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A Vast, Small World After All

We, the fortunate and overstimulated masses of the early 21st century can watch the whole world pass by on our computer and smartphone screens. The picture often isn't pretty, and we would all do well to lift our heads up more often to see what's happening right in front of us. In real life, as we've learned to say.

But sometimes, the digital connectivity comes at us from a new direction that can help us look closer, and think differently. Here is a expand=1] video, made solely by piecing together Google Maps satellite images, that takes you along the entire U.S.-Mexico border in six minutes. "Good luck with that wall, Mr. Trump," is the immediate political message of this view from above. But as you watch the haunting journey through the desert, past small towns and snaking around the Rio Grande, you can imagine the invisible lives passing by below in the very moments the images were taken, and how vast and frightening the spaces of the real world can be for the most vulnerable among us.

Meanwhile across the ocean, technology allows us to watch another migrant drama playing out — in real life, and real time. The dismantling of the so-called "Jungle" migrant encampment in the French seaside city of Calais was the immigration news story of the week. Unlike Trump's silly wall talk, the situation in Calais shows the complexity of immigration for any government to confront. Where, for example, will each and every person forced from the Jungle (an estimated 6,400) wind up? That is where the real-time video streaming app Periscope comes in. Here is footage of the tent village that has popped up in the past 24 hours, as some of the migrants forced out of Calais have made their way to Paris. From where we sit in our Worldcrunch offices, that video was shot five metro stops away. Even when the world gets closer, we watch it from afar.

  • Protests intensify in Venezuela, general strike expected today.
  • Prince's Paisley Park home opens today as museum.
  • Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy hopes to form new government Saturday.


In a surprise verdict, the Bundy brothers and 5 other members of an armed group that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in a 41-day standoff earlier this year, were cleared of all charges yesterday by a federal jury in Portland. Read more from The Oregonian here.


Syrian rebels have announced the start of the offensive aimed at breaking the government siege in Syria's second-biggest city. According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, rebels have fired "hundreds" of missiles into western Aleppo, killing at least 15 civilians.


Warning: You may end up singing Pretty Woman all day, thanks to our 57-second shot of history.


"I heard a voice telling me to stop swearing or the plane will crash in mid-air, and so I promised to stop," Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte said, after a flight home from Japan. Meanwhile, the mayor of a southern town in the Philippines, identified by Duterte earlier this year as being involved in the drug trade, was gunned down by anti-narcotics officers.


The Ross Sea in Antarctica will become the world's largest marine reserve, after EU leaders and 24 other countries signed a landmark deal today in Hobart, Tasmania, at the end of two weeks of discussions, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. This 1.6 million-square-kilometer (600,000 square-miles) chunk of the Southern Ocean will be free from commercial fishing for the next 35 years.


Only when an abortion is legal, can we begin to speak of moral decisions and love. Writing for Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Katazyna Wezyk has some frank words for men: "Perhaps, for those frustrated and frightened men, somebody at the protests should have written on a banner: ‘Dear men! We love you, we admire you, you are the best in the world, the most clever and handsome. But, just by the way, only if you have time, can you please consider that the new abortion bill threatens our lives and health, and maybe it's not such a good idea to pass it. But you know what — no rush. Thanks for your attention. Signed, Polish women. P.S. We apologize for going to work. It won't happen again"."

Read the full article, Poland's Abortion Battle, Why Free Women Are Done With Weak Men.


Some 75 schools in Poland today also happen to be marking the first-ever "Rainbow Friday," intended to make students of all sexual orientation feel welcome. But in the conservative Catholic country, with a conservative government in power, the occasion was not met kindly. Read more here.


The Bataclan concert hall in Paris unveiled its new facade yesterday, after six months of renovation work. The venue, in which terrorists killed 90 people last Nov. 13, is scheduled to re-open on Nov. 16 with a Pete Doherty concert, Le Monde reports. Here is a recent Le Figaro article on the Bataclan's past, present and future.


McDonald's German Blend — Heidelberg, 1988


According to a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency highlighting serious failings at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, up to half of planned drug tests had to be aborted because the athletes "could not be found."



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Hey ChatGPT, Are You A Google Killer? That's The Wrong Prompt People

Reports that the new AI natural-language chatbot is a threat to Google's search business fails to see that the two machines serve very different functions.

Photo of bubbles exploding

Mind blowing power

Tristan Greene

Since OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT to the world last November, people have wasted little time finding imaginative uses for the eerily human-like chatbot. They have used it to generate code, create Dungeons & Dragons adventures and converse on a seemingly infinite array of topics.

Now some in Silicon Valley are speculating that the masses might come to adopt the ChatGPT-style bots as an alternative to traditional internet searches.

Microsoft, which made an early $1 billion investment in OpenAI, plans to release an implementation of its Bing search engine that incorporates ChatGPT before the end of March. According to a recent article in The New York Times, Google has declared “code red” over fears ChatGPT could pose a significant threat to its $149-billion-dollar-a-year search business.

Could ChatGPT really be on the verge of disrupting the global search engine industry?

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