Scariest Deepfake Of Them All


Thanks, gocomics.org

Last month brought the introduction of GPT-3, the next frontier of generative writing: an AI that can produce shockingly human-sounding (if at times surreal) sentences. As its output becomes ever more difficult to distinguish from text produced by humans, one can imagine a future in which the vast majority of the written content we see on the internet is produced by machines. If this were to happen, how would it change the way we react to the content that surrounds us?…

Generated media, such as deepfaked video or GPT-3 output…if used maliciously, there is no unaltered original, no raw material that could be produced as a basis for comparison or evidence for a fact-check. In the early 2000s, it was easy to dissect pre-vs-post photos of celebrities and discuss whether the latter created unrealistic ideals of perfection. In 2020, we confront increasingly plausible celebrity face-swaps on porn, and clips in which world leaders say things they’ve never said before. We will have to adjust, and adapt, to a new level of unreality. Even social media platforms recognize this distinction; their deepfake moderation policies distinguish between media content that is synthetic and that which is merely “modified”.

But synthetic text—particularly of the kind that’s now being produced—presents a more challenging frontier. It will be easy to generate in high volume, and with fewer tells to enable detection. Rather than being deployed at sensitive moments in order to create a mini scandal or an October Surprise, as might be the case for synthetic video or audio, textfakes could instead be used in bulk, to stitch a blanket of pervasive lies. As anyone who has followed a heated Twitter hashtag can attest, activists and marketers alike recognize the value of dominating what’s known as “share of voice”: Seeing a lot of people express the same point of view, often at the same time or in the same place, can convince observers that everyone feels a certain way, regardless of whether the people speaking are truly representative—or even real. In psychology, this is called the majority illusion. As the time and effort required to produce commentary drops, it will be possible to produce vast quantities of AI-generated content on any topic imaginable. Indeed, it’s possible that we’ll soon have algorithms reading the web, forming “opinions,” and then publishing their own responses. This boundless corpus of new content and comments, largely manufactured by machines, might then be processed by other machines, leading to a feedback loop that would significantly alter our information ecosystem.

And another chapter in the endless rewrite of “BRAVE NEW WORLD” drops into view.

Yamaha’s new generation of “emotional” EV motors

Yamaha has been hard at work developing new electric motors and drive units sized for motorcycles and larger vehicles.

The development began in Yamaha’s motorcycle division, but has apparently grown to include larger motors capable of powering full-sized electric cars…

As part of a new video, Yamaha first shows off a 35kW unit that was developed for electric motorcycles…

On the heavier side of things, Yamaha also shows off a new 150kW unit designed for full-size electric cars. In the video, Yamaha demonstrates a pair of the 150kW Yamaha electric motors powering a rear-wheel drive electric car.

How long do we wait for these critters? After-market-availability?

Dogs train to sniff out COVID-19

With their superior nose power, dogs have been trained to sniff out various diseases, including diabetes, malaria and tuberculosis. Now, new preliminary research led by the University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, suggests that pups could also detect when people are infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19…

In this study, it took one week to train eight sniffer dogs to detect the virus, by presenting them with saliva samples and swabs taken from COVID-19 patients, as well as healthy people with no history of the disease.

After training, the dogs were presented with 1,012 randomised samples, and they correctly identified 157 positive samples and 792 negative samples, for an overall detection rate of 94 per cent.

Bet folks could charge less for the test, too. Say, a couple dog cookies for each test. A few buck$ to the handler, record-keeper.

If kids aren’t sick — they can’t be carrying the coronavirus! WRONG!


Uribe/Chicago Tribune

It has been a comforting refrain in the national conversation about reopening schools: Young children are mostly spared by the coronavirus and don’t seem to spread it to others, at least not very often.

Thursday, a study introduced an unwelcome wrinkle into this smooth narrative…Infected children have at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats as infected adults, according to the research. Indeed, children younger than age 5 may host up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract as adults, the authors found.

That measurement does not necessarily prove that children are passing the virus to others. Still, the findings should influence the debate over reopening schools

Or we could continue to discuss the question to death. Um…whose death?

We need to get ready, now!


Getty Images

…There are a couple scenarios to consider, if and when COVID-19 vaccines become available. One scenario is that there is plenty of vaccine, and we have to figure out how to distribute 300 million doses efficiently. What questions or challenges does that raise?

I would love for that to be the case. If we have that much vaccine available simultaneously, then the challenge is to get administered to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

To make it geographically accessible, we would want to distribute broadly, including to rural locations and multiple points of distribution within urban areas. We also want to send it to places where people are likely to want vaccine. These places can include many types of healthcare providers, such as primary care physicians, specialty providers, Federally Qualified Healthcare Clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes. But you also want to think about other locations, like pharmacies, retail clinics, workplaces, prisons, military bases or schools, that can meet people where they are and at different times of the day. You also need to take into account that the vaccine needs to be affordable, and that’s for the total cost of the vaccine itself and the administration fee to obtain it. Throughout all of this, there will need to be an educational campaign that informs people on why to get a vaccine and how they can do so.

As long as the meathead in the White House and his lackeys are in charge, the fight to get this done safely and timely, is even more critical. They’re barely capable of taking care of their own selves…much less a working nation.