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Messages - vox_mundi

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1
Science / Re: Satellite News
« on: Today at 12:39:24 AM »
Google Earth Is Now a 3D Time Machine
https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/04/google-earth-is-now-a-3d-time-machine/

Google puts 20 petabytes of historical satellite data into the Google Earth globe.

You can now watch glaciers melt away forever in 3D.


Columbia Glacier

Google has pushed out what it says is Google Earth's "biggest update since 2017" with a new 3D time-lapse feature. Entering the new "Timelapse" mode of Google Earth will let you fly around the virtual globe with a time slider, showing you satellite imagery from the past 37 years. Google Earth Timelapse has been around for years as part of Google Earth Engine (which is a totally separate interface from Google Earth; it's a weird Google branding thing), but it was previously only available in 2D. Now, Google has mapped all this data across the 3D Google Earth globe, where you can watch cities being built, forests being cut down, and glaciers receding.

Google Earth Timelapse isn't just a huge amount of data; properly mapping it across the globe means correcting the images for artifacts and problems. The company had to get clouds out of the way, correct images for perspective, and ensure seamless transitioning through zoom levels. Luckily, Google happens to have some really big computers to handle the load.

The company explains what it took to make Timelapse happen:

... Making a planet-sized timelapse video required a significant amount of what we call “pixel crunching” in Earth Engine, Google's cloud platform for geospatial analysis. To add animated Timelapse imagery to Google Earth, we gathered more than 24 million satellite images from 1984 to 2020, representing quadrillions of pixels. It took more than two million processing hours across thousands of machines in Google Cloud to compile 20 petabytes of satellite imagery into a single 4.4 terapixel-sized video mosaic—that’s the equivalent of 530,000 videos in 4K resolution!

To access the timeline, open up Google Earth on the web, click on the navigation ship's wheel icon, and press the big "Timelapse in Google Earth" button—or just go to http://g.co/timelapse . With Timelapse open, you'll get a big panel on the right side with a timeline from 1984 to today, and a few shortcuts to places Google says are particularly interesting. Google Earth Timelapse doesn't work well across the entire world just yet. Some places, like New York City, appear hopelessly blurry, even when you set the timer to 2020. Google's highlighted locations, like Dubai, look a lot better and play out like a game of SimCity.

Google is pitching Timelapse as a teaching tool for climate change. If you want this information in a more portable format than Google Earth, Google has created a big batch of Earth timelapse videos highlighting "urban expansion, mining impacts, river meandering, the growth of megacities, deforestation, and agricultural expansion." The videos are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0, so you're free to use them for whatever you want as long as you credit Google.


2
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 15, 2021, 10:02:07 PM »
Covid Variant First Detected In India Is Found In the UK
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/15/covid-variant-first-detected-india-found-uk

A coronavirus variant with potentially worrying mutations that was first detected in India has been found in the UK.

In total, 77 cases of the variant, known as B.1.617, have been recorded in the UK up to 14 April, according to the latest update from Public Health England (PHE), released on Thursday. Of these, 73 were recorded in England and 4 in Scotland.

It is the first time PHE has reported the variant in the UK.

... Boris Johnson is expected to travel to India later this month, although his trip has been curtailed as a result of the infections there.

3
The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: April 15, 2021, 09:43:35 PM »

4
Consequences / Re: 2021 ENSO
« on: April 15, 2021, 06:44:59 PM »
Scientists More Confident Projecting ENSO Changes Under Global Warming
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-scientists-confident-enso-global.html

An international team of scientists from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of Tokyo, and the University of California, San Diego reported that ENSO-related climate variability seems doomed to increase under global warming. Their findings were published in Nature Geoscience on April 15.

Recently, the climate science community has found that ENSO's changes in fact strictly obey some basic physical mechanisms, which can reduce uncertainty in ENSO projections under greenhouse warming. "The saturation vapor pressure increases exponentially with the increase of temperature, so the same air temperature anomaly will lead to a larger saturation vapor pressure anomaly in a warmer climate," said lead author Dr. Hu Kaiming from IAP. "As a result, under global warming, even if ENSO's sea surface temperature remains unchanged, the response of tropical lower tropospheric humidity to ENSO will amplify, which in turn results in major reorganization of atmospheric temperature, circulation and rainfall."

Based on this mechanism, the team deduced an intensification in ENSO-driven anomalies in tropical humidity, tropical rainfall, upper tropospheric temperature in the tropics, and the subtropical jets under global warming. Almost all the latest CMIP5/6 climate model projections agreed well with the theoretical deduction, indicating the mechanism and projections were robust. "As extreme weather often results from ENSO-induced anomalous atmospheric circulation and temperature, the intensification of ENSO-driven atmospheric variability suggests that the risk of extreme weather will increase in the future," said Dr. Hu.



Intensification of El Niño-induced atmospheric anomalies under greenhouse warming, Nature Geoscience (2021)
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-021-00730-3

5
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 15, 2021, 03:12:33 PM »
India appears to have it's own variant ...

------------------------------------------

The B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV-2 carries two mutations, E484Q and L452R. Both are separately found in many other coronavirus variants, but they have been reported together for the first time in India.

Genome sequencing data have presented evidence of the 'double mutant' in 61% of samples in Maharashtra.

The E484Q mutation is similar to E484K, a mutation found in the United Kingdom (lineage B.1.1.7) and South Africa (B.1.351) variants of the coronavirus.

The L452R mutation has been found in fast spreading variants in California (B.1.427 and B.1.429). It can increase the binding power of spike proteins with ACE2 receptors on human cells, making it more transmissible. L452R can also potentially enhance viral replication.

Together, E484Q and L452R are more infectious, and can evade antibodies.

The central government had reported in March that 15-20 per cent samples in Maharashtra had this variant; on the basis of the latest sequencing data we know that this number is now over 60 per cent.

Clinicians and district administrators in Maharashtra are reporting that unlike in the first wave, entire families are getting infected in the second wave. This could indicate either that physical distancing and isolation measures are inadequate in the household, or that the virus has become more transmissible.

Dr Gangandeep Kang, professor of microbiology at Christian Medical College, Vellore, said 60.9 per cent samples carrying this variant “most likely” showed a link between the mutation and the surge — however, for an accurate answer at least 1 per cent of Covid-19 samples must be sequenced every week.

... Prof Vinod Scaria, principal scientist, CSIR-IGIB, agreed that “we cannot conclusively say that these variants are driving the surge in the second wave”. However, evidence suggests that at least in some states, the B.1.1617 lineage is predominant, and could be contributing to the rise in cases, he said. “This lineage is defined by 15 genetic variants including six spike protein variants. Two of these (E484Q and L452R) are involved in immune escape as well as increased infectivity,” Prof Scaria said.

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/maharashtra-double-mutant-found-b-1-617-variant-and-the-surge-7274080/lite/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-56507988.amp

6
EU Considering Ban On AI for Mass Surveillance and Social Credit Scores
https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/14/22383301/eu-ai-regulation-draft-leak-surveillance-social-credit

The European Union is considering banning the use of artificial intelligence for a number of purposes, including mass surveillance and social credit scores. This is according to a leaked proposal that is circulating online, first reported by Politico, ahead of an official announcement expected next week.

If the draft proposal is adopted, it would see the EU take a strong stance on certain applications of AI, setting it apart from the US and China. Some use cases would be policed in a manner similar to the EU’s regulation of digital privacy under GDPR legislation.

According to a copy of the draft seen by The Verge, the draft regulations include:

- A ban on AI for “indiscriminate surveillance,” including systems that directly track individuals in physical environments or aggregate data from other sources

- A ban on AI systems that create social credit scores, which means judging someone’s trustworthiness based on social behavior or predicted personality traits

- Special authorization for using “remote biometric identification systems” like facial recognition in public spaces

- Notifications required when people are interacting with an AI system, unless this is “obvious from the circumstances and the context of use”

- New oversight for “high-risk” AI systems, including those that pose a direct threat to safety, like self-driving cars, and those that have a high chance of affecting someone’s livelihood, like those used for job hiring, judiciary decisions, and credit scoring

- Assessment for high-risk systems before they’re put into service, including making sure these systems are explicable to human overseers and that they’re trained on “high quality” datasets tested for bias

- The creation of a “European Artificial Intelligence Board,” consisting of representatives from every nation-state, to help the commission decide which AI systems count as “high-risk” and to recommend changes to prohibitions

Perhaps the most important section of the document is Article 4, which prohibits certain uses of AI, including mass surveillance and social credit scores.

7
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 15, 2021, 01:54:19 PM »
India Faces a Health Crisis As COVID-19 Cases Soar
https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN2C213Z
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/15/india-records-over-200000-new-covid-cases-for-the-first-time

Video: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-india-56747867

NEW DELHI/BANGKOK (Reuters) - India and Thailand reported record daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, as a new wave of infections, combined with a shortage of hospital beds and vaccines, threatens to slow Asia's recovery from the pandemic.

India breached 200,000 daily infections for the first time on Thursday and the financial hub of Mumbai entered a lockdown, as many hospitals reported shortages of beds and oxygen supplies.

The surge was the seventh record daily increase in the last eight days and takes the total caseload to 14.1 million, only second to the United States.



Doctors have expressed fears for patients after the government ordered that the majority of the beds in 14 of Delhi’s biggest private hospitals be reserved exclusively for Covid patients, as the Indian capital’s healthcare system struggles to cope with the virulent second wave.

The announcement by the government came as the situation in Delhi grew increasingly dire, with over 17,000 new cases reported on Wednesday, breaking all records since the pandemic began, and 104 deaths. The capital has overtaken Mumbai, previously Covid ground zero in India, in terms of the number of new cases reported every day.

In an unprecedented move, the Delhi government initially ordered for all 14 hospitals to be dedicated exclusively to Covid patients, but partially back-tracked after outcry. Under the revised edict, 3,553 beds out of a total of 4,337 in these hospitals will now be reserved for Covid patients only.

A further 101 private hospitals will have to reserve 60% of their beds for coronavirus patients.

... “This virus is more infectious and virulent… We have 35-year olds with pneumonia in intensive care, which was not happening last year,” said Dhiren Gupta, a paediatrician at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi. “The situation is chaotic.”

Due to the surge in cases, there has been huge stress on the country’s fragile health infrastructure, with many areas reporting shortages of intensive care (ICU) beds and oxygen cylinders in several states.



... Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims thronged to the Kumbh Mela religious festival in Haridwar, in the north of the country on Wednesday, stoking fears of another surge in COVID-19 cases.

... "They believe that Maa (mother) Ganga will save them from this pandemic."

Of some 50,000 samples taken from people in Haridwar, 408 tested positive on Monday and 594 on Tuesday, the Uttarakhand state government said.

In India's financial capital Mumbai, where the Maharashtra state government has imposed tougher lockdown measures, migrant workers at a train station said they were leaving for their homes in other states after the tighter restrictions were announced.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/14/super-spreader-over-1000-covid-positive-at-indias-kumbh-mela

Rising infections have also put strain on the healthcare system in Manila and Bangkok.

--------------------------------------------------

WHO Says Covid Pandemic is Growing 'Exponentially' at More Than 4.4 Million New Cases a Week
https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2021/04/12/who-says-covid-pandemic-is-growing-exponentially-at-more-than-4point4-million-new-cases-a-week.html

The WHO said the trajectory of the pandemic is now "growing exponentially" at more than 4.4 million new Covid-19 cases.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the agency's technical lead for Covid-19, said "we're in a critical point of the pandemic."

"This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic where we have proven control measures," she said

--------------------------------------------------

In Spain, a Fourth Wave of COVID-19 is Taking Hold
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/15/in-spain-a-fourth-wave-of-covid-19-is-taking-hold

A fourth wave of coronavirus infections appears to be emerging in Spain, where case numbers have risen to their highest levels since late February.

Spain’s Health Ministry reported 10,474 new infections on Wednesday, bringing the overall tally to 3.39 million in one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries.

The rise in cases also coincided with an uptick in Spain’s death toll, which climbed by 131 on Wednesday to 76,756 overall, according to the health ministry’s figures.

In the central region of Madrid, which houses Spain’s capital, the 14-day cumulative case rate now stands at 347 per 100,000 people, according to El Pais.

-------------------------------------------------------

New Coronavirus Cases are Rising In Half the Country
https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-cases-infections-vaccines-variants-e3e14f79-7fe4-4bbe-a6ca-8ef2c3cd0940.html



The number of new coronavirus infections in the U.S continues to rise, making a quick, clean end to the pandemic less and less likely.

Much of the U.S. is relying almost exclusively on vaccines to control the virus, abandoning social distancing and other safety measures. And that’s helping the virus to steadily gain ground even as vaccinations barrel ahead.

The U.S. averaged roughly 71,000 new cases per day over the past week. That’s about a 9% jump over the daily average from the week before.

Why it matters: Another surge in cases is likely to be a lot less deadly than previous waves, because so many vulnerable Americans have been vaccinated. But it will provide fertile conditions for the virus to continue mutating into new variants, keeping the coronavirus in our lives even longer.

