Weekly Round Up: AI jokes, Omicron, Sceptics and Global Warming

Progress comes from those prepared to think afresh

Artificial Intelligence no laughing matter- AI seems ready to do anything these days. But it can’t seem to write jokes. At least, according to a fascinating article in the Financial Times by Gillian Tett, it can’t:

https://www.ft.com/content/a71171ea-9483-4e87-8c50-fe9a3df81cd6

How bad is Omicron? Things go wrong when people jump to conclusions based on insufficient evidence. The following from Nature is a master class in how to defer judgement until all the facts are in

So far, evidence on the severity of the disease caused by the Omicron coronavirus variant is scarce and incomplete. Early results suggest a glimmer of hope: reports from South Africa have consistently noted a lower rate of hospitalization as a result of Omicron compared to the Delta variant. However, data from Denmark and England do not back this up. The jury is still out, and scientists emphasize that a rapidly spreading variant could dangerously strain health-care systems, even if the risk of severe disease or death is relatively low for any individual. “A small fraction of a very large number is still a large number,” says infectious-disease epidemiologist Mark Woolhouse. Much of the outcome will depend on external factors, such as rates of previous coronavirus infection and vaccination.Nature | 6 min read

Think of animals this Christmas We are certain many of our readers will think of animal charities in their Christmas giving (example: Britain’s RSPCA is a good place to start) But what about the apparently well-cared for furry friends in your home? According to Jacqueline Boyd of the Conversation, the festivities can be perilous for them too.

https://theconversation.com/christmas-can-be-hazardous-for-pets-heres-what-to-look-out-for-173345?

The Skeptic’s view of Climate Change If you frequent certain public houses or patronise certain newspapers who -how to put this delicately?-place a higher emphasis on emotion than reason-you will still find individuals who will try to muddy the waters on climate change. Before you are tempted to waste time on them, look at this link from The Skeptic by Donald R Prothero, How we know Global Warming is real and Human Caused which turns every denier or delayer argument into a pumpkin. Then has a pretty strong dig at the motives of deniers. Strong Stuff.

https://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/12-02-08/

Just to add to the above…for us the key realisation of the dangers of global warming came when we saw the C12/C13 isotope ratios for the last 150 years. Here’s a little piece to explain it from Skeptical Science

https://skepticalscience.com/human-fingerprint-in-global-warming.html

We said at the start that progress comes from those who are prepared to think about things in new ways. That’s how everything from tools to the anti-slavery movement were invented. That doesn’t mean embracing every far-out cult or conspiracy we see on line-remember the word “think” in the first sentence? But we do know that those who insist on carrying on in the old way, because that’s the way they’ve always thought, are the real enemies of anything ever getting better.

Have a good festive week, and we’ll try as hard as we can to have another round up before Christmas.

#sars-cov-2 #covid-19 #climate change #global warming #artificial intelligence #animal welfare

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