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Future

Future

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.

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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Aging Cities Of The Future — How Urban Planning Can Factor In For Dementia

As the population ages, the likelihood of diseases such as dementia increases. That means we need to rethink how we design and build cities for the future. A look up close from Lisbon.

LISBON — For Maria Manuela Maia, there are routes in Lisbon that are hard to forget, like the one that connects her home to the parish. But there are others where memory fails her. “Manuela is more or less autonomous,” says Orlando, her husband. “But the problem is when you change streets. Then she no longer knows where our house is.”

That's when she gets lost. And when she meets other elderly, homeless or lonely people, she talks to them. "Need something? You can come to my house and I'll help,” she says, trying to help them. Her husband, Orlando, calms her down: “That gentleman doesn't need anything, don't worry, let's go. Let's walk,” he says, guiding her through the streets.

Maria Manuela and Orlando met more than 50 years ago when Orlando was serving with the troops in Angola. “I corresponded with 22 girls,” he says. Of these 22, I would only choose one: Maria Manuela.

After so many years, the battlefield is now a different one: Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, which leads to a progressive deterioration of cognitive functions. One of them is memory.

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Listening For Illness: Your Voice May Soon Help Detect Health Problems

Applying Artificial intelligence to vocal cues is increasingly being used to detect a range of illnesses from COVID-19 to asthma and even depression. But such technology also comes with serious ethical concerns.

PARIS — Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), your voice can already be used to dictate messages to your smartphone, give commands to your Bluetooth speakers, or chat with your car's dashboard. But soon, it may be able to evaluate the state of your health by detecting respiratory (asthma, COVID-19) or neurodegenerative illnesses. It could even pick up mental health struggles, such as depression or anxiety.

The concept is simple: every pathology that affects the lungs, the heart, the brain, the muscles, or the vocal cords can lead to voice modifications. By using digital tools to analyze a recording, it must be possible to detect vocal biomarkers, the same way vocal recognition algorithms learned to understand a spoken language based on millions of sound samples.

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Out With The Car, In With The Urban "Super-Island"

Barcelona architect Ton Salvadó explains how a new way or organizing urban areas might lead to greener, more peaceful cities.

There's no pristine white sand and palm trees framing turquoise water on Ton Salvadó's "super-islands." When the Barcelona architect uses the term, what he's referring to instead are chunks of city, in nine-block groupings, whose interior streets are closed to cars, forming pedestrian "islands" where foot traffic is king.

The idea for super-islands first emerged when Salvadó became director of Barcelona's Urban Model, at a time when the city was embroiled by civic protests over the high price of housing. After some initial success, Salvadó, a Barcelona-native, might have the chance to revolutionize his city's pedestrian geography with 500 additional super-islands in the future.

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Future
Jeff Israely

Twitter Woke-Bashing With A Shot Of AI — On The Meaning Of Language, Circa 2023

For Worldcrunch’s editor-in-chief, the arrival of ChatGPT, a stunningly powerful AI-driven tool for automated writing, combined with the rising noise on social media, have brought us to a troubling inflection point in the way we communicate with each other.

-Analysis-

PARIS — It came up in my Twitter feed late last Sunday night. Like so much flashing across our phones these days, the words and source and visual elements get processed by our eyes-and-brains in a split second.

Should I stay or should I scroll?

It was a brief, flatly worded, yet provocative text with attached screenshot from the account of a certain @pmarca. I would stay.

If you’re on Twitter and interested in technology or finance, you’ll probably recognize the handle as belonging to Marc Andreessen, undisputed Silicon Valley nobility who founded the Netscape internet browser in the 1990s, before settling into an extra successful career as venture capitalist, big thinker and sometimes provocateur. Among other things, he coined the phrase “software is eating the world” and is mentor to such younger tech founders as Mark Zuckerberg.

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Ideas
Theodore J. Kury*

Information As Commodity: What If Twitter Was Regulated Like An Oil & Gas Company?

Theodore Kury, Director of Energy Studies at the University of Florida, sees value in thinking of social media as the pipeline that carries a new kind of utility: information. He makes the case for regulating companies like Twitter accordingly.

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, and his controversial statements and decisions as its owner, have fueled a new wave of calls for regulating social media companies. Elected officials and policy scholars have argued for years that companies like Twitter and Facebook – now Meta – have immense power over public discussions and can use that power to elevate some views and suppress others. Critics also accuse the companies of failing to protect users’ personal data and downplaying harmful impacts of using social media.

As an economist who studies the regulation of utilities such as electricity, gas and water, I wonder what that regulation would look like. There are many regulatory models in use around the world, but few seem to fit the realities of social media. However, observing how these models work can provide valuable insights.

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Work In Progress
Bertrand Hauger, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin and Emma Albright

Work → In Progress: Time To Change Everything Or Back To Business As Usual?