8
Consequences / Re: Drought 2021
« on: April 15, 2021, 12:47:02 PM »
Epic Drought Means Water Crisis On Oregon-California Border
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-epic-drought-crisis-oregon-california-border.html

Hundreds of farmers who rely on a massive irrigation project that spans the Oregon-California border learned Wednesday they will get a tiny fraction of the water they need amid the worst drought in decades, as federal regulators attempt to balance the needs of agriculture against federally threatened and endangered fish species that are central to the heritage of several tribes.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation briefed irrigators, tribes and environmental groups early Wednesday after delaying the decision a month. The federally owned irrigation project will draw 33,000 acre-feet of water from Upper Klamath Lake, which farmers said was roughly 8% of what they need in such a dry year. Water deliveries will also start June 1, two months later than usual, for the 1,400 irrigators who farm the 225,000 acres (91,000 hectares).

"The simple fact is it just hasn't rained or snowed this year. We all know how dry our fields are, and the rest of the watersheds are in the same boat. ... There is no easy way to say this," Ben DuVal, president of the Klamath Water Users Association, told several dozen irrigators who gathered in Klamath Falls on Wednesday morning to hear the news.

"We all know what this is going to mean to our farms, our families and our community as a whole. For some of us, it may mean we're not in business anymore next year."

... "What we're seeing with climate change increasingly—year after year after year—is that there is not enough water to go around. This crisis should not come as a surprise to anyone," he said. "We have over-drafted our account, essentially, and now we have to deal with the consequences."

9
Nvidia's New Grace CPU Is Designed for AI-Powered Supercomputers
https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/data-center/grace-cpu/
https://venturebeat.com/2021/04/12/nvidia-unveils-grace-arm-based-cpu-for-giant-scale-ai-and-hpc-apps/amp/

... Following tradition, NVIDIA made the GTC 2021 conference a stage for many significant ML, AI, networking, and data center announcements. One of NVIDIA CEO and founder Jensen Huang’s most exciting announcements was the development and 2023 deployment of a newly designed AI platform robust enough to accommodate the training of future AI models that almost rival the number of synapses in a human brain.

... “The real test for artificial intelligence is its ability to understand the language, what people are saying, what the words mean, and being able to reply humanly with insight. At this point, there's no limit to the size of the neural networks that can be used to solve it.”

... As an example, in 2018, Google published a transformer-based machine learning technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training. This early model was called BERT and had 340 million connections. BERT was open-source and developed for a wide range of search engine-related tasks such as answering questions and language inference.

Today, models like Open AI’s GPT-3 with up to 175 billion connections have dwarfed BERT. That many connections may sound like a lot but compared to the human brain with 150 trillion connections, it is relatively small.

Today’s largest AI models include billions of parameters and are doubling every two and a half months. Training them requires a new CPU that can be tightly coupled with a GPU to eliminate system bottlenecks. 

As AI model sizes continue to grow, by 2023 NVIDIA believes that models will have 100 trillion or more connections. Models of that size will exceed the technical capabilities of existing platforms.

Grace is a highly specialized processor targeting those workloads such as training next-generation NLP models that have over 1 trillion parameters.

... A vital feature of the Grace module is a breakthrough CPU designed and built by NVIDIA for giant scale AI and HPC applications. The CPU sits directly next to existing GPUs with a high-speed interconnect between the two processors. The interconnecting link has a bandwidth of 900 gigabytes/second, that is 14X greater than today. It will allow trillion connection models to be trained and perform inference on a real-time basis.



... NVIDIA already has a customer for Grace. The Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS), Hewlett Packard Enterprise and NVIDIA, announced building the world's most powerful AI-capable supercomputer – ALPS.  It will deliver 20 exaflops of AI.

As a reference point, with NVIDIA Grace and the new generation of GPUs, Alps will have the capability to train GPT-3, one of the world’s largest natural language processing model, in only two days — 7x faster than NVIDIA’s 2.8-AI exaflops Selene supercomputer, currently recognized as the world’s leading supercomputer for AI by MLPerf.

Almost everyone interested in AI is curious to determine what can be done with 100 trillion parameter models.  AGI?

--------------------------------------------------

The NVIDIA roadmap indicates the development of Grace 2.0 in 2025. At this point, we can only speculate on new features other than there is a high likelihood there will be an increase of Grace-GPU pairs from four to a more significant number, perhaps as high as eight.

10
No Human Can Match This High-Speed Box-Unloading Robot Named After a Pickle
https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/no-human-can-match-this-highspeed-boxunloading-robot-named-after-a-pickle

Today at ProMat, a company called Pickle Robots is announcing Dill, a robot that can unload boxes from the back of a trailer at places like ecommerce fulfillment warehouses at very high speeds. With a peak box unloading rate of 1800 boxes per hour and a payload of up to 25 kg, Dill can substantially outperform even an expert human, and it can keep going pretty much forever as long as you have it plugged into the wall.

Pickle Robots says that Dill’s approach to the box unloading task is unique in a couple of ways. First, it can handle messy trailers filled with a jumble of boxes of different shapes, colors, sizes, and weights. And second, from the get-go it’s intended to work under human supervision, relying on people to step in and handle edge cases.



Pickle’s “Dill” robot is based around a Kuka arm with up to 30 kg of payload. It uses two Intel L515s (Lidar-based RGB-D cameras) for box detection. The system is mounted on a wheeled base, and after getting positioned at the back of a trailer by a human operator, it’ll crawl forward by itself as it picks its way into the trailer. We’re told that the rate at which the robot can shift boxes averages 1600 per hour, with a peak speed closer to 1800 boxes per hour. A single human in top form can move about 800 boxes per hour, so Dill is very, very fast.

... Depending on the configuration, the system can cost anywhere from $50-100k to deploy and about that same amount per year to operate. ... or you could hire 2 humans

While Pickle is currently working on several other configurations of robots for package handling, this particular truck unloading configuration will be shipping to customers next year.

... Focusing on a very specific problem is a good approach for robots, because then you can design a robot that does an excellent job of solving that problem, which is what Pickle has done. Boston Dynamics has chosen a different route with  Stretch, which is to build a robot that has the potential to do many other warehouse tasks, although not nearly as optimally.

The other big difference between Boston Dynamics and Pickle is, of course, that Boston Dynamics is focusing on autonomy.

https://www.picklerobot.com/

11
NYPD Deploys "Black Mirror" New Robot Dog In Manhattan Public Housing Complex
https://champ.gothamist.com/champ/gothamist/news/nypd-deploys-alarming-robot-dog-manhattan-public-housing-complex

A video shared on Twitter shows the robot trotting out of a building on East 28th Street in front of two NYPD officers, then slowly descending the stairs as bystanders look on in shock. "I've never seen nothing like this before in my life," one woman can be heard saying.

Video: https://mobile.twitter.com/1800SPOILED/status/1381755654164074498

https://mobile.twitter.com/AucelloMelanie/status/1381721075210391555

"Right now it seems to be a fancy toy in search of an actual use case," Albert Fox Cahn, the founder of the advocacy group Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP), told Gothamist. "It's really alarming to see them roll out these props from a bad Black Mirror episode without any real public safety justification."

Militarization of police. Over $70k for just one of these NYPD robotic dogs. Meanwhile, agencies across the city that deliver essential services and programs are facing cuts.

"The NYPD is turning New Yorkers into surveillance guinea pigs," Cahn said.

-------------------------------------------

Russian Army to Set Up First Military Unit Armed With Attack Robots
https://tass.com/defense/1276039



On Thursday, TASS announced that “the first unit with strike robots will be set up in the Russian Armed Forces to operate five Uran-9 robotic systems or 20 combat vehicles.”

... “an experimental unit is being established on the premises of one of the Defense Ministry’s scientific research centers” to develop tactics and operating procedures and train troops.

The Uran-9 is armed with a 30mm automatic gun, Ataka anti-tank missiles and Shmel flamethrowers. If there’s a threat from low-flying aircraft, those rockets can be swapped out for Strela or Igla short-range anti-aircraft missiles.

... The robo-tanks do have some limited autonomous capabilities if they lose their signal—particularly for maneuvering around obstacles when moving along pre-programmed paths. Some sources claim the Uran-9 may also be able to detect, identify and engage enemy forces without manual human direction.

Built by the 766th Production and Technological Enterprise, it made its combat debut in Syria with mixed results.

https://defence-blog.com/news/army/combat-tests-syria-brought-light-deficiencies-russian-unmanned-mini-tank.html

-------------------------------------------------

In other news ...

Boston Dynamics’ Robot Dog Spot Has Been Taught to Piss Beer In a Cup On Command
https://mashable.com/article/boston-dynamics-spot-beer/

... Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like. Reeves equipped Spot with a tank of beer, a nozzle, a camera, and a wireless HDMI signal transmitter, among other gizmos. He also wrote some clever code to make the robot recognize an empty beer cup on the floor, position itself over it, and spray beer into it.

Ideally, if you were at one of Reeves' parties, you could place an empty beer cup on the floor, and the robot dog would come and fill it up.

It doesn't work perfectly. Spot often missed the cup and slipped on the beer-covered-slippery floor. Still, given the level of precision required to do this stunt, it's pretty amazing that it even worked some of the time.


12
The politics / Re: The Alt Right
« on: April 14, 2021, 12:52:56 AM »
The Rise of Domestic Extremism In America
https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/interactive/2021/domestic-terrorism-data/

Domestic terrorism incidents have soared to new highs in the United States, driven chiefly by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists on the far right, according to a Washington Post analysis of data compiled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The surge reflects a growing threat from homegrown terrorism not seen in a quarter-century, with right-wing extremist attacks and plots greatly eclipsing those from the far left and causing more deaths, the analysis shows.

Since 2015, right-wing extremists have been involved in 267 plots or attacks and 91 fatalities, the data shows. At the same time, attacks and plots ascribed to far-left views accounted for 66 incidents leading to 19 deaths.

More than a quarter of right-wing incidents and just under half of the deaths in those incidents were caused by people who showed support for white supremacy or claimed to belong to groups espousing that ideology, the analysis shows.

Victims of all incidents in recent years represent a broad cross-section of American society, including Blacks, Jews, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, Asians and other people of color who have been attacked by right-wing extremists wielding vehicles, guns, knives and fists.

... The Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol spurred renewed national attention on domestic terrorism and on hate-driven violence. ...

Report: https://www.csis.org/analysis/military-police-and-rise-terrorism-united-states

13
Policy and solutions / Re: Transport and self driving vehicles
« on: April 14, 2021, 12:27:33 AM »
Israelis May Ban High Tech Cars From Bases: ‘Perfect Espionage Vector’
https://breakingdefense.com/2021/04/israelis-may-ban-teslas-other-high-tech-cars-from-military-bases-the-perfect-espionage-vector/

TEL AVIV: Everyone who spends time around the military or embassies knows about tight restrictions on cell phones, smart watches, and cameras.

Well, there’s a new threat in town. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are evaluating the danger from connected cars with cameras and global positioning systems (GPS) and may ban their entry into its bases. Senior IDF officers get leased cars and use them to drive to work. Many Israel Air Force officers drive near advanced systems, such as US-made fighters and other aircraft.

Several experts here say that civilians work in many IDF bases, adding to the potential threat.

... “Most connected cars have cameras and audio recording capabilities that can be activated remotely,” Evans said. “This is by design. Sometimes within the confines of a base, people will discuss classified things that they shouldn’t be discussing outside of a classified facility, such as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. When they see other people, they are more careful. But cars are generally viewed as non-threats. Add to that the fact that you don’t really even need to compromise the car, but just the owner’s car account or cell phone, and it creates literally the perfect espionage vector.”

Elon Musk’s car company Tesla began selling its cars in Israel three weeks ago, and the demand is high. “The advanced cars are equipped with cameras and GPS systems, and they can be hacked and the data can therefore go to the enemy,” one security expert told Breaking Defense.

“Some of these vehicles boast 4k or at least HD camera capabilities,” Evans notes. “That is not just a fancy name for a resolution. You can take a seemingly harmless photo of a building 1,000 feet away, but at 4k, zoom in really close with the resulting video or picture, and you can see secrets not meant to be seen from outside the building. 4k cameras are much, much better than our eyes at spying for this reason.”

As for GPS, Evans said, “This one is a little more simple, but knowing the GPS location of a military base is not hard information to find. But the GPS location of a specific secret building on that base is a different story. Imagine you work at a nuclear research part of a base. Its location is secret. But you have a smart car. Through other espionage activities, I found out you work there. I hack your phone or your car’s online account. I track your location as you go to work every day. Now I know the specific GPS location of your work facility. It goes downhill quickly from there.”

... An attacker will look for the weakest link in the chain, so instead of targeting a hardened vehicle, an attacker may target the backend or mobile app instead. Consequently, besides securing the connected car itself, it is imperative that automakers also employ approaches to secure their backend systems and relevant mobile apps.”

14
Arctic sea ice / Re: What's new in the Arctic ?
« on: April 14, 2021, 12:01:55 AM »
Snow Chaos In Europe Caused By Melting Sea-Ice In Arctic
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-chaos-europe-sea-ice-arctic.html



... It is the loss of the Arctic sea-ice due to climate warming that has, somewhat paradoxically, been implicated with severe cold and snowy mid-latitude winters.

