Ig Nobels, cockatoos at war, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2022#37)

Lots and lots of interesting things this week. We keep watching AI’s evolve, more and more people start realising tech gurus tend to lie a lot, an interesting fight between humans and birds? Ethereum is reducing energy consumption 99.9%, the IG Nobels, and another reason for going green that might finally convince deniers. Let’s start:


If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now

We keep watching new uses of the text-2-image generators (as the Stairway to Heaven video below), but I really like to see more and more people getting concerned about the ethical aspects of AI. A cool piece on Stable Diffusion by the people at The Verge, and how its openness could prove to be a double-edged sword in the future.

Anyone can use this AI art generator — that’s the risk, on The Verge
AI Midjourney Imagines “Stairway To Heaven”, on Hackaday

Lie after lie

Two news that go with really well. First, a clear difference between the legal systems in Europe and in the US. I knew that usually companies in the US do not need to bother so much with regard to launching new products and protocols, but it really amazed me to learn about how the car industry operates, and how little human safety is valued by regulators. Which really explains the second article, that shows how some people are starting to take action against the blatant lies of a prick called Elon Musk.

There’s no driving test for self-driving cars in the US — but there should be, on The Verge
Tesla is being sued over Autopilot and Elon Musk’s Full Self-Driving predictions, on The Verge

Cockies assemble!

Could not help but smile while reading this one. Australia keeps delivering amazing news regarding its fauna. This time the problem arose when cockatoos started opening trash bins to eat rubbish. Of course, people got pissed when they found out, as the birds did not take a lot of care to evade littering around the bins. Aussies started covering the bin lids with bricks, but got outsmarted by the cockies. Then, an innovation race started, with people coming up with novel ways to block the birds from opening the trash bins. I hope this does not escalate and ends like the Great Emu War.

Bonus video: cockatoos are amazing (and better dancers than most people)

‘Interspecies innovation arms race’: cockatoos and humans at war over wheelie bin raids, on The Guardian

The Merge has been done

So, this week Ethereum switched from proof of work (which wastes incredible amounts of energy in the search of security) to proof of stake (where transactions are overseen by users of the blockchain who deposit their coins as a guarantee). This was a big change for several reasons. First, it was technically hard to accomplish, and it took a long time to implement. Second, the merge means that now, the blockchain backing Ethereum is using energy much more efficiently (the estimates are that energy consumption will be reduced by a 99.9%).

If you have read some of my posts, you know by now that I am not a big fan of crypto in general, but I think that one of the biggest coins going far away from proof of work is really good news, even if only from the environmental perspective. Moreover, now many people will stop arguing about that and hopefully further debate will arise regarding other troublesome aspects, as the lack of real decentralisation that current systems have, and how the whole system is still rewarding the people who have more money, contrary to the claims of many people advocating for crypto as some kind of new world order.

Why Ethereum is switching to proof of stake and how it will work, on the MIT Technology Review
The Merge is here: Ethereum has switched to proof of stake, on the MIT Technology Review
Babbage: Will Ethereum’s merge transform crypto?, on Babbage (The Economist)

Ig Nobel 2022 winners are here

I am really loving this year topics. Kudos to the cardiology, biology, art, physics, and economics, which I particularly loved.

The 2022 Ig Nobel Prize Winners, on improbable.org
Constipated scorpions, love at first sight inspire Ig Nobels, on phys.org

Time to switch

While it might be sad that we finally go green for purely economical benefits, it is a pill that I would gladly swallow if that means stoping pollution. Another study that points into the direction that renewables have evolved so much (and so fast) that they are actually a relevant contender, and investing in them could save trillions in the near future. Now we only need to convince some folks to invest there…

“Our latest research shows scaling-up key green technologies will continue to drive their costs down, and the faster we go, the more we will save,” says Dr Rupert Way, the report’s lead author from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.

Switching to renewable energy could save trillions, on BBC News

And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!

Featured image: Stairway to Heaven guitar solo, by Midjourney

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