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Signal to Noise Report
Liquefied bodies, Talking whales, Toxic mushroom books, 3D-printed vegan calamari rings... and more 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.
Inside the warehouse that builds machines to liquify dead bodies
Tucked away in an industrial park 40 minutes outside of Indianapolis, Bio-Response is the world’s biggest manufacturer of machines that liquefy bodies with water. They ship about 100 chambers each year across the globe—a mixture of pet and human machines—to provide a more sustainable, less fuel-intensive alternative to cremation.
This process may sound macabre, but it’s not brand new. It is, however, becoming more attractive as people search for more environmentally sound death options. Alkaline hydrolysis, which Bio-Response calls aquamation, is just one in a growing list of options for consumers concerned about how their funerals may impact the environment. Other options include eco-burials, body composting, and mushroom mycelium suits. And while alkaline hydrolysis may not be talked about as frequently as the other, it’s legal in far more places, including about half of all US states for humans.
Source: Popular Science
Chinese social media campaigns are successfully impersonating U.S. voters, Microsoft warns
Chinese state-aligned influence and disinformation campaigns are impersonating U.S. voters and targeting political candidates on multiple social media platforms with improved sophistication, Microsoft said in a threat analysis report Thursday.
The Microsoft report also cautioned that some Chinese influence campaigns are now using generative A.I. to create visual content that’s “already drawn higher levels of engagement from authentic” users, a trend the company said began around March.
Mushroom pickers urged to avoid foraging books on Amazon that appear to be written by AI
Leon Frey, a foraging guide and field mycologist at Cornwall-based Family Foraging Kitchen, which organises foraging field trips, said the samples he had seen contained serious flaws such as referring to “smell and taste” as an identifying feature. “This seems to encourage tasting as a method of identification. This should absolutely not be the case,” he said.
Some wild mushrooms, like the highly poisonous death cap, which can be mistaken for edible varieties, are toxic.
Source: The Guardian
"Cocaine sharks" could be exposed to drugs in Florida
[L]arge amounts of cocaine, often being brought to the U.S. on boats, wash up on our coasts annually, especially in the Florida Keys. Just last month, the Coast Guard announced it found 14,153 pounds of cocaine in the ocean in nearby Miami. The drugs were worth more than $186 million.
Fanara, who is an expert in chemical transport and ocean currents, said if cocaine bales follow the ocean current, much like fish and sharks, there is a strong likelihood sharks are coming in contact with the drug.
Can We Talk to Whales?
Researchers believe that artificial intelligence may allow us to speak to other species.
Among the experts who found it loopy and, at the same time, irresistible were Robert Wood, a roboticist at Harvard, and Daniela Rus, who runs M.I.T.’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Thus was born the Cetacean Translation Initiative—Project ceti for short. (The acronym is pronounced “setty,” and purposefully recalls seti, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.) ceti represents the most ambitious, the most technologically sophisticated, and the most well-funded effort ever made to communicate with another species.
“I think it’s something that people get really excited about: Can we go from science fiction to science?” Rus told me. “I mean, can we talk to whales?”
Source: The New Yorker
(But what if they don't want to talk to us?)
AI Outperforms Humans in Creativity Test
The researchers submitted eight responses generated by ChatGPT, the application powered by the GPT-4 artificial intelligence engine. They also submitted answers from a control group of 24 UM students taking Guzik’s entrepreneurship and personal finance classes.
These scores were compared with 2,700 college students nationally who took the TTCT in 2016. All submissions were scored by Scholastic Testing Service, which didn’t know AI was involved.
The results placed ChatGPT in elite company for creativity. The AI application was in the top percentile for fluency – the ability to generate a large volume of ideas – and for originality – the ability to come up with new ideas.
The AI slipped a bit – to the 97th percentile – for flexibility, the ability to generate different types and categories of ideas.
Source: Neuroscience News
Is the AI boom already over?
Recent reports suggest that consumers are starting to lose interest: The new AI-powered Bing search hasn’t made a dent in Google’s market share, ChatGPT is losing users for the first time, and the bots are still prone to basic errors that make them impossible to trust. In some cases, they may be even less accurate now than they were before. A recent Pew survey found that only 18 percent of US adults had ever used ChatGPT, and another said they’re becoming increasingly concerned about the use of AI. Is the party over for this party trick?
3D-printed vegan calamari rings could be next on the menu
At the American Chemical Society’s fall meeting this week, a team from the National University of Singapore presented the results of a newly synthesized mock seafood that could one day find its way into restaurants. After designing an ink composed of legume and microalgae proteins, alongside plant-based oils containing omega-3 fatty acids, researchers loaded their paste into a food-grade 3D printer, which then churned out small, calamari-shaped rings. The team then tossed their faux-seafood into an air fryer, and taste-tested their results. According to researchers, the end product is showing incredible promise for a new, healthy alternative to commercial seafood options.
Source: Popular Science
What do people do all day?
Oh, what do people do?
They walk around and around
And then they lie down,
And that is all they do.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
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Ned Mudd resides in Alabama where he engages in interspecies communication, rock collecting, and frequent cloud watching. He is the author of The Adventures of Dink and DVD (a space age comedy). Some of Ned’s best friends are raccoons.