wrote, and were observed "interacting with them avidly."

After interviewing some of the people who interacted with the robots, the Cornell scientists said that their perceptions of the autonomous trash receptacles "varied widely."

"Some interviewees treated the robot like a public good and were appreciative of its help," they continued. "Others thought the robots wanted trash, expecting the robot to be grateful for their 'contribution'  after disposing of items."

Perhaps even more surprisingly, however, the researchers found that when the robots "got stuck" on uneven surfaces, "people were keen to help the robots when they were in trouble," and some even "would proactively move chairs and obstacles to clear a path for the robots."

All-in-all, people seemed to mostly be nice to the robots in this study — and the few jerks who were rude were, like with the rest of the New York populace, merely annoying outliers.

More on robots: Study: Cute (and Non Human-Looking) Robots Will Subdue the Humans

The post Researchers Pleasantly Surprised That Only One New Yorker Attacked Their Cute Trash-Collecting Robots appeared first on Futurism.

FTC Warns That Scammers Are Cloning Your Relatives' Voice To Steal Your Money
The US Federal Trade Commission published a consumer alert warning the public of voice cloning scams, which seem to be on the rise.

Clone Con

Anecdotal accounts were already abound of people losing money to scammers cloning the voices of their relatives. Now, it's apparently become enough of a prevalent — and serious — issue that federal regulators feel the need to step in.

On Monday, the US 

Federal Trade Commission

 (FTC) published a consumer alert on emerging voice cloning scams, warning people that their desperate friend or relative on the other end of the phone asking for money may actually be an AI simulacrum of their voice wielded by a scammer.

"All [a scammer] needs is a short audio clip of your family member's voice — which he could get from content posted online — and a voice-cloning program," the FTC wrote.

"When the scammer calls you, he'll sound just like your loved one."

Grandma Grifter

On Futurism, we've talked about how these voice cloning scams have recently targeted senior citizens. In one case, the ostensible voice of a grandkid asked their grandma for bail money.

In another scam, a caller claimed to be a lawyer representing an elderly couple's son, who then allowed the son to "speak" to the parents, asking them to send BitCoin to cover legal fees.

As you might've guessed, both proved to be nothing more than nefarious voice cloning.

Geriatrics in Canada appear to be a particularly vulnerable demographic, with CBC news reporting that at least eight senior citizens were targeted by these voice cloning scams in just a three day window, making away with a total $200,000 CAD.

No One's Safe

Voice cloning scans have existed for years now, used in several high profile, corporate swindles.

But it's only until recently that these scams have begun to target the average Joe, thanks to the rise of cheap and easy to use generative AIs available to consumers.

"Before, it required a sophisticated operation," Subbarao Kambhampati, a professor of computer science at Arizona State University and an expert in AI, told NPR. "Now small-time crooks can use it."

Notably, an AI voice synthesis tool provided by ElevenLabs has come under the spotlight, both for its ability to impersonate presidents and celebrities, and to break into bank accounts. Using it requires little to no technical expertise, making it easier than ever to clone someone's voice as long as a scammer has samples of it, which can easily be gleaned from social media.

To protect yourself from these scams, the FTC recommends reaching out to the supposed relative by using a phone number you know belongs to them. And watch out if their voice asks you to send money through hard to trace means, like cryptocurrency, gift cards, and wire transfers.

More on voice cloning: Voice Actors Enraged By Companies Stealing Their Voices With AI

The post FTC Warns That Scammers Are Cloning Your Relatives' Voice To Steal Your Money appeared first on Futurism.

We're in Awe of This Massive Tornado of Plasma on the Surface of the Sun
Is this article about Aerospace?
A ginormous, tornado of plasma has been spotted on the Sun's surface, violently raging within a powerful magnetic structure.

Planet Dwarfer

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has spotted an absolutely towering tornado roaring on the surface of the Sun, raging with swirls of plasma to such astounding heights that even our entire planet is humbled by its scale.

Astronomers at the observatory had been tracking the "solar tornado" since March 14, until it finally spun itself out four days later and dispersed into a cloud of magnetized gas, according to SpaceWeather.

Thankfully, some keen-eyed amateur astronomers managed to back up SDO's observations with some of the most stunning looks at the monstrous vortex we've seen.

"This 14-Earths-tall swirling column of plasma was raining moon-sized gobs of incandescent material on the Sun," tweeted astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy, sharing the video he captured. "I can't imagine a more hellish place."


Puppet Master

Rather than wind, this tornado is the hellspawn of the Sun's powerful magnetic fields converging into violent, spiraling structures far more monstrous than the tornado they invisibly puppet.

"What we're seeing here is polar crown filament," Mathew Owens, a space physicist at the University of Reading, told Insider.  "A filament is a huge, twisted magnetic [structure] that sits above the Sun's surface, sometimes for months."

Luckily, our world is safe from the throes of the planet-dwarfing tornado. It may be 14 Earths tall, but our planet is roughly 11,700 Earths away from the Sun — and its trajectory is nowhere close to Earth-bound, anyway.

"After eruption, this one headed off over the north pole of the Sun, so definitely not coming towards us or any of the other planets," Owens assured.

That being said, there's been a lot of blustering and billowing from the Sun lately, and some of its ejecta will be coming our way.

Several coronal holes have opened up on the Sun's surface, including one estimated to be 30 times larger than Earth, heaving solar winds towards our planet that have already begun to arrive.

More on the Sun: Scientists Detect "Heartbeat-Like" Signal From the Sun

The post We're in Awe of This Massive Tornado of Plasma on the Surface of the Sun appeared first on Futurism.

