AI(bot) Journalist appears to be a Plagiarist

The prominent tech news site CNET‘s attempt to pass off AI-written work keeps getting worse. First, the site was caught quietly publishing the machine learning-generated stories in the first place. Then the AI-generated content was found to be riddled with factual errors. Now, CNET‘s AI also appears to have been a serial plagiarist — of actual humans’ work…

Futurism found that a substantial number of errors had been slipping into the AI’s published work. CNET, a titan of tech journalism that sold for $1.8 billion back in 2008, responded by issuing a formidable correction and slapping a warning on all the bot’s prior work, alerting readers that the posts’ content was under factual review. Days later, its parent company Red Ventures announced in a series of internal meetings that it was temporarily pausing the AI-generated articles at CNET and various other properties including Bankrate, at least until the storm of negative press died down.

Now, a fresh development may make efforts to spin the program back up even more controversial for the embattled newsroom. In addition to those factual errors, a new Futurism investigation found extensive evidence that the CNET AI’s work has demonstrated deep structural and phrasing similarities to articles previously published elsewhere, without giving credit. In other words, it looks like the bot directly plagiarized the work of Red Ventures competitors, as well as human writers at Bankrate and even CNET itself.

I think we need some marching music, here and now. AI bots marching out of the office…and actual human writers coming in the door to produce real copy. Or…at a minimum…noting the differences between the two.

Graveyard for Russian Mercenaries

Late last summer, a plot of land on the edge of a small farming community in southern Russia began to fill with scores of newly dug graves of fighters killed in Ukraine. The resting places were adorned with simple wooden crosses and brightly coloured wreaths that bore the insignia of Russia’s Wagner Group – a feared and secretive private army.

There were around 200 graves at the site on the outskirts of Bakinskaya village in Krasnodar region when Reuters visited in late January. The news agency matched the names of at least 39 of the dead here and at three other nearby cemeteries to Russian court records, publicly available databases and social media accounts. Reuters also spoke to family, friends and lawyers of some of the dead.

Many of the men buried at Bakinskaya were convicts who were recruited by Wagner last year after its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, promised a pardon if prisoners survived six months at the front, this reporting showed. They included a contract killer, murderers, career criminals and people with alcohol problems.

And if you’re sufficiently ignorant, politically docile, you might call the residents of this graveyard…”heroes”.

Doomsday Clock moves closer to world nuclear disaster

Tick, tick, tick…the world’s Doomsday Clock is the closest it’s ever been to forecasting global disaster.

The clock, published since 1945 by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and adjusted yearly, was reset at a Jan. 25 D.C. press conference to 90 seconds before midnight, compared to 100 seconds in early 2022. The farthest it’s ever been: 17 minutes to midnight after the Cold War ended.

The world is closer than ever, speakers said, to a modern Armageddon, though they didn’t use that loaded word. “The environment is both perilous and unstable,” warned Rachel Bronson, president of the Federation of Atomic Scientists, which publishes the Bulletin and sets the clock…

If the Doomsday Clock ever hits midnight, look for Hiroshima and Nagasaki on a worldwide scale. The federation has made that point often before, most notably in 2020, on the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the two Japanese cities, on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945…

Speakers again advocated de-escalating the nuclear arms race by abolishing the weapons through international agreements—an unlikely prospect since the U.S. has unilaterally canceled remaining important nuclear disarmament deals with Russia…

And buried deep in one paper adjoining the printed report was that the U.S. and Russia abrogated one major nuclear de-armament treaty almost a decade ago, and that the most important of those pacts expires in 2026. There have been no negotiations on its renewal, that paper reports. Instead, the U.S. and NATO have been placing nuclear weapons and vehicles capable of carrying them closer and closer to the borders of Russia, the second huge nuclear power. Russia has said it will not rule out the use of nuclear weapons to defend itself if forced.

Will the so-called leaders of the world finally demonstrate some of that “leadership” – on behalf of peace?

Has Earth’s Inner Core Shifted It’s Spin-Cycle…Again?

Thousands of kilometres beneath your feet, Earth’s interior might be doing something very weird. Many scientists think that the inner core spins faster than the rest of the planet — but sometime in the past decade, according to a study, it apparently stopped doing so…

“We were quite surprised,” say Yi Yang and Xiaodong Song, seismologists at Peking University in Beijing who reported the findings today [January 23rd] in Nature Geoscience.

The results could help to shine light on the many mysteries of the deep Earth, including what part the inner core plays in maintaining the planet’s magnetic field and in affecting the speed of the whole planet’s rotation — and thus the length of a day. But they are just the latest instalment in a long-running effort to explain the inner core’s unusual rotation, and might not be the final word on the matter…

Researchers discovered the inner core in 1936, after studying how seismic waves from earthquakes travel through the planet. Changes in the speed of the waves revealed that the planet’s core, which is about 7,000 kilometres wide, consists of a solid centre, made mostly of iron, inside a shell of liquid iron and other elements. As iron from the outer core crystallizes on the surface of the inner core, it changes the density of the outer liquid, driving churning motions that maintain Earth’s magnetic field…

Now, Yang and Song say that the inner core has halted its spin relative to the mantle. They studied earthquakes mostly from between 1995 and 2021, and found that the inner core’s super-rotation had stopped around 2009. They observed the change at various points around the globe, which the researchers say confirms it is a true planet-wide phenomenon related to core rotation, and not just a local change on the inner core’s surface.

Now, we ALL can feel unsteady on our feet.

Why the French Want to Stop Working

If you want to understand why the French overwhelmingly oppose raising their official retirement age from 62 to 64, you could start by looking at last week’s enormous street protest in Paris.

Retirement before arthritis read one handwritten sign. Leave us time to live before we die said another. One elderly protester was dressed ironically as “a banker” with a black top hat, bow tie, and cigar—like the Mr. Monopoly mascot of the board game. “It’s the end of the beans!” he exclaimed to the crowd, using a popular expression to mean that pension reform is the last straw…

France is not alone with this problem. Rich countries everywhere are facing similar demographic challenges, and pushing up their retirement ages to cope. The advocates of reform in France should have more room to maneuver than most, because retirements here last an average of about 25 years, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That’s among the longest in Europe, where retirements even out at about 22 years, and well above the average retirement duration in the United States, where people now live for about 16 years after they stop working…

Well-written with reasonable explanation(s). Europeans will – I think – get it before many Americans. But, that ain’t the point either. Reflect upon the article’s conclusions – especially the direction presumed of a changing and growing economy.

BEFORE & AFTER Atmospheric rivers impact


“Before” satellite image – 3 weeks before the rains came

After at least nine atmospheric rivers in a little more than three weeks dumped more than 30 trillion gallons of water on California, the state’s landscape of deep valleys, tall mountains and rugged coastlines has been visibly altered. Those changes, which extend well out into the Pacific Ocean, can be vividly seen from space now that the storm clouds have cleared.

Satellite imagery from before and after the atmospheric rivers, which are narrow bands of extreme moisture that produce heavy rain and snow, tell the story of a state that has seen devastating flood damage, rising reservoirs, and billions of gallons of water lost to the ocean after a three-year drought.

Wow!