The world of work is at a crossroads. A new French study published last week shows that in the span of four years, jobs offering remote work have increased tenfold since 2017, as the world grapples with the long-term impact of COVID-19. The profound questioning of the necessity to “go to the office” that the pandemic posed led to teleworking becoming a “new normal” of sorts, with the majority of businesses implementing hybrid models that allow employees to work remotely while still having access to the necessary resources they need to do their jobs ...

… that is, until it was "back to business as usual." But returning to office-based work, as most parts of the world consider the coronavirus crisis more or less a thing of the past, it is becoming apparent to some that things would, and should, never be the same.

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Future
Daniel Henryk Rasolt

Brazil, A Laboratory For The Boost Of Investing In Science — And The  Bust When You Don't

More than a decade ago, with the economy growing and political capital committed to public research and development, Brazil was the poster child for investing in the future. It was all bound to drop out quickly once the winds changed.

In 2010, Brazil’s economy was booming, students were entering higher education institutions at unprecedented rates, and quality research output was soaring.

At the time, I was visiting the country as a physics Ph.D. student, and I was struck by the enthusiastic optimism of the Brazilian researchers I met. Backed by increased government investment in science, they felt they were part of Brazil’s long-term transformation into a scientific and technological powerhouse, and a budding international hub of innovation.

Times have certainly changed.

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Future
Jacques Henno

Beyond Ukraine, How To Defend Against Drones As A Weapon-Of-Choice For Terrorists

The war in Ukraine has shown how civilian drones can be effectively used as weapons. Meanwhile in Paris, with preparations on to host the Olympics in 2024, the city is testing some unlikely solutions to make sure the devices can't be employed by terrorists.

PARIS — Police in Paris are busy walking through the worst-case scenarios. One is a drone appearing out of nowhere, undetected because it flies low and emits no radio waves thanks to its autonomous navigation. The reason? They've been tasked with protecting two major events being organized in France: the Rugby World Cup in September and October 2023, and then the Olympic Games in July and August 2024.

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Ideas
Jean-Marc Vittori

Absolute Free Speech Is A Recipe For Violence: Notes From Paris For Monsieur Musk

Elon Musk bought Twitter in the name of absolute freedom. But numerous research shows that social media hate speech leads to actual violence. Musk and others running social networks need to strike a balance.

-Analysis-

PARIS — Elon Musk is the world's leading reckless driver. The ever unpredictable CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is now behind a very different wheel as the new head of Twitter.

He began by banning remote work before slightly backtracking and authorizing it for the company’s “significant contributors.” Now he’s opened the door to Donald Trump to return to Twitter, while at the same time vaunting a decrease in the number of hate-messages that appear on the social network…all while firing Twitter’s content moderation teams.

But this time, the world’s richest man will have to make choices. He’ll have to limit his otherwise unconditional love of free speech. “Freedom consists of being able to do everything that does not harm others,” proclaimed the French-born Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789.

Yet freedom on social networks results not only in insults and defamation, but sometimes also in physical aggression.

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Future
Daniel Eckert

Some Historical Context On The Current Silicon Valley Implosion

Tech billionaires such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have lost far more money this year than ever before. Eccentric behavior and questionable decisions have both played a role. But there are examples in U.S. business history that have other clues.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — Life isn’t always fair, especially when it comes to business. Although he had already registered dozens of patents, during the global economic crisis of the 1930s, tireless inventor Nikola Tesla found himself struggling to put food on the table. Sure, investors today associate his name with runaway wealth and business achievements rather than poverty and failure: Tesla, the company that was named after him, has made Elon Musk the richest man in the world.

Bloomberg estimates the 51-year-old’s current fortune to be $185 billion. While Musk is not a brilliant inventor like Nikola Tesla, many see him as the most successful businessperson of our century.

And yet, over the past month, many are beginning to wonder if Musk is in trouble, if he has spread himself too thin. Most obvious is his messy and expensive takeover of Twitter, which includes polarizing antics and a clear lack of a strategy.

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Geopolitics
Firoozeh Nordstrom

Is Elon Watching? How Chaos At Twitter Could Impact Iranian Protesters

Two anonymous Iranian Twitter users spoke about their hopes that Iran's protests could hasten the end of the unpopular regime, and what Elon Musk's takeover of the the platform could mean for them.

The world has been paying special attention to the scope and endurance of anti-state protests in Iran that erupted in September after the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. A key to maintaining momentum and attention has been social media, with users and activists eager to stay in contact and communicate around what many in Iran hope will be the movement to end the 40-year Islamist reign.

Social media's role in resisting oppressive regimes dates back to the protests of the Arab Spring, and more than 10 years later, Twitter in particular (with the option to have an anonymous account) is being used again in Iran.

However, since Elon Musk's takeover of the platform, serious concerns have been raised about whether the platform will survive. Ciaran O’Connor, senior analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, said in an interview that "If Twitter was to ‘go in the morning’, let's say, all of this—all of the firsthand evidence of atrocities or potential war crimes, and all of this potential evidence—would simply disappear."

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