2023.05.08 Issue 13

Dear Bodhisattvas, greetings!

Below is the main content of this issue, with an estimated reading time of about 7 minutes.

1. New Bing is a Trap

On May 4th, the well-known American website The Verge first announced that Microsoft will be upgrading New Bing with a series of features, including the release of the New Bing Chatbot plugin, multimodal answers, support for image search, continuous chat and chat history, and the removal of the waitlist.

Later that day, Damon Beres, the Senior Editor of Technology Content at The Atlantic, published an article titled "Bing Is a Trap", which argues that the New Bing Chatbot, powered by Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI), is now open to any user with a Microsoft account. The company hopes to integrate new media, such as embedded videos and visual charts, and allow services like OpenTable to run on the chat platform, thereby changing the way people gather information from the internet. However, the integration of search engines and chatbots may make the internet feel smaller, causing users to stay on one platform instead of navigating to other websites. Microsoft claims that chatbots will be a liberating force, freeing people from the time-consuming process of traditional search, but if the search platform prevents people from clicking on original stories, it could also be a threat to publications.

I understand Damon Beres' concerns as a Senior Editor of a traditional publication regarding GAI, but there is no doubt that the launch of the New Bing Chatbot does provide users with a more convenient and efficient way to retrieve information. I have already significantly reduced my usage of Google.

With Microsoft's ambition for New Bing, which aims to integrate new media and plugins so that users can perform many operations on one platform without the need to switch between multiple websites, the integration with services like OpenTable will undoubtedly provide users with a richer online experience.

Instead of worrying about the potential limitation of users' exposure to a wide range of information sources by relying too much on one platform, I think it would be better to consider why the market share of Edge has decreased after the launch of New Bing. Microsoft has always held a good hand, but played it poorly. It is worth observing what New Bing will eventually become and whether it will repeat the same mistakes as Edge.

According to Statcounter's statistics, in April of this year, Apple's Safari surpassed Edge to become the second most popular desktop browser. If tablets and mobile platforms are included, Safari has long been the second largest browser after Chrome. The data shows that Google Chrome still leads the competition with a market share of 66.13%, Safari has 11.87%, surpassing Microsoft Edge's 11%, followed by Firefox with 5.65%, Opera with 3.09%, and Internet Explorer with 0.55%.

2. Artificial Intelligence Will Make Social Media More Harmful

Another article from The Atlantic titled "AI is About to Make Social Media (Much) More Toxic" emphasizes the potential threats that integrating artificial intelligence into social media may bring, which could pose serious risks to society. The author points out that AI-generated content may become indistinguishable from real content, leading to widespread manipulation. This could have a significant impact on the public's trust in information, institutions, and fellow citizens. In addition, AI super-influencers may manipulate users, especially children, for addictive and exploitative behaviors. This could have serious consequences for individuals' mental health and social relationships.

The article also highlights the possibility that AI may exacerbate the prevalence of mental disorders among teenagers, which began with the introduction of smartphones and social media applications. The author believes that AI-based algorithms, such as those used on TikTok, may become more addictive and manipulative, making it more difficult for young people to navigate the complexities of social relationships.

To address these potential threats, the author suggests five reforms. First, verify the identity of all users, including bots, to promote trust and accountability. Second, label AI-generated content to ensure clear distinction from real content. Third, require data transparency and collaborate with users, government officials, and researchers to increase understanding of the impact of social media on society. Fourth, clarify platform responsibilities to ensure accountability for the content hosted on the platforms. Finally, raise the age of "internet adulthood" to 16 to protect children from potential risks of social media.

3. Researchers Discover the Social Perception Neural Network in the Brain

Social interaction is an important part of human life. Social interaction requires perceiving and understanding the social environment and responding to others' behaviors flexibly. The human brain is capable of automatically and rapidly performing such perception and decision-making, but the mechanisms of social information processing in the brain are still not well understood.

A new study from the University of Turku in Finland, published last month, revealed that human brain activity related to social context perception is similar. This study revealed a broad neural network in the human brain that efficiently processes diverse social information.

The study found that human social perception is composed of limited dimensions, such as antisocial behavior, sexuality or affinity, and communication. These dimensions are mainly located in the posterior part of the brain, concentrated in the parietal and temporal lobes. This suggests that certain specific regions in the posterior part of the brain are more important in processing social perception.

The study also showed that the brain activity in the regions related to social perception among humans is synchronized. This synchrony demonstrates the similarity in our perception of social contexts, which allows us to understand social situations. This finding contributes to a better understanding of how humans communicate and interact in complex social environments.

This research from the University of Turku in Finland provides interesting insights into how the human brain processes social information. Understanding how the brain efficiently processes this information and our similarity in perceiving social contexts can help us better understand human behavior and interaction in social environments. This study may have important implications for future research in social psychology and neuroscience.

4. Extreme Climate Intensity Has Increased Dramatically in the Past Twenty Years

For some time now, I have been paying more attention to the frequency of extreme weather events due to watching videos on Bilibili by a user named "Zhong Qi Ai". According to reports, heavy rain has been occurring in Jiangxi recently, affecting nearly 500,000 people and causing direct economic losses of 520 million yuan. So, I looked for research on extreme climate.

A study published in the journal "Nature Water" found that the frequency and intensity of extreme droughts and heavy rainfall have increased dramatically in the past twenty years, resulting in devastating consequences such as crop failures, infrastructure damage, and humanitarian crises. This study is based on satellite-collected data that measure changes in Earth's water storage, including groundwater, surface water, ice, and snow.

The study confirms that the release of greenhouse gases from human activities has led to an increase in the frequency and intensity of these climate extremes. The strong correlation between these climate extremes and the rise in global average temperature means that ongoing global warming will lead to more frequent, severe, prolonged, and large-scale droughts and heavy rainfall.

The study points out that infrastructure designed to withstand events that occur once every hundred years, such as airports and sewage treatment plants, are facing increasing challenges as the frequency and intensity of these extreme events continue to rise.

As for solutions, the study suggests using floods to replenish depleted aquifers and improving the health of agricultural soils to better absorb and store water and carbon.

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7. Zen Sayings

Always reflect on one's own faults, not argue about others' shortcomings, and constantly seek merits and virtues with one mind.
Excerpt from the "Vimalakirti Sutra"

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