mossadnik OP t1_ix95xax wrote

Submission Statement:

>By 2050, according to the UN, populations will be in decline in more than half Europe’s 52 countries, including Italy, Spain, Poland and Germany. In five – Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia and Ukraine – they are projected to fall by more than 20%.

>Over the next three decades, Latvia, having already shed nearly 30% of its population since 1990, is set to lose 23.5% more.

>One factor behind this dramatic decline is global. Across the industrialised world, fertility rates are plunging: two-thirds of the world’s population now live in countries with a birthrate below the 2.1 births per woman necessary for natural replacement.

>But crucially, like many of the former Soviet states, especially those that joined the EU with its right to work and live across the bloc, Latvia – present population just under 2m – has also suffered successive waves of emigration, as young people leave for more money abroad.


mossadnik OP t1_ivz6qbm wrote

Submission Statement:

>Without sleep, humans can become forgetful, hallucinate, and even experience various physical and psychological problems. But new research published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology suggests that future AIs could benefit from getting some sleep too.

>Artificial neural networks often reach some superhuman heights, but when it comes to sequential learning, or learning one new thing after another, they become, well, kind of like Finding Nemo’s Dory. Unlike humans and animals who have the ability to learn and apply knowledge continuously, while these systems can certainly achieve excellence in a new task, it’s at the expense of the performance of a previous task. Once properly trained, it's very difficult to teach them a completely new task and if you succeed in training the new task, you end up damaging the old memory.

>In the neuro world, such an activity is called “catastrophic forgetting.” It’s an issue that can only be solved with something called “consolidation of memory,” a process that helps transform recent short-term memories into long-term ones, often occurring during REM sleep. This reorganization of memory might actually play a large part in why we need to sleep at all, especially as if the process does stop working, or is interrupted in some way, serious mental deficits can occur.

>To some, the concept is promising. As sleep is said to spike learning by enabling the “spontaneous reactivation of previously learned memory patterns,” the study notes that neuroscience-inspired artificial intelligence could actually be the next big thing. Building on previous work in memory plasticity and sleep modeling, the team used a neural network model to simulate sensory processing and reinforcement learning in an animal’s brain, and then gave it two separate tasks to complete. In both tasks, the network learned how to discriminate between being punished and being rewarded—enough so that eventually, it could make decisions on its own.


mossadnik OP t1_ivp7fe2 wrote

Submission Statement:

>Experts are concerned about how fast 3D-printing technology is evolving, as several countries worldwide still do not have legal frameworks to prohibit or limit the creation of these weapons. “We are facing a serious threat if legal measures are not taken to control the production of printers and printing materials necessary for their use,” he said. “The software that allows for the production of these types of weapons should, as far as possible, be banned from the market,” he added, explaining that this could prove difficult because the weapons are often sold in parallel markets. It includes selling on the darknet and in closed forums that can be difficult for law enforcement to access.

>Although the production of 3D-printed weapons is currently limited to small arms and light weapons (SALW), it is expected that the capabilities of this technology and the quality of printing materials will evolve and lead to more powerful and sophisticated weapons. “There are already some impressions of weapons of a military nature with appreciable fire potential. The evolution of printing materials will impact the increasing sophistication and production of these weapons and the threat they represent,” the Interpol spokesperson added. Interpol urged “necessary measures” to stop the potential use of 3D-printed weapons for “illegal means.” “If this does not happen, it will be natural that the threat evolves towards producing increasingly sophisticated forms of 3D weapons that are more powerful and reliable, which poses increasing challenges to preventing and controlling their use in the future.”

>According to Interpol, “3D-printed weapons” can be categorized as fully 3D-printed firearms, hybrid 3D-printed guns and firearms whose frame is produced in 3D printing. “They can go from things like the Liberator, which is this single shot, entirely 3D-printed weapon that’s all plastic except for the firing pin and obviously the ammunition which might be able to shoot five to 10 times before it suffers a catastrophic failure, all the way to something called the FGC9, which, if built correctly, is essentially as lethal, as durable, as effective, and as accurate as a commercially purchased firearm.” Entirely 3D printed firearms are weapons on which all major components are printed, in some cases with only minor non-printed parts. These weapons have a “limited capacity of use due to the absence of metallic components and their fragile structure,” the international policing body told. Hybrid 3D Printed Firearms are weapons with printed elements used in conjunction with non-controllable metallic parts, such as springs and metallic tubes.

>3D-printed guns are illegal from the moment of creation because they lack serial numbers and are not submitted to any official test bench.


mossadnik OP t1_iv61thz wrote

Submission Statement:

>Studies have estimated that cooling accounts for about 15% of global energy consumption. That demand could be lowered with a window coating that could block the sun’s ultraviolet and near-infrared light — the parts of the solar spectrum that typically pass through glass to heat an enclosed room. Energy use could be reduced even further if the coating radiates heat from the window’s surface at a wavelength that passes through the atmosphere into outer space. However, it’s difficult to design materials that can meet these criteria simultaneously and can also transmit visible light, meaning they don’t interfere with the view. Eungkyu Lee, Tengfei Luo and colleagues set out to design a “transparent radiative cooler” (TRC) that could do just that.

>The team constructed computer models of TRCs consisting of alternating thin layers of common materials like silicon dioxide, silicon nitride, aluminum oxide or titanium dioxide on a glass base, topped with a film of polydimethylsiloxane. They optimized the type, order and combination of layers using an iterative approach guided by machine learning and quantum computing, which stores data using subatomic particles. This computing method carries out optimization faster and better than conventional computers because it can efficiently test all possible combinations in a fraction of a second. This produced a coating design that, when fabricated, beat the performance of conventionally designed TRCs in addition to one of the best commercial heat-reduction glasses on the market.

>In hot, dry cities, the researchers say, the optimized TRC could potentially reduce cooling energy consumption by 31% compared with conventional windows. They note their findings could be applied to other applications, since TRCs could also be used on car and truck windows. In addition, the group’s quantum computing-enabled optimization technique could be used to design other types of composite materials.


mossadnik OP t1_iue3sr7 wrote

Submission Statement:

>As Antarctica’s emperor penguins are increasingly threatened by the climate crisis, the flightless seabirds will receive new protections under the Endangered Species Act, or ESA.

>With global warming melting the sea ice the penguins depend on for their survival, the US Fish and Wildlife Service now categorizes the species as threatened. The federal agency lists “imperiled species as endangered or threatened regardless of their country of origin.” The announcement came more than a year after an initial proposal by the service to protect emperor penguins under the ESA.

>Emperor penguins rely on sea ice to form their breeding colonies, avoid predators in the ocean and forage for food. But as Earth’s temperature rises in relation to greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions, sea ice is at risk of disappearing. When sea ice melts or breaks apart earlier in the season than expected due to global warming, entire penguin colonies can decline or disappear.

>Parts of the Antarctic Peninsula’s sea ice have melted by more than 60% in 30 years, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. And if emperor penguins suffer and decline, it’s likely that other species within the ecosystem are also at risk due to the climate crisis. Emperor penguins forage for krill, fish and squid in the sea, but they also serve as prey for leopard seals and killer whales.

>There are about 61 emperor penguin breeding colonies along Antarctica’s coastline, which in total consist of between 270,000 to 280,000 breeding pairs (or 625,000 and 650,000 individual penguins, including juveniles), according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The bird population is currently stable, but research has suggested that the emperor penguin’s population will decrease by 26% to 47% by 2050, or drop to 185,000 or 132,500 breeding pairs, according to the service.


mossadnik OP t1_it73cz3 wrote

Submission Statement:

>Since 1990, the United Nations Development Programme has been tasked with releasing reports every few years on the state of the world. The 2021/2022 report — released earlier this month, and the first one since the Covid-19 pandemic began — is titled “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives.”

>“The war in Ukraine reverberates throughout the world,” the report opens, “causing immense human suffering, including a cost-of-living crisis. Climate and ecological disasters threaten the world daily. It is seductively easy to discount crises as one-offs, natural to hope for a return to normal. But dousing the latest fire or booting the latest demagogue will be an unwinnable game of whack-a-mole unless we come to terms with the fact that the world is fundamentally changing. There is no going back.”

>Toby Ord, senior research fellow at Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute and the author of the existential risk book The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity, explores this question in an essay in the latest UNDP report. He calls it the problem of “existential security”: the challenge not just of preventing each individual prospective catastrophe, but of building a world that stops rolling the dice on possible extinction.

>“To survive,” he writes in the report, “we need to achieve two things. We must first bring the current level of existential risk down — putting out the fires we already face from the threats of nuclear war and climate change. But we cannot always be fighting fires. A defining feature of existential risk is that there are no second chances — a single existential catastrophe would be our permanent undoing. So we must also create the equivalent of fire brigades and fire safety codes — making institutional changes to ensure that existential risk (including that from new technologies and developments) stays low forever.”

>“Existential security” is the state where we are mostly not facing risks in any given year, or decade, or ideally even century, that have a substantial chance of annihilating civilization. For existential security from nuclear risk, for instance, perhaps we reduce nuclear arsenals to the point where even a full nuclear exchange would not pose a risk of collapsing civilization, something the world made significant progress on as countries slashed nuclear arsenal levels after the Cold War. For existential security from pandemics, we could develop PPE that is comfortable to wear and provides approximately total protection against disease, plus a worldwide system to detect diseases early — ensuring that any catastrophic pandemic would be possible to nip in the bud and protect people from.

