WATCH: The deepfakes are real and our reality is at risk
Tech ethicists have been sounding the alarm about deepfakes for some time now, and tech think tank Future Advocacy has decided to show just how possible and damaging this tech can be. They’ve released a fake campaign video that shows the two candidates for the coming U.K. election endorsing each other.
Scientists are the University of Vermont have created they claim to be “living robots.” The first of their kind, these robots have been created out of living cells making them an entirely new life form according to a recent article in The Independent.
Never before has humanity managed to create “completely biological machines from the ground up”, wrote the research team in a recent paper.
The cells have been derived from frog embryos and turned into a machine that can be programmed to work any way the research team wants.
Such a discovery could allow the tiny “xenobots” to be dispatched throughout a patient’s body to transport medicine or even do environmental work such as retrieving pollution from the ocean. The scientists claim the xenobots even have the ability to regenerate themselves when damaged.
The new hybrids used of a supercomputer for their design and were then later built by biologists. “These are novel living machines,” says Joshua Bongard, the University of Vermont expert who co-led the new research. “They’re neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It’s a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism.”
The xenobots were built at Tufts University. “We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots that other machines can’t do like searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering micro-plastic in the oceans, travelling in arteries to scrape out plaque,” said co-leader Michael Levin who directs the Centre for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts University.
Researchers used a supercomputer to create thousands of possible designs for the new life-forms. The scientists used a virtual version of evolution and would assign a task to the computer and then calculate what design might work best for it.
The second part of their research involved microsurgeons bringing the designs to real life. They would take stem cells from the embryos of African frogs, incubate them and then use specialized tools to cut them apart and reassemble them into the design that was created by the computer.
This combination of real organic material being infused to create a life-form that had previously not existed anywhere in nature is a definite first in the field.
The xenobots already have the ability to push pellets around and organize themselves collectively and spontaneously.
Scientists think this is just the beginning and that they will be able to create an even more complex version of the xenobots. The computer simulations so far suggest that it should be possible for future xenobots with a pouch on their body to carry an object, such as entering the body and administering a drug by swimming through the body, for example.
The xenobots can regenerate themselves when damaged. Robots can be sliced almost in two and will be able to fix themselves again. Unlike traditional materials used for robots in the past, xenobots will be entirely biodegradable after they are finished.
There is a danger in all of this however, researchers admit. For example, developments could be programmed in ways that we do not understand and the more complex the systems become, the harder the xenobots behaviour will be to predict.
“If humanity is going to survive into the future, we need to better understand how complex properties, somehow, emerge from simple rules,” said Levin in a statement. “This study is a direct contribution to getting a handle on what people are afraid of, which is unintended consequences,” he said.
CBC, our national state broadcaster, falsely claimed that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper called for “regime change.” CTV made a similar claim, stating the Harper was calling for “Iranian regime change.”
The National Post’s Chris Selley was quick to call out the two establishment broadcasters, tweeting “Regime change” has a specific meaning that Harper doesn’t even remotely allude to in the passages quoted here. He went on to say that the headline was “pathetic.”
Gerald Butts, former Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, agreed with Selley about the fake headlines, chastizing CTV on Twitter by saying, “I’m not in the business of defending @stephenharper, but he didn’t use the phrase ‘regime change’ in this interview. It’s a loaded term to say the least.”
Many noted that the use of the phrase “regime change” in the headlines from these two major news outlets was highly irresponsible, leaving Canadians with the false impression that the former prime minister was calling for a coup or military action.
In fact, Harper never mentioned regime change. Speaking at a global summit in India, what Harper actually said was: “I don’t think any of us believe that Iran would have deliberately shot down an aircraft, but the very fact that Iran, believing such a thing could happen, would be allowing normal civilian traffic, I think, tells you something about the nature of that regime and its priorities.”
Harper followed this by saying “I do believe we need to see a change in Iran if we’re going to see peace in the Middle East.”
CBC has since issued a correction on Twitter and in their original story, stating: “The headline and lead paragraph of this story has been edited from a previous version that stated Stephen Harper said regime change was needed in Iran. In fact, Harper said “I do believe we need to see a change in Iran if we are going to see peace in the Middle East” and also said “I think without a change in the nature of the government of Tehran, the Middle East will continue to be in turmoil,” but he did not use the phrase ‘regime change’ specifically.”
A syndicated Reuters article that ran in The New York Times, Global News, and the National Post among other outlets spread misinformation about the recent shooting at a Texas church. The article made the claim that the man who opened fire on parishioners had his own gun range. In fact, the security guard who took down the shooter was the one who owned and operated a training facility and trained parishioners.
The incorrect Reuters article read: “The gunman who opened fire in a Texas church on Sunday, killing two before dying from gunshot wounds, owned a shooting range and had taught its parishioners how to shoot, the Texas Attorney General said on Monday.”
The shooting took place on Sunday, December 29th at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas. A man opened fire, killing two, before volunteer security guard Jack Wilson pulled his gun and shot him. The shooter sat with worshipers before standing up and killing Anton Wallace and Richard White.
This misleading headline in Global News “Gunman in Texas church shooting owned gun range, gave lessons: state prosecutor” has since been changed to “Firearms instructor took out gunman at Texas church service” and Global has replaced the Reuters story with an Associated Press story.
Global’s Editor’s Note read: “The previous story and headline by Reuters read that the gunman owned a shooting range and gave lessons, which was incorrect. In fact, the man who took down the gunman was the one who was a firearms instructor. The incorrect Reuters story has been replaced with a story by The Associated Press.”
The New York Times changed their headline to: “Story on Assailant in Texas Church Training Worshippers Is Withdrawn”
The National Post has not retracted or replaced their article as of yet.
Reuters retracted their story. The New York Times pulled their story with this incorrect information.
Misinformation travels fast, and the corrections flew furiously for hours online. Tweets with the misleading information remained up despite the story being replaced or pulled by the outlets. The information originated with Reuters, which is an essential source for accurate information. One misstep and every news source finds itself with retractions, apologies, and replacements.
A CBC journalist has spread misinformation online and kept it up for days after being corrected. That journalist is CBC’s fake news spotter, Jeff Yates.
Yates tweeted on Tuesday in response to a post about TPM editor-at-large Andy Ngo being suspended from Twitter: “[Andy Ngo] was suspended for 12 hours and the fact you were able to tag him in this tweet means you know his account is back online.”
The problem? Virtually no part of the tweet by Yates was truthful.
Ngo was actually banned for stating information based on data from the Human Rights Commission in response to Chelsea Clinton. While Yates mentions a 12-hour suspension, in reality, it has continued for far longer.
This is because the suspension will only be removed once Andy removes his tweet. This means that Twitter is dictating his speech and refusing to allow Ngo to cite a statistical fact.
Looking at Ngo’s Twitter profile, one can see he has not posted since the suspension.
Furthermore, you are able to tag suspended accounts, without being back online.
Yates was told all of this by multiple individuals as a direct reply to his own tweet.
In response, the CBC journalist decided to keep his post up and to also post the following which appears to show an Emporer (himself) largely ignoring everything going on around him, potentially alluding to his own decision to ignore the information appearing in his screen.
The Post Millennial has reached out to Yates to ask why the post was kept up even after being informed that he was spreading misinformation. this is especially significant considering that his job involves spotting misinformation and in turn keeping the public informed on behalf of the public broadcaster.
We received no response by publication but will update the article should Yates respond.