Using machine-learning technology, the genealogy company My Heritage enables users to animate static images of their relatives.
- Deep Nostalgia uses machine learning to animate static images.
- The AI can animate images by "looking" at a single facial image, and the animations include movements such as blinking, smiling and head tilting.
- As deepfake technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, some are concerned about how bad actors might abuse the technology to manipulate the pubic.
My Heritage/Deep Nostalgia<p>But that's not to say the animations are perfect. As with most deep-fake technology, there's still an uncanny air to the images, with some of the facial movements appearing slightly unnatural. What's more, Deep Nostalgia is only able to create deepfakes of one person's face from the neck up, so you couldn't use it to animate group photos, or photos of people doing any sort of physical activity.</p>
My Heritage/Deep Nostalgia<p>But for a free deep-fake service, Deep Nostalgia is pretty impressive, especially considering you can use it to create deepfakes of <em>any </em>face, human or not. </p>
It may be old tech, but it's super-reliable.
The G3 compared to today’s chips<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTcxMzA4OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MjgxMDAxNX0.yAyX3ACtn3HMKyPB6hj8EJttWKNrfreOAC2PlK9GW4o/img.jpg?width=980" id="a5d5a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dc5cb2f37bed6b16f0e3f4f223069b2b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1237" data-height="1150" />
Credit: Apple<p>Apple veterans remember the G3 fondly. It was a futuristic, tower-style computer of translucent white and blue. Its side conveniently flipped open to facilitate expansion. It smoked older Macs with a processor operating speed that topped out at a screaming 266 megahertz (MHz).</p><p>Or so we thought at the time. Today's processors leave the G3 in the dust. The processor in an Apple iPhone 12 runs at <a href="https://www.cpu-monkey.com/en/cpu-apple_a14_bionic-1693" target="_blank">3 <em>GigaHertz</em></a> (GHz), while a Samsung Galaxy S21 runs at <a href="https://www.androidauthority.com/samsung-galaxy-s21-ultra-snapdragon-vs-exynos-1195066/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2.9 GHz</a> in the U.S. model.</p><p>Not only that, but today's processors are multicore chips, meaning that they're like multiple processors running side by side within the chip. So, see ya later G3, as far as consumer use goes.</p><p>Still, the G3 was very reliable, and it was the first of a breed of chips to perform "dynamic branch prediction," an architecture still used today. It involves the CPU predicting upcoming tasks so as to line up its processing resources as efficiently as possible.</p>
Perseverance's brain<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTcxMzA5NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjY4NzA5Mn0.8F043ECbcKycnfIAPJK7AnWdIwY3qdm_DjlzqYFnFms/img.jpg?width=980" id="2b434" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c0204d7b6b7731b7f92e40a83f761ae" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="756" />
Old G3 (left), and the new G3 for Perseverance (right)
Credit: /Henriok/Wikimedia Commons<p>The chip in Perseverance, the PowerPC 750, isn't even the fastest G3 chip — the single-core chip runs at 200 MHz, which is still 10 times the speed of the chips powering the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, according to NASA.</p><p>Perseverance's chip is also not an off-the-shelf PowerPC 750. It's a purpose-built, radiation-hardened version of the chip called the <a href="https://www.baesystems.com/en/article/bae-systems-rad750--single-board-computers-guide-insight-mars-landing" target="_blank">RAD750</a>. Fabricated by BEA Systems, the processor can operate in temperatures between -55 and 125° Celsius (-67 to 257 degrees Fahrenheit), perfect for Mars' frigid atmosphere. Also, because that atmosphere is so thin that its surface is continually bombarded with radiation, the RAD750 can withstand 200,000 to 1,000,000 Rads of radiation.</p><p>It's also not the RAD750's first trip to Mars: There was one onboard the Insight craft that landed there in November 2018.</p><p>NASA's upcoming <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/orion/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Orion</a> craft will also use the RAD750. In 2014, when Orion was announced, NASA's Matt Lemke explained to <a href="https://www.thespacereview.com/article/2665/1" target="_blank">The Space Review</a> that "it's not about the speed as much as the ruggedness and the reliability. I need to make sure it will always work." Especially attractive was the RAD750's tolerance of radiation: "The one thing we really like about this computer is that it doesn't get destroyed by radiation. It can be upset, but it won't fail. We've done a lot of testing on the different parts in the computer. When it sees radiation, it might have to reset but it will come back up and work again."</p><p>The designers of Perseverance were also somewhat parsimonious with onboard memory — every millimeter/gram is precious on a spacecraft. Though storage isn't bad, at 2 GB of Flash memory, there's just 256 megabytes of working RAM and 256 kilobytes of EEPROM (electrically-erasable programmable read-only memory).</p><p>Back here on Earth, we're surrounded by RAD750 devices whizzing overhead in about 100 satellites. So far, not one of them has failed. No wonder the chip's been sent on such a critical mission the Red Planet.</p>
What happens when simulation theory becomes more than a fascinating thought experiment?
