The Daily Dose: AI misinformation abounds; Virtual music and book festivals for your weekend

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It’s no secret that the popular media is one of the last places to turn for measured reporting on new and potential STEM advances. Sometimes, reporters just take things a step or two or ten too far. They’re not completely to blame though. As this recent article about artificial intelligence misinformation argues, sometimes the scientists are as much to blame as anyone else. As per the Gradient, “Unfortunately, the problem of overhyped AI extends beyond the media itself. In fact, for decades, since AI’s inception many (though certainly not all) of the leading figures in AI have fanned the flames of hype… This goes back to early founders who believed that we might now call artificial general intelligence (AGI) was no more than a couple decades away. In 1966, the MIT AI lab famously assigned Gerald Sussman the problem of solving vision in a summer; as we all know, machine vision still hasn’t been solved over five decades later.” The authors suggest that a little bit of constructive self-criticism after writing a paper or report would go a long way. Wishful thinking, perhaps?

Antibiotic resistance is a global problem that is only growing worse. Developing countries are particularly at risk and have a major role in reversing the trend. While significant strides have been taken to slow the spread of resistance, there is still a lot of work to do. Data collection will play a big part in the battle. That’s why a major effort at collecting data has been launched in Africa. As per Devex, “A new partnership between Pfizer, Wellcome, and the governments of Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda aims to increase the amount of country-specific data on this issue so that health officials in those countries and around the world can better understand what sort of interventions are needed to tackle antimicrobial resistance.” It’s a good start and welcome news.

COVID-19 targets so many areas of the body that it’s a little bit disconcerting. A new study explores the virus’s effects on the brain. “The study looked at 125 hospitalized patients with Covid-19 who also had some sort of neuropsychiatric complication. Fifty-seven had had an ischemic stroke, caused by a blood clot in the brain. The second most common issue, affecting 39 patients, was an altered mental state, researchers reported. That included encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain that can cause a number of symptoms, from confusion to mobility problems) and encephalopathy (a general term for a disease that alters brain function). Ten patients were newly diagnosed with psychosis, and six had cognitive issues akin to dementia, according to the study, published in the Lancet Psychiatry.” Like we said, disconcerting…

That dog looks so much like a wolf. That wolf looks just like my neighbor’s dog. We’ve all heard the comparisons. At the heart of the observations lies the question of shared lineage. Now, a survey done using ancient DNA provides a clearer picture of their relationship. As per Science, “Sinding et al. sequenced an ancient sled dog, 10 modern sled dogs, and an ancient wolf and analyzed their genetic relationships with other modern dogs. This analysis indicates that sled dogs represent an ancient lineage going back at least 9500 years and that wolves bred with the ancestors of sled dogs and precontact American dogs. However, gene flow between sled dogs and wolves likely stopped before ∼9500 years ago.” Kinda like the relationship between Homo sapiens and Neandertals…

The COVID-19 pandemic has sent arts festivals online in lieu of social distancing cancellations. Here are two of our current favorites. This year would have been British music-festival Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary. In honor of one of the world’s most venerated music events the Victoria & Albert museum dug through their archives and assembled this tribute. ( If you’re jonesing for the written word, we’d suggest dropping by the Brooklyn Art Book Festival. Besides being able to view and purchase books, the virtual festival has over 45 merchant tables and online events. (

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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