On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog

This original cartoon from 1993 unintentionally became a piece of Internet folklore. Steiner attached no profound meaning to the cartoon; it was just something he drew in the manner of a “make-up-a-caption” cartoon.

It seems that the modern incarnation of this is, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re AI.” (Artificial Intelligence.) Quote.

The creators of a revolutionary AI system that can write news stories and works of fiction – dubbed “deepfakes for text” – have taken the unusual step of not releasing their research publicly, for fear of potential misuse.

OpenAI, an nonprofit research company backed by Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, Sam Altman, and others, says its new AI model, called GPT2 is so good and the risk of malicious use so high that it is breaking from its normal practice of releasing the full research to the public in order to allow more time to discuss the ramifications of the technological breakthrough.

At its core, GPT2 is a text generator. The AI system is fed text, anything from a few words to a whole page, and asked to write the next few sentences based on its predictions of what should come next. The system is pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible, both in terms of the quality of the output, and the wide variety of potential uses.

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‘Saving the planet’ on the back of diesel pickup trucks

Photo: Stuff

Capitalists make decisions on the basis of profit and loss. Therefore it is surprising that GM is betting the farm on new generation automobiles based on the promise of saving the planet, while the public demand is for old technology big guzzler diesel pickups. More so since the capital to fund the new vehicles is coming from the profits on the old models. quote.

GM is realigning its manufacturing footprint and workforce to make more pickups and other light trucks, even as it cuts back production of less profitable vehicles like sedans. The company plans to add 1000 workers to build the new heavy-duty trucks at its factory in Flint, mostly tapping employees laid off from other plants affected by a recently announced retrenchment.

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Oops, looks like ‘Ocean CleanUp’ doesn’t work

Ocean CleanUp, sea plastic removal system

You may recall reading about the Ocean CleanUp in the past but in case it’s new to you, Ocean CleanUp is a system for passively trapping the plastic waste that is in the so called Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

It is a pretty ingenious system involving a floating U-shaped boom, hundreds of metres long which is designed to be abandoned in the ocean while it gets blown about by the wind and currents, casually trapping thousands of tonnes of plastic ready for later removal by a ship for recycling.

The plan, which has so far cost over $20 million, was to ramp up the program with the aim to soon have around sixty of these booms floating about in the ocean, leading to 50% of the plastic being removed every five years!

Prior to deployment there was nearly 300 tests, mostly computer modelled but also small-scale practical tests. Everything was going peachy and the first device, nicknamed ‘Wilson’, was taken out into the middle of the patch and let loose. You can check the ambitious project here.

Unfortunately, it seems that the winds and waves way out in the middle of the ocean have never heard of computer modelling and refused to play ball. It seems that although the device does at times capture plastic, it often just flows straight back out again. The unit has been towed to Hawaii for repairs and re-evaluation.

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A NZ wide road trip in an EV? Yeah, nah

BMW I3, a funky, cool city car, not suitable for the Auckland to Wellington blast.

A friend of mine has a BMW I3 as his company car at the moment. He gets a new car roughly every six months and so decided to grab one to see if he could live with an electric vehicle on a daily basis. Well actually it’s a kind of a hybrid in that it has what BMW call a ‘range extender’ which is a small petrol engine that can help by charging the battery when needed. He loves it.

Well to put that in context, he loves it for a city car. Because he’s a petrolhead, the big draw-card for him is the amazing grunt off the line. These things really are pretty powerful. The next biggest attractant for him is the free power: he gets free, (read company supplied), juice at his work. As a city car, for getting him to work or the kids to school he says you can’t beat it.

I had a drive in it the other day. Certainly I was impressed with the acceleration, but after playing with that a couple of times, I was over it. Maybe I’m just getting old. At the end of the day, it is just a sort of weird looking toy car to me. I figure if I can’t put a sheet of corrugated iron inside it, it just isn’t big enough for me.

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Breaking: The Gab web browser

Fact check? Stuff? Nah.

Our dear friends at Stuff and Nonsense have excelled themselves once again by rushing to print a hard-luck sob story without the most basic fact checking. If they can get the one provable fact in the story incorrect then there is little hope for the rest of the tale that they expect us to accept as accurate. Quote.

A woman whose 7-year-old son posted a video of his little sister’s buttocks on YouTube has lost access to her Gmail account that includes over 20 years of email. End quote.

Well that can’t be right. Here is my first email from Google, dated 9 September 2004 and stating that it was in test mode.

Gmail started as a limited beta release on April 1, 2004, and ended its testing phase on July 7, 2009. So even if this woman got an invite to join the test program on April 1, 2004 she still would not have 15 years of email for a few months. Hint to Stuff editorial team: The Internet has all manner of useful answers to questions. Quote.