>The ideal, though, would be existential security from everything — not just from the knowns, but the unknowns. For example, one big worry among experts including Ord is that once we build highly capable artificial intelligences, AI will dramatically hasten the development of new technologies that imperil the world while — because of how modern AI systems are designed — it’ll be incredibly difficult to tell what it’s doing or why.

>So an ideal approach to managing existential risk doesn’t just fight today’s threats but makes policies that will prevent threats from arising in the future too.


mossadnik OP t1_isu00my wrote

Submission Statement:

>“We have deployed four weaponised [unmanned] machines within an operational experiment”, told Lieutenant Colonel Sjoerd Mevissen, commander of the Royal Netherlands Army's Robotics and Autonomous System. “To my knowledge, we have not seen this before in the West…the machines have been handed over for experimental use in an operational unit in a military-relevant environment. These are not simply tests on a training ground. We are under the direct eyes and ears of the Russians, and as such in a semi-operational environment.”

>The machine-gun-toting robots aren’t the first the world has ever seen. Estonia first deployed an unarmed version of THeMIS in Mali in 2019. This Russian MoD confirmed it deployed armed UGVs in Syria in 2018. Iran has also been developing its own UGVs and showed off its Heidair-1 on social media in 2019. Iran’s small beetle-like drone seems designed to roll under tanks and APCs and explode.

>Both Russia’s Uran-9 and Estonia’s THeMIS are bigger and can carry more deadly equipment. The Uran-9 is capable of carrying a 30mm 2A72 automatic cannon and four 9M120-1 Ataka anti-tank guided missiles, which makes it look like a frightening and deadly killer robot. However, early reports indicate that Russia's UGV didn’t work well in Syria and repeatedly lost connection to its controller.

>During the summer, a video of a robot dog with an assault rifle strapped to its back went viral on the internet. Earlier this month, Boston Dynamics promised it wouldn’t weaponize its brand of robot dogs. The video was creepy and Boston Dynamics’ sentiment was aimed at calming down the public, but the truth is that killer ground robots are already here and that the world’s militaries aren’t interested in strapping a gun to the back of a quadruped even if they might have other uses on a near-future battlefield.

>Gun-toting killer ground robots were always going to look like what the Dutch have deployed and what the Russian’s tested in Syria—little tanks bristling with guns and absent humans.


mossadnik OP t1_isc808o wrote

Submission Statement:

>Global animal populations are declining, and we've got limited time to try to fix it.

>That's the upshot of a new report from the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London, which analyzed years of data on thousands of wildlife populations across the world and found a downward trend in the Earth's biodiversity.

>According to the Living Planet Index, a metric that's been in existence for five decades, animal populations across the world shrunk by an average of 69% between 1970 and 2018.

>Not all animal populations dwindled, and some parts of the world saw more drastic changes than others. But experts say the steep loss of biodiversity is a stark and worrying sign of what's to come for the natural world.

>According to the report's authors, the main cause of biodiversity loss is land-use changes driven by human activity, such as infrastructure development, energy production and deforestation.

>But the report suggests that climate change — which is already unleashing wide-ranging effects on plant and animal species globally — could become the leading cause of biodiversity loss if rising temperatures aren't limited to 1.5°C.


mossadnik OP t1_is6g170 wrote

Submission Statement:

>The Synthetic Party, a new Danish political party with an artificially intelligent representative and policies derived from AI, is eyeing a seat in parliament as it hopes to run in the country’s November general election.

>The party was founded in May by the artist collective Computer Lars and the non-profit art and tech organization MindFuture Foundation. The Synthetic Party’s public face and figurehead is the AI chatbot Leader Lars, which is programmed on the policies of Danish fringe parties since 1970 and is meant to represent the values of the 20 percent of Danes who do not vote in the election. Leader Lars won't be on the ballot anywhere, but the human members of The Synthetic Party are committed to carrying out their AI-derived platform.

>Leader Lars is an AI chatbot that people can speak with on Discord. You can address Leader Lars by beginning your sentences with an “!”. The AI understands English but writes back to you in Danish.


mossadnik OP t1_is13a05 wrote

Submission Statement:

>In October 2018, a small star was ripped to shreds when it wandered too close to a black hole in a galaxy located 665 million light years away from Earth. Though it may sound thrilling, the event did not come as a surprise to astronomers who occasionally witness these violent incidents while scanning the night sky.

>But nearly three years after the massacre, the same black hole is lighting up the skies again — and it hasn’t swallowed anything new, scientists say.

>“This caught us completely by surprise — no one has ever seen anything like this before,” says Yvette Cendes, a research associate at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) and lead author of a new study analyzing the phenomenon.

>The team concludes that the black hole is now ejecting material traveling at half of the speed of light, but are unsure why the outflow was delayed by several years. The results, described this week in the Astrophysical Journal, may help scientists better understand black holes’ feeding behavior, which Cendes likens to “burping” after a meal.