Alun Hubbard, from CAGE Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, is the co-author of a study in Nature Geoscience examining this counter-intuitive climatic paradox: A 50% reduction in Arctic sea-ice cover has increased open-water and winter evaporation to fuel more extreme snowfall further south across Europe.

The study, led by Dr. Hanna Bailey at the University of Oulu, Finland, has more specifically found that the long-term decline of Arctic sea-ice since the late 1970s had a direct connection to one specific weather event: "Beast from the East"—the February snowfall that brought large parts of the European continent to a halt in 2018, causing £1bn a day in losses.

The study, led by Dr. Hanna Bailey at the University of Oulu, Finland, has more specifically found that the long-term decline of Arctic sea-ice since the late 1970s had a direct connection to one specific weather event: "Beast from the East"—the February snowfall that brought large parts of the European continent to a halt in 2018, causing £1bn a day in losses.

Researchers discovered that atmospheric vapor traveling south from the Arctic carried a unique geochemical fingerprint, revealing that its source was the warm, open-water surface of the Barents Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean between Norway, Russia, and Svalbard. They found that during the "Beast from the East," open-water conditions in the Barents Sea supplied up to 88% of the corresponding fresh snow that fell over Europe.

"What we're finding is that sea-ice is effectively a lid on the ocean. And with its long-term reduction across the Arctic, we're seeing increasing amounts of moisture enter the atmosphere during winter, which directly impacts our weather further south, causing extreme heavy snowfalls. It might seem counter-intuitive, but nature is complex and what happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic." says Bailey.

When analyzing the long-term trends from 1979 onwards, researchers found that for every square meter of winter sea-ice lost from the Barents Sea, there was a corresponding 70 kg increase in the evaporation, moisture, and snow falling over Europe.

Their findings indicate that within the next 60 years, a predicted ice-free Barents Sea will likely become a significant source of increased winter precipitation—be it rain or snow—for Europe.

"This study illustrates that the abrupt changes being witnessed across the Arctic now, really are affecting the entire planet," says professor Hubbard.



Hannah Bailey et al, Arctic sea-ice loss fuels extreme European snowfall, Nature Geoscience (2021).
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-021-00719-y
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350568647_Arctic_sea-ice_loss_fuels_extreme_European_snowfall

15
Permafrost / Re: Northern Hemisphere snow cover
« on: April 14, 2021, 12:01:15 AM »
Snow Chaos In Europe Caused By Melting Sea-Ice In Arctic
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-chaos-europe-sea-ice-arctic.html



... It is the loss of the Arctic sea-ice due to climate warming that has, somewhat paradoxically, been implicated with severe cold and snowy mid-latitude winters.

Alun Hubbard, from CAGE Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, is the co-author of a study in Nature Geoscience examining this counter-intuitive climatic paradox: A 50% reduction in Arctic sea-ice cover has increased open-water and winter evaporation to fuel more extreme snowfall further south across Europe.

The study, led by Dr. Hanna Bailey at the University of Oulu, Finland, has more specifically found that the long-term decline of Arctic sea-ice since the late 1970s had a direct connection to one specific weather event: "Beast from the East"—the February snowfall that brought large parts of the European continent to a halt in 2018, causing £1bn a day in losses.

The study, led by Dr. Hanna Bailey at the University of Oulu, Finland, has more specifically found that the long-term decline of Arctic sea-ice since the late 1970s had a direct connection to one specific weather event: "Beast from the East"—the February snowfall that brought large parts of the European continent to a halt in 2018, causing £1bn a day in losses.

Researchers discovered that atmospheric vapor traveling south from the Arctic carried a unique geochemical fingerprint, revealing that its source was the warm, open-water surface of the Barents Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean between Norway, Russia, and Svalbard. They found that during the "Beast from the East," open-water conditions in the Barents Sea supplied up to 88% of the corresponding fresh snow that fell over Europe.

"What we're finding is that sea-ice is effectively a lid on the ocean. And with its long-term reduction across the Arctic, we're seeing increasing amounts of moisture enter the atmosphere during winter, which directly impacts our weather further south, causing extreme heavy snowfalls. It might seem counter-intuitive, but nature is complex and what happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic." says Bailey.

When analyzing the long-term trends from 1979 onwards, researchers found that for every square meter of winter sea-ice lost from the Barents Sea, there was a corresponding 70 kg increase in the evaporation, moisture, and snow falling over Europe.

Their findings indicate that within the next 60 years, a predicted ice-free Barents Sea will likely become a significant source of increased winter precipitation—be it rain or snow—for Europe.

"This study illustrates that the abrupt changes being witnessed across the Arctic now, really are affecting the entire planet," says professor Hubbard.



Hannah Bailey et al, Arctic sea-ice loss fuels extreme European snowfall, Nature Geoscience (2021).
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-021-00719-y
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350568647_Arctic_sea-ice_loss_fuels_extreme_European_snowfall

16
Glaciers / Re: Alaska Glaciers
« on: April 13, 2021, 01:22:51 AM »
The National Park Service has a surge page now ...

https://www.nps.gov/articles/dena-muldrow.htm

Denali Park glacier surging 65 feet a day, threatening summit route

... Before the surge, the ice was moving between 3 and 11 inches per day. Now it's moving 30 to 60 feet per day, according to satellite image analysis.

During the last surge event in 1956-57, the glacier moved over 4 miles in a period of months.

"It's gone from basically a very smooth, level ice surface to a totally impassable crevassed area," Adema said.



... “[There’s the] potential for a very intense outburst flood. There’s just masses of water trapped under that glacier, to lubricate that surface to the extent where it can surge at this rate,” he said. “The reason the surge ends is because that trapped water finds a path out.”

17
Policy and solutions / Re: Transport and self driving vehicles
« on: April 12, 2021, 07:25:25 PM »
Thanks for opening this thread, NeilT.

Your study on the average driver brought to mind the closing words of the monologue on Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon  ... "Well, that's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Wobegon

------------------------------------------------------

Here's another self-driving entrant ...

----------------------------------------------

Intel’s Mobileye Will Launch a Fully Driverless Delivery Service In 2023
https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/12/22375759/intel-mobileye-udelv-autonomous-vehicle-delivery-2023



Mobileye, the company that specializes in chips for vision-based autonomous vehicles, announced that it will launch a full-scale, fully driverless delivery service starting in 2023. The company, a subsidiary of Intel, is joining forces with self-driving delivery startup Udelv to run this new service.

Deliveries will be made using a new type of cabin-less vehicle called The Transporter. While manufacturing plans are still in flux, Mobileye and Udelv say they will produce 35,000 Transporters between 2023–2028 — a signal of their seriousness to launch a driverless delivery system at scale.

The vehicle will be compatible with DC fast charging and will have a top speed of 65 mph. A spokesperson said that Udelv will announce its manufacturing plans for the Transporter at a later date.

Mobileye’s turn-key self-driving system features a full-sensor suite of 13 cameras, three long-range LiDARs, six short-range LiDARs, and six radar. It also includes the Israeli company’s EyeQ system-on-a-chip and a data crowdsourcing program called the Road Experience Management, or REM, which uses real-time data from Mobileye-equipped vehicles to build out a global 3D map.

While the Transporter will be fully autonomous, it won’t be completely alone in the wilderness. Udelv says the vehicle will have ultra-low-latency teleoperation capabilities, meaning a remote operator can offer a prompt to the vehicle if it gets tripped up.

The company is also testing autonomous vehicles in a variety of cities around the world for the eventual launch of a robotaxi service and has said it would bring its technology to personally owned consumer vehicles by 2025 as well.

Udelv is an interesting choice for a partner for Mobileye. One of the few AV startups that has yet to be acquired by a larger company, Udelv has been testing autonomous delivery vans in a variety of markets across the US over the last few years, including Oklahoma City, Arizona, and the Bay Area in California. Udelv said it has completed 20,000 deliveries for merchants in the cities where it has operations.

----------------------------------------------------------

GM's Cruise to Operate All-Electric Driverless Cars In Dubai
https://techxplore.com/news/2021-04-gm-cruise-all-electric-driverless-cars.html

Dubai said Monday that U.S. self-driving car company Cruise will become the first to operate autonomous taxis and ride-hailing services in the United Arab Emirates city of more than three million people.

It is the first venture outside of the U.S. for General Motors-owned Cruise, which has been operating electric vehicles in San Francisco for years, although it just recently began testing without the safety of a backup driver in the car. Cruise plans to begin offering a fully autonomous ride-hailing service there but it has not said when that will begin.

The partnership, Dubai officials said, aims to reduce traffic accidents, cut pollution and save money while converting 25% of all trips in the city to driverless transport by 2030.

As part of the agreement, Cruise will establish a Dubai-based company that will be responsible for the fleet of roomy vehicles, which have four passenger seats and no visible driver's seat or controls.

The fleet is expected to start operating in 2023 in limited numbers, before scaling up to as many as 4,000 vehicles by 2030, Al Tayer said.



-------------------------------------------

Your Next Pizza From Domino's Could Be Delivered By a Robot
https://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2021/04/12/pepperoni-for-the-robot-dominos-nuro-test-autonomous-pizza-delivery/
https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/technology/dominos-putting-its-delivery-robot-work



The chain and autonomous vehicle maker Nuro will start testing the R2 vehicle at a location in Houston this week.

Customers can choose to have their pizza delivered by Nuro’s R2 robot—Nuro’s first autonomous, occupantless on-road vehicle with regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

... “This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations.”

For the pizza chain, Nuro could provide a solution to perpetual challenges in finding drivers, a challenge that has only intensified in recent months. Nuro has also recently received some attention from other companies—Chipotle Mexican Grill invested in the company last month.

18
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 12, 2021, 02:55:06 PM »
Brazil Now Has More Young Than Old COVID Patients In ICUs
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-brazil-young-covid-patients-icus.html

The number of COVID-19 patients under 40 in intensive care in Brazil surpassed older groups last month, a researcher said Sunday, amid a deadly surge driven partly by a new coronavirus variant.

The number of people aged 39 or younger in intensive care units with COVID-19 in March rose sharply to more than 11,000, or 52.2 percent of the total, said the Brazilian ICU Project.

That was up from 14.6 percent of total ICU patients early in the pandemic and around 45 percent from September through February.

"Previously, this was a population that would typically only develop a less-severe form of the disease and would not need intensive care. So the increase for this age group is very significant," said Dr. Ederlon Rezende, co-coordinator of the project, an initiative of the Brazilian Association of Intensive Medicine (AMIB).

... The numbers suggest that COVID Variant P1, which can re-infect people who have had the original strain of the virus, may also be more virulent, Rezende said.

"The patients arriving in ICUs now are younger, have no pre-existing conditions and are developing more severe cases of the virus, too," he told AFP.

The number of ICU patients without pre-existing conditions increased by nearly a third in March, to 30.3 percent of the total.

And the proportion of patients put on ventilators reached a pandemic record of 58.1 percent in March, according to the project's data.

19
The rest / War, War, War
« on: April 11, 2021, 05:49:51 PM »
War, War, War

It's that Season again; and those who have squandered humanity's future on the 'Great Game' are dusting off their toys and setting up their pieces on the playing field.

Other threads cover some of the precursors to wars, like inequality, overpopulation, and economic or political rivalry, maybe this should cover, what Carl von Clausewitz had said - "diplomacy by other means." That and mans inhumanity to fellow man.

War is not inevitable, but I wouldn't sell it short

------------------------------------------



------------------------------------------

Russian Armor Floods Toward Border With Ukraine Amid Fears Of An "Imminent Crisis"
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/40016/russian-armor-floods-toward-border-with-ukraine-amid-fears-of-an-imminent-crisis



Trains loaded with large amounts of Russian military hardware, including tanks and other heavy armored vehicles, as well as heavy artillery, appear to be streaming toward the country's borders with Ukraine. There are unconfirmed reports that the scale of these movements is so significant that it has, to the dismay of Russian farmers, disrupted shipments of tractors and other agricultural equipment ahead of the spring harvest season. U.S. officials are now worried that a new major round of fighting between Russia and Ukraine may be imminent as a ceasefire is at risk of expiring tomorrow.

It's not entirely clear when the Russian buildup began, but video footage and other imagery reportedly showing armored vehicles and other military equipment on trains heading toward southwestern Russian has been appearing on social media since at least March 27, 2021. There have also been sightings of large ground convoys and groups of aircraft.



https://mobile.twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1376965845172289536

https://mobile.twitter.com/Eire_QC/status/1377017401401835521

This includes at least one clip of a trainload of 152mm 2S19 Msta-S self-propelled howitzers, BMP-3 infantry fight vehicles, and other military vehicles, crossing a bridge that now links Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, and footage of what appears to be the same train in the Crimean city of Kerch. Russian forces seized this region from Ukraine in 2014 and the Kremlin subsequently annexed it.

... Though the new Russian military buildup is clearly at least a message meant for Ukrainian authorities, what the Kremlin's exact plan is remains unclear. The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, which includes representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the multinational Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), reportedly failed to agree on the terms of an extension of an existing ceasefire agreement in Donbass beyond April 1.