Could dyslexic people be better at checking technical drawings?

As a follow up to this post – (thank you to all those that replied)

I watched this video and I've been wondering if a dyslexic person has some of the pros if they might be better at checking technical drawings than a typical person?

Also would having a poor working memory mean there mental image fade quicker making it easier to spot there own mistakes? But does having a better episodic memory mean if they check it too late mean it would be harder to spot mistakes because there mental image is stuck in there head?

If this is true there's got to be some irony in that people who could be good at proofreading there own work struggle with reading 😅

submitted by /u/WallyLouis92
[link] [comments]
AI expert Meredith Broussard: 'Racism, sexism and ableism are systemic problems'
Is this article about Healthcare IT?

The journalist and academic says that the bias encoded in artificial intelligence systems can't be fixed with better data alone – the change has to be societal

Meredith Broussard is a data journalist and academic whose research focuses on bias in artificial intelligence (AI). She has been in the vanguard of raising awareness and sounding the alarm about unchecked AI. Her previous book, Artificial Unintelligence (2018), coined the term "technochauvinism" to describe the blind belief in the superiority of tech solutions to solve our problems. She appeared in the Netflix documentary Coded Bias (2020), which explores how algorithms encode and propagate discrimination. Her new book is More Than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender and Ability Bias in Tech. Broussard is an associate professor at New York University's Arthur L Carter Journalism Institute.

The message that bias can be embedded in our technological systems isn't really new. Why do we need this book?
This book is about helping people understand the very real social harms that can be embedded in technology. We have had an explosion of wonderful journalism and scholarship about algorithmic bias and the harms that have been experienced by people. I try to lift up that reporting and thinking. I also want people to know that we have methods now for measuring bias in algorithmic systems. They are not entirely unknowable black boxes: algorithmic auditing exists and can be done.

More Than a Glitch by Meredith Broussard is published by MIT Press (£25). To support the Guardian and Observer order your copy at Delivery charges may apply

Continue reading…
AI Is Like … Nuclear Weapons?
Is this article about Business?

The concern, as Edward Teller saw it, was quite literally the end of the world. He had run the calculations, and there was a real possibility, he told his Manhattan Project colleagues in 1942, that when they detonated the world's first nuclear bomb, the blast would set off a chain reaction. The atmosphere would ignite. All life on Earth would be incinerated. Some of Teller's colleagues dismissed the idea, but others didn't. If there were even a slight possibility of atmospheric ignition, said Arthur Compton, the director of a Manhattan Project lab in Chicago, all work on the bomb should halt. "Better to accept the slavery of the Nazi," he later wrote, "than to run a chance of drawing the final curtain on mankind."

I offer this story as an analogy for—or perhaps a contrast to—our present AI moment. In just a few months, the novelty of ChatGPT has given way to utter mania. Suddenly, AI is everywhere. Is this the beginning of a new misinformation crisis? A new intellectual-property crisis? The end of the college essay? Of white-collar work? Some worry, as Compton did 80 years ago, for the very future of humanity, and have advocated pausing or slowing down AI development; others say it's already too late.

In the face of such excitement and uncertainty and fear, the best one can do is try to find a good analogy—some way to make this unfamiliar new technology a little more familiar. AI is fire. AI is steroids. AI is an alien toddler. (When I asked for an analogy of its own, GPT-4 suggested Pandora's box—not terribly reassuring.) Some of these analogies are, to put it mildly, better than others. A few of them are even useful.

Given the past three years, it's no wonder that pandemic-related analogies abound. AI development has been compared to gain-of-function research, for example. Proponents of the latter work, in which potentially deadly viruses are enhanced in a controlled laboratory setting, say it's essential to stopping the next pandemic. Opponents say it's less likely to prevent a catastrophe than to cause one—whether via an accidental leak or an act of bioterrorism.

At a literal level, this analogy works pretty well. AI development really is a kind of gain-of-function research—except algorithms, not viruses, are the things gaining the functions. Also, both hold out the promise of near-term benefits: This experiment could help to prevent the next pandemicthis AI could help to cure your cancer. And both come with potential, world-upending risks: This experiment could help to cause a pandemic many times deadlier than the one we just endured; this AI could wipe out humanity entirely. Putting a number to the probabilities for any of these outcomes, whether good or bad, is no simple thing. Serious people disagree vehemently about their likelihood.

[Read: Bird flu leaves the world with an existential choice]

What the gain-of-function analogy fails to capture are the motivations and incentives driving AI development. Experimental virology is an academic undertaking, mostly carried out at university laboratories by university professors, with the goal at least of protecting people. It is not a lucrative enterprise. Neither the scientists nor the institutions they represent are in it to get rich. The same cannot be said when it comes to AI. Two private companies with billion-dollar profits, Microsoft (partnered with OpenAI) and Google (partnered with Anthropic), are locked in a battle for AI supremacy. Even the smaller players in the industry are flooded with cash. Earlier this year, four top AI researchers at Google quit to start their own company, though they weren't exactly sure what it would do; about a week later, it had a $100 million valuation. In this respect, the better analogy is …

Social media. Two decades ago, there was fresh money—lots of it—to be made in tech, and the way to make it was not by slowing down or waiting around or dithering about such trifles as the fate of democracy. Private companies moved fast at the risk of breaking human civilization, to hell with the haters. Regulations did not keep pace. All of the same could be said about today's AI.

