News From the Wasteland February 18th 2019

A deadly virus, described in the media as a zombie virus, may spread to humans in the near future, experts warn.

The virus, called Chronic Wasting Disease has been seen in 24 states and results in a constellation of symptoms including “drooling, stumbling, lack of fear of people, aggression, and death.” CWD was first seen in the 1960s and is a caused by a prion rather than a virus or other pathogen, similar to mad cow disease.

Although it has been known that the disease could pose a risk to primates since 1997, experts from the University of Minnesota raised the alarm again at the Minnesota state capitol last week.

“It is probable that human cases of chronic wasting disease associated with consumption with contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead,” one expert said.

The Trump administration has given a significant boost to artificial intelligence research in this country, especially in the realm of defense.

Quotes the Washington Post Editorial Board, “The need for increased AI investment in defense is urgent. Researchers see machine learning as the electricity of the 21st century, with the potential to transform life across sectors.”

Academic and military researchers are hailing this move as a positive step. Although the Trump Administration could not promise new money to research programs without the aide of congress, they have directed agencies to prioritize artificial intelligence research and allocate funds accordingly.

This move comes at a time when China has been ramping up its own AI research for many years. Reportedly, the US would have to spend tens of billions of dollars per year to catch up. At present, the AI budget is only a relatively insignificant $1.1 billion.

And on the topic of artificial intelligence and defense, AI is now being used to produce fake news Bloomberg reports. Researchers at OpenAI have trained a sophisticated AI to analyze patterns in top-sharing stories, and produce new articles, with surprisingly convincing results. Stories produced included a piece about the discovery of a herd of unicorns in the Andes, and a piece about a tax-scandal involving John McCain.

Having read these articles I’d say anyone who’s actually reading will notice that these stories are basically gibberish, but unfortunately anyone who just reads the headline, or skims the article without really paying attention might not notice that the whole thing is procedurally generated nonsense.

Fortunately, readers on the internet always read the whole article, thoroughly, and with a critical eye towards potential falsehoods before sharing on social media so it’s probably not an issue.

Finally a study released Tuesday detailed some of the impacts of climate change by the year 2080. According to lead author Matt Fitzpatrick from the University of Maryland, New York could feel like Arkansas by then, and “many cities could experience climates with no modern equivalent in north america.”

Climates are expected to shift, very approximately, about 600 miles to the south.