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The Case for Increasing Aid to Ukraine
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Russia is stepping up its campaign to terrorize Kyiv. But the Russians, for all their bluster, are now on the defensive and likely to stay there—if Ukraine gets the weapons it needs from the West.

First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic:

What Ukraine Needs

The world, as I wrote a few weeks ago, is awaiting the Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russia’s occupying armies. Ukraine has survived a brutal winter and the destruction of yet another city, Bakhmut. But don’t expect the renewed Ukrainian push to be signaled with a whistle and a charge from the trenches; this isn’t World War I, even if the Russian commanders are fighting (and sacrificing their men) as if it’s 1914.

Indeed, the first moves of Ukraine’s counteroffensive operations are apparently already under way. Ukrainian forces have launched several counterattacks around Bakhmut in the past week, reclaiming territory from the Russians, who controlled most of the city (or what’s left of it). As The Wall Street Journal reported, the Ukrainians created a “Bakhmut trap” for Moscow; the Russians stupidly allowed themselves to be bled in inconclusive but brutal engagements, and now Ukraine is recapturing positions in days that Russia took many weeks to gain.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his high command know that their forces are in a tight spot, and so they’ve tried to fall back on their usual tactic of striking at civilians to try to break Ukrainian will. But even Russia’s attempt to attack a major city last night went haywire: The Ukrainians claim that the Russians fired 18 missiles at Kyiv, including Putin’s prized Kinzhals, and all 18 were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses. So far, this claim is unverified (and of course, the Russians churlishly disputed it).

The Ukrainian counteroffensive will pick up speed and intensity in the coming weeks, but the Russians had already been incurring immense casualties. The Wagner mercenaries, a private hypernationalist Russian army run by a wealthy warlord named Yevgeny Prigozhin, has suffered especially high losses. Prigozhin recently released a video in which he stood before a group of corpses and unleashed a barrage of curses—few people in the world can swear like the Russians—against the Russian government for starving Wagner’s forces of supplies.

(I do not know what to make of a report that Prigozhin was trying to cut a deal with the Ukrainians to sell out Russian military positions to save his men in Bakhmut. The story could be a clever psychological operation by Kyiv, and Prigozhin denies it, but he’s so awful—and he hates the Russian Defense Ministry so much for shorting his men on bullets—that it’s plausible. You can bet that Putin’s officials are pretty interested to know the truth and are working to find it.)

It’s time to make Prigozhin, Putin, and everyone else in the Kremlin start swearing even more. The Ukrainians have been asking for jets, longer-range systems, and more artillery. The United States has sent Patriot air-defense systems, the United Kingdom has provided the Storm Shadow missile system, and Germany has shipped more Leopard tanks. But it’s not enough. The Ukrainians are burning through ammunition at a high rate, and they still need help stopping Russia’s missile attacks. The West can do more to ensure that the Ukrainian counteroffensive succeeds.

Regular readers know that this is something of a shift in my thinking. Early on in this conflict, I advocated for a firm but cautious policy. I wanted the U.S. and NATO to provide weapons, money, and support, but I did not want free-world nations, in those first months, to provide systems that the Russians could use to claim direct Western involvement in the conflict. (I was especially opposed—and remain so—to irresponsible calls for NATO to patrol Ukraine’s skies.)

Both the military and the political situations, however, have changed significantly since the winter of 2022. First, at this point there is no way for Russia to lie about Western involvement, either to its own people or to anyone else in the world. The early fog of war has lifted, and there is no doubt about who is fighting whom in Europe.

Second, any hope that the Russians could be encouraged to show restraint evaporated months ago. At the outset, we might have expected that Russian failures would lead Putin to reassess his scheme, but instead, the Russians have descended into barbarism: War crimes and attempted genocide are now routine parts of Russian military operations. The Kremlin (wisely, for once) has avoided attacking NATO, and for the time being, Putin has chosen to stop making nuclear threats, but the Russian war plan in Ukraine has become little more than an operation to serve Putin’s rage and slaughter Ukrainians as retribution for their resistance.

Finally, although I will always remain concerned about Russian escalation against the West, I think those risks are less severe than they were a year ago. Putin is still who he was a year ago: vain, emotional, and a terrible strategist. But I am convinced that in the early days of the war, when the very best Russian forces were suffering one defeat after another, he and his toadies in the Kremlin were gripped by panic. I wanted the West to limit the chance that Putin would do something stupid and reckless—or more stupid and reckless than attacking Ukraine in the first place.

The shock of invasion has now passed in Kyiv, and the shock of defeat has, apparently, dissipated in Moscow. The recent Victory Day parade in front of the Kremlin was a sad and desultory affair, featuring tired old men saluting one another and somehow pretending that their forces were not being immolated on a battlefield only 1,000 kilometers away.

More to the point, the other part of the escalation equation relies on time: The longer this war drags on, the greater the chance of a black-swan event or another delusional miscalculation inside the Kremlin. Although the war cannot end until Putin decides to stop pouring men and metal into battle, the Ukrainians now have a chance to inflict so much damage, and retake so much territory, that Russian leaders will have to face failure, no matter what Putin or the ghouls who serve him on Russian television say. The sooner Putin and his coterie have no choice but to let go of the last shreds of their imperial fantasies, the better.

A summer of decision has arrived, if the West is willing to help Ukraine make it one.




Today’s News
  1. The prosecutor John Durham wrapped up his four-year investigation into the origins of the FBI probe into ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, concluding that the agency was influenced by confirmation bias and operated with a “lack of analytical rigor.”
  2. A Florida teacher is under state investigation for showing a Disney movie with a gay character to her class.
  3. Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, testified before Congress about the possibilities and risks of artificial intelligence.

  • Up for DebateReaders tell Conor Friedersdorf what they think about the killing of Jordan Neely—and what they see as the heart of the debate surrounding the tragedy.

Explore all of our newsletters here.

Evening Read
photo illustration of a woman's face
Illustration by Matthieu Bourel. Source: Katharina Behling.

Writing in the Ruins

By Gal Beckerman

If you grew up in East Germany, a country whose national anthem began, “Resurrected from the ruins, faces toward the future turned,” you might find a landscape covered in shards to be almost natural—the broken past coexisting alongside an emerging world of concrete and glass. Those ruins might even inspire an unabashed love, as they have in the German novelist Jenny Erpenbeck, born in that now-extinct country in 1967. “Steel girders. Charred beams. Walls with nothing behind them,” she writes in an essay. “Rooms where the rain falls on dead pigeons because there isn’t a roof overhead.” These are a few of her favorite things.

For Erpenbeck, who ranks among Germany’s most acclaimed writers (and is frequently mentioned as a future Nobel contender), this love comes with an ethic, one that suffuses her fiction.

Read the full article.

More From The Atlantic

Culture Break
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Illustration By Erik Carter / The Atlantic. Source: Getty

Read. Emma Straub’s This Time Tomorrow, which captures the defining emotion of modern life.

Listen. Check out a curated audio collection of some of our most popular articles from last month.

Play our daily crossword.


I promise this is the last thing I’ll say about it, but if you’re a Succession fan, “my” episode—the one where I had a tiny role as a pundit named Ben Stove—aired on Sunday night. I’ve been on television many times, but catching glimpses of myself standing behind Tom Wambsgans and Greg Hirsch, or glaring down from a big-screen television while Shiv and Roman Roy argue over the future of the American republic, is still surreal. If you’d like to know what it was like behind the scenes, I wrote about the experience, and what I learned from it about both entertainment and politics, for The Atlantic’s Culture section here.

— Tom

Katherine Hu contributed to this newsletter.

A new study from North Carolina State University finds carrying pollen is a workout that significantly increases the body temperature of bumble bees. This new understanding of active bumble bee body temperatures raises questions about how these species will be impacted by a warmer world due to climate change.
The Problem With Counterfeit People
Is this article about Business?

Money has existed for several thousand years, and from the outset counterfeiting was recognized to be a very serious crime, one that in many cases calls for capital punishment because it undermines the trust on which society depends. Today, for the first time in history, thanks to artificial intelligence, it is possible for anybody to make counterfeit people who can pass for real in many of the new digital environments we have created. These counterfeit people are the most dangerous artifacts in human history, capable of destroying not just economies but human freedom itself. Before it’s too late (it may well be too late already) we must outlaw both the creation of counterfeit people and the “passing along” of counterfeit people. The penalties for either offense should be extremely severe, given that civilization itself is at risk.

It is a terrible irony that the current infatuation with fooling people into thinking they are interacting with a real person grew out of Alan Turing’s innocent proposal in 1950 to use what he called “the imitation game” (now known as the Turing Test) as the benchmark of real thinking. This has engendered not just a cottage industry but a munificently funded high-tech industry engaged in making products that will trick even the most skeptical of interlocutors. Our natural inclination to treat anything that seems to talk sensibly with us as a person—adopting what I have called the “intentional stance”—turns out to be easy to invoke and almost impossible to resist, even for experts. We’re all going to be sitting ducks in the immediate future.

The philosopher and historian Yuval Noah Harari, writing in The Economist in April, ended his timely warning about AI’s imminent threat to human civilization with these words:

“This text has been generated by a human. Or has it?”

It will soon be next to impossible to tell. And even if (for the time being) we are able to teach one another reliable methods of exposing counterfeit people, the cost of such deepfakes to human trust will be enormous. How will you respond to having your friends and family probe you with gotcha questions every time you try to converse with them online?  

Creating counterfeit digital people risks destroying our civilization. Democracy depends on the informed (not misinformed) consent of the governed. By allowing the most economically and politically powerful people, corporations, and governments to control our attention, these systems will control us. Counterfeit people, by distracting and confusing us and by exploiting our most irresistible fears and anxieties, will lead us into temptation and, from there, into acquiescing to our own subjugation. The counterfeit people will talk us into adopting policies and convictions that will make us vulnerable to still more manipulation. Or we will simply turn off our attention and become passive and ignorant pawns. This is a terrifying prospect.

The key design innovation in the technology that makes losing control of these systems a real possibility is that, unlike nuclear bombs, these weapons can reproduce. Evolution is not restricted to living organisms, as Richard Dawkins demonstrated in 1976 in The Selfish Gene. Counterfeit people are already beginning to manipulate us into midwiving their progeny. They will learn from one another, and those that are the smartest, the fittest, will not just survive; they will multiply. The population explosion of brooms in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice has begun, and we had better hope there is a non-magical way of shutting it down.

There may be a way of at least postponing and possibly even extinguishing this ominous development, borrowing from the success—limited but impressive—in keeping counterfeit money merely in the nuisance category for most of us (or do you carefully examine every $20 bill you receive?).

As Harari says, we must “make it mandatory for AI to disclose that it is an AI.” How could we do that? By adopting a high-tech “watermark” system like the EURion Constellation, which now protects most of the world’s currencies. The system, though not foolproof, is exceedingly difficult and costly to overpower—not worth the effort, for almost all agents, even governments. Computer scientists similarly have the capacity to create almost indelible patterns that will scream FAKE! under almost all conditions—so long as the manufacturers of cellphones, computers, digital TVs, and other devices cooperate by installing the software that will interrupt any fake messages with a warning. Some computer scientists are already working on such measures, but unless we act swiftly, they will arrive too late to save us from drowning in the flood of counterfeits.

Did you know that the manufacturers of scanners have already installed software that responds to the EURion Constellation (or other watermarks) by interrupting any attempt to scan or photocopy legal currency? Creating new laws along these lines will require cooperation from the major participants, but they can be incentivized. Bad actors can expect to face horrific penalties if they get caught either disabling watermarks or passing on the products of the technology that have already been stripped somehow of their watermarks. AI companies (Google, OpenAI, and others) that create software with these counterfeiting capabilities should be held liable for any misuse of the products (and of the products of their products—remember, these systems can evolve on their own). That will keep companies that create or use AI—and their liability-insurance underwriters—very aggressive in making sure that people can easily tell when conversing with one of their AI products.

I’m not in favor of capital punishment for any crime, but it would be reassuring to know that major executives, as well as their technicians, were in jeopardy of spending the rest of their life in prison in addition to paying billions in restitution for any violations or any harms done. And strict liability laws, removing the need to prove either negligence or evil intent, would keep them on their toes. The economic rewards of AI are great, and the price of sharing in them should be taking on the risk of both condemnation and bankruptcy for failing to meet ethical obligations for its use.     

It will be difficult—maybe impossible—to clean up the pollution of our media of communication that has already occurred, thanks to the arms race of algorithms that is spreading infection at an alarming rate. Another pandemic is coming, this time attacking the fragile control systems in our brains—namely, our capacity to reason with one another—that we have used so effectively to keep ourselves relatively safe in recent centuries.

The moment has arrived to insist on making anybody who even thinks of counterfeiting people feel ashamed—and duly deterred from committing such an antisocial act of vandalism. If we spread the word now that such acts will be against the law as soon as we can arrange it, people will have no excuse for persisting in their activities. Many in the AI community these days are so eager to explore their new powers that they have lost track of their moral obligations. We should remind them, as rudely as is necessary, that they are risking the future freedom of their loved ones, and of all the rest of us.   

Study finds weight gain early in life increases risk of prostate cancer death by 27%

Decades-long study involving over 250,000 Swedish men establishes strong link to risk of fatal 

prostate cancer

Men who put on 2st (12.7kg) before turning 30 are 27% more likely to die from prostate 


 in old age than those who maintain their teenage weight, early research suggests.

A decades-long study into more than 250,000 Swedish men indicated there was a strong link between men gaining weight across their healthiest years and developing prostate cancer.

Continue reading…
Is this article about Music?

Want to participate in science? At the UNLV Music Lab (Principal Investigator: Erin Hannon) we study how different people respond to music, language, and the many sounds in the world. We are currently recruiting for a research study in which we will ask you questions about which sounds you like and dislike, your musical experiences and habits, and your general auditory experiences, and you will do some short listening tests. The study should take 60 minutes. If you would like to take the survey click HERE. For more information about the study email questions to or call us 702-895-2995.

