#62. 📸 AI photo scanner, fixer, animator | 🚢 Panama Canal to be cut off by climate change | Tesla launches Hardware 4
PLUS: AI extinction event | new science from LLMs | EU doubles firefighting force | Norwegian battery research | Japan's first L4 AV service | Range Rover EV
🤖 ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Key figures in AI development, including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, have issued a warning that AI may pose an existential risk to humanity, likened to nuclear war or pandemics.
The statement was published by the Center for AI Safety, highlighting recent advancements in AI, particularly large language models, and their potentially out-of-control implications.
Other signatories include Geoffrey Hinton and Yoshua Bengio, Turing Award winners for their work on deep learning, and Dario Amodei, CEO of Anthropic, a startup focusing on AI safety, amongst many other researchers and entrepreneurs.
Max Tegmark, MIT physics professor and director of the Future of Life Institute, hopes the statement will bring wider public awareness to the potential risks of AI, comparing the situation to scientists' concerns prior to the creation of nuclear weapons.
Not all agree with the extreme risks highlighted, including Yann LeCun, co-recipient of the Turing Award with Hinton and Bengio, as well as other AI researchers focused on immediate issues such as AI bias and disinformation.
Critics such as Meredith Whittaker, president of the Signal Foundation, argue that the alarm over long-term risks could detract from immediate problems, suggesting that AI developments are influenced by corporate interests, not just scientific progress.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence have developed Contextualized Literature-Based Discovery (C-LBD), which generates new scientific ideas.
The C-LBD system expands upon Literature-Based Discovery (LBD), a method that generates hypotheses by linking new ideas, by using natural language processing to generate sentences and consider the ideation factors of human scientists.
The system works as an AI-powered assistant, accepting relevant information and a "seed phrase" to generate either a full phrase explaining a new scientific concept or a salient component of the idea.
The researchers have created a new modeling framework that can form novel hypotheses from a variety of sources, while also introducing an "in-context contrastive model" to promote creative thinking.
Preliminary experimental results have shown that the new hypothesis generation method outperforms previous methods, though state-of-the-art generative models are currently inadequate.
The team plans to expand C-LBD to include multimodal analysis of scientific data and the use of advanced large language models, such as GPT-4, in the future.
MyHeritage, the genealogy company, has launched a new AI-driven app, Reimagine, focused on preserving old family photos. It allows users to scan, enhance, colorize, and animate printed photos, extending the capabilities of their viral Deep Nostalgia technology.
The app, available on iOS and Android, uses AI to automatically crop and save images as separate photos from snapped images of old photo albums, and allows users to add details like names, dates, and locations.
The app's unique features include AI-powered restoration of faded colors, scratch repair, resolution enhancement, animation of old photos, and narration addition. MyHeritage developed these technologies with licenses from DeOldify and partnered with D-ID for animation.
Despite similarities to Google's PhotoScan launched in 2016, MyHeritage differentiates itself with a more comprehensive AI-powered feature set.
Initial testing suggests the app generally delivers on its claims of photo enhancement and improvement, although light glare on the original image sometimes caused issues.
The app is free to download but offers weekly and monthly subscriptions for unlimited access to advanced features. The monthly subscription costs $7.99, while an annual subscription is available for $49.99.
Currently, Reimagine supports 11 languages with plans to add more in the future.
🤖🔥🤯 COOL AI TOOLS, APPS, VIDEOS, PODCASTS, LINKS, AND MORE!
🌡️ CLIMATE CHANGE & CLEAN ENERGY
Climate change, resulting in decreased rainfall in Central America, is lowering water levels in the Panama Canal, potentially impacting global shipping and leading to higher consumer costs.
The Panama Canal, a crucial shipping route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, requires large amounts of fresh water for ship passage through its locks.
Due to falling water levels, the Panama Canal Authority has issued draft restrictions for ships, limiting the size of vessels that can transit the canal.
Shipping companies, such as Hapag-Lloyd, have responded by reducing cargo loads to lessen the draft of their ships and are introducing surcharges to compensate for income loss.
Experts note that global trade won't be severely impacted in the short term as the Panama Canal is not as vital as the Suez Canal and alternative routes are available.
Potential solutions for the Panama Canal include water-saving sluices, exploration of additional water sources, construction of reservoirs, and saltwater desalination plants.
The EU is doubling its aerial firefighting fleet for summer 2023 due to increasing forest fires linked to the climate crisis.
