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Sat, 26 May 2018
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Tech genius says AI is summoning demons - "no one is paying attention"

When I watched this video, I had to do a second take. I thought I had misunderstood this man's words, but I was not mistaken. I am still amazed at what he said to the audience in trying to explain the sinister facets of artificial intelligence. As Elon Musk had said at an earlier time, "we are summoning the demon."

This, too, is amazing to me, as Musk helped to create A.I. I don't know if any of you have noticed, but Elon has been on the downside of luck recently. He has had accident after accident with his inventions. I am really concerned for him, as he said earlier that "humans were underrated."

He said this, as the accidents had begun to occur in his factories. He went in himself to investigate why these accidents were occurring. What happened next was amazing. He found that the flaws found in his products were coming from A.I. he had replaced his human workers with.

That is when he made the statement, "humans are underrated." He then hired his workers back.

Comment: Of course, one tech genius's speculation (assuming that is what it is) does not make a solid case that this is what is in fact happening. But at least he's asking the question. 'Paranoia' about extreme dangers is not irrational - it is what helps humans survive.

Cloud Grey

'Green' paradox: New report finds broad adoption of electric cars will increase air pollution

electric car carro
© Rodrigo Garrido / Reuters

New report suggests EV's are out of reach for the average American, and broad adoption will actually cause an increase in traditional air pollution

It asks whether the internal combustion engine is on its way out. It soon will be, according to advocates for "zero-emissions vehicle" (ZEV) technologies, especially battery-powered electric vehicles. They claim that ZEVs will offer superior performance, lower cost, and, most importantly, "emissions-free" driving.

Sound too good to be true? That's because it is, according to a new report published by the Manhattan Institute. Dr. Jonathan Lesser, the author of "Short Circuit: The High Cost of Electric Vehicles," argues that critics of the internal combustion engine fail to consider just how clean and efficient new cars are.

Using a recent forecast prepared by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Lesser's analysis shows that, over the period 2018 - 2050, the electric generating plants that will charge new EVs will emit more air pollution than the same number of new internal combustion engines, even accounting for air pollution from oil refineries that manufacture gasoline.

Comment: Increasing air pollution is not a minor consideration - it is the world's biggest killer.


MIT Scientists prove adults master languages to fluency nearly as well as children

This week a new paper was published in the journal Cognition titled "A Critical Period for Second Language Acquisition" that used a new, viral Facebook-quiz-powered method of gathering a huge linguistic dataset to provide new insights into how human beings learn language and what effect age has on that process.

In a nutshell, this team found that if you start learning a language before the age of 18, you have a much better likelihood of obtaining a native-like mastery of the language's grammar than if you start later. This is a much older age than has been generally assumed and is really interesting for reasons I'll get into a bit later.



Do plants feel pain? Scientists conduct experiments to find out

The study of plants and other lifeforms on the planet is shedding light on concepts that were already known in our ancient world. Everything on our planet is alive. Just because it is living in a different form than we are, and has different biological processes than we do, does not mean that these lifeforms do not possess consciousness or that they cannot think, feel, and react.

If you told somebody that plants can feel pain, they might think you are nuts, but the truth is - an enormous amount of research has been conducted by plant scientists, and much of it clearly shows how plants have some remarkable abilities to react to and sense the world around them. Some plant scientists insist that yes, plants are intelligent, they learn, remember, and again, react. So, it's not far off to suggest that they might even feel pain. There are also studies suggesting that plants can learn from experience.


Cells speak in a language similar to viruses

flu virus
Live viruses may seem completely different from the message-carrying vesicles that cells release. But a vast population of particles intermediate between the two hints at their deep evolutionary connection.

For cells, communication is a matter of life and death. The ability to tell other members of your species - or other parts of the body - that food supplies are running low or that an invading pathogen is near can be the difference between survival and extinction. Scientists have known for decades that cells can secrete chemicals into their surroundings, releasing a free-floating message for all to read. More recently, however, scientists discovered that cells could package their molecular information in what are known as extracellular vesicles. Like notes passed by children in class, the information packaged in an extracellular vesicle is folded and delivered to the recipient.

The past five years have seen an explosion of research into extracellular vesicles. As scientists uncovered the secrets about how the vesicles are made, how they package their information and how they're released, it became clear that there are powerful similarities between vesicles and viruses.


