Tech Beat by Namecheap – 20 January 2023
Right now, it seems like everyone’s excited about the potential of writing AI, particularly ChatGPT. While some believe it could make a massive difference in how we do our jobs, many experts don’t think it will replace humans any time soon. Find out more in this week’s news article, Why ChatGPT won’t replace humans any time soon
In other news
- The secret behind the durability of Roman concrete. Ancient Rome left quite a legacy behind, including impressive feats of construction and engineering. Structures such as the Pantheon were built nearly 2000 years ago and still stand today, while buildings made of modern concrete have a much shorter lifespan. Now, researchers from MIT, Harvard, and labs in Italy and Switzerland may have figured out why. MIT News reports that lime could be the key. Close examination of Roman concrete reveals small chunks of white stone known as “lime clasts.” Previously, researchers believed its presence was due to sloppy mixing practices. Now, it seems like these lime clasts could provide critical self-healing functionality to the ancient concrete.
- Soon your glasses may never fog up again. All seasoned glasses wearers know the pain of fogged-up glasses, whether it be from stepping inside when it’s cold outside or all-day mask use. According to Gizmodo, researchers at ETH Zurich in Switzerland are currently working on the solution: an invisible layer of gold coating. Glasses tend to fog up when moisture from humid air or breath hits a cold lens. The moisture then condenses, blinding (or at least annoying) the wearer. The Swiss researchers’ gold coating works by increasing the heat of the glasses by 8 degrees celsius after it absorbs invisible infrared light from the sun, zapping away the fog.
- A blast to Wikipedia’s foundation. Wikipedia has criticized the UK’s new Online Safety Bill plans because the law could potentially force Wikipedia to break its user-driven community model. The bill, if it became law, could potentially force all publishers, even hobbyists and personal users, to proactively take down content. That could also force the Wikipedia Foundation to collect more information about readers, including age verification data. BBC reports that many believe the bill would affect not only big corporations but also public interest websites such as Wikipedia, which could lead to the UK regulating content around the world.
- Instant audio doppelgangers. Microsoft’s new AI technology, VALL-E, can simulate anyone’s voice using just three seconds of audio. VALL-E is a “neural codec language model” that builds on Meta’s EnCodec audio compression technology. ArsTechnica reports the AI program analyzes how a person sounds, breaks that information into discrete components (called “tokens”), and uses training data to match what it “knows” about how that voice would sound if it spoke other phrases outside of the three-second sample.
- Using AI can lead to complacency in reporting. Tech media site CNET has issued multiple corrections to one of their articles created by ChatGPT. Gizmodo describes how in one single AI-written piece describing compounding interest, there were at least five significant inaccuracies, which have now been amended. According to Gizmodo, CNET has published at least 78 articles written by the AI platform, with up to 12 in a single day, originally attributed to “CNET Money Staff.” CNET claimed that all of its AI-generated articles are “reviewed, fact-checked and edited” by real, human staff. But clearly, that alleged oversight isn’t enough to stop ChatGPT’s many generated mistakes from slipping through the cracks.
- Another case of AI platforms in hot water. Three artists are suing Stability AI, DeviantArt, and Midjourney for using AI image generators that remix the copyrighted works of millions of artists without consent. PetaPixel, a blog focusing on photography news, reports that attorney Matthew Butterick from the Joseph Saveri Law Firm claims that these AI image generators are “a 21st-century collage tool that remixes the copyright works of millions of artists whose work was used as training data.” One of the plaintiffs, Karla Oritz, explains that the lawsuit is an attempt to set a precedent for the fair and ethical use of AI.
- Spider Bot, Spider Bot, does whatever Spider Man can. A team of researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a robot named Marvel, which can quickly climb walls and walk across ceilings due to its innovative foot design. According to CNET, the robot uses magnetic force in its feet to stick or release as needed and can be used for inspections, repairs, and maintenance tasks on large steel structures such as ships, bridges, and transmission towers. The inventors claim it is the fastest wall-climbing robot in the world.
Tip of the week: Get compensation when airlines let you down
Reports of travel delays have flooded the headlines for several weeks. COVID is no longer the primary driver of flight cancellations — it now seems to be failing technology within the travel industry. Whether you’re involuntarily denied boarding due to mechanical failure or an overbooked flight, here are some tips for getting the most money when you’re bumped from a flight:
- Know your rights. Familiarize yourself with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s rules for when passengers are bumped from flights, so you can act quickly if it happens.
- Insist on cash. Ask for cash compensation rather than a travel voucher if the airline offers one. When they offer you a voucher first, ask what else they can do better.
- Consider the compensation. Cash is the best bet if you can get it, but make sure to check the expiration dates of any gift cards or vouchers offered. Most airlines will extend a travel voucher for five years or longer.
- Choose your airline carefully. Some airlines are more likely to bump passengers than others. Check their history online.