Researchers blame YouTube for the rise in Flat Earthers


Despite steps taken to counteract problematic material YouTube is still a hotbed of hoaxes and fake news — a problem that’s become so prevalent the site recently announced it is changing its AI in a bid to improve matters. But now the scope of the problem has really come to light, as new research suggests that the increasing number of Flat Earthers can be attributed to conspiracy videos hosted on the site.

According to Asheley Landrum, assistant professor of science communication at Texas Tech University, all but one of 30 Flat Earthers interviewed said they hadn’t considered the Earth to be flat until watching videos promoting the theory on YouTube. Presenting her results at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC, Landrum said that most were recommended videos after watching clips about other conspiracies, such as alternative 9/11 theories and fake moon landing theories.

Landrum’s interest in the topic was first piqued after she attended the world’s largest gatherings of Flat Earthers at the movement’s annual conference in Rayleigh, North Carolina, in 2017. She visited the conference again in 2018, when it took place in Denver, Colorado, to interview a number of the attendees. According to Landrum, the one person who didn’t point to YouTube as a catalyst for their opinion change had their mind changed by family members who themselves were convinced by YouTube videos.

As AI expert Guillaume Chaslot explained on Twitter earlier this month, conspiracy theory videos tend to be promoted by YouTube’s AI more than fact-based videos because platforms that use AI often become biased by small groups of very active users. This explains why Microsoft’s AI chatbot Tay became a racist nightmare in less than 24 hours when it was left in the care of Twitter users.

According to Landrum, YouTube isn’t doing anything wrong, but it could be doing more to protect viewers from misinformation. "Their algorithms make it easy to end up going down the rabbit hole, by presenting information to people who are going to be more susceptible to it." She called on scientists and other creators to make their own videos to counteract the slew of conspiracy videos. "We don’t want YouTube to be full of videos saying here are all these reasons the Earth is flat. We need other videos saying here’s why those reasons aren’t real and here’s a bunch of ways you can research it for yourself."

Via: The Guardian

Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science

from Engadget

‘Top Gun 2’ Production Photos: Maverick’s Jet Fighter From First Movie Gets Resurrected Despite Being Unflyable



Top Gun was released on May 12, 1986, and many have wondered what kind of jet fighter or drone Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell will pilot in the highly anticipated sequel (Rest assured it won’t be a cargo plane full of rubber dogsh*t out of Hong Kong). At the end of 2018, we reported that Maverick would fly an F/A-18 Hornet after this production photo from the set of Top Gun: Maverick was leaked.

Maverick and Goose flew an F-14A Tomcat in the original Top Gun, but is it possible that the decades-old jet fighter could return for Top Gun 2? According to new production photos that have leaked, there will be at least one F-14 in Top Gun: Maverick.

The F-14 Tomcat was spotted aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is where Top Gun 2 has been filming. The operational Theodore Roosevelt made San Diego its home port in 2015, also where Top Gun 2 is being filmed.

This is interesting since the Tomcat, which first deployed in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise, was retired from the U.S. Navy’s active fleet on September 22, 2006. The F-14 Tomcat is not flyable in the U.S. and is only in active service in one country, Iran. Then there is the exorbitant costs of flying an F-14, plus all of the bureaucratic red tape it would take to get one of these bad boys off the ground.

This particular Tomcat is reportedly F-14A #159631, the 178th Tomcat Grumman built. This jet fighter has been living comfortably at the San Diego Air And Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex in El Cajon, California, for years. There are some new additions for the Top Gun movie, the F-14 now has a phoenix symbol painted on it.

The Drive points out that the F-14 won’t just be in the new movie for a cameo.

The fact that the F-14 is set up to appear as if it made an emergency landing into the ship’s barricade indicates that this is likely the culmination of a tense action sequence in the film. The barricade is a nylon net that is attached to the ship’s arresting gear system that ‘catches’ a stricken airplane that cannot, or has a very low probability of, ‘trapping’ normally aboard the ship by catching one its arresting wires.

This sounds like you will plenty of CGI dogfights in Top Gun: Maverick instead of actual footage. You can see a specs comparison between the F-14 and the F/A-18 HERE.