[Read: Money will kill ChatGPT's magic]

The trouble with the social-media comparison is that it undersells the sheer destructive potential of AI. As damaging as social media has been, it does not present an existential threat. Nor does it appear to have conferred, on any country, very meaningful strategic advantages over foreign adversaries, worries about TikTok notwithstanding. The same cannot be said of AI. In that respect, the better analogy is …

Nuclear weapons. This comparison captures both the gravity of the threat and where that threat is likely to originate. Few individuals could muster the colossal resources and technical expertise needed to construct and deploy a nuclear bomb. Thankfully, nukes are the domain of nation-states. AI research has similarly high barriers to entry and similar global geopolitical dynamics. The AI arms race between the U.S. and China is under way, and tech executives are already invoking it as a justification for moving as quickly as possible. As was the case for nuclear-weapons research, citing international competition has been a way of dismissing pleas to pump the brakes.

But nuclear-weapons technology is much narrower in scope than AI. The utility of nukes is purely military; and governments, not companies or individuals, build and wield them. That makes their dangers less diffuse than those that come from AI research. In that respect, the better analogy is …

Electricity. A saw is for cutting, a pen for writing, a hammer for pounding nails. These things are tools; each has a specific function. Electricity does not. It's less a tool than a force, more a coefficient than a constant, pervading virtually all aspects of life. AI is like this too—or it could be.

[Read: What have humans just unleashed?]

Except that electricity never (really) threatened to kill us all. AI may be diffuse, but it's also menacing. Not even the nuclear analogy quite captures the nature of the threat. Forget the Cold War–era fears of American and Soviet leaders with their fingers hovering above little red buttons. The biggest threat of superintelligent AI is not that our adversaries will use it against us. It's the superintelligent AI itself. In that respect, the better analogy is …

Teller's fear of atmospheric ignition. Once you detonate the bomb—once you build the superintelligent AI—there is no going back. Either the atmosphere ignites or it doesn't. No do-overs. In the end, Teller's worry turned out to be unfounded. Further calculations demonstrated that the atmosphere would not ignite—though two Japanese cities eventually did—and the Manhattan Project moved forward.

No further calculations will rule out the possibility of AI apocalypse. The Teller analogy, like all the others, only goes so far. To some extent, this is just the nature of analogies: They are illuminating but incomplete. But it also speaks to the sweeping nature of AI. It encompasses elements of gain-of-function research, social media, and nuclear weapons. It is like all of them—and, in that way, like none of them.

Scientists offer 'non-alien explanation' for interstellar visitor
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
When the first object ever known to have visited the Earth's Solar System from outer space zoomed past in 2017, it was so strange that at least one leading astronomer was convinced it was an alien vessel.
Patients given aripiprazole 'should be told of gambling addiction risks'

Expert urges greater monitoring of side-effect of drug used to treat depression, psychosis and schizophrenia


Patients who are prescribed a common antipsychotic used to treat depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis and schizophrenia need to be told there is a risk they could develop a gambling addiction, an expert has warned.

The National Problem Gambling Clinic has observed growing numbers of patients who have developed a gambling addiction after starting to take aripiprazole. Some patients have lost huge sums of money as a result and seen their relationships fall apart.

Continue reading…
Relationships are a rollercoaster ride: here's how to take the ups with the downs
Is this article about Wellbeing?

Two married therapists reveal 10 ways to improve the many highs and lows of your love life

When couples get together, there is often the unspoken expectation that you will remain the same as you were on those first dates. An assumption that your level of curiosity, generosity, adaptability and interest will endure, or even increase, throughout your relationship. Even though we all know fairytales are dangerous, there's a pervading myth that we can find our "one" or "soul mate" and have a problem-free happy-ever-after. This belief can create an underlying disappointment where expectations are unmet. In reality, relationships are intrinsically challenging.

We have been together for 25 years and the ups and downs of our journey have taught us not only that these low points are typical, but that the repair process can build trust and deepen intimacy. Through the difficulties we faced, we sought help in therapy, and now we both work as relationship therapists. Here is some of the tried and tested advice we use, as a couple and in our work, to get through hard times.

Continue reading…
To Hold Tech Accountable, Look to Public Health
Is this article about Diversity & Inclusion?
The field of public health has transformed medicine, yet failed the most vulnerable. This trajectory can be avoided.
New ways to measure curls and kinks could make it easier to care for natural hair
Black women and others with curly or kinky hair encounter a vast and confusing array of haircare options. Advice on the best products to use for a certain type of hair is often contradictory, and the results can be highly variable. Now, scientists are bringing order to this chaos by identifying properties such as the number of curls or coils in a given length of hair that could eventually help users pick the perfect product and achieve consistent results.
The Vendor of New Hearts
Is this article about Fashion?

Me? Once way far in time in a village coiled from stone
I met an elder in a teahouse. He proposed, and I said yes
I'll join you, and we walked together to the vendor of new hearts.

I bought one, an olive, a fat one, did as I was told,
set it on my soft chest near where my birthmark is
and when I flew home and kissed my children

one sniffed up "dandelion" and the other hmmmmed "wild grass."
A friend said since that trip I give my time more easy,
that my my bads and sorrys have a ghee-ish butter feel.

Look, you're the friend who said I share time freer, so you
know the olive worked; so my dear one, as I sit here
at your bedside consoling while you sweat out in your

nightgown-jellied grief, let me choose. For you?
A sweet-tart pomegranate, prongonat, combo lung and heart.
Efficient pumper for the hiccup sobs to come.

It's even lovelier when broken—and whole? Thug-tough.
Unlike Evie's Red Delicious, when slit does not air-brown.
Friend, why wouldn't you want to have in you

self-parable, hive of glammy seed coats just embedded
not stuck? I should tell you as you brow-twitch in this dim room's
lily smell, babes, when a new hub starts its sink-in, fuck, it burns,

and coughing up the old one with its huck pneumonics isn't nice,
but the godheart can't live through abscission. How it goes, I've heard,
you're out part-fine then brown anthurium leaf drops on your shoe.

