Large language models (LLMs) like GPT-4 have shown impressive performance on many benchmarks, including exams designed for humans. However, they struggle with some seemingly simple tasks like visual logic puzzles, revealing gaps in their reasoning abilities. There is debate around whether LLMs’ skills reflect true intelligence and understanding. Their successes could stem from analyzing statistical patterns in text, not grasping concepts. Researchers are working to design better tests to probe the limits of LLMs’ capabilities. ConceptARC challenges systems to apply abstract concepts to novel problems. Humans score over 90% while the best LLMs get around 30%, showing machines lack human-like reasoning. But some argue ConceptARC is unfair for language-only systems. Other experiments suggest LLMs can build basic representations and reasoning, but their skills are spotty. More rigorous testing is needed to quantify strengths and weaknesses. LLMs are not thinking like humans “under the covers.” Avoiding anthropomorphization is key to understanding these systems’ actual abilities. Researchers agree there is no single definitive test for intelligence, but new benchmarks can systematically uncover how LLMs succeed and fail. (Nature)
Human-induced climate change is the primary cause of recent extreme heatwaves across North America, Europe, and China, according to an assessment by global scientists. July saw record-breaking temperatures that led to forest fires, water shortages, and increased hospital admissions due to heat-related illnesses. The study, led by World Weather Attribution, argues that without human-induced climate change, such events would have been exceptionally rare. The team found that greenhouse gases significantly intensified the heatwaves. This increase in temperature has caused widespread damage to crops and livestock, severely affecting regions’ agriculture. They warned that unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, such extreme heat events are likely to occur every two to five years if global temperatures rise 2C above pre-industrial levels. (Reuters)
Plans to mine the seafloor for transition metals have been delayed until at least next year after the International Seabed Authority (ISA) failed to agree on regulation. Critics argue insufficient research has been conducted into the industry’s impact on marine life, and remediation costs could far outweigh the benefits. Supporters, including The Metals Company (TMC), believe seabed mining could be less environmentally damaging than terrestrial mining. Despite no immediate permission for mining, a “two-year rule” loophole might permit it next year. TMC’s sponsoring state, Nauru, applied two years ago, but no application to begin mining has been received by ISA. TMC’s CEO expressed disappointment but was confident mining would commence soon. Meanwhile, opponents of deep-sea mining plan to hold a vote for a moratorium among the ISA’s 168 members. (Reuters)
California is increasingly recognizing beavers as key environmental helpers in mitigating the effects of climate change. Recently, a new policy encourages landowners and agencies dealing with beaver damage to seek alternative solutions, such as flow devices in streams and tree wraps, before resorting to killing the animals. Furthermore, pilot projects to relocate beavers to areas where their impact could be beneficial are being launched. These measures aim to conserve the beaver population and the positive effects they have on ecosystems, including creating lush habitats, enhancing groundwater supplies, and buffering against wildfires. The approach mirrors similar efforts in other Western states and marks a shift from viewing beavers as nuisances to recognizing their ecological benefits. Beaver dams slow the flow of water, replenishing groundwater supplies, and can help stall wildfires, making them an asset in California’s climate change fight. (Associated Press)
The detection of water vapor in the PDS 70 system prompts questions about its origin. Two potential scenarios have been proposed by the MINDS team. Firstly, water molecules might be forming in situ, via hydrogen and oxygen atom combination. Alternatively, ice-coated dust particles might be migrating from the cooler outer disk to the warmer inner one, where water ice turns into vapor. This would require crossing a gap created by two gas-giant planets. The possibility of water surviving near the star despite destructive ultraviolet light is likely due to the protective effect of surrounding dust and other water molecules. Future studies with Webb’s NIRCam and NIRSpec instruments aim to enhance understanding of the PDS 70 system. This research, conducted under the Guaranteed Time Observation program 1282, is published in Nature. (NASA)
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.
WORDS: The Biology Guy.
IMAGE CREDIT: NASA.