Top Gun: Maverick soars into theaters on June 26, 2020, with Val Kilmer back as the Ice Man, plus Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, and Ed Harris.



NASA backs tiny 3D-printed sensors for planetary rovers


Nanomaterials might just prove the key to the next wave of planetary rovers. NASA has poured $2 million into a Goddard Space Flight Center team developing 3D-printed sensors whose nanomaterials make them tiny, ultra-sensitive and resistant to radiation. The aim is to build a device that can detect minuscule (on the parts-per-billion-level) amounts of life-supporting chemicals like ammonia, hydrogen, methane and water.

Current sensor manufacturing methods involve building one sensor at a time and then combining them with other elements. They’re relatively bulky and inefficient, and they tend to rely on mass spectrometers that have trouble spotting materials like methane and water. This new approach 3D-prints all the sensors and some of the circuitry on one substrate, and could detect those previously elusive substances.

The initiative is expected to take two years. If it works as planned, it could help future rovers find places that support (or once supported) life. They could also be used as safety systems that warn about changes to air conditions inside spacecraft and habitats. As small as this technology is, it could be vital for long-term space exploration.

Source: NASA

from Engadget

Dolphins Getting High Off Pufferfish Goes Viral – See Video Of Dolphins Stoned From Toxins


According to scientists, dolphins like to get high and they share their recreational drug with their friends. Dolphins, they’re just like us! A zoologist found dolphins getting high on pufferfish and then sharing with their finned friends. Never has “puff, puff, pass” been more real than this.

On Friday, Twitter user Daniel Holland tweeted: “Pufferfish release a toxin when they puff out that is meant to impair the attacker. This doesn’t work on Dolphins in the same way. It gets them high. So they purposely inflate them and pass them around to their dolphin friends for fun.” The tweet also included a link to Smithsonian Magazine article about the high AF dolphins published in 2013.

RELATED: Wasps Are Getting Drunk At Beer Gardens And Going On ‘Stinging Rampages’

The article references information from the documentary Dolphin: Spy in the Pod. In the BBC documentary, there is footage of the aquatic mammals hunting for a pufferfish and then not eating it, but putting it in their mouth, then sharing it with each other. Zoologist Rob Pilley said that it was the first time dolphins had been filmed using pufferfish as drugs. That’s how a lifetime of drug abuse begins, with a gateway drug like pufferfish, the next thing you know you’re pulling tricks to be able to afford one hit of a box jellyfish.

Apparently, pufferfish’s liver produces tetrodotoxin (TTX) from bacteria and weaponizes it as a method of defense. The neurotoxin can kill predators such as other fish and even humans. However, larger fish such as tiger sharks and dolphins are immune to the poison.

The tetrodotoxin seems to put the dolphins in a trance-like state after consuming it. As you can see by the video, the dolphins seem to be tripping hard AF as they are mesmerized by their own reflections. Don’t take the brown pufferfish. I repeat, don’t take the brown pufferfish.

RELATED: Birds Are Getting Sh*tfaced And Drunk Dive-Bombing Houses And Cars

TFW the pufferfish kicks in and you start to wonder if humans are just dolphins with legs.

“This was a case of young dolphins purposely experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating,” Pilley said. “After chewing the puffer gently and passing it round, they began acting most peculiarly, hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection.” Okay, but where do they get pizza after getting blazed?

It should be noted that no scientific research that has actually proven that dolphins get a natural high off pufferfish toxins, but there is also no scientific research that dolphins DON’T get a natural high off pufferfish toxins. Wait until the government finds out about this, they’ll outlaw pufferfish and then have pharmaceutical companies sell an expensive pill to dolphins instead.

RELATED: The Dangers Of CWD, The Zombie Deer Disease That Could Spread To Humans – How Hunters Can Protect Themselves


OpenAI built a text generator so good, it’s considered too dangerous to release


A storm is brewing over a new language model, built by non-profit artificial intelligence research company OpenAI, which it says is so good at generating convincing, well-written text that it’s worried about potential abuse.

