What an Endless Conversation with Werner Herzog Can Teach Us about AI

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January 17, 2023

Dear Reader,

Filmmaker Werner Herzog and philosopher Slavoj Žižek are engaged in a never-ending conversation—or at least, their AI avatars are. Computer scientist Giacomo Miceli built a website where the two distinctive voices exchange words written by artificial intelligence. The project is entertaining, but its purpose is not: Miceli hopes it will serve as a warning about the power of new deepfake and generative AI tools, and their ability "to drown us in an ocean of disinformation." Read more in this week's top story.

Sophie Bushwick, Associate Editor, Technology
@sophiebushwick

Artificial Intelligence

What an Endless Conversation with Werner Herzog Can Teach Us about AI

An AI-generated conversation between Werner Herzog and Slavoj Žižek is definitely entertaining, but it also illustrates the crisis of misinformation beginning to befall us

By Giacomo Miceli

Quantum Computing

Are Quantum Computers about to Break Online Privacy?

A new algorithm is probably not efficient enough to crack current encryption keys—but that's no reason for complacency, researchers say

By Davide Castelvecchi,Nature magazine

Climate Change

Exxon's Own Models Predicted Global Warming--It Ignored Them

Scientists working for the oil giant Exxon in the 1970s and 1980s estimated temperature increases with remarkable accuracy. Those findings could now be used as evidence in climate litigation

By Chelsea Harvey,Lesley Clark,Benjamin Storrow,E&E News

Artificial Intelligence

Research Summaries Written by AI Fool Scientists

Scientists cannot always differentiate between research abstracts generated by the AI ChatGPT and those written by humans

By Holly Else,Nature magazine

Biotech

Gene Drives Could Fight Malaria and Other Global Killers but Might Have Unintended Consequences

A new technology could wipe out whole species. Is it a magic bullet or a genetic atom bomb?

By Matthew Cobb

Renewable Energy

This Common Aquatic Plant Could Produce Buckets of Biofuel

Engineered duckweed could be a prolific "green" oil producer

By Cari Shane

Fossil Fuels

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Went Up Again in 2022

Though renewable energy surpassed coal generation for the first time in 60 years, causing U.S. power emissions to decline, emissions from buildings and transportation went up in 2022

By Benjamin Storrow,E&E News

Engineering

Flavor-Enhancing Spoons and Chopsticks Could Make Food Taste Better

New types of cutlery can enhance flavors such as sweetness or saltiness for a more satisfying meal

By Saugat Bolakhe

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"When we are speaking together, I always have the feeling that we don't speak about ordinary reality but simultaneously we are speaking indirectly about something else."

AI imitation of Slavoj Žižek

FROM THE ARCHIVE

We Asked GPT-3 to Write an Academic Paper about Itself--Then We Tried to Get It Published

An artificially intelligent first author presents many ethical questions—and could upend the publishing process

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