- Simulation theory proposes that our world is likely a simulation created by beings with super-powerful computers.
- In "A Glitch in the Matrix," filmmaker Rodney Ascher explores the philosophy behind simulation theory, and interviews a handful of people who believe the world is a simulation.
- "A Glitch in the Matrix" premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and is now available to stream online.
Rodney Ascher / "A Glitch in the Matrix"<p><strong>Throughout 2020, many people seemed to talk about the world being a simulation, especially on Twitter. What do you make of that?</strong></p><p>I see that just as sort of evidence of how deep the idea [of simulation theory] is penetrating our culture. You know, I'm addicted to Twitter, and everyday something strange happens in the news, and people make some jokes about, "This simulation is misfiring," or, "What am I doing in the dumbest possible timeline?"</p><p>I enjoy those conversations. But two things about them: On the one hand, they're using simulation theory as a way to let off steam, right? "Well, this world is so absurd, perhaps that's an explanation for it," or, "Maybe at the end of the day it doesn't matter that much because this isn't the real world."</p><p>But also, when you talk about the strange or horrifying, or bizarre unlikely things that happen as evidence [for the simulation], then that begs the question, well what is the simulation for, and why would these things happen? They could be an error or glitch in the matrix. [...] Or those strange things that happen might be the whole point [of the simulation].</p><p><strong>How do you view the connections between religious ideas and simulation theory?</strong><br></p><p>I kind of went in [to making the film] thinking that this was, in large part, going to be a discussion of the science. And people very quickly went to, you know, religious and sort of ethical places.</p><p>I think that connection made itself clearest when I talked to Erik Davis, who wrote a book called "<a href="https://books.google.com/books/about/TechGnosis.html?id=lh_XAAAAMAAJ&source=kp_book_description" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Techgnosis</a>", which is specifically about the convergence of religion and technology. He wanted to make it clear that, from his point of view, simulation theory was sort of a 21st-century spin on earlier ideas, some of them quite ancient.</p><p>To say that [religion and simulation theory] are exactly the same thing is sort of pushing it. [...] You could say that if simulation theory is correct, and that we are genuinely in some sort of digitally created world, that earlier traditions wouldn't have had the vocabulary for that.</p><p>So, they would have talked about it in terms of magic. But by the same token, if those are two alternative, if similar, explanations for how the world works, I think one of the interesting things that it does is that either one suggests something different about the creator itself.</p><p>In a religious tradition, the creator is this omnipotent, supernatural being. But in simulation theory, it could be a fifth-grader who just happens to have access to an incredibly powerful computer [laughs].</p>
Rodney Ascher / "A Glitch in the Matrix"<p><strong>How did your views on simulation theory change since you started working on this documentary?</strong></p><p>I think what's changed my mind the most in the course of working on the film is how powerful it is as a metaphor for understanding the here-and-now world, without necessarily having to believe in [simulation theory] literally.</p><p><a href="https://medium.com/form-and-resonance/are-we-living-in-a-simulation-52ddf27c04cd" target="_blank">Emily Pothast</a> brought up the idea of <a href="https://ethics.org.au/ethics-explainer-platos-cave/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Plato's cave</a> as sort of an early thought experiment that is kind of resonant of simulation theory. And she expands upon it, talking about how, in 21st-century America, the shadows that we're seeing of the real world are much more vivid. You know, the media diets that we all absorb, that are all reflections of the real world.