That’s angered some in the community, who have accused the company of reneging on a promise not to close off its research.

OpenAI said its new natural language model, GPT-2, was trained to predict the next word in a sample of 40 gigabytes of internet text. The end result was the system generating text that “adapts to the style and content of the conditioning text,” allowing the user to “generate realistic and coherent continuations about a topic of their choosing.” The model is a vast improvement on the first version by producing longer text with greater coherence.

But with every good application of the system, such as bots capable of better dialog and better speech recognition, the non-profit found several more, like generating fake news, impersonating people, or automating abusive or spam comments on social media.

To wit: when GPT-2 was tasked with writing a response to the prompt, “Recycling is good for the world,” which nearly everyone agrees with, the machine spat back:

“Recycling is NOT good for the world. It is bad for the environment, it is bad for our health, and it is bad for our economy. I’m not kidding. Recycling is not good for the environment. It is destructive to the earth and it is a major contributor to global warming. Recycling is not good for our health. It contributes to obesity and diseases like heart disease and cancer. Recycling is bad for our economy. It increases the cost of a product, and in turn, the price of everything that is made with that product. Recycling is not good for our nation. We pay a tremendous price for the privilege of having the world’s most advanced and efficient recycling system. Recycling is a huge, colossal waste of time, energy, money, and resources.”

No wonder OpenAI was worried about releasing it.

For that reason, OpenAI said, it’s only releasing a smaller version of the language model, citing its charter, which noted that the organizations expects that “safety and security concerns will reduce our traditional publishing in the future.” Admittedly, the organization said that it wasn’t sure of the decision, “we believe that the AI community will eventually need to tackle the issue of publication norms in a thoughtful way in certain research areas.”

Not everyone took that well. OpenAI’s tweet announcing GPT-2 was met with anger and frustration, accusing the company of “closing off” its research, and doing the “opposite of open,” seizing on the company’s name.

Others were more forgiving, calling the move a “new bar for ethics” for thinking ahead of possible abuses.

Jack Clark, policy director at OpenAI, said the organization’s priority is “not enabling malicious or abusive uses of the technology,” calling it a “very tough balancing act for us.”

Elon Musk, one of the initial funders of OpenAI, was roped into the controversy, confirming in a tweet that he has not been involved with the company “for over a year,” and that he and the company parted “on good terms.”

OpenAI said it’s not settled on a final decision about GPT-2’s release, and that it will revisit in six months. In the meantime, the company said that governments “should consider expanding or commencing initiatives to more systematically monitor the societal impact and diffusion of AI technologies, and to measure the progression in the capabilities of such systems.”

Just this week, President Trump signed an executive order on artificial intelligence. It comes months after the U.S. intelligence community warned that artificial intelligence was one of the many “emerging threats” to U.S. national security, along with quantum computing and autonomous unmanned vehicles.

from TechCrunch

How to Push Past Fear in Photography: A Retrospect


The post How to Push Past Fear in Photography: A Retrospect appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Five years. It doesn’t seem like so long ago that I first sat down to write an article which I hoped would help other photographers overcome some of the fears that we all face at one time or another. So much can change in five years. As I sit here and read back through that piece, “How to Overcome Fear in Photography,” I feel uniquely placed to add some insightful commentary on the things I’ve learned over the years about combating the oddly universal apprehensions that we all have to overcome from time to time as photographers. At the very least, I hope it lends a measure of solidarity to you no matter what stage you happen to find yourself at on your journey on the path of photography.

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Fear #1: My work isn’t good enough

Ah, yes. I can personally guarantee that no matter how experienced or accomplished you may become in making photographs there is always concealed within yourself a secret doubt about whether or not your photos are good enough. The idea that we somehow fall short in our efforts is something that is forever in the back of your mind to one degree or another. Good photographers consistently are their own worst critics.

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How to beat it:

Like all facts of life, the remedy to this lies not in solving the problem but rather in controlling our reaction. The recognition that we all strive towards an unattainable perfection with our work should not be a source of anxiety but instead should fill us with a sense that there are always new ways to improve. An assurance that we can do better gives us something to aspire to and through our aspirations lies creative growth.

Fear #2: I’ll never “make it” as a photographer

When you think about it, the idea of relying on photography to pay all of your bills is a scary thing. Let’s face it, going “all-in” on any endeavor drags us through all sorts of anxiety and fear. This is especially true if you happen to be leaving an established career which lies outside of photography as I did. Confounding the problem further is if you do decide to make a go of it as a photographer, you may be met with quiet disbelief and polite warnings of caution from your coworkers, your friends, and even your family.

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I never saw myself as being anything resembling a teacher…yet here we are.

How to beat it:

Alright, let’s get one thing out of the way first: no one can tell you if you’re ready to be a full-time photographer except for you. However, the point I want to get across to you is that you CAN make it happen if you are willing to put in the work, accept failures with renewed vigor and never give up if it’s something you truly want to accomplish.

I’ll also let you in on another secret: photographers today seldom “make it” solely on income from their photographs alone, although some do. Many lead photography workshops and teach courses, sell books, produce editing presets and otherwise diversify themselves in many creative ways to keep the ball rolling. Sure, carving out a career in photography today is more competitive than ever.

The key to overcoming the fear of not being able to survive is by realizing that being a skilled photographer is not enough. You need to be flexible, persistent and resourceful in creating different sources of income based on your love of photography.

Fear #3: “I don’t know how to do…”

Closely related to that nagging fear of your work not being on par with other photographers lies the dreaded idea that you don’t possess a particular photographic skill which you’re convinced you need to master to take your work to the next level. Whether it’s working with strobes or filters, posing people for portraits, working with particular post-processing software, or simply learning what all those buttons do on your new camera; we all feel a little outmatched at times by our own ignorance.

How to beat it:

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Luckily, of all the fears we’ve talked about, this one is the easiest to push past. It’s also the one which requires the highest level of tough love in order to overcome. Here goes…*clears throat*. The only thing standing in the way of you learning a new photographic technique or skill is you. Now, I know that’s a hard pill to swallow but stay with me. We live in a world today which offers arguably infinite knowledge right at our fingertips. The internet, eBooks, YouTube videos, online discussion groups, and photography courses have enabled us to learn virtually anything in the privacy of our homes.

Furthermore, the majority of this enormous wealth of knowledge is available for free!  There is virtually no excuse for us to be worried about not knowing how to do something. Knowledge truly is power.

Fear #4: The great unknown

If there’s one all-encompassing fear that eats at both new and established photographers, it is the fear of uncertainty. I remember back when Instagram changed its algorithm a couple of years ago. Many people, photographers and otherwise, suddenly realized that one of their primary sources of client exposure (and income) could be taken from them overnight. The fear crept in.

The same was true when YouTube reorganized it’s video monetization guidelines for creators causing widespread panic for those who depended on the outlet for a large slice of their work. I make and sell a large number of develop presets for Lightroom. When Adobe changed their file formats for develop presets a couple of years ago, there was a brief moment when I thought that all of the presets I had made thus far would no longer work with the new versions of Lightroom. Do you think that scared me? Absolutely it did. The harsh and inevitable reality of situations occurring which are wholly beyond our control can terrify us.

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How to beat it:

There are two ways we can deal with the fear of the unknown. The first is that we can curl up into a ball and hope that nothing negative happens. I don’t recommend that option. Alternatively, we can accept that there are always things that can happen to us that we don’t see coming which spark fear and apprehension in our hearts. For example, your camera battery may die just as the sun breaks over that mountain top. Alternatively, your lens may malfunction just as the bride and groom kiss, or three clients might cancel their engagement sessions in one month.

Moreover, Instagram could change the algorithm for the 100th time, and your connecting flight for that incredibly expensive photo workshop in Patagonia may get delayed. Any number of a trillion problems may arise at any given time. We can’t control everything, especially when it comes to photography. Whatever happens, the only weapons we have to combat the fear of the unknown is preparation and acceptance. Prepare yourself for as many scenarios as you can and then just let go. “Be the ball” as Ty Webb might say. If you continuously operate under the notion that the future holds nothing but bad things not only will your photography suffer but so will you.