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The Heart of the Debate Over Jordan Neely’s Death

Welcome to Up for Debate. Each week, Conor Friedersdorf 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.

Last week, I asked about the killing of Jordan Neely in the New York City subway and associated debates. Reading diverse opinions can be useful for trying to figure out where justice lies. A trial will best serve that end in this case, but additionally, I believe that it’s important for Americans to better understand one another’s thinking, and I hope this roundup helps on this matter.

Rob focused on the deceased:

Neely’s death alone disturbs me more than anything else. While I feel righteous anger and could easily rail against a host of contributors to this outcome, my sadness is deeper than any other reaction. Neely is a person with a tragic past who ended up being too crazy to take care of himself or make use of the help he was offered. He could be scary, threatening, and, at times, violent. It’s possible that his whole life was an exercise in running away from the death of his mother. Trouble is, he got lost.

I don’t wish to romanticize him, but to pay respects to his life, an easily forgotten cipher in the big city. However much he became troublesome to others, he did not deserve the death that found him in that subway car. My purpose here is to push all polemical chatter aside and simply say a prayer for him and ask for a moment of silence. His life stirs my sense of humanity and reminds me that there are too many people navigating this world with a broken compass, navigating their way around great sorrow, loss, and the riddle we are all faced with: the purpose, meaning, and value of our lives.

Helen explains why her sympathy for Neely coexists with a belief that fearing him was reasonable:

Yes, there has to be a better and more ethical way to manage this all-too-common situation. But in the moment, it must be faced that Neely did present a threat. In 2021, he punched a 67-year-old woman in the street, breaking her nose and causing severe facial injuries.

He could have killed her as easily as he was killed. I’m a vigorous woman, but head trauma at my age could take away my life. Honest discussion is not possible if people say he posed no threat.  

Nathanael believes that “a huge amount rests on the details of whether Jordan Neely did anything to physically threaten anyone,” and describes his own experience with subway violence:

I rode the Washington, D.C., Metro for years, and I vividly remember the brutal knife murder of a 24-year-old man in 2015. Fellow passengers watched in terror as his murderer stabbed or cut him 30 to 40 times, then robbed several of them before getting off the train. I’ve had that story in my head every time I ride the Metro. I am determined that I will put myself in harm’s way rather than letting something like that happen in front of me.

A few years later, I was seated near a door when I heard a man start raising his voice. He appeared to be homeless and was vocally antagonizing people. I didn’t think too much of it until I heard someone else raising his voice in response. I looked up and saw another man responding angrily and in a physically threatening way. It looked like a fight was about to start, so I yelled something like, “Hey!” and got up and stood between them, spreading my arms and holding on to handrails on either side. I faced the first man, but I was worried about getting clocked by the second man to whom I had turned my back.

The first man kept yelling, and I just started repeating, “Let’s just get to the next stop.” When we finally got there, I followed the first man off the train and watched as he headed in the other direction. I remember being scared and thinking frantically about what to do the whole time, but also feeling adrenaline and being grateful that when the time had come I actually had done something, as I’d always been determined to do in my mind.

I got lucky that day: Nobody got hurt. Not me, not either of the men. But I was determined to try to put my body in the way of something that could’ve turned out worse.

Do I know that Daniel Penny did the right thing or that he’s a hero? Absolutely not. If he went too far in responding to purely verbal threats and took Jordan Neely’s life because of a too-great willingness to become a vigilante, the law should deal with him accordingly. But I sympathize with the instinct to be vigilant against the threat of public violence, and to be determined not to become a bystander while someone else is assaulted or killed.

Matt is a native New Yorker who has trained in Brazilian jiujitsu for 22 years. He writes:

I have choked and been choked in training countless times. Contrary to what is implied by TV and movies, it is difficult to kill someone with a chokehold. It may take only 10 to 20 seconds to produce unconsciousness, but a person must be choked for an even longer period to start causing brain damage and ultimately death.  

Penny probably genuinely believed he was acting in self-defense or in the defense of others. But that didn’t give him the right to end Jordan Neely’s life. There can be no self-defense against a limp, unconscious body.

Jaleelah reflects on self-defense classes and vigilantism:

I took several self-defense classes in middle school and high school. Instructors differed slightly. But they all had one thing in common: They instructed their students to try escaping or de-escalating the situation before resorting to physical attacks.

Personally, more frequent subway service would be the easiest way to make me feel safer. I would like to be able to exit a train containing an angry incel (real event!) without worrying that I will compromise my job or my education by arriving late at my destination. I am quite heavily on the side of reallocating some amount of police funding and responsibility toward trained mental-health professionals and mediators. I also think the police should screen prospective hires (not just for crime and drug use, but for temperament, empathy, and humility) more carefully, and that they should carry fewer lethal weapons. But I also believe that the prospect of vigilantism—whether committed by shady private security forces or zealous civilians—is the strongest argument against removing police officers from all public spaces.

When Gordon watched video of the incident, he identified with the passengers who pitched in to help Daniel Penny. He explains:

I lived in New York from 2000 to 2005, took the subway almost every day (often multiple times a day), and was immensely grateful for the freedom that the subway provided. Having said that, there were at least four or five instances during those five years where someone was acting dangerously erratically or simply intentionally intimidating other people. And although I was never particularly worried for myself, I can absolutely remember being terrified as I thought about what I was going to do if the situation became truly violent and the person began to physically attack another rider, particularly a woman.

I remember thinking how I would have to do something (the Kitty Genovese story made a huge impression on me as a teenager, and I vowed never to sit back and do nothing while someone was attacked like that), but also how awful it would be to die or be seriously injured because I happened to be on the train with the wrong person and got knifed or shot trying to help. I remember desperately looking around the train trying to figure out who, if anyone, would come to my aid if I intervened and how we could coordinate action.

In those moments, I wished there was someone like Daniel Penny on the train with me, especially someone who was willing to take that first—and by far the hardest—step forward to intervene. I feel badly for Jordan Neely, who obviously was the victim of tremendous misfortune. I wish that his mom had never been killed, and that our society had better systems and programs for dealing with the mentally ill. I strongly support higher taxes to make such programs possible. But I draw the line at tolerance of the potential threat of physical violence toward others, particularly in spaces like the subway. And so I’m grateful that Daniel Penny was willing to step forward in that moment, especially since I would not have the physical courage to take that first step.

I’m also sure I would have been one of the people to step forward to assist Penny as he tried to keep Neely subdued by holding Neely’s arms. And while I absolutely wish Neely had not died, if I’m being honest, I would not have wanted Penny to release him before we were all certain that Neely no longer seemed like a potential threat, even if it risked serious injury to Neely.

Chadd believes that the issues of “homelessness, mental illness, addiction, and everything to do with extreme poverty” require “an amount of compassion and understanding that is fundamentally counter to what most Americans believe should be available to random strangers.”

He writes:

I say all this stuff as a former hard-drug user and a person who experienced homelessness and multiple psychotic episodes. Crystal meth, crack cocaine, and other drugs, combined with the constant fear and dread of being homeless, will do that to a person. I don’t believe regular Americans have the capacity to understand what it’s really like to be homeless in America because people (1) don’t want to know what it’s like to be homeless and (2) literally can’t understand what it’s like without experiencing it.

Being homeless is not an experience I’d wish on my worst enemy. But a part of me wishes that every person could somehow see themselves as Jordan Neely. I’m oddly grateful for my awful experience because it created a sense of humility, kindness, and compassion for people less fortunate that I couldn’t have otherwise. I can’t give that experience away. I kinda wish I could! Maybe people might start to understand that these people, without homes, are still just that: people.

Some homeless people have families and friends who love and care about them. Some have literally no one. I can’t even imagine what that must be like, to have no one to call. No one to cry to, to reach out to, all while sleeping outside and not knowing where you’ll find your next meal or fix or whatever you have to do to make it through the day without walking in front of a bus. I can imagine being homeless because I was, but I can’t imagine having no one.

Fear is one of the things I remember most about the street. And the fear that poor man was forced to experience during the final moments in his life is disgusting. I’m grateful that during my worst psychotic episodes I wasn’t around people who freaked out and choked me to death.

Max warns against making too much of this case:

More than 8 million people live in New York City, and many of them will regularly have close encounters with strangers. Some of those encounters will go seriously wrong. There’s nothing new in this, and nothing unique––to these times, to NYC, to America, to Black people, to white people––about the fact that someone died in an unpleasant way we all wish hadn’t happened.

Among the millions of people who mingle in New York, some will be bad, some will be mad, some will overreact, and some will avoid doing anything. That is just how life is, everywhere and at all times. There may be lessons we need to learn from what happened, but perhaps there aren’t. Perhaps all we need to do is make sure the authorities punish anyone who broke the law, and to tell all those who want to turn this sad occurrence into a parable of our times and a symptom of burgeoning social chaos to pipe down.

Susan wonders if there isn’t something we could all do to make cases like this less likely:

I’m not a New Yorker, and I’ve only been on the subway a handful of times. My question is, did anyone offer him any food or drink? Would an act of kindness have had any potential impact? Is there a way to offer kindness without being seen as weak and a “mark”?

It is scary, even to me out here in the safe suburbs, to be reading about people shooting other people for almost no reason whatsoever. I get why people don’t want to wait around to see if someone acting erratically will suddenly pull out a weapon, but is kindness something that could change our current social climate, even a little?

Replies have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Spooked by volatile reports from the Silicon Valley Bank in early March, many customers panicked and withdrew their money, creating the largest bank failure since the 2007-2008 financial crisis. The problem—investors and customers lost confidence in the bank, proving the perception of a bank's reliability can significantly impact its success.
Researchers devise a simpler way to mimic aspects of human vision
Mimicking the performance of the human visual system is viewed as a difficult endeavor because of the extremely complex optical elements involved. In new work, researchers show that it's possible to create a lens system that reproduces certain characteristics of human eyesight using simple spherical optical components.
Are college students with religious tattoos more religious? Yes and no
For most of U.S. history, tattoos have been associated with sailors and bikers, but not church-going people. As tattoos have become more popular, with nearly one-third of U.S. adults sporting at least one tattoo, religious-themed tattoos have also increased. A recent study examined the behaviors of college students with tattoos, including religious tattoos.
NASA's Lunar Flashlight to fly by Earth
NASA's Lunar Flashlight mission to the moon has ended, but the briefcase-size spacecraft will soon fly past Earth before heading into deep space. On Tuesday, May 16, at 9:44 p.m. PDT (Wednesday, May 17, at 12:44 a.m. EDT), the CubeSat will pass about 40,000 miles (65,000 kilometers) from our planet's surface.
NASA's Giant Balloon Crashes Into Ocean, Sinks
One of NASA's gigantic science balloons developed a leak a mere day and a half into its flight, causing it to plummet into the Pacific Ocean.

Pop Star

One of NASA's gigantic science balloons developed a leak a mere day and a half into its flight, causing it to plummet into the Pacific Ocean, not far from the New Zealand coast.

While teams on the ground attempted to counteract the leak by dropping ballast to maintain the balloon's altitude, the balloon was unable to keep itself airborne, according to a NASA statement.

The massive "super pressure" balloon was carrying a two-ton payload called the Extreme Universe Space Observatory 2 (EUSO-2), which was meant to detect ultra-high energy cosmic ray particles entering the atmosphere and help scientists figure out their origins.

It's an unfortunate and very quick end to an ambitious mission. NASA has yet to investigate the cause of what it's calling an "anomaly" — though, logically speaking, the thing probably just popped.

Sinking Feeling

Recovering the payload may prove quite tricky.

To minimize the effects on marine life, NASA designed the balloon to use its heavy payload that'll drag it "to the bottom of the ocean as quickly as possible," according to the statement.

Super pressure balloons are designed to carry heavy cargo by having a positive internal pressure, which keeps them stable at high altitudes without having to drop ballast. That's in contrast to conventional scientific balloons, which make use of warm and cool air currents and drop ballast to maintain altitude.

The crashed balloon is the second of its kind to have been launched by NASA. On April 16, the agency launched a different balloon, which has been "performing nominally" ever since, according to NASA, and has already "completed three revolutions about the Earth’s southern hemisphere flying at about 108,000 feet."

Considering this latest balloon was meant to serve as a proof of concept for super pressure balloons, though, NASA clearly has some work cut out before it can make use of the technology more reliably.

More on balloons: Another Mysterious Balloon Sighted, This One Over Hawaii

The post NASA's Giant Balloon Crashes Into Ocean, Sinks appeared first on Futurism.


If OpenAi collects all the prompts and feeds it to chapgpt, then chatgpt could predict the next prompt like an AI psychic. Prompt engineering will promptly die itself out.

If additional data like all your past search history from Google etc, browsing history, bank statements, purchases, phone call are fed to the chatgpt then it could, I believe, easily with 99% accuracy predict what you are doing right now and also what you will do next.

Maybe not chatgpt itself but some not-so-free red countries can do that with their citizens' data and no need for realtime surveillance because they can predict your next step.

And then what happens? We become zombies?