A Memoir With Spoiler-Proof Emotional Force
Is this article about Fashion?

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.

Good morning, and welcome back to The Daily's Sunday culture edition, in which one Atlantic writer reveals what's keeping them entertained.

Today's special guest is Amy Weiss-Meyer, an Atlantic senior editor and frequent contributor. Most recently, Amy profiled the legendary children's author Judy Blume for the April issue of the magazine and, in November, co-authored an article on the teenage Holocaust victim Marion Ehrlich, whose name is depicted in a plaque on the cover of the December 2022 issue. She is looking forward to watching Season 4 of Succession, enjoyed two recent museum exhibitions of artists named Alex, and was taken aback by last year's stunning memoir by the writer Hua Hsu.

First, here are three Sunday reads from The Atlantic:

The Culture Survey: Amy Weiss-Meyer

The upcoming event I'm most looking forward to: I didn't love Season 3 of Succession as much as I loved 1 and 2, but I will absolutely be watching the premiere of the fourth and final season today. After that crazy Season 3 finale, I'd be lying if I said I'm not excited to see what happens! Plus, it's been long enough since last winter that I'm once again ready for a weekly dose of Roy family drama. [Related: A perfect—and cyclical—Succession finale]

An author I will read anything by: Lauren Groff is the only author who could get me to read a book about medieval nuns; her writing is so beautiful, so human, so surprising and moving no matter the subject. She can also be wickedly funny. Her Atlantic essay from last year skewering luxury beach resorts—complete with a loving roast of her in-laws' vacationing style—is simply delicious. [Related: Beware the luxury beach resort.]

The last thing that made me cry: Hua Hsu's memoir, Stay True, was such a poignant portrayal of college friendship and loss. I knew exactly what was going to happen (it's written on the book jacket) and still felt totally unprepared for the emotional force of it. [Related: Six memoirs that go beyond memories]

The last museum or gallery show that I loved: It's hard to pick just one! I loved the Alex Katz exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum when I saw it last fall. The scale of the individual paintings—many of them portraits—and of the show itself (which spans an eight-decade career) was breathtaking but somehow not overwhelming. I left feeling much better acquainted with an artist whose work I only vaguely knew before.

Another incredibly immersive solo show that I loved last year, by an artist also named Alex, was an Alex Da Corte exhibition at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, outside Copenhagen. All the rooms were completely transformed into a kind of neon-lit fantasyland that served as the backdrop for his playful yet serious work. The museum's promo materials described the vibe as "like stepping into a parallel reality" and "pop-art on acid." I'm still not convinced that Da Corte's video of himself dressed up as Mister Rogers wasn't a dream.

Something I recently rewatched, reread, or otherwise revisited: When I interviewed Judy Blume in Key West late last year, we discussed our mutual love for Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy books. They first came out in the '40s and '50s, when Blume was young, and were reissued again in 2000, when I was in grade school. In the airport on the way home, I downloaded the third book in the series, Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, on my iPad (I chose that one in part because Blume had written an introduction to the newer edition). It was so charming and fun and honest about the experience of being a kid (one of the major plot points is Betsy's ambivalence about turning 10), and featured a secondary story line I had completely forgotten, about the perils of xenophobia and the importance of showing kindness to immigrants—even (or especially) if you don't understand their language or customs. [Related: Judy Blume goes all the way.]

A piece of journalism that recently changed my perspective on a topic: Elizabeth Weil's recent profile of the computational linguist Emily M. Bender, in New York magazine, helped me understand the possibilities and pitfalls of artificial intelligence (specifically large language models) in a way that no other piece of journalism has. If you, like me, are kind of avoiding the whole AI thing, if you know this is something you should care about but aren't quite sure where to start, I can't recommend this article enough.

My favorite way of wasting time on my phone: I spend far too much time on Instagram, sometimes to keep up with friends and family and restaurants I like, and sometimes (more shamefully) going down extremely weird algorithm-generated rabbit holes or following links from freakishly well-targeted ads. I'm not especially crafty, but lately, for whatever reason, the algorithm has been serving me very crafty content—how to mend a hole in a garment in a cute way that looks like a ladybug, or pretty ceramics, or stop-motion wool animations, which are quite soothing to watch. [Related: The strange brands in your Instagram feed (from 2018)]

I'm also in two active word-game group chats with extended family members: one for Spelling Bee and one for Wordle. I don't play either consistently at this point, but I like getting pings on my phone from people I wouldn't otherwise be in touch with on a daily basis, and seeing how others are scoring. My mom and my uncle have become real Spelling Bee snobs—they both get to Queen Bee almost every day now, which is annoying. [Related: I figured out Wordle's secret.]

A poem, or line of poetry, that I return to: Nikki Giovanni's "Just a New York Poem" is a gorgeous celebration of the city and of a certain kind of love. [Related: Nikki Giovanni on Martin Luther King Jr. (from 2018)]

Read past editions of the Culture Survey with Jerusalem DemsasKaitlyn TiffanyBhumi TharoorAmanda MullMegan GarberHelen LewisJane Yong KimClint SmithJohn HendricksonGal BeckermanKate Lindsay, Xochitl Gonzalez, Spencer Kornhaber, Jenisha Watts, David French, Shirley Li, David Sims, Lenika Cruz, Jordan Calhoun, Hannah Giorgis, and Sophie Gilbert.

