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Starbucks is going strawless in 2020
By 2020, recyclable lids that look like sippy-cups will be de rigueur.
Consider the green Starbucks straw. Sure, it might be an afterthought now. But you've seen hundreds of them before. Since the mid-2000s, there has been nary a celebrity who hasn't been with a skinny green tube near their mouths. And now—just like Von Dutch hats and affordable rent—those days are over.
Starbucks has pledged to stop using disposable straws by 2020. The reason? Think about the millions of iced drinks Starbucks serves each day. Cold drinks—which use those straws—make up over 50% of Starbucks' business, and the straws are only used once. They end up in landfills and eventually the ocean. Simply put: those straws can accumulate fast and can cause a lot of damage to the environment. Instead of the green straws, we'll have recyclable plastic lids. If you've ordered a Nitro Latte recently, you've probably seen them. And if you haven't ordered a Nitro Latte yet... you're not living your best life, are you?
Starbucks' hometown of Seattle just implemented a ban on single-use straws and cutlery, with a $250 fine if regulators find a store peddling an iced beverage with a plastic straw. New York City is working on a similar ban. And quite honestly, those personal beverage containers all the cool celebs are caddying are pretty sweet, too.
Will it make a difference in the long run? In your correspondent's opinion (presented to you as a reward for reading all the way to the bottom)... sure. It might not feel like you're doing much to save the planet, but consider the ozone layer for just a second: earlier this year, scientists measured the hole in the ozone layer and it's actually getting smaller thanks to conservation efforts.
"Deepfakes" and "cheap fakes" are becoming strikingly convincing — even ones generated on freely available apps.
- A writer named Magdalene Visaggio recently used FaceApp and Airbrush to generate convincing portraits of early U.S. presidents.
- "Deepfake" technology has improved drastically in recent years, and some countries are already experiencing how it can weaponized for political purposes.
- It's currently unknown whether it'll be possible to develop technology that can quickly and accurately determine whether a given video is real or fake.
The future of deepfakes<p>In 2018, Gabon's president Ali Bongo had been out of the country for months receiving medical treatment. After Bongo hadn't been seen in public for months, rumors began swirling about his condition. Some suggested Bongo might even be dead. In response, Bongo's administration released a video that seemed to show the president addressing the nation.</p><p>But the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=324528215059254" target="_blank">video</a> is strange, appearing choppy and blurry in parts. After political opponents declared the video to be a deepfake, Gabon's military attempted an unsuccessful coup. What's striking about the story is that, to this day, experts in the field of deepfakes can't conclusively verify whether the video was real. </p><p>The uncertainty and confusion generated by deepfakes poses a "global problem," according to a <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/research/is-seeing-still-believing-the-deepfake-challenge-to-truth-in-politics/#cancel" target="_blank">2020 report from The Brookings Institution</a>. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense released some of the first tools able to successfully detect deepfake videos. The problem, however, is that deepfake technology keeps improving, meaning forensic approaches may forever be one step behind the most sophisticated forms of deepfakes. </p><p>As the 2020 report noted, even if the private sector or governments create technology to identify deepfakes, they will:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"...operate more slowly than the generation of these fakes, allowing false representations to dominate the media landscape for days or even weeks. "A lie can go halfway around the world before the truth can get its shoes on," warns David Doermann, the director of the Artificial Intelligence Institute at the University of Buffalo. And if defensive methods yield results short of certainty, as many will, technology companies will be hesitant to label the likely misrepresentations as fakes."</p>
Context is everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a number of new behaviours into daily routines, like physical distancing, mask-wearing and hand sanitizing. Meanwhile, many old behaviours such as attending events, eating out and seeing friends have been put on hold.
A new study looks at how images of coffee's origins affect the perception of its premiumness and quality.
- Images can affect how people perceive the quality of a product.
- In a new study, researchers show using virtual reality that images of farms positively influence the subjects' experience of coffee.
- The results provide insights on the psychology and power of marketing.