🐤 Let's dance!

If you're wondering how AI has gotten so smart, you can thank those TikTok trends.

Wednesday | May 17th, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Wednesday, chirpers! Wondering how to get the most out of your day? Well, some of the most creative people in modern history knew the importance of keeping a schedule.

But you don’t have to go as far as some of them did … like novelist Honore de Balzac, who wrote for more than 13 hours a day while consuming as much as 50 cups of coffee!

-Chris Agee

-$22.16 (-0.18%)
Dow Jones
-$336.46 (-1.01%)
S&P 500
-$26.38 (-0.64%)
$0.00 (0.00%)
-$161.45 (-0.59%)
-$0.62 (-7.18%)
*Market data for this issue is from May 16th, 2023 at 5:58pm EST

🏦 Markets: The uncertain economic climate continues to take its toll on Wall Street --- and across the retail sector, as evidenced by the latest revenue numbers from Home Depot.

Housing prices are starting to drop and fewer people are remodeling their homes as everybody starts to cut out unnecessary expenses.

That’s had a measurable impact on Home Depot’s financial forecast, with expectations now signaling that 2023 revenue will be as much as 5% lower than last year.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Giphy

👙 Model behavior: The range of representation on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition has grown substantially in recent years, and now it includes the magazine’s first octogenarian model. Martha Stewart became the oldest person to rock a swimsuit on the publication’s cover, joining three models who will share the honor. Another groundbreaking model this year is transgender singer Kim Petras.

🦇 Bat blocks: After cutting his cinematic stint as the Caped Crusader to two movies, Michael Keaton is reprising his role more than 30 years later in the upcoming film “The Flash.” If you want to celebrate the moment with a fun and challenging project, you can check out Lego’s new set — the Lego Batcave Shadowbox — that includes nearly 4,000 pieces and includes many of the features of Batman’s lair as depicted in 1992’s “Batman Returns.”

💵 Billion-dollar payout: Years after Wells Fargo was at the center of a scandal involving the alleged creation of fake accounts to boost employee bonuses or achieve other fraudulent goals, the bank has reached a settlement to pay a total of $1 billion to shareholders. Although Wells Fargo denies many of the accusations, a spokesperson said that the company is “pleased to have resolved this matter.”

🤫 Sharing secrets: As the CIA continues to gather information about Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, the agency is reaching out to Russian citizens who might be willing to reveal what they know. A new social media campaign seeks to reach Russians directly and touts a secure method of communication that will protect their identity if they choose to share information. “You are not powerless,” the video declares. “Connect with us in a safe way.”

Share this issue:
Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email

TikTok Is Making AI Smarter In Some Surprising Ways

Viral videos are teaching tech how to see the real world better.

TikTok Is Making AI Smarter In Some Surprising Ways

We’ve all been talking a lot about the leaps and bounds by which artificial intelligence has advanced in recent months, but where is the technology getting all of its information?

For some programs, it’s enough to simply scour the internet for data and select relevant responses to queries. But other programs require a lot more context.

The search for “ground truth”

For the sake of simplification, training AI to recognize and respond to words or images is something like showing a flash card to a student. The programmer provides an AI system with a prompt (the revealed side of the flash card) that will hopefully result in a specific answer or completion.

That desired response (the hidden side of the flash card, to continue the analogy) is referred to as “ground truth,” and it’s trickier for the AI to figure out in some cases than in others.

Anticipating movements and perspectives are among the most complex jobs for AI platforms. But the more information that a system receives, the better it is at providing an appropriate response.

And that’s where TikTok comes in…

Dancing and standing still

If you want a computer to create a three-dimensional interpretation of a two-dimensional photo or video, it will need tons of vantage points. As it turns out, the litany of dance videos on TikTok provides all of the right information:

  • People in a wide range of motion
  • A huge range of unique backgrounds
  • Clear shots of various shapes

AI can use all of this to essentially “see” in 3-D and reliably recreate or complete these movements.

