Signal to Noise Report
Accidental earthquakes, Nuke-launching robots, Wooly Mammoth meatballs...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.
AI should never be able to launch nukes, US legislators say
Last week, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced the Block Nuclear Launch by Autonomous Artificial Intelligence Act alongside Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) and numerous other bipartisan co-sponsors. The bill’s objective is as straightforward as its name: ensuring AI will never have a final say in American nuclear strategy.
Essentially, if the bill becomes law, AI systems could still provide analysis and strategic suggestions regarding nuclear events, but ultimate say-so will rest firmly within human hands.
Source: Popular Science
SpaceX’s Starship launch caused a ‘mini earthquake’ and left a giant mess
Hailed as a success by many SpaceX fans and a dud by some of its critics, Friday’s historic Starship launch was nothing if not “truly terrifying” for those living near the Boca Chica, Texas, launchsite. According to a report from The New York Times, “virtually everywhere” in the neighboring town of Port Isabel was covered in a layer of thick dust and sand grain. The force from Starship’s 33 Raptor engines also generated enough power to resemble a “mini earthquake,” residents told the The NY Times, and resulted in at least one store owner’s window shattering. Starship’s takeoff blasted a 25-feet deep crater into the launch site, sending up plumes of dust and dirt, alongside bowling ball-sized debris that smashed into at least one empty parked NASA Spaceflight van nearby. This isn’t the first instance of SpaceX-induced damage, either—in 2021, a SpaceX disintegrating Falcon 9 rocket stage’s pressure vessel landed on a Washington State farm, leaving a four-inch dent in the ground.
Source: Popular Science
Meatball from long-extinct mammoth created by food firm
Tim Noakesmith, who cofounded Vow with Peppou, said: “We chose the woolly mammoth because it’s a symbol of diversity loss and a symbol of climate change.” The creature is thought to have been driven to extinction by hunting by humans and the warming of the world after the last ice age.
The initial idea was from Bas Korsten at creative agency Wunderman Thompson: “Our aim is to start a conversation about how we eat, and what the future alternatives can look and taste like. Cultured meat is meat, but not as we know it.”
Plant-based alternatives to meat are now common but cultured meat replicates the taste of conventional meat. Cultivated meat – chicken from Good Meat – is currently only sold to consumers in Singapore, but two companies have now passed an approval process in the US.
Source: The Guardian
Welcome to the age of automated dating
“There’s some amount of mental work and barrier to thinking of how to compose a message [on a dating app],” Lloyd said. “It’s like getting started on a term paper.”
Rizz, which is meant to function as a digital wingman, helps users come up with killer opening lines and responses to potential matches. The company behind it is just one of many start-ups trying to transform romance through artificial intelligence by optimizing and automating online dating, now one of the primary ways by which people find romantic connections.
Source: Washington Post
In Sudden Alarm, Tech Doyens Call for a Pause on ChatGPT
AN open letter signed by hundreds of prominent artificial intelligence experts, tech entrepreneurs, and scientists calls for a pause on the development and testing of AI technologies more powerful than OpenAI’s language model GPT-4 so that the risks it may pose can be properly studied.
It warns that language models like GPT-4 can already compete with humans at a growing range of tasks and could be used to automate jobs and spread misinformation. The letter also raises the distant prospect of AI systems that could replace humans and remake civilization.
This AI-powered brain scanner can paraphrase your thoughts
Researchers at the University of Texas Austin have developed a breakthrough “semantic decoder” that uses artificial intelligence to convert scans of the human brain’s speech activity into paraphrased text. Although still relatively imprecise compared to source texts, the development represents a major step forward for AI’s role in assistive technology—and one that its makers already caution could be misused if not properly regulated.
First published on Monday in Nature Neuroscience, the team’s findings detail a new system that integrates a generative program similar to OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Google Bard alongside existing technology capable of interpreting functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans—a device that monitors how and where blood flows to particular areas of the brain. While previous brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have shown promise in achieving similar translative abilities, the UT Austin’s version is reportedly the first noninvasive version requiring no actual physical implants or wiring.
Source: Popular Science
Now for something a little different…
Bell’s Boogie by Ned Mudd
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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.