Tag Archives: Nature

How to stop AI deepfakes from sinking society — and science

Deceptive videos and images created using generative AI could sway elections, crash stock markets and ruin reputations. Researchers are developing methods to limit their harm.

By Nicola Jones, September 27, 2023

Illustration by Señor Salme

This June, in the political battle leading up to the 2024 US presidential primaries, a series of images were released showing Donald Trump embracing one of his former medical advisers, Anthony Fauci. In a few of the shots, Trump is captured awkwardly kissing the face of Fauci, a health official reviled by some US conservatives for promoting masking and vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was obvious” that they were fakes, says Hany Farid, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of many specialists who examined the pictures. On close inspection of three of the photos, Trump’s hair is strangely blurred, the text in the background is nonsensical, the arms and hands are unnaturally placed and the details of Trump’s visible ear are not right. All are hallmarks — for now — of generative artificial intelligence (AI), also called synthetic AI.

Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-02990-y

How Nancy Hopkins and her tape measure revealed the extent of sexism in science | Nature

By Alexandra Witze, March 27, 2023

Nancy Hopkins showed how the Masschusetts Institute of Technology systematically awarded more lab space to men.Credit: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

Nancy Hopkins’s professional career has been partly defined by the ‘great men of biology’ she has worked with. Hopkins, a molecular biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), recounts being mentored by James Watson, yelled at by Eric Lander, slighted by David Baltimore and groped by Francis Crick.

But her actual legacy rests in her scientific achievements in cancer biology and zebrafish genetics — and in the attention she drew to discrimination against women in science.

Source: How Nancy Hopkins and her tape measure revealed the extent of sexism in science

Swamps Can Protect Against Climate Change, If We Only Let Them | The New Yorker

Wetlands absorb carbon dioxide and buffer the excesses of drought and flood, yet we’ve drained much of this land. Can we learn to love our swamps?

By Annie Proulx, June 27, 2022

The U.S. once held a wealth of wetness, but the country’s treasury has shrivelled.Illustration by Carson Ellis

It can be hell finding one’s way across an extensive boggy moor—the partially dry, rough ground and the absence of any landmarks let the eye rove helplessly into the monotype distance. Everything undulates, the rise and fall share the same muted palette, and the senses dull.

But a swamp is different: in it, in addition to water, there are trees and shrubs, just as reeds and rushes are the hallmarks of a marsh. Although water and squelch are everywhere in a swamp, there are landmarks—downed trees or jagged stumps, a tenanted heron nest, occasional islands of high-ground hardwood stands, called “hammocks” in the South.

Yet the swamp traveler goes not in a straight line but slouches from quaking island to thick tussock to slippery, half-submerged log. Even with G.P.S. technology, big swamps are places to get lost, and in the past many people with a reason to melt out of sight—Native Americans threatened out of their territory, runaway slaves, Civil War army deserters, moonshiners, and bloody-handed murderers—have hidden in them. For a few seconds, I once considered hiding in a swamp myself.

Source: Swamps Can Protect Against Climate Change, If We Only Let Them | The New Yorker

Your dog’s breed doesn’t determine its personality, study suggests | Science | AAAS

Work challenges popular idea that breeds have specific, reliable behaviors

28 Apr 20222:00 PM, By David Grimm

Tod the papillon, posing for a photo at the end of his lifeKen Morrill/Yenra Photography

When Kathleen Morrill was 12, she decided she needed a puppy. Not just any puppy—a pint-size papillon with a black button nose and bushy, perky ears. When her parents resisted, “I turned on the waterworks,” laughs Morrill, now a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Worcester.

And so, the family ended up with its first dog—a 2-month-old pup she named Tod.

Tod was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC), whose website describes his breed as “curious” and “friendly” with a “hardy constitution.” But the puppy was shy and scared of strangers, and he developed separation anxiety as he aged.

When Morrill’s family got another papillon, Rosie, a year later, she was entirely different: bold, outgoing, and adoring of all people. “Breed can be important,” Morrill says, “but it’s not the full picture of a dog’s behavior.”

From article…

Now, she has the science to back that up.

In a new study, Morrill and her colleagues show that almost none of the behaviors we associate with dog breeds—from lovable Labradors to pugnacious pit bulls—are hard-wired.

Aside from a few ancient traits, environment seems to play a much larger role than pedigree.

Source: Your dog’s breed doesn’t determine its personality, study suggests | Science | AAAS

Why Forest Bathing Is Good for Your Health – Mindful

Though any kind of nature can enhance our health and happiness, there’s something special about being in a forest.

By Karin Evans, September 10, 2018

tanguilan/Adobe Stock

“Nature deficit disorder” is a modern affliction.

With more people living in cities, working in high-rise office buildings, and becoming addicted to their innumerable electronic devices, many of us are indeed experiencing a nature deficit.

This is true for children and adults alike.

In his new book, Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness, Japanese medical doctor and researcher Qing Li presents some sobering statistics: By 2050, according to the United Nations Population Division, three quarters of the world’s people will live in cities.

Even now, the average American spends 93 percent of the time indoors, and some ten hours a day on social media—more than they spend asleep.

Forest bathing involves slowly walking through a forest, taking in the atmosphere through all your senses, and enjoying the benefits that come from such an excursion.

from article…

Source: Why Forest Bathing Is Good for Your Health – Mindful

Report: “The Giant Plan to Track Diversity in Research Journals” | Nature

From Nature:

In the next year, researchers should expect to face a sensitive set of questions whenever they send their papers to journals, and when they review or edit manuscripts. More than 50 publishers representing over 15,000 journals globally are preparing to ask scientists about their race or ethnicity — as well as their gender — in an initiative that’s part of a growing effort to analyse researcher diversity around the world. Publishers say that this information, gathered and stored securely, will help to analyse who is represented in journals, and to identify whether there are biases in editing or review that sway which findings get published. Pilot testing suggests that many scientists support the idea, although not all.

The effort comes amid a push for a wider acknowledgement of racism and structural racism in science and publishing — and the need to gather more information about it. In any one country, such as the United States, ample data show that minority groups are under-represented in science, particularly at senior levels. But data on how such imbalances are reflected — or intensified — in research journals are scarce. Publishers haven’t systematically looked, in part because journals are international and there has been no measurement framework for race and ethnicity that made sense to researchers of many cultures.

“If you don’t have the data, it is very difficult to understand where you are at, to make changes, set goals and measure progress,” says Holly Falk-Krzesinski, vice-president of research intelligence at the Dutch publisher Elsevier, who is working with the joint group and is based in Chicago, Illinois.

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