... Ukraine is not a NATO member or otherwise a formal American ally, though they are an important regional security partner, and it's unclear how willing or able the U.S. government would be to prevent any new major incursion by Russia into Ukraine.

---------------------------------------------

Turkey Confirms 2 U.S. Destroyers Are Headed For The Black Sea Amid Russia-Ukraine Crisis
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/40118/turkey-confirms-u-s-destroyers-are-headed-for-the-black-sea-amid-russia-ukraine-crisis

----------------------------------------------

Russian Gunboats Head To The Black Sea To Join Military Buildup Near Ukraine
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/40103/russian-gunboats-head-to-the-black-sea-to-join-troop-buildup-near-ukraine

The Russian Navy is sending 10 vessels, a mixture of landing craft and small gunboats, from its Caspian Sea Flotilla to the Black Sea. The deployment is ostensibly part of a larger series of readiness drills, but comes amid a continuing and worrisome Russian military buildup near the country's borders with Ukraine. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, has also said there has been a spike in GPS jamming in the region, which has impacted its ability to monitor the situation as part of an existing agreement between Russia and Ukraine. All of this only further fuels concerns that a significant escalation in the conflict between these two countries may be imminent. ...

-----------------------------------------

Kiev estimates there are now 85,000 Russian troops between 6 and 25 miles from its border and in Crimea.

-------------------------------------------



--------------------------------------------

U.S. And Chinese Carrier Groups Mass In The South China Sea
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/40131/u-s-and-chinese-carrier-groups-mass-in-the-south-china-sea

The northern reaches of the South China Sea have become very busy as of late with two U.S. carrier groups and one Chinese carrier group in the region.

Tensions between China and its regional neighbors in the South China and Philippine Seas increased markedly this week. Naval exercises by both the United States and China have massed an unusual number of warships in the South China Sea at a time of renewed diplomatic friction as concerns over China’s territorial ambitions grow.

The uptick began late last week. The War Zone reported that China’s Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) maneuvered through the strategic Miyako Strait on Sunday, just southwest of Okinawa. Since then, a separate point of tension between China and the Philippines over a 200 ship mass of fishing vessels identified as part of China’s People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) led to a series of heated diplomatic exchanges between Manila and Beijing.

Open-source intelligence analysts tracked the movements of the Liaoning carrier strike group this week as it appeared to traverse the Luzon strait, the body of water that, along with the Bohai Channel, separates the Philippines and Taiwan. This crucially strategic area is also the primary boundary between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea and connects the greater Pacific to the northern reaches of the South China Sea.

By April 10th, analysts flagged one Type 055 Renhai class missile destroyer and one Type 052D Luyang class destroyer splitting from the group and heading north towards the Taiwan strait:

Imagery derived from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite identified an unusually large number of military vessels in the South China Sea on Saturday:

Yesterday the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) conducted a coordinated exercise in the South China Sea. The TRCSG consists of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), Destroyer Squadron 23, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59). The USS Makin Island's group also consisted of amphibious assault ships the USS Somerset and USS San Diego.

... The Taiwan area has also recently seen an increase in drone incursions. On Wednesday, Taiwanese official Ocean Affairs Council Chair Lee Chung-wei addressed the drone issue, describing them as circling the island. He declared a willingness to shoot them down, stating “if we need to open fire, we will open fire.” Additionally, China has recently invested heavily in coastal bases, such as a massive new helicopter base directly across the strait of Taiwan that could prove essential to a major offensive against the island.

Meanwhile, the week saw a near-constant stream of Chinese overflights of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, there have been 46 overflights across the southwestern portion of the Taiwan Strait. These flights have included as many as fifteen People’s Liberation Army aircraft at one time, including 8 J-10 and 4 J-16 fighter aircraft in one incident.

------------------------------------------

meanwhile ...



-----------------------------------------

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_War_War



https://www.countryjoe.com/war.htm

------------------------------------------

20
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 11, 2021, 04:19:56 PM »
Official: Chinese Vaccines’ Effectiveness Low
https://apnews.com/article/beijing-immunizations-chengdu-coronavirus-pandemic-china-675bcb6b5710c7329823148ffbff6ef9

BEIJING (AP) — In a rare admission of the weakness of Chinese coronavirus vaccines, the country’s top disease control official says their effectiveness is low and the government is considering mixing them to get a boost.

Chinese vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates,” said the director of the China Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, at a conference Saturday in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

Beijing has distributed hundreds of millions of doses abroad while trying to promote doubt about the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine made using the previously experimental messenger RNA, or mRNA, process.

Gao gave no details of possible changes in strategy but cited mRNA as a possibility. “It’s now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunization process,” Gao said.

Vaccines made by two state-owned drug makers, Sinovac and Sinopharm, have been exported to 22 countries including Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Hungary, Brazil and Turkey, according to the foreign ministry.

The effectiveness of a Sinovac vaccine at preventing symptomatic infections was found to be as low as 50.4% by researchers in Brazil, near the 50% threshold at which health experts say a vaccine is useful.

Beijing has yet to approve any foreign vaccines for use in China.

As of April 2, some 34 million people (out of 1.3 billion) in China have received both of the two doses required for Chinese vaccines and about 65 million received one, according to Gao.

21
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 11, 2021, 04:12:48 PM »
‘You Can’t Trust Anyone’: Russia’s Hidden Covid Toll Is an Open Secret
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/10/world/europe/covid-russia-death.html

SAMARA, Russia — She burst into the hospital morgue and the bodies were everywhere, about a dozen of them in black bags on stretchers. She headed straight for the autopsy room, pleading with the guard in a black jacket: “Can I speak to the doctor who opened up my father?”

Olga Kagarlitskaya’s father had been hospitalized weeks earlier in a coronavirus ward. Now he was gone, cause of death: “viral pneumonia, unspecified.” Ms. Kagarlitskaya, recording the scene on her smartphone, wanted to know the truth. But the guard, hands in pockets, sent her away.

There were thousands of similar cases across Russia last year, the government’s own statistics show. At least 300,000 more people died last year during the coronavirus pandemic than were reported in Russia’s most widely cited official statistics.

The country’s official coronavirus death toll is 102,649.

Deaths in Russia Were Much Higher Than Normal Last Year

Deaths from all causes, shown for selected European countries and the U.S., is the most reliable way to compare mortality during the pandemic across countries.

CountryDeaths above
normal
Total excess
deaths
Covid-19 deaths
Reported
Covid-19 deaths
per 100,000
Russia+28%362,30257,00239
Spain+23%71,20050,046106
Italy+19%85,60055,53592
U.K.+17%79,70082,620124
U.S.+17%385,100316,37096
Poland+16%48,70017,15045
Czech Rep.+15%11,9008,30778
Switzerland+13%7,2007,21084
Sweden+12%8,1008,58283
France+12%53,10055,38183
Netherlands+12%14,70010,49161
Portugal+12%10,1005,55954
Austria+12%7,3004,47350
Hungary+7%6,9004,67248
Finland+4%1,5004899
Germany+3%19,30022,40627

... “People didn’t know the objective situation,” Ms. Kagarlitskaya said. “And if you don’t know the objective situation, you are not afraid.”

For much of the last year, Russia has appeared more focused on the public-relations and economic aspects of the pandemic than on fighting the virus itself.

... Perhaps the starkest sign, though, of the state’s priorities is its minimization of the coronavirus death toll — a move that, many critics say, kept much of the public in the dark about the disease’s dangers and about the importance of getting a vaccine.

... However, a far different story is told by the official statistics agency Rosstat, which tallies deaths from all causes. Russia saw a jump of 360,000 deaths above normal from last April through December, according to a Times analysis of historical data. Rosstat figures for January and February of this year show that the number is now well above 400,000.

By that measure, which many demographers see as the most accurate way to assess the virus’s overall toll, the pandemic killed about one in every 400 people in Russia, compared with one in every 600 in the United States.

... Mr. Raksha, a demographer, noted that the elevated mortality that accompanied the chaos and poverty of the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was deadlier than the overall toll of the pandemic.

“This nation has seen so many traumas,” Mr. Raksha said. “A people that has been through so much develops a very different relationship to death.”

... He quoted Dostoyevsky: “Man grows used to everything, the scoundrel!”

“We are growing used to living in a pandemic,” ... “We are growing used to the deaths.”


-----------------------------------

22
The rest / Re: George Floyd murder and blowback
« on: April 11, 2021, 04:16:17 AM »
Virginia cops pepper-sprayed Black and Latino Army officer who had hands raised during traffic stop, video shows
https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/7173377002



A U.S. Army officer is suing two Virginia police officers after a December traffic stop in which the officers drew and pointed their weapons, pepper-sprayed him and used a slang term to suggest he would face execution as he purposefully held both hands aloft in attempts to defuse the situation.

In his report, included in the court filing, Windsor police officer Daniel Crocker had reported encountering a vehicle with tinted windows and without a rear license plate, describing it in radio transmissions as “eluding police” and labeling it a “high-risk traffic stop.”

According to the suit, Nazario explained at the time that he had slowed down wasn’t attempting to elude the officer but instead looking for an illuminated location “for officer safety and out of respect for the officers.”

His newly purchased Tahoe was so new that he had temporary cardboard tags displayed in both the rear and passenger windows, the suit said.

Thought Nazario’s rear plate became visible under the glare of the fuel station, the suit says Crocker and Gutierrez immediately left their squad cars and drew their weapons, attempting to extract Nazario from his SUV as he held his hands high and repeatedly asking what he had done wrong.

The footage shows Gutierrez pepper-spraying Nazario several times as the officers continue to order him to remove his seat belt and exit his vehicle.

His eyes shut in pain as he resisted the impulse to wipe them, Nazario told the officers: “I don’t even want to reach for my seatbelt – can you please…. My hands are out, can you please – look, this is really messed up,”

After Nazario eventually climbed out of the car, he was brought down with “knee strikes” as he continued to ask for a police supervisor, the lawsuit said, then struck several times and handcuffed.

The officers searched the SUV, where they found a handgun, but replaced it after determining it was legally owned.

The suit said that after questioning Nazario, the officers threatened to derail his military career "knowing the harm criminal charges would cause him" and told him they would refrain from filing charges if he would "chill and let this go."

According to the suit, the officers altered or omitted details about the stop in their subsequent reports.

23
Policy and solutions / Re: Electric cars
« on: April 11, 2021, 04:14:38 AM »

24
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 10, 2021, 06:21:23 PM »

25
The rest / Re: Systemic Isolation
« on: April 10, 2021, 06:19:56 PM »
humans tend to anthropomorphize everything ... It's turtles all the way down ...

26
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 10, 2021, 03:17:41 PM »
Russia Cries “Sabotage” After Slovakia Questions Quality of Sputnik Vaccine
https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/04/russia-cries-sabotage-after-slovakia-questions-quality-of-sputnik-vaccine/

Russia has asked Slovakia to return 200,000 doses of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine after Slovak testing indicated serious quality control issues.

The Slovak regulatory agency, the State Institute for Drug Control, reported that the batches it received did not “have the same characteristics and properties” as the Sputnik vaccine that was peer-reviewed in the Lancet and found to be 91.6 percent effective.

... The Slovak regulatory agency reported that around 40 countries are using or planning to use Sputnik V, which is made in seven different locations in Russia as well as in plants in India and South Korea. But the vials of vaccine produced in different places and labeled Sputnik V are “only associated by the name,” according to the Slovak regulator.

“The comparability and consistency of different batches produced at different locations has not been demonstrated,” the Slovak regulator said, according to the New York Times. “In several cases, they appear to be vaccines with different properties (freeze-dried lyophilisate versus solution, single-dose ampoules versus multi-dose vials, different storage conditions, composition, and method of manufacture).”

Sputnik V has not been approved by the EU’s regulator, the European Medicines Agency, though the EMA has begun a rolling review of the vaccine. In the EU, Hungary has begun using Sputnik V in its mass vaccination campaign and, as of Thursday, Germany is looking into placing a pre-order with Moscow.

27
^ The estimated pressure over central Greenland was around 1075 mbar (about 1065 mbar per ECMWF model and 1080+ mbar per GFS model) while around 968 mbar was observed near Lofoten, Norway.

--------------------------------------------------

Slovenia beats the all-time national record with below -20 °C. Numerous nearly 100 years old records broken with extreme cold across Europe
https://www.severe-weather.eu/europe-weather/extreme-cold-slovenia-damaging-frost-europe-mk/

April 7th - In Slovenia, the weather station Nova vas na Blokah hit -20.6 °C and set the new official lowest temperature for April (the previous record at the station Nova vas was -18.0 °C set on April 4th, 1970). There was another record of -26.1 °C recorded with an unofficial weather station in the village Retje near Loški Potok.



Unfortunately, these temperatures were so extremely low that the ongoing blossoming fruit trees and early growing states of the vegetation were simply burned and destroyed.

Very low temperatures with record-breaking cold and damaging frost ware also reported from parts of England, France, Germany, around the Alps, Italy, and Croatia.

The ongoing Arctic cold blast arrived less than a week after a very warm and locally record-warm period at the final days of March.

Some of the most impressive values recorded on the 31st of March.

It was +25.3 °C in Ljubljana (Slovenia), +26.0 °C in Paris (France), +26.8 °C in Koersel (Belgium), +26.1 °C in Arcen (the Netherlands), +26.3 °C in Ettelbreck (Luxembourg) and +27.2 °C in Rheinau (Germany). And also +32.3 °C in Badajoz (Spain), a very hot day for March to say at least! Many areas set their new March maximum temperature records.



It might be the new normal as the warming periods at the end of winter and in early spring are becoming quite frequent lately. This helps vegetation to start earlier than usual, making it even more vulnerable for any potential cold outbreaks that normally follow at the end of March or within the month of April.

Sadly, this is the 5th year among the last 6 years when spring damaging frost occurs.

----------------------------------------

... Good luck with agriculture if this is the 'new normal"

----------------------------------------

Alaska could challenge all-time April temperature records as potentially historic cold blast from the Arctic Ocean heads south this week
https://www.severe-weather.eu/global-weather/historic-arctic-cold-blast-alaska-united-states-mk/



April 8th - The state of Alaska is experiencing an unusually cold Arctic blast this week, with temperatures forecast to reach close to -50 °F in some areas this weekend. Therefore challenging its 100+ years old all-time temperature records with this extremely cold air mass arriving from the Arctic Ocean. The cold pool could then turn towards the Contiguous United States next week, resulting in very cold mid-April.

The National Weather Service has reported that Bettles and Fairbanks hit their record lows -33 °F and -24 °F  respectively on Tuesday. Now the weather model forecast calls for even colder temperatures into this weekend, potentially challenging the all-time low-temperature records for April in some areas across the state of Alaska.

According to the staff from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, temperature could drop to almost 50 °F below the average for early April, with lows well below -40 °F in some areas across the state. And could rival the all-time Alaskan low-temperature record of -50 °F (= -45.6 °C).

Temperatures in Fairbanks are forecast to reach around -30 °F through Friday night into Saturday morning, which is nearly 50 degrees (°F) below normal. ... The last one this cold was more than a century ago, in the days of April 9-11th back in 1911.

... Temperature over Alaska next week could be around 15 °C above normal, so a very significant warm wave would replace the ongoing Arctic cold blast, with 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit warmer weather arriving just about a week later.

It also has to be noted that the overall weather pattern across the North American continent might then push this Arctic cold towards southern Canada and potentially also into the Contiguous United States next week. If the weather model guidance verifies, temperature could plummet well below freezing again with nearly 20 °F below-average period into mid-April.


28
Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2021
« on: April 10, 2021, 02:32:47 PM »
Quote
Is this the "tropical cyclone" thread too?

Yes: Typhoons, Cyclones, and Hurricanes ...

--------------------------------------------------

A Spectacular Fujiwhara Effect Happens With Merging Tropical Cyclones Seroja and Odette, Both Head for a Rare and Damaging Impact to Australia This Weekend
https://www.severe-weather.eu/tropical-weather/fujiwhara-effect-cyclone-seroja-odette-australia-landfall-mk/



We don’t see this very often, but the tropical region is facing two merging cyclones this week. A so-called Fujiwhara effect of tropical cyclone Seroja and Odette revealed a spectacular satellite view. Seroja will be a dominant feature of both and turns towards western Australia with an extremely dangerous landfall with severe winds and flooding on Sunday.

The Fujiwhara effect can make forecasting track and intensity even more challenging, as a number of weather scenarios can occur with the general track and also intensity. One system typically becoming more dominant and overtakes the weaker one.

On rare occasions, the two systems can combine into one larger and intense system (as is this case), or they destroy each other. Tropical Cyclone Seroja reaches a Category 3 intensity this weekend, while the tropical low is expected to be of much weaker intensity.



... Modeled wind swath suggests that the approach of tropical cyclone Seroja will include severe winds, potentially becoming violent prior to the landfall of the system on Sunday. Wind gusts will be dangerous along the coast, possibly with gusts 140-170 km/h at the landfall.

https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/analysis/models/?model=gfs&region=aus&pkg=mslp_pcpn_frzn&runtime=2021041006&fh=6

29
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 10, 2021, 06:31:36 AM »
The Reality of Covid Treatment Costs In the U.S. — 'It Keeps On Digging That Financial Hole'
https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2021/04/09/how-covid-treatment-can-take-a-financial-toll-on-americans.html

Covid long-haulers, people who suffer from lingering symptoms after they were first infected, could require months of follow-up appointments. This level of aftercare could lead to a heavy financial burden for many Americans because of the inconsistency of the health-care system.

"There is not one access model here in the United States," said Krutika Amin, associate director for the Kaiser Family Foundation. "For preventive services, for treatment, it really depends on people's insurance status, where they are located and the provider network near them."

"Even for people with insurance, affordability is an issue," she added.

Miranda Erlanson, a middle-school teacher from Austin, Texas, has been experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 since March 2020. She spoke with CNBC about her experience trying to navigate the health-care system and handling the financial burden of her medical bills.

"We can't breathe from the bills, and we can't breathe because we can't breathe," she said.

"The aftercare expenses have actually been just as significant as the expenses for inpatient care," said Joe Babaian, a pharmaceutical industrial researcher who was hospitalized for coronavirus in December 2020. "That's the thing with Covid. It keeps on digging that financial hole. It's not just a hospital stay."

Video at link ...

-------------------------------------------

YouTube Pulls Florida Governor's Video, Says His Panel Spread Covid-19 Misinformation
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna1263635

Video of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and a panel of scientists apparently trading in Covid-19 misinformation has been pulled from YouTube.

The video of DeSantis’ roundtable discussion last month at the state Capitol in Tallahassee was removed on Wednesday because it violated the social media platform’s standards, YouTube spokesperson Elena Hernandez said.

“YouTube has clear policies around Covid-19 medical misinformation to support the health and safety of our users,” Hernandez said in a statement. “We removed AIER’s video because it included content that contradicts the consensus of local and global health authorities regarding the efficacy of masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”

“Our policies apply to everyone and focus on content regardless of the speaker or channel,” Hernandez said.

... Many public health experts have accused Bhattacharya and the other scientists on the panel with DeSantis — former Trump White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Scott Atlas; epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta; and Dr. Martin Kulldorff — of spreading public health misinformation.

Based on a transcript provided by YouTube, it appears the participants ran afoul of the platform’s standards when DeSantis asked whether children in school should be wearing masks and Kulldorff replied, “Uh, children should not wear face masks, no. They don’t need it for their own protection, and they don’t need it for protecting other people either.”

Less than a minute later, Bhattacharya chimed-in, saying that mask-wearing “is developmentally inappropriate and it just doesn’t help on the disease spread.”

“There’s no scientific rationale or logic to have children wear masks in school,” Atlas said six minutes later.

All the scientists in the video but Atlas are signatories to The Great Barrington Declaration, which was sponsored by AIER and which opposed lockdowns and argued that society would build herd immunity against Covid-19 if all but people over age 70 “resume life as normal.”

DeSantis in the AIER transcript agreed with his panelists that lockdowns were ineffective at stopping the pandemic.

The Trump administration embraced that thinking, as did DeSantis, who was criticized by public health experts for being slow to shut the state down and for reopening the state too soon. Most of the Covid-19 deaths and cases were recorded in Florida after DeSantis visited Trump in the White House last April and prematurely, as it turned out, declared victory over the virus.

... As of Friday, Florida had reported more than 2 million Covid-19 infections and nearly 35,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic

------------------------------------------

America May Be Close to Hitting a Vaccine Wall
https://www.axios.com/america-coronavirus-vaccines-republicans-rural-states-34755cbf-384e-4539-bb45-68a775581f6f.html

There are growing signs that parts of the country may be close to meeting demand for the coronavirus vaccine — well before the U.S. has reached herd immunity.

Why it matters: For the last few months, the primary focus of the U.S. has been getting shots to everyone who wants them, as quickly as possible. Soon, that focus will abruptly shift to convincing holdouts to get vaccinated.

State of play: Red states in the South are administering the lowest portion of the vaccine doses that they receive from the federal government — a sign of low demand, slow public health systems, or both.

The most vaccine-reluctant Americans are white Republicans, polling has found

An analysis released by Surgo Ventures yesterday concluded that "the supply-demand shift for the vaccine will happen earlier than expected — as early as the end of April — and before the nation reaches the 70-90% threshold for achieving herd immunity."

https://surgoventures.org/newsroom-all/analysis-surgo-projects-us-covid-19-vaccination-rates-will-plateau-in-late-april

At the current U.S. vaccination rate, all of those vaccine-enthusiastic adults could be inoculated by the end of April.

Vaccination rates will then slow, and Surgo's projections show that only around 52% of Americans will be vaccinated by July. When combined with people who have already been infected, the immunity rate overall may be around 65% by then — still not high enough for herd immunity.

Among rural residents who said they definitely won't get vaccinated, almost three-quarters were Republicans or Republican-leaning, and 41% were white Evangelical Christians.

30
The rest / Re: Systemic Isolation
« on: April 10, 2021, 02:18:16 AM »
Physicists Working With Microsoft Think the Universe Is a Self-Learning Computer
https://thenextweb.com/neural/2021/04/09/physicists-working-with-microsoft-think-the-universe-is-a-self-learning-computer/

A team of theoretical physicists working with Microsoft today published an amazing pre-print research paper describing the universe as a self-learning system of evolutionary laws.

In other words: We live inside a computer that learns.

Dubbed “The Autodidactic Universe,” and published to arXiv today, the paper spans 80 pages and lays out a pretty good surface argument for a novel, nuanced theory of everything.

The paper argues that the laws governing the universe are an evolutionary learning system. In other words: the universe is a computer and, rather than exist in a solid state, it perpetuates through a series of laws that change over time.

The researchers explain the universe as a learning system by invoking machine learning systems. Just like we can teach machines to perform unfolding functions over time, that is, to learn, the laws of the universe are essentially algorithms that do work in the form of learning operations.

Per the researchers:

... For instance, when we see structures that resemble deep learning architectures emerge in simple autodidactic systems might we imagine that the operative matrix architecture in which our universe evolves laws, itself evolved from an autodidactic system that arose from the most minimal possible starting conditions?

We understand the laws of physics as we observe them, so it makes sense that the original physical law would be incredibly simple, self-perpetuating, and capable of learning and evolving.

The scientists describe the ever-evolving laws of the universe as being irreversible:

One implication is that if the evolution of laws is real, it is likely to be unidirectional, for otherwise it would be common for laws to revert to previous states, perhaps even more likely than for them to find a new state. This is because a new state is not random but rather must meet certain constraints, while the immediate past state has already met constraints.

A reversible but evolving system would randomly explore its immediate past frequently. When we see an evolving system that displays periods of stability, it probably evolves unidirectionally.

The consequences: If the universe operates via a set of laws that, while initially simple, are autodidactic (self-learning) and thus capable of evolving over time, it could be impossible for humans to ever unify physics.

According to this paper, the rules that governed concepts such as relativity may have had functionally different operational consequences 13.8 billion years ago than they will 100 trillion years from now. And that means “physics” is a moving target.

Conclusion: ... This all comes off a little “I just got back from the dispensary and had a few thoughts,” at first, but the researchers do a lot of leg work describing the kinds of algorithms and neural network systems such a universe would generate and, itself, be comprised of.

“The Autodidactic Universe,”
https://arxiv.org/pdf/2104.03902.pdf

31
The rest / Re: SpaceX
« on: April 10, 2021, 01:24:31 AM »
OneWeb, SpaceX Satellites Dodged a Potential Collision In Orbit
https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/9/22374262/oneweb-spacex-satellites-dodged-potential-collision-orbit-space-force

Two satellites from the fast-growing constellations of OneWeb and SpaceX’s Starlink dodged a dangerously close approach with one another in orbit last weekend, representatives from the US Space Force and OneWeb said. It’s the first known collision avoidance event for the two rival companies as they race to expand their new broadband-beaming networks in space.

On March 30th, five days after OneWeb launched its latest batch of 36 satellites from Russia, the company received several “red alerts” from the US Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron warning of a possible collision with a Starlink satellite. Because OneWeb’s constellation operates in higher orbits around Earth, the company’s satellites must pass through SpaceX’s mesh of Starlink satellites, which orbit at an altitude of roughly 550 km.

One Space Force alert indicated a collision probability of 1.3 percent, with the two satellites coming as close as 190 feet — a dangerously close proximity for satellites in orbit. If satellites collide in orbit, it could cause a cascading disaster that could generate hundreds of pieces of debris and send them on crash courses with other satellites nearby.

Space Force’s urgent alerts sent OneWeb engineers scrambling to email SpaceX’s Starlink team to coordinate maneuvers that would put the two satellites at safer distances from one another.

SpaceX’s automated system for avoiding satellite collisions has sparked controversy, raising concerns from other satellite operators who say they have no way of knowing which way the system will move a Starlink satellite in the event of a close approach. “Coordination is the issue,” McLaughlin says. “It is not sufficient to say ‘I’ve got an automated system,’ because the other guy may not have, and won’t understand what yours is trying to do.”

... Satellite maneuvers in space are common, but worry in the industry is mounting as OneWeb, SpaceX, Amazon, and other companies race to toss more satellites into space. And this Starlink close call isn’t the first. In 2019, a European Space Agency satellite had to move out of the way of a Starlink satellite to avoid a potential collision. SpaceX didn’t move its satellite because of a computer bug that prevented proper communication with ESA, it said at the time.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/9/3/20847243/spacex-starlink-satellite-european-space-agency-aeolus-conjunction-space-debris

With more OneWeb satellite launches planned on a monthly basis, and with planned constellations from Amazon and Telesat in higher orbits than Starlink, the need to establish clear rules of the road in orbit is becoming more urgent than ever. SpaceX looms especially large, not just because of the size of its constellation but because of where it’s sending them. “OneWeb and others will have to transit through Starlink to reach their destinations, so SpaceX needs to ensure now that other satellite operators can do that safely,” says Caleb Henry, a satellite industry analyst at Quilty Analytics.

32
Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: April 09, 2021, 11:15:49 PM »
U.S.Navy Labs To Reopen The Once Taboo Case On Nuclear Cold Fusion
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/40105/navy-labs-to-reopen-the-case-on-once-taboo-cold-fusion

Researchers at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division have reopened the case on low-energy nuclear reactions, or LENRs, largely unexplained phenomena that are at the core of theories about "cold fusion." Five different government-funded laboratories under the control of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and National Institutes of Standards and Technology will conduct experiments in an attempt to once and for all settle the debate over this little-understood and highly controversial topic. Despite the controversy and stigma associated with LENR, many experts across the U.S. military believe that the science behind them is sound, and if working technologies can someday be developed, it could transform military operations to an extent not seen in over a century.

... Enough researchers believe there is at least something to LENRs and that the topic is worth a serious second look. The 2016 Scientific American guest blog “It's Not Cold Fusion... But It's Something” claims that “Hidden in the confusion are many scientific reports, some of them published in respectable peer-reviewed journals, showing a wide variety of experimental evidence” for LENRs, “including transmutations of elements.”

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/its-not-cold-fusion-but-its-something/

The same article states that studies have also shown that LENRs “can produce local surface temperatures of 4,000-5,000 K and boil metals (palladium, nickel and tungsten) in small numbers of scattered microscopic sites on the surfaces of laboratory devices.” A more recent theory suggests that LENR reactions have nothing to do with fusion at all, and instead are produced by weak interaction and are perfectly consistent with known physics.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division seeks to get to the bottom of the LENR phenomenon with an honest look at the available data and by conducting new experiments. NSWC Indian Head specializes in energetics, a branch of research involving the development and testing of explosives, propellants, pyrotechnics, fuels, and other reactive materials as they pertain to propulsion and weaponry.  ... the lab will serve as an “honest broker” that will reexamine decades’ worth of data collected by the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The Department of Defense (DOD), as a whole, has been interested in LENR research for some time. Previously, the Navy’s LENR research was conducted at Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Systems Center - Pacific. According to LENR subject matter expert and author Steven Krivit, SPAWAR “produced some of the most interesting experiments and observations in the field and published more LENR papers in mainstream journals than any U.S. LENR group.” SPAWAR’s LENR research was terminated in 2011.



Just two years prior, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) published a report on LENR research which stated that based on the available scientific data from around the world, "nuclear reactions may be occurring under conditions not previously believed possible." The report states that Italy and Japan lead international research on the topic, and that the stigma associated with the topic in the United States means that most of the information surrounding LENR is presented at international conferences, with U.S. data in the hands of foreign scientists.

... DIA ultimately concluded in 2009 that "if nuclear reactions in LENR experiments are real and controllable, whoever produces the first commercialized LENR power source could revolutionize energy production and storage for the future" and that "the potential applications of this phenomenon, if commercialized, are unlimited." The report goes on to state that LENR could lead to batteries that last for decades, revolutionizing power for sensors and military operations in remote areas and/or space, and that "the military potential of such high-energy-density power sources is enormous," potentially leading to "the greatest transformation of the battlefield for U.S. forces since the transition from horsepower to gasoline power." ...

... NSWC Indian Head plans to publish their initial results on their LENR experiments and reviews of data by the end of the year.

---------------------------------------------



---------------------------------------------

Whether Cold Fusion or Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions, U.S. Navy Researchers Reopen Case
https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/energy/nuclear/cold-fusion-or-low-energy-nuclear-reactions-us-navy-researchers-reopen-case

... Aside from the recent promising findings from NASA, Google published a paper in Nature in 2019 revealing that the company had spent US $10 million to research cold fusion since 2015. The company teamed up with researchers at institutions including MIT, the University of British Columbia, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The research group found no evidence of classic Pons-Fleischmann-style cold fusion, but it did find evidence of the larger umbrella category of LENRs—suggesting (as the NASA group also reported) that nuclear fusion may be possible in locally-hot sites in otherwise room temperature metals.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1256-6

33
Consequences / Re: Volcanoes
« on: April 09, 2021, 06:39:47 PM »
Thousands Flee as Volcano Erupts On Caribbean Island of St Vincent
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-thousands-volcano-erupts-caribbean-island.html



The blast from La Soufriere, the highest peak in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, sent plumes of hot ash and smoke 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) into the air, the local emergency management agency said.

Video posted on the website news784.com showed a tower of ash being belched out and expanding roughly into a ball shape as it rose upwards. No deaths or injuries have been reported.


34



35
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 09, 2021, 01:05:12 PM »
Meanwhile, in India ...

India's Vaccination Programme Halted In Some Areas Amid Supply Crisis
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-india-hardest-hit-state-huge-vaccine.amp

Leading hospitals in India’s most coronavirus-hit state halted vaccinations today, citing shortages as infections across the country crossed 13 million and set a new daily record.

The nation of 1.3 billion is confronting a ferocious second wave that has brought the fastest infection rate since the pandemic began, with nearly 132,000 cases recorded in the past 24 hours.

The situation at government-run inoculation centres was not much better, with a giant 1,000-bed field hospital turning away people arriving for their first dose on Friday morning.

“There is a shortage of vaccines so the programme has been halted,” Heeba Patwe, a doctor at a facility inoculating 5,000 people daily, told AFP.

India’s vast vaccination programme – which has already administered 94m shots – is reportedly facing major supply snags in the quest to inoculate its huge population. The Times of India reported that states on average had just over five days of stock left, according to health ministry data, with some regions already grappling with severe shortages.

The health minister of Maharashtra state, the epicentre of the pandemic, warned on Wednesday that it would not be able to continue vaccinations beyond the weekend unless stocks were replenished. In the state’s badly hit city of Pune, two leading private hospitals told AFP they had run out of vaccines and would be unable to inoculate anyone until fresh supplies arrived.

Deepak Baid, president of the Association of Medical Consultants in Mumbai, told AFP the situation was becoming increasingly dire. “Vaccination is the need of the hour, it is the best weapon we have against Covid,” he said.

Production capacity at India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume, is “very stressed”, the firm’s CEO, Adar Poonawalla, said earlier this week, calling for financial help from the government

36
Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: April 09, 2021, 12:49:31 PM »
France to Declare Agricultural 'Disaster' Over Spring Frost
https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-france-wine-frost-idUKKBN2BW0L1
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-france-declare-agricultural-disaster-frost.html

The French government is to declare an agricultural disaster over an unusual early spring frost that has damaged crops and vines across the country, the agiculture minister said.

Temperatures plunged as low as -5°C in wine regions such as Chablis, Burgundy and Bordeaux, which could hurt shoots already well developed because of prior mild weather.

Video: https://twitter.com/ScottDuncanWX

“This is an unheard of situation,” said Denormandie, adding that initial estimates showed about 100,000 hectares (247,100 acres) of vineyards may have been damaged by the frosts.

A severe cold spell in April 2017 affected vineyards so much that annual French wine output was the lowest in history. Frosts had already caused damage the previous year and again in 2019.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-sugar-frost/growers-fear-frost-may-have-ruined-up-to-10-of-french-sugar-beet-idUSKBN2BU2Q8

------------------------------------------

An Extreme 100+ mbar Pressure Difference Releases a Historic Arctic Cold Blast Towards Europe: Damaging Frost Expected Across Central Europe
https://www.severe-weather.eu/europe-weather/arctic-cold-blast-frost-snow-mk/

An exceptional, more than 100 mbar pressure difference between Greenland and northern Europe on Sunday has released a massive Arctic cold blast towards continental Europe. The sharp Arctic front is racing south and will result in intense snow with blizzard conditions across Slovenia and Croatia on Tuesday. Then, destructive and widespread frost to vulnerable vegetation is expected across central Europe.


37
France to Declare Agricultural 'Disaster' Over Spring Frost
https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-france-wine-frost-idUKKBN2BW0L1
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-france-declare-agricultural-disaster-frost.html

The French government is to declare an agricultural disaster over an unusual early spring frost that has damaged crops and vines across the country, the agiculture minister said.

Temperatures plunged as low as -5°C in wine regions such as Chablis, Burgundy and Bordeaux, which could hurt shoots already well developed because of prior mild weather.

Video: https://twitter.com/ScottDuncanWX

“This is an unheard of situation,” said Denormandie, adding that initial estimates showed about 100,000 hectares (247,100 acres) of vineyards may have been damaged by the frosts.

A severe cold spell in April 2017 affected vineyards so much that annual French wine output was the lowest in history. Frosts had already caused damage the previous year and again in 2019.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-sugar-frost/growers-fear-frost-may-have-ruined-up-to-10-of-french-sugar-beet-idUSKBN2BU2Q8

------------------------------------------

An Extreme 100+ mbar Pressure Difference Releases a Historic Arctic Cold Blast Towards Europe: Damaging Frost Expected Across Central Europe
https://www.severe-weather.eu/europe-weather/arctic-cold-blast-frost-snow-mk/

An exceptional, more than 100 mbar pressure difference between Greenland and northern Europe on Sunday has released a massive Arctic cold blast towards continental Europe. The sharp Arctic front is racing south and will result in intense snow with blizzard conditions across Slovenia and Croatia on Tuesday. Then, destructive and widespread frost to vulnerable vegetation is expected across central Europe.


38
The politics / Re: Empire - America and the future
« on: April 09, 2021, 01:04:29 AM »
US Spies Peer Into the Future - And It Doesn't Look Good
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56683852

https://www.dni.gov/index.php/global-trends-home

The US Intelligence Community has issued a survey of where the world may end up in 2040.

It warns of a political volatility and growing international competition or even conflict.

The report entitled Global Trends 2040: A More Contested World is an attempt to look at key trends and outlines a series of possible scenarios.

Report: https://www.dni.gov/files/ODNI/documents/assessments/GlobalTrends_2040.pdf

It is the seventh such report with one coming every four years since 1997 from the National Intelligence Council.

The Global Trends 2040 report does not make comfortable reading if you are a political leader or international diplomat - or hope to be one in the coming years.

The latest attempt by the US National Intelligence Council to understand what may happen within and between countries points to uncertainty and instability. It firstly focuses on the key factors driving change.

One is political volatility.

"In many countries, people are pessimistic about the future and growing more distrustful of leaders and institutions that they see as unable or unwilling to deal with disruptive economic, technological, and demographic trends," the report warns.

It argues people are gravitating to like-minded groups and making greater and more varied demands of governments at a time when those governments are increasingly constrained in what they can do.

"This mismatch between governments' abilities and publics' expectations is likely to expand and lead to more political volatility, including growing polarisation and populism within political systems, waves of activism and protest movements, and, in the most extreme cases, violence, internal conflict, or even state collapse."

Unmet expectations, fuelled by social media and technology, could lead to risks for democracy.

... The report says the current pandemic is the "most significant, singular global disruption since World War II", which has fuelled divisions, accelerated existing changes and challenged assumptions, including over how well governments can cope.

The last report in 2017 included such a possibility - imagining that "the global pandemic of 2023" dramatically reduced global travel to contain its spread.

... Climate change and demographic shifts will also be key drivers, as will be technology, which could prove disruptive but also empower those who harness it fastest and first.

... The competition between the US and China lies at the heart of many of the differences in the scenarios - whether one of them becomes more successful or whether the two compete equally or divide the world into separate silos.

 The risk of conflict may increase, with it becoming harder to deter new weapons being used.

... "The world adrift scenario" imagines market economies never recovering from the Covid pandemic, becoming domestically deeply divided and living in an international system that is "directionless, chaotic and volatile" as international rules and institutions are ignored by countries, corporations and other groups.

One scenario, though, does manage to combine pessimism with optimism.

"Tragedy and Mobilisation" imagines a world in the midst of a global catastrophe in the early 2030s thanks to climate change, famine and unrest - but this in turn leads to a new global coalition, driven in part by social movements, to address the problems.

39
From Director of National Intelligence: Global Trends 2040:
https://www.dni.gov/index.php/global-trends-home

https://www.dni.gov/index.php/gt2040-home/gt2040-structural-forces/technology



Artificial Intelligence Becoming Mainstream

AI is the demonstration of cognition and creative problem solving by machines rather than humans or animals, ranging from narrow AI, designed to solve specific problems, to Artificial General Intelligence, a system that in the future may match or exceed a human being’s understanding and learning capacity

Although many new AI developments will be available globally, there are disproportionate advantages for nations that can afford to support, develop, and adopt AI now. Widespread adoption of AI, particularly in warfare, also increases the risk of intentional misuse or unintended engagement or escalation.

