Quicklinks: 23-29 January 2023

Let’s start off with a pretty cool cat fact.

AI tools like chatGPT are pretty cool. But they are not exactly reliable and, even worse, it’s difficult to know how reliable they are. When you hear a person you don’t know, you can look into what they do or what qualifications they have. With AI, it’s giving you answers which are a mix of all sorts of information; some true, some false. In the following Twitter thread, you can learn how it can construct that false information.

I’ve been hearing a lot about The Last of Us. It’s a new television series set in a post-apocalyptic world with monsters caused by pathogenic fungi! It’s based on a video game series by the same name which I never really knew much about. I should probably check it out at some point but, for now, we can enjoy the discussions it spawns about fungi. Here’s one on fungi that are pathogenic to humans and why climate change could make things worse.

Climate change could have been solved decades ago if we had switched to nuclear power. It’s ridiculous that we didn’t. The fear was so much worse than the actual risk.

You’ve heard of looking for a needle in a haystack; this is even worse! In Australia, authorities are trying to locate a tiny radioactive cylinder (6 mm × 8 mm) lost somewhere along a 1400 km stretch of road.

If there’s one thing you can rely on Russian politicians to do, it is lie. Here’s Sergey Lavrov lying that Russia does “not interfere with the political situations of any country.Putin’s own lie about why Russia invaded Ukraine was “to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine.” Starting a war to change the internal political situation of a country is a pretty extreme example of interference. Perhaps Russia needs to decide which set of lies they want people to believe, because the current ones contradict one another.

Putin’s war in Ukraine has prompted Sweden to try and join NATO, something which is opposed by Turkey. As Jacob Mchangama says, in a thread about free speech in Turkey (160 000 people investigated for allegedly insulting Turkish president Erdogan since 2014), “One of the reasons Sweden is applying to become a member of NATO is because European democracies were far too naive and complacent about Putin. It would be tragic to make up for that mistake by appeasing another President with authoritarian impulses.”

On a slightly more positive note for academic freedom and freedom of speech, faculty at Hamline University have voted 71-12 in favour of asking the university president to step down after her disastrous handling of complaints against an art professor who showed classic Islamic art in an art history class.


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