Numlock News: August 4, 2021 • Goliath, Artifacts, Pneumatic
By Walt Hickey
Your palm print is a permanent, unalterable aspect of your flesh that will never change — an irrevocable biometric that is unique to you and you alone. It's a special type of identifier, one that will be with you for the entirety of your life; it cannot be removed and will forever serve as a signature aspect of your very human body. Anyway, Amazon will give you $10 if they can have it. They want palm prints so you can buy stuff in stores with it and they'll give you a credit of $10 for it.
A new study analyzed 415 published deep-learning models whose goal was to diagnose COVID-19 and predict patient risks based on medical imaging like chest x-rays and CT scans. The study concluded that, despite the hype, none were fit for clinical use, even those used in hospitals. The researchers attribute this both to basic data problems — the quality wasn't perfect in the height of the pandemic — and a host of other issues that stem just from the nature of machine learning. One AI flagged images taken of patients lying down to be worse off than those taken of patients sitting up, based only on the idea that seriously ill people can't sit up. Another model picked up on a font used by certain hospitals in a data set, and flagged those because the hospitals that used the font happened to be located in hotspots, making them less COVID detectors than Garamond or Times New Roman sensors.
Demand for space on the 5G wireless spectrum -- where some 25 billion to 50 billion devices may call home by 2025 -- is heating up, and the wireless people are salivating at the opportunity while the weather people are kind of freaking out. Essentially, at the 24 gigahertz spectrum, satellites can monitor natural microwave signals that are produced by water vapor, an incredibly useful side effect of the physics of water vapor. Unfortunately, the 24 gigahertz chunk of the spectrum is also the hottest spot to be for 5G devices, and the weather community is increasingly worried about the data noise from those devices ruining their perfectly useful models. About a third of the current forecasting skill comes from the data in question, so I look forward to a future in which you can access increasignly bad weather forecasts really, really quickly from your phone.
Goliath groupers live off the coast of Florida in reefs and can reach sizes of over 8 feet long and weigh over 800 pounds. After their fishery was closed in 1990, and up to 2018, the groupers were classified as critically endangered, mostly due to overfishing. Naturally, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has now opened up discussions to lift the ban on fishing them. Opponents argue that the economic value of diving and ecotourism to the reefs outweighs killing the threatened animals for sport. The American Sportfishing Association has advocated for lifting the ban. Recent studies have found that while the goliath grouper have recovered from the brink experienced in the 90s, the count has declined by half since 2010 due to red tides and severe cold weather.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the number of flight delay minutes rose from 60 million in 2017 to 100 million in 2019. The sources of those delays are increasingly artificial, though. Only 3 percent of delays are due to weather, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, while 33 percent are due to late aircraft, 29 percent are due to a national system delay, and 25 percent are due to an air carrier delay. Ostensibly, having solved weather itself, fixing all that other stuff should be totally possible. The new infrastructure plan intends to solve the problem the best way they know how, by throwing a bunch of money at it.
Series of Tubes
In lots of hospitals, 80 percent in North America to be precise, there's a pneumatic tube system manufactured by a company called Translogic coursing through the walls, which allows lab samples and medication to seamlessly worm its way through a given medical complex. A new report published Monday identified nine critical software vulnerabilities in the control panel for the systems, and while there's no evidence attackers have hit the systems yet, hospitals have been a particularly lucrative target for ransomware gangs over the past several years. Listen, a while ago there was a guy who rather famously declared that the internet was a series of tubes, and while he was roasted at the time for it, at this point I gotta concede he may have had a couple of valid points.
The United States returned over 17,000 looted ancient artifacts to Iraq, the largest such restitution in the history of the country. Of those, 12,000 came from the four-year-old Museum of the Bible, which is owned by the family who owns Hobby Lobby and was connected to a scheme to appropriate stolen artifacts. The other 5,000 pieces came from Cornell University, whose collection donated in 2000 was widely suspected to have come from a looted site in southern Iraq following the chaos of the Gulf War. So concludes the greatest legal saga of our time, United States of America vs. Approximately Four Hundred Fifty (450) Ancient Cuneiform Tablets; and Approximately Three Thousand (3,000) Ancient Clay Bullae.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.
The best way to reach new readers is word of mouth. If you click THIS LINK in your inbox, it’ll create an easy-to-send pre-written email you can just fire off to some friends.
2021 Sunday subscriber editions:Time Use · Shampoo Bars · Wikipedia · Thriving · Comic Rebound · Return of Travel · Sticky Stuff · For-profit Med School · A Good Day · Press Reset · Perverse Incentives · Demon Slayer · Carbon Credits · Money in Politics ·