The woman, who doesn’t want to be named, says her son used her account to post the three-second video in November and she’s been locked out of her YouTube and associated Gmail account ever since. End quote.

And why did your 7-year old son have access to your email account? Ever heard of passwords and/or screen locks? Quote.

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Is Facebook two-faced?

The resemblance is uncanny

Are the management of Facebook a bunch of lying toads?  Do its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, its COO Sheryl Sandberg and its public relations people all lie through their teeth?

What have the top team at Facebook done to ensure that they do not become the next MySpace, Geocities, Google Plus or Friendster?  What happens when the novelty wears off?

How do they keep people (the product) hooked and using Facebook all day, every day?  How do they ensure that everyone remains infected with FOMO? (Fear Of Missing Out)

Their answer was to link Facebook to as much other stuff as possible: to integrate and share everything about users that they could, legally and illegally, get away with.

Facebookers were encouraged to link their Spotify accounts, thus granting Spotify access to Facebook users’ private messages. Why?

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Just the thing for the summer BBQ season


ABC NEWS reports from California the unfortunate tale of a Tesla which caught on fire three times in one day. To catch on fire once is chance, to ignite twice is coincidence, to go up in flames three times is a pattern. Quote.

While driving on a highway on Dec. 18, the driver got a tire pressure warning indicating a flat tire, and had the car towed to the nearby Los Gatos Tire and Auto Repair, Santa Clara County Fire Captain Bill Murphy told ABC News.

“I go in there, doing the paperwork and I start hearing a funny hissing sound,” the Tesla owner told ABC San Francisco’s station KGO-TV. “I thought, oh, it must be something going on in the shop next door.”

The owner turned around to see the car on fire, and firefighters were called to the scene. […]

“We extinguished the initial fire very quickly,” Murphy said. Shortly afterwards, the firefighters saw gas and steam coming off the car- which began venting gas, which Murphy said they believed was a sign of batteries burning. He said his crew again doused the car with water before flames could erupt and contacted Tesla, which recommended propping up the car to access its underbody where the battery is located, Murphy said. They continued to monitor the car for about 6 hours to ensure there was no lingering heat, Murphy added. His crew doused it with an estimated 2,000 gallons of water. End quote.

I trust all that toxic, contaminated, water was safely contained and disposed of in an approved manner. Quote.

At 10 p.m., the car was moved to nearby tow yard, where it then reignited, Murphy said. The third fire was contained to the car, and did not spread. Firefighters spent nearly ten hours at the scene to ensure the battery would not ignite again. End quote.

16 hours of multiple firefighter time spent on one car. Quote.

The Tesla owner told ABC San Francisco station KGO-TV that he purchased the car about three months ago, and had driven it about 1,200 miles. He added that it would be the last Tesla his family owned.

“If this car had been in the house, and we had been on vacation, when this thing caught fire, the whole house could go under,” he said.

Some automobile experts say that the public is still learning that electric cars can catch fire, just like traditional cars.

“People tend to look at electric vehicles and assume they won’t catch fire because they don’t have a traditional combustion engine,” Alistair Weaver, editor-in-chief of Edmunds, an automobile research company, told ABC News. “The reality is that they still can still catch on fire.”

“Certainly if I was a Tesla driver I don’t think this is a source of panic,” Weaver added, who himself drives a BMW electric car. In fact, electric cars are less likely to ignite than gas-powered vehicles, he said, but when they do they can require more time and more water to put out.

In a statement to ABC News, Tesla said “We currently investigating the matter and are in touch with local first responders. We are glad to hear that everyone is safe.”

Santa Clara Fire Department Captain Murphy said that firefighters are adjusting to responding to fire incidents that are different than what they have been accustomed to.

“The presence of large lithium ion batteries in vehicles is something we are encountering more often,” Murphy said. “It’s still categorized as vehicle fire. We just have a different fuel now. There is some additional complexity to the fuel that’s burning.” End quote.

I suppose, looking on the bright side, after Shaw, Woods and Ardern get us all into electric vehicles and the gas reserves run out, we can huddle round unrecyclable car batteries and burn them for winter warmth.


All Hail; the solar panel solution to climate change


From SBS News

After what was described as the worst hailstorms in almost 20 years, some 50,000 homes lost power in northern Sydney.

Jo Nova reports from across the ditch. Quote.

Here’s a problem coal fired plants don’t need to worry about.

Sydney’s ‘catastrophic’ hailstorm happened on Thursday, the damage bill said to top $125 million. How much of that damage is to rooftop Solar PV? The last massive hail storm in Sydney was in 1999 — but there were hardly any solar panels then.

There are wild scenes and images everywhere.
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Remember, this is only what they publicly admit to

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist