Facebook is starting a new multimillion-dollar investment fund aimed at startups. It recently filled the position of 'head of investments' in its New Product Experimentation team. Investing in startups could help the company catch the next big social app before it becomes big. Acquiring small startups before they become successful would help Facebook avoid being accused of buying out rivals. It is unknown how large the fund will be.
OpenAI has launched an API that allows access to its natural language processing models. Only qualified customers will be able to access the service, which will be free for the first two months while it is in beta. OpenAI will use the API to fund its research and as a way to discover what requirements are needed to use AI systems in the real world. It will also allow OpenAI to control the use of the technology and prevent misuse. The API can generate text based on keywords, complete code, generate spreadsheet tables, translate natural language to Unix commands, and more.
Researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have created an Electrochemical Eye (EC-Eye), an artificial eye that has the potential to see better than a real human eye. The EC-Eye is modeled after a real retina, with a concave curve and a surface studded with an array of tiny light sensors designed to mimic the photoreceptors on a human retina. Wires made of liquid metal connect the sensors, acting as the optic nerve. The eye can capture images relatively clearly compared to existing alternatives. An 18-second video is available showing the EC-Eye processing the shapes of a few letters.
Neuroscientists from Harvard Medical School have discovered neurons in mice that control hibernation-like behavior. When the neurons are stimulated, mice enter a state of torpor that can last for days. When the activity of these neurons is blocked, the mice wake up. A better understanding of this mechanism in mice and other animal models could eventually lead to inducing torpor in humans. If this is achieved, it may have a wide arrange of applications in medicine and space travel.
The US Department of Defense had planned for a scenario involving a rebellion that used bitcoin to undermine and evade 'the establishment'. In the scenario, people born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s used cyberattacks to steal money and convert it to bitcoin. The Defense Force also wargamed scenarios involving Islamist militants and anti-capitalist extremists. Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz recently called for the government to freeze the money of demonstrators in an effort to quell political dissent. Bitcoin has received more interest recently due to the coronavirus pandemic, unprecedented levels of government borrowing, and the capacity for its use in censorship resistance.
The Internet Archive created the National Emergency Library in March as a response to the shutdown of public libraries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It suspended book waitlists until the end of June, essentially allowing a single copy of a book to be downloaded an infinite number of times. This caused book publishers to file a lawsuit against the Internet Archive, accusing the service of violating the Copyright Act and facilitating digital piracy. The Internet Archive responded by closing the National Emergency Library early but the lawsuit might result in the shutdown of the service. Previous attempts at backing up the library have been unsuccessful, and now open-Internet activists are trying to figure out the best way to save the archive.
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