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2023#6

Header Image ©️ Shu Cheng Leslie

February 16, 2023 Issue 6#

Dear Bodhisattvas,

Since entering February, ChatGPT has finally become popular in China. Weibo, WeChat, Jike, and even state media have been discussing ChatGPT and artificial intelligence. However, I rarely hear about how domestic technology companies should benchmark and fill the gaps in the field of artificial intelligence. Instead, what I mostly see is how to make quick money by using ChatGPT and related information gaps. This really annoys me.

I wonder how you view the "ChatGPT craze"?

Ted Chiang published an article in The New Yorker, comparing the recently popular AI chatbot ChatGPT to a lossy compressed version of internet content (he described it as a blurry JPEG). This helps us better understand what ChatGPT is good at. If we only need it to summarize or repackage existing information, it can do that and the results seem as if it understands the content being described. But in reality, it is decompressing after lossy compression, and it deals with text rather than images. Although it is distorted, it is interesting enough for people to have fun with. But can it replace search engines? Microsoft's Bing search engine is trying, but the specific effects are yet to be observed.

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


1. Scientists Discover Receptor that Blocks COVID-19 Infection#

Scientists at the University of Sydney have discovered a protein in the lungs that can block SARS-CoV-2 infection and form a natural protective barrier in the human body. The protein, called LRRC15 (leucine-rich repeat-containing protein 15), can bind to SARS-CoV-2 but does not transmit infection. The research report was published in the journal PLOS Biology. Teams from the University of Oxford in the UK, as well as Brown and Yale University in the US, independently discovered the receptor in the LRRC15 protein. The SARS-CoV-2 virus primarily infects human lung cells by binding to the ACE2 receptor, which is highly expressed in lung cells. LRRC15, like ACE2, is a receptor for SARS-CoV-2, but the difference is that it does not support infection. It immobilizes the virus, preventing it from moving and infecting other vulnerable cells. It forms a barrier that isolates the virus from the most vulnerable lung cells.

Commentary:

Since the end of last year, most people in China, from cities to rural areas, have already been infected. From a global perspective, although the WHO has not downgraded the COVID-19 pandemic, most countries have returned to the pre-pandemic state. However, the impact of COVID-19 on people has not gone away.

The significance of this research is that it provides a new approach to explore the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. The discovery of the LRRC15 protein forming a natural protective barrier in the human body, which can prevent virus infection and isolate the virus from the most vulnerable lung cells, may provide new therapeutic methods for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. However, further research and experiments are needed to determine the specific effects of this discovery and explore its feasibility for clinical application.

2. Scientists Discover Two Latent Reservoirs of HIV#

There is still no cure for AIDS, mainly because the virus in the blood of patients decreases to undetectable levels after receiving antiviral treatment, but if the treatment is stopped, the virus will reappear. Scientists have already discovered one latent reservoir of HIV, which is CD4+ T cells infected by the virus, in the blood and lymphoid tissues. Now, scientists have reported another latent reservoir: the central nervous system. They analyzed the genetic sequences of rebounding viruses after treatment discontinuation in 11 patients and found differences in the viral populations in different latent reservoirs. The research shows that CD4+ T cells infected with HIV can enter the central nervous system from the blood. Any treatment for AIDS requires activation of these dormant viral reservoirs.

Commentary:

AIDS is a long-term chronic disease, and current antiviral treatment can suppress viral replication and control the disease, but it cannot cure it completely. This is because the virus remains latent in multiple locations during treatment, including the blood, lymphoid tissues, and the central nervous system, and these reservoirs may cause reinfection after treatment discontinuation.

This research reveals the importance of the central nervous system as another latent reservoir and provides direction for seeking new treatment methods. Although the methods to activate these dormant viruses still face challenges, this research provides new insights for the development of more effective treatment methods, which may bring better efficacy and quality of life for AIDS patients.

3. Netflix's Password Sharing Policy Ignores the Reality of "Family" without a Universal Definition#

According to an article in The Atlantic, Netflix recently announced and then canceled details of a new password sharing policy that allowed members of the same "family" to share one account. However, the policy ignored the fact that "family" does not have a universal definition, and the software cannot accurately determine who is a member of a family and who is not. This is an example of technological arrogance, where company executives assume that basic concepts like "family" have clear definitions and any exceptions are abnormal.

Commentary:

I'm sure you have also noticed that domestic platforms such as Youku, iQiyi, and Tencent Video announced similar policies not long ago. I have seen many netizens saying that they have been forced to turn to piracy.

The arrogance of domestic "big players" has been around for a long time. An executive from iQiyi once said that the membership pricing of iQiyi would be much lower than Netflix. This statement is quite funny, as it treats all users as fools. The pricing of Netflix is anchored to the average disposable income of American households, while the average disposable income of Chinese households is lower than that of the United States. If we follow what the iQiyi executive said, wouldn't it mean using the American standard to measure China?

4. Da Vinci's Notes Show His Study of the Relationship between Gravity and Acceleration#

Mory Gharib, an engineer at the California Institute of Technology, noticed several unique triangular sketches while studying Da Vinci's notes. Further investigation revealed that Da Vinci attempted to study the nature of gravity and establish an equivalence relationship between gravity and acceleration, predating Newton's formulation of the laws of motion and Einstein's proof of the equivalence principle using general relativity. Gharib and his colleagues published their research in the journal Leonardo. They also found that the gravitational constant G in Da Vinci's model reached 97% of the precise value through modern calculations. What is even more surprising is that Da Vinci did not have precise timing or use calculus. Calculus was invented by Newton in the 1660s for the formulation of the laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. Gharib pointed out that the way Da Vinci solved this problem in the early 1500s shows how ahead of his time his thinking was.

Commentary:

Da Vinci was a multi-talented genius, and his artworks and scientific research were of great importance at the time. Gharib's research further demonstrates Da Vinci's outstanding contributions and pioneering thinking in the field of science, providing many insights for scientists and researchers. Through the study and exploration of Da Vinci's thoughts, we can also better understand the development of human scientific thinking, delve into the research methods and thinking patterns of scientists, and promote the development and progress of human scientific knowledge.

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6. Blog Updates#

7. Zen Sayings#

Do not associate with foolish and ignorant people; associate with wise people. Respect those who have virtues; they are the most auspicious.

Reside in a suitable place; have a virtuous past. Abide by the right path; it is the most auspicious.

Learn various crafts; strictly observe all precepts. Speak words that please people; it is the most auspicious.

Support and care for parents; love and protect spouse and children. Engage in work that does no harm; it is the most auspicious.

Practice generosity and good virtues; help relatives and friends. Behave without flaws; it is the most auspicious.

Prohibit evil actions; abstain from drinking alcohol. Uphold virtuous conduct; it is the most auspicious.

Be respectful and humble; be content and grateful. Listen to the teachings in a timely manner; it is the most auspicious.

Practice patience and obedience; meet with many noble monks. Discuss faith at the right time; it is the most auspicious.

Live a self-governing and pure life; comprehend the Noble Eightfold Path. Realize the Dharma of Nirvana; it is the most auspicious.

Remain unaffected by the eight worldly winds; be free from worries and pollution. Be tranquil and free from afflictions; it is the most auspicious.

Those who practice and uphold these will be victorious in all endeavors. They will obtain blessings in all situations; it is the most auspicious.

Excerpt from "The Sutra of Auspiciousness"

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Best wishes,


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© 2023 Shu Cheng Leslie

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