Worldwide volcanic activity raises concerns of US West Coast's chain of 13 active volcanoes

Mount Rainier
© AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
In this May 7, 2018 photo, Mount Rainier is seen at dusk and framed by the Murray Morgan Bridge in downtown Tacoma, Wash. The eruption of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has geologic experts along the West Coast warily eyeing the volcanic peaks in Washington, Oregon and California, including Rainier, that are part of the Pacific Ocean’s ring of fire.
The eruption of a Hawaii volcano in the Pacific "Ring of Fire" has experts warily eyeing volcanic peaks on America's West Coast that are also part of the geologically active region.

The West Coast is home to an 800-mile (1,300-kilometer) chain of 13 volcanoes , from Washington state's Mount Baker to California's Lassen Peak. They include Mount St. Helens, whose spectacular 1980 eruption in the Pacific Northwest killed dozens of people and sent volcanic ash across the country, and massive Mount Rainier, which towers above the Seattle metro area.

"There's lots of anxiety out there," said Liz Westby, geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington, in the shadow of Mount St. Helens. "They see destruction, and people get nervous."

Kilauea, on Hawaii's Big Island, is threatening to blow its top in coming days or weeks after sputtering lava for a week, forcing about 2,000 people to evacuate, destroying two dozen homes and threatening a geothermal plant. Experts fear the volcano could hurl ash and boulders the size of refrigerators miles into the air.

Comment: There is good reason to be concerned: For more, check out SOTTs monthly documentary: SOTT Earth Changes Summary - April 2018: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs

Microscope 1

Stem cells could reveal how Neanderthal DNA works in modern humans

neaderthal suit
© DPA Picture Alliance Archive / Alamy Stock Photo
We could soon find out how the Neanderthal DNA many of us carry actually affects us. It turns out that stem cells, which have been hyped as a way to treat incurable diseases, can also be used to examine what Neanderthal genes do.

Since 2010 evidence has been growing that many living people carry tiny amounts of Neanderthal DNA in their cells. It's been suggested that this Neanderthal DNA has all sorts of effects, from our immune systems to skin colour. But it's hard to be sure what it's really doing.

Now Gray Camp and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany say they have found a way to study how Neanderthal DNA works in living humans in unprecedented detail.

Comment: This is presuming that Neanderthal stem cells will behave in the way scientists expect them too. Because there is still so much we don't know about DNA and, after all, it wasn't long ago many scientists were proclaiming a huge portion of it to be junk! See also:


Rogue stars seen zooming through Milky Way may have originated outside our galaxy

Fast stars
© Pluto/Alamy Stock Photo
Fast stars whipped to high speed by a black hole or supernova
At least two intergalactic interlopers are hurtling through our galaxy at more than 700 kilometres per second. These stars from outside the Milky Way are among almost 30 runaways that have been spotted in a treasure trove of data from the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite mission.

The Gaia satellite has been charting the stars for years in an effort to make the largest 3D map of our galaxy. On 25 April, Gaia released its second batch of data on 1.7 billion stars. For a subset of 7 million, Gaia measured how fast they are moving away from or towards Earth.

Of these, Tommaso Marchetti and colleagues at Leiden University in the Netherlands looked for hypervelocity stars, those travelling at speeds greater than 450 kilometres per second. They found 165 candidates.

The team calculated that 28 have a greater than 50 per cent chance of escaping our galaxy's gravitational pull. "They are basically flying away forever from the Milky Way," says Marchetti.


China's first home-built aircraft carrier heads out for sea trials

China's first domestic-built aircraft carrier
China's first domestic-built aircraft carrier has been sent on its first voyage for sea trials, according to Chinese media. It's the latest development in Beijing's mission to modernize its military.

The 77,000-ton Type 001A carrier left a shipyard in the northeastern port of Dalian at 6:45am local time on Sunday, Xinhua reported. It sailed out to sea half an hour later.

The sea trials will test the reliability and stability of the vessel's power system and other equipment, according to sources cited by Xinhua. Once it is in service, it will be able to accommodate China's Shenyang J-15 fighter jets.

2 + 2 = 4

Schizophrenia affects your body, not just your brain

mind and body
© 777888/Shutterstock.com
Schizophrenia is considered a disorder of the mind, influencing the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. But our latest research shows that organs, other than the brain, also change at the onset of the disease.

Scientists have known for a long time that people with schizophrenia have much higher rates of physical illness compared with the general population, and this contributes to startlingly high rates of premature death. People with the disorder die 15 to 20 years earlier than the average person.

Comment: Also see: The sound of psychosis