Big Tech &
Google 'LaMDA' is the next breakthough in AI understanding (2 minute read)
LaMDA is Google's latest breakthrough in understanding natural language. Conversations between people can start in one place and end up somewhere completely different, which can confuse chatbots. LaMDA can engage in free-flowing conversations about a seemingly endless number of topics. Google will eventually use LaMDA in products such as Assistant, Search, and Workspace. Some short examples of conversations with LaMDA are available in the article.
Google’s Project Starline is a ‘magic window’ for 3D telepresence (1 minute read)
Google's Project Starline uses a combination of specialized hardware and computer vision technology to create life-sized 3D images of people. It appears to require an elaborate set up including a photo booth with lights, sensors, and a large display. Google claims it creates an immersive video chat experience that makes users feel as if they are actually with the people they are speaking with. It is planning trial deployments with enterprise customers later this year.
Landmark asthma vaccine looks to human trials (3 minute read)
Half of asthma patients show excess production of two inflammatory molecules in the airways. Treatments have been developed to block the actions of these molecules, but they are expensive and are not suitable for long-term therapy. A team of researchers has developed a vaccine that induces the body to make its own antibodies against the molecules. It has been shown to be successful in producing the desired antibodies in mice for up to a year after immunization. The vaccine may also be effective against other allergic diseases.
Neuroscientists Have Followed a Thought as It Moves Through The Human Brain (3 minute read)
Scientists at the University of California used a technique called electrocorticography (ECoG) to track the movement of thought through the human brain. ECoG requires hundreds of tiny electrodes to be placed against the cortex. The technique is used to monitor patients undergoing surgery for epilepsy. In the study, 16 epilepsy patients performed several tasks while having their neural activity monitored and tracked. The results clearly emphasized the role of the prefrontal cortex in directing activity.
Programming, Design & Data Science
How to Create Neon Text With CSS (7 minute read)
Neon text can add a futuristic touch to any website. This article explains how to add glowing effects to text using CSS. It also explains how to add flickering, pulsating glow, and other extras to add to the effect. The article discusses how to remove the animation effects to make the text more readable for those with accessibility preferences.
The Never-Aging Ants With a Terrible Secret (6 minute read)
Temnothorax ants that are infected with parasitic tapeworms live significantly longer than their uninfected siblings. They also live lives of luxury, often getting more attention than even the queen while contributing nothing to the colony. The infected ants retain youthful traits and look very similar to young nurse ants. While the infected ants lay about, their siblings have to work harder, causing stress on the colony. Infected ants are more docile, making them easy prey for birds, who spread the parasite after digesting the ants.
Sleep Evolved Before Brains. Hydras Are Living Proof (10 minute read)
A recent study has revealed that hydras, simple organisms that don't have a brain, periodically enter into rest states that meet the criteria for sleep. Sleeping might play a primarily metabolic function in the absence of a brain, allowing certain biochemical reactions to take place that can't happen during waking hours. Cell division in hydras stops if they are sleep deprived. The first organism that slept probably existed over 1 billion years ago.