</p><p>But the danger that the ones you're seeing aren't accurate—whether that's just signal loss from mistakes made by journalists working in good faith, or whether it's intentional distortion by somebody with an agenda—that leads to a really provocative idea about the artificial world, the simulated world, that each of us create, and then live in, based on our upbringing, our biases, and our media diet. That makes me stop and pause from time to time.</p><p><strong><span></span>Do you see any connections between mental illness, or an inability to empathize with others, and some peoples' obsession with simulation theory?</strong></p><p>It can certainly lead to strange, obsessive thinking. [Laughs] For some reason, I feel like I have to defend [people who believe in simulation theory], or qualify it. But you can get into the same sort of non-adaptive behavior obsessing on, you know, the Beatles or the Bible, or anything. [Charles] Manson was all obsessed on "The White Album." He didn't need simulation theory to send him down some very dark paths.</p>
Credit: K_e_n via AdobeStock<p><strong>Why do you think people are attracted to simulation theory?</strong></p><p>You might be attracted to it because your peer group is attracted to it, or people that you admire are attracted to it, which lends it credibility. But also like, just the way you and I are talking about it now, it's a juicy topic that extends in a thousand different ways.</p><p>And despite the cautionary tales that come up in the film, I've had a huge amount of fascinating social conversations with people because of my interest in simulation theory, and I imagine it's true about a lot of people who spend a lot of time thinking about it. I don't know if they all think about it alone, right? Or if it's something that they enjoy talking about with other people.</p><p><strong>If technology became sufficiently advanced, would you create a simulated world?</strong></p><p>It'd be very tempting, especially if I could add the power of flight or something like that [laughs]. I think the biggest reason not to, and I just saw this on a comment on Twitter yesterday, and I don't know if it had occurred to me, but what might stop me is all the responsibility I'd feel to all the people within it, right? If this were an accurate simulation of planet Earth, the amounts of suffering that occurs there for all the creatures and what they went through, that might be what stops me from doing it.</p><p><strong>If you discovered you were living in a simulation, would it change the way you behave in the world?</strong></p><p>I think I would need more information about what the nature of the purpose of the simulation is. If I found out that I was the only person in a very elaborate virtual-reality game, and I had forgotten who I really was, well then I would act very differently then I would if I learned this is an accurate simulation of 21st-century America as conceived by aliens or people in the far future, in which case I think things would stay more or less the same — you know, my closest personal relationships, and my responsibility to my family and friends.</p><p>Just that we're in a simulation isn't enough. If all we know is that it's a simulation, kind of the weirdness is that that word "simulation" starts to mean less. Because whatever qualities the real world has and ours doesn't is inconceivable to us. This is still as real as real gets.</p>
A physicist creates an AI algorithm that predicts natural events and may prove the simulation hypothesis.
- Princeton physicist Hong Qin creates an AI algorithm that can predict planetary orbits.
- The scientist partially based his work on the hypothesis which believes reality is a simulation.
- The algorithm is being adapted to predict behavior of plasma and can be used on other natural phenomena.
Physicist Hong Qin with images of planetary orbits and computer code.
Credit: Elle Starkman
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Scientists use high resolution microscopy and computer simulations to create first ever video of DNA movements.
- UK scientists create first ever video of DNA performing dance-like movements.
- The visualization was accomplished using high resolution microscopy and computer simulations.
- The advanced level of detail in the technology may lead to new therapies.