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Daily Archives: June 17, 2024

A New Book About Plant Intelligence Highlights the Messiness of Scientific Change

The New Yorker [unpaywalled], In “The Light Eaters,” by Zoë Schlanger the field of botany itself functions as a character—one in the process of undergoing a potentially radical transformation: “During the nineteen-seventies and eighties, a researcher at the University of Washington started noticing something strange in the college’s experimental forest. For years, a blight of caterpillars had been munching the trees to death. Then, suddenly, the caterpillars themselves started dying off. The forest was able to recover. But what had happened to the caterpillars? The researcher, David Rhoades, who had a background in chemistry and zoology, found that the trees in the forest had changed the chemistry of their leaves, to the detriment of the caterpillars. Even more surprising, trees that had been nibbled by caterpillars weren’t the only ones that had changed their chemistry. Some were changing their leaves before caterpillars reached them, as if they’d received a warning. A shocking possibility presented itself: the trees were signalling to one another. Zoë Schlanger recounts Rhoades’s story in her new book, “The Light Eaters: How the Unseen World of Plant Intelligence Offers a New Understanding of Life on Earth.” In a research paper that Rhoades published on his findings in the Journal of the American Chemical Society’s series “Plant Resistance to Insects,” he pointed out that the trees were too far apart to be communicating through their roots. This suggested a possibility so novel that Rhoades couldn’t resist an exclamation point in his otherwise cautious positing—the trees seemed to be using “airborne pheromonal substances!” That paper, Schlanger writes, “would change everything, and in a cruel twist, it would end his career. Because back then, no one believed him.” The contemporary world of botany that Schlanger explores in “The Light Eaters” is still divided over the matter of how plants sense the world and whether they can be said to communicate. But, in the past twenty years, the idea that plants communicate has gained broader acceptance. Research in recent decades has shown garden-variety lima beans protecting themselves by synthesizing and releasing chemicals to summon the predators of the insects that eat them; lab-grown pea shoots navigating mazes and responding to the sound of running water; and a chameleonic vine in the jungles of Chile mimicking the shape and color of nearby plants by a mechanism that’s not yet understood…”

AI in Finance is Like Moving From Typewriters To Word Processors [unpaywalled]: “The accounting and finance professions have long adapted to technology — from calculators and spreadsheets to cloud computing. However, the emergence of generative AI presents both new challenges and opportunities for students looking to get ahead in the world of finance. From a report: Research last year by investment bank Evercore and Visionary… Continue Reading

Check out these new ‘HeatRisk’ tools to stay up to date on US heatwaves

The Verge: “Extreme heat is in store for communities across the US this week, and the CDC and National Weather Service (NWS) have new tools to help people prepare for the health risks. Heat is the top weather-related killer in the US, a threat that’s growing worse with climate change. But even though heatwaves kill… Continue Reading

CISA, EAC release communications guide for state, local election offices

NextGov/FCW: “The top U.S. cybersecurity agency and federal election information clearinghouse jointly unveiled a guide to help election officials develop a public communications plan for conveying accurate information on election administration and security. Both the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and Election Assistance Commission targeted state, local, tribal and territorial officials in the guidance released… Continue Reading

ChatGPT in Teaching and Learning: A Systematic Review

ChatGPT in Teaching and Learning: A Systematic Review. Educ. Sci. 2024, 14(6), 643; Submission received: 10 April 2024 / Revised: 10 June 2024 / Accepted: 12 June 2024 / Published: 14 June 2024 (This article belongs to the Special Issue Artificial Intelligence and Blended Learning: Challenges, Opportunities, and Future Directions) – “The increasing use… Continue Reading

Clarence Thomas, the Gordon Gekko of the Supreme Court

Prevail: “There’s a scene in Wall Street where Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko is explaining to Charlie Sheen’s Bud Fox the difference between being rich and being rich. “I’m talking about liquid,” he says in the back of his limousine. “Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred… Continue Reading

Leo, Brave’s in-browser AI assistant, now incorporates real-time Brave Search results

“Leo—Brave’s in-browser AI assistant—is now even more useful, thanks to its integration with Brave Search. With today’s release, Leo can incorporate search-augmented responses into its answers, powered by the Brave Search API. This new integration allows Leo to provide more accurate and up-to-date answers, especially for queries related to current events or topics where the… Continue Reading

A Detailed Analysis of Article 50 of the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act

Gils, Thomas, A Detailed Analysis of Article 50 of the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act (June 14, 2024). Chapter to appear in an upcoming commentary on the EU AI Act (Q3-4 2024)., – “Article 50 of the EU’s AI Act contains transparency requirements for (i) interactive AI systems; (ii) synthetic content (including synthetic audio, image,… Continue Reading