In the last decade, there has been a 350% increase in requests for assistance from the EU's RescEU program, signaling the intensifying severity of disasters.
The EU's Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, highlighted increased wildfire risks in previously safe areas and flood incidents in Belgium, Germany, and Italy.
The expanded RescEU firefighting fleet for the upcoming wildfire season will consist of 24 planes and four helicopters from 10 member states.
Additionally, nearly 450 firefighters from 11 member states will be stationed in France, Greece, and Portugal.
Southern Europe is preparing for a severe drought this summer, with some regions already facing water shortages and farmers anticipating the worst crop yields in decades.
Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have developed a material flow analysis model named MATILDA to address potential shortages of lithium, an essential element in all EV batteries.
MATILDA, which explores strategies for managing resource utilization in EV batteries, indicates that despite the abundance of lithium, demand will likely exceed supply.
The study suggests focusing on producing smaller, more efficient EVs with lower-capacity battery packs, and promoting vehicle and battery reuse and replacement to reduce raw material demand.
Although recycling is important, it won't significantly alleviate the pressure on raw materials in the next decade due to the relative newness of current EVs.
Solid-state batteries may exacerbate the situation by requiring almost twice as much lithium per kilowatt hour.
Solutions proposed by the study include reducing battery sizes in EVs, promoting a "less is more" approach, promoting e-bikes and ride-sharing services, and developing necessary infrastructure, including more charging stations.
🚗 AUTONOMOUS & ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Tesla has started equipping its Model Y cars with Hardware 4 (HW4) self-driving technology suite, offering upgraded sideview and forward-looking cameras.
HW4, which first appeared in Model S and Model X earlier this year, is currently being installed only in vehicles manufactured in Fremont. However, it is expected to be a part of cars made elsewhere soon.
The introduction of HW4 marks significant progress in Tesla’s aim to perfect Full Self-Driving technology. It also hints at the possibility of forthcoming improvements to the Full Self Driving suite.
Tesla plans to introduce enhanced monitoring of drivers to detect distracted or impaired driving. The system would evaluate a driver's condition based on driving habits and physical cues.
The company has faced criticisms over customer data privacy, an issue that may become more pressing as it starts collecting more personal information about its drivers.
Despite such concerns, Tesla's focus on continuous improvements, especially through over-the-air software updates, keeps its vehicles technologically up-to-date and their resale values high.
Japan has launched its first transportation service utilizing level 4 autonomous driving, in the town of Eiheiji, Fukui Prefecture. The service commenced on Sunday, featuring a seven-seater electric cart running a 2-kilometer section of a walking trail.
Level 4 autonomous driving is defined as fully automated driving under certain conditions. The vehicles in Eiheiji are managed remotely, with one operator overseeing up to three electric carts.
This autonomous driving service has been developed as a solution to decreasing public transportation in regions facing population decline, with a particular focus on serving the elderly.
Demonstration tests began in Eiheiji in 2018, with level 3 autonomy service (human takeover in emergencies) commencing in 2021. The transport ministry approved the use of level 4 vehicles in March of this year.
The revised road traffic law enforced in April lifted the ban on level 4 autonomous vehicles on public roads. Zen Connect, a public-private company in Eiheiji, received a license for operating such vehicles under the revised law on May 11.
By 2025, the Japanese government aims to expand autonomous driving transportation services to about 50 locations nationwide.
British automaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) plans to introduce an electric version of the Range Rover Velar, positioning it as a rival to the forthcoming Porsche Macan EV.
The electric Velar, along with the Range Rover Discovery Sport and Evoque SUVs, will be produced at JLR's Halewood plant, near Liverpool.
The electric Velar will utilize JLR's new EMA platform, initially designed for hybrids and smaller Land Rover models, with a flexible battery structure and 800V fast-charging capabilities.
JLR's EMA platform's electric motors are expected to have an efficiency of around 4 to 4.5 miles per kWh, which is touted to be the most torque dense in its class.
As part of its "Reimagine" strategy — no relation to the Reimagine app above; what a weird coincidence! — Jaguar will become an all-electric brand by 2025, followed by the rest of JLR's brands by the end of the decade.
The electric Velar, which was initially launched in 2017 to compete with the Porsche Macan, is expected to enter the market as the luxury electric SUV segment continues to grow.
🎉 THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY!
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