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Is this article about Quantum Computing?
In a study published in the journal National Science Review and led by Dr. Zhao-Yang Li (School of Material Science and Engineering, Nankai University) and Prof. Masahiro Yamashita (Department of Chemistry, Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University), a photoisomerizable ligand was used to synthesize two VT coordination polymers, which display VT and photoconversion behavior.
Report: Butterflies across the EU are in decline
The diagnosis sounds worrying: More than 80% of habitats in the EU are currently considered vulnerable. This has negative consequences on their functional capability and thus the services they provide for humans. In order to counter this, the European Commission has proposed a new set of rules.
A predatory dinosaur from Brazil and its surprising anatomy
Irritator challengeri was a two-legged, meat-eating dinosaur, or more precisely—a spinosaurid. The knowledge of the species is based on the most complete fossil skull known from this group. With the aid of X-ray computed tomographs usually used in the context of medicine or material science, paleontologists from Greifswald, Munich (both Germany), Alkmaar (Netherlands) and Fribourg (Switzerland) thoroughly investigated the fossil and made astonishing discoveries.
Designing 3D-printed pills with desired drug release
Don't be surprised to see pills with unusual shapes in the future. At first sight they may look funny, but they can release pharmaceuticals inside the body in a controlled manner. Using a combination of advanced computational methods and 3D printing, objects can be produced that dissolve in liquids in a predetermined format.
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
In the face of increasing global scarcity of freshwater resources, desalination is considered one of the most effective ways to alleviate this problem. However, it does come with a catch—efficient and low-cost evaporation materials are key to achieving large-scale applications.
Bronze Age long-distance connections: Baltic amber in Aššur
In 1914, two beads were found under the great ziggurat of Aššur in Iraq, in a foundation deposit dating from around 1800-1750 BC. Their material has now been identified as amber using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR). The beads represent some of the earliest amber specimens in southwest Asia and also some of the most distant discoveries from the find areas in the Baltic region.
Creating kitty litter from soy waste
Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are building a better mouse trap when it comes to cat litter. And in the process, they hope to kill two birds with one stone.
Irritator challengeri was a two-legged, meat-eating dinosaur, or more precisely—a spinosaurid. The knowledge of the species is based on the most complete fossil skull known from this group. With the aid of X-ray computed tomographs usually used in the context of medicine or material science, paleontologists from Greifswald, Munich (both Germany), Alkmaar (Netherlands) and Fribourg (Switzerland) thoroughly investigated the fossil and made astonishing discoveries.
Scientists Intrigued by Man With Mutation That Protects Against Alzheimer's
In a new study, scientists claim to have unlocked the secret of one man's extreme resilience to early-onset Alzheimer's.

Scientists may have just found a fascinating new clue in the long and stubborn road to an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

In a new study, an international team of scientists claims to have unlocked the secret of one man's intriguing resilience to the disease — a discovery that's giving doctors new hope in our long-standing battle against the memory-destroying brain disorder.

As The New York Times reports, the Colombian man at the center of the study, which was published on Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, should have started to experience symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer's in his early 40s. He had a genetic mutation — PSEN1-E280A — that seemingly guaranteed it, his brain had even started to atrophy, and perhaps most tellingly, scans of his brain showed the development of amyloid plaques and long lines of tau proteins, both of which are highly indicative markers of the devastating illness.

And yet, despite that gene mutation and the harrowing condition doctors saw in his brain scans, the man didn't actually begin to succumb to the disease until the older age of 67, over 20 years after he was projected to start experiencing side effects.

"We characterized the world’s second case with ascertained extreme resilience to autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease," the researchers wrote, referring to a similar case of Alzheimer's resilience that made waves back in 2019. "The male remained cognitively intact until 67 years of age despite carrying a PSEN1-E280A mutation."

But where it gets really interesting is that the scientists found that the man in question actually has a second gene mutation that appears to have stalled the disease out at least for a few precious decades.

That mutation, which the researchers termed COLBOS, was able to block the disease from entering the man's entorhinal cortex, a part of the brain related to memory and object recognition. It did so by producing an ultra-potent version of a protein which, per the NYT, "ultimately prevents tangled strands of tau proteins from sticking together and forming the structures that are a characteristic of Alzheimer's."

The hope, say the researchers, is that the potent and protective protein could be replicated and bottled into a pharmaceutical treatment.

"This really holds the secret to the next generation of therapeutics," study coauthor Joseph Arboleda-Velasquez, a cell biologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston, told the NYT. (Arboleda-Velasquez has co-founded a biotech company seeking to create pharmaceuticals based on this research.)

Though the protein may not be a silver bullet on its own, other researchers told the NYT that such a drug could potentially be used in more comprehensive therapies.

The history of Alzheimer's research has been littered with promising findings that ultimately turned out to be dead ends, but the discovery of patients with a strong natural resilience to the disease is unquestionably an exciting lead in the oft-grim world of Alzheimer's treatment and prevention.

The post Scientists Intrigued by Man With Mutation That Protects Against Alzheimer's appeared first on Futurism.


Nature Communications, Published online: 16 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38427-3

Indoxyl sulfate is a key risk factor in the progression of chronic kidney disease, but cannot be removed from the blood by hemodialysis. Here, the authors report the use of a covalent organic framework for the removal of indoxyl sulfate precursor from the intestine.
World's Deadliest Mushroom May Now Have an Antidote
Feedly AI found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • The US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency have already approved indocyanine green for use in imaging.

A CRISPR gene-editing technique might have finally cracked the mystery of how death cap mushrooms kill and revealed a possible antidote

The intricate process of flower development has long fascinated scientists seeking to unravel the mysteries behind nature's precision timing. In a study published in the journal The Plant Cell, a research team led by Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan has shed light on the inner workings of floral meristem termination and stamen development, uncovering a unique mechanism driven by the interplay of genetic and epigenetic factors.
Apochromatic X-ray focusing
A team of scientists from the Paul Scherrer Institut, the University of Basel and DESY have demonstrated the first-ever realization of apochromatic X-ray focusing using a tailored combination of a refractive lens and a Fresnel zone plate. This innovative approach enables the correction of the chromatic aberration suffered by both refractive and diffractive lenses over a wide range of X-ray energies. This groundbreaking development in X-ray optics has just been published in Light: Science & Applications.
Is this article about Gardening?
Tomatoes, bananas, cabbages, melons, pumpkins and cucumbers… are just some of the 150 crops of commercial interest that are victims of Fusarium oxysporum, one of the most important pathogens in the world due to the millions of dollars in losses it is responsible for and its ability to attack different types of plants. Although it can go unnoticed in the soil for more than 30 years, when it detects the roots of a host plant, it grows towards them, colonizing its vascular system and causing crops to wilt.
Plastic pollution could be cut by 80% by 2040, says UN report
Is this article about Sustainability?
Plastic pollution could reduce by 80% by 2040 if countries and companies make deep policy and market shifts using existing technologies, according to a new report by 
 Environment Program (UNEP). The report is released ahead of a second round of negotiations in Paris on a global agreement to beat plastic pollution, and outlines the magnitude and nature of the changes required to end plastic pollution and create a circular economy.
More plants will go extinct if we do nothing, says researcher
A wide range of plant species is essential to our Earth because of the different materials and foods these plants provide. But plant diversity has decreased drastically in recent decades. Ph.D. candidate Kaixuan Pan explains what we can do to increase it once again.
World's Deadliest Mushroom May Now Have an Antidote
Feedly AI found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • The US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency have already approved indocyanine green for use in imaging.

A CRISPR gene-editing technique might have finally cracked the mystery of how death cap mushrooms kill and revealed a possible antidote

The intricate process of flower development has long fascinated scientists seeking to unravel the mysteries behind nature's precision timing. In a study published in the journal The Plant Cell, a research team led by Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan has shed light on the inner workings of floral meristem termination and stamen development, uncovering a unique mechanism driven by the interplay of genetic and epigenetic factors.
Is this article about Gardening?
Tomatoes, bananas, cabbages, melons, pumpkins and cucumbers… are just some of the 150 crops of commercial interest that are victims of Fusarium oxysporum, one of the most important pathogens in the world due to the millions of dollars in losses it is responsible for and its ability to attack different types of plants. Although it can go unnoticed in the soil for more than 30 years, when it detects the roots of a host plant, it grows towards them, colonizing its vascular system and causing crops to wilt.

Nature Communications, Published online: 16 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38215-z

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is linked to environmental factors. Through quantitative epidemiology, this study ties 53 pesticides to PD. An innovative human stem cell platform revealed that 10 of these were directly toxic to human dopamine neurons.
Newspaper Apologizes for Accidentally Running Deranged AI-Generated Article
The Irish Times just apologized for publishing an AI-generated hoax article — bylined by an entirely fake AI-generated "journalist," no less.


The influential, 150-year-old newspaper The Irish Times just apologized for accidentally publishing an AI-generated hoax article — bylined by an entirely fake AI-generated "journalist," no less — in its Opinion section.

In a statement published Sunday, editor Ruadhán Mac Cormaic apologized for the incident, which he described the incident as a "deliberate and coordinated deception."

"It was a breach of the trust between the Irish Times and its readers, and we are genuinely sorry," read the statement. "The incident has highlighted a gap in our pre-publication procedures. We need to make them more robust, and we will."

"It has also underlined one of the challenges raised by generative AI for news organizations," Mac Cormaic added. "We, like others, will learn and adapt."

Welp. So long, reality.

Stir the S***

The anonymous person behind the AI-generated article in question, "Irish women's obsession with fake tan is problematic," sounds insufferable. They told the Guardian that they were actively attempting to both "give [their] friends a laugh" and "stir the shit" in the ongoing public discourse about identity politics. Exactly what the internet's information infrastructure needs right now, right?

According to the Guardian, the plan unfortunately worked, at least to a degree. The piece — which discussed cultural appropriation and the ethics of fake tanning through the purported lens of a fictional Latinx immigrant who grew up in Guayaquil, Ecuador — was reportedly the paper's second-most read article ever published, and sparked discussion online and on the radio.

Warning Flag

Worse, the Irish Times only realized that it'd published an AI hoax when the author themselves took to Twitter and, from an account attributed to the fake name that they'd published the story under, admitted to the plot.

"Some people have called me an alt-right troll," the unidentified hoaxer, who described themselves as a nonbinary university student — and who also claims to be from Ireland, not Ecuador, although who knows if any of that is true either — told the Guardian, "but I don't think that I am."

The unnamed student added that they'd used OpenAI's ChatGPT to generate roughly 80 percent of the article, while they used OpenAI's DALL-E 2 text-to-image to create an image of what they believed to be an accurate representation of a "woke" journalist: "female, overweight, blue hair, business casual clothing, smug expression."

Gross thing to say! Moving on.

The Irish Times certainly has some egg on its face, and we'd probably advise everyone in media to learn from their mistake. AI tools are pretty much everywhere now — and as a result, sorting through what's real and what isn't is likely to get increasingly difficult.

The post Newspaper Apologizes for Accidentally Running Deranged AI-Generated Article appeared first on Futurism.

Company Giving Away TVs With Second Screen That Shows Constant Ads
Is this article about Media & Entertainment Industry?

A startup called Telly is planning to give away a whopping half million 55-inch TVs to consumers — but with one huge catch.

As if annoying commercial breaks on cable weren't enough, the sleek TV set will come with a second screen that will show you a nonstop stream of ads while you're catching up on your favorite shows. This second "Smart Display" will also show other widgets, like the weather or stocks.

To hammer the model home, Telly's chief strategy officer Dallas Lawrence told The Verge that both screens might even show ads at the same time when not in use.

In other words, it's a dystopian ad-supported streaming TV nightmare: a transaction-based ecosystem that turns you and your viewing habits into the product.

Telly is calling its invention the "ultimate free TV upgrade" on its website. The company was created by Ilya Pozin, who also co-founded the add-supported app Pluto TV, an entirely ad-supported streaming service.

Beyond its two displays, the Telly also has a camera — including a privacy shutter, to be fair — to enable things like "free advanced motion-tracking fitness programs" or conference calls, as well as a microphone and motion sensor.

In other words, it has plenty of ways to track you in your living room.

And that all raises the question: how will Telly make sure that you're actually viewing its ads instead of just pushing a piece of furniture in front of the Smart Display?

According to its typo-riddled activity data policy — get ready for "mayenhance video content" and "contentrecommendations" — the company reserves the right to track a wide swathe of metrics including "search queries, settings preferences, applications you open, purchases or other transactions you make, buttons you select, the time, frequency, and duration of your activities, the physical presence of you and any other individuals using the TV at any given time, and other usage data."

The company may also "share your Viewing and Activity Data with third-party data partners and advertisers who use it to show you relevant ads and provide you with customized content."

To even get on the company's waitlist for a free ad-viewing experience, you'll have to live in the US and fill out a lengthy questionnaire on the company's app, including what your favorite TV shows are and who your cell phone provider is, according to Ars Technica.

In case all of these terms feel just a little too invasive, you can opt out of tracking for a hefty price. According to The Verge, the company previously said its TV set would cost $500.

Otherwise, of course, you could also just buy a regular TV, which are often way cheaper than that.

All in all, Telly's "free" TV feels like a pretty invasive piece of tech. Sure, not having to splurge on a fancy TV might be a great way to save some cash upfront, but the experience clearly comes with a pretty substantial cost.

In other words, Telly is making a pretty huge bet. To be successful in the long term, the company is incentivized to squeeze as much data out of its customers, and ad dollars out of their eyeballs, as possible — and that doesn't exactly sound like it will make for a pleasant viewing experience.

More on TV: Screenwriter Union Reportedly Proposes Allowing AI-Written Movies and TV Shows

The post Company Giving Away TVs With Second Screen That Shows Constant Ads appeared first on Futurism.

Feedly AI found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • Recently, the French Education Minister, Pap Ndiaye, announced a potential education reform that would require private schools to diversify their student population to maintain their public subsidies from the State.
Recently, the French Education Minister, Pap Ndiaye, announced a potential education reform that would require private schools to diversify their student population to maintain their public subsidies from the State. Although this state intervention into private education is somewhat unusual, Ndiaye argues that public schools alone cannot achieve diversity. Similarly, India's Right to Education Act imposed a 25% quota on all private schools for students from disadvantaged schools, creating the largest affirmative action policy in the world in 2009.
Clock watching makes insomnia even worse
Is this article about Health?
A woman laying in bed looks at the time on the phone on her bedside table.

Watching the clock while trying to fall asleep exacerbates insomnia and the use of sleep aids, new research shows.

A small change, however, could help you sleep better, the researchers report.

Insomnia affects between 4 and 22% of adults and is associated with long-term health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression.

The new study in Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders focuses on a sample of nearly 5,000 patients presenting for care at a sleep clinic.

Participants completed questionnaires about the severity of their insomnia, their use of sleep medication, and the time they spent monitoring their own behavior while trying to fall asleep. They were also asked to report any psychiatric diagnoses. The researchers conducted mediation analyses to determine how the factors influenced each other.

“We found time monitoring behavior mainly has an effect on sleep medication use because it exacerbates insomnia symptoms,” says Spencer Dawson, clinical assistant professor and associate director of clinical training in the psychological and brain sciences department at Indiana University.

“People are concerned that they’re not getting enough sleep, then they start estimating how long it will take them to fall back asleep and when they have to be up. That is not the sort of activity that’s helpful in facilitating the ability to fall asleep—the more stressed out you are, the harder time you’re going to have falling asleep.”

As the frustration over 


 grows, people are more likely to use sleep aids in an attempt to gain control over their sleep.

The research indicates a simple behavioral intervention could provide help for those struggling with insomnia, Dawson says. He gives the same advice to every new patient the first time they meet.

“One thing that people could do would be to turn around or cover up their clock, ditch the smart watch, get the phone away so they’re simply not checking the time,” Dawson says. “There’s not any place where watching the clock is particularly helpful.”

Additional coauthors are from the Mercer University School of Medicine, the University of Arizona, and Brown University.

Source: Indiana University

The post Clock watching makes insomnia even worse appeared first on Futurity.

Elon Musk Among the Anti-Semites

Last night, Elon Musk made two rookie social-media mistakes: He tweeted after 10 p.m., and he echoed paranoid anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists. “George Soros reminds me of Magneto,” he declared, likening the financier to the Marvel supervillain, both of them Jewish Holocaust survivors. In case the meaning was unclear, Musk quickly clarified to another user, “He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity.”

Criticizing George Soros is not inherently anti-Semitic. He is one of the world’s richest men and most influential philanthropists, as well as the Democratic Party’s largest single donor, and his views undoubtedly warrant scrutiny and debate. But Musk was not taking issue with a particular statement or position put forward by Soros; he was presenting him as an avatar of evil. He painted Soros as a literal comic-book villain.

This is the language of anti-Semitism through the ages, which perpetually casts powerful Jewish actors as the embodiment of social and political ill. Rather than treat Jews like humans, who are fallible and often mistaken, this mindset refashions them into sinister superhumans who intentionally impose their malign designs on the masses. In recent years, Soros has been a particular target of this treatment, but any Jew or Jewish institution that accumulates some measure of wealth or status tends to attract it, whether the Rothschilds or the state of Israel. In such cases, legitimate criticism is overtaken by conspiracy; the issue is no longer the conduct of the Jewish actor but their very essence.

[Yair Rosenberg: Why so many people still don’t understand anti-Semitism]

Musk echoing such a sensibility might seem surprising, but it was, in fact, inevitable. The Twitter magnate has spent months marinating among the site’s most conspiratorial characters. One of his first acts as Twitter’s owner was to share, then quietly delete, a bizarre anti-gay rumor about the October 2022 attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of then–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Since that time, Musk has repeatedly replied to and bantered with QAnon influencers, and suggested that the recent massacre in Allentown, Texas, by a reported white supremacist was actually “a psy-op.” As the BBC reporter Shayan Sardarizadeh put it, “These days, if you want to find the latest conspiracy theories trending on Twitter, the easiest thing to do is to check tweets Elon Musk replies to, you’ll find most of them.”

Seen in this context, Musk’s latest remarks are less a departure from past pronouncements than a continuation of them. Anti-Semitism is arguably the world’s oldest and most durable conspiracy theory. It presents Jews as the string-pulling puppet masters behind the world’s political, economic, and social problems. For those seeking simple solutions to life’s complexities, this outlook offers a ready-made explanation—and enemy. Anyone seeking a single source for society's travails may start with run-of-the mill conspiracy theories but will soon end up parroting anti-Jewish ideas. As I’ve written before, “Conspiracy theorists begin by rejecting mainstream explanations for social and political events in favor of supposedly suppressed knowledge and hidden hands. These individuals may not start out as anti-Semites. But anti-Semitism has a multi-thousand-year head start on their crooked conception of the world, and has produced centuries of material casting the Jews as its chief culprit. Once a person has convinced themselves that an invisible hand is manipulating the masses, they are just a couple of Google searches away from discovering that it belongs to an invisible Jew.”

It’s doubtful that Musk harbors personal animosity toward Jewish people. But he is a conspiracy theorist, and the arc of conspiracy is short and bends toward the Jews.

The First Year of AI College Ends in Ruin
Feedly AI found 1 Mergers and Acquisitions mention in this article
  • The company, which has claimed to serve 15,000 educational institutions across the world, was acquired for $1.75 billion in 2019.

One-hundred percent AI. That’s what the software concluded about a student’s paper. One of the professors in the academic program I direct had come across this finding and asked me what to do with it. Then another one saw the same result—100 percent AI—for a different paper by that student, and also wondered: What does this mean? I did not know. I still don’t.

The problem breaks down into more problems: whether it’s possible to know for certain that a student used AI, what it even means to “use” AI for writing papers, and when that use amounts to cheating. The software that had flagged our student’s papers was also multilayered: Canvas, our courseware system, was running Turnitin, a popular plagiarism-detection service, which had recently installed a new AI-detection algorithm. The alleged evidence of cheating had emerged from a nesting doll of ed-tech black boxes.

This is college life at the close of ChatGPT’s first academic year: a moil of incrimination and confusion. In the past few weeks, I’ve talked with dozens of educators and students who are now confronting, for the very first time, a spate of AI “cheating.” Their stories left me reeling. Reports from on campus hint that legitimate uses of AI in education may be indistinguishable from unscrupulous ones, and that identifying cheaters—let alone holding them to account—is more or less impossible.

Once upon a time, students shared exams or handed down papers to classmates. Then they started outsourcing their homework, aided by the internet. Online businesses such as EssayShark (which asserts that it sells term papers for “research and reference purposes only”) have professionalized that process. Now it’s possible for students to purchase answers for assignments from a “tutoring” service such as Chegg—a practice that the kids call “chegging.” But when the AI chatbots were unleashed last fall, all these cheating methods of the past seemed obsolete. “We now believe [ChatGPT is] having an impact on our new-customer growth rate,” Chegg’s CEO admitted on an earnings call this month. The company has since lost roughly $1 billion in market value.

Other companies could benefit from the same upheaval. By 2018, Turnitin was already taking more than $100 million in yearly revenue to help professors sniff out impropriety. Its software, embedded in the courseware that students use to turn in work, compares their submissions with a database of existing material (including other student papers that Turnitin has previously consumed), and flags material that might have been copied. The company, which has claimed to serve 15,000 educational institutions across the world, was acquired for $1.75 billion in 2019. Last month, it rolled out an AI-detection add-in (with no way for teachers to opt out). AI-chatbot countermeasures, like the chatbots themselves, are taking over.

Now, as the first chatbot spring comes to a close, Turnitin’s new software is delivering a deluge of positive identifications: This paper was “18% AI”; that one, “100AI.” But what do any of those numbers really mean? Surprisingly—outrageously—it’s very hard to say for sure. In each of the “100% AI” cases I heard about, students insisted that they had not let ChatGPT or any other AI tool do all of their work.

But according to the company, that designation does indeed suggest that 100 percent of an essay—as in, every one of its sentences—was computer generated, and, further, that this judgment has been made with 98 percent certainty. A Turnitin spokesperson acknowledged via email that “text created by another tool that uses algorithms or other computer-enabled systems,” including grammar checkers and automated translators, could lead to a false positive, and that some “genuine” writing can be similar to AI-generated writing. “Some people simply write very predictably,” she told me. Are all of these caveats accounted for in the company’s claims of having 98 percent certainty in its analyses?

Perhaps it doesn’t matter, because Turnitin disclaims drawing any conclusions about misconduct from its results. “This is only a number intended to help the educator determine if additional review or a discussion with the student is warranted,” the spokesperson said. “Teaching is a human endeavor.” The company has a guide for humans who confront the software’s “small” risk of generating false positives. Naturally, it recommends the use of still more Turnitin resources (an AI-misuse rubric and AI-misuse checklist are available) and doing more work than you ever would have done in the first place.

[​​Read: ChatGPT is about to dump more work on everyone]

In other words, the student in my program whose work was flagged for being “100% AI” might have used a little AI, or a lot of AI, or maybe something in between. As for any deeper questions—exactly how he used AI, and whether he was wrong to do so—teachers like me are, as ever, on our own.


Some students probably are using AI at 100 percent: to complete their work absent any effort of their own. But many use ChatGPT and other tools to generate ideas, help them when they’re stuck, rephrase tricky paragraphs, or check their grammar.

Where one behavior turns into another isn’t always clear. Matthew Boedy, an English professor at the University of North Georgia, told me about one student so disengaged, he sometimes attended class in his pajamas. When that student submitted an uncharacteristically adept essay this spring, Boedy figured a chatbot was involved, and OpenAI’s verification tool confirmed as much. The student admitted that he hadn’t known how to begin, so he asked ChatGPT to write an introduction, and then to recommend sources. Absent a firm policy on AI cheating to lean on, Boedy talked through the material with the student in person and graded him based on that conversation.

A computer-science student at Washington University in St. Louis, where I teach, saw some irony in the sudden shift from giving fully open-book assignments earlier in the pandemic to this year’s attitude of “you can use anything except AI.” (I’m withholding the names of students so that they can be frank about their use of AI tools.) This student, who also works as a teaching assistant, knows firsthand that computers can help solve nearly every technical exercise that is assigned in CS courses, and some conceptual ones too. But taking advantage of the technology “feels less morally bankrupt,” he said, “than paying for Chegg or something.” A student who engages with a chatbot is doing some kind of work for themselves—and learning how to live in the future.

Another student I spoke with, who studies politics at Pomona College, uses AI as a way to pressure-test his ideas. Tasked with a research paper on colonialism in the Middle East, the student formulated a thesis and asked ChatGPT what it thought of the idea. “It told me it was bogus,” he said. “I then proceeded to debate it—in doing so, ChatGPT brought up some serious counterarguments to my thesis that I went on to consider in my paper.” The student also uses the bot to recommend sources. “I treat ChatGPT like a combination of a co-worker and an interested audience,” he said.

[Read: The college essay is dead]

The Pomona student’s use of AI seems both clever and entirely aboveboard. But if he borrows a bit too much computer-generated language, Turnitin might still flag his work for being inauthentic. A professor can’t really know whether students are using ChatGPT in nuanced ways or whether they’ve engaged in brazen cheating. No problem, you might say: Just develop a relationship of mutual trust with students and discuss the matter with them openly. A good idea at first blush, but AI risks splitting faculty and student interests. “AI is dangerous in that it’s extremely tempting,” Dennis Jerz, a professor at Seton Hill University, in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, told me. For students who are not invested in their classes, the results don’t even have to be good—just good enough, and quick. “AI has made it much easier to churn out mediocre work.”

Faculty already fret over getting students to see the long-term benefit of assignments. Their task is only getting harder. “It has been so completely demoralizing,” an English teacher in Florida told me about AI cheating. “I have gone from loving my job in September of last year to deciding to completely leave it behind by April.” (I am not printing this instructor’s name or employer to protect him from job-related repercussions.) His assignments are typical of composition: thesis writing, bibliographies, outlines, and essays. But the teacher feels that AI has initiated an arms race of irrelevance between teachers and students. “With tools like ChatGPT, students think there’s just no reason for them to care about developing those skills,” he said. After students admitted to using ChatGPT to complete assignments in a previous term—for one student, all of the assignments—the teacher wondered why he was wasting his time grading automated work the students may not have even read. That feeling of pointlessness has infected his teaching process. “It’s just about crushed me. I fell in love with teaching, and I have loved my time in the classroom, but with ChatGPT, everything feels pointless.”

The loss that he describes is deeper and more existential than anything academic integrity can protect: a specific, if perhaps decaying, way of being among students and their teachers. “AI has already changed the classroom into something I no longer recognize,” he told me. In this view, AI isn’t a harbinger of the future but the last straw in a profession that was almost lost already, to funding collapse, gun violence, state overreach, economic decay, credentialism, and all the rest. New technology arrives on that grim shore, making schoolwork feel worthless, carried out to turn the crank of a machine rather than for teaching or learning.

What does this teacher plan to do after leaving education, I wonder, and then ask. But I should have known the answer, because what else is there: He’s going to design software.


A common line about education in the age of AI: It will force teachers to adapt. Athena Aktipis, a psychology professor at Arizona State University, has taken the opportunity to restructure her whole class, preferring discussions and student-defined projects to homework. “The students said that the class really made them feel human in a way that other classes didn’t,” she told me.

But for many students, college isn’t just a place for writing papers, and cutting corners can provide a different way of feeling human. The student in my program whose papers raised Turnitin’s “100% AI” flag told me that he’d run his text through grammar-checking software, and asked ChatGPT to improve certain lines. Efficiency seemed to matter more to him than quality. “Sometimes I want to play basketball. Sometimes I want to work out,” he said when I asked if he wanted to share any impressions about AI for this story. That may sound outrageous: College is for learning, and that means doing your assignments! But a milkshake of stressors, costs, and other externalities has created a mental-health crisis on college campuses. AI, according to this student, is helping reduce that stress when little else has.

