Numlock News: April 13, 2023 • Influencers, Chess, Concessions
By Walt Hickey
Beer is a big seller for baseball clubs, with estimates ranging from $2 million to $8 million worth of beer sold per stadium. Major League Baseball’s off-season changes to rules have successfully made games shorter to the tune of around 25 minutes per game this season so far. Traditionally, ballparks keep selling booze until the middle of the seventh inning, but with brisker games that means that your typical ballpark could be missing out on $280,000 to $1.1 million worth of sales over the course of the season. Already four ball clubs — the Diamondbacks, Rangers, Twins and Brewers — are pushing that back into the eighth inning, and there’s hope that faster games will mean more fans showing up to the park in general.
Adobe estimated that there were 14 million people in the United States that make money by posting on social media and have over 5,000 followers on their primary platform. That money is obviously taxable and that means a whole lot of people get to wonder what exactly is a personal purchase and what is a necessary business expense to advance their small sole proprietor social media business. This can make for a very exciting Schedule C for people who make viral social content or who find themselves with a modest freelance income owing to their musical, travel, artistic, adult-oriented or cooking content.
Universal Music Group owns a third of the global market for music, and has informed streaming services like Spotify and Apple that they should block artificial intelligence-powered song services, as they likely scraped from melodies and lyrics in UMG’s library. While the original training data for AI of any creative field has become a bit of an ethical and legal minefield, the notoriously litigious and legally well-protected music industry is categorically not screwing around here. It’s prompted considerably more circumspection from AI developers working anywhere near the music space: Google’s MusicLM, trained on 280,000 hours of music, has not been released because researchers found out that roughly 1 percent of the time it just outputs a replica of an actual existing copyrighted work, which is a sufficiently high rate where the legal department of every music label in the world will descend on them like Valkyries within seconds.
Pittsburgh’s mayor has launched a comprehensive review of all the property in the city that is tax-exempt to check each parcel to figure out if each and every self-claimed owner is abusing a tax-exempt status. This is a huge deal for cities, as 34 percent of the property across Pittsburgh is tax-exempt, which costs the city $34.5 million a year in property taxes. One specific group of interest is hospitals. In order for a healthcare facility to be tax-exempt, it really can’t have a profit motive, and lots of hospitals that are nonprofit on paper are pretty profit concerned. One of the single largest landowners getting an exemption in Pittsburgh is the hospital system UPMC, which gets $14 million in property tax exemptions and has been the subject of two lawsuits alleging that they fail to fulfill the conditions that would qualify them as tax-exempt, such as donating a significant portion of services and not making a private profit.
Everyone’s favorite AI is Martin, a gigantic dummy who serves as the lowest-tier AI opponent on the Chess.com website. The Washington Generals of the game, Martin is specifically programed to be bad at chess, failing to secure a win in even extreme situations, like when he is given 31 queens right against 31 pawns. He’s an ideal softie who can help players warm up or taste victory at nearly any skill level, and the data bears that out: Martin is the single most popular chess bot on the site, and plays approximately 10 million games per week.
Ethylene oxide is a gas that is used to sterilize roughly half of all medical equipment in the United States, as well as having uses in food products and more. Brief exposure is fine, but long-term exposure to ethylene oxide can significantly increase the risks of cancers. A worker in a medical sterilizing plant could see risk shoot up to one extra case of cancer for every 10 people exposed, significantly higher than the acceptable rate of 1 per 10,000. The EPA is stepping in to reduce ethylene oxide emissions by targeting 86 medical sterilization facilities in the U.S., a group of facilities that alone could cut 80 percent of ethylene oxide emissions.
De La Rue is a British company that prints money; literally, they’re the ones who produce banknotes on behalf of government clients and is responsible for a third of banknotes made globally. The company has warned that profits are going to miss expectations because demand for cash is way down, with cash falling from making up 27 percent of spending at point-of-sale transactions in 2018 down to 16 percent of transaction value as of 2022, with the projection for 2026 being that cash drops to 10 percent of value.
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