It has also benefited “mannequin challenge” in which TikTok users avoid movement in videos. By viewing stationary humans from various angles, it’s become stunningly competent in filling in missing pieces or showing images from different perspectives.

Share this story:
Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email

Solve today's crossword and win a prize!

Highest score wins an Amazon gift card!


*Prizes are sent out via email the next day by 11am EST.


Making The Case Against Bringing Back Extinct Species

Ethicists say it's a bad idea for a bunch of reasons.

Making The Case Against Bringing Back Extinct Species Shutterstock

There’s a growing push among some in the scientific community to engage in so-called “de-extinction” projects meant to revive animal species that have long died out. As if the “Jurassic Park” movies weren’t enough, there are some pretty compelling ethical reasons to oppose these programs.

Considering Celia

Just days after the start of the 2000s, scientists reported that the last known Pyrenean ibex, affectionately named Celia, had been killed in Spain. This meant that the species of wild mountain goat was officially extinct, but some researchers weren’t satisfied with that result.

About three years later, Celia’s DNA was cloned and inserted into the eggs of a closely related goat.

More than 400 embryos were created with this method, only about half of them were planted into the wombs of goats, just seven resulted in pregnancies, and one lone ibex was born.

Before you start celebrating, though, this young animal suffered significant issues, including a misshapen lung, and it died a short time after birth … meaning that the Pyrenean ibex technically went extinct twice.

Risks vs. rewards

In the two decades since the sad circumstances surrounding the effort to bring back the ibex, there have been mounting calls to revive long-extinct species like the dodo bird and woolly mammoth.

So what’s the harm? Well, aside from the potential safety risks of reanimating a giant pre-historic elephant, ethicists say there are a lot of inherent problems with the de-extinction movement, including:

  • Health issues like the ones experienced by the ibex
  • Profound loneliness among the first in a species to be brought back
  • Forcing animals to act as surrogates for another species

And since it’ll be harder to create DNA for these animals than it was to gather it from Celia, the potential challenges are even more unpredictable.

Share this story:
Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email
comic eyewashcomic.com

High-Tech Archaeology Is Responsible For A Huge Discovery In Naples

The busy Italian city didn't provide an opportunity for serious digging.

High-Tech Archaeology Is Responsible For A Huge Discovery In Naples

While archaeologists still largely rely on the time-tested strategy of digging into the earth to find relics of bygone eras, there are some areas where this just isn’t a feasible option. One such location is Naples, Italy, where a bustling urban environment makes it impossible to explore the rich history buried underneath.

Getting some cosmic assistance

For more than half a century, scientists have been using muons, or cosmic rays, to peer into otherwise hidden areas. This technique dates back to the 1950s, when engineer E.P. George produced accurate measurements of a tunnel in Australia using these rays.

More recently, muography, as the process is known, helped archaeologists in Egypt search inside the hidden chambers of Giza’s Pyramid of Khafre.

Although that effort didn’t reveal too many secrets about the pyramid, it proved the effectiveness of muography within the field of archeology.

And that brings us to modern-day Italy.

Discovering a hidden burial chamber

Experts already knew that the ruins of Neapolis were located roughly 33 feet below the surface of Naples, but the streets, homes, and other structures represented a clear impediment to any efforts to explore the necropolis in depth.

Scientists involved in a recent project, however, confirmed that cosmic rays helped them locate a previously undiscovered burial chamber.

In a report compiled by the archaeologists involved in the process, the finding helped provide more details about the size, scope, and society of Neapolis.

The ancient city was built on volcanic rock, which allowed citizens to dig out caves for shelter, places to worship, and, as the latest research shows, chambers in which they buried their dead.

Plenty of other questions remain, such as exactly how big Neapolis was … but the non-invasive approach offered by muography might soon provide those answers.

Share this story:
Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email
Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

90 N Church St, The Strathvale House
Grand Cayman KY1, 9006, Cayman Islands

Copyright © 2022 Early Chirp. All rights reserved.