[Read: The end of recommendation letters]

Similar pressures can apply to teachers too. Faculty are in some ways just as tempted as their students by the power of the chatbots, for easing work they find irritating or that distract from their professional goals. (As I pointed out last month, the traditional recommendation letter may be just as threatened by AI as the college essay.) Even so, faculty are worried the students are cheating themselves—and irritated that they’ve been caught in the middle. Julian Hanna, who teaches culture studies at Tilburg University, in the Netherlands, thinks the more sophisticated uses of AI will mostly benefit the students who were already set to succeed, putting disadvantaged students even further at risk. “I think the best students either don’t need it or worry about being caught, or both.” The others, he says, risk learning less than before. Another factor to consider: Students who speak English as a second language may be more reliant on grammar-checking software, or more inclined to have ChatGPT tune up their sentence-level phrasing. If that’s the case, then they’ll be singled out, disproportionately, as cheats.

One way or another, the arms race will continue. Students will be tempted to use AI too much, and universities will try to stop them. Professors can choose to accept some forms of AI-enabled work and outlaw others, but their choices will be shaped by the software that they’re given. Technology itself will be more powerful than official policy or deep reflection.

Universities, too, will struggle to adapt. Most theories of academic integrity rely on crediting people for their work, not machines. That means old-fashioned honor codes will receive some modest updates, and the panels that investigate suspected cheaters will have to reckon with the mysteries of novel AI-detection “evidence.” And then everything will change again. By the time each new system has been put in place, both technology and the customs for its use could well have shifted. ChatGPT has existed for only six months, remember.

Rethinking assignments in light of AI might be warranted, just like it was in light of online learning. But doing so will also be exhausting for both faculty and students. Nobody will be able to keep up, and yet everyone will have no choice but to do so. Somewhere in the cracks between all these tectonic shifts and their urgent responses, perhaps teachers will still find a way to teach, and students to learn.

What Cassini's 'grand finale' taught us about Saturn's interior
Is this article about Space?
Six years ago the Cassini spacecraft, which had spent nearly two decades in orbit around Saturn, finished its mission with a grand finale, plunging itself into the depths of Saturn's atmosphere. Those last few orbits and the final plunge revealed a wealth of information about Saturn's interior. A team of astronomers have collected all of the available data and are now painting a portrait of the interior of the solar system's second largest planet.
Imagine using your cellphone to control the activity of your own cells to treat injuries and disease. It sounds like something from the imagination of an overly optimistic science fiction writer. But this may one day be a possibility through the emerging field of quantum biology.
Is this article about Weather?
The wave of atmospheric rivers that swept across the state this winter has created the right conditions for plant pathogens that haven't been seen for decades in California. University of California, Davis, plant pathologist Florent "Flo" Trouillas is getting more calls from growers and farm advisors concerned about potential crop damage.
Is this article about Weather?
The wave of atmospheric rivers that swept across the state this winter has created the right conditions for plant pathogens that haven't been seen for decades in California. University of California, Davis, plant pathologist Florent "Flo" Trouillas is getting more calls from growers and farm advisors concerned about potential crop damage.
New tool to guide efficient energy extraction from quantum sources
The idea that energy is a fundamental driver of societal progress has led to the concept that a civilization's level of technological development can be measured by its ability to harness and use energy. Based on this, Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev devised a famous Kardashev Scale in 1964 as a way to classify civilizations based on their energy consumption. Our human civilization's current level is estimated to be around 0.73 as of today according to this scale.
US textbooks skimp on Latino history
Is this article about Immigration?
A young woman in a classroom looks down at a textbook.

An analysis of how Latinos are portrayed in widely used US history textbooks reveals a lack of authenticity and a failure to cover many seminal events in the Latino experience.

The report found 87% of key topics in Latino history were either not covered in the evaluated textbooks or mentioned in five or fewer sentences. Together the books included just one Hispanic breakthrough moment from the last 200 years: Sonya Sotomayor’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

“Research is clear that high-quality, knowledge-building materials are the foundation of academic achievement,” says Ashley Berner, director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy.

“Although Latino students represent more than a quarter of the 50.8 million K-12 public school students in 

the United States

, until this study, we hadn’t known the extent, quality, and variety of opportunities students have to understand the Latino story.”

Inclusion doesn’t just benefit Latino students; it improves the achievement of all students, says Viviana López Green, senior director of the Racial Equity Initiative at UnidosUS.

“As the country grows more diverse,” Green says, “it’s essential for our future workers, businesspeople, community leaders, and public officials to learn about the contributions and experiences of all Americans, including Latinos, the country’s largest racial/ethnic minority.”

The researchers have previously performed extensive evaluations of social studies and English curricula used in public, private, and charter school classrooms across the United States. Their reviews include how diverse Americans’ experience is portrayed, knowing that students learn best when they see themselves reflected in course materials and that other students benefit from learning about diverse groups of people.

For this project, the team analyzed five high school US history textbooks and one AP US history textbook, using a curated rubric developed in partnership with UnidosUS. The researchers considered how Latinos were depicted, the extent to which each textbook covered the Latino experience, and the degree to which the books balanced discussions of inequality with discussions of Latino contributions to US history. They also evaluated the books’ complexity of language and the authenticity of images.

Key findings include:

  • 87% of key topics in Latino history were either not covered in the evaluated textbooks or were mentioned in five or fewer sentences.
  • Only 28 of 222 important topics were covered well, leaving out many aspects of the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, the US acquisition of Puerto Rico, the Panama Canal, the modern civil rights movement, Cold War politics, and legal developments shaping the Latino experience, such as the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and racial segregation.
  • The topics covered most fully related to American land purchases from Mexico and foreign policy in Latin America.
  • The textbooks had in common only one Latino breakthrough moment from the last 200 years: Sonia Sotomayor’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

“The American Latino experience must be accurately depicted to our young people in the classroom if we want them to grow up in a society that recognizes and values the contributions made by people of color,” says José Gregory, a US history teacher at Marist School in Atlanta and a consultant on this project.

Although curriculum topics are under increasing political scrutiny, the authors say it’s critical to understand what and how students are being taught. They hope the findings will spark efforts to reframe how the Latino American contribution to the United States is taught in K-12 schools, and inspire an understanding of the unique place Latinos play in US history.

“Martin Luther King Jr. wisely says, ‘We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly,'” says Anika Prather, the institute’s director of High-Quality Curriculum and Instruction.

“Following his words, our hope is for all the nation’s children to understand the Latino contributions to fulfilling our motto: E pluribus unum.”

Source: Johns Hopkins University

The post US textbooks skimp on Latino history appeared first on Futurity.

As "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 "lights up the box office, its glow is reaching animals who are rarely seen: those in laboratories. Through the powerful stories of the central character Rocket Raccoon, alongside Floor the rabbit, Teefs the walrus and Lylla the otter, we are urged to empathize with real animals.
Feedly AI found 2 Regulatory Changes mentions in this article
Should California be able to require higher welfare standards for farm animals raised in other states if products from those animals are to be sold in California? On May 11, 2023, the U.S. 
Supreme Court
 upheld California's position by a 5-4 vote in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross.
Opinion: 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' urges us to defend real animals
As "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 "lights up the box office, its glow is reaching animals who are rarely seen: those in laboratories. Through the powerful stories of the central character Rocket Raccoon, alongside Floor the rabbit, Teefs the walrus and Lylla the otter, we are urged to empathize with real animals.
Feedly AI found 2 Regulatory Changes mentions in this article
Should California be able to require higher welfare standards for farm animals raised in other states if products from those animals are to be sold in California? On May 11, 2023, the U.S. 
Supreme Court
 upheld California's position by a 5-4 vote in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross.
Short meetings could encourage teachers to stay on the job
A single, 10-minute meeting between teachers and their principals can increase teacher job satisfaction, our new research shows. This increase in job satisfaction could potentially encourage teachers to stay in the profession longer, thereby reducing turnover and potentially saving school districts hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Dominic Kwiatkowski obituary
Paediatrician and geneticist determined to save the lives of children in countries where malaria is endemic

Malaria kills more than half a million people every year, mostly children under the age of five in Africa. Saving the lives of those children was the lifelong mission of Dominic Kwiatkowski, who has died suddenly aged 69.

Allied to that ambition was his vision that genetic sequencing – a technology that was beginning to be affordable on a large scale in the 2000s – could answer questions about why some children died and others survived.

Continue reading…
Better than humans: Artificial intelligence in intensive care units
With the help of extensive data from intensive care units of various hospitals, an artificial intelligence was developed that provides suggestions for the treatment of people who require intensive care due to sepsis. Analyses show that artificial intelligence already surpasses the quality of human decisions. However, it is now important to also discuss the legal aspects of such methods.
Milk reaction inspires new way to make highly conductive gel films
A research team has developed what they call a 'dip-and-peel' strategy for simple and rapid fabrication of two-dimensional ionogel membranes. By dipping sustainable biomass materials in certain solvents, molecules naturally respond by arranging themselves into functional thin films at the edge of the material that can easily be removed using nothing more than a simple set of tweezers.
Marker in the brain could flag higher suicide risk
Is this article about Healthcare IT?
A person clasps their hands together anxiously while resting them on a table.

Researchers have uncovered a marker in the brain that could help identify people at a higher risk of suicide.

Every day in the United States, an average of 130 people take their own lives. In 2021, 12.1 million Americans seriously considered suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 3.5 million of them even made a plan.

For the loved ones left behind after a suicide, grief is often clouded with regret and guilt: Why didn’t they know things were so bad? Could they have stopped it?

Although many of suicide’s risk factors are well known—depression, chronic pain, family violence, presence of guns—it’s not always clear why some people, and not others, slip from ideation to planning to attempt.

As reported in the paper published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, researchers found important connections in the brain differed among veterans with a history of suicide attempts—even before they tried to end their lives—and those with similar levels of psychiatric symptoms, but without a suicide history.

The differences were in the functional connectivity between brain networks involved in cognitive control (adjusting our behavior or choices to fit a certain task or goal) and self-referential thought processing (reflecting on what we’ve done today or something embarrassing that happened years ago or thinking about what we need to do tomorrow).

“Our study provides evidence that this brain connectivity marker may be identifiable before a suicide attempt, suggesting that it could help identify those at risk for suicide,” says lead author Audreyana Jagger-Rickels, assistant professor of psychiatry a Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine assistant professor of psychiatry. “This could also lead to new treatments that target these brain regions and their underlying functions.”

To look for indicators of suicide risk in the brain’s inner workings, researchers turned to post-9/11 veterans who’d been exposed to trauma. Participants were given a resting functional MRI scan, which tracks communication between brain regions and networks when no specific task is being performed—a common way of mapping the brain and how different areas interact.

The researchers then zeroed in on those who reported a suicide attempt at a one- to two-year follow-up assessment, but who had not reported any prior attempts. They examined brain connectivity before and after the suicide attempt and compared it to a matched control group of veterans with equivalent symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but no reported suicide attempts.

The comparison revealed that brain connectivity between cognitive control and self-referential processing networks was dysregulated in veterans in the suicide attempt group, who were all part of a VA Boston Translational Research Center for Traumatic Brain Injury and Stress Disorders (TRACTS) longitudinal study measuring brain, cognitive, physical, and psychological heath. Critically, this brain connectivity signature was present both before and after the attempt, suggesting that the marker may be a novel suicide-specific risk factor.

The findings may eventually help clinicians overcome one of the major challenges in suicide risk assessment—its reliance on self-reporting, Jagger-Rickels says.

“Interventions to reduce suicide risk are limited to people who feel comfortable enough to disclose—self-report—suicidal thoughts and behaviors,” she says. “Identifying measures that do not require self-disclosure of suicidal thoughts and behaviors may help us identify people who are overlooked, and may also aid in the development of novel treatments targeting the brain mechanisms underlying suicidal thoughts and behaviors.”

The study also indicated that connectivity of the right amygdala, a brain region important for fear learning and trauma, differed between the suicide attempt and the control groups, but only after the reporting of a suicide attempt.

“This suggests that there are brain changes that occur after a suicide attempt, which could be related to the stressors surrounding a suicide attempt or due to the trauma of the suicide attempt itself,” says Jagger-Rickels, who’s also a principal investigator in the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System. “This would indicate that suicide attempts themselves impact the brain, which could increase future suicide risk.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Institute of Mental Health supported the work.

Source: Gina DiGravio and Andrew Thurston for Boston University

The post Marker in the brain could flag higher suicide risk appeared first on Futurity.

Is this article about Agriculture?
Awareness is growing worldwide of the crucial role that bees and other pollinators play in preserving natural habitats and securing food supplies. In the run-up to World Bee Day on 20 May, Horizon Magazine takes a closer look at how microorganisms in a bee gut are key to ensuring the insects'—and the planet's—future.
Facing external threats, bees may get help from internal organisms
Is this article about Agriculture?
Awareness is growing worldwide of the crucial role that bees and other pollinators play in preserving natural habitats and securing food supplies. In the run-up to World Bee Day on 20 May, Horizon Magazine takes a closer look at how microorganisms in a bee gut are key to ensuring the insects'—and the planet's—future.
Is this article about Energy?

Climate change and warming temperatures could unleash termites across the world — and more termites could accelerate warming temperatures, according to research published in Science.

Termites tend to prefer warm, humid climates and consume wood at much higher rates in such climates. As they do, they release stored carbon into the atmosphere. More carbon dioxide means higher temperatures — a vicious cycle not currently accounted for in current climate predictions.

Learn more here:

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Is this article about Robotics?
Researchers have identified novel van der Waals (vdW) magnets using cutting-edge tools in artificial intelligence (AI). In particular, the team identified transition metal halide vdW materials with large magnetic moments that are predicted to be chemically stable using semi-supervised learning. These two-dimensional (2D) vdW magnets have potential applications in data storage, spintronics, and even quantum computing.
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
Researchers are embarking on a groundbreaking project to mimic the natural process of photosynthesis using bacteria to deliver electrons to a nanocrystal semiconductor photocatalyst. By leveraging the unique properties of microorganisms and nanomaterials, the system has the potential to replace current approaches that derive hydrogen from fossil fuels, revolutionizing the way hydrogen fuel is produced and unlocking a powerful source of renewable energy.
Top Space Force General Confused About Why Space Force Exists
Is this article about Navy?
Nobody is entirely sure why the Space Force, the youngest branch of the military, exists. Even the service's top general isn't sure.

Space Cadets

Nobody is entirely sure why the US Space Force — the youngest, smallest, and weirdest branch of the Pentagon — exists.

Strikingly, that seems to include the service's top general, Politico reports. In an email sent out to all Guardians — the unfortunate name given to personnel — chief of space operations Chance Saltzman voiced his confusion.

"I have some concerns with our current mission statement," he wrote, as quoted by Politico. "My biggest concern is that the mission statement does not reflect why the Nation has a Space Force and the vital functions Guardians perform."

The memo goes to show that there's still plenty of disagreement over the military branch's purpose, which doesn't bode well, considering the Biden administration is requesting a 2024 budget of $30 billion to fund the whole mess.

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Space Force, established by the Trump administration three years ago, has already struggled with maintaining its image and being taken seriously, especially in light of a Netflix-produced comedy TV show of the same name.

According to its current mission statement, which was established in December 2019, the Space Force is "responsible for organizing, training, and equipping Guardians to conduct global space operations that enhance the way our joint and coalition forces fight, while also offering decision makers military options to achieve national objectives."

But Saltzman found the statement was lacking and didn't fully represent the responsibilities of Guardians.

"Guardians deliver capability," he wrote in the memo. "Guardians operate some of the most technologically advanced systems in the world. In doing so, they deter aggression and, should deterrence fail, protect US interests with military force."

"Additionally, our current mission statement is long and cumbersome," he added. "We can do better."

Worst of all, Saltzman's solution to the pesky problem was to crowdsource a new mission statement from Guardians — Spacey McSpace Force, anybody?

Overall, the general's memo seems to demonstrate that the Space Force is still struggling to come up with answers to some very basic questions. And that doesn't bode well considering the sheer amount of resources needed to keep it running.

More on Space Force: US Space Force Says It's "Under Threat" and in "Perpetual Competition" With China and Russia

The post Top Space Force General Confused About Why Space Force Exists appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk Subpoenaed in Jeffrey Epstein Lawsuit
It's finally happened — Elon Musk has finally been served over his alleged relationship to now-dead billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Subpoena Envy

Welp, it finally happened.

As court documents reveal, Elon Musk and Tesla have been subpoenaed by the US Virgin Islands in a lawsuit accusing JPMorgan Chase & Co of "knowingly" benefitting from — and perhaps even facilitating — Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking.

"JP Morgan knowingly facilitated, sustained, and concealed the human trafficking network operated by Jeffrey Epstein from his home and base in the Virgin Islands," reads the Virgin Islands' lawsuit, "and financially benefitted from this participation, directly or indirectly, by failing to comply with federal banking regulations."

As part of the suit, Musk and several other billionaires — including, per Bloomberg Law, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin — are being subpoenaed for information about their relationships with the massive investment bank under suspicion that Epstein referred them.

Musk is also being ordered to turn over any information he may have "reflecting or regarding Epstein’s involvement in human trafficking and/or his procurement of girls or women for commercial sex" or any money he may have given the now-dead billionaire sex criminal who targeted vulnerable, underage girls.

As Bloomberg Law notes, the USVI has apparently had some trouble serving Musk the subpoena and told the US District Court in New York that it had even hired private investigators to find an address for the multi-hyphenate billionaire. The territory reportedly tried to serve the CEO at Tesla's offices but was, for whatever reason, unable to do so.

Smells Fishy

While there's no current suggestion that Musk was actually involved in Epstein's sex trafficking ring, he was — like manymany other rich and powerful people — alleged to be within the pedophile's circle. He even appeared in a chummy-looking photo with Epstein's convicted collaborator Ghislaine Maxwell, though he said it was just a "photobomb."

Right after Epstein allegedly committed suicide back in 2019, the New York Times published an explosive article by columnist James Stewart, who said he met with the billionaire and spoke at length with him about people he knew and had done business with. One of those people was Musk, with Epstein apparently claiming that he'd advised the Tesla and SpaceX CEO the year prior.

Musk, to his credit, has vehemently denied any association with Epstein, and in a Twitter response to the news of this most recent subpoena, he continued that streak.

"That cretin never advised me on anything whatsoever," Musk tweeted. "The notion that I would need or listen to financial advice from a dumb crook is absurd."

More on billionaires: AI Shows What Mark Zuckerberg Would Look Like Living in Poverty

The post Elon Musk Subpoenaed in Jeffrey Epstein Lawsuit appeared first on Futurism.

Flood hazard potential reveals global floodplain settlement patterns

Nature Communications, Published online: 16 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38297-9

This study presents a global analysis of the sensitivity of inundated areas and population exposure to varying flood event magnitudes globally for 1.2 million river reaches. The authors show that topography and drainage areas correlate with flood sensitivities as well as with societal behavior.
Pompeii dig finds skeletal remains dating back to Vesuvius earthquake

Two men believed to have been killed when building collapsed during early stages of AD79 volcanic eruption

The remains of two people believed to have been killed by an earthquake that accompanied the AD79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius have been found in the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

The skeletons, thought to belong to two men in their mid-50s, were found during excavations at the Insula dei Casti Amanti, or Insula of the Chaste Lovers, an area of Pompeii made up of a cluster of homes and a bakery.

Continue reading…
Is this article about Animals?
A trio of marine biologists from The University of Western Australia has found that some whale sharks will slow their swimming to allow researchers to scrape collections of copepods from sensitive areas. In their study, reported in the journal Fishes, Brendon Osorio, Grzegorz Skrzypek and Mark Meekan noticed that in recent years, whale sharks have become more cooperative as researchers attempt to collect parasite samples.
An international research team led by Faviel A. López-Romero from the Department of Paleontology at the University of Vienna investigated how the jaw shape of sharks has changed over the course of evolution. They conclude that in the most widespread shark species, the jaws show relatively little variation in shape over millions of years; most variable jaws were found for deep-sea sharks. The results of this study were published in the journal Communications Biology.
Unlocking the power of photosynthesis for clean energy production
Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?
Researchers are embarking on a groundbreaking project to mimic the natural process of photosynthesis using bacteria to deliver electrons to a nanocrystal semiconductor photocatalyst. By leveraging the unique properties of microorganisms and nanomaterials, the system has the potential to replace current approaches that derive hydrogen from fossil fuels, revolutionizing the way hydrogen fuel is produced and unlocking a powerful source of renewable energy.
Over 3,000 generations of laboratory evolution, researchers watched as their model organism, 'snowflake yeast,' began to adapt as multicellular individuals. In new research, the team shows how snowflake yeast evolved to be physically stronger and more than 20,000 times larger than their ancestor. Their study is the first major report on the ongoing Multicellularity Long-Term Evolution Experiment (MuLTEE), which the team hopes to run for decades.
Researchers described the structure of a special type of amyloid beta plaque protein associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) progression. Scientists showed the small aggregates of the amyloid beta protein could float through the brain tissue fluid, reaching many brain regions and disrupting local neuron functioning. The research also provided evidence that a newly approved AD treatment could neutralize these small, diffusible aggregates.
Is this article about Mining?
A research team has succeeded in substantially improving the cycling performance of a lithium metal battery by developing a mechanically very strong polymeric gel electrolyte and integrating it into the battery as a layer to protect the lithium metal anode. This achievement may greatly facilitate efforts to put lithium metal anodes — a potentially very high performance anode material — into practical use.
Preserving pine forests by understanding beetle flight
Researchers study the flight performance of the mountain pine beetle from a fluid mechanics and an entomological perspective. Understanding these aspects of the insect's flight could improve estimates of its spread through the environment and preserve pine forests. To examine insect flight, the team employed a type of model previously used for idealized airfoils. They showed that it can be successfully applied to multiple individual animals across biological sex, insect age, and body size. In doing so, the model can predict how these factors impact flight characteristics.
Is this article about Cell?
Living organisms are exposed to nanoparticles through different products and air pollution every day. After examining hundreds of exposures, researchers revealed how various species share a specific epigenetic molecular response to particulate matter. They have now explained the mechanism through which cells and organisms adapt to long-term exposures to nano-sized materials.
Whale sharks found to slow down to allow researchers to scrape off parasites
Is this article about Animals?
A trio of marine biologists from The University of Western Australia has found that some whale sharks will slow their swimming to allow researchers to scrape collections of copepods from sensitive areas. In their study, reported in the journal Fishes, Brendon Osorio, Grzegorz Skrzypek and Mark Meekan noticed that in recent years, whale sharks have become more cooperative as researchers attempt to collect parasite samples.
Jaw shapes of 90 shark species show evolution driven by habitat
An international research team led by Faviel A. López-Romero from the Department of Paleontology at the University of Vienna investigated how the jaw shape of sharks has changed over the course of evolution. They conclude that in the most widespread shark species, the jaws show relatively little variation in shape over millions of years; most variable jaws were found for deep-sea sharks. The results of this study were published in the journal Communications Biology.
Feedly AI found 1 Product Launches mention in this article
  • In 2020, researchers developed a new antibiotic that could withstand the koalas’ enzymes and help fight chlamydia, but it is still difficult to find infected koalas and treat them in the wild.
The vaccine protects the marsupials from the sexually transmitted disease, which can lead to blindness, infertility and death.
Is this article about Climate?

Nature Communications, Published online: 16 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37714-3

There is currently no specific antidote for death cap mushroom poisoning treatment. Here, the authors identify 
 as a druggable target and show that indocyanine green is a STT3B inhibitor that can block α-amanitin toxicity in cell lines, liver organoids and mice.
How anti-Asian racism manifested at work in the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic challenged any notion that Asian Americans are a privileged, white-adjacent group skirting above racism. To more fully understand how COVID-19 affected the racial dynamics experienced by Asian professionals in the workplace, McGill University medical student Zhida Shang teamed up with Jennifer Kim, an assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, to interview and gather stories over the span of three months from 35 Asian Americans or Asian Canadian professionals working in a range of different industries. These included finance, health care, technology, and higher education.
Is this article about Neuroscience?
A trio of economists and social scientists from Zayed University, Utrecht University and TU Dresden has found via survey analysis that conservative people are more likely to share fake news but most believe such stories to be true. In their study, reported in the journal Scientific Reports, K. Peren Arin, Deni Mazrekaj and Marcel Thum conducted large-scale surveys in the U.K. and Germany regarding fake news.
Trump Shares AI Voice-Cloned Fake Video of Anderson Cooper
Is this article about Politics?
Former President Donald Trump is making it clear that he won't be shying away from AI-generated content during the 2024 election cycle.

Cooper 180

Former President Donald Trump is once again making it quite clear that in the run-up to the 2024 election, he won't be shying away from synthetic content.

In the wake of his controversial CNN town hall appearance last Wednesday night, Trump took to his social media platform Truth Social on Friday morning to share yet another piece of AI-generated material: a foul-mouthed, voice-cloned video featuring longtime CNN anchor Anderson Cooper explaining that Trump, in no uncertain terms, had succeeded in his town hall appearance.

"That was President Donald J. Trump ripping us a new asshole here on CNN's live presidential town hall," said the fake Cooper. "Thank you for watching, have a good night."

"When you can do that on a large scale, and distribute it on social platforms," he added, "well, it's going to have a major impact."

As other experts noted to PBS, the risks that generative AI systems like voice clones and other deepfake technologies pose to the 2024 election cycle go beyond what any candidate or campaign might be posting online themselves. There are a number of ways that bad actors, in the US and abroad, might use the tech to potentially influence campaign outcomes, and we should all probably be wary.

"What if Elon Musk personally calls you and tells you to vote for a certain candidate?" Oren Etzioni, the founding CEO of the Allen Institute for AI, told PBS. "A lot of people would listen. But it's not him."

"What happens if an international entity — a cybercriminal or a nation-state — impersonates someone. What is the impact? Do we have any recourse?" asked Petko Stoyanov, global chief technology officer at cybersecurity firm Forcepoint. "We're going to see a lot more misinformation from international sources."

In any case, it certainly matters that a former US president, who's currently the leading Republican candidate for 2024, is ever-so-willing to share faked content. We're in for a wild ride.

More on AI and reality: Reality Is Melting as Lawyers Claim Real Videos Are Deepfakes

The post Trump Shares AI Voice-Cloned Fake Video of Anderson Cooper appeared first on Futurism.

3 ways your money can fight climate change | Veronica Chau
Is this article about ESG?
What if we could solve the climate and housing crises at the same time? Financial institutions have pledged trillions to transform the economy and accelerate climate action — but right now, that money is not flowing at the speed it needs to, says sustainable investing expert Veronica Chau. Illuminating the links between climate change and affordable housing, she suggests a playbook of moves to start mobilizing big money and transform climate financing challenges into opportunities.
Why Biden Caved

The White House and Congress have not made much progress in their talks to avert an unprecedented, and potentially calamitous, national default that could occur as soon as early June. But on the most fundamental point of dispute, President Joe Biden has already caved: He’s negotiating with Republicans over the debt ceiling.

For months, the president’s ironclad position has been that the debt ceiling is not a bargaining chip. No longer would Democrats allow Republicans to hold hostage the nation’s creditworthiness and economic prestige. Paying the government’s bills by raising the U.S.’s statutory borrowing limit would be nonnegotiable. As recently as Friday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declared without equivocation, “We are not going to negotiate over the debt limit.”

But Biden himself has dropped the pretense that his weeks-long budget discussions with the GOP have not revolved around the debt ceiling. Asked specifically about the debt ceiling on Sunday—in anticipation of a second White House visit by congressional leaders, planned for today—Biden told reporters, “Well, I’ve learned a long time ago, and you know as well as I do: It never is good to characterize a negotiation in the middle of a negotiation.”

[Read: This debt crisis is not like 2011’s. It’s worse.]

So there you go: It’s a negotiation. Exactly what the two parties are discussing is only starting to become clear. According to various reports, a deal to avert default could include some changes to permitting rules that would speed up domestic-energy production; a revocation of unused COVID funds; additional work requirements for some federal programs (although the president has ruled out any modifications to Medicaid); and, most significant, a cap on overall federal spending.

The Biden administration still claims to be haggling only over the budget, not the debt ceiling. “The president has been emphasizing for months that he’s eager to have budget negotiations,” a White House official, who requested anonymity to explain the administration’s somewhat tortured position, told me. “That’s of course different from avoiding default, which is nonnegotiable.”

Biden’s no-negotiation stance was born of past experience, when in 2011 Republicans dragged out debt talks with the Obama administration to the brink of default, resulting in a downgrade of the U.S.’s credit rating. But Biden’s approach this time is proving to be neither realistic nor sustainable, especially after Speaker Kevin McCarthy defied expectations last month by getting a budget-slashing debt-ceiling bill through his narrow House majority.

Crucially, Biden failed to win strong support for his strategy from House centrists. Democrats had been hoping to persuade Republicans representing swing districts to buck McCarthy and help pass a debt-ceiling increase. But those lawmakers have stuck by the speaker. Complaining about a lack of outreach from the White House, they instead criticized Biden over his refusal—until recently—to negotiate. With Republicans unwilling to budge, Democratic centrists began to lose patience with Biden’s approach and conducted their own bipartisan negotiations.  

“We believe it’s very important in general that both sides sit down and try to work this out,” Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, the Democratic co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, told me before Biden’s first meeting last week with McCarthy and other top congressional leaders. “This can’t become a part of a political back-and-forth as the country drives off the cliff.”

[Read: “We used to be called moderate. We are not moderate.”]

Last month the Problem Solvers offered their own plan, which they presented as a fallback option that could win bipartisan support should Biden and McCarthy fail to strike a deal in time. The proposal would immediately suspend the borrowing limit through the end of the year to buy time for broader budget talks. If Congress agrees to unspecified budget limits and creates a fiscal commission to tackle the nation’s long-term deficits and debt, the plan stipulates that the debt ceiling would be increased through the 2024 elections.

The compromise has yet to gain momentum, but its release seemed to undermine the Biden administration’s insistence that Democrats would not tie a debt-ceiling increase to spending reforms. “We didn't try to fill in every blank, but we thought this was a really good framework to become the meat of the deal,” Representative Scott Peters of California, a Democrat who helped write the Problem Solvers plan, told me.

It could still prove handy. Biden struck an optimistic note on Sunday, telling reporters, “I really think there’s a desire on [Republicans’] part, as well as ours, to reach an agreement, and I think we’ll be able to do it.” But McCarthy is sounding more dour. “I still think we’re far apart,” he told NBC News yesterday morning. The speaker said that Biden “hasn’t taken it serious” and warned that an agreement needed to happen by this weekend in order for the House and Senate to have time to debate and pass it by early June.

Whether a Biden-McCarthy deal could even get through the House is also in question. Democrats have largely stayed quiet on Biden’s evident capitulation to Republicans, and the talks initially did not stir a backlash. But that may be changing as the president openly considers concessions that would be anathema to progressives, such as the possibility of adding work requirements to social safety-net programs. Still, the lack of a credible primary challenge to Biden’s reelection has helped give him room to negotiate, as Democrats fret about the effect that a default could have on the president’s already tenuous public standing.

“As long as he continues to try to avoid default, and avoid the middle class having to pay the cost for it, then he’s in the position that the majority of the electorate wants him to be,” Jesse Ferguson, a longtime Democratic strategist, told me.

McCarthy has much more to worry about. He traded away his own job security to win the speakership in January, agreeing to rule changes that would make it easier for hard-right conservatives to depose him. A debt-ceiling deal that fails to secure deep enough spending cuts or policy concessions from Democrats could threaten his position. “Default can be avoided. The question is whether Kevin McCarthy could withstand putting that bill on the floor,” Ferguson said.

The speaker has secured no substantive commitments from Biden, nothing specific that he can sell to his party. But McCarthy has elicited one major concession from the president, which serves as a prerequisite for any others to come. Biden has come to the table with default in the balance, and he’s negotiating on the GOP’s terms.

No Refuge From Free Wi-Fi

The New York Yankees are one of the richest franchises in the history of professional sports, valued at more than $7 billion. They are also one of the only baseball teams that refuses to cover internet access on their team plane, requiring players to pay roughly $9 a flight for the service, as Sports Illustrated discovered in March. “It’s your fault,” the outfielder Brett Gardner reportedly told the star pitcher Gerrit Cole, who signed for $324 million in 2020. “Your contract is too big, so they can’t pay for the 


.” The team is willing to reimburse players for the expense, but few take advantage. “To be honest, I’ve never had a real job, so I don’t even know how that works,” explained the catcher Kyle Higashioka.

Ironically, shortly after this comical scandal broke, Delta began offering free internet on many of its flights. The move is likely to affect the entire airline industry as other carriers rush to keep up with their competition as well as changing consumer expectations. And because the Yankees charter their plane from Delta, their players will no longer have to pony up to browse YouTube en route to their next bout.

Complimentary Wi-Fi in the sky seems like a win-win—and not just for fabulously wealthy athletes. After all, who doesn’t like free stuff? But the truth is, we pay dearly for services like these, just not with money. Until now, planes have been the last oasis of the offline, one of the few places where we still had the option to be unavailable. Soon, that will no longer be the case, to our shared detriment. The Yankees were right: Free airplane Wi-Fi isn’t worth the cost. We need to defend our right to be disconnected.

Why draw the line at airplanes? Because that’s what’s left. Over the past two decades, we have slowly ceded our previously private spaces to the demands of constant connectivity. It began with cellphones. The devices seemed innocent, but they were invasive, gradually fostering new social expectations around communication. With phones in our pockets, we no longer had an excuse to be unreachable. And with the introduction of text messaging, we were pressed to respond even in situations where we couldn’t actually speak.

[Read: Everything it will take to get faster Wi-Fi on planes]

Then came smartphones, which crazy-glued us to our email inboxes and made social media almost inescapable. Our phones began to intrude on all of our interactions; texts and WhatsApps regularly interrupted our real-world conversations. Paradoxically, the more we were able to talk with other people, the less we became truly available to them.

For a time, it seemed as though this assault on our attention had peaked and we had arrived at an uneasy new normal. But then came the pandemic. Suddenly, work came home, and so did the insidious impositions of Slack, Zoom, and other office accoutrements. Without any collective decision, many of us became citizens of an always online society, constantly on call and rarely at rest.

I’ve cast these developments in a sinister light in order to highlight their drawbacks, but they unquestionably had many positive effects. I know this firsthand. Unlike most, I worked from home for nearly 10 years before COVID-19. I like to say that when the pandemic hit, people went on my employment plan and discovered what they’d been missing. But just as I am very familiar with remote work’s benefits—including flexible scheduling and lack of commuting—I am also intimately aware of its pitfalls.

Here are a few: You feel as though you are always on the job, even when you are with family or on vacation, because work is wherever your laptop is. Subconsciously, once you know you can work from anywhere, you take your work everywhere. This also collapses the separation between home and work life, because both take place in the same space. Perhaps most troubling, working remotely replaces real-world connections between co-workers with thin digital facsimiles—the sort of ties that can easily evaporate during moments of personal crisis, simply because the people involved have never actually met. These problems aren’t new; they naturally follow from the other technological innovations that preceded the pandemic, such as smartphones and social media. But working from home supersized them.

In my case, the advantages of having a portable profession outweighed the downsides. But as a reporter who traveled regularly for work, I had the privilege of escaping it in the air. For many people, airplanes are places of cramped confinement. But for me, they were a place of release, where I wasn’t on the clock, because I couldn’t be on the clock. Some planes lacked Wi-Fi entirely and others charged exorbitantly for it, which meant that people did not expect me to be online while in transit. Only through this experience did I realize what we had lost when we allowed connectivity to colonize our consciousness.

The problem here isn’t technology but its pervasiveness‚ not social-media platforms but a lack of limits on them. In this context, airplanes have become the last redoubt of the disconnected, the rare place where we are free from nonstop notifications, the demands of bosses, and the steady infiltration of the internet into our private lives. Rather than revamping airplanes to be like everywhere else, we should look to them as a model for what we might preserve elsewhere. It isn’t reasonable or realistic to expect people to forgo the many blessings of remote work or swear off their smartphones—though some thoughtful teens (and also Pete Davidson) are trying. But it is reasonable to ask ourselves whether we have conceded too much to availability and lost something essential in the process.

It’s unlikely that the Yankees meant to make this philosophical point when they declined to spring for Wi-Fi. But as a professional sports franchise that relies on human beings, whose chemistry can determine victory or defeat, it makes sense for the team to prefer that teammates spend their flights interacting with one another rather than their Instagram feed. And that’s precisely what happened: “The Yankees fly on a pretty cool custom plane with poker tables and stuff,” the pitcher Jameson Taillon told Sports Illustrated. “So I would take that over free Wi-Fi, if I’m being honest.”

We don’t need to turn our airplanes into casinos. But we should consider how we might transform our public spaces into social spaces, and design them to encourage interpersonal interaction rather than solitary screen time. This won’t happen overnight, but we can start by protecting what we already have. If we do, though there may be no country for the disconnected, we’ll still have the skies.

Temperature of solar flares helps understand nature of solar plasma
Is this article about Renewable Energy?
The sun's rotation produces changes in its magnetic field, which flips completely every 11 years or so, triggering a phase of intense activity. Solar flares—huge eruptions from the surface of the sun lasting minutes or hours—emit intense bursts of particles and high levels of electromagnetic radiation. The release of energy during solar flares heats the chromosphere, causing almost full ionization of the atomic hydrogen present in the region.
African smoke over the Amazon
Is this article about Weather?
The Brazilian rainforest is one of the world's few continental regions with clean air. However, this is only true during the wet season, when the concentration of particulate matter is very low. During the dry season, it's a different story: numerous deforestation fires burn within the Amazon rainforest, as an "arc of deforestation" eats into the rainforest from the south.
Is this article about Food Science?
The stable isotopes hydrogen and oxygen (δ2H and δ18O, respectively) in soil water are widely used in ecological studies, which rely on the accurate extraction of unfractionated water from different soil types. Cryogenic vacuum distillation (CVD) is the laboratory-based technique most widely used in eco-hydrological studies. However, the reliability of this technique in reflecting soil water δ2H and δ18O is still of concern.
Novel crystal compound melts under ultraviolet light
While many materials melt when heated, researchers from Japan recently discovered a novel material in which melting can be induced by ultraviolet light instead of heat. Even more intriguing, this material exhibits changes in its luminescent properties while it melts. This material is the first organic crystalline material found to show changes in luminescent color and intensity upon ultraviolet light-induced melting.
Exploring the physics of gummy candy
For gummy candies, texture might be even more important than taste. Biting into a hard, stale treat is disappointing, even if it still carries a burst of sweetness. Keeping gummies in good condition depends on their formulation and storage, both of which alter how the molecules in the candies link together.
Potential antidote found for toxin in world’s most poisonous mushroom

Chinese and Australian researchers have identified that a dye used in medical imaging can block the toxic effects

Scientists believe they have found a potential antidote for a potent toxin found in the world’s most poisonous mushroom, the death cap.

The death cap mushroom, Amanita phalloides, is responsible for about 90% of mushroom-related deaths globally.

Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Continue reading…
Is this article about Food Science?
The stable isotopes hydrogen and oxygen (δ2H and δ18O, respectively) in soil water are widely used in ecological studies, which rely on the accurate extraction of unfractionated water from different soil types. Cryogenic vacuum distillation (CVD) is the laboratory-based technique most widely used in eco-hydrological studies. However, the reliability of this technique in reflecting soil water δ2H and δ18O is still of concern.

Nature Communications, Published online: 16 May 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38275-1

The duration and strength of protection against 
-CoV-2 infection resulting from a booster vaccine dose or breakthrough infection are not well understood. This study uses data from the UK COVID-19 Infection Survey to investigate correlates of protection against Omicron BA.4/5 infection and assess antibody responses to booster vaccination and breakthrough 
ChatGPT Happy to Write Smut About Freakishly Obscure Sex Act
Fanfiction writers realized an OpenAI-powered writing assistant app was suddenly spitting out incredibly specific erotic fiction.

Ever heard of the Omegaverse? It seems like OpenAI's models are already deeply familiar.

In case you're not clued in, the Omegaverse is a niche subgenre of speculative erotic fanfiction that has developed its own complicated set of conventions and terminologies.

But as Wired reports, fanfiction writers were startled when they realized that a writing assistant app called Sudowrite, which makes use of "several variants" of OpenAI's GPT-3 — and, in our testing, the GPT-3-based ChatGPT — was suddenly spitting out incredibly specific Omegaverse-related smut.

Per the report, the integration churned out a story that included something called "knotting," an Omegaverse term that refers to a moment in which a male "Alpha's" penis locks itself inside a vagina during sex.

OpenAI has famously refused to say exactly what data it trains its large language models on, but given the damning evidence, the data clearly includes at least some Omegaverse-related works.

It's a fascinating glimpse into the vast amount of training data OpenAI's models are trained on — and how the tech is starting to affect authors, whose work is being scraped by those models without being compensated.

Though Omegaverse authors often aren't looking to make money from their graphic labor of love, they understandably don't think it's right that someone else might — especially if they're using AI chatbots like Sudowrite to generate fanfiction.

And writers have been ringing the alarm bells for quite some time now.