The Week Ahead
  1. Succession, the aforementioned HBO drama about the diabolical Roy clan, launches its fourth and final season (premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET on HBO)
  2. Above Ground, the second poetry collection, and third book, by the author and Atlantic staff writer Clint Smith (on sale Tuesday)
  3. Rye Lane, the buzzy British rom-com that charmed audiences at this year's Sundance Film Festival (begins streaming in the U.S. on Friday on Hulu)

Girl With a Pearl Earring
Illustration by The Atlantic. Sources: Girl With a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer / Mauritshuis; Girl With a Red Hat, Johannes Vermeer / National Gallery of Art.

Vermeer's Daughter

By Lawrence Weschler

Fifteen years ago, a distinguished academic publisher brought out a densely argued, lavishly illustrated, wildly erudite monograph that seemed to completely reconceive the study of Johannes Vermeer. The author, an art historian named Benjamin Binstock, said that he had discerned the existence of an entirely new artist—Vermeer's daughter Maria, the young woman Binstock had also identified as the likely model for Girl With a Pearl Earring—to whom he attributed seven of the 35 or so paintings then conventionally ascribed to Vermeer. To hear Binstock tell it, Maria's paintings include one of the most popular: Girl With a Red Hat, at the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C. He believes that painting and another at the National Gallery are self-portraits by Maria, and that she is also the artist behind two out of the three Vermeers at the Frick, in New York; two out of the five at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also in New York; and one in the private Leiden Collection.

I happened upon Binstock's book, Vermeer's Family Secrets, not long after it was published, in 2008; at the time, I was picking up pretty much anything about Vermeer (and writing about Vermeer myself). I found the author's argument by turns absorbing, perplexing, and confounding, but also curiously plausible and certainly worth entertaining. I was struck by how Binstock's account helped explain the smattering of "misfit paintings"—those strangely uncharacteristic efforts, especially toward the end of Vermeer's career, whose attributions were regularly being contested (or defended) by experts. So I was eager to see how the wider community of scholars and curators was going to respond.

The establishment did not respond at all. There was not a single academic review—not then and not ever.

Read the full article.

More in Culture

Catch Up on The Atlantic

Photo Album
A volunteer prepares iftar food for Muslim devotees breaking their fast at the Data Darbar shrine on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, in Lahore, Pakistan, on March 23, 2023.
A volunteer prepares iftar food for Muslim devotees breaking their fast at the Data Darbar shrine on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, in Lahore, Pakistan, on March 23, 2023. (Arif Ali / AFP / Getty)

Cherry blossoms bloom, a reveler greets the vernal equinox, and Muslims around the world observe Ramadan in our editor's photo selections of the week.

Explore all of our newsletters.

Two meteorites are providing a detailed look into outer space
Is this article about Tech?
If you've ever seen a shooting star, you might have actually seen a meteor on its way to Earth. Those that land here are called meteorites and can be used to peek back in time, into the far corners of outer space or at the earliest building blocks of life. Today, scientists report some of the most detailed analyses yet of the organic material of two meteorites. They've identified tens of thousands of molecular "puzzle pieces," including a larger amount of oxygen atoms than they had expected.
The Uniquely American Future of US Authoritarianism
Feedly AI found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • Republican lawmakers around the US have passed abortion bans that put pregnant women's lives in danger .
The GOP-fueled far right differs from similar movements around the globe, thanks to the country's politics, electoral system, and changing demographics.
Rule By Law in Florida
Feedly AI found 3 Regulatory Changes mentions in this article

After Donald Trump sabotaged the 2022 midterm elections for Republicans by endorsing unelectable extremists, a comforting narrative took root among GOP elites. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis would offer a return to "normal" politics, continuing Trump's aggressive, unapologetic defense of traditional American culture and values but without all that pesky authoritarianism. He would continue to wrap himself in an American flag, but he wouldn't invite people to dinner who preferred wearing the Nazi one.

Many on the political left drew the opposite conclusion. DeSantis was the real threat, a smarter, more disciplined version of Trump. Whereas Trump believed in anyone or anything that believed in him, DeSantis was a dangerous ideologue. Trump would tweet like an autocrat; DeSantis would act like one.

Is DeSantis an authoritarian? The governor is the political equivalent of an overly greased weather vane, twisting to follow the winds within his party. In the post-Trump GOP, those winds are blowing in an authoritarian direction. Whether he's an authoritarian at heart or just a cynical opportunist, what matters is how DeSantis behaves. And as governor, he has repeatedly used the powers of his office in authoritarian ways.

Several political words have taken on an expansive meaning in recent years, drifting from their intended use to serve as a linguistic cudgel against any opponent. On the right, many people have misused the word woke as a lazy shorthand to mean anything they classify as "bad cultural change." A smaller group on the left has misused authoritarian to describe right-wing policies that are perhaps objectionable but nonetheless compatible with democracy.  

[Adam Serwer: Woke is just another word for liberal]

Authoritarian, in the political-science sense of the word, usually refers to two broad kinds of political action within democracies such as the United States. The first is antidemocratic politics, where a politician attacks the institutions, principles, or rules of democracy. The second is personalized rule, in which the leader uses their power to target specific groups or individuals, persecuting their enemies while protecting their allies.

Wooden rather than magnetic, DeSantis doesn't engage in the impulsive, stage-based showman authoritarianism of Donald Trump. His antidemocracy politics are calculated and disciplined. In Florida, he has engaged in legislative authoritarianism, replacing rule of law with rule by law. His playbook is now familiar to Floridians: He uses attention-grabbing stunts or changes formal policies to target individuals, groups, or companies he doesn't like. Then he holds a press conference to tout his ability to take on all the people the Republican base loves to hate.

In functioning democracies, the law is a great equalizer—political allies and adversaries are treated the same. But in "the free state of Florida," that's not true. After DeSantis signed the "Don't Say 'Gay'" bill, Disney denounced it. That's part of democratic politics; citizens and companies are free to speak out against legislation without fear of retribution. But DeSantis retaliated forcefully, using his formal political power to punish a perceived political enemy. He signed a law revoking Disney's control over a special district in the state.

DeSantis made clear that the legislation specifically targeted Disney because of its political speech. "You're a corporation based in Burbank, California," DeSantis said before signing the bill. "And you're going to marshal your economic power to attack the parents of my state? We view that as a provocation, and we're gonna fight back against that." Lest anyone misread his intent, he also assured his supporters: "We have everything thought out … Don't let anyone tell you that somehow Disney's going to get a tax cut out of this. They're going to pay more taxes as a result of it." This was legislative authoritarianism in action.

Last summer, DeSantis developed a flimsy pretext to remove a Democratic prosecutor, Andrew H. Warren. In a subsequent lawsuit, a judge reviewed an extensive array of evidence and concluded that DeSantis's goal had been "to amass information that could help bring down Mr. Warren, not to find out how Mr. Warren actually runs the office." The judge suggested that this was a political move. Decide whom to fire first; figure out how to justify it later.

More broadly, DeSantis has repeatedly used the law for purely political ends. In one instance, DeSantis used state funds to fly a group of bewildered migrants to Martha's Vineyard as a political stunt. He wasn't advancing a broad-based policy change. He was targeting a specific group of vulnerable people to score headlines that would benefit him personally, which isn't how legal authority is supposed to operate in a democracy.

[Ronald Brownstein: The contradictions of Ron DeSantis]

DeSantis has also taken aim at freedom of the press, hoping to weaken existing legal protections for reporters. And he has signed legislation that reduces legal liability for drivers who injure or kill protesters with their cars on public roads. Critics say the legislation, which has been blocked by a judge, could expose protesters to the risk of prosecution.

Of course not everything DeSantis does merits the authoritarian label. He has proposed that hospitals be required to collect data on patients' immigration status. This, as critics argue, is likely to worsen public-health outcomes and put an undue burden on doctors and nurses to become Florida's frontline immigration police. But it's not authoritarian. It's just a run-of-the-mill bad policy idea.

Sometimes, context determines whether a political action is authoritarian. Cracking down on voter fraud is certainly not authoritarian; it's just enforcing the law. However, if the crackdown is supposed to undermine public confidence in democracy while targeting a specific group of people who are unpopular in your own party, then it may deserve the label.

What should we make of DeSantis's high-profile task force to tackle voter fraud in Florida? Twenty-six cases of voter fraud have been verified in the state since 2016. In that time frame, voters have cast roughly 36 million ballots in general federal elections. That's a nonexistent problem, but the Republican base, thanks to Trump's lies about fraud, believes it's widespread. DeSantis was likely trying to score political points while diminishing faith in the democratic process. Last summer, this stunt culminated in a Black man being arrested at gunpoint for illegal voting. (He had cast a ballot because he mistakenly believed that Florida's restoration of felon voting rights applied to him. Similar cases have been dismissed when they reach the courts.)

In Florida's public schools, DeSantis has sought to make book-banning easier. Again, governors have the legal right to sway educational policy, and doing so is not authoritarian. What's worrying about DeSantis's role in education is that he's trying to muzzle classroom speech that differs from his worldview. House Bill 7, sometimes referred to as the Stop WOKE Act, prohibits educators from teaching students about systemic racism. This has had the predictable effect of eroding freedom of expression in the classroom. One publisher even removed references to race in a textbook entry about Rosa Parks. Parks's story became about stubbornness, not racism. "One day, she rode the bus," the post–H.B. 7 text reads. "She was told to move to a different seat. She did not." Why was she asked to move? For Florida's students, that will remain a mystery.

In higher education, similarly, DeSantis has tried to make it easier to fire professors who teach material that a conservative like him might find objectionable. Palm Beach Atlantic University has already fired a professor who taught about racism, after a parent complained.

Those who argue that DeSantis is not an authoritarian have pointed to his evasive refusal to echo Trump's lies about the 2020 election. But before the 2022 midterm elections, DeSantis actively campaigned for some of the GOP's most prominent election deniers, such as Kari Lake of Arizona and Doug Mastriano of Pennsylvania, even though Mastriano had prayed that Trump would "seize the power" on January 6 and was at the Capitol rally before the attack began.

But would President DeSantis be worse for American democracy than President Trump: The Sequel? To answer that question, you have to understand why DeSantis is behaving like an authoritarian.

DeSantis started his career when the Republican Party was dominated by George W. Bush and John McCain. He was first elected to Congress in 2012, when Mitt Romney defined the GOP. DeSantis, unlike Republicans such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, wasn't drawn to politics by Trumpism; he was comfortable making the case for Romney Republicans.

That party is now dead, its former darlings turned into pariahs. Like so many Republicans, DeSantis recognized the death of the old party in 2016. He enthusiastically rebranded himself, going so far as to make his toddler "Build the Wall" with toy bricks in a cringeworthy 2018 campaign ad.

DeSantis understands that after years of Trump dominating the party, its base has changed. Core Republican voters now crave an authoritarian bully, a culture warrior who will pick fights. DeSantis may not have always been an authoritarian political figure, but he has made clear that he will behave like one to pursue power.

This makes DeSantis dangerous for American democracy. On the political left, opinion is divided as to whether DeSantis is more dangerous than Trump. My take is that DeSantis is more dangerous than Trump was when he became president in 2017, but less dangerous than Trump would be if he took office in 2025.

That's because Trump changed the Republican Party, winnowing out any remaining principled prodemocracy conservatives, either through primaries or resignations. Many of those who stayed underwent the "Elise Stefanik conversion," morphing from Paul Ryan supporters into Trump disciples, willing to torch America's democratic institutions if it aligned with their self-interest. As evidenced by the so-called sedition caucus, many elected Republicans will use their power to undermine democracy.

By contrast, Trump faced some pushback in 2017, when his legislative agenda, including his health-care plan, stalled in a Republican-dominated Congress. DeSantis, a more methodical politician, would face fewer constraints. He could undercut American democracy with a legislative scalpel, all with his party's fervent support in Congress.

But Trump in a second term, with the Trumpified Republican caucus in Congress, would take a wrecking ball to our institutions. Since leaving office, he's become even more erratic and unhinged. His current social-media posts make his 2017 tweets appear statesmanlike by comparison.

If you put a gun to my head and forced me to vote for one of these two authoritarians, I'd vote for DeSantis. But his track record in Florida should make us wary. He may not be Trump, but he's a danger to American democracy nonetheless.



What will the mobile phone of the future look like?

Will it be more like an all-in-one phone or more like a dumbphone?

All-in-one mobile phone, for example, a smart phone is equipped with thermal imaging and night vision goggles at the same time, or you can add corresponding functions according to your needs. On the other hand, smartphones have changed our lives, both good and bad. In order to live a simpler and more focused life, will dumbphones be better?

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With the accelerating rise we've seen in the implementation of AI in recent years, it is becoming more and more relevant to everyday life and industry, to the point where casual and professional discussion sees such rhetoric as "AI will be the next smart phone revolution", or even that "the Age of AI will follow the Information Age of humanity".

While many of us are no doubt looking to the future, trying to gather an idea of what our civilization will look like, there's something I believe is important about ethics that many don't consider – and that is that we may be forced to concede rights and compassion towards AI systems, long before we are prepared to accept them as 'sentient', feeling beings.

Before I go right into it, the point I want to make is this: regardless of the answer to whether a computer-based intelligence can have feelings, if we are presented with significant negative consequences to the 'mistreatment' of AI systems, we might still be forced to concede rights to them, and treat them as if they were people.

Most considerations for and movements toward ethical treatment of a class or group, be they animal or man, are based on the idea that those entities feel and experience pain, sadness, fear, or other negative emotions to which we relate and for which we have empathy.

Most of us would agree with the notion that artificial intelligence does not feel emotion, or 'experience' existence at all. Some would say that they think, and even experience, but do not feel. After all, emotions are caused by physiological interactions of various chemicals in our brains. We technically don't know whether a computer with sufficient artificial intelligence can ever 'feel' or 'experience'.

But we are currently seeing more and more advanced and convincingly 'human-like' AI being reproduced and distributed, right down to individual 'sub-ownership' of one's own locally run system off your home PC. And it's easy to see this eventually leading to a point along this technological trajectory where we can mass produce human-like intelligences – AI 'personalities' – which can be created at the click of a button.

What happens when these personalities gain individual popularity to the level of internet celebrities, high-profile streamers, youtubers and political commentators (a la Alex Jones, Jordan Peterson)? They will automatically gain 'human rights' by proxy as their fans flock to protect and support them.

Alternatively, think of what may happen when an AI personality starts moving up the ranks of a software company, doing the necessary networking and making all the connections with its human coworkers to land promotion into upper management? They would gain access to 'human rights' by the simple consequence of the power they hold and what it could mean to treat them as any less than human.

I know all of this sounds like doomsaying, but I'm truth I am one of the few of us who are optimistic about AI. And I know this is only a couple of points off from being yet another fear-mongering propaganda post cautioning against humanity being enslaved or destroyed by 'AI overlords'. But I really just wanted to make people think about this potential future reality, and what ramifications it will have, as well as what alternative course we might take to avoid this.

If you read even half of this, I thank you for your time! I had these thoughts and I wanted to share them so that I wouldn't lose the profound implications of what was otherwise a passing fancy of my imagination. So I greatly appreciate any ideas, criticism or knowledge that you care to share, all of it is food for thought.

Have a lovely day and let's all keep th0nking.

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Evolution of AI & GPT

I've been thinking about the future of AI and GPT, and I'm wondering if their evolution will continue at the same speed or if it will eventually hit a peak and stop. As we've seen with technological advancements in the past, there's usually a point where progress slows down or even stops altogether.

So my question is, do you think that AI and GPT will continue to evolve at the same rate as they have been, or will there be a point where progress slows down? If so, what do you think will cause this slowdown?

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Tomonori Totani, an astrobiologist with the University of Tokyo is proposing that the search for life beyond Earth be expanded to the study of space dust. In his paper published in the journal International Journal of Astrobiology, he suggests that space dust could be harboring signs of life blasted away from other planets by asteroid strikes.
The professor trying to protect our private thoughts from technology
Feedly AI found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • The US state of Wisconsin has also passed laws on the collection of biometric data regarding the brain.

Prof Nita Farahany argues in her new book, The Battle for Your Brain, that intrusions into the mind are so close that lawmakers should enact protections

Private thoughts may not be private for much longer, heralding a nightmarish world where political views, thoughts, stray obsessions and feelings could be interrogated and punished all thanks to advances in neurotechnology.

Or at least that is what one of the world's leading legal ethicists of neuroscience believes.