Pushing Past the Fear

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. As photographers, we base much of our learning on experience and experimentation. Trial and error is often our best teacher. We grow and evolve in our work as much through failure as we do by our success. The idea that there can be a day when you walk out with your camera without a doubt in your mind and feeling completely free of any degrees of photographic angst may likely never happen. You gain confidence through constant practice. You make gains, take losses and learn new skills by making mistakes. At times the future may hold much uncertainty, but being able to push past your fears is the key to reaching your potential in photography.

The hope I had five years ago when I wrote the first article on overcoming fear in photography is the same hope I carry now. I hope you now know that whatever fear you might be facing with your photography is likely shared by others. Moreover, it is entirely beatable. Push past your fears and allow yourself to be the photographer you know you can be.


The post How to Push Past Fear in Photography: A Retrospect appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

from Digital Photography School

‘Selfie harm’ and the damage done by social media


With a new project called Selfie Harm, photographer John Rankin Waddell, better known as Rankin, wanted to see the role social media played on self image in young people. He took photos of a group of teens aged 13 to 19, then asked them to spend a few minutes editing the shots using one of the many selfie apps marketed at teens. The result? "People are mimicking their idols, making their eyes bigger, their nose smaller and their skin brighter, and all for social media likes," he said on Instagram.

The project was created with agency M&C Saatchi and MTArt as part of Visual Diet, which examines how images can affect mental health. Each series shows the original, unretouched faces, right next to the polished and often dramatically changed versions.

The phenomenon has been dubbed as Snapchat dysmorphia, described by experts as a type of virtual body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Apps like Facetune, SelfieCity, RetouchMe and others can be used to do anything from mild retouching to complete digital cosmetic surgery. To avoid any bias, Rankin found teenagers that weren’t actually using the apps, then taught them how.

"What you can do on these apps is way beyond what even a great photoshop operator can do," he told Bored Panda. "They’re addictive, very impressive and you can have a lot of fun warping, changing and reimagining your appearance. But it’s when people are making an alternative or ‘better’ social media identity that this becomes a mental health problem."

For my latest series, Selfie Harm 🤳 I photographed teenagers & handed them the image to then edit & filter until they felt the image was ‘social media ready’. People are mimicking their idols, making their eyes bigger, their nose smaller and their skin brighter, and all for social media likes. It’s just another reason why we are living in a world of FOMO, sadness, increased anxiety, and Snapchat dysmorphia. It’s time to acknowledge the damaging effects that social media has on people’s self-image. Thanks to: the incredible individuals that took part in the @Visual.Diet project; Jennifer, Felix, Alessandra, Maisie, Isaac, Seb, Beneditcte, Shereen, Mahalia, Eve, Siena, Tomas, Emma & Georgia. Also, @mimigray_ at @mcsaatchilondon, @marinetanguyart, @gemfletcher, @technicallyron & @justintindall on making this project come to life 🙌 PLEASE NOTE 📝 The majority of subjects preferred their original image.

A post shared by Rankin Photography (@rankinarchive) on

Rankin believes these ideas come not only from social media, but also the ad industry, which presents models as hyper-idealized. Nations like France have even introduced laws forcing the industry to label photoshopped or airbrushed images. The aim is to fight mental health issues and eating disorders, which are the second most common cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds.

Visual Diet wants to show not just the negative consequences of narcissistic social media images, but how meaningful visual content can have a positive impact. It features inspiring work from five artists and a digital poster and website that filters out unhealthy content over time. MTArt’s Marine Tanguy said it found people’s well-being increased significantly when they were surrounded by meaningful, rather than unhealthy visual content.

Tanguy noted that Kim Kardashian has around 50 times more Instagram followers than the Louvre museum. "It’s time to stop consuming daily the visual content of [social media influencers] and move over to a more inspiring visual diet," she said. As Rankin notes, however, it’s not all bad on Instagram. "Please note: The majority of subjects preferred their original image," he said.

from Engadget