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Jeff Bezos defends spending billions on rockets over, say, poverty
At what point does spending billions on rocket technology seem irresponsible to those suffering on Earth?
- The private space enterprise he founded will be testing even more in the near future, with $1 billion investment by Bezos each year
- He wants to be seen as "risk taking" and a "needle mover"
- Watch Blue Horizon's escape module test
Jeff Bezos, the one making $150,000 a minute as CEO of Amazon, has announced that he plans to sink more money into his space company, Blue Origin, to the tune of $1 billion a year. Still a drop in the bucket for him, but it's a commitment, anyway.
At what point is pouring money into redundant technology irresponsible?
"I will not spend one minute of my life on anything that I don't think is contributing to civilization and society," Bezos responded to journalist Steven Levy, when asked about his $150 billion fortune. Specifically, Levy asked if it would be better spent solving practical problems like poverty, rather than space travel. "You want risk-taking. You want people to have visions that most people won't agree with. If you have a vision that everybody agrees with, you probably shouldn't do it because someone else will do it first. All of the real needle-movers are driven by being right when most of the world is wrong."
In fact, he's of the opinion that all of humanity will need to live somewhere in space once we've exhausted all of the resources here. I suppose it's a better vision than some have, of the wealthy escaping the planet and leaving the rest of us behind.
Amazon finally caved on wage increases recently, after being pounded in the news cycles for poverty wages that caused 1/3 of its workforce to depend on Medicaid and welfare to get by.
Of course, it famously then removed production-related pay bonuses and seniority-related stock benefits immediately after.
Blue Origin's test of its emergency ejection and landing protocol
Meanwhile, if you haven't seen the Blue Origin test of an interestingly-shaped rocket that 1) ejected — at high speed — the capsule that would contain people, in the event of an emergency and then 2) successfully landed the rocket booster afterward, go ahead.
"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.