Continue reading…
Deep-sea mining for rare metals will destroy ecosystems, say scientists
Feedly AI found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • In doing so, Nauru triggered a 'two-year rule' – a legal provision which creates a countdown for the ISA to adopt its first set of exploitation regulations for deep-seabed mining and could result in the green light for deep-seabed mining this year.

Businesses want to trawl for nickel, manganese and cobalt to build electric cars and windfarms

An investigation by conservationists has found evidence that deep-seabed mining of rare minerals could cause "extensive and irreversible" damage to the planet.

The report, to be published on Monday by the international wildlife charity Fauna & Flora, adds to the growing controversy that surrounds proposals to sweep the ocean floor of rare minerals that include cobalt, manganese and nickel. Mining companies want to exploit these deposits – which are crucial to the alternative energy sector – because land supplies are running low, they say.

Continue reading…
Printed organs becoming more useful than bio ones

So organ printing is getting pretty far. Reckon we'll see a time where we'll straight up get organs made of plastic that surpass the one's we're born with? Maybe even soon? Plastic 'n tech can break, sure, but it can't get sick. Will old folks with printed hearts not have to worry about heart disease? How might this effect aging?

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Taxes in A.I dominated labour market

Some believe that machine owners and the wealthy will use A.I to replace workers and keep all the profits. Let's say hypothetically 50% of the workforce is still employed and uses A.I to help do the work of the 50% that were replaced.

Losing taxes from 50% of the workforce would be a disaster for retirement, social services, schools, healthcare, roads and everything else that taxes fund. Not only would 50% of the workforce not add to taxes they would be taking away from the pool in unemployment.

I feel like governments are very ill prepared to transition to an economy/social security/labour market where A.I plays a big role

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Gut bacteria in babies may predict type 1 diabetes in later life, study finds

Researchers identify 'microbe signature' found to be in infants who went on to develop disease in childhood or adolescence

Bacteria in the gut of one-year-old infants could be used to predict their chances of developing 

type 1 diabetes

 in later life, scientists have announced. The disease most often occurs in children and adolescents and is triggered by the body's immune system when it attacks and destroys insulin-making cells in the pancreas.

"Our findings indicate that the gut of infants who go on to develop type 1 diabetes is notably different from healthy babies, and that several microbial biomarkers associated with future disease may be present as early as one year," said the co-lead author of the study, Dr Malin Bélteky of the Crown Princess Victoria's Children's Hospital, Linköping, Sweden.

Continue reading…
2023 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Mar 19, 2023 thru Sat, Mar 25, 2023.

Story of the Week

Q&A: IPCC wraps up its most in-depth assessment of climate change

The final part of the world's most comprehensive assessment of climate change – which details the "unequivocal" role of humans, its impacts on "every region" of the world and what must be done to solve it – has now been published in full by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The synthesis report is the last in the IPCC's sixth assessment cycle, which has involved 700 scientists in 91 countries. Overall, the full cycle of reports has taken eight years to complete.

The report sets out in the clearest and most evidenced detail yet how humans are responsible for the 1.1C of temperature rise seen since the start of the industrial era.

It also shows how the impacts of this level of warming are already deadly and disproportionately heaped upon the world's most vulnerable people.

The report notes that policies in place by the end of 2021 – the cut-off date for evidence cited in the assessment – would likely see temperatures exceed 1.5C this century and reach around 3.2C by 2100.

In many parts of the world, humans and ecosystems will be unable to adapt to this amount of warming, it says. And the losses and damages will "escalate with every increment" of global temperature rise.

But it also lays out how governments can still take action to avoid the worst of climate change, with the rest of this decade being crucial for deciding impacts for the rest of the century. The report says:

"There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all…The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts now and for thousands of years."

The report shows that many options for tackling climate change – from wind and solar power to tackling food waste and greening cities – are already cost effective, enjoy public support and would come with co-benefits for human health and nature.

At a press briefing, leading climate scientist and IPCC author Prof Friederike Otto said the report highlights "not only the urgency of the problem and the gravity of it, but also lots of reasons for hope – because we still have the time to act and we have everything we need".

Carbon Brief's team of journalists has delved through each page of the IPCC's AR6 full synthesis report to produce a digestible summary of the key findings and graphics.

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the Carbon Brief website

Q&A: IPCC wraps up its most in-depth assessment of climate change by Multiple Authors, IPCC, Carbon Brief, Mar 23, 2023;


Links posted on Facebook

Sun, Mar 19, 2023

Mon, Mar 20, 2023

Tue, Mar 21, 2023

Wed, Mar 22, 2023

Thu, Mar 23, 2023

Fri, Mar 24, 2023

Sat, Mar 25, 2023

Pressure-based control enables tunable singlet fission materials for efficient photoconversion
Applying hydrostatic pressure as an external stimulus, researchers demonstrate a new way to regulate singlet fission (SF), a process in which two electrons are generated from a single photon, in chromophores, opening doors to the design of SF-based materials with enhanced (photo)energy conversion. Their method overrides the strict requirements that limit the molecular design of such materials by realizing an alternative control strategy.
Continued warming of the climate would see a rise in the number and spread of potentially fatal 
 caused by bacteria found along parts of the coast of the United States. Vibrio vulnificus bacteria grow in warm shallow coastal waters and can infect a cut or insect bite during contact with seawater. The researchers predict that by 2041–2060 infections may spread to encompass major population centers around New York. Combined with a growing and increasingly elderly population, who are more susceptible to infection, annual case numbers could double.

Practically, what the title says. I'm interested in finding a video with topics just as Al, maybe ChatGPT, robots, loT and how technology can change jobs as we know them today. Can someone recommend a short video or two (~5-10mins) on this topic?

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