AI Enhanced Warfare. AI will confer strong advantages to countries that incorporate AI into their military systems. AI will enhance the performance of existing weapons, defenses, and security systems, both physical and cyber, while counter-AI techniques, designed to negate or confuse AI decisionmaking, also are likely to emerge.

...

Accelerated Societal Change. Privacy and anonymity may effectively disappear by choice or government mandate, as all aspects of personal and professional lives are tracked by global networks. Real-time, manufactured, or synthetic media could further distort truth and reality, destabilizing societies at a scale and speed that dwarfs current disinformation challenges. Many types of crimes, particularly those that can be monitored and attributed with digital surveillance, will become less common while new crimes, and potentially new forms of discrimination, could arise.

....

Existential Risks. Technological advances may increase the number of existential threats; threats that could damage life on a global scale challenge our ability to imagine and comprehend their potential scope and scale, and they require the development of resilient strategies to survive. Technology plays a role in both generating these existential risks and in mitigating them. Anthropomorphic risks include runaway AI, engineered pandemics, nanotechnology weapons, or nuclear war. Such low-probability, high-impact events are difficult to forecast and expensive to prepare for, but identifying potential risks and developing mitigation strategies in advance can provide some resilience to exogenous shocks.

40
War? ... There's an app for that ...

The Air Force Is Making an App That Basically Does What a General Does
https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2021/04/air-force-making-app-basically-does-what-general-does/173215/



JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington—Can an app help decide what jets to scramble when Russia aircraft head its way?

Tentatively titled Arachnid, the nascent decision-support tool is a product of DARPA’s Adapting Cross-domain Kill-webs program, The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and other service vice chiefs were briefed on the app on Monday as part of a trip by the Pentagon’s Joint Requirements Oversight Committee, or JROC.

“You identify a threat and it's supposed to give you multiple options for what effect do you want to achieve on that threat,” said Lt. Col. Antony “Bigfoot” Braun, director Of operations at the Western Air Defense Sector of the Washington Air National Guard.  “It says, ‘You want to scramble this base over here? You want to scramble this base over there? Here are the pros and cons and pluses and minuses associated with your timelines and all of those things.’”

Quote
... “It’s trying to automate the decision-making cycle and then, from a machine-to-machine perspective, allow you to press a button and when you press that button it generates all the command messages.”

In other words, it’s a general in app form.

The app debuted in September during an Air Force event created to look at new concepts for interconnecting objects on the battlefield, itself part of a broader program called the Advanced Battle Management, or ABMS. Weapons maker Raytheon and data analysis software company Kinetica are working on it with coding support from the Air Force’s Kessel Run program.

https://kesselrun.af.mil/

--------------------------------------------

... Arachnid? ... Wasn't that the evil trans-dimensional 'thirdspace' alien race in Babylon-5?

--------------------------------------------

Army Revives ’10x Platoon’ Experiment In Robotics, AI
https://breakingdefense.com/2021/04/army-revives-10x-platoon-experiment-in-robotics-ai/

WASHINGTON: How do you make a platoon of foot soldiers ten times more effective? If your company has a new technology that might help, Army Futures Command wants to know by May 5th.

The AI, networking, and robotics experiment, which had been postponed by COVID, will be part of the Project Convergence wargames in 2022.

The ultimate goal, around 2028-2035? An infantry platoon that can see further, shoot further, and make better decisions 10 times faster than before, thanks to unmanned sensors, robots, networks, and AI systems that help share intelligence and advise commanders.

... Today, soldiers have to learn a different set of controls for each unmanned system they operate. The Army aims to streamline the system by creating a common Universal Robotic Controller (URC). URC will eventually operate all the unmanned vehicles used by a combat brigade, both aerial drones and ground robots – even armed Robotic Combat Vehicles now in development. (The URC won’t handle high-end drones that require the specialized skills of an Army aviator to operate).

https://www.sbir.gov/sbirsearch/detail/93251

The next step, Maciuba said, is to turn the URC from a physical gadget to an app. It will be one of many on a future open architecture system called AI for Small Unit Maneuver (AISUM). AISUM will also have apps to collect intelligence data from all the platoon’s drones, curate it, and present it to the platoon’s leaders to help them make better decisions faster. The ultimate goal is an “AI cloud,” running off robot-carried mini-servers, that manages the robots’ movements moment-to-moment so the humans can focus on the bigger picture.

Just like the lieutenant can order a squad to seize a hill and not worry about telling them the exact route to follow or cover to take, the lieutenant will order the AI cloud to scout out an area and not have to micromanage the individual robots executing that order. [... SkyNet will do the rest]

Basically, AI for Small Unit Maneuver would be a platoon-sized microcosm of the future Joint All-Domain Command & Control system networking the entire military. While JADC2 would link the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Space Force across all five domains of land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace, AISUM would link Army systems across air and ground, manned and unmanned.


41
Warm Feelings About Human-Looking Robots Can Turn Icy When Bots Blunder
https://techxplore.com/news/2021-04-human-looking-robots-icy-bots-blunder.html

In a series of studies on robots used in service industry settings, such as restaurants and hotels, researchers found that people's reactions to robot gaffes may be influenced by whether the robots look like humans, or humanoid; or mostly lack human features, or non-humanoid. The team also uncovered strategies that humanoid robots can use to recover from mistakes with customers, according to Lisa Bolton, professor of marketing and the Frank and Mary Jean Smeal Research Fellow at Penn State's Smeal College of Business.

"One of the things we learned is that what a robot looks like really matters—it's not just window dressing," said Bolton.

According to Bolton, people may assume that humanoid robots always have an advantage over non-human-looking devices, but the team found that humanoid features may not automatically give robots a pass to commit blunders. In fact, a robot's human resemblance may increase a person's annoyance at service failures, especially those involving inattentive or slow service.

The researchers found that people tended to expect greater warmth from human-looking robots compared to non-humanoid machines. However, those warm feelings did not translate to forgiveness for robot errors, as people seem more dissatisfied when the human-looking machine delivers poor service compared to a non-humanoid robot.

"One of the implications of these studies for businesses is that humanoid is not always better," said Bolton.

Although humanoid robots tend to take the brunt of criticism for service failures, the researchers, who report their findings in the current issue of Journal of Service Research, also found that politeness can go a long way for humanoid robots. The team said that when humanoid-looking robots offered sincere apologies, people were more likely to forgive their mistakes.

"Also, with current advanced technologies, robots can use facial expression recognition, voice stress analysis, or natural language processing to detect whether customers are angry," said Choi. "Once a robot detects service failure or customer dissatisfaction with such ways, it should be able to provide a sincere apology by verbal means—vocally, by displaying a message, or both—and through non-verbal means, such as with facial expressions, if possible."

Sungwoo Choi et al. To Err Is Human(-oid): How Do Consumers React to Robot Service Failure and Recovery?, Journal of Service Research (2020).
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1094670520978798


42
Antarctica / Re: What's new in Antarctica ?
« on: April 08, 2021, 03:36:18 PM »
Third of Antarctic Ice Shelf Area at Risk of Collapse as Planet Warms
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-antarctic-ice-shelf-area-collapse.html

More than a third of the Antarctic's ice shelf area could be at risk of collapsing into the sea if global temperatures reach 4°C above pre-industrial levels, new research has shown.

The University of Reading led the most detailed ever study forecasting how vulnerable the vast floating platforms of ice surrounding Antarctica will become to dramatic collapse events caused by melting and runoff, as climate change forces temperatures to rise.

It found that 34% of the area of all Antarctic ice shelves—around half a million square kilometers—including 67% of ice shelf area on the Antarctic Peninsula, would be at risk of destabilization under 4°C of warming. Limiting temperature rise to 2°C rather than 4°C would halve the area at risk and potentially avoid significant sea level rise.

The researchers also identified Larsen C—the largest remaining ice shelf on the peninsula, which split to form the enormous A68 iceberg in 2017—as one of four ice shelves that would be particularly threatened in a warmer climate.

The new study, published in the Geophysical Research Letters journal, used state-of-the-art, high-resolution regional climate modelling to predict in more detail than before the impact of increased melting and water runoff on ice shelf stability.

Ice shelf vulnerability from this fracturing process was forecast under 1.5°C, 2°C and 4°C global warming scenarios, which are all possible this century.

The researchers identified the Larsen C, Shackleton, Pine Island and Wilkins ice shelves as most at-risk under 4°C of warming, due to their geography and the significant runoff predicted in those areas.



Surface melt and runoff on Antarctic ice shelves at 1.5°C, 2°C and 4°C of future warming, Geophysical Research Letters (2021)
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2020GL091733

43
Antarctica / Re: Ice Apocalypse - MULTIPLE METERS SEA LEVEL RISE
« on: April 08, 2021, 03:35:34 PM »
Third of Antarctic Ice Shelf Area at Risk of Collapse as Planet Warms
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-antarctic-ice-shelf-area-collapse.html

More than a third of the Antarctic's ice shelf area could be at risk of collapsing into the sea if global temperatures reach 4°C above pre-industrial levels, new research has shown.

The University of Reading led the most detailed ever study forecasting how vulnerable the vast floating platforms of ice surrounding Antarctica will become to dramatic collapse events caused by melting and runoff, as climate change forces temperatures to rise.

It found that 34% of the area of all Antarctic ice shelves—around half a million square kilometers—including 67% of ice shelf area on the Antarctic Peninsula, would be at risk of destabilization under 4°C of warming. Limiting temperature rise to 2°C rather than 4°C would halve the area at risk and potentially avoid significant sea level rise.

The researchers also identified Larsen C—the largest remaining ice shelf on the peninsula, which split to form the enormous A68 iceberg in 2017—as one of four ice shelves that would be particularly threatened in a warmer climate.

The new study, published in the Geophysical Research Letters journal, used state-of-the-art, high-resolution regional climate modelling to predict in more detail than before the impact of increased melting and water runoff on ice shelf stability.

Ice shelf vulnerability from this fracturing process was forecast under 1.5°C, 2°C and 4°C global warming scenarios, which are all possible this century.

The researchers identified the Larsen C, Shackleton, Pine Island and Wilkins ice shelves as most at-risk under 4°C of warming, due to their geography and the significant runoff predicted in those areas.



Surface melt and runoff on Antarctic ice shelves at 1.5°C, 2°C and 4°C of future warming, Geophysical Research Letters (2021)
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2020GL091733

44
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 08, 2021, 01:58:10 PM »
One In 10 Have Long-Term Effects Eight Months After Mild COVID-19
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-long-term-effects-months-mild-covid-.html

Eight months after mild COVID-19, 1 in 10 people still have at least one moderate to severe symptom that is perceived as having a negative impact on their work, social or home life. The most common long-term symptoms are fatigue and a loss of smell and taste. This is according to a study published in the journal JAMA, conducted by researchers at Danderyd Hospital and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

Since spring 2020, researchers at Danderyd Hospital and Karolinska Institutet have conducted the so-called COMMUNITY study, with the main purpose of examining immunity after COVID-19. In the first phase of the study in spring 2020, blood samples were collected from 2,149 employees at Danderyd Hospital, of whom about 19% had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Blood samples have since then been collected every four months, and study participants have responded to questionnaires regarding long-term symptoms and their impact on the quality of life.

In the third follow-up in January 2021, the research team examined self-reported presence of long-term symptoms and their impact on work, social and home life for participants who had had mild COVID-19 at least eight months earlier. This group consisted of 323 healthcare workers (83% women, median age 43 years) and was compared with 1,072 healthcare workers (86% women, median age 47 years) who did not have COVID-19 throughout the study period.

The results show that 26% of those who had COVID-19 previously, compared to 9% in the control group, had at least one moderate to severe symptom that lasted more than two months and that 11%, compared to 2% in the control group, had a minimum of one symptom with negative impact on work, social or home life that lasted at least eight months. The most common long-term symptoms were loss of smell and taste, fatigue, and respiratory problems.

... "Despite the fact that the study participants had a mild COVID-19 infection, a relatively large proportion report long-term symptoms with an impact on quality of life. In light of this, we believe that young and healthy individuals, as well as other groups in society, should have great respect for the virus that seems to be able to significantly impair quality of life, even for a long time after the infection," says Sebastian Havervall, deputy chief physician at Danderyd Hospital and Ph.D. student in the project at Karolinska Institutet.

Sebastian Havervall et al, Symptoms and Functional Impairment Assessed 8 Months After Mild COVID-19 Among Health Care Workers, JAMA (2021)
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2778528

---------------------------------------------

1 in 3 Covid Survivors Suffers Neurological or Mental Disorders, Study Finds
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-largest-date-link-covid-infection.html



One in three Covid-19 survivors has suffered a neurological or psychiatric disorder within six months of infection with the virus, a study has found.

The results were based on an observational study of more than 230,000 patient health records.

The study was published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal on Tuesday.

