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Signal to Noise Report
Headlines from the bright, unnerving world of today.
The Signal to Noise Report collects headlines to illustrate humanity’s move into what is beginning to resemble a hybrid species: The Jetsons meets Blade Runner. The idea being that we have a proclivity to accept (with glee) whatever new techno gizmos are shoved at us, yet rarely question their purpose and/or their long-term effects on our health and sanity.
Why astronomers are blasting Earth’s location to potential intelligent aliens
In the coming months, two teams of astronomers are going to send messages into space in an attempt to communicate with any intelligent aliens who may be out there listening.
These efforts are like building a big bonfire in the woods and hoping someone finds you. But some people question whether it is wise to do this at all.
Before he died, iconic physicist Stephen Hawking was outspoken about the danger of contacting aliens with superior technology. He argued that they could be malign and if given Earth’s location, might destroy humanity. Others see no extra risk, since a truly advanced civilization would already know of our existence. And there is interest. Russian-Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner has offered $1 million for the best design of a new message and an effective way to transmit it.
Source: Popular Science
Cyber security: Global food supply chain at risk from malicious hackers
Smart technology is increasingly being used to make farms more efficient and productive - for example, until now the labour-intensive harvesting of delicate food crops such as asparagus has been beyond the reach of machines.
The latest generation of agricultural robots use artificial intelligence, minimising human involvement. They may help to plug a labour shortage or increase yield, but fear of the inherent security risk is growing, adding to concern over food-supply chains already threatened by the war in Ukraine and Covid.
Mercedes just sold the world’s most expensive car for $142 million
Mercedes-Benz confirmed on Thursday that it recently sold the world’s most expensive car. A very rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz SLR coupe that had been kept in the German automaker’s collection was sold to a private owner for €135 million, the equivalent of $142 million. That price makes it the most expensive car known to ever have been sold, according to Hagerty, a company that tracks collector car values.
While the identity of the car’s new owners remains unknown, British classic car dealer Simon Kidston claimed in a press release to have placed the winning bid on behalf of a customer.
Uber to test delivering food with robots
Starting Monday Uber Eats customers will be given the option to have their meals delivered by one of the robots, rather than a traditional human delivery. Customers will receive instructions in the Uber app for how to retrieve their food from inside the robot. The Serve robot resembles a colorful cooler on wheels, with a lid that flips open to reveal a delivery inside. The robot, which will operate in West Hollywood, has headlights that resemble eyes, making it look like something out of a cartoon.
Hyundai sedans with self-driving technology from the company Motional will handle larger orders in Santa Monica, California. The partnership was originally announced in December. Motional is one of the longest-tenured teams in autonomous driving. When previously named nuTonomy, it introduced a limited robotaxi service in Singapore in 2016, and the company began to test autonomous rides with Lyft in Las Vegas in 2018. Motional is owned by Hyundai and the automotive tech supplier Aptiv. It plans to launch a robotaxi service with Lyft in Las Vegas next year.
Source: CNN Business
In the middle of the noise, an occasional signal…
Button pushers: the artists making music from mushrooms
Nayar makes, in simple terms, “plant music”: it is created by connecting electrodes and modular synthesisers to plants and measuring their bioelectrical energy, which then triggers note changes in the synthesiser. He describes the process as “an environmental feedback mechanism. It’s based on galvanic resistance – the same principle by which simple lie detectors work.” We’re effectively hearing the changes in resistance represented as bleeps and bloops, like retro-futuristic music harking back to the very early days of experiments with synthesisers.
The first time he experimented with plants was on one of those summers away with the Sheldrakes. Nayar saw a thimbleberry plant growing outside his cabin, connected the leaves to a software synthesiser playing the piano, and listened. Nayar and others like him believe that these experiments with plant sonification are vital in forging deeper connections with the natural world. “When people are doom-scrolling on TikTok and all of a sudden a little mushroom pops up, that’s a moment of reconnecting, even if it’s through a phone. If music and tuning in more deeply can bring us here right now, then there’s hope.”
Source: The Guardian
And an example of Mushroom music…
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