We Need a Data-Rich Picture of What’s Killing the Planet

You’ve probably heard about the plague of plastic trash in the oceans. You’ve seen YouTube videos of sea turtles with drinking straws in their noses, or whales with stomachs full of marine litter. But how much plastic is out there? Where is it coming from? We don’t really know, because we haven’t measured it. “There’s a paucity of data,” says Marcus Eriksen, cofounder of the 5 Gyres Institute, a nonprofit focused on ending plastic pollution. Clive Thompson Why Software Needs to Escape from San Francisco Cheryl Katz The World's Recycling Is in Chaos. Here's What Has to Happen Matt Simon Humans Made This Planet Hell. Hopefully We Can Help Some Species Adapt Marine litter isn’t the only hazard whose contours …

Artificial Intelligence May Not ‘Hallucinate’ After All

Thanks to advances in machine learning, computers have gotten really good at identifying what’s in photographs. They started beating humans at the task years ago, and can now even generate fake images that look eerily real. While the technology has come a long way, it’s still not entirely foolproof. In particular, researchers have found that image detection algorithms remain susceptible to a class of problems called adversarial examples. Adversarial examples are like optical (or audio) illusions for AI. By altering a handful of pixels, a computer scientist can fool a machine learning classifier into thinking, say, a picture of a rifle is actually one of a helicopter. But to you or me, the image still would look like a gun—it …