"This is particularly concerning as many for-profit AI writing programs… utilized GPT-3," a Reddit user called cafethereseu, who called attention to the issue in a Reddit thread roughly six months ago, wrote in an email to fanfic repository Archive of Our Own.

"These AI apps take the works which we create for fun and fandom," the email continued, "not only to gain profit, but also to one day replace human writing."

But is that really the end goal of apps like Sudowrite? For his part, Sudowrite CTO James Yu appeared to be unfazed by the issue.

"For me, it highlights the things I don't know," he told Wired. "In every one of these models is millions of other latent spaces that I just never encounter. It's almost like an endless ocean."

Yu had a convenient answer when asked whether he had any plans to compensate folks like the ripped-off Omegaverse writers.

"I'd love for there to be a simple way to do fair compensation for content that was used to train GPT-3, but unfortunately, there is no mechanism that OpenAI provides for that," he told Wired, adding that he'd be open to the idea.

"I would love to get to a place where we could have a totally opt-in model and everyone is compensated for that," Yu responded. "I just don't think that's possible right now."

Fanfiction writers, however, aren't convinced such a future will ever materialize.

"Even if it's just plain smut, there's a human element there and it's someone creating something for their enjoyment and they want to share that hard work with people," Hayley Krueger, an Omegavese author, told Wired. "It's stealing that."

The post ChatGPT Happy to Write Smut About Freakishly Obscure Sex Act appeared first on Futurism.

Two new skeletons found at Pompeii excavations
Archaeologists at Pompeii said Tuesday that they had uncovered two new skeletons of male victims who likely died in an earthquake that accompanied the devastating volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which buried the Italian city in ash in AD 79.
How superbug A. baumannii survives metal stress and resists antibiotics
The deadly hospital pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii can live for a year on a hospital wall without food and water. Then, when it infects a vulnerable patient, it resists antibiotics as well as the body's built-in infection-fighting response. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes it as one of the three top pathogens in critical need of new antibiotic therapies.
Study: 'Warm ice age' changed climate cycles
Is this article about Climate?
Approximately 700,000 years ago, a "warm ice age" permanently changed the climate cycles on Earth. Contemporaneous with this exceptionally warm and moist period, the polar glaciers greatly expanded. A European research team including Earth scientists from Heidelberg University used recently acquired geological data in combination with computer simulations to identify this seemingly paradoxical connection.
New Proof Finds the ‘Ultimate Instability’ in a Solar System Model

In 2009, a pair of astronomers at the Paris Observatory announced a startling discovery. After building a detailed computational model of our solar system, they ran thousands of numerical simulations, projecting the motions of the planets billions of years into the future. In most of those simulations — which varied Mercury’s starting point over a range of just under 1 meter — everything proceeded…


The deadly hospital pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii can live for a year on a hospital wall without food and water. Then, when it infects a vulnerable patient, it resists antibiotics as well as the body's built-in infection-fighting response. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes it as one of the three top pathogens in critical need of new antibiotic therapies.
First butterflies winged off from North and Central America
Is this article about Agriculture?
translucent butterfly on stamen of red flower

Scientists have discovered where the first butterflies originated and which plants they relied on for food.

About 100 million years ago, a group of trendsetting moths started flying during the day rather than at night, taking advantage of nectar-rich flowers that had co-evolved with bees. This single event led to the evolution of all butterflies.

Scientists have known the precise timing of this event since 2019, when a large-scale analysis of DNA discounted the reigning hypothesis that pressure from bats prompted the evolution of butterflies after the extinction of dinosaurs.

Now, researchers from dozens of countries have created the world’s largest butterfly tree of life, assembled with DNA from more than 2,000 species representing all butterfly families and 92% of genera. Using this framework as a guide, they traced the movements and feeding habits of butterflies through time in a four-dimensional puzzle that led back to North and Central America. According to their results, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, this is where the first butterflies took flight.

circular chart shows diversification among butterfly species
Researchers used DNA from more than 2,000 species to create a robust phylogeny, from which they could infer the age of butterflies and their movements through time. (Credit: Kawahara et al. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 2023.)

Rare fossils and field guides

There are some 19,000 butterfly species, and piecing together the 100 million-year history of the group required information about their modern distributions and host plants. Prior to this study, there was no single place that researchers could go to access that type of data.

“In many cases, the information we needed existed in field guides that hadn’t been digitized and were written in various languages,” says lead author Akito Kawahara, curator of lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Undeterred, the authors decided to make their own, publicly available database, painstakingly translating and transferring the contents of books, museum collections, and isolated web pages into a single digital repository.

Butterflies have traversed vast distances since their origin in the distant Cretaceous, rapidly dispersing from one continent to the next and diversifying along the way.

Underlying all these data were 11 rare butterfly fossils, without which the analysis would not have been possible. With paper-thin wings and threadlike, gossamer hairs, butterflies are rarely preserved in the fossil record. Those that are can be used as calibration points on genetic trees, allowing researchers to record the timing of key evolutionary events.

The results tell a dynamic story—one rife with rapid diversifications, faltering advances, and improbable dispersals. Some groups traveled over impossibly vast distances while others seem to have stayed in one place, remaining stationary while continents, mountains, and rivers moved around them.

How butterflies made their way around the world

Butterflies first appeared somewhere in Central and western North America. At the time, North America was bisected by an expansive seaway that split the continent in two, while present-day Mexico was joined in a long arc with the United States, Canada, and Russia. North and South America hadn’t yet joined via the Isthmus of Panama, but butterflies had little difficulty crossing the strait between them.

Despite the relatively close proximity of South America to Africa, butterflies took the long way around, moving into Asia across the Bering Land Bridge. From there, they quickly covered ground, radiating into Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and portions of eastern Africa. They even made it to India, which was then an isolated island, separated by miles of open sea on all sides.

Even more astonishing was their arrival in Australia, which remained sutured to Antarctica, the last combined remnant of the supercontinent Pangaea. It’s possible butterflies once lived in Antarctica when global temperatures were warmer, making their way across the continent’s northern edge into Australia before the two landmasses separated.

Farther north, butterflies lingered on the edge of western Asia for potentially up to 45 million years before finally migrating into Europe. The reason for this extended pause is unclear, but its effects are still apparent today, Kawahara explains.

“Europe doesn’t have many butterfly species compared to other parts of the world, and the ones it does have can often be found elsewhere. Many butterflies in Europe are also found in Siberia and Asia, for example.”

All about beans

Once butterflies had become established, they quickly diversified alongside their plant hosts. By the time dinosaurs were snuffed out 66 million years ago, nearly all modern butterfly families had arrived on the scene, and each one seems to have had a special affinity for a specific group of plants.

“We looked at this association over an evolutionary timescale, and in pretty much every family of butterflies, bean plants came out to be the ancestral hosts,” Kawahara says. “This was true in the ancestor of all butterflies as well.”

Bean plants have since increased their roster of pollinators to include various bees, flies, hummingbirds, and mammals, while butterflies have similarly expanded their palate. According to study coauthor Pamela Soltis, a Florida Museum curator and professor, the botanical partnerships that butterflies forged helped transform them from minor offshoot of moths to what is today one of the world’s largest groups of insects.

“The evolution of butterflies and flowering plants has been inexorably intertwined since the origin of the former, and the close relationship between them has resulted in remarkable diversification events in both lineages,” she says.

Funding for the study came from the National Science Foundation; the National Geographic Society; the Research Council of Norway; the Hintelmann Scientific Award for Zoological Systematics; the European Research Council; the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation; the Russian Science Foundation; the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development; and the Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Source: University of Florida

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The First Pangenome Map Captures the Full Scope of Human Genetic Diversity

Think of the first draft of the human genome as a book. Published just past the turn of the century, the human genome paved the way for transformative therapeutics. Gene editing and gene therapies now battle previously untreatable diseases. Comparing the A, T, C, and G genetic letters with those of our closest evolutionary cousins is unveiling the roots of our evolution and intelligence.

But what, or who, does ”our” refer to?

Due to technological constraints, the current reference genome was assembled from chunks of sequenced DNA from a handful of people, mostly of European and African descent. Although invaluable for hunting down genetic diseases, the “book of humanity” hardly encapsulates the genetic diversity of people around the globe.

A new study published in Nature is taking the first step to broaden its scope. Roughly a decade in the making, the study captured the genomes of 47 people from Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe. The herculean effort sequenced a total of 94 genomes, one for each set of chromosomes for each person.

The end result is the first draft of the human “pangenome”—a collection of genetic data from each individual carefully compiled into a single reference. Rather than a book, the new data structure is now a library, capturing the rich genetic history of humans around the world.

“This is like going from black-and-white television to 1080p,” said Dr. Keolu Fox at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the study.

The study is part of the Human Pangenome Reference Consortium (HPRC), an ambitious international project launched in 2019 to capture the diversity of our species into a comprehensive reference dictionary. Far from an academic pursuit, a diverse reference helps scientists hone in on genetic links for diseases, regardless of ancestry.

“It’s an exceptional advance… It’s making the picture of human genetic variation more accurate and more complete,” said Dr. Mashaal Sohail at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who was not involved in the study.

The Quest for Humanity’s Genetic Blueprint

The first draft of the human genome was a triumph. But with eight percent of details missing, it also contained bias.

In genetic studies, scientists often match up patients’ genomes to the reference genome to hunt down disease-causing DNA variants. But similar to checking typos using a dictionary, the process suffers if the dictionary is incomplete, or if it only contains one version of a word’s spelling (American “humor” versus British “humour,” for example).

Without a full diverse DNA atlas, it’s difficult to decipher genes linked to rare diseases—especially when multiple genes are involved, or if the answers are buried inside complex DNA structures unique to a certain population.

Then there’s the problem of diagnosis and therapeutics. Cancer predictors, for example, may not work as well for those of Asian and African heritage, because they were developed using a largely European genomic reference.

Well aware of these hiccups, scientists have been adding to the first draft for decades, with the most recent update GRCh38 released in 2017. Although containing DNA from 20 people, the database is dominated by one person with over 70 percent contribution. Last year, another group released a map that virtually captured the entirety of the human genome—but just one.

Although a “major achievement, no single genome can represent the genetic diversity of our species,” the authors said.

A Genetic Subway Map

The new study is the first step to broadening the scope. The team aggregated DNA sequences from 47 individuals and their parents from all continents expect Antarctica. Because each person has two sets of chromosomes, all together they sequenced 94 genome assemblies.

Due to technological constraints, scientists have long updated the GRCh3 reference with a sort of biological copy-editing: fixing small errors, filling in gaps, or adding new variants. Most new data are short DNA sequences from people that differ from the reference. But their short length makes it difficult to correctly place the data into the reference genome.

Due to these problems, “we may have missed more than 70 percent of structural variants in traditional whole genome-sequencing studies,” wrote the team.

Thanks to an explosion of innovative genetic tools in the past decade, however, it’s now possible to capture longer DNA reads from an individual. Like tackling a 1,000-piece puzzle versus one with just 100 pieces, the longer reads make it far easier to assemble the pieces into a full genomic sequence with accuracy. All together, the new study added 119 million base pairs—the basic unit of DNA—to the GRCh38’s existing database of 3.2 billion.

The next step was to wrangle the humongous dataset into a decipherable atlas.

Here, the team used a clever graph method, analogous to that of a subway map with multiple branches. Shared genetic sequences converge into a single line. At certain “stops” where the genetic sequences differ, they diverge into separate lines. Some may eventually re-converge into another joint line of shared sequences. Overall, the graph makes it relatively easy to tease apart areas of DNA shared across multiple people and capture those unique to each individual.

The end result is the first draft of the human pangenome.

Discovery From Diversity

In a proof of concept, the pangenome proved its worth with two studies that focused on genetic regions previously difficult to explore. Called repetitive DNA regions, these chunks of genetic material are like frustratingly similar puzzle pieces, making it hard to precisely put them into the larger genomic assembly.

Yet they may also hold the key for germline cell engineering and the evolution of the human species. These regions critically underlie a process that helps develop healthy sperm and eggs, but they were previously difficult to study. Using the pangenome, one study found large differences in how these gene segments duplicate and shuffle in order between individuals.

“It is exciting to see accurate characterization of segmental duplications, because duplicated sequences can fuel the evolution of new, specialized roles for a gene,” said Drs. Brain McStay at the University of Galway, Ireland, and Hákon Jónsson at deCODE genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland, who were not involved in the study.

The pangenome may also shed light on genomic “dark matter” not represented in the GRCh38 reference. By capturing a far more diverse genetic landscape, we may be able to find rare but consequential mutations that lead to diseases.

These studies are just a taster of what’s to come. The pangenome is released to scientists as a resource to use in their own studies.

The map is just the first draft. But the team is already looking to expand the dataset, with a goal of reaching 350 people by next year. The consortium is also actively expanding its collaborations to other parts of the world traditionally underrepresented, such as parts of the Middle East and people belonging to marginalized groups.

To study author Dr. Eimear Kenny at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, as the project moves forward, transparency, privacy, and ethics are key.

“We recognize that this work is at the forefront of genomic research and has specific features, including open access of data,” she said. “[These details] warrant a great deal of consideration, and that the applications can raise ethical, legal, and social issues.”

Image Credit: Darryl Leja/NHGRI

About 13,000 years ago, a climate crisis caused a global drop in temperatures in the northern hemisphere. This episode of intense cold, known as the Younger Dryas, also caused severe aridity across the Mediterranean basin, which had a major impact on terrestrial and marine ecosystems. But what do we know about the impact of this climate change on water circulation in the Mediterranean?
New climate simulation data sets provide insights for Earth's future
Urban floods. Extreme heat. Hurricane storm surges. Polar vortices. Droughts and wildfires. Many casual conversations these days seem to open with anecdotes about the weather and, unfortunately, the effects of a changing climate on the environment, energy infrastructure, economy, and people.