Maxime Taquet et al. 6-month neurological and psychiatric outcomes in 236 379 survivors of COVID-19: a retrospective cohort study using electronic health records, The Lancet Psychiatry (2021).
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(21)00084-5/fulltext

---------------------------------------------

They Had Mild Covid. Then Their Serious Symptoms Kicked In.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/23/health/long-covid-symptoms.html

------------------------------------------------------

Persistent neurologic symptoms and cognitive dysfunction in non‐hospitalized Covid‐19 “long haulers”
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/acn3.51350

---------------------------------------------

India Reports Record New Covid Cases as Vaccines Run Short In States
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/07/india-carries-out-record-covid-jabs-cases-rise

India reported a record 126,789 new Covid cases on Thursday as several states struggled to contain a second surge in infections, Reuters reports.

Daily infections surpassed 100,000 for the first time on Monday and have now exceeded that mark three times, the biggest daily rises in the world.

The government attributes the resurgence mainly on crowding and a reluctance to wear masks as shops and offices have reopened.

Vaccine centres in several states, including hardest-hit Maharashtra, have been shutting early and turning people away as supplies run out.

45
Report: Clearview AI's Facial Recognition Has Been Used by Over 1,800 Public Agencies
https://gizmodo.com/report-clearview-ais-facial-recognition-has-been-used-1846628884/amp



A new series of reports from BuzzFeed News shows the wide net cast by shadowy surveillance firm Clearview AI. Individuals at 1,803 public agencies—many of which are police departments—have used its facial recognition software at some point over recent years, according to data reviewed by the news outlet.

... One of the more interesting revelations from BuzzFeed’s coverage is the fact that the New York Police Department appears to have lied about whether it ever worked with Clearview. In 2020, the NYPD stated that it had “no institutional relationship” with the surveillance firm. However, according to the recent investigation, Clearview was actually “an acknowledged vendor to the department from as early as 2018.” That undisclosed relationship involved a trial of Clearview’s services, which reportedly included contracts, emails, and in-person meetings between police and the company.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/clearview-ai-local-police-facial-recognition

Clearview AI, founded by Hoan Ton-That, markets itself as a searchable facial-recognition database for law enforcement agencies. The New York Times has previously reported on Ton-That’s close association with notorious figures from the far right, and the company is backed by early Facebook investor, and Trump confidant, Peter Thiel. The company’s USP has been to download every image posted to social media without permission to build its database — something the social media companies in question have tried to stop. The company is currently under investigation in both the UK and Australia for its data-collection practices.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/18/technology/clearview-facial-recognition-ai.html

https://www.engadget.com/clearview-ai-investigation-australia-uk-142825168.html

The report — which you should read in its entirety — outlines how Clearview has offered generous free trials to individual employees at public bodies. This approach is meant to encourage these employees to incorporate the system into their working day, and advocate for their agencies to sign up. But there are a number of civil liberties, privacy, legal and accuracy questions that remain in the air as to how Clearview operates. This has not deterred agencies like ICE, however, from signing up to use the system, although other agencies, like the LAPD, have already banned use of the platform.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/carolinehaskins1/nypd-has-misled-public-about-clearview-ai-use

-------------------------------------------------

Time to Regulate AI That Interprets Human Emotions
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00868-5

-----------------------------------------

Discover the Stupidity of AI Emotion Recognition With This Little Browser Game
https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/6/22369698/ai-emotion-recognition-unscientific-emojify-web-browser-game

-----------------------------------------------

46
New AI Technique Transforms Any Image Into the Style of Famous Artists
https://thenextweb.com/neural/2021/04/06/ai-text-to-image-generator-transforms-any-picture-into-style-of-famous-artists-glenn-marshall-openai-dail/

... Marshall named the technique Chimera, after the mythical beast formed from various animal parts, which has become a byword for something that exists only in the imagination and isn’t possible in reality.



The system morphs an input image towards the suggestion of a text prompt, such as “Salvador Dalí Art.” Over repeated mutations and iterations of each frame, the AI gradually finds features and shapes that match the text description until it produces a final composition.



Each piece was generated with a modified version of the Aleph-Image notebook, which is itself powered by OpenAI’s DALL-E and CLIP models.

I think the surrealists would probably bow down to the wonders of AI as Gods, but the Renaissance guys would probably send the witch-hunters after it for desecrating their art with evil machines.

47
The French Army Is Testing Boston Dynamics’ Spot the Robot In Combat Scenarios
https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/7/22371590/boston-dynamics-spot-robot-military-exercises-french-army

Boston Robotic’s Spot quadruped robot seems to be hitting the battlefield with a group of French Army trainees in a series of drills and simulations that explore how these currently unarmed robots could work side-by-side with humans.

The soldiers-in-training used Spot for various reconnaissance tasks during a two-day trial of the technology.

As reported by news outlet Ouest-France, Spot and some robot friends are supplying intelligence and support for ground troops. The other robots included the French-made pack robot called the Nexter ULTRO and Shark Robotics Barakuda, a wheeled drone that carries a heavy blast shield to protect the student.



http://lignesdedefense.blogs.ouest-france.fr/archive/2021/03/31/quand-emia-part-au-combat-avec-des-robots-terrestres-22012.html

The tests, which took place in late March, were part of a project by the École Militaire Interarmes school at a French army camp Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan.

... Sources quoted in the article say that the robots slowed down operations but helped keep troops safe. “During the urban combat phase where we weren’t using robots, I died. But I didn’t die when we had the robot do a recce first,” one soldier is quoted as saying. They added that one problem was Spot’s battery life: it apparently ran out of juice during an exercise and had to be carried out.



https://mobile.twitter.com/SaintCyrCoet/status/1379457690020294665

Boston Dynamics’ vice president of business development Michael Perry told The Verge that the robot had been supplied by a European distributor, Shark Robotics, and that the US firm had not been notified in advance about its use. “We’re learning about it as you are,” says Perry. “We’re not clear on the exact scope of this engagement.”

Spot’s appearance on simulated battlefields raises questions about where the robot will be deployed in future. Boston Dynamics has a long history of developing robots for the US army, but as it’s moved into commercial markets it’s distanced itself from military connections. Spot is still being tested by a number of US police forces, including by the NYPD, but Boston Dynamics has always stressed that its machines will never be armed. “We unequivocally do not want any customer using the robot to harm people,” says Perry.

The test in France seems to be the first time Spot has been seen in a true military setting. If robots prove reliable as roaming CCTV, it’s only a matter of time before those capabilities are introduced to active combat zones.

--------------------------------------------

meanwhile, in China ...



---------------------------------------------

48
Am I Arguing With a Machine? AI Debaters Highlight Need for Transparency
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00867-6

With artificial intelligence starting to take part in debates with humans, more oversight is needed to avoid manipulation and harm.

As AI systems become better at framing persuasive arguments, should it always be made clear whether one is engaging in discourse with a human or a machine? There’s a compelling case that people should be told when their medical diagnosis comes from AI and not a human doctor. But should the same apply if, for example, advertising or political speech is AI-generated?

Unlike a machine-learning approach to debate, human discourse is guided by implicit assumptions that a speaker makes about how their audience reasons and interprets, as well as what is likely to persuade them — what psychologists call a theory of mind.

But researchers are starting to incorporate some elements of a theory of mind into their AI models (L. Cominelli et al. Front. Robot. AI https://doi.org/ghmq5q; 2018 ) — with the implication that the algorithms could become more explicitly manipulative (A. F. T. Winfield Front. Robot. AI https://doi.org/ggvhvt; 2018 ). Given such capabilities, it’s possible that a computer might one day create persuasive language with stronger oratorical ability and recourse to emotive appeals — both of which are known to be more effective than facts and logic in gaining attention and winning converts, especially for false claims (C. Martel et al. Cogn. Res. https://doi.org/ghhwn7 (2020); S. Vosoughi et al. Science 359, 1146–1151; 2018).

As former US president Donald Trump repeatedly demonstrated, effective orators need not be logical, coherent, nor indeed truthful, to succeed in persuading people to follow them. Although machines might not yet be able to replicate this, it would be wise to propose regulatory oversight that anticipates harm, rather than waiting for problems to arise.

Government is already undermined when politicians resort to compelling but dishonest arguments. It could be worse still if victory at the polls is influenced by who has the best algorithm.

--------------------------------------------

Are Digital Humans the Next Step in Human-Computer Interaction?
https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/robotics/artificial-intelligence/are-digital-humans-the-next-step-in-humancomputer-interaction



https://digitalhumans.com/



------------------------------------------------------

Lord Johnson-Johnson: ... Any old iron. Any old iron. Any old iron. Any old iron. ... Expel your Mecha. Purge yourselves of artificiality. Come along, now. Let some Mecha loose to run. Any old unlicensed iron down there?

- A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

49
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 08, 2021, 02:15:01 AM »
AstraZeneca Vaccine Linked to Rare Blood Clots, EU Regulators Conclude
https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/04/blood-clots-are-very-rare-side-effects-of-astrazeneca-vaccine-eu-regulators/

European medical regulators on Wednesday concluded that there is a strong link between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and life-threatening conditions involving the unusual combination of blood clots and low levels of blood platelets.

As such, the conditions should be listed as a “very rare side effects” of the vaccine, according to the European Medicines Agency, a regulatory agency of the European Union.

https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/news/astrazenecas-covid-19-vaccine-ema-finds-possible-link-very-rare-cases-unusual-blood-clots-low-blood

The conclusion was based on the EMA’s in-depth review of 86 blood-clotting events among around 25 million people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and the UK. Of the 86 blood-clotting events (0.00034%), 18 people died (0.00007%). Most—but not all—of the cases occurred in women under the age of 60.

The events reviewed by the EMA included 62 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), a rare form of stroke in which a clot prevents blood from draining out of the brain. The remaining 24 cases involved splanchnic vein thrombosis, which involves blood clots in the veins that drain blood from the abdomen.

Beyond the 86 cases examined, the EMA estimated that there’s a reporting rate of one case of the side effect in 100,000 people vaccinated.

Regulators noted that this unusual combination resembles a condition called heparin-induced thrombocytopenia or HIT.

HIT develops because of an aberrant immune response. In a reaction to heparin that’s not completely understood, some patients’ immune systems produce antibodies that attack a common platelet protein called Platelet Factor 4, or PF4. This in turn triggers platelet activation and pro-clotting particles, leading to HIT.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20059332/

Though the EMA solidified the connection between the clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine, it still recommends using the vaccine. Along with the EMA, the World Health Organization still strongly contends that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing deadly COVID-19 infections strongly outweigh the risks of extremely rare blood-clotting conditions.

The new side effect listing in the EU will only make things more difficult for AstraZeneca. And it’s also likely to cast a shadow over the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which is authorized in the US and elsewhere and uses the same design as AstraZeneca’s vaccine. Both vaccines use an adenovirus vector.

A potential pitfall of adenovirus-based vaccines is that adenoviruses can also bind to platelets and cause problems. In fact, some pre-pandemic data has suggested that adenoviruses can activate platelets and lead to low platelet counts. But the connection between this and the mechanism causing the blood clotting in vaccinees needs far more data to be understood.

https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/mmr.2013.1805

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006497120417847?via%3Dihub

Of the approximately 4.5 million people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine worldwide, there have been three reported cases of blood-clotting events similar to those seen in people given the AstraZeneca vaccine, Arlett said. These numbers are “extremely small,” he emphasized. “This is, however, under close scrutiny... I think it would be fair to say there’s intensive monitoring of this issue across the vaccines.”

-----------------------------------------------------------------

People Who Got the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Say They Have More Side Effects
https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/7/22371665/covid-vaccine-side-effects-moderna-pfizer

The anecdotal reports are true: people who get the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine say they have more side effects than people who get the Pfizer / BioNTech shots, according to new data published this week in JAMA.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2778441

The study analyzed reports collected through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program called v-safe. It’s a text message-based program designed to track side effects in vaccine recipients. For the first week after each vaccine dose, people who enroll are prompted to fill out a daily survey about any symptoms, like fatigue or arm pain

Over 3,600,000 people who got their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before February 21st enrolled in v-safe and checked in at least once. Around 70 percent of those people said they had some kind of injection site reaction, like pain or swelling, and half had a more generalized reaction like fatigue or chills. For both, people who got a Moderna shot were more likely to have a side effect — 73 percent had an injection site reaction, compared with 65 percent of people who had a Pfizer / BioNTech dose. Around 51 percent of Moderna recipients had full-body symptoms, compared with 48 percent of people who got Pfizer / BioNTech.

The gap widened after the second dose. About 1.4 million people completed those check-ins. Almost 82 percent of people getting their second Moderna shot had injection site pain versus just under 69 percent of people with Pfizer / BioNTech. Overall, 74 percent of people said they had general reactions after their Moderna shot, compared with 64 percent of people getting Pfizer / BioNTech. The biggest difference was for chills, which were experienced by 40 percent of people taking Moderna and only only 22 percent of people taking the Pfizer / BioNTech shot.

People over 65 were also less likely to have side effects than people under 65, regardless of which vaccine they received.

Overall, the side effects and frequency of side effects were similar to the ones seen in clinical trials testing these vaccines. The clinical trials gave researchers and doctors an accurate look at the types of side effects people can expect after they get their shots

50
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 07, 2021, 10:45:57 PM »
Time will tell...

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