Google’s Pixel 2 event in San Francisco on Wednesday had a lot of stuff to show off and most of it was more of the same…But tucked into the tail end of the presentation, Google quietly revealed that it had changed the world with a pair of wireless headphones. Not to be outdone by Apple’s Air Pods and their wirelessly-charging TicTac storage case, Google packed its headphones with the power to translate between 40 languages, literally in real-time. The company has finally done what science fiction and countless Kickstarters have been promising us, but failing to deliver on, for years. This technology could fundamentally change how we communicate across the global community.
More recent update from Arstechnica: So much for that Voynich manuscript “solution” | Ars Technica Librarians would have “rebutted it in a heartbeat,” says medieval scholar. Unfortunately, say experts, his analysis was a mix of stuff we already knew and stuff he couldn’t possibly prove.
The mysterious Voynich manuscript has finally been decoded | Ars Technica
Since its discovery in 1969, the 15th century Voynich Manuscript has been a mystery and a cult phenomenon. Full of handwriting in an unknown language or code, the book is heavily illustrated with weird pictures of alien plants, naked women, strange objects, and zodiac symbols. Now, history researcher and television writer Nicholas Gibbs appears to have cracked the code, discovering that the book is actually a guide to women’s health that’s mostly plagiarized from other guides of the era.
Fears that computers were taking over swept the world this week when stories emerged about Facebook’s AI creating its own language that researchers couldn’t understand. But they might be a little misplaced.
Artificial intelligence experts have looked to calm worries that robots are becoming sentient or that we are living through the prelude to Terminator. The messages might seem strange, they agree. But they are explicable and fairly normal in the world of artificial intelligence research. READ MORE: Facebook’s artificial intelligence agents creating their own language is more normal than people think, researchers say | The Independent
I’m for fortune cookies and I save my fortunes. Its more about intention for me than belief. This post has made me glad I saved my fortunes, I only wish I had played the lottery more often with my numbers.
“You may be disappointed if you fail. But you are doomed if you don’t try.” READ MORE: We Analyzed 1,000 Fortune Cookies To Unlock Their Secrets | FiveThirtyEight
You may know someone who sends messages with more emojis than words, but chances are they don’t need those symbols to communicate. For some with language disorders such as aphasia, a disorder that can make it difficult to read, talk, or write, emojis can be an ideal way for those with the disorder to communicate with others around them. Samsung Electronics Italia, the company’s Italian subsidiary, just came out with a new app called Wemogee that helps those with language disorders talk to others by using emoji-based messages. READ MORE: Samsung develops emoji-based chat app for people with language disorders | Ars Technica
Google’s search algorithm appears to be systematically promoting information that is either false or slanted with an extreme rightwing bias on subjects as varied as climate change and homosexuality.
Following a recent investigation by the Observer, which found that Google’s search engine prominently suggests neo-Nazi websites and antisemitic writing, the Guardian has uncovered a dozen additional examples of biased search results. READ MORE: How Google’s search algorithm spreads false information with a rightwing bias | Technology | The Guardian
Image Source: Google/WIRED
SOMETHING FUNNY HAPPENS when your computer or phone can’t display a font: A blank rectangular box pops up in place of the missing glyph. This little box is called .notdef, or “not defined,” in coder lingo, but everyone else just calls it tofu. Bob Jung hates tofu…His team spent six years working with designers at Monotype to banish tofu from Google’s devices with a cohesive, pan-language set of fonts called Noto (short for “no more tofu”). Noto, one of the most expansive typographic families ever made, supports 800 languages, 100 scripts in up to eight different weights, innumerable special characters, and absolutely no tofu. READ MORE: Meet Noto, Google’s Free Font for More Than 800 Languages | WIRED
When the writer Rebecca Forster first heard how Google was using her work, it felt like she was trapped in a science fiction novel. “Is this any different than someone using one of my books to start a fire? I have no idea,” she says. “I have no idea what their objective is. Certainly it is not to bring me readers.”
After a 25-year writing career, during which she has published 29 novels ranging from contemporary romance to police procedurals, the first instalment of her Josie Bates series, Hostile Witness, has found a new reader: Google’s artificial intelligence.
“My imagination just didn’t go as far as it being used for something like this,” Forster says. “Perhaps that’s my failure.” Forster’s thriller is just one of 11,000 novels that researchers including Oriol Vinyals and Andrew M Dai at Google Brain have been using to improve the technology giant’s conversational style. After feeding these books into a neural network, the system was able to generate fluent, natural-sounding sentences. READ MORE: Google swallows 11,000 novels to improve AI’s conversation | Books | The Guardian
At a dig outside Florence, a group of researchers have unearthed a massive stone tablet, known as a stele, covered in Etruscan writing. The 500-pound stone is 4 feet high and was once part of a sacred temple display. But 2500 years ago it was torn down and used as a foundation stone in a much larger temple. READ MORE: Rare example of lost language found on stone hidden 2500 years ago | Ars Technica
Ms. McKean started a campaign last month on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site, to unearth one million “missing” English words — words that are not currently found in traditional dictionaries. To locate the underdocumented expressions, she has engaged a pair of data scientists to scrape and analyze language used in online publications. Ms. McKean said she planned to incorporate the found words in Wordnik.com, an online dictionary of which she is a co-founder…Before her analytics project gets underway next month, Ms. McKean is crowdsourcing a list of missing words for possible inclusion in Wordnik.